Every once in a while Kate and Louisa fall asleep at the same time, about 3:00. If I'm lucky I'll have two hours to myself. Shower-yep, that late in the day- dishes, pick up the living room so that Shawn doesn't have to walk through the door into a minefield of toys... I tie back my still-damp hair and put on one of my many aprons. Today I choose the one covered in pink and red tulips that my girlfriend Brittany gave me at my bridal shower.
I collect aprons.
The house is completely silent, and it's completely mine. There's still plenty of natural light pouring through the windows, which I don't fail to appreciate since my daytime hours usually belong entirely to the girls, and Louisa's not quite old enough to be out enjoying the Winter.
Stillness and sunlight don't often go hand-in-hand. Not that I want to be still on this particular day. My stand mixer, wooden spoon, measuring cups and spoons come out of hiding, and then the good stuff: butter, brown and white sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, salt, baking soda, and chocolate chips. This one's for Shawn who only got one cookie from my last double batch since the rest were given away. Half went to our friends who recently had a baby and the other half to an elderly German lady who doesn't know me from Adam, but who decided to knit me two blankets for Louisa, one to use and one to pass down. Mrs. Schreider knows her craft in a way I can only hope to know mine someday. But these cookies I'm making, at least, I do know well, and my confidence with them allows my body to relax.
My creative work is accompanied today by Rue Royale, a band I came across just days ago, but to whom I'm loyal already for their ability to create an intimate and simple atmosphere. Their steady beats and acoustic guitars make me feel like I'm going somewhere even though my travel space is an 8x11 ft kitchen. I notice how perfectly the cracking of an eggshell and the clanking of my spoon against the metal bowl sound with "Tell Me When You Go."
The dough is ready. I swipe some up with my finger for a final taste and then enjoy the barely audible sound of the slightly gritty substance as I spread it onto my well-worn baking sheet. I always bake it as one big round so that most of the cookie is made up of middle. I reserve the last spoonful of dough to be dropped into a small, glass dish so that Kate has a special Valentine treat of her own when she wakes.
Shawn walks in before the girls are up, still-planted tulips in hand as well as a card and two varieties of chocolate I've never had. He knows I like to try new goodies.
Snow on Snow" is now playing. We exchange a handful of words and three kisses before Louisa wakes in the next room over. With an oven mitt still on one hand I lift her up, and she greets me with a one-dimpled smile and kicking 2-month-old legs. Within minutes her sister joins us and lights up at the surprise of dad's early return from work. I offer her a fork so that she can enjoy her treat straight from the dish, but Kate already knows the rules of cookie eating. So, I cut a piece for her to hold in her hand, and soon her lips and rosy cheeks are spotted with melted chocolate and warm, plush crumbs.