Friday, January 25, 2013

Henry's Bittersweet (Chocolate Mousse) Birthday Pie

As I lay on the examining table, cold gel layered thick on my growing tummy and the ultrasound wand pushing persistently into my abdomen, it was all I could do to continue to breathe. Silently I wished for, prayed for another little boy - I loved having a son beyond measure. So when the ultrasound technician announced, "It's a boy!" my mind immediately flashed through a best-of reel of my experiences in Mommyhood.

Expecting a second son just two short years after our firstborn, I have to admit, I had visions of a little carbon copy - all the same experiences, only with a little guy by a different name. But the minute I met Henry, I could plainly see that God had handcrafted him to be his own wonderfully unique little being. And watching him grow into that little boy has been nothing short of a miracle.
Somehow, in the blink of an eye, three whole years have passed and my precious baby boy has grown into the sweetest, most life-loving little guy you could ever hope to meet. To be perfectly frank, I have always been one of those Mommies who really struggle with the whole growing up thing. Deep down, I wish I could keep them little forever - all the while conflicted by the proud anticipation of witnessing who God has created them to become.
Henry brings laughter, spontaneity, free-spiritedness and unabashed joy to our little family - otherwise comprised of three type A personalities. He makes me laugh daily and probably altogether more than anyone else I have ever met. He has taught me that laughter really is the best medicine, a dance party can do wonders for the soul and that it is impossible to tell someone you love them too many times. I am beyond blessed to wake up every morning to Henry's charming smiles, to be the recipient of so many of those "I love you"s and to be his companion and teacher. I am delighted that God choose me to be his Mommy.
Dear Henry,

The day I met you was a day unlike any other. I was a ball of nerves, but you came into this world true to your nature - boldly, without complication and full of joy. Gazing into your pink little face, bright blue eyes looking back at me beneath a shock of blonde surfer hair, I instantly knew you were someone different, someone I never could have expected. . . and someone I would be honored to love and be loved by.
As I come to terms with the fact that you are most likely my last little boy, I grasp desperately to everyday that you are still wholly mine. Snuggling in footsie jammies while watching cartoons first thing in the morning, chatting over a cup of chocolate milk on our Mommy Dates, holding your tiny hand as we explore the outside world side by side and tucking you and your stuffed piggies into bed each night. I want to remember every minute of it.

You have taught me so much in your three short years - not to worry about what other people think, that your family really are your best friends and that nearly every situation can be improved with a laugh. All the while I remind myself I am supposed to be the one teaching you.

I am so excited to see what three holds for you, Henry! I know it will bring gym class, play dates, Disneyland, trains, picnics at the park and trips to the beach. But I know it will also hold many wonderful surprises - surprises that I can't wait to experience with you and see through your eyes.

You are such an important part of our family and I almost can't remember what life was like before you were here. You bring us balance, contentment and lightheartedness. You are a wonderful little brother and a precious son. You are everything I ever wanted and needed, but didn't even know to ask for.
We are so proud of you big boy!
Happy third birthday, Henry!
I love you always and forever.

There is a growing tradition in our house of birthday pies (go figure, right?). And an upcoming birthday means another celebratory pie. Except for one teensy, weensy little problem - Henry doesn't like pie. As in, he has not once liked a pie I have made - not the cream pies, not the custard pies and certainly not the fruit pies.

You see, Henry did not inherit the foodie gene. His diet consists mainly of five food groups: rice, applesauce, bananas, milk and chocolate. So, I was more than prepared for his birthday pie selection - "chocolate," of course. And bittersweet chocolate seemed only fitting for the Mommy who sheds a couple of tears with every passing birthday. So let's light the candles and gather round to celebrate the big three with a slice of Henry's Bittersweet (Chocolate Mousse) Birthday Pie.

Since I happened to have a bag of Oreos in the pantry (not a good idea for anyone embarking on a clean eating diet, mind you), I thought it best to whip those iconic chocolate cookies into crumbles for the base of my crust. I mean, if a little chocolate is good, a lot of chocolate is even better, right?
I pulsed the entire bag of cookies and several tablespoons of melted butter in the food processor before evenly pressing the chocolate crumbles into the bottom and up the sides of the pie tin. Into the freezer for ten minutes to set before baking in the oven for another ten.
While the crust baked, I finely chopped one pound of bittersweet chocolate, resisting the ever-present urge to sample.
Meanwhile, on the stovetop, I dissolved granulated sugar and a pinch of salt into whole milk. Once the pot had reached a low bubble, I combined the sweetened milk with the finely ground chocolate, added vanilla extract and set the resulting mixture aside to cool.
I then prepared the mousse by beating heavy whipping cream into stiff peaks and gently folding the cooled chocolate into the whipped cream until completely blended. (Fortunately for me, the little voice reminding me not to sample went MIA at this point. Mmmm.)
Finally, I slathered the mousse into the cooled Oreo shell and placed the entire pie into the fridge to chill overnight.
It is a blessing to see bits of yourself in your child - to be able to pinpoint "that came from me." But I think it is equally rewarding, and perhaps even a bit more magical, to have given birth to a child that is so wonderfully unlike you that they make you want to change - to live life just a little bit better because you see in them a world of possibilities. Henry is that for me. And although this birthday is, indeed, a bit bittersweet, it is also rich with promise for the upcoming year. Happy birthday, Henry! I love you!

“Mom always said too much chocolate is like having too much love—you can't get enough." -Geraldine Solon