Monday, March 21, 2011

Multitude Monday, Take 198

Thanking God this week for...

1465. grace to survive week one of potty training
1466. Thomas the Train big-boy underwear
1467. silk pajama pants
1468. remembering that I am dust
1469. His compassion, kindness, patience

1470. His mercy when I do not reflect these things to my sons
1471. dimpled hands
1472. fuzzy blond hair
1473. the beauty of language
1474. reminders that the "villains" are human and more like me than I'd care to admit

1475. trust and vulnerability with friends
1476. evidence of grace and helping each other see it
1477. wisdom, insight and encouragement from a dear friend
1478. husband's thoughtfulness, selflessness
1479. good news from a friend

1480. gorgeous weather
1481. flip-flops on my birthday
1482. birthday cards in the mail
1483. birthday calls and texts and Facebook wishes
1484. donuts with sprinkles

1485. diapers hanging on the line
1486. felt food breakfast with puppet animals
1487. baking fails to humble me
1488. Elijah riding on Steve's shoulders
1489. flowers given with a "Happy Birfday, Mama!"

1490. new pocket camera
1491. painted toenails
1492. dinner with old and new friends
1493. safe arrival of a cousin's baby
1494. anticipation of a new nephew arriving any day now

1495. healing the sicknesses of our bodies and our hearts

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Birth Day, Mom

Ever since Elijah was born, I've had a whole new appreciation for my mother. Before then, it was so easy to take for granted the sacrifices she made and the ways she cared for me. I remember on Elijah's first birthday, someone wished me a “Happy Birth Day” and pointed out that the MOMS are the ones who should be celebrated on a child's birthday—after all, they're the ones who did all the work!

After birthing two babies, I couldn't agree more. My mom was the hero on March 18 twenty-nine years ago! So as friends and family celebrate me today, I am throwing out a Birth Day salute to Mom. “Thanks” hardly seems adequate—but I am indeed thankful for the mother who was “born” today!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Multitude "Monday," Take 197

Didn't get a post up yesterday, but I have plenty to be grateful for. This week I'm thanking God for...

1439. husband praying with me and for me
1440. husband preaching the gospel to me
1441. repeated failures that expose the lie of self-sufficiency and my need for a Savior/Helper
1442. long nights of frequent nursing

1443. email with exciting news from a friend
1444. marbled cheese
1445. a Savior who wants to fill the emptiness in me
1446. protecting me from getting hit when I accidentally cut off another driver
1447. the humbling reminder that sometimes I am the bad driver I often yell at

1448. mantel clock repaired
1449. pee in the potty
1450. first forsythia blooms
1451. His perfect justice
1452. the reality that justice and truth will ultimately prevail

1453. courage/humility to cry in front of friends
1454. purple hyacinth
1455. husband's patience and servanthood when I am irritable and unlovable
1456. Saturday afternoon date
1457. friends who watched the boys

1458. sweet wine
1459. Chinese lunch
1460. getting to hear and concentrate on a key part of Sunday's sermon
1461. movie night with my guys
1462. remembering that I am dust

1463. mercies new every minute

Friday, March 11, 2011

New Blogs / Recommended Reading

I know, I know--who needs another blog to keep up with, right? My feed reader is spite of the fact that ever since Jude was born, I've been doing much less blog-reading and have abandoned attempts to keep up with a lot of blogs, even ones that are really interesting to me. It's just not possible to read everything I'd like to read, much to my dismay.

But I've run across a couple of sites recently that are worth sharing. One is brand-new, the other merely new-to-me. Both have some content that has been especially timely for me to read this week.

A college acquaintance of mine, Lisa Velthouse, has a book coming out this spring. She's re-launched a blog for promotional purposes, and her first few posts have been wonderful. I'm hoping to get an advance review copy of the book, Craving Grace. In the meantime, I'd encourage you to check out her blog--especially these posts:
Taste for Faith
Frustrated in Fasting
Ash Wednesday

And then a Facebook friend of mine linked to a post from The Happiest Mom (written by Meagan Francis), and that post was interesting enough to prompt me to poke around in the archives a bit. I'm glad I did, since I particularly needed to read these two posts:
Of Soggy French Toast and Starving Anger
Does Venting Make Moms Feel Better?

I think I'll be adding Francis's upcoming book, The Happiest Mom: 10 Secrets to Enjoying Motherhood, to my wishlist, too.

Happy weekend reading!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Recent Recipes

I had a request in the comments a couple of weeks ago for my chicken lettuce wraps recipe - thought I would take the opportunity to recommend a couple of others, too...

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
We looked for a copycat recipe after falling in love with the famous appetizers at P.F. Chang's--and we think this one is pretty dead on! I'm sure if you had theirs and then ours, you'd totally be able to tell the difference, but if you haven't been there in a while, ours satisfy the craving. The recipe requires the purchase of a couple of special ingredients, which is why I didn't make it for quite a while after I found it--but they are things that last forever and definitely worth it. These wraps are also really labor-intensive with all that mincing (and trying to peel whole leaves of lettuce off the head is a giant pain), so we don't have them very often, but they definitely hit the spot for us recently.

FYI, I couldn't find "garlic and red chile paste" - I found "red chili paste" in the international aisle at Kroger and then used a clove of minced garlic. Also, you'll want to cut the special sauce recipe in half, unless you have some other use for it.

Black Bean Pumpkin Soup
Sounds weird. Does not look particularly appealing (mine did not look like her pictures). But it was from one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen--Deb is a fabulous writer and photographer as well as cook--and I was intrigued. When I ladled it into bowls I was skeptical...when I took my first bite I was excited. Her description is quite apt: "This soup is loud. Beefy, spicy, smoky, textured and complex, ten times better than I even knew pumpkin soup could be." Yes. I'll make this again.

Sausage and White Bean Soup
This is my friend Marjorie's go-to meal for new moms. She brought it to us in November (along with some whole wheat rolls that were to DIE for...I threw five of them in my freezer and am saving them for a special occasion, oh yum...and these cookies which I ate far too many of). Anyway, Marjorie and her husband have SKILLS in the kitchen and this soup was so wonderful. It has a really distinctive taste, different from all the other tomato-based soups I make. I tried my hand at it a couple of weeks ago, and while it wasn't quite as good as hers (maybe because she uses homemade stock and sausage, maybe because I didn't have to make it, maybe a little of both) it was still quite satisfying.

Cream Biscuits
Another Smitten Kitchen recipe I printed off forever ago and just finally got around to trying. I always end up with heavy cream leftover when I make fettuccine alfredo, and these biscuits seemed like a perfect way to use it up (it was exactly the right amount). Healthy they are not...heavy cream is the *only* liquid in the biscuits...but oh my. Just make them. And freeze half before baking them or you'll just eat them all.

We've still got food in our freezer because of how nuts I went last summer/fall before Jude was born, but now that we're settling into life with two kiddos I'm enjoying being back in the kitchen some.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Multitude Monday, Take 196

"Whoever enjoys any worldly pleasure without benediction commits a theft against God."
~Kelton Cobb, "Table Blessings," from The Spirit of Food

Thanking God this week for...

1410. the exciting (and stretching) ways He is at work in and through our church
1411. a visit from my parents
1412. my dad's hard work painting yet another part of my house
1413. my mom's help with the boys
1414. Elijah's strong, healthy teeth

1415. dental insurance
1416. only having to take him to the dentist twice a year
1417. tiny leaf buds on a weeping willow
1418. public displays of humility
1419. bloggers who are bold in defending truth

1420. balsamic vinegar
1421. the new novel I'm adding to my all-time favorites list
1422. reminders to cherish my boys
1423. Elijah scratching my back
1424. majestic giraffes, including the new baby giraffe

1425. flexible, bright, delightfully odd flamingos
1426. the one who got close enough to us that he tried to eat Elijah's hair
1427. screeching, climbing monkeys
1428. a zoo membership to enjoy His creation
1429. vulnerability and honesty from and with other women

1430. Steve home after a week-long business trip
1431. Steve's compassion, gentleness, touch
1432. Steve's preaching the gospel to me
1433. Elijah's cough not keeping him and us up all night like we feared
1434. the beautiful adoption story I read online yesterday

1435. a friend's reminder that gratitude has to go beyond worldly pleasures to thanking God for who He is and what He has done for us in Christ
1436. so loving the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life
1437. the fact that there is now no condemnation for me because I am in Christ
1438. being more patient with me than I am with my children

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Jude's Birth: Pain, Peace, Joy

[part 5: hard work, but not alone]

Not too long after my water broke, Cindy checked heart tones again—and Jude's heart rate was way too slow. I could tell it didn't sound right, and there was definitely a note of concern/disturbance in her voice as she called out, “90s...80s..” Normal is 120-160 beats per minute. It's typical for the heart rate to drop as the baby is squeezed through the pelvis, I found out later, but it should only drop into the 90s-110s. Jude's got down into the 70s.

Nobody freaked out--Susie especially was so calm and controlled--but she told me that he wasn't tolerating that position well and I needed to move. I shifted onto my back, but his heart rate still didn't come back up. They put an oxygen mask on me and really urged me to push harder. Looking back, it is such a miraculous sign of God's mercy that I was not panicked and fearful at that point. But I wasn't. The pain was unbearable, but I wasn't scared about whether Jude was okay--I had such peace.

It felt like I pushed forever; I don't know how long it really was. Then finally, at 11:58 AM, he was born! Susie placed him in my arms, and we waited for him to pink up. She had warned me that it sometimes takes longer with waterbirths, and it really did. He not only didn't cry; he didn't move at all. His eyes were closed and he was completely still. And I didn't really notice at the time, but looking at the pictures, he was just absolutely gray. They put an oxygen mask on him and worked to get him breathing while I held him. And again, I did not feel worried or scared—I felt such inexplicable peace.

After just a few moments he started breathing, and cried, and I just wept. I experienced that joy, that love—Thank You, Jesus! Steve held me close and rejoiced over our beautiful son, expressed how proud he was of me. Through tears, I announced that his name was Jude and briefly told why. I was just overcome by the faithfulness of God.

It was SO great to be in our own home, to curl up in our own bed...I underestimated how nice that would be. My parents didn't come until the next day, so we were on our own that first night. Steve was better than any nurse :) The way he cared for me so tenderly...having his babies makes me fall in love with him all over again.

So...that's the story of Jude's birth. If you made it this far--thanks for reading. I guess you know by now I can't tell a short story :) An amazing display of God's mercy and grace...more answers to prayer than I can count. An occasion for PRAISE, to be sure. God has been so good, so faithful to me.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Jude's Birth: Hard Work, But Not Alone

[part 4: finally, labor begins]

Unlike Elijah's birth, this time my contractions never were super close together--in fact, Susie was encouraging me to go for a walk to get them going more frequently. I paced through the house a bit, but mostly I just wanted to be leaning over. And though the contractions weren't coming fast, they were long, and strong. But WOW--having a break between them made all the difference in the world! I was so much more able to cope!

Then between 10:30-11, Susie told me they had another client in labor. After some discussion, it was like my body decided, “You better get serious or you're going to lose your midwife!” I said I wanted to get in the tub, NOW. And the water felt SOOOO good—I wished I had gotten in sooner! I'd been afraid to get in too early because I had heard that if you do, it could actually slow things down—and I guess since my contractions weren't super close together, I was extra cautious about stalling labor. Anyway, I leaned over the side of the tub and just LOVED how good it felt.

Then, the very first contraction I had in the water, I found myself involuntarily pushing! I think everyone was surprised when the contraction ended and I said, “Um, I'm feeling pushy. Those changes in my voice as I moaned through that contraction? That was me bearing down.”

The next thing I knew, they were telling me that the water was too hot and I needed to get out. But there was NO WAY I was getting out of that glorious water. I sort of shifted so my belly was partially out of the water, and ignored them...I couldn't stand the thought of getting out. Steve added cold water and eventually they stopped bugging me :)

I was feeling more and more pushy, and more anxious about the pain. During one contraction, Dee read the lyrics of “Begone, Unbelief”--I could hardly hear or understand her over my own groans, but still it was a comfort. And my noises were *much* more controlled this time; no screaming hysterically like I'd done the last time.

It felt best to me to be on my knees, leaning over the side of the tub. Soon my water broke, and the pain got really intense. Plus my legs kept cramping, which was so horrible! But the best part was that I never felt alone. The pain was still scary, but I felt so much more supported. I'd grip Steve's and Dee's hands. I kept needing to make eye contact with someone—usually Dee or Susie—to avoid losing it. Toward the end, Steve was praying continually, right close to my ear. His calm, low, steady voice was so comforting and helped keep me grounded.

[part 6: pain, peace, joy]