Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Baby's Story

Nothing like dusting off the ole' blog almost 2 years???  Goodness.  I used to be SO great about blogging.  Womp womp.  Well, I can't promise that I'll have any more posts after this one, but I really wanted a space to publish the new baby's birth story as a keepsake for myself, and for those who like to read these types of things.

There are 2 types of people in this world--those who like reading birth stories and those who don't, ha!  If you are the later, then you clicked on this post by mistake probably.  In my experience, people are either super nosy (ahem, myself) about all the details, or they just want the simple acknowledgement of a baby's birth with a simple "wehodababyeetsaboi".

I love reading birth stories because it's just totally cool to me how a common occurrence is amazingly sooooooo different for each person.  I pass no judgments on people, honestly.  It is so cool to read how people have different experiences, and each story is unique to a new life!

Okay, so I'm actually starting this post before the baby has arrived.  The plan is to write about my past few appointments, and add from there until the full birth story is complete.  That way I can add details that are fresh in my mind at the time.

It is currently 12/21 about 1am, ha!  The same Braxton-Hicks contractions that have been bothering me for a couple weeks now, are doing their usual thing as I type.  My entire stomach gets incredibly tight, like, muscle spasm to the max.  Often pretty intense and painful.  The past few days, I've had a few real-deal stabbing pain contractions in my lower abdomen.  But after a couple, nothing more.  Just my body practicing away.

Let's go back to my 36 week apt on 12/9.  This is when I started my weekly visits that include an NST (Non-Stress Test), ultrasound, and doctor visit.  The reason for the NSTs and ultrasounds is that I have gestational diabetes and they want to monitor the 'safety' of the womb per say.  With uncontrolled GD, a big risk is the placenta maturing too rapidly, therefore causing a possible stillbirth.  Thankfully, just like in my 1st pregnancy, mine has been maintained with simple diet restrictions without insulin or medicine.  My blood sugar counts have never been off the charts, just barely over the line.  So I've had to make a few adjustments, but nothing super crazy.  Honestly, it's been a blessing for me to have these "extra" measures taken each appointment.  I get to lay down and listen to my baby's heartbeat in a dim room for 20-30 minutes (while clicking a button every time I feel it move) during the NST.  Then I get to do a very brief ultrasound (maybe 5-10 min) for the purpose of checking fluid levels, but the sonographer always takes a peak at baby's face.  I missed having that for Sawyer's pregnancy since I didn't have GD with him.  After the NST and ultrasound, I see my doctor, whom I love.  At 36 weeks she does 'checks' to see if any dilation or effacement has occurred.  I know that some people feel like these checks are unnecessary, especially starting at 36 weeks.  But I have a history of dilating early and I feel that it is a good thing for me, personally.  At 36 weeks (technically 35w5d), I was already 1-2 cm dilated.

It was also during this appointment that my doctor discovered a very large cyst during the fluid level check ultrasound.  All the way up next to my left ribcage she discovered an 11cm (!) cyst outside of the uterus/placenta.  My doctor just couldn't believe I hadn't felt any pain or anything out of the ordinary as a red flag.  At this point, she and another sonographer have looked at it, and they believe it is a simple fluid-filled cyst.  Very large, though.  Because it is not causing any pain, and it is not inside where the baby is, and it won't cause any problems with delivery--we are waiting until after I deliver to further treatment on it.  I will most likely get a CT scan to see what it is actually made of, and the origin of where it is.  Everything is SO squished in there because of baby, they can't see where the cyst is originating from.  Most likely my left ovary, but its possible to be growing on my kidney or spleen.  I'm just praying so hard that it's just a simple cyst and nothing to worry about.

Now that I know my left side has a giant cyst growing in it, it totally makes sense that the baby has been sitting SOOOO lopsided!  Baby is allllllllllways burrowing into my right hip, and is positioned so that my stomach is weirdly shaped to the right.  I always just thought that's how baby preferred to hang out, haha!

Okay, so the next appointment was 12/16, my 37 week check (technically 36w5d).  Another lovely NST, with great results.  Each week I also notice that the contractions are registering stronger and more frequent.  Another lovely ultrasound, which measured baby to be about 6lb 7oz; and fluids looked great.  My doctor did another dilation check, and I was an "easy 3" with a very soft cervix.  So definitely in the early labor stages by definition, and if labor were to progress, my doctor wouldn't stop me.

So that brings us to now, about 4ish days later (12/21).  I decided that Friday was going to be my last day at work, and take vacation days until my maternity leave "officially" begins when I deliver.  I've really been trying to stay off my feet and relax (as much as you can with a 5 and 2 yr old to care for!).  I've had some pretty excruciating lower back pain, and that feeling of the baby being "right there".  My next appointment is 12/23 for my 38 week check (technically 37w5d), so we'll see if and/or how things have progressed.


Update: 12/29

Yep.  Still pregnant.

I am SO mega surprised.  And a little downhearted, not gonna lie.  I am miserable, physically speaking.  Ev. Ry. Thing.  Hurts.  A. Lot. 

I truly, truly, truly thought I would have delivered by now.  Yes, I still have a week to go until my due date...but I have NEVER gone this long with a pregnancy.  My boys were both 2 weeks early, all on their own.  And just like Sawyer, I had been progressing and dilating at the same rate.  So when I went to my apt on 12/23 I was trying not to get too excited at the prospect of a Christmas baby...but it was hard not to.  At my apt, I had not progressed at all since the week before--so still 3cm.  Man, I was bummed!  But--I tempered my disappointment with knowing that the longer baby can grow in there, the better.  Now I'm convinced this baby is a girl--causing so much drama and now being stubborn. :)

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day festivities all went very well, because for once--I was done shopping and cooking early, in preparation of a new baby arriving.  So it was all very relaxing and fun.  Except for being miserably pregnant, ha!  You know--when every move you make is painful and you feel like you can't breathe because your lungs feel squished?  Not to mention that I'm rotating between 3 articles of clothing, because that's all I have left that fit. 

My 31st birthday arrived on the 27th, and it was a wonnnnnnnderful day.  Again, I was trying not to get too excited about the prospect of sharing a birthday with the new baby...but it was in the back of my mind.  Robbie and I got the afternoon together without our kiddos, so we did a ton of walking around the Galleria and Crate and Barrel (one of my favorite stores!).  We parked far away and took the stairs at every opportunity (which got some crazy looks from passersby--people wondered why my mean husband wasn't dropping me off at the front door, ha!).  And for our dinner, I picked the spiciest food possible at a delicious BBQ restaurant.  That night my contractions ramped up for sure, but petered out.  Boo.

My next apt is tomorrow, on the 30th.  I have no idea what to expect as far as progression goes.  I guess it's better that way at this point, ha!  Last week my doctor discussed wanting to induce sometime between 39 and 40 weeks--so the plan is to go into the hospital 10pm Thursday night (Jan 1) to start an induction.  I totally trust her, and know that she doesn't take inductions lightly at all.  With that said, I'm going to ask if she can strip my membranes tomorrow.  If I'm gonna do an induction, I want to try that first to see if that gets things going.


Update 1/3/15

Happy New Baby, Happy New Year!

Wow, so yeah--new baby is here!  And now we all know--it's a BOY!  Our 3rd son was born!  Here is the rest of the birth story!

During my apt on 12/30 everything still looked about the same, except I had progressed to 4cm, which is technically active labor by definition.  I asked my doctor to strip my membranes, and she did.  Some people say it is painful, but I didn't think so.  With a smile, she said that she would see me Thursday night for the induction unless I went into labor earlier.  On my way home I stopped for some fresh pineapple to eat, as I read that it can be a natural labor inducer (if the body is ready).

That afternoon I munched on pineapple and went about business as usual at home, taking care of my kiddos and hubby, and making last minute preparations for baby's arrival (making sure the boys had plenty of clean clothes and food at home, packing for our hospital stay). 

While getting the boys ready for bedtime, I noticed some strong cramping.  It reminded me of the night before I went into labor with Sawyer, so I was excited that things might be moving along...maybe I wouldn't have to be induced!  I made sure to give my boys extra hugs and kisses before they went to bed...jusssssssst in case.

This is me trying to rock Sawyer to sleep while trying not to focus on the increasing pain, ha!

About 9pm, the cramping was really strong and starting to come in regular intervals.  All I could do was pace around the house, I was a bundle of nerves.  Robbie asked if he should be getting ready to go to the hospital, and I was like, "Nah.  I mean, I feel like stuff is happening.  But I don't think anything is immanent.  I think we're good."  Famous last words.

Right then, I felt like I really wanted chili mac from Steak'n'Shake, haha!  I don't know why, it's completely absurd.  But that's ALL I could think about.  ALL I wanted.  So I hopped into the car about 10pm, and endured even stronger cramps (at this point I admitted to myself they could be contractions) in the drive thru to satisfy my craving.

It was the most delicious chili mac I've ever had.  Spot. On. Satisfying.  Although, I ended up never sitting down to eat it.  I paced in circles, while eating.  I was just TOO anxious to sit.  Even in the moment, I was totally oblivious to the fact that I was probably in labor. 

At one point, Robbie said to me, "Um, hun.  You are breathing really hard over there.  Are you sure we shouldn't be getting ready?"  Honest to goodness I told him, "No.  I think we still have plenty of time.  I think the baby is going to come sometime tomorrow.  Maybe we'll leave in like 5-6 hours."  That was at 10:30pm.  I decided to start timing contractions (and decided to start calling them contractions) right about then.  Hmmm--according to my phone app, they were coming 1.5 to 2 minutes apart.  Maaaaaybe things are moving faster than I thought.

I called my Dad, who was the planned babysitter for the boys for whenever the big moment arrived.  I told him that I was having some strong contractions and that we probably needed to get to the hospital soon; but not to rush.  We still had some things to pack, and that way my Dad could not be rushed either.  I told him, "I just feel like we need to go and get checked out, but I don't even know that we'll stay."

Before we left, just in case, I really wanted to wake Maverick up and tell him what was going on.  I knew it would probably be hard for him to wake up to the surprise that we weren't there.  So I tried really hard to wake him, but he was konked out.  So I whispered in his ear that he might wake up to having a new brother or sister, and gave him one more goodnight kiss.  Then I walked over to Sawyer's bed and did the same thing.

By the time my Dad arrived about 11pm, I was having to stop in my tracks and breathe through contractions.  It's hard to describe a contraction to someone who has never had them before.  Even harder to a guy, because they've never felt the misery of awful menstrual cramps.  Contractions are like the MOST painful menstrual cramp you've ever experienced in your existence--multiplied by 1000.  So for you fellas--imagine your abdomen being shredded by dull pocket knives.  But then the pain goes away for like a minute or so.  And when it happens again, the pain is even more intense.  I think that covers it?

The drive to the hospital this time was very similar to the drive when I was laboring with Sawyer.  It was *insanely* hard to have to sit through contractions, let alone with a seatbelt on.  Punching through the windshield with my fist would have brought welcome relief to the contraction pain.  And once again, Robbie was driving well over the speed limit "just because it would be fun to tell the cop I have a good reason to speed" (exact quote).

We pulled into the hospital lot and I told Robbie that I wanted to walk, not be dropped off.  Walking felt SO good, and was a great distraction to the pain.  We got to the sliding doors, and they wouldn't open!  I totally forgot that it was very late at night, and that the only entrance open was the ER.  But I looked over at the wall and there was a phone with a sign that said, "Between the hours of 9pm and 5am call for entry".  So Robbie picked up the phone and told the guy who answered, "Hello. We'd like to have a baby."  The guy on the other end said to wait for the doors to open.  But they never did!  We could see the little red light come on the sensor, but the door was stuck!

I was pacing back and forth, laughing.  Only us!  So I said, "Let's just walk to the other entrance.  No big deal."  Apparently there was a security camera, because the guy on the phone said, "Yeah right.  You look like you don't need to be walking.  We're coming down with a wheelchair."

When a security guard arrived with a wheelchair, I was trying to tell him that it actually felt really good to walk, he still made me take a ride.  "Policy" he said.  Ha!  Whatever.  I sat down.  Robbie told me that I should do what felt best (and he was right).  But I just wanted to get inside.

We wheeled up to the Labor and Delivery floor, to the nurses' station.  I was just trying not to focus on the pain, so I was laughing and being as peppy as possible.  It's my defense mechanism, I swear, ha!  [Side note: An old friend of mine from high school is a nurse on the same floor, and she visited me and the baby the next day.  She told me that the nurses who admitted me were in complete shock that I was in such a good mood for how advanced my labor was--even thinking that I wasn't really in labor/probably would go home--except to find out that I was in actual labor...]

I remember glancing at the clock on the wall when we got to my room, it was about 11:30pm.  The triage nurses came in to exam me and were like, "Whoah!  You are easily at 7cm girl!"  I was very shocked!  Wow!  In just a couple of hours I went from having no pain at all, to being in transitional labor.  So crazy how fast the 3rd baby labor was going for me!

I could barely sign papers fast enough while they were bringing in all the delivery equipment.  My doctor wasn't on call, but the other doctor from my practice was already on shift there.  She actually delivered Sawyer too, for the same reason.  She is also super cool, like my doc.

I knew I wanted an epidural.  The thought briefly crossed my mind to just try without it, since I was already so far along.  About midnight, a half hour later, I was at 8cm.  The pain was beyond insane torture of the worst kind.  Ladies who don't use an epidural should have a bigger mansion in Heaven than everyone else, seriously.  But I wanted it.  And it couldn't come fast enough.

The anesthesiologist arrived and prepped me for the epidural.  Honestly the worst part is having to sit so still during a contraction.  I know they try to time it in-between them, but when they are coming every 30 seconds like mine were, you have to deal.  I was clenching my teeth so hard, I thought I would break a couple.  Robbie asked for his hand back between contractions because I squeezed all the feeling out of it.  Just. A. Few. More. Minutes. was my mantra to get through it (again, the contractions not the epidural being inserted).

Then, my left leg got warm...went numb.  Then, my right leg got warm...went numb.  And the contractions went away.  Ahhhhhhhh.  Haha!  Although this time, my right side wasn't quite as numb as everything else.  It was numb enough to take the edge off, but I was still in some discomfort.  Nothing near as bad as before, though.  So it wasn't that big of a deal to me.

It was about 1:30-2am, and I thought for sure it was about time to push.  With the next exam, I was still at only 8cm.  We figured that since I laid down after the epidural, that really put the brakes on the process.  So the nurse instructed me to sit straight up and have my legs bent in a Buddha style to let gravity work its magic.

At one point things got a little hairy with the baby's heart rate.  His heart rate was either staying constant, or lowering with contractions.  It is supposed to go up, as the stress of being squeezed goes up.  So they gave me oxygen to make sure the baby was getting enough, too.

A short time later was when things got a little more scary.  The external heart rate monitor (the kind that is strapped to your stomach) was not picking up anything.  My nurse kept moving it around and couldn't get a read.  Then a lady in a different uniform appeared, which really made me think something could be wrong.  I just prayed really hard that everything was okay.  The new lady (I don't know if she was a nurse or doctor, just that she had a different uniform than everyone else) decided that we needed to try an internal heart rate monitor.  Which is when they apply tiny sticky pads connected to a wire, to the baby's head; instead of relying on a doppler signal.  As the new lady reached in to apply the wires, she said, "Wow, you are 10cm and then some.  Let's get your doc here and deliver!"

Robbie asked if he could step out for like 10 seconds, and they were like, "Only 10 seconds. Seriously that's all you have!"

My doc rushed in and instructed everyone to let Robbie announce the gender since it was a surprise.  Robbie asked if I wanted him to say, "It's a girl/boy!" or "Here is Ruby/Rocco!"  I decided that I wanted to hear the name.  We had been solid on the girl name Ruby Mae for years, literally.  We had only settled on a boy's name a few days ago--Rocco James.  By the last month of the pregnancy, I was so convinced it was a girl, I didn't even think we needed to decide on a boy's name.  Ha!

I think I pushed two, maybe three times...and then I hear, "Here's Rocco!!  It's a BOY!"

And then immediately my sweet baby was in my arms!  I was in COMPLETE shock that it was a boy.  Not a bad shock--just that I was so convinced I would hear "Ruby" it didn't settle in those first milliseconds.  He was so beautiful.  Hardly covered in any vernix (the white gooey/cheesy stuff), a head full of dark hair, and had great color.  He was my biggest of all my babies, too.


My doctor waited for the cord to stop pulsing to have Robbie cut it.  And then Rocco and I had lots of skin-to-skin time.  He even started rooting to nurse, all on his own!  After that he was weighed, measured, and all that good stuff--right there in the room with us.

So that's the birth story of our precious son, Rocco James Clark.  He came into this world at 3:07am on December 31st, 2014, weighing 8lbs and 3oz; measuring 20 and 1/2 inches long.  It is still often surreal to me that we have 3 kids, let alone 3 boys.  I am so stinking excited to have 3 boys.  It is going to be a great adventure.

The story behind his name.  Well, like I said, it took us forever to decide.  We both had a few ideas we liked, but not collectively.  It was super hard to come up with a name that went with his brothers' names; but was also fitting individually.  Robbie is the one who came up with Rocco, and I immediately loved it.  It means "Rest" which is exactly what we need in a third child.  Everyone thinks it is Italian, which it is, but it is actually rooted in German.  Not that it's a big deal either way, except we get the occasional, "But you're not even Italian" remark, ha!  His middle name follows the pattern we have with our other boys--something more traditional and a personal connection.  James is a family name in both of our families, and it means "to Supplant".  James is also one of Robbie's favorite books in the Bible. 

We decided that we would only bring Maverick up to the hospital to visit Rocco.  Sawyer would have no idea what was going on and he would just be causing stress.  And he would be pulling on cords, getting into cabinets, and causing the usual "Sawyer the Destroyer" trouble, ha!  Maverick LOVES his baby brother.  Even a few days later, he is constantly saying how much he loves him and wants to hold him all the time.  And get this--he asked me tonight when we are going to have more babies!!  Say what?!  I told him that this is probably the last one and he was so sad!  Yeah, well.  Sorry kiddo.  Ha!

Rocco the New Years Eve Baby!

Going home outfit.

This is like the worst picture of me, ever.  But I don't care, it was such a great feeling to be coming home!  I convinced them to let me come home early with Sawyer.  But this time I stayed the full time due to some tests concerning the cyst.  I do have to say, it was nice being able to focus on just Rocco for that whole time; before joining the chaos at home. :)


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sawyer at 4 months

Just wanted to jot down a few things about Sy for his 4 month birthday. I'm doing this from my phone so I don't have any pics to accompany.

Mr. Sawyer is such an awesome little (well, not so little) guy. He is SUCH a blessing and cuddle bug. We have called him a lot of different nicknames, but the ones that are sticking are: Sumo, Sybug (a nod to Wreck It Ralph, ha!), and The Syinator.

He hasn't gone in for his 4 month check up yet, but a few weeks ago when he had that awful respiratory virus he was tipping the scales at 16 lbs. So my guess is that he is about 17 or so by now. At least his height is increasing too. I had to put him in 6-9 month clothes because his poor toes were swollen and red from being squished into pajama legs.

Sy is smiling and laughing all the time now. He has a huge dimple on his right cheek; which reminds me of my Mom's dimples. :)

A lot of his baby hair has fallen out, but he still has a ton of dark hair on the top of his head and the nape of his neck. Kind of a reverse monk style, haha.

He has settled himself into a nice routine. He nurses about every 3 hours during the day, and about every 4-5 at night. Sy takes one big nap in the middle of the day, and sleeps really well at night. He goes to bed around 9pm and gets up around 8am; waking about 2 times to eat for only 10 min sessions. It is glorious. And I'm so thankful!!

He holds his head up really well; and can roll from his back to almost his tummy on both sides.

Sy's disposition is so easy going. At least for me anyways, haha. Overall he is pretty chill but if he does get fussy he is a momma's boy. I feel so bad when someone else has him when he's like that. He screams and screams. But all I have to do is hold him and he calms down.

Sy was doing good with taking a bottle, and then all of a sudden he went on strike. And of course it was when I went back to work. So for the first few days, he would NOT take it and miss both his feedings while I was gone. I felt so bad that he was going 6+ hours without eating. (not that he's in danger of wasting away, ha!)

So for now...whoever is watching him brings him up to my work and I nurse him there instead of taking pump breaks. I am SO thankful that my work is only 2 min away so we can do this. I know it doesn't help the bottle adjusting process (which we're still gonna work on) but it is a relief.

Still doesn't take a paci. Which I go back and forth on. Mav loved his paci and it made soothing him so easy. And--it was actually pretty easy to take it away. Sawyer loves to suck on his fingers...and I can't take those away, haha!

Sy LOVES baths. Mav to this day thinks they are cruel and unusual punishment. Sy just coos and smiles; even gets more relaxed. I love, love, love it. Knowing he's my last baby it makes soaking up these memories even more pleasant. He doesn't cry when its time to dry off either. Just lays there and smiles. :)

Sy still loves to be swaddled for his naps and bedtime. Which I'm not sure how much longer that's gonna happen. All of my swaddling blankets are almost too small. I have to stretch them pretty tight to wrap around him.

Mav loves his little brother so very much. I know that will change (at least on the surface) once Sy can play with his toys. Mav loves to be protective of him and try to play with him. My favorite thing is when Mav randomly says, "I love you Syinator". And Sawyer often smiles big when his big brother is nearby.

I know when I was pregnant and didn't know what we were having that I said I really wanted a daughter; but I simply cannot imagine life any other way. My boys are so awesome and I wouldn't change it for anything.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Easter Baskets

This post is solely for me to lift a weight off my mind. It's just so therapeutic for me to sit down at a blank screen and type away. Typing without any sense or regard as to who might be reading it. Kinda like sending a message in a bottle out to sea, I guess.

Tonight I went to Target to pick up a few things, and since the kiddos were at home with Robbie, I enjoyed some rare time to just wander around the store.

I found my way to the part of the store where all the Valentine's day stuff was already 50% off (sheesh not even 24 hours have passed!), and they were setting up Easter goodies.  My eyes glossed over all the pastel colors, chocolates, jelly beans, and plastic grasses.  There were so many cute baskets, decorations, and fun treats displayed.

And then it hit me, unannounced, like always.  I should have known.  Because it always catches me off guard with the little things.

Admiring all the Easter goodies made me miss my Mom so terribly.  I could literally feel my heart aching.  My mind flashed back to all the Easter mornings when we awoke to beautiful baskets on the kitchen counter.  What made them so beautiful was that my Mom would always pay special attention to what candies and various treats we liked, and tailor made them for each of us.  You could really feel that she put them together with love. 

My favorite part was hunting in the plastic grass for chocolate eggs.  She always buried the chocolate eggs in the grass.  When the basket looked empty, I would forage through that grass like it was my last meal and I always seemed to find at least one last egg. 

Even as we grew older, she would still make Easter baskets for us.  Over the years the contents would change slightly.  Maybe throwing in new makeup for my sister, or a new movie for me.  But always lots of yummy candy and chocolate.  Chocolate was a must! 

As a married woman living in my own house, I knew and greatly looked forward to the Easter basket that would be coming my way that afternoon for the family gathering.  Age, schmage.

For Maverick's first two Easters, his basket was filled with little books and toys.  It was so sweet!  I'm sure she looooooved putting them together.  Of course, I still got my chocolate...Momma never forgets! :)

Standing in the aisle, my mind raced to last Easter.  She gave Mav the most awesome basket ever.  The basket was a baseball (so, so cute!) and all the eggs were baseball shaped.  That was the first Easter that Mav got candy in his basket (and I enjoyed my parental right of snooping through it).  I'm so glad we still have it.  Actually, the other day Mav was playing with the little baseball eggs.

Then my throat filled with a painful lump at the thought of her not being here for this Easter, and all the ones to come.  I know it's somewhat selfish of me to think that way because she is with her Savior, and only knows of perfect love and peace in Heaven.  But at the same time, I want her back so badly.  I want her back to see her grandsons get their Easter baskets.  I want her back so I can call her to talk about any and every thing.  I want her back for so many reasons.  Too many to type.

My eyes locked on to the floor tiles all the way to the check out lane.  I didn't want anyone to see that I was on the brink of heavy tears.  As the doors opened to the parking lot, and the cold, sharp air hit my face; my chest started heaving.  I walked as fast as I could to my car so I could let it all out.

When I pulled into my driveway, my heart broke and I sobbed greatly.  I called out to God, telling him how much I missed my Mom.  Then I sat still, looking through the moonroof at all the stars in the sky.  And I felt God wrapping me up in his arms.  I felt like He was telling me He knows my pain, because He knows searing loss.  His son died too. 

And then He reminded me that His son now lives, and my Mom does too.  In Heaven.  Where there is no pain.  No loss.  No tears.  No cancer.  Just pure, unfiltered love.

Please don't misunderstand me.  I'm not saying my Mom is on the same level as Jesus (at all!).  But I really felt like God was speaking to me as a Dad who had gone through the suffering of losing his Son; so that I would know that He knows my pain as a Daughter who has lost her Mom.

I guess what my point that God will always be there where we are; whatever we are going through.  Because He has been through it.  And He will bring us through it too.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

5 Spice Beef and Baked Crab Rangoon

Robbie and I were just talking the other day about how much we love, yet hate chinese food (well, the American version). So I was inspired to attempt some asian cuisine in this week's meal plan. The goal was delicious, a little more healthy, and not feeling hungry again an hour later. :)

Chinese 5 Spice Beef Kabobs

Okay, so the funny thing is that my beef was neither Chinese 5 spiced nor kabobbed. Robbie went grocery shopping and couldn't find the spice, even with the store's help. So I just grabbed 5 spices I thought would taste good together, ha! Onion powder, cumin, chili powder, ground ginger, and curry powder. I mixed a dash of all those together, then dry rubbed it on the beef sirloin strips. Next came a bath of low sodium soy sauce; and I let it sit until I was ready to pan sear it. Kabobs would've been cool except I forgot to write skewers on the grocery list.

After that I started my brown rice. I have never been able to cook brown rice properly...until tonight! Miraculously it turned out so fluffy and sweet. I guess the difference was I was so busy making the rangoons that I forgot about it. When I remembered, I just opened the lid and it was perfect. 1 1/2 cups of brown rice in 3 cups of water, for 45 min on the stovetop.

Baked Crab Rangoon

I put 8 oz of crab claw meat in a bowl with 2 1/2 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. Mix well. Next was about 3 sprigs of green onions, chopped. (fact: green onions are my favorite ingredient ever! I try to fit them in wherever I can) Then fold in one 8 oz bar of cream cheese.

Spoon mixture into a wonton wrapper and fold it up. I tried the fancy star shape you get at the restaurant, but it was taking forever. So I just sort of squished all the sides together. :) Place them on a baking sheet and throw them in the oven for about 10-15 min at 375 degrees.

While those were baking, I cooked up the beef strips over medium heat on the stove.

I couldn't have timed everything better. The rice, rangoons, and beef all finished cooking within minutes of each other. Another miracle! :)

The beef cooked up nice and tender, and as I said the rice was a divine intervention. My only reservation was the rangoon. I guess I'm just used to the sweet rangoons from our favorite place.

Don't get me wrong, they were tasty. But they were VERY savory instead of sweet.

Next time I think I'll try cream cheese and crab only. Oh and green onions.

Hey, it's still healthier than the fried ones!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

First Mobile Post and Yummy Food!

Maybe my blogging frequency will increase now that I've downloaded the Blogger app! This could be fun! The only thing I don't like is that I can't put pictures between text...unless I just haven't figured out how to do it.

Whilst making dinner tonight I was inspired to blog about my Pinterest recipes. I know I'm nowhere near the first person to blog about recipes, documenting Pinterest inspired activities, or the combination of the two...but what the heck, right?

I don't know how people planned meals before Pinterest, ha! No worries I'm not abandoning my shelf of cook books yet.

Tonight's meal: Salmon and Asparagus

The recipe called for a cold oven bake. Which I've tried before with bacon, and its ridiculously tasty. Cold oven baking is when you put the food into a cold oven and then set the temp.

Aside from the fish and veggies, my ingredients were olive oil, butter, ground black pepper, ground sea salt, and fresh garlic.

I drizzled the olive oil, pepper, and salt on the salmon filets. Then I put it in the cold oven and set the temp to 400 degrees. Once it hit 400, it was about 25 minutes until they were done. My pictures show a couple test holes since I'm still learning how to tell when fish is done.

For the asparagus I chopped up a few cloves of garlic, added some tabs of butter, and some sea salt before tossing it in the oven with the fish. I guess it ended up cooking for about 25-30 minutes.

Turned out so yummy! The fish was flaky and sweet like candy. The asparagus was crunchy, yet softened with butter. An overall quick and easy weeknight fix!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

30 within 30

I guess I'm a little late on making, let alone doing everything on, a "30 before 30" list.  But I'm inspired to at least write one out and go from there.  So I'll call mine "30 within 30" to give me a little wiggle room.  I just turned 29 about a month I'll wiggle it to completing before turning 31.  :) 

If checking off items from this list is like writing my college papers, then procrastinating will be my key to awesomeness.

I scribbled this down on paper first, just writing whatever popped into my head and not focusing on ranking.  Trying to rank what I want to do most and/or what's most important is nearly impossible.  Of course relationships take precedent over hobbies and the like, but I think that kinda goes without saying.

So without much further ado,  here's my list.
  • Spend more quality time with Robbie.  Because babies, toddlers, working full time, and other general life responsibilities take up too much time.
  • Take more pictures with my kids, family, and friends.  I'm always behind the camera.  And truthfully, I hate my picture taken.  But I know my boys would probably like having them as they grow.  I treasure all the photos I have of my Mom, especially ones of us together.
  • Not be so addicted to my phone.  This is a bad one.  I'm terrible.  It's always close.  And I'm embarrassed to admit I'm on it sometimes while playing with Mav.  Yuck.
  • Learn how to wear make up.  Robbie would disagree with this one.  He likes that I don't wear it and thinks I don't need it.  But I've never learned how to do it properly and I'm curious to know what looks good on me.  And it feels nice to get fancy every once in a while!
  • Read my Bible and/or devotional more.  I miss being so submersed into the Word, and I can really feel when it's been too long.  I should be so familiar with God's Word that it's the first thing that comes to mind, every time, in all things.
  • Run in some sort of organized race.  Between pregnancies, I was really getting set into a running routine.  I was losing weight and just generally feeling better.  I loved the feeling of making myself take one more step, going just a little further.  I'd like to aim towards a half marathon, but a 5 or 10k would be awesome too.
  • Shoot more.  And get my conceal & carry license.  I love going shooting, especially with my Dad.  Haven't been in a while cause preggos can't be on the line.  I doubt if I'll actually ever carry, but it would be nice to have the option.  And it's my 2nd Amendment right.
  • Get to know my neighbors.  It's sad.  We've been in our house over 5 years and I can't remember all of my immediate neighbor's names.  Granted, all of them are elderly and they aren't out of their houses much...but still not an excuse.
  • Take a cooking class.  I love, love, love to cook.  It would be fun to take a technique class and learn more about the art of cooking.
  • Connect and serve more at church.  I don't like that I don't know very many people at church and we've been attending for almost 2 years.  Having little ones makes it hard.  Gotta start small I suppose.
  • Visit the giraffes at the Zoo as much as possible.  Maverick and Sawyer have been named "parents" of a giraffe at the Zoo in my Mom's memory; and many people have donated to the Zoo in my Mom's memory.  I want to take the boys to see the display of Grandma's name, and see "their" giraffe in person.  Also, being close to the giraffes makes my heart smile and warm memories of Mom flood my mind. :)
  • Wear my hair down more, and fix it up more.  I guess this is in the same vein as make up.  99% of the time it's just up in a ponytail or bun.  It's just nice to learn how to make it pretty.
  • Read more books.  Growing up I always had my nose in a book.  One of my most favorite birthday gifts I've ever received was the whole hardcover set of The Chronicles of Narnia.  I miss transporting myself into new places through text. 
  • Follow Cardinals baseball more closely.  This one probably will make everyone laugh since it seems like I follow it obsessively.  I just want to fully geek out about it all.  Read up and memorize stats.  Follow the farm league to see who's coming up.  I want to be the little old granny at the ballpark who can school anyone, anytime, anywhere.
  • Take the kids to more community events.  Especially now that Mav is old enough to get more involved and have fun.
  • Go on vacation.  A real vacation.  I haven't been on one since our honeymoon to Chicago.  I want to go to Cardinals' spring training.  I would also love to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame again.  A beach is excellent too.
  • Hang out and talk with my family more.  Because they are awesome, and I love them.  And I only get one family to spend time with.  I also want my boys to grow up knowing all of their family well.
  • Get re-certified in Skywarn.  Besides baseball, my other most favorite thing is meteorology.  I was a certified storm spotter in college.  I miss going out and chasing storms, taking pictures.  It's been so long since I've used my spotter identification, I don't even know if it's good anymore.  Boo.
  • Finish at least 1 home improvement project.  We bought our house well below the appraised value.  But the real price was having an ugly, outdated home.  We started so many projects at once to overhaul the ugliness...but haven't finished them in years.  Something about having kids...
  • Write and send letters of encouragement.  I have done this a little in the past, and it was so great.  My Mom was so super awesome at it, and I can't tell you how many people shared with me at her visitation how she would always send them cards and letters.
  • Plant flowers.  And keep them alive.  I've always been envious of yards with flowers, they look so pretty!  I've tried a few times to have flowers and I have the blackest thumb ever.  Makes me sad.  Maybe I should take a basic gardening class, ha!
  • Hang out and talk with friends more.  I have the greatest friends ever, ever.  And I hate that we don't get to see them very often with everyone being so busy and such.  It's kinda cool now that our kids are getting old enough to entertain themselves, so us adults can actually interact! :)
  • Organize my paper life.  It's bad.  I mean, I have a filing system that I started in college.  Yep, it's overflowing.  I get all sorts of stuff in the mail, which goes to the kitchen table, which every few months gets filed into an overflowing filing cart.  Yikes.
  • Write in my journal more.  I've kept a diary/journal since 4th grade, and I love that I have a whole shelf full of memories.  I usually find a few minutes late at night to write, and end up falling asleep--or currently being summoned by a crying baby--before finishing.  SO many things I don't want to forget, and be able to read about years from now.
  • Wear more skirts and dresses.  They are so cute and comfy.  I have a ton that don't fit, but are too beautiful to let go.  Inspiration for getting back on my running routine!
  • Sing more.  One thing that I miss is not singing in a church choir, but my church doesn't have one.  I have so many great memories of singing with my Mom.  She was the one who nudged me into singing in High School, and I ended up I guess being sort of good at it (according to my choir teacher).  But it's been so long!
  • Improve punctuality.  Notice I didn't say stop being late, ha!!  Small steps.  Oh man, I used to be at least 10 minutes early to everything.  Now I'm lucky to be 10 minutes late.  Better planning needed!
  • Read more comic books.  When Robbie was going through chemotherapy treatments, his buddies gave him a ton of comic books to read.  Unfortunately he was too nauseated to do anything.  I picked one up one day, and couldn't put them down.  Finished them all.  I'm craving some more.
  • Renew my teaching certificate.  Having been in a non-certified position for 4 years now, my teaching certificate expired.  Fortunately all I have to do is take either a couple college courses, or attend so many professional development hours and I can renew it.  Actually, I think I want to expand my certification to Early Childhood since that's what I've been doing the past 4 years anyway; and hopefully move into a certified position once the boys are in school.
  • Be more Christ-like to my family and friends.  I pray every day for my boys to accept Jesus, and grow up to be men of faith.  And I want them to see Christ in me; to see it every day of the week, in the good and bad.  I want to show Christ's love, and what He has done in my life to my friends and coworkers, without having to say one word.  To have the right attitude and perspective all the time, and show love to everyone all the time.  I know I'm far from perfect, and won't ever be; but I want to try my best. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Navigating the Unexpected

We were sitting on the couch ready to bring in the New Year like most parents of young children--very quietly.  We had perfectly timed watching a movie on Netflix until just before midnight; then we switched on New Years Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest so that we could at least join the masses for the Big Countdown.

And then it hit me out of nowhere, unannounced.  Like it always does.

The burning weight in my throat.  The sting in my eyes.

As the clock was ticked down to 10 seconds left, I gasped an involuntary breath and held it.  2012 was mere moments from fading away, and I didn't want to let it go.  Panic gripped my mind.  I felt as long as I held my breath, I could somehow keep time frozen--in fact--rewind it.  As long as I held my breath, I had the power to keep a new year from starting. 

A new year that I have to start without my Mom.

And then I noticed that the clock was still ticking.  The world and the people in it were still moving.  As instantaneously as this grief swept me up in that moment, it was fleeting the next.  I exhaled.

This wasn't the first time an overwhelming wave of grief has hit me.  It's usually the most random, but normal every day things.  Ordering a Cherry Coke from Steak 'n' Shake.  Hearing a crack of thunder outside and expecting a phone call to chat about the weather.  Doing the laundry and seeing a shirt she bought one of the boys.  Hearing about a trade the Cardinals made, and wanting to discuss.  Dealing with a fussy baby, and wanting advice.

It can hit during the quiet of night before bed, or during the loudest of public events.

I've never grieved for someone I've loved so dearly, so strongly; my first best friend.  Learning how to navigate this journey has been difficult--but I truly feel the Lord guiding me.  I know that He has never left me, and He never will.  In my greatest hour of need, He is there.

For my birthday, my mother and father in law gave me a devotional book. It is called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

It has been such a blessing to me, and I can already tell this will be a guide that I will read over and over in years to come.  On the inner dedication page, the author describes that her mother was her biggest encourager for writing this devotional.  Her mom kept the manuscript by her bed, and even had pages faxed daily to her while she lived far away.  Her mom died of cancer, and I can't help but feel a strong connection.  My mom instilled in me a great love for reading and writing, and always encouraged me in my creativity.

With "The Year of Firsts" ahead of me I know there are going to be many, many more moments of unexpected grief to come.  Some moments easier to deal with than others.  Some moments faster to deal with than others.  But I know that I won't face it alone.  Jesus will carry me.  I also have the greatest love from my husband, father, sisters, family, and friends.

Whatever is to come in 2013, I am so thankful that in spite of my imperfect self, the Father loves me more than I could ever love myself.  He knows me better than I could ever know myself.  He has had my life planned before time itself was created; and I trust that His plan is best...however difficult it may be sometimes to accept it.

Thanks for letting me express my heart.  I promise that I won't overwhelm this blog with such serious posts, but it does feel great to throw it out there.