Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Few Birthday Pics!

No More Pacifier

Along with turning three this past week, Julius had another huge task to tackle. Giving up his pacifier!

Our family rule is: No pacifier after three years old. I know, everyone has a different opinion on the subject. This is just what Nathan and I decided on when we had our first child. Layla gave up her pacifier around her third birthday, and now it was Julius' turn.

The good thing is, that Nate and I learned to start weaning Julius off before his actual birthday. For about the past year, Julius has not been allowed to have his pacifier throughout the day. He would mainly have it at night, in long car rides and when he was sick. We learned that the hard way with Layla, who had her pacifier day and night in her mouth, until she had to give it up, cold turkey!

Yesterday, Nathan wrote a letter to God, for Julius. In it he asked that God would give his pacifiers to a new baby that needed them, since he was now a big boy and didn't need to use a pacifier any longer.

Julius then added his two pacifiers.

Julius was so proud of himself and his letter.

And then...........the reality that he was getting rid of his pa-pa's (pacifiers) sunk in.

He has loved his pa-pa's for the special time he had them. Daddy comforted him and assured him this was part of becoming a big boy. This actually made mommy tear up a bit, too! It's hard to watch your babies grow up so quickly.

Nate bundled up Layla and Julius to take them to drop off recycling and to swing by the mailbox to drop off Julius' special package. By this point the tears had passed and he was excited. Nate said that he dropped it into the mailbox without any problems. A little bit down the road he asked for his pa-pa. Nate teasingly reminded him of where it was. He asked a few more times in the evening. By bedtime, I think he was prepared. After stories, prayers, hugs and kisses, Julius was tucked under his covers. I saw him chewing a bit on the corner of his sheet. He fell asleep pretty quick and slept the entire night! Hallelujah! Everyone's prayers were answered. Julius received hugs and high fives this mornings and reminders of what a big boy he really is!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Julius: A Birth Story

Yesterday we celebrated Julius' 3rd birthday. I can't believe my first baby boy is now three! As I looked back through his baby pictures, I was inspired to document his birth story. Remember, I am the bad mommy who does not keep baby books or journals, so this blog is a sort of redemption for me in that area. I love reading birth stories, especially during my pregnancies. I hope you enjoy!

In late January 2007, I was making my way through my final weeks of pregnancy. I was huge, a whopping 45 pounds above my normal weight, and getting anxious for the arrival of our first son. I remember on the evening of January 26th, just around two weeks before my due date, I made a phone call to my mother, as I sat on the couch trying my best to relax. I have a tendency to nest quite a bit towards the ends of my pregnancy and I tend to work myself sick instead of kicking back and putting my feet up. I remember lamenting to my mother that I wish I could just go into labor that night because my house was perfectly clean, my laundry was all washed and put away, and I knew that in just a matter of days (or hours) all of my hard work would be undone. She comforted me and told me it would be soon enough and to not worry about laundry or housework.

The next day was Saturday and I spent the day doing weird things like scrubbing the kitchen floor and such. I don't think I sat down the entire day. As the day wore on, Nate started coming down with the flu. By evening he was feeling very sick and I did my best to take care of him, even though I thought I was having some contractions. By bedtime he asked for some NyQuil. I reluctantly got the medicine for him, but then warned him that I was having some contractions and questioned whether or not he should take something that would make him so drowsy. He asked if my contractions were regular and close together. I told him not at all. He said that he thought he would be fine as long as he could get a handful of hours of sleep. He took the NyQuil and went to bed around 11 p.m. I, of course, puttered around for another hour. My contractions were making me a bit nervous, so I set out clothes for our daughter, Layla, and for Nathan and myself. I even checked my hospital bag to make sure it was ready to go. I finally headed to bed after midnight and fell asleep pretty easily, as my contractions were still far apart and very irregular.

Around 2 a.m. I woke up to a strong contraction. I laid in bed for another ten minutes and had a few more. I decided to get up and take a shower to see if they would pass or let up. After about ten minutes in the shower, the contractions started coming fast. I got out of the shower and desperately tried to wake my NyQuil-drugged husband from his slumber. When he finally woke up I asked him to call his parents to come over and stay with Layla. I then asked him to call my parents (who live an hour away) and let them know to start getting ready. I did my best to get ready in the short moments I had between contractions. With all three of my children I have arrived at the hospital in full make-up. It's stupid, I know, but I feel compelled.

Nate came into the bathroom and said he had to take a shower before we went to the hospital. Let's just say he was moving a little slow thanks to the flu and the NyQuil hangover.

We headed downstairs and Nate went out to start the car. The contractions were really getting strong, so I became good friends with the computer desk as I leaned over it and swayed through each contraction. I noticed that Nate was not coming back inside. Then I heard the awful sounds. He was dry-heaving off the back deck. NyQuil was now becoming his worst enemy. Nate's parents arrived to find their son trying to puke and their daughter-in-law hunched over the desk. They tried to ask me what was wrong with Nate, but I was having so many contractions that I was not able to talk to them. You should have seen the worried looks on their faces!

Well, we somehow managed to get into the car. We live just minutes away from the hospital, and every time I am in labor I praise Jesus for such a short trip!

We arrived at the hospital around 3:30 a.m. We headed up to labor and delivery and had to give the run down to the nurses at the front desk. I love labor and delivery nurses, but when you first arrive at the hospital they kind of treat you like your some crazy person. They heavily question the time of your contractions, how long you have been having them and how frequently. I know they need to do this because woman do arrive thinking they are ready to deliver, even though they are only dilated to a one. I do have to say that once they hear that you have already had a baby, they relax a bit and take your word more at face value.

So, after some interrogation, I am taken to an exam room, where they discover I am already at a four and having strong contractions. I immediately ask for an epidural and I tell the nurse my sad story of how I was denied an epidural with my first birth. She assures me that won't likely happen again. After giving me some attention, the nurses become aware of the fact that Nate is not doing so well. Maybe it was the various shades of green his face turned, or his general unresponsiveness. They became quite concerned! They rushed to get him some water and a snack to try and help him get through this labor the best he could. Poor Nate! I will never forget that night. His speech was somewhat slurred and I think his eyes were only halfway open the entire night.

I was having quite a bit of back labor because the baby was face up. Nate was rubbing my back through each contraction, but sometimes he would fall asleep, standing up. I would yell at him to wake up and keep rubbing my back. I was trying my best to stay calm as I patiently waited for my epidural. I had two nurses that night who were awesome. Better yet, one of the nurses was the nurse who I had with the birth of my daughter, so I felt very comfortable. The nurse had me get on my hands and knees and sway my hips from side to side to get the baby to flip face down. I found this position to be very effective in managing my pain, as well.

I kept waiting for my epidural and I started getting a little panicky. The nurses said that the anesthesiologist was on his way from home and he should be there soon. I remember overhearing the one nurse ask the other, do you think she is transitioning? The other nurse saw me listening and shook her head "no." My mom arrived on the scene shortly after that. I think seeing me in pain is discomforting to her and by nature she is driven to "fix" problems. You know, she's the one that always goes to talk to the manager at restaurants and stores to resolve the issues. She asked me what she could do to help. I told her she could check on my epidural. She was off!

Nate continued to do his best helping me through each contraction. My mom came back clearly irritated. Her badgering could not produce an instant epidural.

A few minutes later a man in a white coat walks in. I look behind me and see him and exclaim, "Oh thank you Lord! You must be the anesthesiologist!" He said, "no, he was the doctor" and he needed to examine me to see if I could have the epidural. Upon examining me he said, "no epidural for you, you are already at a ten." At this point I started to cry. No epidural again! Never mind the fact that I was fully dilated! You see, with my daughter I pushed for about an hour, so in my mind I had another hour or so worth of pain. I had flipped back to my hands and knees to cope with another contraction. The doctor gruffly told me that "I couldn't have a baby in that position" and to "flip back over." Really? So much for bedside manner!

So I reluctantly flipped over and the doctor immediately broke my water. I pushed with all my might on that first contraction. When it was over I saw the nurse looking at the doctor. After a few seconds she turned to me and said, "honey, another good push like that and the baby will be out." I think she was waiting on the doctor to say it, but when he didn't, she did. That's all I needed to hear. On the next contraction, Julius was born at 5:20 a.m. on January 28th. We hadn't even been at the hospital for two hours.

I thought he was beautiful as soon as I saw him. Nathan somehow managed to take a few pictures of Julius, while the nurses cleaned him up a bit. Nathan held the baby while the doctor stitched me up. I don't really remember him saying that he was giving me an episiotomy. Poor Nate was still having a hard time staying awake. Being that this was my second child, I was a bit more relaxed and I told him to go home and get some sleep. He was able to go home and finally sleep off that NyQuil, so he could come back and stay at the hospital with me.

Julius took right to nursing. I remember how peaceful it was that Sunday morning, sitting, holding my new baby boy and watching the snow come down thickly. We ended up getting around 6 inches or so. The delivery ward was slow and quiet and I enjoyed the extra attention of the wonderful nurses.

Layla was very excited to meet her new baby brother. I think the whole experience of having to come up to the hospital for a couple days, was exhausting for her. She always wanted to lay in my hospital bed and she even took a nap with me.

Overall, I was very happy with this birth experience. It was so different from my first birth. I had emotionally prepared myself to the possibility that I may not get the epidural. I stayed so much calmer throughout my labor, which in turned made the pain easier to cope with. It was this birth experience that changed my opinions on epidurals and the need for them in labor. It gave me the courage to go into my next labor knowing that I would not be asking for an epidural or any other type of pain medication. Reading other women's birth stories and watching labor and delivery videos online taught me that birth could be calm and relaxed(unlike my first delivery) without drugs or anesthesia. I will always remember his birth as a turning point, where I learned to believe in myself and the abilities and strength of my own body.

I thank the Lord so much for my little Julius. I know he won't be little forever. He has changed so much these past three years, and I can't wait to see what he will be like during the next three!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Around Here

If you had been hanging around here today, you would have caught some of this....

I did my best to duplicate a photo shoot from early December. I took a roll of black-and-white film of the kids back the first week of December. I know, film?!? We have been operating these past five years with film. Don't feel too bad. We have a Canon Rebel that has a great lens. My parents were kind enough to lift us from the Dark Ages by giving us a digital camera this Christmas. This is why my blog now has many more pictures. Ok, ok, back to the story!

So I turned this roll of film into Meijer still in early December. By Christmas they were telling me that the film was still not in and that black-and-white takes a long time. Whatever. I told all our family members that their Christmas gifts of pictures would be delayed a bit. By the end of December, Meijer figured out that the processing plant destroyed my film by processing it in color film chemicals. Go figure. So all 36 beautiful, black-and-white pictures of my babies dressed in their wedding clothes, no longer existed. We embarrassingly told family members that their gifts would be delayed longer. Then Julius and Layla both came down with the flu. And even by the middle of January, when everyone was healthy again, I kind of forget that we still owed everyone a Christmas gift!

So now in late January, I have finally gotten the kids dressed in their best, yet once again, to try and make all this right. I bribed the kids with candy if they were good for the pictures and took about 48 black-and-white photos with my new camera. Amazingly, a handful turned out!

I cannot reveal these beauties just yet, as they need to be ordered, shipped or hand-delivered to family members as their belated Christmas gifts, first. Then when all these housekeeping issues are completed, I will be glad to post the best of the best. I might even throw in a few more outtakes!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Parade of Food Continues

Still nothing spectacular to write about. But I did manage to take pictures of what we ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lame, I know! But it is all I got, lol!

These lovely bagels will keep you from ever wanting a grocery store bagel, EVER AGAIN. You can find the recipe here at Under the High Chair.

I am now a believer in these amazing crisps. These rosemary, raisin and pecan crisps are delish with cream cheese, but can stand alone as a great snack, as well. I can't keep Layla and Julius out of them, and Layla doesn't even like raisins! It is a copycat recipe designed to save you money since the one's from Whole Foods run about 10 bucks a pop. This recipe is also from Under the High Chair. Click here to enter a new dimension of crispy cracker goodness!

A few weeks ago we purchased a grass-fed lamb, which we split with my parents. We enjoyed braised lamb chops last week. Layla loved them so much, that she has been asking for lamb almost every night. The other night I was making a shrimp dish, and she asked if she could have "a layer of shrimp with a layer of lamb underneath." I about wet myself I laughed so hard.

Tonight I made a lamb stew, loosely based on Alice Waters' beef stew recipe, in The Art of Simple Food. It called for a topping of chopped parsley and garlic, but Nathan and I both agreed we liked the stew better without it. We served it on pearled barley. Even though this meal didn't wow me, it was good and I enjoyed the different flavors and spices in it. I tend to get in a spice and flavor rut, since many of our meals have similar ingredients and seasonings. The lamb, roasted red peppers and cloves in this stew made for a nice change of pace. And like my mother always told me, "every meal does not have to be a party!" And now I tell my children, "you don't have to be in love with everything you eat!"

But it sure is fun, party or no party, when you get to eat things that you love!

What did you eat today?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Grilled Peanut Butter Chocolate Sandwhiches

As I continue to struggle to come up with things to blog about, you might find me relying heavily on the topic of food. After all, we really like to eat around here and it happens several times a day! If you happen to bore of food after awhile, I apologize. Maybe by that point I will have come up with something more interesting to share. For all of you food lovers who never bore of the subject, here ya go!

Grilled Peanut Butter Chocolate Sandwiches

Take your favorite peanut butter, some Nutella or other Chocolate Hazelnut spread, butter and two slices of bread. Butter outside pieces of bread. Spread peanut butter and Nutella on the other sides. Slap together and fry until golden brown. This may get a little messy while preparing, but good things never come without sacrifice! Enjoy! Your kids will think this is heavenly!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Yeah, Toast

I am not usually an endorser of Bob and Tom, for obvious reasons. But this catchy tune takes me back to my days as an office girl. I'm sending a big shout out to my former coworker, Russell and all the other toast lovers around the world. I am off to make my kids some toast for breakfast!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

And the Winner is...

.......the lunch lady special, Salisbury Steak!

Get some black-eyed peas boiling with some bay leaves.

Cook chopped onion in butter until soft.

Mix together ground beef, egg, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs,
salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley.

Form into patties and cook until brown on both sides.
Transfer from pan, cover and keep patties warm.

Corn starch (mixed with cold water), mushrooms, broth and beer
will make your gravy.

Saute mushrooms in butter.

Add a couple cups of broth, 1/3 of a beer, and corn starch mixture.
Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until thickens.

While I was cooking, Nate, Layla and Julius were out playing in the snow.
Gunnar decided to hang out with me in the kitchen.

Our slanted back yard and daddy's push-power make for a mini sledding hill.

And this is what we sat down to for dinner!
Everyone enjoyed it and we will be making it again.

At A Loss....

Upon typing out the title, I realized how serious it sounded. Don't worry, nothing too serious is going on over at our house. I am just at a loss about what to cook for dinner! I think it is going to have to involve mushrooms, as the package of baby bellas in the fridge is looking a little sad. Any ideas? I could use a little inspiration!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Imagination Zone

I am always amazed at how my children prefer to play with things that are not toys. These past few weeks, they have had more fun with a big box of diapers, a big block of toilet paper, a flat box from the butcher and ice cream scoops, then they have had with any of their toys. These things have been transformed repeatedly at the will of their imaginations. It's so amazing and entertaining!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Good Enough For Who Its For

My father-in-law has a saying, "Good enough for who its for!" I often hear him use it when he is fixing something. Nathan and I have taken to saying it from time to time, ourselves. As one who has a tendency to get caught up in perfectionism, this saying often keeps things in perspective for me. My home isn't going to be gracing the pages of a magazine and my linen shelves need not look like Martha Stewart's (with the exception of when the realtor is coming over, wink, wink!). My dinner table looks just fine the way the kids set it and the toys don't have to be perfectly put away. Its good enough for who its for.

But that saying can work the other way, as well. Are you really being good enough to yourself and your family? Too often we save the good sheets, the good towels, the good food, the good dishes, the good clothes, the good attitudes, the good smiles, the good energy, and the good words for those outside our families. The Lord made us responsible to serve our spouses and families before we serve others.

I remember reading in Elizabeth George's book, A Woman after God's Own Heart, that she learned early on to not give things to others that she had not yet given to her husband and children. She recalled making a lovely homemade dinner and dessert for a person in her church. Her children and husband sat eating boxed macaroni and store-bought cookies as she took her full-tray of lovely food out the door. She was convicted by that experience and from that day on, she has always made the same thing for her family that she was sharing with those in need.

Take time to ask the Lord to show you ways to better serve your spouse and family, prior to serving others. Then, after exceedingly meeting the needs of your family, you can graciously serve others, knowing that you are honoring the Lord by taking care of your first responsibilities, first. The Lord will always bless those that honor and obey Him with the resources necessary to build His kingdom, family by family, and church by church.

So always make sure, "its good enough for who its for!"

Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm all the days of her life.

Proverbs 31: 11, 12

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wet Oatmeal Kisses

As I picked oatmeal off my pajamas this morning, I remembered a poem I heard for the first time years ago from the famous, Mrs. T. Brady. I didn't even have children at the time, yet it pierced my soul. To this day it still makes me cry every time I hear or read it. I especially need this today, as I have had a short fuse with my children, lately. The time goes so fast.

Wet Oatmeal Kisses

One of these days you'll explode
and shout to all the kids,
"Why don't you just grow up
and act your own age?"

And they will.

Or, "You guys get outside
and find something to do --
without hurting each other!
And don't slam the door!"

And they don't.

You'll straighten their bedrooms
until it's all neat and tidy,
toys displayed on the shelf,
hangers in the closet,
animals caged. You'll yell,
"Now I want it to stay this way!!"

And it will.

You will prepare a perfect dinner
with a salad that hasn't had all
the olives picked out.
And a cake with no finger traces in
the icing.
And you'll say,
"Now this is a meal for company."

And you will eat it alone.

You'll yell, "I want complete privacy
on the phone! No screaming, do you
hear me?"

And no one will answer.

No more plastic tablecloths stained.
No more dandelion bouquets.
No more iron-on patches.
No more wet, knotted shoelaces,
muddy boots or
Rubber bands for ponytails.

Imagine. A lipstick with a point.
No babysitters for New Year's Eve,
washing clothes only once a week.
No PTA meetings or silly school plays
where your child is a tree.
No carpools, blaring stereos or forgotten
lunch money.

No more presents made of library paste
and toothpicks. No wet oatmeal kisses.
No more tooth fairy, giggles in the dark,
scraped knees to kiss or sticky fingers to

Only a voice asking, "Why don't you grow up?"

And the silence echoes:

"I did."

Author unknown

Early Risers, Jet Streams and the Rising Sun

Our East-facing back window provided yet more entertainment this morning. Julius and Gunnar thought it was a good idea to wake up this morning at 6:45 a.m. At least, Layla, held out until after 8:00 a.m. The cloudless sky and rising sun made the jet streams of departing and arriving planes amazingly visible and kept all of my children entertained for quite some time. It also provided ample opportunity to review North, East, South and West. But I couldn't convince Julius that an arriving plane really wasn't headed to Florida. I think they miss their cousins from Florida and would love to be on a plane, headed that direction, themselves!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Morning Musings

This morning Layla and Julius were fascinated by the steam billowing into the cloudless sky. As Nate explained it was from a local factory, the children hung on the back windowsill. After daddy left for work, the kids started spotting pigs, trains, alligators and elephants in the fast moving stream of steam.

Layla then requested Jingle Bells from her favorite Christmas CD. Yes, we are still playing Christmas music around here! She lamented that "I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas" was her true favorite, but we don't own that on CD. I told her that maybe by next Christmas we could get that song on CD or maybe by then we will have an Ipod. She, of course, asked what an Ipod was. After explaining to her, she said, "pirates wear Ipods!" She might be right. Our modern day pirates just might wear Ipods instead of eye patches!