Sunday, December 18, 2016

6 Weeks

It's been a busy few weeks here. In a 4 week period, Ross had 3 work trips, Noah and I took one trip to Omaha, and we took a family road trip to Oklahoma. We got back home for a bit right at 6 weeks... just in time for symptoms to get a bit more real. I had been fatigued and super hungry from day one, but now the hunger has been replaced by unrelenting nausea. Most of it, obviously, is hormones, but I'm sure some of it is the fact that self-care has been non-existent for the past month.

Anyway, the symptoms sure make it all feel more real. However, I'm a little sad that my general "blah"ness interferes with my time with Noah. I guess I thought I had 9 more months with  just him, and I'm feeling super emotional about that.

BUT I'm so in love with Noah, and I can't wait to get to know this baby, too. I'm kind of glad it's so busy right now, because by the time life calms down, I will hopefully be through the worst of the symptoms and on to the parts of pregnancy I really enjoy: feeling baby move and learning his or her rhythms and preferences.

I will also say, I generally hate winter, but if it has to be bitter cold outside, and I have to be nauseated over everything, I'm glad the two coincide. I'm pretty sure that first trimester is the only time I appreciate cold air and cold water. Warm puffy vest season is also super beneficial for my awkward first trimester body. Overall, I really can't complain. It's starting to sink in that this is all really happening!

The biggest proof? The ultrasound we had this week.


I breathed a sigh of relief seeing you in there at 6 weeks and 3 days. I was so PROUD of you! You measured right on target, and your little heart was already beating away at 119 beats per minute. I'm so excited to experience the fun parts of pregnancy again, but now that I know how much personality your little blueberry-sized body already embodies, I can't wait to get to know you, too!


Sunday, December 11, 2016

5 Weeks

Hi baby!

I'll be honest, I was really nervous about writing this letter. I'm G4P1. What if something happens to you and I've gotten too attached? But then I realized, what does "too" attached even mean? Whether it's for 5 weeks or 50 years, you'll always be my baby! The fact of the matter is that you're here right now, and you already hold a spot in our family.

We weren't going to tell people quite so early, but, well, your big brother is REALLY excited to meet you. Noah and I were at my parents' house while your dad was traveling for work, and my mom, dad, and brother Bobby were all sitting at the dinner table toward the end of dinner tonight. We were talking about med school, and I said, "oh! Did you know Dan from grade school is an OBGYN now?"

My mom said, "he'll make a great OBGYN!"

Noah said, "Mama has a baby in her tummy!"

Everyone just looked at me. I realized there was no escaping, so I laughed and said, "It's true!"

Bobby needed toddler-speak clarification, so my mom screamed, "Therese is having another baby!"

Noah was a little scared of all the screaming. But after the noise died down, he really proudly and sweetly said, "I'm a big brother now!"

The next day he said the same thing randomly while playing: "Mama has a baby in her tummy. I'm a big brother! I'm two years old!"

He is so proud and so sweet and so excited. We all are, little one.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanks-giving Indeed

This morning before work, I took a pregnancy test and set it on the bathroom counter. I went into the office to do my Bible study and a few minutes later, Ross walked in with a huge smile on his face.

The test was positive! I was really ready for it to be negative, so it was so surreal. A faint line, to be sure, but this time Ross knew it was the real deal, unlike my first positive test with Noah. A baby! Our family is growing and we're so excited!

Monday, November 14, 2016

So This is How You Swim Inward

I like a good story. By that, I mean a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

But my story? I'm (hopefully) smack dab in the middle and I'm feeling stuck. 

I thought my story was anorexia. I thought my story was marriage. I thought my story was postpartum depression. I thought my story was chronic pain. 

Can I take a moment to say, I'm SO THANKFUL that none of these have been my sole life-defining story for more than 2, 5, 10 years? 

That being said, it means life carries me on to another plot line while the previous one is yet unfinished, and it drives. me. crazy. It brings me to despair and to my knees, alternatingly. These days, the despair is more prominent. Except thankfully it's not quite despair. It's more like this low buzz-hum of irritation. The "are we there yet" drones in the back of my skill constantly. 

Nothing brings that hum to a dull roar more than motherhood. I want my kid to BE potty-trained already. I want my unrelenting, (mostly) kind, patient, deadly calm, consistent discipline to show an inkling of paying off. I want to find my GROOVE. My routine. My sweet spot. I want it to be easy and I know it isn't supposed to be easy and I feel like the tension of this reality is squishing my brain out my eye sockets and my heart into a box two sizes too small. (I don't know, but I swear it's also making my jeans too tight?)

I see my impatience, and I want to focus on the times my toddler IS obedient, the many many many times he's incredibly sweet, the moments in which he's just hilarious.

But then my husband has a work deadline, or someone gets sick, or LIFE HAPPENS and to drown out that little voice of annoyance, I turn to distraction. Social media, of course, which is louder than ever. Books, which are much more profitable, but still not healthy when I stay up too late to finish a novel I just started, or read in the afternoons, ignoring Noah's pleas for more interaction with his mom. Driven to distraction. 

Sometimes, when I really muster up the energy, exercise can help quell the anxiety. A doctor told me last winter after a year of near-daily panic attacks, that if I can't use my mind to calm my body, I might be able to use my body to calm my mind. This is true. Except when it isn't and I'm trying to do a workout video while my kid is sleeping and our house feels too small as my husband tries to sneak back and forth from the garage to the bathroom while I'm bouncing around in a body that's still a bit awkward to me and a sports bra that's definitely too old.

By this, I mean I'm over this drought. Words crowd my head, but when I sit down to write them down, they're stifled and awkward and I don't like reading them. But the worst part of this drought is, it's SELF-IMPOSED. My self-care habits? Nonexistent. My effort to carve out regenerative alone time? Minimal, at best. My expectations? Possibly unrealistic. 

In my grad school glory days (OMG all of my co-workers found out I have half of my Master's and they basically all told me I was stupid to not just finish and my hours expire a year from now and what's happening here?!) I wrote a paper on Mercer's Maternal Role Attainment Theory. You know, before I was a mom. The process used in this theory helps the mom develop an attachment to the baby, which in turn helps the infant form a bond with the mother. 

I looked it up again the other day. The Maternal Role Attainment Theory follows four stages of acquisition: anticipatory, formal, informal, and personal. The anticipatory stage involves the social and psychological adaptation to the idea of the maternal role. The formal stage is the assumption of the role of mother. Early behaviors are often guided by others in the mother's social system, and she relies on the advice of others in her decision-making. The informal stage follows, in which the mother develops her own method of mothering and finds what works for her and the child. Finally, the personal stage is the joy of motherhood. In this stage, the mother finds "harmony, confidence, and competence in the maternal role." In some cases, she may find herself ready for or looking forward to another child. 

I kid you not, when I read this last week I was like, DONE. I'm THERE at long last! I was thinking, I'm ready for another kid, and I'm super confident in my parenting, and even though we don't have a fall routine, we could have a routine if I put the effort in!

The next day, it all went to sh*t, literally. Potty training regression. Sudden mourning of my toddler's independence, after it took us so so long to bond in the first place. Commitments every day of the week. I was feeling so frantic, that self-care became indulgent dismissiveness and removal from reality, as opposed to actual care of the self. I say this like it's never happened before, but let's be real. I came out of the last spin cycle long enough to read the summary of that mothering theory, and now it's all lather-rinse-repeat over here. 

My counselor asked me a few months ago, how does it feel to know that this is God's story, and not yours? I was like, oh! yeah. I'm starting to see that instead of this phase or that phase, this is just how life is. But have I let that sink into my bones? Nah. I mean, I know it to be true more than I did 5 years ago, for sure. But it's really hard to shake that feeling of if I could just ___ then ___.


I started reading my Bible like a book. Every time I want to "read the Bible in a year," I get really psyched to learn, and really into the footnotes, and then all of the sudden it feels unattainable. I feel like I don't really know who God is, after all this. But the wonderful thing is, I WANT to. I know what he's done for me. I know where he's turned darkness to light. I see the miracles he's worked in my life. But I don't know him for the sake of knowing him, and I want to. 

I want to step outside every morning and evening just to step outside. To look at the sky. To stand for 3 minutes and feel what the day is bringing, or reflect on what it brought.

I want to get out of bed early. I mean, I don't, but I do. I'm tossing and turning after 5:30am anyway. Why not get up and journal or read or do some other quiet activity (and NOT mourn the fact that our house is too small to do a workout while someone is sleeping)?

I want to buy a chair or couch that's comfortable. Seriously, the only comfortable spot in our house is our bed, and you can imagine that's not conducive to much, besides spending naptime on my phone pretending to interact with other people.

I want to do my physical therapy every single stinking day. I used to be so good at this, because I'm paying some legit money for it! And the exercises do help a bit, but I'm so out of the habit after my last "graduation." (And also, a little frustrated that they basically said there was nothing more they could do for my pain last November, and the pain drove me back to a whole round of doctors this summer, before leading me to physical therapy again where they were like, sure, we have tons of stuff you can do!)

I want to work out again.

I want to close all the stupid internet windows on my phone, and just check Facebook and email once a day on my laptop. (Okay maybe not Facebook. I hate it.)

I want to make a dent in my to-read list, instead of grabbing any old book at the library.

I want to paint a chalkboard wall to WRITE on, instead of taking screenshots of words that tug at my heartstrings.

I want to make a best friend. Like where we mutually understand that we are each other's best friend. It's been way, way too long.

I want to care less what others think, and care more about the people I'm seeking communion with.


Five A.M. in the Pinewoods
by Mary Oliver

I’d seen 
their hoofprints in the deep 
needles and knew 
they ended the long night
under the pines, walking 
like two mute 
and beautiful women toward 
the deeper woods, so I
got up in the dark and 
went there. They came 
slowly down the hill 
and looked at me sitting under
the blue trees, shyly 
they stepped 
closer and stared 
from under their thick lashes and even
nibbled some damp 
tassels of weeds. This 
is not a poem about a dream, 
though it could be.
This is a poem about the world 
that is ours, or could be. 
one of them—I swear it!—
would have come to my arms. 
But the other 
stamped sharp hoof in the 
pine needles like
the tap of sanity, 
and they went off together through 
the trees. When I woke 
I was alone,
I was thinking: 
so this is how you swim inward, 
so this is how you flow outward, 
so this is how you pray.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Winter Squash and Caramelized Onion Tart

This blog is essentially our family cookbook and scrapbook. Nothing fancy. I've been posting a lot of recipes lately because we are in a food rut. I'm putting new recipes we like on the blog, so that I can find them easily next time I'm in a rut. 

Post-nap, pre-dinner is really not my favorite time of day. So when a new friend shared the idea of PrepDish, I was sold in about 2 seconds flat. I've always been skeptical of plans that require you to spend all day Sunday in the kitchen, preparing food for a week. This only took 1 hour and 45 minutes of my Sunday, and it was seamless. (It would've taken even less time if I hadn't been interrupted by broken glass and a toddler meltdown).

The premise, of course, is that you prep a lot of stuff beforehand, and basically assemble and bake or re-heat the day of. We've only eaten one meal so far, and it tasted incredible. Especially given how simple it was! 

The recipe was for a butternut squash, caramelized onion, and blue cheese tart. I altered it just a little, but I don't think it affected the essence of the dish at all. This was so good.


1-2 tsp dried basil
2 slices of bacon, cut into cubes (alternately, I used 1 large handful of EPIC Hickory Smoked Bacon Bits)
2 large delicata squash (or 2 small butternut squash, or 2 bags of frozen butternut squash cubes)
1 large red onion
4 oz blue cheese or goat cheese (alternately, I used Treeline Cracked Pepper Aged Cashew Cheese)

3 cups almond flour
4 Tbs butter, melted
1 egg
pinch of salt

olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is warming up, wash and dry the squash. Cut in half length-wise and remove the seeds. For delicata squash, you don't need to peel. Just slice into thin rounds. For butternut, peel and then cut into cubes. Toss the squash with 1 Tbs olive oil, salt, pepper, and bacon if it's uncooked. Spread into a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 30-45 minutes, removing to toss occasionally.

2. Thinly slice the red onion. Heat 1 tbs oil over medium heat, add onions and a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally for 20-25 minutes until caramelized. Turn off heat and allow to cool.

3. In a medium bowl, mix the almond meal, butter, egg, and salt. Press dough into a greased or lined 9x13 inch baking dish (I lined with parchment paper to make cleanup easier). Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until set.

4. Top crust with caramelized onions, roasted squash and bacon, and cheese crumbles. Place in oven for another 5-10 minutes to melt the cheese. Then top with basil, and drizzle with balsamic reduction, if desired.

Did I mention it was so stinking good?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Meaningful Work as a Mother

A few months ago, a new acquaintance asked me one evening, "did you work today?"

Now, it was an innocent question. But I'm sure I visibly bristled because the fact of the matter is that Noah was in the throes of the "twos," was newly potty training, our house was under construction, and I was emotionally and physically exhausted. But did I clock in or get paid or answer to anyone besides a toddler? No. So I said, "no, I mostly just work on the weekend," and left it at that.

Yet... I felt immediately defensive because I knew I worked that day, and I knew it was work that a lot of women would love to do, but can't for a plethora of reasons. I also knew it was the least appealing work in the world to other women; and to yet others, it didn't qualify as "work" at all.

So when the speakers at our women's conference breakout session last month defined work as "any purposeful activity involving mental, emotional, and/or physical energy, compensated or not," my heart cried YES.

What I got from the discussion was really refreshing, too: What is your calling? Anything the Father calls you to do! This means it doesn't have to look the same for all of us.

I often attempt to define who I am through what I do, and often when I put my "stuff" out there, I'm trying to get feedback about who I am. I want to know that I'm seen, and that what I do matters. Maybe it doesn't sound so bad, but at its core, that behavior means my work is my identity. And when I make my work, any work, my identity, I make sacrifices to protect it. Then I'm devastated when others don't validate it because it means they don't validate me. It's enough to make anyone defensive. This is probably where I spent the first 18 months of my job as a mom: piling on the disclaimers and feeling like I needed to pre-emptively defend myself for my choice to stay home Monday through Friday and work one shift a week on nights or weekends.

Here's the deal: before you're a mom, you're generally convinced that motherhood is either the best or worst thing that will ever happen to you. When it does happen to you, younger or older, planned or not, biological or adoptive, it's going to rock your world. From there, the path of motherhood diverges in as many different directions as there are mothers.

Unless you stay at home with a child for 40 hours a week, you can't understand the unique loneliness that can come with it.

Unless you are a mom and a full-time employee and/or full-time student all at the same time, you can't understand the mass chaos that comes with the dual roles and responsibilities and childcare.

Unless you're a single parent, or a solo parent with a spouse who travels often or works long hours, you can't understand the weight that carries.

So why do we assign value and judgement to someone else's life and roles? Why can't we let them do what they're called to do, and do what works for us without shame?  Instead of assigning value to whose life is "harder" or whose role is "more important," we need to remember that we are all living in the reality that life doesn't quite turn out exactly how we expect it to. Why can't we unite under the umbrella of the fact that it's all so very much harder than we thought it would be?

The awesome thing is, we can. We CAN work out of blessing, and not for it. Genesis 1:27-28 tell us God made us in his image to be creators, relational, and rulers. It goes on to tell us that he blesses us and THEN gives us a job to do: to be fruitful and multiply. As women, this line has caused a lot of grief because our fruitfulness is often expressed in physical childbearing. The good new is, fruitfulness is NOT limited to that, because we are creative beings, not just "creators" in the very strict sense of the word.

When sin and death entered the world, our own work got painful in every way. But this means we don't have to find the "perfect job" or "ideal situation." Because we live in a fallen world, we can expect to be regularly frustrated in our work, even when we're right where we should be!

This was so validating for me to hear. So needed. If I'm not striving for perfection, I can find peace where I'm at. Loving my work (even in the midst of the difficulty) is to image the Father. I can value people over accomplishments, titles, incomes, or traditional roles. When looking at my unique struggles, I can ask, how does this mundane thing image the Father and lead me to Him? I can ask other moms the same question, even though their mundane thing may be so totally different from mine.

All of us could stand to ask ourselves, "Do I really believe God cares about my daily work, whatever that may be?" Acts 17:28 says that in God we live, and move, and have our being. This means that he isn't just directing our lives, but that he's actively involved in us, transforming us in the midst of our daily challenges. He's using us to get work done, but he's also using work to get US done!

There are so many tensions as a result of choices and circumstances in our lives. Can we link arms and be united in Christ? Can we find peace where we are and not assume that everyone is out to judge us?

What if, when we saw someone drowning, we reached out a hand and said, "you're not alone?"

What if, when you're in over your head, you could see that hand, not as a holier-than-thou gesture, but as an offer of friendship and goodwill?

What if, when we are drowning, we said, "it's so hard," and reached out for help instead of running ourselves into the ground in the name of pride?

If I'm believing God, what does that change about who I am and what I do? Instead of more time or more money or more sleep or more discipline or more childcare, what I need is more kindness, more patience, more Jesus.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Viewing our Work in Light of the Biblical Narrative

A month ago, I went to a women's conference about trusting God. The speaker, Nancy Guthrie, was amazing and I'm still processing a lot of what she said. But one of the breakout sessions has been heavy on my mind and heart since I went.

For starters, it was called Meaningful Work. There was no discussion of stay-at-home mom versus working mom, or the ever-elusive "balance" or anything like that. The talk was actually based on Every Good Endeavor by Tim Killer and viewing our work in light of the Biblical narrative.

The Biblical Narrative has four parts:

1. The Ought: God's design for work in Genesis. God is a worker, and we are designed in his image. He planted the Garden, and created man to work the ground and to have dominion over creation.

2. The Is: The reality of life due to the Fall-- work is immediately hard. Pain enters the world, the ground is cursed, humans will have to work to make a living.

3. The Can: Living in between the cross and Revelation, where we see what can be redeemed even though it isn't yet.

4. The Will: All will be revealed when Jesus comes back. If you're a city planner, there will be a New Jerusalem. If you're a lawyer, take peace in knowing that justice will reign at last. If you're a mom, know that one day God will wipe all the tears from our eyes.


We obviously live in the frustration of the Can. I'm daily faced with the cultural narrative of work. I've struggled with it immensely, as evidenced by the fact that I've changed jobs a bajillion times. The cultural narrative is this: What do I do? Who am I? How valuable am I? Who is God? When I ask, "Whose kingdom am I building?" The answer is, "Mine."

God's narrative in the Can, tells us: Who God is. How God relates to me. Who I am. What I do. When I ask, "Whose kingdom am I building?" The answer is, "God's."

It changes everything to realize that my life isn't my story, but a small piece of God's big story.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

I've made a lot of sub-par gluten-free pumpkin muffins in the past few years. Most of them taste okay, but they're fairly dense and not my favorite, in the end. Here's a recipe I think I can finally stick with!

Pumpkin Muffins

Dry Ingredients
1 cup gluten free oat flour
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash of salt

Wet Ingredients
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs molasses
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup almond milk at room temperature
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients, mix well, and set aside.

In a larger bowl, combine the butter and almond milk until smooth. Add apple cider vinegar, if using, and mix well. The vinegar is optional, but the acid will help make the muffins a little fluffier.

To the butter and milk mixture, then add the pumpkin, eggs, sugar, and molasses, and blend until smooth. Stir in the dry ingredients until combined, and then distribute between 10-12 prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Thai Noodle Bowl

Jalepenos and fall cilantro are the last ones standing in our garden right now, so this Thai-inspired dish couldn't have come at a better time. Once again, this recipe was slightly modified from Bev Cooks, because a lot of her recipes are relatively easy and taste amazing. This was so very different from what we normally eat, in a great way. 

Of course, if you really want a good idea of what you're working with, check out the original recipe here, but this is how we made it. And how we will probably make it next week, too! It was that good.

Thai Noodle Bowl


2 cups rice cellophane noodles
1 pound ground pork or ground beef
2-3 Tbs. Chinese five-spice seasoning
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs. fresh ginger root, minced
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 cup plain peanuts, roughly chopped
4 scallions, finely sliced
2 cups loosely packed cilantro, chopped
2 jalepenos, minced (optional: more jalepenos, sliced for garnish)
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbs. gluten-free soy sauce
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp coarse salt
Sriracha sauce for garnish, as desired

Heat 1 Tbs. oil in a pan over medium-high and start browning the pork. Once almost done, add the five-spice powder. Toss around for a second. Add the garlic, ginger, jalapeno, brown sugar, peanuts, 1 Tbs soy sauce, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine and take off heat.
Prepare the noodles according to package directions and drain. Combine the noodles, cilantro, scallions, and red bell pepper. Add the browned meat mixture and toss to combine. Squeeze the lime juice over the mixture and drizzle with 1 Tbs soy sauce and remaining olive oil.


Friday, October 7, 2016

Currently: Change of Seasons

Favorite part of the day: Naptime? We had a busy weekend and I'm craving some down-time. I also worked night shift Monday night and didn't sleep for over 24 hours, so I'm still recovering.

Eating: A gluten-free chocolate crinkle cookie from Dolce Bakery.

Drinking: Decaf coffee. The doctor I saw this spring recommended avoiding caffeine when possible, because it will just continue to stress my adrenals. Even though I only drank it in the morning, it was affecting my sleep at night.

Reading: For fun, I just finished the novel The Highest Tide. It was good, it reminded me of my first love (the ocean), and the character was obsessed with Rachel Carson's work. Which reminds me, I've been wanting to read her books for years! For church small group, we are reading The Voice of the Heart: A Call to Full Living. It's a book about feelings, which sounds weird, but it's really good. For Bible Study Fellowship, I'm reading the book of John. And on top of all of that, I'm slowly working my way through Shauna Niequist's Present Over Perfect.

Listening To: "It is Well" by Kristen DiMarco and Philip Paul Bliss. They sang it a few times at the Women's Conference I went to last week, and I really like it.

Guilty Pleasure: I've been making a lot of trips to Dolce lately since I'm baking less at home.

Wanting: A clean house/no more renovations!

Needing: Umm... same as above?

Loving: Sunshine! The cool mornings are still tolerable because it's t-shirt weather by afternoon. I'm learning that I like fall well enough, but it gets a bad rap in my head because it just means winter is coming.

Thinking: I have so many thoughts in my head right now, and I'm struggling to get them all out in my journal, to my counselor, or on this blog to help me make sense of them.

Feeling: Grateful with a tinge of bittersweet. This time last year, I was pregnant, and right now my arms are empty. It's weird. At the same time, Noah's definitely outgrowing the baby stage, and I miss him needing me so much. It's all emotional!

Missing: Summer! The pool! Our June and July routines!

Exercise: My pain has flared up the past few weeks, but before that I was enjoying the simplicity of the 30 minute workouts via 21-Day Fix. I'm trying to get into Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube even on the days I feel blah, though.

Bane of my Existence: Um... my pain? I'm struggling with some new ways of thinking of it, and the fact that it may indeed be chronic. It's still an overwhelming thought.

Mood: Pensive and anxious.

Link: I'm Pro-Life. And I'm voting for Hillary. Here's Why.

Outfit: It's leggings season!

Looking forward to: This Sunday! We're planning a family day, since things have felt pretty crazy lately.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Crack Slaw

My friend Kim shared this recipe with me, and Ross, Noah, and I inhaled it this week. It's really nice to have a new, easy way to use ground beef because we default to tacos or Bolognese sauce over pasta A LOT.

The first, couldn't-be-simpler version I tried is here, but I may try this fancier version one day, too.

Crack Slaw 

1 lb ground beef
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, sliced
1 bag of coleslaw mix 
2 Tbs coconut aminos OR gluten-free soy sauce
1 tsp Sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp coconut sugar OR brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
optional: sesame seeds or cashew chunks to sprinkle on top

1. Brown the ground beef, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Heat the sesame oil and saute the garlic, onion, and cabbage in sesame oil until the cabbage is soft.

3. Stir in the soy sauce, Sriracha, sugar, ginger, and vinegar.

4. Add the ground beef back to the pain and mix everything well before serving!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Bars

So our oven finally breathed its last over the weekend. Not the best timing, but it was inevitable. So we got a new one thanks to the Lowe's 30% off sale! I broke it in with this recipe. Super easy, super low-sugar, super fall-ish.

Flourless Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

1 cup creamy almond butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
4 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1.5 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray an 8x11 baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and almond butter until fluffy. Add pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips.

3. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden and set. Allow to cool before cutting.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Power to Make it Through the Day (Part II)

In the last post, I talked about how I was really convicted about needing to re-start spending very intentional time with God. I feel the need, I feel the call, but I'm not sure how to put it into action. Noah weaned (WOW emotions), he started potty training, then he got his first stitches, my computer broke, then we went through a few weeks of "terrible two" behavior requiring reinforced discipline, then my pain flared up. August and September got the best of me, which is why I had my initial "aha" moment early this summer, and I'm just now processing it at the END of September!

(How is it the end of September!?)

Except... it's not really like that, I guess. It's not like nothing's been happening in my heart. I've been reading, I started seeing a new counselor, I've been reaching out in friendship more, I've been talking to Ross about not assuming the worst of people (especially of my spouse). I recognize the void, and I guess I've spent the last few months really feeling it out. This is how far and how wide and how far-reaching it goes: the absence of God in my life touches everything.

God is in constant pursuit of me, and the last 5 years of my life have been spent letting go of how I thought my story should go, softening, changing, and realizing this is God's story. In fact, sometimes I go through this entire range of emotions in a 24 hour period! Marriage, miscarriage, and motherhood have continued to refine me this past year, possibly more than ever. Which is funny, because I thought my marriage falling apart in 2012 was the biggest upheaval my life would ever see.

Anyway, I'm starting to feel like I'm moving into a new season. I'll always need to be letting go of little idols and expectations, yet I can't help but think that this new season is more about taking hold and standing firm than it is about letting go. Taking hold of the promises of God. Taking responsibility for my thoughts, feelings and actions, and actively sifting the good from the bad. Using my time wisely. Standing firm in the faith to which I have been called.

With these thoughts floating around in my head, I started reading Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, and this image caught my attention early on in the book.

I loved my life, but I had become someone I didn't want to be around. I had become someone I didn't want to be. This book is an account of my winding, messy journey from exhaustion to peace, from isolation to connection, from hustling and multitasking to sacred presence... The greatest, most challenging, most rewarding sea-change of my adult life. 
I had no idea what it meant to remake my life from the inside out. Now, more than three years later, I'm so deeply thankful to look back and realize that's just what I've done, although in the twistiest, most circuitous possible way. I tried all the outside ways first-- I imagined the changes I needed to make were about time management, or perhaps having the cleaners come more often. I quickly found it was not about managing time or housekeeping. It was not about to-do lists or scheduling minutes and hours. This journey has been about love, about worth, about God, about what it means to know him and be loved by him in a way that grounds and reorders everything. 
It IS work, of course. It feels, I'd imagine, like adding a basement to a house that's already been standing for decades. I thought it would be more like adding new shutters, but I'm finding it to be more like lifting up a home and starting to dig, re-orienting the very foundation. There is nothing superficial about this process.

This really captures my imagination because the other week, I was at work and Ross texted me a picture of this exact thing: someone's house on stilts, while they added a basement beneath! Of course, he sent that picture to tease me about our own never-ending renovations, joking that we should do this next. All I could think of was how horrifically disruptive and expensive it would be. (But I entertained it for about a second because our moldy crawl space drives me nuts.)

Anyway, when I read Shauna's words, they really had an effect: how horrifically disruptive this would be! Followed swiftly by the thought, I need a change in my life, internally. For so long, the tidal waves of disruption have come from the outside. This is gracious, in a sense, because my external circumstances have spurred internal heart-change that might never have happened otherwise. But... what if this time the disruption could be my own? What if I was able to see: this is where I want to be, and this is where I am, and I can't carry myself from here to there on willpower or passage of time alone.

As I sit here thinking, dare I say? The waters have stilled a bit. I've caught my breath. I look at life very differently than I did 5, 10, 15 years ago. For better and for worse. I love my life, truly. I'm so happy that the avalanche of all the things led me here. I love being a mom. I love my job at the hospital (the ninth job in as many years-- although many of them overlapped-- and the fourth job in 2 years). I love that I'm about a million times less anxious than I was this time last year. I love that my laughter overrides my anger more often than not when I'm home all day with a toddler. I feel softer, in a lot of ways. So many of these changes have been necessary in my life, but I feel like I've taken them as far as they can go. The house (literally and metaphorically) has been organized and tidied, and now... maybe... it's time to begin addressing the foundation so I'm on solid ground when the next storm hits.

I've come a long way AND I have a long way to go. These two things will always be true.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Power to Make it Through the Day (Part I)

I have a few podcasts that I love listening to on morning walks. It's like listening to an older, wiser friend without having to chime in or fear mom judgement. I have plenty of favorite episodes from a few different women, but Episode 21 of Mom Struggling Well has been so applicable to my life the last few months, that I finally decided to write down the bits that really spoke to me.

In it, Kristin Lemus is talking about how God's truth applies to her motherhood:

I really struggled, for the longest time, with feeling like a bad mom... I would have days where I'd get to the end of the day, and I would just be exhausted, my kids were whiny, things didn't go right, potty training struggles, whatever it is. And I would be like, 'I am such a bad mom. I can't get it together, I can't get organized. I'm not spending time playing with my kids...' whatever the thoughts were. I kept feeling overwhelmed with motherhood. I'm thinking, 'at some point I should be able to figure this out and get on top of it.'

One day, I just hit my limit... I was talking to my husband and I was just like, 'I'm such a bad mom, I got upset with the kids today. I don't know how to overcome these feelings.' I knew in my head I wasn't supposed to feel like this, I just didn't know the way out. I just felt stuck.

...I started talking to God the way I'd been talking to my husband: 'I am such a bad mom and I don't know what to do about it. I don't know the answer!' And I just heard His voice in the moment: Who says you're a bad mom? I don't say you're a bad mom! When I created everything, I looked over all of it and declared that it was good. I designed you. I made you a mom. And I declare that you are good. Instead of confessing all those other things, like 'I am so overwhelmed,' begin to confess that 'I'm a good mom because God calls me that'... Take the bad thoughts captive and you will begin to become what you are confessing. It was a process, but it totally transformed my life and my mothering...

The interviewer asks, "So what does that look like today? What is that process?"

It's really so much about taking our thoughts captive, because the enemy wants to come in and speak to us in those moments when we are feeling all those overwhelmed feelings... It's a matter of stopping them and saying, 'No! I'm not going to choose to agree with that. I'm going to choose to agree with what God says about me.' ...You hear those negative things super quick. But the more you combat it, the faster you get at it, and the less power that it has over you. It's a matter of putting it into practice.
"What weapons are you fighting with and how did you make them accessible?"

I started to dig into God's word... Scripture about who God says I am, and about God's love... I had to read His Word more intentionally and write those things down and memorize those scriptures, so that it was in me. So when the opposite was coming toward me, I had something to fight it off with.

The other thing I've learned, is just spending time with Him in His presence, it makes such a huge difference. The Bible says that the same power that rose Christ from the dead lives inside of us! The Holy Spirit is so willing to give us the power we need to overcome these things. He wants to equip us and strengthen us, and his fruit is so good, and so sweet, and so powerful, and that's what we want to be as moms. We want to be loving, and kind, and have self control, and all of those things that are the fruit of the spirit. But the only way we get that is by spending time with Him and becoming friends with Him, and letting Him work those things in us. The more we do that, the more it is in us and comes out of us.

"So what does that look like for you on a daily basis?"

So I used to be the person who was like, 'I have to get up super early in the morning, and I have to have my quiet time now or it doesn't count.' ...I'm so not that person anymore. I feel like God has taken me through a lot of seasons. There have been some seasons where I felt like He's said, I want you up early before everyone else, and then there have been other seasons where he's like, I want you to rest and spend time with me later
But I will say this... when I was a really young mom, I had a lot of voices around me telling me, 'God has so much grace for you,' and 'Don't worry about when you get your quiet time in... just pray in the shower!' And I totally soaked that up. I'm like, 'I need all the grace I can get! I can barely breathe, I'm lucky if I get a shower...' So that was what I lived by.

But now, honestly, I'm a little frustrated by that advice. It's not that God doesn't have soooo much grace for us. He's not gonna come and whack us over the head if we don't spend time with him every day. BUT what I felt like was happening is that advice robbed me of the power that I needed to actually make it through my day! If we miss it, grace grace grace! However. If we do take that time, make that effort, make it a priority, give Him our best and our first, He meets us there and equips us. I just thing that's so powerful... I finally figured this out with my fourth kid, and I remember saying, 'I don't care how tired I am, I'm gonna spend some time right now praying and reading God's word and asking Him to speak to me, and listening.' That was such an incredible time. And it changed my mothering.

I would challenge women to make it a priority. Like I said, there's always grace. But we need this! It's like the oxygen for our day. It's so life-giving. Mothering is so tough, but there really is this power that comes from the Holy Spirit. He really does want to help us to have self-control and be loving and kind. It's a process, but giving him our priority is such a huge thing.

...Take time to speak and pray and be still and listen and read his word... He spoke the world into existence, right? He's the Creator. So when He speaks, it's creating something. When He's speaking peace into your life, He's creating peace. Whatever it is, he's actually creating that very thing in your life. It's so life-giving.


Wow. Right? I've been playing it over and over, and this is what stops me in my tracks every time:

"What I felt like was happening is that advice robbed me of the power that I needed to actually make it through my day. If we miss (quiet time)... grace grace grace! However. If we do take that time, make that effort, make it a priority, give him our best and our first, He meets us there and equips us."

That line massively convicted me. I remember being so entrenched in my morning quiet time routine early in my pregnancy with Noah. I needed it. I thrived off of it. But once we moved, I lost my footing, my routine, my safe space so to speak. I didn't feel comfortable just sitting in the middle of someone else's living room with my books and journals everywhere. I guess I should've known that when you have a baby, you have no personal space! Moving just accelerated that process a bit.

Anyway, I remember asking friends how they did quiet time with a newborn. A few told me that they read a Bible app or something while nursing, but with Noah's tongue tie, and my back pain, nursing was always a two-handed process for us. Others, of course, told me to give myself grace and speak to God throughout my day and know that eventually I would find a new routine. Well I did the first part, but I never really did the work of looking for a new routine beyond a few halfhearted streaks of naptime devotions here and there. I did lots of talking to God, but not much listening. And like Kristin says above, a lot of my talking was the 'gospel' truth of, "I'm so tired, I'm so overwhelmed, I'm so bad at this, once I get on top of my life things will be better."

Now I've reached the point where I'm potentially the most "on top" things I will ever be (ha!) and I'm feeling that God-time void. My mind is running in a million different directions, and I'm constantly choosing to "just clean up" of "just do a quick workout" or "just get some sleep" ahead of choosing to spend time with God. How will I get to know Him without spending time with him? I won't!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Slow Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas

This was surprisingly good, and now I have a whole list of Gimme Some Oven recipes I want to make! I was afraid this was going to taste like every other crockpot chicken recipe, but it was nice and spicy, and crisping the chicken right before dinner really changed it up.

I was a little nervous, it would be too spicy for Noah, but he inhaled it! He started eating before we all sat down, and when Ross sat down, Noah chugged some water, noticed Ross didn't have any, and shouted, "Papa get some water it's spicy!" It was the cutest, most earnest warning I've ever heard.


Serve them in your favorite tacos, burritos, salads, or whatever sounds good!


  • 4-5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts*
  • 1 bottle gluten-free beer (or chicken stock, if you do not like to cook with alcohol)
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle powder 
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2-4 fresh limes


  1. Add the chicken, beer, onion, garlic, chipotle, cumin, black pepper, chili powder, and salt to the bowl of a large slow cooker.  Gently toss to combine.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours until the chicken is completely tender and shreds easily with a fork.
  3. Once the chicken is cooked, preheat your broiler to high heat and grease one large baking sheet with cooking spray. Use a fork to shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Then use a slotted spoon to transfer it to the prepared baking sheet, spreading the chicken in an even layer and leaving the juices behind in the slow cooker.  (Don't discard the juices, we're going to use them later!)
  4. Place one sheet under the broiler, 2 racks down from the very top, and broil for about 5-6 minutes, or until the edges of the chicken begin browning and crisping up. Remove the sheet from the oven, then ladle about 1/2 cup of the juices from the slow cooker evenly over the chicken, and then give it a good toss with some tongs so that the chicken is evenly coated with the juices.  Broil for an additional 5 minutes to get the meat more crispy. Then remove and ladle an additional 1/2 cup of broth over the crispy pork.  Broil for an additional 5 minutes.  Then remove sheet from the oven, and toss chicken with the remaining broth.  Then drizzle with however much fresh lime juice you'd like (I love a ton of lime flavor!), and toss once more to combine.
  5. Serve immediately in tacos, burritos, salads, or whatever sounds good to you!  This chicken can also be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or frozen in a sealed container for up to 3 months.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Summer 2016

Oh summer, we miss you already. We've been floundering since mid-August, still trying to find a fall routine that we love. Here's what we did this summer:

Almost every morning, we took a walk. I live for walking season. (Now that we've started potty training and we're house-bound for much of the morning, I miss those walks like crazy!)

On Mondays, we had Monday Funday. This was an AMAZING idea orchestrated by several friends from church. They set up an entire calendar of Monday activities for June, July, and the first week of August. We visited new playgrounds, got to tour a fire station, and generally just loved starting the week off with friends. It was magical.

On Tuesdays, we had Bible study at the same church where we did MOPS last year, so Noah loved being in the same classroom with a lot of the same friends. And I LOVED doing Priscilla Shirer's Armor of God study with some other women. Seriously, this study was life-changing. So good.

On Wednesdays, Noah had Parent's Day Out. Summer Session was short: just 7 weeks, and we were out of town for one of those weeks. But on Wednesdays, we would rush out of the house in the morning and meander around the nearby Farmer's Market for an hour or so, often drinking "boocha" (komboucha) and eating sausages while listening to music or playing in the fountain before PDO.  Then while Noah hung out with friends and played at PDO, I was able to catch up on housework AND two or three times, the weather cooperated and I was able to swim laps mid-day. It was glorious. Those days, I'd actually pick Noah up and go BACK to the pool, because since he was "2 and under," he was free, and I could get my hand stamped to go back in on the same punch-card "visit" from that morning.

On Thursday mornings, we went to Toddler Time at the pool near us. Most of the local pools aren't open until after noon. What's up with that?! When you have a toddler who takes a nap from 1-3pm (-ish) it's so hard to try to cram pool time in after nap and before dinner, when everyone is tired, cranky, and hungry. Thus, Toddler Time is genius. They only offered it twice a week, so we always tried to make it once. And for just $2/kid, it was MUCH cheaper than buying a summer pool pass. The kid's area was amazing, and Noah just loved it. He's been quite the fish this summer, and he's not afraid of anything. Thank goodness for Puddle Jumpers!

On Fridays, Ross often got off of work early, so the day was a free-for all. Often, we'd just hang out at home after a busy week.

What a fun summer. Noah's at a great age, and it's so hilarious to converse with him. He's opinionated, energetic, and really fun to hang out with.

Friday, July 8, 2016

An Open Letter to My Son

Sweet Boy,

I would be remiss if I gave you the impression that I have sufficient cultural competency to tread these waters safely. I don't. My few attempts at stepping out on this subject have been fraught with imperfections. If you want a treatise on racial, economic, and criminal statistics, I'm not your person. But I am your mother, and what's going on in the world you're growing up in, is important. I hate knowing that some of your friends are more likely to die of violent causes than others, on the basis of skin color alone. And as your mom, nothing puts me into an emotional tailspin more than thinking of me losing you, or of you losing me.

Right now, you are delighted when you see a police car with sirens on. You love all things with wheels and motors and flashing lights. How could you know that these first two years of your life have been fraught with media coverage regarding the deteriorating relationship between men of color and white officers wearing blue?

At weddings, they often say, "what God has joined together, let no man put asunder." I keep thinking of that line today. In the last week, two black men and one Latino man have been killed via situations and methods that could be classified as police brutality. Last night, unrelated snipers retaliated by killing 5 officers at an otherwise peaceful protest several states removed from the previous crimes. That's 8 men who will never take another breath on this earth.

Noah, never forget that every human being is an image-bearer of God, knit together by the creator of the world, body and soul. None of us can claim the right to tear the body from the soul on the basis of our fear of the "other."

In an interview with Maya Angelou, the interviewer said, "It's very hard to hate someone if you look them in the eye and recognize them as a human being." Angelou responded, "Ah! You must add that: 'And recognize them as a human being.' Because people have lynched people, and people threw people in gas ovens, and they were looking them in the eye. But in order to empathize, you have to accept that 'this person is as human as I.' Once you do that, it's very hard to impose cruelty on another human being."

Fear feeds fear. Anger fuels anger. Violence leads to more violence. But love? Love begets love. Do I think that world peace is literally attainable? Not really. Not on this side of salvation history, where earth is filled with imperfect people, each and every one of us.

But will I hope and pray and work toward a cultural revolution in this country, beginning in our home? I have to. I want you to grow up in a nation where black lives matter. I say this not to the exclusion of others. Of course all lives matter. But the violence in today's news has reached a fever pitch and my heart is so heavy.

Of COURSE all lives matter. Of COURSE I want to watch the news without actually witnessing another soul depart from this world. Of COURSE I want to feel safe at the playground, sending you to school, flying on an airplane. Of course.

And of course I mourn with our black friends, and police families, and moms who lose babies at the Happiest Place on Earth, and babies who lose moms to the ills of this world. I'm scared. I'm scared that somehow I will quite literally be caught in the crossfire of hatred. I'm also scared because my full-time job is with you, raising the next generation of white middle class male, and the stakes are high.

Noah, you can make a difference. Two thousand years ago, an apostle named Paul told us to gird ourselves with the belt of truth. Roman soldiers donned their belts before all else, to support their core, to aid in endurance, to prevent injury, and to bear the weight of their other tools for protection and defense. At the end of the day, you can and must filter the truths of this world through the sieve of the Gospel truth. And that truth is love.

Sweet boy, let your love stay genuine. "Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."

Romans 12 goes on to say,
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty... Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil... If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Noah, I don't want you to have to grow up in this racial hotbed. But I don't want you growing up 'colorblind' either. I want your life to be filled with vibrant colors, lending you a life that's richer for the depth of its hues.

Hold fast to what's good.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Toddler Favorites

I'm trying to catch up on blogging, and I realized it's been a long time since I posted my favorite things. Of course, with toddlers,  you've entered the land of preferences, so things can vary enormously. But here are some essentials that we use daily, or at least weekly.

-Toddler carrier-- we have a Beco one, but there's no magic brand here. It depends on the size of your kiddo, and what's most comfortable for you. But I've used this more than I thought I would: at church, in the grocery store, and at home on really cranky afternoons when I just need to make dinner without "help".

-Stroller-- we still use this daily in warm weather. In hindsight, I wish we had a model with hand brakes since we live in a hilly area. But at the very least, something with real tires (instead of plastic wheels), a tripod setup (instead of 4 wheels), and an easy folding mechanism will not be a waste of money if you like walks. We were generously gifted with a Baby Jogger City Mini GT that we use for our daily walks, and we scored an Uppa Baby umbrella stroller at a consignment sale, which is great for keeping in the car to use at the zoo and whatnot.

-Community center membership-- we used some Christmas money to join the community center near us, and it was essential for our winter blues. Their indoor pool is phenomenal, but Noah also tolerates their childcare because they have an indoor playground, so I was able to actually take 1-2 hours to workout, study, and/or relax 1-2 days a week in January, February, and March!

-Munchie Mug-- far and away the best snack container I've seen. Doesn't spill unless Noah is being very intentional about making a mess!

-WOW Sippy cups-- I wish we'd switched to these sooner. We LOVE them, they're better for Noah's suck pattern, AND they're completely dishwasher safe unlike most other sippys. Win/win/win. I got this 4-pack on Amazon, and it's the best price I've seen for these guys.

-Molar Muncher-- Noah never really took to a pacifier or other teethers, but he really likes this one now that his two-year molars are coming in!

-Sensory bin-- this is something that we're really just getting in to, and to be honest it's a learning curve as he learns not to just dump everything out. But a tupperware full of beans + a few measuring cups can really provide some good fun! Busy Toddler is completely inspiring, and I hope to really get into this during the cold months.

-Puddle Jumper-- Where were these when we were kids?! Less bulky than a lifejacket, but safer than inflatable water wings. They don't really start until 30 pounds, so Noah JUST fit into it, but we were surprised how much he loved it! He likes floating and swimming with it, and I like the added buoyancy when it's just the two of us in the water.

 -Hip Peas Shampoo and Body Wash-- This stuff is great. It makes Noah's hair and skin so clean and soft, and it smells so yummy. I've tried several natural and non-natural shampoos for him, and this is the only one that doesn't dry out his scalp.

-Ultimate Flora Kids Probiotic-- Noah got hit with a decent illness every month this winter, and I finally bought some probiotics for him when he came down with a GI bug in March. I got these at Natural Grocer's, and LOVED them. They made a noticeable difference in his diapers... I'll just leave it at that. Runny poo is never fun, but it's especially frustrating when you're having to spray it out of cloth diapers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

This water

This water washed away my tears in 2011 and 2012 when I was totally unsure if my marriage was going to remain intact, and lap after lap, my anxiety turned to prayer turned to peace and exhaustion.

This water gave me a sense of purpose and achievement in 2013 when I was between jobs, and my last outdoor swim of the season that year was with a tiny little baby belly. A little piece of redemption in a place that had seen me through some of my darker times.

This water provided a welcome weightlessness for my postpartum body in all is cumbersome awkwardness in 2014. The silence and stillness was invaluable when I was able to get away from our still-under-construction house and reflux-y baby.

This water was the only place I found relief from lingering postpartum pelvic pain in 2015, and I loved introducing Noah to my sweet summertime ritual here.

And it's happy to welcome me back again this summer. Always ready to refill my thirsty soul with water and light. I usually take Noah to another pool in the mornings now, due to nap times and whatnot, so this pool is all mine again. A reminder of who I am when I'm not answering to "Mama," and a way to refresh myself before going back to the job of mom that I dearly love.

Overly philosophical? Maybe. A little slice of heaven on earth? Absolutely.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Day in the Life with a 2 Year Old

Yesterday was kind of crummy. Noah and I had lots of meltdowns, so I intentionally set out to make today awesome! I'm learning that there are 3 ingredients to a good day, but it takes time and energy to make the effort:

1. Start with quiet time
2. Get out of the house
3. Get to bed early

This doesn't happen every day, but when it does... we have way more fun!

0615: Noah is awake, babbling in his crib. I turn the volume down on the monitor and roll over for a few more minutes.

0630: Time to get up! Ross gets Noah and gives him a sippy cup of hemp milk while I assemble breakfasts (banana + homemade muffin for Noah).

0645-0715: I retreat to the office/playroom to have some quiet time with the Bible and my Armor of God workbook for the Bible Study that started this week. Ross and Noah play and read books and eat breakfast in the kitchen and living room.

0730-0815: Noah and I take a morning walk. One of my favorite traditions, and I'm so excited it's walking season again!

0830: Drive to a coffee shop in Lenexa to sell some cloth diapers to a fellow mama. Noah starts pointing to the coffee shop and crying, "muppy!" I haven't been to this coffee shop since I was pregnant, but somehow he knows there are delicious things inside. I realize it's been way too long since our last muppy date, so we go inside to enjoy some wheat-free treats  (for both of us) and some iced coffee (for me).

0915: Pool time! We driving back to our part of town to go to Kiddie Pool Playtime at out local pool. I made the mistake of telling Noah we were going to walk, then sell diapers, then swim this morning, and he's been pretty insistent on "swimming" for the last two hours.

0930-1115: So much fun at the pool.

1130-1200: Home for lunch. Super proud of Noah for leaving the pool like a big kid without crying. We were hungry for lunch! He ate some roast beef, gluten-free toast, and carrots (with dairy-free Ranch to dip, because everything's better when you can dip it).

1210-1245: I nurse Noah for 15 minutes and he falls asleep in my arms, which is my fave. I snuggle with him, filled with gratitude for our adventures today and in the past two years. We've come a long way.

(picture: 2 weeks into out breastfeeding journey // 2 weeks before weaning)

1315: I put him in his crib and sit down to start this post, eat a snack, and catch up on older blog posts.

1415: Noah is awake and singing, "Rain, rain, go away" to himself. Not gonna lie, I was REALLY hoping for an epic nap after the busy morning we had!

1430: Noah eats some of his lunch leftovers while I try to brainstorm what the heck we are going to do for the next 4 hours until Ross gets home! I decide to head to the diaper store to get a few things I've been needing.

1525: Finally leave the house 1 handful of GF pretzels, 1 apple, 1 sippy cup of hemp milk, 1 dirty diaper, 1 tantrum, and 3 rounds of a Clifford board book later.

1600-1700: We socialize, play, and shop at the diaper store, enjoying the change of scenery.

1730: Leftovers for everyone for dinner! Dinners I don't have to make are the best :-)

1845: Bath, story, snuggles, and bed for Noah. A little early because we had such a busy day.

1900-2115: Small group with friends! Love this girl time.

2230: Read in bed for a bit, and then sleep!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Here I Raise my Ebenezer

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far the Lord has helped us.' 1 Samuel 7:12

The due date was supposed to be June 20 (2016)-- exactly one week after Noah's due date of June 13 (2014). I would've been 38.1 weeks pregnant today. I went into labor with Noah at 38.4 and had him at 38.5 weeks.


I'm really anxious for it to get here. So much life has happened in the last 9 months, but it's hard not to remember how much life hasn't happened. It's been, quite literally, a pregnant pause. I don't feel like I've dwelt unnecessarily on this day, but as Noah's birthday approached, I couldn't help but know that this day was approaching as well.

I think it's affected me more than I realized. I've always been the hurry up and wait type. Like, I get all worked up for this milestone or that birthday or these anniversaries, and find myself disappointed that life didn't turn into rainbows and butterflies once the obstacle was behind me. This week was no exception.

Ross has been working his butt off on a long to-do list, finishing the last 15% of a whole bunch of house projects for Noah's party this past weekend, and it's safe to say I've been in panic mode about it. Really nitpicky. Mean. Not fun to live with. But it HAD to get done. And it wasn't until I was in tears at midnight on Friday night that I realized... I need closure. I need to feel like we brought our first baby home to an eventually safe place, and to have that whole lost season of chaos behind me. And I need to feel like we did THIS baby justice. Even though we aren't bringing him or her home, I want to feel like WE COULD HAVE. Like the house is READY.

Last fall, I was so worried I wouldn't be able to bond with Noah, to study for my IBCLC exam, to finish the house, in time for this baby's due date. But we did!

And oh, the house. I feel petty talking about it, and I'm sure my bitterness comes through even when I'm trying to make jokes. Is it a first world problem? Heck yes. If I could do it differently, would I? Heck yes. Don't buy a fixer-upper at 28 weeks pregnant. It seemed like a grand adventure at the time, but after the wilderness we'd been through in the years prior to getting pregnant with Noah, I really should've used my third trimester to rest, to recover, to prepare. To draw inward and nest and connect. Not to work two jobs, sometimes both in the same 24 hour period without sleep. Not to come "home" to a suitcase in a relative's bedroom. Not to avoid the actual house we bought because the sights and sounds of a construction site instead of a home filled me with a deep sense of panic and loss of control.

There's still a lot of work to do, but we worked right up to the start of the party, and for the first time ever, our house has a DONE list! Every room except the laundry room has walls, paint, trim, no exposed wood putty... It's amazing. The sense of relief I felt after Noah's party was palpable and surprising, even to me. His party was a birthday party and a housewarming party and a "welcome back to the land of the living" party. I feel like it was a tangible chance to get some closure on his tumultuous newborn days. An Ebenezer stone for where we've been and where we're going. We can move forward into toddlerhood with one baby. We can graciously say goodbye to what could have been with the other.

I don't need rainbows and butterflies now. I just want to make it to Saturday, take a deep breath, and move into Sunday. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Fierce Flourishing

I joined MOPS* back in August and I was kind of stressed about the first meeting. It meant Noah was going to miss a nap. Let's just say that in general, I don't handle change well, and in the throes of postpartum anxiety and new motherhood, I REALLY didn't handle change well. But I went. And I haven't looked back once.

The MOPS theme this year was A Fierce Flourishing, and oh, how I needed to hear that was possible. Even though I'd had my child 15 months prior, I was really only just realizing the depths of my postpartum pain and anxiety. I've spent a lot of time and money since then, trying to make progress in both, and I've seen plenty of ups and downs there. But you know what gave me the most freedom this past year? The most relief? Being in a room full of other moms. Seeing that no two are alike but all of us love our children fiercely. All of us are horribly afraid of 'failing' as a mom, whatever that looks like. All of us have struggles. And never once did I feel judged when I shared heavy thoughts, or cried, or vented about having a strong-willed child.

When the leaders introduced the theme at the first meeting, they read this year's verse to us: "For you shall go out with joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." Isaiah 55:12

It took all my willpower not to start crying then and there. The relief was palpable. Like a weight had been lifted. These words were like a balm to my heart. When I heard this, I'd been waking up each morning with a feeling of dread. With a heavy heart and the assurance that I couldn't possibly do this day all over again. The racing thoughts, the heart palpitations, the frequent night wake-ups with insomnia in between, the baby nap strikes, and always, always, the pain.

To be reminded that God calls us to JOY, and that he promises PEACE was exactly what I needed to hear. It got me to come home and open up my Bible and look to all the places where God reassures us that his promises are TRUE**. That this word does not go out and come back empty. In fact, that same chapter in Isaiah says that!

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord.
'As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord's renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.'"
Isaiah 55:8-13 (emphasis mine)

I notice the twin threads of peace and joy everywhere now. The words stand out on any page. It's been funny to see how they've played out in the last 9 months. I got pregnant shortly after that first meeting, and when the panic overwhelmed me, I cried out, "how is this joy?!" I had just emerged from the newborn haze with Noah, I had a plan that felt manageable, and I was seemingly on the road to physical and emotional recovery. I was deeply fearful of how a pregnancy would impact that. But several friends were able to whisper, "there is joy here." And when I let go of my fear and my plans (again) and started to get excited about another baby, literally a bundle of joy from a good, good Father, we lost it. Again I cried, "how is this joy?!" And God rushed in with peace beyond understanding.

And now, as MOPS wraps up for the year, that's where I sit. Alternating between peace beyond understanding, and fear that I will do something to somehow ruin this peace. So yeah, I still have a ways to go.

This year, we focused on embracing rest, noticing goodness, and celebrating lavishly. Our devotional for the year notes that, "we become more ourselves when we celebrate, rest, and notice... and that looks a lot like flourishing." I LOVE that I can claim it fiercely. That I can take all my pent up anxiety and direct that energy into flourishing instead of floudering. Into activities that refresh me instead of drain me. And MOPS has absolutely been an activity that refreshed me from the inside out.

I'm so grateful to the MOPS ministry for reminding me of God's sovereign rule even as I adjust to this new role of motherhood. I looked forward to every single meeting, when I knew I would be able to rest in the presence of other adults and feel cared for. It has meant the world to me, and I'm so excited for next year!

*MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers, but is actually available to anyone with children under the age of 5. I wish I'd joined when Noah was a baby!

**See Hebrews 10, 1 Thessalonians 5, Deuteronomy 7, 1 Corinthians 1