Monday, April 29, 2013

Menu Planning Monday, v. 15

It's Monday! 

I'm 36 weeks and 3 days pregnant! Just a few more weeks to go!

All that nesting energy I've had over the past few weeks was pretty much zapped out of me this weekend, and now I'm left feeling exhausted, achy, and a bit overwhelmed at the things I need to do but just don't want to do.

Like laundry.
And cleaning.
And showering.

Cohen is in the beginning stages of getting those last molars in (devils, I tell you). It's not so bad yet -- probably because the teeth haven't even broken through his gums yet and are still just giant lumps in his mouth -- but the congestion that comes with the teeth is enough to drive me mad. Friday and Saturday nights, he was up all night coughing. Which meant Mommy was up all night. Saturday just before midnight, I gave him a nighttime cough medicine hoping that would help him. At 3 AM, he was still bouncing off the walls. So no, the nighttime formula is not allowed in this house anymore.

Saturday night, I also decided to do some encourage-baby-to-get-in-good-birthing-position squats. You know, because I'm crazy. So there I am, sitting in the deepest squat I've ever been in, bracing myself to sit like that for the next 10 minutes, thinking "Well, this isn't so bad." And, I kid you not, within the first 30 seconds of squatting, I feel the baby drop, creating the most intense pressure in my pelvis. It was, like, 10 centimeters! Push! Push! Push! pressure. I jumped out of that squat with more dexterity than I've had in the past 9 months and hid in bed, eyes wide and repeating "I'm not ready! I'm not ready!"

Thankfully, baby wasn't ready, either. But I do believe he was downright angry with me for the rest of the night. 

So, needless to say, I won't be doing squats for at least a few more weeks. I'll stick to cooking, instead.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Leftover Cheeseburger Pie from family dinner on Friday night
Tator Tots (keeping it classy!)
whatever veggie I can find in the pantry or freezer
(Not making it to the grocery store today!)

Crock Pot Pork Roast with Veggies
Roasted Potatoes
Crusty bread

Cheddar, Spinach, Chicken burgers (I'm adding bacon because, why not?)
Sweet Potato Fries

Crusty Bread

Kitchen's Closed! Date Night.

Kitchen's closed

Leftovers after church

I will also be trying my hand at a freezer-friendly breakfast recipe: Peach French Toast

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Preparing For Baby: The Nursery

For me, one of the most exciting parts of getting ready for a new baby is designing the nursery. I had so much fun getting Cohen's room ready when I was pregnant with him, and I knew I would enjoy working on this baby's room, too.

When I envisioned Cohen's room, I saw lots of sweet baby blue. And that's exactly what I ended up with. I loved it. It was the perfect baby room. That, however, is now the problem. Cohen is now two and a half years old and has rejected anything and everything he sees as baby. He's a big boy, now -- soft blues and cute monkeys have no business in his space. So only a few years after crafting his (very expensive, might I add) nursery, we are in the process of redecorating. Frustrating, to say the least.

With that in mind, I knew this time around, I didn't want to make the same mistake. I didn't want to put time and effort into this baby's room, only to have to do a complete overhaul a year or two later. I just don't have the money or desire to do all that. So as soon as I even began to suspect that he was a boy, I started thinking about his room -- I wanted everything in it to be something he could grow into, but I still wanted it to be a nursery.

After looking through countless nursery bedding sets both online and in stores, I became disappointed. Nothing I found met my criteria of 1. something he could grow in to and 2. affordable. I began to browse around Etsy for bedding ideas, and I found lots of really cute ideas, but each cute bedding set sent me deeper and deeper into sticker shock. I had to back away from the custom-made nursery sets quickly.

And then it hit me: I wonder if I could make this baby's bedding and nursery decorations? Surely if I started from scratch, this room could meet both of my criteria. Now don't get me wrong, I am by no means a seamstress. I use my sewing machine to sew basic things, so I knew this would be quite the endeavor. But I was willing to try.

Upon searching through Pinterest, I discovered many and different tutorials for sewing all of the items I would need to complete the nursery. The directions were right there in front of me, I just had to decide which ones I wanted to follow. And when I worked up the courage to return to Etsy, I discovered that while the handcrafted bedding sets were pricey, other items weren't necessarily expensive. I found tons of fun and original fabric that would be perfect for my nursery, and the cost wouldn't break me either.

So I chose a fabric and created a plan. And this is what I came up with:

Once I had the plan, I calculated how much fabric I would need for each project and purchased my supplies.

I purchased this Going Coastal Patchwork Plaid fabric by Michael Miller from Etsy seller PinkDoorFabrics for $40 including shipping (I bought 4 yards) and then bought that fabric with me to Hobby Lobby to pick out matching solid fabrics. I paid $35 for all my necessary fabric and thread at Hobby Lobby. I bought my mesh crib bumper for $5 at a consignment sale (they are typically $30 in the stores).

So if you're doing the math, I spent $80 on the supplies to make the bedding and decorations. That is a good $50 cheaper than a pre-made bagged bedding set and at least $200 cheaper than a custom Etsy listing. The time and effort required was a little taxing: it took me about a month of naptime and late-night sewing to get eveything done. But for a tightwad like me, it was worth it to put in the work to get a custom set at such a low cost.

Here are the links to the tutorials I ended up using:

Easy Adjustable Crib Skirt -- I love that this skirt can be adjusted to fit perfectly even after I have to lower the mattress in a few months. My biggest complaint about Cohen's pre-made crib skirt was that it was useless by the time he was standing in his crib at 6 months -- so in my mind it was a waste of money.

Easy Pezzy Crib Quilt -- I loved the style of this quilt, and it was a huge bonus when I discovered that she had a whole Beginners Quilting series on he blog that walked me through each step of creating this quilt. Kind of like quilting for dummies.

Chunky Crochet Baby Blanket -- When I saw this blanket, I immediately thought it looked unique -- I'd never seen anything like it. I was elated to discover just how simple it was to make. If you can do a single crochet, you can make this blanket in a matter of hours. I want to make more of these.

Custom Mesh Bumper -- No real tutorial for this. I saw it on Etsy, so I knew it could be done. I bought a bumper at a consignment sale for $5 and used my seam ripper to deconstuct the whole thing (taking the velcro and satin trim off the mesh). Then I used the satin trim as a template to cut out my new fabric, and I sewed the new fabric back on the mesh and sewed the velcro back on. Voila. A $5 custom crib bumper.

Crib sheet -- I bought a navy crib sheet at Target for $9.

Hot Air Balloon Mobile -- The paper pom poms were made by the sweet friends who threw us a surprise baby shower, and I used this tutorial to make the hot air balloons. Super fast, super easy, super fun, super cute, and super cheap. Just the way I like it.

Changing Pad Cover -- I ended up just buying the cover for $19 at Buy Buy Baby. I was going to use this tutorial to make a minky cover in green with my plaid fabric as an accent, but it just wasn't cost effective, and to be honest, I hate working with minky.

Fabric Bunting -- This was a fun and easy naptime project. I want to make more for the playroom and for Cohen's room. Every time Cohen walks into the nursery, he says, "I love Baby Brother's flags!"

Curtains -- I originally planned to make navy curtains with plaid accent at the bottom, but when I realized I could buy a legit black-out panel for $9 at Target, I realized making my own curtain wasn't the smartest idea. Instead, I used my new quilting skills to sew up a little plaid curtain tie-back. Cheap and easy and looks great.

Pillows -- No tutorial used here. I used my new quilting skills to piece the fronts together and sewed them up. They're stuffed with leftover stuffing I bought 2 years ago to make Cohen's first Halloween costume.

I also have these 3 prints that I need to print out and put in frames to dress up one plain wall. I haven't gotten to it yet, and I may not get to it before our little guy comes (just being honest here!). The prints ar 8x10 and will be put in navy frames (or I may spray paint frames navy and green and red, I haven't decided yet). Even though they're not up yet, they are a part of the nursery, so I figured I'd share them, too.


So there it is: Baby's room is ready and waiting on him! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

35 Week Bumpdate

How far along? 35 weeks, 5 days. Today is exactly one (1!!!) month away from my due date. So tomorrow, I can say Baby should be here in less than a month (although I'm not holding my breath on that one -- I'm expecting him to run a bit late).

How big is baby? My What to Expect app says he's still the size of a large cantaloupe and weighs about 6 pounds. At my midwife appointment yesterday, we did a quick ultrasound to make sure he is head down, and when she moved the wand to the top of my belly, it looked like there were 4 snakes in there -- arms and legs all wrapped up in each other. 

Movement: Lots of squirming and forceful kicks that you can see start at the top of my belly and move out to my side. He moves so much at night that he causes me to have lots and lots of Braxton Hicks contractions. There's a lot of pressure down there, too -- thanks to that big ol' head.

Sleep: I have officially claimed the bed for myself, and I am sleeping so much better. I wake up sleeping diagonally in the bed with no blankets and lots of pillows supporting the belly and my back. Also, now that I am able to get comfortable and sleep better, I'm not waking up for bathroom breaks so much in the middle of the night.

Best moment this week: At yesterday's appointment, my midwife talked to me about what to do if my water breaks or if labor starts. I sat there, nodding my head and thinking Wow, we're talking about labor. We're talking about the delivery. This is really happening.

Miss Anything? Not really. I've got tons of energy, I'm feeling really good, and I'm enjoying this time with my only child while it lasts. The weather has warmed up and it's beautiful outside -- life is good.

Food cravings: Sweets! Fruit! Smoothies and milkshakes and frozen drinks!

Anything making you queasy or sick: Not really. I get heartburn sometimes, but I have a big ol' bottle of Tums that comes to the rescue, so I can't really complain.

Gender: Boy!

Labor Signs: Some contractions, a dropped belly, an increase of energy (and a few other not so pleasant signs I won't talk about). We're in the home stretch! 

Belly Button in or out? More in than out, and I think it will stay that way. If anything, it may become a flat belly button by the end.

Wedding rings on or off? Wedding band is way too tight, so it's off. Engagement ring is holding out though.

Mood: Feeling good!

Looking forward to: a good pedicure, at some point feeling like I am completely prepared for this little guy, shopping for Cohen's big brother gift.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Menu Planning Monday, v. 14

Monday, again. 

To be honest, I'm really glad last week is over and behind us: there was just too much sadness happening, and I glad to have a week to separate myself from it.

I'm also glad to have another week to prepare myself for this baby. I'm pretty sure this intense need to be prepared is all nesting, but I'm not hating it. And I'm glad that my nesting tendencies with Cohen are really productive. Last pregnancy, I just washed the same baby clothes over and over again. This time around, I'm getting the house in order, getting supplies in order, sewing up lots of baby essentials, and stocking my freezer. It could be worse, this nesting.

After last week, I now have 13 meals put away in the freezer. I've been pleasantly surprised my the dinners I've been making -- most of them are new recipes, and you know how hit-or-miss a new recipe can be. Out of all the dinners I have made, I've only been disappointed with one: the Crock Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken. It's name is deceiving as it tastes nothing like sweet and sour chicken, but I kind of figured it wouldn't based on the ingredients: cranberries, Catalina dressing, and onion soup mix. The sauce was way too salty and onion-y. The chicken was pretty good without all the sauce on it, though. I have one of these bad boys in the freezer, and I'm trying to think of ways to doctor it up. Everything else has been really, really good.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans

Gratin Potatoes
Sweet Peas


Rice Pilaf

Kitchen's closed -- Date night!

Kitchen's closed

Leftovers after church

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Last night, I watched my husband cry.

He stood before our group of students, the kids we've loved and watched grow up, and told them he was resigning from the position of Youth Minister. I watched as his heart crumbled in front of them, as they sat in their seats and took in the news, some sniffling, some wiping away tears, some who had to leave the room because the pain was too strong.

I watched my husband give this news, and my heart broke all over again.

It started breaking nearly a year ago when Travis approached me and told me he couldn't shake the feeling that his time as the youth leader was over, that God was telling him that He had used him as much as He would and now it was time for another leader to step in and take over. I hated every word of what my husband shared with me. I was angry. At him, at God. We, as a church, were incredibly fragile at the time -- our pastor had just left, we were leader-less, families were practically fleeing to find new churches. It was an incredibly dark time in the life of our church, and here Travis was telling me it was time for us to contribute even more pain and disappointment to the people we loved so much. I was angry. I didn't understand.

Travis decided to continually pray about it. The man prayed for 6 months, begging God to show him he was mistaken, to show him that he needed to stay put as youth leader. Instead, the opposite happened. God began to reveal to us that we were becoming ineffective as leaders, that He was grooming other people to take over the position. That sounds bad, but it was such a good thing-- we, I, needed that-- to see firsthand how someone else could lead our students and do it so well. In the midst of the darkness within our church and within our own lives, I saw God do some amazing things in our youth ministry-- the more we stepped back, the more powerful he showed Himself to be. I began to understand.

By Thanksgiving, his mind was made up-- he would resign as youth leader at the end of the school year. Just that act alone-- not fighting God anymore and just giving in to His will, seemed to lift a huge weight off his shoulders. He was ready then to share the news, but we (us and the few church leaders he confided in) decided it would be best to wait to give that news. Our church was still going through hard times, we were still pastor-less, losing families, and hurting. It wasn't the right time to spring this news on anyone. Hey! We're leaving you, too! didn't seem too appropriate at that time.

So we waited, leading the students through appearances but behind the scenes, we were handing over the reigns. And big things started happening for our kids--things that Travis worked and fought for for many years but couldn't make happen began to happen as we stepped back. That's not a knock on Travis or his leadership abilities (he is an amazing leader and I respect him so much), it's just an illustration of how God was showing us this was the right decision.

And so last night Travis stood before his students and gave them news that broke some of their hearts, disappointed some, and no doubt left others feeling abandoned once again. I sat in the back of the room, and tears raced down my cheeks, and I had to grip my chair to keep myself from jumping up and exclaiming, "Nevermind! We're staying! Don't listen to a word he just said!" But I know that staying when God is clearly directing us to go would only cause more pain, more heartache, and more disappointment.

So as of May 31, we will no longer be leaders of our youth ministry. What a painful thing to write. We will still be active members of Grace Baptist Church. We are not leaving our church-- at least not in the foreseeable future-- we feel strongly that God is telling us to stay put. Grace is home. Come August, we will fill new ministry needs within the church. Every ounce of Travis and I are fervently begging God to let us fill needs within the youth ministry, but we don't know where He's leading right now. We don't know what He has planned; we just know we have to follow wherever He leads.

For the first time in 4 years, we are in transition. We are wandering. In Sunday School, we've been studying Exodus with our students-- how God called the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. We laugh at how absurd the Israelites are-- seeing God's power firsthand yet so easily forgetting Him, focusing on themselves, and blaming Moses when things don't go they way they want. Why are you trying to kill us out here in the wilderness? Why couldn't you just let us stay in Egypt? At least in Egypt, Pharaoh's army wasn't trying to kill us, we weren't starving to death, we weren't wandering around aimlessly. I pray that as Travis and I venture into our own wilderness, we remember God-- how He has shown Himself to us-- and trust His leading fully, not looking back as the Israelites did, but always moving forward.

I am sad for our family-- this ministry has been all we've known for 4 years. Our life has revolved around it, life happened because of it. And that chapter is ending for us. Last night on our way home, Travis said, "I've never known something was the right decision so much yet felt so sad about it." I echo that 100%. Following The Lord is a joyful journey, but sometimes it brings pain with it.

I am sad for our students. Those kids are some of the most important people in our lives. We love them. And to know that we are the cause of any pain, any disappointment, any feelings of abandonment hurts worse than any injury I've ever had. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are in the best hands-- God's hands-- and will be led by God's new man, so they are not being abandoned, but it's hard to make anyone believe that when you leave them. Being left hurts, and I hate that we are hurting our kids.

I am sad that we are disappointing and hurting our church family-- especially those who have been our biggest cheerleaders and prayer warriors. As a church, we've gone through so much hurt and pain and abandonment over the past year, and knowing that we are contributing to that makes my heart heavy.

I trust The Lord. I know that He only has good things planned for His church. I am excited about what He is doing, how He is working. I know that we'll look back and praise Him for this time because it will lead to blessings we never imagined. I am proud of my husband, for hearing and listening and following The Lord's lead, even though it has been so hard. I am proud of the work he's done, how he's loved and ministered to those kids, and how he is now passing his work off to someone else. I am so thankful to be his wife and have the privilege to follow and support him.

In our church, we have a little tradition: on Sunday nights, our youngest children stand in front of the congregation and sing praise songs. They always end with the same song, their favorite song. It is fitting for this season of our lives, so I'll end with it, too:

My lord knows the way through the wilderness,
All I have to do is follow.
My lord knows the way through the wilderness,
All I have to do is follow.
Strength for today is mine always
And all I need for tomorrow.
My lord knows the way through the wilderness,
All I have to do is follow.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

34 Week Bumpdate

How far along? 34 weeks, 5 days. That's like, really close, y'all. I experience moments of complete freak outs followed by OMG what am I going to do with another baby?! followed by lots of excitement.

How big is baby? My What to Expect app says he's the size of a large cantaloupe and weighs about 5.5 pounds. He's definitely filling up his space in there. He's dropped and sits low now, and he likes to put a ton of pressure on my pelvic floor: to the point where I find myself squeezing my legs together and bracing myself for my water to break. Really fun when it happens in the Walmart checkout line.

Movement: Lots and lots of squirming and stretching. The other night, I was in bed, and I could feel where his head was, the outline of his back pressed against my left side, his little butt poking up at the top of my belly, and a single little bump on my lower right side that I can only imagine was his little foot sticking out. These movements are fun, but they are forceful and always take me by surprise. No baby has ripped through a momma's belly before, right? Right?!

Sleep: It just doesn't happen most nights. I take that back: the nights I kick Travis out of bed and have the whole bed to myself, I am able to stretch out and get pretty good sleep (minus the waking up to go to the bathroom 5 times a night). The nights when Travis sleeps in bed with me, I am cramped and uncomfortable and  toss and turn all night.

Best moment this week: Our youth ministry threw us a surprise shower for the new baby on Sunday night. It was such an unexpected blessing, for sure. Cohen and I are also spending our days shopping for things we'll need once the baby gets here. The nursery is almost complete -- I just have to print 3 pictures, buy 3 frames, and get Daddy to hang a few things.

Miss Anything? As weird as it sounds, I am already starting to miss this time with Cohen. He gets my attention and love 100% of the time right now, and I feel really guilty that I will be turning his world upside down in a few weeks. 

Food cravings: I like all food, all the time. And lots of it, please. And if you have any cake, I'll take some of that, too.

Anything making you queasy or sick: I'm doing really well in that department recently. I have noticed an increase in heartburn, though.

Gender: Boy!

Labor Signs: A couple of real deal contractions this week!

Belly Button in or out? Half in, half out. It never poked out with Cohen, but I'm not so sure that will be the case with this one. Sometimes when he moves, he pokes my belly button all the way out. 

Wedding rings on or off? Wedding band is way too tight, so it's off. Engagement ring is holding out though.

Mood: Anxious, moody, tired, can't sit still

Looking forward to: Meeting this little guy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Menu Planning Monday, v. 13

Happy middle of April! I'm not going to lie -- just knowing that we're halfway through the month already freaks me out a bit -- where is the time going?

Last night after church, our youth ministry had our monthly family potluck, only this time, those sweet people threw our family a surprise baby shower for Baby Brother. I was so surprised and honored and just felt so loved. I love the families we serve through the youth ministry. They are truly special people.

I'm a little over 34 weeks pregnant today, with a little more than 5 (or 6, if we wait until induction) weeks to go. Gulp. I've got 5 meals in the freezer and a plan to put many more in there in the coming weeks. I'm not very concerned about the meals after this past week -- I think it will be pretty easy to store away some dinners gradually. I am, however, a bit concerned that I'm going to go digging through the freezer a few weeks after the baby comes and only find pasta dishes in there. Why is it that pasta casserole-type dishes seem the most appetizing and freezer friendly? So needless to say, I'm on a little hunt to find other types of freezer meals. 

Here's what we're eating this week:


Chicken Parm over noodles
Sauteed squash and zucchini
(this is from last week's plan -- we didn't get to it)

BBQ Chicken calzones

Sweet and Sour Chicken
White rice

Kitchen's closed -- Date night!

Kitchen's closed

Leftovers after church

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Children

Last night, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, and I came across an article a friend had posted. I don't know if it was because the doctor's name is Kermit or my friend shared such outrage and disgust at this man's actions, but my curiosity was piqued and I clicked on the link.

I read about a man, a doctor, who has performed countless illegal abortions in his clinic. I read about a man who showed such little regard to women and the human race in general that his clinic, upon being searched, was found to be stocked with rusty and unsanitary medical tools and the remains of aborted fetuses stashed in gallon jugs and empty juice containers. I read about a man who, when desperate women and girls came to him late in their pregnancies, would induce their labors and deliver live, viable babies, only to kill them violently shortly after birth. I read about a doctor who is to blame for the deaths of several women due to abortions gone wrong.

I could not finish the article.
I cried.
I was angry.
I felt guilty.

I was reminded almost immediately of a conversation I had with my husband about 5 years ago: a conversation about abortion. I told him, in my most worldly Christian way, how I knew abortion would never be an option for me, but I felt like it was wrong for me to say that abortion was wrong for any other woman. I spewed anecdotal stories of women who became pregnant in such traumatic and horrific ways, women who carried children with fatal disabilities and malformations, women who had experienced things in their lives that I have been blessed to never have experienced in my own, that who was I to say they should carry their babies to term? Basically, I advocated abortion by choosing to stay silent.

That made me no different than all the state health departments, clinic staff, nearby hospital workers, and various other agencies who knew what Dr. Kermit Gosnell was doing and yet chose to look the other way.

This is not intended to be a political blog. I have no desire and will not engage in any sort of debate with any person, pro-life or pro-choice, about a woman's right to choice or a fetus's right to life. After many years of prayer and study, of confession and questioning and the experience of carrying my own child through nine months of pregnancy, delivering him, and raising him for the past 2 years, I have come to a conviction of what is right. I am firm in my belief. But it took God speaking directly to my heart and through my circumstances to convince me, no blog post could have done it for me, just like me sharing my opinion here will never convince any pro-lifer to embrace choice or any pro-choicer to embrace life.

What I do want to speak on is the overwhelming joy that my children are. I have two children: one is 2 years old, and one is still in the womb, furiously squirming and kicking my hip bone as I type. They both have brought more light and joy to my life than anything else I have ever encountered. Is it because they are both healthy and were both planned and hoped for? That might play a part, But I can't say because I don't know what it's like to be on the other side of that spectrum.

But I do know what it's like to hold your brand new, pink, newborn baby in your arms. What it's like to not be able to sleep no matter how exhausted you are, just because you can't keep your eyes and hands off your sleeping baby. What it's like to feel the pain of being separated from him, if even for a few hours, and the feeling of being whole again when you are reunited. I know the pride that swells in your heart when you witness him roll over, sit, crawl, stand, and walk for the first time. I know what it's like to be a mother.

And tonight, after we had said our prayers as a family and hugged and kissed each other goodnight and tucked our boy safely in his bed, I went to my own bed and stared at the ceiling. I thought, and I tried to pray, but I didn't really know what to say to God. So I just laid there with my hand on my belly, thinking love thoughts to the baby inside.

And when I heard my son struggling to fall asleep in his room, I didn't hesitate to go in and scoop him up and sneak him into the Big Bed while Daddy watched a baseball game in another room. We laid in bed, the three of us: me pretending to be asleep, the baby kicking at his brother through my belly, and Cohen, wide awake but very still and very quiet, enjoying the snuggles he was getting.

Then he reached his hand out and began rubbing my cheek. Then he ran his fingers through my hair. Then he whispered very softly, "You are my friend, Mommy. You are my best friend, and I love you so, so much."

And I pretended to be asleep while silent tears rolled off my cheeks and I cried out to God,"I'm sorry that people like Kermit Gosnell choose evil over good. I'm sorry we don't value children the way You do. I'm sorry that we are silent about things that are important and fight violently over things that matter very little. I'm sorry those women felt that abortion was their only or best choice. I'm sorry they will never get to hold their children and tell them they love them and get to hear those sweet words repeated back to them. I'm so sorry for all this brokenness, Lord! We are so broken!"

I am so thankful for my children. They are my life's greatest accomplishment and no other good thing could ever come close to comparing to them. I have and will continue to pour myself into them each day, asking for nothing from them and yet gaining everything just from their love. They are my legacy-- the only thing I will leave behind in this world. They are a gift, the best gift I've ever received. They are my life's prize. Thank you, Lord, for my children. May I honor and cherish them for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Toddlerhood and Love

So Cohen has entered a super fun stage of toddler-hood: arguing with everything I say. And I mean everything. I could say that his name is Cohen, and his response would be "Noooooo. My name is not Cohen, mommy!"

Sometimes it's cute in that oh he's saying it in such a playful voice kind of way. But trust me, it has a way of wearing on your very last nerve. I spend the entire day with the kid. I hear it a lot. A lot. Nooooooo, the sky is not up, Mommy! Nooooo, we're not going to the store, Mommy! Nooooooo, it's not raining, Mommy! Nooooo, that's not pasta, Mommy!

I'm developing one of those cool mom super powers that allows me to tune my kid out when he gets to be too much. It's kind of a blessing. But the daddy? His powers are a little slower to to develop, I guess. You know how when you know someone long enough and well enough that you know what they're thinking without them having to say anything? At dinner last night, while Cohen relentlessly argued with every. little. thing I or Daddy or the TV would say, I noticed my husband's neck: it was bright red. Frustrated red.

It's interesting how becoming a parent has taught me so much about who God is. As I daily learn and grow into the role of "mother," I become more aware of how much of a Father my Lord really is. And how much of a toddler I really am in my walk with the Lord.

How many times does He ask me to hold His hand, and yet I pull the other way?

How many times does He tell me one thing, and yet I argue with Him with a fiery passion?

How many times does He ask me to do something, and I throw myself down and burst into a fit of spiritual tantrums?

The answer, if you were wondering, is too many to count.

One of the things I really appreciate about Cohen is how he is growing into his own person -- becoming more independent and learning to think and do for himself. His strong will certainly does lead to very frustrating situations and many instances of disobedience, but when he chooses to respect what I say and show love towards me? It's so much sweeter. Because I know that he could choose to do what he wants, but he does what I want instead. In those moments, he is going against his self and showing love and obedience instead.

In my mind, that's the way the Lord feels toward me. He gave me a strong will, and that will mixed with my sinful nature make being disobedient and unruly very tempting and easy. But when I die to self? When I choose to do not what I want to do but what He calls me to do? I can only imagine what that does to His Father heart.

Because isn't that all He wants from me anyway: to love Him and show Him that love through my life? And through that love, everything else will fall into place. Tantrums will cease. Trust will grow. My hand will seek out His own. I mean, God gave us a lot of rules to follow, but I'm reminded that Jesus Himself highlighted the most important commandment of all: to simply love Him.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Menu Planning Mon ... Er ... Tuesday, v. 12

Sometimes things just don't go your way.

Like when you're about to head out to the grocery store on a Monday afternoon to pick up the items you need to make your meals for the week ... only to discover that March was a 5 week month and you have no money left in your grocery budget.

So you eat $5 pizzas and hot dogs from Sam's Club and frantically dig through your freezer for something halfway nutritious for dinner that week.

And then you go on a youth retreat over the weekend and overdo it and come home with an aching pregnant belly and ankles the size of softballs. And then your husband comes down with a stomach bug, and then he gives it to you, and then you give it to your toddler.

So you can tell it's been a super fun week over here.

On the bright side, I have gotten some really heartwarming snuggles from the little guy this week AND I learned that I lost a pound since my last midwife appointment last week. 

And it's nearly 80 degrees and sunny outside. So I can't really complain too much.

I'm a few days away from being 34 weeks pregnant, and the one and only thing on my mind these days is getting ready for this baby. My goal is to have between 30-50 meals stored away in the freezer by the time this baby comes so that I don't even have to think about what I will feed my family for the first few months we are a family of 4. Realistically, I'd be happy with having 20 meals stored away. Shoot, if we're honest, I'm just proud I will have 3 meals in the freezer after this week.

My plan for stocking the freezer is to make dinner as normal 4 times a week, but to make 2 or 3 times as much as I normally would and just freeze the extra. I paid a visit to the dollar store today and stocked up on disposable pans and gallon-sized freezer bags, and I'm ready to get this party started!

Here's what on the menu this week:

I was on my deathbed, so the kitchen was closed

Garlic bread

Green Beans

Chicken Parm over noodles
Sauteed squash and zucchini

Kitchen's closed -- Date night!

Kitchen's closed

Youth potluck after church

Monday, April 1, 2013

Menu Planning Monday, v. 11

Happy April! we have a projected high of 71 today! The sun is shining and birds are chirping and I'm just dying to get myself outside.

We had a great Easter weekend over here. Cohen thoroughly enjoyed everything about his Easter, complete with the 6 chicks that showed up in his Easter basket. I'm not even kidding. Chicks. How is it that my mom wouldn't buy me a tree frog when I was a kid, but she buys my child baby chickens?! We'll just chalk it up to her being a good grandmother, expecially since she already had a plan for giving those chickens to another family once Easter was over. Whew. Dodged a bullet on that one.

The boy and I may be recovering from a bit of a candy high over here. We're a little sluggish and slow-to-go this morning. And to be honest? Not really seeing us making it to the grocery store today. The park? Oh yeah, we'll get there, though.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Takeout pizza and breadsticks

Ham and Broccoli Quiche using leftover Easter ham
Leftover Easter dinner sides

French Fries

Youth Ministry trip to Gatlinburg

Youth Ministry trip to Gatlinburg

Will I even be alive after a weekend with 30 teenagers?!