Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Just remembering my Cutie-Pie-Guy during Halloween when he was here. I wonder if they eat candy in heaven? I bet they do and it is really, really good.

This one makes me happy and sad. Happy because he loved dinosaurs so much and wouldn't have wanted to be anything else. And, he was totally the cutest little dino the PICU ever saw. I so wish he could have been home and we could have taken him trick-or-treating and let him eat too much candy and stay up too late.

This year we picked out a pumpkin for J and carved it up and put a candle in it. Oh, what I wouldn't give to have him here now.

Tonight we will go trick-or-treating with Spiderman and let him eat too much candy and stay up too late. Because life is way too short to not enjoy the ride.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Food & Faith

I have been baking a lot. Maybe too much. At this very moment there are three different loaves of bread on the counter and a dozen or so pumpkin cream cheese muffins in the fridge. Additionally, we had homemade pizza, french onion soup, chicken cordon bleu and homemade chicken salad all this week. And tonight I'm making spinach, gruyere and pear grilled cheese sandwiches on cinnamon bread. I think the past week was a wee bit stressful and baking and cooking are my preferred coping mechanisms.

Last Thursday I started feeling some pre-term labor symptoms and all weekend long they just got worse and worse. I was trying my best to not lose my cool and jump to the worst case scenario, but by Sunday afternoon I was afraid to get off the couch and crying at the drop of a hat. I know I get a free pass on the crying thing; pregnancy births tears all nine months for me. But I was seriously losing it; all I could think was that I've already lost two babies this year, please, God, don't take this one too. And I couldn't help but wonder if we did lose this baby that maybe I am not cut out for motherhood. Just to get the drama out of the way, I went to the doctor on Monday and all the tests have come back fine- the baby is fine, maybe just having a growth spurt.

Back to the thoughts and feelings- talk about a crummy weekend! It stinks to be scared like that and to let a fear cause me to spiral down so quickly. When I think about it now, it makes me mad, although I'm not exactly sure I can put it into words. I think part of it is that I feel like I lost faith for a minute. Not faith as in I stopped believing in God or miracles or that the baby could be fine. But faith that no matter what, God's plan is the best plan there is, even if that means I lose another child. Please don't mistake me; I do not say this flippantly. Plain and simple, I can't see the outcomes when I'm living the tragedy; I have to keep the faith that there is a reason and that someday when I die and step into God's kingdom, it will all make sense. Because God really does love me and Jameson and the baby I lost and this baby growing inside of me. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Another thought that has really stuck with me is that at one point I told Hubs that no matter what happens, I don't think I can ever mentally handle the stress of doing this again. But that can't be true. I refuse to live with that kind of fear hanging over my head like a gauntlet ready to fall. Because life after birth is just as uncertain as life in the womb. And I don't want to go though my life worrying about whether or not Little Man's cough is a cold or something worse, or whether my headache is a brain tumor or just dehydration, or whether the reason Hubs is late is because he is delivering a baby at the hospital or he got in a car accident. Again, this goes back to the faith issue; when I take a deep breath and think about God's promises, I can have peace instead of anxiety. But this is a choice I have to make. I can choose to indulge the drama queen and freak out or I can choose to calm down and have a little faith. Most of the time, I think I'm somewhere in the middle. Because the faith thing is really, really hard sometimes, especially when something scary is happening.

I freaked out a little more than I wish I would have over the weekend and now we have enough food in our kitchen to open a small restaurant. Which is all fine and dandy; it means I have two happy guys, but it also means in another month I'm gonna have a bigger butt. I've got to say, though, those muffins are worth it.

Calling them muffins is really a stretch, too. They are more like the Juicy Lucy of cupcakes with that cream cheese frosting center. Lord almighty, I might just go have one more. There go the hips.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Back In The Kitchen

Now that Little Man is in school full-time and we are all unpacked and settled in, I have a lot of time on my hands. A lot. Too much, actually, but I'm working on fixing that with volunteer opportunities and hopefully a part-time job. In the meantime, I'm enjoying reading, napping, exploring the area and cooking.

Yes, I am back in the kitchen; after taking a month off to move and camp, it is great. I've become good friends with my first gas oven, successfully not burning or under cooking anything yet. I think this is the beginning of a wonderful relationship.

The breadmaker has been working overtime as well. I've been using the dough cycle for soft pretzels for after-school snacks(cinnamon sugar soft pretzels are dynamite dipped in a pumpkin cream cheese dip!), pizza dough, cinnamon roll dough, etc. Plus, we've been eating a loaf of bread every two or three days. I've been playing around with whole wheat- flax meal bread and we are just finishing up a loaf of oatmeal honey wheat bread. I think today I'm going to make a loaf of cottage cheese bread for the weekend. I would die on a low carb diet.

Here are a few pics of the deliciousness we've been enjoying up north.

Baked pumpkin macaroni and cheese.

Hoisin pulled pork on homemade bread with spaghetti squash.

Butternut squash and wild rice soup with apple, curry, and coconut milk. I let Hubs help stir and he added almost a 1/4 cup of curry to the soup, so it had some kick. Yogurt helped knock it down for Little Man.

And the favorite dish of the week: caramel apple rolls. I put a few of those amazing honeycrisps we picked at the orchard to work and they starred well in my almost-famous caramel rolls. They are amazing as is, but I'm not sure I can ever go back now...apples and caramel are meant to be together.

It is just amazing how much happiness a, ahem, few sticks of butter can bring to the breakfast table. Which is why we only have them a few times a year. Life is too short to not enjoy good food, though.

Today is a blustery, cold, and overcast day and I'm debating between making vegetarian chili or garlicky spinach-sausage gratin from my Cooking Light magazine. The subscription was a birthday gift last year and our whole family has enjoyed the deliciousness of it. The caramel rolls are most definitely not from there.

Happy Friday, friends.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I've been trying to think how to sum up our vacation in one posting- so many pictures, so many memories, so many awe inspiring moments, so much great food. We were gone for 3 weeks. We spent 20 nights away, 18 of which were in this tent.

It was actually quite comfy, except for the last few nights in Jackson, WY and Yellowstone. Both nights were in the 20's and there was literally frost inside the tent. It made it much easier to get up in time for sunrise in order to get in the truck and turn the heat on!

We saw many amazing places, but for the most part, it was a tease; I could easily spend a week in each location we visited and still not do everything I would like. We have a list of future vacations made; now we just need time and money. Ha!

The most notable places for me were: Jackson, Wy and the Tetons, Hood River, OR, the Oregon Coast, and the entire Olympic Peninsula. The Washington Coast has completely stolen my heart. The greenery, the trees, the ocean and mountains together. I don't see how it gets any better than that. I could gush forever, but instead, I'll show you some of my favorite pictures.

We went to Yellowstone twice. It was really amazing. Artist Point and Mammoth Falls were the big highlights there, but again, we spent two short days in the park and would have liked to have two weeks there.

We saw some great cities along the way- Leavenworth, WA is a really neat place to visit, as is Bend, OR, but nothing could capture my heart like the ocean did. I've been to the ocean many times, but never this ocean. This was my first introduction to the Pacific and I fell hardcore.

I didn't think it could get any better than Port Townsend and Port Angeles, but then we drove up Hurricane Ridge Highway into the Olympic National Park. Seriously, we splashed in the ocean in the morning and a few hours later we were on top of majestic mountains, standing on snow, overlooking glaciers and the ocean. I'm at a loss for words. This is how I picture heaven. That is about all I can say.

That night we camped in the Heart of the Hills campground in the park; by far the coolest campground I've ever stayed in. There were huge boulders and gigantic trees all over the place. And even though it was high up in the mountains, everything was still so green and lush. It seemed so magical to me.

The next day we drove to Rialto Beach and then camped in a rainforest! Doesn't that just sound so cool? It was really cool; and it barely rained, which is a major bonus when tent camping.

Oh that beach. This was probably my favorite place of the whole trip. I love walking on the beach and hearing the waves roll in and the crackle and clicking of the pebbles as the waters rushes back out. The trees were gorgeous, standing and fallen. There is something beautiful about the massive, bleached driftwood along the shoreline. The trees of Washington just slay me anyway. Cedars and Sitka still my heart.

I teared up a little when we left the Washington coast. But I didn't have much time to remember to be sad because our next major stop was Portland. Hello Foodie Heaven and Beervana! I joked with some friends that I ate for two and Hubs drank for two. I was slightly jealous, but he let me have a teeny sip of the best here and there.

My brother begged me to go to Voodoo Donuts and have a Maple Bacon Bar. That was easy and well worth the wait and calories. Drooling just thinking about it. And can I please get an AMEN for food carts? Seriously- wood-fired artisan pizza and fig, goat cheese and proscuitto crepes from campers? Totally in!

Portland was really fun. I can't speak highly enough for their public transportation. We took the MAX, their light rail, everywhere. It was awesome. Little Man loved it. But I was ready to get out of the city when we left. And it was back to the beach for us. We hit up the Oregon coast and the dunes. Again, awesome.

Again, I almost cried when we left the coast. But Hood River and Bend we both great towns and then we got to Jackson, WY. And that is probably my favorite mountain town. I love the kitschy tourism, the restaurants, the arts, the Snake River. And the Tetons are phenomenal.

Who doesn't wish they were a cowgirl living in Jackson right now? I totally want to go back there someday and see the park on horseback. Someday.

After Jackson, we cruised through Yellowstone again, drove the Beartooth Scenic Highway- which is the second most beautiful drive I've ever taken- and saw Red Lodge and Billings, MT before heading home. Sigh. Now I just need to find a way to get our families to all move out west with us. But for now, I've got some great memories and dreams...and life at the lake isn't so bad!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy Weekend

Whew! We are finally getting settled in. We had a wonderful whirlwind weekend with Grandparents visiting, apple picking, hiking, and enjoying the lake.

Here is the first of many happy pictures from the weekend.

Just over the halfway point and looking healthy and good and already so stinking cute! What a blessing this child is. Our snow baby is due in late winter and we are all excited to meet him or her.

And here is the latest belly shot. I feel like a house, but I've only gained 8 pounds, so I must not be as big as I feel.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend. We are thoroughly enjoying the surprisingly warm fall weather while it lasts.