Monday, November 28, 2011

Gobble! Gobble!

A holiday completely revolving around gratefulness and food. We had family, an off-the-chart menu, gingerbread houses, and kid wine. What's not to love?

We started the day with a house full of littles who all got up way too early. But we had good coffee and homemade apple caramel rolls to ease us into the day.

My sister-in-law is an amazing cook and she made some of the food, including the appetizers. We had a cooked shrimp ceviche and a beef and black bean dip. Both were awesome and I somehow did not manage to get pictures. I also made a veggie platter, trying to squeeze something remotely healthy into the butter/carb/sugar overload Thanksgiving tends to be.

The dinner menu consisted of sage sausage stuffing, sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, cheesy hash potatoes, green jello, cranberries, potato rolls and turkey.

It was all so good, but the turkey stole the show. I'm so glad it did, because it wasn't easy. I deboned a 17 pound bird, filled it with a bourbon soaked cranberry and fig dressing, and rolled it into a roulade. There were a lot of firsts, but after watching this Julia Child video 10+ times and taking notes on it, I thought I could handle it. Okay, seriously, I'm a complete amateur! What took them about 4 minutes to do, took me almost an hour. I had turkey juice everywhere and practically needed a shower in bleach afterwards. It was quite a learning experience and I was really, really hoping all of the effort and clean up would be worth it.

The bird did not disappoint.

Those drumsticks you see sticking out were the only bones in the turkey. It was tender, flavorful, and not dried out at all. I will probably be making this turkey every year. It was a lot of prep work, but on Thanksgiving day, all I did was brown it for a few minutes on each side, deglaze with white wine and then throw it in the oven for two hours. It was such a relaxing Thanksgiving since I was able to make almost everything the day before.

For dessert, we had a bourbon pumpkin cheesecake.

All in all, it was a fantastic day. We had such great time hanging out with our family and we all ate like kings. I'm soooooo glad my monthly prenatal weigh in was last week and not this week. Because I ate like a king all weekend, too.

This week, the menu is very veggie heavy. Gotta get a few good days in before we start baking Christmas cookies!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks

I've been reading a lot about being deliberate in my life. Devotionals, blogs, random friends' facebook posts- everyone seems to be talking about being intentional. It is a good reminder. Living purposefully makes a huge difference in big and small ways.

For instance, this holiday season, I am going out of my way to make Thanksgiving and Christmas memorable and special for Little Man, even though I'm not feeling it. What I'm feeling is sad and tired and huge and kinda mopey. Instead of thinking turkey and stuffing, I'm thinking that last Sunday was our due date for the baby we lost in March. *Yay* for this week! Yep, I'm feeling Thanksgiving. Please notice the heavy sarcasm...

But you know what? Feelings can be deceiving. Feelings can change like the wind. Feelings don't have to control me. So Sunday, instead of lying in bed all day eating Nutella and pretzels like I wanted to, we went to church and cried through the service. Then we had donuts and juice and talked with our friends. And I smiled and cooked lunch for my guys. And when I got really crabby in the afternoon, I went for a walk up the dirt road with the dogs. It was cold and quiet and beautiful outside. And suddenly, I noticed that I wasn't sad anymore. I was too busy marveling at the ice crystals on the beach, and watching the dogs run through the snow covered forest, and breathing in the fresh, winter air mingled with the scent of wood stoves to notice I was supposed be sad and moping. It took all day, but intentionally focusing on things other than my feelings worked. Of course, then I saw the Vikings score and was a little sad again.

Living intentionally. Making good choices even when it is difficult. Giving thanks even when I don't feel thankful. These are all things I'm focusing on and it is working. I'm getting ridiculously excited about all of the cooking and baking tomorrow and Thursday hold. And the eating. And the family. I'm thinking about where the Christmas tree is going to go and what kind of homemade decorations Little Man and I can work on together. I'm spending more time looking out instead of in and finding all kinds of things to be thankful for.

It reminds me of the book One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. She basically states that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving. She's right, too. And I'm really trying to be intentional in my thanksgiving. When I'm feeling my crummiest and least thankful, that is when I'm trying my hardest to find something to thank God for. There is always something.

Little Man made this great envelope and we've been writing down what we are thankful for.

Isn't that so cute? He did the whole thing all by himself. The other side is decorated with leaves and flowers. I love his handwriting. It has been fun to think about things to write down every day and fill it up. Here are a few things I am thankful for this week.

Homemade bread.

Loons on the lake.

Icy beaches and a husband who is a great photographer.

Happy memories and Jesus' sacrifice, which means this goodbye isn't forever.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, full of love, grace, and joy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sick Day

I have a seal instead of a boy at home with me today. This is the *first* time in five years that we haven't had to nebulize him for the croup. It was so nice to have Daddy check him out before work this morning and keep him out of the clinic. And it is even nicer to have a little boy whose lungs are happy, despite the barking and sneezing.

This morning we threw caution to the wind and ran to Target to pick up a limited edition CD. We had to wait in line for 5 minutes before the store opened and held our breath, hoping they would still have some left by the time we got there. It made me feel like a teenager again.

We also bought this.

No good can come from this.

Okay, maybe some good.... But seriously, what was I thinking? Pregnant women should never walk through the snack aisles when it is close to second breakfast time. Yes, I do eat 2 breakfasts everyday. I'm like a Hobbit.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a turkey to paint with Little Man. We are getting our craft on, snuggling, and rocking out to some awesome music this morning.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Changing Season

Winter has arrived. I'm sure we'll see our grass again before it comes for good, but today was a good "practice" run for driving in snow and ice.

Little Man was so excited to break out the boots and snow pants for the walk to the bus stop.

The changing of the seasons seems to always get me. Any change gets to me. I've just been thinking about Jameson and crying a lot lately. I can't even make it through church without breaking down. Every.Sunday. It's like being at the soccer field all over again, trying to cry discreetly in the pew. People must think I'm a lunatic. Part of it is the preggo hormones, I'm sure. But that isn't all of it. I just miss my boy. And this first snow reminds me of the snowy days last year. Looking out the PICU windows and seeing a white Minneapolis. Driving to the hospital and trying to stay on the roads. Being cold and tired and scared all of the time. It was a particularly harsh winter to begin with and with our added fears, sleep deprivation, stress, etc., it was too much and I really don't know how we made it.

Winter is also a reminder that we are coming up on the one year anniversary. I've found myself looking back at pictures of Jameson in the hospital and missing that time. But I can't really miss those four months, can I? I can't really miss the agony of watching him suffer and decline. I can't really miss the stressful time of always being away from one of my boys. I can't really miss the couch sleeping, the bad coffee, the cafeteria food. Can I? Of course I don't. But I miss my J and I'm selfish enough to wish he were still here- even if here still meant the PICU.

But he is gone and we are left trying to navigate this uncertain and broken future. It seems at least once a week I come across something that I just don't know how to handle. Like Christmas cards. And family pictures. How do we ever have one ever again? I can't handle thinking about my family without him in the picture. And do we still hang his stocking? Does Santa still bring him candy? They seem like such silly little things and maybe they are, but I don't know how to figure out what is right for us. I'm not looking for answers; we have to find our own way through this stuff, but it ain't easy. Just for the record, after you've lost a child, the holidays totally suck. All of them. And the coming weeks with all of the thankfulness and Christmas cheer will be even harder than August and September were.

I don't know how to make a smooth transition from that. I'm sorry if I sound like such a Debbie Downer. Because I'm not unhappy. I don't cry all of the time. I still laugh and smile and enjoy life. I am just emotional and missing my sweet boy so much. But I am still excited to cook a turkey next week and have family up to eat and share Thanksgiving with us. To make gingerbread houses and decorate a tree. And I'm very excited to cry my way through Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. And watch Little Man open his gifts. And be with family to celebrate the birth of Jesus. But, (here is my broken record line)it is, as always, bittersweet. And it always will be.

However, now it is time to do the dishes, get started on the bread for dinner, and make some soup to warm our souls and bodies on this cold and snowy day. Hopefully it will be as good as this carrot soup and kale bread were last week.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Now that's a bagel!

This one reminds me of my preggo belly button.

They taste as good as they look, too. I'm so happy I found a better recipe.

Not bad looking pizza either, huh? The crust was just divine. And the squash pizza was the overwhelming favorite. We added asparagus at Little Man's request and it turned out to be a great idea. The Brussels sprout pizza was okay, it just needed more kick and less cheese. I'll have to work on that one.

Today is a busy day, but with leftovers like this, I don't think anyone will mind that I am not cooking dinner. Have a great day, my friends!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The View From Here

Last Thursday the power was out at our house for almost the whole day. When it finally came back on, I went about the house resetting all the clocks. Geeze, I must really have pregnancy brain (I wonder what my excuse will be after the baby comes?) because Friday morning I looked at the clock in the kitchen and told Little Man to get his shoes on for school.

Then we walked out the door and I flipped open my cell phone to check that time to see how fast we had to walk to the bus stop. Um, yeah. We had less than five minutes to walk up the uphill, dirt, loooong drive way and then 1/4 mile down the dirt road to the bus stop. Doh! So we ran- and what a sight that must have been. We weren't even half way there and I could hear the whine of the bus getting to the stop. Luckily, he has to U-turn at the stop and he turns towards our road. So here we are, running as fast as we can, which isn't very fast at all. I'm the pregnant lady with morning breath, hair half in a bumpy ponytail, half falling out, running down a dirt road, flailing my arms above my head to get the driver's attention. Hot. I know. I even got a honk. I'm sure the bus driver had a good laugh that morning. At least we made it. Instead of kissing Little Man goodbye that morning, I threw his backpack at him and shoved him towards the bus while I doubled over, tried to catch my breath and figure out which muscles I discovered on the run. It was *awesome* to say the least. I walked home leisurely and enjoyed the sunrise through the trees. When I got back to our house, I was rewarded with this fine view.

After the pink faded from the sky, I went in and promptly reset all the clocks in the house.

The weather was gorgeous this weekend. We enjoyed some nice walks on our road and even got the canoe out on the water. No fish, but we saw a few loons and bald eagles. Delightful. We would have loved to have gone for some long hikes, but it was the hunting opener in Minnesota and we just don't own enough orange.

We ate some great food, too. I made crockpot pumpkin oatmeal, baked eggplant parmesean, pasties, and an experimental wild rice pudding with rhubarb-orange sauce. It turned out pretty good.

I've had a hankering for sourdough, so I played with some breads this weekend. The sourdough bagels turned out too soft and fluffy and then they sunk down to flat, oily hockey pucks. They are so flat, you don't even need to cut them to fit them in the toaster. What a disappointment.

So, I'm trying again today with a new recipe. Hopefully the second batch will be chewy and dense, like a bagel should be.

And tonight, we are having sourdough pizza with some crazy toppings. One will be an acorn squash sauce with onions, sage, and Gouda cheese. Maybe some spinach and or chicken sausage for fun. The other one will be a Brussels sprout pizza with mushrooms, garlic, bacon, and fresh sliced tomatoes. I haven't decided on the sauce yet. Can't wait! I love trying new foods. For now, I've got to run and shape this second batch of bagels; I'm determined to get it right!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Angel Tree

As most of you know, Reece's Rainbow is a charity near and dear to my heart. Someday I hope to bring home a Reece's Rainbow.

I am excited to share their annual Christmas Angel Tree with you! This is their biggest fundraiser of the year and every dollar counts! Just click here and you can help a beautiful, deserving child be adopted into a loving family. Plus, if you donate $35+, you also get an ornament with a picture of your Christmas Angel to put on your tree.

I cannot think of a better gift to give this Christmas than the hope of a family.
Thank you for your generosity!!