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"It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desires which he creates." ~Amy Carmichael

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thankful

It's funny how "normal" can become really wonderful when it's taken away for awhile. I have been realizing a lot lately how "normal" my life feels. There was a time when I wasn't sure I would ever be able to say that and I am so, so, so incredibly thankful for it now.

There was a time not too long ago when I spent more time in bed than out. Though I slept 10-12 hours most nights, my sleep was not restful and I was always utterly tired. I would work around 5 hours in an office chair, then go home exhausted. There were days when my fingers ached too much to type and taking a shower required more energy than I had. The physical exertion of bowling with friends would send me home throwing up. If I attended a dance, I could pretty well figure on spending the entire next day sick in bed. If the flu was going around, then I got it - and I got it harder and longer than most anyone else.

I remember those days well. But the great thing? I'm not living them anymore! You know what I can't get over? The fact that I have not had a really restful night's sleep since the end of my pregnancy, a year ago...if I can get 3 hours of sleep without Addy interrupting it's like a miracle...and I carry a 22lb baby around all day every day...and I *still* get more done in a day than I ever could before.

In the past few weeks I have: played tennis, rode bikes, gone swimming and kayaking, gone for walks, and done some P90X workouts. Do I get tired? I'm always tired! Do I get sore? Are you kidding me, I am so out of shape. But I can do it. And I can get up the next day and do it again. And I don't throw up because of it.

I am still randomly nauseated; I still have down days or weeks; I still get headaches regularly; my blood sugars are wonky; I often have stomach aches and other digestive issues; I can hardly eat enough to keep up with a nursing baby, which just makes everything worse; I am tired all the time and some days I would do anything to have just one night of restful sleep. But I am functional. Which is something I will never, ever take for granted! It makes me almost giddy when I realize that I can function on a daily basis like any other normal adult!

For the first time in my adult life I am in a position to choose where to spend a fair amount of my energy...it is not entirely spent by simply surviving. In some ways I feel lost and it has actually been a struggle for me lately, trying to figure out what in the world I want to or like to do beyond survival. It sounds weird, but it's true.

So anyway, I've been thinking about this a lot lately and have been feeling very blessed. I still don't know what was/is wrong with my health, and I probably never will. But between prayer and taking steps to keep up with my general health, God has brought me further than I hoped possible. Thank you again to everyone who prayed and encouraged me during those really hard months and years!

While I hope I never have to go back there, I can't say I wish I never went through it. As I have said before, I was able to know a side of God that I likely would have never known otherwise. Some of the most precious moments in my life were during those times of being completely alone and sick, when God's presence was real and his love sweet. I was so utterly dependent on him during those months. There is a part of the intimacy of dependence that I really miss now that it is so easy to get swept up in the busyness of life. But I am thankful that he is the same God, regardless of my circumstances. He is still God. He is still good. He is still able. In all things and through all seasons.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Freezer Cooking: Pizza Pockets & Breakfast Burritos


I am trying to get into the habit of spending one day each week doing freezer cooking. At least on the weeks when we are not terribly busy. For me, with a baby, it is so much easier to spend an afternoon preparing one or two things in bulk, than trying to do an all-out 30 meals freezer cooking day. My goal is to keep our freezers stocked with individually portioned meals so we can have food in a hurry, but stop spending extra money on the expensive and unhealthy processed freezer meals from the store.

Over the past few months, I have made meatballs, various muffins and individual chili portions for the freezer. Yesterday it was homemade pizza pockets and sausage breakfast burritos. It took me a few hours to finish with a baby in tow, stopping every so often to change a diaper or lay down for a nap. Without her "help" they were fairly simple recipes and shouldn't take too long:

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Pizza Pockets

I used this recipe from MoneySavingMom.com for the pizza pockets. The only thing I did differently was to use white wheat flour instead of unbleached and I made the pockets larger - more meal size than snack size. I also find it much easier to pour a little oil on a cutting board or some wax paper than to deal with a flour mess when kneading and rolling dough. The pizza dough was super easy to make, but we have not tasted them yet so I can't tell you much about the flavor ;) 

For the filling I used:
Sausage
Ground beef
Onions & green bell peppers (I keep bags of chopped onions and peppers in the freezer, so I just added a few handfuls while the sausage was browning)
Olives
Canned mushrooms
Pasta sauce
Mozzarella cheese

Photo06121500.jpg
A quick photo of the pizza pockets that I snapped with my phone camera while they were cooling. They baked very evenly, but a little bit faster than the recipe time in our gas oven.

After they had cooled completely I wrapped them individually in plastic wrap, then stored them in a large tupperware container in the freezer. The result was eight large pizza pockets, with just enough toppings leftover for me to throw together a small pizza for me to eat this week :)

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Breakfast Burritos

I happened to have a few tortillas on hand, so I borrowed some of the meat mixture from the pizza recipe to make some breakfast burritos (this is why I used sausage and ground beef - to make it spread a little further than the one package of sausage would have gone). The only extra prep was to scramble eggs. 

Filling:
Sausage
Ground beef
Onions & green bell peppers
Eggs, scrambled and seasoned with Mrs. Dash & black pepper
Cheddar cheese

I filled and folded the burritos, then let cool. It didn't seem to be a problem, but if I were to do it again I would let the filling cool before making the burritos, just to be sure the tortillas don't get soggy while cooling. I also took the advice of a lot of people online and did *not* add salsa, in order to avoid sogginess when they are defrosted. These are seasoned enough to be eaten on the go, but if they are eaten at home they would be great with salsa and sour cream on top...and maybe a glass of orange juice on the side!

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What freezer cooking have you done? Do you have any recipes to share? I am always looking for more ideas!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Play The Pause


                                       
                                                               Quarter Rest Clip Art 


I have recently started teaching piano to a few of my younger siblings and several of my nieces and nephews. I am well aware that one of the hardest things to teach children on the piano is to follow the timing of a piece. To most children, including myself, the idea was to learn it well so you could play it fast. NOT to learn it well so you can play it slow. And rests? Those little symbols are not really serious about pausing mid-song, are they? Yet music composers do not flippantly slap rest symbols into the music, merely to annoy all those aspiring young pianists who play their music. No, they are used intentionally and with purpose.

A quiet, well-placed pause amidst a flurry of notes can heighten the impact of the notes around it and make a piece come to life. The timing and pauses are where the distinction lies between an amateur and a great pianist. Anyone can play the notes. Few will choose to play the pause.

I feel like our life right now is at a “rest” moment. The measures preceding have been rapid bursts of staccato notes – played fast, with little predictability. Then suddenly a pause.

We want to adopt, but due to circumstances beyond our control we must wait. We intend to homeschool, but Addy is still just a baby. Nathan would rather be in a different position, but it is not time to switch. We would like to live in a single-family house, but for now we hear the neighbors downstairs and share the yard. We know we are called to ministry, but for now Nathan is working on the schooling he needs to get there.

The question is, will we play the pause? We have been given an opportunity to rest from the last season and prepare for the next. Our daily lives have stabilized. Nathan has a job where he is gaining some experience in his field while finishing his degree. We have a steady salary. We are living near some family, in a decent house that fits us well. Though Addy is always changing, I am finally feeling like I am adjusting to being a mother. I am learning how to balance the different areas of my life and learning ways to be more efficient and effective in what I do in this season of life. We have time to enjoy our little family. We have people in our lives that we can minister to because of where we are right now.

We can strain ahead, trying to rush into to the next measure. Or we can enjoy the full count of this rest that God has given us. Right now, while there are no emergencies, no great trials, and little pressure – this is the time to tune our hearts to the still, quiet voice of the Spirit. We have nothing urgent pressing us against God. Nothing forcing us to our knees. Now is our time to gain a desire for who God is, rather than what he can do for us. To know he is near, even when all is quiet. To choose him, even in the stillness.

The thing about a pause is that it is not the end. The music is not over. There may yet be pages of music left to play. Any moment the next notes will come crashing in, breaking this silence; perhaps much sooner than we expect. But this pause, if played well, can usher the melody in with a deep expectancy. A readiness for whatever may come. Because we were given a rest and spent it within the abiding presence of Christ.

We can play this pause. Or we can miss it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fail-Proof Baby Sleep Solution

After months of waking up feeling very unrested due to a baby waking up a lot, I have finally discovered how to get a long, restful night with this baby. It is really quite simple and so effective it completely surpasses any effects of teething. Here is the formula:

Day 1: Spend all afternoon playing at Grandma's while mama teaches piano lessons. Then stay home with daddy while mama is gone too late into the evening, so baby gets hungry and fussy for awhile.

Day 2: Play with cousins for a few hours at Aunt Stacey's house while mama and daddy have a date.

Day 3: Go to church, then spend the rest of the day at Grandma's house with lots of attention from cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

Day 4: Go to the park for several hours with a lot of family and strangers. Then go to the store. Then go to Grandma's house with more of the same family and strangers. Take some naps, but don't get home and to bed for real until 1:00AM.

Day 5: Sleep pretty well, but get woken up too soon to get ready to leave in the morning. Then spend all day at an amusement park with lots of people and noise and only a short nap or two.

Do all these things and baby will then sleep for most of 12 hours through the night, only waking about three times to nurse and immediately fall back asleep. Followed by a two hour nap soon after. This is a tested and proven theory. The result is a reasonably well-rested mother and child who are both more than happy to spend a couple of uninterrupted days at home.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Don't Paint Pink


It has been a little over three months since we moved and the majority of the unpacking is done. The extra bedroom/office still acts as a storage unit for the yet packed boxes, but there are only a few other boxes lingering in the rest of the house. So my current “settling in” project has been curtains.

Curtains make me happy. I cannot explain it, they just do. Nathan doesn’t get it either, but he is happy that such a small thing can make my day (week!).  I am too lazy to paint right now (besides the fact that we’re in a rental, so I’m not even sure if we can) and I don’t have a ton of d├ęcor, so curtains can do amazing things to bring color and a finished look to a room!

The down side is that the nameless person who picked the “neutral” wall color for this rental house…well…failed at picking a neutral color. It definitely has a pink tone that kills certain colors or shades. I am using our lovely deep purple curtains anyway for our room and it looks reasonable, but I am still at a loss for what to do with the living room. I tried a dark brown, but it darkened the room more than I like and the style didn’t work like I thought it would. Those curtains are going back to the store next week! However, I am hesitant to use a lighter tan/khaki color because of the wall color. I would so love to remove any pink hues from these walls! Lesson? Make sure your neutral colors really are!

As of now, I have collected enough curtains and rods for all the windows I am going to worry about for now. Except the living room, as I mentioned already. The trick now is to get them all up on the windows. Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike hanging things on walls?? Nathan was kind enough to hang several for me as a Valentine’s Day gift, but I didn’t have most of them yet. He really is a lot better at getting things straight and in the right place, but he doesn’t particularly enjoy it either. So this week I am trying to get over my dislike and get those rods on the walls. Two down. Six to go. Hey, it’s progress.

In the meantime, I need some input. For Addy’s room I am sticking with a clean, contrasting white/black theme, with an accent color. Partially because I really like that look and partially because it is easy to change out accent items if we end up being here for some time and have another child…like a boy. However, I don’t know what accent color to use. Pink would be easy, but *every* little girl has a pink room. Our room is deep purple with silver/gold. The main living area is all shades of red.

 So here is my question to those of you have more decorating experience than I have: 
Would it be too difficult to find matching items if I use a blueish-green color? Does it work to have slightly varying shades together? I know there are a million shades of teal, so that could be trouble. It is such a pretty color though! Plus, it is still girly while being a little bit more unique than pink. 

And with that, I had better go get some things done with my day...like maybe hanging curtains. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Making Time


Nathan says I should start blogging again. I say I don’t have time. He says make time. So this is me trying to make time ;)


Have you ever tried to “make time” with a baby-almost-toddler around? It looks something like this:

I think to myself, Ah, Baby is still sleeping. I am too awake to get anymore sleep, so maybe I’ll try blogging now. After all, if I get up now she’ll just wake up anyway.

Start up the laptop and get everything ready…just in time for baby to wake up.

Type a few words. Move baby hand away.

Type a few more letters. Delete all the 0’s she just added to the page.

Type a sentence. Realize she is hungry.

Type one-handed while feeding her.

Change positions so her foot can’t pound the keyboard while she nurses.

You get the idea. I guess I won’t get bored while I try to write anyway, right? Now that she is finally preoccupied by Mr. Teddy, I guess I’d better type fast!

I don’t have a plan for what I want to blog about. It is really just an attempt to get myself writing again. That, and perhaps have an outlet for the things going on in my heart and head. The last couple of years have been good, but also very full and often stressful. Unfortunately, I quit writing during all the upheaval and writing used to be one of my primary methods for dealing with emotional stress. Addy doesn’t like having an irritable mommy though, so we will see if this helps. That is, if I actually succeed in making time for it on a semi-regular basis. 

I spend a lot of time reading other people's blogs while I feed a baby or wait for her to fall asleep. So I may be doing a lot of commenting on and sharing the interesting tidbits I find on other blogs or Pinterest. Even though I generally feel overwhelmed and behind, I have been finding more time lately to try new ideas and work on some projects around the house. Which has been great! Especially with Nathan on the South Beach diet right now, I am doing all kinds of healthy food experimentation! Sometimes it's scary...

 Well, I need to get going with my day. We are leaving Thursday for a long weekend in Nashville, so I'd like to get as much non-packing stuff done around the house today as possible! It is always soo much nicer to come home from a trip to a reasonably clean house without loads of work waiting for me. I finally understand why my dad always made such a big deal about cleaning up the house before we left anywhere for an extended period of time. As a kid, who CARES about the dishes when we are leaving to go have fun?? ;)