8/27/14

Breaking Points

The breaking point.

I anticipate one with each new little precious soul. They are worth so much and usually come with quite a cost. They are costly physically on my own body and costly mentally deep in the soul.

                     
I know this.  I even watch and wait for it.

But each time I still find myself in shock and sorely out of virtue practice when it hits, like going back to a work out after a year off.

Last night after six hours of successive crying on and off again, my back throbbed from holding Julia all day.


It comes in various forms: sometimes it's a baby that has been up crying all night after a succession of sleepless nights, or mastitis and uterine infections, a baby with colic that requires me to give up dairy and all food that tastes good, or cabin fever or hormonal imbalance...

I know for every mother these come at different times and in all shapes and sizes. They may be a moment or several days, or months...a time when the feeling absolute helplessness washes over us. The feeling of difficulties mounting and at some point, being broken.






I can hear myself telling a friend whose premature baby was struggling to gain weight and she was taking hours to feed him ounces several times a day while her other five children were back home...."May you persevere during this season of suffering". And I lay there listening to what I told someone else, barely able to handle my own. Eating my wonderful words of wisdom.

The point of being broken, the point of feeling completely bereft of strength to go on, that I have nothing left...it is at this point, that I bend down, lay on the ground, and I have to open my hands.
I ask God to take them, because I do not have what it takes to go on. And I know at that point, He has me right where He wants me. "Because my grace is sufficient for you." (2 Corinthians 12:9) 
And I hear that familiar passage in my head..."Unless a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die...it cannot bear fruit." My head knows this, but my heart is always slow and behind.

I pray. I wait for Him to take over. I remember I'm suppose to rely on Him to be holy. Many times, when I feel my own suffering is great, I think about those whose suffering is far greater. This time, those in Israel who are being beheaded for being Christian, the families who babies are dying from lack of food and water because they were forced from their homelands surface to my thoughts. Suddenly my breaking point seems so small. My baby cried for hours but wasn't sick or dying or hungry. She is perfectly healthy. I am here with my husband and children in a house with food and a bed to sleep in. Thank you God for this crying wonderful healthy baby.

Pain has it's way of waking me up, bringing me into supreme focus. The next morning I prayed with a greater awareness of my need for God, for his presence to sustain me throughout the day. I prayed longer and harder and more often. This is what He wants of me always.

The Breaking of the Dawn...Even if the difficulty or "crying" persists, when I have that breaking point, that moment where I bend before God, when He takes over, I do rise to get up and know He is along side me. As when you bond with a friend after going through a struggle together or deepen your relationship with your spouse when you both suffer through a trial...It is God and I together. That is a treasure.

Why every time do I forget and try with all my might to do it on my own strength?

There will be many more breaking points, and I will forget again, and by God's grace I will try and stumble and try again.

But I know, the break, the piece of me that needs to go....is always good....it is a gift.



8/22/14

Teacher Treats: Gourmet Pretzels

I know most of the teachers personally in our small school and the countless, thankless hours they put in every year, as do many teachers.

If I have time, I love giving our grade school teachers, and principal and staff, "Back to School" Treats. But you could also easily do them for Christmas treats. 

These were so easy and quick and SOOOO good. These also doubled as thank you gifts for the Hospital Staff after I had Julia. 

                                      Melt. Dip. Roll. Done. Who can't do that? 

1. Melt 


 
2. Dip

3. Dip
                                     

4. Done, Cool. 


It makes a big batch good for gifting in bigger quantities, or for keeping a stash for personal indulging ;)


I then bagged and ribboned. The gift tag line: "Here's to starting off  the school year on the sweet side"  Love from, _______


In these tags I cut 8x10 size paper from brown paper roll and fed it through my printer. I just made a circle text in Word and printed off about 10 at a time. It would be easier with a circle punch, but didn't have so used good ole fashioned scissors. 

Cellophane bags and raffia purchased here

                       

Recipe: 
1 (14 oz) package of caramels
1 Tbs. Water 
1 Bag Pretzel Rods 
1/2 pack of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1/2 pack of toffee pieces 

Directions: 
Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper. 

Pour and mix chocolate chips and toffee pieces into a shallow baking pan.

Microwave caramels in a bowl with water for 1 minute. Take out and stir. Heat another minute. Stir. 

Dip pretzels into caramel and roll into chocolate chip mixture. 

Cool on baking sheets and chill in fridge or let cool on counter. 

They look gourmet and taste amazing!

8/20/14

You Are My Sunshine

I wish that song wouldn't immediately come to my head on the first day of every school year. They'll never know how much I love them....

The start of another school year always sends me into reflection mode.

 The truth is, I love having them at home. I listen to their conversations and watch them play for hours. All summer we did science experiments, read books, planned adventures, and played games. I am going to miss them so much.


These years I thought school was ages away. We were in the new realm of parenting toddlers. 




Nicholas will be in Second Grade. Sporting the "not sure how I should smile, smile" ;). He wants to be a scientist and study living things when he grows up.

Christiana started Kindergarten. It is always a huge milestone. They are still puffy and small and look as though they shouldn't be leaving to go on their own.




In my mind, I go back to these days....and my heart hurts and feels like it weighs ten thousand pounds. I know time and life and life and time will continue to remain a mystery.

It's how I know we are made for Heaven, a place without time and no goodbyes, a place with foreverness.

My lovely wonderful sunshine, always smiling and hugging anyone she encounters, pure joy in her soul when she wakes till she sleeps.

                                             

I know I only have today to take it all in. I will look back on the days I'm in now when they are in high school. So I will continue to relish the time I have been given in the now.


Thanks to Aunt Hilary, Nicholas woke up to find a brand new pair of shoes to go to school. He talked about getting new shoes all summer and I told him the ones he had were fine. Thank goodness for fairy godmothers ;)

                             Of course, it puts my heart at ease with this man working at the school. They all walked to the car together and drove off.

Fortunately I was too emotionally drained from being sick, having all the family in for the wedding that I didn't cry my eyes out. They both were beaming to get to go to school. It's easier when I know they are happy. Here's to another year! AMDG.


8/19/14

One Year Later

Introducing our newest family member: Julia Mercedes
 Born on August 5th, 2014 at 9:32p.m.
 Weighing 7lbs. 140z and 21 inches long.
 Labor from start to finish: 4 hours.
 She came into this world with barely a cry out of the womb.
 We fell head over heels, it happens every time.



 This is post epidural. Andrew and I chatted with the nurses and doctor for about an hour. And then after that it was full steam ahead.


 I always bring my crucifix with me to the hospital. It serves as a visual reminder that "unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it cannot bear fruit." The "death" would come after delivery ;) but that's another story.

The staff quickly scrambled to get things ready because they were all caught off guard with how fast she came. I kept looking at the little baby crib, almost couldn't believe there would soon be a little person in there.

I am in awe of our God. I can not imagine what he is like, but for an instant I get to hold a piece of Heaven and I get a small glimpse of him when I hold that new life in my arms so completely perfect and invoking all my amazement.








8/20/13

Paleo Grilled Greek Chicken Salad

So...during the weekdays we I try and cook Paleo. I always have variations for family or if we have friends over but it works for the most part. 

Tonight, I was in the mood to eat out. I thought about what I would order if I did so, and then realized I could make a version just as good. 



Grilled Greek Chicken Salad

What you Need: 
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken tenders 
2 Tbs. Mayo with olive oil (or leave out for Pure version) 
4-6 cups of Romaine and Red Leaf lettuce (or any greens you prefer, I also use spinach)
1/2 Purple Onion cut in 2 inch wedges. 
1/2 Cup of Greek Vinegarette Dressing, plus a little more for salad (recipe below) 
1 large tomato cut in large wedges 
1/2 large cucumber sliced and quartered 
Sliced Kalamata olives (or leave out, my kids don't like them) 
1 lemon

Variations: 
6 slices of smoked bacon, grilled and crumbled. 
6 hard boiled eggs chopped 
Feta Cheese (for those not on Paleo ;) 

Greek Vinaigrette Dressing:
1 cup Olive Oil 
8 Tbs. Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp. Salt 
4 cloves chopped garlic 
2 tsp. sugar (I leave out, but you can use or add more to taste)
Fresh cracked black pepper 
Lemon juice
Pour in shaker or whisk until combined. 
______________

Marinade: 
1. In a ziploc bag, toss chicken,and red onion in in greek dressing marinade (and mayo if using.) I also throw the bacon in the marinade as well for about 20 minutes in the fridge. 

Grill: 
Preheat Grill to Medium-Low heat. 
Place chicken, bacon, and purple onion on grill. Turn after about 10 minutes, and finish for about another 10, or when chicken no longer pink and bacon crisp. 

Meanwhile, toss tomatoes, cucumber, and salad greens. 

EAT: 
Place chicken on top of salad. Add crumbled bacon, olives, and grilled onions. Drizzle with lemon juice or extra dressing. Add additional toppings like chopped hard boiled eggs or feta (for those not on Paleo). 

Be prepared for mouth watering flavor!!! 





                     Food Philosophy: Because the effort to make good food is a gift 
                    to those around me.It’s happy memories, togetherness, 
                                                       the living part of life.