Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#5Faves: Fall Edition

My MIL and SIL Ellen left this morning. It was such a lovely four+ days of company; they are heading back to the warmer Midwest, which still appreciates Fall. Fall is lovely here in PA, but getting a bit too cold... already. So here's how I am remedying the situation:

{one}
Laura Ashley flannel sheets



I bought ours at Amazon, but plenty more companies sell them, and they are dreeeeeeamy. Soft, warm, delicious. The cotton keeps the bed from getting too hot, and the fabric is soft and welcoming. It's not just my over tiredness of pregnancy ... am I sleeping better in them?! The design is whimsical, natural and lovely. My husband likes them too!

{two}
eos lip balm



My lips are getting chapped and where do I turn to? eos. My aforementioned SIL introduced me to this brand and I love it: the shape, the smell, the smoothness of application... and the seriously cute Pokeball-like packaging. Gotta use 'em all! [Widely available in all drugstores.]

{three}
Lasko ceramic space heater fireplace


This is on my wish-wish list. I've been casually dropping hints to Will about fitting it into next month's budget, but the fool is on night shift and paying me no heed. We need to close up our fireplace (soon) and I think this would be an excellent addition to our front room: another space heater in the house, and one that looks like fire. Baby friendly too? Space efficient? Seasonal? I am creating a list.

{four}
Hanna Andersson pajamas

(A)
 (B)


Also on the wish list are new Hanna pajamas. Half of me knows long johns are the way to go, the other half longs for a lovely set I can continue wearing when bebe deux comes. Maybe both? I have a feeling it is going to be a long winter.

{five}
Minnetonka moccasins



I ordered a (new) pair for me and a wee pair for Grace... and I need to send them back to get one size smaller in each - funny how that works! - but there is nothing more delightful than having warm feet during the colder months. Indulge.

**

What do you all love/ want/ need for Fall? I must say... I am definitely missing New Orleans this time of year!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Recipe: Sweet Potato Casserole

Julie, when are you going to dazzle your readers with food photography and recipes to delight the soul? is the gist of the e-mails that fill my in-box every day. Y'all are right: when am I going to step up and finally publish all those iPhone pictures from last week's eat? Wait no longer.

Sweet Potato Casserole 



I did not grow up eating many sweet potatoes; Dad cooked them for us once (he always called them "Halloween Mashed Potatoes"), and Mom refused to eat them because they are orange (?!). I enjoyed them, but never had too many opportunities to eat them. My family does not abide by the sweet potato and marshmallow Thanksgiving rule either, it seems. Then, last Thanksgiving, my sweet MIL served this dish and my taste buds swooned.

A few weeks ago, I was fondly remembering the dish and realized that I too could fix this deliciousness for dinner. My MIL kindly sent me the recipe and wa-la! A wonderful seasonal side dish for to complement whatever else you are cooking.

This recipe hails from a Mrs. C.D. Hammer of Louisiana.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of sweet potatoes (about 4 good-sized ones)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/3 cup of milk

Topping:

  • 1/3 cup of melted butter
  • 1 cup of light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans (I, personally, refrained)


Directions:



1. Boil and mash potatoes




2. Mix in sugar, butter, vanilla and milk.

Second rule: eat butter!


3. Put in 13x9 inch baking pan.


4. Topping time: Melt butter and mix in remain ingredients. Sprinkle on top of potato mixture.


5. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.


Ta-da! Serves 10-12 people, or 2-4 people for a couple days. Even picky babies like!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Life Higher Than Love: What Else Marriage Needs

Today is the two months until our two year anniversary mark. I'm a sucker for the 21st day of every month now, gleeful over another month married to my beloved.

Will and I have been through a lot together.

  • We were long distance (about two hours, give or take traffic) while dating, engaged and six months into marriage. 
  • We were longer distance when Will was away on "away rotations" - rotations during medical schools done at other hospitals for more training.  
  • He supported me as I realized all my hopes and dreams were no longer what I wanted, and as I moved forward without having a clear plan. He cheers me on in new jobs; first nannying, now teaching.
  • I supported him through medical school, graduate school for clinical research, and now, into his emergency medicine residency. 
  • We were with each other through our first pregnancy, our first birth, our first baby, our first diagnosis, and now, our second pregnancy. 
  • We've moved three times, and lived in three very different regions. 
  • We've been together through funerals, births, and weddings; hurt feelings, pain, wonder, surprise and new happiness.
  • We have driven literally thousands of miles together in the car and still enjoy each other's company (a feat, some say). 
When Will proposed, I did not squeal or cry (though the when and how was quite a beautiful surprise), but rather, felt such a sense of calm and overriding joy that he wanted to join his life to mine, forever.

I say forever because Will and I do not believe divorce is possible in a marriage of true minds, bound together under the Catholic sacrament. We were 24 and 25 on our wedding day: the re-start button on our lives was pushed. No longer could we live for ourselves; we are responsible for what we have tamed. We are responsible for the roses in our heart. We must tend to others, as well as ourselves, and think of the seasons.

There is a beautiful sentiment I read in a short story once: a woman runs into her ex-husband, a man she was married to for 24 years. Hello, my life, she says. I was struck by that line. What? No life of mine, the ex-husband spat back. But this is not the case.

Our marriage is more than the love I feel for Will, the love I have for Will, the love I want for Will. Love is important. Love is everything. And past everything is the reality of trust.

Trust is an entirely different element of our relationship. I trust Will with my emotions - when we disagree, he does not belittle me. When I am upset, he comforts me. He trusts me to build him up and not tear him down.

We've been having a lot of discussions about money lately. We go over our finances and budget every single month. This kind of accountability shows each other that we respect our mutual funds. We both have "wish lists" and always put family needs first. This can be challenging when all I'd rather do (than clean or do laundry) is decorate our home, and buy better organizing pieces, or buy more frames to fill with pictures, or a can of paint for our dreary rental kitchen.

That being said, the kind of trust Will instills in me is empowering. When I was struggling over being the one who interacted with Grace every day, responsible for doing exercises and stretches with her, he reminded me that I am her mother, and I am the best thing for Grace. And this is true - even when we are playing, we are doing therapy, and having a wildly good time. I trust Will to be the best father to our littles. My heart exploded tonight when he came home; Grace saw him and immediately grinned and started waving wildly to her Dad.

Late summer 2014
I trust that Will is there for me when I need him, and that he is going to put me first. I put him first too - even though that means I am missing Thanksgiving and Christmas this year with my family. There is sacrifice in love, and sacrifice in trust, and beauty.

Trust is earned every single day. I trust Will to do his best at his job, and he trusts me to do the same. We hold each other up, and are realistic about day-to-day happenings. Some days, he has to fold seven loads of laundry because I went laundry crazy and didn't stop to fold. He doesn't trust me to be efficient, but he asks me to be. Realism and reasonable expectations is another part of our marriage.

When looking for someone to marry, it is more than someone to love and be loved by - it is someone you can trust, and someone you can hold at a high standard to be the best partner to you. They should inspire you to be the best version of yourself too, and a better partner. Trust does not deceive, does not seek retribution or its own gain.

Trust is what makes marriages last, and what I am learning to really dive into without my safety net.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

My View (vol. 24)

What I am reading: The Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie

What I am eating: yogurt, Halloween oreos, candy corn, kiwis, colby jack cheese sticks

Meal planning: This went much better this week (I actually made a plan!) - only to be derailed by a stovetop that stopped heating, so my 30 minute meal turned into a two hour ordeal. On the positive side, this baked chicken recipe (panko crumbs + parmesan cheese, need I say more) recipe turned out well. We're eating the leftovers tonight! I even had double the chicken, and the covering outlasted it all!

TWO. HOURS. LATER. (recipe to follow because delicious)

This week, I am going to try lentil soup, some sort of beef and noodles dish (because we are eating too much chicken again), and a sweet potato side my mother-in-law passed on to me.

We are still trying to integrate adult foods into Grace's menu. She was eating really well and now - poof! She is mostly interested in what is on our plate, and then once we share (or give her a baby portion), she is over it. She does love colby jack cheese sticks, though, so I will be picking up more tomorrow! She is also drinking a lot more milk, and showing interest in our cups, which deserves a thousands claps.

Helping mama fix waffles after an extra early morning wake-up
Note: As I type this, she is eating a fish stick. Miracles happen! And yes, I like fish sticks. 

This week in history: GRACE TOOK HER FIRST STEPS. At PT on Thursday, we kept the bench we usually stand her at lower than usual to practice standing up with her right leg first, and on her own volition, she took five steps to the left. Then back to the right, then back to the left, and so on. Her therapist was beyond elated, and kept saying she had not expected Grace to be trying to walk yet. She also said earlier that she had never seen a hemi (Grace has right hemiparesis CP, aka her right side is affected) do an extended crawl before, and that is 85% of Grace's crawling now.

She also likes to put herself at the edge of everything (and expects you not to let her fall).

Will... Will... WILL PLEASE DON'T LET HER FALL. - me
She pulls herself up on her knees, and occasionally can stand. She is babbling more and continues to love her parents the mostest. She is a rock star!!! So in love with my smiley baby.

Go Gracie go!

And this girl:

Hi bebe deux!

Will stayed home from work one day this week because he got chills, etc. and he's on his OB rotation. He was fully pathetic, and then felt better enough to go in the next day - and he got to deliver a baby! I felt sick again this week too (what is the deal?!), totally blanked on an OB appointment (whoops), and finished grading all outstanding essays by my students with the help of Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet). Still playing catch-up, but that felt really good. Now, prepping for class this week while Grace crawls all over me. Looooving it.

Will and I got to play tennis yesterday too and it was great fun! Grace did a great job watching us from her blanket!


{{Also... like The Corner with a View Facebook page? All the cool kids are doing it! I tried to get over 100 this week, and now I can fingers cross for 200! Thanks to all my new readers for being so awesome - and ye olde faithfuls!!!}}

Prayers: For the Middle East. For the lonely hearts. For my three siblings who have birthdays this month! For the Church and her members. For peace in our hearts, and any private intentions in yours.

Next week I am going to: Finish thank you notes, get Grace's medical/ therapy papers better organized (vs. the lovely pile I have going on), make myself feel well enough to bake snicker doodle cookies, enjoy Fall, and get ready for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to come visit this next weekend! Also, see good friends T&B who have a wedding in the area!!

Re-living our birthday this afternoon... indulgent mama, happy baby!

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why I Don't Ask About Future Babies

TW: babies, infertility, miscarriage

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I've never lost a baby in utero, but it's more common than many admit. Both my mother and my mother-in-law have children in Heaven, and my Father says that losing that baby (whom he calls "Joseph") is what firmly cemented him in the every-life-is-precious camp.

I am also in this camp: both my babies are miracles. I do not take either of them for granted. I have too many friends who have confided in me that they have lost a baby in utero, or have been unsuccessful in conceiving a dear one.

It's a common enough sentiment: a couple gets married -- So! when are you going to have a baby?!

Then, that baby is born. A few months later: So! when are you going to have another baby?!

Sometimes, people ask because they think you should wait. Other times, they ask because they hope it is soon. Most times, people are just being nosy.

Will and I have discerned differently about baby timings, and fortunately, so far, we've conceived both times under an agreed-upon time frame. After bebe deux is born next year, we will re-evaluate for when we'd like bebe tres to make a mark in the world. We will continue to re-evaluate and talk about it, which is one of the definite perks and intimacies of natural family planning.


But we're realistic that babies have their own timelines. That conception rates are under 25 percent. That we've been very, very, very lucky and blessed to have two under two.

When we ask people about their baby timelines, it brings up a lot of emotions: it brings up career fears and ambitions, it brings up longing and doubt, it brings up the serious side of sex and the true effort that goes into having a baby.

Not everyone is so lucky.

Many people will try for years. Some people suffer miscarriages, even multiple miscarriages. Those losses are not easy to move on from, and the woman's body often needs time to heal, as well as her spirit.

When I became pregnant with our second, I was ecstatic. It was exactly right. Will was excited, and this means our two babies will be babies together. We wanted the first two close in age.


Then, sadness draped over me like a mantle I could not take off. I couldn't tell anyone! Anyone who was married and trying, anyone I knew who was suffering from not becoming pregnant. This pregnancy would hurt them, deeply. I told my family and slowly told friends, and wondered when I should go public. Technically, I did not have to go public - but these days, I couldn't avoid having my picture taken for nine months, and then no one would notice the extra baby just happening to hang out with us...

After a month and a half of this sadness, I realized that it is good to rejoice over the happiness of our second, and there is a time to be sad with others.

I would never wish away my babies, but I can pray for those angels in Heaven, including my brother Joseph, and for their families on earth.

I should add that I do not mind discussing babies or future babies with the well-intentioned and loved ones; but there should be a spirit of discretion. I pray that the joy I have with my babies will inspire a love and want to pour out self-wants and fear, and fall in love with the little human who will always love you better than you can love yourself.


Now, back to the baby who is calling "mama!" to me...!