Friday, January 29, 2010

Living the nightmare: Part II

To read Part I, please click here.

With heavy steps, and a heavier heart, I followed the paramedics into the house.

If you are a parent, you’ll understand that my first instinct was to go straight to Seth’s side.  However, common sense told me that I’d only be in the way.  Jim was there, and in that moment, I knew that my baby girl needed me more than my baby boy.

I knelt next to the coffee table and prayed the anguished prayer of a helpless mother.  The one where all the emotions of the world are encompassed in one word: please.

I’m not sure how many moments passed; not many, I’m sure, though of course, it felt like an eternity.  More rescue personnel had rushed into the house; I’d lost track of many people were crowding into my family room.  It was, obviously, too many, though, because almost immediately, a number of paramedics came back downstairs.

In the moment that my eyes met those of the first EMT down the staircase, my heart broke.  It was as if everything went into slow motion.  He seemed to be moving too slowly to indicate what I felt would be the appropriate level of urgent activity, given the situation.  His expression was one of sadness and pity.  And for a split second, my heart told me that something terrible and tragic had happened in the few moments I’d been separated from my boys.

And then…..

The moment passed, time returned to its normal cadence, and I saw the next paramedic clear the landing, with my darling, brown-eyed toddler cradled in his arms.  In his arms, and alert.  Alert, aware, and beautifully shaking as the cold January air hit his bare legs.

“Alright, mom, let’s go for a ride,” someone said to me, and Jim nodded his consent even as he ushered me out the door.

Webster defines surreal as “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.”  That’s precisely what we were living.  Walking down our driveway, the concerned faces of our friends and neighbors awash in the red glow of the ambulance lights.  Several stepped forward and offered to keep Seth for us; how strange it felt to have to explain that it wasn’t my pregnancy that was the concern, but Seth himself.  Watching their faces fall at this news only heightened the pain we were already feeling.

I climbed into the back of the ambulance, crowded with four rescue workers.  I felt so out of place.  I couldn’t see Seth, and he wasn’t making any noises; all I could do was try to stay out of their way.  I curled up on the bench seat, Seth’s Curious George doll clutched against my chest.

An audience had gathered around the back entrance of the ambulance, so one of the EMTs gently shut the doors.  I immediately began to feel claustrophobic and nauseated.  I tried to calm my breathing and slow my rapid heartbeat, but then Seth began to scream in pain and fright, and I came to my feet, and none-too-sweetly demanded that someone tell me something.

One of the paramedics turned me away from Seth, and explained that they were trying to get him restrained in the makeshift car seat, rather than the stretcher, to keep him upright on our 40-minute drive to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.  While this did little to comfort me, I felt marginally better to know that things weren’t so urgent in nature that we’d needed to go flying out of the subdivision at breakneck speeds before we were all properly secured in the rescue squad.

I asked the paramedic if we still had a few moments – if I had time to go back inside and gather some things.  Not knowing how long we would be at the hospital, I had the foresight to pack my medications, a change of clothes for both Seth and me, and his worn and loved Softie blanket.  (Granted, we didn’t think to pack diapers, or place his car seat in the neighbor’s car….but next time, we’ll know.)

Our neighbor Stephen offered to drive Jim to Vanderbilt, and, unbeknownst to me, they left even before we pulled away in the ambulance.  (I’m actually glad I didn’t realize it; I kept telling Seth, “Daddy is right behind us” the whole way down I-65.  I don’t know if it made any difference to him, but it made me feel better.)

FINALLY, we pulled away from the curb.  Since it was only me, Seth, and one technician named Beau in the back of the ambulance, I was able to sit and really study Seth for the first time since walking into this hellish reality.

amb ride

My sweet boy, but not.

He still hadn’t responded to anything other than the EMT’s (failed) attempt to get an IV started.  He just rested there, unseeing.  And despite the reassurances that I kept forcing from my mouth, and the constant stream of questions I kept asking him – “Seth, we’re in an ambulance, buddy.  What sound does an ambulance make?  Wee-ooh, wee-ooh, wee-ooh?  Right?” – I couldn’t help but think: is he in there?

Is there brain damage?  Will he recover?  Will I ever hear his sweet voice again?  What was the last thing I heard him say?  Will he ever again reach for my hair, drawing it to his nose, to say, “smell?  mmmm…..good!”  Will he walk?  Will he smile?  These questions and more tormented me, no answer in sight.

To be continued…..

***I’m not trying to drag this out, I promise.  It’s just hard to relive it, and to get it all down on paper.  Not to mention that I doubt you want to read novel-length posts.  I should be able to wrap up the story in one more post.  Bear with me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Living the nightmare: Part I

A disclaimer before you read, due to some reader comments:  Yes, Seth is alive and well.


Nightmare: noun

1: bad dream: a frightening or upsetting dream

2. traumatic experience: a traumatic, very upsetting, or extremely difficult and troublesome experience or situation

3. dreaded event: a situation or event that somebody dreads

I’ve played out the scene in my head.

Having to pick up the phone, and press Jim’s speed dial, and force the words “It’s Seth…” from my lips.  I can’t bring myself to actually articulate the complete thought, hoping that somehow, if I don’t say it aloud, it won’t be true.  Trusting him to infer the horrible meaning from the tone of my voice.  Believing that somehow, he can undo what has happened.

I’ve never imagined the exact circumstances of this phone call; would it be a fall, a car accident, a kidnapping?  But the fear of having to tell my husband that his son is gone has been very real, at times.

Nothing has actually ever happened to Seth that would even foreshadow this phone call; it’s just a fear I’m sure every mother faces at some time.

I never, ever in a million years had thought to prepare myself for being on the receiving end of this phone call.

But Sunday, January 24, 2010, at 7:24 pm, while driving down a dark country road, I somehow heard the melody of Jim’s pre-programmed ringtone over the Jeremy Camp ballad coming from the truck speakers.

It was one of the briefest conversations we’ve ever had, and in hindsight, I appreciate Jim’s wisdom in sparing me details in that moment.  All he said was “Are you on your way,” and I replied “yes,” and he said “get here as soon as you can, please” and hung up.

I placed my phone back on the passenger seat, and pressed my foot to the gas pedal.  I imagined the scenario that waited for me at home:

Poor Jim, who had been struck with a stomach bug late Saturday night, must still be vomiting, and I could only imagine that Seth, in all his tw0-year-old curiosity would be getting a bit too close to the bathroom goings-on.

I sighed, and thought to myself, if I get pulled over for speeding, I wonder if my excuse is good enough for a police escort?

I drove the last 2 miles in record time, thankful that I managed to avoid hitting any wildlife on the final stretch of farmland we have to drive past.  I swung into the drive, tossed a variety of belongings on the coffee table, and headed up the stairs to our second-story family room.

As I climbed, I heard choking sobs, somewhat muffled, coming from Jim’s lips, drifting over the banister.  I fully expected to round the corner to see him doubled over the guest bathroom toilet, but instead found him on his knees next to the ottoman.

Forgive the insensitive thought of, I hope he didn’t puke on the carpet that sprang to mind.

“Honey….?” I said, approaching him timidly.

He raised his bloodshot, teary eyes to mine, his cell phone pressed to his ear, and pointed across the room.

My eyes fell to the couch, where Seth’s Chuck the Truck fire station and toy trucks rested on the cushions.  Confused, I turned back to Jim, and it was only then that I realized Jim’s body was bent, not in the throes of sickness, but over the lifeless form of my precious baby boy.

Time froze.

The blood drained from my head.

My heart stopped – I’m sure of it – for at least a beat or two.

I immediately spun away, and then back toward Jim.  I was lost.  Confused.  Terrified.

I didn’t know what had happened, what was happening…..Jim was speaking to the 911 dispatcher, so he couldn’t give me any details, so I just fell to my knees on the other side of the ottoman, and laid my hands on Seth’s face.

The heat radiating from his body was enough to make me pull my hand away.  I couldn’t imagine a child’s temperature could rise so high.  I turned Seth’s head toward me, careful to not twist his airway; his breathing was already so raspy and labored I was afraid to deprive him of even a hint of breath.

His eyes were open, but unblinking, unfocused, and unresponsive.  It was obvious that he didn’t recognize me.  As I crooned to him – Hi, pun’kin.  Momma’s here.  Yeah, I’m here now –  I gently removed his socks and pants, and unsnapped his onesie at both the legs and the neck.  He never flinched.  Never moved a muscle.  Never made a sound.

My eyes met Jim’s over Seth’s unmoving form, and I asked if the ambulance was on its way.  He nodded yes, and I forced myself to leave their sides to unlock the front door for the EMS workers.  Even as I flung the door open, I could hear the distant sirens.

With limbs gone stiff, I stepped off the porch and walked to the sidewalk, willing the ambulance to drive faster.  Almost instantly, a red glow seeped around the corner house five doors up, and the beautiful sight of the rescue squad rounded the corner.

Helplessly, I shouted to the first worker that I knew nothing, that I’d just come home.  I begged them to forego the stretcher – that Seth would need to be carried – and to please just head upstairs.  Two paramedics strode past me, and I was left standing in my yard, clutching my stomach, begging the Lord to please spare the life of my son.  In response, Baby Girl shifted inside me, and I offered up a prayer for her, too.  No amount of Procardia was going to be able to protect her from the trauma I was feeling.

Click here for Part II ….

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

23w Update

How far along? 23w; one week shy of (technical) viability 

Total weight gain
: 2 lbs down; 3 lbs shy of starting pregnancy weight. 

Maternity clothes?
Yes and no.  Now that I’m on bedrest, my wardrobe has no reason to go beyond yoga pants, sweats, tanks, and hoodies.  So, there are a couple go to maternity shirts I’m loving, and I’d love to pick up several more Old Navy maternity camisoles (I need the length to cover my bump!). 

I forgot to ask (read: beg) Dr. M for an Ambien prescription at Monday’s appt., but I’ve actually been so exhausted at the end of each day, I’m sleeping pretty soundly again.

Best moment this week: Confirmation that all the contractions I’m having aren’t doing anything detrimental to my cervix. 

: Yep, all the time.

Labor Signs/Body Changes of Note: Consistent contractions still, but, as mentioned, they aren’t doing anything, so I’m okay with them.  I have had my first really complicated, um, how to say this delicately, morning in the bathroom, which drove me to my knees in a fervent prayer that I be spared the nightmare of recurrent hemorrhoids.

Also, as mentioned, I am now OFFICIALLY on home bedrest.  Dr. M was ready to up my Procardia dosage one more time, but I wasn’t comfortable going that route right now, so she agreed we will be on bedrest at home and give the medicine (that I’m currently on) a chance to do its job before we have to do any more medical intervention.  

Belly Button in or out
? Out-ish.  Things are a-changing.

What I miss
: Sleeping on my stomach. 

What I am looking forward to: Um….a healthy family.

Stats: B/P: 140/80; BG heartrate: 147; urine: clear (no trace protein); cervix: 3.5

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday AM update

I know many of you whom I’m not friends with on Facebook are waiting for an update on Seth, following our whirlwind 911 call and ambulance ride to Vanderbilt.

Seth rested for several hours last night, but woke with another high fever.  He seems alert and is talking to us, but, of course, we are still concerned and will feel better when his fever breaks.

We have been seizure-free for about 12 hours, and are hoping at least for another 12.

We are meeting with his primary pediatrician at 9:30 this morning, and will update as we have news.

Thank you all for your continued prayers.  As you can imagine, between Jim’s flu (yep, puking all day) and my already elevated BP, contractions, and overall preoccupation with Baby Girl’s health, we are feeling very overwhelmed and exhausted.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

P-dub’s Fancy Macaroni

Do you read The Pioneer Woman?  You should be.  Really.

The stories from her Oklahoma cattle ranch.

Her photography.

Her recipes.  Oh, my, her recipes.

Now, I’ll be honest.  I’ve tackled only one of Ree’s recipes, and it’s the one I’m going to share with you today.  And I have to admit that while the taste lived up to the hype, I’m a little skeptical of her labels of “Prep Time: 20 minutes” and “Difficulty: Easy.”

PW fancy mac

Per Ree’s suggestion, this Fancy Macaroni graced our Christmas table one night.  It was the perfect accompaniment to the honey-glazed spiral ham my grandma brought to dinner.

But it took my mom and I WAY longer than 20 minutes to prep, and considering the number of dishes and utensils we sullied in the process, I don’t think I, with clear conscience, lead you to believe that this is an “easy” recipe.  I, for one, do not find a recipe this involved to be easy.  (Maybe if you’re Ree, who cooks for the masses on a cattle ranch, and who has actually had a cookbook published and all; but lil’ ol’ me?  Not so much.)

Then I got to thinking, maybe Mom and I were just preoccupied talking and such, so it may have just taken us longer than if we’d been focused on the prep.  So I decided to make the recipe again for our small group potluck Sunday night.


Yeah.  It took me a sweet forever to get this assembled.  Maybe it was because I was pacing myself so as not to overdo it (being on the start of modified bed rest and all), but I don’t think so.  In the time it took me to slice the onions, cook the bacon (I chose to bake it), grate the cheese, and all the other various steps, I’d also had time to bake and frost a double layer chocolate cake.  From scratch.

I’m not kidding.

Again, maybe if you’re had-a-cookbook published skilled like good ol’ P-Dubn herself, then you just go on with your bad self and tell the world that this is an “easy” recipe.  Me, I’ll just tell myself as I enter the second hour of making this dish that the divine taste is worth it.

Once a year.

*That said, I DO believe that this recipe is worth your time and effort.  It is that good.

The Pioneer Woman’s Fancy Macaroni

Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 12

4 cups Macaroni
8 Tablespoons Butter
2 whole Medium Onions, Cut In Half And Sliced Thin
10 slices Regular Bacon
1 Tablespoon Bacon Grease (reserved From Bacon Slices)
¼ cups All-purpose Flour
2 cups Whole Or 2% Milk
½ cups Half & Half
2 whole Egg Yolks, Beaten
Salt And Pepper, to taste
½ cups Grated Gruyere Cheese
½ cups Grated Fontina Cheese
½ cups Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
4 ounces, weight Chevre (soft Goat Cheese)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook macaroni for half the time of the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  3. Fry bacon until slightly, but not overly, crispy. Drain on a paper towel. Reserve grease.
  4. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a skillet and then saute onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown and soft. Set aside.
  5. In a pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter (and add 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease for good measure!). Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat for 1 minute. Pour in milk and half & half, then cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until thick. Reduce heat to low. Add salt & pepper to taste. (Do not undersalt!)
  6. Beat egg yolks and drizzle 1/4 cup hot mixture into the yolks, stirring constantly. Stir to combine. Pour egg mixture into sauce and cook for another minute.
  7. Add cheeses and stir until melted. Add onions and bacon and stir. Taste for seasonings and add more salt if needed. Add cooked macaroni and stir to coat.
  8. Pour into a baking dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until sizzling and hot. Serve with red meat or a green salad.

I have copied the recipe exactly as Ree has it on her site, but I’d encourage you to click over there yourself, just to check out her step-by-step photography.  It’s as delicious as the dish!

Bon Appetite!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Will she be a mini-me?

I finally have in my possession one of my all-time favorite pictures:

adam monica 1982

I was probably a few months shy of three in this shot; my brother Adam, a few months shy of one.  This was actually the shot I mentioned that I wished I’d had back in June when I did my Million Dollar Smile post.

Seth looked more like my side of the family when he was teeny-tiny, but as he’s grown into his looks, I see more and more of his daddy’s genes popping through.  It’s hard to imagine that Duncan would have looked different than Seth; I mean, I know he would have looked uniquely like Duncan, but I can’t help but think he would have shared traits with Seth that would leave little doubt as to their brotherhood.

But I’ve started to wonder who Baby Girl will take after; if she will be the child that gets Jim’s towhead curls and blue eyes, or if she, too, like her brothers, will have my darker coloring and stick-straight hair?

I guess only time will tell.  For now, it’s enough to dream.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Classic Beef Stroganoff

While I’ve been known to employ the “one pound, one pan” method of feeding my family, I have to say, there may be no turning back to good ol’ Hamburger Helper after making this dish.

beef stro

1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin steak, 1/2 inch thick
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup flour
1 cup sour cream
3 cups hot cooked egg noodles

  1. Cut beef across grain into about 1 1/2x1/2-inch strips.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat, and saute garlic.  Add onions, stirring occasionally, until tender.
  3. Add beef into skillet, and cook until brown. Stir in 2/3 cup of the broth, the salt, and Worcestershire sauce. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Whisk remaining 1/3 cup broth into flour; slowly stir into skillet.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Stir in sour cream; heat until hot (do not boil).  Serve over noodles.

A couple points:

  • traditional stroganoff is also made with mushrooms  (I don’t eat them, so ours didn’t have them; if you’d like, cook 1 cup mushrooms at the same step as the onion);
  • we already had left0ver steak from a previous meal, so I didn’t have to pay too close attention to actually cooking the meat, so much as reheating it;
  • I didn’t cook my onions quite long enough, and I had a hard time getting past the slight crunch in the final texture;
  • this was a GREAT meal to get red meat in front of my toddler.  Seth loves pasta, in general, but I wasn’t sure he’d go for a non-red sauce dish.  Surprise, surprise.  He gobbled it right up!
  • I didn’t realize our sour cream had gone bad (again, it’s not something we eat, so it was only from a previous recipe that I’d even had it in the fridge to begin with), but I didn’t miss the creaminess I’m sure it would’ve added to the dish.  So, yea, for saving those calories.

Overall consensus: this will be a definite go-to meal for any leftover steak in the future.  It was SO much easier to make than I anticipated, and since we all enjoyed it, I think we have a winner!

Bon Appetite!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

22w Update

How far along? 22w, 1d

Total weight gain
: 1 lb up; 1 lb shy of starting pregnancy weight. 

Maternity clothes?
Yep.  I’m attending BlissDom in a few weeks, and I am starting to panic about what I don’t own, and I’m not looking forward to trying to find it in the meager maternity sections of Old Navy and Target. 

Rare and precious, harder each night.  I’ve been on the couch a few nights this week, and one night, Seth and I even switched.  He slept with Daddy and I got his bed all to myself.

Best moment this week: Getting Dr. M’s “approval” on what might be BG’s name.  Not that she truly gets a vote, but still, it’s nice when your ob thinks you’ve got good taste in names.
Movement: Yep, all the time.

Labor Signs: Well…I have started having contractions.  They aren’t all that regular, but they sure are uncomfortable, and they are causing some issues.  As I’m starting to contract, my BP meds don’t seem to be working as effectively.  My reading at Tuesday’s appt. was a whopping 160/90.  Uh-oh.

Belly Button in or out
? Out-ish.  Things are a-changing.

What I miss
: good restful sleep.

What I am looking forward to: Naming this baby; after our slight scare this week, I feel like I just might get Jim to nail something down sooner than later.
Stats: B/P: 160/90; heartrate: 152; urine: clear (no trace protein)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Eight months

I don’t have a whole lot of new insight or sweet words to Duncan to share with you this month.

I simply, today, ask for your love and support.

The past few months have brought me to a new place in my “relationship” with my second son.  I haven’t completely deconstructed all the emotions, therefore I’m not sure if “blame” for my recent sadness and melancholy should be placed at the feet of “delayed grief” or “circumstantial.”

Obviously, being 22w pregnant with Baby Girl brings to the table a whole new layer of emotions and fears and insecurities and memories.

But also, as time is passing, and as we draw closer to Duncan’s first birthday, I’m feeling a rising anxiety to make sure that his place in our family is established, and that the events of last May are not overshadowed by the coming events of this May.

I mentioned months ago that I am writing out in extraordinary detail the events of the week surrounding Duncan’s delivery.  It is a slow, emotional process, as you can imagine.  I’m having a hard time finding hours in my schedule to sit, and remove myself from distractions, and give to his story the attention I want.

So, today, I simply ask that you continue to hold my hand as we round this last curve in the inaugural year.  I desperately want to have his story down on paper before his sister arrives, and it’s amazing to me how quickly the days are fleeting.

Dearest baby boy,

You are missed, and you are thought of, and you are loved as much as ever.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Blog photo theft

I’m off to nursery shop with a girlfriend, and don’t have time to actually copy and paste the photos that I want you to see, so I’m just going to send you over to Holding On For The Ride, where my friend Andrea has some great pictures of Seth.

Andrea was sweet enough to keep Seth for me while Jim and I went to the MFM on Wednesday.

Needless to say, Seth did NOT want to come home with boring ol’ mom when it was all said and done. ;)

Seth and I are BOTH lucky to have such great friends!

seth book dog

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More nursery inspiration….maybe

What do you think?

pom pom

But, obviously, in hues of orange, pink, and maybe white?

I don’t know….these would be SO cheap and easy to make and display, but…..

We are putting BG’s crib in a corner of the room, as opposed to centered on a wall, like it was for Seth, so I’d have that angled surface area to fill, and I think this would be a cute mobile substitute, but…..

Why am I so hesitant?  What are your thoughts?

(Here is the site I stole the idea and pic from.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

21 week update

How far along? 21w, 1d

Total weight gain
: 1 lb up; 2 lbs shy of starting pregnancy weight. 

Maternity clothes?
Yep.  But they don’t seem to be fitting as well anymore. =(  I’m carrying this baby SO differently than the boys. 

Rare and precious.

Best moment this week: Finding room-darkening drapery panels in the perfect shade of dark pink for only $10 at Dollar General.  I think I’m going to go a different direction now with the window treatments….stay tuned.  (Oh, and the fabric choices are still in play!)
Movement: Yep, all the time.

Gender: still a GIRL, undoubtedly.  (Whew!  I had a moments panic before the ultrasound today.)

Labor Signs: Nope.

Belly Button in or out
? Out-ish.  Things are a-changing.

What I miss
: good restful sleep.

What I am looking forward to: lots of stuff….nothing specific pops to mind right now.  

Stats: B/P: 124/80; heartrate: 143; estimated weight: 1 lb.; measuring 21w5d

21w 002

MB, the pic is for you.  You asked for “cute” pregnancy pics.  This is all I got! ;)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Money well spent

14w lovenox needles

That is what $6,209.84 looks like.

14 weeks of daily Lovenox injections at approximately $32 a pop.

I’m a little over halfway through my doses.  If we deliver Baby Girl at 36w, I’ll probably stop the Lovenox at about 34w, and switch to a less volatile blood thinner.  So, I’m 21w today; that’s 13 more weeks of shots.  Whoo-hoo!  That’s less than 100 needles!

Up until now, because our 2009 deductible was met around the time of Duncan’s birth, all the medications I’ve been on have been 100% covered.

Welcome, 2010, and a fresh new yearly deductible of, well, let’s just say, A LOT, and we pay 100% of all expenses up until that deductible is met.  Which means, for a while, we’ll be dropping about $445 every other Monday, for the shots alone.

I’m not telling you all this to make you feel bad for our financial “plight.”  We’ve had ample time to build up our HSA, and don’t have to scramble too, too much to appease Walgreens.  I point all this out just to commemorate the sacrifices we are already making for this daughter of ours.

It is so worth it.

PS – 21w update will post tomorrow after our appt. and ultrasound with the MFM office.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Classic Beef Stew

beef stew

12 new potatoes, cut into fourths (1 1/2 pounds)*
1 medium onion, cut into eighths
1 bag (8 ounces) baby-cut carrots
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained**
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) condensed beef broth
1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Mix all ingredients except potatoes in 3 1/2-to 4-quart dutch oven.
  3. Cook, covered, for 2 hours, stirring once.  Add potatoes; cook an additional  1 1/2 hours, or until beef and vegetables reach desired tenderness.

* I only had Idaho potatoes on hand, so I just picked the biggest 2 (or was it 3?) I had, and cut them into hunks.

** Our pantry is stocked with canned diced tomatoes, but mostly for chili purposes, so every can I had on hand was “diced tomatoes with green chiles,” so, in they went.  SUCH a good move – it added the best little undertone of heat and kick.

This was dinner Saturday night, and the ONLY thing that would’ve made it better was having Jim home to enjoy it, too.  (He was at the Bengals v. Jets playoff game in Cinci.)  Seth and I curled up in the recliner with steaming bowls of stew and watched Disney’s Ratatouille, and I’d have to say it was pretty much a perfect night.

I’m still on track for one-new-homemade-recipe-a-week for the new year.  I’m proud of myself, and I don’t think the boys mind either. ;)

Bon Appetite!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Baby Steps

I’m getting some questions about BG’s nursery, so….

Yes, we’ve started working on it.

Yes, the crib is back up.

Yes, we’re using Seth’s orange chair.

Yes, I’m using my Pottery Barn Bedding.

Picture 001
No, I don’t feel like we’ve made any progress.

Because I hate, hate, hate the BEFORE that always has to come, well, before, the AFTER.

Especially when the BEFORE looks like this:

BG nursery progress 004 
Once the furniture was out of the nursery and into Seth’s room, I moved the crib and changing table to their new positions in the room, and decided to tackle the closet first.

So I began un-toting and unpacking SO. MUCH. BLUE. STUFF.  Sorting what is gender neutral enough to keep (i.e. white onesies), what is getting sold (I hope) at the March consignment sales (i.e. full Nautica crib bedding), what will go to my dear friend Sara (i.e. receiving blankets, unopened pacis, barely-worn sleepers, etc.), what is sentimental enough to be preserved and stored for years to come.  And let me tell you, it is a LOT of work to flip genders.


So, the nursery is a disaster.  But I’ve come to accept that, for now, and just consider it “under construction,” and allow myself some time and space to try out some things.

Which brings me to the issue of fabric.

Namely, the fabric I want to use to make her curtains.

If you remember, I had my grandma make Seth’s nursery curtains, and I LOVED them.

curtain - close up detail
And I want something as cute and custom for BG.

So, here are the current options (sorry, the fabric is wrinkled):

mix butterfly  butterfly


I apologize in advance for the quality of this next pic, but I wanted y’all to get an idea of how the fabrics play with the other textiles in the room (the bumper, and the material the crib sheets will be):

BG nursery progress 013
And here is another lousy composition photo of the fabrics at the window.  Now, granted, they will be lined with room-darkening fabric, too, so don’t be too swayed with how the light filters through each print, m’kay?

BG nursery progress 017 
I have my favorite, I think.  But here’s where I’d really appreciate your opinions.

Please keep in mind that pink and green are the dominant colors in the room, given the wall color and the bedding pieces, so I really want to incorporate the orange, tastefully, where I can, since I don’t want the chair and ottoman to look completely out of place.  Also, I plan to do full-length drapes, in two panels, for the one window, no valance.  And last thing to note…’d have to click on the picture of the bumper to see it in detail, but there is some blue in the flower embroidery.

So……go for it, Interpeeps.  Tell me what you think.

The sooner the fabric is chosen for the curtains, the sooner I can place my order with Kim.  Oh, wait, never mind.  BG needs a color palette AND a name.

(Minor detail, right?)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Maple-glazed Stuffed Roast Pork

I mentioned the other day that I’d been trying to cook more since the holidays.  I’m averaging a brand-new recipe each week so far, and I think that is a pretty reasonable goal to keep up with.

The first try was a cranberry chicken dish that Jim said he like well enough for me to make again, but that I didn’t like well enough to bother to post the recipe for you.



BG nursery progress 001

The second attempt was my New Year’s Day dish of Maple-glazed Stuffed Roast Pork, and let me tell you, I loved it SO much, it may very well replace our Thanksgiving turkey in 2010.

Because I love you, I’m letting you in on the fun:

2 Tbsp. butter
1   apple, chopped
1-1/2 cups hot water
1 pkg.  (6 oz.) stuffing mix
1 pork loin (2 lb), butterflied
2 Tbsp.  maple-flavored or pancake syrup
2 Tbsp. mustard
1 tsp.  chopped fresh rosemary

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Melt butter in large skillet on medium heat. Add apples; cook and stir 3 min. or until crisp-tender. Add water and stuffing mix; cover. Let stand 5 min,; mix lightly.

Spoon stuffing mixture onto cut-side of meat to within 1/2 inch of edge. Roll up, jelly-roll fashion, starting at one of the short ends. Place seam-side down, in roasting pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake 1 hour. Mix syrup, mustard and rosemary; spread over meat. Bake 20 min. or until meat is done (160°F). Let stand 15 min. before slicing to serve.

BG nursery progress 002

Yum, yum, yummy, yum, yum.  Yum.  And again, YUM.

I misread the packaging label on the pork I picked up, and got lucky with TWO separate pieces of meat, so I just butterflied and pounded out them both, and passed one along to our neighboring bachelor roomies.  (Let’s just say, they both LOVED it, too.)

The only deviations I made from the written recipe was that I used a ground coarse mustard rub instead of the jarred condiment type, and that I used a basil seasoning, since I didn’t have rosemary on hand.

BG nursery progress 003
You’ll have to leave me a comment if you try this recipe – I’d love to know if you find it to be a hit like we did.

Bon appetite!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

20w Update

How far along? 20 weeks!!!  The “half-way” point, though, for me, 18w is technically half-way.

Total weight gain
: this is the only week this month that I DON’T have an ob appt., so I don’t know!  I expect the scale will be up a pound or two next week, since I’ve been cooking more since the holidays. 

Maternity clothes?
Yep.  I’m actually doing a little of both, though.   I was able to wear a non-maternity A-line skirt to church on Sunday.  Granted, it was up over my bump versus down at my hips where it’s supposed to go, but whatever… 

Getting harder to fall asleep each evening, but then I sleep HARD.  And usually wake up sore, since I’m ending up on my back a lot.
Best moment this week: sorting through a bag of Presley’s hand-me-downs, and picturing Baby Girl in all the pink and purple girly finery. 

Movement: Yep, all the time.  And she LOVES peanut butter, and hates when I place an ice pack on my belly after my injections.

Gender: GIRL, without a name.

Labor Signs: Nope.

Belly Button in or out
? In-ish.  It’s out, in the actual button, but in, overall. It’s hard to describe, but I won’t subject you to a photo.

What I miss
: good restful sleep.

What I am looking forward to: our 20w growth scan next week.  Jim hasn’t been to an ultrasound in a few months, plus this will be the one where we get to see BG in action for an extended period of time. 

Weekly Wisdom:
make sure at least one neighbor we trust has a key to our house.  Considering that I’ve looked myself out and Seth in our house twice in the last year, things don’t bode well for when I have two little ones underfoot.  (Thank goodness I also have at least one neighbor who knows how to pick a lock.)
Milestones: reaching the magical 20w mark.  Here’s to another healthy, happy 16 weeks.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Reflections on 2009

I realize most everyone has already done their “looking back on 2009” post if they are going to bother to do one at all.

I’m behind the ball, I guess, because I didn’t plan to do a “looking back” post.  You’ve all pretty much walked the long road of 2009 with me, and honestly, there was no real desire to rehash it.

But I came across a list of questions at (in)courage that seemed worthy of my time and attention (though I’ll admit, not too much time and attention, because I tend to overanalyze these type of questions, so the plan is just to answer off the cuff).

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?: Finding a strong church family was critical in our transition to Tennessee.  Without the encouragement and support and love of the people at WHFBC, our lows would have been that much more devastating and our highs not as wonder-full.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?  I’d like the be able to say Duncan’s death, but if I’m being honest, his 6 months of life were much more of a challenge for this woman.  Each day, I struggled with his presence.  I didn’t want to be pregnant; I didn’t know what I’d do with two little ones come August.  I didn’t know how I’d ask Jim to balance home and work.  I just didn’t know how it would all work out.  January through June were such trying months for me as I had to learn how to let go, and trust God’s plan for our family and for my life.

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?  I never expected that we’d make true friendships so quickly.  From our small group, to our neighbors, to our bank personnel, we feel loved and welcomes and accepted.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?  Becoming a stay-at-home mom was harder than I anticipated.  I am selfish with Jim’s time.  I want him to have an eight-to-five job, and, well, he just doesn’t.  I’m still working on this one.

5. Pick three words to describe 2009.  New; grow; strength.

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2009 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).  Strong; home; mom.

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2009 (again, without asking). Fulfilling; worth it.

8. What were the best books you read this year?  Pick one?  I dunno.  I’ve rediscovered a love of the spy thriller/political intrigue.  Think Baldacci, Flynn, etc.

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships? restoration with MB; surprising intimacy over trials with Beth; profound growth with my mother; unquestioned inclusion with Kasey and Andrea; continued uterus battles, walked hand-in-hand with Daina; sister-love with Jen (even though she left me for Alabama); long-distance sorrow and rejoicing with Kendra; hell-and-back with my husband, closer than ever.

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year? I have had to watch the Lord shape, break, reshape, break, and reshape the make-up of my family, not only what was, but what will be.  I always wanted to be a mother of three boys, with the option for a fourth – an adopted daughter.  Now, I’m the mother of two boys – one here, one in heaven – and a girl-on-the-way.  The decision of another child, perhaps, is out of my control – God has yet to reveal to us for sure.  But I think this is my last pregnancy, and I’m still struggling with grief over that.

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally? I learned I’m stronger than I knew.  I feel that I have truly come into my own as an adult woman.  Losing a child makes you do whatever growing up you have left.

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?  My faith was tested in a new way, and God proved Himself faithful and true.  He carried me through the darkest days of my life.

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?  Delivering a baby naturally was something I’d been told would never happen.  Despite how tiny Duncan was, I still felt profound pride that my body was able to have a baby vaginally, and that as painful as it was, I was able to experience that.

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?  I hope that my compassion for others has grown.  You truly don’t know what someone is walking through at any particular moment.  Things aren’t always as they appear, and nothing and no one benefits from my judgment.

15. What was the most enjoyable area of managing your home? I loved being able to devote a lot of time and attention to the interior of our home – selecting curtain fabric, rearranging furniture, hanging photo galleries.  At least once a day, I walk through our home and just think, “I love my house.”  I can sit down in any room of our home, and just BE in the room, and feel content.

16. What was your most challenging area of home management? When I meal plan, I’m a pro at getting new, interesting, healthy meals on the table.  If I drop that ball, it’s a free-for-all that doesn’t do our budget or our waistlines any favors.

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?  I hesitate to say my internet chat room time, because those girls really play a crucial role in my life, and did even moreso this past year, but….if I’m being honest, probably that.  Time just browsing message boards, and refreshing Facebook.  Eek.   That hurts to admit.

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year? Learning how to communicate with Seth has been the hardest, most rewarding thing.  He delights me each day with what he is absorbing, and how it gets translated back to us.

19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? My husband is the best possible person on earth that God could have picked out for me.  He is stronger, sweeter, smarter than I ever realized.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2009 for you.  Brought to, by His will (Tennessee, despair [the break in], the grave), brought through, for His glory.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A rose by any other name…

I’m preoccupied.

I want my daughter to have a name.  I want her, more specifically, to have her name.  And it just isn’t happening yet (no matter how eager my mother is to monogram things!).

Before we knew Seth was a boy, the only girl name Jim and I agreed on was Elizabeth, and I’d always thought that I’d use Marilyn as a middle name (in tribute to my paternal and Jim’s maternal grandmothers).

Easy-peasy, right?  Elizabeth Marilyn.

Nice enough, but then creeps in the suspicion, what if she ends up going by Beth?  True, not the end of the world.  Beth is a pretty name.  But it’s less pretty when you already have a son named Seth.  Seth and Beth?  No thanks.

So, Elizabeth got nixed.

I fell in love with Eleanor; the rest of the family, not so much.  So, buh-bye Eleanor.

How about Ella?  Nonna Karen got really excited about this one, especially when I toyed around with the idea of morphing Marilyn into Kaylyn after not only the great-grandmothers, but the grandmothers as well.

Jim told me he thinks Ella is too trendy.  And while it’s no Emma, here in 2010, he just may have a point.  (check out this article)

We’ve also seen Jillian, Kathleen, Erin, Kendall, Renee, Eden, Shannon and a few others fall victim at the chopping block.


I know we have time.  Ample time.  I know that we didn’t name our boys until the week they were born, and nobody was worse for the wear.

But this time, it is different.  I want to teach Seth to call her by name.  I want to call her room ____’s room, instead of the green room.  Since there may be so many uncertain things surrounding her arrival, I want at least this to be known.

I just want her to have a name.  Her name.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A whole lot of newness

We’ve rung in 2010 in quiet, stay-at-home fashion, but it’s been great.

We spent New Year’s Eve at the neighbors’ house watching football, and were sound asleep well before the ball dropped in NYC.  Fine by me.

New Year’s morning, Jim let me sleep in, and then made breakfast with some new kitchen tools that he picked up over the holiday.  I love me a man who knows his way around a breakfast kitchen.

We de-Christmased our home, packing away the red and gold and vacuuming up the fallen needles, and earning a well deserved afternoon lazing in bed, before headed to Kohl’s to spend some Christmas cash, and then home to try out a new recipe.  (If it turns out worthy, it’ll have it’s own blog post soon.)

Now, we’re just kicked back, enjoying the warmth of our living room, football playing in the background, and the smells of maple-glazed pork loin drifting through the house.

And what’s a post without a picture?

So here’s a glimpse into the newest chapter of Seth’s life – naptime in his big boy bed. =)

big boy naps