Saturday, March 31, 2012

oh, saturday


Rain


Orange Balloon



Baking

I reached a point this afternoon, a tipping point actually, wherein I decided to abandon all hope of a clean house and clothes and bake instead.

It was the right decision.


Blueberry muffins - egg free!  Never again will I beg J to run out for blueberry muffins on a Saturday morning.  These are SO good, and I know exactly what goes in them - pure goodness.  Used Our Life in the Kitchen recipe again, but substituted flax seed and water for eggs.

Text messages from the grocery store:

J: Two packs of bay leaves?
Me: Two bay leaves, sorry.
J: How do I buy just two leaves?
Me: lol, buy one pack, sorry.

Eating twelve blueberry muffins after B is in bed.  J doesn't like them, someone's gotta do it.

Baby Kisses


Friday, March 30, 2012

* wish list *


A simple list 'cause that mega million jackpot every last person on twitter and facbook is jabbering about won't be ours.

to be headache free


a good northwest brewed wheat beer


expensive chocolate


sunshine


a lake


a chair 


a good book.


B has excellent taste in literature, but I like a bit more substance.




What's your simple list?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

hunger games!!




I should be sleeping, but I had caffeine tonight so there's no hope of that happening anytime soon.


Finally saw Hunger Games this evening.  It was SO good!  I've been waiting to see the movie for years.  I read the book way back when it was in advance copy form in 2008.  I brought it home from the bookstore, gave it to J, said, "not really my thing, but maybe you'll like it."


He devoured it, then ordered me to read it.  I loved it.  After reading it I told J, "this is going to be huge."


I think the book is better than the movie, of course.  The book has more background, more information about the political climate.  And the story, oh the story, it simply cannot translate to the big screen.


However, the film rocked the whole conveying emotion thing.  I sobbed when Rue died, I'm sure you did too.  And when Katniss is waiting to go into the arena I was so scared and nervous I thought I was going to throw up.


I loved it.  I want to see it again.


And I was reminded why I love the Hunger Games trilogy so much: it's honest and real and gritty and emotional and intense.


At its core lies the strength of characters determined to survive despite all the terror, hatred and pain the world has thrown at them.


Grief seeps from the pages, loss permeates the character's words and actions.  I understand that, it's my language, my tribe, where I live.


As the credits rolled I thought about the end of Mockingjay, how it will always resonate with me:


"What I need is the dandelion in the spring.  The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction.  The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses."


Exactly.


Did you see Hunger Games?  Did you love it?

B & Avocado


B seemed to do fine with his first dose of avocado.  He was a bit uncertain, but didn't mind eating.  We decided to do purees for now, though baby led weaning may be in our future.





Then he stopped sleeping.  And I need my sleep.  I am protective of my four hour stretches.  After four consecutive bad nights I didn't give him avocado for a day, just milk.  Guess what?  He slept fine.


We're going to file this under not ready for solids.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

baby proofing!


Dear me, I think it's time.  This morning I watched B roll from his back to his stomach, then to his back.  He readjusted, rolled up onto his side, got his knees and bum under him and began using his arms to pull himself forward.


Shoot, that would look a lot like crawling if he pulled his head off the floor, I thought.


Right now he just drops his head to either side, doesn't matter which one, and drags it along like some annoying heavy thing that has to come along but doesn't really help or hinder.


We need to baby proof the house before he's mobile, and I have a feeling it's coming soon.  Though we're three months into teething with nary a tooth popped through so what do I know?


My final year of college I was a nanny for a family with a two year old.  They had everything baby proofed.  When they went out of town I house sat for them and discovered the baby proofing insanity touched every item in that house, including their shower.  It was locked.  Seriously, locked with one of those child proof tab things!  I had to tack five minutes on to every single task because I had to figure out how to get into the drawers and cabinets I needed.


I don't want to be that crazy about it, but we should put up a few baby gates, and block the sockets.


This baby proofing service looks promising, then I wouldn't have to do anything! I've never liked the idea of crawling around on the floor to see what B might discover.  Maybe I should wait, baby proof as we go, let him show me what I need to protect.


I need to rearrange my kitchen too, give B a cupboard he can pull things out of so I'm not telling him no all the time/stopping whatever I'm doing one hundred times to take things away.


Just the thought of it is exhausting.


B has been napping for a few minutes, which means I only have ten or so left and one thousand things to do.  I should go make myself lunch, unless Ritz crackers and a Diet Pepsi count ... ?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

on being a mama and how it's changed me




I have such a hard time getting myself to bed at a reasonable hour. Reasonable being 8:00 if I want to get enough sleep.  Realistic being 9:00. Reality being 10:00 or later.

Once Bennett is down for the night my time begins and I love my time.  J does the pacifier fetching and soothing from 7:00 until bed, which means I have hours to myself.  We often spend some of this time together, but a chunk of it is spent on our separate computers on different levels of the house.  I love spending time with J, but I cherish my alone time too.  It's important to me and necessary for my mental well being.

It's hard to go to sleep knowing Bennett will nurse between 9:30 and 10:30.  I hate sleeping for thirty minutes to an hour, I would rather stay up, nurse, and then sleep for four hours (if I'm lucky, which I haven't been for a few nights now).

During the day I feel like I'm sneaking time.  When Bennett is napping I should be cleaning the house, preparing dinner, folding laundry, but at night when the house is clean (ha, yeah right, more like good enough) I feel free to spend time on things I enjoy.

And when Bennett is awake I feel guilty if I'm online, or reading a book, or watching a television show.  I know he needs time on his own to play, but if I'm on the computer or reading a book I feel like I'm ignoring him.

It's funny, though, to watch J with Bennett on the weekends.  J plays on his phone, reads a magazine, does whatever he likes while Bennett plays next to him on the floor.  Then I get crazy jealous and a little bit angry because I don't get to do those things!

Silly, right?

There are days that fly by.  Somehow we go from waking up to J walking in the door in what feels like five minutes.  Other days drag.  I take Bennett to the grocery store just to get us out of the house.  And when my friend from down the street shoots me a text asking what we're up to I'm on her doorstep within seconds because I need someone else to entertain Bennett for a few minutes and her kids do a great job of it.

I'm happy staying home, but there are times when the solitary nature of being a stay at home mom overwhelms me.  And there are times when I feel like apologizing to Bennett because I'm all he's got for hours at a time.

Being a parent has highlighted and exposed my insecurities.  I'm the type of person who gets caught up in who is doing what.  I wonder what other moms are doing, how they're doing it, if I'm doing enough for Bennett.  I wonder if we should be doing more activities, but then remind myself he's only six months old, a bit too young for scissors and glue, we can break the crafts out later.  Some days are exhausting, some boring, some entertaining.  Most are all of these things hour after hour after hour.

After Charlotte died I complained about not having a guide to parenting a dead baby.  Well, there are plenty of books on parenting a living child, but after my brief foray into the world of sleep trainers I decided to do without the books and so find myself lost some most of the time.

Since Bennett's birth I've realized how much I discounted parents, friends, fellow mothers after Charlotte died.  I had a big chip on my shoulder, a bad attitude and a dead baby card.  Running through my mind like a non-stop advertisement in neon were the words, You think parenting is hard!  You think your life is hard!  You should try having a dead baby!  I threw that card down left and right like it bought me space to be dismissive to anyone and everyone having a difficult time in their lives.

I've learned now that each hard time is different and unique.  And what each person is experiencing in their lives is important because it is happening to them.  My hard time is not your hard time, but that doesn't mean yours should be negated.  We all have rocky roads to walk, we all struggle, we all feel inept at one time or another, we all need friends to lift and build us up.

I understand now that (most) parents do the best they can to love and raise their children to be decent, kind citizens.  No one knows what they are doing all of the time, but everyone knows what they are doing some of the time. And if we combine our knowledge we are unstoppable.

I have judged, condemned, sneered, and expressed frustration.  Now I want to extend a hand, let all parents know I praise and commend you.  And this also applies to those who have children in their hearts only.  It takes a strong mother to keep a memory so alive it feels tangible; when I talk to you I see your baby superimposed, imprinted on your heart, forever remembered and loved.

I hope you feel blessed and encouraged today.

Monday, March 26, 2012

to dream is to hope


I really like Twitter!  I don't fully understand it, but I've been having a lot of fun with it.  The other night I was on the couch in the living room, J was on the computer in his office.  (I should "show" you his office someday, it's in a closet, so when he is in his office he's only half in because he can't fit his entire self.)


I yelled for him to come out to the living room.  He promptly popped his head around the door.  I smiled at him, "I'm tweeting!!"


He stared at me, clearly not impressed.


"This is fun, J!"


He raised his eyebrows, went back to his office.


I've been making a lot of changes in my life, some more important than joining Twitter (like praying a whole lot more) and I'm having a good time.


I'm reaching out, connecting, joining, growing.


I want to do what I love, have fun, and stretch myself.


I want to achieve my dreams, even though the idea is daunting


Here's four of my BIG dreams.  I think writing them down is good practice.


1. Have more faith. Go to the cross for every single problem, idea and thought. Rely on Jesus for everything.
2. Write the book that is currently a huge stack of thoughts and piecemeal stories on my desk (I should show you my office someday too, it's tucked in a little spot in our bedroom).
3. Buy our forever home, which will come with a small bit of land and gorgeous Craftsman home of course!
4. Find the strength and courage to have another baby.


I told you they were big ones!


What are your dreams?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

have faith


End of the day, nearly bed time, headache persisting, on day seven now.


B is struggling to sleep.  He would not sleep unless held last night.  I clocked a record three hours of interrupted sleep on the couch with a burp cloth under my head and a baby in my arms.


On my heart tonight: friendships and change, friendships and sustainability.  When do you say enough, it's not working?  When do you confess, apologize, ask for forgiveness?


Feeling discouraged, weary, worn down.  Health problems stacked on top of health problems along with lack of sleep equals one tired mama.


But there is hope in Matthew 11:28 and Deuteronomy 33:27.


I want to live a life that counts.


I want to remember what's important.


I want to be honest.


I want to grow


and learn.


Change


and adapt.


I want to be a better person.


I have a lot of work to do.



novice in the garden


I'm embarrassingly bad at gardening.  My only excuse, I was raised as a city girl. Yesterday we began planting our food garden.  I had way too much fun digging in the dirt, dropping in seeds and potatoes.











Saturday, March 24, 2012

egg free chocolate chip cookies


It seems our dear baby is allergic to eggs.  Since I cannot live without baked goods, J looked up egg substitutes.  The first one he landed on was ground or milled flax seed.  Thank goodness we're the type of people who have three pounds of milled flax seed in the cupboard.  I can make a whole lot of baked goods with those three pounds!



This morning I tried my hand at baking without eggs.  It was a success ... almost.

Baking is serious business in this house.

At least two people are required.  This morning we had a chef - that's me - and a helper - that's B.


Music is required too.  This morning we listened to our Chris Tomlin station on Pandora.


Egg Free Chocolate Chip Cookies


Ingredients


2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (optional, never add it myself)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs 2 Tbsp milled flaxseed + 6 Tbsp water (1 Tbsp flaxseed + 3 Tbsp water = 1 egg)




1 package chocolate chip cookies (I prefer Ghirardelli)


* You can also substitute flaxseed for butter, oil and shortening.  1 Tbsp butter, oil, shortening = 3 Tbsp flaxseed.


Process


Preheat oven to 375
Stir flour with baking soda and salt - set aside
Beat butter with sugar and brown sugar until creamy
Add vanilla and flaxseed/water mixture
Mix until blended
Gradually blend dry ingredients with creamed mixture
Add chocolate chips
Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet


You can use a spoon, but I prefer this little gadget



If you have any dough left to put on the cookie sheets that is ...


Bake for 9-11 minutes (I bake at the lower end, I like my cookies super gooey.)


If your helper gets bored/restless/begins screaming at the top of his/her lungs, pop in exersaucer until baking is finished.




Results


My cookies came out a little flat, makes sense I suppose, egg is a fluffer after all (this is a real term, and if it's not, it should be)


And I forgot the baking soda!!  Sheesh!




J quipped, "you made Jewish cookies, unleavened."


Thanks, babe.


So they are more like chocolate chip pancakes.  Oops.  I think they will be much fluffier if you remember to add baking soda.


They taste good, though!  A fine reminder that looks aren't everything.  By the time they came out of the oven I was already feeling a bit of a cookie dough hangover.  I went a little crazy since there was no egg in the dough.  No egg, no salmonella to worry about!  I wish I would have known about this recipe when I was pregnant!!


So the cookies were a bit odd, not quite as good as ones I've made with egg, but the dough, oh my, it was divine.  And that's all that really matters, right?


This has been quite a weekend and it's only Saturday afternoon!  I joined Twitter (@angelarodman), made egg free chocolate chip cookies, and planted my first food garden (with much help and direction from J).  More to come on the garden planting.  I have the cutest pictures of B in the sunshine to share.  Here's a preview ...



Friday, March 23, 2012

some things I love


This article from author Kristin Cashore on the Hunger Games trilogy.  The movie is out! and if anyone spoils any bit if it before I see it on the 29th I will cry.  Are you going to see it?


Mikarose clothing line.  I cannot believe I just discovered this line.  I LOVE it! Their tag line is reinventing modesty and the clothes are fabulous.  I do believe I need the Riley.



Spending time with a friend who introduced me to new music.  I love this song.



I nursed in public without a cover yesterday!  I'll probably never do it again, it's not a comfortable thing for me, but I can say I tried it.


Bennett falling asleep in my arms after a tough morning.  I'm actually typing this one handed ... I'm on day five of a nasty headache and it's making me one grumpy mama.  I just feel like I'm failing him lately, like I'm not being the best mama I can be.  Ever had moments like that?


And -


I have a post up on Among the Circle today.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

spring snow


It snowed buckets last night.  End of March, it's spring now, what?  I had somewhere to be this morning, so happy to wake up to melting snow and slushy streets.


After the morning appointment my mom and I drove way out in the boondocks to check out a ranch for a family reunion in the future.  And by boondocks I mean true, in the sticks, miles on gravel road, horses, goats and cows, sweet river flowing by, boondocks.


Here's the thing about Oregon though, even the boondocks aren't that far from civilization.  We were only thirty-five minutes from a city of roughly 32,000 people, even though it felt like we had disappeared off the map.

And that's what I love about where I live: the ability to drive a short distance and be off the beaten path, away from the main and into the country.  Even though I am a city girl at heart, even though I need a Target nearby for grey days when my heart is sad, I love the country with its wide open skies and that feeling - you know the one - like God is closer than ever.

So out we drove, with B sleeping as the tires hummed over the pavement, bringing us closer with each passing mile to the hills draped with snow.

I love this valley.

Evergreens, gray skies, rain shower after rain storm, vivid green grass, home.  And when the sun shines here, we bask.  We take it in with slow breaths and long strolls, grateful for warmth on our bare arms.  And when it snows, oh that's the best time, for we go quiet.  When it snows it is as if the valley stops, everyone pausing to watch the flakes drift down, speechless at the wonder of green grass and black pavement turning to white.

After Charlotte died I lived in a paused state, wishing for one snowy night.  One night when the world would stop with me, be still, speak in hushed whispers in reverence of the weather.  It came two years late, my spring snow, but it still conjured silent beauty.

And this afternoon as we drove Dylan Thomas entered the car by way of an offhand comment.

Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

Ah, yes.  If only she had fought, if only her spirit was meant to stay.  If only, if only, if only ...  But there, a whisper/hush/sigh from the backseat reminds me of what has come since, and how a little soul - my world, my heart, my rainbow - can heal the deepest of wounds.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

independent


Three months was a big turning point for Bennett.  At three months the newborn is no more, there are longer awake periods, more smiles, some sounds, more baby. Six months is another turning point, it seems.


Bennett doesn't mind hanging out on his own now - as long as someone is close.  I've tried putting him in his crib with toys for quiet time if he refuses to nap.  That doesn't work, he just screams, but if I'm in and out of the room, folding laundry, sweeping, dusting, within sight, or close enough to talk to him, he's fine with playing on the floor by himself for a good long while.


I remember when he used to scream every time I left the room.  I thought it would last forever, thank goodness for carriers so I could have him with me always.  A few months later he is happy as can be sitting up and playing with his toys.


Some days I don't know what to do with Bennett.  He loves sitting and playing, but sometimes I wonder if he gets bored, if he would like to do more, but there's not much else he can do at this point.  It's amazing how content he is with a few toys. And if he fusses I spend time with him playing, or rotate his toys, and he's happy for a while longer.


Bennett is all over the place when he plays.  Sitting, on his stomach, on his back, on his side, flopped over the side or back of the pillow I put down so he doesn't hit his head on the floor when he falls backwards.


We gave him avocado the other night.  I needed most of it for dinner, but gave him a piece and some of the skin to play with.  He was interested, but wasn't too thrilled when I tried to put it in his mouth.




He liked the skin, but ignored the pieces on his tray.




I think I'll wait a couple weeks before trying again.  He watches our mouths when we eats, mimics our chewing, reaches for our plates and food, but I don't think he is ready yet.


Drinking water, however, is all the rage around here right now.  He loves cups, glasses, mugs, anything that may have liquid in it.  I was giving him a plastic cup I had floating around, but finally bought him a suitable cup this week.





Yesterday I set him in a laundry basket while I made the bed.



And he promptly tried to pull himself up and out.


I'm taking bets on when he'll be crawling.  I think it will be soon, but babies are unpredictable.

**

Quickly, on a completely different topic: thank you to those who have liked the facebook page so far.  I'm having fun getting to know you over there.  And I've added a couple pages to the blog: books we love, baby things we own and love, and ones we want.  More changes to come soon!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

pinterest success: things we've crafted


You all know I am terrible at crafts and projects.  J, however, rocks projects and DIY and home  improvements.  He can build most anything.  He would argue this point, but when I say I like something and he turns around and constructs the thing - sometimes without plans! - it leaves me impressed.


Here is an example of recent projects we've tackled from Pinterest:


J: laundry basket storage




J actually found this on the site actual because he spends so much time there, but it's been floating around Pinterest.  J dismantled an old set of shelves to make ours. It needs painted, but is otherwise done.  He made this because he was tired of going to the basement to bring the laundry up only to find himself sans basket.


Angela: plastic bag storage



We don't have many plastic bags in the house, but the few floating around make me crazy.  I did this in about five minutes this morning.  Go me.

Next on J's list: ruler growth chart for B's room


This project may be put on hold if he decides to make the benches and picnic tables for the yard.  Spring is here now, which means we'll be able to sit outside and enjoy the weather in four months or so.

Next up on my list ... 

I haven't found anything I can do yet.  But I am having a lot of success with recipes!!

Two new recipes I've served this month:





J liked the honey sesame chicken so much he asked for it to be put on next month's menu, which I've already planned out!!

What has Pinterest inspired you to make lately?

*I ditched the Disqus commenting platform.  I hope commenting on posts is easier now*

Monday, March 19, 2012

new directions & growth



I spend a lot of time blogging.  A LOT.  I do my best to put family first, but that doesn't always happen.  Some evenings I have a hard time getting off the computer and hanging out with J.  Some days I feel a little frustrated when B wakes earlier than expected from his nap because I wasn't quite able to finish a post.


I've spent a fair amount of time lately thinking things over, asking for advice, and figuring out how to proceed.  I want my blog to grow, I want to continue gaining readers, I want my blog to help me contribute to my family financially.  BUT!  I also want this blog to be a place for those who have lost babies and need support.  I think I've found a good balance so far, but I'm ready to shift things and push for a little more growth.


Selling ad spots on my blog doesn't feel like the right direction for me.  You won't click over here one day to see huge ads, less real content, more content aimed at making money, or anything like that, but I will be changing things up a bit to see if it's possible to make money via affiliate programs and the like. (A percentage of all funds made from the blog will be donated to groups that help parents after pregnancy and infant loss.)


I've also pulled the book out again.  It's Charlotte's story, and what came after, expanded.  Stories from the blog, stories that I haven't published, more content than a typical blog post.  I really want to make it happen, but am having a difficult time doing so.  My goal is to make it more manageable by breaking it into sections, instead of writing a whole book at once!, and publishing each section as an ebook which would be available for a small fee.  I would really appreciate feedback on this idea.


And I would love to know what you like about this space so I can continue in a direction that makes readers happy.  Why do you read?  What do you like to read about?  How can I make this blog better?


None of these changes will happen quickly, but I wanted to let you know at the outset that they will be coming.  There may be some growing pains, there will be some change, but I don't want to lose what I love about this space - you and me hanging out, talking about life, babies, books, food, grief and loss.

when we were young


Oh my good gravy, look at these photos!  I found these beauties while searching out a different picture on my computer.  We were young then, and super skinny.  I think J weighed in at a whopping 120 lbs!!  Most of these are from our honeymoon in Lincoln City, Oregon.  It was June - cold, raining, misting, but we had one nice day!  This was back in our we have no money, but at least we have each other! days.












My how we've changed!!


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