2 Blondes and a Ginger

2 Blondes and a Ginger

Friday, December 25, 2009

Graham's Story Part III

I realize that some people will be bored by these Graham stories, but I'm writing this down so I don't forget. I don't want to forget the days leading up to Graham's arrival, and I don't want to forget God's faithfulness. The Israelites put up stones as a memorial to reflect on God's deliverance and faithfulness. These blog entries are in a way, my stones. I want to look back years from now and say, see here....God was faithful,God is faithful. So read if you want, or don't read. These Graham stories are for me!

On Christmas Day a year ago, I scanned the hospital menu for breakfast casserole and frozen fruit. Unfortunately they didn't have my mother as the cook, so I settled on something else and ordered hot chocolate. Hot chocolate will make any meal feel a little more Christmasy. I wouldn't recommend Christmas in the hospital, but everyone around me made it bearable. The nurses brought in a small tree with Christmas ornaments that some children made, and my mom bought a huge tree that she decked out with lights and glittery ornaments. We had delicious food on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, there were presents galore, I was surrounded by family, and I was still pregnant. On Christmas evening, I went on my wheel chair ride (I was allowed one a day) and Jeff brought Steve up to the hospital for a visit. He stayed outside of course. And that concluded Christmas Day. It was definitely a weird Christmas, and I somewhat felt like I just skipped Christmas last year. I still had gingerbread dough in my freezer this year that I bought just before I went into the hospital. I baked the gingerbread cookies and it was like picking up where I left off last year...only this year there was a baby crawling around my feet.
Christmas passed and New Years too and still I was pregnant. Jeff and I met with the neonatologist and felt a little more at ease after discussing what was in store for Graham. One thing was sure- every week I remained pregnant reduced the risk of complications.
I learned how to hook myself up to the monitors and the nurses joked that they were going to start letting me do paperwork for them. I didn't really bother them. I could do everything myself, and for the most part, I felt fine. The only time I usually called the nurses was when I needed my Ambien at night. Boy was I thankful for Ambien during my hospital stay! I'd never used it before and haven't used it since, but it helped me snooze on those nights that could have been sleepless.
Around 5:00-6:00 every morning, a phlebotomist came to draw blood and my doctor came to check on me once or twice a day. I remained stable.
One day I asked my doctor if I could go see a movie for a couple of hours. I was feeling fine, and my blood pressure was under control. He consulted with the higher-ups and they would not allow it. It was a liability issue. I understood, but I just wanted to get away from that hospital for a little while. I really wanted to go home for a few minutes and take a bath, but that would have to wait for a while! And so life went on in the hospital. I was restless at times and there were days that were harder than others, but for the most part I was content. I couldn't do things that required a lot of thought. I had books to read, but I couldn't read them. I tried to learn to crochet, but that was short lived. For the most part I read magazines and watched HGTV. I guess thinking too hard would force me to reflect more seriously on my state and the possibility of complications with Graham's arrival.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Graham's Story Part II

A year ago I went to the doctor's office. My blood pressure was high. It hadn't been high since my doctor had taken me off work. I was also leaking some protein. My doctor told me I was going to spend 24 hours in the hospital while they ran some tests and monitored Graham. My first thought was "great, last time I missed my baby shower and this time I'm missing our anniversary/babymoon at a bed and breakfast in Chattanooga. Did I really have to go to the hospital?" I was a little upset, but I knew the routine. I had already been to labor and delivery a month earlier. I talked to a lady in the waiting room who was sent to the hospital by the same doctor's office. She was 27 weeks pregnant and I was 31 weeks. Little did we know that we'd both be spending a lot of time in the hospital.
My doctor came to see me that night and told me I was probably going to be released the next day and put on bed rest. I couldn't imagine being on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. TORTURE! But the tests didn't come back as we expected. The on call doctor for the weekend consulted with a maternal-fetal specialist in Nashville. He advised that I would be in the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy. Then he told me that they thought I would have a baby by the end of the week. It was way too much information at one time. At first I was dreading the thought of being in the hospital for months, but then I was terrified to find I would be having a baby so early. What would that mean for the future health and development of little Graham? Baby's aren't supposed to be born at 31 weeks.
That night the lady I met in the waiting room had her baby at 27 weeks, and that night I braced myself for an early delivery as well. No one expected I would still be in a hospital bed 6 weeks later.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Invisible Hula Hoooooop!

Who new that a baby could be such a great incentive to exercise? Exercising around Graham is so easy because frankly, he thinks it is hysterical. Sometimes I wish I was in front of a mirror so I could see what I do that is just so funny. One of the exercises I do around the home is the Invisible Hula Hoop. In case you were about to google it, yes, I made it up. There's this hula hoop craze right now. You can sign up in the trendy areas of town for hula hoop classes. So, in an attempt to be a hip mom and to slenderize these hips of mine, I too partake in the hula hoop class. The only difference is that I do it by myself with Graham as my audience and I don't have a hula hoop. I didn't really want to go buy a hula hoop, and plus, where am I going to keep that thing? So, I started thinking that I could get the same benefits without the actual hula hoop. I just imagine that I have a hula hoop around my waist. I move in one direction, then I move in another, all the while shouting aloud to Graham, "The invisible hula hooooooop!" He is sure to smile.

Then, I'll do a few lunges, and he cracks up every time I go down and up. Yesterday I caught him rocking back and forth to the rhythm of me doing push ups, and whenever I plop him on my stomach and do crunches, you would think someone has just given him a dose of laughing gas, and I mean laughing gas that really makes you laugh. Who in the world wouldn't want to exercise, if it made a baby laugh so much? So watch out! One day I may just be on TV advertising a DVD series called "Exercise is no Maybe When You're Doing it with a Baby- A Surefire Way to Get Moms Moving Again." Please call now and I'll throw in an extra 2 invisible hula hoops...for free!

The Best Accessory Ever

No, it's not those pair of earrings Jeff got me from Anastasia's, that headband that's my crutch when my hair is oh so greasy, or that Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag I just had to have. My best accessory ever has 3.5 teeth, the cutest grin, and has just developed the skills to shake his head "no."

I walked into the Ladies' Church Brunch on Saturday and several people commented that it was strange to see me without a baby on my hip. I admit, I felt a little naked myself. That's why I swiped the three month old who was sitting in his baby carrier as soon as he showed the first signs of getting fussy. I'm like the awkward girl in speech class who just doesn't know what to do with her hands. I need a baby to fill that void. Okay, Okay, it's not that bad. I really can enjoy myself when I have a break from Graham, but it does leave me feeling a little bare. With a baby, you can talk to people you wouldn't normally talk to, you can talk to yourself at the grocery and people assume your engaging in interactive conversation with your child when in reality you're trying to decide beef or chicken, you can have someone to laugh with if you trip or stumble (we all know it's a lot less awkward when someone else is there to talk to about it), or you can just go to a restaurant by yourself...because you're not really by yourself- you've got a baby with you! Speaking of dining at a restaurant, it sometimes bothers me that they consider a child in a high chair 1/2 of a person. I say, "We need 2 and a high chair." They reply back, "Okay, Jen, party of 2 and a half." For your information, my baby is a whole person. He's got two legs, 2 arms, and I bet he would beat you in a crawling race.
But anyway, Graham is the most adorable accessory. I do not mean to diminish the person he really is because he is so much more than an accessory, but still it's nice to have someone so precious on your hip at almost all times. While I was Grahamless at the brunch, Jeff took Graham and Steve to the vet. There aren't many doctors here in Tennessee, so our local vet looks Graham over for his well baby checkups. Okay, Okay, I'm sorry. That's ridiculous. But, yes, Steve needed to go to the vet, and Jeff had to take Graham with him. I tried to give Jeff a few pointers because I knew he would have his hands full. "Just go ahead and put your credit card in your pocket. Then it will be easier to pay when you have Graham in one hand and Steve in the other." He smiled and thanked me for the advice. For some reason I don't think he really needed it. Afterwards, he said everything went smoothly. If that had been me, either Graham would have been attacked by Spike because I set him down on the floor next to a ferocious dog, or Steve would have run far far away. I don't know why these things happen to me and not to Jeff. I am the mom. I am supposed to have the natural ability to multi-task. But it is always me who gets into trouble. Like last week when the doorbell rang. The mail woman was at the door with a box and some letters. I was holding Graham, trying to hold back Steve, and trying to open the door. Something has got to give. So, I set Graham down, knocked the wreath off my door, and dropped the mail in the process. She'll probably start forwarding my mail to the insane asylum.
The best accessory ever may bring out my clumsiness, but I'll take it. I love him, and it's nice to have a little company everywhere I go.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dead or Alive?

My mom called to tell me about an article on Yahoo. A 43 year old man was presumed trapped in a vegetative state for 23 years. In reality, he heard every word that was spoken to him. Because a doctor finally discovered this, he can now communicate via a keyboard. I think I believe in pulling the plug, but when I hear stories like this, they perplex me. My mom reminded me of a story I wrote about 5 years ago when the Terry Schiavo controversy was in the news. I'm not posting this to start another controversy...I'm just saying it makes you think. At least it makes me think.

My World
Somehow, that world was magical. We were poor, but I was unaware. I had another world to retreat to if the idea of poverty began to sink in. I draped a long, white sheet over the edge of the couch forming a small opening where I could crawl through. This was my world. This was the world behind the waterfall. This was the world I was made for. I would play Care Bears behind the waterfall, and then I would sneak out and take an adventurous rafting escapade on top of my mother’s freshly washed linens. For an hour, I had thoroughly convinced myself that I lived in the land of make-believe.
As I got older, my childish games matured into a more classy form of imagination. After school, I would dash away to the woods behind my house. Entrance into these woods was not an easy task. A thin log over a raging river was my balance beam into the heart of the forest. Perhaps I had watched Fern Gulley The Last Rain Forrest one too many times.
“Ah, look there’s another tree down. What should I do? The builders are taking over! I must save the forest!”
The deathly orange X on every tree stared at me with haughty eyes. Off I ran to mix some concoction of red berries, oak leaves, and pond water to erase the threatening X on all the trees of the forest. I single-handedly deceived the cruel construction workers and sent them home not knowing where to bulldoze or where to build a house. I saved the woods. I saved my world.
In high-school, my world of make-believe became reality.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Venice airport. We hope you have enjoyed your flight. Remember to choose KLM for all your vacations.”
No, these weren’t streets of gold, but they were streets of water. I relaxed in the back of a gondola as I took in the scenery. Could it actually be Marco Polo’s home? Oh, it was. Everything seemed surreal, but this time I wasn’t forced to tear down the sheets or emerge from the woods and enter the real world. I was in the real world, but this world was filled with beautiful boats, homes garnished with flowering window boxes, cathedrals with mosaic tiling that left me in awe, and hearty laughs from Italian men as they conversed with their families over a lengthy dinner. Perhaps I had been born in the wrong country. This land thrilled me. It intrigued me. This was my world.
I flee to my world every day now. I tell myself the stories of my childhood. I tell myself the stories of my future. They think I don’t talk, but I converse all day long. I tell my parents not to worry. I tell my husband I love him. I tell my daughter to smile. Oh, they think I don’t hear, but I hear everything. Their words play over and over like a tape recorder in my mind. Their words are what I cling to. Their prayers, their kisses, their kind whispers into my ear are like presents brought afar by the magi into this far away land where I reside. They reach my world, they really do. I unpack them, I examine them, and I delight in them until more come my way. If I could cry, I think I would, but I seem to have no control over my own tears. I try to invite these people whom I love into my world – even just for a minute. But my invitation never gets sent out. I try to pull myself into their world, but my efforts are futile. So I just let them love me, and I just hope they know I love them- even this moment. Welcome to my world.
This world does not satisfy me. It leaves me hungry. It leaves me thirsty. It leaves me longing for more. I want to emerge from this world. I want to close my eyes and wakeup behind the waterfall, in the depths of the forest, or dodging the pigeons in front of the Basilica of St. Mark. My gifts, my talents, and my character lie dormant only allowing my own self to peer in. I want others to see who I am. I want to learn more about this life, but no one will teach me. I want to further develop as an individual, but my growth seems stunted. So I wait, and I wait, and I wait. I just wait to hear the words, “Welcome to my world.”

A Bowl of Taco Soup and the Bible

Graham's napping. I just fixed myself a bowl of taco soup and sat down to eat while listening to an Indelible Grace CD. I was trying to think of all the things I could do while he was sleeping, and suddenly I realized that I should grab my Bible. I opened the Bible to a page and laughed to myself as I thought about a recent Bible study discussion over randomly reading Scripture verses. You know, when you don't know what to read, so you just open to a page, twirl your finger around as if you are about to cast a spell on someone, and point to a verse on the page. Well, I didn't twirl my finger, but I started reading the first chapter that struck me. It was Psalm 73. "Truly God is good to Israel.." it stated. As I read, I heard, "Surely God is good..." being sung almost simultaneously. I thought to myself, "surely this can't be?" I continued to read and listen. Yes, I was reading the words of Psalm 73 as they were being sung on the CD. The translations were different, but still! I was in awe. When I came to the end of the page, I almost expected the CD to "ding" alerting me to turn the page like those follow along audio books in elementary school.

I have to admit that I often think its cheesy when people start talking about things like this, but maybe its just because I rarely experience them. My eyes watered as I continued to read. "Surely God is good," and "But for me it is good to be near God," are still stuck in my head. As ridiculous as this sounds, I often forget that God is good. I thought about the Psalms and the men of women of Scripture. Often when it was difficult for someone to see God's faithfulness in a situation, they dwelled on what God had done in the past and they implored him to be faithful like he had been before. This enabled men and women to persevere in the midst of hardship. Maybe that's how I can trust in God's faithfulness in the future. It is God's character to be faithful and nothing can change that. Even if it is difficult to see his faithful hand in my life at a given moment, I know that he has always been faithful in the past and he will continue his faithfulness in the future. And even if something terrible happens....even if Graham hadn't been okay...God is/was still FAITHFUL. It is who He is. I hope I can be like Asaph in verse 28. "I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works." God's faithfulness should motivate us to tell everyone what he did, does, and will do. There is no one tense than can capture His faithfulness- it is past, present, and future, and that is where my consolation lies.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Feeling Nostalgic- Graham's Story Part 1

This day a year ago I noticed that one foot was a little more swollen than the other. I went to the pharmacy section of Kroger and took my blood pressure. I cried all the way back out to the car. It wasn't good. I phoned the on call doctor and he said not to worry but to come into the office in the morning. I went to see the doctor. My blood pressure was still a little elevated. They sent me to be monitored at the hospital. I cried as I changed into my gown in Labor and Delivery. Jeff was working outside of Murfreesboro, so I was by myself until he could make it back into town. I wasn't supposed to be in Labor and Delivery. It was only the beginning of my first tri-mester. Thankfully my blood pressure was stable at the hospital. They sent me home, I was put on bed rest, and I missed my baby shower in Memphis. I read about preeclampsia like crazy on the internet. I prayed that I didn't have it. I cried a lot. I went to see the doctor on Monday, and he took me off of work...just to be safe. Over the next month life was enjoyable. My blood pressure was doing well, and I was getting to enjoy life at home. I couldn't do anything that stressed me out. So I went shopping, visited with friends, and started blogging!

Sorry, I'm just feeling a little nostalgic these days. Maybe nostalgic isn't the best word because I don't know that I look on those days fondly, but there is some part of me that misses the experience that led up to Graham arriving- the good and the bad. I didn't feel like writing much about the complications in my pregnancy as I was in the midst of it, but now it is comforting to look at what happened and then see little Graham. But I do have to wonder...what if things didn't turn out the way I had hoped? What if Graham wasn't okay? Would I still look at God as faithful? He IS faithful regardless of the outcome. Sometimes that terrifies me, knowing that there will be trials to come. Sometimes it comforts me to know he loves me and is taking care of me. Anyway, there will be more to this story over the next couple of months as I dwell on the events leading to Graham's birth and the amazing truth that God is faithful.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

To Shave or Not to Shave

To shave or not to shave. Almost every woman faces this dilemma in the shower. You have to think about how much time you have, what you're wearing for the day, and if going one more day without shaving will be painful when your clothes rub against you legs. It's a serious decision, and you need to make the right one...or there will be consequences

Wednesday was one of those should I shave or not shave days. I got in the shower, and after a couple of minutes my attention was drawn to the upper corner of the shower curtain. There lay the mother of all cockroaches. It was the longest, fattest cockroach I had ever seen, and I was terribly frightened. You are suppose to find bugs like this in the rain forests in South America, not in a small bathroom in the Middle of Tennessee! I'm not a fan of bugs, but when I'm with a group of girls, I don't mind stepping up to the plate to kill the little critters. Now, if Jeff is around, I am suddenly terrified of bugs. I don't know what it is, but when Jeff is present, I loose the ability to fight them. I feel helpless and would much rather call on him to rescue me.

Well, Jeff wasn't around, but I still couldn't get the courage to fight the gigantic creature. It was stuck in between the shower liner and the shower curtain, so killing the bug wouldn't be an easy feat. I knew I had to finish my shower. I huddled in the far corner of the shower with one eye constantly on the bug. I decided on the shampoo bottle as a weapon should the roach come my direction. Distracted, I tried to put the conditioner in my hair before the shampoo. Oh, and the decision about whether to shave or not shave, it came easy. I wasn't going to stay a second longer in that shower than I had to. I jumped out of the shower, ran out of the bathroom, and shut the door behind me. I really don't think that a shut door is going to keep a roach away, but it eased my mind. I immediately called Jeff to see if he was close to the house so that he could come kill the bug. I felt a little silly, but as I said, this bug was HUGE! He couldn't come. I would have to face the Honey I Shrunk The Kids like creature by myself.

I finally got the courage to battle the roach. I went into the bathroom with bug spray in hand only to find that the bug was gone. Ahhhh....that was even worse. Every corner I turned, ever step I took, I never knew where the bug was going to be. I thought about just not going to the bathroom for the day. What if it was hiding in the toilet? I could run down the street, buy a pack of gum, and use the Shell Station's bathroom every time I needed to go. Thankfully, I was gone most of the day, but when I did have to go to the bathroom, I went in with vigilant eyes and a can of Raid.

The day gave me time to contemplate this larger than life creature. If this roach was so big, then what did this roach's mother look like? And was this roach's mother in my house as well? The only consolation I could provide myself was dwelling on the fact that this must have been the original roach God created and thus this roach did not have a mother or a grandmother or a great grandmother.

Finally, Jeff came home for the day, and he too had an encounter with the roach. I was glad he got to see it for himself because for some reason he thinks I'm prone to exaggeration. He didn't give me details on the death of the roach, but I imagine that Jeff was a little more frightened than he let on. Thank goodness I had left the can of Raid in the bathroom so that the fight was short and sweet. Jeff was a hero, I was relieved, and the bug, well, it was dead.

Now I hesitated on whether to tell this story. I don't want anyone to be afraid to come to my house. I have a feeling that almost all of you have had some kind of critter in your house that you're a little embarrassed by, so please don't judge. And by the way, the exterminators were immediately called and they have thoroughly sprayed our house. So long cockroaches. I hope I never never never see you again, especially in the shower.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just one of THOSE days

I got into the car to go to Bible Study. Bible? Check. Book? Check. Diaper Bag? Check. Baby? Check. What were all the ladies going to think? I might actually arrive on time or just a couple minutes late. As I started my 10 minute drive, I looked down at my arm. "Please, please tell me that is water," I thought to myself. My brown shirt had a spot, but it had been raining. "Maybe a big rain drop landed on my arm? Yeah that's probably what happened." I lifted my arm to my nose. "Nope, I was wrong." I continued the drive to church a little concerned about what awaited me in Graham's diaper. Oh well. What was I going to do? Sure enough, Graham had an explosion in his diaper, and sure enough those explosives were on me and him. Good thing I put that extra outfit in his bag! "What a good mom I am! I'm all prepared," I arrogantly thought. I forgot for a moment that I also needed an extra outfit for myself, so I wasn't that prepared. I took off my shirt and zipped up my jacket. As long as they weren't doing an airport security search at the bible study doors, I would be okay. I enjoyed an encouraging and thought provoking 2 hours about Christians and persecution, then I headed to pick up my little chunky monkey. To my surprise, the little chunk was only garbed in a polka dot diaper. Where were the child's clothes? The babysitter informed me that his juice had spilled all over his outfit, and of course I didn't bring 2 extra outfits for him to wear. For a second I thought about wrapping him up in my jacket, but only having a measly camisole underneath, I figured if one of us needed to go topless, it might as well be the baby. I borrowed a blanket and strapped him in the car seat. Was it really only 11:45? My, my, what more could the day hold? Well the day did hold more. It involved Graham getting the stem of a leaf stuck down his throat, me finding him about to put a dime and a penny in his mouth, and me also fishing out of his mouth a water bottle top. Did I mention that he also somehow picked up my water bottle, got the cap off, and spilled it all over the couch and himself? I'm really not sure how many outfits he went through today. I felt a little out of control and maybe shed a few tears of frustration, but in the end had to smile at my adventures with Graham. And this all happened just when I thought life was getting a little boring.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cheese Muffins...because that's what you should eat at a Barn Dance!

It was Saturday afternoon, and I hadn't made anything for the Barn Dance. Everyone from our church and local RUF group was supposed to meet on a farm for good food, bonfires, and of course, some square dancing! I needed to bring a side, but I really didn't want to go to the grocery. Graham was asleep, Jeff was painting the outside of our house, and I needed something I could make quickly and with readily available ingredients. My mind immediately went to Pioneer Woman. She is often on my mind. Her style of writing, her carefree life on the ranch, and her delicious cooking all intrigue me. She always has recipes with the most simple ingredients being that she is so far from town, and I knew I could rely on her for some good food. I was going to make her sesame noodles because I knew I had the ingredients, and I knew they were tasty, but I stumbled across Cheese Muffins. "Now that sounds good," I thought to myself. Cheese, flour, baking powder, salt, milk, sugar and eggs. Now I can do that. Plus, who wants to eat sesame noodles at a Barn Dance? You need something good, homey, and pioneer-like....just like Cheese Muffins. I quickly started following the recipe. I went to grab the one egg I needed, and sadly came out of the fridge with zero eggs. I had eaten the last one a few days ago. "Ahh....I've already started making it, and now I don't have what I need! Who doesn't have eggs?" I decided I would ask my neighbor to borrow one...or perhaps just to have one since I don't' think you can give eggs back. She wouldn't come to the door. Maybe she was scared or maybe people just don't borrow eggs or a cup of sugar like they used to. My mom used to do it, so I thought I would give it a try, but unfortunately I returned home empty-handed. I had no other choice but to go to the grocery store. I paid my $1.07 and headed home to finish my muffins. I tasted them to make sure I wasn't feeding poison to any takers these muffins might attract. Yum Yum Yum. They were good. You "might could" put a little less salt, but they were still delicious. Here is the recipe if you want to try them! From personal experience, they are great with a big bowl of soup!

Fig’s Cheese Muffins
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded colby-jack cheese
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter (I used salted)
Whisk together dry ingredients, then stir in cheese.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg, milk, and butter together. Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and stir with a spoon to combine.
Bake in greased muffin tins at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Makes 12.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

And He Knew It Was Love

It's been a while. Nothing too crazy has happened, so I haven't been inspired to write. I guess I could talk about the every day going ons in our home, but really, does any one care about that? I'm sure I have had boring posts in the past, and I'm sure I will in the future, but I'm feeling the need to tell something exciting right now. So here it goes. I think the title of this true story should be And He Knew It Was Love.

And He Knew It Was Love
One night in my somewhat sketchy apartment, I suddenly awoke to pounding on my bedroom window. Fear overtook my body. Someone was trying to break into my place. My roommate wasn't there. I was all alone. Should I just sit still and hope they don't see me? Should I grab a high heel and hope it could be put to better use than making me fall in front of a crowd of people? I was somewhat frozen, but I knew I needed to call the police. For the first time in my life, I dialed 911. I no longer heard the noise at the window. It had moved to the kitchen door. "Please hurry! Someone is kicking in my door. Please hurry! Please hurry!" The operator assured me she was getting someone over to the place. It was quiet. "They're in the house. They're in the house!" As I stayed on the line with the operator, my bedroom door swung open and revealed a thin guy with red hair. You guessed it, it was Jeff. Trying to fight back tears, I told the operator it was only my boyfriend. I got off the phone and sobbed while Jeff held me. He sure has some explaining to do.

It was really all my fault. Jeff had left my apartment earlier that evening and had called me when he got to his house as he was accustomed to doing. In the 15 minutes it took him to get home, I had fallen asleep. The problem was that I had fallen into a very, very deep sleep on top of my phones. Yes, phones plural. Jeff first called my cell phone. I didn't answer. He then called the house phone. I didn't answer that one either. He waited a little while and tried again. Still no answer. Somewhat concerned, he decided to drive back to my house to check on me. He tapped gently on my bedroom window. I didn't hear a thing. Then he frantically started banging on my window and ran to the door. That's when I woke up. With adrenaline pumping through his body, he kicked the door in, sending the lock across the other side of the kitchen. He ran through the den and opened the door to find me on the phone with 911. Yes, sweet Jeff did all that because he wanted to make sure I was okay. I don't think it was until then that my Dad knew it was love. He knew a guy who would kick in a door to rescue his daughter probably loved her. And he was right.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What's in a Name?

If you can't decide on what book to read or what movie you need to watch, just invite Graham to your house, and he'll be sure to choose one...or several. Yes, everyday he pulls a number of books and movies from the shelves. Jeff even reorganized last night to keep Graham from getting into the movies, but of course Graham outsmarted him. Today Graham chose the book The Baby Name Wizard from the shelf. At first I thought it was quite a silly choice. Why in the world would I want to read that book? There's no other baby to name right now. But, then I decided to take a look, and I remembered why I loved this book so much last year. I turned to the name Graham, and it read, "This English and Scottish standard has never fully taken hold in the U.S. Why is a mystery. It's handsome as all get-out, sexy but with impeccable manners. Even the graham cracker association really shouldn't hurt: slim, sweet, and snappy. Graham is the fellow all the girls want to meet and the guys have to respect." I wonder how big of an influence this little blurb had on me liking the name Graham? Who wouldn't want to be named Graham? I'm thinking about changing my name.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You've gotta love the Fall!

Aside from Graham eating dog food and splishing and splashing in the water bowl, nothing too exciting is happening around here. We've been to the park a couple of times and gone on lots of walks trying to enjoy this glorious Autumn weather. What comes to mind when you think of Autumn? I think of the beautiful trees, the cool crisp mornings, football, pumpkin spice lattes, and of course, caramel apples. My sister came to visit for the weekend, and we made a fried rice recipe from Tasty Kitchen, Pioneer Woman's sesame noodles, and caramel apples for dessert. I know the caramel apples don't really go with Chinese, but we desperately wanted them! I've never made Chinese food with the exception of a quick stir-fry recipe, but I must say it was quite delicious. While I cleaned up dinner, Abbey worked on the caramel apples. I read that you should dip the apples in boiling water before dipping them in the caramel. It seemed to do the trick. Ab microwaved the caramel which was much easier than melting it on the stove and then covered the Granny Smith's with a good thick layer of oh so yummy sweetness. Because we put the apples in boiling water, the wax layer was removed and the caramel adhered quite nicely. Why has no one told me this before? Well, I hope you all go do something "fallish" this week like pick up an over priced pumpkin spice latte, make caramel apples, or head to a local pumpkin patch. You've gotta love this time of year....it's just cozy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wait....my baby can't walk

You don't have to be Indiana Jones in a pit of snakes or Bear Grylls swimming through underwater caves to embark on a great adventure. You simply need a common location, say a restaurant or a mall, and an 8 month old baby. On Wednesday I met my mom and dad for Lunch at Panera. My dad was holding Graham and just as he was attempting to move his tea out of Graham's reach, my dad apparently lost his grip and sent the tea flying across the table towards none other but me. We laughed and wiped up the mess. I had tea on my jeans, but I was already wet from the pouring rain, so it didn't bother me much. My dad got a refill, played with G for a while, and then sent another glass of tea tumbling towards me. This time it was Graham's fault, but still, two cups of tea? I am just that unlucky. Now a normal person would have hopped up and gotten more napkins to wipe up the mess, but I was paralyzed. Well not completely, because I was convulsing with laughter, but nonetheless, I couldn't move my legs to do something about the mess. How many times was this going to happen? Thankfully, only twice.

My mom and I then headed to Baby Gap to look around at their clothes. I had reclined G's stroller so that he could take a nap. He was a little fussy, but then I noticed that he had suddenly gotten quiet. I looked down, assuming that he had fallen asleep, and realized he was not in the stroller! I then saw him standing up on the ground and holding onto the front of the stroller. For a second I thought he looked so cute and then I thought, "Wait a minute....my baby can't walk! What in the world is he doing on the ground!" Before I had time to do anything her kerplopped on the floor. Needless to say, my heart was pounding and it continued to do so for another 20 minutes. Somehow Graham had rolled onto his stomach and slid down the stroller and onto the floor. I've got one extreme escape artist on my hands. My mind was racing with thoughts of what could have happened to him, but as my mom assured me, nothing bad happened and everything was going to be okay. Next time I am going to strap that boy in so tightly that he will need Indiana Jones or Bear Grylls to set him free.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I thought I liked football...

until I met my husband. I grew up cheering for the Cowboys (they weren't as trashy back in the day) and watching my brother at Briarcrest games. Although I never understood all the positions, I thought I was a fairly loyal fan. But when I met Jeff, I discovered that I was not worthy of being considered a fan. My friends who knew Jeff warned me of his intense passion. They weren't kidding. I thought I was dating a completely different person when I first saw him at a football game. Football affects his life. I'm serious. I often hope certain teams win not because I really care that much about the game, but because if they do, my husband will be in a good mood. 2008 was a great year in our marriage because the Titans won so many games! During the off season I sometimes forget what a huge fan he is, but I was quickly reminded of his passion on Saturday. It was the first MTSU home game, and Jeff was pumped. The game was at 6:00 p.m. and he left the house at 9:30 A.M.! He and his buddies got the tailgate set up in our prime tailgating spot. They smoked barbecue and grilled ribs. They had a pinata representing the mascot of the opposing team. They even turned the bed of Jeff's truck into a swimming pool. The plan for the next home game? A shrimp boil and a hot tub. Yes, they are going to try to pump warm water from the Service Master van into the bed of his truck. Life is never boring with my husband during football season. What will he ever do if Graham doesn't like football?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

I can remember opening Spurgeon's daily devotional to the date I was going to leave for France months down the road. There was something exciting about reading the devotional months ahead of time, knowing on that day I would embark on a great adventure. I remember last year looking at expiration dates on foods and getting really excited at the thought that I should have a baby by the time. I love the way that our dog, Steve, eagerly awaits our arrival at the back door and how Graham's face lights up and his arms flail when Daddy gets home from work. It's all about anticipation. Anticipation of something great. Anticipation that keeps us moving, keeps us breathing, keeps us hopeful.

I realized today that I often don't anticipate the things that I should. Sure it is wonderful to anticipate a great trip, a baby, or being with the ones you love, but there is something more that we should anticipate. How often do we honestly anticipate the coming of our Lord? Is it not in the forefronts of our minds? We anticipate so many wonderful things in life, but we seldom anticipate THE MOST wonderful thing in life. As Pastor Lee said today, "we are far too easily pleased." Pleased over that cup of Starbucks, the new outfit, or even something as grand as a marriage or a baby. As incredible a these things can be, the do not offer complete fulfilment. As Pastor Lee spoke, my mind went to Derek Webb's song, "The Wedding Dress." Webb sings, "I am so easily satisfied by the call of lovers less wild." When I was at Covenant, I visited Lula Lake land trust several times. One of the elders in my church told me about the place and advised me to keep walking after seeing the first waterfall. For years and years he had gone to the land trust and stopped his hike at the first waterfall. The first waterfall is beautiful and worth the short trip, but if you continue a few more minutes down the trail, your eyes fall on a tall, glorious waterfall. It makes the first waterfall appear as a rapid. Mr. Henegar had been satisfied with the small waterfall which was only a taste of what lay a few hundred feet away.
I don't want to be too easily satisfied by the things of this earth. I want to anticipate heaven like our dog anticipates our return home and like Graham anticipates an embrace and being thrown up in the air a million times by his Daddy. Above all else, I want to anticipate eternal communion with my Heavenly Father.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

R is for....

Rectal. Yes, we have a thermometer in our linen closet that is clearly labeled with an "R". As soon as we used the thermometer, Jeff ran to get a Sharpie. "What do you need that for," I wondered to myself. Then I saw Jeff draw a big fat "R" on it. "Oh...I see." Jeff wanted to ensure that we never made the mistake of using a rectal thermometer as an oral thermometer. Pretty smart I thought. There are some people who have not been as fortunate. Ashley, my friend Lauren's sister, told me this lovely story earlier today.

One day Lauren was watching her younger brother Adam, and it appeared that he was not feeling well. Lauren decided to take his temperature, but he did not have a fever. She then called her mom and said, "I don't know what's wrong with him. He doesn't have a fever." To which Lauren's mom replied, "Ugh...which thermometer did you use?" "Oh you know, that one on Ashely's changing table." Lauren is quite brilliant and doesn't make many errors, for she is well on her way to obtaining her Ph.D at Notre Dame. But this one afternoon, she made a brutal mistake. Needless to say, it left a bad taste in Adam's mouth. Hopefully he has recuperated by now, and hopefully none of you make the same mistake. They do look different. The rectal thermometer is short and stubby, and well, you know what an oral thermometer looks like. So if you are ever sick, and you're at my house, please watch out for the thermometer with an "R" on it. "R" is for rectal. I just thought you should know.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Snuggies and Speedos

On Friday I loaded up the car and made my first "real" road trip by myself with Graham to visit my college roommates. Our destination was Atlanta. Graham slept for 2hours and woke up just before I pulled off the exit for Chick-fil-A. It was perfect timing. I felt like the Queen of Sheba at Chick-fil-A. One of the workers just kept walking around to see if I needed any help. She knew I had my hands full trying to feed both myself and Graham. I don't know what I would have done without her. She got me a high chair, a place mat, and refills. I should have left her a tip!

When we got to Atlanta I finally gave CJ her birthday present...the long awaited pink Snuggie. I have to admit, I was a little embarrassed when I had to ask an employee at Target where the Snuggies were located. But, CJ was dying to have it, so I sacrificed my rosy cheeks. CJ adored her gift and said, "My life is going to be awesome now that I have a Snuggie!" I wish a Snuggie did it for me like it does it for her.
The next day we went to Jason's water polo game at Dynamo. It was quite eventful getting there, which resulted in screeching tires, slamming brakes, and waking up my precious sleeping baby, but we finally made it safely to the pool. Again I was embarrassed or perhaps it was just the overwhelming feeling of AKWARDNESS! I was attempting to steer a huge stroller around the pool while trying to dodge the officials and swarms of men in speedos. I don't know what it is about a speedo, but it just makes me feel super awkward. It just doesn't seem right, you know? And here we were surrounded by speedos. At the beach, speedo wearers are in the minority so you can point fingers, laugh, or say, "They must be European" in an attempt to hide the awkwardness. But what are you going to do at a water polo competition? Those boys could easily beat me up. I just looked down most of the time, and CJ and I tried to conceal our uncomfortable smiles. I felt a little relieved once we left that place and I started seeing men in shorts again.
As CJ would say, we made "precious memories with precious friends," and I am so glad that CJ and Jenna got to spend a little time with Graham. Graham was just about perfect on our little weekend getaway, and I am no longer terrified to travel alone! To be honest, I am now more scared of speedos than traveling with a baby.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Victory Speech

"I'd like to thank Ruby for teaching me that tummy time is fun. I'd like to thank my Dad for giving me crawling lessons when I was just a youngster. I would have never figured it out without you. I'd like to thank my Mom for believing in me and demonstrating the correct way to crawl around the room. To this day, I'm striving to emulate you. And I would also like to thank God for two hands and two legs and the strength to move."

Graham recited this victory speech to me this morning, so I have translated it in order for all to understand. Our baby is on the move! Right now it is a belly flop/crawl combo, but he gets where he wants to! He is starting to do a little less of the seal-like belly flop and more of the crawl, so I'm anxious to see when the full fledged crawl will begin. My life won't be the same!

Friday, August 21, 2009

"I Don't Know Why She Swallowed a Fly"

I was singing this rather morbid song while Graham was napping a few days ago. Yes, kids' songs are so ingrained in my brain that I often sing them even when Graham is not around! While I was singing the song, memories came back of one summer in France.

During high school and college, I spent 3 years at Camp of the Peaks in the French Alps. One summer we took a trip to the city of Briançon (The highest town in Europe). After spending the day shopping, we made our way to a bridge where people were repelling down to the river bank. I was obviously not the worrier that I am now, because I thought nothing of letting a couple of guys lower me to the river bank. They weren't with a company; they just set up shop on the bridge and let everyone daring repel for free. Suspicious, you might think, but I naively joined everyone else and made my way down. No falls, no scrapes, and no hidden fees. Thank goodness they didn't go on strike during my repel! Once all of our group reached the bottom, we realized we were quite far from where the last bus of the day departed. In a panic, we started sprinting. Suddenly, I felt a burning in my nostrils and the back of my throat. I was breathing clean mountain air, so what could cause this sensation? Then, I felt a cough come on. I covered my mouth, let out a good cough, and looked down to see a saliva coated fly in my hands. I couldn't believe it. I had actually inhaled a fly through my nose and coughed it out of my mouth! It was gross, it was hysterical, but I didn't have time to recuperate or to tell anyone. We just kept treking until we finally made it to the bus station. I was going to tell Graham this story, but I think I will refrain for now. I don't want him living life terrified that his mother swallowed a fly and perhaps she'll die.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Crazy Mom Syndrome Part II

Tuesday nights = Chick-fil-a = no cooking for me! Yes, every Tuesday night we get together with some of our friends and attend Kids' Night at Chick-fil-a. It's been a tradition for nearly a year because the kids' meals are only $1.74. It's expensive, I know, but you are really paying for the ambiance. Nothing can beat people dressed up as cows and the romantic serenades with the kazoo. Yes, we all get kids' meals even though we don't have a single kid with us who eats a kids' meal. Oh well. Chick-fil-a hasn't kicked us out yet!

Well, tonight was quite eventful at Chick-fil-a. Graham started getting fussy, so I decided to forsake my delicious chicken nuggets and feed my baby. Graham was eating so contently when all of a sudden, his super suctioning powers sucked the nipple right out of the bottle, and he ended up with half of the bottle on his Covenant College Baby onesie. If it had been an MTSU onesie, I wouldn't have been so upset, but it was his one and only Covenant College onesie! I was trying to figure out how I was going to clean the two of us up and fix the nipple in the bottle when Graham suddenly struck my cup, spilling coke all over the table and on top of Daniel. While Daniel rushed to get napkins, Beth offered to hold Graham while I finished my nuggets. And while Beth was holding Graham, he again suddenly reached across the table sending Beth's ice cream flying into the air and all over the seat and floor. Brad then exclaimed, "Don't you know that baby has arms," as if we intentionally let Graham cause all the food disasters! :) If Graham was older, this would have been one of those "Let's go out to the car, son" instances where a spanking would be awaiting him in the back seat. But what are you going to do to an almost 7 month old? I couldn't think of any other option but to laugh. Maybe it was inappropriate laughter, but I think laughing is often the only thing that keeps a mother sane in a chaotic situation. It is now more clear than ever that I am suffering from the Crazy Mom Syndrome.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Wheel of Responsibility

Yes, I'm afraid it's true. Jeff and I actually resorted to using the Wheel of Responsibility. We were having a debate as to who had to change the next poopy diaper. We had each changed one that day. I told Jeff that I knew how we could settle the dilemma. I then pulled out the Wheel of Responsibility and laid down the ground rules. No best out of 3. Just one spin. Plain and simple. And of course I won the battle. I have to say, the Wheel of Responsibility was quite a handy baby gift from my cousin. Changing a dirty diaper isn't really that big of a deal, but for some reason Jeff and I like to turn it into an ordeal. Oh well. That's fine with me as long as the arrow keeps landing on Dad!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Electric Slide

So you may be wondering how baby food is going since I was totally stressing out about the whole thing. I guess you can say it's going pretty well, despite the fact that Graham is the messiest eater I have ever seen in my entire life. I mean, I knew it would be a little messy, but I didn't expect it to be THIS messy. I fed a baby in the nursery at church a few weeks ago, and he had baby food all around his mouth, but not on every other part of his body! Graham ends up with it on it his eyelashes, eyelids, hands, feet, chest, and even the back of his head. And he just loves to save his food in those adorable rolls! We like to say Graham takes after my dad, Tsunami Ronnie. Tsunami Ronnie got his nickname because he spilled soy sauce on himself every time he ate sushi. Unfortunately, the mess didn't stop at sushi, so now he pretty much gets food on his shirt every time he eats! I can't say that I am much better. When I was a kid, I was banned from getting a chocolate dipped cone when we went out for ice cream. No one else in my family was banned, just me. And it had to be my favorite ice cream treat! My mom said that I just ended up with chocolate all over my outfit every time I ate, so it became the forbidden food.
Okay, well back to the baby food. So far Graham has had avocados, sweat potatoes, carrots, squash, bananas, oatmeal, and rice cereal. He is usually a good eater, but when he needs a little persuasion, I have found a new trick. First, get the spoon ready with food on it. Then, begin doing the Electric Slide. Do the grapevine to the left and to the right, and as you are going forward, and just before making the turn, you make your move with the spoon. You just electric slide those carrots, squash, or peas right into your baby's mouth. I promise that your baby will be so fixated on your dance and how ridiculous you look, that he won't even know that he's eating something disgusting. I tried it again tonight, and Graham was dying laughing and never even knew he swallowed 5 more spoonfuls of carrots. If you don't know how to do the electric slide, it is pretty simple:

Do a right grapevine.( step right , behind, right step)
Do a left grapevine. (step left , behind left step)
Take 3 steps backwards.( back two three four)
Reach from back foot to front foot.(step on back foot, kick front knee up)
Reach from front foot to back foot. (step on front foot , tap back toe)
Take a step to the right and while doing so, turn to face the left.
Repeat all steps
And if you can figure out how to do the electric slide by these instructions, please, please, show me! I seriously found these instructions on the Internet. I do, however, think you might be able to learn it from this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAwpTva9ERk. If you live in the South, you have to know how to do the Electric Slide. I don't care if you hate country music....you just need to learn it. You can do it to almost any song. In fact, I was even sliding to Ice Ice Baby (which was playing in my head, not on the radio) while feeding Graham today. The Electric Slide is just a staple (If you can call a dance that) for wedding receptions, girls night out at The Wild Horse Saloon, and of course baby feeding!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"G" is for Graham, I think

I absolutely love appliqued clothing. A plain little onesie can look so adorable once you applique a cute design on it. Even though I have no experience sewing, I thought I would take on the project of appliqueing a onesie for G. This is my first one, and it is my first attempt at using a sewing machine all by myself, so please don't laugh. I think with a little bit of practice, I'm going to make some pretty cute clothes for Graham and for babies to come. I had a little bit of difficulty sewing with the zig zag stitch, but it came out okay, I guess. The other problem is that the G is huge, and it is sitting down on his stomach which makes it look like it stands more for gastrointestinal than for Graham. I've gotta work on positioning, I guess!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Would you be mine, could you be mine, won't you be my neighbor?

Since I've been at home with Graham, I've seen a lot more of my neighbors. I watch what they are doing through our big picture window. I run into them while I'm on walks with Graham. I see them when Graham and I run errands. So, I've just been contemplating our neighborhood and trying to decide how to characterize it. Quirky, I think, is the best word. We live in one of those neighborhoods that only has 5 trick -or -treaters every year because most people on the block are old. I'm not talking 60 old, I'm talking like 80 old. One of those old people is "The Mayor." Now let me assure you that she is not really the mayor of our small town. I got excited when someone first told me that the mayor lived on the street behind me. I know it's bad, I still don't know who the real mayor is, but this lady is the neighborhood mayor. She told me that some people call her The Mayor, and some people call her something else (I'll refrain from using the word). I told her I was going to stick with calling her The Mayor, but I do see where the others are coming from! She knows the "going ons" of just about everyone. One day I looked out the window and saw an old lady picking weeds in my flower bed. I was freaking out. I've had some crazy weeds in the flower bed, but nothing as scary as an unfamiliar elderly lady.Thankfully, after a few minutes of trying to figure out if I should hide or go talk to her, I saw Jeff standing next to her. It was The Mayor. Apparently she was giving him a quick lesson in Weeding 101. Are you serious? You are going to come and pull weeds in my yard? She stopped by again yesterday, and while Jeff was mowing, she said, "The yard looks good. You just need to trim back the crepe myrtles, or they will overtake your entire drive." Translation: "It's about dang time that you cut that grass, and if you don't trim those bushes, I'll level them in the morning." Oh well. We probably won't hear from her again until it's time to cut back the monkey grass. But I still like her even though she might not like our yard.

Yesterday, I looked out the window, and the neighbor across the street was brushing his teeth while watering his plants. I mean, really? Did you not have time to do it at the sink? It only takes like 2 minutes (or less) to brush your teeth, unless you have one of those timer tooth brushes. He brushes, spits, and then washes his tooth brush out with the water hose. You gotta love it.

And then there is the lady who stopped me at the park (which isn't exactly in my neighborhood)when Graham was a few months old. She pulled her car up to mine as I was loading up the stroller after a nice walk. "I saw you exercising out there with your baby. I thought you might be interested in this support lingerie I'm selling." No I wasn't interested, but I looked at her brochure anyway. She told me it could make me look like 20 pounds lighter. She was having a meeting to showcase her product in a few days, and she said, "You could even be one of the models to show the before and after." Hmmm....let me think about that one. You stalk me while I'm walking in the park, basically tell me that I'm fat and have a tummy that needs to be shrunken, you then invite me to a party where you want people to glare at my post-preggo belly and then let them stare at me in support lingerie. No thanks. I know you really built up my self esteem by asking me to "model," but I'm not feeling so confident sporting the pudgy belly these days. Whew....just had to vent for a minute!

But there are things I love about our town and little neighborhood. I love how Jeff and I watch people as they go on their evening walks and comment on their lives even though we don't know them. "We'll looks like he got a haircut today." "Have you ever seen him walking with that girl?" "Do you think they are sisters or partners?" I love how one day we saw a pregnant mom, a 2 year old girl in a stroller, and the dad walking down the street. And the next week we saw the mom, the dad, and two strollers. It's sweet to think how life goes on. And I do love how people are friendly and willing to help despite their inclination to pry. Our neighborhood is quirky at times, but it keeps life interesting and gives me something to blog about!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why Cook?

I spent 3 1/2 years at an amazing church while I was at Covenant College. This was written by an amazing cook, but more importantly an honest, sincere, down to earth, godly woman. I miss my sweet church up on the mountain, and I miss dear Jane Henegar. This writing quite often leaves me speechless. I long to adopt this attitude towards cooking!
Why Cook?
I cook because I was cooked for by a woman, to the last days of her seventh decade propped her elbow on the kitchen counter and leaned into her craft--divinity, say, that was almost divine.

I cook because the kitchen table was the center of the house--the place where my friends solved their problems with my mother's help while enjoying her cooking, where the aroma of fried chicken and hot biscuits and mint tea and peach cobbler and, of course, Kool cigarettes, announced the woman who welcomed you within.

I cook because, for good or for ill, I learned by example that if you love somebody, you fill them up. I cook because I love somebody...many bodies. I cook some more because some of those I love say "that was delicious" often enough to spur me on.

I cook because I married a man whose mother had the same culinary stature as mine...a woman who loved to quote this familial proverb: "I have often regretted my economies, but never my extravagances," and who served halves of honeydew, bacon, eggs, and oatmeal with whipping cream every morning.

But I cook my own way because I wouldn't dare attempt their ways: only a magician attempts such magic.

If I had my 34 years of womanning a kitchen to do over again, I would serve more sandwiches and fewer food groups. There would be plenteous soup and real homemade bread--like our daughter Emily makes--and more salads and nuts and just plain fruit. There would be more shared dishwashing. There would me more salt and lemon juice--the non-negotiables that elevate any dish--and olive oil and garlic and meatless meals.

I would spend less time over the stove and more time sitting down, not talking but listening to those for whom I want to care. When company came, it would be oftener for small groups and simpler meals; I would not cook to startle or amaze them, but mainly to enjoy their company.

I would treat my family more like company and my company more like family.

I would continue to delight in counting the place mats and beholding the prepared table when homecomings were imminent. And when the place mats were sauced-spattered and the table was groaning, I would delight some more.

I would cook food that linked us to each of those we had loved and lost, and around the table we would talk about those people, and remember, and laugh, and give thanks.

I would long to be remembered, in days long past my own, by those who once ate at our table, for growing simpler and more generous...more Godward...as the days increased.

If I had to do it over again, I would remember that grace is the best part of every meal, that grace is the best part of every life, and that it is no accident that the followers of the risen Jesus finally recognized Him "in the breaking of the bread"...and that all of human history will be culminated with a marriage feast. I would look forward to being not the hostess, but the guest, and in never having to say good-bye to those with whom I shared the ultimate feast.

by Jane Henegar

Friday, August 7, 2009

Things You Just Might NOT Want To Say

Here are a few things a guy just might not want to do or say to his wife/lady friend (as Jeff likes to call them). I'm not speaking from experience, of course.
"You're so beautiful, you could be a part time model." Apparently this is from a song, but how was I supposed to know? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYcDhG3kNq8
"I love you just as much as I love Steve (the dog), just in different ways. I love you as much as I can love you, and I love Steve as much as I can love Steve."
Saying "you look cute" on a night that your wife is feeling drop dead gorgeous.
When you ask him if something is cute, he just says, "Sure."
"Why don't you make pancakes like your mom?"
"Maybe you could get some recipes from my mom?"
Because you forgot to get anything for your wife for Valentine's Day, you go and find a card she once gave you, cross out her name, and insert your own, and say "Happy Valentine's Day," as if everything is okay. It's really not funny until a few months down the road.
These are just a few. I'm sure I could add more if I thought really hard. Anyone else have some great lines? By the way, I'm not bashing men. I love my husband and in a sense, I even love his verbal mishaps!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Uhh....That's Vern Yip!

Yesterday I spent the day shopping in downtown Franklin, TN with my mom, my sister, and of course Graham! The downtown area is filled with boutique stores and quaint cafes. As we were about to step foot in The Iron Gate, out walks Vern Yip. We were stunned. Abbey and I looked at each other and said,"Uh...that's Vern Yip!" About as soon as we finished the sentence, he hopped into his bimmer and drove off (I just learned that it's bimmer, not beamer). Abbey got a little over excited. She was trying to talk to a friend on the phone, trying to deal with the fact that she had just seen Vern Yip, and trying to open the door to the Iron Gate. It was inevitable that something would go wrong, and she suddenly slung the door open, pounding it against my mom's hand. My mom yelps and starts shaking her hand frantically while telling Abbey she has done permanent nerve damage to her hand. By the way, no one in my family ever exaggerates. We enter the store with my injured mom and Abbey and I kicking ourselves for not saying hi to Vern. (Don't you love it when people only use the first name of a famous person. It's like they're best friends, huh?) I then go up to one of the employees and ask if Vern Yip just bought something.

"Uhh...who's Vern Yip?"

"You know, Vern Yip from HGTV. He used to do Trading Spaces and now does Deserving Design. Vern Yip, the designer, he was just in here!"

"Oh...well that's cool. I still don't know who he is, but that's cool."

Come on! I mean I know I watched HGTV all day long for the 6 weeks I was in the hospital, but I still knew who Vern Yip was before that. Even my husband, who is the last person in the world to know about designers, recognized the name and knew who he was after I told him, "the guy on HGTV." Oh well. The rest of the afternoon was fun, but not nearly as exciting as our encounter with Vern. We went to a beautiful stationery store and bought pretty sheets of paper to frame as artwork. We had lunch at the Franklin Mercantile and went to Ivey Cakes for one of the most delicious cupcakes in Nashville. We also browsed a few antique shops. For dinner, we went to my parents' place and had grilled lamb chops, pyramid potatoes, and asparagus sauteed in a butter/balsamic vinegar sauce. Yum! For dessert we got popsicles from Las Paletas. How fun is that! The locals tell us that this little popsicle shop is a secret. They have amazing flavors. These are some of the ones we got: chocolate chili pepper, pistachio, and blueberry chocolate chip. I bet Vern would have loved them.

I was thinking that I may send Vern this letter. What do you think?

Dear Vern,

I think that my mother would be an excellent candidate for the show Deserving Design. On a hot summer's day in Franklin, Tennessee, my mother, sister and I were running some errands. We were about to go into a store when we suddenly saw you exiting the store. My sister got so excited about seeing the great Vern Yip, that she threw the door open causing it to slam against two left metacarpals on my mother's hand. There has been permanent nerve damage and my mother is no longer able to decorate her house. Since you, in a sense, caused this great injury to her hand, I think it would be a great injustice if you did not choose her for a Deserving Design Episode.


Jennifer Straka

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Up Up and Away

I know. I know. You probably thought the baby police outlawed Johnny Jump Ups. You may have had one when you were a kid, so you thought they surely were being sold in antique stores by now. Well, I'm here to prove to you that Johnny Jump Ups are alive and strong. My sister and mom did some research and told me that they are in fact still producing Johnny Jump Ups. So....a couple of weeks ago I discovered consignment sales. I had heard of them, but had never been to one before. Let me just tell you that when I have another kid, I am definitely taking advantage of the consignment sales. I have been to 4 of them in the past two weeks. You can find cribs, strollers, clothes, books, and toys galore. One of the sales I went to just so happened to have Johnny Jump Ups. It was $4.00 so I quickly snatched it up. It's probably the best $4.00 I have ever spent. Graham loves that thing! I set it up in the kitchen so I can cook or clean while still interacting with Graham. And for those of you wondering....yes, it is very safe and secure where I have it positioned. Graham jumps up and down in it. He swings around from the kitchen to the den, and then, he bounces to the side of the doorway and tries to scale the side of the door as if he were a logger climbing a tree. (Again, don't worry. He doesn't actually succeed at scaling the wall.) And he does all of this with the most adorable grin and sometimes even lets out a deep belly laugh! While Graham jumps, I sing, "Johnny Jump Up. Johnny Jump Up. Johnny Jump Up up up up!" I know. It's creative. If you have a little one, you should definitely try it out. The Johnny Jump Up, that is. Not the song. I think it gives the little fellow confidence that he can move around on his feet even though we're months away from walking. Oh, and for any of you interested, you can find a consignment sale in your area by visiting http://www.kidsconsignmentsales.com/. Some consignment sales have previews for new moms, so be on the lookout for an opportunity to view and purchase the for sale items a little early. Also, if you are a consignor, you get first dibs on the items for sale. I have a feeling that some of the best items get swiped during the preview days. At the end of the sale, there is usually a half off day, so if you find something you just don't want to pay the price for, you can hope it’s around in a few days. Happy Johnny Jump Up Days and Happy Consigning!

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Only Reason Why I Like Chicken Pot Pie

I've always liked chicken, pies, and pots, but for some reason when you throw it all together, I'm not a huge fan. That is until my mom started making this chicken pot pie recipe. I believe it is a Southern Living Recipe, and we all know that Southerners know how to cook. There are 3 things that I can promise you about this recipe.

1. If you're a chicken pot pie eater, you will never use another chicken pot pie recipe again. If you're not a chicken pot pie eater, you will be converted.
2. You are not going to lose any weight eating it. That's why it is just an "every now and then" meal.
3. Your kitchen is going to look like a disaster area when you're finished. You may even feel like Bill Nye the Science Guy while you are boiling, sautéing, and baking.

Last night I made dinner for a family in our church that just had a baby. I doubled the recipe so that I could make enough for Jeff and I to eat. It is one of Jeff's favorites! It's great because you can do a traditional pot pie in a pie pan, or you can put individual servings in ramekins and top them with pieces of a pie crust or with phyllo dough. Here's the recipe:

Chicken Pot Pie

2 Pillsbury pie crusts (come in 1 package)
1/4 c butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 c flour
1 1/2 c chicken broth
1 1/2 c half and half
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 T butter
8 oz mushrooms
1 small onion finely chopped
2 hard boiled eggs chopped
3 1/2 c chopped chicken (3 or 4 breasts) You can boil the chicken, but as my mom says, "Baking it is just so much better."

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt 1/4 c butter and add flour in skillet. Gradually add broth and half and half. Cook until it is thick and bubbly. Stir in salt and pepper and set aside. Sauté onions and mushrooms in 2 T butter. Place pie crust in pan. Add veggies, chicken and eggs to sauce. Pour into pie crust and top with the 2nd crust. Make sure you vent the crust! Bake for 30-40 minutes. You may want to let it sit for a few minutes and allow some time for the sauce to thicken up a little more. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Poop-Oh! in the Bumbo

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Graham. Whenever Graham sat in his Bumbo chair, it made him have to poop. One day his aunt Abbey was watching him while his momma got ready for the day. Sure enough, after a few minutes in the Bumbo, there was a stench in the air. Abbey, being the responsible aunt that she is, immediately picked up her nephew to save his mom the trouble of changing yet another diaper. When she picked up Graham, she noticed that he had left her a little present in the Bumbo. She said to herself, "Well, I will handle the dirty diaper and outfit first, and then I will deal with the present in the Bumbo." She went upstairs and put a fresh diaper and clothes on Graham, then returned to survey the mess. But upon her return, she suddenly realized that the present was gone. Had a cleaning fairy come to the house? Surely not! She hadn't believed in the cleaning fairy for quite some time now. Then she looked around and saw the culprits. Two King Charles Cavalier Spaniels running around the house, happy as could be. The end.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Crazy Mom Syndrome

I felt like a crazy mom yesterday. You know what I'm talking about. One of those moms whose hair is disheveled. Her outfit has been quickly thrown together. You can tell she is really worn out, she can't handle her kids.....you know, a crazy mom.

Yesterday I planned out some meals for the week and decided to go to the grocery store. When I go to the store, I always take Graham in his car seat and set it down in the grocery basket. It usually works pretty well when Jeff and I are shopping together, but when I'm by myself, the clumsiness is magnified, and I seem to run into things like the security beeper bars. I have no idea what you call them, and I'm sure they have some official name, but you know what I mean, right? One time I couldn't see in front of me because the car seat was sitting up high, and I kept ramming the grocery basket into the security bars at the Kroger entrance. I definitely got some stares, and I think I've since noticed a sign on the security bars warning you of their presence. Hello! If I could have seen the security bars, I wouldn't have run into them! Anyway, back to yesterday. I decided that since Graham is what you call a "supported sitter" and since I am afraid he is going to fall out of the car seat when I run into things, I would try to put him directly in the basket. He can sit briefly on his own and seems to do okay in a high chair, so I thought yesterday was the day to graduate to the big boy seat at the grocery store. Yeah....I have had to do some rethinking! It was fine until Graham wanted to climb out of the grocery basket. He would start leaning over....slowly he would slide. I would catch him, put him upright, and then he would start leaning over again. Needless to say, I had to keep my hand on him the entire time. It takes some serious skills to keep one hand on the baby, one hand on the basket, and find a way to park the basket where you are only an arm's length from whatever you need, because when you reach for something, you've still got to have that one hand on a baby. Maybe if I had played my brother more often in Mario Cart, this would have come easier! You just try doing this at the milk fridge where you add in a whole new dynamic of having to steer, open a fridge door, grab the milk and hold on to your baby. After about an hour in the store, I decided I was finished. Graham was eating my grocery list anyway, so I really didn't know what else I needed. I thought about abandoning the basket and making a break for the door, but I really needed some chicken for dinner! So I got geared up to go through the checkout line. Again, it became quite difficult to reach in the basket and keep a hand on Graham. The sweet lady behind me gave me a pity smile and asked if she could help. "I think I've got it," I replied while thinking to myself, "Yeah, I've got the crazy mom syndrome." I explained to her that it was my first time to try to put him in the basket and that I obviously should have waited. "Yeah, he's probably too young," was her reply. I wish she had been out in the parking lot to tell me this before I had gone in the store. The adventure, however, was almost over. Who would have thought I would need both hands to sign the receipt? After a few attempts, I had to ask the cashier to hold down the receipt so it would stop curling up. Finally, I got my groceries loaded in the car and vowed to not try putting Graham in the big boy seat until he is the most proficient sitter upper you have ever seen.

And just in case you were wondering, I did spend an hour in the store, and I didn't come away with half of what we needed. I got a lemon to make hummus with, but I neglected to get the tahini or the secret ingredient- chickpeas. I got bread to make meatball subs, but I failed to get the meatballs. Where do you find those things anyway? I've never bought them before. Those are just a few things that didn't make their way to my basket during a very stressful visit to Kroger! Yep, I was a crazy mom yesterday, and I only have one kid! What am I going to do if I have any more children? You better starting praying that God will give me a third arm!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ready or Not!

I was going to wait until Graham was six months old to start solids, but because he is starving and only a couple of weeks away from six months, I threw a bib on him, sat him in his cute high chair, and shoved some oh so delicious rice cereal in his mouth. Then I freaked out. I'm not ready for this baby food thing. I have been planning to make baby food for Graham, and I am just not ready. I don't even know how to work my Beaba Babycook machine. When do I give him baby food? Does it have to be three meals a day? How much do I give? How long do I need to give a certain food before introducing another? What foods can he eat at this age? Do I have to add milk to make the foods thinner? In the past two days I have done some research and more importantly asked several moms how to handle the baby food situation. Who would have thought that baby food would stress me out so much? So for any of you wondering.....here's a little bit of what I have discovered.

Don't worry about three meals a day. You can slowly work into it. Some people just give 1 or 2 meals for a month or two when starting solids. Lots of people start with rice cereal first and then begin introducing vegetables and fruits. Some good first foods for babies are sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas, apples, and pears. You have to cook fruits for the first 8 moths with the exception of avocados and bananas. Who knew? You usually wait on meat until your child is 8 months old. Don't give honey or corn syrup to your baby before he is a year old. Don't give cow's milk to your baby before he is a year old. You should not give coke to your baby or to any other living being! (A friend let me borrow a book called Super Baby Food. The book is very helpful, but the author can be a little extreme about some things like not even approving an occasional soft drink for an adult!) You don't want to wait until your baby is starving to give him baby food. Babies should still be getting most of their nutrition from breast milk/formula; baby food is not a replacement. When you introduce a new food, you must wait 3-4 days before introducing another new food. This does not mean you can only serve that one food in the interim. You can continue to feed your baby all the food that you know he is not allergic to. You may have to change your baby's clothes as well as your own clothes at every feeding. Go to http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/ for recipes, tips, schedules and more. It is a very helpful site! There is so much information out there on a simple thing called baby food! I'm sure I'll make adjustments along the way, not adhere to everyone's advice, and end up doing what works best for our family. I'm sure I won't buy all organic foods, and I'm sure I will have jars of commerical baby food in my pantry to go along with the food I make.

So ready or not, we've progressed to the baby food stage. I'm off to plan some baby food meals. What do you think the theme of week 1 should be? Mexican? Surely it would be okay for me to throw in a few tortillas and some spicy chicken with the avocados I had planned on serving Graham!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunny San Diego

Well we did it. We took Graham on his first trip across the county and succeded with minimal crying and fussing. Jeff, Graham, and I hopped on a plane to San Diego to see my dear friend Lydia, her sweet husband James, and their adorable daughter Ruby. Graham and Ruby were supposed to be only 2 weeks apart, but Graham changed that when I had to deliver a month early! However, 6 weeks isn't that big of a difference, and the older they get, the less of a difference it will make. Graham had lots of firsts this past week. His first airplane ride, his first trip to the zoo, his first time to pet an animal, his first time at the beach, his first time to see fireworks, and his first time to hold a girl's hand. I'm just hoping he didn't see the fireworks while he was holding Ruby's hand. I don't think I can handle this romance moving that swiftly. The babies were quite adorable interacting with each other. They were especially adorable when they were screaming in unision as we fought our way through LA traffic! Fortunately the majority of the time they were good tempered babies which made for a fun and relaxing trip. We ate lots of Mexican food, went to a Dodgers game, saw Michael Jackson's star and people trying to sell Micheal Jackson T-shirts for $100, saw the Hollywood sign, went to a couple of beaches (This time, thankfully, we did not accidentally end up on a nudist beach!) roamed around for hours at the San Diego Zoo, and simply enjoyed the company of good friends. I am so sad they live so far away! It was a great trip, and even though Graham will never remember it, I think he had a great time as well.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lucky Number Thirteen

For me, 13 has always been my lucky number. I was born on December 13th, so I always wanted to be number 13 when playing basketball or softball. If I ever needed to choose a number for an activity, it was number 13. It just made sense that I found out I was pregnant on June 13th of last year. I took a couple of pregnancy tests on June 11th and a few more on June 12th. The results? Well, two times I was pregnant and three times I was not pregnant. How are you supposed to know what to do with that information? Can you be quasi pregnant? The first positive was so faint that I had to make Jeff look at it closely to insure I wasn't hallucinating and making a plus appear. He confirmed that it was a very faint plus mark, but how could we explain the negative tests? On Friday, June 13th I left work early and went to the doctor's office to have a test. I saw the nurse practitioner and she told me because it was so late in the day, she would not have the results until Monday. I burst into tears. I'm not talking about a few tears rolling down your cheeks. I'm talking about the tears that make it hard to breathe. I couldn't even finishing talking to her because I was so upset. There was no way I could wait until Monday to find out if I was pregnant. She tried to console me and sent me to the lab to have the blood test done. While I was waiting, the receptionist told me I had a phone call. Who could be calling me in the lab? Of course it was the only other person who knew I was in the lab, the nurse practitioner. She told me that my doctor was on call that weekend and he had agreed to wait and and call me with the results. I was so relieved but still completely emotional. I continued crying while they were taking my blood. It was not that it hurt me, it was just that I needed to know if I was pregnant! The nurses probably thought I was dying of some disease. Anyway, after I got home, Dr. Chesney gave me a call. "It's positive," he simply said. It is so sweet for me to remember what I felt like after hearing these words. After absorbing that information for a second, I told Dr. Chesney that his office probably thought I was crazy because of my crying. In good humor, he said they were used to that sort of think in an OB-GYN office. Crying and women just go together I guess. I should have known that my tears were just another symptom of pregnancy. Yes, I was finally pregnant and a year later I have a sweet little 4 month old. As Jeff continues to remind me, God has been so faithful to us, so why wouldn't He continue to be faithful? It would go against His very nature not to be faithful. But I have to remember that even if God hadn't given us Graham, He would still be faithful. Reading about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is a clear reminder of that! So the 13th, even Friday the 13th, is a very very lucky number for me. Okay, it's not lucky. It is a very very very providential number for me, because I know there was actually not even an iota of luck that brought this baby into our lives. I am so glad God gave us Graham.