Monday, December 16, 2013

Laura’s Chicken Tikka Masala

This is our very favorite meal.

In case you were wondering, the answer is yes—you absolutely need to make this. In the words of my husband, "I could eat this every day.

I’ve tried making tikka masala in the crockpot and it’s just not as good as this. Trust me.

A few things to note:

Before diving into this incredible recipe, you will need to marinate the chicken for at least one hour (though the longer the better). I used a cast iron skillet to cook the chicken (though any large heavy-bottomed skillet would work just as well), and I do it in two batches. It doesnt take long.

*Garam masala is cheaper when purchased from an international market or Amazon, but it is available at most grocery stores.

Oh, and don't forget to buy naan! We like the "original" best. Your grocery store should have it in the bakery section, and it probably comes in a pack of two. I recommend getting four to six pieces of naan, depending on how many servings you plan to get out of the recipe. We got four generous servings out of it (we really pig out on this stuff), but you could get six servings if you added rice and/or a side dish. 

Side dish option: we love roasted cauliflower alongside this chicken. I drizzle half a head of chopped cauliflower with a Tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle with generous amounts of turmeric, curry powder, salt and pepper. Bake at 450 for 20-25 minutes. I like to get a bit of char on the cauliflower. (I love it so much I stand over the pan and eat several pieces before serving dinner.)

Have I mentioned how good this is? I promise it's not hard at ALL. Okay, let's get to the recipe already! 

Laura’s Chicken Tikka Masala
serves: 4 generous portions
active time: 10 minutes to prepare chicken and marinade, 20 minutes to make the chicken and sauce
total time, start to finish: at least 1 hour, 30 minutes 

For the marinade:
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 5 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tsp powdered ginger
  • 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

For the sauce:
  • 1 Tbsp ghee (or butter)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/8 cup jarred jalapeño slices (or one finely chopped jalapeño pepper)
  • 2 tsp garam masala 
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • optional: fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

  • naan
1Combine the marinade ingredients and let sit in the fridge for at least one hour.
2. Once the chicken is marinated, lightly oil a large cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet and turn to medium heat.
3. Place ghee or butter in a large pot and turn to medium low. It needs to be big enough to hold the sauce and the chicken together at the end.
4Add the marinated chicken to the skillet and set a timer for 4 minutes. Turn attention back to the pot.
5Add garlic and jalapeño to the melted ghee/butter in the pot and sauté, stirring occasionally, for at least one minute.
6. Add garam masala, paprika, salt and pepper to the pot, stir well.
7. Add tomato sauce and heavy cream to the pot, stir well and simmer on low heat. To get it to a simmer I turned up the heat for a minute until the sauce bubbled, and then I slowly turned it to low. You want it to still bubble slightly, but not so much that it's popping out of the pan.
8. Once the chicken has cooked for 4 minutes, flip the pieces and cook for 4 more minutes.
9. Youll know the chicken is done if it breaks easily with a spatula. Use a slotted spatula to transfer the first batch of chicken to the sauce. 
10. Cook the second batch of chicken the same way and then add to the sauce, which should continue to be cooking over low heat.
11. Warm naan as the package directs. 
12. Turn off the stove and stovetop and sprinkle the dished-out portions of chicken with cilantro. Serve with warmed naan. 

don’t mind my crappy cell phone pic and my splotchy stovetop...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2013 gift guide

- for him -

Ticket to Ride board game - $36.81
this game is easy to understand but still requires strategy.
I bought this for my dad last year, and we all enjoy it.

Buffalo Wild Wings gift card - $25
perfect for when his games aren't televised!
also great: Dunkin Donuts card, NFL Shop card, Amazon card

Outliers - $10.19
I can't recommend this one enough.
My guy loved it and I loved it, too.

Fleece crew neck sweatshirt from Old Navy - $22
who can resist a guy in a cozy shirt?
(reviewers suggest buying a size up if you
don't like a slim fit)

Random, I know. BUT! Andy saw a cheese slicer while we were
on our honeymoon and wanted it, and we have used it hundreds of times since.
Not even joking.
Who doesn't like cheese?!

Tennis Balls - $21
get him excited for warmer weather :)

perfect for playing or viewing outdoor sports

- for her -

Square pave earrings from Loft - $24.50
if I hadn't JUST bought gold and diamond studs
then I'd get these for myself.

Open Weave Infinity Scarf from Nordstrom - $20
love the fringe!

Chevron bracelet from Edor - $24
Edor is my favorite jewelry shop on Etsy. I have the "Arena"
and "Diagon" necklace. Her beautiful initial necklaces would also make
a great gift.

Bible verse art print from ashleeproffitt - $15
I bought this exact print for a friend
and paired it with a white frame.

Bamboo spatulas from Pampered Chef - $10.50
These are my favorite cooking tools!
I also love the $8 bamboo tongs.

a beautifully written coming-of-age story
(also my top pick from the books I read in 2012)

AMC gift card (or Regal) - $25
Spending $5 on popcorn doesn't seem so bad if
someone else has paid for your movie ticket.
also great: Sephora or Ulta card, nail or spa certificate

Moccasin slippers from Old Navy - $18
I have these (in wine) and LOVE them.
Can't beat that price!

Friday, November 15, 2013


I've been staring at my computer for a while, thinking of the reasons why it has been over a month since my last post. Part of it is feeling bad for writing "downer" posts about being sad, but mostly it's got to do with dread.

If there was one word that could sum up what I've been feeling lately, it's dread. Dread for the day ahead, and wondering if I'll get through it without crying or yelling or thinking cynical thoughts. Dread over the possibility of being asked, "do you have any kids?" or being told, "you're young, there's still time," or "I know it will happen for you." I struggle with dreading the future, and all of the unknowns that lie ahead.

I dread writing this blog post, or really writing anything at all, because writing makes me think of John and thinking of John makes my chest ache.

The other day I told a friend that I was enjoying a long streak of what I call "good days." I said, "I think I'm being filled up to be poured out," and I was right.

I've learned to give in to the grief, to let it wash over me, shake me up and wring me out. I do my best to feel it and then let it go—not chew on it, like I'm often tempted to do. The dread is hard to shake, though. It's in the back of my mind, whispering worry! fear! hide! give up! It bottles itself up in my throat and becomes lodged there. I am so weary of the battle, but I find rest in knowing it has ultimately been won.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Will you walk alongside me?

My soul cleaves to the dust; 
Revive me according to Your word.
My soul weeps because of grief; 
Strengthen me according to Your word.
Remove the false way from me, 
And graciously grant me Your law.
I have chosen the faithful way; 
I have placed Your ordinances before me.
I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me; God, don’t let me down!
I’ll run the course you lay out for me if you’ll just show me how.
                                                                           -Psalm 119:25, 28-32 (mix of NASB and The Message)

Last night I was pressed into the corner of the couch, a pile of crumpled tissues accumulating on my lap. I cried as I poured my heart out to my friend (through Facebook chat, of all places) and tried to put words to the frustration I feel inside. I told her about my impatience with people. The disappointment in myself when I can sense that people expect more from me but I don't feel capable of meeting their standards. The anger that follows when I wonder why people can't show me more grace. The frustration I feel towards God, myself and others.

Why can't this be better? Why can't I be better? Why can't you be better? 

What a sweet thing it is to show someone the ugly parts of yourself and have them love you in return.
I treasure this response from my friend:

"There is grace for this situation... grace for the days when you are angry, when you're tired, when you lack motivation to do anything. When you're sad because your boy isnt here. And it's more than OK to feel those things. I hope the people in your day to day life can show you that grace and allow you to grieve when you need to express it."

Yes. Friends, that is what I need. I need grace. I am a sinner, if it's not one thing it's another.

And I also need to express my grief.

When people asked me how I was doing right after John died, they didn't expect me to say that I was fine. Because, duh, I wasn't fine. I had just lost a child. 

This Sunday will mark three months since the day I heard my baby's heartbeat stop and delivered him (via c-section). Only three months. The pain is still so fresh. I think that because I seem put-together and "fine" to most people that they assume I am fine, but right now I feel so far from fine. I know it takes time to grieve, but how much time? How much crying? How many bitter, pleading prayers?

It's not that my current life is terrible, it's that an unthinkable thing happened to me and I'm still reeling from it. There are good days. There is laughter. There are pages filled in my "joy journal" (a thoughtful gift I received after losing John). God is with me.

But, there is also pain. A desire to talk about my baby, and to hear someone else say his name. To voice my sadness. To have an arm around me or a tear shed with me.

Friends, will you walk alongside me as I grieve? I know it's awkward. I've been in your shoes. I know you don't want to cause me more pain by bringing John up in a conversation (it won't, I promise). I know you don't want to say the wrong thing (I'd rather you say something than nothing). I have grace for you. I don't expect you to know how to perfectly handle my mess. I don't even know how to handle it! But oh, would I love for you to love me through it.

The two people that have most recently heard me voice my sadness both said the same thing: "People that know your situation are probably thinking about John, even if they don't tell you they are. I think about John all the time."

God knew those words would bless my heart. Dear friends, if you think about my baby, please tell me. If you have questions about my pregnancy or John's diagnosis or the c-section or anything, please ask them.

Two weeks after John died one of our pastors called to encourage me. He spoke softly to me as I cried into the phone, straining to hear his words through my tears and desperately wanting them to wash over me and fill me with peace. Then he said something that made me stop crying and grab a pen to write it down.

He said, "We (the church) accept you in your weakness, in your vulnerability and pain."

Oh, how greatly I need that acceptance.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

latest recipes

Cooking has been great therapy for me the last few weeks. My grief has been hitting harder now than it was before. I think the numbness from the shock is wearing off and reality is sinking in.

There's something about the rhythmic rocking of a knife against a cutting board, the sizzle of vegetables in a hot pan and the rush of pride that comes from creating something restaurant-worthy. I have certainly gone through phases of frozen pizzas and takeout, but right now I'm addicted to cooking.

Here are a few of the recipes I've tried lately. Let me know if you try any of them and how it went!
(click on the name of the dish to view the recipe)

This soup knocked my socks off, and it was SO EASY to make!
I did not use lime leaves, cilantro roots or bean sprouts, and I’ve made it once

with powdered ginger and once with a small spoonful of galangal (in place of frozen grated ginger).
I also added sliced mushrooms.

The noodles are good, but it’s REALLY good over jasmine rice!

(scroll to the end to view recipe)
I made this dish with a friend, and I think our version looked
prettier than this picture! Regardless, it tasted amazing.
We omitted the wine and parsley and used
an orange pepper in place of the green. We also used rotisserie chicken,
which I would absolutely recommend doing. This made at least 8 servings,
but it's so good that you'll be sad when the leftovers run out.
On the second night of eating it I added a sautéd mushroom and a
handful of fresh spinach, which I let wilt as I stirred the hot pasta.
I've made this once before, but it's probably been two years!
I followed her recipe to a T and had no problems.
I love when my dinners come out looking just like the picture!
If you like the coconut shrimp at Outback then you'll love this dish.

I'm obsessed with these spicy noodles.
I added a spoonful of peanut butter to the sauce after getting the idea from
the comments section, but they'd still be delicious without the PB.
I ate the leftovers cold the next day and declared that I should
make these noodles each week for my school lunches.

This is our new favorite dip. I added bacon
(I crumbled four strips) and used crushed Ritz crackers
for the topping instead of Panko bread crumbs.
I served the dip with Ritz at a party, but on the way home
Andy suggested we pick up a loaf of french bread
so we could eat more dip at home.
This dip was our dinner, and it was delicious.
(We didn't toast the bread, but I'm sure that would be yummy, too.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

being strong

Being strong doesn't mean holding it together, I think. Being strong means picking yourself up after letting yourself not hold it together.

After the saleswoman notices your bump is gone.

People always assume the babies must be somewhere else, but not in your case.
A bump and a baby, gone.

"We haven't seen you in a while! Boy or girl?" Her face is so friendly, so happy, and you can taste the dread in your mouth like a bitter pill. "A boy," you say, and she says congratulations, and you hope she won't ask anything else. She does.

"How is it going?"

You pause, your fingernails digging into your palms as you try to breathe slowly through your nose.
Do not cry, do not cry, do not cry. But the truth is you're already crying, because you've been holding your breath and waiting for someone to mention your obvious lack of bump. Because you HAD a boy, but you don't HAVE a boy. Because IT is not going the way you thought it would. Because you can't regale her with stories of baby smiles, diaper blow-outs or sleepless nights. You desperately want to have stories to tell. Happy stories. Not this story.

Your lips tremble as you briefly tell the truth (because you cannot NOT tell the truth). Her face falls, and you think to yourself, that look on her face—that's the way you feel inside. Then she's crying, and neither of you know how to move on from the conversation because the truth—the lack of stories, the emptiness of it all— is so sad.

But you pick yourself up. Pull yourself together. You focus on your heartbeat  to combat the stillness you feel in your abdomen, and you go back to fingering price tags. "Retail therapy," you joke in a soft voice. The saleswoman sniffs back her tears and gives a polite chuckle before bee-lining for another part of the store, where she will speak in a hushed whisper to another saleswoman. You can guess what she is saying, because you're thinking it.

"Oh gosh, the most awkward thing just happened."

Your whole existence feels like a series of moving on from sad, uncomfortable situations. Picking yourself up, over and over, after allowing yourself to fall apart.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I don't want to bear this.

Some of this post was written in May, shortly after our baby received a fatal fetal diagnosis. I chose not to publish anything about the diagnosis on Facebook or my blog until I gave birth because I didn't have many medical details to provide readers (I still don't). Mainly, though, I was desperately hoping that the whole thing was a mistake and that I'd receive a perfectly healthy baby in the end. 

I was 19 weeks and 5 days pregnant when I was first told our baby was measuring small. The technician said I was measuring 16 weeks and 6 days and told me I must have been wrong about my due date. My OB didn't think the technician was correct, but he didn't seem concerned and told me to get another ultrasound two weeks later. 

Here is part one of my story as a mother who has only memories and a scar to show for it.


On Wednesday, April 24th (22 weeks and 3 days), I had another ultrasound. Everything looked fine to us. Our baby was waving his or her sweet little hand at us (we didn't discover the gender until John was delivered), and the technician didn't linger over anything for a long period of time. Then, at the very end of the procedure, a bomb was dropped. We were told my amniotic fluid was very low and that our baby was measuring a little over 17 weeks—meaning that our baby was not only small but also had hardly grown at all in two and a half weeks. The technician went from smiley and relaxed to very agitated. She told me she would contact my OB immediately and that they would probably want to see me later that day. In the meantime, we had to go home and wait for the call from the OB.

I held in my tears until we got through the lobby and then cried out in anguish, filling the huge glass entryway of the women's center with the sounds of grief. Andy guided me to the car and we sat there together, blinking at the unrelenting sun and trying to make sense of the news we had just received. After what seemed like hours but was only minutes, I opened my mouth.

"We need hummus."

So we drove to Costco. I gratefully inhaled free samples and focused on what we needed: black beans, tomato sauce, chicken stock, hummus, pita chips and a rice cooker. What we didn't need: bad news.

My friend Erin arrived at our house not longer after we arrived home from the store. Erin had delivered a beautiful stillborn son just months earlier, and I had texted her right after appointment. She sat with me while I picked at my lunch, and then she prayed with me and cried with me.

"God doesn't give us more than we can bear," she said. "I don't want to bear this," I said back.

(quick note: I do not agree with the idea that God does not give us more than we can bear. Erin is a dear friend and I knew her intention was to try to comfort me.)

The OB finally called to confirm that my low fluid was a big problem and they set me up to see a perinatal specialist two days later (Friday, April 26th). Andy and I sat in our living room and stared at our phones, dreading the calls we had to make to our parents. I'll never forget watching my husband's face crumple when his mom picked up her phone.

I received an email that night from my brother. His words of advice and encouragement continue to bring me comfort today.

"I don't feel you guys need to pray or strive a lot, but instead watch some funny shows or listen to Bill Cosby. You guys have a lot of people supporting you in prayer."

This is what I took away from those words:

It's okay to let other people communicate to the Lord on your behalf. Rest. It's okay to laugh. In fact, go out of your way to laugh."

That night we watched episode after episode of "Parks and Recreation," and after hours of crying, we laughed.

Thursday was a blur. We both worked from home and took lots of breaks to hug each other and try to make each other giggle. Andy kept telling me to not let my mind wander to "what ifs" and reminded me that we would soon know more from the specialist.

Friday afternoon we met with a perinatal specialist for the first time. We listened to worship music on the way over, the words of "Come to Me" by Bethel and "Oceans" by Hillsong United piercing a part of me that I hadn't known existed until that week. I now see how God used many of these songs to prepare my heart to both bear and battle the hurt and fear and desperation that would come.

The green ultrasound gel on my abdomen seeped into my pants while the doctor checked on the baby, but for once I didn't care. I was too busy trying to discern what he was saying from the lyrics that kept running through my head. Your baby is way too small and doesn't have room to grow.  Come to Me, I'm all you need. You don't have enough amniotic fluid. I am your steadfast, so don't be afraid. Your baby isn't getting enough blood. I am with you. The limbs and organs are not growing properly. The baby has clubfoot. There is a potential hole in the baby's heart. STOP! I thought. Stop telling me all of the things that are wrong with my baby! Your baby will likely not survive in the womb and has a very unlikely chance of surviving outside the womb without life support. Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me. Your baby could die tomorrow, or in a few weeks, or it could even be born. But then it would die. You've never failed, and you won't start now. This could all be caused by a chromosomal disorder, or it could be genetic. We don't know what to tell you...

We listened and nodded and wiped our eyes and shuffled to the genetic counselor's office, where we avoided looking at each other. The counselor talked with us about chromosomal disorders and blood tests and what our options were in moving forward. I felt like I was detached from my body and watching the whole scene as if it was a movie and the woman playing me was reading off of a script. "What are we supposed to do with ourselves?" we asked. "What are we supposed to say to people?"

We still don't have the answers.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

getting through

The other night Andy came into our room to find me singing along to this video in the dark.

Before that, I had sung along to these:

And laughed through this:

The next day I popped "Center Stage" into the DVD player and moved my shoulders and hips along to the music, remembering the times I stood in front of the TV in my parent's bedroom as a teenager, mimicking as many moves in this scene as I was physically able:

Let me tell you a theory I have: watching "Band of Brothers" will make you want to watch at least one other movie or show (if not five), because you'll recognize an actor and then think of something else they've been in. It is truly impossible for someone like me, who has a rolodex of actors in her mind, to watch "Band of Brothers" without shouting "ah! that's so and so from such and such" every five minutes. (I couldn't believe Andy put up with this, but he did.) The first time I saw "Band of Brothers" was in 2009, and I could hardly pay attention to anyone else because I was freaked out that I recognized Lieutenant Speirs as Rufus from Gossip Girl. Come on! That is upsetting (for several reasons... including the simple fact that I know who is on Gossip Girl). This time around I was able to focus on recognizing everyone else, including the actor who plays Private Webster (and Jim in "Center Stage"), James McAvoy and a verrrrry skinny Tom Hardy.

In between watching clips from musicals and blowing Andy's mind with actor references, I've been reading "Wild" for book club and eating fruit snacks and talking to the dog. I water flower arrangements and move them around to different tables and rooms. I read cards with heartbreakingly sweet messages and occasionally rip open a package (one of which held an entire pound cake). I look at pictures of John. I accuse of Andy of making me laugh too hard. I get through each day, hour by hour... sometimes laughing, sometimes singing, sometimes arguing, sometimes crying.

Sometimes writing silly, jumbled up blog posts.

Friday, July 26, 2013

the bad and the ugly

I've really struggled these last few months with being honest about everything—the good, the bad and the ugly. It was easier for me to skim over the bad parts ("we're devastated," "I cry a lot," etc.) and focus on the good parts. There's this need we all feel to keep conversation lighthearted... as if people won't want to be around us if we're honest with them. No one wants to be a downer. Plus, it was important to me to speak of the good that was coming out of our situation: God's faithfulness and compassion, the outpouring of support from family and friends, the increased intimacy in our marriage... we may have been facing terrible, unimaginable news about our precious firstborn, but we were still SO blessed.

Still, the bad parts were still there. Ugly parts. Parts that were really hard to share with people because voicing them made them real. I kept most things inside. People would say, "I don't know how you're doing it... I would be crying all the time." I hated hearing that. I did cry. I cried in the shower every day for weeks as I held my stomach and sung "Soon," changing all of the "my's" and "I's" to "you." (You will be with the One you love, with unveiled face you'll see Him. There your soul will be satisfied, soon and very soon.) I cried when the lights were out and my face was smushed against my pillow. I cried against Andy's chest. I cried in front of my friends. I cried in front of strangers at the pool. But I couldn't cry ALL the time. I hated all the crying! I hated being sad, because I hated the reason why I was sad. I wanted to smile and laugh and not lose sight of joy. It was a huge relief to me when I could be at a party or out for coffee or wherever and not cry!

I was extra irritable, extra impatient, extra prone to thinking (and sometimes saying) cuss words. I filled my social calendar so that I would be distracted, and then when that got too exhausting I practically fell of the face off the earth and became a hermit for a while. I stopped going to church. Public worship was too hard—I wanted my sob-interrupted praises to be kept private. I couldn't follow sermons because I'd hear a baby cry or a toddler babble and all I could think about was how much I wanted my home to be filled with that noise.

Andy and I had to have conversations about what we were going to name the baby. Those conversations are supposed to be fun and filled with anticipation. They weren't fun. We had to talk about if we were going to hold the baby, if we were going to have testing done, what we were going to do with the remains... all totally crappy conversations to have.

Then, on top of all that, I bled, puked and peed for three days in a hospital room in front of the guy that I have a huge crush on. We held our stillborn son. My body started producing milk not long after I left the hospital. My chest hurt so much I thought I was going to scream. It especially hurt whenever I cried, which was (and continues to be) multiple times a day.

It continues to hurt to laugh, cry, turn over, sit up, sit down, get out of bed, use the stairs, ride in the car... it just hurts. My incision looks horrifying and huge (to me, at least) and all of the severed nerve endings feel like flashes of lightning inside my lower abdomen. My legs ache because they hardly get any exercise.

Oh, and our fridge broke the day before we left for the hospital and it has still not been repaired.

I don't really feel better after typing all the bad and the ugly. I much prefer to share the good. The good is what is important. The good is the moral of our story. The good is what will endure... and what I hope we will choose to remember.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

God is gracious

I haven't written in so long. In mid-April we had a confusing ultrasound, but my OB didn't seem concerned, so we didn't let ourselves worry either. Then, at the end of April, another ultrasound confirmed that not only was the baby measuring small but also that the baby simply wasn't growing. We began seeing a group of perinatal specialists and each one told us the same diagnosis: our baby would most likely die in the womb within days or weeks. They had zero idea of what was causing the IUGR. It was horrible and devastating and confusing and sad. I wanted to curl up in a ball and never leave my room, but I fought that temptation as hard as I could and tried to smile and laugh and hang on to my personality. As the days passed I chose to adopt an attitude of thankfulness and focused on being grateful for the time left that I had being my baby's mother. Then June came, and my grief hit full force. I didn't feel grateful anymore. I was angry. If God wasn't going to give us a baby, then why couldn't He make it easier on us and just take the baby already? I hated myself for wanting it to all be over, but it was so hard to feel the baby move and know that all of my baby dreams were being dashed. I was terrified by the idea of delivering a dead baby. I didn't think I wanted to hold a dead baby. I didn't think I wanted to know the gender. I wanted this horrible chapter of my life to be closed shut and for a new chapter to begin.

Living in a state of pre-grief was unimaginable and I know we only survived it by the grace of God and the encouragement of our friends and family. I have more to say about the last few months, but I'll save those stories for another time.

By the beginning of July I was resigned to the idea of making it all the way to my due date (the doctors said if that happened then the baby would only live for seconds or minutes). I couldn't believe our baby was still hanging on! I had no amount of extra amniotic fluid for the baby to move around and grow in, but our little one seemed content to chill out all scrunched up in my uterus. I couldn't help but fall in love with our baby with every passing day, even though a part of me tried to put walls up to keep me from getting too attached. I began fervently asking God to surprise us all and give us a perfectly healthy baby. I had visions of us needing to run to Target after my delivery to buy a crib and diapers and all of the things that we registered for but never received.

This time last week I was being prepped for an emergency c-section to deliver our stillborn baby. I had arrived at the hospital at 11:30 p.m. the night before due to excessive bleeding, and in the early hours of Saturday morning I heard my baby's heartbeat slow down until it didn't exist anymore. I was 34 weeks pregnant carrying a baby who was only measuring around 20 weeks.

We had a boy, and we named him John Andrew. John means "God is gracious/generous." Andrew means "man" and "strong."

It's been one week since we lost our son and his name seems more fitting than ever. God is gracious, and we are being carried by Him right now as we learn to live without the presence of our precious baby.

More to come when I am able.

Psalm 13

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

breakfast on the brain

I've been on a major breakfast-foods kick lately. A few weeks ago I had a dream that I was eating a bagel with bacon, egg and cheese, and as soon as I woke up I went to the kitchen to make that dream a reality. It was VERY satisfying.

Then last Saturday I made blueberry muffins to surprise Andy. He only ate ONE (they were delish — he's just crazy). Clearly I had to eat the remaining five muffins. I had just made myself a huge pot of decaf coffee and those muffins were the perfect accompaniment. Don't judge me!!!

Then I got a hankering for pancakes. What is going on here?! I knew my friend was going to join me for dinner before we watched "Sense and Sensibility" together, and when she mentioned simply having eggs or cereal I was allllll over that. We had pancakes, eggs and bacon and topped our pancakes with maple syrup that she had brought as a hostess gift. Sally ate one pancake, one egg and one slice of bacon. I had four pancakes, two eggs and three slices of bacon. I dominated that meal.

I've been wanting to try one (or all) of Beth's baked oatmeal recipes since I stumbled upon Budget Bytes last year. The other two treats look pretty tempting, too! Hopefully if I make any of these I'll show better restraint than I did with the muffins and pancakes...

Blueberry banana baked oatmeal from Budget Bytes
Apple pie muffins from The White Ramekins
French toast bread pudding from Beantown Baker

Friday, May 17, 2013

how well do you know yourself?

I just finished reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. The book has mixed reviews on Amazon, but I thought it was an interesting read. I felt the author was honest about herself and her quest, and I liked that her story constantly caused me to pause and consider my own beliefs about happiness and how those beliefs are reflected in my daily life. I took a look at her blog and thought this quiz would be fun to fill out. I'd love to know your answers, if you're up for sharing!

questions were pulled from this post of "The Happiness Project" blog

If something is forbidden, do you want it less or more? Usually less, because most things are forbidden for good reason. If it's something like fries or chocolate, then come on. More, please.
If you unexpectedly had a completely free afternoon, what would you do with that time? Read a book at a coffee shop.
Are you comfortable or uncomfortable in a disorderly environment? Uncomfortable.
How much time do you spend looking for things you can’t find? Not much, because I'm pretty good at remembering the bizarre places that someone might have left something. One time Andy went to get a gift card out of his wallet and it wasn't there. He freaked out because the card held a significant amount of money. I don't know if it was a few hours or a few days later, but I suggested he look in the plastic bag under the bathroom sink that he had used to pack up extra toiletries when we moved to a new house. Sure enough, the gift card was in the bag.
Are you motivated by competition? If I think I can win, maybe. I'm not often in competitive situations.
Fill in the blank: “I really wish I could make consistent progress on my project to: keep our dining room table clear of clutter.”
Do you find it easier to do things for other people than to do things for yourself? Yes.
Whom do you envy? Why? You know, I don't let myself go there. Sure, I get jealous sometimes, but there isn't one person who has everything I don't have. 
What do you lie about? (For instance, a friend told me he’d been telling people that he walked to work, when in fact he almost never does.) Hmmm... that's a hard one! I don't think I lie about anything, but I probably don't give the cold hard truth, either. For example, I tell people I don't exercise much these days. Really I should say that I don't exercise at all, except for the occasional long walk.
What did you do for fun when you were ten years old? Do you still do that activity–or would you like to do it? I read, played teacher and wrote stories. These days, I do all of those things! 
Do you work constantly? or think you should be working? No, I don't work constantly. I currently have three part-time jobs and I have a lot of flexibility with my schedule. Some weeks I work a lot, but others I hardly work at all. My work life is well suited for my current life circumstances.
Do you embrace rules or flout rules? I mostly embrace them, but I've always been a slight risk-taker.
Do you work well under pressure? Deadlines? YES. I work best when I'm on a deadline. 
What would your perfect day look like? Sleeping in, waking up to sunshine, having a big breakfast prepared for me, spending the afternoon on a boat or a beach with my hot husband, yummy snacks and a good book, and then wrapping up the day with dinner and games with friends or family.
Are you a morning person or a night person? Neither? I tend to get cranky and restless in the afternoon.
What’s more satisfying to you: saving time or saving money? Saving money. 
Do you like to be in the spotlight? I wish I could say no... but yeah, I do. I love to tell stories and make people laugh.
What would you do if you had more energy? I don't like that question. I do want more energy, but the root issue of why I don't do things is because I don't want to. Example: clean more. 
If you suddenly had an extra room in your house, what would you do with it? Nooo! We don't need any more rooms! I probably wouldn't do anything at all - just shut the door and try very hard to avoid filling it with junk. 
What people and activities energize you? Make you feel depleted? I get energized by people who are good conversationalists (they ask questions, show interest, answer my questions honestly, etc). I like to take walks and do activities that are thrilling but aren't terribly taxing, like jet-skiing. Or activities that test trivia, like watching Jeopardy or crossword puzzles. People who are disagreeable or critical deplete me. Shopping depletes me if I'm alone.
Is it hard for you to get rid of things that you no longer need or want? Not at all.
On a typical night, what time do you go to bed? How many hours of sleep do you get? I go to bed any time between 9:30 and 11 and typically turn out the light between 11 and 11:30. I usually get 8-9 hours of sleep.
If at the end of the year, you had accomplished one thing, what is the one accomplishment that would make the biggest difference to your happiness? It's hard to measure, but becoming more like Christ. That accomplishment would have a positive affect on every aspect of my life.
Is there an activity that you love to do–yet somehow never seem actually to do it? Not that I can think of. Maybe blog? Haha.