Monday, February 28, 2011

2 truths and a lie answers

A couple of days ago, for the blog hop game, I posted 2 truths and a lie .

Here are the answers...

For those of you who guessed that I was lying about #3, pat yourself on the back, you were correct!

Here's a little bit of the story behind my three statements.

1) I have lived in 4 countries.  TRUE!  When I was a little girl, my parents served as missionaries for a few years.  Dad served in Mission Aviation Fellowship, as a pilot.  We traveled to Costa Rica for Spanish language school, Haiti for the first mission, then to Baja, Mexico, where Dad pioneered a new program.  (I know what you're thinking...That's three countries, not four.  Yeah, but I have lived in the United States too!  Still do!)

2) I had my first paying article published when I was 18.  TRUE!  I learned that one of the keys to getting published is to get in on the ground floor of a new publication.  That, folks, is when the editors still need you and that's what you want.  Back when I was but a slip of a girl at 18, there was this new Christian magazine called Right Road.  They were planning a theme on religious persecution for an upcoming edition.  I remembered that I had read this book from the library called The Siberian Seven.  It was about seven members of a Pentecostal family in the Soviet Union who were persecuted for their faith.  In 1978, they fled into the American embassy in Moscow, seeking to immigrate to the United States for freedom.  When the book by John Pollock ended, the Seven were still in the embassy, hanging in political limbo.  The story struck me powerfully.  I wanted to find out what had happened to them.  It was now many years after the book had been published but I didn't know what had happened.  I managed to track down articles from the New York Times on microfilm reels.  I assembled a binder of these news clips and found out that the ordeal had lasted for 5 years before the family was finally allowed to immigrate to the United States.  5 years!  Can you imagine?  It was the early days of the Internet as I assembled my story, but using an online phone book, I managed to track down two members of the family.  I was able to conduct an interview with Timothy Chmykhalov, who was a teenage boy at the time his family entered the embassy.  I was honored that he was willing to talk to me.  My story was published in Right Road.  They even paid me, but I would have written it for free!

3) I have lived in Africa.  FALSE!  I have never lived in or even visited Africa.  My Dad did, however, live there after my parents' divorce.  He lived in several African countries, working as an aid pilot.  One of my great regrets was that I was not able to visit him there.  Dad did offer, but it would have required my brother and I traveling there by ourselves, which didn't seem advisable as we were just kids at the time.  I wish there would have been a safe way to pull it off though.

Thanks to everybody for playing!

Friday, February 25, 2011

peanut noodles and the new mother

A staple of weekday meals at our house is Asian peanut noodles.  We eat it at least every week or two.  I used to make a recipe with Hoisin sauce and tomato paste among its ingredients but in the past few years, I’ve become partial to a version prepared by my friend Natalie.  I think it’s because of the memories tied into this particular recipe.

After Burrito was born (read the story here), I was completely spent.  I had envisioned a beautiful couple of weeks with just Hubby, Burrito and I at home, bonding and forming our new family.

I didn’t reckon for going without sleep for days while working harder than I had ever worked in my life.  I didn’t count on struggling with nursing (oh, the pain!  the blisters!).  I didn’t realize how little sleep you really get as a new mom.  And I certainly didn’t plan on recovering from a c-section, still being in pain and having a doctor force me to have a catheter in for TWO WEEKS (and let me tell you, that just ain’t natural). 

I was absolutely exhausted.  I was spent emotionally.  The lowest moment I remember in those days was when Hubby had to run over to church to do something right after we had come home from the hospital.  I accidentally emptied my catheter bag on myself and the floor.  It was devastating.  When you can’t even pee for yourself and then it ends up all over you, that’s the bottom of the pile.  Hubby came home to find me and Burrito on the bed, both simultaneously wailing.  He didn’t know who to help first.

If my mother hadn’t come, I don’t know what I would have done.  Now, to understand this story, you have to understand that my mother doesn’t travel.  She doesn’t like to fly or drive places.  She was a missionary for a while and I think she got all of her traveling out of the way then.  Any trips require planning of every little detail, if they happen at all.  (Mom and I are both notorious over-thinkers.)

But when my labor and delivery was so traumatic, when I had a c-section, when I was emotionally and physically broken, I think “Mama bear” kicked in for her and even though she hadn’t planned to come right away, she got herself there in just a couple of days.  It’s one of the best gifts she ever gave me.  I was able to hang on those couple of days at home because Mom was going to be there on Saturday.  She came with a family friend and they cooked and cleaned and Mom sat up with Burrito at night so I could try to rest.  I felt much safer and calm with them there, and oh so grateful.  They were so kind and so understanding.  I felt such a sense of panic when they drove away the following week.

But I was able to hang on a couple of days again.  Because Natalie was coming.  My friend Natalie is one of the most gifted and busy people I know.  She always has about a hundred balls in the air.  She is accomplished and professional and I don’t know when she sleeps.  But when she heard about my ordeal, she wanted to come too.  She drove 6 hours to our house to stay a few days and cook and clean and help. 

She prepared the most fabulous, comforting meals.  Chicken with gorgonzola, arugula, and garlic.  Three or four kinds of homemade pizza (Thai!  Chicken Sausage!).  Beer bread with tons of butter baked and crusted on top. Homemade pound cake with raspberries.  She froze her delicious cooking and I think we ate it for weeks.

The first night she was there, she made me the previously mentioned peanut noodles.  I remember her arriving with bags and bags of groceries.  I remember her asking me if I was hungry.  I sure was.  Ravenous.  She made these delicious mildly spicy noodles, glazed with peanut butter, laden with vegetables, with chicken in a Hoisin sauce on the side.  And I sat and drank a little wine.  Not too much and carefully timed between nursing times, but it was the first wine I had had in 9 months and it tasted so good.  I think it was one of the most comforting meals I’ve ever had in my life.  It was a difficult time and it would be some months before things would begin to at least somewhat turn around, but we weren’t alone.  The uncertainty, the pain, the sadness, worries…at least a little of it began to fall away as I sat and ate a big plate of noodles and chicken. 

So, I still make these peanut noodles, and I think every time I prepare them a little bit of that spirit of comfort and togetherness comes back to me.

Thank God the people in our lives who remind us that we are not alone.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

2 truths and a lie

Liz over at is having a blog hop.  I've never done a blog hop before but apparently it is a fun way for bloggers to get to know each other better.  So I'll give it a whirl.  The game is 2 truths and a lie.  So, here's mine:

1) I have lived in 4 countries.
2) I had my first paying article published when I was 18.
3) I have lived in Africa.

Go ahead and guess...I will post the answers in a couple of days!

one year anniversary of dad's death

My dad, Harry Darting, struggled for years and years with Multiple Myeloma.  He was diagnosed when I was in college, and he died when my daughter was about one and a half.  He died one year ago today.  Today, in honor of my dad, I want to take the time to share with you the remarks I prepared for his memorial service last year.  I hope his story will inspire you.

For those of you who may not know me, I am Harry’s daughter, Rebecca.

As I stand before you today, I can’t believe it’s over. My Dad was diagnosed with cancer when I was in college, about 7 years ago. He was a tough guy and put up the fight of his life. He had so many close calls before now that I find it hard to believe that his journey is really over. I always expected him to keep beating the odds. But the time comes for each of us to pass from this world to the next and Dad’s came on February 24, 2010.

It is important to me today to get up before you and let you know how important my Dad was in my life.

But before I do, I want to thank my stepmother, Nancy, for all that she did for my Dad and for all of the love she showed him down through the years, even when he was a “difficult patient.” I know Dad loved her very much and I will always be grateful to her.

My Dad was not a perfect guy, but I think he was always trying to grow as a Christian, husband and father. After my parent’s divorce, my relationship with Dad wasn’t the strongest for several years but in his battle with cancer, Dad dealt with a lot of unfinished business in his life. He opened his heart to forgiveness and reconciliation where he needed to. He softened and became more easygoing. He let more things roll off his back. He made a lot more time for me and our relationship grew a lot.

I feel that part of the reason he fought cancer so hard was for Nancy and for Daniel and I. And because of his valiant battle, he got to see both of his kids get married. He got to meet his first granddaughter, Burrito. That he was there for these important moments in our lives will always mean the world to me.

What also meant the world to me were what became our regular Sunday afternoon phone chats. Dad always had interesting things to talk about—faith, politics (which we debated endlessly), movies, history. I always thought he was one of those people who never knew how smart he was. And Dad always wanted to know the latest news about me and Christopher…and of course his granddaughter’s latest accomplishments.

After Christopher and I were married, Dad made a big thing about giving Christopher an “oral practical exam” in order to make sure he was a suitable son-in-law. Dad made it sound like he was going to rigorously evaluate Christopher’s handyman skills but when we went out for our visit, Dad just invited Christopher to work on a project around the house with him in a friendly and inviting fashion. In characteristic fashion, Dad acted like a tough guy but was actually much more of softie than he would like to have admitted. He always made Christopher feel welcome in our family, which I really appreciated.

I always wished Dad would come to visit us up in North Dakota and see the life we’d made for ourselves there. We live in a small town and serve as pastors of two churches together there. Dad always thought small town life was the best, and he loved the wholesome atmosphere. Anyway, maybe it wasn’t the wisest thing for Dad’s health but when he finally did come to visit last summer, it meant the world that he would make that sacrifice. Travel—which Dad had always loved—had become grueling and complicated and risky. But he did it in order to come see us. We had a wonderful week together. Even though Dad couldn’t do the things he used to be able to, he cheerfully tried to help out, taking out the trash, repairing a broken door.

The funniest thing that happened was when “Grandpa” was charged with watching 10 month old Burrito during church. I was leading the service. I put Burrito in the stroller, fastened in, and instructed Dad not to pick her up or worry about changing a diaper, knowing his weakened state and physical limitations. If she started screaming during church, he was to wheel her out and walk her around in the stroller or just take her in the cry room.

Dad was never one to take “orders” from others though. He’d been one to take care of things himself his whole life. When Burrito started fussing loudly during church, he took her out. That part was according to plan, so I didn’t worry too much while I finished leading the service. Dad took Burrito into the cry room. At some point, he decided she was fussing because she had messed her diaper, so he decided to take care of business. The only problem was that when my brother and I were little, our parents used cloth diapers on us. Dad was not at all acquainted with disposable diapers. They were like a Rubix cube to him. Still, he thought that maybe he could figure it out but soon was in over his head. He tried to gesture wildly for help through the window in the cry room but the woman who saw him thought he was waving and just waved back.

When I came in to check on him after church, I found Burrito screaming on his lap with an open diaper wrapped around her bottom. Dad was looking pretty flustered and strewn about his feet were three other attempted diapers. My tough, mechanically minded Dad had been completely ungunned by disposable diapers!

Dad was always one to be an adventurer. When he was growing up, he thought if he could learn to fly, that would be his ticket out and around the world. He always had a wanderlust. Even his travels all over the world to Mexico, Haiti, Costa Rica and Africa never satisfied him. He was always looking for the next adventure. When Christopher and I went to visit him shortly after being married, Dad had already been battling cancer for a few years but he was determined to be a good host and show us some sightseeing. He took us on a trip to Globe and initially, it was just a nice trip. Then he decided we should take a drive on the Apache Trail. It’s this winding, unpaved almost one lane road that winds around a mountain. Dad said we should take it and just keep going. How long could it be? 45 minutes later, our teeth chattering from the constant bumps, our stomachs queasy, and our hearts filled with relief at having survived, we made it off that road. Dad’s love for adventure was unquenched.

In the past few months, there were several times when I would be visiting Dad on the phone or in person and would sense that he was trying to pass on his blessing to me and my family. He told me he was proud of me and that meant so much to me. Some of his last words to me were about my ministry. He said: “Rebecca, what you’re doing is making a difference in people’s lives. I wish I could be out there doing it. Don’t ever stop doing that! Promise me.” And I did.

When Dad was in his 30s, before I was born, he had the pivotal experience of his life: he came to believe in Jesus Christ as his Savior. Dad never really made it a secret that he had battled alcoholism and gone down some paths that weren’t the best. But coming to faith in Jesus Christ changed him forever. He told me only a short time ago that when he came to faith, he quit drinking and smoking cold turkey and suffered no withdrawal.

Dad had many ups and downs in the life of faith. It’s not like everything was roses from then on out, but he always knew that Christ had forgiven him of all of his sins and given him new life. He began to share what Christ had done for him with everyone he could. He found even talking to strangers about faith easy and natural. Because of this, I believe he had a spiritual gift of evangelism.

I know that if Dad would want all of you to know anything today, it would be the same message he shared his whole life: We are sinners, broken people. Sin infects our souls like cancer infected Dad’s body. It spreads everywhere. Dad had a stem cell transplant early on in his treatment of cancer. Before this, he had weeks of chemotherapy in which his immune system was killed outright. He had to be in the hospital for many weeks, in a clean room, in order to protect him from the slightest cold. After his old being was killed through the chemotherapy, the stem cells were injected into his body in order to give him new life. He said that this felt like a birthday. He was new all over again. In the same way, Christ’s death on the cross was a radical step, much like the aggressive chemotherapy that Dad underwent. This radical dying of Christ was the death that takes away our death. It was the radical treatment that frees us from our sinful nature. And Christ’s resurrection was like the injection of stem cells into my dad. It made him new and it makes us new. I believe with all of my heart and my mind that Dad is in heaven with the Lord now, made new. The most wonderful thing about being a Christian is that we can stare at an urn, at a casket, at a grave—the most fearful things that life can throw at us—and say, “This is not the end. This is only the beginning.”

I love you, Dad. You were a huge presence in my life and I’ll never forget you. I miss you so much already.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

trying to match a toddler’s energy

I love Burrito.  I love spending time with her.  I love the magical moments that are sprinkled through the day.  When she says she loves me (without being asked).  When she learns something new.  When she says something unexpected that makes me laugh out loud.

But there are a whole lot of moments in this journey of parenthood that are pretty mundane.  Even (dare I say it?), boring. 

I struggle with trying to maintain interest in a toddler’s interests.  Because, well, I’m not a toddler.  Where I would like to finish reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, she would like to play doll house and “Mommy play doll house too!” (whatever that means!).  Some days I come up with awesome, creative ideas for play, but other days I have no stinkin’ clue.  Surely, other moms must be filling their days with their young ones with all kinds of new, creative play ideas.  I struggle with how to fill the hours.

And when it gets close to time for Daddy to come home, I count the minutes.  Not because I don’t love spending time with Burrito but because my mind can only fasten itself on the mindset of a toddler for so long.

I wonder how much active play time other moms have with their kids.  Do they stick their little ones in the corner with a pile of toys and let them go at it or do they play with them all day?  And how do they get their housework done?  It’s hard to clean when the little one asks you three times in a row, “What’s that noise?”  For the 70th time that day.  It’s hard to write a letter when your toddler keeps trying to grab the pen.

So, we divide the day up into portions.  I give myself little breaks throughout the day.  She is perfectly capable of doing some playing on her own now.  We eat breakfast together, then I take a shower while she plays by herself.  Then we usually end up doing something together.  Then lunch, followed by story and nap.  After nap, it’s snack time and try to come up with something else to do together.

I do better some days, better than others.  Some days I am SUPER MAMA, full of creative ideas and energy.  Some days I am SUPER TIRED MAMA, finding it difficult to summon the energy. 

I hope I am doing right by Burrito.  She really is a wonderful child and it is a miracle to see her grow and change each day.  But sometimes I just wish I had more ideas and energy.

Anybody else out ever feel like that?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

from home birth to c-section, part 2

...I remember the moment I finally gave in and admitted I needed help.  I was sitting on the toilet, with a pillow behind me, trying and trying to make this happen and I just knew (and to be honest, had known for hours) that I wasn’t going to be able to do it on my own.  I said to those with me, “Maybe if I went to the hospital, I could have some pain medication and then I could finish this off.” They called the small town hospital for me, which advised me to come in.  The doctor said he would be willing to help me.

So we took off for the hospital.  It just so happened that we were in a raging thunderstorm (I guess I was planning for the movie version later…needed more drama!).  The midwife climbed in the back seat of the car, and hubby drove.  I was in full on “I gotta push!” mode at that time.  So as we drove through the thunder and lightning and downpour of rain, I pushed and hubby wondered if we would be delivering this baby in the car.

The nurses got me right in, examined me, gave me pain medication (which helped some, but not enough), helped me to try to push with the medicine in me, and held the doctors at bay until I’d had a chance to try for myself and see that this baby would not be coming out without a c-section.  Those nurses were very wise.  I came to look at the c-section as a much needed operation for me, because I knew I had tried everything else first.  I will always be grateful to them for this small kindness when other nurses might have just given me a lecture (which I probably deserved).

So, I gave in.  I had the c-section.  I had come to the end of myself and had come to realize that I was far stronger than I thought I was.  I have rarely heard of a woman who has been in labor as long as I was (my labor started Sunday afternoon and Burrito was born early Tuesday morning).  And when women say, “I pushed so long!  I pushed for 3 hours!” I think, you wouldn’t believe how long I pushed!  I shouldn’t have, but I did.

Burrito was born under the cut of a knife, which was the last thing I wanted to have happen.  But I know now that it was unavoidable.

I also know that I am supremely blessed that nothing bad happened out of my stubbornness.  Though to my knowledge Burrito was never in distress, surely that would not have lasted forever.  I should have listened to my body and waited to push until I was ready.  And when I knew I was beyond my own strength and ability to deliver her, I should have laid down my pride and my control and given in sooner.  It is by the grace of God that Burrito is fine today. 

I learned some valuable lessons.  I learned that no matter how hard you try to control birth, it is one of those things that cannot be controlled.  The best possible circumstances can be set up, but things will still happen that are beyond your control.  This is humbling.  But ultimately birth is in God’s hands, just like death. 

If I had it to do over again, I would probably only choose a midwife that had emergency back-up.  Regrettably, we had no such midwife in our corner of North Dakota, so I probably would have had to go to a doctor.  I still believe that for the majority of women, as long as there is an emergency plan, home birth is a safe and reasonable option.  And I did have emergency back-up with the local small town doctor but the constant worry that my midwife would not be at my birth made the days before Burrito’s birth more scary than they needed to be.

I didn’t have a great option for her birth out of any of the options available, but the one thing I should have done was to go sooner to the hospital.  Waiting so long and refusing to give in, having such a fear of medications, and worse, having a fear of being a “wuss” who gave up…these things kept me from doing what I needed to do for too long.

I came to realize that I did not die by having to go through an exam with a male doctor, medication did not harm my child or me, and the hospital wasn’t such a horrible place.  I was treated kindly and compassionately.  I still wish I would have been able to deliver Burrito at home but it was not to be.  My next baby will definitely have to be born in the hospital because of a slightly increased risk of uterine rupture after a c-section, and I’m ok with that.  I am blessed to be in an area now that is much more friendly to natural birthing options, even within the hospital environment.  And I am blessed to live in an area where the larger hospital is only a short drive away.

I don’t want to scare anyone off from the idea of home birth.  It can be a beautiful thing, a natural thing that women have been doing for generations and generations.  Generally speaking, women (with the help of trusted women) know what to do to get a baby born.   And as I said, the first day of pain management went extremely well.  But if you pursue a home birth, plan for the fact that something can always go apart from “the plan.”  Yes, you need to think positively about birth and hear all the good, empowering stories and words you can, but you also need to make yourself feel secure by knowing that you have a plan if the tiny chance of something going wrong happens.

If you have a home birth, you definitely need a midwife who has a back-up midwife.  You definitely need a doctor on call in case you or the baby go into distress, a doctor who is 10-15 minutes away from you.  And you definitely need to listen to your body, no matter what anybody tells you and no matter how much you want your labor to just be done.  Unfortunately, the process cannot be rushed.  And finally, there is no shame in having to go to the hospital.  Hospitals are there for people who need them.  Most births can be accomplished safely at home, but we want to have hospitals for the people who cannot make this happen.  It has nothing to do with our virtue or lack to need the hospital.  It is just the bodies we and our babies are given and the unique circumstances of their births.  The most important thing is that the mother and baby end up happy and healthy by the end of the birth.

I’ll write another day about the challenges Burrito and I faced after the birth.  Those early days were certainly tough.  But one thing I have learned is this: when we live through such difficult days, we come to realize that we have a strength we didn’t know we had.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

from home birth to c-section

It was two and half years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was coming to believe that I was going to be pregnant forever with Burrito.  She was over a week late.  I wanted to have the longest possible maternity leave with the new baby, so even past my due date, I was still on the clock.  I had led church services the morning I went into labor, even though Burrito was overdue. 

As a side note, let me say that it was interesting preaching and leading liturgy while pregnant.  Early on, my terror was that I would succumb to morning sickness at the smaller country church where there was literally NOWHERE TO GO if I needed to throw up.  We’re talking a one room sanctuary with a small fellowship hall in the basement.  I was lucky though; I never threw up from morning sickness, though I felt nauseated for a long time.

Later on, as my pregnancy reached 37 weeks and onward, I began to be terrified that my water would break in the middle of leading services.  It was small comfort to think that not every woman has her water break at the start of labor.  It happens at different times for different women, some right before the baby is delivered.  In preparation, Poise pads were my friend.  I don’t know if they would have actually kept me from an embarrassing “balloon burst” or not, but it gave me a bit of comfort to think they might.

In the end, I was at home that Sunday afternoon when I went into labor.  Interestingly enough, my water did break at the beginning of labor, right after the bloody show.  I was pretty excited!  At long last, after all the waiting, Burrito was going to be born!

In North Dakota, where we lived, there was one small town hospital that still delivered babies 15 minutes away from us.  But this hospital had only male doctors and I have never liked having a male doctor, especially for more personal matters.  Due to the fact that the small town hospital might at times have trouble assembling a surgical team as quickly as needed, most women drove the 75 minutes or more to Grand Forks to have their babies at the larger hospital.  I was unable to find a doctor there that I was comfortable with, and besides, 75 MINUTES IN LABOR???  Are you serious?  Not to mention that driving that far while in labor was probably not the safest thing in the world either.

So, since Burrito had to get out of me sometime, preferably without my husband and I alone delivering her, we began to look at other options.  Options that surprised even me.  I began to think seriously about home birth.

I am a person that likes certainty, control (let’s be honest!), everything to fall into place nicely.  So you’d think I would be drawn to have my baby at a hospital, where everything is in a neatly controlled medical environment.  But the more reading I began to do about the way the typical hospital handles birth, the more I began to worry. 

I learned that I would do better in labor by being able to move around, by being able to have light snacks and beverages to buoy up my strength, by being able to use a birthing pool to help ease the pain of labor.  I learned that lying flat on my back on a bed was not the ideal birthing position, but that positions like “squatting” that women around the world have used for birth forever are actually the best.  I learned that I would do better if my husband and I would be allowed to work through the labor together.  The big city hospital did not want to offer me any of these things.  In fact, if I read things right after meeting with their doctor, birthing Burrito there would move me straight through the Pitocin—Hard labor—Need for pain medication—Stalled labor—Need for c-section cycle.  I just didn’t want that.  I wanted to have the experience of labor.  I wanted to do this thing that God had built my body to do.  I wanted to do it the way God intended it to work. 

So we found a midwife.  She was a very knowledgeable woman, with a caring heart and also a Christian.  It was nice to be able to relate to my health care provider on a faith level.  But she covered a wide geographic area as a midwife.  She had no back-up provider, although she did have a couple of doulas who sometimes assisted her.  And as I came to find out, she was accident prone.  She broke her ankle shortly before Burrito was due and had to have surgery. 

In the end, when I went into labor with Burrito, she was close by and was able to bring doulas with her.  But I do believe things would have gone better if she had had a back-up midwife as she was pretty tired from a recent surgery and the doulas did most of the work throughout the labor.  As knowledgeable and loving as my midwife was, I would definitely look for a midwife who has a back-up provider if I ever attempted a home birth in the future.

I was in labor for two days.  The first day went quite well.  I found that the techniques I had learned for managing pain, such as moving around, swaying, holding onto my husband, and especially, using the birthing pool, were very helpful.  The number one tip I had learned was that when I leaned into the pain, I could manage it far better than if I resisted it.  And it worked well.  I won’t say it was “comfortable,” but I felt quite in control of the pain, with the help of my husband and the women who came to assist.

However, a ways into the birthing process, I was told that I was probably far enough along that I could push when I felt the urge.   I was getting a bit tired of waiting and I worried that the women who were assisting me would be frustrated that I was taking so long (they weren’t), so I decided I would start pushing.  It was premature.  I should not have started pushing yet because I did not feel that undeniable urge that the books I had read had promised I would feel.  It did come later, so I was able to feel the difference.  But by then, I was so exhausted from pushing before my time, that I simply could not make the progress I needed to.  I pushed for hours and hours.  You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how long I pushed.  Still, I am a stubborn person and I didn’t want to give up.  Surely, I was close enough.  And Burrito did not seem to be in any distress.  But the contractions were coming hard and fast…less than a minute apart, if I remember right.  I couldn’t even lay down to rest without being thrust into another one.  I had not slept for two nights and I had never worked so hard in my life.  I was spent.

I remember the moment I finally gave in and admitted I needed help... be continued...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

the well-composed plate

Or so my husband calls it.  I admit the brown rice is the quick cook kind.  But the lentils!  Oh, the lentils! 

The lentils don't look impressive, I realize, but they are rather outstanding.  The recipe is from the More with Less Cookbook.  Very simple ingredients.  Lentils, honey, onion, bacon, a simple sauce.  You let them simmer a while.  Then you let them bake a while till the savory smell permeates the house.  This is comfort food, friends. 

Then you have your obligatory greens...and your equally obligatory French baguette spread with soft butter. 

I think I agree.  It was a well-composed plate.

one of those days

So today was one of those days.  Rush, rush rush.  Fuss, fuss, fuss.

Gotta get to the library for storytime.  The lady is always at least 15 minutes late…We have just enough time to make it by then!

Into the car.  10:06…whew, we’ll make it for sure!

Walk through the door at 10:15.  Oops, usual lady is not there.  Substitute instead.  She’s about to head out because she starts on time.  Feel bad!  Apologize.  She stays. 

Head home.  Nice time with Daddy over his lunchtime. 

Naptime…Daddy lays Burrito down for me! What a treat!

Afternoon, she messed her crib…wash the sheets…

“PLEASE eat your lunch.”

“Do you need a time out?”

“Eat another bite.  Eat! Another! Bite!”

“Please stay away from the stove!” 

“Mommy is trying to cook.  I’ll help you color later.”

“I know you want another envelope to color.  I just need to find and write the address on it first.”

“Don’t color on the address!  Just the white space!  Ok, good…”

“No, no, Burrito, no, no!” 


“Mommy’s sorry she lost her patience with you.  I love you.”

Reading stories, cuddling.  A few moments of calm.

Things to do!  Dinner to finish!  Editing to do! 

It’ll never work to have Burrito running around my feet.  We’ll just frustrate each other again.

Crib time!

Burrito from upstairs (who is nursing a cold): “I.NEED.KLEENEX!!!”

Run upstairs, give Kleenex. 

Finish cooking, laundry.  Soup simmers.

Run upstairs.  Grab Burrito.  “Wanna watch ‘Super Why’?” (Please say yes!)

Plop her down on couch.  Super Why to the rescue!

Get editing done. 

Daddy messages: “I’m comin’ home!”

Darn, I wanted to have dinner already on the table for him.  Rush up from computer, scurry around.

Daddy’s home!

Baked potato soup.  Made up the recipe myself.  Good but needs more salt, milk, crispier bacon.

And then….
“You the best cook Mommy…I love you very much, Mommy…You cute, Mommy!  You sweet Mommy!”

Awwww….I melt….

Yeah, it’s been one of those days…

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Vegetables and Cheese (a few of my favorite things)

Last week, we had a meal that I thought was extra special.  Lovely roasted salmon with roasted red pepper and hazelnut pesto, along with bowties with roasted peppers, spinach, and tomatoes and topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  It's nice to make a meal that has a common thread between the different dishes on your plate (garlic and peppers, in this case).  It's even nicer to make a meal that is chock full of wonderful vegetables used creatively.  Oh, how I love good vegetables presented in a savory manner!

And that's not all that made this dish special.  There were also the little slivers of fine cheese.  Friends, I'd like to opine on the virtues of good cheese.  Growing up, the only cheese I ever had was standard varieties like American and cheddar...the kind that you have to consume in large quantities to get any flavor.  In recent years, I've come to discover that just a pinch or a few slivers of good cheese contain more flavor than a cup of your average cheddar.  Parmigiano-Reggiano, Manchego (oh! Manchego!), Goat Cheese, Gorgonzola...oh my!  I'm really starting to develop a love affair with good cheese.  And lest you say, "I could never afford good cheese," have you stopped to look lately at what they're charging for your standard American "blah" varieties these days?  Around here, the least you're gonna pay for it is $2-$2.50 on a fantastic sale for a bag of shredded cheddar or a block of cheese.  (Ok, I admit it, I do like sharp cheddar, but it's nowhere near as good as, say, Manchego.)  Think of how much you have to use and how little of the good stuff...Yes, you can afford it!

While we are on the topic of good cheese, let me bring up a new discovery.  Boursin.  Have you people tried this stuff?  It's amazing!  Creamy and a creamier, milder goat cheese but it's made from cow's milk.  The variety I had last night was garlic and herb, spread on crackers.  This stuff gives new dignity to the term "cheese spread."

Friday, February 4, 2011

a dramatic week

So.  Long time no see.  It has been a crazy week which has really inhibited the time and energy to get much up on the blog.

Everything started at 3 AM last Friday morning.  I got up to use the bathroom and I had a really strong pain in my side.  Like a “I can hardly move” kind of pain.  But I pushed through it and got myself into the bathroom, took care of business.  As I tried to head back to my room, I got a huge rush of nausea and stomach cramping.  I managed to wash my hands and felt like I desperately wanted my bed.  I tried to walk the few paces it takes to get back there.  But instead, I lost consciousness and fell to the floor.

Luckily, my husband, who normally can sleep through anything, heard a “thunk” and came running.  He thought I had dislocated my knee (I have had problems with that).  Nope.  I had passed out. 

Folks, I am not the faintin’ type.  I can think of one time I almost fainted.  In my life.  Sometimes I feel a little light-headed with the stomach flu but I don’t faint.  But shortly before I passed out, I remember thinking, “Something is seriously not right.”  I even wondered if maybe I was going to die (chalk that up to my worst case scenario thinking that apparently is instinctive enough even for these situations). 

When my husband found me I got conscious pretty quick but wasn’t making a lot of sense and I was really pale.  This totally freaked us out. 

So this past weekend and week have been spent in a flurry of tests and doctor visits to try to figure out what went wrong.  It has been a scary week.  The whole hypochondriac in me has bad enough worries about things just on my own but when you add the fact that we are coming up on the one year anniversary of my dad’s death to cancer, and when you add the fact that I had to have a breast biopsy six months ago (thankfully, it was benign), the uncertainty of things this week was pretty tough.  I remember saying to my husband, “Just when I hit my stride, this kind of stuff always happens to me.”  But as came to the end of the week, with relief I found that it appears that there is nothing serious wrong with me.  Ovarian cysts are the cause, they are normal in women my age and mine don’t look particularly worrisome.  Now, most women don’t pass out from them, but likely one ruptured.  The doctor says there’s a good chance it’ll never happen again. 

I am so glad that things appear to be ok in my body, at least.  I’m mindful though that I have another breast check-up in March to make sure things are still fine and nothing has changed.  Is life just a series of heart-pounding worries, sighs of relief, and returns to worry?  Sometimes I fear that by the time I turn 80 and actually have real reason to worry about mortality that I will have whiled away my life shrinking into the corner of fears real and imagined.  I hope not. 

I know that having a toddler has helped me to embrace the moment much more than I used to.  With her, everything is immediate.  Everything is now.  She runs through life with a flurry of excitement.  She routinely runs around kicking her legs up in the air (karate style) with joy.  She gets pumped just going to Costco.  She can hardly wait to meet go see her “new friends” at church.  She laughs with abandon.  Yes, I might be a worst case scenario person, I might have gone through some things in recent years that make me look at the world a bit gloomily, I might be a worrywart, but I have a ray of sunshine in the Burrito.  In ten million ways a day, she makes my life better.  I’m so happy to have gotten through this week, so grateful for life and health.  I want to embrace every moment of life with abandon, like Burrito does.  Or at least more of them than I do already.  There’s a reason Jesus said, “If you want to be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, become like a little child.”  All I have to do is look at Burrito to know why.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

dinner tonight

See how messy my counter is?  I'm still adjusting to less counter space in my new kitchen.  To be honest, it's kind of driving me nuts...but back to dinner...Last night we had pot pie with leftover chicken and cornbread topping.  This is my favorite way to use leftover chicken.  By the way, did you know baking a whole chicken is one of the cheapest ways to get meat in your diet?  I think we got our chicken for 79 cents a pound.  I got two meals out of this one and probably could have gotten a third if I had been willing to make broth from scratch.

Beets were on sale this week.  So, I'm servin' up beet salad with oranges, greens, vinaigrette, and goat cheese crumbles.
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