Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dear baby boy

Baby Boy,
It seems like a long time since I have written a letter to you, I am sure this will not be the last. In those early days I wrote to you I was begging and pleading with you and with God to be healthy and to stick around. Now you are 31 weeks of baking and I am starting to realize you will be here in person sooner rather than later.

We are still trying to get your nursery painted and ready for your arrival, but have no fear, you will be sleeping with Daddy and I until you are a few months old. It seems natural to be close to each other at the beginning because you and I will have been so close for the past 9 months! I am sure you will adjust much more quickly than me when the day comes to put you in your own room. I have a feeling that you will be an independent little man. It's in your DNA, being the firstborn to two firstborn parents :) Your Nana is coming to visit next week all the way from England and I am excited for you to hear and start to recognise her voice. She will probably be responsible for some of the finishing touches to your nursery and you can thank her with cuddles when she and Grandad visit again after you are born.

Last night at our second birth class you seemed pretty opinionated about certain birthing positions and breathing exercises. Thanks for weighing in, I will try to take it all into consideration when you are making your arrival!

You are moving and rolling and kicking all the time at the moment. I love feeling your kicks. I am pretty sure a little foot stuck out of my belly earlier! At night you have got into the sweetest habit of snuggling up with your bum sticking out by my belly button. I can't wait to see that cute tushie in real life. I appreciate your patience with me during the night. I toss and turn trying to get comfortable and am up and down to the loo and with each adjustment I make, I feel you having to readjust too.

My longest stretch of sleep is usually from 4am until your daddy gets up for work. I think you hear him get up and it is your signal to wake for the day. You start to wiggle, I have been woken up for the past month, with you having your morning stretch as I hear your Dad stepping into the shower. I wonder if this will continue after you are born. You could go and sit in a bouncer in the bathroom with him while I catch a few more z's, what do you think?

You still seem to go crazy when I drink anything too cold. Sorry if it freaks you out, sweet boy. I will try and keep the iced beverages to a minimum. I really love that I can start to know you already, even in these small ways. I have always tried to make the best choices for you, eating well, learning to drive, resting when my body tells me I need to and being active at other times but I like that I can start to make decisions based on your actions and what I perceive you like or don't like.

I am falling in love with you more and more each day.

Love Mama x

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Artist of Heaven

Impending motherhood has been a much needed wake up call for my devotional life. I have always struggled to be consistent in this area of my life, and when things get busy it can often be the first thing that gets forgotten. However, recently in church there have been many mentions made to the beauty of intimacy with Christ and how that intimacy comes simply from sitting with Jesus. Together, my awareness of the huge life change ahead, and the voice of my Lord calling me to spend time with Him have resulted in some great quiet times.

I have been reflecting on the passages we have been studying on Sundays and feeling as though the Lord has been unpacking them even more to make them a personal daily lesson.

In the midst of all that is going on in life today and all the changes that are ahead, I am seeing more and more that these times are vital to my survival! I need quiet time. I need to give over my day to the plans God has. I want to know I am going through the events of the day in God's strength and not my own and I love that I can feel confident in His grace for the times I mess up.

As we sang in church this week, the song 'Artist of Heaven' rang out a new truth. As my body is getting more uncomfortable, ankles beginning to swell after standing too long and low blood pressure causing dizziness and hot flashes it can be easy to forget the miracle that pregnancy is. Each baby is knitted together in perfection, in the image of God. What is happening in my body is a miracle and I am beyond blessed to have been chosen for this miraculous adventure. There is a line in the song that says, "Artist of Heaven, alive in me" and as this little boy kicks and rolls making my tummy turn incredible shapes I want to always be reminded of God's hand and design in this creation. I had always heard that line in terms of my own life and how God was working to create something through my life, which is still true, but in this new, pregnant season it took on a whole new meaning too.

So today, I am appreciating the work of majestic artistry squirming around in my belly, and I am taking the charge to make today one of beauty and intentionality for me too, Happy Wednesday to you all x

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Is that an elbow?

While I always enjoy a three day weekend I always find it hard to adjust to my shorter week when it follows. I feel as though I am playing catch up. Not to mention I am usually double pooped because for some reason we try and fit in way more than just one extra day of activities into the long weekend!
If you are counting down with me, you will know that I have just a couple of weeks left. (And yes, I will soon begin a countdown by hours). I have some big final projects to finish up but I am feeling very pleased that working hard this quarter has set me up to have a fairly mild last couple of weeks. Always nice when that pays off.

Pregnancy-wise I have officially reached the insomnia/fatigue phase. It has started taking a couple of hours to fall asleep at night even though I am exhausted and then because of frequent bathroom trips, sore hips and general discomfort I am usually not sleeping for stretches longer than an hour at a time. During the day this lack of good sleep in evident in the level of fatigue that I have been feeling. At about 11am, 4pm and 7 pm each day I have to make a conscious decision whether I give in to a nap or I do something to stay awake, like take a walk. Usually one of those times ends up being the nap, sometimes my heavy eyelids make that decision for me.

Baby boy is moving a crazy amount, and while everything I am reading is telling me that his movements will be less fierce in these weeks as he gets bigger and space is reduced, he is clearly not reading the same books! I can say that I am starting to be able to tell more and more when the offending weapon is a foot, elbow or butt because my stomach changes shape very obviously. I will try and capture some pictures of this stomach morphing because it is incredible.

With my Mum coming to visit next week and the end of school so close I can taste it, the pre-baby 'to do' list is officially started! It feels decadent to allow myself to plan to do some really fun things that I have blocked from my mind for the last few months because I knew I wouldn't have time for them until now :)
I have waited a long time to click into full Mummy-mode and I am going to enjoy every second.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial day weekend is coming to a close. This was not a holiday I grew up recognising,(in England we have Remembrance Day in November) but I appreciate the opportunity to take this day to stop and remember all those who have lost their lives protecting the freedoms of others. I think that the BBQ's and family camping trips which have become traditions for Memorial Day weekend seem like appropriate activities to mark the occasion. While remembering in reverence those who are not here to celebrate with their families, it seems like a fitting way to show thankfulness for their sacrifice by doing something with the people you love in their memory.
Jeremy and I have been able to spend some good couple time together this weekend, as well as BBQ-ing with dear friends and making some headway with baby prep too which feels great.

Today for many, many, reasons we feel thankful and blessed.

(30 weeks 4 days)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sweet cheeks (..and sweet feet)

Sweet baby boy,

Happy 30 weeks of life! Yesterday we saw your sweet face for the first time on a 3D ultra sound. You are adorable, and so handsome just like your Daddy. I guess you are going to take after him in other ways too, he was a chubber at birth and apparently you are already almost 4lbs and in the 82nd percentile for size so looks like you are heading that way too.

You still like to have that hand up by your face. I am not sure if that is just your shy side coming out for scan pictures. Although, you are certainly not shy about showing us the crown jewels, you are obviously proud of those! ha ha!

To see your little legs stretching out, and to see those sweet teeny feet was amazing. While we were looking in awe and I was counting your tiny toes you gave a good solid kick. Our friend, Miss Emily (who you will meet when you get out here) was doing the scan for us and she even commented on what a big kick it was. It was funny to see what those kicks look like from the inside out! I have been feeling them for a long time, but this was so different.

We were so proud that your scan etiquette had seemed to have improved because for most of the scan you were behaving and cooperating so well. However, towards the end it seemed like you had had enough and once you were done you did a complete flip over and faced into my back. I guess you are already your own man.

I am getting so excited to meet you in person. Tonight at our baby class which we are taking so we know how to take care of you, we had to say how early or late we thought you would be and when we have our reunion after all your little ones are born we can see who got the closest. I guessed you would be born on time, partly because we know exactly when you started and they say that due dates are usually off because of poor dating scans. Anyway, Daddy thinks you will be 2 weeks late. Now, I want you to come when you are ready but know this - I am the one who will be feeding you, so figure that into your decision :)
Know that whenever you come we will be thrilled.

We love you little man, and continue to pray that God prepares us to be the best parents we can be for you.

Mama x

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Clearing the cobwebs?

Motivation for school assignments seems to be impossible to find today. I am hoping that purging some of the things on my mind might help blow away the dust in my head and give me the kick I am so desperately needing!
So here goes another bullet point post.

1. Tomorrow our new dishwasher gets delivered! When we moved in to our house, it came with the original dishwasher. And now, after 17 years of service we are retiring it. It had become much more temperamental in recent weeks and constantly kept us guessing as to whether it chose to wash and/or rinse the dishes until we opened it up. Also, apparently dinner plates were made smaller 17 years ago because ours are not abnormally big but they have never fit into the dishwasher so having a dishwasher that can actually wash our plates is another exciting factor to add to this otherwise fairly boring bullet point.

2. Our shower stall is shrinking. Or at least that's what it feels like. I pooped the door open with my belly while I washing my hair yesterday.

3. Only a few more weeks of school after this one. It cannot come soon enough. The days are draggggging by and no matter how many assignments i finish and submit, they still keep coming. I have totally lost focus, and I am ready to just be in mummy mode...but I will keep trucking, bad attitude included, until the end!

4. Cuddles with newborn baby Henry this Sunday has made me ridiculously impatient to meet our own baby boy, not to mention getting that whole labour thing out of the way.

5. My mum is coming for a visit soon!! I can't wait to share this time with her in person. I want her to feel her grandson kicking, and to help me set up the nursery and make a place for him to come home to.

6. I am currently averaging 3 cinnamon rhubarb muffins a day.

7. My belly is expanding by the minute - I guess that's what happens when you are growing a person. That and #6.

8. I want to take a nap.

9. We start our childbirth classes this week. I remember thinking when I booked them at the beginning of the year the end of May seemed so far away but here were are :)

9. Nap urge got stronger after I mentioned it the first time, so I am quitting this blog post at this time.
(I guess it didn't really blow away the cobwebs and get me ready for studying...but perhaps a nap will do the trick? )

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nesting and Rhubarb Cinnamon Muffins

Yesterday, my sweet friend Sarah gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and this afternoon J and I headed to the hospital for cuddles! They gave birth in the same hospital where we plan to have our son in only 10 (or so) weeks. It was fun and terrifying to walk the halls and wonder what our birth experience would be like there.

Baby Henry Kai was beautiful, and he had a profound effect on my darling husband. As soon as we walked back through the door, he set to work clearing out all the extra junk from the nursery, and setting down  drop cloths to start painting. We are painting the room light blue and cream, and he got a coat of each colour on the walls today. It is already looking more like a room for a baby boy :)

I also think that nesting has begun in earnest. I know that once school is done, and even before that when my Mum is here visiting the belly I will get to make some good progress but until then every urge I get, I simply write on my list. It's not the same as being able to get on and do it, but it allows me to continue to focus on life in the way I need to, to get through classes and finish strong - without distraction!

One area that I have allowed my nesting urge to take over in the mean time is the kitchen. If you have read my blog you know I love to cook and bake but honestly with the first trimester nausea and fatigue I got out of the habit of menu planning and shopping list writing and have only picked up that task again for the past few weeks.We have just been making do in the between time. We would shop but just get a bunch of general grocery items and hope that they could be pulled together to make enough meals. This method is not good for the budget or stress levels. Trying to come up with meal ideas on the spot every night is a stresser for me, and I hate to throw away produce that's gone bad before it could be eaten but that was happening week after week. I just didn't seem to have the energy to think and plan.

In the past month that has changed. My list loving self has re emerged, and my menu planning and shopping list writing has resumed! I have been trying to use as many dry ingredients as possible from our pantry and just get the produce to supplement. It's working well so far and we are eating extremely well too.

This afternoon, when we got back from our visit and J was painting, I felt like baking and I gave into my urge. Our rhubarb has been growing out of control in the yard and I wanted to harvest some of it before it rotted. I am a huge rhubarb crumble fan, but today's offering was not in crumble form. I had been sent a recipe for Rhubarb and Cinnamon muffins by a friend and was eager to try them out.

They were amazing. I wasn't sure if the raw rhubarb would cook in the batter within the time but it did and these muffins turned out to be truly delicious. If you too are a rhubarb fan like me, or simply a rhubarb like-er, like my hubby, these muffins will shoot and score with you, trust me.

Here is the recipe, (originally from Karen Barker at [My observations and edits in italics.]

9 oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup sour cream
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups 1/4-inch-diced rhubarb (7-1/4 oz.)
For the topping:
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil baking cups.(I didn't use paper or cups, I made them straight in the muffin tin, greased with cooking spray. When I made them I filled a 12 muffin pan, and then made another 4 in a second pan)

Make the muffin batter: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and whisk to blend.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Lightly stir the sour cream mixture into the dry ingredients with a spatula until the batter just comes together; do not overmix. Gently stir in the diced rhubarb. The batter will be thick.(It took me a while to mix all the dry ingredients in, and I wasn't sure if it would but after more mixing it all came together)
Divide the batter among the muffin cups, using the back of a spoon or a small spatula to settle the batter into the cups. The batter should mound a bit higher than the tops of the cups.

Make the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Sprinkle a generous 1/2 tsp. of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over each muffin.

Bake the muffins until they’re golden brown, spring back most of the way when gently pressed, and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully lift the muffins out of the pan—if necessary, loosen them with the tip of a paring knife—and let them cool somewhat. Serve warm.

(These muffins are best when freshly baked, but they’re still good the second day. Just reheat them in a 350°F oven for 3 to 4 minutes to refresh them.)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bellies to babies

Bellies to babies. That is the process, right. And for most people that's how it works, after the belly comes the baby. Sadly, when you have gone through recurrent miscarriages as I have the knowledge that it doesn't always work that way, and I admit that even at this stage I have anxiety that the baby part might elude us. I know that the whole process is in God's hands, and I trust that He has big plans for this miracle boy, but I am aware that those plans may be different than mine. In my humanity and from the experiences of friends I know that even at this stage we may not get to bring home a healthy baby.

It feels like a daily and constant call to surrender to the Lord's plans for our family, and coming to a true place of surrender again and again.Remembering that this baby boy is not ours, but belongs to the Lord.

My eagerness to meet this little guy after so long is intensified as friends begin to birth their babies. I knew that the time would come, when friends due ahead of me began to have their little ones - it would be weird if they didn't, but it doesn't make it easier for me to be patient! Not that I want our baby to come yet. He still has some cooking to do, but the reality of having a babe in our arms is so close, it is hard to be patient! Luckily we get to have some cuddles with friends' babies to tide us over, and once again we appreciate getting to sleep in a little more than we did before knowing that luxury will be gone in only a couple of short months.

It still feels a little surreal that we are so close to the end of pregnancy, only 11 more weeks, a short couple of months, until the due date. At the beginning, it felt as though 9 months was forever, but recently I feel as though time is speeding up. All the things that we had on a list to do before the baby  still seem to be on the list...I think the sunshine has not helped us be motivated to stay inside and finish house projects. Luckily, we live in Seattle so I am sure the nice weather won't be here for long and we can get back to it.

So for now, my heart is learning to be patient as my body is growing this baby. My thoughts and prayers are with those who are meeting their little ones today, (hopefully!) and in the days and weeks before us. Please don't share too many details, I am quite happy to go in a little blind about what's ahead! ha ha!

Happy Saturday!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Feeding the belly

This week J has been gone in Florida for work. He was presenting at a conference that he was also attending. I just need to stop here for a sec and brag about my hubby, and what a hard worker he is. I am so blessed that he has a job he loves and can feel accomplished and challenged to do.

Anyway, I have fabulous girlfriends who come and stay with me when he is away so I don't have to be here alone overnight (I am a wuss). Somehow, I get much less sleep when they are here. The late night chats about life, love, marriage and everything else don't happen as frequently with J!

In the past when he has been away, I have been content to eat odds and ends from the fridge, or just to stick in a frozen pizza which can keep me fed for multiple meals. However, been pregnant I am much more aware of what I am eating in an effort to grow this boy big and strong (hopefully not too big). As the afternoon sun began to fade and my son made it very clear he was getting hungry I realised that  he was my dinner date tonight. I love to cook for J and he is always the appreciative recipient of what I make - even the more 'experimental' offerings! When it's "just me" it can feel harder to make the effort. However, even though it might feel like I am cooking for one, in reality I am cooking for two and he is so worth the effort.

So I whipped up some delicious stuffed pasta shells with ground turkey and spinach, it was delicious and bubs is kicking up a storm in response!! Actually, I think he is just excited because he knows his daddy is headed home in a little while. I am pretty excited for that too :)

Pregnancy-wise, I'm still feeling good most of the time. I am getting a little more out of breath walking around, and getting off the couch is definitely a three or four step process now to get momentum to stand but generally I am loving it. I enjoy the fact that I can now use my belly as a shelf. I wasn't sure when that would happen. I guess I can answer my own question, It happens now!

We are continuing to grow daily, here is a (not great) picture of us taken a few minutes ago, 29 weeks and 1 day.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Blessings and Opportunity

Last night I was feeling HUGE, but of course, I like to believe that it is in my head because surely this baby/my belly cannot be growing in the way or at the speed that I am feeling it. Standing at the side of the bed, about to climb in for the night Jeremy just looks me up and down and exclaims, "You have got way bigger!" (Thanks honey) I made sure to clarify, "Since when?", to which he did nothing to ease my "I am having a gigantic baby fears" by replying something along the lines of, "Pretty sure you weren't that big yesterday."

Now, in fairness, it was the end of the day and I know that everything starts to swell and bloat much more but even so I was feeling validated for feeling so house-like.

In spite of my size, I am still feeling pretty great most days. I seemed to have had the tapas bar of pregnancy symptoms. I had mild nausea for morning sickness, I had some fatigue early on but even then it was mild and not every day, I have had a sprinkling of sciatica but again, it has come and gone in manageable spats. I feel very blessed. I might even consider doing this again one day - if we were given the blessing :)

Day to day, this baby boy is kicking and squirming all the time! At night he is especially busy but I treasure those precious times when it feels like he and I are having a moment just to ourselves. He also responds to me if I am upset or anxious which is such a comfort.It's nice to know he's already got the starts of being a mama's boy :) I can live with that.

I wish I had been better at recording the milestones of this pregnancy, I know I will want to look back and remember when he started kicking, or when I stopped feeling sick, I jut hope the notes I have jotted in my pregnancy journal will have covered all the major events. I am also trying to be better at taking belly pictures, because it really does seem like I am growing daily! I know the doc will have words for me if I gain too much weight before my next appointment so I am trying to be better at not eating my late night ice cream, and have been really good at not buying chocolate and treats so I am not tempted to snack on junk during the week. Sadly, the Frappuccino happy hour (which has not finished) got me in a nasty habit of drinking a meals worth of calories and fat in the mid afternoon. That is something I need to stop before it gets to be habit...or need to stop because it has become a habit. But seriously the Java Chip and the Mocha Coconut Frapps are just to die for!

I am continuing to practice my driving with J's Dad, and have been more adventurous. Even getting out ont he freeways a little. I am still nervous about merging and lane switching and have some slight issues keeping my speed while trying to do either of those things but overall I am gaining confidence as I spend more time doing it. I just hope the other drier continue to be gracious...I am choosing to believe any horn honks are simple cheering me on in my efforts to learn :) I will say my parallel parking is getting much better and anyone from here knows that it's a skill that's very necessary in Seattle. We set up a space like the one I will have to test on right out front of our house with some garbage cans and a plank for the curb, so now I don't have to go far to get in practice!

My belly is certainly making driving less comfortable but I am starting to have hope that I might actually get to test taking level before baby arrives. For a while, even though I said that was my goal, I was not convinced that I would get there because it was scary and I wasn't doing a good job at making time to be in the car - especially because to drive with J, I had to do most of my practicing in the evening when I am most uncomfortable and super tired. Not ideal. We are so thankful for his dad's willingness to help me, and I am praying that setting this time aside in the week will  make the difference, even though it forced me to be much more productive with my school work in the rest of my time! Only four more weeks of the quarter to go after this and I am so excited.

With the end of the quarter, driving practice, birthing classes, setting up the nursery, growing a person and also keeping up with day to day life, you could say "life is busy" and you would be right. But it's full of such blessings and opportunity and we wouldn't change it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

This time last year I was in Hawaii. This time last year I was grieving heavily the pregnancies I had lost. This time last year I was shaking my fist at God asking "why me?", "why us?", "Will this holiday ever be something I celebrate as a mother and not just as a daughter?"

The tears flowed last year. Despite the Kauai sunshine. Despite the loving kindness of the friends we were holidaying with. Despite Jeremy's voice being a calm and constant source of comfort. I was sad. I was wondering how much longer I would have to be strong. How many more babies would be born before one came along to call me mama?

And this year, with my son kicking hard inside my taught, giant, uncomfortable belly my is heart over flowing with gratitude. This year, I am celebrating Mother's day as a mother. And yet, I am still celebrating with some heaviness. I know there are many women who shed tears last Mother's day for the same reason as me, and are still waiting for their dream to come true. Their hearts are still aching to be mother.
And this mother's day is also a painful time for mother's who have lost babies. A day that is a reminder of the little ones who are not here to celebrate their mothers.

I celebrate this holiday as a daughter and a daughter-in-law. I am so thankful for these women who are such faithful examples of what it means to love as a mother for me and for J. And this year I celebrate as a mother-to -be, excited to finally be so close to meeting my baby boy and learning what being a mother is truly all about.

But I have not forgotten those times of grief, and this year I am praying for strength and hope for the women who are still waiting and those who are grieving. 

From where I stood last year, desperate and overwhelmed with sorrow and questions I could never in my wildest dreams have imagined that this Mother's day my life would look so very different. It is in that revelation of God's goodness that I can hope for those still waiting.

Wishing blessings to every mother this year, those who have their children, those who have lost their children and those who are still waiting for your children. Your Mother's hearts beat with the same rhythm.

Happy Mother's day.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dr. Who?

Search is on for a baby doctor, or more accurately a doctor for our baby. And yes, I know he is not here yet but according to my OB this is something we need to get squared away now so that they can be on call as soon as baby arrives.

I had a family doctor that I saw for my whole life. I went to the practice when I had the mumps and the chicken pox, through my anxiety, first PAP smears and travel injections. I know all the doctors and they know me. And they knew my family.

When I moved to Seattle I didn't have a doctor for a long time, I was blessed to be healthy and not need one :) Then when I was about to get married, I signed up with my OBGYN. It felt strange to meet a new person who I was trusting with my health. Then I had a funky mole, and my trusted OB no longer fit the bill and I had to find a dermatologist. I managed to find a lovely lady who made me and my moles feel right at home, well she lopped it off so I am not 100% sure how that particular mole felt but me and the skin doc get along well enough that my rave review convinced J to move to her practice too.

Then one day as part of our adoption home study I needed to get a medical and some booster jabs. Medical issues that didn't fit under the OBGYN or the dermatologist. So my search for a G.P. began. I found a pretty old school doctor, she is opinionated but honest and someone who I feel I can be honest back with. All in all a good fit and I hope that I won't have to add any more doctors to my arsenal.

However, with our little guy on his way we do need to add one more member tot he team. I was going back and forth about whether I wanted us to join a practice as a family but I think for the beginning at least we are going to go the pediatrician route and see what happens. Learning the health insurance system here is certainly a curve that keeps me on my toes. So finding a high quality, fairly local pediatric practice that is covered by our insurance has been a top priority this week.

It's a big deal. We will be entrusting the health and care of our baby boy to this person and I want them to give the highest level of care.I have a list of questions that I want to ask when I do meet and greets with my top candidates. Control freak much?

Any mamas or daddies out there have suggestions of things I should add to my list to ask?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What's for Dinner Wednesday - Quinoa Corn Chowder

I wish that Seattle was a city that could be depended on weather wise, but that is a pipe dream. This has been a beautiful week but I know the cold wet days will continue to break up te sunshine and I am fully prepared with little beauties such as this recipe. I wish I could give credit where it's due but my friend Amanda sent this recipe to me and I am not 100% sure if she made it up or found it somewhere. If it's yours please let me know and I will gladly give you credit because it's delicious.

This is a filling, tasty and healthy dinner. I know the boiled egg garnish sounds weird, trust me, I KNOW but it works. No pictures of this one, but I promise you will not be disappointed if you try it.


Quinoa Corn Chowder


- 3/4 Cup quinoa
- 7 Cups water - I used half water half chicken broth to give it a bit more flavour
- 2 red potatoes diced (medium sized) - I used 3 because I had an extra!
- 3-4 ears fresh corn, kernels sliced off - You can use canned or frozen so I am told but it certainly does not taste as good, the fresh corn made this so delicious
- 1 jalepeno finely chopped (keep seeds in for more heat) - I did not keep the seeds in and it gave it enough kick for me :)
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground Cumin
- 3 handfuls of baby spinach
- 2-3 scallions chopped
- cilantro chopped
- good quality feta cheese -  I am not a feta far so I omitted this but it still tasted great.
- 2 -3 hard boiled eggs (take the eggs before you start cooking so they can get to room temperature before you hard boil them). - I did one egg per person. Again, I know it sounds weird but it totally works with this meal.


1. Put quinoa in 7 cups water and cook for 10 minutes on medium/high heat. After 10 minutes, strain quinoa and reserve water in a separate bowl

2. Finely chop garlic and jalapeno and saute in some olive oil until garlic is slightly golden.

3. Add cumin and release the aroma for about 10 seconds

4. Add diced potatoes and combine with garlic/jalapeno/cumin. Add salt and pepper

5. Add reserved water and bring to a boil

6. Add quinoa and corn and cook at a simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender

7. Add spinach and let it wilt into the mixture

8. Dice feta into small cubes and add to taste. Add scallions.

9. Add more salt to taste

9. Garnish with cilantro and cut up hard boiled egg

To hard boil eggs:

- Have eggs at room temperature
- put in pot and cover eggs completely with cold water with an additional inch of water over them
- Don't cover pot. Put it on high heat. Just as the water comes to a rolling boil, remove pot from heat and cover.
- Let pot sit for 15 minutes exactly
- Transfer eggs to a bowl with ice and water. Cool and remove shells.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Driving Practice

This morning J's dad came over and took me for a driving lesson. I am really, really hoping to take (and pass) my test before the baby comes. I am not sure how realistic this is, but I am planning to give it my best shot. I am a very anxious driver at this point so I am hoping that more hours behind the wheel will help alleviate some of my fears.

To this point in life, driving would have been a cherry on top. Meaning that having never been a driver I manage to get around fine. I have very gracious friends who pick me up when we go places further away, and I can navigate the buses without a second thought, but all of a sudden packing a baby and all of his "stuff" and getting to and from places around nap schedules or feeding times makes me really recognise the benefit of having a place on wheels which can hold all the stuff I might need for him as well as keeping us out of the rain (this is Seattle) and gets us to and from home or to and from the store in the quickest time possible. Plus, there are play dates and swim lessons and MOPS just around the corner which I want to participate in and I would like the ease of having a car to get me there without a second thought. The idea that baby boy could be limited in any way because I don't drive breaks my heart, and motivates my behind to get behind the wheel!

J had been taking me out driving some evenings, but honestly by about 4pm I am spent and driving as a anxious driver when you are tired, uncomfortably pregnant and it's getting dark did not make for a fun time. I drive us to and from church on the weekends without any trouble and even manage a stop and park at Starbucks if it's an early start, but that wasn't a ton of time behind the wheel and I didn't feel confident to push myself to try new driving tricks, such as the freeway! This week my father-in-law has a couple of hours each morning where he has time to drive with me and I am excited to make the most of his offer!

Today, we drove around a quiet neighbourhood where he taught me to parallel park over and over anytime a spot looked good. He also wen to the local beach park and navigated parking in a spot between two cars! Both types of parking I have avoided in the past because I was afraid. Perhaps tomorrow will be freeway day?! I have a crazy fear about merging so that should be entertaining...well, not for the other drivers I guess!

Anyway, the driving is finally feeling more like something I can master. Any prayers in this direction would be GREATLY appreciated. Especially for confidence...and competence I guess! Thanks.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Officially my first 'uncomfortable pregnancy' day yesterday.

The morning was great, went to church, nothing out of the usual, and then we stopped at the grocery store on the way home. There was a car show and rummage sale in the parking lot next to the store so we wandered around before getting our food for the week.

By the time we actually got home my feet were a little swollen and my stomach was even more so. I think if I had filmed my belly at that moment, you could have literally seen it swelling. Crazy. I was suddenly exhausted and was thankful the Mariners were on TV to keep J company and distracted until I felt well enough to get up and go out somewhere to enjoy the spring sunshine.

So stopping at Starbucks for a Happy Hour Frappuccino, we headed to Edmonds and laid our blanket out on the sandy beach. We took out our books and apart from frequent trips to the loo for me, we stayed put for the next few hours until the tide began to get a little close for comfort!

Feeling ever so huge and uncomfortable I didn't fancy going out to dinner, despite J's invitation so instead we stopped for Ivor's fish and chips on the way home. Once back at home I found my way back to the couch and have been here pretty much.

Since the end of our first trimester, when the nausea faded an the ftigue lessened I have honestly been feeling pretty good. I have had to deal with some sciatic nerve pain here and there but its more annoying than anything. So today, feeling just so stretched out and uncomfortable, and so very, very tired after such a small amount of exertion was a little bit f a shock t the system. So far, it's pretty much been business as usual.

I have definitely moved into the season where it takes 2 or 3 motions before I can haul myself off the couch or out of the car but that felt like a right of passage on some level! I am hoping that baby boy was just having a growth spurt or something and today I will not feel quite so impaired.

Here are a couple of snaps from yesterday, 27 weeks 3 days. As you can see in the background the nursery is still a work in progress. Paint samples on the walls, and bench weights waiting to have a new home found for them! Still it captures the moment well.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

One Step at a Time

I wanted to touch base about the 500ft below post that I wrote earlier this week. It can be easy to post something like that with the best of intentions for it to be the start of a new season and then quietly slip back into the patterns of life that you are most trying to break.

I have had similar revelations, and made similar resolutions in the past. But nothing has really changed. This time I truly want it to be the catalyst to a new season. I am about to become a mother. A dream that has been deep in my heart since I was a child is about to be realised, and I owe it to myself and my son to make these changes. If he isn't a strong enough influence for my behaviour change then I am not sure if there will ever be one.

I confess the past few days have been up and down. I have had whole days when I have made great choices and have reaped the rewards for my decisions. And then there have been moments, or an afternoon when old habits, and even things that haven't haunted me for a long time have come back for another round. In those moments, I didn't always shake it off and choose to keep climbing. The distractions held my attention and I became content to let them keep me treading water.

Overall it has been a good week. I look forward to continuing on this climb. I can feel the lesson that God is teaching me deep in my heat as he patiently transforms. I can see myself becoming a more fulfilled and content version of myself. Someone who recognises every gift that I have been given, and who is thankful for each day that I am blessed to be living this life. I can picture myself becoming the wife and mother I so desire to be - and it's been a long time since that has felt like a possibility. Until recently I don't think I realised just how down in the dumps I had been living. I feel like I am truly getting my life back. I haven't felt this like myself in, well, a really, really long time.

I am not sure that all the good thoughts in the world are going to make me love the last 6 weeks I have of school before the baby, but I can and will choose to be thankful for the opportunity to be learning. And I can decide to be the best student possible. I can do anything for 6 weeks, right?
I am getting assignments in on time and to a higher quality, I am well representing myself and it feels great.

I am continuing to prepare for the little guy by reading some great books which different friends have loaned and suggested and feeling more and more comfortable and confident about the vision for parenting we are developing.

Wishing you all a happy Cinco de Mayo, we will be celebrating with friends this evening and are excited to be sharing life and living in such a great community of people. No Margaritas this year, but we will still be celebrating hard.

Friday, May 4, 2012

3 months...ish

That's how long we have until our baby boy is here. 90 days until his due date. Suddenly that seems really soon. Especially as the doctor we saw yesterday said that anything after July 4th ish wold be fine for him to arrive. I would be 36 weeks. For a first baby, it is highly unlikely that he'll be coming anytime before his due date but still, I wouldn't object to a July baby :)

As the reality is setting in more and more I think that J and I are experiencing the 'panic' and excitement in a different way. He is quietly taking on the stress and weight of providing for our growing family while I am preparing and organizing in a practical way for the baby, a little afraid of how much day to day to life will be so different when he gets here.

We are also both grieving our last few months as a duo. He is grieving by pretending nothing is changing and trying to keep everything business as usual, and I am grieving by suddenly feeling a pressure to make the most of each moment and perfect our marriage before baby gets here.

With all that happening on top of busy schedules and pregnancy hormones and tears, can you say "Conflict much?"

Our house has been a somewhat unpredictable place to be recently. Some days we are running baby errands, meeting with doulas, holding hands, praying for our boy, writing birth plans and dreaming about how much our hearts will swell with love for our little man. And the next day we are hardly speaking because we have fallen out because someone didn't do the dishes (of course it's never actually about the dishes), and on those days, my fears about how we'll do with a baby are only exacerbated.

I know that life is changing, and we have been praying for this particular change for years, but the reality is so different than the dream. Or at least the fear of the reality is.

I just love my husband and my marriage so much. It took us a while to really hit a stride but night now we are in such a good place. I like spending a quiet night in watching a movie, I like that he always holds my hand when we are walking somewhere, or when we get the giggles about something the rest of the world would roll their eyes at, and I LOVE falling asleep in his arms.

I know there will be new things about life that I will love, but I'm still going to miss the little things that I have come to love in this season and I am sad that things are changing. The tears just started falling as I thought more deeply about this season ending, as I mentioned, the pregnancy hormones are really adding a fun dimension to all of this! And baby boy does not like it when I get upset, he starts moving and kicking and rolling. I like to think that he's reassuring me, "it's ok Mum, it's all going to be ok."
He's a good boy. Takes after his daddy :)

I know we'll figure it out,I know we don't have a choice! This change IS coming. Praying today for the grace to navigate this time well, and to love both the men in my life the best I can.

Very thankful it is Friday and J an I have the weekend together, it's even supposed to be sunny!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hello Third Trimester

Glucose, smucose. This morning was our official "welcome to the third trimester" appointment at the OBGYN. As a part of the proceedings I had to drink the bring red "fruit punch" beverage 45 minutes beforehand so my blood could be drawn to test my glucose levels. If I 'fail,' which apparently is not uncommon, I have to go back for the three hour glucose test which is really supposed to make you feel gross. I am hoping that swigging the ice cold red juice, which wasn't as bad as I expected, will be the final step of this test and I pass with flying colours. Here's to not getting a call in the next couple of days which would indicate a pass.

J came to this appointment too to hear all the information. We heard about signs of pre-term labour and how to check for baby's movements if he seems unusually quiet. We heard her recommendations for organizing some post birth care or help for when we get home, and she made it very clear that I, Mum, am to do nothing for the first two weeks except be with the baby. It was funny to see J's face when she went through the specifics, "you are not to be cooking, or cleaning, or doing things around the house etc." I am glad that j heard this perspective, and can begin to get his head more clearly around the fact that the baby will be nursing (Please God) around the clock and so I will not be getting long blocks of sleep as well as having my body healing from the delivery itself. However, I did think it was a little over the top, now i do not plan on being a hero, and if those first couple of weeks are as rough as she put out there then I will gladly claim my spot on the couch, but if I feel up to going to church, or going to a friends house for a change of scenery, then I am not going to convince myself otherwise.

I am not sure if it's a US vs UK thing, or a generational thing but I feel as though I never grew up with new mums who avoided getting back to normal activity to lay around doing nothing but feeding a baby. (Granted, I do understand that "laying around and feeding a baby" may be considerably more work than I could ever anticipate, but I saw mum's doing it just fine while out and about very soon after the birth and they seemed to do it just fine. That whole scenario will be safe in the "wait and see" file until the birth happens, but it did feel funny to hear the medical expectation for what I should and shouldn't do post birth.

The nurse practitioner also started to talk to us about post baby contraception.  That was out of left field, trying to have a baby fro son long has meant that we haven't even been thinking about that subject for the majority of our marriage - I especially loved feeling the way J was squirming in his seat across the room as she began her very clinical explanations of post baby issues and such like. I guess this was a good insight for him into what girl talk about with the doctor! ha ha! It was interesting because for us it brought us the very start of conversations about the future, and more kids? Do we even want to try again? And when? The official doctor spiel is that waiting a year is best for your body...only a year?!!!! I am not sure J and I will even be holding hands again after a year once I have pushed a baby outta down there, but still. Good conversation to begin thinking and praying about. There are no guarantees that we would even be able to have another baby, and are we open to dealing with another loss? Many questions. I think this pregnancy has made us forget some of what went before it, and made us feel somewhat like we are able to make the decision to have another baby anytime we want. But we know deep down it is unlikely to be that simple. This is another piece of our lives and our family we have to give over to the Lord, but we may help him out a little by covering our bases so to speak for right after the baby is born so no Irish twins happen for these Blochers.

So here we are 27 weeks today, baby measuring right on track,with a solid heartbeat in the 150's,  mama measuring in the normal range for weight gain, and with low blood pressure so we're all good.

Praying that we can continue to prepare our hearts for what's ahead. I think J and I are handling the impending parenthood differently which is, well, not always easy. I think that might deserve it's own post. So for now, I am signing off, and getting some left over pizza for lunch :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What's for Dinner Wednesday - Thai Chicken Pizza

Prrretty sure that this is a repeat recipe, but it's so good it's worth another mention. Plus, this time we actually made it with pizza dough and not store bought flatbread crusts, so that's different, right?

We went to a pizza party last year with some people from J's work. The pizza was amazing, but the tips we gleaned from the guys in charge of the making were fabulous too, one of them even has a brick pizza oven in his backyard and is quite the pizza expert. I imagine in warmer climates men stand around the BBQ and discuss grilling technique, tips, personal recipes etc, but this felt like the wetter Seattle version as they stood around and discussed pizza making!

There were also gadgets which of course kept the guys occupied. Who knew that there were so many kitchen gadgets that could keep the men folk occupied? I should rephrase, gadgets that could keep my particular man interested. So for Christmas J wanted a pizza peel (the flat handled board that you use to transfer the pizza dough onto the pizza stone which is heating in the oven). My parents got him the peel but he lovingly held off making pizza because I wasn't eating any gluten early in this pregnancy (to see if it helped - I don't know if it was a factor, but after the first trimester the effects were not going to make a difference anyway and I slowly began to reintroduce it to my diet).  So now, my diet is back to normal, regular scheduled programming and all that and high on the list of foods to reintroduce to our weekly menus was homemade pizza.

And tonight was the night!

(This recipe makes enough sauce/toppings for 2 pizzas just FYI)
It's from California Pizza Kitchen - enjoy! Thai Chicken Pizza

Here are a few snaps from our pizza-making adventure.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First prenatal doula visit

Sun is shining and it's a good day.
It got off to a fairly early start because we had an 8am meeting scheduled with our doula, laurie. I woke up really early feeling well rested and ready to go - a strange side effect of pregnancy that I wouldn't mind sticking around afterwards, I am not a morning person usually so this recent change is a welcome one.
I put on coffee and set out juice and fruit and anticipated her arrival.

It all seems so surreal.

We really like her a lot and so the couple of hours passed quickly as we talked and laughed and made decisions about some of the details of our birth experience. Until now I have read books about getting pregnant, and books about parenting, but I have somewhat intentionally avoided books about the birth itself. I was anxious that details would freak me out more than simple ignorance.

It was only a couple of nights ago that I thought to myself, "we should really find out some more about what this birth thing is going to be like." It was after J said in a very serious voice, as we were about to fall asleep, "I mean, what would we do if you went into labor right now? I mean, I have no idea what I would do, what would I do? What am I supposed to do? Anyway, goodnight"

Of course he was able to fall asleep in about 2 minutes while I lay there going over his questions and realising that I had no idea either!

All that to say, this meeting with Laurie was perfect timing, and gave a perfect amount of information. I feel prepared at an appropriate level for being 3 months away from my due date, but I feel empowered, and almost giddy excited about it. The fear has dissipated as the reality that this is what will get my boy into my arms, becomes more real.

No denying it now, it's going to happen.

And now, in the vein of yesterdays post, and my goal to get out am move each day. I'm going to head into the sunshine and take a walk.


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