Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 15th

I'm not even sure if I'm going to post this.  I'm writing this today (the 10th) and scheduling it for the 15th.  That gives me 5 days to decide if I want to actually post it or cancel it.  If you're reading this, either I forgot (unlikely) or I decided to post it.

A couple weeks ago (the last Sunday before the new year, to be exact), my pastor gave this nice little sermon on how to make 2014 the best year ever.  I know that may seem kind of motivational speaker-y for a Sunday sermon and he even admitted that.  But that's not really what it was about.  It wasn't some 5 step plan on how to make more money, how to make a life changing decision, how to lost that last 10 pounds so you could finally be happy.

Instead, he did what he always does: he brought us to Scripture and gave us the answer.  Because, really, there isn't any question you could have that doesn't have its answer in Scripture.  Philippians 3:13-14

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.  But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forwrd to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

So how do you make 2014 your best year ever?  Forget the past.  Focus on the future.

Forgetting the past can be difficult.  Impossible, even.  The reminder to forget something is just that - a reminder.  Some things can be forgotten more easily if they're just never discussed.  Some things are easier to forget when they're out in the open, made public knowledge.

All that to say this: Today is January 15th.  Today is my due date.

Well, let me rephrase that.  It was my due date.  It should be my due date?  I don't like using the word "should" because it implies that God made a mistake.  I should be pregnant.  I should be getting ready to bring a 3rd baby home.

I thought that having had a miscarriage already would make things easier.  Seeing Katy, looking into her eyes and knowing that, without that first miscarriage, I wouldn't have her.  That should make things easier, right?

Or hearing Mikey's full belly laugh.  If I hadn't miscarried before him, I wouldn't have those cheeks to pinch or those blond curls behind his ears to twirl.  That should make it easier!

But it doesn't.  It honestly doesn't matter how far along you are (9 weeks with the first, 5 weeks with the second, 9 weeks with the third), whether or not you saw the baby alive (no to that on the first two, but yes with the third).  It doesn't matter if the pregnancy was planned or a pleasant surprise (this third one?  Yeah, wasn't exactly planned).  It doesn't really matter the logistics surrounding it all.  A loss is a loss.  And losses hurt.

Sometimes I look at those wonderfully full bellies around me and I have to stop myself from saying "I should be farther along than you."

I have to admit that I have definitely cried harder with this third loss than I did with the other two.  With the first one, it's just a fact of life.  A lot of pregnancies end in miscarriage.  It doesn't mean there's something wrong with you.  It just means there was something wrong.  After the second one, we got pregnant so quickly with Mikey that I didn't even have time to really cry.  But this third one?  Honestly, at what point to you stop thinking it's just a fact of life and start thinking there's something wrong with you?  I was so angry after the third.  Not angry at God, mind you.  Angry at myself.  Angry at my body for doing this.  Angry at my heart for continuing to want another baby.  Because that sucks too, y'all.  Realizing that, despite all of the hurt I've felt, I still hope.  I still want more babies.  I still want to carry babies in my belly, I still want to hold them and breathe in their smell.  I don't want to stop.

But it's been several months now since my miscarriage.  I've had time to heal from it.  I still think about it, obviously.  I wonder what kind of personality would be joining us.  And I really don't want to forget about it.  But I do want to forget the anger, the doubts, the disappointment.  I want to forget the pain.

I totally think 2014 is going to be my best year ever.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

from standing tall to kneeling humbly

Wow.  Nothing like a moment of minuscule pride to really highlight an area of unconfessed sin.

Maybe it's because I've been doing a Bible reading plan on ways that Scripture teaches us to pray.  And the last couple of days has been about praying through unconfessed sin and repenting.  And then my pastor brought up confessing your unconfessed sins and repenting during Sunday's service.  Maybe that's why I'm a little more sensitive to it.  Or maybe it's because I'm slowly growing more in my faith and I've been more easily convicted of things.  Or maybe it's because I'm no longer trying to quench the Holy Spirit but rather invite Him in.  Or maybe it's all of the above.

All I know is that I texted Mike (and haven't even gotten a response back yet because he's at work) that his wife is a rock star and *boom* light bulb *DING DING DING* SIN!  PRIDE!  GET OUT OF THIS!  GET ON YOUR KNEES WOMAN BECAUSE YOU ARE A SINNER!

It started simple enough - I wanted to shovel the driveway.  It snowed a little bit more today (like maybe a half an inch?) but there was a little coating on the driveway and sidewalks, I saw the mailman stumble a little bit, and Katy wanted to play in the snow.  Perfect storm for bundling up the kids and heading out for a little sweat in the frigid temperatures.  (Also, I should add, the sun was shining so it really was beautiful out there.)

But what started out as simply wanting to shovel the driveway turned into this type-A driven NEED to get every inch of the driveway completely cleared of any trace of snow and/or ice.  And every time I got to a particularly rough patch, I mumbled to myself "If only Mike had done this better at the start, I wouldn't need to work so hard to get this ice up.  It shouldn't take this much to get a half inch of snow off the driveway."  Got inside, made hot chocolate for me & Katy (which, after a week of insisting she wanted some and never drinking it, she finally tasted and declared it "disgusting"), did the dishes, and got to work on other things around the house.

And now, here I am, suddenly immersed in this feeling of disgust.  Because I have been a controlling, unfair, mean wife and mother.  I ask Mike to do something, he does it, I decide it's not up to my standards, redo it (or don't ask him to do it next time), and then get MAD at him because I have so many things I "need" to do and never have a moment.  It's this vicious cycle and it's entirely my fault - it's my need to control everything.

I've gotten better at giving up control to God in a lot of circumstances.  It's not super public knowledge (although, I guess it is now) that we're sort of trying for a third baby.  And that's such an easy thing to want to try to control - but we've discovered that it's so much easier to give it to Him, the one who truly decides when we can have another baby.  Handing over the reins to the One who reigns is almost becoming second nature (although there are still areas where that's harder - prayers are appreciated).

But I'm struggling to hand over the reins to the person who sits beside me.  I have a hard time asking for help (a point of contention in our house, most days - I can't tell you how often Mike says "I wish you would just ask for help").  I have a hard time accepting the best that my husband gives.  It's an area where I struggle, this giving up control.  But I pray that, in time, it's something I can be better at.  There's no reason why I should put an added pressure on my marriage, something created by God that the Enemy wants to see destroyed.

Pray for me, please.  (By the way, that's another thing I also struggle with - asking people to pray for me.  It's hard to ask for someone's prayers when I have friends blowing up my news feed with cancer diagnoses and months spent in hospitals and spouses being laid off and marriages ending.)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pizza Quinoa Stuffed Portobellas

Oh. My. Gosh.  This was such a good dinner!  In fact, so good that Mike hasn't even gotten home from work and tried it before I've decided I need to blog about it.

 (See that burn-y part of the cheese there at the top?  Yeah, that's the good stuff, right there!)

These photos do not do this meal justice.  I have crappy lighting in my kitchen (especially now that it's pitch black out at 5pm) and the iPhone camera, as good as it is, just isn't good enough.

Not only was this ridiculously good, but it was also superbly easy.  Like, took 25 minutes and it was finito.

So here's what you're going to need:
4 XL portobella mushrooms, stems & gills removed
Oil mister or olive oil cooking spray
Salt & pepper (to taste)
3/4c uncooked quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
1 (8oz) can of tomato sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
pinch of red pepper flakes
3/4c shredded mozzarella (the fresher, the better)

Preheat oven to 400F.
Spray both sides of the mushrooms with olive oil and place bottom side down on a rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle the tops with salt & pepper and bake for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to the package directions.
Once finished, stir in the tomato sauce, garlic, basil, oregano, onion powder, and red pepper flakes.  Season with salt & pepper
Flip the mushrooms over.  Divide quinoa mixture into the mushrooms & top with cheese.  Bake for 10 minutes more.
If you like your cheese darker, pop 'em under the broiler for about 3 minutes (just make sure they don't burn!).  I didn't do this because I had hungry children and didn't feel like dealing with the extra step.

And there you have it!  The best darn "pizzas" you'll ever have!!!

Of course, you could probably add some toppings in there, if you like.  I didn't have any that I really wanted in there (since my favorite clean topping is mushrooms anyway).

Superfood Rotini

I originally came across this recipe here but I've found similar ones in a few different places.  I'm sharing this recipe first because, to be honest, it's the best thing I've eaten in such a long time.  It's full of wonderfully delicious vegetables and it's super easy.  The recipe makes 9 servings and since there's 4 of us (2 eating the equivalent of 1 adult serving), I was able to make the entire thing and freeze two batches of it.

So here goes:

1.5 lbs lean ground turkey (if you can find whole turkey breasts at your deli, they will gladly grind it for you)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium zucchini, shredded (I used 3 because we had one left over from a previous recipe)
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce (make sure you check labels - most have preservatives in them)
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes (I used crushed because I couldn't find diced that didn't have calcium chloride in them
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 c raw spinach, tightly packed (I suggest chopping it)
1/2 lb whole wheat rotini
Parmesan for topping

Cook rotini according to instructions for al dente.
In a large sauce pot, cook the turkey in the olive oil until almost completely cooked.
Add the zucchini, carrots, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, spinach, and spices.  Cook until the spinach has cooked down considerably.
(If you're freezing a portion of this, this would be the time to divide and freeze.)
Add the cooked pasta to the pot and toss.
Serve up with some Parmesan on top if you like (although you don't need it - a little salt and pepper is perfect)

I wish I had a picture to add in but we ate it so fast, there just wasn't any time!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Feeling Great!!!

It's been about 2 weeks since I started clean eating.  I could say "we," but that isn't really the case.  I can't really control what the rest of my family puts in their bodies 100% of the time.  Mike still drinks his Diet Coke (waaaay more often than he should, even if we weren't trying to go clean) and Halloween was just last week.  There's a couple pumpkins full of Halloween candy that, I'm proud to say, has not been touched by me at all.  Katy is allowed 1 piece of candy a day, usually after her lunch. Daddy sometimes sneaks her another piece in the evening which usually garners a glare from me, but we're both her parents ... not just me.

I've put together a workout schedule that, I think, will work out for me (and the kids).  I should be able to do it during naps because they're quiet maneuvers that don't require too much floor space or extra equipment (not right away, at least).  I will be picking up some light dumbbells and resistance bands, maybe a stability ball once we move (there's just no room for a big bouncy ball in our house right now).

I'm going to post a few "before" pictures here now, just for a reference on where I'm starting.  Now, these were taken yesterday so they are a couple weeks into clean eating.  This is without any exercise, just clean eating, nursing, and chasing after 2 kids under 4.

 (haha ignore the sick boy photobombing)

 (This is the view I want to improve upon the most and even this is a big improvement from 2 weeks ago!)

My favorite thing that I have noticed since clean eating is the serious lack of bloating.  I usually wake up in the morning bloated so this is such a nice change of pace!  I don't know if it's the increase in my water intake, the lack of processed and refined foods, or the significant increase of fresh produce in my diet, but I love it!

In other, related news, I promise that some recipes are on their way!  We've had some meals that are AMAZING as they stand, others that need to be tweaked a bit to fit our tastes, and then others that just have no hope and will not be repeated.  I won't post any recipes until I can say that we 100% love them.  The ones we adjust I'll make sure to note the changes in case that's just not your style.

This change is really not a hard one, as I've found.  I was worried that I would become superbly overwhelmed and just give up.  But really, now that I'm making healthy, fresh meals, I'm finding that I have more fun grocery shopping and cooking.  In fact, this morning, I was so antsy to get this evening's dinner started, I cooked (most of) it before 10am!  It helped that it was a freezer meal (there's two more frozen, ready to go) and I wanted to get it cooled, packed up, and in the freezer before it was too late in the evening.  And I won't lie, it helps that I spent a day planning 6 weeks worth of meals. :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Weekend Update

I've had a post tickling at my fingertips for a couple days now and I just have not had the time to actually sit down and write it.  Things have been busy here.  Saturday is almost always a full-day-away-from-the-house kind of day.  We all carpool, drop the kids off at YiaYia's, I drop Mike at work, then I head to "work" cleaning my father-in-law's office.  That's followed by either pick up Mike and the kids and head home OR stay at YiaYia's while PaPa and Mike work on our house (which is LONG overdue).  This weekend was a work-in-the-house weekend.

I was quite proud of myself for not eating terribly on Saturday.  My mother-in-law has a HUGE selection of foods in the pantry that beckon me from the moment I walk in the door.  And even though I was starving after I got back from working, I didn't let the pantry win.  I made myself a nice bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal with honey and raisins and drank my lovely little glass of water with a smile.  Of course, dinner was a different story, but I feel bad asking her to go out of her way to make something clean when she's already feeding my family.  Really, what I should have done was made something to take with so eat alongside dinner (like I did on Halloween with my yummy winter salad).  But alas, I didn't, and I had pizza.  Not terribly unclean, but definitely not the best.

Yesterday was cleaning day.  I've decided that if I'm going to devote as much time to food prep as I have been, the weekends really need to be my big chore days.  That's not to say I won't do anything else during the week, obviously.  But if I do all the laundry, the major room straightening, the mopping, the bathroom cleaning all on Sunday, then I don't have to do it during the week, leaving more time for schoolwork with Katy, wrestling with Mikey, and preparing healthy meals and snacks for the family.

I'm planning on sharing some of the super awesome dinners I've been making (as well as the CRAZY yummy desserts that have been coming out of my oven), I just haven't had time to do it all yet.  But don't worry ... they're coming!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Just a quick update

I'm officially a firm believer in clean eating.

At first, it was more experimental than anything - to see if I noticed a change in how I feel, look, etc.

The weight loss seems to have balanced itself out as I've gained back 2 of the 4.5 lbs lost.  I think my body was just in shock for a little bit and freaked out!

Now, the other night, Mike had a small going away get together because he left his current branch to move to a new one.  It was at a Mexican restaurant and I knew, knew, I would not be able to resist the chips and salsa.  I didn't have a single sip of alcohol (which was difficult with $3 margaritas).  I split a steak taco dinner with Mike which was remarkably filling and tasted amazing!

Then the next day happened.  Food hangover city, folks.  I don't know who remembers this about me, but I usually get a couple good (read: bad) headaches a week.  I've been on prescriptions before but had to go off when we decided to start a family.  The first day of clean eating I had a caffeine withdrawal headache - a can of Pepsi cleared it up in minutes.  The day after eating out (read: eating unclean), boom: headache.  I tried to go as long as I could Thursday without taking medicine because I wanted the reminder of what it does to my body to eat so poorly.  I made it about half the day before I popped a couple ibuprofen (and then 2 later on in the day).

I'm going to try my absolute hardest to not do that to myself again.  If I can make it a full week of clean eating with no headache, maybe I can convince my husband that it wasn't just a coincidence or hypochondria.