Bursting My Buttons

Week 25.

I wore a dress today I had been saving. That was a mistake. The buttons are nearly bursting. I should have worn it earlier. It’s a super cute denim shirt dress, and it will only get worn about 2 weeks, if that. It’s a shame to waste a cute maternity dress. Especially when it’s your last pregnancy.

I’ve been saying I want to savor this pregnancy because it is my last. But that is quite a difficult thing to do when TWINS are your FOURTH pregnancy and you have three other active boys to take care of. Savor? Pregnancy? With twins?

After this one, LORD willing and the tubal ligation works, we will be done having children.

This is my last rodeo.

After this pregnancy, I will never again experience heart burn in the middle of the night (hopefully), or wake up to tingly fingers and a full bladder several times at night. I won’t see a basketball protruding through everything I wear. I won’t have problems bending over, and I’ll be able to comfortably wear my wedding rings again.

But I will also never feel a baby move within my body again. I won’t see the flicker or wave of an elbow just beneath the skin of my abdomen. I will never again have the amazing awesome responsibility of growing a life (or two).

So ladies, I am trying. Trying to squeeze my eyelids shut, pause, and make mental note of my last adventure in the most miraculous, mysterious, and fascinating event in the annals of motherhood: pregnancy.

So whether my buttons are bursting from joy or from an enlarged abdomen, may I be grateful and pause to remember this season of my life. For just like everything in life, it will pass. And like that cute maternity dress, it will never come around again.

How Sweet the Sound

The other night I snuggled up with my son to read books before bed. He picked one of his favorites, a Bible story book with cool illustrations of Noah’s Ark and Jonah and the whale. He doesn’t quite have the attention span for the whole story, so I usually just flip the pages and say a few words about each one. We came to the resurrection story and I read the verse at the bottom of the page.

It was Isaiah 25:8: “And the LORD God will wipe away tears from all faces.”

And like someone turned on a faucet, tears started streaming down my face.

Now, I am a woman. And a woman prone to tears at that. I cry for many different reasons, in many different ways, but I’m not sure crying has ever caught me so off guard like it did that night.

Why would a statement about God wiping tears from our eyes make me cry?

Homesickness.

There is something about doing familiar things in an unfamiliar place that reminds you just how far away from home you really are.

We went and got our Christmas tree on Saturday. As we were driving to the nondescript parking lot, I realized that the leaves were still on the trees! Yellow, orange, maroon, gold–I have never picked out a Christmas tree with the fall colors in the background.

We set our tree up in the living room, but I didn’t even feel like decorating it. I didn’t want to listen to carols or deck the halls. It didn’t feel like Christmas was coming at all.

I thought the same about Thanksgiving. The palm trees were swaying outside the window as we sat down to our Thanksgiving meal. Not the usual backdrop for our turkey feast. I am used to seeing barren twisted tree branches curling up into clear blue skies through the window as we eat our green bean casserole.

Still, we had a nice meal. We lit a fire. We watched football. We had company. We even ate Indian Pudding, which we were told was a traditional New England desert for Thanksgiving. But I missed my family, and those barren tree limbs.

All these feelings I welled up in my heart, trying to deny their existence. Then I read a verse about Jesus wiping away our tears and it all came out. I was sad. I was homesick. But it was okay. He knew I was feeling down and one day He’s going to wipe all those tears away. What a beautiful thing for the LORD to say to His children. I am so glad the Bible includes verses like that one.

When things are going well in life, I say things like, “God is so good.” I know it’s true. I believe it. God is always good, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, God remains the same: good.

But I’ve been realizing lately, that the presence of so many good things in my life is not a result of God’s goodness. It is a result of God’s graciousness.

To say that I have these things because God is good in some way implies that He gives these things to me because I am also good. And so good people do good to other good people. But there is no way that I deserve all the wonderful the things I have been given. I am not that good.

I have these things because God is a gracious God, not because He is good.

There are so many wonderful attributes of God, but grace just may be my favorite. Undeserved merit. Kindness. Forgiveness. Grace.

It is enough to bring a grown man (and of course, a woman) to tears. It truly is amazing grace.

So what am I thankful for this Thanksgiving season? God’s overflowing, ever present, abundant, and humbling grace. Without which I would be lost and forever homesick, with no one to wipe away my tears.

Oh, The Things to be Thankful for

It’s the week of Thanksgiving and I’ve been a huge slacker in giving thanks! Ahhh! It’s been a busy weekend and the last few days I’ve had sick kids, so it’s been a little more hectic than the norm.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been grateful for the past few days.

Saturday: A spontaneous date to see Moneyball. Free babysitter and free movie. Can it get any better? And I loved the film. Sometimes I like knowing absolutely nothing about a movie before I see it, especially when they end up being good. I really really enjoyed it, perhaps because I wasn’t expecting to. Would definitely recommend it.

Sunday: A solo trip to Target. There is something invigorating and refreshing about cruising the aisles of Target alone. It’s the only time I get a glimpse of my former life (pre-kids, I mean). I actually have time to look at the coupons stuffed in my purse, meander through the Christmas decorations, and the home decor, and the laundry detergent, and so on. It was wonderful. Absolutely marvelous.

The first words out of my mouth when I came home were “Ahh, I really do love shopping.” Ha! And all I bought were zip lock bags, some of the Thanksgiving fixins, ant traps, cypress scented hand soap, and some other random stuff. I don’t consider myself a huge shopper, but I realize that I really do enjoy it. And there is something about Christmas that just makes me want to shop even more. I guess those subliminal messages are working. 🙂

Monday: A healthy check-up for Landon. He had his 18 month check up and weighed in at 25 lbs (70th percentile) and 33 inches (also 70th percentile). What a chunk! And what a healthy little boy. The nurse, who gave him his shots, commented on what great thigh muscles he had. How cute is that? Yeah, he’s gonna be a hunk.

Tuesday: That I haven’t gotten sick. All three of my boys have come down with a cold, a really nasty cold for Jacob, who has had a fever the past few days. But thank God, I haven’t gotten it. I don’t know how this is possible considering they cough and sneeze in my face a dozen times a day, and wipe their boogey noses on my shirts every thirty minutes. Thank you Lord, for sparing momma bird.

Today: Saying Happy Thanksgiving to our customers. It sounds silly, but I went into work for a few hours today and talked to customers as they were traveling through from Oregon, or heading down to Southern California. And it reminded me of my own family who was at that very moment traversing the MidWest and East Coast converging on Atlanta in a few hours. In a small way, I felt a part of the Thanksgiving travels, and that warmed my heart. I am sad to be missing out on the Thanksgiving reunion of a lifetime (okay, of the last five years), but we will have a nice time with just our little family…and Stephen. (A friend).

Well, that’s it my friends. The big day is tomorrow! What will I be thankful for then? Oh the anticipation…just kidding. Seriously. I may just be thankful for Turkey. Or maybe cranberries.

P.S. I almost forgot. Abby got a bath!!!!!! She has been overdue and stinking up our house! Hooray hubby!! Thank you Darrell! 🙂

Third and Fourth Dinners

Well, we didn’t end up going out to dinner last night. Bummer. But we didn’t starve or choke on cardboard tasting rice either. I made twice baked potatoes (pretty hard to screw up) and they were pretty good. Not great, but good. Too much broccoli. Then tonight I made White Chicken Chili for dinner and I am happy (and thankful) to let you know that it was also a success. It appears we are all going to be okay. I’m thankful. 

 

One Fish, Two Fish, Totally Gross Fish

If only mine were as comforting

Last night was the second night in a row I have ruined dinner.

I am accepting any and all sympathies.

The other night it was Harvest Paella gone awry. No pun intended, because there is absolutely nothing humorous about ruining a perfectly good meal. I literally woke up the next morning with hunger pains in my stomach for lack of dinner. I guess chocolate chip cookies are not that filling, after all.

My sister has made this rice dish before and I don’t remember it tasting like rotten cardboard. But that is what mine tasted like. The worst part is I can’t figure out what I did wrong. Either it was too much turmeric or dried basil gone bad–if that is even possible. But something was seriously wrong. I’m pretty sure food is not supposed to taste like that.

It was, in fact, so bad that my dog wouldn’t even eat it. Some fell on the floor (imagine that) and she came bounding over like she usually does eager to lick up any crumbs that fall her way. But after a 30 second perusally sniff over the rice, she decided that trash would be a much more enjoyable dinner. I mean really, the dog that has eaten her own vomit turned up her nose at our dinner. That’s how bad it was.

Last night it was fish. Yet another recipe I am familiar with. This one I have made several times before. It’s a favorite. It’s called My Mama’s Baked Fish, by Rachel Ray.

Before I go any further, let me just say that I am not a huge Rachel Ray fan. The 30 minute meals never really worked for me. They were always like 45 minute catastrophes, requiring me to stand at the stove whisking chicken stock and something else while chopping fresh basil and sautéing mushrooms in EVOO. They usually ended in tears. And it wasn’t because I didn’t like mushrooms.

That was about six years ago. My cooking skills have improved a little, to the point where I no longer cry after unsuccessful attempts, usually don’t burn food, and occasionally use ingredients like chicken stock, heavy cream, and fresh cilantro. Still, I am not overly confident in my cooking abilities.

Lately, I’ve been feeling bad about my lack of culinary greatness, or more accurately the lack of culinary anything happening in my kitchen. So, I have been trying to cook more frequently to expand my treasure trove of great family recipes…and to keep my family from starving.

However, with two toddlers standing at the stove for 30 minutes (nay, 10 minutes) frying chicken and chopping seven different herbs, just isn’t going to happen.

Actually, it may even be known by the state of California as some form of neglect.

For the health and safety of my children, I need Paula Dean to give me three ingredients, a 9 x 13 baking dish, and tell me to shove it in the oven for 45 minutes. Better yet, give me a crock pot.  That is my kind of cooking.

But getting back to the fish.  Like I mentioned, I have made this recipe before. It is one of my favorites. Classic, simple, and very tasty. It is from Rachel’s Comfort Foods cookbook, one I actually use. Not quite the three ingredient kind of cook book, but close enough, and about as new and far out as I am willing to venture these days.

With this recipe, I have always used Halibut or Tilapia. But this time, in order to save a few almighty dollars (actually, it was probably more like $0.75), I bought a bag of frozen Perch.

I know, I know the whole spiel about buying fresh versus frozen, but I don’t think that was my problem. My problem was PERCH. Ew, Perch.

I do not like this fish. I found out the hard way, all white fish are not created equal. The fish was soggy and slimy and had some sort of thin red scales still on its backside. It was mushy and gross.

To top it off, I burnt the toast and managed to overcook the “steam in the bag” broccoli I bought. (In my defense, the instructions said cook for 4 to 7 1/2 minutes…um that’s a pretty big time gap.)

It was complete and utter failure.

Tonight, we are going out for dinner. I couldn’t be more thankful. My kids, my husband, and my dog probably are too.

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