Thursday, November 24, 2011

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

It's Thanksgiving and a great time for reflection over the past year.  Most people reflect on their year at New Year's, but this year it only makes since to reflect on Thanksgiving.  It was 1 year ago today that we found out that we had lost our tiny baby in the womb. 

When I look back on the past year, it will be as a year of growth.  I have never grown more in a single year than this particular one.  What started on November 24, 2010 triggered a series of events that forced me to depend on God more than I ever have before, and not all of those events were bad. 

As a quick recap, here is what we have been through in the past year.
  • We lost the baby
  • My body took 5 1/2 months to recover from the miscarriage
  • I got pregnant again the first month my body was back to normal
  • The early stages of pregnancy were filled with anxiety
  • We found out the baby I am now carrying may have Downs Syndrome
  • Ryan's Grandmother had a stroke and passed away
  • Ryan's family dog passed away
  • Our dog Libby passed away
  • We found out that Ainsley has a gross motor skill delay
  • We found out that the baby I am carrying now more than likely doesn't have Down Syndrome
  • The end of this pregnancy has been drastically more difficult than my pregnancy with Ainsley
And when I look at that list and see blessings and struggles, what I see more is God's grace.  Through each of those circumstances, God has taught me so much about His grace and His love for me.  He has used His Spirit, His People, and His Word to minister to me. 

I am calling this past year my Ebenezer year.  I am putting a stone on the ground in my memory of this year so that when I look back at my life, I can always remember God's goodness and mercy.

Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Thus far has the LORD helped us. 1 Samuel 7:12

And seeing that it is Thanksgiving, my heart is overflowing with thankfulness.  Thankfulness for struggles.  Thankfulness for blessings.  And most of all, Thankfulness for a God that loves me. 

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love. 

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood. 

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart,
O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Celebrate the Harvest

Every year for the past 5 years I have thrown a Christmas Dessert party.  Seeing that I am pretty pregnant, I opted to move it to November and call it the Celebrate the Harvest Party.  It was kind of fun to put all the fall decorations together.  All the people that come to my house yearly, only see the Christmas decorations.  And while I love my nativities, I do love my house as it normally is.  It was nice for a change of pace.  Here are some pictures and recipes!

The Drink Table
We served Beer, Wine, Apple Cider, and Coffee.  That copper container was Ryan's Grandmothers and a perfect addition to the drink table this year

Just a Fun Fall Decoration
I saw this decoration idea on Pinterest.  Ainsley, Anne, and I went out to a local farm and picked up all the gourds and pumpkins.  Ainsley was responsible for the small gourds.  I actually didn't even look at them until we got home.  She did a great job picking them out.

The Dessert Table
I loved the "pumpkin" centerpiece.  Since the addition of the new red curtains, I didn't want to go overly orange.  I found a bunch of white and green pumpkins that looked so fabulous. 

Pecan Pie Bars
Think pecan pie but in smaller bites.  It was so gooey though that the cupcake liners were necessary. This recipe came out of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies
I found this one on Pinterest.  Brownie on the bottom, Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough on the top, a splash of chocolate on top of that.  What's not to love. 
Here's the recipe for those that have asked.

Chocolate Ginger Twists
These were an attempt to use some puff pastry dough that I had.  I wanted a different flavor and this one hit the spot.  The addition of Crystalized Ginger was pretty cool

Chocolate Chip Turtle Cheesecake
I would have to say this may be my signature dessert.  It has been at every party I have ever thrown.  It's amazing. 

Plain Cheesecake
Sounds boring but I think it's the best plain cheesecake I have ever had.  The recipe calls for a fruit topping but honestly you don't need it.  My stomach wasn't feeling great last night and this was the only dessert I actually ate.  Oh my heart is this good.  Thanks Ina Garten
Here's the recipe for this one:

Pumpkin Cookies with Cinnamon Icing
These cookies are so yummy.  Fall in a cookie.  Mmmm, mmm, mmm.  I didn't cook them as long and made my icing a bit thicker.  Both improvements.
Here's the recipe:

Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes
These were a surprise hit of the party.  I actually only had 3 left.  I must say that they are pretty good.  Again, thank you Pinterest.  The recipe said to make them as full sized muffins but the smaller size suited the party better.  I cooked them for 20 minutes and it was perfect.
Here's the recipe

Cappuccino Mousse Trifle
I love a good trifle.  Ever since that episode of Friends, it's an excuse to say that I did not put meat in the trifle.  It's really just layers of goodness.  I added a little Kaluha this year to the milk you pour over the pound cake and it worked really well.
Here's the recipe:

And while I had a blast throwing this party, I am glad that it is over and I can concentrate on the last 8 or so weeks of pregnancy.  I have some sorting and washing to do.

Monday, October 31, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 31

Today and this whole month, I am appreciative of... camera.  Because of my commitment to posting a picture everyday for 31 days, I have had my camera with me more often than normal.  I have captured some great things.  Things that have made the blog and things that haven't.  I have enjoyed coming up with new ideas each day and showcasing my life in pictures.

I walk away from this 31 Days of Appreciation with just that...Appreciation.  Thanks for following along and I hope you enjoyed it half as much as I did. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 30

Today I am appreciative of...

...a start.  We are throwing our annual dessert party in November this year because the thought of throwing it so close to baby's due date is just daunting.  So this year we are doing it in November and calling it "Celebrate the Harvest".  It's 2 weeks away and I just started baking today.  I got 2 things done today (Pecan Pie Bars and Chocolate Ginger Twists pictured above) and a plan.  While the 2 things are a good start, the plan is more important.  I am glad to know everything I am making and now it's just checking them off the list!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 29

Today I am appreciative of... extra glimpse inside the womb.  Because of our earlier scare in pregnancy, we have been on a track to get extra ultrasounds to monitor growth.  They still think that the baby is fine but are just making sure that baby is growing properly.  No problems there.  Baby is measuring a full week ahead of schedule and is in the 74th percentile.  They are estimating baby weighs 3 lb 6 oz already.  Yikes!  This baby from what we can tell, looks like Ryan and is very active.  I must say it makes me pretty excited to see these last 11 weeks (or less) go by!

Friday, October 28, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 28

Today I am appreciative of...

...a whole day with this little girl.  Yesterday was so much better of a day.  And today I get to spend my day playing with her.  Fridays are one of the greatest parts of my life.  I work part time and don't work on Fridays.  I love what it allows me to do with Ainsley.  We go to gymnastics in the morning and then out to lunch.  We always find fun adventures to get into.  I can't wait to incorporate a little baby into this fun day.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 27

Today I am appreciative of... mercies.  Yesterday was a hard day.  Lots of things happened that made me realize our need for His Faithfulness.  Today is a new day and with that new day comes new mercies.  Even if today ends up worse than yesterday, I know there is tomorrow. 

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 26

Today I am appreciative of...

...the greatest Mother In Law.  What a blessing it is to have a fantastic mother in law who lives exactly 2 miles from us.  She helps us out so much with the care of this goofy kid.  She helps us out so often at a moment's notice.  Her love for Ainsley runs deep as any grandma's love does.  What a gift to us and to Ainsley.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 25

Today I am appreciative of...

...that feeling that there is no place like home.  While I had a great time with my sisters, there is still nothing like being at home with those that you love most.  The greeting I received when I walked in the door was priceless.  Oh how I love my family!

Monday, October 24, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 24

Today I am appreciative of... sisters. I just spent 4 incredible days with them in Cancun. We laughed, we slept, we ate. We had so much fun. And I thought that I was going to be able to post from there and keep my 31 day promise but the wifi was $17 a day so I took the opportunity to unplug. Sorry. But it was worth it and now I can come back and finish the month strong. Anyway, a fantastic time was had with my sisters, Jill and Wendy.

Friday, October 21, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 21

Today I am appreciative of...

...a beat up old suitcase packed for 1.  I am leaving today for Mexico.  My sisters and I are taking a girls weekend away in Cancun at an all inclusive resort.  Ryan and Ainsley are staying home to play and have speacial Daddy/Daughter time.  I must say that I forgot how easy it is to pack just for yourself.  All my stuff fits in this small suitcase with room to spare!  And just because I'm off to drink fruity drinks with umbrellas in them (virgin of course!), doesn't mean I'll abandon my 31 days.  You may not get fancy formatting and it may be later in the day but as long as the wifi works in the lobby, I'll be posting from my phone!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 20

Today I am appreciative of...

...the tenacity of a friend.  This is Roger.  He and Ryan have been friends for years and years.  And while I am part of the 31 Days movement here in the blog world, he is part of his own 31 days movement.  He quit smoking on October 1st.  That means we are both on Day 20.  I have never had an addiction like that to conquer so I can only imagine how hard these past 20 days have been for him.  But he's doing it.  And I am proud.  As Ainsley would say...Go Roger Go!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 19

Today I am appreciative of...

...fresh sheets and a clean house.  Not quite a year ago I started getting my house cleaned every 3 weeks.  As a working mother and a small business owner, keeping up with the house was just getting to be too much for me.  Throw a miscarriage and another pregnancy in there and you get a cleaning lady.  Our side business pays for it so it doesn't feel like a big hit to the budget.  I tend to gripe about our side business quite a bit, but on days like today I love it!  And I will say that coming home on days that Cindy has been here makes me smile.  A LOT!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 18

Today I am appreciative of...

...the Birthday Boy!  I've already given you some good qualities on here and I could go on forever about how wonderful it is being married to this man.  I am blessed beyond messure to walk this life with him.  Happy Birthday Ryan!  I'm glad you were born!

Monday, October 17, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 17

Today I am appreciative of...
...teachable moments. Ainsley has too many toys. Her stuff is taking over our bonus room. We decided that we were going to donate some of her toys. We explained to her that there were kids out there that didn't have any toys. I picked some of the ones we donated and she picked the rest. Some of her decisions actually surprised me. I was so proud of my little girl as she carried that doll high chair up to the truck today.  Life lessons start early. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 16

Today I am appreciative of...

...fine motor skills.  I have talked on here about Ainsley's gross motor skill delay.  What I haven't mentioned is the fact that she is way ahead in fine motor skills.  She eats without making a mess.  She colors and paints very well.  And now she is learning to write her name.  I wrote the sample at the top and I only helped her with the S and the E but other than that, this is all her.  I can't tell you how I impressed I am with this little girl.  I can't wait to see what she is going to do with that fine dexterity!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 15

Today I am appreciative of...

...small moments.  Ryan is going to a funeral today for a guy he graduated high school with.  The guy was 500 yards shy of finishing a marathon when he collapsed only to die 1 hour later.  His wife and high school sweetheart probably never imagined that morning that she would say goodbye to him one last time as he left for the starting line.  She probably never imagined the man she had spent her entire adult life with would never come back.  She probably never imagined being a widow and a single mother of 2 young children at the age of 34.  And yet it is her reality now.  So today I am definitely appreciative of the 2 most important people in my life.  We aren't guaranteed tomorrow or even this afternoon.  Make the most of those small moments.

Friday, October 14, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 14

Today I am appreciative of...

...Ainsley's teachers at gymnastics, Miss Elena and Mr Alexi. They are a husband and wife duo that used to be gymnastists in Russia. They really do have a lot of patience with my 3 year old and have helped her in so many ways. They not only make sure they are having fun but they are teaching them technique, even at 3 years old!  I really think they are helping her catch up from her physical delay quicker than we would have expected.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 13

Today I am appreciative of...

...the whole growing a person inside of myself thing.  It's crazy to think there is a 2 + pound person living inside of me right now.  Baby is doing great and for the most part so am I.  Heartburn that turns into nauseau is my worst complaint.  But it's so worth it.  And it's hard to believe that my due date is exactly 3 months from today.  I think I have a lot to do to get ready for this baby.  I better go get busy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 12

Today I am appreciative of...

...young love. 15 years ago an 18 year old girl went on a camping trip with a 20 year old boy.  There was a kiss.  The rest is history.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 11

Today I am appreciative of...

...a long growing season.  It's October 10th and I just made fresh tomato sauce out of roasted cherry tomatoes and local garlic.  My dinner cost me all of $5.00 to feed our family due to garden vegetables.  I grew up in Connecticut where the growing season was closer to 2 1/2 months.  We have had fresh tomatoes for 5 months now and have been able to store enough to make it through the winter.  Oh how I love my garden!

Monday, October 10, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 10

Today I am appreciative of...

...a mother who taught me how to make a house a home.  My mother is a true homemaker.  She taught me more things about running a home than I could have ever read in a book.  One practical thing she taught me was how to sew.  Even though I just picked it up again after many many years, the knowledge is still there.  She gave me the idea for these valances and they turned out exactly as I wanted them.  They make this room look more homey and finished.  And I must say, I am proud of the pretty!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 9

Today I am appreciative of...

...creativity.  I was working on sewing curtains today and and wasn't really paying attention to Ainsley.  When I checked on her, this is what I found.  While some mothers would get mad at this, I thought it was a great expression of creativity.  It helped that she didn't get it anywhere else!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 8

Today I am appreciative of... little girl who is growing up so fast. She's my little helper and is starting to love some of the same things that I love. What a joy to share my kitchen with her.

Friday, October 7, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 7

Today I am appreciative of...

...the dog that still fills our life.  This is Tucker.  He has lived with us since 2001.  That's 10 years of pure pug love.  If you are wondering how he is doing since Libby's passing, I have to say surprisingly well.  He's back to being top dog and loving it!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 6

Today I am appreciative of...

...Steve Jobs.  I know the world is talking about Steve Jobs and the influence he had on technology.  I personally wouldn't have the job that I have in the field that I have without his innovation and drive.  While I don't have a Mac and my only Apple product is my iPhone, I do work as a computer programmer.  I must tip my hat to him and thank him for all he did so that I can do what I do.  RIP and Thank you Mr. Jobs!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 5

Today I am appreciative of... that you have forgotten you have taken.  I miss this dog and her crazy teeth.  This picture was taken in early June before the tumor went away and eventually came back. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 4

Today I am appreciative of... dinners and the things that just kind of happen when you are together as a family. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 3

Today I am appreciative of...

...a stable job.  I rarely talk about it on here, but I am gainfully employed, be it part time.  My boss has been more than generous with me over the past 5 years as I have transitioned from full time employee to part-time working mother.  That's a lot to be thankful for.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 2

Today I am appreciative of... life for good friends.  We met baby Caleb last night for the first time.  What a sweet little guy.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

31 Days of Appreciation: Day 1

There is a movement going on in the blog world.  It's called 31 days.  Basically it's a commitment to blog everyday for the month of October.  I wasn't going to do it.  I thought I was too busy.  But then I decided that everyone is too busy and yet there are so many people who are involved in this movement. 

So I decided to join in.  And then I thought about what can I possibly write about for 31 days.  It felt daunting and huge.  So I have decided to make my 31 days a montage of pictures and maybe just a few sentences to describe my daily picture.

I'm calling it 31 Days of Appreciation.  It will be my way to stop and appreciate my life through images. 

So without further picture for the day.

Today I am appreciative of....

...a coupon that allowed me to buy what I am hoping will be my last maternity clothes for this pregnancy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fill My Cup

There has been a lot of talk of death and sadness on here recently.  And there is a season for that.  Ecclesiastes tells us that.

Yesterday I got sucked into a new blog.  It's funny how that happens.  Someone links somewhere and you follow it and then it's like a little rabbit hole.  Before you know it you have gotten into someone's story and life.  It's one of the things I love most about the blog world.  I'm a lover of voyeurism like that.

This blog that I got sucked into was written by an astonishing woman.  Her name was Sara and she had a debilitating disease, one stricken with pain and illness.  And even in the posts about her daily life and the trials she faced, you could see the joy.  It was actually at the top of her blog.  Choose Joy.  It was so clear from her words that she really did and didn't just write about it.

She passed away on Saturday.  She was way too young.  For the people that she left behind, I'm sure there is so much pain and so much heartache. And yet there is joy because that's what she taught them through her life and death.

In the midst of all that has happened in our lives over the past year, it's nice to see a fresh perspective.  The funny thing is that God has already been working on us in this aspect and we didn't even know it.  I don't think that either Ryan or I have been living out of grief in the past 2 months.  We certainly could have been.  And yes we miss Grandma and we miss Libby.  But it's not all consuming like grief has been before

We have been given great gifts in our lives.  And it is those gifts that we are focusing on now.  Even though the pain of loss is there, the cup is full of joy.

My prayer remains the same...Lord keep my cup full of joy regardless of the circumstances.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Goodbye My Girl

You came into our life 5 years ago.  Ryan picked you.  I wanted a hyper young dog but he wanted you.  He could tell you were super sweet.  He wasn't wrong.

You were already old.  You used to be a breeder.  We have no idea how many puppies you had.  You were sold for a price because you were no longer wanted.  But we wanted you. 

You were sweet and you filled a void in my life.  You were my baby.  You followed me everywhere. 

You barked at people you didn't know.  Strangers never liked you.  But people who got to know you, loved you so. 

When you got sick, you never left my side.  You loved me and I loved you.  It was unconditional.

Then you got better

And we took you on vacation and you had the time of your life.  You had never been happier. 

And then we came home.  And you got worse again.  And we have watched as you started to struggle. 

And tonight we couldn't let you struggle anymore.  You were too good of a dog to go through the pain you were going through. 

And so I bid you farewell, my sweet Libby girl.  You will definitely be missed.  You will never be forgotten.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Move More, Think Less

We started Ainsley in gymnastics in the beginning of the summer. She's definitely not a physical kid so I wanted to see what would happen when we put her in a really physical situation. She was in the 2 year old class and was the oldest one in there. The class was structured as a parent involved class. I thought this was a great way to get her started and then in the fall she could transition into the 3 year old class that was not parent assisted.

I bought her a leotard and got her dressed for class the first night. She couldn't have been more excited.

We met her teachers, Miss Lori and Miss Jasmine.  She instantly fell in love with both of them, especially Miss Lori.  She barely knew I was in the class with her.  She was attached to Miss Lori's hip.

Some of the skills were pretty easy for her.  The balance beam seems to be her best, followed closely by somersaults. 

But other things were really hard.  Jumping really wasn't her thing.  She would try and try but she really couldn't get off the ground.  It was then that I started looking around at the other kids in her class.  Most of them were young 2 year olds.  They seemed leaps and bounds ahead of her.  This was when I started to get concerned.  I started to pay closer attention to her skill level compared to the other kids in her class.  It was pretty drastic the difference. 

So Miss Lori worked with her every week.  She got a lot of one on one attention.  She definitely improved.  But not enough.

So this past week, I took her over to Physical Therapy.  They evaluated her and she is indeed behind.  But we are going to catch her up.

Then today we started the 3 year old class.  Where I could shield her from realizing she was behind before, I couldn't do it now.  I'm not in the class.  So I sat on the side and watched as she got passed by other kids in her circuit.  My heart broke for her.  Then after class her teacher approached me.  I hadn't warned the teacher but she figured it out pretty quickly.  She asked me if I thought she needed to go back to the 2 year old class. 

While it's one thing to know there is a problem, it's a complete other thing to have someone who has only known your child for 45 minutes pick up on it enough to say something to you.  Maybe it's hormones or maybe it's just my mama bear instinct protecting my cub.  Either way, it doesn't matter.  It still hurt.  But I decided to keep her in the 3 year old class.  I think the peer pressure will be good for her.  I think being away from me will help remove the crutch she leans on. 

And so we move on and get her to move more.  That might be a good philosophy for me too..."Move More, Think less"
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