Summer in the air

This weekend was so much fun around the Martin house.  The weather was gorgeous and our schedule was empty, and while sometimes we miss those unique moments, this weekend I feel like we took advantage of the magic.  My little ones helped me garden (tomatoes, herbs and flowers) and we got wet and dirty and it was wonderful.  Today was family breakfast at Cracker Barrel, time at the park, and big afternoon naps.  All of it whispered “summer” to me…

I love my job, but I confess that in about March a certain weariness seeps into my bones.  Weariness of dragging the kids out of the house every morning, struggling to get dinner on the table before the kids are way too hungry to wait patiently, and despite my best efforts, living for the weekend and a few precious moments of rest.  One look at the calendar shows that summer is around the bend, but at that point it still feels far away.  I always feel like we keep plugging away and then all of the sudden, the grass is green, flowers are blooming, its warm enough to play outside with the kiddos and I feel like we are going to make it to summer and pajama days, lunch on the deck, legos, baby-dolls, and I will renew my love-hate relationship with sand boxes.

Some years I pack even my summer too full, but this summer the calendar is wide open, and I am intentionally leaving it that way.  I want impromptu play dates, lots of visits with our friends, cuddles with my nephews and niece, girls’ nights, double dates, gardening, canning, lunches with all the grandparents, and I can’t handle worrying about conferences and summer classes and anything that will tie me down.  There will be summers for all of that, but not this year.

A lot of my memories are tied very strongly to my other senses.  Every time I walk in my parent’s house there is a very specific scent that I smell, and I can’t tell you what on earth I am smelling, but even now, when I walk into their house, the scent of my childhood home immediately makes me think of driving home from college in the middle of the night and the sense of contentment that I felt finally arriving from break and enjoying the pleasure of being home and safe.  My son Jude loves Transformers, and whenever he is watching “Transformers Rescue Bots” on Netflix these days, I am transported to last summer when Clara was 6 months old, I was still nursing every three hours at night, and Jude watched way too much TV while I tried my best to survive that season.  This weekend, the air flowing through my open windows, the feel of the dirt under my fingers, the smell of the basil I was planting, and watching my kids in the sand box not only reminded my of last summer, but filled me with hope for all the memories we will make this summer, and I am determined not to miss any of it!  Anyone else feel the same way?

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

-C

Take 2

Hey, I have a blog!  Who knew?

When I first started this blog, I was thinking about (and stressing about) going back to work with my first baby, and here I am, 2 weeks and some change away from going back to work after baby number 2.  I can’t think about that detail for too long or I might panic, so let me talk to you about being a mommy of 2 =)

Before my baby girl was born, I wondered what on earth it would be like to have 2 little ones, and how would I do normal things like go to the grocery store or go ANYWHERE for that matter once I was out numbered.  Would I be able to give both my babies adequate attention?  Would Jude turn into a terror once his sister arrived?  Would I ever sleep again?  I had of course heard a lot of horror stories-big brothers and sisters who completely went off the deep end when they had to share mommy and daddy; second children that were so difficult that their parents confessed that if he/she had been their first baby, he/she would have been their only baby.

I also wondered about her health-most of my ultrasounds with Clara were not comforting experiences-the doctor couldn’t find her in the first ultrasound, in the second ultrasound she wasn’t measuring correctly, and in later ultrasounds I was carrying a ton of extra fluids, and she showed extra fluid on one of her kidneys (which we didn’t actually know about until after she was born.)  Dustin and I chose not to complete any other testing outside of the ultrasounds, so with both my babies there was always a slight fear that something would be wrong, and a big sigh of relief when they were born in good health.

I am happy to report that my experience with two children has been wonderful.  Clara is a great baby, and Jude just adores her.  I suppose this could change, but he has adapted extremely well to sharing the spotlight with his sister, and the patience I see him exhibit during these times just makes my mommy heart soar and encourages me to make it a priority for there to be Mommy/Jude play-time whenever possible.

What has been most surprising to me is how different they are!  Jude was so tiny and while he ate until he was satisfied(or at least seemed satisfied), he never grew at the doctor’s desired pace.  Clara, on the other hand, does not stop eating and at her one month appointment was over 2 pounds heavier that her birth weight.  Jude loved his pacifier; Clara will not take one.  Sleeping in his crib was difficult for Jude no matter what time of day it was, and while Clara struggles to fall asleep, once she acquiesces to sleeping, she is happy to be in her crib the rest of the night.  Swaddling Jude settled him down; swaddling Clara fires her up, and if she isn’t sleepy enough she will devote a great amount of energy towards trying to break-out instead of settling down.  Jude screamed bloody murder at all of his doctor’s visits; Clara doesn’t utter a sound, in fact she usually sleeps through the whole thing!

I’m not going to lie-I’m tired.  Keeping two children fed, clean, and happy, as well as trying to give the hubs some attention is a lot; I love it, but it is a lot.  I can’t even think about the weariness that I know will set in at a deeper level when I go back to work.  There have definitely been a few moments when it has seemed like all I do is change poopy diapers, or that someone always needs fed, or that I will never sleep again.  There have been tears on my part.  I think the advantage to already surviving the infant stage with one child is that I know I will sleep again-it may be six months to a year from now, but Clara will stop needing to eat every couple of hours.  Eventually they will both be potty trained, and someday they will play together and I will be able to use the restroom without an audience.

In the meantime I’m doing my best to enjoy all of these precious moments with my babies, praying for the strength to function on very little sleep, and learning how to leave the house with a toddler and an infant.  Having a winter baby instead of a summer baby has certainly been a challenge, but being home over the holidays without the pressure of a school concert has been wonderful, and I’m pretty sure this year will go down as one of my favorite Christmas’ ever.

Have a happy Thursday, and maybe you will hear from me again soon =)

When Mom Doesn’t Know What to Do…

I wasn’t going to use a binky with Jude.  Before ever having him, I had read about their potential interference with nursing (although there was a lot to read about how they may help decrease a baby’s risk of SIDs).  Anyway, I had received some anyway at various showers and I went ahead and sterilized them so I would be ready.  When he was born we of course had the moments (like many parents of newborns have) when Jude was inconsolable (sometimes in the absolute middle of the night) and nursing, a clean diaper, and being snuggled didn’t seem to help, and you know what did-that Binky! (and as we nursed for a solid 13 months, I’m inclined to say that they didn’t interfere with my nursing.)

So we got in the habit of making sure we had one handy everywhere we would hang out with him, and we certainly made sure that we didn’t leave the house without them.  It always made me laugh when various friends and family would give us a hard time about using them, but I was tired and desperate and figured I would only let him have it for about 6 months and then we would get rid of them.

Well at 6 months something magical happened-my son who hadn’t slept more than 3 hours at a time since his birth finally started sleeping longer stretches (Hallelujah!) and the binky seemed to be a big part of this change.  Again, being the tired and desperate mama that I was, I decided that he could have it until his first birthday and then we’ll deal with it (as a side note, I now know why sleep deprivation is a very effective torture device!).

As you may have guessed, Jude’s first birthday came and went, but the binkys did not.  Jude was now sleeping the entire way through the night (Hallelujah! Hallelujah!) and I wasn’t about to mess with anything that could possibly disrupt this.  We made a move to only using it for sleeping, but once he became mobile, he would go back and grab one out of his crib if he was mad, tired, or feeling under the weather.

Jude turned 2 a few weeks ago, and I was feeling the pressure to get rid of it.  I was thinking that I noticed less of an interest on his part in the binky and I was feeling like we were probably through most of his baby teething.  A few Sunday afternoons ago (in what I’m now thinking was a moment of pregnancy induced delirium) I asked Jude if he was ready to throw his binkys away, which he happily replied yes to and immediately proceeded to throw every single one into his diaper genie.  He was going to daycare the next day and I really hadn’t intended to get rid of ALL of them before he was going to her house, but I figured what was done was done-I wasn’t buying anymore.  I put him in bed that first night and after one little whimper he stated quite confidently that the binkys were “all gone!” and he laid down and slept peacefully all evening.  Boy, was I impressed with my mommy skills and my son’s ability to go with the flow.  I expected a huge fight, and I was wondering why I had waited to so long to do this.  During his next day at daycare he didn’t nap super well, but our daycare provider said that it mostly seemed like he just wanted to keep talking to his friends that he hadn’t seen in a month versus missing the binky.  I had great hopes that this was going to be a very easy transition.

Now comes the part where I don’t know what to do…it seems to be getting worse each time we try to put him to bed or put him down for a nap instead of getting better.  I have never been one to let him cry but naptime now consists of 5-10 minutes of him screaming his head off-sometimes he settles down and goes to sleep…sometimes not so much (and I know toddlers don’t nap forever, but no nap = many night time meltdowns, and naptime is very much going to happen at daycare and I don’t want him to prematurely get out of the habit, especially since I only have 2 more weeks of summer vacation.)  Bedtime, which was so enjoyable, now involves lots of tears, trying to get us to keep reading “one more!” book, and sometimes more crying before he finally falls asleep.  I hate it.  On the bright side, once he does fall asleep, he sleeps through the night without any problems.  I have tried replacing his binky habit with other bedtime habits, but it doesn’t seem to make a big difference.  I have SERIOUSLY considered breaking down and buying new binkys, but I resist since I figure it will eventually have to get better, and I really don’t want to go through this fight again.

It also makes me question using binkys with my little lady that is on the way-while they seemed to really help Jude sleep when I was really, really needing him to, is it worth it since they can’t keep it up forever? Will her transition away from them be as difficult as her brother’s?

Which brings me back to not knowing what to do.  I’ve pretty much given up reading books about child raising as all the conflicting opinions just give me a headache, because each child is different, as is each family’s feelings on various issues and their own experiences.  I figure there is no right answer and I must trudge ahead as mothers have always done and just keep trying to do what seems best.  I’m just hoping we move past this stage before his sister arrives and he tries to steal her binkys…if I use them with her… =)

Happy Thursday!

 

Strawberry Jam!

Jude and I have been having so much fun this summer!  I have been home for just 2 weeks, but I feel like we have already had the opportunity to do so many fun things together.  I have found that the secret to life with a toddler is having a few things planned to do so he doesn’t just tear up the house out of boredom =)  One of our favorite things to do this summer has been visiting a lot of our local farmer’s markets and produce stands, and Jude has been in LOVE with all the fresh, local strawberries we have enjoyed lately.  I have been talking about learning to can and asking for home canning materials for about 3 years now, but I finally got around to trying my hand at making some homemade strawberry jam with Jude today.  I decided that canning the jam was the best way to go for us as our freezer space is a little limited at the moment.  I’m happy to say that we had a really good time and I guess we will need to wait to see if the jam came out, but I am hopeful!

All of our canning supplies, plus our yummy strawberries from a local produce market.

Heating up the jars-I had 12 oz. jars on hand, so that’s what I used!

Jude loved helping because it gave him the opportunity to eat as many berries as he could!

Mashing the berries with our handy-dandy potato masher

I think Jude’s favorite job was washing all of the berries.

My theory for raising babies is that children and clothes can always be washed =) I tend to be a messy cook myself, so he gets it honest!

Our finished product-10 jars of homemade jam!

I relied heavily on the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for directions on how to can and my recipe was from the Pioneer Woman which you can find here, although I used the recipe from her second cookbook which made a larger quantity-I figured if I was going to all the trouble of canning, I wanted a decent amount.

Since it went so well I’m itching to try some other recipes for canning, and I’ll share any that are particularly magical =)  What do you like to can?

Blessings!

Journey to a Family of 4-Part 2

If you read my post yesterday, I mentioned that this pregnancy has been quite a journey (and we are only 13 weeks into it!).  I never want to give the impression that I’m ungrateful for anything that has happened, because I certainly understand what it is like to loose a pregnancy, but in case anyone out there doesn’t have a stress-free pregnancy, I thought it was best to be truthful.

So as I mentioned yesterday that we found ourselves holding a positive pregnancy test 8 weeks after my D&E from my 3rd pregnancy, and 2 months before our doctor had recommended that we try again.  This time I called the doctor immediately, and they wanted to see me immediately.  I had an appointment when they estimated me to be 5 weeks along.  At this appointment, the PA-C that I saw gave me some options-she said that she could go ahead and do a sonogram, but it was definitely too early to see a heartbeat, and would possibly even be too early to see anything at all.  If I needed the comfort, she said she could measure whatever she found, and have me come back in 2-3 days later and measure it again just to show growth.  True story: I hate making decisions at the doctor’s office-I always feel like I have a very short amount of time to make a big decision.  I decided that I just needed to have faith that everything would be okay, and I was fine just to come back in closer to 7 weeks when it should be very obvious whether or not there was a heartbeat.  I was also given the option of having a progesterone supplement as this was one of the things that was discussed as a possible cause of my last miscarriage, but I decided to forgo that as well since they had absolutely no evidence that I had an imbalance.  I can not tell you the peace that I felt when I left this appointment.  I felt like I had shown faith that my child’s life was in God’s hands, not mine.  I think I stopped at Target on the way home and spent some time browsing through the baby section.

In the time between this appointment and my next, I came across this verse: “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.  The post I read it in was about verses that this mother clung to during pregnancy, labor & delivery.  Whenever I had moments of doubt, this is what I turned to.

Again, I felt very peaceful going into my next appointment.  Of course I was anxious to physically see a heartbeat which would make my mommy heart feel good, but I wasn’t really in the mindset that anything could be wrong.  I just FELT like everything should be just fine.  The PA-C came in to do my exam and really the only thing on the docket for this appointment was the internal sonogram.  Side note-the PA-C had a student with her, which I dislike, but having been a student teacher not that long ago, I get it.  So the student began the exam, and having been through quite a few early sonograms I could see that she wasn’t finding anything.  Again, I wasn’t really worried because it wouldn’t be the first time that a student at the OB-GYN had been unsuccessful and the PA-C had stepped in, which is what happened.  I just kept thinking through the verse from Joshua that I mentioned earlier.  To my utter amazement, she couldn’t find anything either, and I do mean nothing.  No baby, no yolk sac, just an empty gestational sac.  Even with my babies I lost we could see where the baby was.  They definitely took some time trying to find something, but to no avail.  Can I just say that I’m weary of falling apart in doctor’s offices?  Because I was still early they didn’t immediately say definitively that it was a blighted ovum or another type of early pregnancy loss.  They scheduled me for a formal sonogram (like I had with my previous pregnancy) about a week later.  If there was still nothing at this sonogram, then we would talk about next steps.

I would say that the next week was my ultimate low point out of all 4 of my pregnancies.  To say I was devastated was an understatement.  The few people that I had shared these details with at the time could tell you that I was ready to call us a family of 3 and be done with it.  I just was not sure that I could go through this again, and I couldn’t get out of my mind that the more miscarriages you have, the more likely it is for you to have more.  I was mad-mad that I had tried so hard to show faith that God was in control of my child’s health, and it wasn’t enough.  I was mad that I didn’t have a sonogram the week before and we could have been a week or two closer to recovering.  I was mad that I was going to again have to tell the people I loved that we were again in mourning, and I was mad that I needed to hold it together at work and pretend that I really, really cared about reading a time signature when all I wanted to do was hibernate at home until I was really prepared to carry on.  It was a bad week.  I’m not proud that this was my response, but again, I promised the truth.  Dustin and I had no hope-our PA-C had told us that she didn’t believe the baby was just too small, and we believed her.  We had discussed next steps, and to his forever credit, Dustin told me he would support whatever I decided to do.

A funny thing happened, though, the day before my sonogram.  I was standing in my kitchen and the thought came to me that maybe I didn’t have a sonogram at my first appointment because if we had had two sonograms in a row that showed nothing we may have called it quits too early.  When this thought came to me, with it came the tiniest smidgen of hope (and I do mean tiny).  The morning of my sonogram I remember praying “God, if you want me to have hope, you are going to need to provide it.”  I drank the massive amount of water required, and prayed for the best.

This sonogram was so different from my previous one just two months earlier.  Instead of an air of secrecy, this technician had the computer screen on in front of me so that I could see everything that she was doing.  We had a brief discussion about why I was there and that it was very likely we wouldn’t see anything, but she wasn’t out to hide anything from me.  She began externally, which I knew she would do, and I wasn’t expecting much of anything because if you remember the previous technician I had said I was too early to see anything externally, and I couldn’t have been much further along than I had been at that point.  Shock is the only word I can use to describe my reaction when not but 10 seconds into the external exam she pointed out to me exactly where my baby was, and where his/her little heartbeat was going strong.  A million thoughts flew through my brain-my baby is okay!  I don’t have to cry in front of this technician today!  Dustin is going to be so surprised!  I seriously can not put into words all the emotions I was feeling, but it was GOOD.  The conclusion that we came to with our PA-C at my follow up appointment was that I must have realized I was pregnant almost immediately and my dates were off, in fact my due date was adjusted by about a week.  I thoroughly enjoyed sharing this good news with those who knew what was going on and to hear their stories that they had been praying that the PA-C had just been wrong and that everything was okay.  It was just as if I didn’t have the strength to pray that way, and our family and friends stood in the gap for us, for which I will be forever grateful.

While I was so relieved that we were back on track, I was anxious to get the first trimester under my belt.  I had another appointment around 9 weeks, had another sonogram, and this time the baby was seen immediately, good healthy heartbeat, everything looked great.  I am aware that it could just be my imagination, but I swear that I began to feel movement soon after this, certainly not frequently, but just enough to make me confident that everything was still going okay.  My next appointment was a month later when I would be about 13 weeks.  I was so excited because getting through those first 12 weeks meant my risk of miscarriage was much lower, I would be in the regular rotation of doctors, and NO MORE INTERNAL SONOGRAMS!  If you have ever had an internal sonogram, you know what I mean =)

So I show up to my 13 week appointment, and I’m feeling good.  I can feel my little peanut dancing around, and I’m confident everything will be just fine.  After the normal blood pressure/heart-rate stuff it was time to find the heartbeat, this time externally (which I was very excited about).  Would you believe that the doctor couldn’t find the heartbeat?  So she grabs the sonogram machine to figure out what is going on.  I probably wouldn’t have become too anxious except that it took about 15 minutes for her to come back and do the sonogram and in that time I began to again question what was going on, and wondering (not for the first time) why it just couldn’t be easy!  I’m very happy to say that when the doctor finally did the sonogram my baby was happily dancing around everywhere which is probably why she couldn’t find the heartbeat.  The heartbeat and measurements look good and so we carry on until our next appointment in another month.

Things I have learned:1)God is bigger than sonogram machines, and the only way to have peace is to continue to put my trust in Him ; 2) I could not be a health care professional and I have nothing but the greatest respect for those who go into that field; 3)Just because the journey has been hard doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been good; and 4)Dustin and I are just blessed to know some wonderful people-family and friends who have seen us through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Whew…congrats on making it to the end!  I didn’t have my blog up and running when I was pregnant with Jude, so I expect to make some more posts about pregnancy, but I promise, there won’t be any pictures of my naked, prego belly.  Props to those mamas who feel comfortable showing off the bump, but I am not one of them.

Just so we are all clear =)

Blessings!

Journey to a Family of 4-Part 1

I had the best of intentions of announcing our newest addition through one of the cute, Pinterest inspired photos I have seen out there, but I’m currently lacking in time, energy and inspiration, so this will have to do: We are having another baby! In December! Or possibly November if this one takes after his/her brother!  It has been a crazy road, and I thought I would share just in case it could encourage anyone out there going through similar events, or if you are just interested in what’s been going on with us!  It is a long story though, so I thought I should divide it into 2 parts-but rest assured, the new baby is healthy and very active, but more on that tomorrow….

Let’s back up: I shared here about my first pregnancy that sadly ended in miscarriage in July of 2010.  Once we were through all of that, conceived Jude and delivered him, I remember so clearly thinking, “I learned a lot about the difference between what I have control of and what God has control of, it brought Dustin and I closer together, it gives me more compassion and understanding for those who have gone through a similar loss, BUT I do not want to go through that again!” Pretty obvious, I know, but after being able to deliver a full-term baby, I was just hoping beyond all hope that all future pregnancies would be just fine-that it was just a glich as my body geared up for it’s mommy years.

I was one of those crazy women who was ready to get pregnant very soon after having Jude.  My feelings were that I would just as soon experience the really exhausting up all night, nursing day & day stuff all together while I was still used to it, rather than wait until I was rested up and used to sleeping all night, etc.  Of course, my doctors had recommended that after a c-section I should wait an entire year to conceive, but I just honestly wasn’t that worried about it, so we didn’t do anything to prevent pregnancy.  Crazy, I know, but I think after going through a miscarriage I was just so afraid to take any measures to prevent any pregnancies God would give me.  But, low and behold, I had a “side-effect” from nursing for 13 months that I completely wasn’t expecting-to put it delicately-my female cycle didn’t return for an entire year, and when it finally did it was very sporadic and spread much farther apart than before I had Jude.  It was a huge blessing, don’t get me wrong, but when Jude’s birthday rolled around in July, I was really beginning to feel anxious about wanting to get pregnant again, but it just wasn’t happening with my crazy cycle.

Fast forward to December 23-I finally had a positive pregnancy test, and I actually was thrilled about the timing.  My sister was coming home for Christmas that day, and I couldn’t wait to share the news with her.  It had taken much longer than I had hoped, but the baby would come just a month or two after Jude’s 2nd birthday, which I was happy about.  Because of my history of miscarriage, my doctor’s office wanted to see me pretty early, but it ended up being close to 8 weeks (based on my cycle) that I went to the doctor for the first time.  At this appointment we saw a heartbeat, however, the measurement was way off-instead of measuring 8 weeks the baby measured closer to 6 weeks.  Surprisingly, my health care professional wasn’t that worried about it.  After we discussed my crazy cycle, she said that it simply sounded like my dates were off, and the standard procedure is to be scheduled for a formal sonogram (which is much more precise) and adjust the due date if necessary.

I scheduled the sonogram on Martin Luther King Jr. Day because I had off school that day, and my plan was to drop Jude and day care, have the sonogram, and pick him back up to spend the day together.  However, this sonogram that I had will forever be remembered by me as the hands-down worse medical procedure I have ever had.  To begin with, I drank all the water they recommend you drink before such a procedure, but the sonogram technician was almost 20 minutes late in calling me back, and I was so unbelievably uncomfortable that I wasn’t sure I could walk back the hall without having an accident.  I explained this to the technician but she just told me that she needed my bladder full and I would need to wait.  So she started the exam externally, but after about a minute announced that I was too early for her to see anything externally and told me to go to the bathroom.  Then she looked around internally for a few minutes and then told me that she didn’t like the sonogram machine in this room, and would I mind moving to another room, which we did.  She then proceeded to look around internally again and then instructed me to go to the bathroom again because my bladder was full again and she couldn’t see anything.  This would be the moment that the tears came.  She assured me that all this didn’t mean that there was a problem, she just couldn’t get at the part she needed to see.  I was not comforted, but on with the exam we went.  She finally found the corner of my womb she was looking for.  I asked if she could see the baby and she curtly replied that she wasn’t able to give me any details.  She wouldn’t show me the screen-nothing.  And then she started asking questions like, “so you said you had a miscarriage….” You don’t have to be a genius to know what was going on.  So I left the office feeling utterly defeated, albeit with no clear information or diagnosis.  About 20 minutes later I received a call from my doctor’s office asking me come back in right way.  Thankfully because I had been through a miscarriage before they didn’t keep me very long-just reviewed my options, we decided on another D & E procedure which we scheduled for the next day, and that was that. Having been through it before at least meant that I new what to expect with the procedure and recovery, and this time around I had my sweet little boy to comfort me.  The only thing to add is that I have some amazing friends and family who saw us through that time-we needed that support and you were there.

A few weeks later a had my follow-up appointment at my OB-GYN and I wasn’t dreading this appointment, in fact I remember being so encouraged at my follow-up appointment after my first miscarriage.  It was a lot of “this happens to a lot of women” and “stay positive” discussion.  This time was different.  Having had a second miscarriage I was now in a higher risk category and instead of a “good luck & keep trying” speech we discussed possible causes, possible medications to try, and instead of trying again immediately, it was recommended that we wait 3-4 months to see if my cycle would even itself out on its own, have a full medical exam, and possibly start medication at that point if necessary.  More tears.  It was just so much to take in that not only had I endured miscarriage twice, but my chances were now actually higher of miscarrying again and there could actually be something wrong with me causing the miscarriages to happen.  Again, so grateful for those who walked beside me during this time.  I was also stressed about needing to make decisions about medication.  Dustin and I just do not take a lot of medication, and I felt very unsure about it.  I spent a lot of time praying during this time that God would make it very clear what I was supposed to do.

I don’t really consider myself to be that much of a rebel, but despite being told to wait a few months, we didn’t really do anything besides watch the calendar to prevent pregnancy (which if you think about it is kind of hilarious because with my crazy cycle, and I don’t know what we were basing any of this on!).  My 30th birthday came and went and sometime around Easter I had three mornings in a row where I was slammed with a wave of nausea as I was trying to get Jude and I out the door in the morning.  Finally on the third morning it dawned on me that maybe it was time to take a pregnancy test.  Which I did on Good Friday, and for the first time since we have been married I had the first result that I thought was inconclusive (and let’s just say that I have taken a lot of pregnancy tests over the years).  It was a test where one line is no pregnancy and two lines is a pregnancy.  Well my result was the faintest second line you could imagine.  I thought it counted, but Dustin was skeptical.  So I waited until the next Monday-and there it was two clear lines, two months before we were supposed to conceive =)  You would think that after having been through miscarriages that I would be nervous or anxious that I was pregnant again, but I just can’t help but be excited every time.  New Life!

And so concludes Part 1, happy ending and all.  Tomorrow-my story of this pregnancy, and it has been a doozy!

Blessings!

Thirty Years

So I’m thirty now…kind of unbelievable-it just doesn’t seem like 10 years have gone by since I turned twenty.  However, I started thinking about all that has happened since I turned 20:

20-Finally decided to follow the Lord’s calling into Music Education, Starting dating Dustin

21-Gave my Senior Piano Recital, Agreed to Marry my Beloved and began planning a wedding from 9 hours away

22-Graduated College with a Bachelor of Music, moved back to Pennsylvania, Became Mrs. Martin, was hired for my first full-time teaching job

23-Moved our residence as well as well as moving to a new school (where I still teach)

24-25-No big events, but lots of time and energy spent working on being a good wife and teacher

26-Began working on a Master of Science in Education

27-Finished my master’s degree (which is hopefully my last degree), Carried my first baby for 10 precious weeks before that baby went to Heaven in July, became pregnant again-Success!

28-Became a mommy! (and learned I can function fairly well on very little sleep)

29-Bought our first house, Carried my third baby for 8 precious weeks before that baby went to Heaven in January

It is so bizarre to think that ten years ago I was living in a dorm room with very few responsibilities and here I am having so many responsibilities!  I have learned what it means to love and to be loved in a way I never thought was possible.  I have endured the heartache of loosing two precious babies I wanted to hold in the worst way, but I will never forget that moment when I heard my son’s voice for the first time and I learned how to love in a new and amazing way.  I have learned that women are amazing creatures-I have the most amazing friends and family members who have shown me that we can go through so much and still have the strength to meet each new day with grace and dignity.

I wonder what the next 10 years will be like…I have NO intention WHAT SO EVER (I mean seriously NO intention!!) of pursuing any more degrees.  I pray there are more children in our future.  I look forward to teaching my son so many things and continuing to make our house a home.  Maybe going down a different career path with my beloved?  Who knows? I’m pretty excited to find out!

Blessings!

A Night Out

Between my Grandmother passing away and a few very stressful weeks of work for both Dustin and I, we were in desperate need of a date night.  We are big-time foodies, and we decided to treat ourselves to fancy dinner at our new favorite restaurant Aqua 103, located in nearby Hagerstown, Maryland.

The restaurant is upscale, but not fussy.  We have eaten there 3 or 4 times, and the food has been spectacular every time.  We started the meal with a Martini-specifically a new, seasonal Autumn Apple Martini.  I don’t get super excited about cocktails, but I realized that it was one of the first times we had been out in 2 years when I wasn’t pregnant or nursing, so we decided to splurge.  I believe it was a mixture of Rum, Apple Cider, Vanilla Schnapps and a fall spice mix.  It was very spicy, and definitely seasonal.

We each decided to get an appetizer, and I went with the Calamari.  The breading was so, so light, and the marinara it was served with was delicious.  I know that calamari, specifically the tentacles, can look scary, but seriously-the tentacles are the best part!

Dustin has a serious love for tuna sashimi, and he loved Aqua 103’s version, which had a spicy rub and was served with a seaweed salad.

Each of our entrees came with a house salad, which we enjoyed next.

Now for the really exciting food!  Aqua 103’s menu has so many interesting entrees, and I was really tempted by the crab cakes, and a pasta dish with shrimp, scallops and crab meat in a garlic cream sauce, but I felt like trying something new, so I ordered a Maple-Leaf Duck Breast, which was served with Asiago Bacon Risotto with a Raspberry Coulis.  This was my first experience having duck, and it was INCREDIBLE.  And yes, it was served Medium Rare!  I was a little apprehensive about the medium rare poultry, but it had such a lovely texture, and the skin was delicious.  That risotto was incredible, and the tart raspberry coulis helped balance the rich duck and risotto.

Dustin went with the Filet Oscar, a special, which was a Filet Mignon steak covered in crab meat.  The filet was served with Asparagus and Hollandaise sauce.  Much like my dish, it was very rich, but incredibly delicious.  I don’t know that we had ever tasted REAL Hollandaise sauce and it was lovely.

At this point we were pretty full, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share a dish of chocolate hazelnut gelato.  Like the rest of our meal, it was absolutely delicious.

I just had to share some pictures of our delightful meal, and I highly recommend Aqua 103 the next time you want to treat yourself in Hagerstown.

Here’s to a less stressful week!

Memories

Today my family said goodbye to my grandmother.  It has been a week of mixed emotions-my grandmother was a lovely woman who will be missed dearly, but I can also rejoice that she is in heaven now, and she is free from the burden her earthly body had become.  So many memories of my grandmother have come to mind over the last few days…

First of all, I have been reminded of my grandmother’s love for her family.  Grandma was the proud mother of 7 children, grandmother to 15, and great-grandmother to 13, not to mention our spouses.  As a child, I remember loving the idea of this large family-I always felt so badly for my friends that only had one or two cousins to play with at the holidays.  While their home was not large, my grandparents were happy to have the house full to the brim, and it was only after the first great-grand babies were born that we starting having our get-togethers somewhere else.

Grandma would sometimes baby-sit us on Saturdays.  She loved to feed my sister and I when she would baby-sit us, and I remember one specific time when she asked Trista and I what we wanted to eat for breakfast.  We replied that bacon would be good, and she proceeded to cook up a pound of bacon, which my sister and I scarfed down.  She offered to make us more, and I can’t remember now what our response was, but now that I know how much bacon can cost, I am touched that grandma was willing to make us happy, no matter how much it would cost her.  If she baby-sat us in the evening, we would usually watch the Grand Ol’ Opry, and snack on extra-dark potato chips.  If the Phillies or Penn State football would be on, I always thought it was so funny that my quiet, reserved Grandmother would shout at the television to offer support or criticism of her team.  Trista and I would always play the game Pay Day at her house, even though her game was missing many of the pieces.

My favorite holiday meals were the ones at her house.  When we were old enough all of the kids would eat in her and pappy’s bedroom, which was off the living room.  We would usually arrive slightly early on Thanksgiving to help grandma get everything ready, and it was often my job to mix together the stuffing that had cooked in the turkey with the stuffing she had prepared separately.  Oh could my grandma bake!  Every food network star will tell you that baking is a very precise science, but my grandmother’s sugar cookie recipe calls for “4-4 1/2 cups of flour”…was this based on the humidity?  All I know is that her cookies always came out perfectly, and mine do not!  Another of my favorites were her chocolate cupcakes (that she always baked in foil liners) which an icing that just looked like chocolate, but was chocolate peanut butter (yum!)  I don’t think I am as good a cook as my grandma was, but I have definitely inherited her love of feeding people!

Grandma had a baby girl, Marjorie, who died shortly after birth.  Before I had my miscarriage this was just a fact I knew about Grandma, but after losing a child, and then having my sweet Jude, it really moves to think about what pain Grandma must have felt during that time, but I never ever heard her talk about it.  When I suffered my miscarriage, Grandma was quick to offer sympathy, but she was full of hope, and I’ll never forget that she told me that I could at least enjoy trying for another =)  Wise words from a mother of 7!  As I think about her in heaven, I like to think that she now has the chance to get to know her baby girl as I hope to meet my baby in heaven when it is my turn to go home.  In fact, I don’t exactly know what heaven will be like, but since my grandmother worked in her church’s nursery for 50+ years, I am convinced that if heaven has a nursery, grandma will be there!

Grandma and her four youngest great-grand babies

As I think about her legacy, I think of all the things that I do, because she did these things, which sparked an interest in my mother, who sparked an interest in me.  I think one of the reasons I crochet is because my grandmas and my mom do…I want that skill to survive another generation.  My grandma had a huge garden and preserved much of her own food…mom and dad have always gardened, and now that we have moved I have great plans for our own garden.  Church and Sunday school attendance was so important to my grandmother-she valued this Christian fellowship, and I am so glad that our family persevered in finding our own church family.  My grandma was not a musician, but she loved hearing me play piano, and always gave me encouragement, especially when I played in church.

I feel greatly blessed to have had Grandma in my life for almost 30 years…I am sad that Jude will not know her better, but I know that he will still be blessed by her in the love he receives from his own grandma, and from the skills and recipes she has passed to her family members.

This hymn chorus has been on my mind all week:  When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!

Shout the Victory, Grandma!!