Yesterday was my birthday. It was perfect, thanks in part to so many people that I felt I just had to find a way to pay homage to all of them. I hope I didn't miss anyone, but yesterday was just so full of good that I have a feeling I likely did. Still, if you played a part in making the day so refreshing and beautiful and special, thank you. My heart is full, and I am so grateful to have the friends and family I do.
Nolan has changed yet another part of me (in a good way) because most years I have "needed" the day to be perfect (whatever that means) and FULL of celebration. Those are good things, but usually I will put too much pressure on it which kind of takes away from the fun.
This year, I just wanted to go to Rodale's Tulip Festival with my family; I wanted to bask in mass quantities of my favorite flower and show them to Nolan. I wanted to go on a date with my husband. Since those events were already on the books, I took on a much more relaxed approach to the day. I was free to enjoy it.
And enjoy it I did.
Some of my favorite parts:
-Snuggle time with Tim and Nolan in the morning. Oh MY, you should see this baby in the morning. He is chatty and happy and so excited that hey! all 3 of us are together! I love it when we can all lounge in bed together.
-An hour long conversation with my sister. It made it seem like she's not so far away. Also? She's getting MARRIED to a man who is perfect for her, and I'm so excited for them and her and OK, me,too because I just got a new brother-in-law whom I adore.
-Two hilarious phone messages, one each from Katie and Steven. Really. I laughed out loud.
-Tim took care of Nolan while I did Yoga for the Warrior. I'm getting closer to being able to do Bird of Paradise! (See below if you're wondering what I'm talking about.)
-Birthday mail! My favorite piece today was a card from my friend Kristen T. I'm pretty sure Kristen is my long-lost sister. Words from her just kind of seep into my heart and fill in the cracks.
-The Tulip festival! Rodale is a bit of a drive for us, so it meant time for Tim and I to talk. When we got there (after a bit of a panic because oh, no! We were going to be late! I HATE being late and making people wait), I fully sunk into Tim's everything is going to turn out fine and soaked up an hour and a half of wandering through fields, rows of beautiful flowers, and what I think is going to be Rodale's kids' summer camp with Tim, Nolan, Mary Ellen, Bill, Steph, Eric, and my mom.
Can I just tell you how much I love my family? I had a blast just taking in the scenery and exploring the grounds with these people who I feel so lucky to have in my life. And I got to watch them love my son. There's not a lot that can fill my heart like watching people love my baby well. (Also? You should have seen Bill with that little boy. They looked like they were just meant to be together, chilling, and taking in the sights. Ho.ly.Cow.)
-Tim and I went on a date! Just the two of us! I'm not quite sure when the last time that happened. I mean, my parents offer to watch Nolan often, but we usually have to use that time to work on homework or complete a project. But today? No projects, no homework. We wandered into a health food store when we arrived a bit too early for dinner (I got a few new things to play with- dried cherries with no sugar added, coconut oil, and fair trade cocoa nibs.) and then ate quite possibly our best dinner out to date.
Tim's cousin, Stacey, has been recommending The Farmhouse for quite some time, and I'm so glad she has. Words are my love language, but right after that? Food. Really good, well-thought-out food. The Farmhouse does that kind of food well. They source local and organic ingredients whenever possible (part of why it tastes so good- it's fresh!), aren't afraid to use fat (hello butter, pancetta, cream, and duck fat) and are creative with their menu offerings. Love, love, love. I'll certainly be talking about this meal for quite some time.
Oh, and our server? Amazing. I'll be contacting The Farmhouse to find out her name (we were at Table 3 at 5 o'clock) because she was just that good. Guessed immediately that I love mojitos, works there because she loves the food just that much, had great ideas and tips on what to order, and was so sweet and fun. To our server- I'm so sorry I don't remember your name! But I'll be finding it out and remembering it. You helped make our dinner so wonderful.
-With my love tank full, thanks to all the great conversation, experiences, sweet birthday messages (in email, text, and written, and facebook form) and amazing food, I returned (with Tim) to pick up my son, refreshed. Snuggles happened immediately, of course.
-As a perfect topper to the day, my dad presented me with two cookbooks he personally picked out for me. My dad essentially works two jobs, is training for a marathon,and is in the middle of a construction project at home (plus he tries to spend as much time with his grandson as he can!). He doesn't have a lot of extra time to be picking out presents, but he DID. And he picked out ones that perfectly suit my interests. That made me feel like a million bucks.
-And then my mother handed me giant organic chocolate cupcakes.
Last night, I made individual peanut butter mousse pies (altered slightly from this recipe).
There's a lot to be learned over the internet- my favorite part is all the stories that can be shared. Over the weekend, I read a story of an amazing woman one of the bloggers I follow met. I read that just a week after said meeting, she learned the husband of her new friend had died. Unexpectedly. With no warning. Leaving a wife and two daughters who love and ,of course, miss him in ways words cannot say.
All that woman (the one who lost her husband) asked of those who wanted to know what can I do? is to bake a peanut butter pie and share it with someone they/we/I love. And then hug them- the real, you-mean-this-much-to-me kind of embrace.
Now I don't know the woman who lost or husband or the one who wrote about her, but I thought that was a brilliant idea.
So today, I made peanut butter pies. These are a fairly healthy version, but I can assure you of three things: 1)they are delicious, 2) I do eat unhealthy desserts, but I like to reserve those indulgences mostly for the weekends (hello, cake, ice cream, and brownies!). Since my sweet tooth is raging lately, I need to make some good choices where I can and 3) making yummy and healthy things is one of my favorite ways to love- for many reasons including better quality of life and happy taste buds.
I told Tim to invite people over for dinner if he wanted to. I left it up to him because while I usually have plenty of opportunity for rest and me-time during the day, I do not know how his day will turn out, who he will run into, or what events might come to pass.
I made my version of a nice dinner to go with my peanut butter love pies. In the process, I discovered a new favorite way to use up the zucchini still growing in our back yard: I sauteed finely diced garlic in a little olive, added a bit of (organic) butter, then zucchini and sea salt, cooked it until it reached the desired consistency, turned off the heat, and hand-grated fresh parmesan over the top.
We didn't end up having dinner guests, but my thoughtful husband did end up helping my father-in-law load wood we unexpectedly found on our hands today. He worked hard on household projects that needed tending to, soon after arriving home. I stayed in the kitchen, cooking a meal I was pleased with, inviting my in-laws in for dinner (they couldn't stay), both of us loving and taking care of each other in our own ways.
The pies didn't get eaten (yet), but they are around for when we need them.
Peanut Butter Love Pie
- 1/2 cup oats
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 4 medjool dates
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2 6-ounce containers vanilla greek yogurt (I purposely didn't scrape mine clean so I could snack on it while I waited for dinner.)
- approximately 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter (my favorite is Smucker's brand)- you could use more to taste
1. Blend the oats, dates, cocoa powder, and almond milk in a food processor until blended into a doughy consistency.
2. In a separate bowl, mix yogurt and peanut butter until well-blended. Be sure to taste-test in case you want to add more peanut butter.
3. Press the oat-date-cocoa-almond milk mixture into the bottom of 3 glass parfait dishes (of course, you could improvise and use one larger glass dish or more smaller dishes, depending on what you have on hand) to form a crust.
4. Spoon yogurt and peanut butter mixture on top.
5. Freeze for about an hour . (Mine have obviously been frozen for longer. This is fine; I plan to thaw them for 15-20 minutes when we want them.)
I know it seems silly. It's a detail- a detail that's been true since my baby's conception, a detail that doesn't change my love for my child or the fact that I am now a mother or the path of change that life continues to follow.
But it's a big detail to me. Not because I was hoping for a son, or hoping for a daughter (I really had no preference), but because it is a detail that reminds me that my baby already has a personality, a frame, a set of genes. It's a detail that helps fill in the cracks that the movements, reading, the appointments, and physical changes leave behind.
Maybe I'm a little bit dramatic. I won't deny it.
But last Friday, I found out that I have a son. A perfectly healthy-looking son.
I saw him move. His hands in front of his eyes and behind his head. His knees tucked up to his belly . I was so glad that Tim was there because I couldn't have properly described what it was like to see our son no matter how hard I tried.
It was...it was as if I could see another piece of my world with Tim fall into place. My husband is a father to a son. I don't have the words yet to express what that is doing in my heart. But I can tell you this: similar to the way the love between Tim and I has grown over the last 6 (?) years, this whole becoming-parents thing is deepening it. A man who loves, takes care of, prioritizes, enjoys, and adores (I'm sure I'm missing some fitting verbs here) his wife and kid(s) is a treasure. And? Incredibly sexy.
I'm dreaming of watching my husband in action as a father and as the husband of a woman who is crazy about him. I'm dreaming of getting to know my baby boy. I'm dreaming of the adventures we're going to live out in life.
-Weight of my baby (according to the anatomy scan): 1 lb. 3 oz.
-Food cravings/aversions: nothing in particular (oh, except I want chocolate every.single.day...and I still am not into meat.)
-Crazy dreams: I have them almost every night (really ridiculous stuff), but never seem to remember them for long.
-Weight gain (total since my last appointment): 11 pounds
-Thoughts on who will be the stricter parent: My vote is me. Although I might like to say otherwise, Tim's much more of an adventurer/free-spirit than I am.
-Movement: I can feel my baby move more and more. In fact, while I was reading over this post, I saw my belly visibly move!
If you want to see pictures of my bare pregnant belly, scroll down a bit. (I have no shame.) But fair warning- I am blindingly white..and, well, pregnant.
(Yup, more baby talk. )
Sometimes I have a hard time believing I'm pregnant. I've seen an ultra sound, the heart beat, the growing belly, chest...and ok, a little in the butt. But still...hard to believe.
When Tim and I were first married, I was on YAZ. We were 21, living paycheck-to-paycheck (although I don't remember feeling stressed financially) and wanted a few years to be "Tim and Sarah" before we became "Tim and Sarah +." YAZ was expensive, but it did everything the commercials said it would- my moods were regulated, I didn't gain weight, my skin was clear...
Still, sometimes I wished that maybe my birth control would fail. Maybe we would get a surprise. At any abnormality, my hope would rise...and then fall when I had to come to grips with the fact that abnormalities are just how my body normally works.
After a couple of years or so, I really thought my birth control had failed. My body was acting pregnant (including the missed period), so I bought a pregnancy test.
It was negative.
I visited my doctor to explain my symptoms. "Oh, you must be pregnant!" I was given another pregnancy test.
It turned out that the birth control had not been completely metabolized by my body; the built-up leftovers were causing my body to behave strangely. I was told to go off hormonal birth control for two weeks while my body regulated itself.
I never went back on it.
(There are other means of birth control.)
Eventually, we decided to just "see what happens."
Nearly every month, my anticipation would rise. I thought that if it was "time," then it would happen, so I didn't do any charting, temperature-taking, or measuring of any sort. I thought that the right time would come quickly- both I and my brother were surprises to my parents. I knew people who got pregnant in the first month or two. I was pretty healthy and already a mama at heart.
Months, a year, and then more months passed, most of them bringing a little discouragement with them. Most of them leading to questions, to wondering. Many of them reminding me of the intense pulling at my heart- I was going to be a mother. I knew it, even it meant that Tim and I had to adopt all of our children.
I was a mother-to-be with a lot to learn.
That isn't to say I don't think I still have a lot to learn. Or that I won't need to be learning throughout the entire process of being some one's mama.
I needed to practice living in each day as it is, not just waiting for the next big thing.
There was a time when I realized that a big reason why I yearned for a baby right then was because I was looking for an escape from my current situation. No baby should be born with such an inappropriate expectation on those little shoulders.
I needed to learn how to be truly happy for people when they were getting what I wanted.
I needed to learn how to be okay even if I never gave birth to a baby.
The past 4+ years have been quite a ride. Tim and I have gone on trips, made new friends, poured time and heart into a church and then left, hiked mountains, shared our hearts and our vices, lived through a season when we barely saw each other (and that makes us both cranky), shared our (often very different) perspectives, encouraged each other,explored new places and food and ways of thinking, been so laughably imperfect, and piled on more of the glue that holds us together.
My child will have a mama who is a much better mother than she would have been before working through all of that stuff.
My child will know that his or her parents love each other.
Because of all that, I'm so glad I didn't get what I wanted right when I wanted it.
Just over 2 weeks ago, I signed on to Twitter.
[I do have a Twitter account. I don't use it a whole lot. ]
I happened across a tweet from Love that alerted my attention to a little girl who needs a home. The little girl was tugging on Love's heart, and she just had to put her fingers to keys, typing out a need.
I wanted to be her mama. I imagined bringing her to church and letting her run around in the usual chaos that occurs after the service and introducing her to all the amazing kids I know. Holding her close and making sure she was loved.
I'm not sure I'm meant to be her mama.
I'm not ruling it out. I think anything is possible. But with me about to lose my job in 2 months and then transition to stay-at-home mom status (because that is what Tim and I want for our family) and us being first-time parents, the timing for us just doesn't seem right. We're not sure we could provide financially and emotionally for two cherubs at different stages right away.
[I'm confident I will adopt. Maybe I will adopt several children into the patchwork family I'm dreaming of. But maybe not this year?]
But for some people, the main adoption barrier is the cost of the actual adoption. Anika's is $33,000. Pretty steep, huh?
So when I read Love's post today, I'm certain the word "thankful" is not enough to describe what was (and is) going on with me. Love is advocating for Anika- spreading fundraiser parties to help raise the money needed to bring the little girl I'm so in love with home (wherever that may be).
Maybe I can't be that little girl's mama, but I can help bring her home to whoever is. I'm so grateful for that. So grateful that there were tears. In my office.
I'm also tears-grateful for my sister, who volunteered to host a double party with me.
You know what that means? It's going to be fun. A lot of fun. And there will be good food involved.
More details to come.
If you're local, and you already know you want to come if you can make it, send me an email or let me know in the comments, ok?
Happy Thankful Thursday to you.
My parents tell me I asked God for a sister when I was two years old. How was I so smart at back then? I was brilliant!
Because that girl is one of those jewels that hide in unexpected places...except I was one of the first to find her, to get to know her, to share life with her.
And that makes me...well, still pretty brilliant.
I was hoping for some good sleep last night after yesterday's early morning wake up call (issued by my hungry stomach.)
I woke up at 5 am to the sound of a father yelling at his son. Yelling is not even the word. It was that through-gritted-teeth-angry-I-can't-stand-you-right-now sound.
I get that 5 am is a normal wake up time for some. I get that parenting is hard and frustrating and we're all human and say and do things we'll regret later. I get that I don't really get it because I'm not a parent so I don't, in reality, know what it's like.
But that kind of thing is hard for me to take. Not just because it was 5 am, but also because here I am, waiting patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) for my turn to mother some child who I imagine teaching and learning from, eating cereal while watching cartoons, making cards to send off, baking cookies to enjoy and also deliver together, and having sick days (and all of that)...
Most days I'm okay with waiting. Really.
But then my thoughts start running away from me, and...there are all these children without security- some with parents, some without. And I'm wondering what I can do. Who I can be to them, you know?
I'm so inspired by my blog friend, Lovelyn. (She goes by "Love," and the name fits her so well.) She's in Uganda right now, just loving orphans. In her last post, she wrote about some of her experiences in a children's prison . (I encourage you to click on that link and then read about the rest of her most recent trip to Uganda...and anything else you find on her blog. ) Reading her stories gives me hope that it's possible to allow your heart to keep growing bigger and bigger to keep loving more and more not become paralyzed by just how much need there is.
There is lots swirling around in my heart and my head right now.
I'm wondering when my adoption journey is going to start. I'm reading Timothy Keller's Generous Justice; I'm thinking about church, traveling, and how I think I'm at least a little bit Hebrew at heart ( and how fitting it is that I was named "Sarah."). I'm thinking about money and how it's not really mine- it's God's- but how does that play out in the living part of life?
I'm thinking that I'm just this girl- this girl who is really not that outgoing or charming, who is at least a little bit cheesy and second guesses herself a little too much. But great stories are full of "just this girl"'s who said "yes" to something scary.
And I like great stories.
Years ago, I spent 3 months in Kazakhstan living with a local family. There was so much to be scared of there. There was a lot of new and a lot of different. And while I like a good challenge, I have a chicken heart and...any challenge I've taken has happened because I either didn't realize the challenge or I firmly told my chicken ways to "go AWAY!"
I remember one beautiful day in Kazakhstan. Every one was jumping creeks and fences and climbing rocks, and I was afraid to try. But there was this boy at home (he had my heart), and I knew he would have told me to just do it. To not even think about it, and just go.
So I did. And it felt great. It felt great to knock my silly fears down , just do it, just enjoy.
This is how our lives have been. The fears, the cheering, the prodding, the relief, the exploring, the wonder (and struggles, but they seem of little consequence when compared to all the rest).
Tomorrow, we celebrate 4 years of marriage. One day, I think that 4 years will seem like a drop in the bucket, but today? Well, today, I am grateful for how much deeper and stronger our relationship has become over those years...and I'm looking forward to the adventures that lie ahead for the two of us.
One brown rice tortilla, heated in the microwave for 30 seconds, with a slathering of my beloved cashew butter (interpret "slathering" to be any amount you desire), plus a sprinkling (again, interpret as you see fit) of both chia seeds and ground flaxseed.
And some roasted butternut squash. (I make mine with olive oil and cinnamon. I think it tastes like pumpkin pie filling.)
I think it's a great combination of flavors, textures, and nutrition. (The chia seeds and ground flaxseeds really add nothing to the flavor profile, but I can use all I can get as far as energy goes lately, so in they go.) Try it if you want to.
I keep trying to convince my husband to believe me when I say, "Roasted butternut squash issoooo good." I usually stop myself and say, "why am I doing this?" Roasted squash does not last long in this house, and it's just me eating it right now.
I think about food alot. Eating it, making it, serving it. Who gets to eat and who doesn't.
I don't have it sorted out.
But I'm grateful for the inspiration I've been getting lately to explore the heart of the God I read about in the Bible, what real love looks like, and what's really important. I surely don't have it together, but my friends? I sure do want to learn.