Daughter, Wife, Mother... this is what I do

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Life and 8 month olds...


This little lady is officially 8 months old (on 12/23.) Time has absolutely flown. In the name of documentation, here are some things that are new in her world:

-Eating finger foods like a champ. She would probably prefer solely eating finger foods, because whenever I bust out that little plastic spoon and the pureed goodness it's war. (Slight exaggeration, she's actually a very good eater. She just enjoys feeding herself and doesn't seem to enjoy as much when she doesn't have control.)

-Crawling everywhere. She was a little wobbly and slow at first (starting around 7 months) but she is actually quite speedy now.

-Pulling up on anything and everything that her little chubby hands can reach. Quite often that includes my legs.

-Has FOUR teeth! She got her first two teeth (the bottom middle 2) at about 5 months and the two on either side of those teeth broke through yesterday. I love her little snaggle-tooth smile :)

-Making raspberry sounds. She loves to play the imitation game. If you blow a raspberry at her, she'll do it back to you. So much fun.

-Waving! She started this when her Great Grandpa was waving at her on Christmas and all of a sudden, a sweet little hand went up and down in the air! Sometimes she puts her whole arm into it, sometimes she just grabs the air with her hand. Love seeing her learn and associate words with actions.

-(Speaking of words...) I think she has a growing understanding of the word "no"... actually "no ma'am" which is what we say to her most frequently. Tyler and I have both seen her stop what she's doing when we say, "No ma'am!" firmly. Still hasn't worked in trying to teach her not to stand in her crib or in the bath tub. I feel like my life lately has been spent sitting/laying her back down and saying, "No ma'am. Elle, we don't stand in the crib/bathtub." Sheesh

-Still crying herself to sleep... this has been not so fun for me. Or anyone really. It brings lots of anxiety and stress. We decided, after we were done traveling for the holidays, to buckle down. I committed to not going in and interacting with her for as long or as often. It. Has. Been. ROUGH. I think, in large part, due to her teeth coming through. I've struggled with this, because everything in me wants to abandon our plan because she's been teething. I want to blame all her sleeping struggles on this. And it MAY be that, but I don't think it's wise for me to cave in and rock her to sleep or let her sleep with us every night because she's hurting. I've been giving her baby ibuprofen and trying to stick with it. There have been several days where she has cried right through every nap and then falls asleep eating in the evening because she's so exhausted. We're on day 4 of this bootcamp and I'm giving it until Sunday. Hopefully we'll see some progress by then. Progress at this point would look like less than 45 minutes of crying :(. And naps longer than 30 minutes after falling asleep. Not fun for anyone, I say.

[We did have one night where she fell asleep after only 2 minutes of crying AND put herself back to sleep in the middle of the night after only 20 minutes of crying. I think this was God's gift to me to help me press on. I can totally handle 2 minutes of crying!]

I hate to end on that note. Because this has been the best month by far.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Building more than I see...

I meet weekly with a group of young moms in our neighborhood. We mostly spend time processing through scripture, which is good, necessary and challenging for all of us. But, today we spent time sharing how we were doing.

Mostly prompted because I have been struggling. Struggling with the insecurity and discontentment that "merely" taking care of a child can bring to a heart that's not finding it's worth in the truth that God calls me worthy in Jesus.

I found that the lot of us were all struggling with this insecurity and discontentment of staying at home. Are we really doing anything that's important? Are our husbands mentally rolling their eyes as we explain the stress of a baby that didn't take as long a nap as they should? What are we really spending our days doing?

Blah.

But here's where I'm encouraged and uplifted. The gospel. God, wrapped in flesh, became a baby. He became small and insignificant. He spit up and cried and pooped on Himself. and His mother spent her days cleaning Him up, rocking Him to sleep and taking care of Him. And one day, Jesus would bridge the eternal divide that existed between His Father and creation. One day, Jesus would defeat sin and death. Crazy. Mary's mundane was made into the greatest gift humanity has ever been given, and God was glorified in the small things.

Here's what John Piper has to say about it:

"There is a principle here that applies to you and me: God takes small, imperfect things and builds them into a habitation for his glory. O, how we should take courage in our little spheres of influence! And is this not the message of Advent and Christmas?

What more appropriate word could God have said to Mary as Jesus was growing up: Take courage, young mother, you build more than you see. And so it is with every one of us. Nothing you do is a trifle if you do it in the name of God. He will shake heaven and earth to fill your labor with splendor. Take courage, you build more than you see."

My heart is filled with hope because bottles and laundry are not the end of what's being built here. My heart is filled with hope because I am not the dictator of how things will turn out. My heart is filled with hope in thinking on how God made good on His promise to save me when Jesus was born.

You build more than you see...


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Independence...



A little [embarassing] fact about me. I used to think I was an awesome speller. But then I noticed that I always spell "independence" "independAnce." Maybe I thought it made the word more fun?

Which leads me to my next point. Teaching my kid independence has not been as fun as I dreamed it would be. (Actually, I don't think I thought about it much until recently.) At least at this point. Currently, we're attempting to teach her to be independent of us (me, really) in falling asleep. In the past 7 months I have been vehemently against letting Elle "Cry-It-Out" (CIO). There was something that curled up and died inside of me as a mom in not soothing my child when she's crying for me. I couldn't and just wouldn't handle it. I researched articles and studies that proved why letting Elle CIO was harmful for her. (There's not much... if you're interested.) So, for awhile, even though I had to RUN to her every couple of hours to prevent the cry from escalating to supersonic levels, I stuck by my stance of not letting my child cry. It was too painful for me and for her. And while rocking/nursing your cuddly, ever-growing-and-changing-not-a-baby-for-much-longer baby to sleep really is as wonderful as it sounds and I would do it every single night if I could, it's the constant waking and crying because they don't know how to calm themselves back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night that is absolutely exhausting. Not just for me. For Tyler, too.

After a series of somewhat heated discussions on the topic, I realized my sin in this area. I wanted absolute comfort in raising my child. Even if that meant losing sleep. I didn't want to hurt for her. I didn't want to even think that she might be in pain. This is motherhood, though, right? We want to keep our kids comfortable and happy and snuggled up safely in our arms, even if that means we never get any sleep. Even as I'm writing this, I'm fighting the urge to think, "But that's so noble of me! To give up my rest for the comfort of my daughter! What a great mom I am!"

But is our kids' happiness and comfort really the appropriate measure of success for us as mothers? I think America would like for us to believe that it is. But if I'm looking at parenting through the lens of who Jesus is and what He has created me for, success in parenting would be to usher my child into an independent love and worship of her creator. I don't want her to be a woman who says, "Yeah, my mom really loves Jesus" when asked about her faith. Or even the, "I was raised in a Christian home" answer that most of us utter when asked what we believe.

Thus began the first of many adventures in teaching Elle to be independent. Letting her cry. It has been every bit as hard as I thought it would be (though, not quite as intense and awful as it was the one time we let her cry when she was only 4 months old. If you're thinking of doing it, I would wait until 6-7 months-ish. It makes such a difference that I know her different cries.) I haven't let her cry for more than 10 minutes at a time at this point. (about 4 days in) And I do pick her up and sometimes even rock her a bit if she's super worked up. Maybe this will prolong the process, who knows? But I'm leaving room for that ever intrusive motherly instinct that some books tell you to squash in the name of efficiency. And, I will tell you that it. has. worked. She has actually put herself to sleep a few times. And last night, she even slept until 6 am. 6 IN THE MORNING, PEOPLE! Without making a peep after going to bed. (Well, after the crying...)

[Subsequently, it should have been the best night of sleep I've had since she was 2 months old when she slept 8 hours at a time... but I woke up every hour wondering when she was going to wake up. Go figure. Still! It was a win for the David family!]

However, there is something so so sad about letting your sweet child cry herself to sleep. But, there are going to be lots of those moments, I'm sure. Encouraging her to go to overnight camp even though she is terrified... Teaching her to love and deal with mean kids at school... Disciplining her for making foolish choices... None of these things will be fun. I will probably cry. I will probably hurt for her. I will probably want to swoop down to save her, and I will on occasion! Afterall, God swooped down to save me, and that is what grace is, right?

But, right now, I am embarking on the first of many journeys in teaching Elle to be independent. (Not indpendAnt.)

For the record. I tried lots of other methods in my opposition to letting her cry. Pick Up/Put Down from the Baby Whisperer being the most successful. It just was not sustainable overnight. BUT, this method did help Elle not to be dependent on nursing to sleep and if you have an iron will and a husband with an iron will, then I say DO IT! It's a great alternative to letting your kid CIO. Despite what some doctors and authors say, letting them cry isn't the only way, but other ways just didn't work for our family. The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg is a great resource and is by far the best and most moderate (in regards to attachment parenting vs. putting your kids on a strict schedule) parenting book I've read. Which, I really value.

And, what kind of mother would I be if I didn't leave you with a little picture to oogle? :)


And, just because she's even cuter awake than she is asleep :)






Sunday, November 27, 2011

One Reason I Haven't Blogged in 3 Months...

I blame my 3 month blogging silence on this little cheeser. Isn't she adorable? She gets cuter by the day.

Currently she is:
-Scooting and bellyflopping (moves her legs then flops on her belly to get her arms where she needs them to be to go forward.)
-Babbling and cooing with g- , m-, l- and oo- sounds.
-Proportional. At one point her head was in the 95th percentile and her weight and height were in the 75th. Currently her head and body are all in the 75th percentile. :)
-Feeding herself some finger foods. She's a pro at getting pieces of cereal into her mouth. Bite-sized grapes on the other hand, not quite as successful.
-Wearing mostly 9 month clothes.
-Reaching out for people she loves. [She loves lots of people. :)]
-Has a new bestie, Edgar the Border Collie. Papa Tyler finally relented and let us add a dog to our little family. Edgar is a little less than a year and has a super sweet disposition. Elle loves him and giggles anytime he comes close.

That's all the documentation for now. I'm going to do my best not to let another 1/4 of a year go by before I write out all the exciting things that are going on around here.

But, for now I'm going to enjoy the post bedtime silence and glass of wine with my husband.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

4 Whole Months




One year ago around this time, on our lunch break from meetings and classroom prep, Mandie and I were riding in the car and she said to me, "Next year around this time you will have a 4 month old! Oh my goodness!" I sat wide-eyed and said, "Yup." I had just told her that I was pregnant and I was definitely still in shock myself.

Well, miss Elle-Belle, today you are 4 months old. And I still feel like I'm sitting wide-eyed saying, "yup" to myself.

Month One

Your first month with us was so sweet. It was full of learning how to bathe you, struggling with breastfeeding, figuring out what to do about diaper rash, and snuggling you.

Thinking back to you in that first month, you were so teeny tiny. You slept best when you were next to me or your daddy. I spent lots of time on our cream couch with you. Mostly because I just couldn't pull myself away from you and partly because I was too exhausted to do anything else.

You also smiled at about 4 weeks. That was probably my favorite part of this month. I don't think anyone really believed me so it was our little secret for a while.

I learned a lot about my need for community and the worth that I get from achieving tangible things and not Jesus.

Month Two

This month was filled with lots of transition. You transitioned to staying awake a lot more, you finally transitioned to sleeping in your bassinet, and then transitioned to sleeping in your very own room when we moved to our new house. [A house that I'm sure I'll never want to leave simply because it will hold so many memories of you doing new things in it.]

One glorious, glorious morning I woke up to the sunshine in a panic because I was so used to waking up to your cries in the dark. Much to my surprise, you had slept for 6 long, luxurious hours. Thanks for letting me feel like a brand new woman. :) From that day on you mostly slept 6-8 hours straight at night. You spoiled me.

You let others in our little secret and started smiling in public, except you were still very selective. Most of the time you looked like you were sizing everyone up.

Your daddy and I spent a large amount of our time with you trying to get you to smile :) Your daddy is still pretty good at it, and I imagine it will be that way for some time.

Month Three

This might be most favorite month of all with you. There were so many firsts! You rolled over, you found your feet, you belly laughed. Someone said somewhere, that baby belly laughs should be bottled and sold. I fully agree. I still tear up when I hear that sweet little laugh. You had your first plane ride (you did great!), first cross country road trip (it would have been exhausting no matter how great you did), first boat ride (you weren't a fan of the constricting life jacket and 100 degree temperature combination), first beach trip. It was jam packed with lots of adventure. I learned that taking you with us on all these trips is not entirely restful, but I couldn't imagine being anywhere without you for that long.

You began sitting in your exersaucer and I watched with my own eyes as you learned that you could make things happen. You learned how to spin the clicking wheel with your chubby little hand and it was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. When I plop you in it now, you're a wheel spinning pro.

I'm learning that I probably will miss teaching this year, but I wouldn't trade getting to spend my days with you for the perfect job in the perfect school with the perfect coworkers and students. Never.

Three months have come and gone and we love you more than the day we met you. We love watching your little personality develop. You are joyful, easy to please, people-loving. I can't wait for what this new month holds. I love looking forward to so many new things.

I am realizing that you grow up much too fast for my liking. So I'm learning to do my best to enjoy each sweet little moment.

I'm so thankful that God picked me to be your mama and to shepherd your tiny heart. Praying that He is glorified in our family as we struggle to figure all of this out. Happy 4 months, my sweet little Love Bucket.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

[Mama Post] Babies and Sleep





I'm not writing this post because I've got Elle's sleep figured out, nor am I writing it because I've exhausted my research on the topic. I just want to open a dialogue on sleep and offer up my experience, anxiety and conclusions as of late.

For the first 8-10 weeks of Elle's sweet little life, she would sleep anywhere. I never really worried about naps, because she slept whenever she was tired. And she would sleep anywhere I went. At this point she was sleeping 6-8 hours a night on her own. I didn't have to do anything to help her do this. It was marvelous. I'm sure I didn't appreciate what a magical time that was for me.

Well, as Elle is becoming a thriving 4 month old, she's much more alert, awake more often, sees all kinds of things and has a really hard time napping. She also has been going through her 4 month growth spurt (I think) so she wakes up a couple of times a night to eat. (However, there was one night this week she slept for 9 hours straight, so I think we're maybe climbing our way out of that one.) All this to say, I began thinking about Elle's sleep habits and thought maybe it's time to start some research on sleep training and what that might look like for our family. Now, as I said, I still have not exhausted my research on the subject, but I've read "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Dr. Weissbluth and have been talking to friends and thinking lots about my sweet girl's sleeping habits and how I can help her learn to be a better sleeper.

I don't know if I've shared this before, but when I do lots of research on baby-raising, I tend to get really anxious, "Oh gosh! I don't do this! I've ruined my child!" or "Oh gosh! My kid isn't like this. What's wrong with her?!?!" or "Dr. So-and-So says this. I CANNOT deviate!"

This dialogue goes on internally most of the time. On the outside, I try to project myself laid back and cool-as-a-cucumber. Ha! Maybe I don't fool some of you. Hopefully I don't.

Here are some things that are currently happening in our lives as far as sleep is concerned. Then I'll get into what I hope to change.

- I almost always nurse and/or rock Elle to sleep. I think Dr. Weissbluth calls this "Parent aided sleep." What I really like about this book is that it never says that this is a bad method. I've read some other books (maybe Babywise? I can't really remember) that say that this is NOT a good idea. Subsequently, I had this notion that nursing my sweet girl to sleep was bad. "Bad, mama!" But it was easiest and convenient for both of us. Her feeding times seemed to come right before bed time and nap time. So we went with it. But I just felt so guilty. Because I thought it was wrong. Because I thought I was messing up my child or creating some kind of unhealthy sleep association. False. I've since decided that I totally don't mind nursing her to sleep. I actually really love it. It works for us. My issue here is that she'll sleep in my arms like a champ. But when it comes to nap times, she has a tough time sleeping after I put her down. I'll get into this more in a minute.

-She has fallen into an almost regular nap schedule. She will get sleepy around 9:45am. If I wait until 10:15 to start soothing her to sleep, it's too late and she's a crazy lady. I did learn from Dr. Weissbluth that an infant who is overtired is much MUCH harder to get to sleep than an infant who is just entering the sleepy zone. I've learned Elle's tired signals and do my very best to get that girl lightly swaddled and calmed down really quickly. And honestly, it works most of the time. She goes right to sleep and often when I catch her at the right moment, she's much easier to put down after she falls asleep. Her morning nap ranges anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Yesterday her morning nap was 2 hours. Then she gets tired again around 12-1 depending on how long she slept during her morning nap. Here's where I didn't love Dr. Weissbluth. He expressly states that any nap under 45 minutes is not a viable nap and not restorative for her. So, when she would wake up after 20 minutes of napping, I felt like I HAD to get her back down. I would try, she would flip out because she was not wanting to sleep at all. Stress. What I realized is this: if she's not cranky after her 20 minute nap, that's all she needed. I'll keep an eye out for her tired signals and put her down if I can later, even if it's not at her regular nap times.

-I've started keeping a nap log. Similar to the diaper and feeding log they make you keep on your baby the first couple weeks of her life. But I just log when she sleeps and how long and what comes before and after the nap/sleep. This has just helped me figure out her sleep patterns and how much she's getting. More for my peace of mind than anything. And if she has a particularly rough day, I can look at how much sleep she got and see if it had anything to do with that. This makes me sound more anal than I am. It's not that big of a deal. I just opened a sticky note on my desktop and just write it in when I think about it. I started doing this to put myself at ease about her sleep habits. Another thing I didn't love about Dr. Weissbluth's book was that they really lay it on thick at the beginning of the book about what can happen if your kid doesn't get enough sleep. (ADHD, Learning Disorders, all hell will break loose, etc.) So I was freaking out a little. The nap log reassured me that she was fine. Also, trusting that God, who created her, is in control of her sleep and whatever happens as a result.

What I want to change:

-I really would like Elle to be able to fall asleep on her own. It would make having sitters and being at other people's houses around bed time/nap time alot easier. So we're going to work on that. Not sure what works best as far as this is concerned. Do I need to give up nursing/rocking her to sleep cold turkey and never do it again? Can I do a combo of both? Thoughts?

-Sleeping longer hours at night. Really this is more for my comfort than anything. Lately, things have been crazy at night. Like first 3 weeks crazy, so maybe I'm being overly ambitious because I'm so ready for a normal night of sleep again. But I feel like 10 hours on average is a reasonable goal for her. The best we've gotten in the past month is 9. And that was 2 nights ago. and the only time she slept through the night at all in the past month.

So I'm currently researching different sleep training methods, understanding that I'm mostly ok with my daughters' current sleep habits. She does pretty good and so do we. Again, just wanted to share my experience as a very unexperienced mother who's just figuring it out as we go (sort of.) Feel free to leave thoughts, comments, suggestions, what have you.

Happy Sleeping!

Post-thought: Little Love Bucket took a TWO HOUR afternoon nap. And her morning nap was ONE HOUR! WAHOO! This mama's happy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Storytime...

So, this morning... I set myself up to spend some good time reading my bible. Elle had just fallen into a sweet angelic sleep, I had a (very large) cup of coffee beside me. (To make up for the sleep that was stolen right out from under me by my little Lovey. More on that later...) My brand new, shiny journal, Sharpie pen, and bible were at the ready. Good start to my morning...

Then...


Sweet angelic noises started coming from the swing where Elle was napping. She wasn't crying. Just not sleeping. So i let her play there for a while until the sweet noises turned to fussing. And then the fussing to crying. So I gave up and grabbed her for some cuddle time.

Then we did this:
video

If you don't feel like watching it, that's ok. I'm not offended in the slightest. I'll just tell you about it.

Elle and I read The Jesus Story Book Bible. This is not your everyday "Bible Stories For Kids" book. It's beautiful and wonderful and more often than not brings me to tears reminding me of the character of God. The whole purpose of the book is to retell these Bible stories in a way that explicitly lays out Jesus, God's Son, as the crux of the whole book. "Every story whispers his name." It's beautiful.

*Also, if you didn't watch the video, you missed out on Elle giggling while I read the story. Pretty funny to me, but I'm a bit biased I suppose.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this blogpost. As I sat there, reading to my 3 month old, God was so sweet and faithful to encourage me as His daughter. Here's what I read:

"So God breathed life into Adam and Eve. When they opened their eyes, the first thing they ever saw was God's face.

And when God saw them he was like a new dad. "You look like me," he said. "You're the most beautiful thing I've ever made!"

God loved them with all of his heart. And they were lovely because he loved them."

Along with being a new parent and wrapping my head around that "You're the most beautiful thing I've ever made!" sentiment (except my comprehension of this is but a brush stroke to God's masterpiece work of Love)... I was reminded that I, too am lovely because He loves me.

Often, subconsciously I think, I believe the lie that God is frustrated or exasperated with my stupidity, lack of discipline, cowardice, etc. (I really could go on and on with a list of words describing why God should be exasperated with me.) But the good news is that even though I am all of those words and probably to a far greater degree than I care to admit to myself, I am lovely. I am lovely to Him because Jesus was lovely to Him. He didn't leave me to fend for myself and try to earn my way back to Him. I often believe "God doesn't love me" as evidenced by my lack of trust, faithfulness, lust after fleeting gratification... but He does and sent His Son to show just how much He does, in fact, love me. He moved heaven and hell so that I could know his "Never stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love."

This is news that I need to be reminded of every single hour of my life. It is good news. and it is for me. and for you.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Vacation and Kale Chips




So, you know how everyone always says "I need a vacation after my vacation!" Well... I really do. Taking a 3-month-old on a cross country road trip to Missouri and then immediately flying to a beautiful beach in Mexico is quite the feat. I'm proud to say that we all survived, but we're a little wiser than we were when we left. I won't say that we'll NEVER go on vacation again with an infant, but we will think a little bit harder about when and where we vacation next time.

All that to say... yes, it was not quite as relaxing as the vacation I used to know and love, but it was wonderful and fun all the same. Here are a few highlights:

Lake Ozark, Missouri
-Hanging with some of our favorite people in the universe.
-Sunset boat rides.
-Slaloming.
-Watching the finale of "Friday Night Lights" with previously mentioned favorite people in the universe.
-Cooking lots of yummy, clean, meals.
-Cheating a little bit on our Eat Clean diet. :)
-Dock swimming.

It was beautiful. See?


Playa del Carmen, Mexico
-Beautiful beaches. White sand and blue, blue water. Perfection. You can see this perfection behind my sweet squinchy-faced love bucket. Taking pictures of beautiful beaches takes a backseat to her. I honestly forgot to take one. But you get the picture.

-Definitely cheating on our diet. The food was too yummy.
-Delish mojitos any time.
-Gia (Elle's grandma- my MIL) hung out with her many times so that I could take a nap, workout, get a massage or lay by the beach. All of which I did and enjoyed thoroughly and did NOT take for granted.
-Surprisingly delicious Japanese food! Who knew?
-Hanging with Kailey, Alexis and Steve all week. Such a fun fam.
-Connecting with my sweet hubby. Love that man.
-Immediately getting hooked into The Girl who Played with Fire. I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a few months ago and had mixed feelings about it. After reading the 2nd in the series, all my qualms with the first were laid to rest. Everything that annoyed me about the first book was totally necessary to make The Girl who Played with Fire as awesome as it was. I can't wait for the movies!! (The American ones. I can't handle the subtitles in the Swedish version.)
-Laughing with my sweet baby girl. She's hilarious and so much fun right now. See?


Confession: This picture is from the lake the week before. But, how could I NOT put this face in the blogpost. She's the cutest.

That was the best (and the worst) from our vacation extravaganza with a 3-month-old in tow.

Now for the good part... as some of you may know, Tyler and I have embarked on the Eat Clean Diet. Think: Less of a fad diet, more of a lifestyle change. Nothing processed. Not much dairy. Lots of whole grains, fiber and lean proteins. It's been pretty great. I actually really love eating this way.

The two things I miss the most? 1. Milk from a cow. More specifically the cereal that I put in my cow's milk. There are two very sad boxes in our pantry of Kashi Honey Sunshine that are just begging to be eaten. But it's just not the same with Almond milk. 2.Chic-Fil-A. I may or may not have driven by there today to maybe get one little waffle fry and one little chicken nugget and may or may not have found out that they give away small waffle fries on Fridays from 2-4pm. I also may or may not partake in these free fries. They are also giving away free breakfast the last week in August.

But, hey... this is a lifestyle change. Caving every now and then is part of a lifestyle. I'll go crazy and binge on things like oreos and rocky road if I don't.

Back to my original thought. Kale Chips. Kale is packed with all kinds of nutritional goodness. Wikipedia calls it "the most nutritional vegetable in the world." However, if you've ever tried to put Kale in a salad... it's just not that palatable. Fear not friends. Here's a great way to eat Kale and satisfy your chip craving all in one. I've been making these weekly since I found out about them.

Kale Chips

Ingredients:
1 bunch Kale
2 tbls Olive Oil
Seasoning Salt to taste
Red Pepper Flakes (if you like a little kick)

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Trim the stems off the Kale leaves and tear or cut the leaves into even-ish bites.
3. Use your hands to mix in the Olive Oil, Salt and Red Pepper Flakes (if using)
4. Spread seasoned Kale onto a foil covered cookie sheet in one single layer.
5. Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges of the leaves start to brown.

Now, pop one of these bad boys in your mouth and soak in the nutrients. Enjoy :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Valley of Vision

Came across this prayer this morning and am asking God to continually remind me of this and stir my heart because of it. Hope you're encouraged and stirred or at the very least perplexed by it:

Thou art worthy to be
praised with my every breath,
loved with my every faculty of soul,
served with my every act of life.

Thou hast loved me, espoused me, received me,
purchased, washed, favoured, clothed,
adorned me,
when I was worthless, vile, soiled, polluted.
I was dead in iniquities,
having no eyes to see thee,
no ears to hear thee,
no taste to relish thy joys,
no intelligence to know thee;
BUT thy Spirit has quickened me,
has brought me into a new world as a
new creature,
has given me spiritual perception,
has opened to me thy Word as light, guide,
solace, joy.

So much sweet peace and joy in any circumstance in light of this truth.

Friday, June 24, 2011

2203 Maple Hollow Trail

That's right. We are the proud new renters of 2203 Maple Hollow Trail. We're officially moved in. (ok, maybe not so officially due to the amount of boxes I've yet to unpack) Either way, we're loving having space and a neighborhood with a wonderful pool, basketball, tennis and volleyball courts litchrally! (Parks and Recreation, anyone?) 100 yards from our house.

Our neighbors are wonderful and have walked out to meet us on several occasions. Linda even invited me inside and gave me lemonade while we chatted about the neighborhood. She's the one that knows everything about everyone. In a non-nosy, spying kind of way.

I've even got a little starter garden with tomatoes, onions, peppers and a few other mystery veggies! Which, let's be honest here, I know my dad farms acres and acres of this stuff, but my goal is to just not kill it this summer. I don't know that I got his green thumb gene.

So now that I've talked about how much I love our neighborhood, house and life, I'll tell you my dilemma: decorating. In our cozy little 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom downtown apartment, creating a warm, homy atmosphere was less than overwhelming. We had plenty of furniture and wall hangings to make things feel nice and inviting. Here, well, I'm struggling. So- I need your help. Without spending lots of money, I want to make our space original, inviting, warm, cozy.

Here are some areas I'm unsure about what to do with:

-The Foyer. It's tiled with lots of great light coming from the huge oval window in our door, that I have yet to get a curtain for. My vision is to have a few hanging vases like these. And maybe some whimsical slash vintage frames arranged ever so artfully on the walls surrounding the door. Maybe some hooks for keys and jackets and things. See? Overwhelming.

-The Walls: Our landlord has been hesitant to let us paint. And now she's in Germany for a few weeks, so I don't want to paint without her approval. But painting is such an easy answer to creating a warm room. I painted a room in our previous apartment a Marigold yellow and it was instantaneously inviting. So, I'm probably going to do this again if my landlord lets us. But until then, I want to hang the random photos and things in an organized, asymmetrical way. Any ideas on how to do this or photos/blogs on wall hanging arrangements would be fabulous!

-The Master Bedroom: It's huge. and bare. Here I go again referencing our wonderful apartment... but I LOVED our bedroom. Especially with Elle's baby nook :) It was shabby chic and the perfect set up for us. So I need some ideas on what to do when you have lots of space, but not very much money to fill it. Aish.



Sunday, May 29, 2011

A New Normal...



Well... I haven't quite figured it out, but I feel like I may be getting there. After 6 weeks of being Ellerbe's mama, I feel like I've earned a few nuggets of wisdom.

- Pursue community.


Being a stay at home mom can be very isolating. This realization came after a particularly pitiful day. I had literally done nothing all day except for feed my child and try to calm her sweet tummy down. She finally fell asleep and so I took a nap too. Tyler walked in from work around 4:30 and here's what he saw: his darling wife in his XL Gun Barrel City Tshirt, baggy pajama pants, hair in a greasy ponytail. You get the picture. All around pathetic. AND I hadn't brushed my teeth at all that day. Gross. In tears and frustration I welcomed him home by handing over Elle. I was lonely, felt ashamed and guilty because I had accomplished nothing of seeming significance and had been caught in the act. It was then that I realized that if I don't pursue people, I am going to be caught in the shame spiral of loneliness and despair of raising a child. If I don't invite people into my life, I'm going to be stuck believing the lie that I'm valuable because of what I accomplish. If I don't confess what's going on inside me I'm going to start resenting my sweet baby girl and I'm going to lose sight of the mission that God has put before me- to love her as Jesus loves me, giving myself completely for her that she might one day know how much God loves her because of how I take care of her.

-Take a dang shower.


In the first few weeksof mommyhood, I simply could not handle Elle crying. It sent me into a stressed out frenzy, even though I know that sometimes infants just cry even if nothing's wrong. So letting her cry for 5 minutes while I took a shower (or...ahem...brushed my teeth) was just out of the question. But, oh man... I've discovered just how cleansing, both inwardly and outwardly, those few minutes alone in the shower can be. It's been pretty consistent throughout the 6 weeks of her little life that showering provides the quiet and solitude that my soul needs to remember Jesus, remember the truth of His gospel, and more tangibly just feel like a human being again. So, new moms, take a shower, even if it means your little one has to cry for a short while.

-Get out of the house.

Yes, it's 10 times more difficult to do anything now. You've got a baby, an infant carrier that weighs 50 pounds (why are those things so stinking heavy?!), a diaper bag that you must remember to load with pacifiers, bottles for a potential melt down, diapers, wipes, extra clothes, extra extra clothes, etc. But, go to the grocery store. Go get coffee with a friend or for heaven's sake, go through the drive through at Chic-Fil-A just to get a sweet tea. Sitting in your house all day attached to your sweet one will drive you a little crazy if you don't get out.

-Get a full-sized swing.

It's my best friend. Little Bit can lay in the swing (normally) for an hour and if she falls asleep I usually get another hour or two. Oh my goodness. I tried to be financially and spacial-ly economical by getting the portable swing. She does NOT enjoy the little swing as much as the full sized, side-to-side, birdie twirling swing. She gurgles and smiles and LOVES her swing. And mama gets dishes, laundry, or down time :) It's awesome.

-Strive for contentment in your current situation.


When I was just dating Tyler, I thought my life would be better when I was engaged, when engaged-married, when unemployed- it was teaching, on the hard days of teaching- it was being a mama, now that I'm a mama- I tend to think life will be better when she's sleeping 12 hours or taking longer naps or starts walking, etc. Point being- as a "grass is greener on the other side-er" I've been struggling to just SO enjoy those quiet, snuggly baby moments at 2:30 in the morning after a feeding. But to not do that is to worship a circumstance or situation, not Jesus. Jesus has perfectly placed me in every situation and circumstance and each one of them serves to make me love and adore Him more. To not do this is idolatry. It's forsaking the truth that Jesus loves me, is on my side, and works all things FOR me. Not necessarily for my comfort, but for the good of my soul. It's a sweet truth that God has been working in me and reminding me of as I start to grow bitter during the sleepless nights and fussy days.
*However, I will proudly and HAPPILY say that Ellerbe Anne has slept for 6 consecutive hours 3 nights this week.

-Give that baby a bottle.



I am breastfeeding, but it has been SO NICE to pump in between feedings so that Tyler or whoever can help me feed her. (We also went through a bout of not being able to nurse at night due to frustration and exhaustion on both of our parts. It just wasn't working. So for about 2 and a half weeks I bottle fed for the late night/early morning feedings. For the record, we're back to nursing at night. We got it under control. :) )It's what allows me to go out alone, sleep in a little bit, finish laundry, go on a date with my man, etc. I read a lot of craziness about not giving your baby a bottle or pacifier in the first month because they might get confused and forget how to nurse. And I'm sure that can be an issue for some kids. But when we got home that first night and I nursed for 2 hours straight because when I wasn't nursing her she was screaming, we quickly threw that advice out the window and gave the little, sweet, screaming, angry love bug a pacifier out of sheer exhaustion. As it turns out, sucking is a way that babies calm themselves down. And Elle couldn't keep her little fist in her mouth so she needed something else to help her calm down. Fortunately, the girl can still eat like nobody's business. She also takes a bottle like a champ and I know that this is not the case with all babes, so we definitely consider ourselves lucky.

So, we're adjusting to a new normal and loving this sweet new little life as God shows us more of Himself through her.

Just for fun. :)


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Elle's Story...





WARNING: If birth stories might make you pass out (it happens. to people I'm related to.) I would skip reading this post. I get a little detailed.

I wanted to take some time to write out the story of Elle being born. Not that it's especially riveting or anything like that, I just want to make sure I record every detail before things start getting to clouded by dirty diapers and late night feedings. (and if you're pregnant, and if you're anything like me when I was pregnant, you'll enjoy reading through other people's birth stories in anticipation of your own.)

Thursday evening I decided that I'd had enough sitting around and waiting, so I went to dinner with some friends from our Missional Community. We spent time eating, laughing and praying together over the remainder of our semester. We also took communion together and spent time thinking on the painful beauty of Jesus' death and resurrection so that we might know and love Him. It was so refreshing to be in God's presence with sweet friends. My anxious, distracted, baby-waiting heart was put to rest as I remembered that Jesus is for me. He's on my side and not holding out on me. It was a great evening.

Now, my mom was on her way into town that night so I had really been praying and hoping to go into labor soon so that she wouldn't waste her precious vacation days sitting around with her beached whale of a daughter with no baby to hold and help me care for. Well, on my way home from our missional community I had a bit of a coughing fit in the car and my... um... water broke :) It wasn't a flood, mind you, but I HIGHLY suspected that we would be heading to the hospital very soon.

I got home and informed Tyler of my suspicions. He was a little skeptical as this had happened before. (a false alarm, obviously.) But I wasn't in any hurry to rush to the hospital. My contractions weren't super painful or close together yet, so I thought we'd just sleep in our own bed and go to our scheduled appointment on Friday morning at 9:30am. During the night, my contractions got more and more intense and I continued to ahem... leak, but I was still feeling ok. I didn't end up sleeping very much because I was so focused on timing contractions. But I sat up in our wonderful glider and read Harry Potter and thought about how I'd probably be rocking our sweet girl very soon.

Friday morning, my mom made coffee, I ate a bowl of cereal, Tyler went for a run and then we packed up all our little dolls and dishes and made our way to our appointment. The appointment was quick. It went something like this:

Me: I think my water broke last night.
Dr.: Well let's check. Yep. That's what happened. See you upstairs.

So we checked in to Labor and Delivery at 10 am. I was still feeling ok. I was still only dilated 1 cm. That was a little disheartening, but I was checked into the hospital and I knew I'd be leaving with our baby. We were all excited and ready to go.

Around 11 or so, our sweet nurse gave me a pill to help get my cervix ready to dilate. This pill is so potent that you can't even touch it if you are pregnant because it might cause you to start contracting. Crazy. Anyway, this little teeny tiny pill definitely jumpstarted things for me. I was still able to handle the contractions, but with Elle being so low in my pelvis and my uterus going all crazy, around 3:30 I was ready for some kind of relief in the form of heavy narcotics.

Here's what I've been told about epidurals: "Oh! You can have it as SOON as you want it!" Now, I went in with the mindset that I would hold out as long as I could, but you better believe I was going to ask for that epidural when I was through with the being tough thing.

Well, that's not how it went on Good Friday. In tears, I called my nurse. "I think I'm ready for the epidural now!" I was crying because I felt like a baby, because I was still only dilated 1 cm. And because I was in a lot of pain.

When my sweet nurse got in the room, I apologized for being such a sobbing mess and she responded with - "Oh, sweetie, this is good. You actually look like a patient in labor now." Apparently, reading Harry Potter and watching the Office with your husband on his laptop is not how normal labor patients look. So, I felt official. And then I felt really sad because she told me I couldn't have the epidural yet. My normal ObGYN (whom I love and could write volumes about how wonderful he is, so if you need a recommendation, let me know) wasn't on call that day and apparently, the doctor who would be delivering our babe was MUCH more strict on his epidural allowances.

So I labored for 3 1/2 more hours with only a little demerol in my veins. Which really, just made me feel drunk and in pain. But I think that was better than not drunk and in pain. FINALLY, the nurse worked up the courage to ask Dr. Akin again if I could have my epidural. After checking to see how dilated I was, (still 1 cm. bah.) but finding that Elle was super super low (or "engaged" I think is the medical term) in my pelvis, he decided that I was probably in a considerable amount of pain and gave the OK to give the epidural. What a glorious announcement it was for me to hear," The anesthesiologist will be here in 15 min." I think I remember asking Tyler if I could do this for another 15 minutes. And I think he said something super encouraging and compassionate. (Later, Tyler said he maxed out his encouragement and compassion quota for the year with me in that delivery room. He really was a wonderful, wonderful support.)

Epidurals are (very seriously) such a tangible picture of God's sweet grace and mercy. Praise God.

Around 11pm or so, I started feeling some considerable pressure (who knew that there was pain after the epidural?! I sure as heck didn't.) and knew that something was going on. They had just told me around 9 or 10, I think, that I was dilated to a 5 and they estimated about 1 cm an hour at this point. Well... Little Bit was ready to get the heck out of there and only an hour or so later I was almost completely dilated and effaced. (Just means that everything is ready to go!)

So, the nurses started setting up their little table for Elle's arrival. That was really exciting and crazy. Even through the contractions I was feeling in the form of intense pressure/needing to push feeling, Tyler and I were talking about how crazy it was going to be in a few minutes when we started pushing this little girl into the world!!

I pushed for and hour and a half (yes, I watched in a mirror. seriously mamas to be, consider it. it was SUPER motivating. and pushing is hard work.) and then I got to meet Ellerbe Anne. Sweetest little squid-like newborn you ever did see.


I think Elle might just be the cutest little girl in the whole world. But newborns just are not good looking.

I really do think about that first moment I had holding our little girl often. Precious, wonderful, sweet, joyful, I cannot think of enough of these kinds of words to capture what that moment was like. There was such a rush of sweet sweet joy as they handed her to me. (I don't know if I ever shared this, but I was deathly afraid I would drop her when that moment finally came. I'm happy to report that I did not drop her. Slippery goo and all.)

I think the only comprehensible thing that came out of my mouth in that moment was, "Oh my goodness. I don't even care that your gross right now!" ha. Here's a picture of that moment:

You can clearly see my lack of regard for her cleanliness. Gah, that's a good moment that I'm hoping will be etched into my memory for as long as I'm alive.

My second favorite moment of the night: Seeing Tyler hold his little girl. He just looked at her with these eyes that I've never seen. He sure doesn't look at me that way. (He loves me. A whole lot. But he loves her in a completely different way. And I'm totally ok with that.)

Disregard the leg in the stirrup. That's not mine. Weird.

Well, that's our sweet Elle's story. That was 3 weeks ago. Currently, we're laying on the couch together. Elle's sleeping, I'm finishing up this blogpost and waiting for her to wake up to eat. I thought it would be alot sooner, or I would have gone to bed when she did.

I have lots of blogposts to write about things that have saved my life. things that have almost killed me. things that i love. things i have learned to love. things God is teaching me. there's lots to share and write about, but forgive me if I'm not as prompt on the blogging as I want to be. I'm working on a new normal here.

Love this little sleeping beauty.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Just Love Birthdays...


And I especially love the little one who's birth we're celebrating today. :)

Ellerbe Anne David was born at 1:20 am on 4/23/11. She weighs a whopping 7 lbs 11 oz and is 20 1/2 inches long. And she's the most beautiful little girl I have ever laid my eyes on. We're completely smitten.

I don't have time to write out everything that is so wonderful about being this little one's mama already... I'll save it for another day. There have been guests in and out all day long and right now I'm going to to enjoy some sweet time with this little one, because we're finally alone.



Sweet Dreams.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Too Much...


I'm on day 3 of maternity leave with no baby. Here's how it's going:

Too much...

-time on my hands. I've vacuumed a couple of times. Cleaned our fridge and freezer. Mopped floors. Done every shred of laundry.

THERE'S NOTHING LEFT ON MY TO-DO LIST! So I'm making things up, like organizing our medicine cabinet and wash room.

-episodes of the Office that I've seen already 500 times.

Who am I kidding, I still love it.

-Harry Potter. (I'm rereading the series.)

-nesting. I've spent way too much money on things that I know Elle won't need. Some of the best advice I got was from Olivia: leave tags on everything and keep receipts. Definitely going to have to make some trips back to Target and Babies R Us to return some of my unnecessary purchases. :)

Glad my husband is gracious with me.

-trips to Dr. Seekers office. I've already been twice this week and come back with no baby. Dr. Seeker is a wonderful doctor and I know he's making his best guess at when the little Lovie will arrive but, on Monday he said, "If I were a betting man, I'd bet she'll be here by Wednesday. But let's schedule you to come in on Wednesday just in case." Today (Wednesday) he said, "I'm 90% positive she'll be here in 48 hours."

Mmmm... I love you Dr. Seeker, but I'm done getting my hopes up on your bets.

Does this post sound bitter? I'm really not. I'm genuinely enjoying my time off. Going on dates with my hubby, cooking him delicious dinners like this one. I also love that our house will be nice and tidy when Elle gets to come back with us. And I'm thinking about doing some baking today? See? I'm content.

But, I still really want to meet our daughter. There are so many unknowns, I'm ready to stop talking about them and actually struggle through them.

So, here's to our bags being packed, everything dusted and washed. And here's to our anxious hearts. May they wait patiently on God's timing for our daughter to make her entrance.

Cheers. :)


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Conversations with 9 year olds...

Here are two snippets of great conversations I had this week with my kids:

1. Esmeralda: Mrs. David, I can't really remember what you look like when you were skinny.
Mrs. D: Me neither, Esmeralda... me neither.

2. Thristan (who comes up to about my belly button): You still pregnant?
Me: I'm still pregnant...
Thristan: Alright...

I had a great week. We won't mention the false alarm labor that took us to the hospital at 11:30 at night. We had to walk the walk of shame out of the hospital, still sporting a large belly and carrying no baby.

39 weeks is quickly approaching and I'm no closer to having a baby than I was at 38 weeks. I will say that I'm not discouraged. I don't really feel like one of those pregnant women who is waddling around screaming, "GET THIS BABY OUT OF ME!" Mostly because right now, I know that she's taken care of. She's got everything she needs, doesn't cry, and is safely tucked behind my uterine wall. Does it make me a bad mama that I'm ok with her staying put for a little while? Don't get me wrong... I'm so excited to cuddle this sweet girl. I cannot wait to bring her home to all the wonderful things that are waiting here for her. But, for now... she's happy and we're happy.

Happiness all around. Especially because we are playing hooky tomorrow. I'm going to cash in on some gift certificates that have burning a hole in my pocket: Mani, pedi and a prenatal massage. Call it a mental health day, if you will. Ahhhhhh...


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Officially...


As of today-ish, I am officially considered "full term." Or, rather, Elle is. Everything is fully developed and ready for some real world breathing, crying, eating, and cuddling. While I've been aware this entire time that she could "come at anytime," I think that it's more tangible now that I've got the crampy, achy, contracting uterus to go along with that thought. I've gone to sleep every night this weekend thinking, "Could tonight be the night?" I need to just get over it and get some sleep while I can, I suppose. Especially considering I could have up to FIVE MORE WEEKS OF THIS CRAZY WAITING GAME!!!

That being said, I really do feel great. Other than the more painful Braxton Hicks every now and then, I feel fairly normal. Praise Jesus for that. He's been really good to take care of this sweet baby and I. I think Tyler's really appreciative too. We both kind of thought I'd be a huge mess as a pregnant woman. [1st/better part of 2nd trimester fatigue and morning sickness aside...]

So, now we wait... and while we wait I'm going to eat this delicious dish for breakfast. I've been getting bored of my breakfast choices lately (either cold cereal or hot oatmeal with chopped up strawberries.) I've tried this once before and it was phenomenal, so I'm whipping this up tonight so that I can have a quick, delicious and different breakfast ready to go while I spend time with God tomorrow morning before work.

Pumpkin Pie Vegan Overnight Oats


Ingredients:

  • 1/3-1/2 cup oats
  • 1.5 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8th tsp nutmeg, 1/8th tsp ginger)
  • 3/4 cup Almond Milk
  • 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • Walnuts (topping)
  • 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup (topping)
  • Raisins (topping)

Directions: Mix the oats, chia seeds, and spices in a small bowl. Now add the Almond milk and maple syrup and whisk until mixed. Add in the pumpkin and whisk again until fully incorporated. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight. Top with raisins, walnuts, and maple syrup and enjoy your creamy pumpkin pie oats!

Taken from ohsheglows.com. No, Tyler and I aren't vegan, but some of her recipes are FANTASTIC!!! Don't knock it till you've tried it.

Happy 37 weeks, Elle!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Excuse me, but...

...I just need to take a minute to toot my own horn. Maybe it's because I didn't find sleep last night until sometime after 12:40am due to all the lists I was making in my head of things that need to be accomplished before Elle arrives. Therefore, I need to talk about how thrifty of a mama-to-be I am. [Listen to Halim's sermon on how our approval is found only in the redeeming love of Jesus here. Maybe I need to listen again...]

Either way, I just have to say that I love a good deal. Especially when it's a good deal that's going to end up saving me money in the long run. Stay with me here. Cloth diapering definitely saves a LOT of money. [See? The benefits are endless...] However, it's a pretty hefty investment upfront if you're buying everything yourself. Fortunately, with Elle being our first, friends and family were really generous in buying some cloth diapering essentials for us to get us started. But with babies dirtying up to 12 diapers a day (yikes.) you really need to shoot for 24ish cloth diapers to have a good base if you're going for solely cloth diapering. All-In-One cloth diapers run about $17-20 a piece. You do the math. Remember? I said "hefty investment."




HOWEVER, and here's where the "tooting" comes in, (no pun intended) as baby showers finished up and I realized how many more diapers we needed... I began thinking that used cloth diapers wouldn't be such a bad idea. I mean, reasonably used cloth diapers. Ones that have been taken care of with appropriate detergents, have minimal staining, and are a brand that I've researched in the "durability" department. I was a little skeptical when I first started searching... but so far I've purchased 16 quality, hardly used cloth diapers for just at $120. Now, do the math. **Super tip, I hear that newborns are just too tiny for the One-Size (just think tons of snaps and closures to adjust to your growing bambino). There are LOTS of barely used XS and S diapers on craigslist from mamas whose babies were either just too big or grew out of them quickly that are desperate for some space in their changing table. I would shoot for buying these on craigslist, for sure.

Also, in the thrifty-mom-horn-tooting category, I found my dream jogging stroller on craigslist, barely used, for half the price. (Good jogging strollers are VERY expensive. And we're talking the kind of expensive that doesn't really make you feel like you're saving money on disposable jogging strollers down the road.) And since they're built to really last through years of trail running, buying one that has only been walked with for a year is completely worth it. Also, my co-mama-to-be friend, Lindsey can list out a number of situations that make a jogging stroller way better than a normal one. Ask her about that one.

The reason for making such an investment (half of what I could have invested, mind you...) is that my sweet 1/2 marathon running partner and I are going to tackle #2 together, with babies in tow. :) That's right. She's having a sweet baby in September and we will be hitting the trails as soon as she's up and running again. Bring it on, Town Lake. We'll have our BOBs with our sweet babies safely strapped in and a strong motivation to shed the baby weight (and lots of conversations about poop and spit up and the best cleaning detergent, I'm sure. Because that's all SAHM's talk about, right? I'm totally kidding, mamas.)


Ok. This is the end of the first baby post that's officially made me feel like a mom: Bragging about bargain hunting. Oh, Lord, here we go...







Sunday, March 20, 2011

College Girl Meal with an Adult Twist...

Confession: This is one of my favorite meals of all time. It's not exclusive to my days as an up-till-3-am college student who doesn't cook, although it was a weekly staple then. But, I LOVE tomato soup and grilled cheese. For me, it's also not exclusive to wintery days, though, I admit that's when its the yummiest.

Before today, I had yet to try my hand at homemade tomato basil soup. But I came across a recipe for it that I wanted to try. Hands down, the best tomato basil soup I've ever had. It's fresh and delicious with a kick of spice that is perfect with a fresh-mozzarella grilled cheese. I kind of consider myself a connoisseur in this area... trust me on this. I also got two large thumbs up from my husband, who does NOT love tomato soup as much as I do. So maybe he's the one you should trust. **Adapted from annies-eats.net.


Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Ingredients:
3 lbs. ripe tomatoes, halved with seeds scooped out
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1½ tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. butter
2 cups chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can tomato puree or sauce
2 cups fresh basil leaves, torn
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Combine the tomato halves, ¼ cup of olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl; toss well to combine. Spread the tomato halves out on a large baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes for 45 minutes.

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the butter and heat until the butter is melted. Add the onions, garlic and red pepper flakes to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly soften, about 7-10 minutes. Add in the canned tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, basil, thyme and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, 40 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until completely smooth. (I don't have an immersion blender, so I used my standing blender. It was a little more work and I dirtied a few more dishes, but it worked just the same. Just make sure you have proper ventilation of the soup so it doesn't explode, and don't spill it! It's hot!)

Enjoy!

I also think this would be DIVINE with cream to make more of a bisque, but I decided to go with the low-fat version for tonight. We'll save the creamy experimentation for the colder months. :)

In case you were wondering, the current count-down is 27 days until this little Bee is supposed to make her debut. Don't worry, every strange feeling, foreign cramp or pressure sends me into a "get your watch out and make sure you have everything packed" frenzy. I'm currently worried that my house won't be spotless when we come home from the hospital. I guess my somewhat lax house keeping has to up the ante over the next 27 days. Bring it on, little one! We're ready to meet you!