Thursday, July 29, 2010

Where have you been?

The honest truth - I've been hiding from the blog recently.

Whenever Tim leaves town, several things happen - I exercise every day, usually paint a room, eat like a vegetarian and listen to a lot of sermons. Hearing the Word of God preached offers stimulation for adult thought and flings the door wide open for the Holy Spirit to work. I listen to sermons a lot anyway, but when Tim's away, the house is much quieter, so I can ruminate longer.

All that to say, I listened to a sermon by Mark Driscoll in which he discussed producing fruit. He talked about the difference between being busy and producing fruit. I was really convicted his message which led me to evaluate how I spend my time.

A few things caught my attention - how I was "serving" at church, how I spent my time during G's naps and the blog. I spend hours every week on this blog, writing, researching, etc... Not to mention all the times that I put off completing other important tasks in order to complete a project to blog about. So far, Renaissance Momma is keeping me very scattered, rather behind in regular life stuff and encouraging my love of hearing myself type.

I'm not announcing the immediate closure of the blog, just a change in direction for me. I don't know exactly what that will look like online, but I can't keep abandoning more Godly pursuits for the sake of blogging. So, please pray for me as I decide what to do and how best to serve my family. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back to needles

I'm knitting again. Swollen fingers and pregnancy carpal tunnel have made knitting an undesirable hobby for the last couple months, plus I have a hard time knitting stuff for cold weather during hot sticky summer days. However, I've recently hit a knitting streak.

By knitting, I mean yarn craft in general. I crochet as much as I knit. But "knitting" is a much less cumbersome word than "crocheting" (which is even a trick to type).

Anyway, it started one evening when we took Baby G to a restaurant where she sat directly under an AC vent and was turning blue by the time dinner was over. I decided that she needed a short sleeve jacket of sorts to wear on summer and fall evenings when the AC is on high or the weather drops a few degrees. That sent me digging through my yarn stash (a super size ziploc storage bag that is so full, I can't shut it anymore) where I found some very soft Caron Eco yarn. My mom is shuttering even as she reads this because she doesn't believe in any yarn that isn't at least 123% natural fiber and hand painted, but I don't have her yarn budget.

Her little sweater was a crocheting delight - almost instant gratification. I remembered how nice a quiet craft is. While I love the even more instant gratification of sewing, I don't love the sewing machine waking G from her nap or working in the sweat shop I refer to as my sewing room. Knitting, on the other hand, can be done in any convenient location in silence except for the soothing background noise of a movie.

I'm looking forward to knitting a few items for our new baby as well as for my friends who have recently become mommas. Happy needles, yet again.

P.S. The basic pattern came from ravelry although I modified it some to fit my needs.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rolling Stone

My veterinary training did not serve me well tonight. Usually it's helpful as babies aren't all that different from dogs - they can't tell you what hurts or that they don't feel good; they put everything in sight in their mouths; occasionally, they pee on your carpet. Usually, I can watch for similar symptoms in Baby G that I would expect in a dog and know whether to worry or not. Tonight, however, I had horrifying visions of exploratory surgery after G popped a cherry pit in her mouth and gulped it down.

She knew what she was doing. I told her not to touch the cherry stones. However, when I looked down to retrieve a piece of cherry she dropped, her grubby little mitt stretched out quick as a flash for the pile of forbidden pits. Then with alarming coordination for 8 1/2 months, she shoved it in her mouth and swallowed just as my finger was reaching for her lips. Down it went and up went my blood pressure as I saw the look of triumph on her face. And really, what could I do? It was gone.

Instead of assuming I would find it later in her diaper, I began visualizing the slide show from vet school where our professor showed all the things stupid labrador puppies had eaten over the years - tennis balls, silverware, an 8" long rubber crow like the ones from Dumbo, and more. Pyloric obstruction, esophageal hemorrhage - this line of thought was not helpful.

Fortunately, I have a friend with 5 kids 5 years old and younger (don't gloss over that - contemplate what 2 preschoolers, 2 toddlers and a newborn actually look like!). She's seen just about everything, and it's still fresh on her mind since one of her children probably did it again yesterday. I'm sure later tonight she'll chuckle with her husband about the overly confident highschooler she knew who has become the insecure mom with the protective, stupid questions.

As you might imagine, G is fine. She took a bottle and crashed for the night. I'm sure I haven't seen the last of the cherry pit - a humbling reminder that I, too, worry when I shouldn't about my girl.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Every year in July, I thank the Lord that I'm still alive. That might sound cliche, but it's very poignant for me and my family. Five years ago on July 7, my sister and I were sitting on a train in London, drinking lattes on our way to see Big Ben, when a Muslim extremist ignited a suicide bomb ten feet away.

When the initial shock of the blast subsided, my sister and I sat up to take inventory and check on each other. As we huddled together in the mass of rubble that used to be a train car, we both praised the Lord that we were alive. Our nearest neighbors were not so fortunate.

While waiting for the paramedics, we drew strength from the felt presence of Christ, each other and the amazing citizens who jumped aboard our train in the face of a collapse or possible explosion to give us aid.

Scared and barely conscious, the medics carried us to the hospital where we were separated for surgery. Once in the recovery room, my sister and I told everyone within ear shot to locate our sister and call our family.  It took several hours, but we were reunited in the middle of the night when we moved to a less crowded hospital.

Our family heard about the bombing almost as soon as they woke up, but there was no news from us. Mom, Dad and little Sis waited by the phone for a reassuring phone call only to hear a British doctor inform them that my sister was badly injured and I was not in the system yet. Friends mobilized, calling politicians, to update passports and book flights. Within 24 hours, my mom was on the ground in London, her best friend flying in later that day on a providentially timed missions trip.

We underwent another surgery to stabilize us for a flight to the U.S.  Workers at Duke Hospital pulled 24-hour shifts to arrange transport. After 4 days in London's hospitals and a long uncomfortable flight, we touched down in Raleigh-Durham to be greeted by Dad, little sister and DH (dear boyfriend at the time).

Once in the United States, we began to realize that this event touched many more people than our little family. The national news media was lining up to interview and photograph us as we made our recovery. Apparently, we were the only two Americans seriously injured, and the story of two sisters surviving the blast together was front page news. Our rooms were filled with bribes from new stations - flowers, gift baskets, the first available copies of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

On the big screen in Times Square during the Today Show Interview

Soon after we began to receive other gifts and cards as well, but this time from well wishers all around the country, people we had never met sending their thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery. We were overwhelmed by the support and encouragement we received from hundreds of individuals concerned for our family.

As we regained strength, we found our voice in the media. God worked mightily in our hearts. A spirit of peace and forgiveness came over us almost immediately. When the interviews began, we were ready to tell the world that God forgave us and gave us the grace to forgive our attackers. Some people hated our message and others embraced it. We were determined to use this national platform to turn what man meant for evil into God's glory.

After nearly two weeks in the hospital and six surgeries a piece, we flew home. A crowd of our friends greeted us at the airport, including 1 month old Cindy Kate. The celebration was awesome, although draining. Did I mention it included another news interview? It was months (including a trip to New York for the Today Show) before the media attention died down.

A decade after the blast and its far-reaching consequences, I still field questions about the sizable scars on my ankle and arm. When I explain where they came from, people frequently apologize to me for dredging up the memory and that it happened at all.  But I don't feel the need for the apology. My life rolled along very smoothly until that point - no major bumps. God prepared me perfectly as only He can for that moment. I knew who He was, that His character is true, that He is not caught by surprise and that He plans good for His children. The bombing only strengthened my understanding. As I hit the  gauntlet of life's bumps following that summer, the bombing served as a reference for me, reminding me that God is good and at work even in horrible circumstances.

So, if you notice a huge scar on my arm, or I "ignore"you on my now deaf right side, you know the background. A horrible, amazing tragedy occurred that God twisted and molded and turned into His glory. All praise be to our God and Father who sits upon the throne in Heaven!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Peach Frozen Yogurt

For the Menchi's and Berry Body fans in the audience.. Peach Frozen Yogurt. Absolutely delicious, I decided to try my hand at frozen yogurt after G polished off half of mine this weekend. To cope with the simmering summer weather, we're enjoying plenty of homemade ice cream maker treats.

Peach Frozen Yogurt
3/4 c milk (whatever percent you want to use)
1/3 c sugar
Mix these two together until sugar dissolves

3 c yogurt (again, whatever fat content you prefer)
1 t vanilla
1/4 t nutmeg
1 c chopped peaches
Combine last four ingredients with the milk/sugar mixture.

Follow ice cream maker instructions to freeze. You could also try placing it in the freezer in a tupperware and stirring frequently.

If you don't eat the entire batch in one sitting, make sure you store it in a microwave safe container. Otherwise, you will need to defrost it slightly before subsequent servings by placing in the refrigerator several hours ahead.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Verdict is in... We're having a girl! YAY!! Let the dress making and nursery decorating begin.

I so badly wanted this baby to be a girl. You might think me selfish, but I was really considering G. My sisters are delights in my life. I have two - both younger, and life would not be complete without them. We grew up giggling late at night playing mancala, riding double on our shared pony, stealing each other's clothes, and overwhelming anyone who dared hang out with all three of us at the same time. I want that experience for G and now for new baby, too.

My sisters and I in New York

Five years ago, my sister and I were in a bombing halfway across the world. I don't know how either of us would have survived if not for each other's support. We were in a hospital in a foreign country an ocean away from the rest of our family, but we had each other. That's what siblings are for. They're your whole life support - the only people around for your entire existence.

I'm so grateful for my sisters, and now, my girls will have each other.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

White Bean Chili

I am clearing out my pantry. Hence the winterish dish in the middle of July. Although, I think a white bean chili is less seasonal than a traditional style.

This recipe is very easy and provides excellent nutrition, qualifying for Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet (the most restrictive phase) while filling up the whole family. Even Baby G enjoyed some of the beans for dinner last night. She ranked it "one big toothless grin."

3 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
2 cans white beans
1 can green chili
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 t red pepper
1 t salt
Cilantro - add 2 T fresh cilantro at the end or 1 t dried cilantro at beginning

Best directions ever: Throw all ingredients into your crock pot and cook on low for at least 6 hours or high for at least 3 hours. No need to cook the chicken ahead of time. The crock pot will take care of that for you, and the cooking chicken will provide the needed juice for you chili. Top with shredded cheese and sour cream. Serves 4.

A fabulous no-fuss meal for tired, busy moms!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Picture Day

Somedays I realize halfway through the morning as I rant about what I'm going to post that I just need to post cute baby pictures and leave things be. Today is one of those days. I was determined to vacuum the house which requires holding a terrified G on my hip as she claws her way up my shoulder away from the terrify noise maker. I'm pretty exhausted from the whole ordeal.

So, I give you my goofy girl, hamming it up for the camera this afternoon while we crawled around on the freshly vacuumed carpet.

She started eating goldfish crackers recently. I love to feed them to her because she looks so confused about the whole process. Why is the goldfish in my lap not my mouth? What am I supposed to do with this thing now that I've put it in my mouth? Are all fish this delicious? (The answer, of course, is only the fresh ones!)
We're borrowing an excersaucer. She's currently trying to crawl out of it toward the obscenely large box of Goldfish, hoping I pick up on her not-so-subtle hint. Time for more baked cheddar goodness.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What do you do all day?!

A friend sent this article to me. It spoke to my life, so I thought I'd share.

Like most SAHM, I am asked more often than I like how I fill my time. After all, other moms are able to work and raise their families. I mean no disrespect to working moms. I frequently ask myself, how would I ever get all of this done and work 40 hours a week. At the same time, this question is kind of insulting, as if I am being accused of watching soaps and reading romance novels while my child entertains herself. 

What do I do? I don't know why I feel the need to justify my use of time, but I just want to say this. Why is running a day care or nannying considered a full time job, but staying home with your kids is not?! No one would be happy with a day care that consisted of individual pens in which children were dropped and expected to fend for themselves all day while the workers watched TV. Similarly, SAHM's can't put their children in a pack n' play or swing and skip about their business. Just like children at a day care (where the facility is built just for them I might add) need constant supervision and direction and engagement, so do children at home. They're demanding, wonderful little buggers who take up your whole day. I get all of my work done in the 3 1/2 hours a day while Baby G sleeps. Otherwise, I'm on baby duty.

It might not sound exciting to everyone, but child care is a full time responsibility that you never really get away from. The minutia of my day is just that, minutia. But the overwhelming portion of my day is taken up by the nurturing of my darling girl, a job I wouldn't trade for anything.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My Gift to the Youth Group

DH leaves in a week or so for his summer missions trip. Baby G is not exactly ready to help roof a house, so she and I are remaining at home. This will be the first missions trip I've missed, and to be honest, I'm feeling overprotective and controlling about the whole thing, but mainly the food.

For four years of trips (happy anniversary, honey), I've been chief cook and bottle washer as well as the unofficial nurse (have to put that medical training to use somehow). Now, I'm coaching from the sidelines, developing menus and shopping lists, trying to decide what I can prepare ahead of time and send with.

As usual, I will be sending an obscene number of rice krispie treats. They're a signature dish for me. Not that I can't make something more complicated, but in the quantity I'm making them, I prefer simple.

My secret to a not very secret dessert: Rice Krispie Treats

6 c rice krispies cereal
5 c of miniature marshmallows

3 T of butter
1-2 t vanilla
Non-stick baking spray with flour
1 c crystal sprinkles - I used these at Christmas for the best rice krispies I'd ever made. Just sprinkle over the top. They will fall through the hot cereal and melt along the bottom.
1 - 2 c chocolate chips - cover the bottom of the pan with chocolate chips, then lay the hot cereal mix over the top for a chocolate base

Using a large saucepan, melt the butter and marshmallows together over medium heat, stirring constantly (the microwave affects the consistency and flavor). Add vanilla and stir.
Remove from heat, add cereal and mix thoroughly.
Place in well greased brownie pan and allow to cool.

When I make these for the youth group, I usually make 6 lasagna trays worth. As you can imagine, I use a lot of marshmallows! However, there was a high demand for them with our first youth group. They've been known to disappear within 24 hours - yes, all six trays. Hopefully, it will be a good nostalgic item for DH while he's away from home.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Home again, Home again

Whew! It's hard to return to regular life after so much time away. As I mentioned, we made an unplanned family visit to K'town. No airport stories this time, just a sweet funeral for a wonderful grandfather.

Today is a busy, lazy day. Does that make sense? Lots of nap time for Baby G - in fact, she's only been awake for an hour so far today. Lots of catching up for me - bags to unpack, groceries to buy, laundry to wash and since we left in the middle of everything, a fridge to clean out and a kitchen to reclaim after painting only half of it.

On a more fun note, my sister finally reclaimed her etsy page. It might be a shameless plug, but I think my sister is a beautiful artist, so please check out her work! Right now, she only has her textiles up, but I took pictures of her pottery, so I know that's coming soon.

We have a busy weekend in the making, but I will try to make up for my miserable presence the last week. Again, thank you for your patience as I focused on my family during our loss.

Friday, July 2, 2010


 DH's wonderful GF died this week, so we are with family. Thank you guys for your patience with the blog.

GF played the harmonica in a bluegrass band. Some of my favorite memories with him involve late night bluegrass sessions at hole in the wall gigs.


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