Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So Much to be Thankful For

We have been on a roller coaster ride since this time last year, but through it all God has proved faithful and GOOD. I love Matthew 7:11 which reminds us what a loving and giving Father we have:

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

During this year I have been higher than I ever thought possible and lower than I knew a person could go. We announced our first pregnancy to our extended family at Thanksgiving last year, only to find out two weeks later that we'd suffered a miscarriage. In the new year we hoped month after month while God told us to wait on a family. We have been blessed with a new car, a promotion for A in a stable job during this very uncertain time in our economy, and an unexpected job for me. We have learned valuable lessons about our marriage and our finances through two classes at church this year. I am so thankful for my husband, our miscarriage, waiting on God, our home, our sweet kitty, our families, our church, our friends, our jobs (yes, even mine), and our second pregnancy which is progressing well. I am thankful for bloggers who take the time to let me peek into their lives and experience their joys and sorrows along with them, and I am thankful for everyone who takes a moment out of their day to see what's going on in my life. I wish each of you so much joy and a full, grateful heart this Thanksgiving!

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 1 Chronicles 16:8

Ultrasound Update

Just wanted to hop online and let you know that the ultrasound went well this morning. Thank you so much for your prayers!

Baby didn't cooperate quite like I hoped, but I suppose I should start getting used to the idea that I can't make it do what I want. Baby is tucked back pretty far so when I lay down on the ultrasound table it's at the "bottom of the pool" as the ultrasound tech likes to say which makes it a little harder to see. It's also facing my back so we got to see lots of images of the spine but not so many of its face today. Anyway, we tried a few different things and I think she was pleased with the heart images she was able to get by the end of it and said that the heart looks healthy. The doctors office was pretty slow so she also took a look at the baby overall and reaffirmed that everything is looking good. Thank the Lord!

Here's a profile shot from this morning...

That's a pretty big cranium this kid is sporting! :) Ultrasound pictures are so weird, but since I can't look inside and see what's going on, I'll take whatever imaging technology is available!

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cranberry Fruit Conserve, Pumpkin Dinner Rolls & A Prayer Request

Apparently this is now Laura's recipe blog since that's what I seem to be posting right now. With Thanksgiving on Thursday, I guess food is big on my mind these days (not to mention that I seem to be eternally hungry thanks to a growing baby!). Today I made Cranberry Fruit Conserve. I don't really know what a conserve is in the food sense, but I use this recipe as cranberry sauce. I'd never made cranberry sauce until I hosted Thanksgiving dinner two years ago, was on the hunt for recipes and saw this on Barefoot Contessa. It looked simple enough and tasty so I decided to give it a try and I loved it! It's definitely tart but has sweetness in the background that makes it so good. Now I make it every year whether I'm hosting Thanksgiving or not.

Cranberry Fruit Conserve

* 1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed in cold water
* 1 3/4 cups sugar
* 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
* 1 orange, zest grated and juiced
* 1 lemon, zest grated and juiced
* 3/4 cup raisins, optional (I omit these)
* 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional (I omit these, too)

Cook the cranberries, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over medium-low heat until the skins pop open. Add the apple, zests, and juices and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the raisins and nuts, if desired. Let cool, and serve chilled. (photo compliments of

My mother-in-law is hosting Thanksgiving this year and I am taking rolls and an apple pie. I already have the apple pie ready to bake off which I'll do tomorrow and I'm going to try a new recipe for the rolls. I seem to really be in the mood for pumpkin and I found a recipe that incorporates pumpkin into homemade rolls...

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 cup warm milk
¼ cup butter, softened or melted
2 cup mashed cooked pumpkin (or one can of pumpkin.)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup wheat germ (can omit and use flour instead)
10-12 cup all-purpose flour (could also use a mixture of whole-wheat and white flours)
7 teaspoons dry yeast

In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, water, milk, butter, pumpkin, and salt. Mix well. Add wheat germ, 7-8 cups of the flour, and yeast. Mix, and then continue adding flour and kneading until dough is elastic and not sticky.

Place dough in greased bowl; grease top of dough, cover with a towel, and set in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour). Punch dough down and divide into thirds. Divide each third into 16 pieces and shape into balls.

Place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until almost doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes, until tops are golden. Brush with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven. (Note: These rolls usually look somewhat dry when first coming out of the oven. Wait about 15 minutes and they will look and taste beautiful.)

Yield: 4 dozen rolls
(photo and recipe courtesy of

I'm going to halve the recipe, since we're not having a large crowd for Thanksgiving and I've heard that these rolls are best when fresh.

And finally, I am having an ultrasound tomorrow morning to look at our baby's heart. The doctors don't think there is anything wrong with it but because of the baby's position during our last ultrasound they couldn't get as detailed of a look at it as they'd like (we did get to see the 4 chambers and see the heart beating so we know that much is fine). So it'll be a short ultrasound but I'd appreciate your prayers for it. Please pray that the heart is strong and healthy and that baby cooperates for the ultrasound...thanks so much!

Monday, November 24, 2008


Confession time. I am addicted to pumpkin-chocolate-chip bars. I would love to blame it on the pregnancy, but this year is no different than any other. Every fall when I bake up a batch they disappear entirely too quickly. I baked some over the weekend - one of these bars and a tall glass of ice-cold milk and I'm in heaven. Surely the pumpkin has some antioxidants or vitamins or something in it that the baby needs for development!

Pumpkin-Chocolate-Chip Bars
Makes 24


* 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
* 1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 1/4 cups sugar
* 1 large egg
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
* 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
4. Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.

In addition to keeping the cake from sticking to the pan, lining the pan with foil makes it easy to lift it out after baking. If you can't find pumpkin-pie spice, substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon each allspice and cloves (all ground).

YUMMY, YUMMY, YUMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(recipe and photo from

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Christmas Carols

It has been cold and wintery here all day today, which has really started to put me in the mood for Christmas. I played Christmas music at work all afternoon and just loved hearing the familiar melodies and choruses again. There is something about Christmas music that just makes you feel good!

One of my favorite Christmas songs is "Candlelight Carol" by John Rutter. I was first introduced to this song during my sophomore year of high school when my woman's choir performed it for the holiday concert. Since then I tracked down a CD of songs by John Rutter and it's one of the most special Christmas albums I own. In college I started a tradition of turning off all the lights except the Christmas tree, having a glass of sparkling cider and a couple of chocolate-covered cherries, and basking in the glow of the tree while listening to this song. It's one of my favorite traditions even though it doesn't involve A or anyone else. The music and words of the song lull me into a time of worship and reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas. I hope you enjoy it too!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Work update

Hallelujah!!! A new employee has been hired as my replacement! Her first day will be December 1st and you better believe I am counting down.

I was supposed to be finished working at the end of October, but since they didn't have a replacement I agreed to stay on two afternoons a week. So I'm currently working Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, which has really freed up my schedule to get more things done around home. I can do probably 75% of the job from home so on the days I don't go into the office, I check email and work from home for an hour or two. The best part about the arrangement (besides getting to work in my pjs and slippers if I want to) is my office-mate...

Isn't she precious? Jasmine just loves to curl up on our desk chairs once the weather turns colder - the soft fabric must warm her right up!

Once new employee starts working I will train her a couple of days that first week of December. I am taking the whole week of Thanksgiving off work so at this point I officially have 4 days of work left - PRAISE THE LORD!

Thanks for praying for me and sticking with me through this whole unexpected work escapade!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Story of our Miracle

Being a mom is something I've always wanted. A year and a half ago I resigned from my full-time job. We had been married for almost 3 years and the timing to start a family felt right. Five months later we were thrilled when I got a positive home pregnancy test. Immediately I was thrown into excitement overload. I "knew" the first trimester was a risky time so we waited until 10 weeks along before announcing the pregnancy to others. I thought that if something bad was going to happen, it would have already occurred.

Two weeks later we learned the devastating news that I had suffered a missed miscarriage. Our baby had died at 6-7 weeks along and my body hadn't gotten the message. We figure there was really only a week or so that we knew I was pregnant and the baby was still alive. I have never felt so deceived and wronged in all my life. It was as if my own body had lied to me and that made the baby's death even more difficult to process.

So we grieved and cried and hoped and prayed that God would bless us with another little life. Each month passed and not only were we not pregnant, my body seemed to have gone completely nuts following the miscarriage and nothing was normal anymore. After discussing my symptoms with my doctor she ordered weekly blood tests and an ultrasound to determine whether or not I was ovulating regularly. Praise the Lord the tests determined that everything was fine with my body and my hormones. The diagnosis was patience - ugh (not a strength of mine).

By June I was basically a wreck. My first pregnancy would have been full-term on June 18th which opened those wounds again. I was constantly anxious about getting pregnant, would lay awake at night worrying, and my blood pressure was on the rise. One night at about 3:00am, God finally got through to me that perhaps I should just give the whole situation over to Him (novel idea isn't it?). I took a TV and Internet fast and instead focused my time and attention on hearing God speak. I claimed verses about children, family, faith, and God's goodness and prayed them daily - sometimes more often if it was an especially trying day. I sought out teaching on the miracles of God, prayer, and waiting.

On July 20th I took a pregnancy test that was positive. In that one moment I was elated and terrified at the same time - thrilled to be pregnant again and scared to death that I'd have another miscarriage. This time I knew what that pain felt like. My doctor did blood tests very early on to check my hormone levels (which were great), we had an ultrasound at 8 weeks to check on the baby (saw the heartbeat - so cool!), and we heard the heartbeat via doppler at 11, 13, 15, and 17 weeks. At 20 weeks we had our ultrasound assessment and that is when it finally set in for me that things really are okay. The baby is not just alive, but growing and developing the way it should be! Praise the Lord!

Our baby is due at the end of March and I am currently 21 weeks along. I feel the baby move every day and it's such a sweet gift of reassurance each time. I know that there is no guarantee, but I am hopeful for this pregnancy and this baby. One of my favorite things to do is pray Jeremiah 29:11-13 over the baby - "For I know the plans I have for this baby," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper it and not to harm it, plans to give it hope and a future. Then this baby will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to it. This baby will seek me and find me when it seeks me with all its heart."

I have friends who struggle with infertility much more than I did and I've met many bloggers in various stages of hoping for a family. I now pray for those women with a heart that I never would have known if it weren't for my experience. It is my prayer that my miscarriage made me a more sensitive and compassionate woman. Even though that baby was only placed in our lives for a few short weeks, it had a very big purpose and I will be forever grateful to it and to my great big God who saw fit to bless and teach me through that child's life.

God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)

Monday, November 10, 2008

An explanation...

Sorry my blog posts have been lacking so much lately. I've been a little busy:




and spending a lot of time praying!

Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.
1 Samuel 1:27

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chicago: Days 6 & 7

The second "half" of our trip began on Thursday, October 9 when we moved from our hotel in Oakbrook Terrace, IL to the hotel in Carol Stream, IL where we'd finish out our week. This was the hotel for my cousin's wedding - all the family and bridal party were staying there and the reception was held there Friday night. We got checked in and started meeting up with family around lunchtime. That evening was the rehearsal, followed by the rehearsal dinner. Dinner was delicious and it was so much fun to visit with everyone.

My cousins Trisha and Krista - sisters of the groom

My Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Pat

Me and my Dad

Friday we spent the day at the hotel, had an early lunch and then got ready for the wedding. The wedding colors were chocolate brown and ivory and everything had a fall theme. Every detail of the decor was beautiful and the reception hall was even prettier!

The head tables at the reception hall

Over 25 tables of 10 - a BIG reception. The favors were candy apples. YUM!

Jessica made all these centerpieces and my mom, grandma, and aunt were each asked to take one home. Are you catching the fall theme? So pretty!

The cake was banana flavored and was served with ice cream which was a nice treat. I love the Willow Tree figurine as a cake topper too.

The new Mr & Mrs, Jacob and Jessica

The wedding was a beautiful celebration of fall, but my favorite part by far was getting to see and visit with my family.