the one i never held

this is for my sweet sister melanie...

it's a gorgeous october day. a friend and i walk to the park with our little ones. i am savoring the blessing of new friendship these days and the fullness in my spirit that fall often brings me. so much good is around us. it's hard to imagine that one year ago i was still frantically working at the coffee shop, eric subbing and going to classes, ezri was one month from being born. we had no idea what where we'd be in one year.

and the year before that, we were devastated. 

my friend's daughter is dumping sand down her back and squealing at ezri with pure joy. we laugh and marvel at their joy as we see her son climb the jungle gym. little haley is exactly six months older than ezri... 

she is as old as my first little one would have been. 

i have no adequate way to explain the sadness and sweetness in my heart when i think of it. at this time two years ago, i only had a suspicion that i might be pregnant. i was. but i was almost terrified to take a test. we found out on halloween actually. we'd met eric's dad in wichita for lunch, i'd not been crazy about the coffee, i'd been moody and miserable at the mall, i think we even had an argument.

but i came home, took the test, it was positive. i walked outside and looked at the empty field across from our door as the sun set. that's where i told eric that we were going to have a baby. we were floored. it was much sooner than we'd "planned"... but it was okay. we knew we wanted this before we even married.

i tell my new friend that we would have had one little haley's age... and she shares about the fear and half expectation she had had of miscarriage. her mom had, so she had thought she would. i knew the feeling well. it happened for me.

we lost our baby in november. 

i was certain i was miscarrying while we were away from home. during a trip to see family and watch a play at our college... surrounded by friends who were so happy for us, i could feel my hope slip away. at intermission the night we went to see the play, i remember walking to the restroom and praying praying praying that i would keep this little life. that sunday we rushed the long drive home and went to the ER... nothing could be done for us then but "wait and see" i waited til the tuesday to go to our previously scheduled ultrasound.

our baby wasn't there anymore.

if you haven't lost a little one like this, it's hard to know what to say or do... we had so many love on us and so many share their losses with us. a beautiful friend who had had a stillborn baby boy was there to aid the doctor when i went for the d & c... i can still see her bright and teary eyes over her surgical mask.

there is no loss like this one. there never will be. i never got to hold her. our little ariel was gone before we knew her. and we wept and cried to have my baby back. i still cry for her. 

today i'm crying for her, and for the little one my brother and sister in law have just lost.

there are never words for it. when we lose anyone to death, we cry for ourselves... we are alone, we have lost someone... and there is no loss like the loss of the babe you marked your calendar for with love and anticipation. we shared that we were expecting early, and i am thankful for that, because we were wrapped in arms of love from around the world.

eric and i will always have moments where we think of her... heaven will be sweeter... i think of her there with grandma donna, and so many others... and today i thank our Creator for the bonds we have on earth that comfort us when our joy must turn to mourning.

a year from the day we found out that we'd lost our first little one, our donna ezri was born. and the joy returns and wraps itself around the mourning... you will never stop wondering about the one you lose, but God gives you new moments of wonder... you never will stop aching for that babe to be in your arms, but your heart will ache with joy and thanksgiving again.

I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow."
Jeremiah 31:13



we're blessed. we're growing. we're rich compared to so many in the world at large. but...

things are tight. and we're okay with that. no, really we are. we've worked hard in the past year and a half to knock out our consumer debt, and now we're (mainly) working on student loan debt. like so many americans our age, we're just plain thankful that we're employed and not homeless. like so many americans, we've struggled with the constant pressure to live beyond our means. the holidays are coming up and i have to confess:

i'm sick of it. i am sick of feeling like i *have* to measure up. that i have to give certain kinds of gifts and make sure that no one is forgotten. that every family member gets something they want... the pressure is looming above me and I HATE IT.

pretty sure that most people who know me are not terribly surprised by that statement. eric and i have talked a lot since we married, well and before too, about what kind of lifestyle we want to have. we're lovers of good things. good food, good books, good conversation and good sturdy things... we love our family time, and we love our spiritual family near and far.

we also feel strongly that less is more.

no, like really strongly.

as in, it's a battle but i am making a conscious effort not to shop "just for fun" anymore. i know myself, and i always end up feeling dissatisfied. i feel the pressure to consume, to buy buy buy... even if what i'm purchasing isn't exactly what i need. how is that good?

we are so concerned in our culture with being green - we're really into emphasizing recycling, so trendy now - and buying (buying!) the right kind of water bottles and baby products (products!) and purchasing (purchasing!) the best reusable grocery bags. ugh. marketing marketing marketing. you are so clever.

and i want the super cute reusable totes from my favorite box store. i want the awesome glass water bottles from starbucks. but i really and truly don't need them. i have a kitchen full of dishes and gadgets, closets full of clothing, unfinished crafts, scarves and umbrellas and christmas decorations. we moved into a house that is about 1200 square feet and were thankful we had attic space to store a box of books we don't have room for and two tubs of sentimental keepsakes that we are not able to part with. but they're just sitting there, like half the stuff we own.

sure, ez needs some socks that fit her and it would be great to be able to buy her another book or that little wooden car in the toy store, but she has all she needs too. i love bringing her into the church nursery and seeing her dive out of my arms toward a room full of toys. it's like disneyland for her because she has *just enough* at home...

we have just enough, and it leaves room for big feelings like peace and contentment. it gives us a chance to delight in the invitation to watch a football game at a friend's house, because we don't have the mental clutter of cable TV all the time. it means that an evening spent watching our baby play and explore a house that is friendly and spare with plenty of room to crawl around in is the best entertainment ever. a clear dining room table means i can put a beautiful meal on it, pull up the highchair, pour some tea and listen to my husband talk about his day. we are rich because we have less.

someday, we will have more breathing room in our budget. debts will be repaid and we will have learned better habits... it's what we're doing right now. right now we are making the choices that will enable us to relax and enjoy being able to save for retirement and our daughter's college (or whatever she wants to do) fund. right now we are learning self control. we are disciplining ourselves so that the gift we give ourselves and our little girl is an enduring one amounting to more than just a few christmases with piles of gifts.

this year, we are opening a savings account for ezri. it's her birthday present. every year we will add to it, and encourage those family members who wish to gift her to consider adding to it as well. there may be a few handmade gifts that i make this year for her and for others, because that is what we can give and it is our best right now. i am hoping we can save and get her a little christmas dress, or a doll ...

but the reality is, she won't remember that. we all know that. we will cherish any and every tangible physical gift we are given and that she is given because it comes from the hearts of those who love us. and we will give from our hearts too.

and in the meantime i will remind myself that i don't have to worry about what others think of my choices, and that most people are supportive even if they think we're odd...

i like being odd. i like being less burdened. i like that i have loved ones who share the burdens i have with me. i am blessed, with less.


ends and beginnings

last week was rough.

i don't know exactly why. we're into our third month in a new home and a totally new place. things are going relatively well. emotionally i was either a zombie or on the verge of a nervy breakdown. finally on thursday i had the good cry i needed precipitated by a remark from someone i barely know to my husband... it didn't matter that what this person said ended up being an opinion and not the truth and that it didn't keep us from doing what we wanted or needed to do, it was just enough to hurt my feelings and get me to sit down on the floor and sob.

i needed it. so badly.

all around me i have loved ones who seem to be at the beginning or end of something. i've spent some hours on the phone listening to a hurting friend or two at the end and some rapturous moments rejoicing about the new beginnings in two others' lives... maybe both reminded me on some level that we are far apart. and that good or bad i can only be so much involved, because of distance in the emotional and physical sense.

and we are so at the beginning and trying our best to find our place. it's exhausting. i've never been very good at doing the cool aloof thing and being all "let them come to me" about making friends. the term i've used lately is "we've been wedging our way in" in reference to everything social and church-y and work. we want this to be good and we want to make friends and be useful.

and i hadn't had a really good cry since we got here.

i mean, we had a good cry the day after we moved into the house and my parents had to leave. that was it. and it was more about the goodbye than the hello. you need a cry for both i think. there's just, all this new! even good can just overwhelm.

and so i had the cry i needed, what's next?

who knows? it's funny though how the universe hears you. after having a good cry and being mad about little things that really won't matter in the long run, good things showed up. meeting new people that are like old friends already and seeing really really good things happening where we've chosen to be.

and here are some other good things...

ezri took her first couple of steps on her own. in the midst of a hectic week with preoccupied mommy brain and too much car time. she also started cutting her two top teeth - yay!

the house is feeling more homey

i am not overwhelmed by housework or projects right now.

new small group study starts this week.

eric and i now have friends who are auburn fans. and we get to watch games on their cable.

i think ez is trying to call me "mi mi" which is hilarious.

i made my first grown up on time student loan payment! no small thing ya'll.

walks, almost fall weather, rain, having people in my home,

oh, and i get to be an auntie again in June... praying for a good pregnancy for my sweet sister in law Melanie.

every week is different, isn't it?


delicious things

every now and then i hit a good cooking/baking streak... it's usually because the weather has changed or because there's some event going on. both have hit in the past week with the seasons (ever. so.) slowly changing to fall and the advent of ezri's seventh (yep) ladies' day - this one at our new home congregation. so, for you few who requested some recipes, here you go... three recent favorites.

sweet potato mash/sweet potato cakes

4 medium scrubbed sweet potatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced fresh basil (the kind in a tube, you'll find it in the produce section)
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 c sour cream
1/4 c butter

basically, if you know how to make mashed potatoes you can take it from here... dice the sweet potatoes into relatively small chunks, throw them in a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. once it's at a boil, add the garlic. it should take about ten minutes to get them mash-worthy, then drain and add the rest of the ingredients above and mash away with a potato masher ... they do not have to be smooth, in fact i think they're better if they're not!

i like to serve this with things like sausage and mushroom or to the side of a really yummy piece of steak of some curried lentils.

to turn them into sweet potato cakes, take the leftovers and add:

1 to 2 eggs, depending on how much you have leftover
1 c cornmeal or flour
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/4 to 1/2 c chopped green onion
a splash of milk

mix it up, heat a pan or griddle to med/high heat with about 2 to 3 tbsp of oil or butter and spoon em out.... takes about 8 minutes or so for them to be perfect, maybe less ;) yum.

so, i'm lucky enough to be in a church that does "ladies' inspiration day"... in other words a good get together and spiritual boost for women in our faith family. growing up, i attended loads of these and heard my grandma donna and mom speak frequently... mom still does, and is an excellent speaker if you're looking for one (i know, shameless plug ;)

thomaston road's ladies put together a lovely day. we were encouraged by good talks, wonderful singing and prayer and a delicious tea organized by a very talented group of women and served by some handsome gentlemen from our church.

i got to make scones.

now, you can only makes them if you say them right... say it with me: it's "SCAWN" not "SCOWN" ;) i know, i'm picky... no matter how you say it, these are pretty delicious and you know they have to be easy if i bake them.

ham and cheese scones

2 c all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 ground red pepper
3 tbsp chilled butter, cut in small pieces
3/4 c shredded white cheddar (cabot's seriously sharp white - amazing!)
3/4 c finely chopped ham
3/4 c buttermilk
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine the first five ingredients then cut in the butter. It really helps to have it chilled - straight from the fridge - and doesn't take much to blend it in with either a fork or pastry blender. Stir in the cheese and ham. Whisk up the eggs and buttermilk - I just break the egg into the Pyrex measuring cup with the buttermilk and whisk, one less dish to wash you know? Add to flour mixture and stir til moist.

Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead 5 or 6 times. Pat it into an 8 inch circle on a buttered baking sheet (if you double this, you can fit two rounds onto one large baking sheet) I like to cut the dough into wedges, not cutting all the way through, just an indentation.

Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned - your house will smell delicious. 8 servings or so.

gingersnap scones

1 3/4 c flour
1/4 c gingersnap cookies (about 6)
1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into pieces
1/2 c buttermilk
1 large egg

espresso glaze
1 tbsp hot water
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules (nescafe!)
3/4 c powdered sugar
walnut halves, if desired

Preheat oven to 400 F. See above for mixing method... Pat into 10 inch round etc. and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

To make the glaze, combine the water and coffee granules then add the powdered sugar. Drizzle over your scones and let set for at least 15 minutes. This should serve about 10.

- note: to be honest, this recipe was yummy but not gingery enough. next time i am considering adding crystallized ginger to the dough and doing a citrus/ginger glaze. i'll keep you posted!

it's been one of those weeks where i excel at keeping busy, almost too busy. to be honest, i've been on a roll the last few weeks ever since i decided it would be fall in my mind whether the state of georgia agreed or not. good things are all around us. eric is doing wonderfully with the school and we are enjoying the church connection. i'm finding an assortment of breastfeeding, natural parenting hippie type friends from farmer's market and support groups and the like... and ezri took her first steps yesterday while i was doing the dishes... melts my heart.

it's good. enjoy the eats ya'll.