May 30, 2013

Being a Mommy and a Nanny

So here's a quick testimony of how God works in amazing, mysterious, perfect ways: a couple at church had a baby girl in February of this year. The mom had to return to work in May and sent out an email request to all the families in our bible study (20-30 year old couples) to see if anyone could watch their sweetie pie during the week. I read the email and immediately felt a tug on my heart (that's God) since I had been looking for a nanny job back in Winter of last year and never found one. Once I became a mommy myself, I thought the idea of watching someone else's wee-one while I watched our love-muffin (too many cute baby names?) at home would be a huge blessing. God allowed me to stay at home with Santiago during most of the week, and He allowed another mommy to return to work after having her babe, and she needed a caregiver, so... why would I do anything else? That's what the Lord placed on my heart.



I knew it would be hard. I knew my awesome routine with Santi would go from awesome to different and new and hard and challenging and not perfect for a while. I knew there would be an adjustment period. I knew there would be tears. I knew that my strength would come from Christ, He would never leave our side, and He was allowing this to happen. We prayed. We conversed with the couple. I became a nanny, by God's beautiful will.

Our schedule changed. Our everything changed. Wake times, nap times, potty times (for Santi), diaper changing times, meal times, play times, walk times. Everything has changed. And it is such a gift to watch these two babies interact with each other as the changes have become our new routine, our new normal. This is life now, and I praise our amazing Lord for every moment. A quote that fills me with hope, patience, joy and perseverance is this one:

Babies are God's way of reminding you it's only through HIM that you can accomplish ANYTHING.

exceptionallyavg.com

If I am able to eat breakfast, it is because God gave the babies peace at the same time. If I am able to work from home on the computer, it is because God blessed the babies with naps at the same time. If we are able to go for a 5-30 minute walk, it's because God allowed them to both have full, happy, bellies, clean diapers and rested bodies at the same time. If we are able to sit and read a book, it is because God gave me the strength and joy to do so with a positive, upbeat attitude and not a drained mommy not-in-the-mood one. If my husband arrives for his lunch break and his meal is waiting for him on the table, it is so so so so so thanks to God and not to me. If baby girl's mommy arrives to pick her up and she is greeted with a 3-month-old smile from ear to ear, it is because of God. If both babies are content and no one is screaming and I am able feed them at the same time, or at different times, or put on to sleep while the other plays, or put both to sleep in the same 10-minute window... it is only through GOD that I am able to do any of that. It's a beautiful realization, and accepting it as fact makes life so much easier.

 
It was hard at first. I held the two babies and cried while they cried simultaneously on day 1. Day 2 and 3 my baby boy found himself with a fever, needing extra hugs and extra everything, and God blessed the baby girl with extra naps, a content spirit and easy feedings. Day 4 brought my heart from prideful (this is easy, who else needs a nanny?!) to humble (I cannot do this for another second if I don't depend on God alone). Santiago has warmed up to her and they both seem to have a twinkle in their eyes for each other. They are fascinated by the baby staring back at them, they grin and coo and my peanut reaches and I immediately say, "woaaa soft....." as he tries to rip her bib off of her and attempts to scratch her face (in love). The Lord has taught me so much in the past three weeks as a mom and nanny, and I am thankful for each moment of peace. I love growing in Him and reflecting on His teachings, it has been so much more than I could have imagined it to be. And here I thought I was just going to be a mom to an almost 9 month old and a babysitter to an almost 4 month old. Silly me...


Did I say I wanted to have another baby already right now as soon as possible oh my gosh I am baby crazy when can we meet Santiago's baby sister or brother? Well, let's just say God seems to have placed this nannying business in our lives for a reason. It's time to wait, friends. I can't imagine how awesome (?) I would do with possible morning sickness, a baby bump, swollen toes, food aversions (oh my gosh bananas, don't go away again for 9 months!!!), emotional instability, back pain, random contractions, less sleep, less exercise, and/or a mental fog that prevents me from remembering anything. Whew! True story: I'm still pretty excited for whenever God permits us to have another baby. Pregnancy, in all of its goofiness, is a blast and I love it to bits. Nonetheless...

Dear self: Here's your friend's baby, take care of her with a selfless, servant love and please wait a little longer before you consider a second pregnancy and giving birth again.

May 26, 2013

Beat the Bridge: First Postpartum RACE!

So, Santi boy was invited, but decided to come down with a mild illness (rash, fever) so off I went to my first postpartum "RACEEEEE!!!" that was going to be my first stroller shin-dig, but alas... I walked with friends stroller-less and pondered life's meaning.  It was a great time! It wasn't a race, I'll admit it. We walked the four miles while the rest of the participants jogged the 5 miles.

Last year I ran it in all my round-belly glory and I remember a few things: accepting a paper-cup of water at each water station (when I never, ever have had water during a race - mind you, I only have run 5K and 8K races), grinning every step of the way because I had a baby in my tummy and I had zero cares in the world, as well as enjoying so so much the fact that my finish time meant nothing to me in terms of PR, since pregnant races are less formal than no-baby-in-tummy races.



Whew! Enjoy! Photos of my new family members are actually my friend + co-worker and her family. I was adopted and feel full of glee. We walked it together and took in all the sights, sounds and smells of the University of Washington, busy streets and greenery. At the end of the race I met up with a handful of amazing lady friends and we spent our time talking, stealing bananas and the like.

PS: Did you know that since you pay a hefty registration fee for races you are entitled to as many post-race fruits as they offer? I should have just taken the whole box. Those bananas froze perfectly. Smoothie nation in my house!

















May 25, 2013

Four Vegan Meals in 1 Hour

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 
Psalm 139:23, 24

I love how personable this verse is, speaking directly to God. It's such a gift to be able to talk to our Creator at any moment, wherever we are, however we feel. Know my heart, Father. A request to see what we aren't seeing well: a hidden sin, a longtime hurt that hasn't been healed, anxiety about something we're tying to sweep under the bed and ignore.

Search me, Lord, know my heart, test me and KNOW my anxious thoughts. Sometimes I feel slightly "off" and I cannot figure out what is causing it. Usually I come to realize I had been filling myself with stress over either something small or big, and I had just forgotten about it for a moment. On come the anxious thoughts that leave me on the edge, and the need to pray- lift up all my cares, worries and anxieties up to the Lord, leaving them in His hands. What follows is that weight being lifted off my shoulders completely and the freedom to carry on in God's loving presence.

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. It's a blessing to be given this scripture, because there are times when I KNOW I have something going on inside - whether it be bitterness against someone, a grudge, pride creeping in, not depending or trusting on God financially, doubting His presence or doubting His ability to make good come from a really bad situation. This prayer, petition to God, asks Him to make us KNOW what is going on deep inside of our hearts, to open our eyes so that we can SEE and do what we need to to change. Only then can we repent, ask for forgiveness, be transformed by His Spirit, and in return be "led in the way everlasting". Help me to stop doing what I am doing and instead please You in all I do. Help me to not fall into this trap again but to hold tight to You daily. Help me to follow the path You set before me instead of being entangled and enslaved by the ways of this world. Help me to be a humble, selfless servant like Christ instead of a prideful, selfish master.

God WILL open your eyes, He knows EVERY anxious unsettled thought you have, He is ABLE to transform your hearts and mind and He loves us so much that He offers the road to everlasting. Even being blinded, weary and lost in our wickedness, there is hope. Give it all up to Him, friends!

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So recently I started nannying a three month old baby girl. When thinking about taking up this task, I realized and accepted the fact that meal planning was going to need to be a little less casual (text husband in the morning, ask what he would like, prep while babe plays or sleeps, have hot n' ready on the table when he arrived home for lunch) and a little more serious-business, if you know what I mean. This turned me into what I used to be and loved: a Sunday evening kitchen party thrower. I used to cook for about 1-2 hours each Sunday, and maybe an hour Wednesday, and make the meals for the week. That way, I wouldn't have to cook every night and we had plenty of meals waiting to be consumed in the fridge.

Sunday came, I prepped, and Monday night I cooked. Here's what happened. 

Dice your food.  

I cut up: broccoli, cabbage, bell pepper, serrrano chili and carrots. Can you tell we were running low on vegetables? I can tell. Ohhh could I tell. This was going to be a challenge. 

Cook grains and beans.

I ran out of quinoa, so we were left with rice, beans and tempeh. That's it. The tempeh I left raw in its package, and I cooked 5 cups of pinto beans in our pressure cooker, then steamed about 1.5 cups of brown rice. Day two then fell upon me.

Find recipes.

I went for simple: tempeh, rice, broccoli and tomato sauce with Italian seasoning. Really, don't make it hard on yourself. Toss a few cups of broccoli in a pan, add some tomato sauce and let it simmer. Add your rice, some tempeh cubes, cover and simmer some more. My tomato sauce is simply tomato puree with basil, italian seasoning, garlic and onion with red pepper flakes for a "bite". Do. Not. Make. This. Harder. Than. It. Should. Be. Just cook.


A stir fry. Broccoli and napa cabbage into a pan with Liquid Aminos, red pepper flakes and Bragg's Kelp Granules (smells fishy but adds great flavor and nutrients woot!) serve over brown rice.


A chili. Saute cabbage, broccoli and bell pepper bits in chili powder, carob or cocoa powder and onion. Add some tomato puree (if you have any, this is good without as well), shredded unsweetened coconut and serrano chili pepper for crazy good spice. Simmer, Cover, add water as needed.


Mexican rice: Saute carrots, serrano chili and bell pepper in tomato puree. Add chili powder - the spicier the better for this rice - and saute until soft veggies are present. Add rice, toss to coat and add a handful of fresh cilantro on top. Cover and cook until the rice sucks up most of the tomato spicy beauty. Mexican rice. Discard cilantro before serving, garnish with fresh cilantro if you desire.


Yes, it takes just an hour. Yes, you can do this. Dice up every vegetable in your home, cook up a serving of a few grains and beans, store everything in the fridge overnight in tupperware, and cook tomorrow. Have fun with it, learn from your mistakes (I have made 1,000,000 of them and learned something each time) and do it again next week. Good luck!

May 24, 2013

How to: Romaine Lettuce Wraps

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

I see these verses as three simple, yet bold, truths: Jesus has ALL power on earth and in heaven. He calls His followers to SHARE the gift of Salvation through Him and to share His teachings. And He promises that He is WITH US now and always.

~~~~~

There are days where I find myself not in the mood to cut up greens for a salad. I am then left with two options: make sure I had enough green smoothies in the morning to stay alive and not fall to my knees, weak and green-less, needing a leaf of spinach in the next two minutes or I will surely lose it or I can make simple romaine boats. Heat up the meal (beans, rice, both, lentil burgers) or grind up a nut-based patee, and start the process.


(Above, Mexican rice and beans, steamed broccoli and raw carrots - get in your romaine boats!) We are huge fans of bean burgers in this home, and recently I found I could enjoy an extra burger if I skipped the bun completely and used romaine leaves. This also helps my tummy to be able to fit more sweet potato fries in it during the meal, which is a huge plus. I love sweet tater fries, who don't, man? Romaine leaf, guacamole, bean burger. Buns are for my hubby, who uses them as the base then tops off his burger with a romaine "lid".



This one was a use-up-leftovers-stat! type of meal. Romaine heart (the big, dark green leaves eaten up and you're left with the crispy heart) with a flaxseed mushy herb thing (ground flaxseed, tomato, herbs, lemon juice) then topped with steamed vegetables. Salsa went in there, too. 'cause I love me a burning mouth post-meal!


So try it next time. Grab a few heads of romaine at the grocery store next time you're in, and throw your meal inside it. Seriously, this works for casseroles, thick stews/chili, any type of burger, stir fry, etc! It's my favorite. 10 points for romaine wraps!

May 23, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

A recap in the best way I can think of: photo form!

there were beautiful flowers...



felines and family...




Apple slices with a cinnamon glaze...
 (1 orange, handful of raisins, cinnamon)


hugs for a loved little boy...



fruit tasting...



Family snapshots and giggling...





...and lastly, the hug-and-pass baby game...








Dear friends, let us love one another, 
for love comes from God. 
Everyone who loves has been 
born of God and knows God. 
1 John 4:7