Friday, September 23, 2011

Humbling my Mother's Heart

Job 40 :3 Then Job answered the LORD and said,
4 “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
5 “Once I have spoken, and I will not answer;
Even twice, and I will add nothing more.”

Today has been extremely humbling in my journey as a mother. For the past several days, Gracie's been cranky as can be. I chalked it up to teething; when the teeth didn't appear, I claimed she was tired, since she's been waking up more at night. Then, God forgive me, I credited it to her having a temper and a spirited personality like both her father and me. It wasn't any of those things.

My poor baby was hungry.

I've been seeing it for a few days and stubbornly refusing the truth. You see, through all my doubts and worries, I've been prideful in my heart about breast feeding. I'd never say it out loud, but I'd think in my heart, "Those women who suppliment gave up too easily." Or, "Formula-feeding moms are selfish, not wanting to give of themselves for their babies." And maybe, for some of them that is true. But not all. And maybe, not even most.

God's been gracious enough to chip away at the beam in my eye. One friend told me this morning of her heartbreak when, for some unknown reason, her milk never came in and they couldn't afford the expensive options offered by the lactation consultants. And then, I spent the morning together at the library with a new friend, watching our sweet daughters roll around on the carpet in the board book area. She's used formula pretty much since her baby was born, because she needed gall bladder surgery. It was possible to nurse, but she'd have to forgo pain medications before, during, and after this excruciatingly painful procedure. After a day of trying to "muscle through it" she realized she'd be a much better mother in less pain.

And now, you can add me. I don't know why, but at 4 1/2 months, my milk is drying up. I don't have an explaination or an excuse. But what I do know is that my darling has been suffering from my stubbornness. I gave her her first bottle at 3pm, after which she truly giggled for the first time in her life. At bedtime she received her 2nd, and went to sleep without a single tear for the first time in weeks. I'm heartbroken and happy at the same time: heartbroken for not being "enough" for her; happy because she's at peace.

I guess I would have had to learn this lesson sooner or later - no mother is "enough" for her children. Only God can provide everything even a very small human heart needs. I've got a constant chatter running through my head: "It isn't too late, you can try harder, pray harder, want it more..." But then, whose power am I leaning on? Who am I trying to trust? No matter what I do, I can't fix this myself. And it is more Godly to submit to him.

I'm still nursing. I'm feeding her bottles afterwards, though, and today at both times she took a full 4oz of formula. I hope to keep nursing for a very long time, at least in a small way, but we'll see what God plans. And while I'm definately praying my supply rebounds, doing some small things to encourage that (bring on the oatmeal!), I'm not going to make Grace sacrifice any longer for my prideful needs. That way, I know she'll be fed, and hopefully, someday, I'll be a better mother for her out of all this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hungry Baby

Photobomb! My pretty baby loves eating :)

Silly Gracie, only one spoon fits at a time!

Mmm Peaches!

Love that face. Gracie can't get enough of apples, either. I actually don't know if she's getting anything, but she's enjoying the slobber fest.

Sad baby. Dinner wasn't coming fast enough so she chewed on Daddy's arm instead.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"I can't think of a name awesome enough for this" Banana Cake

Bananas. Cream cheese. Dark chocolate. Peanuts. Oh yes... words can barely describe how awesoem this cake is. Like many concoctions coming out of my kitchen, this one started with something that needed used about to go bad, in this case a whole mess of bananas (like, 8. I sent Shaune grocery shopping the week before). After baking 2 big loaves of banana bread, I still had bananas to use up and wasn't feeling inspired. I flipped open my trusty Better Homes & Gardens cookbook and ran from there.

The cake is a straight BHG recipe, but I "decorated" it myself.

Banana Layer Cake

  • 2c All-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 3/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 c shortening

  • 1 1/2 c sugar

  • 1tsp vanilla

  • 2 eggs

  • 1c mashed bananas (2-3)

  • 1/2 c buttermilk or sour milk (I NEVER have buttermilk... I just sour with some lemon juice)

Stir together dry ingredients. Cream shortening with sugar and vanilla, then add eggs one at a time. Stir together bananas and buttermilk. Alternate adding flour mixture and banana mixture to the shortening mixture beating on low speed after each addition. Pour into 2 prepared 9" cake pans. Bake at 350* for about 30min or until tester comes out clean.

Here's where it turns awesome:

Split one cooled layer (mine had actually been frozen for several days; makes splitting easier). Fill with purchased or prepared cream cheese frosting (I bought it because it was easier). For the top, prepare dark chocolate ganache:

  • Heat 1c heavy whipping cream to just boiling. Remove from heat.

  • Put 1 1/2 (ish, I never measure) dark chocolate chips or chunks in a heat-safe bowl. I like my pyrex mixing bowls. You can also use bittersweet, but dark is my favorite :)

  • Pour cream over chocolate and let set for a while as the chocolate melts.

  • Ganache will initially be very running, but it will thicken as it cools. Stir occasionally until thick enough to pour without just soaking the cake. Pour over cake up to the edges, allowing some to artistically drip off the sides (lol, just have fun). Honestly, I should have let my ganache set a little longer but hey! We were hungry

After pourin ganache, sprinkle cake top with lightly salted peanuts. Now, the salted bit it important: it adds the PERFECT contrast to the ridiculous amount of sweet going on in the rest of the cake. You need the salted nuts. Just trust me.

You can let this cool a little longer for the ganache to become more shell like, but who has the patience for that? Just be warned... this is rich. I've never had a banana-ier cake, and I think it's because the shortening is essentially flavorless. Butter would add another flavor layer, and I honestly think I like this plain.

BONUS IDEA: One of my layers broke while I removed it from the pan. I crumbled it the rest of the way, then stirred in my left over icing to make a sticky mess. Scoop it out by tablespoon or so and cover with leftover ganache. Instant simple bonbons! I forgot to roll them in peanuts... guess I'll have to make it again!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Never Boring

Things have been crazy-busy over here. I reach the end of the day and just pass out into bed from sheer exhaustion. And yet, it's been glorious too. God has been so active in our lives lately and I'm in awe of the connections He makes. Like, seriously? I couldn't make this up if I tried:
I am a leader in a large women's Bible study here in town that started for the year on Thursday. Great times, great girls, it was fun. Fast forward to Thursday afternoon. I'm surfing a sewing forum that I tend to lurk on - I think I've posted about 3 times in the past 6 months. Thursday makes post #4 on a conversation about a new line of fabric coming out at Joann's. I was lamenting because ours is in the process of becoming a super center so they aren't getting deliveries until they move. A couple hours later, I get a strange private message: "Do you live in my town, IL?" Hm... I was honestly at a loss because, weird right? I'm very careful on these boards. I don't put up any personal information. My location is set at "Illinois," which is quite a big state (with more than a few Joann's Super Centers). But after talking with my hubby, I decided to pursue the conversation. Turns out this girl is a new mom (her DD is a month younger than Grace) who lives just outside of town and hasn't met any other young moms in the area. She took a chance and messaged me. She wanted to know if I knew of any moms' groups.

Well, yes, I do :) And conveniently, it just got started...

So now I've not only made a new friend, I've met a new sister to study the word with. She'll be joining Bible study this coming Thursday. Our babes are the same age, we had losses at the same time, we both cloth diaper. I'm so excited.


So yeah, my life is never boring. Besides strange adventures in internet relationships, my darling is now officially 4 months old! She's rolling both ways, sitting on her own (if I put her there, she can't get there herself yet), and making her way across the floor (but only if no one is watching). She might be a little bit spoiled :)

For those of you who were interested about her weight, she has dropped off her growth curve pretty dramatically. She was at the 97th at 2mo and fell to the 83rd by 4mo. Our doctor isn't too worried but we're watching it. She did suggest we suppliment with either formula or solids, based upon some of the behavior signs I mentioned (Gracie's been quite discontent once we finish nursing, like she's still hungry). Since I have a personal vendetta against formula, solids it is! We started with oatmeal... and I can never make enough. Sweet Babe loves the stuff. It cracks me up to watch her eat. I know some people will disagree, but it's working well for us. And she's back to only waking up once at night, instead of every hour or two! It's a huge blessing.

More coming soon. Thanks friends for sticking around, even though I've been so sporadic in my posting!

Monday, September 12, 2011

What are we coming to?

10 years ago we united over tragedy. I was only a freshman in high school on 9/11, but I remember how connected everyone was that day. We stared at the television screens in every classroom -- most teachers gave up trying to teach. The screens were on in the cafeteria too. We cared desperately about what was going on in NYC and Washington and Pennsylvania. I remember the last time I saw the senior from my French class, who found out (during class) that her fiance was killed (she dropped out of school immediately after). I remember calling my mom at lunchtime (on my cell phone! I'd just gotten it for the start of school) to find out where my dad and uncle were, both travelling for business on the east coast.
Today, we're divided over idiocy... From Yahoo News, the brilliance that is America:

Even though we live in a supersized world, bigger is not always better. One
devoted White Castle customer is suing the restaurant chain because he can't fit
into the restaurant's booths. Martin Kessman, who weighs 290 pounds, complained
to management for more than two years after repeatedly knocking his knee into
the tables' metal supports. After the 64-year-old New York stockbroker sent a
series of letters of complaint to the chain, he received what he called
condescending responses. White Castle sent him free hamburger coupons and
promised that it would expand its booth sizes. But the booths were never changed
and Kessman is now taking his case to federal court. He is suing for bigger
chairs and unspecified damages because he says the eatery is violating the
Americans with Disabilities Act. (He compares himself to pregnant women and the
handicapped.) The lawsuit, however, has not put an end to Kessman's love of mini
burgers. Now, instead of going to White Castle himself, he sends his wife. (source
I'm flabergasted. Seriously? I'm disgusted. Don't our federal courts have better things to do with their time? And our money?
I could go on a serious rant, but I think I'll restrain myself. But I do have a question to ask: I hear all the time, pray for America. I hear it on the radio, at church, in various groups I'm a part of. But what are we praying for? Is this... this mess... worth saving? <>