Lent has begun and with that comes the sacrifices that we make for the 40 days until Easter.  I know what my weaknesses are and try to make these sacrifices something that I know I will struggle with.  If it was easy it wouldn't be a sacrifice now would it?  This year I gave up sugar and TV (a sacrifice as a family).  Included in the sugar category I am including all artificial sweeteners (Splenda, nutrasweet etc) and natural sweeteners that contain calories (honey, agave, etc) so the only option I am allowing myself is pure stevia (hey, I'm not giving up coffee and I'm not cool enough to drink it black, so I need something).  I think that I am going to be very surprised by the amount of things I consume that contain something in this sugar category.  I know that I have a very strong addiction to all things sweet and am anticipating a withdrawal of sorts in the next week.  Should be interesting.

A while back I saw this deal online for coconut oil, which I use frequently both in baking and toiletries.  The price was pretty amazing and it came with a bag of chia seeds.  I did not know anything about chia seeds except for the Smiling Obama Chia Pet that we got my brother-in-law for Christmas.  I kind of asked around, and then tried a recipe with chia seeds.  It was my first absolutely inedible disaster while baking with somewhat expensive gluten free products.  I think that I was so upset that I tossed them in the back of the pantry and didn't want to attempt anything else. 

The other day one of the blogs that I follow had a Chia-Raspberry Pudding recipe and so I thought I would give them another go around.  Oh my goodness I am in love!  To me it is just like tapioca pudding, something that I enjoy.  If you don't like the texture of tapioca pudding, you probably won't like this.  Just as Maureen from Homemade Mothering made adjustments to her recipe, I made adjustments to my recipe to cut out the sweetener.  I also used unsweetened vanilla almond milk, so it does have a vanilla taste to it.  I think that if it was the regular unsweetened almond milk it would definitely need the fruit in it, I left it out for my batch.
 3 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 teaspoon stevia (this equals 8 teaspoons sugar)
fruit if desired

Combine all in a container and shake well.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Shake it a few more times if you think about it.

The chia seeds absorb up to 9 times their weight in liquid, so they form a gel, creating the pudding.

I can't get enough of this.  However, Munchkie saw the bag of frozen blueberries and couldn't get enough of those.  She was a blue mess until bathtime!  This picture doesn't do justice to how blue she really was.


It Is Well

Tonight at church a member shared with us and what he had to say really moved me. His life is truly amazing, while standing in front of a large group of people he spoke of hope. He spoke of hope, which might not mean much, except that he was told that this past Christmas was his last. Hope. While he was telling us that he would never walk down an aisle and say "I do" or he would never be a father and look into the eyes of his child. These things that I take for granted every single day.  His message was of hope.  He spoke of God's promise to Abraham.  Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born.  One. Hundred. Years. Old.  Abraham had to wait until he was 100 years old to see God's promise fulfilled.

This hit me.  I have so much to be thankful for and I am so impatient.  I want this specific life that I have all planned out in my head.  I think that I will never be able to wait the five years of Munchkie's Daddy's grad school to be "real" adults.  I get impatient and frustrated with what I have, or don't have.  All over five years.  How can I complain about five measly years when Abraham was 100!  And yet, Abraham praised God and followed his commands.  This man at church had hope and praised God, even in difficult circumstances.

I know in my head that God has had a hand in every aspect of my life.  I know that everything in our lives has been placed there by God and I can do nothing else but trust in him.  He has provided for us time and time again, he will continue to provide for us.  While I do struggle quite frequently with not living out this "perfect" life I had planned, I can see that what's happening in my life is way better.  I cannot even imagine my life without all of the amazing friends that I have made over the past few years, my wonderful husband or my beautiful daughter.

We sang this song at church tonight and every single time I hear it, it brings tears to my eyes.  It's easy to hear or read the words and think, oh some guy was sitting at his piano writing this while he was waited on.  Except that isn't the case.  The words to this song were written by Horatio Spafford as he rode on a boat to be with his wife after his four daughters drowned in a boat collision.  His son had already died at the age of four and the great Chicago fire left him financially ruined.  Through all of that, he wrote "It is well with my soul."  This man wasn't living in the lap of luxury, he was at the lowest point of his life.  He can say it is well with my soul when most would be hopeless.  If he can have peace and comfort, than surely I can find peace and comfort knowing that someone else has control over my life.  If the man at church, Abraham, and Horatio can have hope, even though they are going through trying situations, than I can survive five measly years of being far from home and a grad student's wife.  It is well with my soul.  I can say that and mean it.  I may need to remind myself of this frequently, but it is well with my soul.    

I apologize for the early 90's video.

Although I usually don't like Wikipedia, they do have a pretty condensed version of the story behind this song. It Is Well With My Soul

Food to Feed a New Family

A family in our church just recently had a baby and so I wanted to bring food for the family.  I remember how much we ate out when we first had Munchkie.  The thought of prepping, cooking and then cleaning was too much to think about.  Now whenever I can I like to bring food to families with new babies.  It's hard enough to survive through the extreme sleep exhaustion let alone eat well.  I'm sure there are super moms out there that can hold it all together, but I sure am not one of them.

Thanks to Pinterest for almost all of my great ideas these days.  I saw this super cute idea a while back and kept it in the back of my mind to create.  Unfortunately I apparently didn't have my memory card in my camera when I took a bunch of pictures, so they were lost.  But how genius is it to make divided plates out of ice cube trays.  This family that we brought food to had a higher need for lunch meals more than evening meals, so I thought of what Munchkie would love for lunch.  I also know that to eat healthy takes prep and how difficult it would be to do that prep for two toddlers while caring for a new
 baby.  So these ice cube trays have cut up veggies and fruit, cheddar bunnies, small pieces of cheese and yogurt covered raisins.  I used Glad Press'n'Seal to seal the tops, when it is lunch time, the kids can just grab a tray, pull the top off and have a quick, easy, kid friendly lunch.
I obviously couldn't forget the parents, so I brought containers of precut veggies, hummus and some pita from the Lebanese store down the street.  I figured that these were foods that could be eaten with one hand if the other needed to be holding a baby.
I also threw in some soups that I had already made and a loaf of bread from the bakery down the street.  I'm not exactly sure how the family felt about the food and if it worked out for them, but I thought that I would have loved having some easy to grab healthy options.

I think that this will be my new go to meal options for new families.


Pinterest Perfect Nails

I have always loved to paint my nails.  My frustration is always how sloppy I am.  I can never get that polish on my nails only.  I seem to get it all over and usually have to spend some time picking away at my fingers.  I saw a tip on Pinterest that has changed my nail polishing life. 
The tip on Pinterest suggested to put vasoline around your nailbeds before you start applying the polish.  I don't really like petroleum jelly because it's make from petroleum, a byproduct of oil (petrol).  We tend to use Aquaphor in our house because instead of being petroleum based, it's water based, hence the "aqua" of the Aquaphor.  Water scares me a lot less than oil. 

Once you use the q-tip to apply the Aquaphor onto the skin (not on the actual nail) when you paint your nails they are perfect.  I don't even know how to explain it, the polish only stays on your nails.  It's not even like it beads up or slides off the Aquaphor, it just doesn't stick.  It's great. 

It makes me want to keep my nails painted all of the time.  When I can throw on a coat of nail polish and run out the door, it's a wonderful thing.  And the thing that's even better, the Aquaphor really helps the skin around your nails.
So thank you Pinterest for a great little tip that makes me life a little better.

To Be A Nurse

I think that so many people take for granted the nurses that go into work at all hours of the day and night.  It seems like an easy job, because well, so many people do it.  The hours aren't your typical 9-5 and it's rewarding to boot.  Well, I just want to explain a little what being a nurse and a mom means, because I'm just tired of people saying how lucky I am to have such a flexible schedule when they don't truly understand what that "flexible" schedule means. 

Being a pediatric nurse (or any healthcare worker) and a mom means.....
  • Feeding a baby while thinking about how someone else is providing the meals for your own child.
  • Crawling into bed after a long shift- alone, because you're going to bed too early or going to bed after everyone else has woken up.
  • Sleeping with light blocking curtains covering your windows.
  • Having to take Vitamin D supplements because you don't see the light of day enough.
  • Singing the ABCs to a patient meanwhile thinking of how another person is teaching your child their ABCs.
  • Knowing that cancer is in your future because working nights is a known carcinogen and praying that God will give you "enough" time with your family.
  • Not being able to join anything because you have never have a regular schedule, no exercise classes, no story time, etc.
  • Your child cries out at night for Daddy because Mommy isn't home enough to be reliable for nightmare comfort.
  • When you say "Do you know what time it is" your child hangs their head and says in a sad tone "time for Mommy to go to work" even if it's not a day you have to work.
  • Your child spends more time with another person than they do with you so that you can spend time "cuddling" with another child.
  • You understand that schedules are an essential comfort to children, but just can't physically provide a normal schedule for your child.
  • You literally don't remember the last time that you weren't exhausted, or that you actually got a reasonable amount of sleep for a week.
  • With each patient you care for you send up a prayer of thanks for your own child, who isn't in the hospital.
  • Wondering what it would be like to eat normal meals.
  • Falling asleep in the middle of something when you have things to do and laying in bed awake for hours when you really want to sleep.
  • Answering that last call bell to comfort a stressed out parent when what you really want to do is run away to be with your family.
  • Changing another child's diaper and wondering what excuse will work for you to get out of diaper duty at home.
  • Leaving your home before anyone is awake in the morning, and arriving home in just enough time to say goodnight.
  •  Watching your daughter write the first letter of her name and realizing that someone saw her do this first.
  • Not truly understanding what TGIF means because quite a few Fridays are the start of a stretch of shifts to work.
  • Understanding that you don't have to leave your child every day of the week, but also knowing that your days off are recovering and preparing for your next day on.
  • Trying to potty train your child while wishing that you were able to empty your own bladder on a regular schedule.
  • You tell your active child that they better stop jumping on the bed because Mommy will not be going into work on her day off.
  • You miss every other holiday with your family and pretend that it's just as exciting on another day. Or you take a quick nap and drink a lot of coffee so you can be a part of the holiday, wearing scrubs.
  • Your child asks every day if you will be able to come to their birthday, because they know you can't make it to most fun things they do.