Not Your Ordinary Taco Night

  Too bad I am not clever enough to have made Nacho’s with supper, then this could be called: 

Nacho Ordinary Taco Night” 

I know, I know, it’s so been done. 

I still think it would’ve been cool.

  Before I share a recipe with you, I want to tell you about my lil’ Pax who turned 9 months old a couple weeks ago. 

What?!  How is that possible?

  Oh, and you know that LIE they tell you about 9 months to put on the weight and 9 months to get it off…..baloney, I say!  My baby weight doesn’t leave until a week or two after I stop nursing, then BAM, 10 pounds gone.  (Pleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleeeeease, let it happen that way again!)  Until then, I keep eating yummy food.  Oh,who am I kidding, I eat yummy food after that too!  I’m a foodie, what can I say? I love to eat!

  Right now, Paxton is totally obsessed with two things:

{No, they are not his food source, although it’s fair to say he IS obsessed with “those” as well.}

It’s…..

  • The Train Table
  • The Drum Set

He is so proud to be playing with “big kid” stuff!  Sniff-sniff, my baby is growing up!  😦  He walks the perimeter of the train table destroying track as he goes. 

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He gets SO excited when the whistle goes off! Sweet boy.

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“Look Momma, I got one!”

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Next he heads over to the drums Tylan got from his Grandma.  This kid can JAM! He gets those drums a goin’ and beep bops his little head to the beat, I love it!  Of course, he has yet to do it for the video camera, that little stinker quits as soon as I get it out! I was lucky to get these few shots before he came over to see what I was doing!

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“It’s nice that they provide this teether stick for me while I play the drums, mom.”

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“Ooooh, I am supposed to hold it like this? Gotcha!”

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Sweet, big boy!

  He recently added high 5’s, waving Bye bye, and signing “All Done” to his repertoire of tricks.  He is also walking all over the place! Grabbing whatever is nearby to get the job done……

 

On to the recipe part of this blog, Gorditas!!!! These little corn cups are a great way to rev up Taco night.  I found them over on Mama J’s “A Little Bit Crunchy, A Little Bit Rock & Roll” website, she has some really great and oh-so healthy recipes over there!

GORDITA’S

  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water (I had to use a bit more to get the corn meal to blend)
  • 1 2/3 cup corn meal
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
  • Toppings: anything you’d put in a taco. We did taco meat, black beans, cheese, cilantro, tomatoes and sour cream.

Preheat oven to 400*.  In a medium-sized sauce pan, add creamed corn, water and salt.  Heat, stir and add corn meal.  Cook until thick.  Stir in butter and cheese.

  Drop by tablespoons into  well-greased muffin tins.  Press with tart shaper and fingers up the sides.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes before filling with your toppings of choice.005

  Easy and pretty too!  Try them soon!

~T

 

This recipe linked to:

Savannah’s Savory Bites

 

Today

   We are sure enjoying our long weekend!   I gotta tell ya, after coming off a week full of extensive journal research to write those 4 posts about Dale and my love story, I am pooped!!!!  

 Funny, this happened to me after my big Mother’s Day series too.  It’s like I am emotionally worn out or something and have run out of words.  Ok, well, maybe not run out of words, but I don’t have the energy to put much into a blog post afterwards.  Does that make sense? 

  For that reason, I’ll just keep it short and sweet today, plus, it’s a Holiday!!!!!

    We sure enjoyed the beautiful weather this afternoon! Dale didn’t think it was quite warm enough to get out the pool yet, so we just played out front instead.  I am so thankful we live where we do and the kids can roam around and use their imaginations.

  Anyhow, Paxton had just woken up from nap……

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so I brought him out front, on the quilt with me.  045047

Sweet baby! 

From there, we watched the big kids play.

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  Apparently, “John” got lost from sisters, “Kristy & Kristin”.  He was in the woods, but thankfully, he found his way out.

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   Such a sweet reunion! 🙂

  Speaking of sweet, little Avery, I mean “Kwisty”, wanted me to take some photos of her peek-a-booing around the tree.

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Like dis……”

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“Den like dis…..”

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“Tanks, Mommy!”

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Today was such a good day. 

Happy Memorial Day!

  As we celebrate, let us think of the mother who lost her son in the battlefield. The wife whose husband has gone to war. Think of the children who do not know whether they will see their father next Christmas or not, and thank the Lord for those willing to fight for our freedom!  And, when we think of the selfless souls who sacrifice their happiness or very lives, for our security, I hope we realize just how much we have to be grateful for!

~T

My Very Own Happily Ever After: Part 4/4

Just tuning in?  I’m sharing Dale and my story with you this week, in honor of our 9th Anniversary! 

Get caught up here…..

Part 1: Once Upon A Time

Part 2:  Summer Love

Part 3:  When God Writes Your Love Story

  I was engaged to the man of my dreams!  Now the wedding I had in my head since my childhood could take place.  Well, a budget version of that dream, but my dream wedding, none-the-less!  I had always wanted a huge foo-foo Princess wedding dress and a fancy night-time wedding in a church packed full of the people I loved most……

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  By the time the invites were done, we had invited 800 people. I had chosen 7 special people to stand up with me as bridesmaids and witness our vows and Dale had done the same, choosing 7 groomsmen.

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  I wanted to involve all 7 of my nanny kids, whom I loved and adored, as well as those who I babysat for for years.  Scan_Pic0048

  Scan_Pic0049And Dale, coming from a large family, thought it’d be nice to involve his cousins too.  In the end, we had 12 flower girls, who would head down our churches 4 side aisles that day, while handing out flowers to start the service.  Next would be 2 bell ringers down the Center aisle, followed by the Jr. attendant walking with the 2 more flower girls.  I wanted it to be a day to remember, Dale just wanted me to get down the aisle already!

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  I’d like to tell you May 24th, 2002 dawned bright and sunny, but it didn’t. Well, it was bright and sunny on the inside, but outside? Terrible storms and rain.

My best friend called me in a panic that morning, worried how I was handling the weather, but my cheery “HELLLOO!” took care of any concerns she had.

 This was my big day, a few thunder claps weren’t going to ruin anything!

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  I had never been more thankful that God had restored my parents marriage and that I, once again, had a great relationship with my dad.  Because I had not moved out during our “rough patch” as I family, I woke up the morning of my wedding, in the bedroom of my youth.  I smiled to myself, giddy for the day to begin, and tried to capture in my mind the regular morning noises of my mom, dad and little brother making breakfast downstairs….for this was the last time that would occur.  When I left the church that night, I’d be heading to the home I would share with Dale, the one we still live in today! I was a 20-year-old young woman, ready to spread her wings and fly for the first time!

  After all the hub bub of hair and make up, Dale and I met pre-service for what is now called a “First Look.”  We wanted to get photos over with ahead of time, but still have a private special moment when we first saw each other.  I don’t have the professional photos to capture it, but this is a snapshot from a friend.  Dale meet me at the end of the aisle with tears and a smile.  Before we parted ways, he grabbed me, pulled me close and whispered a prayer in my ear.  I loved that when the big moment came for me to enter the church and walk down the aisle on my Daddy’s arm, the butterflies were gone because I had seen my man. He had prayed with me and calmed my spirit. I was ready!

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  The wedding was at 7 pm, and it was everything I hoped for.  The church was dark, the stage accented only by soft lights and twinkling candles.  Scan_Pic0102

  Our pastor gave a beautiful wedding charge, and when it was time, Dale and I  tearfully read our written vows to each other. 

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  Soft piano praise music played in the background the entire time, thanks to the musical talents of Dale’s friend on the Baby Grand, inviting the Spirit of the Lord there in the church with us that night.  And He was there, I could feel Him and He was smiling at us. The angels in Heaven rejoiced as they sat back and watched another “Happily Ever After” of a Love Story written by the Author of Love Himself.   

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  Lest things get too serious on our big day, we tried to end on a fun note, and lighten the mood with the recessional song: 

  A roarin’, piano-thumping rendition of Little Richard’s “Great Balls of Fire.” It wouldn’t be complete without the part where you zip up and down the piano keys, and Dale’s friend nailed it! 

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WOO-HOO!  He’s finally MINE! 🙂

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  After an appetizer reception in the church gym-turned Garden, with twinkling lit trees, shrubs, gazebos and winding lit paths, Dale and I took off for our new home as a couple.  The day was everything we’d dreamed it would be and so very much more. 

  To end a perfect day, we sat down on a quilt in the bedroom of our new home, opened the picnic basket my mom had packed for us, and had a carpet picnic; eating all the wedding food and cake we had missed at the reception, as we greeted and hugged our guests for hours.  During this picnic, I presented Dale with my box of letters and purity ring.  As we ate, we opened them and read them from earliest to most recent.

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  We laughed at the little-girl scrawl of age 13, starting with “Wuz up?” and ending with an oh-so cool “Ciao”, smiled at the grown-up words of a 17-year-old young lady, had flashbacks of a difficult time during the broken-hearted letter of age 18, full of apologies for giving her heart away to a guy named Dale, and finally, a tearful letter addressed: “My dearest Dale”, full of love and devotion from a 19-year-old woman, engaged to be married to the man of her dreams.  It was a beautiful moment, one I will not soon forget.

  We were blessed to go on a week-long Honeymoon to Maui the next morning, thanks to the generosity of the amazing family I nannied for.  It was Paradise, just like they say!

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A lot has changed in 9 years, and we are not without our trials and tribulations, fights and tears. But I can tell you one thing, there is not one time I look back over our Courtship and that particularly difficult time in my life, and not see the Lord’s Fingerprints ALL over it. He guided us when we were lost, He carried us when we were too weary to stand, He lifted us up when we were broken down, and most importantly, He lovingly took us away from each other, to prepare us to one day be together again, this time FOREVER.

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  When I said “I Do” I meant it, forever and ever, till death do us part.067

I leave you with 2 thoughts:

Guys, “If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you aren’t worthy.”

And girls remember this, “A girl should be so lost in God, that a guy has to get lost in Him to find her.”  You must be content in who you are alone, before you’ll ever be content in who you are with someone else.

  Take these quotes to heart, hold out for your very own “The One” and GO get those books by Eric and Leslie Ludy.   They are LIFE CHANGING!

Thanks for letting me share our Love Story with you! It’s been a really fun walk down memory lane for Dale & I!

~T

Letting God Write Your Love Story……Part 3/4

Get caught up here:

Part 1: Once Upon A Time

Part 2:  Summer Love

Continued from yesterday….

The time line is a bit blurred in my mind, but somewhere along the way, close to the Holiday’s, the Lord asked me to let go of it all.  My dreams, my plans, my hopes, all of it.  He needed me to let go so He could take over. And when He takes over, AMAZING things occur!

  He began to speak to me about Courtship instead of dating.  I finally had a name for what He had been asking me to do in High school.  He was asking me to be friends with a guy, hanging out with my family and his, until the Lord told me “Yes, this is the man I have for you, Tonya.”  Courtship is dating with the intent of marriage.  He was asking me to wait to date, UNTIL I found my spouse.  Interesting.

  Then He brought me “THE BOOK”.  The book that forever changed my life and altered my course….

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“When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy.

  By the second page in the book words were LEAPING off the page and grabbing my heart…..

“…….You have searched for true love in your own way.  But my ways are not your ways.  I want to script a beautiful tale just for you, but first you must trust Me with the pen of this precious area of your life.  Will you let Me write your love story?”

“God is longing to write your love story.  A love story far beyond the most incredible fairy tale ever written. Will you give Him the pen today?”

  What a thought!  God was longing to compose MY love story, my very own fairy tale?  WOW!   He cares about all the areas of our lives, even this one, what a thought!   He was asking me to hand Him the pen, stop worrying, stop planning….and just sit back and hang on for the ride of my life.

  Book-WDCT-2I  was so excited about what I was reading, that I bought this book and the next one for 7 of my friends (including Dale). I knew it was going to change their lives!  It’s called “When Dreams Come True” and tells the true love story of the couple, Eric and Leslie, who handed over the pen and let God script them a beautiful story.

   More of Eric and Leslie’s AMAAAZING books are found here at http://ellerslie.com/Books.html  I highly recommend them for pre-teens and teens, and their parents as well!

Some of their popular titles include:

Authentic Beauty

Teaching True Love to A Sex-At-13 Generation

When God Writes Your LIFE Story

God’s Gift to Women

  This couple has started an incredible ministry working towards raising youth to be a light to a dark world, to be IN the world but not OF the world. Play around on their website when you get a chance!!!!

  Ok, so that was a major bunny trail, but an important one.  Back to the story:

  After months apart, Dale & I decided to start spending time together again, we missed each other so much!  We were determined to just “Be Friends”, but we felt so much more.  Not long after this, we decided to take a week, not see each other or talk, but fast and pray, seeking God on our knees as to whether this could be turned into a courtship or not. Once again, the Lord began speaking to me immediately about forgiveness. As in, Dale prayed with me about our week apart and left, and before he had even left the neighborhood, I opened a book and there in front of me lay a 12 Steps To Forgiveness page. No doubt, the Lord was asking me to forgive as He had forgiven me, I knew this by now. He spoke to Dale too that week, about making things right with his past relationships.  That amazing man called each girl he had been in a relationship with, and asked their forgiveness for not respecting them as he should have.  Some were tearful and thankful, some called him crazy.

But as far as our Courtship?

The Lord was silent.

{SIGH} Fine. Friends it is.

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  That Christmas Eve, during the candlelight service at church, 1 year later almost to the day that my world fell apart, I forgave my dad and walked away from the ugly bitterness I had been carrying.  I also that night, forgave Dale for his past, and let it go, to be stewed about no more.  Jesus’ blood was strong enough to cover any and every sin, why was I worried it wasn’t strong enough to cover Dale’s indescrestions of the past?  What a load off! I tearfully rejoiced, feeling light and free!!!  I was SO thankful my relationship with my dad was restored and that I could enjoy my time around Dale without always thinking of the past!

  It was the next night, at a Christmas celebration with family and friends that the Lord gave us the green light to pursue a courtship, dating with the intent of marriage, and we were thrilled!  He had been waiting for my forgiveness of the 2 men in my life all along! 

  Family and friends had been teasing us that we basically were like a couple anyways, and it was obvious we loved each other, why didn’t we make it official already?  We were hesitant to “slap a label on it”, but mostly, scared the Lord would take us away from each other again if we acted outside His will.

  We were sitting at the piano, shoulder to shoulder, dinking around and talking about our relationship.  I told him what my mom had told me just the other day that maybe God was asking us to take a step of faith before He answered us.  Hmm, what a thought!   Dale thought for a minute then turned to me and says something like, “What if I ask you to be my girl right now?”  I hesitated, made and face and was like, “Welllll…”. 

“See,” he says,”it’s so scary. I can’t do this alone, tell me what you are thinking in here (points to heart) rather than here (points to head).”

“Well, in my heart I’d say yes in a second, but then all those doubts creep in my mind.”  I just couldn’t lose Dale again!

  We go on for about 10 more minutes trying to decide what God was asking us.  Finally,  he turns to me and says…

“So, do you want to be together?”

Me: “More than anything!”

Dale: “Ok then, let’s do this, let’s take the next step.”

Me: “Ok.” Big smile.

Silence.

Dale: “So are we together?”

Me: “I think so.”

Dale: “Do you feel any different?”

Me: “No.”

Dale: “Me neither.”

Me: “Is that a bad thing?”

Dale: “No, I don’t think so.”

Me: “Ok.”

Dale: “Ok.”

{BIG SMILES ALL AROUND}

  In that moment, we realized nothing was different, we had been a couple all along, just without the label! I am sure the Lord was happy we were finally “getting it”!  Sometimes He speaks in a whisper, other times Neon flashing lights.  We heard His whisper that Christmas night, what a beautiful gift!  🙂

  Now that the “label” issue was out the way, we fully embraced our Courtship and began to spend time together once again, with me going to his family functions and he coming to mine.  My family adored him!  How could they not?  There was never a dull moment when he was around!!!!

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  Soon after this, the Lord called Dale to travel with the ministry team“Souled Out” again.  This time for 6 months!  I was SO sad he was leaving, but knew the Lord needed him.  He walked away from his job knowing it may not be waiting for him when he returned.  (It wouldn’t be.) What a test this long distance relationship was for us, but through the ups and downs of it, our love just grew stronger, and Dale (who DOESN’T write) filled a journal FULL of love letters to me while he was gone. What a special gift.

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  Dale came home for a visit the first week in June, around our 6 month anniversary, and we went ring shopping. HOW EXCITING! I had been waiting to do this my whole life.  Sadly, Dale told me since he left his job to travel with the ministry team, he had no money, and it’d probably be another year until he could save up for it.  I was totally ok with that, floating on my happy love bubble.  No worries, for him I could wait!

  The very next morning, as we worshiped in church, my Pastor called me up on stage.  I was worried what kind of sermon analogy I was going to be!  He told me to close my eyes……and when I opened them, there was Dale, on his knee in front of me, with tears in his eyes and a ring in his hand.  My heart was pounding, my palms were sweating…..this was IT!

THE MOMENT I had been dreaming of!

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  Dale looked me in the eyes and spoke, voice thick with emotions:

 “Tonya, I could list a million reasons why I love you, but it boils down to this…..God let me love you.  You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  I’m going to ask you one question…….

WILL YOU MARRY ME?”

  I wiped my tears and THREW my arms around him!  I had found my Mr. Wonderful, I was going to be his bride, THIS was my happily ever after!  All those months of heartache and doubt, all those times of questioning what God was asking me to do…..all of it built up to this life changing, dream making moment.  The moment I said YES!

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  That August, as I turned 19, I sat to write my Future Husband a love letter, as I had since I was 13, but this time I got to write on top….My Dearest Dale.  What a tear-filled, joyful letter it was!  I tucked it away in my shoebox, knowing that by my next birthday, I’d be a happily married woman!

  Dale and I were engaged for a whole year, something our children will NOT be allowed to do. It’s so hard to remain pure, plus it’s just waaaay too long to plan a wedding.  It gave OCD me, more than enough time to comb through the details of the big day, organizing and reorganizing each detail!

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   As the year-long engagement finally came to an end, I could scarcely believe it, May 24th, 2002 was here.  I was about to marry my best friend and become Mrs. Tonya Ferguson!!!!!!!!!!!!

Conclusion tomorrow…..

~T

Letter From God

Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,

To have a deep, solid relationship with another.

To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.

But God, to the Christian says:

No.  Not until you are satisfied, fulfilled and content with Me alone, with giving yourself unreservedly to Me, with having an intensely personal relationship with Me.  

Only after discovering, in Me, your true satisfaction, will you be capable of the perfect human relationship I have planned for you.

  You will never be united with another until you are united with Me, exclusive of all other desires or longing.

 I want you to stop planning.

Stop wishing and allow me to give you the most thrilling plan existing, one you cannot imagine.  I want you to have the best.  Please allow me to bring it to you. 

  You just keep watching Me, and expecting the greatest things. 

Keep listening and learning from the things I tell you.

Just wait. 

Don’t be anxious. 

Don’t worry. 

Don’t look around at the things others have gotten or that I have given them.  You just keep looking at Me or you’ll miss what I have to show you. 

And when you’re ready?  I’ll surprise you with a love FAR more wonderful than any you could dream of. 

  You see, until you are ready and the one I have for you is ready (I am working at this moment to have you both ready at the same time), when you are both satisfied exclusively with Me, then I will bring you two together, and thus the perfect love .

  And dear one, I want you to have this wonderful love.

I want you to see in flesh, a picture of your relationship with Me.

Know that I love you completely.

I am God.

Know this and be satisfied.

I love you.

Summer Love: Part 2/4

  Continued from yesterday’s Once Upon A Time post……

  Needless to say, I fell and I fell hard that summer, despite the fact that I was not speaking to the Lord or pleased with my father or men in general at that point. 

  Dale eventually did get around to asking me on a date, and although he picked me up, payed for it, HE named the time and HE named the place, and thankfully, NEVER used that awful line again! Phew!
  Funny, I was no where NEAR ready to be in a relationship, yet I willingly, for the first time, jumped into a dating relationship. You know, the “pick you up at 8” and all that.  No good night kiss though, I told Dale he’d have to wait on that! lol 🙂 

  It was summer love!  It wasn’t long before we were together nearly every evening, going for drives, walking in the park holding hands, sitting by “our fountain” listening to the water and talking.  We talked about EVERYTHING for hours and hours.  Oh, if there is anything I miss from dating Dale, it’s the hours of uninterrupted conversation…not much time for that anymore! 🙂 

  We talked about our goals, our plans, our dreams.  We talked about the Lord and faith a lot.  Dale admitted to falling away from the Lord and becoming  a “Sunday-Wednesday Christian” only.  I challenged him to think about his life in light of eternity, he teasingly called me his “Lightening Bolt” from God.

  It was a summer to remember!

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  That August, a little over 2 months after we met, Dale took me out for my 18th birthday, a surprise he said.  We arrive at his mother’s restaurant, which closes at 2 each day, to “pick something up”.  When I walked in all the tables were pushed aside except one in the center of the dining area, it was lit with candles and had flowers and gifts on it.  He had his brother back in the kitchen, making my favorite foods.  It was so sweet and romantic!  The radio he wanted to use for romantic background music was locked in a back office, but that didn’t stop us from slow dancing anyways.  It was amazing!  Dale gave me a gorgeous diamond heart necklace and promised me the world. 

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  He also told me he loved me for the first time that night, although I wasn’t ready to say it back until much later in our relationship, he put no pressure on me to return the sentiment.  And like the gentleman he was, Dale got teary, hugged me, raised my hand to his lips, kissed it, and told me how thankful he was to have a girl like me in his life.

God was doing amazing things in Dale’s life and he was making some positive changes, but I was starting to feel a nudge from the Lord.  Nudges I tried to ignore.  You know how that goes, it’s miserable.  I knew what He was saying, and I didn’t want to hear it.

  He was asking me to break up with Dale.  He was asking me to lay him on the altar, and step back so the Lord could do a mighty work in his heart.  He was asking me this because neither of us were ready for a relationship. 

  I told Him, “Yeah, right! I love this guy and finally found someone that would treat me like a lady and not a piece of meat.  And helloooo?! Did you catch the part that he respects my purity pledge and is willing to wait for me and everything!?? Nope God, not gonna happen, I wanna marry this one! PLEEEEASE?!” 

  Still, the Lord prompted and I eventually listened.  God was asking me to let Him have Dale, maybe forever, to prepare him for being a husband one day, and whether he was to be mine or not, it needed to happen. 

  Bawling, I sat down and wrote the hardest letter I had ever written, one I’d have Dale read as we sat together, for what I thought was the last time, as a couple.   019

I knew what needed to occur, our breaking up and going separate ways.  I was so disappointed in myself for listening to my heart and not the Lord.  After all those years of trying to save the pieces of my heart for my future husband, I’d given the whole thing away to Dale without consulting the Lord first.  I was so thankful we’d never kissed, at least my physical purity was intact.

  I wrote in my journal:
“I feel like I have let God down.  I feel as if I have tried so very hard in this area of my life to obey and stay focused on Him, but now I have messed that up.  Now I have to tell my future husband that I not only gave a piece of my heart away to another guy, I gave the whole thing away!  I have to tell him that I have loved another before him.  Ouch. That will be so hard. He’s out there, I know he is, my knight in shining armor.  The one who I have prayed for since I was 13. He’s out there, I know it….just waiting for me.”

I had Dale come over, read his “I have to break up with you because the Lord needs to work on both of us seperately” letter and then we talked, sobbing and hugging.  He knew it was true.  The Lord needed to make both of our hearts whole alone, before they could be whole together.  He needed me to forgive my dad and learn to trust men again.  He needed Dale to work on letting go of the past and fully embracing his future in Christ.  I placed my feelings for Dale on the shelf and determined to leave them their until the Lord let me take them down again.  Until we were both ready this time, IF that was the Lord’s will.  And then, he took Dale away from me. 

   God was doing mighty things in Dale’s heart and he was excited to get the opportunity to travel with a ministry team called “Souled Out” for a few weeks.  I was glad to see him go, I didn’t want to run into him anymore, it was too hard.

    Dale will tell you now that God broke him over and over on that trip.  Like brought him to his knees at the altar.  He’ll tell you that each time the Lord broke him, He picked him up, dusted him off and loved on him as only a Father can.  He went through the layers of sin and disobedience in Dale’s life, stripped him down and begin a new work in him.  And when he came back? He was a new man.  The light that can only comes from Jesus was shining through his eyes.  I could scarcely believe the transformation!

While Dale was gone, I waged my own emotional war of unforgiveness in both the area of Dale’s past, as well as forgiving my father!  I had so much to learn before my heart would be ready to love fully and with 100% trust.

  This story is a long and drawn out one, I have the stack of journals and emails to prove it!

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  We spent months apart, God daily working on my heart in the area of grace and forgiveness.  It’s funny to me how my forgiveness of my dad was directly connected to my forgiveness of Dale’s past and my readiness to move forward in both relationships.  I was being asked to forgive as Christ forgave me, but I was still feeling too justified in my hurts to do so.

     More tomorrow……

~T

Once Upon A Time: Part 1/4

  I can hardly believe it, but today is Dale & my 9th Anniversary!  Time flies when you are having babies, I mean fun!

  Happy Anniversary, Dale!  I am so blessed that God allowed me to marry you, the man of my dreams! Just when I think I couldn’t possibly love you any more than I already do, I see you scoop up one of our children in a giant daddy bear hug or stoop down low to kiss an owie knee.  When you loving stroke the cheek of our baby as you lay him in his crib, or come up behind me and kiss my neck while I am doing supper dishes, my love for you grows a bit more.   Not just any kind of love, the forever and ever, till death do us part kind of love…… A love that lasts a lifetime.  Happy 9th Anniversary, honey!  I love you! xo ~T

 

  In honor of our 9th anniversary, and seeing as how this is my blog’s first year and we are all still getting to know each other, I’d like to tell you the story of how Dale and I met. 

Let’s start waaaaaaay back at the beginning………..

Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, I loved fairy tales, LOVED them, as little girls seem to do.  I played bride and princess and dreamed of my very own Happily Ever After………..

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My little brother, Chad, made such a lovely Maid of Honor! 🙂

But more often than not, I played Mommy.

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From my kindergarten papers on, if you asked me to tell you what I wanted to be when I grew up, it’d say A Mommy.  I loved children and begged to get to help in the church nursery whenever possible.

  Oh, how I wanted to get married, have babies and live happily ever after.

  When I turned 13, I was starting to think about my “Mr. Wonderful”, somewhere out there in the world. My parents took me out on a date to what was to me a very “fancy” restaurant…….. Red Lobster  🙂 and presented me with a Purity Ring in honor of my birthday.  While on this special date, we discussed and wrote out curfews, standards and rules for dating for when I turned 16.  I giggled thinking about it, wondering what my grown up teenage life would be like.

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  I went home and wrote my future husband a letter, something I would do from age 13 on, each and every birthday.  I got this idea from a wonderful Christian fiction series called The Christy Miller Series.  I placed that letter in a shoe box and slid it in the my closet, full of little girl dreams for the future.

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  Fast forward to when I turned 16, the “official” dating age at our house, and I realized I was being asked to do something by the Lord, but I couldn’t figure out what just yet.  Even though I had my parents Ok to date, I was very big into “just being friends” and not having a serious boyfriend, and although I had a major crush or two (or five) in high school and was asked out, I just couldn’t see myself dating anyone! You know, the “Pick you up Friday night at 8” thing, it just didn’t appeal to me really.  Most of my activities were done with a group of people, which I gotta say, is so much fun! 

  Soon after this, the Lord begin to do a work in my heart towards Emotional Purity as well, not giving pieces of my heart away to each and every heart-throb that came my way and flashed a charming grin!

  I decided then and there to take dating VERY seriously.  Very. 

  As in, let’s-just-be-friends-even-though-I-have-a-big-crush-on-you-until-God-tells-me-differently. Like until God tells me this guy is “THE ONE”.

   I had so many questions; 

How would I know he was “The One” unless I dated him? 

Why was God asking me to do something so unheard of, so “WEIRD”?

  My Junior year, after writing my 3rd “Dear Future Husband” birthday love letter, I sat down and wrote out a “Husband Wish List”.  I listed out all the things that I wanted in a spouse and begin to pray over that list each evening during my quiet time.  It was quite the detailed list!  I wanted him to be a virgin, I wanted him to love children, to be a hard worker, good with money, fun-loving, have nice hands, be a Mr. Fix-it, the Spiritual leader of our home….the list went on and on.  If you know me, this should not surprise you! I am a detail girl!   🙂

  It seemed I would never find anyone to date if I was going to view them as a future potential spouse and check them against the “What I Want In A Husband” list.  I begin to wonder what was “wrong” with me, or if my standards were too high?  Why couldn’t I just be free and fun, date and be kissed good-night on my front porch by guys that I couldn’t picture myself marrying? Why was I thinking about marriage so much?  Something was holding me back and it would be years before the Lord would reveal to me what He was asking of me. 

  I graduated from high school with my heart in-tact, memories of best guy Scan_Pic0067friends that made me smile and I left for college, more determined than ever to save my heart for my future husband.  I had been kissed just once during high school, something I instantly regretted, and I knew……the next man that kissed me was going to be my future husband!

I was going to be sure of it!

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  I went to a near-by Christian College at my parent’s prompting, though I would’ve happily just stayed home and worked with children.  Things started off great, my room-mate was awesome and college was going to be amazing, I just knew it!

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  Half way through my first year of college, a time that is supposed to be one of the best in your life, my world fell apart. Broke in a million pieces.Scan_Pic0113

  I will not go into the yucky details, but long story short is, due to devastating circumstances, my parents separated.  This may not seem like a big deal to you in this day and age, it happens all the time, right?  But to me it was as if the rug had been pulled out from under me.  I looked over my life and questioned every bit of it. 

Everything I knew to be true, was no longer. 

Everything I had been raised to know as truth, was a lie. 

  But how could it be? 

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  We were a happy church-going, God-serving family.  Growing up we went on evening bike rides nearly every night, we sat around the kitchen table and played games and ate popcorn on Sunday evenings, we were happy…….

Weren’t we?

  I never knew what harm unforgiveness could cause, but I was angry! Ticked at my dad, ticked at the world and ticked at the Lord.  I determined to speak to neither of my Fathers, Heavenly or earthly until further notice.

And I didn’t. 

For a whole year. 

  It was the darkest time in my young life.  Never had I known such anger and pain.  The Lord spoke to me once, during a weekend at home, that my unforgiveness would kill me.  I told Him I didn’t care.  I wasn’t speaking to my dad and I sure didn’t want to hear from the Lord either.  I turned a cold shoulder and went on my way.  My new motto:  “Life sucks then you die.”

  I had never seen my dad cry up to this point, so you can imagine how hard it was one Sunday, when he came up to me after church and with tear-filled eyes and a choked up voice, asked me if he could please take me to lunch.  He told me how much he missed me and loved me. 

And I turned and walked away from him.

  I went home and bawled my eyes out.  That was my Daddy.  I loved him, but I was SO full of anger I couldn’t even speak to him.  I had no words to say.  I wept bitterly for what my life had become. For the ugliness that boiled and festered inside of me.

   I had been driving home from college every weekend at this point, leaving the second classes let out Friday and not heading back until the last possible moment Sunday night for my 8 am class Monday morning….my mom was alone and hurting and she needed me, you know?

  One morning as I got out of bed to head back to college, I slid to the side of the bed and stood up.  Well, I tried to stand up.  I couldn’t, instead I doubled over in pain and cried out for my mom to come.  I could not stand up straight or walk.  The Lord had told me my unforgiveness would eventually kill me, and it sure felt like He was right.  Turns out I had a stressed induced issue, resulting in a giant grapefruit-sized cyst on my right ovary.  (Ew, I know, I said ovary.)  Thankfully, I didn’t have to have surgery to remove it, but I knew the Lord was telling me something and that I needed to forgive my dad, and soon.  I spent weeks trying to “get better”, eventually dropping most of my classes and just coasting through the rest of my first year, trying desperately to keep my head above the tide of anger and pain that now consumed me.

  Summer break came, my mom and dad reconciled and dad moved back in.  I was PISSED!  How dare she forgive him!  She and I were a team, us against the world of the pigs called men.  I felt betrayed by her and continued to struggle with forgiving him.  We were now on speaking terms, but very cold ones.  I had little to say to him and tried to work as much as possible to stay out of the house.

  Scan_Pic0069Back in the day, it was “cool” to cruise Main.  This makes me giggle now to tell you that’s what we did all weekend, but its true.  Gas was less than a buck a gallon, we didn’t go to clubs, there were tons of “hotties” out there cruising too, and I had a convertible;  it was a win-win-win. 

  What I didn’t know, is that I’d meet the man of my dreams on Main Street, while cruising.  What an UNROMANTIC story!

My car was in the shop, thanks to one of my darling kids I nannied for at the time, “drawing” me a picture on the side of it with a rock.  Oops.  Scan_Pic0083

  So that night I was cruising with my friends in my mom’s Jeep Cherokee when a group of guys called us over to where they were parked, at the bank.

   First trip down Main, my friend and I just waved at them and giggled.  We rarely pulled over, it was too scary, much safer to just wave, giggle and keep on driving.  The next loop I noticed it was a guy from my church youth group.  Ok, well he was safe, we’ll pull over for a minute but stay in the car.  We pull in and this gorgeous guy in a white baseball hat (what is it about guy’s in white hats, anyhow?) comes sauntering over. 

“Where’s your Mustang?” he asks.

My mouth threatens to drop open, but I try to maintain my “cool”.

“How do you know I drive a Mustang?” I ask.

“I know a lot about you, Tonya.” he says.

  My heart leaps into my throat, Hottie in the White Hat knows my NAME?!  I hold in a squeal and I turn to my friend in the passenger seat and mouth silently:

“OH MY GOSH, HE IS SO HOT!”  She agreed. 

  Long story short, this guy, named Dale, had been watching me for a long time and had been hoping to get to meet me.  He had grown up with the guy I went to Youth Group with.  Deeming him “safe”, I parked the car and we hung out with those guys, parked along Main street, for the rest of the evening.  I couldn’t tell if Dale liked me, or my friend, but somehow we left with promises of Roses from him the next time we met on Main.

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  True to his word, the next weekend he pulls up to the bank and hops out of his White jeep in his smokin’ hot white hat, all nice and tan in his white cut off sleeve shirt with 2 red roses.  I just KNEW he liked my friend, since she got hers first, but later to my delight, he says to me….

“I wanted to call you this weekend and invite you to my blah blah blah {some youth group event I can’t recall} but I didn’t have your number.”

“Well, if you’d have asked for my phone number a long time ago, it wouldn’t have been a problem, now would’ve it,” I spouted back.

“So can I have it?”  he asks, grinning.

Can you have it? I thought you’d never ask!

No, I didn’t say that, but I THOUGHT it! 🙂

  I write it down on this teeny scrap of paper from my cup holder and give it to him.

Then, “El’ Suave” says, SO unromantically….

“You name the time, you name the place and I’ll pick you up and pay for it.”

WHAT?! 

That is NOT how it works! 

To be continued….. Smile

~T

P.S.  Look what still lives in Dale’s wallet 11 years later. 🙂


 

 

 

  

 

 

 

School’s out! Plus, Grilled Steak Salad with Homemade Dressing

  Today is Destiny’s last day of 2nd grade!!!  It’s been a great year and we adore her teacher but I have to say, I am super excited to have my big girl back home with me for the whole summer!

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  The kiddos are so happy too.  They have big plans to continue their new favorite activity, playing “Orphans” who needed food and shelter.006  See that poor little Orphan baby in the wagon?  Poor thing!  I welcomed them in to my home (after they washed their feet and hands, of course) and we shared a lovely meal.  🙂 

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  Later, I found them reading in bed all snuggled up together.  Moments like this make my heart swell!!!!

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  We had our first “From the garden” salad recently!  A delicious and flavorful Steak salad with homemade dressing.  Whenever we grill Steaks, I specifically marinate an extra one knowing this salad is in our future! YUMMY!

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Grilled Steak Salad with Homemade Dressing

  • FOR THE SALAD:
  • 1 pound Leftover Grilled Sirloin Steak, Thinly Sliced
  • 16 ounces, weight Bag Baby Spinach Leaves
  • 1 head Romaine Lettuce, Washed, Dried And Torn
  • 1 whole Tomato, Chopped
  • 1 cup Green Onions Tops And Bottoms, Sliced
  • 2 cups Cheese Shreds
  • _____
  • FOR THE DRESSING:
  • ½ cups Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Vinegar
  • 1/2 cups Honey BBQ Sauce (or more to taste)
  • 6 Tablespoons A1 Steak Sauce
  • Salt And Pepper

To prepare dressing, simply whisk all dressing ingredients together until well-combined. Set aside until serving time.

Sear a previously grilled steak a bit, to bring to room temperature. (I thaw and marinade an extra steak, with this salad in mind, the nights we grill out.)

Chop veggies and toss salad ingredients together, add cheese and dressing on each individual serving.

AMAZING and simple, a great summer meal!

Have a great weekend!  YAY!  School’s out, it’s SUMMERTIME baby!

~T

This recipe linked to Made It Monday.

Let’s Talk Shop…Mommy Shop

Warning:    Most of my reader’s are woman, mommy’s in fact, but there are a few of you men out there that subscribe to this blog.  (I adore that you read this by the way!!!!) So to you guys out there, be warned, this blog post contains words like Uterus, Episiotomy and Crowning.  You may want to skip this and just read my 2nd post, Tiramisu Stuffed Cupcakes.  Yummy, right?!  Off you go.

  Are you still reading this?  Are you sure you want to read on? 

Ok, up to you, but don’t say I didn’t warn you! 

Last chance:  Read on at your own risk…..

This post is written for Preggo friends and readers……Mommy’s To BE!!!!!  🙂

 PREGNANCY JOKES

Q. Should I have a baby after 35?
A. No, 35 children is enough.

Q. How will I know if my vomiting is morning sickness or the flu?
A. If it’s the flu, you’ll get better.

Q. Since I became pregnant, my breasts, rear-end, and even my feet have grown. Is there anything that gets smaller during pregnancy?
A. Yes, your bladder.

Q. What is the most common pregnancy craving?
A. For men to be the ones who get pregnant.

Q. What is the most reliable method to determine a baby’s sex?
A. Childbirth.

Q. The more pregnant I get, the more often strangers smile at me. Why?
A. ‘Cause you’re fatter than they are.

Q. My wife is five months pregnant and so moody that sometimes she’s borderline irrational.
A. So what’s your question?

Q. What’s the difference between a nine-month pregnant woman and a model?
A. Nothing, if the pregnant woman’s husband knows what’s good for him.

Q. My childbirth instructor says it’s not pain I’ll feel during labor, but pressure. Is she right?
A. Yes, in the same way that a tornado might be called an air current.

Q. What does it mean when the baby’s head is crowning?
A. It means you feel as though not only a crown but the entire throne is trying to make its way out of you.

Q. Is there anything I should avoid while recovering from childbirth?
A. Yes, pregnancy.

Q. Does pregnancy cause hemorrhoids?
A. Pregnancy causes anything you want to blame it for.

Q. Where is the best place to store breast milk?
A. In your breasts.

Q. Is there a safe alternative to breast pumps?
A. Yes, baby lips.

Q. What are the terrible twos?
A. Your breasts after baby stops nursing cold turkey.

Q. Do I have to have a baby shower?
A. Not if you change the baby’s diaper very quickly.

Q. Our baby was born last week. When will my wife begin to feel and act normal again?
A. When the kids are in college.

Need a few more chuckles? Check this out, it’s hysterical and oh-so true!!!!

 20 Things No one Told Us About Having A Newborn 

  I can’t tell you how many times new mommy’s call or write with questions, good questions, about pregnancy and motherhood.  And lately, those same new mommy’s that call or write, have been asking if I’ve got this info on my blog.  Ding ding ding, now THAT is a good idea, why didn’t I think of that!?   It’ll beat typing this out over and over, now I can send them a link! Yay for convenience!   

 I can recall so vividly wishing that I had someone to talk to my first time around as a 21-year-old new momma.  What I am about to share with you is not the law, nor do I think it is.  Take it with a grain of salt, try the things that speak to you, discard the things that don’t.  This is simply my take on Birth and Motherhood;  my experiences, my goals, my aspirations.  

  For example, I aspire to labor naturally, drug free, allowing the body to work slowly and without medical intervention unless absolutely necessary.  I am aware this is not for everyone.  Because this is my goal, we have used a Midwife in a hospital setting 3 times and a Midwife at a Birthing Center once.  If you are still deciding which you prefer, midwife or doctor, I suggest watching Ricki Lake’s “The Business of Being Born”.  A fantastic documentary full of great facts!

  Without further ado, here are my most talked about topics with new Mommy To Be’s…….

Pregnancy stuff:

  The last 6 weeks of pregnancy I take 5W.  It’s an herbal supplement from Nature’s Sunshine that prepares the body for the tolls of labor, by strengthening the Uterus and softening everything “in there” to allow the body to start to open, and often dilate, for the impending labor.  Of course, talk to your doctor about this, knowing they may poo-poo it because they are unfamiliar with it.  Have some info ready so they can read about it.   

  With my last pregnancy, I did something called Gentle Birth instead of 5W, which does the same things to prepare the body, with the addition of an ingredient that cuts down on bleeding after birth.  This was something important to address the last time around, due to certain circumstances and as promised, it did just that! Amazing!

   I also, those last weeks, visit a chiropractor every other week (he has a special tummy table) to make sure I stay aligned.  I labored once with a hip out of place and had to do all sorts of crazy stuff to get my little darling to maneuver through the birth canal.  I decided never again!  And I tell you, it makes ALL the difference to be aligned!!!! Even for your own comfort those last weeks.  Remember, your joints are way loose preparing for the arrival of baby and it’s easy to get a hip out and not even realize it.  Plus, once you are perfectly in, you often go into labor!  Major bonus!!!

So, to you mom’s asking about a natural labor…..

   I hear they are no longer offering Lamaze classes locally, which is probably ok, I only used Lamaze once, for my 32 hour labor and about “heee heee hoo’d” my lips off.  I have heard the Bradley method is great for natural pain maintenance and is still offered around here.

  My goal for myself, and something I prayed for the whole 9 months, was to have a natural, drug free, stitch free labor each time and we did! Praise the Lord!

My favorite methods for pain management are the f0llowing:

  •   Labor in the bathtub.  Being in the tub takes the edge right off those painful contractions and allows your body to relax, something super important!  If your hospital doesn’t allow this, consider using this method while hanging out at home.  I know you want to rush right to the hospital while your contractions are still like 15 minutes apart, and maybe you should, but for me, the “hurry up and wait” that often occurs by arriving at the hospital way too early, at barely 2 cm or something, was way worse than just laboring in the comfort of my home as long as possible. 

  Now it doesn’t always work that way.  One time, I called my midwife to see if I could meet her at the hospital to “get checked” before nightfall, just to see where I was at in the process before a possibly long night ahead.  She figured if I was talking to her so cheerfully I wasn’t too far along in the labor process, but she was going to be at the hospital anyways, we could just meet her there for a quick check.  At this point, I was still out on the town with Dale for my birthday date;  not in too much pain yet, so I wasn’t expecting much in the way of dilation.   You can imagine my shock when I was already 6 1/2 cm. upon our arrival.  Needless to say, they made me stay!  Good thing I grabbed my bag, just in case.  🙂 

  •   Labor on a big exercise ball.  I use a ball the whole last part of my pregnancy.  It feels so good to arch your back across it and stretch those sore muscles!  I would sit on it during evening Tv time with Dale too, and just sway and rock.  When trying to induce labor naturally and I was exhausted from walking, I’d sit on the ball and roll side to side, which basically does the same things as walking.  It helps get things going, but keeps you from being so tired before the big show starts.  I also use the ball DURING labor. In fact, I spent most of my hours on the ball.  It’s very soothing to rock through the pain, and if you sit right, it opens your pelvis up and allows the baby to help you progress further, similar to walking laps around the labor and delivery floor.
  • RELAX between contractions:  The baby moves down between contractions, not during, so it’s very important that you are totally relaxed, even to the point of sleep, between those contractions, not uptight waiting for the next big one.
  •  Do DEEP breathing. Imagine you are taking in fresh clean air then blowing out the pain. Deep breathe through the nose slowly, clearing out the pain,  then purse your lips and blow that pain right out!  If my breathing got too shallow and panicky, Dale would calmly touch my arm, have me make eye contact with him and breathe slowly with me saying “Deep cleansing breath in……..blow the pain out….slow your breathing down, honey.  Good.”   Your mental game plays a huge role!

  Your coach plays a big part in the success of this too.  I love to labor surrounded by those I love, to share in the miracle of birth! Over the course of 4 deliveries, we have set up a system so to speak.  Everyone has a different job they do:

  Dale talks soothingly to me as I deep breath and helps during the pushing part by holding a leg.  My mom has been at each of my labors, her job is to give me lip gloss and drinks of water.  Remind your coaches not to ask, just offer these items.  At that point you’re usually too focused on pain management and getting that baby here to answer.  My best friend, Kasey does massaging and takes over coaching when Dale needs a break. She has also been known to hold a leg during the pushing part! 🙂 My mother in law takes photos of the event.  I love that she captures all those precious first moments on earth!  And, at my last birth, my Grandmother sat in. She has never experienced a birth other than her own, and we thought it’d be neat for her to sit in on our final hurrah. (4 and no more you know!) 🙂

PIT:  Ugh, the dreaded pitocin.  Hell on earth.  This causes sharp contractions, waaaay different than natural ones and can cause all kinds of troubles.  This article tells you more:

” ……the quality – strength – and quantity of your uterine contractions are greatly affected when pitocin is used during labor. It is a fact that contractions tend to be longer, stronger, and with shorter relaxation periods between each of them.

  When you know and understand that during a contraction, the blood supply to your uterus – and therefore to your baby – is temporarily shut off, you realize very quickly how dangerous the use of pitocin can be.

If deprived of blood supply, your baby can experience what is called fetal bradycardia (or decreased fetal heart-rate deceleration) – heart-beat drops. This can – and often does – result in neurological damage and eventually death.

If your baby’s heart rate is indeed affected, an emergency c-section will usually be performed.

The diagnosis will be “fetal distress” and your doctor will be hailed as a hero for “saving” your baby’s life…that he put in danger in the first place!

In the 18th edition of Williams Obstetrics, it is stated:

“Oxytocin – pitocin – is a powerful drug, and it has killed or maimed mothers through rupture of the uterus and even more babies through hypoxia – asphyxia aka lack of oxygen – from markedly hypertonic uterine contractions.” Hypertonic means the contractions were too strong – which does not happen with a natural labor.

This medical textbook goes on to urge careful administration of the lowest possible amount of pitocin in order to avoid the tetanic – huge – contractions that can cause uterine rupture, and to insist that once the drip is started, the mother should never be left alone.

Obviously, these “rules” are too often disregarded to the detriment of women and their babies.”

  No WONDER so many induced labors end in emergency C-sections due to a distressed baby!!!! Ladies, know what you believe well before you EVER step foot in that hospital!  Knowledge is power.

Pushing time:

  First of all, may I say this is the best part of the labor process.  It’s showtime! I love it! All the pain changes, contractions no longer pinching sharply.  Instead your body is screaming for you to pushhhhhh! You realize, your baby really is coming! It’s REALLY HAPPENING!!!!! Contrary to the belief that you might die from pain before seeing your child, you lived through labor and you are about to meet your sweet baby face to face!!!!!!  (I’m going to stop here for a second and address something:  right before pushing time you hit a stage called the transition stage when you go from 8-10 and you will hit your MAXIMUM pain. You will.  Don’t worry, the second you hit 10 cm. and get pushy, it goes away!!! I cannot tell you how many momma’s try to do it naturally, get to this point, break down and get the epidural because they think “If this is what 5cm feels like, I’ll never make it”, only to find out they are actually already at 10cm and its time to push, now numb from the waist down.  If you decide you want an epidural after making it as long as possible without, do yourself a favor and insist on being checked, you may very well be headed from 8-10, which tends to go really quickly.  THEN you can decide epidural or no based on your number…..)  I know that was a bunny trail, but thanks, I needed that off my chest. 🙂

  So, back to pushing time, your doctor will tell you to bear down.  My first time, I had no idea what this meant and wasted effort pushing wrong, which does nothing!  I finally figured out they mean, and I say this bluntly……..push like you’re pooping.  I am not kidding, this is totally what they mean and it works. The second I switched to that kind of pushing, we saw the baby.  Sorry, told you this was going to be blunt!

  Most hospitals make you push flat on your back.  We are the only nation that requires this! My understanding of this, is it’s the easiest method for the doctor to see what is going on, but is not necessarily easier for your body or the baby, who now has to maneuver through your tilted pelvis to enter the world.   

  And talk about maneuver, have you tried to pull your knees up to your chest around a GIANT belly in the midst of an urgent “I have to push!” contraction in your most exhausted moments!?  Your arms shake, your belly gets in the way, it’s usually so incredibly hot at this point, and you can barely remember to tuck your chin to your chest to push down as sweaty palms struggle to hold on to exhausted legs.

  My favorite method is squatting, something I only experienced with my last.  It changed everything! If only I had known to ask for this method before!  I didn’t have to work HALF as hard!  I could feel my baby moving down even when I wasn’t pushing, thanks to good ol’ gravity, who was now working with me rather than against me!  Plus, I got to be in Dale’s arms!  I can’t even begin tell you how much better it was!  Ask your doctor if they “allow” this, I HIGHLY recommend it!  (Sentences like this tick me off, your doctor is not the boss of this labor experience, YOU are. I guess what I am trying to say is, if this is important to you, find a doctor that agrees.)

    Ask your doctor if they usually do episiotomy’s before the pushing part starts.  There is a time and a place for this procedure, but it doesn’t have to be the “norm” before you are even allowed to try on your own.

  Example: (this is what made up my mind for me about this issue)

Take a piece of paper.  Pull both sides as hard as you can away from each other.  The odds are it won’t rip.  Now go ahead and make a tiny cut in the top of the paper.  Now do the same thing you did the first time, pull as hard as you can.  The cut rips even further.  Your body will stretch, most of the time enough to successfully birth, without an episiotomy, which can promote more tearing than if you had never been cut at all.  Like I said, there is a time and place for this to take place, but find out if you will be given the opportunity to try and birth your child without getting one.

    Another thing to ask is if your doctor allows the cord to finish pulsing before cutting it.  In most hospitals today, cutting the cord is such an uneventful routine that it can pass unnoticed by the overwhelmed mother.  Doctors generally wait about thirty seconds a time period long enough, they believe, for the baby to receive all the blood it needs from the placenta.  They then apply two clamps, break out the scissors, and often ask the father if he wants to cut the cord.  Some childbirth experts argue that, rather than being guided by a clock, it’s best to wait until the cord stops pulsing before cutting, allowing the baby to receive all the blood it was meant to receive from the placenta.  I read it helps the mother as well, because the placenta shrinks as it pumps out extra blood, making it easier to deliver.  {There are some medical circumstances where this is not an option.}

  Ask yourself if you want to be cleaned up and have your baby cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket before you meet, or if you want to be the first one to hold your baby.  Make this desire very clear in your birth plan, or verbalize it that day in the delivery room.

  For me, it was the second option.  I wanted to be the one to bring my baby into the world and be the first to hold, touch and meet him or her. I didn’t want to strain to see him or her across the room while the nurses cleaned us both up.  After all that hard work, I figured I deserved first dibs! 

   Once my baby was half out, my midwife helped me grab them under their arms and then I pulled them up to my chest.  I can get teary just thinking about it!  It is by far my favorite part!  To feel that heavy, floppy little body in my hands, feeling them exiting my body and entering this world, pulling them up to my chest and falling back exhausted, but exhilarated. Stroking their little backs while checking them over to see that they have all their parts….I wated to count 10 tiny fingers, 1o teeny toes.  Hearing, up-close, that sweet first cry, smelling their brand new sweet breath….all while my midwife waits for the cord to stop pulsing, so daddy can do the honors of cutting it.  I LOVE IT!

  Now that your kiddo is here, it’s Feeding Time!

  If you want to try to breast feed and I hope you do, you have about a 45 minute window to get your baby to your breast.  After that window of time passes, they get sleepy and you work a lot harder at it.  I’ve had many a new mom call me in tears that they can’t get the baby nurse after it was swept away for cleaning and warming and wasn’t returned to momma for over an hour.  I truly believe working within this time makes all the difference!!!!  Be verbal, tell the nurses what you want.  Ask for the hospital’s lactation consultant to be there for this part. They can help your baby latch properly and give you some great tips, which are crucial for the success of this process!  Have your coach remind you of the time so you can ask for your baby back for nursing in time.  Trust me, you may be pretty out of it with your head in the clouds, smiling like you’ve never smiled before right about then! 🙂

  Babies are used to eating and sleeping simultaneously, so getting a full feeding does take work, but its worth it in the long run.  Strip ‘em down naked, burp between breasts, tap the bottoms of their feet, whatever it takes to achieve a full feeding.  I was told to nurse 20 minutes on the first side and finish with the second until baby was full.  The next time, switch which breast you start with and repeat the process.  Some of my babies nursed for 45 minutes total, another for only 9 minutes total each feeding. (one side per time is all)  No kidding! And they were full the same amount of hours.  Go figure.  If anything, Motherhood teaches you that every child is different, so roll with it!

  Ask for Lanolin cream, use it between every feeding at first, and change your breast pads often.  This will help prevent your nipples from cracking and bleeding.  Lanolin also pulls the pain from the hard “suck suck suck swallow” your baby has to do to get the Colostrum out, before your milk comes in.  After the milk comes in, you’ll notice they “suck swallow suck swallow” rapidly, even to the point of baby choking at times over how fast it comes out!!!  You typically aren’t as sore at that point, or ever again, as you get used to it. 

  If you have sore spots in your breasts, massage them. Even if it hurts, make yourself do it!  You do not want blocked ducts. This can lead to an oh-so painful infection called mastitis.  MISERABLE! I had it twice and learned my lesson.  It’s far less painful to rub a sore spot, than to have an infected hot breast that you HAVE to make your baby nurse on to get some relief, as you lay in bed fevered and chilled.  Ouch.  FYI, I found that switching to a molded cup nursing bra, rather than an underwire style, helped to promote better flow and less trouble with blocked ducts.

  Even if you don’t plan to nurse long-term, please please nurse your baby the first few weeks you are home.  Even just the first few days can make a difference, so they can get that immune boosting, super thick, super-charged Colostrum.  You are giving your baby perfectly created food, created by the Creator Himself!  Now before you get upset, I know that nursing it not for everyone, nor is everyone successful at it.  That’s why I told you at the beginning that this was just my take on things.  Not the rule.  Just an opinion.

  My goal for myself is to nurse my babies 1 year.  And we’ve done it.  It’s not always fun, I stayed home a lot until I learned to drape and nurse, but it is so worth it!

  We like to schedule our babies day and make them stick to it as best we can!  Our goal is Eat –Awake- Sleep, repeat every 3 hours!  I know there is controversy about this, and some people are all about demand feeding, and that’s fine, I told you this was my take on Motherhood!

Let me give you some stats that speak for themselves:

I scheduled my first baby to the minute.  OCD much? We chose 7-10-1-4 (repeat) because it fit best in our daily routine.  She slept all night at 5 weeks.

I tried to schedule my second baby, but he insisted on nursing for 30 minutes every 2 hours no matter what I tried.  You can imagine all I did was feed the kid, burp him, change him, get a drink or go to the bathroom before we started the process again!  Our schedule was not my “3 hours between feedings” goal by a long shot.  He slept all night at 6 months.

My 3rd baby came 17 months after my second, and I was exhausted and got lazy.  I did not schedule her feedings at all.  She didn’t sleep all night until she 9 months old.  I thought I was going to die from lack of sleep! It was awful! I knew I never wanted to do this “roll with it” method again.

My 4th baby was going to be scheduled! No question!  And he did, near flawlessly!  However, as a fourth time mom, I found some grace within that schedule.  I allowed myself 30 minutes of “flex” on either side of a feeding. For example, because I want all the kids down for nap around the same time, I do his 1:00 feeding around 12:30, knowing he won’t eat again until 4:00’s regular feeding time.  Rebel, I know! 🙂

  I highly recommend the book “Becoming Baby Wise” if this appeals to you.  My favorite part was knowing I could plan a hair cut or much-needed date night with my hubby and know exactly when to be back home, or how many bottles to leave with the sitter.  {Example:  I could plan a 2:00 haircut then run an errand while I was out, knowing I had just nursed at 1 and wouldn’t need to be home to nurse again until 4!}  I am an orderly scheduled person, so this fit well with what I desire my life to be like, and helped me achieve some resemblance of “normal” after baby came and shook things up.

  If you are a working mom, scheduling will allow you to know exactly how many bottles to leave your sitter, plus give the sitter some peace of mind knowing if baby is crying at 10 till 4, it’s time to heat up the bottle. This also allows you to tell your employer, I need a 20 minute break to pump at 10, 1 and 4.  You’ll need to maintain the same pumping schedule at work as you do your feeding schedule at home to keep your milk supply up.  My favorite pump is Ameda Purely Yours.  Get the dual electric, you won’t be sorry!

  If having the bottle be an option during the week or in church is appealing to you, or if you plan to return to work, plan to pump as soon as your milk comes in.  You have a surplus of milk, go ahead and pump after each feeding.  Yes, it feel’s a lot of work, and “one more thing”, but its well worth it!  Imagine if you could have a stash of 80+ bags of milk before your baby starts eating everything you have to offer and there seems to be no extra!?  It’s great!  I have put away the pump at 4 months before, and never had to use it again, thanks to a great stash early on!!!

  You’ll need a deep freeze for your milk to last longer than 3 months, which is how long it lasts in an upright fridge freezer.  Deep freezer milk can last up to a year, I try not to let mine get older than 9 months before using it up.  Although baby still drinks it, I think it starts to smell different after that.

  I store my milk in zip lock type milk bags and date them, using the oldest first.  I have never needed to put more than 5 ounces per bag, as none of my babies every drank more than that from a bottle, even my big 10 pounder babies!  I think they work harder to get the milk out of a bottle, so they eat slower and hit the “full button” faster.  

  Do not microwave breast milk!  Just stick your frozen milk bag in a cup of hot tap water and it will quickly thaw and bring it to a temperature similar to the milk coming straight from your breast.

    When you schedule feedings, you tend to also schedule naps.  The goal is a minimum of 1 1/2 hours of napping, up to 2 hours…..this is something we work towards, and fight to keep, the entire first couple years of our kids’ lives!! 

   In general, after the sleepy newborn stage where they sleep between EVERY feeding, our babies take 3 naps a day until they are around 8 or 9 months old.  Then they drop the evening nap and go to bed earlier instead.  Around 12 months or a bit after, they tend to drop their morning nap.  We require an afternoon nap or rest time, until they are in school all day.  Even if they don’t sleep, we like them to stay in their room for “Quiet Time” and they can read or look at books for that 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  This momma needs the break!  I am a better mommy after quiet time!!! And the kids are way happier too, and excited to play with each other again!

  I could go on and on, going right into the 5 month “adding cereal stage” and all that entails, the new studies about white rice vs. brown rice vs. not doing cereal at all but lentils instead. In our family, we choose to start manner training and discipline at that same time, so it feels like a big step to start solids!!! I’ve blogged about it here if you are interested in reading more: Starting Discipline.

  I’m no expert, everything I’ve shared with you is based on personal experience or what I was told during my pregnancy’s.  However, I have “been there, tried that” a few times now, so I can speak to you based on those experiences at least!!!!!  🙂 

  Hope this was helpful to you.  I love to “talk shop” with new mommy’s, so if you have a question I didn’t cover here, email me and we can talk more privately via email.   daleandtonya@msn.com

  Congrats new mommy or mommy to be!  Hang on, you are in for the ride of your life!!!!!!!!!!!

~T