Friday, October 22, 2010

The First Company Girl Coffee in a Looooooong Time...

Good morning, company girls!
It's really sad just how long it's been since I even stopped by the Home Sanctuary site, much less participated in the Small Things. But I'm hoping to turn that around now that my life has changed so drastically. For a more detailed review of the last nine months (and one really cute picture!), please see the last entry. But suffice to say, I had my first child, a beautiful baby girl, and am now on short-term disability, enjoying the reprieve and waiting to see what other amazing things God is going to do in my life.
Meanwhile, I am sitting here listening to the hum of my computer and the occasional grunt and gurgle of Hannah on the baby monitor as she struggles in vain to wake up from her morning nap. I'm sipping my decaf tea (sadly, I have no coffee), and mulling in awed wonder at how much has changed in just the last two weeks. Not only in my personal life, becoming a mommy, or in my physical condition, getting my body almost back to normal and suddenly functioning on half the sleep I would once have thought necessary. But also outside, in the world around me, the air is getting cooler, and kissing the trees with the colors of autumn. I drove to a friends' house the other day to visit and pick up a breast pump (ours had pooped out, and God miraculously provided an even better one, sparing our finances at least $100-- LOVE it when He does that!), and I was just amazed by the beauty of the Thomas-Kinkade-like quality of the trees in her neighborhood. Everywhere you looked, the cloudy gray daylight played through oranges and scarlets like a huge quilt. God really is such an amazing artist. And all this change seems to have waited until I got home from the hospital to occur, so that everyday, I have some new surprise to look upon just outside my window (or in my mirror).
Speaking of things outside my window, I keep forgetting to steam those pumpkins I had my father-in-law bring home from his weekend in Amish country. I've gotten way into baking my Fall pumpkin goodies from scratch, using real pumpkin instead of the canned stuff. It makes everything taste so much better, and it actually is quite easy. Matter of fact, I could probably share the technique on here:
  1. Wash outside of pumpkin.
  2. Chop off stem and "button" on the bottom.
  3. Chop pumpkin in half.
  4. Use your fingers to scoop out the seeds and drop in a bowl (gotta use up every part, and homemade pumpkin seeds are way easy and yummy!).
  5. Once you have mostly cleared the inside of seeds, use a metal spoon to scoop out the stringy pulp.
  6. Chop the pumpkin into pieces small enough to fit in the steamer basket of a steamer pot.
  7. Steam covered in basket until pumpkin is soft enough to be speared with a fork and rind starts to peel away from the flesh. Cut off flame, uncover, and let cool until you can handle it.
  8. Using your same spoon (to cut down on dishes), scoop the flesh off of the rinds. Throw away (or compost) the rinds. Puree flesh in a blender or food processor until pulpy (should have the consistency of a smoothie).
  9. Can be refrigerated or frozen. To thaw, microwave until mixable, then stir with a fork.
The best pumpkins, I have found so far, are the small, flattish orange ones, between the sizes of a softball and a volleyball. Bigger than that, they start to lose flavor. I haven't, however, gotten around to trying various other types, like the fairy tale pumpkins or white-fleshed ones. Please let me know if you've used these and how they taste! Some ideas of items to make with your pumpkins:
Okay, well, I didn't actually plan for this to become a cooking blog, but hey, it's Fall, and nothing says Fall like pumpkin EVERYTHING! LOL.
Enjoy! I'm off to get another cup of tea. Cheerio!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

6-Month in Review

Okay, so for anyone reading this who actually cares about my personal life, I thought I'd do a quick catch-up of the last six months in which this blog has sat idle. There is a reason: I was blogging elsewhere, specifically My Pregnancy Place, a journal and newsletter site maintained by the American Pregnancy Association. It was an awesome way to keep in touch with friends and relatives and keep them updated on the pregnancy. It also provided weekly newletters for me about what to expect for each week of my pregnancy. I highly recommend that site for any pregnant moms. It even has a forum, though I never used that because I was more into the Parents Magazine community forums. It's amazing how many great online resources there are for moms online. One more reason I'm glad to be living in the information age. :)
Anyway, now for the update:
  • Obviously, I was pregnant for nine months. We found out it was a girl at about 20 weeks, but didn't tell anyone until after both my family and church baby showers, in an attempt to avoid getting tons of clothes (we have a lot of friends with tons of hand-me-downs available). That backfired and we just ended up getting tons of gender neutral clothes. Oh well.
  • Hannah Loa Grove (named after 2 cousins and my grandmother) was born on October 11th at 11:26pm, a week and 2 days late. We finally had to be induced, and it was not the most pleasant experience. I was hoping to go natural, but by the time I went into active labor, I had been wandering around the ward all day on a minimum of sleep and was so exhausted that I was passing out between contractions. I asked for the epidural, but once they gave it to me, it wasn't kicking in. They tried upping the dosage, but I was still feeling pain. Then I felt like I was going to throw up, which I did, and lo-and-behold, my water broke at the same moment. The midwife was called in, and theorized that the epidural had actually sped up the labor, which was why I was still in pain. But it had taken just enough of the edge off the pain that I could now function, so they told me to start pushing when I felt like it. Five minutes later, I was ready. After 23 minutes of pushing, out popped a 9lb, 6oz baby girl. I'm told 23 minutes is a pretty short amount of time to push for a baby that big. In fact, she was out so fast that she didn't even have a cone-head. The nurses all commented on that, lol. She did have some facial bruising, though. Looked like a little raccoon. Here she is:
  • Hannah is now a week and 2 days old, and we are both doing great. I'm at home on 2 months of short term disability (yes, I managed to get that out of my job!). Daddy took a week "off" (he got called in several times for "emergencies"), but is now back at work, though he tries to get off early most days to come home and help out. It's great to have my body (mostly) back to normal, and as an added bonus, I'm actually a bit more slender than I was pre-baby, thanks to the daily exercise regimen I stuck to since the beginning of the second trimester. I even walked a 5k in my 39th week, and I have pictures to prove it!
  • Financially, God seems to be blessing us abundantly. Johnny received a raise and a promotion just before Hannah was born.We've found a place to move into when our lease here is up that will cost us about $300 less per month in rent, and will be much closer to Johnny's parents house. As for my job situation, at the end of my short-term disability, I plan on going back to work with a proposition for them: let me work from home part- or full-time as their official recruiter. Currently I don't get paid enough to afford childcare, and don't really like the idea of someone else raising my child anyway, so my choices are basically either to work from home or find a part-time job that'll work around Johnny's hours. I don't really believe that they'll allow me to work from home. Last time I brought that up, it brought about a bunch of drama that culminated in them forcing me into the role of receptionist when their prior one left for a new position, as well as taking away my laptop and all access to the shared drive where we kept all business development and proposal-related material. Eventually they allowed me to gain back limited proposal duties, but all I was doing was finding resumes to collect for the various proposals we put together. I still had no access to the shared drive, save a specially created folder made after several requests, in which I could store the resumes so everyone had access. Meanwhile, at last count I had 3 official bosses, and about 5 people who considered themselves my bosses. Needless to say, if they decide not to allow me to work from home, I will have very little regret in saying goodbye and going bak to Starbucks or some such position. There is actually a Starbucks hiring in the area, about halfway between here and Johnny's parents' house, so I'm optimistic. And while Starbucks is hardly a high-end job, it is the single most fun I've ever had working anywhere. Plus, it's an active job with good benefits for its type (Free coffee and stock options! Yeah buddy!). and with Johnny's recent raise, I really only need a part-time job to keep us comfortable. I realize Starbucks may not pan out, but it sounds like a decent plan for the moment anyway, and I know God will provide a way. Somehow I can't bring myself to believe that He would give us this precious little girl with the intention of not allowing me the means to take care of her.
  • Also of interest, my brother-in-law and his girlfriend are currently pregnant with a little boy, due in December. She has two kids from previous relationships, one of which has severe developmental disabilities and physical handicaps as a result of an abusive and neglectful father. My BIL has been taking care of her kids while she works. Finding out they were pregnant actually seems to be the best thing that ever happened to him. It's really started him thinking about taking responsibility for his life and actions, and has kept him in the relationship during moments when he may otherwise have up and left out of sheer frustration. Additionally, the pregnancy has been a delicate one, with the baby dealing with low amniotic fluid levels and possible gestational diabetes. At the last doctors vsit they had pronounced him in the clear, but it seems the issues have resurfaced and they may be having to get a scheduled c-section earlier than 40 weeks. I would appreciate any prayer you could offer up to God for them, the baby, and the other children.
  • I might as well also mention that my parents and grandmother (the one Hannah is named for) all moved to California. Jobs were scarce in Idaho, and my grandma was gradually degenerating in a home, so my parents put our house in Boise up for rent, and packed down to Huntington Beach, Cali where they are now living with an older, retired gentleman, the father of one of my dad's friends, while they search for a suitable apartment and settle into their new jobs. My grandma is now living with my aunt and uncle in Brea, and has vastly improved in her memory, communicability, and emotional state.
  • And, in the past six months I have read one series--the Alvin Maker Series by Orson Scott Card (highly recommend)-- and nearly finished another: Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series (good, but gets a little weird with the last few books). I have also downloaded Skype, signed onto Freecycle, and done very little writing of my own books, a fact which I intend to remedy a.s.ap.
Well, that pretty much wraps it up. It has been a very busy period for me and all of my family, and to be honest I'm looking forward to what I hope will be a somewhat simpler and more restful period with the coming New Year.
I do promise to keep up better on here from now on. As a matter of fact, I plan on participating in NaBloPoMo this November, so I should be able to promise at least a month's worth of daily postings. And on that note-- and to warm up for the aforementioned event-- I'll go ahead and respond to today's prompt:
"If you were going to make a mix of love songs, what five songs would you have to include?"
  1. Don't Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith: Hubby's and my wedding dance song.
  2. Fields of Gold by The Police: Always felt this was the most romantic imagery in any song ever.
  3. Can't Take that Away From Me by Frank Sinatra: No love song collection is complete without a little Frankie.
  4. I Can Love You Like That by All 4 One: First love song I ever shared with a boy. We ended up just friends, but he really did manage to love me like that, and set a standard for my future husband.
  5. To Really Love a Woman by Brian Adams: Both romantic and sexy, this song should be every man's instruction book on how to really love a woman.