Friday, May 17, 2013

I Love You Forever

I open my car door and step out into the light rain. The cool, wet droplets feel like they are doing a little dance on my skin. I open the passenger door behind mine to the sight that most parents don't know if they should dread or welcome- Faith is out like a light...

One of two things will happen at this point:
1) As soon as my hands hit the buckles, she will open her eyes, scream in protest and then refuse to take a nap as soon as I get her in the house.
2) magic...(well to me)...

Today, I was lucky- it was that "magic" moment- the one where my busy, into everything toddler who hates to cuddle, wakes up for a moment and then quickly falls right back to sleep and I get to do the one thing I always long to do, cuddle her close, kiss her sweet plump cheek and rock her back and forth.

Right around 5 or 6 months old, the Little Diva stopped being "cuddly". She wouldn't have it. She was content to sit on my lap, but if I tried to snuggle her I was met with protesting whines and cries and a wriggling little body that I would about drop. After the wriggling, I had no choice but to put her down and let her lay on her belly looking at the world.

and that is the way its been ever since...except for these magical moments...

I won't lie, most of the time it feels like the Little Diva is in her own little world. I struggle often with communicating with her because she isn't speaking yet, and its hard because when she does need stuff I don't hear her calling out for "mamma", I hear cries of frustration and rage because she can't do whatever she is trying to do by herself. She does come to me, in rare moments during the day because she wants me to read her a book, or sit in my lap for a minute or two while we watch a video.  I miss feeling close to her like I did when she was a little baby.  Don't get me wrong, I have moments where I just can't get over how cute she is- but I long to be close to her and see what she sees in the way she is seeing it.

So moments like this rare occurrence getting her out of the car are moments where I am reminded just how much she needs me, how safe she feels with me...and that regardless of how distant she seems, I am always going to be her mommy. 

I often think of the book I Love You Forever ...the story of a mom who would pick up her little boy after he was asleep and rock him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth saying:

"I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be."

Of course, my eyes get wet and misty and I almost can't hold the tears back...I read that book a million times before I became a mom  and never got misty eyed, and now I TOTALLY get it...

Its those rare moments, when you can be close to them like you were when they were the tiniest they ever were, that you can breathe and forget pulling them out of making a mess in the pantry for the umpteenth time or pulling all of the tissues out of the box, or throwing a huge fit because you won't give them the sucker that they got at the bank right away, and remember that you are their mommy. That they love you and that, no matter what, its your job to love them back.

I will NEVER regret being a mom. I will NEVER regret giving up a "brilliant future" as an opera star (according to some), I will NEVER regret staying home and using my time to take care of my children's every need instead of working at a 9 to 5 somewhere to make money to buy myself pretty things...


You can give yourself all the reasons in the world not to be a mother,I'm sure I have friends that could have rattled off long lists on my behalf of reasons I should have put off having a baby, but the bottom line is, there are so many more reasons WHY I decided to be a mom. 

There will never be enough money, there will always be something to stress you out, but I can guarantee to you, that even when life has been its toughest, through the little smiles and giggles of my sweet girls as they learn and discover the world I have been able to forget about the stresses and have they have made my toughest days a million times better.

I am so lucky and blessed to be a mom. I remember sitting in a doctor's office in high school, and being told that I would likely never have children, or if I did, it would be very hard to get pregnant. I never could shake it off...I remember being in tears when I told my husband of 3 months that I thought we should think about starting to try because of what this doctor had said and because I had a feeling we needed to...and the relief when he concurred and agreed that the spirit was directing him in the same way, and that I shouldn't worry because we would adopt all the children we wanted to if having them naturally wasn't an option... and the jubilation when I reached that 12 week mark of my first pregnancy and knew that, barring extraordinary circumstances, everything would be okay.

Motherhood, regardless of how you are blessed to be a mother, is  a special gift from God. 

When I look at my nieces and nephew, I think back to when they were little and when I was lucky enough to nanny for them and I realize that I was SO BLESSED to have sisters and a brother who let me be so involved in the lives of their little ones. For the longest time, I thought that this was the only way I would ever get to experience motherhood. Through my time with them, I learned so much and I know my kids will be told that they should be so grateful to their aunts and uncle for letting me have those experiences, because they made me a better mom when it was my turn to have the sacred title of "mother".  

EVERY WOMAN, REGARDLESS OF HER FERTILITY, HER MARRIAGE STATUS, AND HER CAREER, HAS THE CAPACITY TO BE A MOTHER.  I have had so many "moms" in my life...and their presence and example has made me so much better.

So, as I hold my Little Diva tight, give her a kiss, rock her and gently put her in her bed. I know I made the right decision to let her into my life. 

I survey the scene in the room next to mine. Two little angels, sleeping peacefully in their cribs.  Last week, we had to take the bumpers out of the Cupcake's crib because she wanted to be able to look out at her sister.  She has so much love for her older sister that I feel some assurance. We may be struggling with communicating with Faith right now, but I know that Phillie will always be looking for the bridge to go into Faith's world and bring her back. They need one another.  Its as I have mothered them together that I have truly come to understand why Heavenly Father would make them 10 months apart. They need one another, they always will...because, in loving one another, they will be prepared for greater love down the road. In nurturing one another, they will be prepared to nurture someone else.

I am a woman. I am a mother to little, when the wriggling commences and they refuse to sit still, I will make mental notes to enjoy the times when they will...the times when I can be reminded just how much I have to teach them, and how much I have to learn.

Hugs and Loves until Next Time Darlings!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Better than a Restaurant: Stuffed Crust Pizza


I know its super easy to call Dominos or Pizza Hut, make an order and wait for the delivery guy...

But, given our current employment situation (or lack thereof) a pizza delivery is just a luxury that we can't afford...

So, I ask you, WHY pay $20 for something that you can make for around $5-7 at home (depending on the amount of ingredients you use)?  Plus...if you make it at home, you get the added peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly what ingredients are in the foods you're eating....

So, without further ado, I give you the one recipe that will make you want to forget about calling for a pizza delivery (at least my husband thinks so...and he is practically a food critic...) comes your picture tutorial!

You WANT to start your sauce first- the longer it gets to simmer, the more flavorful it will be.

Into your blender you want to place:
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (juice and all)
1 tsp of sugar
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove garlic minced...)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Blend until smooth, then place into a sauce pan and add 1 bay leaf. Heat on medium low heat...
You will want this sauce to simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes (but you'll get a good 30 minutes while  you prepare the dough...)

So...while this simmers...let's make some dough!

place 3/4 cup warm water (not too hot, we don't want to kill the yeast), 1 TBS yeast, and 1 TBS sugar in a large-ish mixing bowl. Let it sit until the yeast starts to bubble (like in the picture below.) Take this time to preheat your oven to 350.
(It will take anywhere from 3-5 minutes for the yeast to bubble, the bubbling means that its activated, alive, and feeding on the sugar.) Once its bubbling, use your handy 3/4 cup to put 1 scoop of flour into the water. Mix well and then add another 3/4 cup (that's right you will need 1 1/2 c flour in total) Slowly adding the flour like this and mixing well in between scoops will make it so you barely have to knead the dough at all to make it smooth.  Once the flour is as mixed as you can get it with your plastic spatula/wooden spoon/whatever...comes the fun part (because the messy part of cooking is always the funnest part...) Get your hands in there and make sure that the flour is completely worked into the dough and the dough is smooth.
Once the dough is smooth, let it sit for a few minutes, the less you handle it, the more chance the yeast has to work its magic quickly to make the dough fluffy (like 5 or 10), it will be slightly sticky and that is totally okay... It should look something like this:
Now that its rested, roll out your dough. Create a round and go to town...I usually just spray my pizza pan and roll the dough out directly on it. You will want the rolled dough to have edges that go a 1/4 inch off of the pizza pan.
 (Adding sarcasm) Now here comes the REALLY hard part...
You are going to take some string cheese sticks out of their individual packets and cut them in half lengthwise (my 14 inch pizza pan needed 4 1/2 of them) and place them on the outside of of the pan on top of the dough.
 Then comes the tricky part of the hard're going to roll the excess dough edge over the top of the string cheese and pat the edge down into the inside of the dough circle to close off the cheesy goodness so it can't escape during the cooking process.
 After the cheese is safely secured, take a handy dandy fork and poke holes in the middle of the circle to keep the dough from bubbling up as it cooks.
 Then, sprinkle garlic powder and parmesan cheese over the crust as evenly as possible, all the way out to the edges.
 Place the crust in the preheated oven and let it bake for 15 minutes. It will not be completely golden brown, but it will be cooked enough that it can hold up against whatever toppings you throw at it.
 Meanwhile, your sauce should be reduced enough to use on the crust. It should be thick enough that when you run your spoon through the pan, it leaves an open spot for a little while before the liquid redistributes itself, like so... Remove the Bay leaf and pour it over your now baked crust.
 Put a thin layer of toppings over the sauce....
 Then the cheese...and another thin layer of toppings (too thick and you won't be able to pick it up to eat it.)
 Crank your oven up to 400-425( if your oven runs hot, you probably only want to use 400) let it cook for another 12-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbled up and slightly browned. and VOILA! Pizza deliciousness!

*Note- you can use tomato sauce instead of canned diced tomatoes...for a more robust sauce, you can use italian stewed tomatoes instead of regular diced.
**Another note- I used a colby jack cheese, but my husband prefers this dish with mozzarella, we just didn't happen to have any in the fridge. For a more "restaurant style" pizza, you probably want to use mozzarella, but if your kids and family are anything like mine, pizza is pizza, no matter what cheese you use. Jeff still ate it and thought it was delicious regardless of the cheese choice.
*** Another Another note- use whatever toppings your little heart desires. We just always happen to have pepperoni on hand (my 18 month old LOVES it as a snack) and that happened to be ALL we had on hand tonight. I would have loved to add some bell peppers, olives and mushrooms to make an almost supreme pizza...
****Another Another Another note- if you don't have string cheese, you don't HAVE to do stuffed crust with this recipe, just take the dough edge to the end of your pan or take it out the 1/4 inch and roll it over to give a more "bready" end to knaw on if you happen to be a family that LOVES their crust...

Bon Appetit until next time!!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

So Many Things to Worry About, So Little Time

Well...we have officially been living the unemployment nightmare for a month...

I guess nightmare isn't the right word to describe it, because I have seen the tender mercies of the Lord.. its hasn't been all bad.

The same week that Jeff got laid off I got 5 new voice students and I have managed to book photo shoots. We have been able to use that money to pay for small essentials and some "fun"... I know the Lord is there, its just tough when the "big" needs in the overall scheme of things haven't been taken care of yet.

I have enjoyed the extra time with Jeff and so have the girls. We've been able to go on picnics and snuggle up and watch movies together...

I guess its more of a nerve wracking situation than a nightmare because we are literally down to the last bit of money in the bank account, unemployment payments haven't been approved yet and we need to find some way to pay our bills next month and do other important things

We went to the temple tonight, and while I was assured that help would come, I am getting more and more stressed by the day waiting and wondering.

I try to focus on the girls and keeping them happy and healthy...which brings me to my next worry...

The Little Diva is not talking...she babbles but says no words. No "mamma", no "dadda"...nothing.  Which makes for some very frustrating points in the day.

Some people had told me that I was just being silly and that things would work themselves out, but I just couldn't shake my "mommy senses" as they tingled.

Finally, other friends who have dealt with similar issues suggested that I get in touch with the Infant/Toddler program for our state.  I went to their website and filled out the assessment paperwork and waited...

Finally, last week, I got a call back.

They said that there is definitely cause for concern and have started the ball rolling...

The lady I talked to today was surprised that my pediatrician back in Las Vegas didn't get the ball rolling after her 1 year well check when she wasn't saying simple words like "mamma" and "dadda"...I still love Dr. Carrie, and I honestly believe that she was hoping that it was a developmental delay due to the Little Diva's prematurity, but at this point it can't be denied...

No words, she doesn't respond when we call her name, only super loud noises get her attention and even then she seems to have selective hearing, and she totally ignores other kids when they try to play with her.

She is still sweet as can be, its just frustrating that when she is doing something she shouldn't be doing (like this afternoon when she was climbing up on her wooden block bead maze toy thing and trying to sit on top of it) and I can't just call out "no" or her name to get her to stop...I have to physically stop what I'm doing and remove her from whatever temptation has beguiled her...which isn't easy when what I am physically doing is changing her little sister's diaper or making a bottle...

When it comes right down to it, I am so grateful that the Infant/Toddler program exists and I have good friends who directed me towards them...but now it opens a whole new list of troubles...

Like wondering when Medicaid will come through for the of the things they want is a physician to sign off on the treatment and interventions they are doing and we don't have insurance...HOORAY...more money to spend that we don't have...

I asked the gal who called me today if the doctor's office would let me wait to pay if Medicaid would back pay the claim. She said that it would likely be a situation where we would have to pay out of pocket to see the doc and then wait for a reimbursement check...let me direct your attention to one of the first few lines when I said that we are quickly running out of funds...

At this point, after going to the temple, I pretty much know that all I can do is pray... pray for comfort, pray that the doctor's office will let us wait to pay for the appointment, pray that Jeff gets a job, pray that the doctors and therapists will be able to pinpoint what is going on with Faith so we can learn how to communicate with her better...

I'm sorry that I am such a Debbie Downer right now... I really am working to try to snap myself out of it.

I'm at the end of my rope, friends. I'm just going to tie a knot in the end and hang on...

I am going to breathe and remind myself that the light will come, my burdens will be lifted, and we will be blessed for our time in the trenches of trial...

I just wish that the relief would get here sooner rather than later...

But if wishes were kisses, we'd all be getting action, am I right?

So...let's count my blessings, shall we?

1) We're all alive and kicking...SCORE ONE FOR US!
2) I get the luxury of snuggling with my husband any time all day long...better take advantage of that one often, because with any luck, that won't be a readily available luxury anymore.
3) I have two of the most beautiful babies on the planet.
4) I am in contact with the people I need to be in contact with to figure out how to help Faith and me communicate better/at all.
5) I have voice students and photo shoots bringing in a small amount of income to help cover incidentals
6) We are doing everything we can to change our situation. Jeff is on his computer most of the day looking for jobs and applying for will have to bring us something good eventually, right?
7) We have a roof over our heads (even though I am SO ready to be done living with Jeff's parents...they have been great- I just REALLY need my own space...soon)
8) We have good friends who have been sending job tips, support, and prayers our way (Thank you. We love you! If you find it in your heart, please, keep it coming).
9) I have Jeff to whine to and to hold me when I sob like a baby...I know I couldn't do this alone.
10) Jesus loves me (and in a tight spot, I think He is the best person to have in my corner..) starts the journey to communicating with my beautiful Little Diva...and so continues the journey to find out where we're supposed to be.

If you have been praying for us, thank you. Please keep it up. Somedays the only thing that keeps me going is knowing we have people praying on our behalf...

I know that this will be a small tear in the grand scheme of things. I realize that there is a lesson we need to learn here and that the Lord is trying to get us on the path he wants us on...believe me, we are ready and willing...we just need him to open the darn door!


Hugs and loves until next time, darlings! (P.S. I promise, I won't let me next post be so Debbie Downerish...I just needed to write and get this off my chest...)