Pains fade

For the last couple weeks I’ve been very reflective. All the sights, smells, and colors of fall have taken me back to the sights, smells, memories, and colors of last fall and all we were experiencing. This is what I wrote on my blog in my post Moving. It’s a roller coaster.

Today my soul is not soaring through the clouds. Instead, it is somewhere between my knees and the ground. Our little family is currently in the midst of moving. We just recently found out we need to be out of our current house in one month and we have yet to find another place to live.

Then, in November while we were still in the middle of our moving adventure I wrote this from my post When life looks bleak:

Many of you know that mid-September and October were difficult for our family. We were told we needed to move in one month, but we were having a difficult time finding another place to live. Things kept falling through, while my anxiety started to rise through the roof.

Moving was a serious roller coaster. I remember readers commenting about how everything would work out; how there was beauty and happiness in store. But honestly, at the time I wasn’t seeing the glimmer; I wasn’t seeing the break in my stormy skies. All I saw was bleak and grey.

This really was a trying time for me. I think many can relate when I say that not knowing where you are going to live is hard. And when there is kids involved and a short time frame, it seems even more stressful. Uncertainty is not something I’m keen on or great with dealing with, and all of last fall was marked by uncertainties.

But this last month or so, I’ve been awestruck by how life has moved on and how the pain of that time period has faded so dramatically. While in the trenches of last year I hit some of my all time lows emotionally, and now I feel like my life is hitting some of it’s all-time highs. It is a testament to me of how there are truly good things to come in life. No matter how deep in the trenches we feel and how certain we are that there really is no light at the end of the tunnel–just more deep darkness–there most certainly IS. There is undoubtedly hope, happiness, and most likely, some of the best times ahead down the tunnels that appear pitch black.

Last year I felt like my holidays were all over the place. Our life was marked by packing and unpacking, only to pack and unpack again. I was lonely for friends and feeling completely unsure. This year, I’m decorating my house, preparing for our sweet girl who has lived in my heart for years, and enjoying the peace and stability of life.

Fall Collage

This year

I know many may not be in those times of certainty today. Perhaps your road is leading now to a tunnel that seems unbearable, lonely, and pitch black. But, I’m hear to tell ya, that hard times do pass. The pain of yesteryear’s do fade. To my past self, the clouds did break. There really was happiness ahead. I’m living proof to myself that the happiness is here and times do get better.

Fall Foodie Favorites: Oldies and Newsies!

Fall is just starting to pick up speed and I love when our food matches the season. For me, it makes the season that much more fun and interesting.

I thought I would share my all-time favorite fall dinners,  breakfast, breads, and desserts with you, in case you’ve been looking for some fall in your foods. Some are oldies that I found in previous falls, and some are newsies from this year. I hope you enjoy!

Fall Favorites

This newsie is White Chicken Chili Soup. It is delicious. But the simplicity of the recipe is actually why it sold me. So many White Chicken Chili Soups seem to have lots and lots of ingredients, but this one keeps it simple, while still tasting elaborate. That is a win in my book. I did make a few alterations, by mostly adding in a couple vegetables, but doing so did not make it a “vegetable chili” in any way.

Also, I did find that serving this chili over brown rice was really delicious. Not only does it make it more economical, by the spreading the chili further, it also enhanced the flavor. Here is the full recipe, with my alterations, but feel free to follow the link above and see the original. (Sidenote: I half the recipe for our little family, but here is the full recipe).

Delicious-White-Chicken-Chili-Recipe-on-lilluna.com-chili-soup

photo courtesy of Lil’ Luna.

Ingredients:

(Italics and a (*) indicate my alterations to the recipe)

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 (15.5 oz) cans Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-4 chicken breasts (approx. 2 cups shredded chicken)
  • 1 small can diced green chilies
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • *1/2 tsp. chili pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • *1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • *1 bell pepper, diced
  • *1/2-1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2-1 cup sour cream OR 2-4 oz. cream cheese (feel free to use neufchatel)
  • Optional: Shredded cheese to top
  • Optional: serve over brown rice.

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, add broth, beans, chicken, green chilis, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, chili pepper, pepper, diced onion, diced bell pepper, and corn. Simmer on low-medium heat for 20-30 minutes, or until it is heated through. (I turn up the heat to medium high and just bring it to a boil until my chicken is cooked through.)
  2. Take out chicken and shred with a fork, then add back to the pot.
  3. Right before serving, stir in sour cream. Add cheese on top if desired.

Hooray for a relatively fast, healthy, and very delicious soup!

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The next is a favorite oldie that I have on my Gale Family Recipes site–Butternut Squash Chicken Stew. I haven’t made it yet this season, but last season, I loved it! This soup packs a punch of flavor, and I love that the base of the soup is vegetables. Anyway, so much goodness going on in this stew. And isn’t it pretty?

Photo courtesy of Cookin' Canuck.

Photo courtesy of Cookin’ Canuck.

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This oldie–Golden Sweet Cornbread is a hit, always has been. As soon as my husband and I tried it, we were obsessed. I’ve tried multiple recipes that crumble like crazy, feel slightly dry in my mouth, or just lack flavor. This one trumps all. It’s moist, doesn’t crumble, and has a sweet, but not too sweet, flavor. I do make a couple alterations that improve flavor and help the cornbread stay together, so look for those alterations in the link above.

Photo courtesy of Allrecipes.com

Photo courtesy of Allrecipes.com

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Now this newsie, is a great find and I’m so thrilled to have found it. This Zucchini Bread recipe is to die for. Really. Okay, not really, but it is at least good enough to make it multiple times, crave it, and then feel comfortable taking to neighbors.

photo courtesy of Mel's Kitchen Cafe

photo courtesy of Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

I had a lot of zucchini this summer and I tried multiple recipes and this one took the cake, by far. This might not be the recipe for you, but for me I look for something delicious–not too healthy, but also not too sugary or oily. This one fit the bill for me. It also has good spices and has a good balance between feeling too heavy or light. I make no alterations to the recipe, except that I usually double it. 🙂

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Another oldie that’s on my list to make again this year is Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes & Spinach. This recipe is the epitome of health and yum getting married. Everything about it is healthy, but it also is fast and delicious. It also is vegetarian, which while I’m not a vegetarian, I love finding recipes that don’t take meat and use other sources for protein, to ensure I’m getting a wide range of nutrients. I did make two slight alterations, which you’ll see on my site. I’m looking forward to trying it again this year!

Photo courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod

Photo courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod

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This recipe breaks the mold– it’s my favorite fall breakfast! Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal is divine. Before trying baked oatmeal I was rather apprehensive. In my family, oatmeal was always a bland meal that you made if you didn’t have taste buds, or you just ignored them. But after trying this, I was changed.

Photo courtesy of Kath Eats Real Food

Photo courtesy of Kath Eats Real Food

Baked oatmeal is so versatile, yummy, and yes, healthy. I would bake up a pan of baked oatmeal, cut them into squares and then put them in tupperwares. Then, in the morning, I would either eat it cold with yogurt or milk (similar to granola) or warm it up, cut it in half, and put some butter on it. I also just snacked on it plain, because it was that flavorful. I also love that it is something you can make ahead and then enjoy throughout the week.

After eating it for a while, I came up with another flavor and it turned out to be my favorite– Baked Pumpkin Apple Oatmeal. {**This link is probably the most comprehensive recipe. So follow this link if you want to know exactly how I make it.**} I don’t have a picture of this one, but it looks exactly the same as above.

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Lastly, here are two of my favorite bread recipes. I feel like it’s nice to have a go-to homemade bread recipe and here are two options–one is whole wheat and the other white. Both are absolutely delicious and relatively fast when it comes to rising time, and ease of making–both of which are necessities for me.

The White Homemade Bread recipe is my newsie for this year. It’s delectable. If you are looking for a crowd pleaser and not concerned about your carbs, then go for the gold, or white in this case, and give it a go. I can promise it won’t go wrong. It also makes a whopping 4 (9×5) loaves!

Photo courtesy of Just Another Day in Paradise

Photo courtesy of Just Another Day in Paradise

This No-Fail Whole Wheat Bread recipe is my oldie that I want to try again this year. I seriously loved this recipe. It had the awesome full taste of whole wheat, but lacked the typical cons of wheat bread (being overly dense or dry). Also, just like the recipe above, this recipe is speedy. Mmm, just remembering this recipe is making me crave it. Really, if you have never liked whole wheat bread, but want to try a recipe, try this one. Most likely you’ll enjoy it and then feel good about all the fiber and complex carbohydrates it packs.

Whole Wheat Bread

Photo courtesy of Progressive Pioneer

Well, I think that will be it for today! I love baking and cooking so stick around if you want more recipes. Or better yet, hop over to my actual recipe blog–Gale Family Recipes–where I share our family favorites. My style is summed up like this: things that are supposed to be delicious- I try to keep delicious. But foods that can be easily made more healthy, I try to make healthier. After being on a no-sugar diet for over a year, I know how to be healthy, but also enjoy the taste of all foods, so hop on over for some healthy and some purely delicious family faves 🙂

Our First Bumpdate- 28 weeks

Well, I’ve always said “better late than never”, and I think this scenario really takes the cake. I’ve never done a bumpdate questionnaire for either Parker or our little girl, and here we are 3rd trimester through this second pregnancy and I just up and decided, why not? So, here ya go.

Funny, I always like reading the bumpdates of other’s I know, but for some reason thought if I did one for myself, people would be so bored they’d scroll through or pick their nose. Why?? I don’t know. Well, today I’m just ignoring my fear of boring people and am going out on a limb that maybe one of you, besides myself will enjoy this. So let the questions begin…

How far along? 28 weeks- 3rd trimester, baby!
Baby is: 2.25 lbs & 14.8 in. (approx)
Total weight gain/loss? +15 lbs. {sidenote: I’m actually really proud of myself for this… my 1st pregnancy I was weighing myself all the time. I was so caught up on being a certain size that I was monitoring myself all the time. This pregnancy, I’ve loosened up & it has been so much better!!! I just weighed myself this morning, but I hadn’t in a couple weeks. Anyway, hooray for focusing more on how I feel and less on stressing about weight gain. This is progress for a girl like me who has obsessed too much about being skinny, for too much of my life.} and now I move on….
Maternity clothes? Yes. Oh, and my husband’s t-shirts.Gah! Why is it so hard for me to buy t-shirts that fit me? Or just maternity clothes in general??

I haven't even been taking pictures of myself, so I snapped these, but sorry I'm wearing lazy, around the house clothes. Real life.

I haven’t even been taking pictures of myself, so I snapped these, but sorry I’m wearing lazy, around the house clothes. Real life.

Stretch marks? Not any new ones that I’ve noticed. But, I have noticed that as I get bigger, the ones from Parker’s pregnancy are deepening in color once again. But just like weight gain, I’ve been paying a lot less attention this time around, so I’m not quite sure.
Sleep? Sleep is good. I fall asleep when I turn off the light and then wake up, what feels like a second later. {Can I say weird dreams though, anyone???!} Pregnancy always makes my dreams crazy.
Best moment this week? Well this is the hardest question! I have no idea, I feel like it is all the sweet things Parker is saying to me and how much love is in his heart. He’s constantly telling us how much he loves things and how cute people are. I cannot begin to explain how blessed we feel to have him as our little boy.
Miss Anything? My pre-pregnancy clothes. I miss being able to get dressed more easily. Now I feel like I try something on and it looks weird, I try something else on–it looks weird too. And then 10 minutes later I’m settling on something that looks the least weird. {Clothing is the bane of my existence right now.}
Movement? A ton. She is one wiggly girl who seems like she can never get comfortable.
Food cravings? Not really strong ones.
Anything making you queasy or sick? Not really.
Have you started to show yet? Yes.
Gender? IT’S A GIRL!
Labor Signs? Umm not real labor, but Braxton Hicks contractions have been almost getting out of control. Two days ago, I got about 20 sets of them in the space of just 2 hours. But, oh well, apparently that can happen, and apparently drinking more water can help them not be so strong.
Belly Button in or out? Half out, but almost completely out.  It depends on if I’m breathing in or out.
Wedding rings on or off? On. It’s actually really lose right now, probably because the colder weather.
Happy or Moody most of the time? Happy!!! 🙂

Well, there it you have it. I’m feeling just really blessed right now to have some time to get ready for this little girl. I’m starting to realize that although this is my second, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m prepared. I just realized last week that we have no changing table for her or a place to put her clothes (even though her clothing is practically non-existent). Anyway, it’s just interesting how there is still much to do. I’m feeling less apprehension for labor and for her arrival, but I’m busying myself with getting ready and dreaming of life with our little girl.

What I hope I will do different for Baby #2

Even before we got pregnant with this second baby, I wondered how I would do it all over again; the sleepless nights, the teething, the sleep training, the nursing. I struggled a lot with postpartum depression with my first and so that was on my mind a ton, too. How would I prepare my family, what would I do differently, how could I prevent the onslaught of crazy emotions, and most of all–how could I make this next experience better.

Not that having Parker was bad, but it definitely was hard. A lot harder than I expected. The emotions and depression threw me and my husband for a loop. Not only was it hard to see myself in that condition, but I think it was harder for my husband to see me like that–to try to help, but not quite know what to do.

So what will I change, what will I do differently this time around? Really–what has my first baby taught me:

What I hope I will do different

1. Fill that Prescription. Like yesterday. I noticed with Parker that I was struggling. I was anxious a lot, I was frustrated a lot, and then I started having feelings of “I just want to run away” or “my family would be better off without me” or “can’t I just get out of here?!” I also started having feelings of wanting to hurt myself and my baby, which in my right mind, would not be there. Basically, I should have jumped in my car first thing and went to my doctor. DON’T wait for that 6 week appointment. That’s just 6 week’s of downright crazy. Don’t wait until you have all the signs and symptoms that every website lists. Just know if you are feeling worse and then talk to your doctor. You don’t have to be on the prescription forever, I definitely wasn’t, but it will sure help in the beginning while you’re getting used to almost no sleep, taking care of another human, and trying to wrap your mind around all the crying. Again, this is for me. It may not work for everyone, but this is for me.

2. “This will not last forever.”– Probably the most important thing I’ve learned is that these stages really do not last forever. I remember crying to my mom that I was worried I would hate motherhood, because my 3 week old was just not leaving me feeling fulfilled or happy. {Not completely surprising}.

977824_10200800162741418_611722807_oThe stages of waking up every 3 hours at night or sitting in the mothers room for almost the entire church block, or being up with a teething baby DO END. They are so short. I almost have forgotten about them already, which is crazy, because they seemed never-ending at the time. But really, they pass. Soon you are getting a full night’s rest, you are sitting in church with your hands empty listening to a lesson while he’s playing in nursery, and then during the day your baby is playing with toys in the other room entertaining themselves. And then… to top it off they hug and kiss you and tell you gushy things like “I love luuu, mom!” It’s wonderful. So believe that things will change for the better, and that most likely you’ll love motherhood. There’s a reason why lots of people have multiple babies!

3. Get a routine, but let it slide- sometimes. I love routines. I thrive on them and so does Parker. He likes to know what he can expect and so do I. I like that he naturally settles down for nap when I tell him I’m grabbing a vitamin and milk… because he knows he gets to read stories and then rest. I like that I can depend on when to get things done and when to meet people for something due to being predictable. And I like having time to myself and with my husband. It just works for me.

923247_10151641119126763_1750822069_nBut, I’ve also experienced a whole lot of stress and anger (embarrassed about that) when my routine is thrown off. I’ll sit there frustrated that he isn’t in bed, even if we are doing something fun. I’ll worry that the routine will never be the same…. yaddy, yaddy, yada. But, really, it will work out. He’ll make up for it some other day that week, or he’ll take a longer nap at some point, or… he’ll teeth the next night and be up all night and then we’ll be zonked the next day. Whatev. It’s just life. So when you get handed a fun opportunity and it’s not going to be an everyday thing. Do it. Break the routine. Make a memory. And just.have.fun.

4.Thank my husband MORE and have less pity parties. Man, even though he didn’t birth the baby or carry the baby, he sure did do a lot. For me, it was easy to get into this mind set that everything was about me during pregnancy and after birth. I wined a bit, lets be honest. Granted my hormones were wacky and I was healing like no body’s business, BUT, he was doing so much too. I wasn’t the only one sleep deprived, I wasn’t the only one trying to make sense of everything that had changed.

268806_10151641119191763_2021570266_nI wish I would have realized that having a baby is a family matter, even more than I did, and that my physical scars would heal quickly.  I wish I would have thought more about my husband, instead of feeling bad for myself. From working to PAY for the babe, to being there when I went crazy. From calling my mom FOR ME at 1 in the morning, because he knew I needed to talk to someone, to loving me and telling me I was enough, over and over and over. He really was a champ. I wish I would have pulled myself out of my pity parties more and bonded more with him.

Overall, I’m just excited for another baby. I’m so grateful for what my 1st has taught me, and I can only imagine this one will teach me a whole lot more in so many different ways.  I’m excited to try the whole process again, hopefully with a little less stress than before. It’s amazing how experience can change us and teach us. Although, here’s to trying it out with having a 2 1/2 year old. We’ll see how that goes… and hopefully take it in stride.

What have you learned from your kids?… How’s that for a loaded question? 🙂

Same-sex marriage: Disagreement and love

The world is buzzing with political news about marriage, gender, love, and family. In my life, I have never seen the world so divided against each other and at the same time unwilling to see the others point of view. It’s heart-wrenching to see former friends unfollow the other, to see family members heated with frustration towards each other, and to see so much disunity.

Throughout it all, and on both sides, there’s talk of tolerance. There’s talk that love should win. There’s talk that LGBT lifestyles should not be supported. There’s talk that keeping two people apart because of religion is unchristian. Misunderstanding and anger abound.

My heart hurts. It hurts not only because of what I hear people saying to those around them, but hurt because I also feel misunderstood. I’m sure people on both sides feel this way. I believe all individuals want to agree and feel agreed with. As a result, this whole debate has left people feeling unaccepted by others, if they believe in same-sex marriage, or not.

In the end, the issue has hurt us all, in one way or another.

But, I think one thing needs to made clear. Love and tolerance are two separate things and can co-exist without disintegrating the other. Let me illustrate:

No, I do not support same-sex marriage. Yes, I know people who are LGBT. Yes, I love them. Yes, I want them to have a happy life. Yes, my religion plays a huge role in why I do not support it. Yes, I have read the bible and believe in a loving God. But, no, I’m not trying to keep people apart or make other people suffer.

Most importantly, I believe that I can love individuals and still think differently.

disagree and love 2I believe that love and disagreement can exist together. I don’t believe that to love someone fully means you agree with all they agree with–meaning high love equals high tolerance.  Nor do I believe that not agreeing with someone’s view point indicates a lack of love–meaning low love is equal to low tolerance. I believe you can love someone fully, accepting them for who they are, but still not agree with or condone their acts.

I can love and disagree, while still being respectful. So can you.

Dr. Alwi Shihab, the Presidential Advisor and Special Envoy to the Middle East taught out of the Quran when he said: “We must respect this God-given dignity in every human being, even in our enemies. For the goal of all human relations–whether they are religious, social, political, or economic–ought to be cooperation and mutual respect.” (Building Bridges to Harmony Through Understanding, Shihab)

I love that. Despite differences, we should probably stop ourselves before we speak or comment out of anger. Even if we don’t understand or value another person’s viewpoint, we can still seek to value them.

For example, I have family that embraces the LGBT lifestyle. I do not agree with their lifestyle, but I love them. We “like” and comment on each others pictures, we congratulate each other on important life events. We get together for family reunions and talk about things we both find interesting and play games we enjoy. I genuinely am grateful for them in my life. We choose to accentuate the things we agree on. We both know we don’t agree on religious or political issues, but we choose to love, see the good, and relate with each other about the things we do agree on.

We love while disagreeing.

Dallin H. Oaks, former Utah Supreme Court Justice, quoted Gordon B. Hinckley when he said: “We must work harder to build mutual respect, an attitude of forbearance, with tolerance one for another regardless of the doctrines and philosophies which we may espouse.” (Truth and Tolerance, Oaks)

This is all to say, I wish there was more love. Love that cares for people, while they believe differently than them. Love that holds onto their convictions, but still reaches out and finds similarities.

Love your friends if they disagree; love them if they agree. Love them if they accept your beliefs; love them if they don’t accept your beliefs.

You don’t have to lose your beliefs to love. You can love no matter what.