Sunday, July 22, 2012

What a Heart Can Hold

I sit in the booth at our favorite Chinese restaurant as Don orders his meal, and I feel the little body in my womb squirm and stretch. His head nuzzles my hip; his feet try to find their way between my ribs, and I gently press my hand to my belly to calm his frenzied activity. When he is born in less than a month, I will swaddle him, I will wrap him tight, hold him close and sing to him. For now, though, I mother him as best I can through the barrier that both connects and separates us, my body.

Our waitress smiles at me and asks, "Do you have other children or is this your first?"

There is no pause when I answer, "No, we have a two-year-old son at home with his grandparents."

Don and I smile casually but I look at his eyes and know he is thinking of them both, our other two little ones. The ones who came between William and Joshua. The ones who came and left.

In the late evening, when William is asleep in his room and Don is finishing up work notes in his office, I go into Joshua's nursery and sink down into the glider. I put my hands on my belly and I look at his crib, his books, the piles of sweet newborn clothes waiting for him, and I am so overwhelmed with peace and thanks that I would probably fall to my knees if I weren't already sitting down. I still don't understand the details of His plan, how God decides who will stay and who will go and who will hurt and who will have a baby and who will not. I am grateful for this. I know in the deepest recesses of my heart that knowledge of His plans for my future would be far too great a weight for me to carry.

Here in our home, in this tiny room that has been painted for a baby, there is peace. There is love. There is belief in an author of life, an original creator who remains even to this very moment.

I rock in the glider and close my tired eyes because, as it most always is with a two-year-old in tow and the full weight of the third trimester in my womb, today has been a long day. I sing, like I always have.

Lord, prepare me
to be a sanctuary
pure and holy, tried and true.
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living
sanctuary for you.

Here in my heart, God has carved out a space that I never dreamt could exist. A sanctuary is being built. I think of all the joy, followed by sorrow, the tears that would not stop coming, the bitterness that was so tempting to plant but that I weeded out with His grace alone. I feel where the sorrow bloomed to hope and the fears gave way to surrendering, and now, here in my heart, there is a sanctuary. And there is room for each child He gave us, William, Violet, Jordan, and Joshua.

What can a heart hold? There is no limit. There is no limit at all.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My New Favorite Room

It isn't finished yet, but everyone has been helping me get Joshua's nursery ready for him. This is the sunniest room in our house; it is illuminated for the first half of the day. William and I spend an hour every morning reading in Joshua's glider (which William hesitantly handed down).

 I love that Joshua will sleep in the same crib I did as a baby.
 Joshua's new stuffed animals, thrown into the crib to save them from William.
 My gracious father-in-law built book ledges for the nursery and I painted them white. Billye, my mother-in-law, spent days painting the walls and all of the trim, which was still gold (in oil based paint, ACK!) from the previous owners.
 The blanket I made for Joshua months ago, when I was on bed rest.
 His bedding. When the sun shines on the crib, it is washed in light, hence the faded colors. We still have to install blinds.
 A photo of my mom, big sis, and me as a (huge) newborn baby. Note that crib in the background!
 Sweet cross stitch samplers saved from Ginger's, a handmade arts institution in Austin that is sadly closing down.
 An unfinished project.
 More unfinished projects. This frame might be my best Goodwill find yet.
 Newborn kimono onesies, the first things we bought for Joshua after weeks wondering if he would really stay.

Has anyone tried to take a pregnancy shot of themselves without a tripod? It's hard work.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins with Brown Sugar Whipped Cream

Yesterday, as I drove home from HEB in the scalding 100 degree heat and lamented the weight of my very pregnant belly that pulled me forward in my seat, I reminded myself that the blazing days of summer in Texas will come to an end, as will this joy ride of a pregnancy, and that by the time the first cold front blows in, I will have another sweet baby nestled in my arms (instead of punching me in the bladder).

Naturally, this made me crave pumpkin.
Healthy Pumpkin Bread Recipe
There is nothing that signifies the arrival of fall to me more than the smell of pumpkin bread baking in the oven. Pumpkin bread is one of my mother's specialties and as soon I unpacked my melting 2 year old and groceries from the car, I called her for suggestions on a lighter pumpkin bread recipe. I found a quick and easy recipe on Cooking Light, but I adapted it a bit for my family's tastes and what we had on hand. Because there was no way I was venturing back outside in the heat to buy egg substitutes. Here is the revised recipe.

Pumpkin Muffins with Whole Wheat Flour and Brown Sugar Whipped Cream 
(to balance out the whole wheatiness)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour (I always use King Arthur)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup mashed or pureed banana (get all the clumps mashed out!)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk (or same amount of low-fat milk with dash of vinegar added)
2 large eggs
2/3 cup water
1-15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Mix the first eight ingredients (flour through allspice) in a large bowl.

3. In a second bowl, mix both types of sugar, pureed banana, oil, buttermilk or milk, and eggs with a hand mixer on medium-high speed until well blended. Add the water and pumpkin and mix again on medium-high speed until well blended. 

4. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and blend on low speed or hand stir with a rubber spatula until well blended. 

5. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill each muffin cup almost to the top with the batter and bake for 20-22 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove the muffins when they are golden brown and the tops are firm. Let cool on a cooling rack.

Optional: Add 1 cup of cold heavy cream with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar to a metal mixing bowl. Mix on high speed for 3-5 minutes, until the desired consistency. Spoon over your pumpkin muffin for a significantly less healthy but fantabulous dessert.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Home is in the Details

Do you remember once before when I wrote about my Pinterest addiction that led to confusion and me thinking I might prefer modern things to traditional furnishings? I may be the only person I know who has (or at least admits to having) this illness, but I am symptom free and more design-satisfied if I simply stay off of Pinterest.

But I broke my own rule today. I fell off the wagon. I looked through other people's boards (since I deleted my account) for way too long, and now my creativity feels thwarted from eye candy overload. 

In an attempt to sober myself, I went around our living room with my camera and focused on the things I like instead of the endless possibilities for restyling. This is the room where William plays, where I work and sew, where I sit with friends for coffee breaks, where we eat with guests. I focused on the things that are unique to our home and family.
 The perfectly clear light that streams in the dining room windows, making everything easier to photograph.
 The light that floods the front room so I never miss out on the sun, even while on bed rest.
 The mismatched pillows and chairs and the assortment of antique end tables.
 My homemade faux butterfly and moth shadow box, another bed rest project I wouldn't have attempted otherwise.
 The stack of water damaged (but loved) classic books my dad bought decades ago.
 William's "river" nestled in a wicker basket turned coffee table. The blanket was a happy Goodwill find (it's really a Pottery Barn Kids blue 100% silk blanket). He sits in it and pretends to row a boat filled with trucks and stuffed animals.
The doily project I made last year. Not everyone likes it, including my mother who refers to it as "an inappropriate use of textiles," but it's striking to look at, and that's what I was aiming for.
A set of Don's paternal grandmother's green dominos nestled in a silver plated candy dish my parents received as a wedding gift 35 years ago (and apparently didn't want, since my mom let me steal it from them last Christmas).
The entry dresser and mirror that belonged to my mom when she was growing up. There is a scary amount of beige happening in this area, but I am still debating on whether I should spray paint the Ballard Design buffet lamps or paint the mirror and add some colorful picture frames around it.

I love our big table, but I can never figure out what to put on it outside of meal times. Note the FoodSaver and lens cover, for example.

When I get overwhelmed with all of the work we still have to do in our home, I remind myself of the things I love and that our home is in the details. Does anyone else do the same?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wooden Bowl Makeover

As my super crazed nesting continues, I am learning about patience. I'm off of bed rest, but still not allowed to make "vigorous or strenuous" movements, including painting or sanding and stripping furniture. When I was eight months pregnant with William, I sanded and stained a Craigslist dresser for his bedroom, and I repainted his room twice. There are some painting and reupholstering projects I wish I could complete before Joshua is born, since I know it will be months before I'll have the time to work on refinishing furniture with a newborn and a 2 year old, but in the meantime, I'm doing tiny makeovers. Meet my latest victim, a 99 cent wooden fruit bowl from Goodwill.
I tried restoring the bowl with layers of wood oil, but this sucker is dried out and must have been neglected for years. So I decided to paint it, and now look how cute it is. 
twisted fabric roses
Ta da!

I spray painted it with white enamel paint and glued a length of burlap ribbon around it. I made a few twisted fabric roses from white canvas and more of the burlap ribbon and glued those on. The ribbon and roses are not glued to the bowl (just to each other) so I can slip them off if I want to change things up later.
DIY napkin holder

I told Don I feel like it's acceptable for me to decorate our house with things I love, including roses and burlap ribbon, to balance the testosterone that outnumbers me 3 to 1. I asked him if he thought this bowl was cute. 

Don: How much did it cost you to make that?
Me: 99 cents for the bowl, but I bought it over a year ago, which I think makes it free.
Don: I don't know what cute is, but I'd buy that for a dollar.

I'll consider that a success.