party time


 got the constellations up!

The last few days we've had fun hanging out, playing lego star wars and finishing all our baby preparations. We're trying to be in a state of constant readiness (constant vigilance!!). I have been put back on low/no activity so that kind of added a boring-ness to our vacation but we are trying to make the most of it anyway. Dave doesn't go back to work until Wednesday and we've loved having a week and half to just hang out!

We're going over to another couple's house for new year's eve celebrations and hope you all have a great new year's eve!

it's SANTA!


We had a great Christmas and you hope all did too! On Christmas Eve we made graham cracker gingerbread houses (and ate a lot of candy) and watched Elf. On Christmas, Dave and I got up about two hours before everyone else and very patiently waited in the living room for everyone else to come down. For breakfast we tried this monkey bread that Dave made and I think we started a new tradition! It was really good. 

That afternoon we chatted with family and had fun opening/playing with some new things.We felt very spoiled. Dave got some great new biking gear which he loves. 

We had a delicious Christmas dinner and later that evening we had some pie. I made a coconut key lime pie and we made a chocolate caramel pie. They turned out pretty good, but not quite as good as I had hoped. Especially the chocolate caramel, because we apparently destabilized the cream and it wouldn't whip up for anything. There was no caramel taste to it but I tried it anyway (a nice soupy cream) because I didn't ruin two batches of caramel just to not even try it. Oh well. Chocolate cream filling is still good any day of the week, if you ask me!



a gray portland christmas

We are spending the holiday in portland this year and have enjoyed the above-freezing temperatures (though we did get some snow (=white rain) last week). It didn't even rain today...just cloudy and a happy kind of gray mixed with pretty evergreens.

We are spending the night at Dave's parents, which means Dave can still wake up at 3 am and peek at what Santa gave him.

We hope you all have a Merry Christmas (and a white one, if you want it!)

Taken last week when we had snow. 

a portland baby


When we got back from Utah, we started doing more official prep for baby: ordering a crib, car seat, stroller and other things. The two weeks following Thanksgiving were exciting as far as mail goes. We are trying to keep our baby gear on the minimal side, but you know, there are some little essentials. (my new bff is my target debit card.)

I also am working on my list of things to finish making before the end of December. This included crib sheets, since not only are mini crib sheets expensive, why not make your own? Besides the math involved (ugh), it wasn't hard at all. Except, of course, picking out fabric. There are a ton of cute fabrics out there, but I opted to go with JoAnn's flannel for 60% off...so my selection was more limited (but the sheets were less than $5 each!). I did find three fabrics that I liked best (not girly/super baby-y is really hard to find there) and totally not on purpose they are super portland/urban-y. BUT no birds. (but I will admit, my fourth choice did have birds on it. oh boy.)

But we are almost done with all this prep and hopefully we'll head into January with nothing to worry about except, you know, having a baby to care for. Five weeks, people.


p.s. thank you for all your sweet comments on the previous post. you guys are the best.

the thoughts of december

I've spent the last week or so thinking about the year mark. I don't have anything really new to add to the thoughts I've had over the last year, which you can find scattered throughout the year, in all their honest and aching glory.

I am grateful for the little space I have to write out my thoughts, as it has helped tremendously. I hope that these thoughts aren't taken to mean that our life is one big sad fest and also that if I blog tomorrow about something completely happy that I don't really mean any of it. That's life, you know? And while I aim to mostly share the good and happy things, there do exist times of reflection and sorrow and whatever else makes it on here. So thanks for reading both!

I think things sometimes feel the same, just not as sharp or all-encompassing. Although I can say that the bitterness has decreased significantly. But there is still sorrow, still pieces of a broken heart and still an ache for understanding. There is also peace, some kind of understanding that is both significant and not exactly what we'd prefer and there is love.

There was Wednesday, which took me back to that Wednesday, the longest Wednesday of our life. Where the time passed so quickly and so slowly and in the long hours we sometimes felt like the only two people in the world. And then there was Thursday, when I sat in the hospital room alone (dave went to get the car) and demanded to myself that I make it to the car before starting to cry again. Which I did, and not one second too soon. There was that stupid pamphlet they give you on grieving the loss of a child, which we could not even look at without crying. and oh, the crying.

Later that afternoon we went to target and there was the absolute ridiculousness of walking around target the day after I had a baby and had to leave it, buying whatever we bought like it was any other day. I mean, I think we bought prizes for a work Christmas party for crying out loud. You would have thought we would have bought real tissues, but that was something we never did think of over those next few weeks.

This past Friday was the actual date but it wasn't a day that was any different from any other day, really. There are still days I realize that I still don't have room in my soul for certain things. Which I know sounds so vague but I don't know exactly how to explain it. I think I asked Dave a few months ago if we wanted to do anything for the date. But I mean, what do people do? We never talked about it further and Friday was so busy that it wasn't until the very end of the day that I wondered if we ought to have done something, because if we didn't, who would? But the day just ended knowing that lucy knows we love her, tears and a heartfelt prayer. 

And really, it could be any Wednesday or Thursday or Friday or Monday or Tuesday that takes me back to that week a year ago. I guess it's just unreal that it's been so long and yet it still seems like yesterday sometimes.

So it's the same, just not as close to the surface most days. So yes, time helps, but sometimes, not really. I recognize that it has dulled the pain and makes life seem almost the same as before, but it does not answer the questions, it does not replace the life lost, the dreams unrealized, nor does it make you forget.

But there are other things besides time. There is a gospel plan so amazing and miraculous that you can almost forget your questions and heartache because you know that all will be made whole. This past year has given me an unshakable knowledge that things will be made whole. So even in the struggle, there is always, always peace.

I recently re-read Paul's beautiful sermon in Romans 8.

"for I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

what shall we then say to these things? if God before us, who can be against us?

who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. for I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, no principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

This month, especially, we are so, so grateful to be where we are, preparing for a new baby. (even with issues that have gone along with it) Last year the thought of having to start over for another baby and going through pregnancy again was almost more than I could handle. And while the year was long sometimes, it's almost over and we are so thankful for baby boy. It's unbelievably lucky. and thank you to all of you for your support all throughout this year. I could never express how much it means and how much it has carried us. We found ourselves in the hospital again on December 14th, but for a much better reason than last year: we were taking an infant care class. we are now parenting pros!

Sometimes I don't know where we stand in the group of those who lost babies. Not quite a miscarriage, not quite a stillbirth, not expected nor dreaded, not a loss after a few days or months, not a loss after years. just a loss. but not "just" anything, because it consumed my entire soul. and my heart aches for all who have experienced it, both recently and not, because it's the absolute worst.

And while sometimes, in all honesty, the words of others mean nothing, the thoughts of healing ahead mean nothing, the "gift" of empathy you supposedly have means absolutely nothing, the reason we celebrate Christmas means everything. Celebrating the Savior, who gives love and peace freely, who saves us and makes it possible for us to be with our loved ones again, and who is always, always there.

christmas-y

I really enjoy the few weeks before Christmas. I love picking out presents for people (though sometimes I want to buy ALL THE THINGS and have a hard time narrowing down my choices), wrapping them and, this year, getting them shipped off. I, at least, am having fun scheming (in a good way), crafting, crocheting, sewing, online shopping and packaging for the holiday.

We're trying to add in some Christmas-y activities to our weeks and though we'll have to wait until next year to wander around downtown and see the lights/city Christmas trees, we've found a few things to do. Next on my list is to try the salted caramel hot chocolate from starbucks. yes, so classy.

On Sunday we dug out the Christmas cookie cutters and made some sugar cookies for the families Dave visits in our church. He slopped some frosting on and I practiced my glace icing skillz. (not quite glace sugar cookies from four years ago here, where I also really weirdly talk about imaginary children?)

A few of them looked pretty good! But Dave took them before I could get a picture (tragic) but just know they looked NOTHING like those I linked to above.  


Any Christmas baking in your near-immediate future? there are so many great holiday recipes I want to try...but I'm thinking of picking one a week to try.

christmas tree



      

Two Saturdays ago we walked down a few blocks to a little tree lot and picked out a Christmas tree. I don't think my family has ever had a real tree before, so it was a new experience. We picked one out, Dave carried it home, we strung some lights, picked out our favorite ornaments and now we each comment at least once a night how much we love our little tree. It's a perfect fit for the little corner in our apartment. And the microwave next to it is just so charming, don't you think?  

It's not our first Christmas tree (but our fourth!) but the first one we've owned and that was bigger than 3 feet. So, we're feeling pretty fancy.

a little too pink, perhaps.

We had some friends come over for dinner this week and I knew it was the perfect opportunity to try out the last recipe in the our best bites calendar: a chocolate peppermint mousse cake.

I used this cake recipe (it really is the best) and filled it with a delicious peppermint mousse (though note to self: don't use frozen cream because the texture is weird) and topped it with a dark chocolate ganache and peppermint bark pieces. It was pretty good.

I made 6" cakes (since there were only four of us), so I got four out of the recipe. I saved two and make a cake for the freezer--for an unknown but impending birthday. You'll just have to stay tuned to see it.

Yes, I made a cake for a new baby's birthday. I think it's kind of a cute little tradition (you know, like birthdays?) to start. Or weird? I don't know. More cake for me.

I don't know if it's because they were smaller, but I didn't have any cake mishaps I normally do (sinking, way too round, bottom sticking to the pan, etcetera). A Christmas miracle!

Now, go make some chocolate cake!

orange rolls

Here they are! A yummy tradition in Dave's family and now mine (where they are a sought-after novelty).

This recipe requires some advance planning, as they take about a day to make. However, I imagine you could get away with less than a day if you really wanted. The fridge time makes them a dream to roll out. I want to try making these more like cinnamon rolls sometime by adding a glaze (maybe with a tsp or two of orange juice?). Because who doesn't like things drizzled in glaze? 

 

Orange rolls 
makes approximately 36 rolls

2 packages yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
1/4 cup warm water

Combine and let yeast soften for 10 minutes. 

1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup warm water

Mix together in a sauce pan and heat until the shortening melts or slightly before. 

3 eggs, beaten
yeast mixture
shortening mixture
4 1/2 cups flour

Combine together to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Cover and let raise double. Knock dough down, cover, and put in fridge overnight. (This is where you could try a few hours instead.)

1 cup sugar
1 stick butter, melted
zest from two oranges

Mix together. 

Roll out half the dough into a rectangle and spread with half of the filling. Roll up like a log and cut into one-inch sections. Place in muffin tins. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let raise double. 

Bake at 350 for 8 minutes. Remove from tins immediately. 


if you try them, let me know how you like them!  

oh, that's sconesey-cider

We had a little get-together with some friends the day before we left Utah. We had a great time and loved seeing those who were able to stop by (missed those who couldn't!) and hope everyone had fun. 

I wanted to do a hot chocolate/apple cider bar, and here is what we came up with. (I want to say something about how these pictures were taken in low light and with little to no artistic direction, but that's acting like you've come to expect something else??)

 

hot chocolate on a stick, apple cider, pumpkin donut bites, petite vanilla bean scones, and biscotti (next time I want to try this kind)