Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Letter from God to the Woman Experiencing Pregnancy Loss

My Dear Child,

My heart is breaking with yours right now. I have not forgotten you, but I am right here beside you, present in your pain. You are so precious to me and I bottle up each of your tears as you grieve the loss of your child. This tragedy was not my plan- it is the result of the sin of a fallen world, far from the perfect place I had originally created for you, dear child. I love you so much, and I am devastated that you have to experience such pain.

I understand your pain all too well. I also experienced the loss of a child when I sent my own Son to earth to die a painful death and be separated from me. But I have redeemed that loss, because the result was that your child is experiencing eternal life with me in heaven at this very moment. I am eagerly looking forward to the day when the pain of this world will be redeemed in the same way, for your present suffering is not worth comparing to the glory and joy that will be in that day!

Satan wants to use this loss for his own purposes, but if you continue to trust me through this dark time, our relationship will grow so much stronger than it was before. I will use this new strength to prepare you for other challenges and victories in the days ahead that can only be overcome with faith in the face of doubt. I know that you have a lot of questions right now, and asking them is good. Look in my Word and I will show you the answers. Listen to the truth that you find there rather than the lies that the evil one is whispering in your ear. If you can continue to put your faith in me, then even this terrible loss can result in something beautiful and good. Do not give Satan the satisfaction of winning this battle!

I know that you have certain plans in mind and are worried about the timing in which those plans will be complete, but my timing is perfect. I command the sun to rise and set, and I alone know what tomorrow holds. I am just going to have to ask you to trust me and know that I have your best interests in mind. I have a good and perfect plan for you. I know each of your children intimately, for I have created them. I know them by name, and love them even more than you do! I have a plan not only for your future, but also for today! You are right where you are for a reason, and even the waiting has a purpose.

I know that you feel betrayed by your own body, and you feel like you are unable to do what you were created to do. Your body is not broken- you are fearfully and wonderfully made in my own image! I have created you and know every detail from the hairs on your head to the days of your life. I know each part that is working properly as well as those that are working against you. This body that seems to have betrayed you is only temporary and will one day be made new, but it is still my very own creation! Where it has failed you, I will one day restore.

I know that you are hurting. I know that it is difficult to think about anything other than what you have lost. Just remember that there are many things to be grateful for even in the pain. Hold tightly to those who love you and the blessings that you have as you work through the grieving process. A grateful heart that counts its blessings is one that can withstand even the most devastating of losses.

I know that you feel like this is the end. You had so much to look forward to and now you aren’t sure how to move forward into the emptiness. Your heart is so shattered that you wonder if it will even be whole again, if it will ever experience joy again. Let me assure you- this is far from the end! Do not put a period where I have put a comma. My plan for you is not complete, and you can rest knowing that I, your Father, who loves you more than you can imagine, holds your future. I am in the work of redemption, and I am making all things new! I have so much more in store for you. Bring me the broken pieces of your heart, your hopes, and your dreams. Entrust them to me. Take my hand, dear child. Lay your head on my chest, release your pain and your fears and your hurt, and rest. Let me show you what I will do...

I love you more than you can imagine,

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ninja Sleep Training Method: For the baby who fights sleep- we fight back!

Baby keeping you up all night? Having trouble getting baby to nap during the day? Are you exhausted and dread hearing that little cry yet again? Aren't we all! You know it's time. Sleep training. 

There are a lot of theories out there... But I have to say that none of them seem to fit my very advanced child, so I have come up with something new and groundbreaking.

Introducing: the Ninja Sleep Training Method (or N.S.T.M.) Other sleep training methods run the spectrum from very strict to purely free form, but they all tend to focus on the baby's inability to sleep as the problem. The Ninja Sleep Training Method focuses on the true root of the problem- not the child's sleep habits, but the parents' lack of ninja stealth skills to cope with them.

It isn't your baby's fault that they wake up when you put them in the crib, the parent must learn enough stealth skills to levitate the baby down so gently that they never even perceive the change in environment. This sleep training method not only allows for flexibility, it requires it. Some other methods claim that if you have to sneak out of the baby's room at night, you are doing something wrong. The Ninja method teaches that you are only doing something wrong if the baby wakes up while you are sneaking out of the room.

There are a few things that have to happen before I can publish my writings on this subject. I am a mother so I understand the sleepless nights, but this is obviously not enough credibility to speak authoritatively on the subject. Understandably I need to become a doctor of some kind, because staying up late studying for the MCAT or writing my PhD dissertation resembles the sleeplessness of mothers closely enough that I will then have the authority to tell all women everywhere how to raise their children. 

I intend to publish a 300 page book outlining all the details soon, but until then here is a chapter by chapter breakdown of what you can expect. 

Chapter 1- Why every other sleep training method is wrong

Chapter 2- Why the Ninja method is right

Chapter 3 and 4- Repeat what I said in chapters one and two so that every woman reading the book questions why she is wasting her time reading this instead of spending her precious time as a new mother taking a nap understands how important and true this information really is

Chapter 5- Overview of the system- this will help parents understand that their child's lack of sleep comes not from the child's inabilty to sleep, but rather the parents' lack of stealth training in creating the perfect environment of non-interference in which their child's sleep can truly thrive. You simply must make the baby believe that they have never left your arms for a single moment while in reality they are in their crib and you have full freedom to do as you please.

Chapter 6- Creating the environment- this will help you prepare your baby's environment for Ninja method success. This involves ridding any creaking doors, floors, and mattresses, clearing toys, learning to hold your breath, sneezes, coughs, etc., finding the perfect room temperature and sound machine setting, exercises in tip toeing, soundproofing your house from external disturbances, learning to use sign language or telepathy to communicate with your husband, and more.

Chapter 7- Specific techniques- Each of the following techniques will be taught and different belt colors will be awarded for mastering each new skill...
White belt- How to transfer the baby's mouth from breast or bottle to pacifier without waking
Yellow belt- How to lull a baby to sleep while checking social media on your phone without them noticing
Orange belt- How to place a sleeping baby into the crib without waking and effectively exit the room
Green belt- How to transfer sleeping baby from one spot to another without waking (from a carseat or stroller to the crib, etc.)
Blue belt- How to take a baby's temperature without waking them
Purple belt- How to change a baby's clothes without waking them
Brown belt- How to cook a meal requiring a food processor without interrupting a nap
Red belt- How to clean the house (including vacuuming in the baby's room) without waking the baby
Black belt- How to change a diaper in the middle of the night without the baby's awareness
*Most of these techniques require strong mind control and extreme stealth but can be achieved with practice. 

Chapter 8- The Catch- This chapter will explain how babies will actually absorb ninja skills that the parent has been learning through osmosis, especially if breastfeeding. Therefore, continued education and training is always necessary to stay one step ahead of the baby's ever-increasing knowledge of the methods used.

I haven't decided whether to market this as a simple 71 step program in a Bible sized book or offer it as a workout video series to get new moms back into shape post-pregnancy through stealth. Either way I'm sure it will be wildly popular. I'm also already working on a companion piece on how to get the baby to actually fall asleep called Wine and Dine: the art of drinking before breastfeeding Rock around the Clock: How to rock your baby for hours without getting seasick.

I hope that you are able to find your inner ninja and achieve the highest goal of any parent- sleep. Until then, just keep on keeping on, and know that you are not alone! When babies fight sleep- parents fight back!

DIY Lemon Extract

This is the first year that our lemon tree has given us a pretty significant amount of lemons, and I was thrilled to juice them all with dreams of dreams of blackberry lemonade this coming summer. However, I didn't want to throw away all the lemony zest of the leftover lemon peels. What can one make with a lot of lemon peels? Well, lots of things, but most importantly, lemon extract! The real stuff costs a pretty penny, but there is nothing like the taste. Once you know how easy and inexpensive it is to make it yourself, you will never run out again!

What you will need:
- Lemon peels (LOTS of lemon peels)
- glass jars
- Vodka (the cheapest kind you can find)

1. Zest the lemon peels or use a vegetable peeler or mandolin to remove only the yellow part of the peelings. You don't want to get any of the white pith because it will add a bitter taste to the final product. I could have zested, but when making this much I opted for the much less time consuming vegetable peeler. Be sure to juice your lemons and freeze it in an ice cube tray for easy use in other projects!

2. Put your peelings in a sterlized glass jar. It took about 18 lemons to fill a one quart jar.
3. Fill the jar with vodka and seal it.
4. Shake the jar every day or two and keep it in a dark place for 3-6 weeks. 
5. Strain out the peelings and enjoy as many lemony recipes as your heart desires!

So simple. So delicious. So inexpensive. 
It's amazing how such a small project can make the whole day feel productive!

Mulberry Chipotle Sauce/ Raspberry Chipotle Sauce Recipe

I love the mulberry tree in my yard, and I realize that Christmas is not the time of year for mulberries. However, I just happened to have a baby the week that the mulberries were ripe this year, and they have been sitting in my freezer, all lonely, waiting to be turned into something delicious until this week. This mulberry chipotle sauce is amazing! It is the perfect mix of sweet and spicy. After putting this over cream cheese on a cracker, I'm pretty sure I will never go back to pepper jelly again, as much as I used to like it. 

I first got the idea for this recipe when my husband planned a picnic lunch for our anniversary with crackers,  wine, cheese, summer sausage, chocolate, and a variety of spreads. Beautiful scenery and exceptional company- a girl couldn't ask for more!
One of the sauces was a roasted raspberry chipotle sauce that was out of this world. It cost $3 for the 2.5oz jar, and we both loved it so much that I decided to make a batch for us with a mulberry twist! And it turned out so delicious that I had to make another batch with raspberries. Both good!

Quick disclaimer for this recipe: I hardly took any pictures at all. Canning is not something you can really stop in the middle of once things get rolling, but I had to put a certain little girl down for a nap at the beginning...and then get her up again at the end (what are you doing awake again already?!?!). All of that to say, the pictures just didn't happen this time. Use your imagination!

What you'll need:
- jars (4oz, 8oz, or 16oz)- yields 42 oz. so divide it up as you will
- canning supplies
- 6 cups mulberries or raspberries
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 box Sure-jell

What to do:
1. Rinse and mash the berries. Mulberries are pretty hard to mash, but it doesn't have to be perfect. If you are using raspberries you can you a food mill to remove the seeds, but I just left them in.
2. Blend the chipotle peppers, garlic, and red wine vinegar in a food processor until smooth. (If your baby is sleeping in the room right next to you, get creative and take the food processor outside and plug in it in the carport...)
3. Combine the pepper mixture and berries in a large pot on the stove.
4. Stir in the Sure-jell and turn up the heat.
5. Stir continuously until the mixture boils while stirring.
6. Add the sugar, return to a boil, and keep a rolling boil while stirring for one minute.
7. Pour the mixture into your hot and sanitized jars.
8. Process jars in a water bath for 5 minutes.

All done! Actually no, next you have to enjoy some with some crackers and cream cheese! Sweet at first and then it finishes with a kick! I love it! This spread is also great on grilled meats and appetizers. Bon apetit!