29 January 2010

My 2010 reading list...

Two books down in 2010 - so far, so good...

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust (Pape... by Immaculee Ilibagiza Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculée Ilibagiza
What broke my heart the most about this book is that the Rwandan genocide happened in 1994 when I was a junior in high school, and I knew nothing about it at the time.  Across the world, in modern times, innocent people were being slaughtered with machetes, and half of an entire country was murdered.  It sounds like something barbaric that happened in Medieval times, not in our lifetime.  Immaculée's story will break your heart, make you smile, make you cry, and help you believe that there is redemption in even the vilest of circumstances.  This book physically made me ill at times, but I couldn't stop turning the pages.

A Mother's Heart: A Look at Values, Vision, and Character for th... by Jean Fleming A Mother's Heart: A Look at Values, Vision, and Character for the Christian Mother by Jean Fleming
I'm so glad I read this before I actually had any children. It has encouraged me greatly in my soon-to-be role as mother - its importance and beauty and the inevitable struggles that will come.  My favorite chapter was "Roots and Wings" where the author describes lots of creative ideas you can use with your own children to inspire them at home and then encourage them to go out and contribute positively to the world.

Here are more books on my 2010 reading list...

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Hardcover) by Mary Ann Shaffer The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road... by Donald Miller Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road  by Donald Miller

The House on Nauset Marsh: A Cape Cod Memoir, Fiftieth Anniversa... by Wyman Richardson The House on Nauset Marsh: A Cape Cod Memoir, Fiftieth Anniversary Edition by Wyman Richardson
I'm about halfway through this from my first attempt last year.  It's so different that any other book I've read - it's a man's account of his days living in a cabin in Cape Cod.  Very slow-moving but that's also what's great about it...

What difference do it make? - Stories of Hope and Healing (Hardc... by Ron Hall What difference do it make? - Stories of Hope and Healing by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Ex... by Rob Bell Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile by Rob Bell

Grace [Eventually]: Thoughts on Faith (Hardcover) by Anne Lamott Grace [Eventually]: Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
You know how much I love Anne Lamott.  This book that she wrote after Traveling Mercies and Plan B has gotten some negative reviews, but I'm going into it with no expectations.  We'll see.

Mudhouse Sabbath (Hardcover) by Lauren F. Winner Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editin... by Donald Miller A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller

Flies on the Butter (Paperback) by Denise Hildreth Flies on the Butter by Denise Hildreth

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Paperback) by Francis Chan Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

Summer at Tiffany (Hardcover) by Marjorie Hart Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (Paperback) by Ina May Gaskin Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table (Hard... by Molly Wizenberg A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg

These Strange Ashes (Paperback) by Elisabeth Elliot These Strange Ashes by Elisabeth Elliot
There's nothing I've read by Elisabeth Elliot that hasn't challenge me to the core.

Muslims, Christians, and Jesus: Gaining Understanding and Buildi... by Carl Medearis Muslims, Christians, and Jesus: Gaining Understanding and Building Relationships by Carl Medearis

Have you read any of these?  What books would you add?  Would love to hear!

26 January 2010

17 weeks.

So, I bought my first real maternity shirt at Old Navy, and here it is.  I also finally caved and started wearing one of those Bella Bands to hold the jeans up since they can't button anymore!  

I feel like I'm at that stage now where people look at my belly and suspect I'm pregnant, but it's not big enough yet - at least from the front - for them to be sure.  So they usually just look down and then back up at me and smile. 

In other news, I've been thinking I need a fresh change.  What inspired me was one of my favorite blogs, Walk Slowly, Live Wildly, that always makes me happy - the bright colors, the simplicity, the stories of their joyful lives.  Sara {the blog author}, her husband, and two little girls travel across the U.S. in an RV and believe in "living lightly."  They have very few possessions but are rich in friendships and experiences.   Their lifestyle not only resonates with the artist in me but the part of me that wants to continue living a more simple life.  Perhaps that whole RV cross-country thing is in the five year plan...

That being said, I'm most likely changing this blog and my website over to Squarespace in a few weeks.  I just wanted something happier, brighter and more dynamic, and Squarespace has incredible, easy-to-use features!  I've been working really hard on it and can't wait to unveil my new online "home" to you!

19 January 2010

16 weeks.

Well, Baby Bailey sure popped out this past week!  Just like everyone said would happen, I woke up one morning and was surprised by how big my belly was, seemingly overnight.  Also, I've gone three mornings without getting sick at all!  Hallelujah, I feel like I have my life back!

I'd also like to say that I love my Mocha Club tshirts, like the "Connected" design I'm wearing in this photo.  Who knew they'd function as maternity shirts?  They come low enough to go around the hips and cover the belly without riding up.  And they just get softer and softer with age.  Perfect.

Yesterday afternoon, Steven and I seized the glorious sunny, 68 degree weather (in January!) and took a much needed afternoon trip to the SMU campus, our haven.  I feel stress dissipate and peace descend when I set foot on that campus full of old towering trees, fluffy grass, and calming fountains.  We spread our flannel plaid blanket under a pin oak tree in the sun and removed our Whole Foods goodies from the shopping bag.  For me: Sonoma chicken salad, woven wheat crackers, and a delicious, juicy navel orange.  For him: rotisserie chicken, red pepper hummus, and a mini baguette.  With the Adele Pandora station on in the background, we quietly ate and periodically closed our eyes to feel the warm sun on our faces.  I said aloud, "I'm so thankful I feel better so I can do things like this again." How I've missed the freedom of going out and just enjoying the world.

When I finished eating, I lay back on the blanket and reflected on how blessed I was to be there, with him, under a tree in the sun, with our baby in my belly.

18 January 2010

My Year of Reading and Writing: 2009 recap.

In January 2009, we committed to a year of no television, canceling our DISH Network and stocking up on books, books, and more books.  My goal was to read twenty-two books from cover to cover, and, well, I only read fifteen.  I could have read more, but I'm proud to say that when I read, I soaked up every word.  As a result, some of the books I read this past year really changed my life.

One of the greatest things that has come of this is that we have no desire to hook up our TV service again.  All we watch are DVDs occasionally, and even then, it's a planned time rather than just brainlessly surfing through the channels.  I like how quiet our house is and that I have no idea what products are being promoted on the latest commercials.

I don't have as much to show for my writing, but I do still believe I worked on my writing this past year.  Becoming a better reader has been crucial to becoming a better writer.  I've learned to be more descriptive - to "show" rather than to "tell."  Something is holding me back from going full-force, though - perhaps my own fear or laziness, I don't know.  Writing is such a slow process for me.  And right now, that's just going to have to be okay.

In 2009, I learned that books are so much more than paper pages bound with glue.  My friend Lori refers to them as "books that are like friends," and I think that's a great description.  I have some books that actually give me a peaceful feeling when I pick them up in my hands.  They are portals into another's world - or even my own world - and tools that help me slow down and pursue the simple life.

Part of the experience is remembering the settings where I read each book: cozying up one afternoon in the peak of Texas summer, reading the winter chapters in See You In A Hundred Years, or sitting cross-legged and waiting for my mom on a bench at the Albuquerque airport with my nose buried in Bird By Bird, barely aware of anyone else around me.  I had an incredible book in my hands, clean mountain air in my lungs, and the anticipation of a weekend exploring in Colorado.  I took the time to swallow the words, let them to seep into my bones.

So here is my 2009 reading list along with a few selected quotes.  I hope you'll find some books to add to your list.  And please share yours as well!

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy,... by Elizabeth Gilbert Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
"I'm not interested in the insurance industry.  I'm tired of being a skeptic, I'm irritated by spiritual prudence and I feel bored and parched by empirical debate.  I don't want to hear it anymore.  I couldn't care less about evidence and proof and assurances.  I just want God.  I want God inside me.  I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on water." (p. 176)

Almost every female I know read this book in 2009, and their opinions are as varied as the three countries featured in this book. Some hated Eat Pray Love and wanted to throw it against the wall.  Some loved it and were glued to each page.   And others, like me, put it down in frustration about ten times but ended up picking it up again.  Ultimately, I'm so glad I stuck it out.  What made this book difficult for me was, honestly, that Elizabeth Gilbert's perspective on life and faith could not have been more opposite than mine.  That is also why I'm glad I read it, though.  I thought I'd had enough by the India section, when it felt like Ms. Gilbert had tipped the New Age mysticism scales.  It makes me sad that she constantly rationalizes where she can find freedom, but ultimately it's not in places, people or things.  She begins to commune with God but stops short of the true picture of grace which, I believe, is found in Christ alone.  But I forged on through and found some absolutely beautiful writings - my favorite being the brilliant pair of poems she shares at the culmination of her time at the ashram in India.

Dancing Shoes (Paperback) by Noel Streatfeild Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Have you seen You've Got Mail?  This is one of the "Shoes" books referenced by Meg Ryan's character, Kathleen Kelly, at the end of the movie when she visits the big bad Fox Books Superstore. My dear friend Suz gave this to me for a birthday gift, and it was absolutely charming!  You'll fall in love with the all-girl English dance troupe - Mrs. Wintle's Little Wonders - and the witty characters Rachel, Hillary, and even awful Dulcie. Great, light read.  I've got to read the rest of the "Shoes" books now!

Battlefield of the Mind (Winning the Battle in Your Mind (Study ... by Joyce Meyer Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer
I don't agree with everything about Joyce Meyer, but one of the things I love about her is how plainly she communicates so that anyone can understand.  This book describes the war that is being waged in our minds, where negative thoughts can lead to all kinds of negative behaviors, like worrying for example.  She explains very simply and practically how to conquer those thoughts with good, pure ones that lead us down paths of hope and healing.  I know from personal experience that what she says is true.

Savannah by the Sea: Book 3 in the Savannah Series (Paperback) by Denise Hildreth Savannah by the Sea: Book 3 in the Savannah Series by Denise Hildreth
This is book three in a series about a girl named Savannah from Savannah, GA.  I read the first two in 2008, and this third book was mostly set in Seaside, FL, where I've visited about a million times.  But it was also full of Christian clichés.  I guess I kept coming back to these books because I love Savannah, GA, and I loved the character of Savannah's mother, Vicki.

Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an Internation... by Ron Hall Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
I cried through the entire second half of this book, finally finishing it at about 2am with my husband sound asleep beside me.  Set in Dallas, the very city where I live, this true story was very real to me and stretched my faith and perspective on the homeless.  You will fall in love with Denver Moore, too.

Girl Meets God: A Memoir (Paperback) by Lauren F. Winner Girl Meets God: A Memoir by Lauren F. Winner
A life-changer.  I borrowed it from Mary but simply must get my own copy soon.   Lauren was raised Jewish in the South, and this is her journey of learning about Christ and converting from Judaism to come to faith in Him.  She says the Incarnation of Christ is what eventually captured her.  Through this book, I learned so much more about the beauty of Judaism, and it made my faith come alive as I saw the love story painted from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith (Paperback) by Anne Lamott Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
"There are pictures of the people in my family where we look like the most awkward and desperate folk you ever saw, poster children for the human condition.  But I like that, when who we are shows.  Everything is usually so masked or perfumed or disguised in the world, and it's so touching when you get to see something real and human.  I think that's why most of us stay close to our families, no matter how neurotic the members, how deeply annoying or dull - because when people have seen you at your worst, you don't have to put on the mask as much.  And that gives us license to try on that radical hat of liberation, the hat of self-acceptance." (p. 215) - just one of the bazillion quotes I loved in this book

I laughed with Anne, I cried with Anne, I wanted to be her best friend and friends with all of her best friends.  Her candid writing makes you trust her.  You can tell her faith is real, and it has been tested and tried by difficulty: divorce, death of close people in her life, single parenthood.  She can write a one-liner that will stick with you for days.  To me, this book feels like cool sun and a warm fire - where I read it on Easter weekend by the pool and realized I definitely wanted to be a mother - not for the fantasy of it, but for the real nitty-gritty of it.  I'll always remember this book for that gift.  And I'll probably read it ten more times in my life.

Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith (Paperback) by Anne Lamott Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott 
I actually read this before Traveling Mercies, and it was my introduction to Anne Lamott.  A bit on the political side, but it still has Anne's captivating and hilarious stories that will make you want to read everything she ever wrote.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Paperback) by Anne Lamott Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
"So many of us can be soothed by writing: think of how many times you have opened a book, read one line, and said, 'Yes!'  And I want to give people that feeling too, of connection, communion...
It is one of the greatest feelings known to humans, the feeling of being the host, of hosting people, of being the person to whom they come for food and drink and company.  This is what the writer has to offer." (p. 204)

This is required reading for any writer or anyone who wants to become a writer - not just for publication purposes but even just for your own private enjoyment - to write your memoir, your stories.  I was sad when I finished it, because I knew that even if I read it again, nothing would be the same as the first time.  Anne makes it sound like writing can be one of the most sacred gifts you can give someone.  And after reading this, I believe it.

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality ... by Donald Miller Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality  by Donald Miller
"When you live on your own for a long time, however, your personality changes because you go so much into yourself you lose the ability to be social, to understand what is and isn't normal behavior. There is an entire world inside yourself, and if you let yourself, you can get so deep inside it you will forget the way to the surface. Other people keep our souls alive, just like food and water does with our body."

I was a latecomer aboard the Donald Miller train, but this book disarmed me.  It reminded me why I need people, that I'm not very good at hanging out with people who are different than me, and that I have simply got to visit the Pacific Northwest.  Soon.

The Unlikely Lavender Queen: A Memoir of Unexpected Blossoming (... by Jeannie Ralston The Unlikely Lavender Queen: A Memoir of Unexpected Blossoming by Jeannie Ralston
A fascinating memoir by an interesting lady who reluctantly leaves her high-profile Manhattan life to become a lavender farmer with her husband in the Texas Hill Country.  You can taste Jeannie's struggle as she deals with the feelings of leaving behind a life she loved for a new life she's not sure she'll be able to love.  It's a wonderful ending, and I hope to visit Hill Country Lavender one day to see the farm that she describes so vividly in the book. 

See You in a Hundred Years:Discover One Young Family's Search fo... by Logan Ward See You in a Hundred Years:Discover One Young Family's Search for a Simpler Life . . . Four Seasons of Living in the Year 1900 by Logan Ward
Another book about a Manhattan family who leaves the city for the simple life.  This book was fascinating - the Ward family - mom, dad, toddler - decides to live for one year in rural Virginia as if they are in the year 1900.  With no bathroom, only a horse and buggy for transportation, and a garden where they have to grow all of their food, it's a page-turner from start to finish.  I read this in the middle of the summer but felt I was right there with them in the dead cold of a rural mountain winter as they struggled to find heat and food.

Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action (Paperbac... by J. Matthew Sleeth Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action by J. Matthew Sleeth
I already shared my thoughts about this book.  Great practical advice on how to be better stewards of the planet.  As a Christian, I believe it's one of my greatest duties and privileges, to care for the creation that God cares about, that He made.

Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Tw... by Nina Planck Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods by Nina Planck
I believe that ultimately, fertility is up to God, but we are also given the tools to help build a healthy baby by feeding our bodies the best way possible in preparation for hosting a human life.  Nina is basically the poster mom for raw milk and has quite an in-your-face writing style, so be prepared.   But the book has lots of great practical advice, including clear reasoning behind her nutrition advice and explanations of why each nutrient is critically important.  I read this before I got pregnant, and I'm currently doing great in my second trimester drinking raw milk and eating real foods like grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, nuts, and fresh cheeses.  And no, contrary to the advice of many traditional dietitians, I do not have high cholesterol.

Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging (Paper... by Brennan Manning Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging by Brennan Manning
Ah, the "Imposter."  Brennan describes the poser living inside each of us and contrasts that against our true identity as God's Beloved.   Just beautiful.

Would love to hear about some of your favorite books of 2009!

16 January 2010

Quiet mornings.

The other morning at about 7:30am, I had one of those moments, one of those "Lee Smith" moments where I realized, "This is my life, this is my real life, and I am living it."  I don't even remember where I found that quote anymore, the one in my sidebar, but I remembered it on this particular morning, overcast and chilly outside.  The dogs had both eaten and were curled up in their respective favorite spots, snoozing away.  Bananas were sliced, Cream of Buckwheat was simmering on the stove under the kitchen's dim lights.  I looked over at Steven who was writing in his journal, and in the best way possible, I thought, "This is it."

So many things are up in the air for us, from the baby coming, to Steven's job, to family situations.  But this is my life, and I love it.  I am thankful for its imperfections and that I have moments where I can stop and realize that this is the life I want, not another more glamorous or perfect one.  And that is saying a lot for an idealist like me.

Back to the moment...the tea kettle whistles for Steven's hot tea, and the oven timer signals that breakfast is ready.  I grab two bowls and place an open book face-down at the spot where I'll be sitting to eat.  This, to me, is perfect.

Oh, how I treasure these quiet mornings now, while I can, when the only sounds are the swish of my book pages turning and the gentle bubbling of hot cereal on the stove.

11 January 2010

15 weeks.

Well, here is the bump, growing a little more each day. I have to remember I can't just bend straight over anymore without feeling a little *pinch*.  Also, I must apologize for the outfit.  I'm going to be totally transparent here and say that I wore those electric blue yoga pants three days in a row.  It was so bad that my husband, who never says anything negative about my appearance, gently suggested that maybe I should change my pants.  Oh dear.  They're just so comfortable, especially when my jeans are torturous right now.  But I get his point.  When you add the red hoodie sweatshirt that is now so short that the pockets are at chest-level, it's time.  It's time to give something else a turn.

Favorite foods of the moment:
  • Refreshing smoothie: 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt, 1 1/2 frozen bananas, and the juice of 1 orange.   It's that simple, and goodness, it's delicious.  A little granola on top for some crunch makes it even better.  This is actually plenty for 2 servings.
  • PICKLES.  MUST HAVE PICKLES.  My favorites are the baby kosher dills from Whole Foods.
  • Baked potatoes with butter, sour cream, and sea salt.
  • Crispy grass-fed ground beef.  Basically I cook it in the pan until it crisps so it's not too spongy.  There's no way I can do spongy right now.
  • Eggs.  Eggs galore!  I'll never get sick of eggs.  I think I actually said, "Thank God for eggs" out loud the other night as I ate them for dinner.
  • Cream of Buckwheat and steel-cut oats - with butter and bananas on top.  And maybe a dab of yogurt.
And here's a belly front shot...

      08 January 2010

      A snowy place.

      Sometimes I long to live again in a place that has seasons...perhaps one day, the mountains of North Carolina or Tennessee. It's 17 degrees in Dallas, and with that much cold, we should at least be able to enjoy snow on the ground...

      "The wind was blowing, but not too hard, and everyone was so happy and gay for it was only twenty degrees below zero and the sun shone."
      ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

      my parents' front yard in new jersey, a few days before Christmas

      See the magical snow that fell last year...

      06 January 2010

      14 weeks.

      There is a human being growing inside my body.  At 14 weeks, I am still surprised everyday by the wonder of the miracle and the importance of the job we've been given.  What started as two microscopic cells will emerge in 6 more months as a living, breathing human being with thoughts, a personality, and a future - our daughter or son!  Will he or she have Steven's Asian eyes?   My bent towards creativity?  One thing I know...right around Independence Day, we will welcome our first child into the world, and our lives will never, ever be the same.

      The understatement of the year: pregnancy is an emotional experience.  It started on a morning in early November when I woke up, peed on a stick, and before I could even put the stick down on the counter, not-one-but-two pink lines appeared.  "Oh my God..." I said as my heart started beating rapidly.  "It worked!  It really worked!"  No matter how many times you imagine yourself pregnant, you are never really prepared for the moment when it is happening to you.  I vividly remember the next thing I said aloud as I stood inside the tiny, locked bathroom with one hand on my belly: "Lord, I receive this baby.  I receive this baby into my body and into our lives."  

      Then, I ran into the bedroom and shoved the stick in Steven's face with the instructions so he could verify.  "Look at this!  Look at this!"   For the next several minutes, we just lied there in bed together speechless. What else is there to say at that moment?  We had been given one of the greatest gifts. It was really happening.

      For the next nine days, we had our own little secret that left us giggling all day long.  After we awoke in the mornings, Steven would greet me with a glint in his eyes, “Hey, Baby Mama...”  We were bursting for everyone else to know but had no idea how far along I was. So on November 19th, the day before we left for our annual fall vacation to New Jersey, we had an early ultrasound.  The ultrasound tech rubbed the gel around for a few seconds as I shifted nervously.  Then she said, "Yup!  There it is!"  And I saw it - a cute little being with stumpy arms and legs, and a tiny blinking light on the screen - the heartbeat.  Then, tears in my eyes, and a flood of relief.  Because no matter what the pee stick says, you really don't know what's going on in there until you see it with your own eyes.  I was already 7 weeks and 4 days along! 

      The next two months of my life were dedicated to vomiting, gagging, and sleeping.  I barely made it on the plane to New Jersey for our annual trip at the end of November.  Nestled nervously in the aisle seat next to Steven {in case I needed to run to the bathroom, of course}, I clutched my bag of snacks - trail mix, pretzels, crackers, and bottled water - as if they were my flotation devices.  I concentrated on crossword puzzles and those Mensa games in the on-flight magazine to pass the time.  When we finally arrived in New Jersey, we excitedly shared the news with my parents over lunch at On A Roll.  For the rest of the 10-day trip, all the strength I could muster was to arise in the morning, hug the toilet, force down breakfast, and then stumble back into bed at about 9am for a 3 hour nap. Afternoon: same thing on repeat. Remember how much I was looking forward to Thanksgiving?  Let’s just say I might never be able to touch green bean casserole again. 

      But I am thankful, so very thankful, that this, my first pregnancy, has knocked me down with sickness. Because the midwife tells me my hormones are “strong” and that means the baby is in there securely. I’ve never been so happy to be nauseous in my entire life.   What I realized during that trip to New Jersey when I had hours and hours to myself in bed: my body is not my own right now.  I am hosting another human being.  It just seems right that you have to suffer a bit in the process of bringing new life into the world.

      "Had any weird food cravings?" people ask.  Thankfully, even my cravings have been pretty healthy, like fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, for example.  I never could stand grapefruit juice before. Now I absolutely must have it.  Everyday.  I go through an 18-pound bag of Texas Star's in about three days and have kept Whole Foods' condiment aisle in business with the amount of crispy dill pickles I've consumed. 

      Then there was a three-day stint when the only thing that sounded appetizing was an Italian sub sandwich on a hard roll with oil and vinegar.  Thank goodness I was in NJ at that point, where there's a sub place on every corner {I love you, Main Street Subs}.  After the sub stage, however, for days and days I insisted to Steven that our car smelled like a sub sandwich.  Bizarre.

      And the aversions, oh the aversions.  I can barely even type the words oni_n or gar_ic.   So many things I loved to eat are now Repulsive with a capital R, and vice-versa.  Poor Steven.   He has endured my neuroses with such grace and fortitude {or perhaps just resignation}.  About a month ago, I woke him up in the middle of the night announcing that he would have to move to the guest room. "You smell like oni_ns!"  I exclaimed.  I had been lying there, frustrated, wondering what to do.  I couldn't sleep.  All I could do was smell them.  That horrid pungent smell.  Even though there were no oni_ons to be found.  But my sweet husband didn't even hesitate.   He just quietly grabbed his pillow and wearily shuffled off to the next room without a comment.   Now that is love.

      So here I am, finally able to start experiencing the beautiful, fun part of pregnancy, and ever so thankful to be healthy, to have the opportunity to be a mother, to raise children with the love of my life. For awhile there, I was wondering if it would ever happen for us.  But at the risk of sounding cliché, His timing is always best.  It just takes patience and a surrendering of my own desires - two qualities I have a feeling I'm going to need quite a bit in the coming months and years, anyway.