30 April 2014

Week 38


“You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way.” Ephesians 4:3


I keep forgetting to take a picture...But I wanna post this anyway before it's too late ahh!

How far along?
Whoops! A day late on the blog this time. 38 weeks, 1 day. THIRTEEN DAYS til due date. Y'all. I hope this the last baby bump post. I really, really, really do! It probably will be-- even if Eli is still cooking at 40 weeks-- because if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Baby size?

Eli could be somewhere around 6.5 to 7 lbs. The weekly email says he's the size of a leek. These produce analogies were fun at the beginning, but they sure didn't finish strong.

Weight gain?

Total of 28-32 lbs. Going up and down every day now.

Sleep?

Between being 9 months preggers and everything that comes with it, a sinus cold, and noisy neighbors, sleep is precious and elusive. Nap time is all the time.

Cravings?

Still fruit and sweets. Being sick has kept the eating frenzy at bay…sort of. I ate almost an entire pineapple in one sitting. Made a batch of strawberry cupcakes. And for some reason, a sleeve of honey roasted peanuts hit the spot after a hike.

Aversions?
None

Symptoms?
Aches and pains. Noticeably loose joints. Starting to have some swelling in my ankles and feet. (Daily walks, feet up at night, avoiding salt, and drinking lots of water is the cure. I'm actually not swollen on the days we walk or hike because it helps circulation so much.) We are getting to watch Eli's every move. Having a decent amount of Braxton Hicks.

Mood?
Excited! I have so much less anxiety and worry than I had those horrible few weeks not long ago. I'm much more at rest. Being sick did make me a little grumpy though. The sinus pressure and a restricted airway in addition to these already-squished lungs were no fun. (Never been so thankful for a Z Pack! Two weeks of this was far too long.) I've been pretty content at this stage of the pregnancy otherwise. My wanting Eli to come on out is because I miss him- not because I'm near the point of physical misery. Yet?!

Looking forward to? 
Eli's grand entrance!

What's new?
- Car seat is installed, and we're packed.
- Baby dome has dropped.
- Applying all those safe and natural motivators for Eli's eviction. 
- Getting great reports at my weekly appointments. Eli is locked and loaded.

Prayer Requests?
- Both of our friends who were deployed are back at home with their families! Thank you for your prayers for the Hulls and the Rodolphs while they were gone. Please join us in prayer over their transitions and readjustments back to work, family, and friends. Coming home is one of the most amazing experiences, but it can also be one of the most difficult. It is a learning process and takes an insane amount of hard work, humility, and communication for any family. Pray for soft hearts and patience. 
- Please pray for our overall health. Pray for the bond that Hubs and I will have during Eli's journey to the outside. Pray for excitement, peace, rest, and joy over the next weeks and during delivery.

This baby bump journey has been so fun to follow with you. 

Here's to hoping our next blog post will be a birth announcement! 


28 April 2014

I MADE JIM NACHOS!



Ok, for those of you who aren't familiar with Cancun's in Bellevue (Nashville, TN), let me explain. It is rice, chicken, and queso. I first learned of this specialty dish in early high school. My brother once went thirty-something days in a row eating it at least once a day, building a beautiful friendship with his requested server, Jová. I'm pretty sure he had it shipped on dry ice down to FL when he lived there too. My husband was more of a Matzatlan kinda guy in our high school days but ordered the same thing. You can get a half or full order but always over rice, not chips. That's because your chip is your utensil- an edible spoon of sorts to scoop the appropriate bite after mixing to evenly distribute the ingredients proportionately to each other. Hubs likes to immediately pour the salsa before mixing. I prefer to dip the chip into salsa or more queso before scooping the bite.

To the distain of our informed fellow Jim Nachos connoisseurs probably, Hubs and I found a version in Fayetteville, NC at El Cazador on Skibo that is decidedly better. The chicken is plumper and the queso more generous. It is called ACP Nachos there, and we couldn't really taste the magic so much in Nashville after this unintentional find.

Anyways, the dish is one we have had no luck ordering elsewhere. My bro asked just a week or so ago if I had tried to imitate it and honestly, it hasn't really crossed my mind. Not because I haven't thought of the food, but simply because I thought it couldn't be done.

Now, I knew Pinterest was magnificent resource for all things DIY and/or inspirational. I just never thought it would behold such a specific personal request. Finding it was an utter accident- I literally stopped scrolling because the picture just looked so darn similar. However, it was termed chicken fundido, so I was skeptical to say the least. 

Anyways, when I mentioned my brother's nudge and the possible discovery to Hubs about trying to replicate one of his favorite treats, I figured he would shrug it off because any attempt would fall short of the real deal. Why set us up for disappointment? Instead, with raised eyebrows he inquired, "do you think you could make it like ACPs?"

Challenge accepted. Although, I continued to chat up the risks of possible failure to him as to not get his hopes up or his expectations high. I had a plan B for dinner if we had to admit defeat. 

But, alas, we did not.

Here's what I did.

I printed this recipe for chicken fundido that I retrieved from Pinterest as a loose guide.

Ingredients:
1 box Mexican Rice 
1/2 white onion
1 pack of unfrozen chicken breast tenders
Chili Salt (see directions below to make)
1 12 oz package of El Viajero Mexican Dipping Cheese
1 4 oz can of chopped or diced green chilies
Chips and salsa

Step One: Make the Rice Per Box Instructions
I was lazy on the rice. The recipe above didn't call for it, so I just found the easiest Mexican rice in a box. This is the brand we always use, so I knew it would be edible even if it had little similarity to the restaurant style. I was more concerned about the chicken and cheese anyways. If I could make queso anywhere close to what we knew and loved, I could tweak the rice situation to match. It was definitely more moist, but the flavor was muy comparable. Approved.

Step Two: Chicken and Chili Salt
I just bought a normal pack of unfrozen chicken breast tenders, rinsed and sliced. The first key component the recipe offered was the seasoning sprinkled over while sizzling. She called it chili salt. This is great to make beforehand or also a wonderful task for the Hubs while you are doing other prep work. I only used about half or less of what was made, and the reminder is now stored in our pantry in an airtight container.

Chili Salt (makes 1/2 cup): 
1/4 c sea salt
1/4 cup pure chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
pinch of ground oregano

The recipe called for onion, which is not in the original dish, but we went for it anyways.
Sautée half a white onion (thickly diced) in a lightly greased skillet. I used a small drizzle of olive oil (tsp?) over medium heat and cooked until onions turned brown on some edges.
Move the onion to a small bowl when done and set aside. I then added about a tsp of olive oil in the same pan. 

Next, put in your pollo and pour a generous amount of chili salt over the top. When the chicken cooks down, the juices and oil allow the chili salt to coat the chicken as you turn each piece to cook on both sides.


Step Three: Queso
I found the brand of Mexican dipping cheese pictured below, as the blog recipe foretold, at our local Walmart. This was a major score because I oftentimes find specialty items don't ship to our lower arctic stores. The only variation is in that she suggested the jalapeño flavor, while we found only original. I cubed it, melted with milk per package directions (we used about 6-8 ounces), stirring almost constantly. Once melted, we added one 4oz can chopped green chiles, drained-- the perfect subtle kick and solution to the little something missing. Spot on. One vital element to this step is a sweet, stirring husband so you can supervise the rice and give attention to the chicken. You want the queso to finish at the end of all other cook times because it cools quickly and creates a firm film on top as it does. There's nothing wrong with that- totally still edible- I just like it best smooth and steaming.
The blog also referenced two other brands that may be worth a try if you cannot find the exact one: Ole Original Queso Dip and El Viajero White Mexican Dip.

Step Four: Make your plate and Enjoy!
Layer rice, chicken, cheese. 

Serve with chips and salsa. We tried to get as close as we could to restaurant style. These proved to be quite the adequate at-home options.

There you have it! Leftovers? No mas.

At first I thought Hubs was trying not to express his disappointment because he made neither eye contact nor sound (other than chewing), but when I asked what I could do differently next time to make it more authentic he mumbled with his mouth full, "nothing. This is it!" I'll probably just slice the chicken a little thinner next time. Hubs said he loved me more than he did before. Success! I had made the most legit representation of this mouth-watering Mexican meal possible. I was one proud señorita. 

27 April 2014

Another Wonderful Weekend

"For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17

We went on another weekend hike on Friday to Thunderbird Falls. Hubs got off work early and the weather was perfect again. He heard of this hike from a few fellas at work. By the time we got there it was more overcast and chilly, but it was a fun short hike complete with views, babbling water, bridges, hills, snow, and mud. Jessie had a blast, too. There was one part in particular where she got to enjoy some freedom from her leash and she sprinted her little heart out.

***Disclaimer: For those of you concerned about our recent hikes in my "condition", know that we already carry the role of parents rather seriously. First, I have done a considerable amount of recommended exercise throughout the pregnancy, just not out in our recent warm weather and notable nature scenes that provide you readers with recent pictures of Alaskan landscape. Two to three miles is not a new venture, and therefore not a shock or strain to my system. The doctors are always thrilled to confirm the exercise and fresh air are wonderful for me and Eli, and they encourage it. Secondly, we always base our adventure around safety of trails and proximity to post. We are never far from the hospital. First time labor lasts an average of twelve hours, and if I ever had even one small sign of Eli's possible departure, we would immediately head home, giving us plenty of time for the hospital staff to tell us to wait there until contractions are actually close enough together to have any need to admit us. Hiking is healthy- especially when handsome husbands and cute chiweenies are involved!

Saturday, we spent a lazy day at home. I opted out of the day's workout. The day was gloomy, and I didn't feel like getting to the gym. I would've felt better if I had, but I forgive me. We went to see Noah and then get apps and zerts (appetizer and dessert) at Firetap. They have the best apple crisp with ice cream. Back at home, Hubs had to help me get my boots off and throw rope with Jess. He asked if I could keep a good sense of humor. It took me a minute to figure out what he was doing, but it sunk in when he asked Jessie which one was "mom". I'm glad he didn't call me Violet.

In other news, I got an email and a letter that puts me on the road to graduation! I am finishing my bachelor's degree in psychology at Liberty University. I have been attending based on the financial aid we receive, and we decided from the beginning to not take out loans. This spring, I didn't take any classes when we didn't get enough for both semesters. It was disappointing because I would have loved to have been finished by the time baby came. But God's timing is not ours, and I know He had a different focus for me as we prepared for Eli. However, apparently He approves of the 2014-2015 school year because I was awarded a federal grant, as well as a scholarship from the EOD Warrior Foundation. More than enough for the 15 hours I have left to finish! I will take two classes in the fall and two classes and an internship in the spring to graduate. Woo hoo!

I also got a sweet package in the mail this weekend. I joined a group of other EOD wives on Facebook. The group has women from all over the world and all branches of military. Every month, you can opt in to a drawing for a secret sister. You send a gift to whoever you draw and you get a gift from another wife somewhere. It's a great way to get to know each other and have a fun package to look forward to! I do it about every other month. They have it set up so that you can fill out get-to-know-you questions and make a wish list. I linked my registry, so this month, my sweet secret sister sent me some of the small last needed items for when Eli comes! She wrote a sweet note with tips on having a baby boy. So cute.

Another one for the books! Hope you had a great weekend too!

21 April 2014

A Beautiful Weekend

He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Matthew 28:6


I've been really sick for the past week. Basically, I've been working to not let a sinus cold turn into a sinus infection. But we are bent on making the most of our last weekends being (kind of) baby-free. Eli definitely makes himself known.

Andrew was off work for Good Friday. He got our oil changed and did his workout before date night. We tried out an Anchroage hot spot- Bear Tooth TheaterPub. The main lobby of the movie theater is also a restaurant. Tickets are only $4, and the movies are relatively new (the ones winding down in other theaters, but not yet at Redbox). Every other row of seats is replaced with a table, so you buy your tickets and order your food before finding a seat. They give you a cone with glow-in-the-dark numbers and bring your food out to you when it's ready. We both ordered fish tacos- Hubs had blackened cod, and I got seared salmon. We split it and shared, as usual. I wish we had a picture of us out on the town because we are homebodies. Plus, we looked kinda cute even though I felt like I was on the brink of some sort of physical break-down. Having to hang swollen ankles off a hard chair and mouth-breath in a movie theater for 2 hours is an acute discomfort.

Saturday morning, I was pretty resistant to Hub's plan to hike. But he pushed on, convincing me it would make me feel better. He was right, of course. We took a beautiful, bumpy drive out to Eagle River Nature Center. We were both pretty proud that I hiked 3 miles in all my nine-month pregnant glory. I was a little slower than usual but loved every minute. We had beautiful views and saw meese (meaning: two moose). It was a perfect day, and the mountain air was so refreshing. Mud, snow, and ice still paved most of the trails, and Jessie had her little brown legs and belly to prove it.


Yesterday, we opted out of meeting with our congregation for worship. They started asking us to get tickets a few weeks ago, explaining that because so many people show up on Easter Sunday, they wanted to regulate how many people were in each service to know how many people would be sitting in the aisles or standing in the back. We had our own private church of just us four(-ish) in our living room after breakfast instead. Those are my most favorite times of worship. We were excited to spend the afternoon at our friend's house for a small potluck lunch. I brought the mashed potatoes and mac n cheese. The mashed potatoes were great- I learned from the best on that staple dish. However, the mac n cheese was horrible! Let's just say, never try a new recipe when you are responsible for an item at a get-together.

Many people look to the cross when they think of Christ. Others look to the empty tomb. Some see Easter Sunday as a new start, a fresh spring that rewards a long winter. Some see it as a celebration with gifts and matching hats. Still others see it as silly. No matter what Easter means to you and how you spent your time and thoughts yesterday, Jesus sits at the right hand of God every day, interceding for you. He defeated death, He reigns victorious over evil and is coming back to restore all things to Himself. We have been redeemed through His sacrifice and been offered life in His resurrection. It is all the same story: God's pursuit after us, His payment for us, His perfecting of us. Christ came and conquered, and we claim Him. We share in His glory, and we share in His sufferings. He knows us and loves us right in the middle of what we really are and what we really do- not just what we appear to be on Sunday. So, we can start new, we can celebrate, we can wear matching hats. Because He lives, so can we. We anticipate His beauty in His timing for all the earth. We wait together until then, forgiving and helping each other no matter how much it hurts. Because, one day, it never will again. Praise His precious name! 

Death is swallowed up in victory.
O Death, where is your victory?
O Death, where is your sting?
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 
But thank God! 
He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. 
I Corinthians 15:55-56

15 April 2014

Week 36

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” John 1:10-13


^ How other people see me apparently ^

^ What I actually look like ^

How far along?
36 weeks. 28 days until due date. Can you believe it?? It's best that he cooks as long as he can, but I'm still kinda hoping he might decide to join us a little earlier than 40 weeks! That would mean only one baby bump blog post left!

Baby size?

Eli is about the size of a honeydew. He is almost 6 pounds. The sonogram last week put him in the 50th or less percentile on all measurements and projected he'll be between 7 and 8 lbs at the due date. He's perfect!

Weight gain?
Holding steady at 24-25 lbs total.

Sleep?

Sleeping happens in small intervals. I'm waking up at least every hour to pee, switch from laying on one side to the other, or sit up to get a breath. I miss sleeping on my back so bad. I'm sure my body is getting ready for bedtime after baby.

Cravings?

So, one day at the commissary, they had a Noni Berry Snapple at the checkout. It was the best treat, and I crave it every day. They've never had it since. So, I settled for gummi bears. Had a JR Bacon Cheeseburger craving one day. Apples, Peaches, Strawberries. I eat an orange a day. I also eat my feelings often. 

Aversions?
None

Symptoms?

Some of these aches are constant, and my energy level is dropping back down. My emotional meter reached a peak of sorts for a few days. My closet is starting to hold very limited options for belly coverage. I can tell exactly how Eli is lounging at any time- where his little head and butt and legs are. He is head-down, so his little butt is sticking out around my ribs and he switches his legs from side to side. My rib cage and hips are constantly sore from him being a little too crowded in there. So far, I've avoided many adverse symptoms: no swelling, no weird skin discoloration or breakouts, no gum issues, normal to low blood pressure, very little cramping and heartburn, etc. Feeling good!

Mood?

- I've definitely been dealing with a lot of anxiety and nerves. It's confusing to hear all the giggly excitement from others when you feel a little scared. It's lonely. I've had to work to let go of hurt and defenses this two weeks, and it hasn't been easy. There are expectations and assumptions and nostalgia and projections from others of how this whole thing goes that are hard to digest, and I've taken longer to process these things recently. Sometimes, we see the brightness of the blessing and are blind to the shadows. Sometimes, we see the light radiating from the end of the tunnel that has rounded into the last weeks of waiting, and we miss what God is working in this day.
- Oh, so I sobbed in the produce section at the commissary last week. (Commissary = grocery stores on military installations.) Then I sobbed again when I told Hubs about it.
- Ever since our ultrasound on Friday, I have been so excited. I have my moments, but feel generally more balanced. I'm better able to purge or discard any lack of sensitivity or support so that we can focus on welcoming Eli in the best ways and can stay calm and relaxed as we anticipate many changes! So, please help us by staying super positive and in prayer. And kindly leave your "I labored for a million hours and the doctor did this terrible thing and my babies were huge and recovery was awful so you will probably experience all these things too" war stories for someone else please! We have plenty of warning already, and I need no further fuel for my imagination. 

Looking forward to?
Going into labor! Seriously. Why, you ask?
1.) A friend here who had her baby three months ago told me last week that- and I quote- "It was so much fun." She had high blood pressure and problems with laboring with epidural and ended up having an emergency c-section when her sweet boy went into distress. But what she remembers is waiting in excitement with her husband and hearing her son's first cry. Her advice was to take it in and enjoy it! "I mean, you're having a baby!!!!" 
2.) I also have a friend who recommended the best book for preparing to labor after she was able to have two problem-free, natural births. It isn't blatantly written from a Christian perspective but has guided me to better see how God has designed me and Eli, as well as allowed me to grow in my understanding of what God will do on that day, no matter how it turns out! I get to do it with Him, and I know it will be one of the most beautiful days we have had together! 
I may have purged everyone else's advice but these beautiful treasures lol! Thanking God for restoring my peace through these two precious moms.

What's new?
- The sonogram last Friday and doctor's appointment yesterday. The fibroids are a non-issue in delivery! My last three appts are scheduled almost weekly now. 
- Getting packed for the hospital.
- New toys: baby carrier, monitor, swing, & jogger. Thank you to everyone who gave us gift cards at the shower! These last big ticket items are because of you! And because of patience for sales and coupons. :)
Practicing.

Prayer Requests?
- Pray for me to not cry in any section of the commissary or in any store for that matter.
- Please pray for us to be prepared, positive, and relaxed in the next weeks as we wait for Eli to come meet us!


This is entirely accurate.
Still feeling "obnoxious comments" and headed straight into "Violet Beauregarde" status. I don't wear purple on purpose.