And Her Name Shall Be…

how-to-pick-the-right-name-for-your-business-dd22ada0d3

We have finally decided on a name for baby girl and are ready to share.  So many people have been asking and trying to guess what it is since all we’ve mentioned is the first letter.  This was not really meant to tease anyone but just our way of waiting to inform the public until we had a chance to tell all our family members first. 🙂

The name we have chosen is Hannah Ruth.  The name Ruth has been used on my side of the family for generations and happens to be my middle name as well.

However the name Hannah has much more significance to me than just being a family name.  Bear with me as I try to explain what I mean by that statement.

This past year has been filled with a lot of sorrow surrounding family members and close friends.  Shortly before I discovered I was pregnant my sister had miscarried her sixth child.  My sister-in-law had also experienced two previous miscarriages but was pregnant again.  My nephew Simon Kinnard was born still at 26 1/2 weeks.  He and Hannah would have only been a few weeks apart in birth dates.  In the past few months two close friends from church experienced miscarriages as well. 

For a while I didn’t want to talk about or mention our coming baby since it seemed like it would be rubbing salt into an open wound with so many of those around us dealing with sorrow over losing their own babies.  I didn’t want my baby to be salt but instead a balm.  Hense the name Hannah.

Hannah will always be my reminder of the sorrow and struggles of the women around me and also of the power of God.  Hannah in the Bible longed desperately for a child of her own.  She came to the point of giving back to God the one thing she longed for the most – a baby.   Put that in today’s perspective and it would be the same as a woman trying for years to conceive.  When she finally does give birth to that precious baby, she immediately gives him up for adoption.  Think you’d have the strength to do that?!?!?!?  I know I wouldn’t be able to!

The story of Hannah just proves that God can work miracles in our sinful hearts and that we too can learn to choose God’s will above our own in any circumstance.

My Hannah isn’t even born yet and she is already teaching me many lessons.  Since deciding on her name, I’ve been struggling with this very issue of trusting God and placing His will above my own.  This week I was given the news that my body is only a tenth of a centimeter away from being full pre-term labor.  Even though I am trying to do all that I can to hold back the onset of labor, I know there is a very strong possibility that Hannah will make her entrance into this world even earlier than her older brothers did.

After receiving the news of what was happening inside my body, the memories of A’s birth flooded my mind.  I was reliving the terror of watching from the other side of the delivery room as the hospital staff fervently worked at pumping oxygen into his collapsed lungs and getting his heart beating again.  Those were the longest minutes of my life as I had to wait to see if my son would live or die and ones I don’t want to have to go through again.  Knowing that Hannah is most likely going to come even earlier and could have even more severe complications sent terror and hopelessness coursing through me.  It’s hard not to place the blame on my own shoulders because I feel like I am placing my unborn baby at risk simply because my body is broken.

Then I was reminded of “Hannah.”  Instead of allowing myself to wallow in my fear and emotions, I began to beg God to help me chose His will over mine and to always remember that Hannah is NOT mine but His.  He knows the number of hairs on her little head and exactly how many breaths she will take here on earth.  No matter what I might want or dream for her, God’s sovereignty will rule.  I can either rejoice in the knowledge that God is working even at this time to use Hannah to teach me a lesson in trust or I can worry away every minute until I am a nutcase because so much of it is totally out of my control.

So as I reflect back on all that has happened and is still happening in our lives,  I praise God for the lives of all those little ones that even though I never got to meet or hold them they had a mighty purpose in life.  For me, that purpose was helping to prepare me for this moment and in helping us choose the name Hannah so that we would always be reminded to put God first no matter what.

To Have or Have Not

I’ve come to the conclusion that what I “think I have” and what I “actually have” are really all just in my head.  You know what I mean about the typical complaint of, “I wish I had hair like so-and-so?” When in fact, I DO have hair just not the exact same kind. 🙂

Today’s kick in the rump came when I realized that I was so busy focusing on what I thought to be all the “Have Nots” I failed to be thanking God for all the blessings I “Have.”  I made myself miserable last night while helping Tim with a construction problem because I couldn’t even keep a smile on my face.  The whole time I was helping, I was complaining in my head about the mess and how I wished I could have a clean house, or how I wished I had my own bedroom and bed again, etc.  Oh yes, I was turning into one sour-minded woman.  When Tim left the room to start on another project downstairs, I battled with controlling my emotions and not giving into the flow of tears that wanted release.  Basically, I was wanting to act just as poorly as my one and a half year old who LOVES to throw temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way.

Now that I’ve confessed, I’ll share some of the big things I’m not going to compare anymore….

Ugh!  My ankles have disappeared…Yes, but at least I can still see my feet and am able to walk around without restrictions!

I’m so afraid of baby girl coming too early and having serious lung issues or not being strong enough to survive outside my womb….God is sovereign in ALL things.  My baby and my boys are NOT mine; they are the Lord’s and therefore I need to rejoice in the moments I do have with them since they are all precious gifts.  Fear is the opposite of faith!

I wish it wouldn’t take so long to finish this house….Look back and remember what it was like living without running water in the kitchen sink for a few weeks, walls unfinished, sleeping piled up in the living room, no washer or dryer, no refrigerator, no heat or air.  Now look around and see all that your hard-working husband has been able to accomplish in his free time when he is not putting in countless hours at the office or church trying to earn money to continue providing for the family and finishing the house!

Homemade Yellow Cake

This past week was rough, physically speaking that is.  Just seemed like every time I would try to lie down to rest either one of the boys would start fussing or my body would rebel.  For days I was having some pretty strong contractions that drained the rest of my energy as well as put my mental state in chaos.  I wanted to believe that the contractions were nothing more than Braxton Hicks, but when they came consistently every 2 minutes some days for half an hour then 10 minutes apart other days for an hour at a time plus knowing that I am at a higher risk for pre-term labor I just started to have little panic attacks.  Add into the mix some killer lower back and hip pain and that about sums it all up.  Pretty much BLAH!

Thankfully my OB appointment was Friday morning and I was able to get some much-needed advice. Although there is still a big concern for not overdoing things in order to keep my body from trying to jumpstart labor, it was good to hear that the latest bought of strong contractions were most likely the end result of baby girl’s latest huge growth spurt along with my failure to increase my fluid intake with the increasing temperatures.  Dehydration and the sudden rapid growth were enough to cause my already overly-sensative uterus to start going into action.

All that to say, I had a baby shower cake to prepare for Saturday so I had to think outside the box (literally) when it came to making and decorating the cake.  This was the first cake I’ve ever made in stages but it was out of necessity.  I forgot to pick up a cake mix at the store the last time I was shopping, so I had to dig around for a yellow cake recipe I could make from scratch.  I wasn’t about to pack up all three boys, load them into the car and drive all the way into town when I already felt like a truck ran over me.

I ended up using one that I happened to stumble across inside my KitchAid recipe book.  On Wednesday, I used the amount of energy I had to get the mixing and baking done.  (Keep in the mind the shower wasn’t until Saturday!)  I usually freeze the finished cakes for a little bit before frosting to help cut down on the crumbling.  This time I left the cake in overnight and pulled it out late Thursday afternoon to frost.  My favorite thing about this new recipe was that it held together wonderfully!!  It was the first time ever I was able to make a 4-layer cake by cutting the two layers.  It didn’t crumble at all. 🙂

I still think it had a great texture and taste with minimal ingredients.  However, a part of me wonders what it would taste like if frosted and eaten the same day.

So Thursday I whipped up a batch of buttercream frosting and got all the layers put together.

To help smooth the outside frosting, I used a damp paper towel and gently rubbed it onto the frosted cake ensuring that all the big bumps were flattened.

Now the baby shower color theme was grey chevron with yellow and white.  I’ll admit that I’m a chicken when it comes to mixing food coloring.  I remember from my oil painting classes that blue and brown would give me black so theoretically all I had to do to get gray was add those two colors to my white frosting.  Too bad food coloring isn’t as forgiving as oil paints! Haha!  I didn’t want to attempt the gray only for it to fail and then I would again be faced with making a run to the store to pick up more powdered sugar.  Nope, not gonna happen!!!  I settled for the yellow and made the chevron pattern and rest of the decorations out of that instead.

Nothing overly fancy, but then again, I am not a trained baker or cake decorator.  I would LOVE to take a cake decorating class one day – maybe in my second life.  Haha!

So here is the kicker…. I had the cake completely finished by Thursday evening and needed to preserve it until Saturday afternoon.  I was afraid that if I left it covered on the counter without a/c in the house, it would start to melt.  If I kept it inside the refrigerator it could possibly dry out the cake. Ugh!  In the end I did a little of both.  I kept it covered inside the refrigerator until Friday morning.  Then I let it sit covered on the counter from Friday morning until Saturday afternoon.  What still amazes me about this cake is that even with ALL THAT, it still ended up tasting yummy. Oh happy day!! 🙂

Here’s the recipe to the yellow cake mix….

Quick Yellow Cake – by KitchenAid Recipes

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 2 ¼ C. flour                                                      ½ C. shortening
  • 1 1/3 C. sugar                                                  1 C. milk
  • 3 tsp. baking powder                                        1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. salt                                                       2 eggs

DIRECTIONS:  Combine dry ingredients in mixer bowl.  Add shortening, milk and vanilla.  Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer.  Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 1 minute.  Stop and scrape bowl.  Add eggs. Continuing on Speed 2, mix about 30 seconds.  Stop and scrape bowl.  Turn to Speed 6 and beat about 1 minute.

Pour batter into two greased and floured 8- or 9-inch round baking pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30–35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes.  Remove from pans.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Frost if desired.  Yield: 12–16 servings.

Butter Cream Frosting – by Toni Fuhrman

INGREDIENTS: (for 2 2-layer cakes)

  • 3/4 C. margarine
  • 3/4 C. shortening
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (only added 1/2 tsp.)
  • 6 C. powdered sugar
  • 3-4 T. raspberry jelly

DIRECTIONS:  Cream margarine and shortening together until creamy.  Add vanilla.  Slowly mix in powdered sugar.  Once all the sugar has been incorporated, begin adding in the raspberry jelly until you get the texture and consistency you desire.  The frosting should form peaks and fluff like whipped cream when mixed correctly.

 

Blueberry Banana Bread

I guess the two little ones are over their banana kick since I actually had three of them leftover inside the fruit bowl turning more brown by the day.  On top of the fact that I just can’t make myself waste perfectly usable food and we needed something for breakfast the next morning, I now had the motivation necessary to start searching for a new banana recipe.

We’ve done chocolate banana bread, banana muffins and regular banana bread in the past.  This time I wanted to find something with a different flare all its own.  Lucky me I found a recipe on www.food.com for “Kelly’s Blueberry Banana Bread.”  This recipe had all great reviews with delicious ingredients.  The best part was in the mixing.  I believe it took me a whole five minutes to complete the batter in a single bowl.  You only stir for about 30 seconds!  Yeah!  Totally my kind of recipe. 🙂

Literally all the ingredients, minus the frozen berries, are thrown into a large bowl and mixed for 30 seconds.

Now usually when adding blueberries or any type of heavy fruit it will sink to the bottom of the bread.  Most recipes I’ve read through have said to thaw the fruit first; however, this recipe made a point in ensuring that the berries used were FROZEN.  Low and behold the frozen berries did NOT sink or leave these empty blue holes inside the bread after baking.  Plus it was so easy just pulling them out of the freezer and folding right into the mixed batter.  Less mess!

 

Only used spray and flour on the bottoms of each pan.  My bread didn’t turn out as thick as I’m sure the original creator intended simply because I only had 9×5 bread pans to use instead of the 8x4x1/2 pans called for in the recipe.

Just love seeing all the yummy bits of goodness in the batter.  You can see the dash of cinnamon, coconut, blueberries and chunks of banana.  Yummy!!!

This had to be one of the most flavorful breads I’ve ever tasted/made before!  Plus the blueberries didn’t sink! 🙂 Haha!  They were evenly dispersed throughout each bite adding a tangy sweetness to the flavor of the banana and coconut.  Again… YUMMY!!!

Kelly’s Blueberry Banana Bread – by food.com

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ½ C. flour                                          3 T. vegetable oil
  • ½  C. sugar                                          1/3 C. milk
  • ½ C. brown sugar                                 1 egg
  • 1 T. + ½ tsp. baking powder                  2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. salt                                            3 medium mashed bananas
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon                                1 C. chopped pecans
  • ¼ C. coconut                                       2 C. frozen blueberries

DIRECTIONS:  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except blueberries for about 30 seconds.  Fold in frozen berries.  Pour into 2 greased 8 1/2×4 1/2×2 ½ loaf pans that have been greased on the bottoms only.  Bake in 350 oven for 55-60 minutes, ‘til toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool slightly, loosen sides with knife from sides of pan, turn out onto rack to cool.  When cool, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, keep refrigerated.

Planning for Baby Girl’s Arrival

Yes, it is strange to think that we are actually having a GIRL for a change.  Weird to the point that I still just can’t seem to wrap my mind around the fact but know that I need to in order to be prepared.

Of all the things that will be different going from rearing three active boys to a GIRL is the simple fact that instead of blue and trains we are going to pink and dolls.  Yikes! 

With the help of my sister I’ve been able to acquire enough 0-12 month clothes to accommodate the up-coming seasons including shoes, hair bows, socks, tights, etc.  I just never knew that having a girl meant you had to have a separate wardrobe to fit all the extra doo-dads.  Haha!  It is so tempting to walk into a store and see an adorable little outfit on clearance and just want to add it to the collection; however, knowing that this is our fourth child and we have downsized in our living accommodations, meaning less storage space, helps me to remember to just keep on walking.  I’m thankful the Lord has provided for our needs and am continually grateful to be able to overcome the urge to splurge. 🙂

Of course, so many people have been asking us what we need for the new baby, that I’ve had to really think hard before giving an answer simply because we DON’T want to be inundated with “stuff” simply because it is either new or girly nor do we like giving attention to ourselves.  We sincerely want to live out the motto of “Less is best.” Again, the Lord has provided us with useful baby items that are perfectly fine although they are not “pink.”  Hense, I felt it wise to go ahead and put together this post so that those of you out there wanting to do something will understand our hesitancy in giving a registry or long list of baby items.  I have broken down our small list into two separate lists of things needed and things that would be nice to have but not exactly “must-have-to-survive” items.

Needs:

  1. (18x) Alva Baby Cloth Diapers ($4.79/each at www.alvababy.com with free shipping) would prefer either girly or neutral colors
  2. Johnson & Johnson Lavender Bedtime Bath Soap
  3. Johnson & Johnson Lavender Bedtime Lotion
  4. Burp Cloths (prefer thick flannel type)
  5. Bibs
  6. Gripe Water
  7. Infant Gum Brush & Cleaner

Wants:

Sweet Jojo Designs Little Ladybug Collection Crib Bedding Set (available at http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=20637106&prodFindSrc=rv) Would prefer only the 4-piece set, but it is sold in either a 9-piece or 11-piece set on all the different online sites I’ve viewed.  Thank you, Bekah Butler!!! Soooo excited. 🙂