Monthly Archives: April 2013

Grilled Veggie Egg Scrambler

We live in an old house where the kitchen ventilation system consists of me opening a window. It’s true. So in the summer when I turn the oven on in the afternoon, it feels like the Fires of Hell are concentrating their heat on my workspace. Not to be dramatic or anything…

If it all possible, when the temps tip up into the melt my kitchen [and my heart – I like it hot!] range on the thermometer we’re finding ways to keep the oven off. This little number fits the bill, and it packs in two veggies, a fruit, and some protein.

Grilled Veggie Egg Scrambler
Serves 4

1 head of cauliflower [olive oil, garlic powder, chipotle chili powder, paprika, salt, & pepper]
3 small zucchini, diced
3 to 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
6 eggs, whisked
Parmesan
salt & pepper

Start by heating up the grill. Next, chop up your cauliflower into bite size florets. Put the cauliflower in a bowl or bag and add a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Sprinkle on the other seasonings and stir or shake to coat.

cauliflower and seasonings

Your grill should be pretty warm. Mine heats up to about 500F when I set it between 4 and 5 but I know all grills are different. I should also note that our grill uses infrared heat so you might need to put foil under your veggie basket to try to distribute the heat some.

grilling veggies

I want to be real with you. Sometimes the wind blows the flame of the grill out and the gas stays on and builds up under the dome. When you go out to open the grill and the gas has been building, you may open the dome and release a small fireball. Because of this, I didn’t have hair on my right forearm for most of last summer. So now I diligently check it. And, when he’s available, I send the husband out first. Men don’t need eyebrows…

my grill hero

Even better if he’s wearing a tie while grilling. I’m getting off track.

I usually give cauliflower about 15 minutes, stir it, and then give it another 10. It doesn’t have all of the thrill of oven roasted cauliflower poppers, but it certainly comes close.

grilled cauliflower

During the first 15 minutes of cauliflower cooking, I chop up the zucchini. Heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your pan. When the oil is hot, add the zucchini and season it with salt and pepper. After you’ve pan seared the zucchini just a bit, you can add a little water [very little, like 1/8 of a cup – the squash will release water when it cooks] and cover it with a lid. Stir it a few times. When it’s fork tender, set it aside in a bowl.

Next add your whisked eggs, salt, and pepper and scramble them up [move the spatula around to make sure none stick to the bottom. Cook them until they’re as runny or dry as your heart desires, and then add the zucchini and chopped tomatoes.

I usually cook the eggs when my cauliflower is just about finished. When the cauliflower comes off the grill, I add it in and top the whole skillet with some Parmesan cheese. So good.

grilled veggie scrambler

If your grill is big enough, you could grill the zucchini in a separate basket. I’m not sure if it’s because we hadn’t had scrambled eggs in almost two years [for real] but we inhaled this. It was simple, quick, and satisfying.

If you want to go vegan, I think this would make a good tofu scramble. If you want to go in the opposite direction, I think sausage would be amazing in here. Either way, everybody wins.

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Advice From My Dad

My dad is a pretty smart guy. He’s that guy that can hold a conversation with juuuust about anybody. He works super hard. He’s pretty much the first call I make when something breaks and Chuck can’t fix it [that’s right; Dad trumps Google]. He’s been on my mind lately because he just accepted this awesome job to be something super important sounding [Global Director of Energy, I think]. But really, I’m most excited because the job is bringing my parents closer to us. Still far, but closer. So here are some nuggets from my Dad.

*Don’t play like a girl. Play like that girl all the guys are afraid to play.

tug o' war

[My mom is going to kill me when she sees this picture. That’s my mom in the purple (she’s always been my biggest fan). That’s my brother at the front with the navy mesh shirt. My dad is the mustached Arabic man whispering words of encouragement. And there I am. The only gal on the tug o’ war line sporting the orange tank.]

*Math isn’t that hard. Get over it. [Said with love while I cried over a C on an Algebra test.]

*No blood, no foul. And no crying, even if there is blood. I only want to know about it if you think you’re going to die or are in need of serious medical attention.

vacay with the 'rents

[I feel like these all sound cold-hearted but I’m cracking up thinking of them. My dad is a big teddy bear. A big, no-nonsense teddy bear.]

*Don’t write negative things. You’ll only write it once but there’s no limit to how many times the receiver might read it. Or what they might do with it. Or how they might interpret it.

*In a “Get Well Soon” greeting card: “Dear Beth, You are so beautiful. Braces are not the end of the world. You won’t have them forever. Love, Dad.” [Talk about sandwiching the compliment!]

b and d

*Your mom is the smartest, most beautiful, and hard working woman I know. And she’s the reason I am who I am today.

waterfall with m and d

*If you don’t like it, change it.

*Don’t complain about things you can’t change. [This was in the same breath where he told me it was interesting to have thick, frizzy hair because that’s how they used to judge humidity.]

dadandbwedding

Love you, Dad! I am so appreciative of your wisdom and so proud of you!

When You Feel Like Dancing

You guys, I don’t want to pretend life lately hasn’t presented us with a few challenges. It has been a whirlwind, for sure. But, and it always come back to this for me, having faith that this life is bigger than us has been the fuel for my soul. Better still, being surrounded by a community of believers to share faith and life with is major.

Wednesday nights we meet with our small group. A group of people from our church who we are learning and living beside. They’re sharing in our trials and our triumphs. They’re giving us meals and words of encouragement. And, they’re praying for us.

This Wednesday they surrounded us and laid hands on us. I held Landon in my arms while they prayed for him. He picked my nose and pulled my hair while they lifted him up to his true Father. And you know, at the end of it all, I just had this deep sense settled in my bottom of me. This sense that this, whatever it was that entangled him, was done. That it was taken care of. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it because I’ve felt a strong sense of peace through our whole endeavor with Landon’s seizures and consequent testing. Peace.

And so the next day when my phone told me that I didn’t have any missed calls but I did have a new voicemail [I reallllllly need a new phone], my breath caught as the voice of Landon’s neurologist came on.

“Mrs. Baker. I’m calling about Landon. All of the tests came back completely normal. We don’t even need to schedule a follow up visit. Everything is normal.”

Weeks of waiting and wondering. Weeks of close watching. Seconds of conclusion. Inexplicable [to some] healing. It’s done. We don’t need medical answers. We have The Answer. We don’t need to understand what caused the perfect storm of electrolyte imbalance, acidic blood, increased blood sugar. We just trust. And do a little dance. And say a prayer of thankfulness to all of our friends who lifted up a prayer for our son.

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And life goes on. And life is good. And God is great.

So here’s our meal plan for the week. Honestly, I’m sort of surprised we ate at all, the whole week was a bit of a blur.

meal planning | hey, beth baker!

Sunday: Leftover Sausage & Chard Soup from last week.
Monday: Our friends knew Tuesday was gonna be a long one so they fed us dinner and let Lu sleepover at their house!
Tuesday: Roasted veggies. We were all spent, but chopping up some broccoli and carrots was quick and satisfied everyone.
Wednesday: Chicken & Wild Rice. Sounds fancy, but it was a quick one. I picked up a rotisserie chicken and cooked the wild rice in my pressure cooker.
Thursday: Cheesy Pasta & Veggies [check out the recipe below].
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Carrot Cake Waffles

If you want to get your kids to eat tons of veggies, roast them and then cover them with cheese [Am I right!?]. Here’s the Cheesy Pasta and Veggies we have most often.

Cheesy Pasta & Veggies

Roast some veggies [we used broccoli, zucchini, peppers, and onions but you can add whatever you’ve got]. I usually cook them in a 425F oven for 35 minutes or so after I’ve sprinkled them with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

While your veggies are roasting, cook up some penne. For the cheese you can either make mac and cheese with your penne or dump in a brick of neufchatal [or cream] cheese. We like it both ways. If you’re using neufchatal you’ll want to add a cup or so of broth to make it a little creamier.

So I would add:
1 package neufchatal cheese
1 cup broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette [sun dried tomato dressing is also tasty in this]
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 1/2 cup of chopped fresh
salt and pepper, to taste

When it’s all stirred together I add in a few sliced Roma tomatoes [you could roast those too, but it changes their acidity so we like them raw]. To serve, we top it all off with a little Parmesan.

So simple. For summer we’ll stop roasting the veggies and throw them on the grill so we don’t heat up the house.

p.s. How great do the carrot cake waffles look!? You’d never know they were gluten-free and vegan [we use Pamela’s bread flour and brown sugar].

carrot cake waffles

Oh and we quadruple the recipe and add about twice the milk that it calls for. You heard me…

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Eat-In Kitchen [Before & After]

I still remember the first time I saw our house. We’d looked at a lot of… questionable places and when the realtor was driving us through the neighborhood Chuck remarked, “There’s no way we can afford to live here.” As soon as I stepped through the front door I was sold. It’s small by anyone’s standards [really, anyone] but it has so much character. Only one family owned it before us. Gary and Dolly [as we affectionately refer to them] built this house. Lived here all of their lives. Raised their four children and lived out the rest of their days. I get to benefit from their green thumbs each spring. It’s just a good house. It’s got the kind of character you just can’t buy. Buuuut… it doesn’t have a dining room. Which is super sad for someone who loves to entertain. So rather than complain about something I just can’t change, I bombarded my husband with pins and websites filled with images of built-in banquettes. Hehe. So this post is definitely dedicated to him. For both his crazy amazing handyman skills and for the way he works so hard to give my heart all its little desires. Thanks, hubs. And now, on to the pretties.

Here’s the before. Lots of high chairs and only room for four adults.

eat-in kitchen [before & after] | hey, beth baker!

And here’s the after! Like your favorite booth at your favorite restaurant!

eat-in kitchen [before & after] | hey, beth baker!

We’ll start from the top. I took the sheers down [the kids were using them as napkins anyway…] and bought one grey panel. Luckily the bottom was hemmed the same as the top so I was able to cut away the top and bottom to make the one panel into two valances. For some reason all the valances I saw at the store were kind of a weird faux silk material. As a bonus, I saved $5 over buying two separate valances and I have enough material to add a couple more pillows if I want. I did have to add the tabs on the back of the second panel so that they looked the same. But even that was easy enough with some ribbon and stitch glue from the craft store. A good rule of thumb for valance length is that they shouldn’t be longer than 1/3 of the window.

eat-in kitchen [before & after] | hey, beth baker!

We also wanted to add some overhead lighting for the area. There should be a light over the table. Unfortunately, since the eat-in area is a bump out from the rest of the house, the roof over it was enclosed and there was no access to it. To solve that problem we bought a plug in light kit from Lowe’s for about $15. We might have to enclose the wire later to keep it away from inquisitive hands but that would be pretty easy. And all of me loves this golden lampshade with flocking on it from Target. All of me.

eat-in kitchen [before & after] | hey, beth baker!

The booth-style bench is really the belle of this ball. Chuck used a combination of a couple 2x12s and a sheet of birch cabinet-grade wood. We found the legs at Home Depot. We were looking for something a little ornate to match the styling of our vintage table [gifted to us by friends!]. The color is a Miniwax Polyshades Bombay Mahogany, if you’re a fan.

eat-in kitchen [before & after] | hey, beth baker!

The built-in storage underneath is still awaiting the perfect combination of low-cost and functional. Maybe some galvinized buckets. We’ll keep things like our cloth napkins under there. We also keep the books we read for morning devotion under there. I love that because they used to just sit cluttered on the table all day.

eat-in kitchen [before & after] | hey, beth baker!

The bench in the back is long! And I see some dinner parties in our future. Small ones, though. Let’s not get crazy.

eat-in kitchen [before & after] | hey, beth baker!

And one last time. Just for fun.

eat-in kitchen [before & after] | hey, beth baker!

[p.s. look at that weird shadow on the ceiling that looks like I took this post-kitchen-fire. Weird.]

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That’s My Kid [And Our New Outdoor Play Kitchen]

I was sitting in the parents’ lounge this weekend watching my sweet Lucy girl whirl and twirl her little heart out in her Creative Dance class. She’s the youngest in the class by a few months but she holds her own… usually. Sometimes I have to peek my head in and remind her that it’s not time to make faces in the mirror but it is time to listen to the teacher.

She makes blaring declarations like, “I have a baby sister at my house!” which gets all the parental focus turned towards me. Um, no, everyone. She’s talking about Bear Bear, whom she decided is now her baby sister and treats her as such. I am not hiding a baby at my house. Or when she made up an elaborate story about the spring break vacation we took the beach [a girl can dream].

We are definitely in the edge-of-our-seats-waiting-to-see phase, earnestly wondering what that sweet little mouth will declare next. Her imagination is expansive, to say the least. Each day brings new scenes created in her room. New menus created for her play kitchen. New fort houses and tea parties. I had to laugh a few weeks ago when I went in her room and first thought she’d made this huge mess with a pile of clothes on the floor. But when I asked her about it she explained that it wasn’t a mess, it was Rapunzel. And it was true. Right down to a scarf used for hair she’d created a sculpture on the floor of one of her favorite princesses.

She creates new personae each day and really sticks to them. Like, “Mama, today I am Lucy Ms. Mimi Teacher [from Angelina Ballerina] and I need you to come to dance class.” Ms. Kris, who comes each month with the Parents as Teachers program, tried to ease me into this a few months ago by saying, “I just want to prepare you. Children who tend to have a flair for the dramatic often have extremely imaginative play.” No kidding. Woah.

So we live in this world. And I try to balance going to her Ms. Mimi dance classes and tea parties with taking care of my other household duties. There is a direct correlation between her need for attention and my lack of availability. It’s also not totally how my mind works. I’m a muser. A thinker. A ponderer. I like to have conversations in my head, with myself – but realistic ones. Conversations that process [over process?] things that happen. I was the kid that liked to do worksheets. I enjoyed extra homework and long sports practices.

I’m adjusting. Steadily. I love the way her brain works. I love the amount of her day spent drifting between worlds. But it doesn’t leave us a lot of time to hit the books. She’s not going to be the first of her friends to write her name. In fact, in dance class last week she was the only kid that couldn’t visually recognize her numbers when they played hopscotch. She’s not interested in sitting down to learn them. And that’s such an adjustment for this milestone-loving, checklist-preparing mama. No kid… I want you to be, like, the smartest person ever. I get swallowed up in what I want for her.

But God has gifted me with this strong-willed child who’s not interested in my checklists. She’s a free-spirit and it’s becoming a little more than contagious. So she doesn’t recognize her numbers. Last week when we were baking together she counted up to twenty. So she doesn’t want to learn her alphabet. Not too long ago we were driving in the car and she gave me the best little rendition of Jingle Bells [a few months late :)]. In thinking of all the lessons she’s missing, she’s taught me a great one: Let go. Calm down.

I need to parent the child she is, not the child I want her to be. There will be time for all of that other stuff later. For now, let’s go make some mud pies in our new outdoor kitchen and surprise ourselves with how quickly the afternoon can slip away. Is that a segue? Why, yes it is, my friends.

I took the kids out in the rain [who’s crazy now] to the thrift store’s half off sale with a very specific shopping list in my mind: real kitchen utensils for L+L’s outdoor kitchen. I spent $13 and, if I have to say so myself, it is fabulous.

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thrift-stocked outdoor kitchen | hey, beth baker!

I used galvanized nails to hang the utensils to the inside of the playhouse under our slide. A ten minute project yielding hours of fun.

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Attention Crisis

My coffee cup nearly always has rings on the side of the mug leading down to where the surface of the coffee begins. Rings where coffee sat while other things were attended to. Things like dirty diapers and fights over wooden food. Things like clean laundry and snacks consumed. Each day my coffee’s story is the same. It gets multiple reheats and only occasional attention.

My husband and I were talking recently about an article he read about the attention crisis within America’s classrooms and workplaces. That students and workers have so deeply committed to multi-tasking that we’re no longer subject experts but proficient at many things. What kinds of things? Social networking. Image creation. What his students are deeming important. Now, of course, as we grow older there is the hope that our hearts will become less selfish and our thoughts less inward. When you become a parent, you are most definitely forced into a life of putting others needs before your own. But my mind kept circling back to that idea, “attention crisis”.

It’s so true. There are so many things vying for our time. There are so many options for how to spend our time. Living is hard work sometimes. To do lists seem to always leave tasks undone.

Before becoming a mom, I simply don’t remember having more things to do than time and energy to complete them. I try to be super transparent and say… I am not winning today. I hope you get that; I hope I’m transparent enough. I try to always answer the “How’re you doing?” question with thoughtfulness and honesty. So, how am I doing? I could honestly say this week has had a mountainous range of emotions: high enough for me to feel the fresh wind of hope and low enough to bring me to my knees. A great divide.

There were challenging days attempting to use love and logic to parent my energetic and dramatic three-year-old’s alter ego, Juicy. But there were also joyful mornings of sweet husband kisses and writing lunchbox notes.

So in true “attention crisis” behavior, here is a random smattering of this week, starting with two amazing meal plans.

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Sunday: Easter lunch and dinner at friends’ houses. Perfect!
Monday: Landon has been on a crazy carrot kick so I’ve been trying to get roasted carrots on the menu more. I usually just chop my carrots up like matchsticks and put a little olive oil,s&p. Everything here was roasted in a 425F oven but I did use separate pans for the greens and root veggies since the kale came out first.
Tuesday: Tuesday we had dinner at another friends house [yes, we know we’re lucky]. It was wonderful after we’d spent the weekend with Landon in the hospital.
Wednesday: Cauliflower Poppers are simply cauliflower with olive oil, nutritional yeast, and s&p. We threw some salad in there to mix it up and the kids had broccoli and frozen veggies.
Thursday: Green beans with mustard potatoes is a family favorite. I slather the chopped potatoes with whole Dijon mustard and roast it up. We roasted the green beans this time too. We call them fries and let the kids have ketchup; ketchup = more veggies consumed.
Friday: We ended up making a Sam’s run and picked up a whole chicken so we added that to Friday’s dinner. Actually, Lucy ate most of that bird. Which kind of grosses me out when I write it. The girl can eat some meat.
Saturday: We’ve been doing Saturday night pizza nights and watching Dance Academy on Netflix. Lucy’s dream date. :) I made my usual pizza crust with Pam’s gluten-free bread mix and it was sensational.

Meal Plans

Sunday: We had to be at Church at 5 so I wanted something light. I made my angel biscuits and put a slice of mozzarella and half a slice of thick breakfast ham on them while they were still warm. My goodness…
Monday: Roasted Veggies with Pecan Gremolata. Stop what you’re doing right now and make this. Okay, well, at least put it on next week’s meal plan. It was impossibly easy. I used some carrots, turnip, sweet potato, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. It was also impossibly good.
Tuesday: Lentil soup with sausage and chard. Super great. Also a win. Easy way to get your kids to eat chard. Heck, easy way to get adults to eat chard.
Wednesday: Yeeeeeeah, this was well-intentioned but didn’t happen. I’ll tell you what did happen: a burrito bowl from Chipotle.
Thursday: I can’t get enough cauliflower. And I want it roasted. Soon I’ll be complaining that it’s too hot to heat the kitchen up roasting veggies, so I’m getting it in while I can.
Friday: We did have tacos but we ended up doing raw tacos with mini peppers, raw corn, avocado, red onion, lime, s&p, and cumin. We used greek yogurt as our “sour cream”. Super yummy.
Saturday: Pizza again! We used up the leftover ham to have ham and pineapple. I’m so excited there are leftovers!

Here’s my random. The way to look back at my week as shining and happy.

landon

Curls.

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Capes and thumbs.

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Kitchen helpers.

chucka

Partners.

succulents.

Favorite things.

facetime

Facetime.

p.s. Lucy girl requested no pictures this week so her wish was granted and Landon took the spotlight.

Gluten-Free Angel Biscuits

People ask me a lot for advice about going gluten-free. Which, honestly, always gives me a little giggle because I’m not gluten-free… but I get it. I provide thirty-seven five meals a day for two gluten-free children and I’m steadily learning the way of gluten-free baking.

Part of my advice is for people to let go and start small. Don’t try to find a magic flour [though that Pamela does make some magic mixes if you ask me] that will act and bake exactly like the all-purpose you’re used to. Instead, try to find some meals that require less of a compromise; meals not focused on the carbs. I said that because I didn’t have any super easy bread recipes to pass along. Our allergies require we take out gluten, eggs, and milk so sometimes it feels like we’ve broken both legs and someone’s stolen our crutches.

But these biscuits gave me a much needed win. Not only do they whip up in less than 30 minutes, they nostalgically take me back to my roots. You see: somewhere between learning to tie your own shoes and being old enough for sleepovers, little Southern girls are taught their family’s drop biscuit recipe.

gluten free [southern] angel biscuits | hey, beth baker!

Gluten-Free Angel Biscuits
Makes about 9

1 1/4 cups Pamela’s Bread Mix flour [or good old fashioned all-purpose if you don’t need to go gluten-free]
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup vegetable shortening [we use spectrum to stay away from hydrogenated oils]
1/2 + cup milk
Coconut Oil to brush on

gluten free [southern] angel biscuits | hey, beth baker!

Preheat your oven to 400F. Add all dry ingredients together and cut in the vegetable shortening [that means use a fork to press the vegetable shortening into the flour until it’s small pebbles]. Add the milk and mix until its well incorporated. Drop the biscuits onto a piece of parchment. Brush with melted coconut oil [or butter if you’re without dietary restrictions]. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. I usually bake them for 12 and then broil them for 2 to get that nice golden color on top.

gluten free [southern] angel biscuits | hey, beth baker!

And, yes, they’re totally called Angel biscuits because they’re light and fluffy and heavenly. We had them tonight with a sliver of mozzarella and a slice of breakfast ham but they pair nicely with nearly any meal.

p.s. life in a house divided.

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So You’re In A Meal Planning Rut?

It happens to the best of us. Maybe you’ve been successfully meal planning for months, or even years, and suddenly you find yourself mid-week with nothing on the menu. Here are a few strategies I like to employ when I’m feeling unsure about what to whip up [Although I’m not in a meal planning rut I’m in a meal plan sharing rut. There are three months of meal plan images just waiting around to be shared. Meh…]

Beat the Meal Planning Funk!! | hey, beth baker!

Get back to your roots. I’m a quarter Lebanese and a 100% Southern so when nothing sounds good I just think back to my mom’s old standbys. Chicken Pot Pie was always a big hit. Or I might try a Middle Eastern dish I’ve never had.

meal planning rut

I have a broccoli soup [we top ours with feta and chopped almonds] that’s quick and easy that I throw on the menu when I need to fill a day up. I also like a simple quinoa and roasted veggie dish when I’m not feeling the food love.

Get inspired. Go on Pinterest or do a simple web search. Subscribe to a magazine or flip through one next time you’re checking out. Go to the library and check out a book that visually inspires you [Jerusalem, anyone?]

Get thematic. Tuesday Taco Night. Friday Night Pizza. Roasted Veggie Wednesday. Good Grains, It’s Monday. Sabbath Sunday. You get it.

meal planning rut?

Get a quick fix. Have something in your freezer that you can throw in a skillet and call it a day. Maybe the reason for your rut is really that you’re burnt out. Give yourself a breather and schedule a week of easy meals. We really like these frozen skillet packs from Aldi, just make your own sauce instead of the one that’s included [try soy sauce, a little sugar, and rice vinegar]. Throw in some brown rice and you’ve got a balanced meal!

meal planning rut?

Get suggestions. Set your status to ask your friends for their favorite dishes. Email your friend about that one recipe she made for you a long time ago that you remember being really good. Call your mom. Hehe.

meal planning rut

I heard about these cauliflower poppers on another blog [though I can’t remember which]. Since we’re dairy free we top the cauliflower with nutritional yeast, chipotle chili powder, salt, and pepper and roast it in a 425F oven for 30 minutes or so until it’s a little crispy. It is divine and there are never leftovers.

Get shopping. Ultimately, for me, the inspiration needs to be forced sometimes. I’d rather meal plan than let a fridge full of groceries go bad. It’s like setting an ultimatum for yourself, but in this case I think it’s okay.

Easter

Easter is a big deal around here. For good reason, of course. Here’s a small glimpse into how wonderful ours was.

Easter 2013

This is just about the best *real* smile I can get out of her these days.

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It’s an Easter miracle that my hair is lying flat considering I hadn’t had time to shower since a quick one at the children’s hospital with baby shampoo and no conditioner [real life].

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Speaking of children’s hospital, I am so grateful that Landon seems to be better and hasn’t had any seizures since Friday. I’m grateful he was home Easter morning and I’m grateful there are lots of doctors to run lots of tests to figure out what’s ailing my little man [I’ll give the full update on that later].

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Girls like flowers.

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And boys like sticks.

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Will I ever have a child that looks like me? Sigh.

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This is what we call the Easter Buddy.

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And I’ll leave you on the verge of too much cuteness to handle.

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Concern I May Have, But Worry I Will Not

I don’t really want to write this, but I want it written. After recounting the story numerous times to each of the doctors and neurologists who came to see Landon, its re-telling should be second nature.

To give you the background and bring you up to speed, you might want to start with this story where Landon joined the Blue Lips Kids Club during what I thought was an asthma attack. After the first episode, we put him on antibiotics for a double ear infection and increased his asthma medicine while he finished fighting the end of a little cold. He seemed to be completely on the mend, and we spent the next week enjoying a glorious staycation during Chuck’s spring break.

On Friday we made plans to ride the carousel at the zoo and then enjoy the toddler discovery room at the science center. Unfortunately, Friday morning Landon slept over 15 hours and our timeline was set back. When he finally woke, we all went in to greet him and he seemed tired. He wasn’t interested in eating breakfast [which was a red flag], but we’d already told Lucy our plans for the morning and were anxious to press on. We strapped everyone in the van and were backing out of the driveway when I turned to look at Landon. He was slumped down with his chin on his shoulder, his eyes fluttering in recognition when I called his name. I jumped out of the car and ran to unbuckle him. By the time I reached him, his lips and hands were blue and there was an ashen color to his complexion.

We rushed him inside and started another breathing treatment, unsure of what else to do. Unlike his first episode, he allowed us to hold him and calm him during this one. Within a few minutes, his color began to return. The breathing treatment took 15 minutes and he seemed to be fighting sleep through most of it. After the treatment he still seemed sleepy but without discomfort so we once again loaded everyone in the van. We decided to abandon the carousel plan and go straight to the science center. On the way there, I called Landon’s allergist/pulmonologist to let them know about the morning’s events.

When we arrived, everyone seemed thrilled with the toys and exhibits of the toddler room. Landon quickly found some plastic dinosaurs and had a great time making them come to life. My phone rang and it was the allergists’ office calling to get more details about Landon. As I was filling the nurse in, I saw Chuck walking towards me with a limp and blue-lipped Landon. I asked the nurse what to do and she seemed baffled. All she could do was ask over and over, “So it’s happening again right now!? Right this instant!?” I told her I was going to take him to the ER and she agreed. I told her I was going to use his epi-pen and she gave us the go ahead.

We injected him with the epinephrine and he seemed to relax a little. The run through the science center and back to our van seemed impossibly long, the walkways impossibly crowded. Gracefully, in a course of events only God could orchestrate, the science center sits minutes away from one of the best children’s hospitals in the country.

We arrived in the emergency room and were seen pretty soon after. Rather than hearing the news we expected, that he was having acute asthma attacks, the doctors seemed puzzled and brought in more doctors to consult with them. We found out rather quickly that his blood sugar was elevated and his blood work was giving them some concerns. As the doctor was giving Landon a physical exam, he started to seem very tired. She asked me to set him on the table and within moments he closed his eyes and fell asleep. “Is this normal behavior for him?” The doctor asked. I wanted to scream. No! It’s not normal for my twenty month old son to fall asleep sitting up in a strange environment at 10:30 in the morning! It was then, covered with helplessness, that I began to pray. God, please don’t let this be it. Don’t let this be the end. Surround him. Protect him. Heal him.

My concern soon shifted to Lucy. She was with us, behaving wonderfully but asking when we were going to the zoo. Chuck called a friend of ours from church and arranged for her to be picked up from the hospital. I will be eternally grateful for those friends. I could not imagine Lucy seeing or hearing what happened next.

Because the first set of tests gave so many concerns, the doctors came in to collect a urine sample and start an IV to make the blood collection easier. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than holding down your child while strangers insert needles into their little bodies. It took the strength of myself and three nurses to hold Landon down while the nurses did their work. His eyes looked at mine, filled with fear and absent of understanding. Tears streamed down his face, red from the battle he was waging. The nurses finished [God bless nurses] and left us to, once again, wait for results.

I climbed onto the bed and held Landon in my arms. Sleep and relaxation came mercifully quickly and he spent the next few hours resting. A nurse came in and told us we were being admitted and that the doctors had called for more tests, which would require more blood. The doctor followed and explained that yes, they were admitting him, but they couldn’t decide which floor to send him to. She explained to us that they believed he was not having asthma attacks but was more likely having seizures when his lips turned blue. His blood sugar was elevated. His electrolytes were imbalanced. His blood was carrying too much acid. Would they send him to endocrinology to treat his elevated blood sugar levels, neurology to determine if the spells were in fact seizures, or general medicine to treat all of the problems as one?

Concern I May Have, But Worry I Will Not

After the taxing day, we were eventually sent to the neurology floor and settled in for the night. Landon was such a sweetheart. He smiled and waved to all of the nurses and doctors who came into his room. He seemed rather unfazed by the whole process, thankful to have the two-on-one time with Mama and Daddy. He ate a hearty dinner and played with some animal friends Chuck brought him. He tried to explore every inch of the room attached to both a heart monitor and an IV line providing him fluids. His vitals were checked every hour, and sleep did not come easily for any of us. The heart rate monitor and O2 sensor provided an unfortunate soundtrack for the night as they rang out at random. After hours of trying to help Landon sleep in the hospital crib that looked like a rocket ship from the future, I held him in my arms. Snuggling with him and hoping my silent tears fell onto the pillow rather than his sweet smelling head.

Concern I May Have, But Worry I Will Not

Concern I May Have, But Worry I Will Not

Around 2 a.m., we were told the doctors would like to set up an MRI for the morning and Landon wouldn’t be able to eat or drink anything until that was done. At 8 a.m. We met another round of doctors who came in separately to ask us to tell them about the spells and then met in a conference room to discuss the case. The day offered us little more than waiting [and trying to comfort a hungry, sleep-deprived toddler], but at 10 a.m. we were informed that due to the holiday weekend there was no one available to run the tests they were seeking. We would be discharged to wait until the next incident.

Concern I May Have, But Worry I Will Not

So that’s where we stand now: waiting. Waiting for the next time he slumps over and his lips turn blue. Waiting to try to catch that spell on video to show the neurologists. Waiting for an MRI and an EEG that still stand a week and a half away. Sneaking into his room while he sleeps to make sure he’s breathing. Waiting. Praying. Trusting. Waiting.

What struck me as most absurd about this whole situation was the peace brushed on my heart. I truly have a peace that passes all understanding [Phil. 4:7]. I trust that God is in control of this situation [Rom. 8:28]. That He cares for my little family and is watching over us [Josh. 1:9]. I have seen the power of two or more gathering [Matt. 18:20]. I have felt the burden lifted from my shoulders [Ps. 55:22]. It is unexplainable without faith [Heb. 11:6]. It is impossible without a church of believers who know that together we are stronger [Ecc. 4:9-12; 1 Cor. 12:26]. We are not alone in this and because of that: concern I may have, but worry I will not [Matt. 6:33-34].

Concern I may have, but worry I will not.

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