two months.

“You’re doing great.” I have heard that phrase so often over the past two months from other moms. So many women keep telling me, “You’re doing great.” And whether or not that statement is true is not the point. I think what all these other moms know is how much a new mom needs to hear, “You’re doing great.” As a new mom, I question almost every decision, and as I do what I need to get through the day with a small bit of grace, one of the most encouraging and relieving things to hear is that I am doing just fine.

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Month number two has been tough and heartbreaking and humbling and still joy-filled in so many ways. We have had to make difficult decisions. Wise friends and family graciously reminded me that these are just the first of a million difficult decisions we will have to make. And while that reminder was needed, it didn’t take away the heartbreak and pain. But through having to make so many daily decisions, both big and small, the Lord is continuing to humble me and remind me that my identity cannot be wrapped up in my vision of what an “ideal mother” looks like. A misplaced identity will always leave me broken. But an identity placed in Christ will fill me with joy and strength, even on days when it’s hard to get a shower in, let alone feel joyful about it!

Our Hattie girl has grown so much this month! She is growing like a champ, weighing over 10 lbs. She is getting so much more interactive and fun, making great eye contact and having her own little conversations with us. Mornings are full of smiles and chats on the couch, usually after a nice night of sleep. I’m thankful to say that we have a great sleeper at night. Daytime is a bit different, but I can handle a whole lot during the day if I can sleep at night! She loves hanging out on her play mat, starting to notice her toys and brighter colors. So many people comment on how bright-eyed and alert she is. Hattie does not want to miss a single thing! 🙂

We made our first big road trip home to Iowa last week. Hattie rocked it, sleeping most of the way in the car. She got to meet a lot of family and celebrate Christmas, complete with a little photo shoot, of course.

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We continue to be amazed with this little one. Life before her seems like ages ago. We continue to grow into parenthood, but watching Hattie grow into this little person brings us daily joy that we wouldn’t trade for the world.

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one month with hattie joy.

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Most parents say, “Man, I can’t believe you are already a month old!” but I am sitting here feeling like, “Man, it’s only been a month? I feel like you have been a part of our life forever!” I mean, yes, October 9 feels like yesterday, but I also cannot imagine my life without this little honey. My world changed in an instant, and I am the better for it!

This month has been the most amazing month of my life in so many ways. Our birth experience was incredible. I am happy to share details with those who ask, and I will spare details from the rest. I will only say that no one is lying when they say birth is the most disgusting, painful, beautiful, and amazing experience in all of life. It truly is.

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And then you get to take home this whole human who is going to turn your world upside down and help you learn things you could never imagine. I am learning that God is more amazing than I ever knew. When you hold this little creation in your arms and think about the little clump of cells that she started out as to now have these perfect little fingers, ears, mouth, and nose, you really cannot help but be in awe of what God has done.

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My eyes have also been opened to what total, complete dependence looks like. Holy cow … this little thing is 100% dependent on me to live and thrive. She loves her dad (see picture above), but in terms of physical dependence, it is pretty much all on me at the moment. Now, a few words on breastfeeding. I love nursing my little girl. But if all goes well with nursing, it is draining and overwhelming. And then when things aren’t going well, it is that much more draining and overwhelming! I wish there was a bit more honesty out there with just how difficult nursing can be for so many women. We are having some difficulties with it, and I struggle with feelings of shame, guilt, sadness, frustration (which doesn’t help with milk production!) as I strive to provide this sustenance for my girl. But in the midst of this struggle, I am learning that my little girl’s example of dependence is exactly what I am supposed to be following when it comes to Jesus. He asks for my complete dependence and surrender to Him with my life, just as she is dependent on me right now. I even need to be dependent on Him for helping my body do what it needs to. This is a lifelong lesson, I know, and I’m having to learn it quite acutely right now.

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In the midst of it all, one of the greatest lessons of this past month has been the amount of love I never knew I could feel. My love for my husband and Hattie’s daddy has exploded in a way that I didn’t realize it could. Watching my husband become a father has been one of the greatest joys in my life. I’ll avoid the mushy-gushy, but, man, I am so grateful to have him as my partner in life. And then there is this girl. This love is almost not even an emotion; it is more of an instinct. This girl is a part of me, flesh of my flesh, and my whole body, my whole being, loves every bit of her. It is a love I’ve never known before. And the most amazing part of it is that I know this is a mere glimpse of God’s love for us. We are made in His image, He created us with delicacy and care, and if my heart loves Hattie this much, I can’t even fathom our Father’s love for us. Truly amazing.

We love you, Hattie Joy. Even when you go all crazy-eyes on us!

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tomato-basil soup.

Yesterday was cold and dreary and rainy. So it was “let’s make a bunch of soups to freeze and enjoy all winter long” day. (Also, maybe being on my feet in the kitchen all day and smelling all the goods will convince babe that this world is just fine, and it should come enjoy it all with us!)

This delicious soup comes courtesy of Ina Garten via my dear friend Chelsea. Chelsea loves all things tomatoes and basil, so this just suits her. And I owe her a whole lot for bringing this into my life, because it has become a cold-weather staple in our house!

This soup can be tweaked in a bunch of ways, depending on your tastes. If you like a little more kick, add more red pepper. If you can’t handle any spice, cut that part out. If you want a little sweetness, add a bit of sugar. If you want to bring in more spices (rosemary, thyme, oregano), go for it. It’s simple enough that you can make it exactly what you want it to be! Or, if you’re like me, it will just happen to turn out a little different every time, and that is just fine!

Make sure you serve with some delicious toasted bread or grilled cheese, and you are all set!

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Tomato-Basil Soup

Ingredients:
3 lbs. ripe tomatoes (I use “farmhouse” or “on-the-vine”)
olive oil
salt and pepper

2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 small or 1 large)
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes (more or less, depending on your taste)
2 T butter plus extra olive oil
1 can (28-oz) canned tomatoes, with juice (I use whole or sliced, stewed)
4 c fresh basil leaves
1 t rosemary
4 c (1 quart) vegetable stock

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise and spread out on a baking sheet.
  3. Toss tomatoes in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Roast tomatoes for 45 minutes.
    While tomatoes are roasting … 
  5. In a large stockpot, saute the onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes with butter and olive oil for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown.
  6. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, rosemary and vegetable stock.
  7. Add the roasted tomatoes – make sure to get all the liquid and “extras” on the baking sheet!
  8. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.
  9. Pour everything into a blender or food processor and pulse until you reach a desired consistency (I usually need to do this in two parts).

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Enjoy!