Sunny Day Gratitude.

So, apparently we’re experiencing some form of “El Niño” here in Peru because this weather is so not winter-like! I’d complain, but considering our furlough lands this December and we wouldn’t see warm weather again until next summer if we were really in “winter”, I’m okay with all this sun! It is awfully strange, though, to be the end of July and feeling like spring outside! Better stop talking before I jynx it…

Gratitude today comes in a few different forms:

  • …new friends
  • …email encouragement
  • …surprisingly good news
  • …a spontaneous “I love you” (or a form thereof) from the toddler
  • …kicks and jabs from the new one
  • …hugs from the husband
  • …sun first thing in the morning
  • …decaf coffee

Got to see my little peanut last Friday. I’ve been trying to figure out how she’s positioned for awhile now since sometimes I feel her so high and other times so low. We found out she’s sitting perfectly upright in my uterus, so the jabs up high are arms and the kicks down low are feet. The problem, though, is that all of her little weight is sitting on my scar and weaker muscles from my c-section. She’s not spread out – at all – and has apparently been that way for awhile… and doesn’t look like she has any intention of moving any time soon. This has resulted in quite a bit of pain and I’m not allowed to lift Elena for a week to see if muscles can somewhat heal.

During my first few appointments of this pregnancy, my doctor assured me I could at least try for a natural delivery. She saw absolutely no reason why not. But then on Friday, she dropped a rather nonchalant bomb, saying that “of course” I would be having a c-section; that I “had no other option.” To keep from crying right there in her office, I think my mind just shut down. I didn’t understand anything more she told me that day and Brian had to answer all the rest of her questions.

I almost made it to the car before losing it. Almost. I wish I could say it was the dignified cry of an almost 30 year old woman. I can’t. It was the nasty cry of a 5 year old child. I just lost it. Of all the things in this world that scare me and make me nervous, having another c-section tops the list by far. The last one traumatized me enough that I had counseling when we got back to the States. I couldn’t talk about it for months afterwards and it took me just as long to heal physically. It was a horrible, awful, no good, very bad experience that I have no desire to duplicate. I would pay good money to go through the pain of natural labor with absolutely no medication just to avoid another c-section.

But, I guess even that is not an option.

I couldn’t compose myself last week to ask questions. But, at my next appointment, I plan to hound her and make absolutely sure this is my only option. If there’s any way to avoid this, I’m going to find it.

At the same time, though, Brian was so gentle in reminding me of a few things:

  1. It’s better to know in advance than to find out a week before (or the day of).
  2. It’s better to plan for a c-section than get halfway through labor and need another emergency c.
  3. We’re using a different – better – clinic with better care, so I shouldn’t have the same problems with the epidural.
  4. If it’s not an emergency, there should be no reason why Brian can’t come with me this time so I won’t be alone. 
  5. If I know what to expect, I can be more mentally prepared and hopefully even the recovery will be shorter.
  6. New Baby M. will have the cute, little round head Elena has instead of a cone-shaped one (haha).
  7. If this is God’s best for me and the baby, then there’s a reason for it and He knows what He’s doing. 
  8. I will survive. 

He’s right. I know he’s right. In my head. In my heart, I’m still petrified. I’m working on giving my fear to the Lord because I just don’t want it. But, let me just say here, it’s hard. So hard. Not impossible. Just hard.

An Obsession.

Winter is [slowly] settling in here in Peru and with that knowledge means I can finally start making soups again! I already posted my recipe for fool-proof tomato soup. Our other obsession takes a little longer to make, but the result is worth the effort. Here you are, my version of

Roasted Red Pepper Soup 

  • You will need a minimum of 4 large red bell peppers. The bigger the better. If they’re rather small, you might want up to 6.
  • To roast the red peppers, you have 2 options. The first is to put them on a cookie sheet (line it with aluminum foil for a faster clean-up; they tend to “sprout leaks” while they’re roasting) and set them directly under the broiler. This can take awhile. Be prepared to wait… and flip… and wait some more. The other option is to roast them over your burners (if you have a gas stove). This takes a little more finesse (I make my husband do it). Use your tongs and very carefully set them over the open flame and flip accordingly. The end result should be charred black skin all around the pepper. The more thoroughly charred, the easier to peel the skin off. 
  • Immediately after roasting, put them into a ziploc bag and seal shut. Let them sit for at least 15 minutes.They will steam in the bag and then literally the skin just peels right off. 
  • Peel the peppers, take out the seeds, and chop into chunks.They do not need to be uniform. 
  • Peel and dice 2 medium sized potatoes (or more depending on how much you want to supplement the peppers).
  • Dice up half a red onion and a few cloves of garlic.
  • In a large pot, melt a few Tablespoons of butter. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender. 
  • Add the potatoes and sauté for a few minutes, mixing them in with the butter, garlic, and onions. You do not need to cook them all the way through. 
  • Add the diced red peppers and then cover it all with water. 
  • Here in Peru, our chicken broth comes in these tablets – one is good for about 2 cups of water. I add just one chicken broth cube to the entire pot of soup even though I use more than 2 cups of water. I feel it adds some depth without making it over-powering or super salty.
  • Cover the pot and let simmer until potatoes are cooked through and tender. 
  • Transfer in batches to your blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Return it all to the pot and add about half a cup of milk (I use evaporated – it’s creamier).
  • Turn the heat on low. Add your spices.We like salt, pepper, cayenne, and a touch of oregano. If you feel like being adventurous, add a splash of cinnamon. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. This soup is good with some heat, so be generous with the cayenne if that’s your thing.
  • Make sure it’s heated all the way through and give it a few minutes for the spices to ruminate. 
  • Enjoy ~ especially with garlic toast!

A Good Week.

It’s been such a nice week already, I just have to say! 

It actually starts last Saturday! I had an awful, awful cold all last week that just knocked me out Friday night. But, I was feeling much better Saturday, so I begged Brian to please let me get my hair cut! We went to my normal salon and got my usual lady (phew!). She chopped it a little shorter than I’d wanted, but overall, it’s fine and I figure it’ll grow back out, so I’ll be okay. We took some friends’ advice and went to a new Taco restaurant and got actual Mexican food (a rarity in Peru!). It was absolutely wonderful!

Sunday was Father’s Day and we actually got to go to church (Brian was to do guard duty, but he found a replacement last minute) and then I spent a few hours after church, with my husband and a friend, making a nice meal which tasted suspiciously like Thanksgiving. 🙂 I had tried super hard to get all my weekend work done on Friday so I could be sure to have time Saturday and Sunday to do whatever. I’m so glad I made that a priority! We hung out with the two friends we invited over (one a teen from Ireland visiting Peru for two weeks, the other a girl from the States doing Bible school here), shared a yummy strawberry dessert, and played a game.

Monday was our 7th Anniversary. Wow, how time flies. Mondays are quieter for our students, so Elena’s babysitter was able to come earlier and watch her so we could do lunch and be out for the afternoon. We had a really nice lunch… so weird not having little hands in your food the whole time! We bought Cinnabons afterwards. Wow, it’s been YEARS since I’ve had one of those! So thankful for the little store that just opened in our mall! They were a-ma-zing!

I have to admit, though, it was so strange being out without Elena. I don’t have her most afternoons, but I’m nearby and it’s really just a few hours a day. This time, though, we were quite a ways away (about an hour’s drive) and we were gone most of the day. We have only been out without her three times she was born because we just don’t have babysitters here. I felt absolutely lost and wasn’t really sure what to do with my hands. My purse was substantially lighter, too, with no crackers, sippy, diapers, wipes, binky, toys, or books! The drive to the mall was rough, but by the time I got there, God had given me the peace of mind I needed to just enjoy my time with my husband and trust that she would be fine. Which, of course, she was. And it was wonderful being alone with Brian. Uninterrupted adult conversation has never been more of a gift! 

Now, I’m in the middle of planning a bake sale for my students. They’ve never done anything like this before (and neither have I, to be honest!). Every Friday, we do a “special” class – music, baking, art, or geography. I thought one of the goals for baking should be to have a bake sale with the kids and put the money towards a nice field trip, like a museum. The kids have never been to a museum and there’s a bunch of really nice ones in downtown Lima. So, I’m collaborating with some friends to come up with a strategy and hopefully we’ll pull off a nice bake sale the end of July during our Bible school’s big annual open house! With any luck, the kids will earn enough to at least help them get to the big “Museo de la Nacion.” Fun fun!

Our “future plans” are coming together so well… it’s almost as if God has a big part in it. 😉 We got yet more news this week about some stuff and it was just – wow – so encouraging and so much better than we’d planned or hoped. We’d talked last week about our “ideals” for a few things and in the end, the news we got this week was so much better than the ideals we’d both come up with. Isn’t it funny how that works sometimes? I am scared as all get-out about this future possibility, and yet so excited I could spend most of my day jumping up and down like a little girl. This is so unexpected, so incredibly not what we would ever have planned, and yet so… right.

I must add one more item to my “good week” post. This is a tad selfish… I don’t care. I was told at the beginning of my pregnancy that the one thing I can really do to help prevent the need of another c-section is to keep my weight down. With having no existing thyroid (therefore no metabolism to speak of), this is super hard. But, I’ve been very careful! Last month, I gained weight. It was the first time I’d gained weight this pregnancy (5 months in), but the number on the scale was still higher than I cared to see it go! This month, I’ve been working out daily, watching what I eat, and weighing myself on the Wii once a week. Last week, I’d gained two pounds and I cried and cried because if that is the norm and I have 20 weeks left, that is NOT a good thing! This week, after all those wonderful meals and two days with dessert, I thought for sure I’d gained! But, I actually lost weight! So now, instead of thinking I’d gained a whole kilo (about 3lbs, give or take) this month, I’ve gained less than that, if I’ve really gained anything at all. I’m amazed! And so happy! All my literature says the baby is now a foot long and weighs over a pound, but obviously the rest of my body is not adding extra poundage! Phew! I’m almost six and a half months along now — just a little more to go! Hopefully I can keep this trend up!

So, there’s my reasons for my “good week” thus far. It’s not a Thankful list, but it’s the same idea! Hope you can find some joy in your week, too. 

Gratitude.

This sunny Wednesday morning, I am thankful for…

  • …a husband who stands up for me and takes over when I just don’t know what to do anymore.
  • …roasted red pepper potato soup and garlic toast.
  • …sunny days even though we’re supposedly in winter right now.
  • …having extra helpers in my “school” this year so when I don’t have a babysitter, I can actually stay home and my students don’t miss a day of class!
  • …in light of that, I’m also thankful for the 2 days off of afternoon school I’ve had this week. Yesterday, I could’ve taught, but ended up with a migraine by mid-afternoon, so I’m glad Brian told me to just take the afternoon off anyway!
  • …weekly Bible studies with other women from North America.
  • …the opportunity to be at home most of the time this year. My house is cleaner, my laundry is (almost always) caught up, and I can spend more time with my child.
  • …clarity on the future.

…sweet notes from my students

On This Tuesday…

I’m thankful for…
  • bananas in my cornflakes
  • having a voice after two full days of being without
  • getting a good night’s rest after a week of not sleeping well with this awful cold
  • emails with specific details about future plans… those are always helpful!
  • the annual yardsale here in our area — we found stuff for Elena including books to finish a series her aunt started for her and we found items for the baby, including a warm carseat cover of all things (sold to us for $2!).
  • curly hair on a toddler’s head. We’ve waited so long for hair – I’m excited it’s curly!
  • resources that help us know if people are actually reading our newsletters!
  • a jabbering toddler. We don’t understand everything she says, but we’re sure it’s just fascinating so we spend a lot of time going, “Wow! Really?”
  • Chinese takeout on a Sunday afternoon. Not the same as in the States, but still pretty darn good.

Tomato Soup

Winter is settling in here (though yesterday it was up over 80 and I got sunburnt!). With the cooler weather, that leaves us craving one  of our mutually favorite meals: tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Simple, yes. Canned tomato soup? Completely unavailable. So last year, I found a tomato soup recipe online. This year, a friend sent me the one she uses. And now, I’ve combined them both and this is what I do now [this isn’t rocket science, so don’t think I’m going to divulge some amazing secret!]:

  • I use 8-10 small tomatoes (not the vine tomatoes – the ones that are more oblong. Isn’t it nice and helpful that I know the names of all the products I use and I use just specific measurements?? You’re welcome.) for a batch that gives us a solid 4 bowls.
  • Dice the tomatoes – don’t worry about them being too uniform. Dice, as well, half a red onion. Mince a couple cloves of garlic (though garlic powder works, too).
  • Here, our chicken broth comes in cubes. So, I boil water while I’m dicing tomatoes and then add a cube of broth to 1/2 liter of hot water and let it dissolve. The idea here is not what kind of broth you use, but that you have a good cup and a half of chicken broth ready to go. 
  • Melt a Tablespoon (or so) of butter with a dash of oil in the bottom of a large pot, then sautee the onions and garlic in it until the onions are transparent and fragrant.
  • Add the diced tomatoes. Let them warm through and mix with the onions and garlic. You know me, I don’t measure a thing, so I add some basil, salt, and pepper at this point. Everything in this soup is “to taste”; add a little now to get the flavoring started and then finish adding spices later as needed.
  • After a few minutes of warming through the tomatoes, add the chicken broth. You do not need to cover all the tomatoes in broth; they’ll make their own juice. Add at least a cup; I normally add about a cup and a half. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. As soon as I add the broth, I set the timer for 15 minutes and just leave it alone, stirring it occasionally.
  • After 15 minutes, it’s wise to let the soup sit for a few minutes with the heat off before pureeing it all since it’s incredibly hot. Then, puree in batches and return to the pot.
  • Add about a half cup of milk (I use canned evaporated milk – it’s creamier) and bring to a slow simmer. You will need to taste frequently to test the seasonings. I normally add more of everything as well as a touch of cayenne pepper. I don’t add the cayenne earlier because it gets progressively hotter the longer it cooks. Also be sure to add a couple teaspoons of sugar to balance the acidity of all the tomatoes.
  • Simmer for a few minutes to let the seasonings penetrate [this gives you plenty of time to make your grilled cheese!].

ENJOY!

June 2012
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