Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Blog!

Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much for being a part of my life.  Since the name expat no longer applies to my life, I'm going to continue sharing my life at my new blog http://myfruitfullife.com/.  Please join me there. I'd love to hear from you.


Marisa

Monday, March 25, 2013

Easter Egg School Lunch

I love holidays and I love family traditions.  I think having traditions to go along with holidays helps build nice memories for children.

Easter is such a sad yet joyful holiday.  Sad because Jesus died but joyful because he died and rose from the dead for mankind!  We try and emphasize the Christian reason for holidays but we also let Blue Rock enjoy some of our culture's traditions such as going on an Easter hunt and finding an Easter basket with some goodies on Easter morning.

I read somewhere about surprising your child with a candy filled plastic Easter egg in their lunch box.  I thought, what a wonderful and genius idea!  However, why only put candy when you can put their whole lunch in the eggs?  Blue Rock LOVES plastic and pretend eggs.  So I knew he'd love this!  I washed the Easter eggs, cut up some ham, cheese, carrots, washed grapes, and added cheddar bunnies, and some dark chocolate almonds (for his candy).  You can add anything your child likes that can fit in an egg.  I wrapped them in surround wrap (you could just put them in a clean egg) and placed the little baggies in different Easter eggs for Blue Rock's lunch.  To make it extra fun I added a little green grass.  He was very excited watching me make his lunch.  I think he's going to love it!





Thursday, March 14, 2013

Last December

Last December was a very difficult month for me.  I experienced my 4th miscarriage.  Like every miscarriage I have had, it was hard.  However, for some reason this one really made me mad.  I became angry at God for allowing me to get pregnant, again, only to lose the baby and never see his or her sweet face.  This also brought back anger that God allowed my mother to pass away when I was a child.  Being angry at God was hard because I love God and didn't want to be made at Him.  However, I was and I knew He can handle it.  But still, it was hard to be so mad at the one I love the most.

I was 10 weeks along when I went in for my 5th sonogram.  The baby didn't have a heartbeat and it looked like the baby was shrinking in size.  The doctor suggested I rush in and have a D&C so that they could get a sample to test for reasons why I lost this baby.  She thought if I waited I could start miscarrying on my own and we wouldn't get the sample we needed.  This was a tough decision since Christmas was around the corner and I was volunteering at Blue Rock's school the following week and with a D&C you can't do anything for 24-48 hours such as drive or see (my vision was very blurry the next day).  My appointment was in the morning and my doctor said she could do it that afternoon.  I had to go without food for 6-8 hours.  So I walked across the parking lot to the hospital.

I was literally crushed.  I love children and had always thought I would have 2-4 of my own.  My husband was with me and my parents had Blue Rock.  They thought they were only watching him for a few hours while I went to my doctor's appointment.  I called and told them what happened and they brought him up to the hospital to see me before I went in for the procedure.  God was watching over me because one of my good friends who is a nurse anesthetist, was working that day in the hospital I was at.  I texted her and was able to request her to do my anesthesia.  I was so blessed that she was there with me.  I trust her with my life and there's nobody else I'd want to put me under but her.  But still, I had lost my baby, another baby and was extremely sad.

In February, I called to find out what the results were from the D&C.  Unfortunately, the doctor did not give the lab a good sample and so we found out nothing.  The whole reason for me to have this procedure was a waste.  I do not like surgeries, I do not like being put under, I'm a pretty big advocate for natural childbirth for myself, and again became very angry.  I most likely would not have had this procedure done that day if I knew we would find out nothing.  Not only is it very experience, around $8000, but I felt it was unnecessary that early on.  I will say, I don't like miscarrying naturally either.  The other three I did that and had to "catch" part of the baby to give to my doctor in Germany.  I knew I also didn't want to do that.  However, I would have liked more time to think and pray about it.

I went on a ladies retreat at church the first weekend of March.  On the retreat I finally was able to let my anger at God go.  I can again truly rejoice in Him.  The months following this last miscarriage I really tried to be thankful for what I do have.  I have an incredible husband and amazing son.  I may not have a large SUV full of kids of my own but what I do have is very special.  I have great friends and extended family.  It's not always what I would hope for but I know they love me.  I know that God loves me.  As angry as I was at God, I subconsciously thought he was angry at me.  I thought it was cruel to allow me to get pregnant only to lose the babies.  While I still don't know why I was born this way, I am truly grateful for Blue Rock.  Blue Rock was my first pregnancy and I didn't have any trouble with him.  I am so thankful that while I was in a new country I had a normal pregnancy with my son.  I could truly be excited about being pregnant and joyful as I planned for his arrival.  Now I get anxious and fearful of losing the babies.  I, however, am changing.  My purpose may or may not be to have a pew full of children.  But I do know that I have a purpose and that God is generous to me.  Therefore, again I can rejoice in our Creator and be happy even in my sorrows.  

If you have experienced a loss of anytime, I hope that you can find peace in it.  One of the biggest things that has helped me was to think about my blessings.  I would encourage you to do that as well.  Stop comparing your life with others but be truly glad for what you have.  Because I guarantee, someone out there is wishing they had something that you have.  Try not to compare, I'm not saying that, I'm only trying to encourage you to find some peace and joy in your current life.  You never know what your life will be like in 5 or 10 years from now.  I may still only have one child, if so, I am so grateful for him.  God may bless me with another child, either naturally or through adoption.  Whatever the case may be, I am going to rejoice in the Lord always and seek His will for my life.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Amish Friendship Bread Recipe

One of my sweet friends gave me an Amish Friendship Bread starter. I'm going to change the name to Amish Friendship Prayer Bread because everyday when I mix the dough I say a prayer for my friend and her family. One purpose of friendship bread I think is to share delicious homemade bread with others. It takes 10 days from the day you get the starter until you can bake it. From each starter you make 4 new starters, one to keep and 3 to give away. The bread is delicious and of course Blue Rock loved helping mix it! If you want me to share a starter with you, let me know. Here is the recipe my friend gave me with the starter bag. 

Amish Friendship Bread
Do not use a metal spoon or bowl for mixing.
Do not refrigerate.
It is normal for the batter to thicken, bubble and ferment.
Day 1 – This is the day you get the batter, so do nothing.

Day 2 - Squeeze the bag.

Day 3 - Squeeze the bag.

Day 4 - Squeeze the bag.

Day 5 - Squeeze the bag.

Day 6 - Add the 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk to the bag. Squeeze until well mixed.

Day 7 - Squeeze the bag

Day 8 - Squeeze the bag

Day 9 - Squeeze the bag

Day 10 – In a large bowl, combine the contents of the bag, and 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of flour, and 1 cup of milk. Stir with wooden spoon. Scoop out four (4) 1-cup starters into separate ziplock bags. Keep one starter for yourself and give the other 3 to friends with a copy of the instructions. To the remaining batter in the bowl, add the following:
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
½ t. baking soda
1 ½ t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
½ t. salt
1 box instant vanilla pudding
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup oil
1 t. vanilla
Nuts and raisins (optional) 

Mix well. Pour into a well-greased and sugared pan (bundt pan or 2 regular size loaf pans). Sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan.
Be creative! Make a new recipe from every starter. Here are 2 ideas:
Lemon Poppy Seed – substitute lemon flavoring for vanilla, 2 T. poppy seeds for cinnamon, lemon pudding for vanilla, and leave out the nuts and raisins.

Chocolate Chip – substitute almond flavoring for vanilla, cocoa for cinnamon, chocolate pudding for vanilla pudding, and mini chocolate chips for nuts and raisins. 
 
Baking is so much fun!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Having an Only Child

A dear friend of mine and I were talking last week.  She asked if we were going to try to have anymore kids.  I told her I wasn't sure and that maybe God only wants me to have one.  She said, "but you're such a good mom!"  I looked at her and thought about it and replied, "I don't think being a good mom has anything to do with how many children you have." 

I know my friend loves me and cares deeply about me and she was truly only trying to encourage me.  So please know, this is in no way an attack toward her.  I just feel like I need to speak out. 

I'm not here to judge anyone because children are true blessings from God.  However, I have seen a number of people who have more than one child and could honestly careless about any of their children.  Thankfully, I know more people personally who are wonderful parents with one or more children.  My main point is I don't believe good parenting skills equals a bounty of children.  I know my friend meant well and her comment was meant as a compliment, which I appreciate.  I just want to speak out for those of us who would love more children but for one reason or another it may not be possible.

I have been pregnant 5 times.  I have one beautiful and precious son.  The other four babies I miscarried.  God created me in his image and with several health situations I cannot control. I was born with these things and if you follow my blog, you will have read about these.  I'm still waiting on God's timing to post about my last miscarriage in December.

What about adoption or fostering?  My husband and I have talked for years about adopting and/or fostering a child.  Early on in our marriage we had said if we were unable to have any kids then we'd adopt.  I still love the idea of adopting and taking in a child who doesn't have anyone to be my own.  However, adoption in American is incredibly expensive.  We are a one income family.  I love my job, staying home and raising my child.  We are unable to afford to adopt an infant at this time.  Also, recently, I've been praying and reflecting on what a friend cautioned me about a few weeks ago.  What about fostering?  I admire people who foster children and am still considering it.

My question for others, why do so many people see having only one child as a problem?  I have been guilty of this in the past.  So again, no judgements made to anyone else.  Recently, I spoke with some friends who gave birth to one child and adopted two kids.  The wife told me if my main goal of adopting was so that my son would have siblings, don't do it.  Ouch!  What would my main reason for adopting be?  A big part of it would be so that my son would have a sibling.  Why would this not be a good idea?  She said because there is no guarantee that they will bond as siblings.  Her natural born child, for example, never felt like he really had siblings.  It was like raising two families under one roof.  Think about how many step-siblings relate to one another.  They are "siblings" but many lack the sibling connection. Of course I also wonder if the same thing happens among blood-related siblings.  I've seen it happen where siblings don't get along and grow up not talking to each other.

I'll ask again, why do so many feel that having one child is not enough?  There are actually a number of benefits to having only one.  I've only been able to recently be okay with the possibility of having only one child.  Therefore, I've been looking for the positives, which are many.  There are numerous blessings to having more than one as well.  Hopefully this will encourage other parents who have one child by choice or that's all they've been blessed with, appreciate having just one.

- It's easier to do things and go places.  I won't lie, when I need to go somewhere I only have one to get ready and out the door.  Not saying I'm immune to the melt-downs or protests of getting out the door.

- Having one child is less expensive.  I only have to feed one, cloth one, and educate one. 

- There's more one-on-one time.  There are many days when I wished my son had a sibling to play.  Then I remember, life passes quickly and I should treasure these moments.  I can spend more time with my one child than I could if I have to split my time between several.

- Only children are just as outgoing or shy as children with siblings.  Ask any mother of multiples and she's sure to have at least one shy or outgoing child.

- When a virus hits our house, we don't have to worry about other children catching it.

- Only child tend to be ahead academically in school. I think the main reason behind this is because of all the one-on-one adult time only children get.  This is not to say that children with siblings are not as bright as only children, this was just a study I read.

There are many other wonderful benefits of having only one child.  These are just some that really stuck out to me as a mother of one.  If you're a parent of only one child, what are some positives that you see?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Slow Cooked Whole Wheat Cinnamon Donuts

Slow Cooked Cinnamon Balls
My family loves donuts but rarely eats them.  I was excited when I saw this recipe.  A few weeks ago I signed up for Grocery Shrink and for the past two weeks have enjoyed lots of yummy recipes.  I made these last night and we ate them this morning.  They were so delicious and super easy to make!  I prepared the dough last night and put it in the crock pot.  This morning when we woke up they were ready.  Thanks Grocery Shrink for another delicious meal!

Ingredients for 4-6 people:

Dough: 

1/2 plus 1/3 cup warm water
2 tsp oil
1 Tbs honey
1/2 tsp salt, 2 cups flour (whole wheat, unbleached or a combo - I did a combo)
2 tsp yeast

Other ingredients:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs butter, melted

Icing:

2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbs milk


Directions:

I put everything in my Breville Mixer with the dough hook and mixed until doughy. Or you can mix the dough in your bread machine.  I pulled apart the bread dough into 1 inch pieces, rolled into balls or made little donuts.  If you don't want to make the dough you could use store bought bread dough.  However, this dough was so delicious and easy to make, I'd suggest trying it.

Combine cinnamon and brown sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll each ball into melted butter and then in sugar mixture. Place in greased slow cooker. Place a paper towel under the lid to collect condensation. Cook on low for 3 hours. Or you can put these on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until you start to smell them cooking.

Before serving.  Mix powdered sugar and milk (2/3 cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbs milk), drizzle over top of cooked rolls.

I put everything in the crock pot last night, plugged my crock pot into my automatic light timer and let it cook while we were sleeping. My husband and I both woke up before 5am last night anyway and we checked on it to make sure it was working. They were very good and a lot healthier than donuts. Took care of our donut craving!

Before I cooked them


This morning, all done!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Looking Back at 2012!

Overall 2012 was a pretty good year. We have had a LOT of changes! A HUGE move overseas, new house, new car, several sad losses, etc., etc., etc. Goodbye 2012! May 2013 be a wonderful year for you and your family! Here is 2012 at a glance.

January: We celebrated 8 years of marriage. We lived in a hotel for several weeks before moving from Germany at the end of the month. My husband started his new job. 

February: Stayed in furnished rental house while doing lots and lots of house hunting and waiting for our household goods to arrive from overseas. Celebrated hubby's birthday. I also joined two mommy groups in town! Blue Rock started gymnastics again.

March: We closed on our new house! We also visited my in-laws who live 8 hours away!

April: I had her 3rd miscarriage. =( We also bought our new SUV.

May: We traveled to see my in-laws. We also decided to join a church closer to our new house. This was a very tough decision as we love our friends across town. Thankfully we have made some great friends at our new church too.

June: I turned the big 3-0! Blue Rock turned 3! Fun birthday parties and we enjoyed our neighborhood's new swimming pool. I also took Blue Rock to his first movie at a movie theater. We saw Happy Feet 2!

July: We took Blue Rock to his first IMAX film. We saw Born to Be Wild! Blue Rock attended his first VBS. Our church had a day camp and I helped by teaching the lesson.

August: We took a trip to see my husband's parents in west Texas and attended my husband's 20th. high school reunion. I went to the annual MOPS (mother's preschool) convention in Grapevine and saw some friends from Germany and got to know some ladies that live in town better. Blue Rock started preschool. He has loved preschool this year!

September: Hubby and I worked together to photograph our first wedding in Austin. That was the first time we ever spent the night away from Blue Rock. We took a family vacation to California for my brother's wedding. We got to go to Disneyland and enjoyed the beach while we were there as well. I celebrated being baptized for 20 years! We also went to our friend's October Fest party which was super fun! We also started teaching Blue Rock's Sunday school class at church for the quarter. We had a blast!

October: We went to a local apple orchard, Blue Rock had a petting zoo visit his preschool, and we went to a Halloween party a friend's house. This was the first year we took Blue Rock trick-or-treating. 

November: We went to see my husband's parents for Thanksgiving and to help them move. I had bad morning sickness and was sick most of the time we were there.  Blue Rock said the prayer at his school's Thanksgiving feast. We also visited a cheese farm and chocolate factory.

December: I had my 4th. miscarriage at 10 weeks and had to have a D&C. :( I'll eventually write about it but just have been pretty sad about the whole thing.  On the positive, Blue Rock got to celebrate his first Christmas in Texas with my family. We had a wonderful Christmas and have so much to be thankful for! We also bought our first leather couches and a King Tempur-Pedic bed with an Ergo Base. I feel truly spoiled! Hopefully 2013 will bring us lots of nights of good sleep.

This year we have made many new friends and have been able to see lots of old friends. God has blessed us richly with family and friends. Life is not always easy but it is worth living. No matter what 2012 has brought to you and your family, whether it has been a great year for you or a challenging one, never give up, always have hope, and always trust God. Lean on friends and family when you're down. It's amazing how much impact a good conversation with a friend can be. Thanks for keeping up with us. Here's to the new year!  I hope 2013 brings you lots of joy!
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