Tuesday, May 31, 2011

32 Weeks Wowza!

Sometimes I forget that I am pregnant. And then I look down. Wowza!!!!

It's pretty amazing that Liam is getting as big as he is...and that we have approximately 8 more weeks of growing to go! I can definitely tell that he is taking up more space now... there are times when I can feel him moving or kicking on both side of my body. One of my favorite things recently is when he pushes out on my belly and you can definitely feel his strong little body if you put your hand where he's pushing. Mostly I think I am feeling his back and behind but sometimes it feels like he's jabbing that little elbow out. It still amazes me that there is a real little precious person right there!

At my last ultrasound the doctor was able to get some good shots of his face. It was so bizarre and wonderful because I actually felt like I recognized him when I saw his face. I am not usually a big fan of posting ultrasound pics because they are so hard to figure out - but this one has been my favorite thus far so it gets posted. :)

Now really - if you can't make out his face, don't worry about it. I am never good at looking at other people's alienish pictures lol! But if you step back a bit you'll see his face - forehead, nose (which does look a little inverted lol), eyes, cheeks, and lips....his face is mostly on your right side of the picture. And then you'll see his arm reaching up to the left of his face with his hand right there by his face.

I mean come on! That is one ADORABLE face!!!! I would absolutely love it if that precious face pops out with his daddy's dimples.... Just sayin'. (and it happens to be that his nose looks a little inverted because it is pressed up against my uterus - which is kind of a weird word to type in a blog post :)

When I get overwhelmed with the huge change that is about to occur in our lives - I just look at that little face. What a miracle! God chose this baby for us to parent and He chose this timing. Be at rest oh my soul.

At this point - both the excitement and the trepidation are growing in equal parts! I mean - 8 weeks is going to FLY by. And then I won't just be a friend, a girl, a wife, a sister, and a daughter. I'll be a MOM! It is humbling, thrilling, and overwhelming all at once. I just can't wait to see that little face in person.

I know I am not to that final stretch yet but there is something inside of me that doesn't want him to come too early (again - check with me around July 15 to see if my answer is still the same). I want him to come anytime after July 20. Liam is due on July 26 and there is just some instinctual thing that says - I want him to be in there as long as he needs to be. SO MANY people are experts in pregnancy/delivery/parenting! Did you know that???? LOL. One pregnancy - one delivery - one child automatically qualifies you as expert status. It's not to say that women who have given birth do not have valuable tips, advice, and insight to share. They do! But seriously - I am amazed that most women never stop to think 'wow - what was normal for me may not apply to every other woman and pregnancy!' Of course, there are those out there who fully realize this and they are a breath of fresh air. I have heard time and time again that lots of first babies (especially boys) deliver past their due date. I am totally fine with that. But - then there are those stories that absolutely contradict that expectation. Like my sister-in-law. Cherish has two little boys - both came early and were perfectly healthy....just ready! So this is what I am saying people - WHO KNOWS????!!!! I'll have my bag packed in case he comes early and lots of fun things planned in case I need to entertain myself and keep my mind elsewhere if the waiting gets looooooong.

We are making headway on Liam's room! The bedding should be here within two weeks and I cannot wait to see it! The crib is ready to be put together - we just need to move the guest bed out. I have ordered a great black picture frame for his room - found some really fun alphabet wall art - and imagine other wall thingies for his room. So - mentally - I am making tons of progress! LOL. Seriously I think it will come together fairly quickly once the bedding arrives. That will be fun fun fun! I bet by the 36 week update I will have some pictures to share. :)

On a random room note - we also decided to pull in a subtle lion theme into Liam's room. Number one - Liam the Lion is just irresistible. And number two - Zion loves lions! When I say subtle - I do mean subtle. The mobile has a lion - there is one wall piece that I like that has a lion on it - and I found a stuffed lion and lion play mat that are amazingly fun. That's it...no lion overdose!

Caleb and Chloe get to Tulsa on June 25 so I am guessing that we'll know whether Liam is getting a girl cousin or a boy cousin by early July!!!! I am guessing girl. In which case, it looks like her name may be Michaela Florence Booth. I LOVE it!

Speaking of names, it looks like Mr. Liam has a middle name. His official first name is William but we'll call him Liam. We were having a hard time coming up with a middle name. We did want something with a bit of an edge to it since William is more elegant. There were a lot of names that sounded great to us - but we take names pretty seriously. You're probably not at all surprised by that though lol! One night I was sitting on the couch thinking/praying about it and it was like - 'why don't you think of words instead of proper names?' And immediately the word popped into my mind! Zion came in from talking on the phone to one of his good friends in the back yard and I told him about it. He was like 'That really could be it because that is what Scott and I just spent our whole conversation talking about!' That's kind of how God gave us the name William/Liam as well. It came to me and then when I took it to Zion - God had been speaking to him about a lot of different Williams throughout history that He had used in the Kingdom.

So - it looks like we are going to have a William Justice Spencer. It is meaningful to us on lots of levels but most importantly - it coincides with what we believe God is saying about this little man. Come on little man with your destiny!

I wrap this up with a verse I have been meditating on. Maybe it's what you need to hear right now too:

Isaiah 30:18 "For the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up and show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"

Love y'all,

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cappuccino Dreams

Above Mentioned Cappuccino - 2006

I will never forget the first time I had a cappuccino that was so good it dived right into my permanent memory. It was right after I had graduated from college. Two of my dear friends - Rebecca and Megan - were studying for six weeks in Rome, Italy, that summer and I made the very wise choice to go stay with them while they studied.
It was one of our first full day in Rome all together and we were near the Coliseum. Seriously - I felt like it was the first time I had had a real coffee. That small white porcelain cup packed a beautiful punch! It was so strong but so rich and good (and yes - I added sugar :). On that trip - I think I had at least two cappuccinos every single day and it was glorious.

Isn't it funny the memories that stick so vividly in your mind? That first trip to Europe changed me forever. It birthed in me a love for adventure and it stripped the fear of planning big trips far away. I think that Rome will forever be one of my absolute favorite places because of that special first experience away from America. It stretched me. It wooed me. It absolutely won me over.

Some days - I just love letting my mind wander to some of the great adventures that I have had. Thankfully - I married an adventurer. We have both preferred to save and spend money on seeing far away parts of the world instead of driving nice cars or wearing cloths that wiped out our budget. We shop sales and we keep car payments low so that we can save save save and I have never regretted one dollar spent on adventures.

So today - I am savoring memories of Rome! I just neeeeded to get some of my memories out and on paper...or blog....or screen... :).

About a year and a half after we got married - Zion and I got to go Rome. A return trip for me and a delightful first for him. God really gave us grace for that trip. At the time, Zion's health was not good and he had been battling a lot of issues but we were still able to journey, discover, taste, and revel together in the beautiful Italian culture. God has been gracious.

Can I just say that arriving in Rome is simply nothing like you imagine. The airport is about 45 minutes from central Rome. You either take a train or a taxi into the city. And the trip in is not quite the picturesque images from "Under the Tuscan Sun!" You pass run down, not-so-nice apartment buildings and lots of land that isn't really rolling and you think to yourself 'I am not feeling this so far!' After that many hours of travel - there is something in you that craves beauty upon touch down in Italy. But - beauty comes. When Zion and I were there together we stayed in a B&B between Campo di Fiore and Piazza Navona. Google both of those....... beauty on so many levels.

It's funny how traveling together has shaped some of our family and life perspectives. Specifically our time in Italy. There is something about eating dinner on a piazza where people's everyday lives are happening. Some of the people live in the buildings surrounding the square, little boys kick soccer balls and play hard on the cobble stone ground until the ball flies into the fountain likely centuries old, older couples quietly stroll, and people savor life in a communal setting. It stirs us so deeply! The dream is to someday live on a piazza with our best friends. Why not dream big right????

I love Rome for the opportunity it offers you to reach back and directly touch history. There is nothing that can prepare you for standing in the Coliseum where thousands of Christians died simply because they chose faith in God. Or standing in the glowing shadows of the Pantheon at night where modern life swirls around it but where ancient architecture reached new levels with its construction. I savor stepping into a culture that has existed for so many hundreds of years. One that welcomes you if you respect it and is thrilled at your meager efforts to speak Italian.

Some days I just dream of walking into one of our favorite little espresso bars and pushing my way to the counter and loudly saying 'Due cappuccini!' Two cappuccinos please! I love that you have to be aggressive and let go of your 'I am a tourist' mentality and treat yourself like any other espresso-thirsty Italian who will be loud enough for their order to be heard and taken. I love pretending that I am Italian even in my white white skin lol. Delusional I know!

When we were in Rome we would walk and walk and walk. Which I think is one of the great joys of discovering a city like that. You get gritty with the everyday Italians. You sweat just like them....but you probably look a lot worse than most of them since they live that lifestyle everyday! LOL. You see things and stop to stare if you want. You fill up your water bottle in the water streams pouring out of spickets on random buildings because the water ducts STILL WORK and produce clean drinking water from way back when Rome was built. Wrap your mind around that! You stop and watch Roman brides and grooms taking wedding pictures by Constantine's Arch. And all because you're willing to walk until your feet just won't go anymore. And you eat all that you want because frankly your calorie burn makes way more space for pizza, pasta, and gelato than anyone's everyday life in America does.

Ohhhhh the food. I look forward to going back to Rome just to eat. I think I would be even more adventurous now. But let me tell you - I don't regret one margherita pizza I ate. The pasta has less sauce and it's so good. The homemade tiramisu tastes the way you always think it should taste when you order it here - but rarely does. Annnnnd the gelato. Oh my. Lemon gelato during the sweltering heat of the day and chocolate hazelnut after dinner. Yes - I did eat it twice a day on more than one occasion. :)

So I don't know.... there is just something so great about going back to some of these memories. The opportunity to see the world from different eyes and to experience life in a way that is not your usual - is so good. It is a gift and I am so grateful for the opportunities that we have had to open our eyes and be the minority.

Rome - I cannot wait to drink your cappuccinos again but until then I will hop down to Nordaggios and pretend I am drinking a cappuccino there with you and your aggressive, charming, and sweaty beauty.

Thanks for taking a little journey into my memories with me!

Love y'all,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oh Brother Where Art Thou?!

Just need to say - this is one happy sister. My brother and his wife, Chloe, have lived in Beijing, China since the fall of 2009. Caleb is definitely called to China and we have (pretty much, wink wink) come to terms with the fact that we would be separated by continents for the foreseeable future. In circumstances like that - you think a lot about the concept that Jesus laid out - we lose our lives to find them. Sometimes that applies to relationships too! And at the end of the day - how horrible would it be to stand in the way of a person's destiny because you wish that they were closer for your own comfort??

Welllll.... I recently found out that I am number one going to be an AUNT!!!! And number two, that Caleb and Chloe will be coming back to the States for at least a while! I mean - WOW!!!! I did not really see that coming. First - the baby cousins will be about 2.5 months apart and that is going to be a precious gift. And then - I never thought that they would be coming back to America quite yet. They'll start out in Oklahoma but who knows where they will land. But seriously - even if they end up thousands of miles away it will still be waaaaaay closer than before.

Can I just say - I am looking forward to lattes and guacamole that Caleb makes like no one else. I am looking forward to sharing a few months of pregnancy with Chloe. I am looking forward to being able to hold my niece or nephew while the baby is still brand new instead of meeting that sweet little person via skype. I am looking forward to just hanging out.

I will enjoy this season for what it is. It may be years in America - but I have learned to not get too comfortable because Caleb and Chloe WILL follow the Lord if they feel Him moving. There is no doubt there will be more seasons of continents separating us but for now - I am LOVING this season and can't wait. They get to Tulsa on June 25...and it's going to be fun!!! Thanks Lord for this sweet surprise especially during this special season!! Like I said....I'm happy :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Recipes for Success

Happy Monday!!!

If you are a mom, I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day and if you have a mom - I hope you thoroughly enjoyed celebrating that special woman! We had a really nice weekend. It was full of Mother's Day related activities. Saturday morning we went to a Mother's Day Tea at my mom's church and my pretty-much-sister Lili, lovely mother-in-law Lois, and super Aunt Hope joined us. It was fun! Next year we're wearing hats. :) Saturday night - the whole Spencer gang went to Dad and Mom Spencer's house for an evening of celebrating her, eating pizza, lots of boys playing in the grass, and celebrating my brother-in-law's birthday too. Whew!

Sunday morning I did worship team at church so my mom and dad came with us! That was fun. Then we headed back to our house for lunch on the patio. Yes - I did get a little stressed pulling it together at the last minute....which I told myself I wouldn't do! Grrrr....I do seem to make strides in this area and I think it's important because no one feels very blessed or touched if the hostess is stressed out. So thankfully - the stress was brief.

Having said that - I think I pulled off one of my favorite meals ever! I tried a few new recipes so that is always a gamble...but when Emeril and Ina are your sources - it's hard to go too far wrong. You know - as I was cooking - the thought occurred to me that I should take pictures of my 'recipes-in-progress' experience since I wanted to blog about the recipes. However - my cooking pictures would look faaaar different than Pioneer Woman's!!! You know - the glossy, no-mess, perfectly measured into little bowls - look? It just doesn't look like that when I cook! LOL. It's more like an Oklahoma tornado has torn through the kitchen. And I have plenty of counter space is the thing...this just must be my style. I do try to clean up as I go but still - it's not a picture-appropriate set of circumstances. So just use your imagination! :)

I made Emeril's Quiche Lorraine (and yes the homemade pastry crust IS worth it!) and also made his simple salad viniagrette that he included with the quiche recipe. Both were hits. Hey - a little extra bacon and swiss cheese never hurt anyone! :) We added a fruit salad and french bread and had the perfect Mother's Day lunch on the patio. AND THEN - came Ina's lemon bars. Oh. My. Gosh. I have been loving lemon anything recently and these reminded me of one of my favorites in Paris last year - tarte citron. If you like lemon bars - these are for you!

Here are the recipes:

Quiche Lorraine - Emeril Lagasse

•Flaky Butter Crust, recipe follows
•6 ounces thick cut bacon, cut into narrow strips (or “lardons”)
•2 large eggs
•2 large egg yolks
•1 1/4 cups half-and-half
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
•Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
•1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss
•Simple Salad, recipe follows

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to an 11-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and trim the edges. (Alternatively, a 9-inch pie pan can be used.) Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the crust is set, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

In a medium skillet, cook the bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Discard the fat or reserve for another use.

Arrange the bacon evenly over the bottom of the baked crust.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, yolks, and half and half. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour into the prepared crust and bake until the custard is golden, puffed, and set yet still slightly wiggly in the center, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with Simple Salad.

Flaky Butter Crust:
•1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•7 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
•1 to 2 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed

To make the dough in a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and butter in the processor and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube and pulse quickly 5or 6 times, or until the dough comes together and starts to pull away from the sides of the container. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To make the dough by hand, combine the flour, salt, and butter in a medium bowl, and mix with a pastry blender or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until the dough comes together and is no longer dry, being careful not to overmix. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface according to the recipe, fit it into the pan, and allow to rest again in the refrigerator before baking.

Yield: one 9-inch tart or pie crust

Simple Salad:
•1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
•2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, optional
•1 tablespoon chopped garlic
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•3/4 cup olive oil
•Mesclun salad mix or favorite greens, for accompaniment
Beat the vinegar in a bowl with the sugar, garlic, salt and pepper until sugar and salt dissolves. Then beat in the oil by droplets, whisking constantly. (Or place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine.) Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Toss a few tablespoons of the dressing with the salad mix and serve immediately.

If not using dressing right away, cover and refrigerate, whisking or shaking again before use.

MY NOTES: In an effort to conserve energy - I had to spread my cooking process out. I made the crust on Friday night and refrigerated it until Saturday afternoon. I just let it sit out for 30 minutes before rolling it out and it worked like a charm. I also made the quiche on Saturday afternoon and then warmed it up Sunday for lunch. Used a pinch of ground nutmeg instead of fresh. Used extra bacon and swiss cheese. YUM! This is a keeper!

Ina Garten's Lemon Bars:

For the crust:
•1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
•1/2 cup granulated sugar
•2 cups flour
•1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:
•6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
•3 cups granulated sugar
•2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
•1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
•1 cup flour
•Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.

MY NOTES: I used extra lemon zest because if you like lemon - how could 2 TBLS ever be enough??? Made these on Friday night and Sunday they were still perfect. In fact, they are still perfect today (unfortunately!). They are best if they are served cold. Will make these many times over for the rest of my life!

So here's to a happy week ahead! I hope you had a great weekend!

Love y'all,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

28 Weeks, a Bag, and It's Getting Real

Seriously - has it been four weeks since my last baby update??? How is that even possible?! There are still 12 weeks until Baby Boy makes his debut but then I think about how quickly the time goes between my every four week baby updates and it's a tad shocking. Just a tad!

So big boy is still growing quite well! LOL. At the 28 week appointment this morning he measured in at 2 lbs and 13 oz. That's almost a three pounder people - which seems large and in charge in my mind. :)

Here are the pictorial updates!

I am still so thankful to say that this pregnancy has been a great experience and I am really enjoying it. Today starts my third trimester which absolutely blows my mind - and I can tell that energy is getting a little less available. My mom went with me to register on Thursday night and then we finished up on Saturday afternoon. Dang! Let me just say - all that walking was something else. Plus - I think you need some serious grace to register. So many decisions and so many categories of products to research.

Took the glucose screening this morning and it wasn't that bad! The orange drink was gulp-able and the worst part was the time waiting for the stuff to process before the blood work could be done. You don't think that blended coffee drink (yes I still drink caffine) was a bad idea before taking the test do you? LOL. Yep - that's what I did. Had a coffee drink (no doubt including some sugar) and then went straight to take my glucose screening. I don't know - I just think that if my body was whacked with sugar stuff I would feel weird and I would know it. Right???

So - speaking of registering - one of the things that I have looked forward to long before I actually became pregnant was a great diaper bag. And let me just TELL you there are some great bags out there these days. Unfortunatley - a small fortune can be spent on said bags. I have been looking and looking and had almost settled on a bag by Timi and Leslie and then I found the bag meant for me at Peek-A-Boo Baby Boutique here in Tulsa on Saturday! I saw it and within five minutes I had come to the clear conclusion that the only appropriate thing was to get myself a Mother's Day gift. :)

Presenting the bag:

You know what's fun? The bag is made by Kalencom - a New Orleans company! My mom is from New Orleans so it's fun to support one of our favorite cities. Also - the lining is lime green. Not a necessity by any means but it is a little fun that it will compliment the theme of Liam's room. :)

Okay - so it's high time to wrap this up. All I can say is that I am consumed by this miracle. He is moving so much more and we are getting to know this boy. And more than that - God is supernaturally preparing our hearts for him and for this journey. I can't put adequate words to it but I have longed for this for so long and the realization of a dream fulfilled brings joy that is deep and true.

Sometimes I find myself wanting to temper my joy when I think about friends who still have that desire so deep in their hearts and are still waiting. But isn't that just like the enemy? I want to remain tender to where friend's hearts are - but not hold back celebrating this miracle even in the least. That's a fine line to walk in life regardless of which side of the situation you are on or what the particular desire is. But - I celebrate the goodness of God and am allowing my heart to burst with joy. This little boy deserves it and my God deserves it. The excitement is building by the day!

Thanks for putting up with this looooong post Friends.

Love y'all,