Friday, November 13, 2015

6 Things I am Learning in 6 Years of Marriage

Troy and I got married on Friday, November 13, 2009. Here are 6 quick things I have learned (and am still learning) about marriage since then.

1) Marriage is not 50/50. It's 100/100. We both have to give it our all. We cannot short change each other. Yes, we are partners, but we are partners giving it everything we have and striving for more.

2) I am not the same person I was six years ago. And neither is Troy. Am I perfect? Not even close.  Am I better than I was? Absolutely. Troy continually helps me be a better person: a better wife, friend, mom, and most importantly, Christ follower.

3) We never stop growing in our love for each other.  Six years may not sound like a long time compared to a couple married 16 or 26 years, but I have learned that our love has blossomed and grown immeasurably. We have grown spiritually, relationally, sexually (oh yeah, I said it.)... in every way. That's one of my favorite parts of marriage - growing deeper.

4) I'm learning to get better at forgiving. I heard a quote that said that a great marriage is made up of two great forgivers. Troy is the BEST example of it. Which is crazy because I am probably the worst example of it. He is constantly giving me grace and time.

5) The Word of God has got to be our guide. It just has to be.

6) Troy is still my favorite. No matter what has happened, his voice is still the sweetest sound. His face is still my favorite sight. I never tire of being with him and I will work my hardest to see that that never changes.

I love you, Troy! Thanks for choosing me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why We Are Waiting - Part 2

This is a follow up post to Why We Are Waiting which you can read here if you haven't read it yet.

To sum up my last blog post...
Troy and I decided to wait until our baby emerged from the womb to know his/her gender.

Fast forward five months after our little one came into the world and we are at present day. On September 17th, 2014 at 4:42pm after twenty-four hours of labor and an hour and forty minutes of pushing, my husband announced that we had a baby boy! Judah was the cutest 5 pound, 11 ounce baby I'd ever seen.

Am I glad we waited? Absolutely.

Would I do it again? Most definitely.

On September 17th, Troy told me we had a boy and then he cut the cord. It was such an incredible experience. It was one of the greatest surprises of our lives. It was so thrilling to find out what we were having and we had a great "gender reveal party."

I am so glad we waited for a few reasons.

1) If I would have found out beforehand, I know I would have bought every little cute outfit or accessory I saw in the store. This kept me from doing that. I have bought maybe three outfits for Judah total and the rest of his wardrobe has been generously donated (a lot of that has come from my mom, a woman with a gifts love language). On the same note, what if I did find out that we were having a boy? I would have went out and bought blue this and green that. A blue nursery would have been painted maybe with a Seahawks color theme. What happens when I have a girl the next time? Do I buy all new "girl" stuff or do I put her in all of the boy stuff? I am too cheap for that. Would I have to paint our nursery pink and purple? In the words of Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that." Our nice gray and cream nursery is already ready for the next Sowden kid, boy or girl.

2) To be perfectly honest, I wanted a girl so badly while I was pregnant. EVERYONE told me I was having a girl. I was carrying high so I must be having a girl. The baby's heart rate was high so, of course, I was having a girl. Everyone said it and I wanted it to be true. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I started to think there was a boy in there. If I would have found out at the traditional twenty week anatomy ultrasound that I was having a boy, I would have been thrilled but let down. Can I just be real with you? I probably would have had to psych myself up the entire rest of my pregnancy knowing I was carrying a boy. But once that adorable baby boy was pushed out of my body and I saw him for the first time, I was instantly in love and couldn't have even imagined having a girl. After you see that little bundle of joy who has your DNA and your legacy attached to him, you can't think of anything else.

3) It was fun for people to guess what I was having. When you know, that thrill is not there. People were so shocked up until the last minute (ie: our delivery nurse) that we waited. The anticipation was so fun.

Troy and I have already talked about the next time we have kids, whether we have multiples or not, we want to wait to find out the gender at birth. It was kind of a rush and a feeling that can't be duplicated in any other scenario.

I am not by any means putting down anyone who chooses to find out beforehand. Go for it. It was so fun for both me and my husband that we look forward to it the next time. We felt like it was such a gift. Ironically enough, Troy got a phone call today from a couple who is pregnant and they are choosing to wait to find out because I said it was one of life's last surprises. So cool!

Regardless if you find out, babies are a blessing from the Lord and God's first command to the first married couple was to be fruitful and multiply. And with that, I have to go do the Lord's work. ;)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Why We Are Waiting - Part 1

No, I am not talking about waiting until we got married to have sex (which we did do and I believe is the right thing to do), I am talking about why we are waiting to find out the sex of our baby until the birth. Here is my slightly sarcastic and light hearted opinion (mind you, I am at 37 weeks of pregnancy) of why we waited.

When we first started telling people we are going to wait until the birth to find out the gender of our child, it was almost like I had told them that we grilled snake for breakfast. Utter surprise and astonishment filled their faces. I had been forewarned by a few friends who chose to wait that I would get odd responses from people when we told them.

They were right. 

1) “What about a gender reveal party?”
2) “How are you going to plan?”
3) “What colors will you paint the baby room?”
4) “How will you know what to use – pink or blue?”
5) “Don’t you want to find out?”
6) “You know you have to pick two names, right?”
7) “There is no way you’re going to wait.”
8) “You won’t last that long.”
9) “You’re going to break down and find out.”

This is only a snapshot of the weird responses we received.   

Here are my responses 
1)    We will have the best reveal party on his/her birthday. I don’t need an excuse to cut into a cupcake with pink icing or drink blue lemonade. I’ll do that to celebrate the baby’s birth… and I will since I have totally cut out sugar until after I give birth!
2)    To be honest, I have no idea how to take care of a newborn – boy or girl. If I knew the sex, that wouldn’t help me in advance on knowing how to care for a newborn.
3)    Lime green with touches of lavender. Seriously though, painting the nursery a gender specific color wasn’t on my top priority list when it came for preparing for a baby. We chose to do a pale gray and a cream and then decorate accordingly. I don’t want to paint a big pink mural for our baby girl only to have a boy a year later and have to change everything else. I watch too many HGTV shows not to worry about resale value.
4)    I know everything is made with a gender specific slant these days: blue car seats, pink baby baths, blue this, pink that. However, I love gray, yellow, pale neutrals, and simple patterns. Again, let’s say I knew I was having a boy this time around and bought everything blue and dark green then the second time around, I had a girl. What would I do? Keep all my boy colored stuff to reuse for baby girl or buy all new girl colored stuff? I am way too cheap for all that. This way, I can reuse what I have over and over again.
5)    Yes, I definitely want to find out. Just not right now.
6)    Yes, we have them picked out. No, I will not name my child after you.
7)    Ok, thanks.
8)    Yes, we will.
9)    We are not.

Reasons we waited
1)    There are very few surprises we get in life. The only other surprise I can think of is when you get proposed to and that just (mainly) effects the bride. Let me preface by saying a contradictory statement, I HATE surprises. I am very Type A. I live by my day planner and make lists of my to do lists. But for some reason, I just think this is the most glorious surprise God can give us.
2)    The anticipation is great. It’s absolutely thrilling not knowing. The anticipation is not only great for us but for others as well. It’s also fun having people guess what they think the gender will be.
3)    Looking back, I can say without a doubt that I know we saved a ton of money from buying baby clothes that the baby would outgrow right away. I know Troy and I would have been suckered into buying every little bathing suit and shoe that we would never need all because “baby girl has to have it!” Now, if you have money for that, then go for it! We don’t so it’s been great for us to be able to resist and spend money on necessities.

Have I ever wanted to just know? 
Yes, definitely. There were two times during my pregnancy that I wanted to find out. One was right around the time of my 20 week anatomy ultrasound where we could find out for the first time. I debated for awhile but quickly became confident in my original decision. Then there was a time where I was about 34 weeks and my husband and I went to Target to roam and we both saw the smallest and cutest little bathing suits – some for boys and some for girls. We both just looked at each other and wanted to buy them both at that very moment. However, we just couldn’t justify buying one of each. 

Closing Thoughts
To me, if you can wait 20 weeks until the traditional anatomy ultrasound to find out, you can wait 20 more weeks. I have no problem if people want to find out. Go ahead! If you will be less stressed and more prepared then go for it. I am not mad at the way people responded or from the looks of disgust on some of their faces. Everyone has a preference on it! We may find out some day too (if we have multiples or through adoption). The few people that are pro waiting tell us that they support our decision louder and more often than the many people who have no clue why we chose to wait. The baby’s gender is out of my control anyway. I love this baby whether they are male or female. I can’t wait to see the plans God has in store for our little one and for our little family. The miracle isn’t whether our baby is a boy or girl – the miracle is the baby itself. If we would know the sex, we wouldn’t pray more for our baby in the womb. We pray every day for a healthy baby and a safe (and quick!) delivery.

***I plan on doing a follow up post after Baby Sowden is born.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Daniel Fast Approved Restaurants

Whether you are doing the Daniel Fast by yourself or with your church, it can be hard constantly prepping meals. Sometimes it's easier to just go and pay someone else to make something for you. I have a list, albeit a short list, of some restaurants that have some Daniel Fast approved menu items.

Cosmic Coconut - Memphis Area
I've been here multiple times and they have delicious juices and smoothies that they make to order. Some people don't allow anything but water on the fast but others allow juice and smoothies. Cosmic Coconut's juices and smoothies are so delicious and fresh. They even have a hummus and veggies plate to snack on.

Swankys Taco Shop - Memphis Area
There isn't much to choose from unless you want a mixed vegetable salad. Swankys uses such fresh ingredients that you will forget you are eating healthy.

Chipotle - National Chain
Chipotle is known for food with integrity. They use basic ingredients that create amazing, healthy food. Get a salad with guacamole, salsa, pinto beans, black beans, tomatoes, and other veggies.

Whole Foods - National Chain
This is not only an amazing grocery store, it also has a great buffet filled with hot and cold vegetables and fruits. It will not disappoint!

McAlister's - Located in mostly the Southeast US
McAlister's is known for it's huge baked potatoes called spuds. Luckily, they have a plain spud and a veggie spud (make sure to ask without cheese) and one called . They also have a garden salad (sans cheese) and fruit cup that are good too.

Bangkok Alley - Memphis area
This place is so tasty! There are several options to choose from. You can get edamame for an appetizer and chef's fried rice, basil fried rice and veggie fried rice (just make sure to substitute brown rice instead of white). You can also get tofu with your fried rice. If you're not in the Memphis area, most Thai and Asian restaurants should have similar entrees.

Ruby Tuesday - National Chain
You can get the salad bar and stuff your face for hours for under $10.

Ok, so I have worked at the last 2 restaurants and I am biased... they are both so good and can really satisfy your cravings! Please post any other Daniel Fast approved restaurants in the comments if you think of any.

Want more info on the Daniel Fast? Click here to download a PDF. And click here for more DF recipes you can make in the comfort of your own home.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Blondies

Blondies, blondies, blondies. My first consumption of a blondie was at my first serving job at Ruby Tuesday. On occasion, a server would mess up an order ("accidentally," of course) and the food would be considered "dead" and that meant that all the servers could secretly pull the dead food item aside and share with other co-workers. As servers, we would scarf that food down like vultures. It wouldn't happen often but when it did, it was glorious. It was in one of these moments, that I tasted my first blondie.

I found this great recipe from Annie's Eats (another culinary genius). I made the recipe my own but the great thing is you can add any candy and special treat to equal your mood.

What is a blondie exactly? According to wiki (don't tell my college professors), it is a brown sugar based dessert resembling it's bff, the chocolate brownie. In my simple terms, it is like a thicker cookie made in a cake form. And it's oh so delicious.

In fact, the first time I made these, I placed them in the oven, set an alarm on my phone and of course, someone called me. Since I was on the phone and my alarm didn't go off until I got off the phone, the blondies were in the oven a full 16 minutes over the time I was supposed to take them out. To my surprise, they were amazing! You can't go wrong with them. Here's a simple recipe (you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry now!).

1/8 cup of butter (or margarine)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I just found a recipe to make my own! So excited!)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
3/4 cup of chocolate chips
1/4 cup of peanut butter chips (yum!)

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Use PAM to grease an 8x8 inch pan or 9x12 glass pan. I used a 9x12 pan (the blondies will be thicker in an 8x8 inch pan... either way is tasty).
2. Heat butter in a mug (mug = easier handling) for about 30-45 seconds and allow to cool off for a few minutes.
3. Mix butter and brown sugar with a mixer in a medium bowl and beat until smooth.
4. Beat in the egg and then the vanilla.
5. Add in the flour, salt and baking powder and blend until smooth. Then add in your chocolate & peanut butter chips (you could add in M&M's, toffee chips, Reese's peanut butter cups, nuts, anything really) and mix by hand until evenly distributed.
6. Pour delicious batter in the greased pan and spread around. Cook for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Take out and let cool for a few minutes then cut into squares. These babies are so good and since they are so easy, you'll want to make them over and over again. You've been warned.