Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Teensy turns One!

I really have the hardest time wrapping my brain around the fact that our little miss has been in this world for 365 days! Watching her brother's and her grow is like watching sand pour through an hour glass, so fast, so quick, so hold on a minute I'm just not ready.
You can read about our journey with her starting here then you'll have to go here for more but, then you will be caught up. With all that we've been through you would think she's 30! As we were climbing the mountain Kendra and I thought we would never reach the top, but now it seems we've reached the summit, slipped and are now sliding down hill out of control, it's just going too fast.
She marks the end of her first year of life with some really terrific and unique "Teensy" things that only she can do.

  • She doesn't have teeth, not even a sign that teeth are in her future. Most babies have a full head of teeth by one, but not our little miss. She's going to wait, thank you very much.

  • When she is in full grin there are two perfectly symmetrical dimples right on top of her cheeks. Perfect little drops in her sweet little cheeks. Those dimples!

  • Her steel blue eyes glimmer and shine brighter than any star in the universe. Mildred talks about German glass glitter ALL the time, well it has nothing on the baby blue's of my princess.

  • Carbs! Lord oh Lord does this gal love bread. Crackers, toast, biscuits, pizza crust, rolls, crescents, you name it--she loves it! Teensy must have her bread fix as we eat dinner, nothing will suffice until we put bread on her tray. She extends her thumb and index finger to pinch up the piece of bread and then as she pops it in her mouth give the satisfactory moan of approval.

  • Mobility. Teensy is not sitting up on her own now, she would just rather lie on her back. I'm not sure it is due to the scoliosis she has or what, but she is just not sitting up. As for crawling, well she's not a conventional crawler either. She prefers to lie on her back and arch up onto her head and feet, like a bridge, and push. There's no place she won't get b doing this and by of course rolling. If she sees a tag, she will get there and let nothing stop her! She loves tags.

  • Brother's. Teensy loves her brother's. There's nothing that can make her laugh harder or longer than her brother, Titus doing many of his famous stunts. Chubbers brings her lots of laughs too, but they are short lived because Chubbers is convinced that she is in need of being dealt with. He will attempt to change her, feed her, lift her up to "holds you", or change her clothes all of which she completely ditests. The only thing that she hates worse is the sight of a Kleenex coming at her nose.

  • Right foot. There's something about a shoe and sock on her right foot that she hates. The minute we put her shoes and socks on, she's working to free that foot. Aside from the positively delicious taste of sock, she just likes to have that one foot free. I wonder if she will be the kind of gal who has to have that one foot out from under the covers?

  • Stillness. There's not much of that. She's in near constant motion. When we have her on her changing table, she's trying to buck off. The only time she's still is when she's sleeping. Which by the way she flips to her tummy to sleep. We don't put her on her tummy she just flips over, I would have to stand by her crib and flip her back which I won't do as I am fairly accustomed to sleep in my ever increasing old age.

To say that Teensy changed our life is like saying that electricity is just a passing fancy. Kendra and I are stunned by this amazing lady who has shown us more about living life that we could ever learn in a lifetime. She has taught us to completely and totally surrender control to God. There is absolutely no way that we could have made it through the last 365 days without the constant stability of our Lord. His strength, power, and assurance is all that we have had to be carried through. Every obstacle placed before us in the last year has not been a mountain because God made them molehills. Kendra and I both surrendered our selves to the Lord's care in the first few hours of our drama. I knew that facing the thought of losing my wife and unborn child, which I had no idea I had made, was beyond my ability to comprehend and control so I gave the control over.

I love you little miss, with all of my heart and soul. When I gaze into your eyes I see hope, fortitude, resolve, strength, and love for a life you have just begun to live. When I hold you in my arms I feel the future and know that tomorrow is going to a better place because you have lungs to breath and a heart that beats. I have no doubt you will do amazing things because I know you will be in the hands of a God who made sure you came into this world with pomp and circumstance and He just doesn't waste His time. Happy birthday my little Teensygirl.

Monday, November 19, 2007


It's that time of year when my heart calls me to the kitchen. I just love to bake and cook around the holiday's. I wanted to share one of my all time favorite cookies with you. The first time I had this cookie was at Mildred's house. She is a great cook and I can't even begin to tell you how many recipes I've taken as my own which she gave me. It really drives her crazy which is another good reason to continue doing it. I did give her credit when I wrote my cookbook, for one recipe--beefy rice, which is so delicious.

When Emma was in the NICU at St. Francis I made these cookies for the staff as a thank you and expression of our profound appreciation for their dedication to all of the babies that came through their loving hands. This picture of her is from November 30, when she had been in the NICU just a few hours. She held my finger at 4:00pm, for the first time. I will have a post dedicated to her on her first birthday, in 11 days.

Kendra and I tried to keep a macro vision when we were there mostly because our Teensy was doing so well compared to the other babies that were not doing so well. It just changed our perspective. We were totally focused and in tune with her, what she needed, how many grams her poop weighed, etc. But there was also this overwhelming sense of, "it could be so much worse." We had hundreds of people praying for our girl daily, as we were too, but we didn't know who was praying for the other babies. I kept a prayer list in Teensy's isolette chamber drawer just so I knew. The nurses didn't care because they knew why it was there. We ran into one of those babies at our Trunk of Treats in October and it was so cool to see the family, remember them, and get a chance to tell them that this church prayed for their baby.

When I made these cookies, I would usually make a triple batch, for each shift. I can get about four dozen cookies out of a batch, so I was usually cranking out at least 12 dozen cookies every time I made them. There were only two shifts, night shift was second, day shift was first. We took the cookies in a red toile tin with a promise that if the tin was returned empty it would be filled up again. We tried to take something every week, it became every other week after a while, but it certainly left an impression on the nurses and doctor's who cared for the babies because they knew that someone noticed them and appreciated their hard work. The most amazing thing about our 40 days in the NICU was that we were never known as anything other than, "Emma's Parents." Their whole focus was on her and her care not on the food and gifts we brought to them. As a parent we felt totally helpless, which is not a feeling that Kendra and I handle well. We had to do something and bringing baked goods was just the very least we could do. Those nurses have our undying gratitude and appreciation that will never fade with time.

There is a great candy cane company that only opens for one month at Christmas (it's in Minerva, KS) and they make the best candy canes I have ever eaten in my life. Mom's gets scads of them and has leftovers every year which I gladly eat, I love candy canes. Mom brought up all the leftovers we had and we gave them to the staff for Christmas, which they just flipped out over because it's not very often you get a home made candy cane for pete's sake.

Dr. Anderson was Teensy's neonatologist and I just can't say enough good things about him. We love him. When he ate these cookies it took him back to his home town. He told us he was from the North and that these cookies were made "up there" all the time and he hadn't had any since he had been in Oklahoma. I was thrilled to be able to give our babies doctor the cookie that took him back to his roots. I wanted to make other cookies, but knowing these were his favorite I just couldn't do anything other than these cookies.

I love the fact that they are bite sized, some people might try to make two bites out of them, and you can just pop them in. They are light and buttery with just at slight hint of almond, from the icing. But the most predominant flavor is the raspberry. I'm getting one of the worst cravings for these cookies as I type. They are so good.

I hope you try them and add them to your cookie collection for holidays. They are super easy. We have a v-shaped cutter from pampered chef and it is perfect for drizzling the glaze on the cookie. If you ever wondered what you were going to do with that thing, here you go.
Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup LAND O LAKES® Butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raspberry jam**

Glaze Ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 teaspoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

Combine butter, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour. Beat, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour. (I never do this step, but as disclosure it's in there.) Heat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. I use a small spring scoop (like an ice cream scooper). Place 2 inches apart onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Make indentation in center of each cookie with thumb (edges may crack slightly). Fill each indentation with about 1/4 teaspoon jam. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely. Meanwhile, stir together all glaze ingredients in small bowl with wire whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cookies.

**Substitute 1/2 cup of your favorite flavor jam.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ahoy me harties!

It was a balmy day on the choppy sea as Captain Hook glared over the bow of the Jolly Roger for his nemesis, Peter Pan. Their long standing rivalry was begun after Captain Hook lost his hand, in one ill fated confrontation with Peter. His life would be complete if he could just have one good swipe at Peter Pan with his hook, or yea even his sword which is always at his side. Even though he was watching for this flying menace with the most serious concentration, one eye is always peeled for, "Tic Toc" the alligator that had a, shall we say, taste for Captain Hook. Hook knew, in the back of his mind, that his end would not be at the dagger of that malcontent Peter, but by razor sharp teeth of an alligator. His hope was that day would never come, or at least too soon.

Just as surely as the sun rises in the east, Peter shows up causing Captain Hook grief. Buzzing around like a fly--swooping down to tease Hook as he messes with the plume of his hat. Peter delights in seeing the choreographed swaps of Hooks hand flailing about. This man who prides his self on order and, "good form" is completely undone by this boy who terrorizes him to no end. Why is it that he can't stay on Neverland Island and leave the seas to Hook. Of course it is because Hook rarely ever sets foot on dry land, the Jolly Roger is his land, and Peter wouldn't have any fun at all if not for Hook and his ranting and raving as he swaps the empty air trying to catch Peter.

Most days are spent in a carefree fashion, Peter spending his time fluttering about with Tinkerbell. Peter is oblivious to the affections that Tinkerbell has for him, instead thinking that she is after all, a silly fair incapable of having more than one emotion at a time. You would think that there aren't enough adventures to keep Peter and the lost boys busy, but it seems that Neverland has an endless supply of adventure for these boys who will never know the cold steel blade of a razor against their adult cheeks. There is a part of Peter Pan that knows when the adventures end so does his childhood, which makes him all the more eager to never try to find the end of adventure. He never seeks to end the rivalry with Hook, or reveal the true identities of the lost boys, those secrets are kept in Peter's heart. Peter's family is the company of the Lost boys and without them he would have no companionship.

There is Tiger Lily, the proud Princess of the Picaninny tribe, but Peter finds their order and sense a little close to "grown up" for him. He knows that Tiger Lily is a true friend to him and is also oblivious to her affections as well. Tiger Lily would defend Peter to her death, an oath she almost made come true. You see there was one occasion when the tension between Hook and Peter took an uncomfortable twist, convincing Tiger Lily that she needed to take matters in her own hands and deal with Hook on her own. It would not be on her own terms however for she made the mistake of challenging Hook on his territory. There wasn't a mouse on board the Jolly Roger that Hook didn't know about and tolerate. Even though Tiger Lily channeled all of her Indian stealth to lurk through the choppy waters of Neverland, the minute she touched the boat, Hook knew something was up. With the knife in her mouth, Tiger Lily's only goal was to end the feud between Peter and Hook. The ambush that awaited Tiger Lily was upset by Peter Pan who flew in at just the right time to capture Hook's attention away from his beautiful friend.

Tinkerbell could do little to help Peter rescue Tiger Lily from the danger ahead, deep down in side she didn't really want to do anything because one less beautiful girl casting her glance toward Peter was just fine with her. Peter was for her and her alone. Tinkerbell, an expert at mending pots and kettles knew how to use that skill to mend broken hearts. She wanted Peter Pan to be for her and her alone, but she knew that true love would drive Peter from his childhood and straight into the throngs of adult responsibility. Nothing else could ever distract him from his life of leisure as the chief child on the island of Never land. Had she not witnessed first hand, the time she almost lost him, she would never have believed any ones tale. There was indeed a time when Peter nearly gave it all up for true love.

Peter would often fly to England in search of a great bedtime story. The summer, spring, and fall months were perfect times to hunt for good stories so he made his trips most often during those seasons. Everyone had their windows thrown open to receive the cool breeze of the night air. Peter's ears were tuned in to hear the perfect story. He heard many stories, but none caught his ear like the one's he heard from a particular townhouse in Kensington. He found them at the Darling home. Wendy, John, and Michael were indeed luck to have a mother like Mary Darling. She was the best of all mothers, kind and gentle; full of compassion and love for her children. She would enter their room at night, dressed for her own night's slumber, but wanting to give her sweet children one last story to stoke their imaginations for a night of wonderful dreams. Peter loved to listen to Mary's stories and would lose himself in the fact that he was afraid of women and resisted any adult that would come his way. Mary was different, she was kind and loving and the way in which she spoke to her children put Peter at ease of her persuading him into his own life of adult hood. He would land like a feather on the stoop and open his mind to her voice as she told the stories that dreams are made of.

Night after night of stories went off without a hitch until one night when Peter lost his shadow. Shadows are mischievous little scoundrels. Peter had to have his shadow, although it would help to not have a shadow as his shadow gave him away to Hook often times as he swooped down for his daily dose of torment. One just can't live without a shadow, however beneficial it is to tormenting Pirates. Not being familiar with chartering the skies of the Darling children's rooms, Peter bumped into a Chiffarobe, moved since his last visit. Peter had never seen anything more than the back of the Darling children's heads as they were frozen in their beds listening to their mother's stories. Their white linen sleeping gowns glowing in the moonlight. That would all change as he swooped down to catch that ornery little shadow.

To be continued.