Buttermilk Pancakes (Large Batch and Freezer friendly!)

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Pancakes are such a simple, delicious way to start the mornings. Today, I’m sharing my favorite recipe for them – buttermilk pancakes! This recipe makes quite a large batch which is great for bigger families or if you just want a lot of leftovers. This recipe freezes well!

Buttermilk Pancakes
3 cups all purpose flour (I love King Arthur Unbleached flour)
3 tbsp white sugar (or your choice of sweetener)
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups buttermilk (don’t have any on hand? Try this simple homemade recipe!)
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, beat milks and eggs. Add butter and vanilla to milk mixture. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and combine. Bake pancakes on a griddle over medium heat until they are golden on each side.

This recipe makes 25 to 30 pancakes, depending on the size of pancake you make. To freeze, simply place in a freezer safe zip-lock bag until you’re ready to use. When you’re ready to use your frozen pancakes, remove from the freezer, heat up in the microwave and then toast a bit in your toaster or toaster oven (be careful not to over-toast, they tend to get crispy really quick!)

Enjoy them like my family does – with blueberries, chocolate chips or just as they are, covered in butter and maple syrup! Happy eating!

 

 

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Why I love to meal plan – and how I do it!

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Today I wanted to share a post about why I love meal planning and how I do it. I spent the first several years of my marriage without any planning when it came to the kitchen. I found myself frustrated each day when it came to meal times – I didn’t even really ever know what I had on hand and, therefore, couldn’t plan meals to save my life. I was making multiple trips to the store each week just to pick up items for that day, when it reality this was costing us so much more money than I should have been spending, not to mention wasting time and gas!

I finally got serious about being more organized and thoughtful in the kitchen. I realized what a blessing it is to serve my family nutritious, tasty meals everyday, and I asked the Lord to start helping me see the blessing in serving them. I came into my marriage with barely any knowledge on how to cook (my poor husband suffered through my under-cooked BBQ chicken and tuna casserole pretty much every night I would cook), but with this new outlook on cooking for my family, I became determined to learn. I tried many new recipes each week – some would fail, but most of them turned out well, especially as I got the hang of preparing and serving meals to my family. I still love to try new recipes and now, planning, preparing and serving meals to my family is one of my favorite and most enjoyable things to do. I no longer look at it as a frustrating task that just has to be done as quickly and sloppily as possible, and much of that is thanks to being more prepared in the kitchen and having a bigger perspective on cooking as a joyful service to my family.

I am one of *those* ladies who plans every meal of the day for a week or two at a time. I do my “big” grocery shopping once every two weeks (based on my husband’s pay periods) and I always have to make one to two smaller trips in between that big one to restock things like bread, milk and produce. Before my big grocery trip, I make a detailed meal list with breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas. I take inventory of what I already have on hand and what I can make meals with based on that, and then I add to it what we’d like to have for meals and add those ingredients to my shopping list. This is a big onetake a list to the store! For so many years, I went into stores blindly and ended up spending way more than I needed, and I always forgot items and had to make more trips to pick up items I ended up needing. It was an exhausting, expensive cycle!

I don’t necessarily have a list that looks like: “Monday: Oatmeal. Sandwiches. Grilled Chicken.” And then force myself to religiously stick to that list and order of meals. What I do, however, is print out a “Meal Options” list and stick it to my fridge. I have posted what that looks like below:

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What I do is quickly scope out the meal options list the night before or the morning of and see what sounds good that day based on what we have on hand. Do the kids feel like having cinnamon rolls for breakfast? Oatmeal? If it’s on the meal options list, we are free to make whatever sounds good. My oldest son in particular gets very bored with normal lunch foods, so you see that I add extra ideas to the lunch section so he feels he has more of a selection, which has really saved him some frustration over being “sandwiched out”. (He is also the only one who will eat frozen turkey meals, so I pick up one or so a week for him from the store.) For dinner, I try to list what exactly I’ll make with each main dish so there are no surprises and I’m not scrambling to find sides to serve. But again, we don’t go in the exact order the meal options are listed – I simply can look at the list, know what I have on hand and decide what to make from there.

This method has really helped me over the years. It has saved me:
Time. No more running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to figure out what to serve.
Money. No more unnecessary trips to the grocery store to pick up just one or two items, which we all know, can easily turn into more if we are just going into the store blind, without a list and plan.
Frustration. No more looking up at the clock, seeing it’s 5p.m. and being frustrated and disappointed in myself for not even having a clue what to make for dinner.

I hope this will help inspire someone else out there to meal plan. Yes, it takes time and effort, but it really does make our home at mealtime run much more smoothly. Happy meal planning! 🙂

How to survive the first trimester (with lots of little ones)

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How to survive the first trimester (with lots of little ones)

Being pregnant is such a blessed time. From the moment you realize you’ve got a new little life growing inside of you all the way up until you’re holding that baby in your arms, a lot of time is spent thinking of and preparing for the new baby. But what about Mommy? She has a lot of needs, too, during pregnancy and beyond. You’re tired but sometimes have trouble sleeping, you’re sick but also very hungry, one minute you’re feeling overjoyed and the next you’re crying. Pregnancy can certainly be like a roller coaster, can’t it? 🙂

I am still in my first trimester with baby #5 and I thought I’d share a few ideas on how to survive the first trimester when you’ve got several other little ones who are counting on you.

1. Eat what sounds good.

Now, this doesn’t mean that your only food groups should be chocolate, pizza and fast food (though, some days, that may be all you can stomach for whatever reason). I totally encourage Mom’s to *try* to eat well and balanced meals and snacks. Your little one needs good nutrition to thrive! You need good nutrition to feel healthy. But, sometimes we all have food aversions, whether it’s meats, vegetables, dairy products, etc. Right now, one of the only things that doesn’t make my stomach churn is pasta. So, I make pasta ahead of time and keep it in the fridge so that when hunger calls, I can heat it up. I can use some homemade marinara sauce on it, or maybe just some sauteed veggies on top. Try to eat what you can stomach, and think ahead to what those things might be so that while you’re in the middle of your day and can’t drop everything to make a big meal for yourself, you have things on hand to pull out and whip up. Of course, try to make healthy choices when you can. But if all you can seem to stomach for a few weeks is pasta like me, eat the pasta.

2. Don’t beat yourself up for taking some easier routes than you normally would.

Some of my favorite things right now are: paper plates, juice boxes and the newly assigned “snack drawer” in my kitchen. Do I normally have all these things on hand? No. But, desperate times, people. I am learning not to beat myself up for needing to take some shortcuts right now. If I’m really not well one night, well, my family still needs to eat, and paper plates help alleviate some of my stress. If I’m sick and my children are thirsty or hungry for a little snack, they can easily help themselves to a juice box from the fridge or a snack from the snack drawer (think: granola bars, applesauce pouches, boxes of raisins, fruit snacks). It won’t always be like this, Mama. Take some shortcuts right now and give yourself the rest and grace you need.

3. Give yourself some grace.

You’re not going to be supermom right now. But that doesn’t mean you’re failing. Have your children bring you a big stack of books and read with them from your couch or bed. Sit outside (weather permitting…I know when it gets too hot, I simply can’t be out for too long before getting sick) and give your children your undivided attention – watch them do those super cool cartwheels they’ve just mastered, or time their bike races while you cheer them on from a comfy chair. Know that, yes, right now, your children may be watching a little more TV than usual, but it’s just a season. It’s just for a time. You are still an amazing and loving Mama, who just happens to need a little extra TLC right now.

Knowing when to say “no” is also a big one here. The only thing worse during the first trimester when you’re already sick, overheated, and going through a million changes is being over committed, stretched thin and completely and totally spent. There have been times recently where a really neat opportunity comes up and I have to choose to say “no”. For example, I recently left our home school co-op, knowing it was not going to be a good fit for us this year and it would not be wise to take on that extra commitment being pregnant. Other examples would be: that outing with friends and other kids that sounds really wonderful, but knowing it’s going to be stressful, exhausting and I’m going to end up being totally sick because of it is just not worth it to me. Sure, my kids really want to have that one friend over for a sleepover, but knowing right now what kind of extra pressure it’s going to put on me in an already fragile time (physically and emotionally) I have to say “no”. There will be so many opportunities to say “yes” in the future – sometimes saying “no” is actually being incredibly kind to yourself.

A spin off of this is – be honest with your children and your spouse. Let them know that right now, Mama’s body is very busy growing a new life (a pretty amazing feat!) and because of that, Mama just doesn’t feel like herself sometimes. Let them know what you need. Let them know you need them to be your big helpers and to look for ways to help with messes, or with little siblings. I know my older children have been *so* wonderful lately about taking my 2 and 4 year olds back to their rooms to play when they know I’m really not feeling well. I love hearing them giggle and play and then having them come to me after a time and telling me all the fun adventures they had. Does this mean I’m a bad Mom right now for not being able to play with my kids 24/7? No! It means I know my limitations and I know when to admit I can’t do it all.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or to accept it when it’s offered.

I admit, this is probably the hardest one for me. I hate feeling like a burden or an inconvenience to anyone, so often times, I won’t speak up when I really do need help. I encourage other Mom’s not to be like me in this area. When people say things like, “How can I help?” or “Can I do XYZ for you?” they most likely really do want to help! My husband is gone a lot with the military (as he is right now) and I can’t tell you what an absolute blessing it has been the few times people will offer help and instead of pridefully turning them down, I accept. Whether it’s picking up a few things from the grocery store we really need, or dropping off a simple dinner, or coming and mowing my grass because it’s 100* outside and I simply can’t get out there to do it. People love you, Mama, and they want to help! Let them take the kiddos for an hour while you take a warm bath, or better yet, take a much needed nap!

5. Pray.

It’s so simple and yet it’s such an often overlooked part of our day. We are busy from sunup til sundown tending our homes and our little ones, and by the time our heads hit the pillow at night, we think, “I haven’t even talked to my Father today.” I’m speaking to myself here! Prayer is not something we must do to earn “points” or a ticket to Heaven. Rather, it’s one of the beautiful privileges of being a child of God. He has promised to listen to our prayers; He hears you, Mama. Tell Him what you need. Ask Him for the strength, patience and the health to get through this day. Not every single day ahead of you, just today. He has promised to provide for our needs each day, and His mercies are new each morning. Believe and rest in that.

When Your Child Begins To Realize They’re Different

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Two of my kiddos have special medical needs; my oldest son has Cystinuria and my youngest daughter has Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. As time goes on, I’m kind of getting used to being a “special needs mom”. All the appointments are becoming routine, the kid’s medicine alarms and medication schedule have become second nature to me and I can tell you all about their diseases at the drop of a hat.

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My two “rare” kids, Ruby and Kilian

But lately, I’ve heard some things come out of my 7 1/2 year old’s mouth that have caused me to pause and reflect and have even broken my heart a little. A few things I’ve heard him say in the past week or so:

“Mommy, is that the last surgery I’ll ever have to have?”

“Mommy, when will my kidneys work better?”

“Mommy, will I always have to take this medicine for the rest of my life?”

My son was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney disease called Cystinuria almost two years ago. It’s incurable and chronic, which means it will always be there and potentially give him issues. He just had another surgery to remove kidney stones about four weeks ago and another minor procedure to remove a stent in his urinary tract a few days ago.

I think my son is coming to an age where he realizes he deals with something most children don’t…and that it will always be that way. Which just shatters my heart into a million pieces. I want to protect him and take away his hurt. I want him to live as normal a childhood as possible and we try very hard to make that happen. But, his disease is relentless, and even when we are doing all the “right” things, his body still makes kidney stones.

So, I thought I’d write a tribute to him/something that he could read later on, maybe when he’s going through a difficult or painful time or feeling down about this all. Maybe it could help someone else out there, too, who is walking through a difficult season medically or maybe has a child of their own with special medical needs.

To answer those questions above…

No, my son. This is not the last surgery you’ll ever have to have. Chances are you will have to have procedures in the future because we want those stones to get out of you when they form. But I promise that Daddy and I will always be there to support you during your surgeries, appointments or hospital stays. We will be your advocates. We will speak up for you and make sure you’re taken the best care of and as comfortable as you can be. We will fight for you.

No, my love. Your kidneys will not work better or differently. But you know what? You are an amazing little guy. A fighter. You’re strong. You’re brave. Your ability to have kidney stones, to have surgeries and still carry on with life, to still run and play, to still bring a smile to everyone’s face regardless of what you’re facing…you amaze us. You inspire us to do better and to be better in our own lives. You remind us that whatever we are dealing with that we need to smile, because it’s really not so bad.

Yes, my sweet boy. You will always have to take medicine. Maybe not this particular kind, but your medicine helps your kidneys work to their best ability. It makes those pesky stones have a harder time building up, which prayerfully means less frequent kidney stones. We want to keep you as healthy as possible. I know it’s a pain having to take your medicine multiple times a day. I know it’s a challenge to drink more water every day than most adults do. But you never complain. You are so compliant with it all. Like your Doctors say, you are a super patient! You are incredible!

So, yes, you’re a little different. But you’re also smart. You’re creative. You’re inquisitive. You’re thoughtful. You’re kind and compassionate. You’re opinionated and spunky and passionate. You’re funny. You have a great smile and laugh. You’re energetic. You would do anything for your family and friends and even those you don’t know. Truth is, I admire you.

Above all else, I want you to know how loved you are. You made me a mother, Kilian. No one could take your place in my heart. We share a bond that could never be broken or replaced.

Even so, your Heavenly Father loves you more than I ever could (which is a lot for me to imagine, because I love you and your siblings and your Daddy with all that is in me!).

He loves you with “an everlasting love”, and is “ever faithful and kind” to you (Jeremiah 31:3).

He tells us we do not need to fight our battles (2 Chronicles 20:17) because He will fight for us.

He tells us that He will go before us and will be with us, and we do not need to be afraid or discouraged (Deuteronomy 31:8).

He loved you and I so much that He sent His only son to take our place, to die with our sin, that we might believe and trust in Him and receive everlasting life (John 3:16).

He hears the cries of His people and He is concerned with our suffering (Exodus 3:7).

He encourages us to cast our cares and anxieties on Him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

So, no matter what kind of trials or pain you face in this life, I pray you will always remember how loved and cherished you are. I pray that even in the darkest times, you will cling to your faith. You would remember you were made in the image of the Creator and that He does not make mistakes. I pray you would remember He has a very distinct purpose and plan for you, even if you can’t make sense of it or see what it is in that moment.

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You make me so proud. And you are so loved.

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With Love, Courtney

(Whole Food Ingredient) Banana Muffins

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What a long time it’s been since I’ve updated this blog!

I’m hoping to get back into the swing of writing. I enjoy doing it and it can be therapeutic for me. I am sharing a banana muffin recipe here today!

I’ve been making this particular recipe for years and sadly can’t remember where I got the recipe, so I can’t give the original person credit for it. Anyways, it’s always been a hit with my family! We get excited when we see our bananas are a little too ripe for our liking because we know we can make them into delicious muffins 🙂

However, our family has moved toward a whole food diet (very slowly, over the past few years, but especially the last month we have gotten very serious and strict about what we bring into the home, prepare and eat) and the original recipe contains a few ingredients I wouldn’t consider to be whole food friendly (white all-purpose flour and sugar, for example).

So, I’ve tweaked the recipe and I must say, the results were fantastic! They were just as enjoyable as before and I felt a lot better preparing them in a way I knew was good for my family.

Whole Food Ingredient Banana Muffins
(bakes 12 muffins)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur’s Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour, which you can find at almost any store. It’s still 100 percent whole wheat, but it’s made with a lighter type of wheat which is easier on my taste buds)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup raw honey
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter (you can substitute coconut oil if you want to make these dairy free)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups in a muffin tin. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the vanilla, egg, bananas, honey and butter. Mix well. (Note: I recently began throwing the wet ingredients into my Magic Bullet and blending until mixed and smooth and I’ve liked the results. However, mixing the wet ingredients by hand works just as well!)

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix well. Fill muffin cups 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes and let cool before serving.

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We are never disappointed with these muffins. I usually bake them the night before so they’re ready to be enjoyed first thing in the morning, but I’ve also prepared the batter, frozen it in individual muffin cups, and kept frozen until ready to use. For this method, pop them out of the freezer when you’re ready to bake them and bake for a few extra minutes than the recipe calls for.

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Easy Meal Ideas for Busy Families

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Being a homemaking, homeschooling, busy mom of so many littles has it’s challenges (and it’s blessings)! If I had to chose one of the biggest challenges for me, it’d be meal planning, meal prep and meal time. It seems like I’m always in the kitchen, at the grocery store, planning meals, cleaning up after meals or serving meals. Don’t get me wrong – our family eating together is very important to me, and I love serving my family in many ways, including filling their hungry bellies! But it can prove challenging if I’m not mentally and physically prepared for the day ahead.

While some families find that planning dinners for every night of the week works well for them, I actually find that planning all three meals for every day of the whole week works well for me. I know exactly what we are having each day, what we need from the store for that week and what we have on hand. It makes meal times a little less stressful to be so overly detailed about everything 🙂

I thought I’d share today some menu ideas for busy families like ours. We are on a tight budget as we are a single income family, and many of these meals are inexpensive, filling and nutritious as well as easy and tasty. I have quite a few picky eaters on my hands, so some of the meals I make, there will be one person who will not eat it. We will usually make them try a little of everything I’ve made and if they still don’t want to eat it, they are allowed to have something easy that they can prepare themselves, like a sandwich and some fruit. Some people may not agree with this way of handling picky eaters, but it works for our family, and I’m just happy if my children have tried what I’ve prepared. (More times than not, they find they like it.)

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First, we’ll start with breakfast! Our brood wakes up hungry, so I’ve learned I can’t be too slow in the mornings or I have cranky kiddos on my hands {which in turn can make for a cranky mommy!}. I generally try to get up when my husband does, before the kids wake, and get coffee and breakfast started. My kids all sleep in until different times, so sometimes my oldest will eat an hour or two before the other two, because he is my earliest riser. I tend not to care so much if we don’t all sit at the table together for breakfast time since everyone requires different amounts of sleep. Lunch and dinnertime we always dine together, though.

Breakfast Ideas
-Oatmeal. We make oatmeal probably twice a week. It’s filling and healthy and you can top with fruit, raisins, cinnamon, walnuts, honey or maple syrup to make it suite your taste!
-Scrambled eggs (you can add cheese and chopped veggies for extra flavor) served with bacon or fresh fruit on the side. I bake my bacon in the oven as it saves me a lot of clean up time and tastes oh so delicious!
-Homemade pancakes or waffles (I make large batches and freeze the leftovers for quick and easy future breakfasts.) Try these amazing apple cinnamon waffles for a different flavor!
-Fresh fruit and yogurt smoothies. The flavors are really endless. Sneak some chopped spinach or kale into the smoothies for extra nutrition or try this protein packed smoothie my toddler loves.
-Yogurt topped with granola and/or fruit (we buy the big tubs of yogurt and bags of granola – it saves money!)
-Banana or blueberry muffins (Ever get tired of throwing out old bananas or berries? When you see they are getting a little too mushy or ripe to eat, place them in a freezer safe bag and freeze until you’re ready to use them, and then try a banana or blueberry muffin recipe with them! Saves money!)

Moving on to lunch time. For us, school is usually finished by lunch and we are looking forward to spending the next hour with Dad on his lunch break. We try to keep it easy and low key.

Lunch Ideas
-Sandwiches (some of our favorites are PB&J, PB&Honey, turkey with veggies, and tuna)
-Cheese quesadillas (although my picky eaters prefer only cheese, my husband and I add bacon, chicken and veggies to our quesadillas – such a satisfying and tasty meal!)
-Leftovers (we try not to waste!)
-Chicken or salmon salads (again, we will use leftover meats for these salads)
-For the sides of the above items, we do fresh fruit and veggies, crackers, raisins, granola bars, seeds and nuts, cheese, etc.

Dinnertime has long been referred to as “the witching hour” and I can certainly understand why this is! 5:00 rolls around and it seems like everyone is cranky, tired and hungry. Dinner can’t get to the table fast enough! Luckily, with meal planning, I generally have a good idea of what I’m making each night and I can start to prep for it earlier in the day if the recipe or items allow. Sometimes, even just chopping up our veggies that will go with dinner and placing them in the fridge or thawing and marinating the meat ahead of time saves me time and a headache when dinnertime rolls around. These dinner ideas are pretty basic ones that I hope you will find useful.

Dinner Ideas
-Grilled or baked chicken, salmon or pork. You can season or marinate them however you want, the possibilities are really endless! We usually serve them with something simple like steamed brown rice and steamed veggies. Sometimes we will mix it up with homemade rolls, beans, applesauce, fruit salad, pasta salad or macaroni and cheese.
-Spaghetti or lasagna (always a little-kid friendly choice!) If you want to skip the meat for a vegetarian meal, try a meatless lasagna or this awesome bell pepper spaghetti recipe.
-Hamburgers (I usually have my husband grill extra so we have some for lunch that week)
-Make your own taco night (everyone likes theirs a little different so it’s fun letting everyone make their own)
-Homemade pizza night (again, the kids have a blast creating their own pizzas! An easy and fun way to involve them in meal prep)
-Casseroles (chicken, tuna and Mexican casseroles are so tasty, quick and reheat well for leftovers)
-Crock pot meals (BBQ chicken, chilis and pot roasts are my favorites – so easy and delicious)
-Stir fry (You can use virtually any meat you want! Combine with your favorite fresh, sautéed fresh veggies and serve over steamed rice. A family-friendly favorite!)

With a little planning, meal times don’t have to be stressful or daunting. I plan to make a part two to this post about how we eat healthy meals on a very tight budget. So, stay tuned!

What are some of your favorite recipes for busy families, especially with picky eaters? I’d love to hear from you!

Things I want my unborn child to know

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Hello, my dear, sweet baby.

I feel you in there. You’re already so strong, so active and so full of life. Your Daddy and I laugh at your quick movements and the way you try to break out of my belly like that scene from Alien. Your little kicks and punches and rolls can be startling and uncomfortable at times, but how I love the sweet reminder of the beautiful, purposeful life God is allowing to grow inside of me. You are a blessing.

This pregnancy is reaching it’s end. Just a few more weeks now and you’ll make your way into this world and be in our arms. It’s bittersweet; how I long to look into your eyes, stroke your hair, count your fingers and toes and breathe in that new baby scent that you can never quite get back after a few days Earth side…but how I’ll miss feeling you inside of me; how I’ll miss the anticipation of your arrival; how I’ll miss Daddy rubbing my belly when it’s quiet and still at night as we wonder what you’ll look like or what you’re up to in my belly;  how I’ll miss guessing your gender and picking baby names and folding little yellow baby sleepers that have yet to be worn…

I’d like you to know how loved you already are. You have three siblings who can’t wait to see you,  kiss you, hold you and teach you. They speak daily of you and kiss you through my belly often. They pray for you. They include you in every day thoughts and conversations and plans they make. You are so adored by them already and I’m certain you will never lack for a play mate, secret keeper, tickle giver, boo boo kisser or big helper.

You have a Mommy and Daddy who promise to do our best to make your birth day (whenever you choose that day to be) as special, peaceful and beautiful as we can make it. We promise after your birth to keep you warm, safe, fed, comforted and loved. We will always be there for a hug or kiss or cuddle, even at 2 am when we are tired. You are always welcome to come to us, whether it’s a scraped knee,  a problem with a friend, a question you can’t seem to answer or find peace with or a broken heart. We will always do what we feel is in your best interest, even when you don’t understand or agree. We promise to always love you; no conditions.

Above all, we pray that you will always know and understand that you were created in the image of God. He knit you together in my womb, and you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He has a great plan and purpose for you, and even in moments in life where you may feel inadequate, unimportant, purposeless, lost or confused, that truth will never change. You have a Savior who died for you before you were even conceived; and no matter how great our love for you is, He loves you with a love greater than Daddy or I could ever imagine. We pray that you would choose to follow the Savior all your days and that we would be equipped, steadfast and faithful to raise you in His ways.

We are so anxious to meet you, little one. I will savor these last few weeks of our oneness and anticipate that moment when I pull you to my chest after all of our hard work together and finally get to kiss your squishy, warm, sweet face.

You are so loved, so cherished and so important.

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"Behold, children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward." Psalm 127:3