Friday, August 30, 2013

High Five for Friday

This is my first High Five for Friday post!

I first discovered this link up by reading my friend Lauren's blog. I've been toying with the idea of starting my own Friday series, but for now I believe I'll just join in the fun with this one. It's kinda enjoyable looking back through my week and thinking about the five moments that stood out to me most. Really makes me appreciate those little times to which I may not have given a second thought if it weren't for this little reflective exercise. 

So without further ado....

{1} Thursday Morning Beignets: What is better than warm fried dough topped with mounds of powdery sugar? Eating them while drinking a large caramel coffee. Oh, and the fact that I munched calorie-laden breakfast food instead of working out.

{2} Visiting Our Alma Mater: We took an impromptu trip to our college campus to pick up a few items for the upcoming football season. And of course, since it was Maylin's first visit, we had to get a picture of her next to the fountain in the quad. A sweet college girl offered to take a picture of the three of us. 

{3} Sunday Lunch: Isn't this picture the sweetest? I'm so glad I was able to capture this memory on film. My mammaw rocking her great-granddaughter.

{4} Posture Perfect: This little baby has been sitting up for one week. I love how straight her back is when she sits. No slumping, this one. Sits just like a little lady. 

{5} Living Proof Live Conference: I wrote about this conference here. Very powerful and very inspiring.

I hope your week was filled with interesting moments like mine was. 
Happy Friday! 
And hooray for a long weekend!

Linking up with {the other} Lauren for H54F

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

{In My Kitchen} Homemade Meatballs & Spaghetti Sauce with Brown Rice Noodles


 I'm looking for a good spaghetti sauce recipe. I tried this recipe {from scratch!} last night. But unfortunately, it got the "thumbs down" from my husband. Anybody else get that response sometimes? Here's how the conversation went.

"Babe? Can I tell you something?" {there was a note of please-don't-kill-me-when-I-say-this in his tone}

"Yes..." {putting a bite in my mouth and chewing}

"Well, this is not exactly what I picture when I think of spaghetti sauce."

Now, because I'm a pretty forgiving woman, I didn't take the sauce pot and knock him over the head. Also, he had a point. The sauce had a really strong Italian flavor, which we both liked, but the texture was just too chunky. I like a thick, smooth, stick-to-the-noodles type of tomato sauce. And unfortunately, this one just fell short. Sigh.

If, however, you're a fan of a chunky sauce, I'd say this one's a winner.

I also made homemade meatballs. Which Michael raved about. So, hopefully that made up for the disappointing sauce.

Instead of using whole wheat pasta like I normally do, I used brown rice pasta. I ran across it in the grocery store the other day and was intrigued, so I decided to give it a try.

Neither Michael nor I are gluten-intolerant, so that wasn't the motivation for buying this type of pasta. I was merely curious. Overall, I liked the taste and the texture. I think the noodles were a bit "stickier" than wheat noodles. There was a lot of starch in the water when I finished boiling them. But I also thought they were softer than whole wheat noodles, which is a plus for me. I'd say the major downfall of this type of pasta is that it took 15 minutes to boil rather than the traditional 6-8 minutes for wheat pasta. The cost was about the same.

If you have an intolerance to gluten or if you're just looking for "whole food" alternative to whole wheat pasta, I'd say give these a try! I'll be buying them again in the future.

{Miss Maylin} 5 Months Old

At 5 months old, Maylin:

~ weighs 13 lbs 2 oz
~ is 23 inches long
~ wears diapers size 2
~ wears clothing size 3 months and 3-6 months
~ wants to put everything in her mouth
~ rolls from back to tummy
~ hates tummy time
~ consistently sleeps through the night
~ stills sleeps outside our bedroom in her pack-n-play {not upstairs in nursery yet!}
~ is still exclusively breastfed {waiting until after 6 months to start oatmeal/solids}
~ nurses every 3 hours
~ sleeps "swaddled" from chest down with arms out 
~ has found her feet and tries to put them in her mouth at every opportunity
~ is sitting up by herself
~ has laughed only once {yesterday!}
~ can hold objects in her hands for extended periods of time
~ likes talking to herself in the mirror
~ takes 4 naps a day
~ reaches and grabs like a pro {especially my face and hair}

My life has been richly blessed by my sweet Maylin! Maylin Sidney, you are deeply cherished.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

{Recap} Living Proof Live Conference with Beth Moore

I've attempted several times to write about attending the Living Proof Live Conference this past weekend, but somehow even I can't find the words to encapsulate everything that I experienced and learned. So, instead of this being a long, drawn out post about the conference, I'm going to sum up what I have to say in a few short sentences.

"If it had not been the Lord who was on our side- let Israel {Jana} now say- 
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side when people rose up against us, 
then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; 
then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; 
then over us would have gone the raging waters.
Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth! 
We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; 
the snare is broken, and we have escaped!
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth." 
Psalm 124 {ESV}

Take that first thought and let it run through your brain for a minute. If the Lord had not been on my side...

What? What would have happened? Where would you be?

What have you escaped from?

At the conference we were asked to let that sentence play out in our mind and record the answers. I recorded all the possible scenarios of my life if it weren't for God's loving influence and gentle intervention. And I was overwhelmed by the alternate path I'd be on.

You, too?

God loves us. God is for us, sisters. God's love and tenderness and longing for us stretches higher and farther and longer than we can fathom, is deeper and more gentle than we can imagine. There are times when I am faced with guilt and self-condemnation over my choices and actions, whether they be past or present, and a dark voice inside me whispers, "God is disappointed in you, Jana. He can't possibly love you as much now." But this is a lie. It is a lie in regards to my life, and it is a lie in regards to yours.

No matter who you are, what you have done, what choices you are making, or what actions you are living, God loves you. And He offers, oh so gently and oh so sweetly, an escape. Freedom. A new life.

Believe Him. Believe He is who He says He is. 

A joyful and abundant life of freedom is waiting.

{To read testimonies from the conference I attended, click here. If you are interested in Beth Moore, her devotions for women, or any upcoming conferences, please read more here. If you are looking for peace with God, click here.}

Thursday, August 22, 2013

{Miss Maylin} A Girl and Her Bear

Maylin is just getting to where she can grab and hold objects on her own. This plush little bear is the perfect size for her fingers. Not only that, it rattles and makes a squeaky sound when you squeeze it. Maylin is beside herself.

In preparation for fall, I've been on the search for fall colored headbands for my bald-headed baby girl. I ordered this set a couple weeks ago. The brown and mustard yellow are perfectly suitable for fall, so they're tucked away to wear later. However, I simply couldn't resist putting the cream colored shabby flower on her now. I mean, look at it. I don't like putting bows on her that overwhelm her face, so this flower is the perfect size. Plus it's adorable in a feminine way. I'm so pleased with this purchase!

Also, something about the lighting in the nursery and the way she was interacting with Little Bear called for an impromptu photo shoot. Because obviously.

Dress/Top: Burlington Baby Depot
Leggings: Carter's
Headband: Maisy's Boutique via Etsy

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

{In My Kitchen} Coconut Milk + Flaxseed

Two things on this sunny August afternoon:

1) Have any of y'all ever tried coconut milk? Oh. My. Goodness. It has quickly become my favorite breakfast drink besides coffee. It may or may not also be my favorite drink for afternoon snack.
Recently a friend of mine posted about how delicious coconut milk tastes. I was immediately intrigued. Usually I stick to my organic vitamin D fortified whole milk. I mean, I've tried several "milk substitutes" before. Almond milk- gritty and bitter. Soy milk- oily and tasteless. I was a bit skeptical, but she raved about it so much I decided to take the plunge and purchase a carton. Now it will have a permanent spot on the top shelf in my fridge. And if you want to know what it tastes like before you buy it, I'll tell you.
Coconut milk = Vacation in a glass.
Enough said.

2) Another item that's been in my kitchen recently is flaxseed. That's what you see up there sprinkled on top of my yogurt and strawberries. I've been hearing about the health benefits of flaxseed, so I decided to do some research to find out exactly why I need to eat it on a regular basis. Here's what I discovered:

  • Flaxseeds are rich in lignans (which as far as I can tell have qualities similar to antioxidants), fiber, and Omega 3 fatty acids. Due to these qualities, there are several health benefits associated with flaxseed consumption. Turns out that flaxseed can:
  • Reduce your risk of cancer
  • Prevent heart disease
  • Stabilize blood sugar levels
  • Help weight loss (who doesn't like that, right?)
  • Promote intestinal health
And those are only five reasons out of the eleven or more benefits I found. Sounds like a superfood to me!
I love how easy it is to include in my diet. I can easily add it to yogurt, a smoothie, salad, oatmeal, peanut butter toast, or simply mix it with fresh cut up fruit. And a little bit goes a long way, so for those of you who are like me and on a monthly grocery budget, a $3.00 bag can last a couple of months. Win.

Information about flaxseed from here and here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

{Miss Maylin} 4 Months Old

At 4 months old, Maylin:

~ likes to focus on patterns and prints
~ likes to watch and interact with herself in the mirror
~ has found her fingers and is constantly putting them in her mouth
~ has rolled from tummy to back
~ will grab and hold dangling objects
~ wears size 1 in diapers
~ wears size 0-3 months, 3 months, or 3-6 months in clothing
~ still sleeps fully swaddled
~ nurses every 3 hours
~ will coo in response to a voice
~ weighs 12 lbs 7 oz
~ is 23 inches long
~ makes LOTS of spit bubbles

Happy 4 Months, baby girl!

{Lesson Learned from a First Time Mom} Time Is Fast

I've learned a lot since becoming a mom. Besides the obvious skills it takes to keep a child alive (every morning Michael and I congratulate ourselves that we've all survived another day), there are other things I've gradually learned as well.

One main epiphany I've had since Maylin was born is how extremely fast time goes by. Babies change at a rapid speed. Like, lightening fast. I swear, every morning Maylin wakes up she looks different from the day before. This is something that nobody ever told me about; it's something I've come to realize on my own.

I distinctly remember the first moment I came to this realization. Maylin was three days old. We had been home from the hospital for about 24 hours, and it was bedtime. I use the term "bedtime" loosely, because bedtime in those early days was extremely relative. At any rate, it was the time of night that Michael and I were used to going to bed (pre-baby), around 10:00 PM. We were sitting in her nursery, no lights on but her tiny lamp. I was rocking and M was sitting on the ottoman. We were both still pretty awestruck over our tiny babe, so we were content sitting there in relative quiet, sometimes commenting softly about one thing or another. In one of the silent moments, I remember looking at sleeping Maylin and realizing how distinctly different she looked this night from the night before. Tears sprung to my eyes as I thought, "Maylin will never look the same as she does now. Three-day-old-Maylin is almost gone; tomorrow she'll be four-day-old-Maylin with new looks, new skills, a new level of awareness." I spoke that truth to Michael around a lump in my throat, and the tears started to fall.

I've so enjoyed watching Maylin change and grow, and deep down I'm glad she is since that is the natural and normal course of life. I wouldn't want her to be "stuck" in one place for too long. But there are times when I notice her doing a new thing, making a new sound or a new facial expression, and my heart clinches just a tiny little bit. Partly because of happiness, and partly because of sadness, because I know she's growing up.

So, the point of the story is, I've learned to grasp each tiny little moment, each little movement, each little mountain she climbs in her journey toward toddler-hood, and gather them together in a mosaic of my mind.

Time goes by fast. I want to cherish these little treasures of her baby days. So if the phone rings and I don't answer, if the laundry sits on the couch for a day or so, if the due date for the library books comes and goes, it's all okay...

I'm just wringing out all the moments I can from one-hundred-forty-four-day-old-Maylin.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Little House in the Pines

Welcome to my Little House in the Pines!

I'm Jana, and this is my cozy retreat where I write about the meaningful (or, okay, the sometimes random and bizarre) moments as a stay-at-home-first-time-mama.

My husband Michael and I live in the piney hills of the deep south, where the winters are mild, the summers are scorching, and the barometer always reads 100% humidity. We like it here. Well, except for the fact that my hair falls flat and his shirt sticks to his skin the moment we open the door. Also, I really only get to wear a scarf and boots about 3 months out of the year. As a girl who dreamed of sipping hot chocolate in flannel by a roaring fire while it snows outside, this is a bad thing. We don't get snow. Ever.

Our little girl was born in late March of this past year. We named her Maylin, pronounced MAY-lin, emphasis on the May part. We don't intend for her name to be pronounced in stereotypical Southern double-hyphenated name sort of style (ex: May-Lynne; I cringe). And no, we didn't get the name from Steel Magnolias. She is the light and joy of our little home. She's also the cause of many late (and sleepless) nights, but we don't hold that against her. People told us our lives would be forever changed when she was born, but there was no preparing us for the force of love and tenderness that we feel for her.

Our town is small, not in a back-woods, "green grass grows" a la Tim McGraw kind of small, but rather in a way that you're going to run into someone you know when you eat at Chili's. We, like most people around here, live in a quiet, quaint neighborhood surrounded by tall pine trees. Our back yard alone boasts nine pine trees (yes, nine).

I've blogged sporadically since college, but with the recent resignation of my teaching position to stay home with our four month old daughter, I've found myself wanting needing to write with more regularity and with more purpose. Believe it or not, changing (another) diaper and speaking in a high, squeaky baby voice all day can become a bit monotonous. Not that I don't love speaking in baby coos to my daughter (after all, I chose to stay home with her), but it's a little embarrassing when my husband comes home and I speak to him that way too...

So, welcome to our little neck of the neighborhood! Expect to find recipes for wholesome dishes, stories about our daily happenings, and a lot of thoughts about adapting to mom life.