Thursday, November 26, 2015

Lessons I Learned

Tomorrow my little turkey baby will be turning the wild one. I'm not sure how it's happened, but here we are, on the eve of her birth. It's amazing to look back and see where we were and to see how it all panned out. How amazing our God is! He has blessed us with this beautiful little girl who is such a light in our lives. She has taught us so very much and I thought I would share our journey and what we have learned with all of you good people. Whether you do not have kids or you have seven, I think each kid has their own lessons to teach. So here are the lessons Q had for us.

1. Let go and let God:

Quinn was born at 3:01 Thanksgiving morning via emergency C-section. She was not getting enough oxygen and her heartbeat slowed each time I had a contraction. The placenta had already started to detach. When our doctor came in to tell us that our sweet girl was not doing well, I think my heart stopped. It seemed like she took forever and a day to tell us what was wrong. Time slowed and we were so scared. In reality, it most likely took less than a minute for her to explain what was happening and that she wanted to get us into the OR. We let go of our expectations and trusted that we would be holding our baby very soon. They walked me to the OR to get my spinal. The anesthesiologist was amazing, so calm and warm. She walked me through the whole thing. We were so amazed by the team in there. They figuratively and literally held our hands through the entire process. At the end of it all, we were holding a perfect and healthy little girl. Maybe it wasn't according to our plan, but it was according to His.

2. Find your parenting style:

Whatever we had read or heard before we held our daughter really did not prepare us. What works for someone else could not help you at all. Embrace the confusion and panic. I had full on meltdowns when it came to breastfeeding. What's important is to do what is right for you and baby. Is baby thriving? Then good, you are succeeding at parenting, whatever style you choose. Everyone will have their opinion on what you are doing, but if your bundle of joy is happy and healthy, then all is right.

3. Accept the things that come:

Just because I couldn't breastfeed Q doesn't mean I won't try again with the next one. I struggled after birth with it not going the way I had imagined. My vaginal, no meds delivery turned into a emergency c-section. I struggled with the thought that my body had failed me and kept failing me when I couldn't breastfeed. Then I just looked at Q one day and realized that she was here. Sure, it wasn't perfect and it has left me with my battle scar, but she is here guys. And she is beautiful.  Our bodies work exactly how they are meant to and it's amazing that babies are formed in us to begin with. Let's take a moment and just be thankful for each and every child.

4. Don't compare:

Quinn was walking at 11 months and we've been running ever since. Our girl doesn't slow down and we love it. Some babies are super content and love to just cuddle all day long, not our Quinn. Her cuddles are a second long and then she's off. But how she loves. She is so loving. So what, Quinn isn't like that one baby who has slept through the night since they were two weeks old and has fought naps since day one. We are gifted these sweet babies and we need to encourage their differences, not try to conform them. Quinn was never able to be on a real schedule, she didn't do well on one. As soon as we took her off it, she thrived. No baby is alike, embrace it. Love it. We do.

5. Don't wish that stage away:

There was a time for two weeks when we brought Quinn home from the hospital that we could not get her to sleep. She would be awake for hours, which is definitely not normal for newborns. We called the pediatrician, read books, tried everything we could and it was miserable. There were tears of frustration and exhaustion. Constant rocking, swaying, patting and humming. Eventually we all settled into life together and she stopped being as difficult. She still fought sleep until 8 months old, but she was able to go to sleep much easier than before. I miss those days now, those first few days when her hands were closed in tight fists and fuzzies would gather, when she would snuggle in close to sleep and give sleepy grins. I wish I could have Quinn at every stage all at once, they are all so amazing. Don't wish away the stage you are in, you won't get it back and you'll miss it. Even with all the crazy, you'll miss it. I know I do.

6. Take pictures and videos:

You know, so when you are on the eve of their first birthday you can look back and have a sob fest. Capture as much as possible, you'll forget things and want to look back. Or you'll just get sentimental and want to reminisce. It's ok to cry about that baby growing up, we all do it. No judgement here, in fact I'll join you. How is year almost gone??

7. Soak them in:

Pause every once in a while and just soak them in. Look at their facial expressions (smiles, pouts, crinkling nose), their goofy antics, their big eyes looking up at you, their hand holding yours. Smell that baby smell, give kisses and bear hugs. Listen to them jabber in their baby language, giggle when you tickle them. And grab them up when they reach their arms up to you. Just take it all in. Golly, if you could bottle the sweetness of a baby, no one could be unhappy. They bring such joy.

8. Let them:

Quinn is such an independent little girl. She explores everything and we let her. We let her take little tumbles, get in the thick of playtime with kids, and let her experience life. There is nothing like watching your kid learn about the world. Looking through their eyes is so special. They see things like no other. Don't hold them back, go with them and hold their hand if they need you to.

Yes, that is my child licking a swing. Things happen.

This list could go on, but these are the big ones. And I know in another year, there will be even more to add. Parenthood is an amazing experience, one full of challenges, love, and memories. However you become a parent, whether it is birth, adoption, fostering or by fur baby, you won't regret it.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Salted Caramel Brownies

Ok, I just have to be honest. I actually said the word luscious when making these babies. Don't look at this recipe if you feel guilty when you think about ingesting butter. It's not going to be a good ending when you see the amount of butter in these....

BUT, if you're going to share the love, then by all means stick with me. I made these for our monthly family dinner and everyone loved them, adults and kids alike. Well, except for Q...she didn't like her first taste of chocolate. Who boy, I'm not sure if she takes after me, because chocolate and I have always had a good relationship. Maybe not healthy, but I'm giving dark chocolate a chance, so these brownies have antioxidant powers. That's right, they are good for you! Kind of. Maybe it balances it out the butter, sort of.

Anyways, sometimes you need a little guilty pleasure, and it's best if you're sharing. Then everyone else can feel guilty with you. Totally worth it.

On to the recipe. I combined some recipes and took away some ingredients. It all depends what you are looking for. When I think of salted caramel, I want to taste the salt.

So here is my salted caramel brownie recipe:


1 cup crushed pretzels
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup melted butter

8 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Caramel Sauce:
30 caramel candies
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp water

Chocolate Sauce:
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 13"x 9" glass baking dish and set aside. Mix the crust ingredients until mixed thoroughly and butter has moistened all the dry ingredients evenly. Press the crust into the bottom of the greased baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.

2. Melt the chocolate, butter and water over low heat, mixing until melted. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

3. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, mixing at a low speed until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on medium speed until smooth.

4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and cinnamon and whisk until evenly combined. Add half of dry ingredients into wet, then mix until combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix.

5. Spread the brownie batter on top of the pretzel crust, evenly spread it out. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. Stick a toothpick in the middle of the brownies and check for wetness. If comes out coated, bake for an extra minute or two and recheck. If dry, pull out and cool.

6. On low heat, melt caramel candies, butter and water until smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle caramel to your heart's content over the brownies. If you like, poke holes into the brownies for the caramel to drain into. Sprinkle kosher salt over the caramel sauce while still warm.

7. On low heat, melt the chocolate, butter and water until smooth. If the sauce is too thick to drizzle easily, you can add more butter and water in small quantities, or you can use a plastic bag to pipe onto the brownies. This step is optional, but tasty.

You must taste test while warm with some vanilla ice cream. That is not optional. :)

This is a great dessert for a potluck, family gathering, or bake sale. Or for when you just want some salted caramel brownies! My mom and hubby have a penchant for salted caramel, so they loved these brownies.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Little of Me

I've been posting on this blog for years now and I've never formally introduced myself (I do apologize).

My name is Tracie, wife to one amazing man and mama to one beautiful little girl. My handsome husband and I have been figuring our way through this great life for almost 4 married years and 7.5 years total. It's amazing to look back and see the people we used to be at the start of our relationship and see who we are now.  It may not seem like a lot of time in the scheme of things but here's a little glimpse of what we have been through:

1 baptism - mine when I was 19!
1 high school graduation - mine - yikes!
2 college graduations
1 engagement
1 wedding
1 puppy - he's now an overgrown puppy at 90+ lbs
4 moves - townhome, tiny apartment, 1st house!, Florida to Michigan (the big daddy)
8 new jobs - 2 were internships
2 deaths - my stepbrother & stepfather

1 road trip
1 birth - our sweet baby girl Quinn <3

The list isn't all inclusive by any means, but it covers the doozies! We have had some severe lows, such as when we lost my stepfather (as well as my stepbrother) to suicide. We have had some amazingly beautiful highs, such as when our baby girl was born on Thanksgiving day last year. She is now a 11 month old with a huge personality. Throughout both the severe lows and happy, happy highs and everything in between we have been transparently His. Our faith in God has steered us through the rollercoaster life has been and will continue to in the years to come.

I hope to share with you the daily triumphs and struggles of life and hopefully encourage you during your ups and downs. I do not pretend to have it all together, but I think we could all use a little more encouragement through the seasons of life. I hope you enjoy my anecdotes and reach out to me when you need a little extra encouragement or if you need a prayer warrior on your side. Expect to see tons of baby pictures (because Quinn is a cutie and every mom should show off her kid:) ) and some favorite recipes here and there. I might even be able to share some tips along the way to figuring out parenthood. But most of all, I hope to encourage you.

One of my favorite bible verses is from Mark 5:41 - "He clasped the girl's hand and said, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, get up."

In the context from Mark 5, the little girl was thought to be dead by her parents and Jesus told them they were wrong, "This child isn't dead, she's sleeping." The people told Jesus he didn't know what he was talking about (sassy!). Jesus proceeded to clasp her hand, tell her to rise and she rose!

We aren't dead, guys, are hearts, souls and minds are asleep. Get up! We can do this! Life is beautiful and so are you.

Fall Fun in Michigan

After uprooting our entire life in Florida and moving to Michigan six weeks ago, we have been in limbo. Limbo is terrible!! We are living with my mom (What on earth would we do without moms?) and everything, except necessities, is in storage. So, we are left without a sense of normal until we can find our home.

Yet, even with it all, family time has been amazing. My entire family lives in Michigan, with the exception of a couple of strays. My mom and I had been part of that group of strays for nine years until we moved back, bringing my husband and daughter along for the ride. Michigan is that kind of state that will always be home, no matter where you may roam.

So, now that we are Michiganders, our licenses and tags say so, we are diving in full force. A couple of weekends ago we went apple picking and to the pumpkin patch. Oh how I have missed a Michigan fall!

The apple picking at Stony Creek Orchard was so fun! Q carried an apple around the whole time we were picking our mixed 1/2 bushel. My sweet hubby was our designated apple picker for those really high ones. He didn't have to jump barely at all. Ah, a life I will never know, since I am only a foot shorter than him.... Oh well, I don't have to bend down when helping Q walk. We all win a little.

There is just nothing like a real pumpkin patch. For the past nine years in Florida, we had gone to a church for pumpkins. While it was great and donated to a great cause, there is nothing like getting your boots all muddy and grabbing your pumpkins right from the vine. We got to enjoy a hayride and pumpkin picking with my mom and my older brother and his family. Q is loving having cousins to play with.

The pumpkin patch at Porter's Orchard in Goodrich was so fun. And let me say that the apple cider and fresh, still hot donuts were so good that Q was baby-birding it. She could not get enough. 

So here's to a new life in Michigan, may it be full of apple cider and donuts and lots of time with family. Wouldn't that be a beautiful life indeed? 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

May She Be Bold

I am shocked that it has been almost two years since my last blog post. It's amazing how events can take a toll on you. Since we lost my stepfather to suicide two years ago last month, we kind of did a tuck and roll. We tucked within our little family and licked our wounds. Like many suicides, you have no clue that it's coming. It blindsides you and tears your world apart. In the past two years, we have rebuilt. With that rebuilding has been so much change.

In the last two years, we have bought and sold a house, moved from Florida to Michigan (haven't even been here a month!), gotten pregnant and had a sweet baby girl who is our world and so so much more. Now we are slowly building a life here in Michigan among my family, which means a transfer for the hubs, a hunt for a job for me, house hunting, new daycare and pediatrician for Q, and every other little thing you can imagine. We had no idea what went into relocating! We can't wait to be settled in, maybe we can relax a little.....or maybe not with an almost one year old!!

On that note, our baby girl is turning one in November! How does that happen? I swear I blinked and here we are. Being a mom is such a blessing and a calling I get to fulfill each day. Last Thanksgiving we were welcoming our Q into our hearts and now we have a rough-n-tumble, loving, goofy girl who is so so happy. Ugh, I get teary just thinking about the fact that she's growing too fast.

I literally looked through every picture and every video we have taken since last November and cried the entire time. I want to pause and soak her in. How many of you mama's just want to press the pause button with me??

I'll end this update with one of my favorite pictures of our joy. She has taught us so much and brought us back to life after such a devastating loss. There are so many things I want her to know, but what is so important to me is that she is so very well loved.

"How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved." - Sigmund Freud

May she be bold.