Monday, November 30, 2009

He Missed Me

This vitamin bottle, with nine vitamins sitting on the cap, was on the bathroom counter when I got home from Chris and Kelsey's. To anyone else, it would have looked odd, but probably wouldn't have had any meaning. To me it said, "I missed you!"

Every morning Dan, who gets up before me, takes a vitamin, himself, and puts another one on the cap of the bottle for me so that I won't forget to take it. I was gone for nine mornings . . . thus nine vitamins waited for me there, telling me that he thought about me each morning as he got ready for the day.

A Few More Family Pictures

My first time to hold Robert

Here are a few more pictures, featuring our handsome little fellow:

On Saturday Robert was five days old, and we went for a brief outing. Chris, Clara, Robert and I sat outside, by this pretty fountain, while Kelsey went into a store to look for some baby boy clothes. Clara needed to run off some of her abundant energy. She was allowed to go as far as the yellow bricks, and then run back toward us. On each run, she expected me to take her picture. I have quite a collection of them, and here are a few. If you look carefully, you'll see that her shoes were on the wrong feet! With all of the excitement and hubbub surrounding a new baby, no one noticed it until later in the day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Robert Fox - A Thanksgiving Blessing

Where shall I start?!

On Friday morning Chris called to say that the midwife thought that Kelsey would probably go into labor over the weekend, so he suggested that I go ahead an come on down, to be there when the time came. I scurried around, and was on a flight out of Albuquerque by 2:45 p.m., and, with the time change, arrived at 5:45.

A tired Kelsey, ready to get rid of her "shelf"

Saturday and Sunday passed without any sign of the baby. On Sunday night I said to Kelsey, "Good night. I'll see you at two a.m." Sure enough, about a quarter 'til two Chris knocked on the bedroom door and said, "It's time!"

We were at the birthing center by about 2:00. I stayed in the comfortable living room with Clara during Kelsy's hard labor, which, by the way was very fast. She only had about 20 minutes of pushing, and, according to the midwife, only three or four hard pushes. At 4:02 p.m. the baby was born. Kelsey gave birth in water, and said it was a wonderful experience. Chris dashed into the living room and said to Clara and me, "Hurry! The baby is here!" As Clara and I hurried to Kelsey's birthing room, we heard baby's first cry. The baby was wrapped up in a towel, lying on Kelsey's chest when Clara and I came into the room. That's when they realized they hadn't yet looked to see if the baby was a boy or girl. Kelsey uncovered the baby . . . a perfect little boy!

They named the baby Robert Fox -- Robert after his great grandfather (my dad). Clara got to pick between two names for the middle name, and chose Fox. Robert Fox weighed in at 7 lb. 14 oz., and was 21.5 inches long.

By 8:00, just four hours after Robert's birth, we were on our way back home from the birthing center. Kelsey is amazing! We've been trying to let her get as much rest as possible, but with a nursing baby, rest comes only in small doses.

Here's the family of four, ready to bring Robert into the house for the first time.Robert is about 4-1/2 hours old here.

Clara is very excited about, and loving toward, her little brother. She is proud to be a big sister. Still, learning to share what had been undivided attention is tough, and she's had a couple melt-downs . . . all to be expected.

Before Robert was born, we knew Chris had some sort of sinus infection going on, but we didn't know just how bad it was. For the sake of a happy birth he bucked up and put aside his own problems, and did a great job assisting Kelsey through the entire birth event. But the next morning he went in to his doctor. When they called him back to the examining room he stood up, passed out and collapsed to the floor.

It turns out that he had both chest and sinus infections, which had caused his asthma to flare up. He had a very low oxygen content in his blood. The doctor wanted to admit him to the hospital, but agreed to let him go home, as long as he was on breathing treatments every four hours. I went to the pharmacy to pick up his prescriptions which were over $350, after insurance. I'm happy to report that he is feeling much better now, after two days and nights of treatments.

A sick daddy, a very tired mommy, a big sister who is trying to adapt to a new role, and a grandma who is sometimes clueless about how to best help has made for some difficult moments. HOWEVER . . . we are all a most thankful family on this Thanksgiving Day. Little Robert (or, as Clara sometimes calls him, "Foxy Baby Robert Judd) is healthy and happy and beautiful and a most wonderful reason for giving thanks.

Chris and Kelsey have friends from their church family who are bringing over a Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings later this afternoon, so we will be enjoying that good meal together, with grateful hearts.

God is so good!

Day One - 11/23/09

Day Two - 11/24/09 - Visiting the pediatrician (he's lost a little of his birth weight)

Day Three - 11/25/09 - Looking over Mama's shoulder

Day Three - 11/25/09 - Bright Eyes

Day Three - The family n front of the Christmas Tree at The Woodlands

(Have you noticed anything different? I'm done with nicknames! I just decided that, since Kelsey uses real names in her blog, there's really no reason for me not to. And after all that work coming up with new ones!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Baby Nicknames

Awhile back I blogged about needing to pick a nickname for the grandbaby who is due any time now. With Sweetpea, the moniker just came naturally. I use Sweetpea's nickname when I talk about her on the blog, not feeling comfortable publishing her real name. But I also call her Sweetpea, sometimes, when we are having fun together. Choosing a nickname for Baby #2 has been a little more difficult, probably because we don't know whether the baby is a he or a she. Finally, though, I've settled upon two names.

If the baby is a girl, she will be "Shoog." It started out as "Sugar," but I wanted to shorten it to just the first syllable. If I spelled it "Sug," I figured that people would think it was pronounced like "Bug" but with an S - not so cute. Instead, I opted for a phonetic spelling, and now that I'm used to it, I like it!

If he's a boy, though, he'll be "Chip," as in a chip off the old block (his Daddy).

Tomorrow is Kelsey's official due date, although she thought the baby might come early, like Sweetpea did. I think it would be terrific if Chip or Shoog arrived right on time - TOMORROW. Maybe all (s)he has been waiting on was a nickname!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Today's Commute

My daily commute is an easy one. I use a main east/west arterial, Paseo del Norte, to go east; then take a 4-lane city street to go south. I don’t get on the freeway, and I’m at my desk about 25 easy minutes after I leave home.

Maybe I should have said, "It’s an easy commute most days." This morning Paseo del Norte was closed due to a terrible accident. From our part of town, there are only three streets that bridge the river. With the major one closed, traffic on the west side was snarled in every direction. My 25-minute commute took two hours and five minutes today.

But there were things to be thankful for, even this morning . . .

• I arrived at work safe and sound. I wasn’t on Paseo del Norte a few minutes earlier (as I am some mornings) where I could have been involved in the accident.

• I had just filled my gas tank yesterday, so I didn’t run out of fuel as I sat, idling, for most of two hours.

• While stuck on Coors Blvd., crawling mere inches every five minutes, a nice young lady, wearing a smile and a Starbuck’s apron, walked down the line of cars, handing out complimentary chai tea lattes. Way to mellow out stressed-out commuters!

• And while moving down Montano Rd., at a snail’s pace, I was able to open the car window and snap pictures of some of the fall foliage.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Something Happened on the Way to Dinner (Tonight)

No one was hurt.

Police arrived immediately, even before Dan had finished talking with the 911 operator.

The 17-year old who pulled out of the parking lot, in front of us, couldn't have been nicer. He was polite, apologetic, truthful and INSURED (whew)!

Our car is drivable, although it looks as if it has been in a fight - and lost!

Hillerman Evening

Last evening I attended a tribute to the life of Albuquerque author, Tony Hillerman, who passed away just about one year ago. His daughter, Anne Hillerman, and son-in-law, photographer Don Strel, have just published a book celebrating the Southwest landscapes made memorable in Tony Hillerman's books. Everyone in attendance received a complimentary copy of this book, Tony Hillerman's Landscape.

Anne Hillerman, visiting with the crowd after her presentation

Tony Hillerman authored thirty-two books, including the 18-volume mystery series featuring Navajo police officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn. Anne Hillerman's book features photography of the landscape central to her father's novels, descriptive text from his works and his own comments about the land.

I've read six (or so) of the Chee/Leaphorn books, but after attending this wonderful tribute to Hillerman and his work, I'm inspired to go back and read all 18 of them, in order.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Few "Stollen" Moments

My friend, Lois, is a remarkable woman. She teaches our ladies' Bible class on Wednesday evenings, taking us on deep journeys into all of the scriptures that relate to whatever we are studying. Recently her husband, Rick, passed away. Even in the midst of her grief, she has demonstrated amazing strength. I love the words of wisdom that fall, so naturally, from her lips.

About a month ago Lois approached me, at church, and asked if I had ever made stollen bread. I told her that I had not, but that I was familiar with it, since my dad used to make it in the bakery. She wondered if I'd be interested in getting together to make some, sometime before the holidays. I was honored to be asked.

Yesterday I went shopping for the special ingredients needed for stollen bread. Most stollen bread is made with candied fruit, but neither Lois nor I are fond of it, so Lois came up with a recipe that used dried fruit, instead. The fruit had to be covered with boiling water and then soaked overnight. Then, this morning, it was drained and soaked, again, in 3 tablespoons of rum. Another ingredient needed for stollen bread is almond paste. I was pleased that it was readily available at the supermarket, so I didn't have to go hunting the specialty stores for it. The main spice used in the dough is mace, although we added a little bit of cinnamon and a little bit of nutmeg to our almond paste, as well.

We started our baking adventure this morning, at 10:00. It was a straight-forward bread recipe. The dough, which had the rummed fruit and some chopped, roasted almonds incorporated, was a great consistency and easy to knead and shape. While the bread rose for the first time, we went out to lunch together.

After lunch we shaped the dough. Traditionally, stollen bread is shaped into a flat oval. A rolled out strip of almond paste is placed on one half of the oval, then the dough is folded over the almond paste, the long way, forming a loaf with one straight side and a curved side, the almond paste sandwiched inside. I read somewhere that the shape is supposed to be reminiscent of a swaddled baby Jesus. After shaping, we let it rise a second time and then baked it off. I can't describe how heavenly my house smells right now! After it came out of the oven, we sat down together, each with a cup of tea and a hot slice of buttered stollen. It was great, even without the powdered sugar that is supposed to be sprinkled on top once it is cool. I'll be making more of this before the holidays are over - FOR SURE!

Lois, enjoying the hot, buttered bread.

Our two loaves, still lacking the powdered sugar sprinkles.

Thanks, Lois, for initiating this enjoyable day. It was terrific spending the day with you and getting to know you better.

Before Lois left, she said to me, "Okay. Next time it's your recipe!" I'm looking forward to it.

Here's the recipe we used, with our own adaptations: Stollen Bread Recipe