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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Proud.

This is Grayson Robert Baker. He graced this world with his presence back in September. Isn’t he cute?

Grayson belongs to Elizabeth (Dave’s sister and my sis-in-law) and Ryan. He is a rock star for sure.

We love him very very much, and we hate that we’ve only been able to spend a limited amount of time with him.

The real reason I wanted to write this post though, is not about Grayson (sorry little guy). It’s about his mum (or mom… tomayto, tomarto), Elizabeth. To be specific, it’s to brag about her.

I’ve always thought of Elizabeth as a very capable person. She knows how to get the job done. And she does it well, whatever the ‘job’ may be. When Elizabeth had Grayson back in September, she (and we) had no clue about the journey her family was about to embark on with this bundle of joy. It is a complicated journey that would take me many posts to explain, so you can read more about it on her blog (linked above).

Since the beginning of that journey back in September, I’ve watched (or heard about from a far) Elizabeth go through some of the scariest challenges a mother can go through. Being told at a newborn checkup that your baby needs to be rushed to the hospital due to dehydration isn’t something that you’re trained how to react to. Watching your tiny 5-pound baby go through a spinal tap procedure doesn’t appear in many of the parenting books these days. But Elizabeth managed. It was very very hard for her, but she did it. You can read about everything they went through in the first couple of weeks here.

We visited shortly after Grayson’s arrival back in October, then we visited at Christmas, and we also saw them in Charlotte back in January. Each time I’ve seen Elizabeth and heard about everything they’ve been going through (the good and the difficult), I’ve been struck by her tenacity, her honesty, and her unwavering love for G. I’ve heard that there are many expectations that come with motherhood. Expectations of how those first few months will unfold, how everything will be happy and (though not always easy), filled with joy, love, and bonding. After going through the countless trials and tribulations that no mother should have to go through, I’ve seen Elizabeth put many of those expectations aside in order to be the mom that Grayson needs.

Although that is a tremendous feat in itself, what I really admire is the honesty, transparency, and humility that Elizabeth has shown in the process. I tell people all the time that I don’t know how she does it, looking after Grayson, 4 dogs, and for a while an immobile husband (Ryan had 2 knee surgeries in the the first couple of months of G’s life).  Elizabeth is completely open with people about how much of a struggle the last few months have been. She is transparent about how it has made her feel and the daily struggles that come with putting many of the expectations aside, while also sharing the joys and privileges that she experiences with G. In a world where competition and pride runs rampant, even in (or especially in) motherhood, seeing someone actually embrace the struggle not as something to just get through and do well, but as a lifetime of learning, loving, and being patient, is admirable and inspiring to say the least.

On this Wednesday morning, as I’m miles and miles away from Elizabeth, Grayson, and Ryan, I guess I just wanted to brag on them. To say that I’m proud of you. To say that you’ve inspired me (and many others) as I’ve watched you step into a motherhood that maybe looks a little different from what you thought it would be. It’s interesting that people always say “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle”, but that’s only because God designed you to handle it. God designed Elizabeth with strength, capability, creativity, unceasing love, and lots of patience that she probably didn’t know she had until now. Grayson is so lucky to have you, Momma. And we are very proud of the Mom you’ve become.

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Run rabit, run rabit.

About four years ago I made it a life goal of mine to run a half marathon. I got into running races when I was in college and did a few 5ks before progressing to 10ks. I enjoy the rush of competition and at the same time I love partaking in something where you’re all struggling together to reach the end alive.

I haven’t always liked running. In fact, I used to loathe it with every ounce of my being. If my 13 year-old self could hear my 25-year old self talking about half marathons, I think she would keel over and die. When I was in secondary school back in England, I remember being forced to run long distances in PE and wanting to die every time. The PE teacher would stand at the finish line with that ominous stop watch yelling at the top of his lungs for me to get a move on. At the age of 12, running was intimidating. It was unpleasant. And worst of all, running reminded me of how un-athletic and self-conscious I was.

I spent the better part of high school attempting to remedy my fear of anything remotely athletic. It all started when I was a Freshman and my parents decided we should collectively get on the Body for Life diet/exercise plan. I mean, who couldn’t resist wanting to look like this hunk?

Yeah…

For a 15 year old teenager, this wasn’t the most fun thing in the world, I assure you. We began getting up at the crack of dawn and going to the gym before school. Every day. Before school. EVERY DAY. The Watson household started eating everything in fist-sized portions, eating low-fat versions of our favorite foods, and pining over the before-and-after transformations in the book that this guy ^ promised to deliver. At school, I spent the 5 minutes between classes choking down power bars that tasted like cardboard and slim fast shakes that tasted like pepto bismol hoping that none of my class mates would notice.

As awful as I make this sound, it actually was a significant turning point in my life. I began to not feel so intimidated about exercise and healthy food choices. It lead the way to me joining the tennis team in my high school in Texas and getting first place in the district competition, then going on to compete at State. That was something my 12 year-old self would have never imagined.

Well, this year I decided it’s now or never. I signed up for that half-marathon and I’ll be running it come rain or shine on March 20th. I’m training with a friend who’s tall and lean and somewhat of a veteran when it comes to running half marathons. But I often smile to myself as I puff and pant and struggle to keep up with her long-legged pace. I smile about how far I’ve come from those dreadful middle school days of fear and embarrassment.  From those days of never thinking that I’d be any good at sports. Well, I’m no pro but I’m finally doing this. I’m finally trying, and boy does it feel good : ) If I can do it, anyone can. See you at the finish line!

Me running a 10k in 2007

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Giving Thanks.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving in Charlotte, North Carolina. We spent it with Dave’s family; immediate and extended! On thursday we had thanksgiving lunch at Plantation Estates, where Grandmother and Granddaddy live, in the private dining room.

Then the girls went to see New Moon while the boys went home and watched football. The movie was awesome! I can’t wait to read Eclipse. Then on friday night we had a big meal at Aunt Celeste’s house complete with two deep fried turkeys!

This Thanksgiving I am VERY thankful for both of our families and how supportive they have been through the transitions of this last year. Many people ask me how we celebrate this holiday being a British family who didn’t grow up doing so, and I tell them that you don’t have to be an American to be thankful : ) We have a tradition of looking back on the previous year and talking about the highs and lows and what we are thankful for. I wasn’t there this year to partake, but I still thought about it. I’m thankful for each and every person in my family. Both the Watson’s and the Klines. I’m thankful for the love and concern you’ve shown Dave and I, and the unfailing support. I realize that we are incredably blessed to have people like you in our lives (Mum, Dad, Andrew, Laura, Jess, Kate, Jack, Karen, Bill, Elizabeth, Ryan, Peter, Megan, Matthew, and Rebecca). We love you all dearly.  

I made a plethora of baked goods to take for the festivite including pumpkin apple bread, banana bread, pumpkin white chocolate cookies, and thanksgiving-themed sugar cookies.

     I start a part-time tutoring job next week where I will be tutoring a group of 6 elementary students in math and reading a few afternoons a week. Who knows, maybe it will help me with the blasted GRE which I will be taking on December 16th! 

Hope you all had a joyful time of giving thanks! We are very much looking forward to coming to Texas in two weeks : )

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Memories and muffins.

Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of my granddad’s passing. I thought about my mum a lot as I know she was missing her mum and sisters back in England. I also thought about all of the happy memories I have from the ten years that I knew Nic-nic.

He was such a special man, and he spoiled his grandkids like there was no tomorrow. I always looked forward to our trips to the north of England to see him and Gran. We lived less than two hours from them but that was a huge journey back then. They lived on a farm in an old farm-house (where my mum grew up). I have vivid memories of playing outside on go-carts, or frolicking in the fields for hours with all of my cousins and running in from the cold wind with rosy cheeks to seek the warmth of the crackling fire. It seemed like Nic-nic always had a grandchild in his lap laughing their heads of as he pulled his fake teeth out and put them back in again. I think the real reason we loved going there so much was that we were given more candy in the week we spent there, than we were for the rest of the year. Nic-nic was always awake first in the mornings before going to work on the farm. Andrew, Jess, and I would arise as early as possible and sneak downstairs before our parents awoke in eager expectation of what we would be given for ‘breakfast’. “Do you want eggs this morning?” Nic-nic would tease. “Cadbury’s cream eggs???” We were in heaven. But these treats were always accompanied with the warning “Don’t tell your Gran or you’ll have me shot!!!”.

Needless to say, we all miss him. I wish he could have seen all that his family has accomplished and the love that was born out of his love for Gran. Even though he’s been gone for a long time now, the memories I have are as fresh as they were 13 years ago. Because I was a child for the entirety of my relationship with him, these memories are innocent, naive, and almost magical. They are unadulterated by the complicated and harsh reality that comes with adulthood. And I like it that way. In my mind he was a saint. He was perfect. He was Nic-nic.

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On another note altogether, I thought I would do a recipe post. I baked these pumpkin apple streusel muffins two days ago and they are delicious! So I thought I’d share.

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Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apple

For the streusel 

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons butter

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 18 muffin cups or use paper liners.

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2. In a large bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt.

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3. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin and oil.

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4. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stirring just to moisten.

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5. Take the cut up apples and fold them in to the mixture.

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6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

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Now for my favorite part! The streusel (which should be a food group all of its own in my opinion):

7. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

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8. Sprinkle topping evenly over muffin batter.

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9. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

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10. As soon as they have cooled, take them to the neighbors, or throw them in the freezer. Otherwise you will want to eat them all, they’re highly dangerous ; )

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