Saturday, May 26, 2012

This week in baking!

I have found that not only am I a stress eater, I am a stress baker. I like the straightforwardness of it. You follow the recipe, and the outcome is more or less what you expect. At least that is how it usually goes.  Today I guess my stress level impaired my ability to read a recipe all the way through. I found a really good looking recipe for cinnamon pull apart bread , but somehow I missed the part about the dough needing to be refrigerated for a few hours up to 24 hours. I didn't have time for that. Brian was going to help Grandpa Branch hang up a swing and I really wanted them to be done for him to have breakfast and take some over to share.

Not wanting to get discouraged too early, I decided to try to make it with another cinnamon roll dough recipe that I use all the time. The dough came out alright, but then I messed up the recipe again and I cut the dough it all wrong. I really just wasn't reading well this morning. I tried putting it in the loaf pan and it just wasn't working. There wasn't enough dough and the strips weren't fitting right. With tears in my eyes, I started doing some positive affirmations that went something like this:

 "Wait a minute! You are a baker wife! You have all this perfect cinnamon roll dough (even though it is all cut up), and you can fix this!"

So I pulled out a muffin tin and rolled up those little mistake pieces of buttery, cinnamon and sugar goodness and let them rise and bake. I could just as easily pitch them after I saw how they turned out. Luckily for me, and one of the only good things that happened today, they turned out okay. Brian ate two and Matt came upstairs and grabbed three before disappearing back to bed. Here is what the finished product looked like.

I actually kind of made up this recipe! It could use a little perfecting, but a facebook friend gave them a name that I love! "Cinnamon Runt Cakes!" SO PERFECTLY CUTE!

Last week, on Friday night, I made cinnamon swirl bread and then I used it to make french toast for the boys on Saturday morning. It killed us all! It was so heavy, but good. They each ate three whole pieces, my two thin ones sent me back to bed for a mid-morning nap!

Then this week we were having pasta one night so I made these cheesy garlic bread swirls .  I need to branch out and do more than bread, but coming back to the stress relief thing, I really do like to just get in there and knead it. So therapeutic. And the boys are really benefitting from all this stress baking!

They were so perfectly soft inside!

That was our week in baking. In other news, I had to finally break down and call a patient advocate for all the trouble we are having with Brian's neurology office. Thanks to a sweet friend from high school, I was able to get in touch with the right people and they were very kind and sympathetic, not to mention disgusted with the issues we are having, but that is a different post and I have not cooled down sufficiently to tackle that one. Also, remember the awesome scholarship I received?  Well, ICC decided that I have too many credit hours from an associate's degree I earned eight years ago (and paid for with no financial aid whatsoever), and so my scholarship is terminated pending a painstaking appeal process that I have to get started first thing Tuesday morning. Way to stress me out on a holiday weekend. But that is also for another post. I'm saving it up for the next "bump" in the road of which I honestly feel like we have had our fair share of in just shy of two years of marriage.

Have a good and safe holiday weekend friends!

Love, Lindsey

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Some good news...finally!

Do you ever wonder if you are on the right path in life? Or how to tell if you are? I do. I usually find myself bouncing back and forth between two different thought processes when facing a trial. I either feel like "nothing worth anything is easy, so because  this situation is hard, I must be on the right track." Or, I feel like "this is SO hard, maybe I should take that as I sign that I am not on the right track and reevaluate my plan."  Often times the only way I can make a decision is to pray and wait for an impression on what I should do.  Amazingly, last week, that signal came loud and clear that nursing school is definititely what I should be pursuing. We found out that I am the recipient of a $3000 scholarship for school! This is such a huge blessing. Not that I ever doubted that it was a good idea, but things have been so stressful this semester. I found out that I got a C in my anatomy class and that was a huge disappointment. And while people have been very encouraging, I also know what a strenuous and huge committment any nursing program is and I have been praying for the strength to thrive in my studies.

Brian hasn't been able to get back to work yet since he had the second seizure, and it looks like he will be off for at least three more months pending his next MRI result. We were going to make it work with school, but its expensive. Interest rates on student loans just doubled so I really hated the prospect of taking out any more loans. Now, I don't even need to. Since I have finished all of my prerequisites, I only have nursing classes left and so my course load is a little lighter, at least this first year, and the scholarship should cover nearly all of my expenses.

I am so grateful for this blessing. It helps to confirm that nursing school is the right thing for me to be pursuing, and also strenthens my testimony that when you do your very best to keep the commandments, God is better able to bless you.

The BEST news of all came at Brian's follow up appointment. He had his three month MRI last week and we got the results today that the tumor is completely gone as far as we can tell with no regrowth, and everything looks stable. Of course the MRI can't show us what is going on at the cellular level, but it would show if there was even a clump of cells and there isn't. As a matter of fact, there is actually a little hole in Brian's brain where the tumor was. Evidently some brain tumors are completely separate from brain tissue so when they are removed, whatever part of the brain they were pressing on can just sort of 'bounce' back. Brian's cancer cells, however, actually invade healthy brain cells, changing brain into tumor which is a little scary. Anyway, for now it is gone!! That is something to celebrate. As irrational as it was, I did have the fear that the second seizure was caused by another tumor somewhere, or that maybe it had come back already, but for now those fears are assuaged.

The boys are downstairs playing a round of Axis and Allies. I have to get a picture of that serious game board for you. I have strict instructions not to touch any of the five thousand little plastic pieces. This is very serious business in our house.

Matt with his game face on. Axis and Allies is happening.

 This snake was on our step today! It was about four or five feet long.

This is Matt snake wrangling.

I am thankful to finally be able to post some good news. And some exciting times at the Johnson household. It has been great to have Matt home with us. I never do the dishes alone when he is here. Tonight we had a long geneology discussion over the dishes and it made my least favorite chore go a lot faster. And Brian's spirits are up with the help and companionship of his brother. I finally feel like things are starting to settle down and I am so looking forward to a nice relaxing summer!

Love, Lindsey

Some Thoughts on Mother's Day

     Once again, I find myself neglecting this ever so therapeutic blog. I just finished classes for the semester so I have some time to breathe and I plan on posting a little more frequently. I really wanted to mention that through this blog, I am finding not only the healing that comes with being honest with yourself and letting some of those rough and tumble thoughts and fears come out, but I have also found so many very powerful and thought provoking fellow bloggers out in the blogosphere. I have been fortunate enough to connect with some very inspiring and powerful women and I am very grateful for that. And they are so fun to read! Which brings me to my topic today. Motherhood.

     First I want to talk about what a great mother I am blessed to have. I know for me that I just didn't ever appreciate my mom like I do now that  I am an adult.   Our relationship has been through its ups and downs, through the tumultuous teenage angst, and the evolution from little girl Lindsey to adult Lindsey who makes her own decisions and some that Mom wouldn't have had me make. While we always loved each other, I am sure there were times when we didn't like or understand each other very much. But all that has changed. I see my mom now as not only my mother, but as a anchor of stability in our family, and as my dear friend. She is loving and kind and she sacrifices for me and my sister continuously. I wrote in her card this year, and I mean it with all my heart that we finally have the relationship I always dreamed we could have.  I know there have been countless hours in the past few months where the only person I wanted to talk to was my mom. I wanted her advice and I needed her to listen. One of the most powerful realizations that I have had recently is that I most definitely NEED my mom. Now more than ever. And that is almost paradoxical to me because I am a well adjusted adult and I have started my own little family with Brian now. I knew of course that I would always love my mom, but I didn't anticipate really needing her this much. She always knows what to say to make me feel better and when she doesn't know what to say, she brings me a milk shake or treats me to frozen yogurt, even though I know she doesn't really like the yogurt, just the toppings. There is that sacrifice again ;)  I can feel how much she loves me. I see the pain in her face when I come to her with a problem that she can't fix and I hope she can know that just listening to me and loving me unconditionally is enough. A mother's love is very special. No one in your life will love you like your mother and I am so very grateful for my mom.

     My mom loves me in a unique and special way that only she will ever love me. I know that because even though I miscarried our first baby last year, I felt that overwhelming and profound love from the moment I realized I was pregnant. I loved that little baby so much from the first. I have always approached Mother's Day from the perspecive of Daughter, and since we got married in 2010, I have been very much looking forward to experiencing it from a Mother's perspective.

     Women are revered in my church, and especially on Mother's Day. Usually they do something special for moms on Mother's Day like give them a flower. Last year, while they were passing out the flowers, they had given them to all of the mom's and then they asked all of the other women to stand up. It was just me and one of my friends who were left. She was still single at the time so I was the only married woman that wasn't a mom. We had only been trying for about eight months at that time, but I was really getting frustrated. I remember feeling so embarrassed to take a flower. I just felt so underserving because I wasn't a mom. I got out of the chapel as soon as possible and went to the bathroom and cried. I hated feeling so ungrateful, the flower wasn't meant to single me out as a non-mother, but to thank me for my service to the children in our church. I was serving as a Sunday school teacher for the eight and nine year olds at the time.

     Last month, I read this article in a church magazine and it really spoke to my heart. Its talked about  how we can seek "alternative opportunities for motherhood." Teaching children is one way, or volunteering to babysit, or supporting young people by attending sports events (sometimes Brian and I try to catch his cousin's ball games). Anyway, it helped me to realize that just because I haven't yet had the opportunity to raise children of my own, I am not childless. Heavenly Father has surrounded me with children and given me the opportunity to make a positive impact on their lives and I strive to do so.

     This year Mother's Day was especially hard. When I got up to shower for church I was already planning my escape before the flower distribution, I just didn't want to be singled out again. I just kept thinking about how special the day would have been had I been about seven months pregnant like I should have been. When I got out of the shower, Brian had gotten up and there was a pink envelope on my bedside table. My eyes filled with tears as I carefully opened it up and read these words:

"I hope you won't be offended or upset by this card, but I chose it specifically because I do feel like we have been on a 'journey' of sorts. I know its hard to see where it will take us, but you are the one I always wanted to take it with. I love you tremendously Lindsey. ~ Brian

     I did end up getting out of the chapel and setting up for my class early, but I really wasn't as sad as I thought I would be. I just felt so grateful and happy to be so deeply loved by my sweet Brian. We are so good for each other. I feel like even with the trials we are facing we are so lucky to be able to find joy in our life and in our companionship. Some days brain cancer feels like a serious threat to that companionship, but in spite of it all, I know we can face it as long as we are side by side.  

Love, Lindsey