Belated Update

Some of you may have gotten this news a few days ago via e-mail, if not, I just wanted to let y'all know that Aubrey came home Sunday morning! The NICU called and said we could pick her up--we were so thrilled.

We've had a great couple of days. Johnny is adapting well. He's not super interested in her, but will give her a kiss on the head when it's bedtime. He is so old and big all of a sudden. Folks told us this would happen, and I believed them but didn't fully grasp what they were saying. He's been a bit of a stinker, but we can chalk that up to the crazy life he had last week.

Tuan is doing well. He actually slept better when she was in the NICU because he knew she was being monitored and watched. I think he is relaxing a bit more with each day. I'm doing very well. I came off of a big adrenaline rush once she got home and sleep has been deep and blessed. I'm feeling pretty recovered except for some back pain and had a good burst of energy this morning and evening. I've gotten some housework done and finally mopped my kitchen floor. We've been blessed the past two days with large gifts of food, which will be such a blessing--especially for Tuan as he has handled the kitchen end of the deal.

And Aubrey Sue . . . what can I say? We are so smitten. I think she's the most beautiful baby in the whole world. She has been so good natured--she sleeps and scarcely makes a peep. She's got some thrush, but hopefully the medicines our nurse gave us will clear it up. The nursery had her on a four hour schedule and since we were told to increase the volume of her feedings, she's sticking to it. It's strange having so much time between feedings. Johnny never really hit that four hour mark, he stayed at three until around one. I'm enjoying having this quiet "easy" time with her and Johnny.

We're getting into a routine (or rhythm) of sorts and for the first time ever, I feel like my house is capable of being somewhat orderly. Having decent storage space and just space in general is such an amazing blessing. Our house is just the right size--it's easy to clean with one bathroom, little carpet and--gasp!--a washer and dryer inside the house. It's an amazing concept really, you just put your dirty clothes in any time you want to and you don't even have to get dressed, load your kids into the car, and drive to the laundry rooms (only available after 3:30 pm, thank you very much). I am all astonishment.

Finally, I want to give a bit shout-out to my dear husband. Tuan has taken on way more jobs and done far more with the kids and around the house than I can even begin to tell you all. I am so thankful for him--he daily shows Christ to me by his humble attitude and servant heart. His gentleness and patience constantly motivate me to strive in that direction. I can only chalk it up to God's good grace that someone like me could have a guy like him.

With a grateful heart, I bid you all a good night!


out of the valley

I just wanted to update y'all on Aubrey Sue. This will have to be a short post, but I hope to write longer when I have more time on my hands. We induced on Tuesday morning and had a very quick delivery. She was born at 9:52--eight pounds, five ounces--with a huge mop of hair! We saw her once, then they cleaned her up and brought her back to us--Tuan and I were just smitten. She was pretty un-mussed--no cone head or swollen face like dear Johnny.
We kept her with us until around nine and very reluctantly sent her to the nursery so we could get some sleep. She was supposed to come back at eleven to eat, but the nurse woke us up and said that she had spit up some fluid and they were going to watch her overnight. It was worrying, but we went on to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night, the nurse practitioner came in and told me something--I was so fuzzy headed from pain medicine I couldn't comprehend it, but they were going to be watching Aubrey. When we woke up, Tuan called and we found out she'd been put in the NICU, was on oxygen and they weren't sure exactly what was wrong, but she wasn't breathing well on her own.
We went to the NICU to visit her--what a beginning to a very difficult time! She was in an incubator, being monitored and had a little oxygen tube in her nose. The neonatologist offered us some reasons why she wasn't doing well, but there was no certain diagnosis. That was hard. Knowing what's wrong is so much easier than not! Later that day, she had to be put on forced oxygen--they had a different kind of tube that was making her lungs expand. As the day wore on, we couldn't stimulate then we couldn't even touch her. It was just one of the hardest times of my life! They gave her a drug to help her lungs mature and did an echo cardiogram, and had her on antibiotics. It was crazy. That night, the nurse began weaning her off of oxygen--so exciting!
Thursday morning, we woke up to hear that she was doing better--still no diagnosis. The doctor did say we could touch her--can't tell you how much that helped. So, we visited the NICU and I was able to sit and hold her hand before we left.
Thursday night, the nurse called and said she was off of oxygen completely!! What joy. They also began feeding her.
This morning, we visited and she was doing very well--no aids, everything looked good. Tonight, we went back and were able to hold her and I got to give her a bottle. This meant so much. We are hoping to bring her home Sunday!
All these details are fuzzy, because I spent most of the time crying uncontrollably while Tuan handled things. Still, we are out of the valley and on our way up the mountain. I am thankful for all who knew about this and prayed for us. We didn't have the internet at the hospital so I couldn't post or e-mail. Y'all please continue to pray for us--and give thanks, too! We are so grateful to God for his grace in all of this. I'll update and let folks know what's going on. It's been a time of growth for sure.


Insomnia, Induction, Inspiration

It's a cheerful four thirty in the morning here in La Land and I'm wide awake. Oh, joy. I'm not anxious, worrried or otherwise plagued, just awake! If I were virtuous, I'd be up baking bread, cleaning, or sewing, etc . . . but I've spent the last hour in bed reading, doing Sudoku (and failing miserably--it is after all way too early in the morning to be awake). The irony is that in a week's time, I'll be up around this time, wishing desperately to be asleep and instead feeding Aubrey. Oh, the strangeness of life!

I had a sonogram yesterday and everything looks good! Aubrey is estimated to be around 7lb 12 oz give or take a pound. Call me crazy, but I'd sooner give a pound than take one! I held a friends tiny, but strangely chubby newborn at Bible study on Wed and it was unsettling. I liked Johnny's nice sturdy 8lb 11 oz self (he actually shrunk to 7lb 13 oz before his amazing charge into his baby sumo physique.

This is Johnny at birth; we thought he looked like a pretty tough bare knuckle fighter:

Then, this is after the weight loss:

This is when he got all healthy and into solid foods. This is him with my Granny:

So anyway, we are scheduled to induce on Tuesday--bright and early check-in at 5:30 am and no eating/drinking after midnight, thank you very much. I think it's funny that in order to prepare for some of the hardest physical exertion of your life, you are not allowed food or drink. I understand why, but it's still funny. We had a very quick delivery with Johnny. He was born just six hours and fifty minutes after check-in. They say your second comes faster, so here we go! Please pray for us with the delivery and also for Johnny as he adjusts to the baby.

I'm trying to get things done around the house and get the nursery ready in preparation for Tuesday. Last night I madly planted all the spring bulbs I hadn't yet put out. I had bought heaps of them on clearance this fall, but we didnt' get into our house until after Thanksgiving, and I had a hard time gettting them into my "perennial bed" due it's awkward accessibility for pregnant women. In desperation, I filled my empty containers and a more accessible bed with probably a hundred bulbs. Johnny helped. Hopefully we'll get some show this spring and when I'm more fit, they can be moved to the intended bed.

Last week I got inspired about baby bedding for the nursery and Wed I went out and purchased the fabric to sew bedding. Yes, you read that right. A week before induction, I have bought fabric to sew bedding. Never mind that I've never done that, never mind that I haven't even started on a smidgen of it (except to somehow wrangle my dear mom into sewing the bumpers). I am persisting in the idea that in the next four days, I'm going to sew a crib skirt, valance and quilt, plus clean the house from top to bottom, finish painting baby beds and of course, have Tuan build shelves and bookcases. Funny how pregnancy brings out an even more determined/stubborn nature. I've been a little bit obsessed with this project, to the point that I dreamt about gingham. That's what I should really be doing between the hours of three and five thirty ("that" referring to sewing, although, I really should be trying to go back to sleep!). Instead I'm uploading photos and rambling on the blog. This won't happen again for about six months, I guarantee you!


farewell to a good friend

We are selling our Jeep today. The fellow buying it is on his way to the bank as I write. Our reasons for selling were sound and practical, but that surely doesn't change the sadness Tuan and I both feel over saying good-bye! It has been such a constant part of our friendship, courtship, engagement and marriage. I told Tuan that as silly as it sounds, I feel as though I'm losing part of him! (Pregnancy hormones are lovely things)

I remember when he first got the Jeep: September of 2000. It was the year that our friendship began to grow beyond mere acquaintances into "really good friends" and the Jeep was always involved. It came with him to Florida to visit me that Christmas when we were still "just friends." Tuan had "Strider" on his tag which was such a metaphor for him. Over the course of time, my dear, faithful (baptist), friend grew into this very dear, godly, (reformed) man who I couldn't picture spending the rest of my life without--my Aragorn! The first time he ever said "I love you" was as he was getting into the Jeep. (Funny story behind that) We drove around Baton Rouge in it, looking for engagement rings, and of course, that was the vehicle of choice the day he proposed and we drove all over Columbia telling everyone our news. (He had driven to Florida in it the day before to ask Dad's permission) The semester before we got married, it was the most exciting feeling to find the Jeep in the driveway on Friday nights, and of course, we left the church in it after our wedding and took it on the honeymoon! Everyone we met in Brevard, NC asked if we were the honeymooners in the Jeep.

The Jeep hauled around our three dogs as we explored the backroads all around Mt. Olive and I drove it endlessly to Hattiesburg and back for work. I actually rescued a girl from the side of the highway with it (she was being assaulted by her ex and thanks to the Jeep's handling, I was able to get away--there's a whole other story for ya there). There were times when I didn't feel the love--no cruise control, getting Johnny in and out of the carseat when our other car had broken down, the wind in one's hair is not always fun--but my goodness, I love that car.

The Car Talk guys say that the extreme devotion that Jeep owner's have for their cars is inexplicable--it is! We will miss it terribly and hopefully one day there will be another Wrangler in our driveway, but the memories are what really counts--good, good memories--they are what lasts.


New Year's Fun

Since Christmas, we've been pretty preoccupied with the house and Tuan's had groups on-site. This meant that our five-year anniversary went largely uncelebrated and New Year's was more afterthought than planned-out party. Our anniversary will be celebrated more properly when we can make it down to Florida. With Tuan's job, the 28th pretty much always involves groups being at Twin Lakes. That's okay, though. I'd rather be here than anywhere else and able to celebrate!

New Year's Eve involved a grocery trip to Wal-mart and dinner at El Ranchito, then homeade chocolate cake and asleep before midnight! New Year's day turned out to be a really fun, productive day, full of good food and beautiful weather.

We made Vietnamese po-boys for lunch. If you've never enjoyed the complete bliss of a Vietnamese-style po-boy, then I invite you all over this week! We skip the pate that the New Orleans bakery includes, but imagine a baguette piled with thinly sliced pork, carrot, cucumber, jalapenos, and cilantro, topped with soy sauce and garlicky-sweet nuoc mam! It's a pretty amazing taste.

Vietnamese Po-boys

Tuan marinates a pork sirloin roast in a marinade of garlic mortared with sugar and salt, then mixed with water overnight. He bakes the pork (in the marinade, covered) at 250 for 3 hrs until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 150. He then sprinkled it liberally with sugar and placed it under the broiler to let the sugar carmelize/pork brown. He then sliced it super thin. In fact, everything on the sandwich is very thinly sliced ( a vegetable peeler works great for the carrots). If you are interested in making the nuoc mam, here it is.

Nuoc Mam

3 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp sugar
combine in mortar/pestle until thoroughly smashed (I suspect a food processor would work in a dire pinch).
2/3 c. warm water (add to the garlic mixture to get it out of the bowl)
In a bowl, combine:
Garlic/sugar/water mixture
5 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp lemon/lime juice
To taste: hot pepper paste/thai bird chili sauce

The heat gives it taste, but be conservative! We use a mixture of Tuan's dad's which involves sugar/vinegar/habanero peppers. Yeow! Surprisingly, the sandwhich is not "hot" even with the jalapenos. It's just immensely flavorful.

At lunch, Tuan decided that the baguettes we purchased at Walmart were not good enough and that we should try to make French baguettes. We didn't start until three, which means they are just now in the oven. The above photo is of them on the second rise. I am anxious to see our results! Wish us well. I leave you all with this quote:

Me: (sighing contentedly after lunch) Oh, Johnny, that was so good my mouth is singing. Is your mouth singing?
Johnny; (shaking head) Nooooo

Ps. I'm going to put photos of our kitchen on facebook if anyone is interested. Blogger is too slow.