Three Months: Patience, Grace, & Falling Into Place

3 months

This post was supposed to be a 2 month update and then a 2 ½ month update and then I said forget it and have been focusing on getting things together for a 3 month update. There just isn’t much free time to go around these days and I am still slowly learning to steal moments for myself.

These past 3 months have been all about patience, grace, and falling into place. Life with a new baby is one hell of a learning curve, especially for first time parents. But it is a curve you learn quickly even if it means stumbling through it. Or in my case, falling asleep from sleep deprivation. But things change. And somehow the days continue on. Morning to night, night to morning. One more feeding. One more pump. Gabe gets older. He gains more weight. He is suddenly 3 months old… alive and thriving!

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We have certainly had our ups and downs. When you’ve been cruising along at 70mph in 5th gear and suddenly shift down into 1st. It’s kind of like being slammed into a brick wall. Having a baby seems like one of the most dramatic life changes you can do. Everything is different yet in a strange way not at all that different either. It’s a shift in priorities and responsibilities, like a handful of dice being rolled out onto the table. Everything gets reassigned new values. But you… you are still you. Your identity remains. The essence of who you are does not change… it just gets thrown into a spin cycle for a bit.

Everyone says it gets easier with time… I don’t know if that is necessarily true. What I think happens is that things change and you get better at doing and dealing with things. You learn that the more you surrender to the ebbs and flows of a new baby the easier it is to move through the ebbs and flows. This especially comes into play when things don’t quite play out how you expect. Some things will be a challenge, some things will not. You just can’t know what yours will end up being.

Patience, grace, and falling into place.

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Now at 3 months life with Gabe is different than it has been at each stage thus far… and I like it. I am really enjoying watching him grow. His personality comes out a little bit more each day. He is much more alter. He can hold his head up really well. And he is so much more engaging. He loves “playing” several times a day now between the eating and sleeping. And his coos… he coos like a dove. There is so much joy in his face. I am looking forward to hearing him laugh.

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He is almost 14lbs now and is still eating like a champ. So far he is a really good sleeper. He consistently sleeps through the night and has done a few 9 hour stretches overnight. I only wish we could get him to sleep earlier in the night. He can track you with his eyes and like most babies, is captivated by red and bold colors. He doesn’t really care for the pacifier, only holding onto it when he wants to suckle otherwise I think he enjoys spitting it out. He has learned how to stick his fingers/fist in his mouth and seems to enjoy drooling on occasion.

What else can I say, he is a mellow happy baby. I’m incredibly grateful to have a son like him.

Here are a few pics from his first 3 months. Click any picture for the larger/gallery view. Sorry for the poor editing, we’ve switched to Lightroom and have yet to figure out how to do quick decent looking edits.

Meet Gabriel

Birth announcement front

Birth announcement back

Now that the “newborn haze” has faded a bit and we’ve navigated through a few challenges, I thought it was due time to formally introduce you to Gabriel… or informally, Gabe. He made his entrance into this world four weeks ago today.

He is an even tempered little guy. Generally calm and laid back. So incredibly attentive. Loud noises don’t really bother him… I can vacuum or run the vitamix and he stays asleep. He doesn’t fuss much either, only when he needs something. For example, if he is awake and wets his diaper, he lets us know immediately! Speaking of diapers, he already a pro at diaper changes. Once the dirty diaper is off, he is as happy as clam.

Thinking in his sleep

Thinking in his sleep

It took a bit to kick start his appetite but he is now a voracious eater. He also doesn’t mind sleeping… but then again, he is a newborn. We are already at 4-5hr stretches of sleep if he is filled with enough food. And he loves to snuggle. Why doesn’t anyone talk about how great it is to have a newborn sleep on your chest!?

So far he has been a trooper with the not so fun parts of life. He didn’t even flinch with his vitamin k shot or for the newborn screening test. But try to wipe his eye goobers away? Not cool. Or cold wipes or temperature changes? Not a fan. But at the same time he has no problem kicking off his blanket if he is too hot. He also doesn’t like being strapped into the car seat but once he is in and we are moving he conks right out.

Sweet sleep

Sweet sleep

Gabe currently as dark blue eyes with a hint of green. I hope they stay that way. Speaking of eyes, I often call him a “one eyed pirate” because he likes to open just one eye so he can see if it is worth opening the other. He has a head of hair that is darker in the back and gets lighter up in the front. It’s incredibly soft too! Long fingers and toes… at 21.5 inches long, I think it’s safe to say he is going to be tall like his daddy.

He currently enjoys listening to Sherri Youngward, Josh White, and my ambient pandora station. None of the baby/kid music for this guy. He also loves long walks by the ocean.

Oh, everyone says he looks like his dad. Aside from his chin, I can’t see it. I just see Gabe.

I feel incredibly blessed with Gabe. He fits so perfectly into our family. God knew exactly what He was doing when He knit Gabe together in my womb.

Happy one month birthday my little one eyed pirate.

Now… to find the new normal.

Lookin' at you

Lookin’ at you

2015 Theme Word: Feel

It is a new year. 2015 is here for the next 361 days. In keeping with tradition, I selected a theme word to guide, direct, and set the tone for this year. I briefly considered not doing it… but why not? I’ve done it this many years, why not another? I kind of like not having resolutions that are filled with all kinds of impossible goals and standards. I also couldn’t avoid the fact that I recently had an experience that pulled some things together for me and kind of placed my word right in front of me.

This post is a bit more personal than I tend to share on a public forum. There is a good chance you might not follow my train of thought and there are a whole lot of details intentionally left out. But here it is.

2015 Theme Word: Feel

Back in December Will and I went to see A Winged Victory For The Sullen at The Independent. It had been ages since our last concert. Thankfully the style of music played in our favor and gave us a different concert experience. A unique one that helped bring together some things for this years theme word.

Winged Victory is an ambient modern classical duo featuring Dustin O’Halloran & Adam Wiltzie. In hindsight it is easy to say that the sound that they produce is nothing but emotion. It wasn’t until I experienced their music live that I was able to call it that.

The setting was an old theatre turned music venue. There was some cafe style seating up front and rows of chairs in the back and on the sides. Sitting for a show? Yes, please. My days of spending numerous hours in line, then even more hours for the show, and then hanging out after show is long since over. But I digress.

The music didn’t start till 8:30. It was a Tuesday night in December with a mostly older crowd. You could tell everyones energy was waning. One guy actually slept through part of the Winged Victory set. The music started with an Icelandic cellist, Hildur Gudnadottir. Very moody. Very real. Explosive yet soft vocals. Another 30 minute intermission and then a Winged Victory settled in: 2 keys (one of which was on guitar as well), 2 violins, and the cellist from the opening set.

A winged victory for the sullen

The music starts. It has a way of stopping you… commanding your attention. The lighting further sets the mood and the fog creeps in. You are there to experience. And if you let it, you are there to feel… to let the music take you to the places you need to go, the places you are afraid of or have forgotten about. It is there to put you in touch with your inner being. It shocks you, delights you, and reverberates your very soul. The deep notes do exactly that… reverberate the core of your being. You can’t deny it either, it just happens, it is part of the experience.

As you tune in you start to move around a bit. To let your mind wander. With no words to direct your thoughts, you are free to float about. You feel something as you find the rhythm of the sound waves. It playfully taunts you to let go and go further, to release yourself to the places inside you that you forgot existed. It’s asking you to connect to the innermost part of you that we as a society have tried to disconnect ourselves from.

As the music played on it asked me if I would go. Though sometimes it isn’t even a question of “will you go” but instead a question of “can you go” to where it is calling you. Interestingly enough I didn’t feel threatened, but more contemplatively challenged.

A winged victory for the sullen

Music is a powerful life force. It can bring both life and death through its notes. It is an outward expression of our inner being that is directly tied to our emotions and the things we feel. I have lost touch with this over the years. Something that was so imperative to how I lived quietly faded into background noise.

Was it fear? Was there one too many emotions for me to handle? Did the music bring death that I chose to never rise from?

Whatever the cause may have been, I have long since walked away from the life force that is music. I placed music and all that it brought with it to the side and continued on.

It has taken me some time to realize this but as with everything there was a cost. My cost? A disconnect. And one I didn’t see, just something I rode the spiral down. Now of course music wasn’t the only element of this disconnect but a very powerful one to say the least.

I couldn’t help but tie these thoughts about the reality of my disconnect back to worship music and the way I used to connect to God in various music settings. I was reminded of how worship and praise is a opening connection to God. To praise Him is an act of service, an outpouring expression of the heart. Be it a rock show or Sunday morning worship, I poured out emotion… it was safe, it was right. But this disconnect… oh the unforeseen cost.

So many things disconnected. I can’t ignore this anymore, I see it all too clearly.

I have to reconnect.
I must feel.

Roast Pork

Will and I went down to Southern California to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. Over dinner one night I was telling them about a few upcoming events that I need to plan some dishes for. One of which is the recipe I am sharing with you today, Roast Pork.

Pork shoulder

In telling them about the dish I was going on and on about how much I love this method of roasting pork. My mom made the comment that I seem to like simple preparations of roasted meat. I thought about it for a second and she is right. While I love all kinds of unique flavors, I really do like starting with a good foundation before adding flavors on top.

Scored fat cap

The preparation is somewhat similar to the roast chicken I did a couple months back. You start with a pork shoulder with a nice fat cap on top. Yes, you really do need the fat cap, that’s where half your flavor comes from so keep that in mind when picking out a pork shoulder. Score the fat in a diamond pattern, then rub in a good amount of kosher salt into the fat and into the rest of the pork. Put it into a roasting pan or a cast iron skillet and throw it in the oven. After a couple of hours you end up with perfectly seasoned pork that falls off the bone.

Roast pork

How perfect is that!?

You can serve this as is or make a gravy from the drippings. But I am going to suggest that you delve into the magical world of chutney… it is a sublime accompaniment to the pork. With the fruit that is in season right now, I highly recommend the Apple Cranberry Chutney over on SimplyRecipes.

Shredded roast pork


Roast Pork

Recipe by: Elisabeth Norris

  • 1 – 3-4lb pork shoulder*
  • Kosher salt

Preheat over 425.

Pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towels. Then with a sharp knife, score a diamond pattern about 1/2 inch deep into the pork. Generously rub kosher salt into the fat and the crevices you just cut. Then continue to salt the rest of the pork.

Place into a large cast iron skillet or roasting pan. Put into oven and bake 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and turn oven temperature down to 325. Cover pan tightly with foil and return to oven. Bake for another 2 – 3 hours. Check roast at 2 hour mark to see where it is at; if it is easy to pull apart, it’s done. If not, stick it back in for another 30 minutes to an hour.

The small ~3lb roast pictured took 2hrs 30 minutes to cook.

*Yes, you can still use this method with a much larger roast. Just plan on adding an extra hour or two to the cooking time.

Roasted Butternut Pear Soup

Fall is all around us. Seems like just yesterday I was talking about seeing the change of produce at the farmers market and getting excited to usher in fall flavors. Now Halloween is over, the clocks have been set back an hour and we are already working through the first week of November. What better time than now to celebrate the wonderful flavors of fall before we find ourselves in the midst of winter. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to go back and share a soup recipe I made for Dinner & Discussion Week 8.

Apple, onion, sage

It is a roasted butternut & pear soup that truly is all things fall. While it wasn’t my intention to try and cram as many fall flavors into this soup, it just kind of happened that way. But this is in no way a bad thing… it’s a very good thing.

The magical nature of this soup comes from not just roasting the squash but roasting the pears as well. Come to find out, roast pears are kind of awesome. The sugars come out and things get a bit gooey and caramelized. And you know what that means… flavor!

Roasted butternut & pears

The base of the soup starts out pretty traditional with onions, apple, and sage. While you could roast these ingredients, I chose not to because I wanted the flavors to soften and mellow out in some butter. From there we build up with a combination of both broth and pure apple juice. You can use straight broth if you like but I like adding a bit of apple juice, or even better, apple cider, to add another layer of depth that pairs nicely with the accompanying spices.

Roasted butternut pear soup

The soup is finished with spices you would expect… cinnamon, ginger, a bit of cardamom and a few grates of nutmeg. Simmer it all together and taste. Adjust spices to your taste buds. Puree it smooth and enjoy the flavors of fall. Garnish is of course always optional but it can be a fun way to make things feel a bit more fancy.

Roasted butternut pear soup


Roasted Butternut & Pear Soup
Recipe by: Elisabeth Norris

  • 3 lb butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 4 pears, cored and cut in half
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored & diced
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 cup apple juice (or apple cider)
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp cardamom
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg (or several grates of fresh nutmeg)

Optional Garnish
Fresh sage leaves
Toasted pepitas

Preheat oven 425 and line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Place cut butternut squash and pears skin side down on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt. Flip the squash and pears to face down. Place in oven and bake 30 – 45 minutes. Till pears start to caramelize and a knife slides into the squash easily. Set aside and let cool.

Heat fat of choice in a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced apple and onion and sauté for 5 minutes over medium low heat. Add in fresh sage leaves and continue to sauté another 3 minutes till apples and onions are soft and translucent.

Remove the skin from the cooled roasted squash and pears and add to the pot. Scrape the juices from the pan into the pot as well. Add the broth, juice, and spices. Bring up to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer 20-30 minutes so flavors can meld together.

Remove pot from heat. Pull out sage leaves and then puree in batches in a blender or food processor. Return to pot to keep warm before serving. Taste and adjust spices as needed. If you find the soup to be too thick (due to a larger squash or additional pears), thin it out with a bit more broth or juice to desired thickness.

Makes: 6 – 1 cup servings

Dinner & Discussion, Week 10

Last Friday we had our final Dinner & Discussion gathering. Over the past ten weeks we experienced a myriad of conversations and emotions as we worked our way through Restless. It was challenging, confronting, and enlightening. We didn’t know what the end result of this journey would be either. But I am thankful for those who stuck around with willing hearts to see just what God would do through this gathering. While some were hoping for a big flashing neon sign from God that said, “this is your purpose!”, God had other ways of speaking to each one of us individually.

For me the end is bittersweet. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn how to serve people with food and my home. My heart is filled with joy with the way people opened up with each other. Both in how and what they shared and also in opening their hearts to new friendships. Now this group of six has an understanding of each other in a way they never would have gained had they not committed to this time. The other side of this though is that I am tired. This endeavor took so much time, planning, and energy to do week after week. While I am incredibly thankful for the numerous blessings, lessons, and the ability to serve, I am glad this gathering has come to an end.

For everything there is a season.

So instead of going out with a “bang” I decided our last meal together would be simple and comfortable.

Margarita Pizza: Since our group went down to six, homemade pizza was now a possibility. So I chose to make my absolute favorite Neapolitan style pizza. Fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, lots of olive oil, salt, and garlic.

Margarita Pizza

Caesar Salad: I don’t make caesar salad often and I know this isn’t authentic but it works for me. Nixed the croutons (which are great by the way) because I figured we were chowing down on enough carbs already.

Harvest Grape & Olive Oil Cake:: While last weeks dessert was all about familiarity, this week I had to go with something that really piqued my interest. Olive oil and grapes. This was a great olive oil loaf studded with big firm seedless grapes from the farmers market. It perfectly highlights the wonderful fall harvest we currently have going on.

Harvest grape & olive oil cake


Dinner and Discussion is a weekly gathering over a meal and discussion. Read more about this series.

Dinner & Discussion, Week 9

Second to the last gathering! Wow. Hard to believe it. What a journey. But enough of that, I’ll save that for the wrap up post. Now that some time has passed we are definitely feeling the familiarity that time can bring. Over the last month, the group has since been whittled down to the final few. There is such an ease as each person walks in the door now. My stress levels over serving dinner have diminished. There is simply an ease over our gathering at this point. And this was one of the goals of Dinner & Discussion, to try and get people to commit to a period of time… to work through those sometimes awkward moments, to build security as we all share bits and pieces of our lives over the weeks. Now we are seeing the fruit of it. It brings joy to my heart when conversations start with things like; “I don’t have this all figured out but…” or “this isn’t the most polite way of saying this…” and the brutal honesty of, “This makes no sense to me.”

The familiarity and the thinning out of the group has certainly changed how I put together menus. It now feels like I’m cooking a family dinner rather than hosting a large dinner party. Not as many people means not as many dishes are needed. And as I tire from the weekly undertaking that is D&D, I find that I am allowing myself to simplify. With the fog returning to the coastside this week, it doesn’t get much simpler than chili.

Chili Con Carne: I don’t really have my own chili recipe so I went looking around for one. I loved the approach with this one in that it used chunks of beef rather than ground beef. Good overall flavor, a bit spicy but that’s what I get for using serrano’s instead of jalapenos!

Smoky Black Bean & Corn Chili: Yes, I made two different chilis! The above with meat, and this one, vegetarian. And you know what? I really liked the flavor this one over the one above.

Buttermilk corn muffins

Mini-Buttermilk Corn Muffins: I LOVE these muffins.

Taco Salad: No D&D menu is complete without a salad. Went more or less a traditional route with this taco salad, sans meat. Made a spicy dressing out of mayo, sour cream, salsa, and spices. Toss the dressing with crunchy greens and loaded it up with beans, tomatoes, avocado, cheese, and crunched up tortilla chips. Great way to change up salads.

Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies w/Ice Cream: I’m not sure what is so magical about chocolate chip cookies, a little on the underdone side, right out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But it is exactly that, magical. It truly never gets old.

Deep dish chocolate chip cookie w/vanilla ice cream


Dinner and Discussion is a weekly gathering over a meal and discussion. Read more about this series.