Friday, December 17, 2010

Merry Christmas: Pass the Cakes and Candies and Cookies Please!

This holiday season has been a very busy but exciting one. Kate has been learning about Santa Claus and Christmas trees and all the goodies that go along with the season at her preschool and she LOVES to point out all the snowmen and Santas she sees on TV or at the stores. Santa came to her school last week, and because he gave her candy and a book, she thinks that is all he brings. So, when I asked her what she wants Santa to bring, she says, "Book and candy." However, she has also requested a bee Pillow Pet.

We have been baking a lot this season and this year Kate has helped me. Her favorite part though is licking the batter or eating the sugar that falls on the table. I have ruined her! We have made fudge and peanut butter balls and chocolate cookies with peppermint kisses and peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses and sugar cookies cut out and iced and a pumpkin roll. I think I have to bake excessively to instill a sense of Christmas in the house. Even though first thing in the morning we turn on the Christmas tree lights and move the star on our Countdown to Christmas calendar, there's something about creating special Christmas treats that only come once a year that really gets me in the spirit.

Tomorrow we will go to the mountain for the Mayes family Christmas, and all I can think about is eating Mema Jean's candies and Mom's red velvet cake. Now the cake is not a tradition. Actually, I think this will be the first time I have ever eaten Mom's red velvet cake, yet anything and everything my Mom bakes is delicious. But Mema Jean ALWAYS makes candy at Christmas and I am ALWAYS eager to help in the eating of them.

And so I am picking up on a theme here: Food. Perhaps that is what I most associate with Christmas. The strawberry cake my Mema Garner used to make and that my Mom now fixes every year; the tea rings my Mom labors over every year, which were a recipe from our dear friend Miss Mary Jane; the candies that my Mema Jean always makes.

Perhaps it isn't the food that I most love about Christmas but rather the people who have prepared them and who, after passing on, have also passed down their recipes to us. The memories of the strawberry and coconut cakes my Mema Garner would make and set out on the enclosed porch along with the myriad other desserts that I would sneak bites from when no adult was watching. Memories of eating Miss Mary Jane's tea ring on Christmas morning after opening presents and years later still enjoying them with my family though now prepared by my mother. Memories of making peanut butter balls with my Mema Jean and eating most of them myself.

Maybe that is why I have found myself baking a lot this holiday season: I want to reconnect with family members who are no longer with us or who I don't see as often as I should. I want to carry on the tradition of baking and enjoying holiday treats. But I also want to emulate my grandmothers and mother who are not only extraordinary cooks but true servants, and I want to teach my daughters the joy of preparing food to share with others. Those are some really big shoes to fill I know!

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Meet Cora Jane Tidwell

On Sunday, October 3, 2010, Daniel, Kate and I welcomed our new addition to the family into the world. Cora weighed 7 lbs. 8 oz. (1 oz. less than her big sister) and was 19.5 inches long (1 inch shorter than Kate). Still, although she was born one week early, Cora arrived with chubby cheeks and a temper that could only rival her father's.

Everything about Cora's delivery was different from her sister's. Because she was in the breech position--and despite all our efforts to help her move head-down, including several visits to the chiropractor, multiple attempts at headstands, and even a version, which is where two doctors atttempted to manually turn her head-down--I had to have a C-section. With Kate I went into labor and progressed normally and naturally with no medications or interventions. Cora was just determined to stay bottom-down. All in all, though, the surgery was not as bad as I had anticipated, and it is a blessing to know that Cora was perfectly healthy.

I also want to confirm and reaffirm that everyone who told me having two children was hard, especially two under 3 years of age. Kate has her moments when she only wants Mommy and that can be hard, especially when I am feeding Cora or trying to get her to sleep. Yet, Kate loves her little sister very much and tries to hold her and love on her all the time. She is particularly helpful when I'm changing Cora's diapers, bringing me the wipes and throwing away the dirty diapers. I do have to watch Kate very carefully because yesterday when I was on the phone with a doctor's office, she was lying on top of her little sister. Sweet Cora never cried or made a peep but just looked at her big sister with wonder.

We are truly blessed with two beautiful little girls and thank God for them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Getting Ready for a New Season

Summer is almost over and I, for one, am glad. Being pregnant during this miserably hot season has made me crankier and more sluggish than normal. I am definitely ready for some cooler weather so we can spend more time outdoors. Some days we don't even venture outside because it is too unbearable. Poor Kate, who loves the outdoors, has had to sneak out the door anytime I open it and run as fast as she can just so she can escape the house. I can't blame her. Being cooped up when the sun is shining and the day is beautiful is no fun. We try to go out early in the mornings to run our errands and play, but the majority of the day is spent inside.

The end of summer not only means the culmination of hot weather but also the beginning of new activities in the Tidwell household. Next week Kate will begin preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have battled feelings of guilt about this decision. I know I am more capable of teaching my child what she needs to know than a stranger, but I also know that Kate loves being around other children and has very few opportunities for that right now. Plus, with a new baby coming very soon, it will be nice for her to have her own thing to focus on and take pride in, and I will need some one-on-one time with the baby that I know I won't be able to get with a toddler running around. Pray that Kate and I both adjust well to this new experience.

Also, in September, Community Bible Study will be starting back up, and I am so so so excited! After a riveting and intense study of Revelation last year, this year's study of Daniel, Colossians, and I Peter will be awesome I know. Plus, Kate will move out of the nursery and into the two-year-old class where she will learn Bible stories, sing songs and play with the friends she's made already! I wll be in the new mom's group since Baby will be here in October. It will be nice to be among other moms with babies again.

Daniel and I will also resume teaching the 4th and 5th graders at our church on Sunday mornings. I'm working on the curriculum for that right now and looking forward to a wonderful new quarter!

Within the first two weeks of October, we are expecting our new addition to arrive. October is rapidly approaching and I'm excited but very nervous about being a mom of two little ones.

Kate will turn 2 on October 28th, which is very hard to believe at times and yet at other times, it seems like she should be two already. She's very independent-minded and loves to ham it up in front of the camera. Her favorite expresssions right now are "don't like it," "no ma'am," and "no thank you." Notice all the negatives. She is very opinionated and stubborn as a mule.

Here she is using the potty like a big girl, something Kate will do whenever she feels like it. Most of the time she still prefers her diaper. See the pile of toilet paper on the floor.

Here Kate is helping Mama wash dishes although most of the water ended up on her and the floor! I have to give her credit though: she does love to help her Mama.

We're looking forward to some crisp fall weather and beginning a new season in our lives as a family of four. May God bless you and your families.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Joys of Summer: Family, Fun & Sun!

Whew! June flew by like a whirlwind! Where has the summer gone? It is already July and in just three short months, we will have a new addition to the family. Poor baby, your room isn't even a room right now but more like a storage unit.

The first of June Daniel worked at Bonnaroo, selling ice and hanging out with hippies while Kate and I spent the week with Brian and Jen and the kids on Signal Mountain. There's just something special about having cousins nearby for your children to grow up with and Kate loves her cousins, especially Robbie!

After Bonnaroo we had Vacation Bible School at church, and I taught the 2 & 3-year-olds again, a position that I vowed last year NOT to take again because I think it requires a patient, creative person, someone I am not. Somehow, though, I managed to find myself there again. Don't get me wrong, I do love the children but you can't get a child that age to sit still in a chair for more than 10 minutes and our classes lasted for an hour! Needless to say, we played a lot of games, blew tons of bubbles, and chased a lot of balloons every night!

After VBS we headed to Charleston, SC, for a week at the beach--Folly Beach, that is--with Daniel's family! What a welcome respite from all the running around of the previous weeks! I wasn't sure how Kate would take to the beach: she hates anything dirty on her hands, and I didn't think she would like the sand. Boy was I wrong! She loved playing in the sand with her other favorite boy cousin, Zach (she has a distinct preference for boys), and couldn't get enough of the "ray-ray" (the ocean). She would drag Daniel and me out as far as she could into the water and waves would crash all around, knocking her down, but, undaunted, she got back up and forged onward. Definitely a beach baby!

We also did a fair amount of exploring downtown Charleston: visiting the Market and the beautiful old churches with their centuries' old graveyards as well as eating a good deal of seafood, probably my favorite part of the trip. Daniel went fishing a few times and we ate fresh shrimp, redfish, grouper (one night I ate an entire fish, minus the head, and I think I scared Daniel's brother by doing that.), flounder, and Mahi-Mahi. Yummy!

After being gone for a week and battling a sleep-deprived 20-month-year-old, I was ready to come home. Now we are getting back into our old routine and returning to our mundane but happy lives at home. I have always been a homebody but being a parent has really made me even more of one. As much as I love to travel and see new places, my house is my favorite place to be.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us all these exciting and fun opportunities, and thank you for the sanctity of the home we have where we can always find rest and comfort from our busy lives.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Farmer's Market & the Tidwell Garden

This morning Kate and I ventured out to the Farmer's Market here in Rutherford County at the Lane Agri-Park. We usually go on Tuesdays, but last week there were only a handful of vendors and very little produce offerings. Fridays are definitely a much better day to go! Today, there were three vendors selling grass-fed, organic beef; one selling grass-fed beef, chicken and pork; one selling goat cheese; and numerous vendors selling a variety of "in season" fruits and vegetables including beets, sugar snap peas, green beans, Early Girl tomatoes, lettuce mixes, squash, onions, carrots, and leeks. Plus, there are Amish vendors selling jams, jellies, relishes, breads and other pastries and farmers selling beautiful flowers, herbs, and other plants. Needless to say, Kate and I had a blast and learned a lot about the items local farmers are growing and producing here.

Today, we purchased three Early Girl tomatoes that will be ripe in a few days (DELICIOUS!), two Zephyr squash (beautiful, yellow and green-colored), a lovely red cabbage, and a tub of herb-flavored goat cheese made in Franklin, TN. We spent a little more than we would at the grocery store, but I feel good knowing the veggies are all organic with no chemicals and locally produced. I would have bought more produce but I won't be home much this weekend.

I plan to purchase most of our produce at the Farmer's Market until our garden yields its surplus of squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. Here are some pictures of Daniel and Kate watering the plants in our garden. Kate is such a cute little shadow who spills more water on the ground and herself than on the plants, but we believe that her involvement in gardening will help her learn about produce: where veggies come from and how to grow and tend them. Such hands-on experience will help her develop an appreciation for what farmers do and hopefully one day she will grow her own veggies.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Becoming More Conscientious in the Kitchen

For some time now, I have been meaning to check out and read Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Mineral about her family's quest to eat only locally raised produce and livestock for one entire year. While Kate was napping this afternoon, I read the first two chapters and just after reading less than 50 pages felt an overwhelming call to do something! Kingsolver is concerned primarily with our dependence on and consumption of products that require significant quantities of petroleum for production, processing, and transportation. She proposes eating whole foods raised and grown locally, which one can pick up at a farmer's market or grow in her backyard in order to support small farmers and reduce our fossil fuel usage.

My concern as a parent is, like Kingsolver, where the meat, eggs, dairy products, vegetables, and fruits I buy come from. Since I first started couponing, I have actually found that coupons dictate a lot of what I purchase: I even bring home products that I have gotten free with coupons that without coupons, I would NEVER have considered buying. For example, last week I bought a bottle of marinade in a bottle for 50 cents that normally I would make myself. The cost for the bottled marinade was probably about the same as what it would have cost me to make it. The problem though is that there are some ingredients in the bottled marinade that I do not like.

Kingsolver also argues that just because a grocery store offers "fresh" vegetables and fruits doesn't mean that we should eat them. The accessibility of exotic fruits from Costa Rica and tomatoes from California year round has seduced us into thinking we can and should buy them whenever we want, even if the foods are not in season locally. However, for anyone who has ever eaten a fresh tomato, handpicked from the garden, there is no comparison with those pink-colored, fleshy globules in Kroger. I want a "Tidwell tomato" all year but unless I've preserved or frozen some, I will not have one until the summer months roll around and then only for a very short period of time will they continue to produce. Kingsolver urges Americans to deny themselves the fruits and vegetables that are not in season and eat only what is available during that particular time of the year in your area. During the winter months, unfortunately, that would mean very little. However, I think that by canning, freezing, and preserving foods from the garden when they are in season, one could eat those "Tidwell tomatoes" in the winter, albeit in a modified form, even when the plants are long gone.

I'm not sure where I am going with this post. My mind is racing with ideas... I had better wait and see what Daniel thinks first. I know that what we consume matters. Food is what fuels us; it's part of our identity as a culture. How we view food reveals a lot about who we are. Do I cook whole foods? Do I use fresh vegetables and fruits? Or do I order take-out or fast food? Do I purchase prepared foods that are overly processed and hazardous to our health? I am sure of one thing so far: I must be more cognizant of what I am buying, the ingredients in it, and its effects on my family.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

To Our 18-Month-Old Daughter

Dear Catherine Anne,

It is hard to believe but today you are eighteen-months-old! You have changed and grown so much over the past year and a half and are transforming into a beautiful, energetic and curious little girl. Recently, you have grown fond of baby dolls but still prefer to smother and hit them rather than love and cuddle them. That's okay. You're learning to be gentle, an attribute your Mommy is also learning everyday. Still, you are a little girlie: you love to put all your hair barrettes and bows in your hair.

Kate, you have just recently started chattering a blue streak and it is amazing how rapidly you are adding new words to your vocabulary. Now you can clearly annunciate words like "socks," "shoes, "juice," "baby," "pee pee," and "poo poo." The last two words are a result of our recent experiences with potty training. Although you do not seem to like the potty seat right now (I think it hurts your little bottom), that's okay. We're going to take it slowly.

You have also revealed to your Daddy and me how observant and smart you are: you know all your animal sounds and can point to all the animals in your books. You are learning your colors and numbers and will probably know them pretty soon, too, because you love to sit and look at your books. Some times when I don't know where you are I will find you behind Mommy and Daddy's bed on the floor surrounded by your books, and you are "reading" them to yourself. It is always nice when you can entertain yourself and you are pretty adept at that.

Kate, you are also becoming a good helper. You help Mommy put away the dishes; you pick up your books, clothes, and toys; and you sweep, vacuum, and dust with Mommy. You also help Mommy and Daddy water the flowers and work in the garden. When you want to be, you can be Mommy's big helper, which will be really nice when Baby comes.

While to others you may seem the perfect angel, your Daddy and I know all too well that you have a fierce temper, a strong will, a stubborn streak, and have a way of throwing some horrific tantrums. We are working hard to help you tame your temper and submit your will to your parents' but would appreciate a little cooperation; that is my constant prayer!!

Still, you are a special little girl, Kate. We love you very much, and we love to see how you grow and mature each day.


Mommy and Daddy

p.s. I know you will be totally embarrassed one day by these pictures, but you are just an adorable little girl right now.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Baby Tidwell

I suppose I will need to differentiate between "Baby Tidwell" and "Baby Kate Tidwell." It seems that no matter how old or big Kate gets she is still lovingly called "Baby Kate." We joke that she will be a teenager and people will still call her that. While she is still Mama and Daddy's baby girl, we do have another precious baby on the way. Yesterday, I had the awesome experience of hearing the baby's heartbeat: a firm reminder that there is indeed a baby in there! I think every time I have heard my babies' heartbeats a little tear came to my eye: life is so amazing and God an awesome God!

I have decided, although I am not sure Daniel is completely on board with me now that we're scheduled for another ultrasound to check the baby's anatomy, not to find out the baby's gender. Yes, I know this is a surprise to many because I am a planner by nature, but I really don't have a real reason to find out except maybe to narrow down names and help Kate get used to his/her name. But I would love the surprise and anticipation of finding out after I have birthed him/her. My guess is that it's a girl, but Daniel is determined it's a boy. Either way we have to get our boy names together. I think boy names are so much harder to come up with girl names. I'm not sure why either. Fortunately, I still have plenty of time to convince Daniel that while I love his grandfather and dad, I do not care for "Horace Boone" as the name for our son. People, please talk some sense into my husband. I'm all about family names but not ones that will get my kid beat up.

Thankfully, most of the nausea has ended with the end of my first trimester. Suddenly, it seems like I eat and eat and eat and never get full. The other day I ate an entire foot-long sub from Subway! But we are walking every day and I am trying to get in shape for this labor and delivery as I know it will be here before we know it. I will keep you posted on further progress!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Eggs & Family Fun

Easter weekend was a fun-filled time with family and loved ones. On Saturday we went to Mema Jean's for lunch and an all-out egg hunt with over 100 eggs! Kate needed a little help at first finding the eggs, but once she got the hang of it, she did a good job spotting them. Like most kids what she really wanted was the yummy candy inside!

Ellie was too intent on getting the candy out of her eggs to be bothered to look up for a picture. Not long after this picture Kate fell down between the table and bench and bruised her back pretty badly, poor thing. What a bad Mommy for standing her up there!

Saturday was also Daniel's birthday, so Mom and Dad took Kate back with them so Mommy and Daddy could go to dinner. We had a very delicious dinner at Provino's, one of my all-time favorite restaurants. After we left I could have sworn garlic oozed out of my pores. I was stuffed but how often does one get to go to Provino's?

On Sunday the Easter Bunny visited Kate at Gram Gram and Papa's house.

After church and before a delicious lunch by Mom, we took some family pictures. What a good lookin' bunch we are!

Following lunch we had yet another egg hunt and then ate Bunny cake and ice cream outside. What a wonderful weekend full of fun and good times with our family.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Fears List

So, I'm reading Peggy O'Mara's Having a Baby, Naturally, and she recommends writing down the things we fear while we are pregnant to help to face them. I think because I had such a relatively easy labor and delivery with Kate and because I know what to expect that I am worried that this next baby might be a lot more difficult.

Here are some of my fears:

(1) I fear not being mentally prepared for the intensity and emotion of natural childbirth.
(2) I fear not being physically prepared for the same.
(3) I fear the unknown during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
(4) I fear the pain of labor and delivery as well as afterbirth pains.
(5) I fear for the health of the baby. (I know, a perfectly natural emotion.)
(6) I fear for Kate's adjustment to the new baby.
(7) I fear the challenges of taking care of two babies and therefore the loss of my own personal space and time. (A selfish fear but one that haunts me.)
(8) I fear not being a good mother.

While these fears are nothing profound or unique to me, they do stir up flutters in my stomach and, fortunately, motivate me to do my exercises, read my books, pray a lot, and begin to make the preparations necessary to combat these fears.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Some Exciting News!!

Kate is going to be a big sister! We can hardly believe it either, or, let me rephrase that, I can't believe it! Of course I am thrilled because children are a blessing from the Lord. Just a little overwhelmed at the thoughts of two little squirts running around. But, alas, little Kate does need a playmate. Daddy, her best buddy, just isn't around during the day and Mama is, well, Mama. So, sometime around the first two weeks of October we will be having a new little one.

I am going to try to use this blog to keep a record of my pregnancy because I really didn't do a good job keeping a journal with Kate. So, I am about 13 weeks along and therefore almost out of the first trimester. After meeting with my midwife Lauren Drees a few weeks ago, we had an ultrasound to get a rough idea about when this baby will be arriving. We took Kate, who didn't fully appreciate the images of the baby, but who really didn't like Mama lying there and not holding her. But in seeing this precious little one on the ultrasound screen, reality sank in. It's exciting to think about who this child will look like, what his/her personality will be like, and how s/he will be as a baby, a child, a teen, and then an adult. Kate is so outgoing and independent, so chatty and funny, always on the move and always smiling. She's got a mind of her own, which is a challenge, but is so smart. I know she'll have a tough time adjusting but will be a great big sister.

(Kate with all her hair barrettes. She wants them all over her head.)

Already I see differences between the two. Since the beginning of February, I have been sick as a dog. Totally different from Kate. With Kate I think I threw up a handful of times and was only nauseous in the morning hours. With this little angel, I am sick all day long and even wake up in the middle of the night to vomit (i.e., last night at 1:00). It is particularly difficult since Kate is so active but she is so good and usually "reads" her books or runs around while I lie on the couch. Every time she sees me throwing up I try to reassure her that Mommy is okay but she isn't the least bit concerned: she just stands by and laughs! Fortunately, those horrible first trimester side effects are dwindling although I still enjoy an afternoon nap with Kate because I am exhausted.

I go back to see the midwife April 19 and will keep you posted on our progress. We are very blessed and thank God for His gift of children.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


This is a disclaimer to the next post. In no way do I mean to demean or belittle any woman's birth experience. One benefit to advanced medicine is that when mother or baby is in danger there are fast and innovative methods to remedy the problem with little risk of mortality. Thank God for that! I simply want women to start taking control of their pregnancies and childbirths so that they can have an optimal experience and treasure wonderful memories about their experience.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On My Soapbox

Most people would agree that living in a modern, technologically advanced society is a blessing, but when that technology infringes on our rights, we need to stop and assess whether such advancements are really beneficial or whether they are setting us back thousands of years. To be blunt, I am frustrated and appalled by the medicalization of childbirth, notably the increased rise in inductions, C-sections, and other unnecessary interventions that are preventing women from trusting their bodies and doing what we were created to do.

In the past year, five women who I know and care about have had normal pregnancies only to end up being delivered by C-section. In three of the five cases, a cesarean was deemed necessary because of a failed induction, and in the other two, the women were told their babies were measuring large and they would not be able to deliver them vaginally. I am sick and tired of doctors who are so concerned about malpractice suits and the inconvenience of normal, physiological birth that they convince women that we aren't capable of knowing our own bodies and allowing labor to occur on its own, in its own time. A C-section is not a minor outpatient procedure; it is serious and major abdominal surgery that can result in numerous problems for the mother and the baby. The risks of cesarean include hemorrhage, infection, organ damage, threats to future fertility and, with future pregnancies, the possibility of uterine rupture and placenta implantation problems. And yet, today, 1 in 3 women have a C-section every year. Don't get me wrong; there are incidents that necessitate emergency surgery, but these cases are few and far between.

At the heart of the problem, I think, is that women no longer take control of their pregnancies and the childbirth process, preferring to remain ignorant and trust the doctor who "knows best." We have forgotten or perhaps never really internalized the fact that God made our bodies to bear children and that women have given birth since the beginning of time without the "aid" of doctors. It seems quite a setback to me that women have abandoned their natural instincts to birth, whether out of fear or ignorance I don't know, and given complete control to doctors.

Don't just read What to Expect When You're Expecting but read Having a Baby, Naturally by Peggy O'Mara or Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon. Find out what exactly is happening in your body and with your baby. And when your doctor tells you s/he wants you to have a certain procedure, don't just take his/her word for it but research it, find out your options, ask what the risks and benefits are. Don't just assume doctor knows best. Doctors know what's best for their bottom line; you have to take responsibility for your body, your pregnancy and childbirth. Having a baby is one of the amazing miracles that God has placed in our lives. Stop letting others control your childbirth experiences and be proactive.

We're Back!

It has been quite a while since I last posted. Kate and I have both been sick and it just seems like we have been very busy lately. Kate is babbling one knows exactly what she's saying but she sure has a lot to say! It will be nice when she learns to form words because last week she had an ear infection in both ears and it would have been very nice if she could have told me her ears hurt. When we were visiting my parents a few weeks ago, Kate loved to pat little Robbie on the back and say, "This? This?" So cute.

She is a funny kid though. She will sit forever looking through and "reading" her books, which is nice for Mama. However, she has recently foregone her morning nap when she really still needs it, so we are adjusting. At least she usually takes a 2-hour afternoon nap and lately, so does Mama!

We are looking forward to some warmer weather so we can have some outdoor adventures. There are only so many pairs of shoes Kate can try on.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Menu Plan for February 14-20

This week we'll be using the chicken breasts and ground chuck I got on sale at Sam's and Kroger's recently. I am ready for springtime and fresh veggies!!

Sunday: Valentine's dinner with Daniel

Monday: Cheeseburgers with fixin's, tater tots, and fruit salad

Tuesday: Crispy Honey Chicken, Vegetable Fried Rice

Wednesday: Pinto beans, Chow-Chow, and Cornbread

Thursday: Chili

Friday: Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Saturday: Teacher Appreciation Dinner at Church