Not-So-Newlywed…

This past week a good friend of mine called to vent a little about the struggles of being a newlywed. She got married last summer and as she talked, it so reminded me of when Jason and I were first married. Joining lives really isn’t as easy as we seem to think it should be.

Jason and I dated for 3 years before getting married, so luckily we had gotten over some of the most trivial issues – toilet paper over or under, silverware in the dishwasher pointed up or down, the proper way to load the dishwasher in general, etc. Even after tackling those “major” first world problems issues, we still had a LOT to learn about each other and a lot to learn to compromise on.

After our conversation was over (and I hope she was encouraged a little) I had time to reflect on the fact that every example I had of Jason and I was past tense. I realized we don’t run into those squabbles and misunderstandings nearly as often now. Whether it’s because we’ve learned each other’s quirks now or because we’re quicker to extend grace and try not to jump to conclusions about things, it’s nice to feel that comfort with each other. It helped me better understand what joining our lives means and gave me, yet again, such an appreciation for Jason and our life together.

It also made me realize our anniversary is in a week and a half and I totally forgot! For those of you keeping track, the answer is 3 years… How long does it take for Malorie (who’s terrible with remembering birthdays/anniversaries/milestone dates) to forget about her own anniversary? 3 years.

It’s the Little Things

No matter what anyone tells you, there’s nothing that can prepare for the major life change of having a kid. Nothing in life stays the same. You’re suddenly following a new schedule, with new routines, and changing your family dynamic from being a family of two to a family of three.

Sometimes I feel like Jason and I are walking around in a daze. We just try to keep up with all these new demands on this new schedule, like a dizzying merry-go-round. There are times we get to sit back and enjoy, but mostly we’re just trying to keep up!

Yesterday, I was trying to do laundry (that’s also a new thing, you don’t just “do laundry” anymore, you “try to get laundry done” if you can find the time!). I managed to get the towels washed and dried, but they hadn’t made it out of the dryer by the end of the day. As I was putting Jake to bed, I asked Jason to throw them on the couch for me and I’d fold them and put them away before I went to bed.

My sweet hubby went the extra mile and did all the folding and putting away for me before I was done with Jake. Laundry is usually my chore, so I definitely appreciated the help; especially since I know Jason doesn’t like doing it.

As I was getting ready for bed that night, one little thing Jason did, made all the difference in the world to me.

I have this weird quirk/routine of hanging my washcloth on the side of our tub after I wash off my makeup at night. I think it started when we first moved into our house. We only have one towel rack, which holds our bath towels, so I didn’t know what to do with my wet washcloth. I flopped it on the side of the tub to dry and have done that every night since (I really should find a better way of hanging it up or something).

Last night as I was in the middle of washing my face, I remembered that I had put my washcloth in the laundry, so assumed I wouldn’t have one to use. I turned around and there was my washcloth. Hanging over the side of the tub, where I usually leave it. Not only had Jason noticed I always do that, but he made sure to leave my washcloth there for me when putting away the towels.

In all the craziness and chaos of life, having someone walking along side of you that knows all of your weird quirks and habits, and takes the time to do something random, just the way you like it… It’s pretty awesome. Something so small and really so insignificant made me feel such a bond with Jason. We’re a team. We know each other’s likes and dislikes and without even having to say anything, we can keep our hectic life on track together.

I’m looking forward to the next 30, 40 or 50+ years of living life side by side with Jason. Learning more and more of each other’s weird quirks and meshing our lives even more.

And I’m also looking forward to looking back on this post and saying, “Girl, you haven’t seen anything yet! The best is yet to come….”

Oh…

Seems to me like there’s a lot of “Oh…” going around in the parenting world. “Oh, you’re feeding your newborn formula?” “Oh, you’re breastfeeding until your kid is 4 years old?” “Oh, you co-sleep?” “Oh, you let them watch tv?”… “Oh, you didn’t vaccinate?”

I find it exhausting to read all of the articles about what we are not doing correctly as parents. There’s some level of perfection out there that is illusive and completely unattainable because as soon as you get it all “right,” new research shows you’ve been doing it “wrong” the whole time.

I think it’s time we all start extending some grace and understanding to our fellow parents. I believe our job as parents is to research our options and make the best decision for our family. Given the exact same information, I’m convinced we could all draw different conclusions as to what the “right “ thing to do is, based on our own life experiences and personal biases.

Sure, I think I know best. After all, I’ve spent hours researching anything and everything having to do with parenting and all the popular controversial topics of our time. In reality though, I’m not perfect, we live in an imperfect world, and I’m not going to do everything “right” no matter how hard I try. And even if I do, I’ve seen great parents with messed up kids and messed up parents with great kids.

I think our job as parents is to weigh the pros and cons of different issues and opinions, pray for guidance, and make the best decisions we can for our own family.

I also know I need to apologize in advance for any judgment I pass on other parents. There are a lot of good parents out there that will raise their children quite differently than I will raise mine. And that’s okay, because I’m not their child’s parent, they are. As long as they have their child’s best interest at heart, I want to support them. In my infinite (cough, cough) knowledge, I may think I know better than them, but let’s be honest, we’re all just making educated guesses when it comes to this whole parenting thing.

So good job, mom who feeds her baby formula because breastfeeding was such a struggle that she couldn’t love and enjoy her baby otherwise. And good job, mom who breastfeeds her children until they’re 4 years old because she believes it will provide long term health benefits for them. And good job, mom who co-sleeps because it’s the only way she can get the rest she needs to continue to love and care for her child. And good job, mom who lets her kids watch tv so she can focus on herself for a few minutes and be reenergized for the hard work of being a mom. … And good job, mom who didn’t vaccinate your kid. I’m assuming you didn’t come to this decision lightly and now, more than ever, you are facing extreme opposition for doing what you have determined is best for your family.

The Nog Face-Off

I saw a Facebook post comparing the health/calorie differences between traditional dairy egg nog and a non-dairy almond nog, which got me thinking… I currently have traditional dairy egg nog, non-dairy almond nog, and non-dairy coconut nog in my fridge. It’s time to take these comparisons to the next level. It’s time for a nog face-off!

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First of all, a serving size is ½ cup, which is represented in these pictures. I’m guessing most of us should double the calorie/fat/sugar content listed because when was the last time you poured yourself this small of a glass of egg nog?

For the stats, I’ve labeled them as “Traditional,” “Coconut,” and “Almond.” I put a picture of the nutrition facts of each below, but have highlighted some of the most commonly looked at stats.

Price:
Traditional – Darigold brand from Costco, $7.99 for two half gallons = $2.11 per liter
Coconut – So Delicious brand from Fred Meyer, $2.99 (on sale) = $3.34 per liter
Almond – Califia Farms from Haggen, $4.99 for one and a half quarts = $3.56 per liter

Calories:
Traditional, 190 – Coconut, 90 – Almond, 50

Total Fat:
Traditional, 8 grams – Coconut, 2.5 grams – Almond, 1.5 grams

Sugars:
Traditional, 19 grams – Coconut, 15 grams – Almond, 8 grams

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Now for the texture/creaminess and flavor rakings…

Traditional:

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Texture/creaminess: The traditional obviously has the creaminess you’d expect from egg nog. Thick and rich, heavy but still goes down smooth.
Rank: 1st place

Flavor:  I’ll be the first to admit that my judgment on flavor might be a little skewed, due to the fact that I rarely eat/drink any dairy products. This one definitely has a milky richness that easily stops me from drinking too much of it. The spices added gave it good flavor and it had, what I consider, just about the right amount of sugar (maybe a tad too much, but it was pretty good).
Rank: 2nd place

Coconut:

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Texture/creaminess:  While the coconut nog had a sort of creaminess to it, it was definitely the thinnest or most “watery” nog. I was still pleasantly surprised by how creamy it was, but if you like a good, thick nog, this isn’t your best bet.
Rank: 3rd place

Flavor: I thought the spices added to this one were perfect! It’s a little on the sweet side, I think due to the fact that coconut milk is already a little sweet, but I really enjoyed the flavor. If you don’t like coconut, you won’t like this one though. You can definitely taste the coconut, but I loved the spices and thought the flavors blended together perfectly.
Rank: 1st place

Almond:

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Texture/creaminess: Though not quite as thick as the traditional egg nog, the almond nog definitely came close. I was actually surprised at how thick they were able to make it, since plain almond milk is quite watery.
Rank: 2nd place

Flavor: Out of all three, this one underwhelmed me a little bit. The flavor that was there was ok, it was just too mild for my taste. If you’re not a huge fan of egg nog, you might like this one because it wasn’t nearly as sweet and the spices added were much more subdued. I prefer my nog to taste like nog though, which is why this one gets…
Rank: 3rd place

That wraps it up. Now go enjoy some nog!

Life Lessons from My 11 Week Old at Subway

The other day, I went to Subway for lunch. I wasn’t really thinking about the fact that it was right at noon, which meant there would be a long line and I have a little 11 week old to tote along with me. Luckily for Subway, they were the healthiest fast food in the area, so I decided to put up with the long line.

Shortly after we got in line, another woman got in line behind us. I wasn’t surprised to hear the “oh, what a tiny baby! So cute!” since Jake gets a fair amount of attention when we’re out and about. The voice kinda tipped me off and when I turned around, I wasn’t surprised to see a woman who was a little rough around the edges. She was middle-aged, wearing a flannel jacket, hair a little disheveled, and the wrinkles to confirm that my assessment of the “smoker’s voice” was correct.  She then proceeded to tell me all about her 13 year old son, who was born a month early… on Christmas morning… in the cab of their truck… 5 blocks away from the hospital… in the dark because the cab light was out.  These are the interesting stories you suddenly hear, now that you’re toting your own baby around, and I have to admit the story sort of fit my assessment of this lady as well.

Jake was awake the whole time and paying attention to our conversation and this new lady who was suddenly before him. We continued chit-chatting until it was my turn to order, Jake staring at her the whole time, and parted ways with a “have a good day” after I got my sandwich.

Later that day, I started thinking about the way Jake just stared at her. I started to wonder what he saw when he looked at this lady.  I think he found her voice interesting, he’s never heard anyone with that tonal quality. I think he was intrigued by the way she spoke, he’s never seen anyone with quite the same mannerisms. I think he was watching her and learning from her as he’s trying to figure out how to do these things himself. I think he valued her, because she provided something unique for him to learn. Needless to say, I think his assessment of this lady was far more gracious and loving than my assessment. He didn’t pass judgment at a glance, he listened to her and was grateful for the opportunity to get to know her and learn new things about life from her.

… Or it’s possible he was just staring at her because he was tired of looking at me all day. Whatever the case may be, I think I’d like to take a little more time to really see people before passing judgment. Every person is unique and if I take the time to be involved in a conversation and get to know them, I might just learn new things about life too.

Cooking Up a Storm

In preparation for Baby H’s arrival, I decided it would be a good idea to stock our freezer with a bunch of ready-to-go meals so I don’t have to worry about meal planning and finding time to make dinner in the midst of what I assume will be a chaotic, sleep-deprived state.

After busting my butt the past couple of weekends and standing until my feet looked like over-inflated balloons, I finally finished tonight! My freezer is stocked and everything is labeled with re-heating instructions.

It was a little bit challenging coming up with ideas for dairy-free freezer meals, but I think I managed pretty well with the following meals…

Honey-Lime Chicken
Spaghetti Sauce
Sloppy Joe Mix
Lasagna (for Jason, of course!)
Lentil & Ham Soup
Enchiladas (no cheese for me, please!)
Chili
Shepherd’s Pie
Chicken Parmesan (I’ll just have the breaded chicken and marinara, no parmesan)
Roast Beef Sliders/Melts
…And I also made a batch of chocolate chip banana muffins to throw in the freezer, because after everything else, why not some of those too?

I’m ready to stop doing dishes and start enjoying some of those meals! Just another thing to look forward to at the end of this month, right? 🙂

I’ve Got That Pregnant Feelin’

I’m feeling quite pregnant today, which is probably because I am indeed 8 months pregnant. I feel like I’ve stayed pretty trim throughout pregnancy so far, but every now and then I look at myself in the mirror and think, “When did I get this big?!” Today was one of those days. I noticed my knees ache a little, my lower back hurts a little, and I seem to bump my stomach into everything. It’s like that awkward, gangly puberty growth spurt, when you don’t know the dimensions of your own body and just clumsily navigate life.

My “pregnant feeling” was accentuated today by the fact that three strangers commented on my pregnancy today. All in all, I think I’ve done fairly well to make it 8 months without any comments from strangers or unapproved belly touches, but that made my three comments in one day seem a little over the top. Apparently I AM looking more pregnant today.

The first comment was from a sweet elderly lady at Grace Café. I had just ordered my lunch and was sitting down at a table when I glanced over at a couple of older gals having lunch together a couple tables over. One was already looking at me, so I smiled at her and sat down. She leaned my way and said, “You just look so cute.” Not that I don’t usually get this *cough, cough* but I think she was referring to baby bump.

The second comment came from a guy we passed in an aisle at the grocery store. It took me a second to catch his meaning when he said, “I hope it’s contagious, will you breathe on her (pointing to his wife)?” We saw him the next aisle over and he made sure to point out his wife again and we all had a good laugh.

The third comment came from a robust African American woman in the produce department.  Jason and I were actually prepared for it to be the first “stranger belly touch” but she refrained. We did get stuck between her and a couple food displays, discussing the baby’s gender, how far along I am, how he’s sitting, how far apart we should have future kids, etc. before we had to graciously excuse ourselves to finish our grocery shopping.

I do think all of the comments were sweet and I find it interesting how the excitement of a new life coming into this world is enough to break down the standard social barriers of talking with strangers. I’m interested to see how this next month goes!

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Thanksgiving

Jason and I were very thankful to be able to go up to Alaska for Thanksgiving this year. We got to meet our new nephew Robby, play with Shilah, and visit with my sister and brother-in-law.

Jason and Malorie

I’m not sure if Robby was on his best behavior because we were there or if he really is just a perfect little baby. He was generally very content and didn’t fuss much. He would sit in his bouncy seat or be held and just look around at the world around him.

Robby

I may be biased, but I think Shilah is super fun! She would come in the bathroom with me each morning and put makeup on with me (I learned after the first day to only give her the makeup brushes… Apparently she can get the cap off of my eyeliner).

Shilah

And of course, we can’t forget Toby, the dog. He’s had a hard time getting used to the idea that these kids need more attention than him, but he’s figuring it out. (And yes, that is my dorky brother-in-law in the background.)

Toby

We all chipped in to make a delicious Thanksgiving meal and ate until we were ill, which I consider to be a success. 🙂

Thanksgiving

Our afternoon was pretty laid back. We just hung out with the kids, watched some football, the usual Thanksgiving stuff.  Jason put “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” on his iPad and was instantly Shilah’s best friend.

Shilah and Jason

Malorie and Robby

Malorie, Jason and Shilah

That evening we bundled up and went over to some of Jenn and Josh’s friends’ house. It was fun getting to meet some of their friends and see more of their life in Alaska. Here’s us all dressed up and ready to go!

The Schouten family

Jason, Malorie, Shilah and Robby

Jason and I hope that you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving as well!

 

Semiahmoo

As most of you have probably heard, it was announced on Tuesday that the hotel I work at, Semiahmoo Resort, will be closing on December 1, 2012.  We’ve seen lower business levels the last few years with the recession, and I think David Syre’s bankruptcy finally just put things over the edge. (David Syre is a part-owner of the Resort.)  They’re still hopeful a buyer might step forward, but nothing has materialized yet.

The WARN Act requires companies with more than 100 employees to give their employees 60 days notice before closing and laying off all of their employees. We were given this notice on October 30 and will technically be employed until December 31.  Since we are closing to the public on December 1, it is my understanding that the month of December will just be used to close up the Resort and do all of the clean up and organizing needed to prepare it for a future company to hopefully purchase and re-open the hotel.

It was obviously hard news for all of the employees to hear. Knowing your losing your job, as well as losing your “Semiahmoo family” has been incredibly difficult. I’ve worked at Semiahmoo for 6 ½ years and that’s still not very long compared to quite a few of my co-workers. Some of the employees have worked at Semiahmoo since it opened 25 years ago.

I spent most of last week working through all 5 stages of grief on a daily basis. It’s been interesting to see some co-workers stuck in denial, some stuck in the “if only,” some stuck in depression, some stuck in anger, and some have already moved on to acceptance. I would say I’ve spent more time in the depression stage. The first couple of days after we heard I would just come home and sit around on the couch. I didn’t have any energy to do anything and I didn’t want to talk to anyone.  I think I’ve moved past that stage, but I wouldn’t say I’ve fully accepted things yet.  It’s hard to think about working somewhere else since I’ve been working at Semiahmoo since I was 19 years old!

I have been tossing around quite a few ideas of what I might like to do next. Whatcom County doesn’t really have any other large meeting facilities, so it looks like a career change is probably in my future. I’m hoping to use the next couple of weeks to narrow down what I might like to do… and also work on my resume.

Jason and I would definitely appreciate your prayers as we try to sort things out and determine what the future might hold for us. This definitely wasn’t in our plans for the future, but we trust that God already knew about this bump in the road and that He has a better plan for us.

-Malorie

Uncle Jason and Auntie Mal

Jason and I became “Uncle Jason and Auntie Mal” x 4 this past week. Robert Wesley Schouten was born on October 20th at 12:44am. I told my sister 10/20 would be an easy birthdate to remember and apparently Robby agreed.

Robert Wesley

Robby was only 10 minutes old when that picture was taken, so he looks to be a fairly alert little fellow. I love his chubby little cheeks too!

Robbie

Jason and I are sad we haven’t been able to meet him in real life yet, but are looking forward to seeing them next month!