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I haven’t written much about the person behind this blog lately, but if you could indulge me, I’d like to reflect on the events of the past year.

Being a list maker and a goal setter I enjoy the fresh start of a new year. Since we are about to embark on 2009, I am overwhelmed with all of the gifts we have been given this past year. Some were perceived as easy and welcome, others were hard and challenging, but all were blessings given to us for a greater purpose.

My husband and I celebrated our third anniversary this summer. What a blessing it has been. We have grown so much since we were first married and I pray that we continue to grow and mature together. We continue to work on all of the aspects of a marriage that are so important and we pray that we will open our hearts to continue to grow closer to one another. I am in love with this man who is a wonderful papa to our boys.

Our oldest son turned two in September. I can’t believe how much he has grown – he has pretty much potty trained himself over the past two weeks. A couple of months ago I was unable to sleep and so I decided that I would try to organize some of our digital photos. I sat at the computer with tears streaming down my face as I realized what a thief time has been. I can’t explain where those tears come from – they are neither of sadness nor of joy, but a combination of both. Every day brings something new and all I want to do is scream at the top of my lungs: “Stop! Please don’t change. Please don’t grow up.” But every day he does. And every day I am filled with an overwhelming amount of joy, gratitude and love. It’s as though my heart has been taken out of my chest and is now walking across the room. It is such a miracle that it hurts.

Speaking of miracles… we were blessed with another son in August. His birth changed me. I am still shaken by it every time it runs through my head. I sometimes look at him and burst into tears remembering what it felt like to fear for his life. He is so healthy and so happy now that it could only be a miracle. It’s as though his current state of being could never coincide with how he came into this world. I do not have understanding, only gratitude. All of the physical scars of birth are a distant memory and by God’s grace the emotional ones will pass as well.

The life that we want for our children is becoming more real as well. While we aren’t anywhere near being able to pay cash for a home yet, we are seeing the end of our student loans within reach – perhaps in 2009. I have a husband who works tirelessly – at work, at home, on his vacation – to make this a reality. All the while he indulges me in spending my days with our two beautiful blessings and managing our home. What monumental gifts I have been given!

I also started this blog this past year. Thank you all for reading, commenting and visiting. I thoroughly enjoy the community that blogging has given me. All of your comments, emails, questions and answers have enriched my new hobby and taught me so much.

I hope that 2009 brings you many blessings. May our hearts and minds be opened to thankfulness in all things.

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Last weekend I was nursing (pun intended) an infection due to a clogged milk duct. Thankfully my temperature never spiked too high, but I had all the symptoms of an infection – achy body, achy head, tired all over.

Along with rest and lots of nursing, I went through plenty of echinacea, vitamin C and garlic. On Saturday my husband and toddler were kind enough to supply me with an extra dose of garlic in my lunch. By Sunday I had a bit of pep back and was anxious to get back into the kitchen. I wanted to make a healing soup for lunch with lots of garlic – both cooked and raw. One of my favorite ways to eat raw garlic is with tomatoes, sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. This soup is a simple variation of that with the added healing benefits of onions and chicken broth.

After two full mugs of this soup I felt both warmed and healed.

Healing Garlic Tomato Soup

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2.5 cups chicken stock
28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
4 more cloves of garlic, minced
sea salt & pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

In a medium size soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until nearly softened. Add first four cloves of minced garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir chicken stock and canned tomatoes into the softened vegetables. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Allow it to simmer for 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

After 20 minutes, remove the soup pot from the heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Stir the remaining garlic cloves into the soup.

If you would like to leave the soup chunky, use kitchen shears to cut up any larger pieces of tomatoes. If you would like it blended either use an immersion blender and blend to your desired consistency or blend in batches in the blender. Drizzle bowls or mugs with extra virgin olive oil and enjoy.