Five Things : October 28th, 2014

1. We are finalizing Branch’s gravestone this week. It has taken much longer than anticipated. Not in the sense that it’s the end of October and Branch was born almost eleven months ago, but in the sense that we started the process over a month ago now, and the stone still isn’t ordered. We waited to start working on it until around his ten month birthday, and I am really glad we did. Did you know that in Jewish tradition headstones aren’t selected until eleven months after the death? Enough time has passed, but not too much time. I like that.

It is hard to design a headstone for your firstborn son. I would imagine it is hard to design a headstone for anyone. I never really imagined myself having the opportunity. I guess nobody does.

I think Branch’s headstone will be cool. We have put a lot of thought into it — what to say, what not to say, how to place things, etc. And honestly :: who knew there were so many options for granite??!!?

 

2. We spent this past Sunday at Disneyland.

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By now you know that I LOVE Disneyland. I love Walt Disney and all he created — the joy his vision brought and continues to bring to so many. I love the history Disneyland holds — a personal, familial, and fun history. I love how Anaheim is home to the original Disney theme park, and that Anaheim is so close to us here in San Diego. I love the way Disneyland decorates and celebrates so many seasons — Halloweentime being one of them.

Really, truly, Disneyland is my favorite place on earth, and I just loved spending the day there with Glenn on Sunday! Can you imagine?! Glenn AND Disneyland together?!?! My soul bursts with delight!

 

3. Glenn and I are lifting weights. We call it Murdock Pump Club. It’s pretty awesome.

 

4. I am really liking my job. I keep thinking of all the other jobs I interviewed for, or places I thought about working, and I am so grateful that God had the perfect position in mind — all I had to do was wait.  My job is not glamorous or high profile or even in line with what someone would think I should do if they looked at my resume :: but it really is a great fit for me! Here’s hoping my boss feels the same!

 

5. October is National Infant Loss Awareness Month. On the 15ht of October every year, there is an event called “Wave of Light” where candles are lit in honor of babies who have died. Many of you know this. Many of you lit candles for Branch or other sweet babies. Thank you.

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I don’t know how Heaven works, but I like to picture God pulling back the veil, just for a moment, and showing all of Heaven the beautiful wave of candles that burned in honor of our little loves. What a sight.

 

My prayer for this week is that my palms stay cupped in surrender :: offering all I have, and willingly accepting what He places in them.

Happy Tuesday, friends.

~Kristin

 

October 28, 2014 - 5:28 pm Sands - Kristin, there is so much to say about your blog. BUT, I have to say that I'm loving your hair right now!

Tenderness

The word “tender” has been circling my thoughts, heart, inner spaces.

Tender like meat after it has been beaten. Tender like a soft touch. Tender like wounded skin that is healing.

 

This week we celebrated, and mourned, nine months since our little love was born and died. I do not think I am more tender, actually I know for certain I am not, but I am aware of the little spaces that are so fresh — just beginning to heal.

I am aware of the pang of loss that accompanies joy when I see brand new baby boys.

I am aware of the loneliness of grief.

I am aware of other’s uncomfortableness with my sorrow, my loss, my son and his story. This one is very tender.

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“Tender” has three definitions.

1. very loving and gentle, showing affection and love

2. easy to chew or bite, not tough

3. painful when touched

 

In my tenderness, may God guide my broken heart, as I surrender to Him.

Psalm 9:10
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

 

~Kristin

 

 

 

 

September 14, 2014 - 8:27 pm Kimberly - Beautifully written. Love you so much!

September 24, 2014 - 11:38 am James Monteiro - I thought it was very beautiful Kris

September Twenty-Fourteen

Hello, September.

I have seen you lurking in the distance for a while, and yet you still managed to sneak up on me.

It is hard to not remember your sister, September Twenty-Thirteen, when I see your name. A lot has changed in a year, hasn’t it?

You probably already know this, but tomorrow I start my new job. I have a little bit of nervousness, but mostly excitement, when I think about joining the workforce again. In the past I would become quite nervous, anxious, eager, and afraid when starting a new job. I hated the change, the uncertainty, the not knowing if people liked me or not. Now, I don’t really have any of those feelings. I am going back to a company I know, but more than that, I think job stress is somehow less significant to me now. As a dear friend put it “You have literally lived through hell. Nothing could be worse than what you have already gone through. With that perspective, a new job just isn’t a big deal anymore.”  It was validating, and in a strange way, comforting to hear her say that.

And so, I am looking forward to my job. I am welcoming the change. I am welcoming anxiety and sadness and fear and joy and anything else that comes my way, knowing it is a-ok, even at work. There is nothing wrong with excusing yourself for five minutes to sob hysterically in the bushes. I’m just hoping there are some bushes nearby…

September, you know you symbolize change in many ways. Summer is over, autumn is just around the corner. I remember fall in a different way this year. My therapist friend Laura says our bodies hold on to memories in unique ways — sometimes remembering particularly difficult seasons even when we are not consciously thinking of them. I wonder how my body will respond to fall this year.

Tonight I am going to make Chinese chicken salad and ice cream cookie sandwiches.  It’s a holiday, it’s the day before I go back to work, and more importantly, it’s still Glenn’s birthday weekend. Ice cream cookie sandwiches are always a great way to celebrate, wouldn’t you agree?

I hope you are good to us, September Twenty-Fourteen.  We are a fragile bunch.  Resilient, but still fragile.

Psalm 23:6 NKJV
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

~Kristin

September 1, 2014 - 10:23 pm Kimberly - Love you seester! I'll be praying for you tomorow!

September 2, 2014 - 3:05 pm Lindsay - Beautiful. Best of luck as you go back to work friend. You have lots of love and support.

Testing Recipes :: The Chocolate Chip Cookie

Glenn and I are on a little getaway in Santa Barbara this week! A dear friend of mine offered up her home while they are out of town! We couldn’t say no, and are already having a blast exploring town and chillaxin. Despite my vay-cay, I HAD to take a minute to post and tell you all about the chocolate chip cookies I made a few days ago.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you already know I was testing out a couple of chocolate chip cookie recipes. I kept seeing this recipe for The NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies come up on fellow food lover’s sites and photo streams, so I wanted to test it out and compare it to my favorite Thomas Keller Chocolate Chip Cookies. Really, I just wanted an excuse to make a ton of cookie dough, so this worked out perfectly.

The ingredients vary slightly.  We’ll start with the Times recipe, which makes a monstrous amount of dough for a monstrous amount of cookies, so I froze about 3/4 of it and will bake them when you come over for dinner. I weighed the ingredients out for this recipe, and I am glad I did. If you have a food scale, I would highly recommend weighing your ingredients so you know your measurements are accurate!

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This recipe has cake flour, bread flour, baking powder, baking soda, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, dark chocolate (I used 72%), eggs, vanilla, and sea salt. Don’t mind the tomatoes. Those are from my garden (GLORY! THEY GREW!!) but they don’t taste very good (HEARTBREAK!) so I canned them when I was done with the cookies. Hoping they make a good marinara sauce.  Back to the cookies: the dough came together nicely, and looked very similar to your classic Toll House dough – light and fluffy.

The Thomas Keller recipe makes what I would consider a decent amount of dough for a decent amount of cookies. I learned a few years back that, for a household of two, I could easily freeze half the dough after shaping it into balls, and have cookies at the ready for months! I love this trick.

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This recipe has all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, dark muscovado brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter that has been cut into little pieces, two types of chocolate (72% and 55%), and eggs. The thing that makes these cookies unique is the dark brown sugar. If you haven’t tried dark muscovado brown sugar, I would highly recommend making these cookies at least once. It is a special ingredient, that is for sure.  It can be found at specialty stores like Whole Foods, or online. Pricy, but oh so worth it for the complexity of flavor and depth it adds to a basic chocolate chip cookie. Because of the dark muscovado sugar, the dough is very dark compared to the traditional Toll House dough. Do not be alarmed.

I tasted each dough side-by-side and both were delicious. I liked the blend of chocolate and depth of flavor in the TK recipe, but I loved the creaminess of the Times recipe dough. I think if you were a real cookie-dough fanatic, you would probably lean toward the Times dough over the TK dough…. but you will have to tell me once you try them both.

After a cool 24-hour chill in the refrigerator, it’s on to the baking! Both cookies are baked at 350. The Times cookies require a bit of a longer baking time than the TK ones, so I made sure to bake them separately. Also, as soon as the Times cookies come out of the oven, you sprinkle them with sea salt. I used Fleur de Sel because that’s all I had.

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I mean….these NY Times Cookies look incredible. I’m trying to decide if they would look as good without the salt, and I really don’t think they would. Just imagining the hint of salty aftertaste is making my mouth water.

Here are the Thomas Keller Cookies.

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Wow. Again. Based on the look of these, I feel as though they would be chewy and have that “fresh out of the oven” melty chocolate taste even a few hours later.

Here are both cookies cooling side-by-side so you can compare.

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AND NOW, the most important part : tasting and opinions.

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New York Times Recipe: This cookie is fluffy, buttery, and tastes like an incredible version of a traditional chocolate chip cookie. My favorite part is the salty bite on top and how that blends in with the buttery sweetness. I don’t love the dark chocolate, and would want to try this with a more traditional semi-sweet as opposed to the dark I used.  I also want to try it with walnuts, as I am a walnut-in-my-cookie kind of gal.

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Thomas Keller Recipe: This cookie is soft, chewy, and full of depth. It has similarities to a traditional chocolate chip cookie, but not many. The molasses from that dark sugar, as well as the blend of chocolates, give it something unique that keeps me coming back for more. This cookie does not taste good with walnuts (I have tried), but could use a little added salt – maybe I will double the salt in the recipe next time I make these and see how that goes.

Overall, these are both awesome and delicious versions of the chocolate chip cookie, and I would highly recommend them both! I think my heart is still won by Thomas Keller’s version, HOWEVER, I am going to make a few quick tweaks (mainly lowering the intensity of the chocolate I use and adding walnuts) of the NY Times recipe and could easily see that becoming my new favorite.  For those interested, here are the recipe links:

The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie

Thomas Keller Chocolate Chip Cookie

Hope this was a fun end-of-summer post for you. Let me know if you make either recipe, and what your thoughts are along the way!

~Kristin

August 12, 2014 - 12:46 am Sandra - Shoot! I thought you were baking these in my kitchen since you posted today. ;-)

August 12, 2014 - 10:31 am Erin =) - I've said it before and I can't imagine why I didn't follow my own advice - I simply can't read posts like this at work when I have a real lack of freshly baked cookies around me! Oye! These sound amazing and you sparked my interest in making a big batch of dough and freezing the individual mounds so I can just toss 'em in the oven when I need a freshly baked cookie. Like now. I need that freshly baked cookie now!

Summer Breeze

I took this picture a few minutes ago. I was sitting in the large, beat-up leather chair in our living room that belonged to an elderly woman up until about a month ago when Glenn drove to Poway to buy it, along with the matching ottoman, for $100. My legs were draped over one of the chair’s large arms, facing the open window. The summer sun had warmed up our living room, making it muggy enough to feel like I had walked through a light dew, but not so hot that beads of sweat were actually running down my face.

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I was, and still am, sipping Gerolsteiner sparkling mineral water. The sparkles in Gerolsteiner are tiny, firm, almost potent, if sparkles can be potent. They remind me of the season of life where I was introduced to Gerolsteiner – nannying a little boy who was adopted from Russia, with the sweetest, kindest German mother, and an elderly American father. I was a senior in college and they chose me as their nanny because I spoke German. They took me with them on their family vacation to Bermuda. That was a good season.

I noticed the tan on my legs. More than noticed — I admired it, actually. That tan is the result of many hours of walking, running, and hiking around the county. I noticed a slightly slimmer outline to my legs and admired that, too, again the product of many hours of walking, running, and hiking around the county.

My mind went from my legs to this month, July, and the uncertainty it holds. My parents in town. Financial changes. Job interviews. Seven months of life without Branch.

God, take me, hold me, guide me when I do not have the strength to go on.

I took another sip of Gerolsteiner, and the ocean breeze rushed through the window, over my legs, and all around the room. It was refreshing, peaceful, kind, cool. I thought of God. Isn’t that just like Him, to provide a breeze when He knows it will feel be the most refreshing. I thought of church. Of how I cry, at least a little, every week. And wouldn’t you know what brings more tears than anything isn’t sorrow or loss or death — it’s the tugs on my wounded heart.  It’s the kind little nudges that tell me God is who He says He is, even in my brokenness. He is kind. He is good. He is gracious. He provides. His promises are true. He sees me. He sees Glenn. He sees Branch.

I got two letters today. One was handed to me by my sister, Kimberly, #3. Beautiful penmanship spoke Angela Miller’s sweet words of comfort: “So breathe, mama, keep breathing. Believe mama, keep believing. Fight mama, keep fighting, for this truth to uproot the lies in your heart – you didn’t fail. Not even a little.” I cried when I read it, and cried again when I wrote it down here.

The other letter came a few days ago from my friend Laura, to be opened today, containing much kindness. She shared Nahum 1:7.

“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.”

May July bring refreshment, peace, kindness, and a cool break from the heat. Because a break from the heat of a broken heart sounds oh so refreshing to my soul.

Seven months.

~Kristin

July 11, 2014 - 11:25 am Lindsay - beautiful.

Welcome to July!

I could not be more excited to welcome July.

JUNE. WAS. AWFUL. Good riddance, sixth month of the year of our Lord twenty-fourteen. I am glad to see you gone!

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Patriotism and Chick-fil-A :: two of my favorite July things!

I do not know all that July will hold, but there are some fun things coming. First up, my parents are in town for the month, which is always exciting. My Mom is taking me out for lunch and a shopping date on the 3rd, which I am really looking forward to. What better way to celebrate Branch’s 7 month birthday than with lunch?!

Second, I am looking for a job! Gasp! I know — it’s thrilling! I have a couple of leads and am really hoping to hear sometime at the beginning of the month. Who knows, I could be EMPLOYED in July!!! That would be very exciting!

Third, I have started hiking Torrey Pines somewhat intensely and plan on doing so for the rest of the month. For those familiar with the area, I go up the big hill, down the beach trail *almost* to the beach but not quite, then turn around and go back up the trail and then down the big hill back to my car. When I did this for the first time last week, I wondered if it was a good idea or if I would regret it.  I am loving it! I feel strong and it definitely gives me a good workout.

What will you be doing this July?

~Kristin

July 1, 2014 - 6:06 pm Kimberly - I want that tattoo!!!

Happy Father’s Day!

In honor of Father’s Day, Glenn is letting me share the letter I wrote him.

Much love to all you Daddy’s out there!  And to those who are hoping to be Daddy’s soon: We love you.

~K&G

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Glenny,

I picked this paper out when we were in Tokyo – one of our many adventures.  You liked it because you like the coy… just like the ones at Balboa Park, where we go often and went right before finding out our baby boy would have to die. What an adventure.

You, my love, are the perfect partner in adventure. The grandest of all of our adventures so far was the creation, sustaining, and giving up of Branch. Oh, how I wanted to keep him! His feet were just like yours, and I knew they would love life and lead many to God, just like his Daddy’s.

I know the past year has not been easy for you, either. And still you press on. You fight. For me. For Branch. For God.

I will never forget the tenderness you showed me on that June day when we got the diagnosis. I felt safe even though everything around me was being destroyed. You held me, and God held us.

You are a great Dad, Glenn. I hope we get to raise kids together here — the world is truly in DESPERATE need of more of you. And that’s our job, right, to change the world?

I love you oh so much. You are absolutely the greatest gift God has ever shown me. Thanks for being my best friend ever in life, and my baby daddy.

Happy Father’s Day!

Love, Kristin

June 20, 2014 - 11:31 am Annette Z - so sweet, you can see the love you have for him and your family! Love this and love both your love and passion for God!

This past week was R-O-U-G-H! Wow! Not fun.

I am feeling all sorts of things, but mostly glad the week is over, and proud of Glenn and myself for making it to the six month mark alive. WE DID IT! Mostly.

Six months down, only the rest of our lives to go.  Anyone else find that depressing?!

 

Along with Branch’s six-month birthday/anniversary/whatever you call it, this week brought a few other changes.

First up, I am no longer working full-time at Sea World. I am pretty sad about it. It was a really fun job and I was really liking it. I am still there a few hours a week, but for the time being there isn’t room in the budget to keep me on full-time. I guess I will have to find another way to listen to a ten-piece brass band every day. Tee-hee!

Second, I had my eyebrows done. This is a big deal mostly because this is the first time I have had them done since Branch was born. You long-time readers will remember my obsession with my eyebrow lady, Melissa of Anastasia Beverly Hills fame.  WELL, she moved!!!! To TEXAS!!!! So not only did I have to face the loss of my son, I also had to figure out how to manage this mess of a face without the professional help I was used to! Too much change all at once led to me not caring at all about my eyebrows, or much else,  for several months.

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{this is right after having my brows done — nice and groomed!}

I finally made the plunge today, and went to a different “brow artist” who was trained by Anastasia as well. I am pleased with the results and am praying this girl never leaves! Or that Melissa moves back! Either would be perfectly acceptable for my eyebrows.

 

Third, I hit the twenty pound mark in my weight loss! Sometimes I am embarrassed to keep posting these weight updates, but the other day I realized that when I am reading blogs and people are getting healthy and losing weight, I like hearing updates and seeing pictures. So here you have it. Me at the starting point, and me down twenty pounds!

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I have just started getting more serious about my workouts, and am having fun with that, too. Maybe I will tell you about those sometime, if anyone is interested.  I haven’t joined a gym or anything, so everything I am doing is either at a park or in my backyard.  I’m looking forward to the day when my “current” picture includes some serious arm muscles…. it may take me a decade, but someday they will show up!

Losing weight is hard work. It seems like everything in my life is hard work… But that’s ok. God has such a great vision for our lives, and I hope that He shows me glimmers of it every day so I can keep at least a little hope alive.

That is all I have for today. Much love to you all. Thanks for reading along … it’s a bumpy ride over here at times, and I am grateful for your continued love and support, and that you read what I write!!! That’s pretty cool. :)

~Kristin

 

June 15, 2014 - 6:02 am Mom - Hey-you look great. Looking forward to doing some workouts with you in July!

June 15, 2014 - 10:05 am Lindsay - You look so good Kristin... brows and body ;) I just love your writing. Thank you for being so genuine and real. Love to you!

Empty

Today, Branch would have been six months old.

In honor of his half-birthday, I will post this piece I wrote yesterday for my writing class. Hope you enjoy.

~Kristin

 

EMPTY

I am in a writing class, and yet I cannot seem to write.

 

I stare at the blank sheet. Nothing. Emtpy. It reminds me of my arms: where he should be, but instead they are empty. Nothing.

 

I have been more sorrowful in recent weeks. More emotional. More fearful of the future. More hesitant to celebrate, and needing more time to mourn. I suppose this is part of it all. Life, loss, story.

 

I do not want this to be my story. I’m done. Hasn’t this gone on long enough? The pain that floods every ounce of my being, missing him and wanting nothing if I can not hold him again, this time forever.

 

Sometimes I lie in bed and I am angry.  Angry that my little boy is in the ground. Angry that life goes on all around me. Angry at the Devil for finding satisfaction in my torment.

 

I’ve had enough.

 

I am reading a book that talks about how the only way to truly know Jesus and be close to His heart is to experience sorrow and allow Him to meet us there. I agree with this book, but it’s still hard.

 

I met with Linsey the other day. I always love meeting with her. She speaks kindness and truth, and she listens to me.  In our meeting, Linsey talked about the ‘wrestle’ I am experiencing. There are so many things I know, I believe, I experience about God and His character, and yet I cannot seem to figure out how Branch’s death fits in.  I am wrestling.  Linsey says it is the wrestling that keeps my heart alive. I loved that picture :: of my wounded heart fighting for its life every day.

 

I’m doing it.

 

Tomorrow will be six months since Branch was born. Half a year. In some ways so little time, in some ways so long. It’s unbelievable, really.  I think it always will be.

 

We went to his grave this morning. The grass is growing and it looks slightly less “freshly dug” than it did before.  There were jacaranda flowers that had fallen from the surrounding trees, and I took one and pressed it into his book of letters.  We saw three or four hummingbirds. We saw the groundskeeper begin to dig a new little grave for another baby.

 

Just like that, I find myself here again, staring at the blank part of the page.  There are no more words I can add.  This part will stay empty.

June 3, 2014 - 1:06 pm Corrie - your words are so beautifully put together Kristin. I love you.

I Remember You

Here is a “List Poem” I wrote for my writing workshop and wanted to share with you.

Hope this Tuesday brings sunshine and butterflies. And if not, then maybe just a glimmer of hope.

~Kristin

1208133200157

 

I remember you when I lie in bed

In the middle of the night

In the wee hours of the morning

As I lay my head down on the pillow and my eyes begin to droop

 

I remember you when I wake up

Suddenly, from a deep sleep

As the alarm chirps at me from beside my bed

In the return of consciousness after a nap

When my mind has been fuzzy and numb

 

I remember you when I am walking

At the bay

At the beach

At Balboa Park

Through and in and around gardens

From the bedroom to the bathroom

Down the row of chairs at church

Past the baby clothes at Target

From the refrigerator to the stove

Up and down Aloha Drive

Out the big Nordstrom door and into the mall

 

I remember you on holidays

On Christmas when I could still smell you

On New Year’s when we talked about our goals and told the waitress about you

On my birthday when the pain of missing you made my muscles want to stop

On Valentines Day when hearts flooded the shops

On St Patrick’s Day when everyone wore green

On Easter when we sang of life and death and graves and Heaven

On Mother’s Day when I was shown great love

 

I remember you in the mundane

I remember you in the elaborate

I remember you in sorrow

I remember you in tears

I remember you when I am happy

I remember you when I hug your Daddy

I remember you when I see Mister Lion

I remember you when I think of the future

I remember you at your grave

I remember you at dinner parties

 

You are the apple of my eye

I remember you

May 27, 2014 - 1:19 pm Lindsay - beautiful.

May 27, 2014 - 2:50 pm Glenn - You capture it all so well. Glad we get to be together in so many of these moments when we remember.

May 27, 2014 - 5:51 pm Erin =) - You are so amazing to share this, Kristin. Branch is remembered and celebrated in so many ways by all who love him!

May 27, 2014 - 6:44 pm Mom - I'm reading with tears in my eyes. love you

May 28, 2014 - 6:59 am Teresa - Thank you that is beautiful. We remember how strong you are everyday !!!

June 3, 2014 - 8:01 pm Caitlin - Absolutely beautiful my friend