We’ve got big news. Two big pieces of news actually. They are small and white. And sharp. They have taken up residence in Tucker’s mouth. Right in the middle of his bottom gums. When he laughs you can see them. And I can’t believe it. We have a baby. And he’s doing all the normal things. He’s rolling. And laughing. And reaching. And grasping. And now chewing. He’s got two adorable, slobbery, pre-cursor-to-eating-cake…teeth. I don’t know why the birth of these teeth has got me so emotional. I think it’s because, somewhere in the depths of the emotion draining experience that is the NICU, a mama hopes relentlessly for these normal baby milestones for her presently suffering baby. When we watched Tucker, in the isolette, artificially simulating my uterus, struggling most days, clinging to and fighting for life, the normalcy of teething woes were what we hoped for. It’s part of the releasing of the breath we keep holding. Each day, we let a little more breath out. He’s ok. He’s growing. He’s happy. He has teeth.
We have had a doctor visit free week and it was awesome. We have another visit-free week this week. We do have home health care coming to download Tucker’s monitor, but no doctor visits. None until January! We would love it if you would pray for one of our NICU-mates, Kenna. She was born before Tucker, also at 24 weeks gestation-she was, though, even smaller than Tucker and has had a rough go of things here lately. We keep up with Kenna on Facebook and despite isolation, despite getting RSV shots, Kenna has caught both RSV and pneumonia and she is back in the hospital. This is not her first trip back there since being discharged from the NICU. She has had a few setbacks-but she’s a micro-so, she’s a fighter. Please add her to your prayer list and pray that she would be able to come home for Christmas.
So, this weekend, we decided to make the best of our isolation by baking. I love to bake. It’s therapeutic. And tasty. We decided to start one of our first Team Hucks holiday traditions. We baked and baked. And baked. Darrin crushed Heath bars. I rolled out the dough. We dipped and cookie cut and sprinkled. And sampled. Kenny and Dolly sang to us about being home with bells on, Bing sang of a Hawaiian Christmas and Harry Connick jazzed his way through a story of a Happy Elf. Tucker watched from his high chair with wonder and slobber as he gnawed away on anything in his hand. Or just his hand after he had hurled most of his toys on the floor.
On Sunday, we packaged everything up in Ziploc containers and tied them up with a pretty bow and a verse. After the first round of football games was done (we have priorities), we loaded our goods in the car along with Tucker and our list and we set out. We turned on the Christmas music, gazed at the Christmas lights, stopped at some houses, dropped the package on the doorstep, rang the doorbell, and drove off. And yes, I sanitized my hands after every stop 🙂 We didn’t get caught once. Didn’t see a single person. Thanks to my stealthy cat-like reflexes. I do have a new found appreciation for short driveways. Seriously. Trying to run back to the car so Darrin could drive off before people opened the door left me wheezing after some of our stops. Darrin was a good get-away driver. And Tucker was the cutest sidekick elf. Even if he missed most of the stops and the lights because he fell asleep. It was fun. And it was isolation friendly. And it was year 1 of what will be an annual Team Hucks Holiday Drop and Run event. We couldn’t get to everyone. But we will. One year. Hint: You have better odds if you live close and have a short driveway 🙂
As we get closer and closer to Christmas, I get more and more weepy. So very humbled and grateful for this little baby. So honored and thankful that we were the ones chosen to be his mama and daddy. So aware of how far we’ve all come on this journey. And seeing hints or traces of similarity in Mary and Joseph’s story . Their baby wasn’t born the way they had planned either. It wasn’t the perfect setting. The perfect birth story, at least not in the minds of most. But it was what God chose for them. For their baby. For that time and place. How humbled and grateful must have Mary and Joseph been for that little baby. The one they had in a barn. They must have been overwhelmed with joy.
Before we put Tucker to bed for the night, we try and pray with him like we did every night in the NICU. Some nights we do better than others. I usually start and Darrin finishes. Lately, I can’t make it through my part without starting to cry. Sometimes, long after we’ve said “Amen”, I’m still water works. Darrin grins at me and I laugh, “I know, I know, I’ll pull it together here in a minute”. In some ways though, I hope I will always feel so acutely aware of how thankful we are. For this little guy. The one who has two teeth. The one that will soon call us mama and daddy. The one God gave us in the most nontraditional way but has changed our life forever. I know that Mary and Joseph actually got to see and hear the angels that were singing on the night Jesus was born. But I think angels sing every time a baby is born. They are all that important to Him.
“And Mary said, ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. For the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.” Luke 1:46-49
I used to be weird about giving out my secret recipes-some I kept just to myself. But after Tucker-I totally realized that was dumb. Life is short. Share the love. These actually stay soft instead of getting hard after you bake them which is why I like them. They take a little planning and some extra time. But they’re worth it if you don’t mind a little longer in the kitchen.
Heather’s Wedding/Shower/Christmas/Birthday/Anytime Sugar Cookies
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time then stir in vanilla. Gradually blend in sifted flour mixture until fully absorbed. Cover dough and chill for at least 2 hours. (I have chilled overnight-however, you’ll need to take the dough out of the fridge for at least 2 hours the next day before you start trying to roll out dough).
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease cookie sheet (I use an airbake sheet). On a clean floured surface, roll out small portions of dough to about 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. Don’t use too much flour-this makes your cookies hard! Cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
- Bake 6-7 minutes. Don’t let the edges get brown-keep your eye on them. Remove from oven and let sit on sheet for about a minute then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The trick is to take them out of the oven JUST before they start turning brown.
3 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
4 cups powdered sugar
Beat egg whites on low speed for 20-30 seconds, until slightly bubbly. Add cream of tartar. Beat on high until frothy. Gradually add powdered sugar (may want to sift first). If icing is too thick, you can add a little drop or two of water. Too thin, add more powdered sugar. Add food coloring as desired. Ice cookies. Let the icing set on the cookies for at least 2 hours or more before stacking.