Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We have a white Christmas here, in the south!!  What a special day.  Mary Abilene loved to help open presents and she made out like a bandit!

I hope everyone takes time today to reflect on the birth of our Savior.  For we would have no presents, no cranberry sauce, no babies, and no snow if it were not for Him!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Banana Chip Cookies

Another recipe from 101 Cookbooks, these are absolutely scrumptious, and dare I say, (relatively) healthy cookies!  We just made them for the first time and I'm definitely keeping this recipe.

Banana Chip Cookies
Consider using coconut oil instead of butter in this recipe. Coconut oil makes AWESOME chocolate chip cookies. This is by far my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I substitute shredded coconut instead of banana chips or just leave them as plain chocolate chip cookies. The dough is to die for. Try to bake the cookies and not just eat all the dough like I'm tempted to do!

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (can use regular AP flour)
1/2 cup (toasted) wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup banana chips, loosely chopped
1 cup chocolate chips
2/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, racks in middle/upper middle. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, or stand mixer, beat the butter until lightly and fluffy, then beat in the sugar until it is the consistency of a thick frosting. Beat in the eggs one at a time, incorporating each fully before adding the next, and scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times along the way (important!). Stir in the vanilla. Add the reserved flour mix in two increments, stirring/mixing a bit between each addition (but not too much). By hand, stir in the banana chips, chocolate chips and walnuts - mix just until everything is evenly distributed.

Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of dough for each cookie onto the prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart and bake for about 7 - 8 minutes, until barely golden on top and bottom. Resist over baking, they will come out dry and not as tasty. Cool on racks.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Baby Carriers Review

I have four baby carriers/slings.  So here is a review of my personal favorite and a bit of information about each.

1) Seven Sling
I got this sling after Mary Abilene was born because I got a great promotion on one (free)!  I thought the patterns were adorable and my other sling (The Peanut Shell) was a bit big.  I was only able to use this sling while Mary Abilene was very small.  I ordered my size based on their sizing chart (actually a 1/2 size up because I was between sizes) and it was way too tight.  I could stuff my baby in it, but she didn't seem comfortable, and when she was only 2 months old, I could not stuff her with her cloth diaper in it anymore.  She also seemed to get stuck when I tried to pull her out.
Positives:  Cute patterns
Negatives:  Everything else
I do not recommend the Seven Sling

2) Peanut Shell
My friend Michelle gave me her Peanut Shell while I was pregnant.  I really enjoyed it while Mary Abilene was very small.  As she got older, she did not like to lay down in the "newborn cradle" position.  Another friend has one who has used hers since her little girl was born, and her baby is now 3, and she still uses it to hold her on her hip. I have not tried other positions besides the newborn cradle, like sitting her up in it like a little kangaroo because Mary Abilene enjoys the next two baby carriers quite a bit...
Positives:  Easy to put on and take off
                Cute fabrics and patterns
                Good for short trips like to the grocery store
Negatives:  Starts to hurt your back
                  Not very versatile

3)  Baby K'tan
My friend Amiee is letting me borrow this baby carrier.  The one I have is a tad big, so I think I would like it more if it were a size down.  I do like this sling.  It allows a newborn cradle or an upright position that can face in or out, which is Mary Abilene's preferred way to sit.
Positives:  Can be quickly put on
                Fairly comfortable
Negatives:  Sized, Patrick can't wear it
                  Two pieces, more to keep track of, and requires the carrier to reach around her back and take her hands off her baby to tie it, or requires a partner.

4) Moby Wrap 
My friend Laura gave this to me.  I was thinking "Oh, another baby carrier" but as soon as I found the position both Mary Abilene and I like, it quickly became my favorite baby carrier!  It is versatile, Mary Abilene loves it, it is comfortable, and anyone can wear it! It securely holds Mary Abilene in her favorite position (upright, facing in or out).  This wrap is gigantic straight out of the box, which I thought "This is absurd!"  But it shrinks feet after its first wash.
Positives:  Comfortable
                Patrick can wear it too
                Great for wearing around the house or on longer outings
Negatives:  Confusing straight out of the box
                  Have to make your baby wait to wrap it around yourself

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Cranberry Orange Muffins

I just made these this weekend thanks to free cranberries from our local health food store.  They were probably the most delicious muffins I've ever had!

Cranberry Orange Muffins

2 cups whole wheat or unbleached all purpose flour (note:  I used 1 c ww, and 1 c white)
2/3 cup sugar (turbinado sugar worked great, it gave a great crunch on top)
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
2/3 cup of milk (I used almond milk and it worked)
1 tsp orange zest, or a bit more
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 F.  In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and stir in chopped cranberries.  Make a well in the center of the mixture.  In a medium bowl lightly beat the egg and add the milk, orange zest, and butter.  Pour milk mixture in the center of the flour mixture, add the cranberries, and stir to combine just until moist.  (Note, the batter will seem very dry, as long as there isn't loose flour, it is good.)  Spoon batter evenly into a muffin tin and bake for 18 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins

Tip:  I chopped cranberries in food processor and it worked great.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Time for a Change

Did you know that the United States has the second worse newborn death rate in the developed world and one of the worst maternal death rates in all industrialized countries?  How could that be with all our technological advances and medical interventions?  Or, is that exactly the problem?

Please read this interesting article about Birth in the U.S.  And if you are real ambitious, this article by Amnesty International about the maternal health care crisis in the U.S.

If you haven't read my birth story, a "different" perspective of how great birth can be, please feel free to do so.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Weeknight Brazilian Stew

Tasty Tuesday returns with a creative meal!  My friend Will showed me this recipe awhile back, and I honestly can't say where it originated.  I know it was an online vegetarian website.  This stew is hardy, delicious, and very nutritious!

Weeknight Brazilian Stew

Splash of olive oil
1 sweet potato,chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 mango, diced
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
Dash of cumin
Dash of chili powder
2 big pinches of salt
Cilantro (optional)

In a large pot heat olive oil and add onions and a little salt.  Saute until soft.  Add sweet potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, spices, and salt.  Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft.  Add black beans and heat through.  Taste, add more salt or seasonings as needed.  Add mango and heat through.  Remove from heat, and add chopped cilantro.

Serve with warm tortillas.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I want to share something today about God's grace.

When Patrick and I were actively trying to conceive last year, I meditated on several Bible verses.  I just recently shared one of them with Patrick and he was fairly amazed with just the preciseness that God answers prayers.  One of my most fervent prayers was from 2 Kings 4.  Elisha, the prophet, was given a place to stay with a family during his travels, whenever he was in town.  He wanted to do something for the lady of the house to show his appreciation, so while he was spouting off ideas of things to do for her, his servant told him that she had no son and her husband was apparently old.  He had his servant call her in and he prophesied that "by this time next year you will hold a son in your arms."  Sure enough, he was right and about the same time the next year she gave birth to a son.

I meditated on this story and asked The Lord to allow me to hold a baby in my arms "about this same time next year."  The first time I prayed this prayer was on August 10, 2009, I know because I kept a journal.  Mary Abilene was born August 8, 2010... about the same time the next year.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Faster than sprouting weeds

My baby is getting so big and strong!  I just flipped through all her pictures from birth until now, and I just can't believe how much she has grown in two short months.  It is truly amazing and a miracle!  Plants don't even grow as fast as babies do!  To watch her develop every day is such a blessing.  She talks to us now and makes different noises almost every day.  Her first big smile was heartwarming.  And when she lifted that head high, we just wanted to cry we are so proud! AND.. she just this morning rolled over!  Her arm was positioned under her like a pivot.. but she did it! 

People tell us all the time "Enjoy these days, they go by so fast."  Strangers in the grocery store tell us this.  I'm learning they really do.  Its not just the time that goes by fast, its that she literally grows fast!  My newborn is now an infant, and I know soon she will be toddling around.  I cherish each and every day and find joy in even just changing her diaper because I realize just how very blessed I am.

Friday, October 8, 2010

One Happy Rump

We have been cloth diapering Mary Abilene since about two weeks after birth.  We CD for a variety of reasons; its 70% economics, 20% health, and 10% environmental.  We love it!

Economics:  By far the cheapest option in cloth diapering is prefolds with covers.  I have spent a total of $174.92 on cloth diapering, including 25 prefolds and 5 covers.  I will have to buy more prefolds when she is about 18 pounds, at $1.50 a piece.  Those "regular" size prefolds will last until she is potty trained.  There is a comparison at for all kinds of cloth diapers vs. disposables.  The chart shows that for prefolds and covers, over the time a child is in diapers, on average you would spend $381.00 (Yes, this even takes energy cost for washing and drying into account).  For disposables, you would spend $2577.35!!  Clearly, the savings of cloth diapering are astronomical and can not even compare to disposables.
(I would post the charts, but they just don't fit on my blog.. so check it out)

Health:  Have you ever thought about what's in a diaper?  Obviously there are dyes, since they mostly come with some sort of cartoon character on them (like the baby even sees it).  There is some sort of thing inside to make it gel, and there is a generous amount of chlorine to make them nice and white.  There are dye free, chlorine free diapers.. but they come with a cost.  So just add another couple hundred to the $2577.35.  But what is that stuff to make them gel?  A few months ago millions of Pampers Swaddlers with "Dry Max" technology were recalled because babies were getting narly diaper rash and chemical burn.  CHEMICAL BURN!  Pampers denied it up and down.. but you can't argue with burned hinies.

Environmental: I don't have to explain the diaper/landfill problem.  Think about how many diapers a child goes through in their life, then multiply that by how many children are in America.. in the world.  That's a lot of poo!

It was a little tough cloth diapering a newborn.  At first the bulk just looked ridiculous, and we didn't put her in cloths until she was about two weeks old.  That is when I ordered preemie prefolds to use instead of the infant prefolds.  It was $10 for 10 of them, and they were so small and thin, they worked perfectly.  She started to pee through them at about 6 weeks, then we switched to the infant.  We never looked back at the disposables!  Cloth diapered children are also potty trained faster and easier.. what a bonus!

Also, if you are going to cloth diaper, the next logical step is cloth wipes.  I use BumGenius flannel wipes in a wipes warmer, and make my own solution.  If you can sew at all, you can just get flannel, cut it into little squares, and sew the ends.  I use the Prince Lionheart cloth wipe warmer.  The warmer is great, but their wipes are terrible.  I then make a solution of water, coconut oil (anti-microbial), and baby wash, and pour all over the rolled up wipes in the warmer.  Its a snap!  Using disposable wipes with cloth diapers just doesn't make much sense, and trust me, the flannel wipes are so cozy, Patrick says we should replace our toilet paper with them!  (And the wipes and supplies were factored into my dollar quote above).

I got all of mine from
There is a great cloth diapering website: that has a wonderful "Cloth diapering basics" page.  It explains all the different types of cloth diapers so you can choose what is right for you.  She also has a great page on dispelling the myths of cloth diapering like "I don't have time." or "That's too much laundry".  She explains how to wash, types of detergent (which is important for absorbency), etc.  I would encourage everyone to check it out!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mother's Milk

At my six week postpartum appointment with my midwife, I told her that Mary Abilene was still eating every two hours around the clock. She said that its fine, it really depends on the baby and how much milk my breasts hold, but she told me I should get some Mother's Milk Tea.

My midwife told me that it may increase milk production, as advertised, but she recommends it because it makes your milk more nutrient rich so the baby gets "more bang for their buck". It provides more calories and just a great nutritional value, so it keeps them satisfied longer. So, I started drinking four cups a day the very next day. Almost immediately Mary Abilene started going longer between feedings, particularly at night. In fact, earlier this week she went 5.5 hours, and then two nights ago she lasted seven (7!) hours between feedings, sleeping 6.5 of those 7 hours. Everyone I have mentioned this to tells me that is really good for a breastfed baby. Last night she lasted 4.5 hours, so its not consistent, but it is a big improvement. I think Mary Abilene really turned a corner here. During the day she has been going 2 to 2.5 to 3 hours between feedings.

Her 5th week could definitely have been a growth spurt when she was eating every 2 hours consistently, even at night, but I really think the tea is helping. So I will recommend it to my lactating friends!

The tea includes fennel, anise seed, coriander, fenugreek, blessed thistle, and a proprietary blend for flavor. I think its really tasty; much better than pregnancy teas. It tastes just like fennel to me. I'm sure there are other brands, but I am most familiar with Traditional Medicinals and I can get it at Kroger. It is a bit pricey ($3.99 on sale, $4.99 regular, or $3.59 on Vitacost), and I go through one box in four days.. but.. I think its worth it. When Mary Abilene gets a bit older, maybe I will not drink so much.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Last week of leave

Mary Abilene is 5 1/2 weeks old! This is also the last week of my maternity leave. I am going to be working from home, so we are trying to figure out how to care for a baby and work 8 hours a day. I've been pretend working a little this week to see how much time I will have in between caring for Mary Abilene. It seems pretty challenging. She doesn't nap well in her bed during the day, but today I have figured out how to get her to sleep - the Moby Wrap. So as I type I have a child strapped to the front of me, fast asleep. Hey, it works! I can sit at my desk like this!

It is going to be a challenge, basically being a stay-at-home-full-time-employee-mom. I will go in to work 3 days a week for several hours, and MA gets to come with me. We can trade off a little then, and she can sit with Patrick in his office also. I think it will get a little easier when she is a little older and can start to play and entertain herself. Sitting up would also be helpful because then I'd have more places to put her.

I'm going to try to get back into blogging regularly. I know you are dying for a new recipe! :) We haven't cooked but maybe a handful of times since the birth of MA. Our Sunday School class is super awesome and different people have brought us meals every other day. They totally rock! So I haven't even had to think about cooking, so hence, no recipes.

Ok, my baby is waking .. I think its lunch time!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Birth of Mary Abilene

Believe it or not.. this is the shortened version! :)

I couldn’t really get to sleep Saturday night and didn’t until 3am on Sunday, August 8, 2010. I woke back up at 5:30 am having to go to the bathroom. I sat down on the toilet and realized I was having some low back discomfort. So low, it was in my sacrum. My heart rate jumped instantly since I knew one of the first signs of your birthing time is back discomfort. I thought about it for a while, and went back to bed. My back ached and so did my low abdomen. I thought that surely it was just gas. Then it started coming in waves. I still wasn’t sure that it wasn’t just some gas. By 7:30 Patrick’s alarm went off and I told him I couldn’t go to church because I hadn’t slept well. “And oh, I’m having back discomfort that wraps around the front in waves.” He said that he certainly wasn’t going to church either if I was having waves. At 8:00 am I passed my mucous plug with the realization that I did not have gas, that I was entering my birthing time!

A little background: The childbirth education I chose is Hypnobabies. Hypnobabies is a complete childbirth education class (we got the home study course) that teaches all aspects of childbirth but includes self-hypnosis directed towards birthing. It sounds a little weird, but once I learned that by “hypnosis” they meant a state of deep relaxation that we all go in many times a day to rejuvenate, it wasn’t all that weird. The course says that we are often in hypnosis while driving or watching t.v. After reading the material it made sense to me that it is a way to train your body to relax completely, mentally and physically, pretty much on demand, whenever you choose. Another aspect of the class is that it purges all negative images and ideas about birthing that society has taught us from our brains and replaces it with only positive thinking. The bad words like “labor” and “contractions” are replaced with “birthing time” and “birthing waves”. It creates a more positive way of viewing birth and breaking down the cultural stigma of birth being "excruciating". There is also a script to help you work through your fears. I found myself much more confident about birth and tended to think about all the positive things and not any of the “what-ifs” that I was afraid of.

We called my midwife, Mary Anne at about 8am. I told her I passed the plug and that the waves were about 15 to 20 seconds long, at about 15 minutes apart. Mary Anne told me that I was in very early stages of my birthing time. It could pick up and become my birthing time, or it could stall out. But she said birth was imminent with passing the mucous plug and to call back if the waves start to last 40 seconds or longer. I took a bath, listened to my Hypnobabies "Birthing Day Affirmations" and decided to go back to bed in hopes of getting some sleep since I was going to have a long day ahead of me! However, I still couldn’t sleep. Come lunchtime, Patrick went to get us avocado sandwiches. My waves were getting a little stronger and they were starting to come closer together. I took two bites of my sandwich and it came right back up. So I got back in the tub. Patrick washed my hair and I was having more consistent waves that were now lasting 40 seconds or longer. Patrick had paged Mary Anne right before we got in the tub after I threw up, and so I talked to her in the tub and told her about my progression. She said that whenever I am ready we can come on to her house.

We planned to deliver at Mary Anne's home in Franklin, TN. Home births in Alabama are actually illegal, for some unknown, dumb reason. Well, midwife attended home births anyway. Not letting this deter me from the birth I desired, I had found a midwife I adored across the state line. She lives about 1.5 hours away and has a birthing suite built onto her house.

Patrick was like an efficient machine on auto-pilot. He had absolutely everything prepared and the car packed and ready by the time I finished my half eaten lunch and had gotten dressed. We headed out to Mary Anne’s at about 2:00. I listened to Hypnobabies the whole time in the car, which kept me completely relaxed for the drive. My waves slowed a bit when we first left. As Mary Anne said “If you move a cat in labor, it will stall.” My waves were a bit further apart and not lasting as long, but definitely still there.

We got to Mary Anne’s around 3:45 and her and Kelly, her assistant, had the room completely ready, with the air down and lights low. They immediately took my vitals and listened to the baby’s heart for about 15 minutes. She said the baby was doing great and didn’t care at all when I had a pressure wave – which is very good. Patrick and I climbed into bed and I was experiencing much more pressure in my back than in my low abdomen like I had been at home. My back was quite uncomfortable and finding a good position for the pressure waves was difficult. I ended up tucked into sort of a child’s pose while Patrick continuously rubbed my back. Mary Anne came back to check on us and listen to the baby. She asked if I wanted to get in the tub, and I certainly did.

We got into the tub somewhere around 5:30 or 6:00 pm. Though, I certainly wasn’t keeping track of the time. My waves were getting much more intense and much closer together. Patrick continued to rub my back and I started feeling a lot of pressure in my bottom and the most comfortable position was to lean my back against his chest while reclining. I was feeling so much pressure in my sacrum. I believe I was having birthing waves in my back (also known as back labor) because of my short torso. We were confident the baby was not posterior and a short torso is another reason given for back labor in the book "Back Labor No More" that I had read in my pregnancy. However, for some unknown reason, I never tried the belly lift technique taught in the book to relieve the discomfort (and speed up birthing). Its not that I didn’t think of trying it, I did, but I just chose not to. I have no idea why and wish that I had tried it.

At some point while in the tub I started to get a bit more relief between waves and my head felt almost euphoric. I remember thinking between waves "I feel so gooooood." I’m not sure if it was the Hypnobabies tracks playing or endorphins coursing through my body, but I was having a very out of body experience between waves.

My waves were getting so much more intense and my moans became much louder and longer. Kelly and Mary Anne sat on the floor off to the side while we were in the tub and occasionally I would hear one of them say "Good!" "So close now!" I was getting excited and I had a lot of confidence that things were going really well based on their encouragement and the fact that they were mostly letting us be.

The time, honestly was flying by for me. I never purposefully looked at the clock, but once I saw it and I couldn’t believe it was already 8:30. I was having really intense waves and knew things were progressing quickly. Mary Anne checked me and said that my cervix was “gone”. There was nothing holding the baby in but the bag of waters that had yet to break! Mary Anne asked me if I was resisting pushing feelings. I said no, that I hadn’t had any pushing sensations. It seemed like she was surprised the baby was so close but I did not feel like pushing. My back was really uncomfortable and the pressure in my bottom was severe. I kept saying “the baby is trying to come out my butt!” I got on my hands and knees then and leaned on Patrick through really intense waves. I started to think about just going ahead and pushing without the instinct to do so. I stayed on all fours for a while and Mary Anne put a hot rice bag on my low back and would push in on both sides of my hip bones when I had a pressure wave. It was wonderful! So nice that the intensity completely diminished the first time she did this. With the next wave I decided I was just going to push no matter what! The wave came and I bore down until suddenly I heard and felt a "pop!" and the baby fall into my birth canal. I yelled out "Oh my God!" I was so startled at this sound and sensation, plus I was calling out to God!

I was on my knees leaning my body on the side of the tub with my arms dangling out. Patrick was behind me and started to rub my back. Mary Anne got to the side of the tub and Kelly came around to my face to rub down my face and body with cool cloths and to hold my hands. The sensations were especially intense now. I concentrated really hard on trying to relax my face and hands, but with each wave I decided to push with absolutely all my might. I remember being a bit disappointed that pushing didn’t feel so good. I had read in other birth stories that the mom loved the pushing phase. I found it to be difficult. In retrospect, it did feel good to be active and doing something. It felt especially good to be so close to meeting our baby, but the actual pushing sensation, didn’t feel as good as I had hoped.

I pushed a few times and could feel really good progress. Mary Anne said that I was doing so great for a first time mom. She said that a lot of first time moms push for hours. I had only pushed 2 or 3 times at this point so this gave me great confidence that Mary Anne knew I was so close and I wouldn’t need to push for very long. I pushed for what turned out to be 30 minutes; each push was so much stronger and harder than the last. Mary Anne exclaimed, "Look at all that hair!" She and Patrick were looking at a full head of inch long black hair. This really excited me and I knew I was getting impatient, but was so ready. Finally, I felt her head pop out suddenly and without relenting I went ahead and pushed the rest of her body out. Patrick caught her while I was temporarily stunned. The relief was so intense and the knowledge that I had just delivered my baby was mind blowing. With help, I managed to turn around and Patrick put this pink, squealing baby in my arms. The baby was squealing as soon as her face hit the air! We cried and hugged and were absolutely overcome with joy and elation. So overcome that we forgot to check the gender for almost a full minute! Suddenly it dawned on me and I exclaimed to Patrick "What is it!?" He said "I don’t know!" We moved the umbilical cord out of the way and as I squealed "It’s a girl!" We were so shocked as the entire pregnancy we were just sure we were having boy. We completely crumbled and everyone cried, including Mary Anne and Kelly. They then sang happy birthday to her and we announced her name, Mary Abilene.

I know that having a girl just made it that much more special. I love surprises, and this certainly was a surprise! The Lord really blessed us in unbelievable ways. Mary Abilene got a 9 out of 10 on her Apgar score; taking one point for having purple feet. She was so strong and so healthy. I was so overcome with having a girl; we were absolutely overwhelmed. She is our whole world now. I never thought I could love anything so ferociously as I love her. Each day is the best day of my life.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tummy Tub!

This is the first baby product for which I am going to sing praises. I saw these on The Today Show about a year and a half ago and I thought it was the cutest thing. Check out the Today Show story

So, this past summer I bought our own Tummy Tub, thinking it a way better idea than the traditional infant bath tubs that require baby to be flat on their back and half out of the water. It seemed a better way to keep baby warm and comfortable. And it does!
Mary Abilene getting a sponge bath. None too happy.

Mary Abilene in her tummy tub. Quite happy!

The only downfall I see to the tummy tub is until baby can hold her head up on her own, it seems to require four hands. Two to hold her head, two to wash. Instructions for the Tummy Tub show a one handed chin hold, while the other hand washes, but Mary Abilene is so tiny that her little body slides down in the tub. Maybe as she gets bigger, or with a bigger baby, if they didn't slide, you could use only one hand to hold her head.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mary Abilene is Five Days Old!!

She is truly the joy of our lives. I honestly never knew that I could feel this way. My whole world has been spun entirely upside down and I'm so in love it is overwhelming.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's a GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mary Abilene was born on August 8th at 10:10 pm. She weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces, and was 21" long. She is the joy of our lives! She is such a good baby, and nurses like a pro!!

More details and birth story to follow.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Time Has Come!

.. not quite yet, for me, anyway.

I hope you have all seen this episode since its just fantastic! Be sure to watch the whole thing (the first few minutes are slow). I had Patrick watch it so that if I come out of the bedroom with my fist in the air saying "The time has come!" He'll know what I mean! :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Almond Butter

Almond Butter is easy to make as long as you have a food processor, and SO much cheaper than store bought. Almonds are much better for you than peanuts. Almonds are the healthiest of all nuts. They are low in saturated fat, have a powerhouse of phytochemicals that protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. One study showed that eating almonds five times a week resulted in a 50% reduction in the risk of heart attack. One ounce has 12% your daily value of protein, 85% daily value of Vitamin E, and they are loaded with calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, and folate!

We get almonds for $4.99/lb at Kroger, in the produce section, not the nut aisle. They are sometimes even $3.99/lb.

Homemade Almond Butter
1 c raw almonds
couple of pinches of salt

Place almonds in food processor and give them a whir! Add salt when the almonds are fully chopped, but not yet butter. This will need to whir for.. awhile. After about five minutes it will clump up, and after several more minutes it will turn to butter. You might need to scrape it down several times when it starts to stick to the sides. When you think you have a butter consistency, let it go longer. It needs to drip from your spatula when you dip it in.
Refrigerate when finished.

Patience is necessary. It will harden in the refrigerator, so you really need to let it go longer than you think. Patrick is not as patient with it as I am, so his usually ends up clumpy and not very spreadable.

Yummy Variation: Melt 4 Dark chocolate Hersey's Kisses and add to food processor at the end. Spin a few times to combine.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Optimal Fetal Positioning - Part 3

I've decided for part three not to discuss turning a baby; I'll leave that up to . There is loads and loads of information on that website of ensuring a good positioned baby throughout your pregnancy, and then a lot of techniques on turning babies during labor. So its a good website to familiarize yourself with.

What I do want to discuss is some materials I have found in my home study course for what you can do every day to encourage a baby to be in good birthing position. Most are posture related.

Getting baby in a good position
In previous OFP posts, I talked about how babies just want to be comfortable and gravity generally governs how they are positioned in the womb. The shape of the uterus, pelvis, and gravity are the things that will affect a babies position the most. We can't do a darn thing about the shape of our bodies, but we can do something about gravity.

A baby generally ends up head down because it fits snugly in the uterus and because it is the heaviest part of the baby, thus turning down with gravity. The same goes with a baby's back. They end up anterior (back towards your stomach) because of the same factors. However, it is much easier to affect whether a baby sits anterior or posterior by the way you sit and by your posture. The heaviest part of a baby is the head, but the second heaviest part is the back. Their back is going to want to turn whichever way gravity points. Think about this for a second. If you spend a lot of time reclining back, where will the baby's back want to lie? Down. It will want to turn down, which would be turning posterior. Remembering gravity, the best way to get a baby anterior or keep a baby anterior is to get gravity to turn the baby towards yours stomach. This basically means being uncomfortable at all times!

These are the suggestions in my study course:
-Sit tilted forward. - imagine your uterus as a hammock for the baby.
-Keep your knees below your pelivs. This definitely means not lying back with your feet up in the air. Many doctors and midwives have prescribed lying just like this to help with swelling, but I disagree. It would encourage the baby to turn posterior. Laying on your side with your feet up is a much better option.
-Don't cross your legs! This closes the pelvis in the front and opens it in the back, which is not at all what you want.
-Lie on your left side mostly to keep baby on left side. I find it interesting that every pregnant woman in the world has been told to lie on their left side because of the artery that runs to the lower body. I think baby positioning is just as, or even more important for why we should lie on the left side and NOT on our backs!
-Plenty of pelvic tilts. - This is basically cat/cow, getting on hands and knees and tilting your pelvis forward, only not worrying so much about the cow part, and making sure to tip the pelvis in, not necessarily arch the back up. Pelvic tilts are an excellent pregnancy exercise. It is pretty much the only way to strengthen the abs, it relieves back discomfort, and the tilting action gets the baby to tuck their chin.
-Tailor pose. This is sitting on the floor with knees open and the soles of your feet together. This opens the pelvis and encourages space for the baby.
-Sitting on a yoga ball - This also opens the pelvis and helps the baby engage.
-Sitting on a dinning room chair, backwards - opens the pelvis and tilts the uterus forward.

Basically, we can't sit lady-like or recline. When I relax at home, I just lie on my left side on the couch. At work, I either sit on a ball at my desk, or I set my desk chair to not lean back at all. My book says to be concerned with your posture 6 weeks from due date. It also says that you can't just have good posture whenever you think of it, it has to be a conscious continuous effort.

I believe this concludes my Optimal Fetal Positioning series. I know that there are no guarantees. You could have perfect posture and end up with a malpositioned baby, or you could lie on your back with your feet up all day and have a perfectly positioned baby. There are a lot of factors that go into it. But like most things I have learned, I'd rather prepare and do all I can for a smooth delivery.

Monday, July 26, 2010

37 Weeks

I am technically full term!

Although, I have a feeling we have several more weeks before we get to meet our baby. We were SURE the baby had dropped last week. I had tons of room up top, and my chiropractor said she couldn't feel the head at all. She was sure the baby had dropped too, and got me all excited. Well, at my prenatal on Friday, the baby was all the way up in my ribs. So high that the midwife assistant says "Geez! This baby is so high!" I was like "huh?" because last I heard the baby was "so low"! I asked if they can scoot up and down, but they thought it was more likely the baby was on the move and might have been posterior when the chiropractor felt around. I'm not so convinced.. I swear the baby was low!

Everything looks good. I am measuring about three weeks behind, so we think we'll have a small baby. Mary Anne says that is perfectly fine because I'm not that large myself. Plus, those measurements have a +/- 2 cm curve. I can feel a small baby though. He/She feels so very bony. The other day I could even feel tiny shoulders!

I am having lots of Braxton-Hicks. I've had them for weeks, but I suppose they are getting stronger and I have them more often. I don't have anything to compare them to, but they feel quite strong, to me. I'm excited about that, because I think that means they are efficient and doing their job!

My hip and pelvic pain has actually gotten quite a bit better. I have almost completely stopped exercising. (Which, I do not condone, btw!) The Friday before last I slipped in the gym bathroom after I got out of the pool and I aggravated my hurt pelvis so much that I felt like I had been injured the next day. Like literally hit by a car. I didn't exercise again until last Thursday, which was almost two weeks later. I went swimming, and even that hurt. But since Friday, my pelvis has felt better than it has in months. So, I'm just going to take it easy.

Other than that, I was sleeping ok, until just recently. I'm waking up around 4am and not being able to go back to sleep. That's the worst. Probably worse than pelvic pain because no sleep makes you feel yucky EVERYWHERE!

At any rate, we are preparing for the arrival of our new one. Which involved steam cleaning the carpets (twice), stocking the pantry, and organizing everything we'll need at home and to take to the birth. I think we'll be ready! (As long as its not tonight.. I don't think we're that ready!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Pan Fried Chickpea Salad

I absolutely love this recipe. I don't have a picture, but do visit 101cookbooks for Heidi's picture and recipe. I made this salad when I was visiting family in Texas last year and my then 1.5 year old nephew couldn't get enough of it! So don't deny your children of it just because it has curry!

Pan Fried Chickpea Salad
1 tablespoon olive oil, or coconut oil
2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 can, drained and rinsed, pat them completely dry with clean dish towel
1 cup of chopped leeks
1 medium clove of garlic, minced
zest of one lemon
1/3 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons Indian-style curry powder (I use a bit more than this)
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 or 2 tablespoons warm water
1/2 cup of loosely packed fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped

Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet and add the chickpeas. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they start getting a bit golden in color. Stir in the leeks and cook until the chickpeas are more golden and the leeks have browned a bit as well, roughly 7 - 10 minutes total. At the last minute stir in the garlic and the lemon zest. Remove from heat, and set aside.

While the chickpeas cool (you can serve this at room temperature), make the yogurt dressing by combining the yogurt, curry powder, and salt in a small bowl. If you need to thin it out a bit, particularly if you are using Greek yogurt, whisk in warm water a tablespoon at a time. Taste, adjust, and set aside.

When you are ready to serve the salad, toss the chickpea mixture with most of the cilantro and most of the chopped red onion. Add about 1/2 of the yogurt dressing and toss again. If you like more dressing, keep adding until you are pleased. Sprinkle with the remaining onions and cilantro.

Note: Sauteed chickpeas develop a wonderful, nutty flavor and get a bit of a crust on them. They are absolutely fabulous cooked this way! Just be sure to dry them well so they will fry up nice. If they are wet, they'll just cook and get soft.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Optimal Fetal Positioning - Part 2

Part 2, of OFP is what I have learned of how to discover your baby's position. It can only be successfully done the last two months of pregnancy.

Vertex or Breech?
An overwhelming majority of babies end up vertex (head down) with no effort from the mother. Babies are just tiny people who just want to be comfortable. Head down happens to be the most comfortable position because of the shape of the uterus and the shape of the pelvis. Their little heads fit perfectly in the low uterus and pelvis. Also - Gravity! The head is the heaviest part of a baby and therefore tips down.

Fortunately, you do not need an ultrasound to learn if your baby is head down! I have discovered four ways to tell that my baby is vertex. First, my midwife and my chiropractor can feel my baby's head just above my pubic bone. I actually can not feel this, and Patrick is too afraid he'd poke an eye out, that he hasn't felt for the head, but I know both of my care providers can identify a head within 2 seconds of feeling. This is sure to be the head because a butt is not going to fit nice and compact just above the pubic bone.

Secondly, you can easily find your baby's bottom by feeling around the upper part of your uterus. I can almost always identify the butt by giving a good feel on either the upper left or upper right side of my uterus. You can tell if this round body part is the head or butt by giving it a push. If you push on this lump, and you can feel the entire baby move (I often feel a push on my bladder, or pressure down low from pushing the baby) then its a butt. If you push on a bottom, the whole baby will move, if you push on a head, the head will just loll back and not move the whole body.

Third, I can identify my baby is vertex, and left lying by where I feel kicks. Kicks are much firmer and stronger than hands, which wiggle. I feel all kicks either in my right ribs or just below my right ribs. I think my baby is small, though, so a larger baby's feet might be wrapping around and you will feel kicks lower and further to the side of your body.

And finally, where the heartbeat was heard last will tell you the position of the baby. Mary Anne can find the heartbeat low on my abdomen on the left side. This shows a vertex, left lying baby.

Left or Right lying baby? Give a Feel.I can most always figure out what position my baby is in while feeling my belly while lying on my back. Lying flat on a bed or the floor, put your right hand flat against the right side of your stomach (so your palm will be against the side of your belly) and push on the left side with your left hand. With the hand that is pushing - do you feel a lot of resistance? Does it feel rather soft? Now switch, put left hand on left side and push with right hand. You should be able to tell which side has less "give". You can most likely determine what side the baby is, this way. You can also often feel the back of your baby when you are doing this.

Another way is where the heartbeat is heard, as mentioned above.

Anterior or Posterior
Now that you've discovered if your baby is vertex, and which side of your body she is lying, you can find if she is anterior or posterior. If you clearly felt the back with the method above, then she is most likely anterior. If you think about how a posterior baby is positioned, you can visualize that her back will be toward your back and so you may not be able to feel her back so well. Also, where you feel kicks and wiggles is a good indication. If you feel a lot of kicking and punching out towards the front of your belly, or can see feet pushing out like popcorn towards the front of your belly, she may be lying posterior.

I think its easier to tell when the baby is NOT posterior as opposed to when the baby IS posterior. If you can clearly feel a back, and can feel kicks in or under your ribs, or if you feel kicks way out to the side of your body, then the baby is more than likely anterior.

If you need a visualization, hold a stuffed bear or baby doll upside down against your belly as if it were your baby in utero. Head down, bottom to one side, feet to the other side rotate the bear posterior or anterior and see where the feet go. So when you feel kicks you can think about the stuffed bear and determine the baby's position.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Book Review - The Birth Partner

The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and Other Labor Companions
by Penny Simkin

I did not read this book since I'm not the birth partner- Patrick did! So he's going to provide the book review....

Hello everyone! After some encouragement from Courtney, we borrowed The Birth Partner from the local library. As the birth partner, I am called to be the major support system for my wife, a role I cherish and hope to fulfill to the best of my ability. With help from The Birth Partner I am better prepared to actively take part in our baby's birth.

This book is extremely detailed and has given me a great deal of insight into what I must do as the husband and father. For instance, when mom is beginning her pre-birthing waves (contractions), it is imperative to keep track of pressure wave frequency and length. As the pre-birthing waves continue and become more frequent, if the birth partner has done his job, you can avoid an unnecessarily early trip to the birthing center. Depending on your situation (hospital, birthing center, home birth), timing can be extremely important. If you arrive too early, mom can become discouraged by what would appear as a lack of progression, when in fact it's just not the right time. As time goes on, things can get stressful, and unwanted interventions could begin. On the other hand, if the birth partner (that's me) has diligently monitored mom's pressure waves and follows the suggestions listed in The Birth Partner, we can avoid a potentially stressful situation. This will lead to a happy, low-anxiety birthing time. And mom, dad, and baby can meet each other in a comforting welcoming environment.

The Birth Partner starts with your role during pregnancy. This importance of making sure mom gets the calories, protein, and water her changing body needs. From there, you enter your role during pre-birthing waves. This section includes information about comfort and how you can help mom during this important time. It breaks down what she might be feeling, what you might be feeling, what you must do to make sure mom is as comfortable as possible, and what your doula does, if you've hired one. The doula sections were very helpful, because it gives the birth partner information on how an experienced doula would handle any point during the birthing time. Next up, birthing time. The Birth Partner outlines what you need to do as the husband in all situations. This information is invaluable, because you will be the one who needs to field any questions and handle any situations, because mom is a little busy... Finally, the books tells you what to do once the baby arrives and how to handle the first few hours and days, including infant care and breastfeeding.

If you're getting close to your birthing time and you want to make sure you're prepared as best you can be, I recommend reading this book. It's an easy and informative read, with a lot of useful resources you can keep on hand when the birthing time begins. I was out running with a friend the other day, and he told me when it comes to your birthing time and being a parent, you can pretty much throw the books out the window. That may be true, but I believe you don't want to go into a test without having studied before hand. Plus, the book gives tools of what to do during unexpected circumstances. This isn't just an idealized to-do list, but better prepares the birth partner to handle all types of situations, hopefully keeping the "oh crap" moments to a minimum. I now have knowledge of labor and normal progression, so I won't be just an ornament in the room, but a true helper. So, dads, read this book, be prepared, love on your wife, and enjoy a glorious and exciting birthing. It will only be the beginning of the most life-changing, important experience of your lives.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Optimal Fetal Positioning - Part 1

There are good positions and there are not so good positions. A smooth labor and delivery depends highly on the baby being in a good position. A pregnant woman can affect and change the position of her baby with normal everyday posture and few simple daily exercises. This is really something to pay attention to, as I know I want the best birthing I can possibly have.

I think I'll write this in a three part series, considering there is so much information on the subject. In part one, I'll go over the different positions, which is best and why. Part two will address how to figure out what position your baby is in (you don't need an ultrasound to tell you!), and Part three will be how baby gets to the proper position in the first place, what YOU do everyday to affect baby's position, and how to move your baby, if need be.

But first, my disclaimer: I'm just a normal person with a desire to have the best birth possible. The information I want to share is based on my research, largely found at

Part 1 - What is Optimal Fetal Positioning (OFP)?

The best fetal position for birthing is Left Occiput Anterior (LOA), or Left Occiput Transverse (LOT). This basically means that the baby is on the mother's left side, head down, and is either facing the mother's back or facing the mother's hip. Having an LOA baby allows for an easier birthing than other positions because the baby's head is usually tucked to fit easier through the pelvis and birth canal, the baby's back curves most effectively in this position, allowing the baby to slide down easily, and LOA makes engagement (settling deep into the pelvis) likely, which is what starts labor. The difference between an LOA and an ROA (Right Occiput Anterior) baby is that the uterus naturally tilts to the right, and a baby sitting ROA is more likely to go posterior due to gravity. So, a baby who is on the right needs to turn 180 degrees to get into birthing position, while a baby on the left only has to turn 90 degrees. Turning the 90 degrees from the left side is much more easily done, working with contractions, gravity, and the shape of the uterus and pelvis.

Left Occiput Posterior (LOP) or Right Occiput Posterior (ROP) means that the baby is sitting on the mother's left or right side, with his back to your back. LOP or ROP babies have a hard time engaging in the pelvis because their chin usually does not tuck (because of the shape of the uterus), thus not presenting the smallest part of the head first. This prevents the baby from dropping and engaging the cervix, which could delay spontaneous labor. Baby's back against the mom's back also causes back labor as the baby is not "pointing" in the right direction and all the force of the contractions are going into the mom's back.

We all know what breech means - the baby's head is up. Although, in modern days, this is an automatic C-section, an experienced midwife could deliver a breech baby. Although difficult, there are ways to turn a breech, which will be Part 3.

There is also transverse, which means the baby is laying horizontal. I don't think that even needs an explanation of why that is bad news!

A pregnant woman should really start being concerned with OFP six weeks before the due date. Before this time, the baby is still flipping and swimming around. After this time, the baby does not need to be totally still, but should spend a good majority of its time in the correct position. The bigger the baby becomes, the harder it will be to move, so being in the correct position about a month out from birth makes things easier.

There is an entire book on optimal fetal positioning, how to ensure your baby is in the correct position, and how to move your baby. I have not read it, but I heard it is really great. It is Sit Up and Take Notice by Pauline Scott.

I'll now start working on how to know your baby's position. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Garden Stuffed Tomatoes

I made up this recipe, and if you know anything about my cooking, you know I don't measure or time anything, so this is a good guess at proportions of what goes into stuffed tomatoes.

Garden Stuffed Tomatoes
This recipe makes 2 stuffed tomatoes. Adjust as needed.

1/2 Zucchini, diced
1/2 Onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 large round tomatoes
1 cup corn
1/2 cup dry quinoa or bulgar or other grain
Cheese - Italian Mix
pinch of dried thyme
pinch of dried parsley
fresh basil
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook quinoa in 1 cup of salted water or vegetable broth until liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender. (They will release little curly-q's when cooked).

Hollow out two large tomatoes, keeping the insides, juice and all, and dice the insides. Cook the hollowed out tomatoes in the oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, saute onion in a splash of olive oil until tender. Add all the veggies, including tomato dices and their juice. Add spices. Saute until all the veggies are tender and the tomato juice has reduced, then add the cooked quinoa. Stir to combine and remove from heat. Add about 1/4 cup of cheese (or however much you like) and stir to combine. Remove tomatoes from the oven and stuff with the vegetable mixture. Top with more cheese. Crank up the oven to broil, and broil until the cheese is bubbly.

You will have leftover vegetable mix, enough for another tomato, if you wish, or just eat it on the side!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Books I Love: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
by Ina May Gaskin

I read this book many months ago, and have actually been stalling writing the review. Only because this book has to be the single most important book on childbirth out today. I just don't think I can adequately review the book, or convince you enough to read it!

Ina May Gaskin is the nation's leading midwife, and the woman who basically brought midwifery back to America after several decades of hospitals having the monopoly on childbirth. She has almost 40 years of real hands-on childbirth experience and she shares her vast knowledge in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.

The first half of the book is all birth stories. Ina May stresses that in a country filled with dramatic childbirth stories (after all, a nice, calm birth does not make for good drama television) American women rarely hear positive birth stories. Half the book is filled with real women and real stories of all types, meant to be inspirational. They certainly are! However, this is not what makes the book so fantastic. The second part is the "must read" in my opinion.

The second half of Ina May's book is the actual how-to for a natural birth. She doesn't spend her time trying to convince the reader to have a natural birth, she simply tells you how to have a natural birth. One thing I particularly liked about this book is the intensive research she did. A good majority of her guide is from personal experience, but each chapter is thoroughly researched in both the medical and midwifery community. She has a list of references at the end of each chapter that range from medical books from the 1800's to current articles from the American College of Gynecology and Obstetrics. She provides and in-depth look at childbirth and how the body actually gives birth, not just in today's medical mind, but dating back to the earliest birth accounts she can find.

Ina May explains how the body works, what actually happens in the body during birth, and how to work with your body to have a more efficient birth. One of my favorite chapters is actually an explanation of how the cervix functions; how it dilates and what you can do to promote its progress. I found this to be extremely informational, and look forward to practicing the practical ways of helping the cervix to open during birth. She provides a chapter on modern medicine and how each of these interventions may prevent a normal birth from progressing normally. She provides birthing positions that have been used effectively throughout the world and throughout the generations, with an explanation of why the positions work much better than the flat on your back, knees to your ears position.

Reading this book will not only prepare you for your birth, but will present information that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Many, many other books and resources quote Ina May - so go straight to the source! You will end the book feeling accomplished already!

I first got this book from the library, then quickly ordered it so I would have my own copy. I plan to re-read it in the next several weeks to refresh my mind on her various techniques to open, relax, and work with my body. I can not stress enough how much every single woman of childbearing age should read this book. You can probably get it from your library, but I promise you'll want to buy it!

Friday, June 25, 2010

33 Weeks

33 weeks! Where has the time gone? We found out we were pregnant Thanksgiving weekend. If I think about how long ago Thanksgiving was, it feels like forever. If I think about how long 33 weeks is.. it seems like I couldn't possibly have been pregnant that long. I've never done anything for 33 weeks before!

I would say that so far my pregnancy has been fabulous. I have my fair share of complaints and discomforts, but none of that matters when I think of the fact that I'm growing an entire person. I'm still baffled that an entire person can be grown in 40 weeks. I think its going to take my tomato plant longer than that to grow one tomato!

My short list of complaints includes my pelvic pain (aka crotch pain), that has gotten worse as the baby has gotten larger. If I didn't have that, I think I would be the most comfortable pregnant woman in all the world. I had major sleep problems, but praise Jesus, I have been sleeping well this week. I hope that continues. Lack of sleep makes a person feel bad everywhere. I have also started to get a bit woozy in the mornings again. I have not figured out why yet. It comes about an hour after I awake, which corresponds to when I walk in the door at work, and lasts till about 11am.

Other than that, I have had absolutely no heartburn thanks to my wonderful papaya enzyme I take with breakfast and dinner. (It also keeps gas at bay, I haven't had the slightest issue with gas since I started taking it in February). I have never had an issue with contipation, and I have virtually no swelling, though some days my calves feel really tight. I don't have any cravings at all, and generally eat like I did before I was pregnant. Although - my watermelon obsession is a borderline craving. Its so sweet, juicy, and delicious; I ate two watermelons since last Thursday. Patrick did help - so I ate maybe 1.25 watermelons since last Thursday. We got another one last night but its BAD! So dissapointing!! but I digress. Blood pressure is good, hemoglobin is good, baby's heart rate is precious. Everything is going well!

At home, things are moving along and we are almost ready for the little one. Patrick finished all our furniture this past week (yay!). We had bought a used solid oak furniture set for our bedroom that he refinished dark mahogany, and he painted two old dressers that I had since I was probably a baby. We just moved those into the baby room and now we're trying to get organized. Once we do that, we'll have the nursery ready! I'll post pics!

Patrick can't hardly wait until August; I'm still adjusting to the idea of parenthood. I guess we only have about one full month before we are on "stand-by". I still haven't decided when to start my maternity leave. I'm planning on just taking it day by day and deciding when the time comes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Tofu Noodle Soup

Why, oh why, am I eating soup when its 95 degrees outside?? Because Patrick likes this soup enough to eat it in 95 degrees. This was a great soup in my first trimester since it is easy on the tummy. Plus, it is a very quick-cooking soup. I used Tyler Florence's Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe and just took out the chicken and added tofu! (BTW, my broth was not green in person. I think its just the red bowl.)

Tofu Noodle Soup

1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 fresh thyme sprigs (I used dried)
1 bay leaf
2 quarts no-chicken stock*
8 ounces dried wide egg noodles (we found whole-wheat)
1 package of tofu, pressed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the tofu, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

*The brand, Imagine, makes a great no-chicken broth that is vegetable based but it does taste a lot like chicken broth. Otherwise you can just use veggie broth.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Vegetti

This is a play on one of my very favorite dishes my mother used to make with all that leftover Thanksgiving Turkey. There were two things I loved about holiday leftovers, one was Turketti, the other was Potatoes, Ham, and Cheese which always came around after new year's ham. Well, I've taken the main ingredients in Turketti, got rid of the Turkey and added spinach. The result - Vegetti! At least it has all the classic flavors of Turketti.

For my fowl eating friends - Give this a shot next time you have leftover turkey. You'll just need to chop up your cooked turkey and probably use chicken broth instead of veggie broth.

1 package of whole wheat spaghetti
1 package of frozen spinach, thawed and extremely well squeezed and drained
1 2oz jar of diced pimentos, drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1/4 tsp Celery Salt
1/4 tsp Garlic Salt (or powdered Garlic is fine)
1/4 tsp Pepper
2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
1 cup veggie broth

Cook spaghetti according to package directions, be sure to leave them al dente; drain and set aside. Combine corn, pimentos, seasonings, and 1 cup of cheese (or more!). Stir in the noodles and then the veggie broth a little at a time. You really might only need a splash of veggie broth. It is extremely important to get your spinach as dry as possible or you will end up with vegetti soup. So eyeball the broth and don't overdo it. If you are using Turkey instead of spinach, you will need to add much more broth (near 2 cups) Spoon into a lightly greased 12 x 8 inch baking dish.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake until cheese is bubbly, another 10 minutes or so. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Bun and the Sea

We went on our much needed babymoon this past weekend. Patrick planned the whole thing, I had only told him "I don't care where we go, as long as its to the beach!" We went to Seagrove Beach in Santa Rosa, FL. It was absolutely lovely. On the shore between Destin and Panama City, it was much less touristy than either of those locations. No giant hotels, no chains, just beach life. Lots of adorable million dollar beach houses and condos. We stayed in a condo right on the water.

We left on Thursday and came back Sunday, so it was a way-too-quick trip. I would have loved to have spent a whole week. We got two full days on the beach (except for having to retreat inside from the hour long deluge on the second day). Patrick managed to get a little burned, but I hid tucked under the umbrella most of the time. I had a great prenatal massage on Friday, and I certainly didn't want to be burned for that.

We keep saying we need to move to Santa Rosa because I slept better there than I have anywhere in weeks. I was able to go straight(ish) to sleep and go back to sleep after nighttime bathroom trips, which I have a very hard time doing at home. Fresh air and plenty of activity definitely does the body good. So does the ocean. I say the ocean will cure anything that ails you.

Both of our beach days were red flag days, which I found out the hard way really kills my hips. Fighting currents and waves are not so great for the pelvic area, so I was really sore most of the time. I didn't go in the water much after that.

I have a very hard time coming home from vacations. I get quite a bit bummed and pretty moody. This vacation was no exception. But, this time I have so much to look forward to coming home for. I felt like our babymoon was the marker to the final countdown. So now, it is getting so close to birthing and parenthood, there's nothing else on the calendar!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review - Back Labor No More

Back Labor No More:
What every woman should know before labor
by Janie McCoy King

From Ms. King's website:
"With a warm, humorous, and personal approach, this book explains what back labor is, how to recognize it, and what physical characteristics are likely to cause it. Using cartoons, illustrations of everyday occurrences, and her background as a mathematician, the author offers a unique method to relieve the pain of back labor and facilitate the baby's birth.

Additionally, the book explains why other natural childbirth techniques work. Finally, it relates the personal experiences of women who have used the technique and their astounding results! In short, this light-hearted, insightful look at labor reveals the causes of and solutions for the serious discomfort of back labor. Rooted in scientific principle, yet explained through common daily experiences, it is accessible to anyone- even between contractions!"

This book was a recommended reading in my home study course. I read the whole thing in one sitting - about an hour. It is easy to understand, easy to remember, completely revolutionary, but totally intuitive. I think Ms. King did a wonderful job writing a very enjoyable book that you can easily read through, while using examples that you WILL remember. I'm pretty confident I can remember the "technique" even during my birthing time. The technique is actually quite simple.. but you must read it! I can't explain it here, and provide a good outcome.

Ms. King explains that back labor has a variety of causes, not just when you have a posterior baby. It can be caused by a short stature, a previous back injury, a sway-back, or a posterior baby. She explains each "problem" and positions to alleviate pains for each.

Not only does Ms. King promote that this will halt back labor in its tracks, but it will also significantly reduce abdominal labor, make contractions more efficient, shorten the time of active labor, help sluggish labors progress, bring on labor when past due, and stop "running legs".

I told a friend that I had ordered this book and she said "Are you really that afraid you will have back labor?" The answer is "No! But if I do have it, its too late to order the book then!"

My book was $13 total with shipping from Amazon, and took an hour of my time to read and learn. I will definitely be re-reading as my birthing time draws closer.
Get it, read it, do it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Asian Inspired Bowl

This is one recipe that I actually made up myself. I'll admit its not heavy on protein. I also thought last night that I should really add a sea veggie to it. Wakame would be nice. I couldn't take a picture because Patrick is in Colorado with the camera, so just use your imagination!

Asian Inspired Bowl
This is super easy to construct, especially if you have cooked rice already, that is the only cooking involved. I usually make single servings of this. You probably don't want to make a big batch in a big bowl because the avocado will get weird by the next day. I just make another single serving for lunch the next day.
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 apple, diced
1 avocado, diced
Sesame Oil
Rice Wine Vinegar
Pine Nuts

Cook rice accordingly. I always cook my rice with 1/2 water and 1/2 veggie broth for flavor.
In a small bowl, dish out your rice (~1/2 cup per serving). Drizzle with a bit of sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. Stir. Dice on top 1/2 apple and 1/4 an avocado. Top with a sprinkling of pine nuts.

That's it! Its crunchy, buttery, smooth, sweet, and smoky. I think its great! Give it a shot!

Avocados have been shown to have a benefit on cholesterol levels, particularly decreasing LDL and triglycerides. A Japanese study showed they have an antibacterial component. They are great for your skin and hair. Better if eaten than applied externally.

They have also been shown to regulate hormones in both men and women. They are even shaped like a uterus, and the Aztec word for avocado, ahuacatl, means "testicle"!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Most Tedious of Exercises

We all hate them. They are hard to do, hard to remember to do, and seem to be more of a mind game than anything else. The dreaded Kegel. Yet, its one of the more important pregnancy exercises. This from my Hypnobabies work book:

"This exercise is necessary to keep your internal organs in the proper position before, during and after birth, and to keep the baby's chin on its chest during the 2nd stage of your birthing time, which makes sure the smallest part of the head is presented first. A weak Kegel muscle lets the vaginal wall sag ahead of the baby, and hold the baby back, along with letting its head move about more freely, sometimes allowing it to become wedged in the wrong position. This can lead to internal tears. A strong Kegel muscle pulls the vaginal walls taut and lets the baby "slide" through with its chin on its chest."

The book says to start with 50 a day, and aim for 150 a day. I probably get in my 50, but certainly not 150. However, after reading this, it gives me a little extra incentive, so I wanted to pass that along.

Happy squeezing!

HypnobabiesTM Home Study Course, 5th edition

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Rice and Black Bean Casserole

Here's a new casserole from Cathe Olson's The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook. It was super easy (requires no chopping of anything!) and darn tasty. If you already have your rice cooked, it will take absolutely no time at all to throw this together. I modified it a bit, and will include my modifications in my recipe.

Rice and Black Bean Casserole
Rice + Beans makes a complete protein. I added spinach because I thought it needed a vegetable (salsa does not count as a vegetable!), cheese, and sour cream (or creme fraiche) in the mixture to give it more of a casserole consistency, and I added a bit of chipotle chili powder. Give this one a try, you'll love it!

3 cups cooked brown rice
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 to 1 cup grated cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 cup chunky salsa
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup corn
1 cup baby spinach, or regular spinach chopped
2 tsp chili powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 9x9 casserole dish. Combine all ingredients except 1/2 cup of the cheese in a large mixing bowl. Spoon mixture into casserole dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Non-tasty Recipes : Homemade Natural Deodorant

Today's recipe is not at all tasty, but you could eat it if you really wanted to. Which is the whole point - naturally safe for your whole body - outside or in!

When I wore commercial deodorant, I never had one brand that I particularly liked. I tried every brand and every product of every brand because I just couldn't find anything that I thought worked well for me. I tend to sweat a lot in knit shirts, which of course becomes stinky. The absolute worse deodorant I ever tried was Secret with Oil of Olay. They advertise it has lotion in it - which promptly turns to liquid when it gets warm. This deodorant made me a sweaty mess even when I wasn't hot! Horrible product!

Well, anyway, after seeing my herbalist, commercial deodorant was something I wanted to cut out because it, like a lot of beauty products, contains xenoestrogens. Upon further investigation, the aluminum in deodorant has been shown to be a carcinogen linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer's. The National Cancer Institute claims that the results of studies of parabens in deodorants and antiperspirants relating to breast cancer are "inconclusive" and provide "conflicting results".* But if you think about how almost everyone these days dies of cancer .... we have to be getting it from somewhere .. we eat, breathe, bathe, and slather on so many different chemicals nowadays that it must have an effect on our bodies. These are foreign substances after all.

So, I tried three different "natural deodorants".
1) Kiss my Face Natural Enzymes - broke me out
2) Mineral Salts roll on - the roller actually started to smell like sweaty old man, making every application stinky from the onset
3) A fairly expensive mineral salts spritzer - burned like heck, though worked fine for Patrick

Eventually I gave up, and went bare. It was winter, and I was drinking chlorophyll in my water, which is a natural deodorizer. However, as it got warmer outside, I knew I needed something. So I searched for a better product.

And I found .... the easiest, simplest, most wonderful deodorant I have ever put on my skin! I remain absolutely stink free all day long, even after the gym! Patrick uses it too, and even for a man - this stuff works wonders! I can not tell you how much both Patrick and I love this stuff. It is also completely fragrance free, your underarms will smell like ... absolutely nothing!

Homemade Natural Deodorant**

5-6 Tbsp Coconut oil (solid state)
1/4 cup baking soda (the deodorizer)
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch*** (the antiperspirant)

Combine equal portions of baking soda & arrowroot powder. Then slowly add coconut oil and work it in with a spoon until it maintains the substance you desire. It should be about the same texture as the store bought kind, solid but able to be applied easily. You can either scoop this into your old dispensers or place in a small container with lid and apply with fingers with each use. I have only made one batch so far and I cut the recipe down a bit, not making quite as large of a batch. It has lasted Patrick and I about 1.5 months, and we probably have half of it still.

This goes on to skin completely transparent and does not leave nasty deodorant marks and stains on my clothes. I have also read that women love it with babies, because they don't have to worry about chemicals rubbing off on their children when they breastfeed or hold their baby.

Even if chemical deodorants and antiperspirants are totally harmless, well, this homemade deodorant works WAY better than any deodorant I have ever tried, and it cost pennies!! That's reason enough to ditch the Dove.

**Recipe found at
***I have read that cornstarch can be irritating to the skin. I do find that it is a little itchy right after I shave, so I recommend using arrowroot, but I love it even with the cornstarch.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

24 Weeks and Counting

We can't believe how much the baby has grown lately and how obvious it is to us. Not just by belly size, but I can actually feel how much the baby has grown and developed. I feel the baby move all the time now. The movement is also so much higher than it was, I've even started feeling kicks in my ribs. We had our 24 week appointment yesterday and Mary Anne was able to tell what position the baby was in; and I for the first time could even start to feel body parts. She could feel the back and the butt, and I really could too! I was shocked at how high my uterus is now. My uterus measured at exactly 24 cm, and since I have such a short torso, that was all the way up to my ribs! We even poked him (or her) a few times to watch him (or her) squirm.

We registered today! Which turns out to be an all day event. It is also extremely confusing and somewhat overwhelming. I ended up asking a mom in the store "Now why do I need a sheet saver to go over my sheet to go over my waterproof mattress pad to go over my waterproof mattress?" Baby stuff is complicated. And there is SO much of it. I think I need to rent a storage space to be able to house all our baby gear we apparently "need". But it was a ton of fun! I still don't know if I registered for the right stuff. I guess I'll find out soon enough. I also didn't register for a lot of clothing cause I assumed people like to buy that stuff anyway (hint hint!).

I can't believe it is almost May. I met a woman today that said she thought her pregnancy lasted forever. I'm the opposite. I can't believe it is going so fast, and sometimes I feel like I need to hit the brakes! So much change in such a short amount of time. We are absolutely loving it!