Weekend wrap-up

It felt like the weekend started early for me since Jody worked from home on Friday. I even managed to sneak out of the house by myself that day for about 45 minutes! What did I do with my precious freetime you ask? Get a haircut? A manicure? Go for a coffee? No, none of these things. My 45 minutes of glorious freetime was spent at the bank filing an “Affadavit of Unauthorized/Improper Debit Card or ATM card activity” because someone used my debit card to buy themself a nice little something from Bed, Bath and Beyond – a $205 nice little something. Grrrr. :( I have no idea how the perp got my card number. I thought it could’ve been from the recent Internet purchases I’ve made, but the woman at the bank said it’s much more likely that someone swiped the number when I used the card at a store recently. Bugger! The money will be put back into my account and I’ll be issued a new debit card, and hopefully that will be the end of it, though she advised me to keep an eye on my account for the next few days too. I hope the person who did it gets caught and/or doesn’t get ahold of anyone else’s number, but my guess they will probably keep at it.

Saturday was a cleaning day for me. Changed sheets on the beds, vacuumed the mattresses (I saw an episode of Oprah about cleaning where they recommended it to suck out the dust mites and dust mite excrement – yucky!), vacuumed the upstairs and did laundry. I also listed two office chairs and a computer monitor we don’t use on Freecycle, went to a used bookstore to see if they would buy any of the 22 old computer books of Jody’s that he no longer needs (no, they won’t – so I Freecycled those too), stopped at Vitamin Cottage to pick up some groceries, and made Kentucky Fried (Baked) Tofu, tater tots and salad for dinner. Mmmmm. I hadn’t made that tofu recipe in a while. Jody and I watched an episode of Dead Like Me after Ava went to bed. All in all, it was a very productive day.

On Sunday, I sold our Arm’s Reach co-sleeper for $70. Yay! I decided to sell it since it was not getting any use and just taking up space. Ava slept in it for about 4 months when she was a baby, but, although we set it up again when Julian was born, I haven’t even tried putting him in it. He sleeps with us and that’s been working really well.

We captured one of Julian’s first laughs on video which you can see in the post below. :)

I also did some more grocery shopping, this time at Safeway, and listed more things on Freecycle (old computer books, kitchen utensils we don’t use, some old laundry detergent I found in the garage). I made a new (to me) recipe for dinner – “No-Chicken Sour Cream Enchilada Casserole” made with Quorn (yummy – thanks for including it in the CC cookbook, Julie!). The recipe makes enough so you have one casserole for dinner and one to put in the freezer. Nice!

Carrie (my sis) picked up Ava in the evening to take her to a Super Bowl party at some friends’ house. They have a couple kids around Ava’s age who Ava has played with before. She had a blast with them and entertained everyone at the party with her “silly dance.” (We’ll have to get that on video next.) Anyway, it gave me and Jody a little peace and quiet at home, which was nice.

That about covers it. We’re finally supposed to be getting some warmer temps around here this week. Hopefully most of the snow that we’ve had around since ooooh December(!) will finally melt! :)

Room for two

tandem nursing

One of Ava’s books about nursing (Breastmilk Makes My Tummy Yummy) contains a picture of a mom nursing a toddler and a baby and states: “Two can breastfeed without fuss, there is room for both of us.” On Wednesday night, we – me, Julian and Ava – experienced that for the first time.

Jody had to work an unusually long day yesterday and wasn’t planning on getting home until after 8 p.m. Since I knew Ava was really tired I decided to try to put her to sleep while Julian slept in the swing. Seems easy enought, right? Well, wouldn’t you know it, just as I got Ava undressed, Julian woke up crying. So much for easy. I brought him in the bedroom with us, hurriedly put Ava in her PJs, washed her face and hands (we skipped brushing teeth) and we all laid down on Ava’s twin bed (it was cozy) so that I could nurse Julian and hopefully, get Ava to sleep. She thought it was quite fun that we were all laying on her bed together. When I asked her if she wanted “na-na” (to nurse) with Julian, the giggles started. It took a bit of acrobatics on Ava’s part to nurse since I had Julian in the side-lying position, but she/we managed it. She giggled a lot as she nursed and thought the whole thing was quite funny, and I started laughing a few times too appreciating the comedic value of the scene. After the giggles subsided, she stroked Julian’s cheek and then held his hand as they both nursed, and it was a very sweet moment. Then the giggles started back up again. ;)

It was all going quite well (other than being a bit uncomfortable for me), when Ava remembered that we hadn’t read any books yet – something that daddy generally does as part of her nighttime routine. Since Julian was asleep at that point, Ava and I got some books, turned on the closet light and read in the little hallway by the closet while we sat on the floor. She thought that was pretty fun too. ;) Then Julian woke up so I brought him to our storytime on the floor as well.


It was about that time that daddy got home, so he came in and proceeded to brush Ava’s teeth, then took Julian downstairs so I could finish putting Ava to bed. She had a bit more na-na though not without first saying she wanted to do it with Julian again. Aww. I explained to her that it was a special occasion that she had na-na with Julian because daddy wasn’t home yet. She seemed OK with that, had her na-na, rolled over and drifted off to sleep.

Never a dull moment in this house. ;)

I was talking with a friend about breastfeeding recently and she observed that since Ava only nurses once per day (before bed) that I’m not really tandem nursing, and she’s right. I made the decision before Julian was born that even if Ava asked to nurse more frequently (than her usual once before bedtime nursing), I was going to say no. It was hard to tell her no a few times when she was really upset, but I knew I had to set those boundaries or I would end up tandem nursing them, which wasn’t something I felt comfortable doing. And now after having nursed them simultaneously once (which may be the only time I do – we’ll see), I am happy I made the choice that I did because I honestly can’t imagine nursing two kids throughout the day and/or night. I commend the women who are able to do it. :) You rock, girlfriends!

 

Since we’re on the topic of breastfeeding, I thought I’d share a few recent articles on the subject:

Sharing the milk: Moms breast-feeding other women’s babies are raising eyebrows, and concerns

Food or lewd? Breast-feeding reveals divide – Why we get so worked up about how women feed their babies

Six (New To Me) Vegetarian Recipes

After recently putting out a plea to my readers asking for vegetarian recipes, I’ve been inspired to try some new things and am happy to share them here. :) (Thank you to those of you who sent me recipes. I now have a stack that I am going to try over the next few weeks!)

The first recipe for Vegetarian Minestrone Soup, I got out of the “Fix-it and Forget-it Cookbook” that my mother-in-law gave to me a few years ago when we first got our crockpot. I did all of the veggie chopping the night before, then Ava helped me put everything into the crockpot the next day. It was really tasty.

Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
Makes 6 servings
6 cups vegetable broth
2 carrots, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small zucchini, cubed
1 handful fresh kale, chopped
1/2 cup dry barley
2 cans chickpeas or white kidney beans, drained
1 Tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
28-oz. can crushed Italian tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
grated cheese

1. Combine all ingredients except cheese in slow cooker.
2. Cover. Cook on Low 6-8 hours, or until vegetables are tender.
3. Sprinkle individual servings with grated cheese.

Minestrone Soup

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The second recipe for Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup came from my friend Nicole. It’s tasty and quick and easy to prepare.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup
4-6 servings
Cook 20 min 5 min prep
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cups canned vegetable stock
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans pumpkin puree
1 cup corn, frozen or canned (drain and rinse if canned)
1 cup heavy cream or milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (eyeball it in the palm of your hand)
coarse salt
20 sprigs fresh chives, chopped or snipped, for garnish

1. Heat a soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add oil.
3. When oil is hot, add onion.
4. Saute onions 5 minutes.
5. Add broth, tomatoes or tomato sauce, black beans, pumpkin puree and corn.
6. Stir to combine ingredients and bring soup to a boil.
7. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in cream, curry, cumin, cayenne and salt, to taste.
8. Simmer 5 minutes, adjust seasonings and serve garnished with chopped chives.
9. For Vegan option use Soy Cream.

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

 

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This third recipe for Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta came from AllRecipes.com. It was good warm as well as cold as leftovers the next day.
Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta
4 servings
Prep Time: 15 Minutes; Cook Time: 25 Minutes
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup vegetable broth
12 dehydrated sun-dried
tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) package uncooked
penne pasta
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil 1/4 teaspoon crushed red
pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed
and torn into bite-size pieces (I used frozen chopped spinach)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Feta cheese
DIRECTIONS:
1. In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Remove from heat. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in the broth 15 minutes, or until softened. Drain, reserving broth, and coarsely chop.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place penne pasta in the pot, cook 9 to 12 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
3. Place the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir until lightly toasted.
4. Heat the olive oil and red pepper flakes in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the garlic 1 minute, until tender. Mix in the spinach, and cook until almost wilted. Pour in the reserved broth, and stir in the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Continue cooking 2 minutes, or until heated through.
5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the spinach and tomato mixture and pine nuts. Serve with Parmesan cheese or Feta.

Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

 

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The next three recipes all came from the February 2007 issue of “Vegetarian Times.” Thank you to Nicole for letting me have her copy. There are still a handful of other recipes I found in there that I want to try sometime soon.

The Tortilla Lasagna was a nice variation of the original.

Tortilla Lasagna with Swiss Chard

Serves 6
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb. Swiss Chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 cups tomato sauce, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (I used dried and reduced the amount)
9 6-inch corn tortillas, divided
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
3 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
3 Tbsp Romano cheese (I used Parmesan)

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Heat oil in large pot over high heat. Add chard stems and onion, and cook 8 minutes, or until soft, stirring often. Add chard leaves and garlic. Cover, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes, or until chard leaves are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Combine 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce and basil. Spread 1/2 cup tomato-basil sauce over bottom of a 10-inch springform pan (I just used a glass baking dish). Arrange 3 tortillas in single layer (overlapping slightly) over sauce.

3. Season ricotta with salt and pepper. Spread 1 cup ricotta over tortillas in pan. Top with 1/2 cup tomato-basil sauce, 1/2 chard mixture, 1/3 cup mozzarella and 1 Tbsp Romano cheese. Repeat layering with 3 more tortillas, 1 cup ricotta, 1/2 cup tomato-basil sauce, remaining chard mixture, 1/3 cup mozzarella and 1 Tbsp Romano cheese; place remaining tortillas on top. Spread remaining 1 cup tomato-basil sauce over tortillas; cover with foil, and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup mozzarella and 1 Tbsp Romano cheese, and bake, uncovered, 10 minutes more. Let stand 5 minutes, then unmold, and cut into wedges. Serve with warmed remaining tomato sauce on the side.

 

Tortilla Lasagna with Swiss Chard

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The Banana-Cornmeal Pancakes were awesome. I doubled the recipe so I’d have leftover pancakes to freeze, and boy, did I ever! I ended up with 35 pancakes total! I think their estimation of getting 12 pancakes out of the recipe is a little off, but I’m not complaining since they are so yummy.

Banana-Cornmeal Pancakes

Makes 12 pancakes
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (I used regular whole-wheat flour)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 medium bananas
1 1/2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 large egg
2 Tbsp brown rice syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup raisins (I omitted them)
1/4 cup chopped pecans or almonds, optional (I used almonds)
1. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda in mixing bowl. Puree bananas, yogurt, egg, brown rice syrup and oil in blender until smooth. Fold wet ingredients into flour mixture, and stir until smooth. Stir in raisins and nuts. Let batter rest 10 minutes. Add a little water if too thick.
2. Heat nonstick griddle over medium-low heat until drop of water sizzles on surface. Coat with cooking spray.
3. Pour scant 1/4 cup batter onto griddle for each pancake. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until bubbles appear near edges of pancakes. Flip, and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, or until golden. Serve with syrup and fresh fruit, if desired.

Banana-Cornmeal Pancakes

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Lastly, there is the recipe for Rotelle Primavera, which I made for dinner Saturday night. It’s a quick and easy meal, and takes 30 minutes or less to prepare. And it was good.

Rotelle Primavera
Serves 4
12 oz. whole-wheat rotelle pasta (I only had penne pasta on hand)
1 lb. asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp pesto
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15.5-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 13.75-oz. can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, bring second pot of water to a boil. Fill large bowl with cold water, and set aside. Blanch asparagus in boiling water 3 minutes. Remove, and dunk in bowl to stop cooking process.
3. Heat olive oil and pesto in large skillet over medium heat; add garlic. Saute 30 seconds, or until golden. Add beans, and cook 5 minutes more. Squeeze excess liquid from artichoke hearts, and add to skillet along with asparagus. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until heated through.
4. Toss together pasta, vegetable sauce and cheeses in serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Rotelle Primavera

Hope you’ve enjoyed the recipes and pics. Please let me know if you try any and how you like them. Happy eating. :)

We are getting close!

Every time I head out to the grocery stores (Safeway or Vitamin Cottage) the past few weeks, I wonder if it’s going to be my last trip before baby. And because I’m in major nesting mode, I end up stocking up on more and more things each trip. If I end up going to 42 weeks before having this child, our house is going to be seriously bursting with food!

Today I decided to pick up an organic cake and frosting mix (never tried one of those before) to make while I’m in labor so we have a birthday cake for baby boy. Ava immediately told me that she will have a piece of it. ;) I think it will be something fun for us to do together in the early stages of labor and will be a nice way to celebrate the little one’s arrival. :) I wanted to get chocolate cake AND chocolate frosting, but settled on a marble cake mix with choco frosting, because I know not everyone (*ahem* – Jody) likes chocolate as much as Ava and me.

I also bought some things for our Thanksgiving dinner today, including stuffing mix, ingredients to make a pumpkin pie, and cool whip. I’m not exactly sure who’s going to be making our Thanksgiving dinner because my sister may well be flying back to MI to spend it with her boyfriend (provided that baby boy has made his grand entrance) and my parents will probably not be in town yet – so I’m thinking Jody it is (with me yelling instructions from the bed or couch – hee, hee). I plan on making the pie this weekend and freezing it and may end up making some side dishes that can be frozen if I have time next week.

My estimated due date is Nov. 16 – less than a week away. After today is done, I feel like I am OK to have this baby. The photographer who’s coming to photograph the birth had a wedding to shoot today, but after that her calendar can be easily freed up. So I think baby boy and I will have a talk tonight so that he knows that any time he’s ready to come now, we are ready to meet him. :)

I went for another acupuncture appointment on Wednesday. All is going well and the supervisor of the clinic I go to was very encouraged by my recent lab results. She mixed up a special blend of Chinese herbs for me (in addition to my usual “pregnancy” herbs) to be cooked up while I’m in labor and drank right after the baby is born to help prevent hemorrhaging (which was an issue with Ava because my platelet levels were so low). She also said to call her if I do have any bleeding and she will come to my house with other herbs that will help my recovery. So nice of her! But anyway, the way everything with this pregnancy has been so different (for the better) from my pregnancy with Ava, I feel like while it’s great that we have courses of action for “just in case” scenarios, everything is going to go so well with this birth that we won’t need any of it. :)

My midwife STRONGLY recommends that I take it very easy for the first two weeks after the birth, which will help significantly with my recovery. (She suggests this with all of her clients, I’m no exception.) In fact, for the first three days after he’s born, she wants me laying in bed with the baby, sleeping as much as possible (even though I may feel great). I have to admit, that part is rather appealing to me. Sure, I know I will have a baby pretty much attached to my breast the whole time, but just chillin’ with the little guy will be nice. After day 3, I can venture downstairs, but still need to stay off my feet and am NOT to do any cooking, laundry, picking up toddlers, etc. I think after a week I can start spending a little time on my feet (no more than 10 minutes at a time), but still should not be cooking or doing household chores. (Do you see why I’m not fighting this? *wink, wink*) Although I am sure that I will start getting a little stir crazy and will want to be getting back into the swing of things, which she says is fine by the time I am 2 weeks postpartum. So we’ll see how it goes. I think having the house well-stocked with food, organic fruits and veggies delivered to the house each Monday, as well as having our milk delivered, it should help Jody out a lot. Thankfully, he has two weeks paternity time off work to be here with us, and has some additional vacation time he may take later. After he goes back to work, my parents plan on coming from MI to help out with Ava for another week or so. I am sure all of this assistance will be very much welcome as we adjust to our new life.

So now, the waiting game begins. :)

By the way, the picture of the book above, “Welcome With Love,” is a wonderful children’s book about natural childbirth. In the book, Jack, his family and the midwife await the homebirth of his baby brother. There are beautiful pictures depicting the midwife preparing for the birth, mom in labor, the birth itself, the baby after he is born with the umbilical cord attached, and many lovely images of the family. Ava has greatly enjoyed reading this book in the last few months and I think it well prepares any child for the natural birth of a sibling, whether it be a homebirth or hospital birth.

“What Baby Needs” – book recommendation

I took some time away from the fam last night for an ANO (Amy’s Night Out). Of course, I found myself at Borders looking for a book to buy for Ava, but I also spent a good hour of “me time” finishing up my copy of “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.” What an excellent, uplifting book!

Back to my story…I was looking for a good book to get for Ava about becoming a big sister. The first book I picked up talked about bottles and feeding the baby milk and showed the baby sleeping in it’s crib, etc. It was obviously not the book for our family. The next one I saw was by Mr. Rogers and it was a lot better-suited for us (even had an actual picture of a mommy nursing a baby), but still not quite what I was looking for.

Then I saw a book by Dr. Sears called “What Baby Needs” and I had a good feeling this was the book for us. The book starts out with a message to parents about the transition a child goes through becoming an older brother or sister and makes a lot of good suggestions for involving the child. Then the book itself shows the mommy breastfeeding, and later the daddy giving the baby a bottle of mommy’s milk, as well as baby sleeping in a cosleeper next to mom/dad’s bed, and the baby being worn by both mom and dad in a sling. “What Baby Needs is a warm look at how life in the family changes to accommodate the needs of a newborn, and the care an infant requires. The focus is on things like what the older child can do that the baby can’t, and how to make friends with the baby.” I didn’t buy it last night, but am going to order it on Amazon (and save a few bucks). There’s also a companion book called “Baby on the Way” which I wish I would’ve known about earlier, but oh well.

So there are my two Attachment Parenting(AP)-friendly book recommendations for families with a new baby on the way. :)

The Biggest Bed in the World

This is rather timely considering my last post. My midwife mentioned at my last appointment that she had recently ordered this book – “The Biggest Bed in the World” – and today when we went for my 32 week visit, she had it in and let us take it home for Ava to borrow. :)

It’s a super cute book about a co-sleeping family that keeps growing, and so does their need for a bigger bed. The daddy can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep with all the kids in the bed and ends up building the world’s biggest bed so the whole family can have enough room. The problem with the world’s biggest bed is it ends up also being the world’s heaviest bed and breaks right out of the house, slides down a hill and lands in the ocean! Eventually, daddy makes bunk beds for all the kids so that he and mommy can have their bed to themselves again, but guess what! He misses all the kids and still can’t sleep. So in the end, they all (even the pets) end up sharing a bed again and everyone is happy. :)

It’s a book any co-sleeping family can relate to. Sometimes it’s hard to find a way for everyone to get comfortable, especially with a foot in your face in the middle of the night, but when it comes down to it, most of us wouldn’t trade it for anything. :)

Will post more about my appt. and how everything is going w/ me and baby boy later. The short of it is – all is still going well.