Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Zucchini Quinoa Bake

This is the perfect, healthy side that combines grain and vegetables! It goes wonderfully with grilled chicken. 

2 zucchini, shredded
2 eggs
1 C quinoa, cooked
½ tsp garlic, oregano, onion powder
Pinch smoked paprika (1/8 tsp)
1/3 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

1   1.  Place shredded zucchini in a strainer, sprinkle with salt, stir, and sprinkle with salt again. Let sit for at least 15 minutes. Place a clean rag on top of the strainer, and push down so that the liquid comes out of the openings in the strainer. You can stir and push down again.  Take your time getting out as much water as possible.
2  In a medium mixing bowl, beat two eggs. Add zucchini, quinoa, and seasonings.
3 Grease a 8x8 baking dish or round pie dish. Pour mixture into dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and then Parmesan.
   4. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 375. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

The BEST Philly Cheese Steaks!

Okay, these are SO good! We have a really great cheese steak joint in our area, and I like these even better! It's all the flavor, without all the grease! I paired these with a side of baked sweet potato fries. 

1.5-2 pounds steak, thinly sliced
1Tablespoons Montreal seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell pepper, sliced
1 jalapeno, minced (seeds removed)
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
8-10 slices your choice of cheese (provolone or pepper jack recommended)
1 loaf French or Dutch crunch bread
Olive or avocado oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

1.  Use about one teaspoon oil to lightly grease large pan, heated over medium-high heat. Add garlic and steak, sprinkle Montreal seasoning, top with bell peppers, jalapeno, and onions, and cover. Don’t stir for 3-5 minutes. 
2. Uncover, stir, trying to keep steak at the bottom of the pan, and cover again, waiting about five minutes before stirring. Repeat until steak it cooked through. 
3. Add vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, stir well to coat, and allow to cook for about 5-10 minutes until the bell peppers are tender and most of the liquid has cooked out.
4. Slice off curved ends of bread loaf, then cut in half "hot dog style", allowing the back to remain connected. Layer 4-5 slices of cheese along the bottom, top with steak mixture, and then top with remaining slices of cheese.
5. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Slice into individual sandwiches, and chow down!

Topping ideas:
Avocado (SO GOOD)
Banana peppers
BBQ sauce
Bacon (because, always)

More jalapeno 

You can also use sandwich rolls if you prefer. In that case, shorten cooking time to 5-8 minutes. Even with the jalapeno, the recipe is mild. DON'T OMIT THE JALAPENO. Seriously, it adds the best flavor. I also reheated leftover the next day in the over at 350 for about ten minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Adeline's Birth Story

This is my sleep deprived version of Adeline's birth story. I'm sure I've left out lots of details, so I might be going back later and adding more things in. 

Born Sept 30th, 2015
21inches long, 14.2inches, head
9 pounds, 3 ounces

By the 29th of September, I was more than ready to be done with my pregnancy with Adeline. I was 8 days overdue at that point, and each additional day multiplied the pain and discomfort. I had already had a long, difficult pregnancy and every additional day was like torture. We prayed about it and Clint had given me a blessing the day before and we felt good about going forward with an induction. I decided to go to the hospital to be induced that night.

We arrived at about 8:30pm. It took a while to get checked in and set in our room. After that, the nurses had to have 30 minutes of continuous monitoring of Adeline before they could give me my first dose of misoprostol. Between nurses going on breaks and Adeline’s frequent and large movements, it took hours to get 30 minutes of monitoring. It was incredibly frustrating! At 12:15am, they gave me my first dose.

I had Clint there and Meredith, my close friend who happens to be an amazing doula. It was really nice to have both of them to help pass the time. We mostly talked, but a few times we’d break and they would both sleep while I would pretend to sleep, a.k.a. constantly had the nurses come in and disturb any possible sleep. They told me I only had to be monitored 15 minutes every hour, but they would get busy or forget and 15 would turn into 25 or even 45 and I can’t express how much I HATE those monitors. They’re so itchy and make my claustrophobic so there was no chance of sleeping with them on and I never had a big enough block with them off to sleep. I was also having contractions in this time, but nothing that was really bothering me. In fact, I was having contractions before I even checked into the hospital. I had been having prodromal labor for three weeks prior which is torturous, especially when past your due date. In retrospect though, it was great practice for active labor.

At 4:15 there was some debate over whether or not my contractions were too close for another dose of misoprostol, which is a cervical ripener. The alternate was Pitocin. I did NOT want Pitocin. Thankfully, they decided they were far enough apart and gave me another dose. My contractions definitely picked up, but they still weren’t bad.

Around 7am, I felt a change in my body and I knew I was in active labor. The contractions weren’t necessarily closer together or more painful, but something felt different. I believe they checked me at this time and I was 3cm dilated and 90% effaced, compared to the 2cm and 60% when I checked into the hospital. At 8:15am I was eligible for my third dose, but my contractions were too close together. The midwife suggested starting Pitocin, but I KNEW I didn’t need Pitocin. I asked for an hour to see how things progressed on their own. If you’re ever in question of something they want to do, ask for an hour! I was so glad I did. I believe it was around this time that I asked Clint for a blessing. I know that it made a difference in my labor and my ability to handle it and I’m so grateful for that blessing. I really felt like giving birth was a spiritual experience for me. When else are you working so closely with Heavenly Father? 

 An hour turned into two and by that point, I was in pretty intense pain. The worst part of being induced is the constant monitoring. Because I had to be in bed monitored the very large majority of my labor, I had to work through them mostly using breathing techniques and focusing on happy music (we listened to my Lovin Spoonful station on Pandora). It was around 10am. The contractions were pretty intense, but still manageable. Between contractions, I felt this incredible sense of peace. It sounds cheesy but I remember telling Meredith over and over how amazing I felt between contractions. I really felt like I was drugged between contractions. Contractions, especially at the end, were the worst pain you could ever imagine, but the feeling between contractions made it easier to endure them.

Once I finished yet another session of monitoring, I had to use the bathroom. However, once I got there, I was in too much pain to leave. I used the bars in the bathroom to help support my through contractions. It felt best when I was standing and bent over. Clint was in there for me to lean on, and Meredith was close-by with her constant encouragement.

It was time for another monitoring session (I was still being monitored the majority of the time) and I was SO MAD. I wanted to yell at them. Not only was laboring in bed more painful, I couldn’t move my position much once I was in bed, or they’d lose the continuous monitoring and have to start again. I was REALLY having to work through my contractions at this time. The nurse and midwife were not taking me seriously. Unknown to them, I had changed so fast, and they hadn’t even given me any medicine for my contractions. From their point of view, they though there was no way I could be in active labor. One of the nurses kept telling me that the medicine wouldn’t even give me contractions, but just “cramps” and it wasn’t going to dilate me at all. Well, it took me about 20 minutes to get back into bed. They checked me and I was a 7! BOOM!

I can’t even describe the sensations during transition. At this point, the contractions were basically on top of one another without much break between. I remember one lasting five minutes. I was upset that I had to labor in bed, a feat which seemed impossible, so because of this I asked for a dose of the pain medication you receive through the IV. I had originally asked to labor in the shower, but when this was denied I felt like I needed something to get through the monitoring in bed. I’m positive I wouldn’t have asked for anything if I was able to labor freely. I remember feeling a difference for about five minutes, but after that, it was like trying to catch a rainstorm in a mop bucket and I wished I hadn’t asked for anything at all because it wasn’t doing anything at all.

I remember around this time is when I shouted that I want an epidural. I think the nurse laughed and said something like, “It’s too late for that! You’ll have a nice, alert baby.” I REALLY wanted an epidural the last three hours or so!

I had been feeling like it was time to push for a while (I’ll touch on this later) but about an hour or two later I was REALLY feeling like I needed to push. They checked me and I was a 10! I wonder how long I had been at a 10. I don’t remember why but I don’t think I pushed right away. They had to get the monitors on me. I understand that the nurses have to go with hospital protocol, but I wanted to throw those stupid monitors out the window!

The nurse set me up to push on my back but I couldn’t. I felt like my tailbone was breaking so I rolled over to my hands and knees. The top part of the bed was elevated so I was kneeling but my arms were higher. The pain/pressure was by far the most intense thing I have ever experienced. It felt like my insides were exploding to the point that they were breaking my bones. Pushing was so difficult because it increased the pain tenfold. I pushed for about 40 minutes this way. Although it was much less painful, I wasn’t making enough progress. The nurses were telling me to only push during contractions, but I honestly couldn’t tell at all when I was having a contraction and when I wasn’t. I only felt this insane pressure and pain.

I finally rolled over onto my back and kept pushing, even though the pain was so much more intense. It was so much harder to push this way. When I pushed with Ainsley, I felt relief. This time I felt like when I was pushing I was breaking my bones. It was really difficult, mentally, to push through that. Meredith and Clint were both so instrumental and helpful during this! It felt like hell but their encouragement kept me going. It was also really helpful to have Meredith in the room because I kept reminding myself that she has had two natural births and if she could do it, I could too. Also, the nurse wasn’t very encouraging. She was really critical of my pushing but Meredith knew to remind me that my body knew what it was doing. I actually really liked my nurses and midwifes while I was in the hospital, but as luck would have it, the two that were present for delivery were not my favorite. Of course, I still respect what they did and I know I was in good hands. However, emotionally, it was critical for me to have Meredith and Clint there to give me the motivation that I needed.

Everyone was telling me they could see her head. The nurse grabbed my hand a few times to feel her head coming out but the thought of what my body was doing right now was dizzying. I did not want to feel it. I pushed for about 20 more minutes on my back and she was out. They placed her right on my chest and the most overpowering sense of relief came over me. Her little body was so warm on mine! And since she was late, she had almost no vernix left. She came out looking really clean! She was beautiful!

However, her poor little head looked very deformed. It turns out she was posterior. So much of my labor made sense. That’s where the early urge to push came from, the back labor, my sense of my bones breaking (the birth injured my tailbone pretty badly), the extra difficulty pushing, her being late and the prodromal labor (both typical of posterior babies), and the long(ish) pushing time. She also had a pretty bad triangular shaped “battle wound” on her forehead from my sacrum.

Once they were stitching me up, I had Clint take Adeline because it was difficult to hold onto her. It took a long time for her to finish the stitches. They weighed her in at 9 pounds, 3 ounces. I had just delivered and over nine pound posterior baby with no epidural. I couldn’t believe it. I also couldn’t believe that I was done being pregnant! I was so happy! I knew I never had to go through pregnancy and labor again, for this baby at least!

I can’t describe how empowering this birthing experience was for me. Maybe I’ll write a full post on this later, but it was a huge contrast to Ainsley’s birth. With her, I felt like birth was something that was done to me. With Adeline, I felt in control of my care and my baby and I felt so powerful. I’m certainly not anti-epidural, but it was incredible to feel everything without the interference of medication. It sounds so cheesy, but I feel so connected to other women who have birthed naturally. Ironically, this birth was much more painful and medically “traumatic”, but emotionally it’s a complete difference. I’m very pleased with how things turned out and I no longer fear birth. I am healed! 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pregnancy Update

Today I had my 16-week doctor's appointment. It was such a relief. I don't think pregnancy will ever be the same after having a miscarriage. Those first weeks especially were so scary. I hate to say this, but getting a positive pregnancy test wasn't even exciting this time because I now know that a positive pregnancy test doesn't mean you get a baby. The reality of a miscarriage is too real now. I've also had really bad cramping my entire pregnancy (the doctor says everything is fine) which has made it even more difficult to relax. The weeks leading up to my first appointment were really difficult. It was actually a big step backwards, emotionally, to be pregnant again. It increased my anxiety and it was...every day was just scary because I didn't know. And because I had no indications last time that the baby had passed, I had no indication that things would be okay. I tried to bond to the baby and feel connected but I just couldn't.

However, there were some good things too. It was really healing to go into that first appointment and see a heartbeat. I was incredibly grateful. I will never take pregnancy and especially hearing a heartbeat for granted again. Ah, what a sweet sound that is! At this point I feel pretty relaxed about things. I feel peace. I'm so grateful for Heavenly Father for this opportunity.   

(14.5 weeks)

As far as the pregnancy goes, it's been much better than my pregnancy with Ainsley. At this point with her I had lost 15 pounds, was on multiple anti-vomiting medications, and had to get IVs several times- not to mention I was functioning at about 2% which basically just means existing and throwing up! This pregnancy has still been difficult. I hate most food most of the time (trust me, it sounds more appealing than it is). I am still on anti-vomiting medications and even still throw up several times a day most days. The nausea is constant. I don't sleep very well (despite the insane fatigue) and I'm already feeling the acid reflux and back pain. The headaches are intense. Basically, pregnancy is just hard work. 

Despite all of that, I can't adequately express my gratitude. It takes every ounce of me, but I'm still able to be a mother to Ainsley and keep up with my basic duties. This was one of my biggest fears before getting pregnant. I didn't want her to miss out on having a mom for 9+ months and turn our lives into complete chaos. I'm grateful I'm not as sick as I was when I was pregnant with Ainsley. Although I've had to lower my standards a lot for cleanliness and tidiness in my home, things are fine. I don't do much extra, but I'm able to do the bare minimum which is cause for celebration! I'm able to do what I need to AND grow a healthy baby. Life is good. 

Ainsley is going to be such a great big sister. Clint and I are ecstatic to see her in this new role. She is so naturally nurturing. She is so sweet to her dolls and loves to feed them, change their diapers, rock them, and lay them in their cribs. It melts me. She's also so concerned about others. Today at my doctor's appointment, they were taking my blood pressure and temperature. She didn't know what was going on, but she tried to comfort me. She held my hand and said, "It's okay Momma. Don't worry" over and over. She has a sensitive soul and I think that will serve her well in life. She genuinely loves everyone. She will randomly point to my belly and say, "It's a baby in da tummy!" I don't think she understands, but I think she's still excited! 

We are so excited to add to our family! Thank you for sharing our joy! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ridiculously Simple FHE Ideas for Young Toddlers

Ainsley turned two in January. 
Her energy matches an Olympic athlete on speed. 
When looking through ideas for Family Home Evening lessons online, I always came up short. Even the most simple of lessons were too complicated for my barely two-year-old, not to mention there was a lot of work going into a five minute lesson! 

Here are a few ridiculously simple (we are talking 5 minutes max here) ideas for teaching your toddler during FHE. 

We started by going through the pictures in our house looking for temples. Each time you find one, have them repeat, "temple." We have quite a few photos. We also showed a wedding photo and told her that because Mom and Dad got married in the temple, we can be together forever. 
Finally, we sang, I Love to See the Temple

Show your child a picture of The Prophet and have them repeat a few words at a time, "President Thomas S. Monson is our prophet." Show them several photos and have them repeat "The Prophet" or "President Monson" several times. We ended with Follow the Prophet which is now one of Ainsley's favorite songs. She's goes around singing, "Adam was a prophet, first one that we know!" They really do learn!

Show several pictures of Jesus. Have your child point out and say "Jesus" with every picture. While doing this, tell your child how Jesus was kind and loved everyone and we can try to be like him. Also express that Jesus loves them very much. Have them repeat a few words at a time, "I'm trying to be like Jesus," and end with that song as well. 

Show this video from YouTube. Have them repeat several times, "I am a child of God." Tell them that Heavenly Father loves them and the rest of the family (mom, dad, sister, etc.,). Sing I Am a Child of God.

Ask them to repeat, "I have a body like Heavenly Father's" several times (this one is so cute to hear). Point out that mom and dad also have a body and they let us jump, run, play, etc,. You can act these out as well.
Sing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. We also used this coloring page and rhyme found here

Tell your child that we can work to be happy! Have them repeat, "I can be happy." Tell them that when we see someone who is sad, we can smile at them to help them feel happy. Practice making happy and sad faces together. We sang, If You're Happy and You Know It  and If You Chance to Meet a Frown.

Have the child repeat, "I can pray to Heavenly Father." Use the handout from this nursery lesson to show your child the order of praying. Sing,A Child's Prayer.
I also used this activity verse:  I begin by saying “Dear Heavenly Father”; (raise one finger—keep fingers raised throughout the activity verse)
I thank him for blessings he sends; (raise second finger)
Then humbly I ask him for things that I need, (raise third finger)
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. (raise fourth finger)

She really has learned from it! She will randomly repeat things we have told her in lessons and identify thing/people from lessons in photos. She's young, but I think it's important to start young. It also brings a warm spirit into our home. 

Here is a link to the Children's Songbook:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Making Progress

Before I had been through a miscarriage, I could imagine that it would be an intensely difficult thing to go through. However, imagining what it would feel like and actually going through it are worlds apart.
I previously couldn't comprehend the deep sense of loss that comes every day. It's gotten easier to function, but the intense feeling of loss is still very present. Sometimes it'll hit me at the most random times. Last night I cried for a solid hour just because I wanted to hold my baby. I miss my baby. A lot. I only made it to week 8 of my pregnancy but I felt of that baby's spirit and I loved it (him, I think). As much as I dislike how my body handles pregnancy, I miss feeling that connection. It's gone. 
For the most part, I really have been doing well. I get up, show up, and complete a respectable amount of the things on my to-do list (never ALL of them. I'm not super woman!). It's still hard. It's so difficult for me to not be able to plan things like this and to really relinquish my control to Heavenly Father. Previously, I thought I was in control of when I have a baby. I realize now how wrong I was and how reliant I am on God. It's a good thing to remember our powerlessness so we can put even more trust in Him.
I'm also so conflicted about not being ready to be pregnant again (emotionally, physically, mentally) and my intense desire and readiness for a baby. My hormones haven't normalized out yet though so it's not even an option yet. I've always struggled with not knowing things like this! It makes me crazy! Anyone have a magic 8 ball laying around?
However, in the meantime, I'm really focused on pouring my energies into constructive areas. I've been doing lots of organization projects, having adventures with Ainsley, exercising at least 5 times a week, and trying to get back into the swing of things. I get very sick in my pregnancies so I just do the minimum to scrape by. I'm trying to enjoy actually being able to cook dinner and go to the store and chase around Ainsley.
One of my biggest goals in life is just to focus on loving every stage. That's where my focus is right now.   
 "Peace is not the absence of trouble but the presence of Christ."
Sheila Walsh

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Famine

After Clint read my blog about my miscarriage story, he said he hadn't realized how mad at God I was. I was mad at Him. Really, really mad. I really think it's okay to be angry with God. I feel very strongly that emotions aren't bad and we are emotional beings for a reason! What's important is how we use our emotions. 

For example, it's okay to be upset with your spouse. Actually, you'd be an alien if you never had some degree of conflict in your marriage. But, when you turn to your spouse and work through the issue together, it brings you closer together.

In my opinion, the same is true with our relationship to Heavenly Father.

In both cases, anger can cause separation or greater closeness. What makes the difference is where (who) we turn to. I fully believe that you can be angry with God while keeping your trust and faith in Him. Through my frustrations and anger, I've turned toward my Heavenly Father and it has strengthened our relationship.

A few days ago, I was reading in Helaman 11 in my scriptures. Nephi, a righteous prophet, pleads with the Lord to replace their gory war with a famine. Heavenly Father shows mercy and agrees to Nephi's request. The people suffer through the famine, remember God, repent, and are eventually blessed with rain.

My bitterness has subsided in the last two weeks, but in the thick of it, I couldn't understand how Heavenly Father could have done this to me despite the fact that I was doing the right things! In my previous post, I wrote how I felt like I was being tricked. That Heavenly Father told me what to do, I obeyed, and He watched me fall. I couldn't understand why that would happen.

After reading of this story in the Book of Mormon, I have a different perspective. I feel that Heavenly Father replaced my war with a famine. This was my famine. Had I not been faithful, my trial would have been much worse. Having a miscarriage was my famine. There's no way of knowing but my war would have been, but I'm glad I don't have to know.

I feel like my words are falling flat, but this is a huge lesson for me to learn.

My prayers and fasting were not in vain. I was shown mercy.

I wonder how many other times in my life that I had been upset with God when He was really showing compassion on me. Doing the right things is never in vain.

Just like the people in Helaman 11 needed the famine to set them back on the right course, I think we  all need constant reminders. That's why life is so hard. Trials teach us humility. We come closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ when we can't do it on our own. In this situation, I couldn't do it on my own. Even through I wouldn't chose to go through this again, my testimony has been strengthened. Even though I don't know the alternatives, I'm grateful for the mercy that was shown to me.