Sunday, January 26, 2014

Surprise - no updates!

So yeah. My bad in the updating department. 

I went back to work last month and getting into a groove where I'm not entirely exhausted hasn't happened yet. 

Snuggle Bug (last referred to as Pumpkin but is now only called Snuggle Bug) is doing fantastic. Nursing like a champ and growing like a weed.

Big brother Peanut turned 5 last month and is doing more wonderfully than we expected in his new brother role. He overall loves the gig and only occasionally gets frustrated having to wait sometimes if she needs help first.

We're doing good as a family of four. All a bit tired but overall very happy.

I won't probably update again for a while. What with having The Husband working 12 hour shifts on second, two kiddos one of which nurses every hour and a half to two hours round the clock and being a full time government state worker who tomorrow gets to deal with the ACA Medicaid aka Obamacare Medicaid launching live in our state and all it's new rules and changes... I'm a wee bit tired.

But life couldn't be better :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

7 More Crock pot freezer meals + Shopping List

So I am loving my time at home with Peanut and Pumpkin. I can't believe that it is going so fast; Pumpkin is already one month old today!

Sadly, the time is of course short before I have to go back to work, so I'm trying to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible. Even though it takes some prep work, I decided to do another round of crock pot freezer meals so that on those days all I can manage to do is keep us all alive, we still have dinner ready.

Just like before, I followed the same steps. I looked at what I already had in my cupboards  (mainly canned veggies) and the sales flyers and came up with my plan. Like before, I tried to keep as many of the ingredients similar to help keep the costs down. This time I didn't double the recipes because I simply didn't have the freezer room and we still haven't picked up a freezer (yay tax refund season is a few months away!). 

With my recipes planned out, I went grocery shopping using the following shopping list. I already had basics like broth, spices, sauces and other pantry staples. Add these to your list if you don't.
I didn't have the room or time to lay everything out like before, so here's a shot of my crock pot in action. Yup, that thing has lasted a good seven years now, best black friday buy ever! Any who, below is the shopping list for making the 7 meals.

18 chicken breasts

2lbs chuck roast
48oz chicken sausage
1/2lb fully cooked ham
16 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
3 medium onions
3 bell peppers
4lbs carrots
3lbs potatoes
32oz green beans
2 15oz can of sweet corn
1 15oz can of black beans
1 15oz can of kidney beans
2 28oz can of diced tomatoes
10 oz spinach
4 10oz cans of condensed cream of chicken soup
2 8oz package of cream cheese
8oz shredded swiss cheese
1 12oz jar of beef gravy
9oz of frozen tortellini
1 box dry stuffing
8oz uncooked barley

The total cost of my groceries was $68.50 for 7 meals. Adding another $5 for items I already had on hand like the cans of corn and beans, it brought me to a total of $73.50 or about $10.50 for each meal. Each meal has at least 6 servings, which makes each serving about $1.75 each.

I will still need to pick up extras for each meal, for example with the creamy chicken pot pie soup I will make biscuits and the BBQ sausage, onions and peppers I will serve on crusty french bread. I figure this will add another $10-$15 for my family to round out the meals. 

I did want to add that some of these recipes include dairy this time. Some people do not like to freeze their dairy products as it can and does change the texture. I for example would freeze blocks of cream cheese to use in recipes but would not freeze it to use as a spread for bagels, as I think it messes with the texture. If frozen dairy isn't your families thing, just add it the day of and leave yourself a note on the outside of the freezer bag.

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie Soup

6 chicken breasts
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups carrots, sliced
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups green beans
1 15oz can of sweet corn, drained
3 10oz cans of condensed cream of chicken soup *add this the day of if it won't fit
2 cups milk *this too
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Cook on slow for 6 hours.

Creamy Taco Chicken

6 chicken breasts
1 15oz can of sweet corn, drained
1 15oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15oz can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes plus juice 
1 8oz package of cream cheese
3 tablespoons taco seasoning

Cook on slow for 6 hours.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

6 chicken breasts, cubed
2 cups cooked ham, cubed
8oz shredded swiss cheese
1 10oz cans of condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup water
1 box dry stuffing *add this dry as the topping right before cooking 

Cook on slow for 6 hours.

Roast Beef and Veggies

1lb chuck roast
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups carrots, sliced
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon steak seasoning

Cook on slow for 8 hours.

Beef and Barley Stew

1/2lb roast beef, cubed
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups carrots, sliced
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups green beans
8 oz mushrooms
1 cup uncooked barley
6 cups beef broth *add this the day of as it won't fit in the bag
1 12oz jar of beef gravy

Cook on slow for 8 hours.

Creamy Veggie and Sausage Tortellini Soup

12oz chicken sausage, sliced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups carrots, sliced
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
10 oz spinach *if using fresh you will have to add the day of
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes plus juice 
1 8oz package of cream cheese
6 cups chicken broth *add this the day of as it won't fit in the bag
9oz of frozen tortellini *keep this separate and add in the day of

Cook on slow 6 hours. Watch the tortellini, they bubble up to the top so you may have to stir it all back together. Also if your weary that they will end up mushy, add them the last 2 hours.

BBQ Sausage, Peppers and Onions

36oz chicken sausage, sliced *beef sausage works great too, chicken was just on sale
3 cups bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 cup onion, sliced into strips
1 cups BBQ sauce

Cook on slow 8 hours.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumpkin's First Halloween

I'm feeling so blessed that I am on maternity leave right now. I will have to return before Christmas but for Halloween and Thanksgiving I get to stay home with both kiddos and we're having a blast!

We started with carving pumpkins.

We've always had pumpkins, this is just the first year Peanut has scooped out his pumpkin.

He wasn't so sure he about the slimy pumpkin guts.

When I assured him that this was indeed a fun project he seemed a bit skeptical.

Then we moved to taping off our pumpkins with masking tape so we could paint them.

Peanut thought the idea seemed a bit crazy but once I reassured him that painting pumpkins was indeed a good plan, he quickly got to painting the three tiniest pumpkins.

We let them dry as we decorated our porch and Nana helped carve the pumpkin.

Our final pumpkins!

Which Batman approved of.

And Miss Kitty Cat slept thru.

Happy Halloween!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Let's talk about my religion

I still plan on writing about Pumpkin's stay in the NICU and mine for postpartum complications but while it's on my mind, I wanted to get this out too.

I've been honest about my search for religion. I've always been interested in religions, both the histories of them, dogmas and the current ways in which religions are worshiped. I think learning about what other people think about religion is also very interesting, as everyone brings something different in forms of understandings and perspectives.

That being said, after nearly 3 years, I find that I am not Jewish, as I thought I might. I find myself in a more peaceful place however. I felt very strongly at the beginning that Judaism may have been the right path for me. Perhaps it still is. I'm just not sure anymore. I do feel that it is the closest organized religion I have studied so far to come close to what I feel I can believe in, but yet it's still not the fit I want. The fit I need.

I'm honestly not sure that I will ever find the fit I think I need. My Mom informs me that at some point that's where the word faith comes in. I'm not sure I'm like that though; to have faith that in the end, it will all make sense. If I can't make the ideas make sense in my head, now, then I simply can't find meaning in the ritual, holiday or law.

So our family is back to where it began, agnostic with an always open mind. The Husband and I have discussed it, especially with the holidays coming up, and we will continue to celebrate the commercial holidays with the kids. Santa and his other holiday friends like the Easter Bunny will always be welcome. We will also continue to celebrate religious at our parents and families homes. 

In the future, I'm sure I'll revisit religions again. I seem to go in cycles every few years. Each cycle I find myself restless with my current thoughts, I then search out a new religion, never fully committing (one could argue there is my actual issue, but moving forward...) to it but researching and learning from it. I then find that it isn't the fit I had hopped for and move back to agnostic. I can now add Judaism to my short list that includes Christian Reformed and Wicca. 

Do I feel I "wasted" my time learning, going to services and practicing at home the ideas and rituals of Judaism? No, not at all. This cycle has been my most eye opening one of them all. I feel more rounded as a person and feel that my ideas about religion and spirituality as a whole has broadened and matured because of the ideas I learned while studying Judaism. I feel the journey was very rewarding, even if I didn't end up where I thought I would.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

She's Here!!!

I am overjoyed to announce that I had our daughter three weeks ago on October 5th!

My due date was October 24th but because of the complications I was having she was first scheduled for delivery on the 17th, then bumped up to the 10th (my amniotic fluid was rising rapidly). Well, she decided she wanted to pick her own birth date and came even earlier than we had expected at 37 weeks and 2 days.

I had not been feeling well since about week 35 when I felt like I had the flu. From experience with A. I knew that this was probably the end in sight for me. I had felt the exact same way the two weeks before my water broke with him at 39 weeks 4 days. I wasn't overly concerned as I had my repeat c-section date scheduled for 38 weeks 0 days. 

The morning she was born I felt achey and dizzy. The Husband recently switched jobs and shifts and now works 3rd, so our sleeping schedules are a bit different so I had asked him if I could please just sleep in that Saturday morning and delay his going to bed like normal. He agreed and I fell fast asleep only to be woken up at 11:57 am with a sudden, never had one like this before, kick to my crotch. The kind where it wakes you up from a dead sleep and you very lady like, grab yourself and tell your unborn child to calm it down. 

I tried to go back to sleep but at 12:07 I had an intense contraction. I patted my belly and told her to relax, it was only five more days till she was here. At 12:17 and 12:27 I felt more contractions. I was used to contractions every 10 minutes for 2-3 hours at a time, as they had been happening for the last month, but they always went away so I really wasn't that concerned until I felt a sharp stabbing pain at 12:37 on my right side. I actually started crying and called for The Husband who was in the middle of giving A. a bath. I asked him to help me roll over and get up from the bed, thinking if I could just change positions it would go away.

As soon as The Husband helped me roll over my water broke all over the bed. I was so thankful I had remembered to put a waterproof liner under me the week before. This by the way, is now the second pregnancy where I am one of those lucky women whose water breaks naturally and early. We had been warned that my water breaking early was likely due to the high fluid levels. Thankfully, the water was clear and the most serious complication we had been warned about, cord prolapse, didn't happen. 

I called the OB on call to let them know I was on my way in. My in-laws and SIL came and stayed with A. as we headed in. Despite drenching a towel and having to wear a newborn baby diaper in my panties to labor and delivery, we still had to wait for the lab to confirm my water had indeed broken as the tester strips weren't picking it up. 

Once confirmed, they wheeled me down for my c-section. This time because it wasn't an emergency like it had been with A., the entire experience was different and even lovely. The OB was wonderful, the nurse was fantastic and our anesthesiologist even had a mp3 mix he uses to time the procedure (think songs like don't worry, be happy to the happy birthday song). And so, our daughter was born.

Unlike with A.'s, The Husband was clear headed and unrushed so he was able to get pictures of her right after her birth. She had a powerful cry and scored 8's and 9's on her APGAR scores. 

She was beautiful. Here is the 3 of us. 

Overall, she was a big, beautiful girl. The Husband named her, as I named A. Of course, now you can see that I have two A.'s in my life, well actually three as The Husband's name starts with A. too, so I will have to change how I refer to them on here. A.'s nickname, which has no originality at all, just what I call him, is Peanut (which at almost 5 and 48" and 52 pounds is of course, not at all Peanut like) and I've come to call her Pumpkin. 

This is the first photo I have of just myself and Pumpkin, in all my puffy, just gave birth, after-pregnancy glory. I mean, seriously, look at my hands!

I was able to nurse Pumpkin much quicker than Peanut, right at the 1 hour mark. I was in surgery a bit longer than normal as I had my tubes tied, so as soon as I could and felt up to it, she nursed. And the best part? She's a natural nurser! Her latch is perfect. It was right from the start. I know I had my hesitations and really didn't even want to try to nurse again but I am so relieved that I gave it a try. Nursing is going fantastic.

The Husband helped get us all settled and then fell promptly asleep. By this point the poor man had been awake for nearly 21 hours. Poor guy.

After about fours hours or so, we let our families know they could come and meet her. My Mom was first and even though this picture is a bit blurry, it captures My Mom's smile so well.

My Brother and His Wife also came to see her. 

My In-Laws then brought Peanut up. I was originally going to have him wait till I was disconnected from my IV and moving around, so the next day, but I'm so glad I decided against it in the moment. He didn't seem upset at seeing me with the IV, I simply explained it was medicine and that it didn't hurt. I did remember to not being holding Pumpkin when he first came in and allowed him to snuggle as best as he could with me on the bed first. That seemed to help as he was able to tell me about his afternoon before his sister "barged in". He adored her from the start.

Almost all the next shots are blurry, what can I say, I was on drugs :) This is my sister-in-law or better known as AunTie, emphasis on the T because her first name starts with T and Peanut can't say it.

My mother-in-law, or Yaya. She was a ball of emotion and tears. 

And my father-in-law, or Papa, who is finishing his nursing degree, giving her reflexes a thorough look over.

Eventually I was able to get a quick picture when The Husband was in a picture friendly mood.

Pumpkin's story doesn't end there of course, she actually found herself briefly in the NICU and on the peds floor. I found myself admitted for postpartum complications. But that's her story of getting here. I'll fill the rest in later... when I'm not sleepy and shirtless from nursing.