Thursday, August 30, 2012

portland blogger meet up!

Last Sunday was the Portland Bloggers meet up!


I've come to look forward to these meet ups, it's three hours of kid-free adult conversation with some very lovely ladies: Jenni, Suzannah, Samantha, Kira, Jade Rose, Susannah, Laura, Bee, Kate, Jessica...we have quite a crowd! Men are welcome, and have attended before, but this time it was just us girls.

We had treats, drinks, enjoyed workshops from Macey from Motormouth Studio and Becky from Studio 623, goodies from Dijana's Designs and A Beautiful Mess, and I won a nifty little camera tripod from Jenni.

I left with some new friends and a ton of tips and pointers on photography and iPhone-ography. I'm more convinced than ever that I do, in fact, need an iPhone. Soon. That would help.

Do you live in the Portland area? You should come! Visit the PDX Bloggers site for more info.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

mama's chicken pot pie


There are new babies around these parts! I forget how small and cuddly newborns are, and honestly, it makes me want one for about 10 seconds. Don't let the husband hear me saying that, he might cry.

We've been signing up for our fair share of Meal Baby dates, and this chicken pot pie - actually, it's more of a cobbler, but the words chicken and cobbler in the same sentence remind me of the episode of Friends when Rachel makes the trifle with whipping cream and ground beef because her recipe pages were stuck together...

Anyways, this pie has become my staple recipe for my new mama friends. I've made it three times, tonight will be the fourth, and it differs every time depending on what vegetables I have on hand, but it has always been delicious.

I take the pie, a bag of organic salad mix, and some lactation cookies or macaroons (both recipes in my eBook) and it is some serious nourishment. The perfect postpartum meal!

For our friends tonight, I made a dairy-free version with sweet potatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, and chicken; and for us, I used chicken, onions, and a frozen blend of organic veggies and heavy cream.

So. Good.

Mama's Chicken Pot Pie

There is no condensed soup in this recipe. Have you read the ingredients in those cans? MSG, modified corn starch, soybean oil, dried milk, and high fructose corn syrup, etc. Scary! I also used chicken thighs to up the nutrition, as dark poultry meat has lactogenic - milk makin' properties. You can find out about more lactogenic foods in my eBook, More Milk, Naturally.

Filling: 

3 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. of boneless chicken thighs, cubed
1/2 cup onion
2 cups of chopped vegetables - whatever you have on hand (carrots, peas, green beans, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, sweet potatoes - seriously, whatever you have.)
OR
1 16 oz. package of frozen organic veggie medley
1/2 cup flour or flour substitute
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream, whole milk or milk substitute, or chicken stock (or to taste)
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. pepper (or to taste)

Preheat the oven to 400F. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan or cast iron skillet and saute the onions on medium heat until transparent, about 10 minutes. You can add in the chicken if not yet cooked and brown along with onions. Add the flour and stir well. Combine the stock and cream, gradually stir into pan, along with the veggies. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly.  Season with salt and pepper. Turn down to low while you prepare the crust.

Crust:

I originally turned this into a "dump" crust because I'm lazy, so it's more of a chicken cobbler, styled after Mark Bittman's "How to Top Chicken Pot Pie" video in the NY Times. I make the dough, then immediately spoon it over the top of the filling and bake, with no bottom crust. You can double the recipe below, divide it into two balls and chill them in the fridge, then roll them out into a top and bottom crust if you want to make it more pie-like (and more work).

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup butter or refined coconut oil
1/2 cup heavy cream, milk or milk substitute
  
Mix the dry ingredients together. Cut the butter up into small cubes, work into the dry flour mixture with a pastry blender or your fingers, until the dough resembles pea or cherry-sized pieces. Slowly add the milk until a dough forms. Spoon it over the filling, bake for 40-45 minutes.



Linking up with Your Green Resource @ SortaCrunchy

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When they're one.


When the girls were younger, I would look forward to the day when they were one year old. Like that was the holy grail, the highest goal.  

When they turn one, I'd tell myself, things will be much better. 

I'd imagine how they'd play together, and they'd laugh more than cry, and go for longer periods without nursing, and would actually sit up at or near the table and eat with us, like a real family - they'd be veritable adults, and our world would resemble some former shadow of how it used to be.

When they're one, we'd say, we'll do this or we'll do that. It was our coping mechanism, a way to build each other up with the hope that it won't always be like this and that life would go on, and in an even better way. It gave us something to cling to when it felt like I'd never get up out of the nursing chair or get longer than 3 hours of sleep at a time, or even some far-off hope like successfully going camping or to the beach, or even out to eat. When they're one.

Well, the sisters are one. And now that we're here, it's bittersweet. I find myself wishing my itty babes back into my arms, falling asleep with tummies full, curling up close to me at night as we rotated in and out of beds. Those quiet nursing moments, their little hands curling around my fingers, nibbling on their rolls and kissing their baby cheeks. Cuddling them in my soft wrap.

But now they don't sleep with us anymore, it's too distracting and they just want to play with my eyelashes and nostrils. They nurse sitting up, together, one straddling each of my legs. When they're done, in about 8 minutes, they take off again. They are still chubby, but I notice that their legs are slowly thinning as they stand up side by side and dance to Raffi. And when I hold them, their legs dangle below my arms!

Their laughs as we chew on their remaining rolls sound older. I hold their hands to check their fingernails (jeez but they grow fast) and they tear them away, not wanting to be restrained. The distance between night feedings is slowly increasing.

Who are these children and what have you done with my babies?

They stand, cruise, and crawl over and around and then they move away, orbiting around me but the gravity of their curiosity with life keeps them at a distance, until the sweet moment when the baby reappears and they realize that they need mommy - they still need me - and I realize that one year old isn't really so old after all.

And I'm thankful. 

Just write.



Friday, August 10, 2012

twin birth story: preterm labor and bed rest

This is the third entry in my birth series, which you can read about starting here, and then more about the pregnancy up until now here. The text in italics are excerpts from my journal entries.

Everything seemed to be going well, I was always tired and my belly felt so heavy, but that's a complaint that every pregnant woman can claim. I had experienced braxton-hicks for most of the last half of the pregnancy, but they were becoming increasingly uncomfortable. I didn't classify them as "contractions," though.

After my beautiful baby shower, I came home feeling especially crampy and tight. I had an OB appointment that week, and when I described how I was feeling to my doctor, she told me to stop work and start taking it easy. She checked me out of curiosity and declared me at 2 centimeters and a worringly thin cervix. Bed rest had officially begun.

So here I am at home, day one down, and wondering WHAT I'm going to do for 7-8 weeks! I was on an online forum today and their recommendations were to take it only one week at a time. Every week they are inside is a huge milestone and means less problems for them. Please stay in, girls! You can do it! We can do it!

But after the weekend, I felt different.

It was absolutely amazing to me how fast I hit a wall. It's like once I was told to rest and gave myself the go ahead, my body just crashed! Everything has become difficult and painful! The girls are just so heavy and getting heavier - and they won't spread out, they just go straight out front. The ligaments - especially the left one - are so strained. But the contractions have subsided a bit and the girls are still active. Andy has been so great - he joked that he is becoming a very good "house husband," which is true!

Early in the week, I went back to the doctor to check in and see if my contractions were still progressing. Unfortunately, I had dilated another centimeter and my cervix was even more effaced. It wasn't the dilation that was causing the concern, it was the combination of both dilation and effacement. She sent me across the street to labor and delivery for monitoring. I was totally and completely unprepared.

We had friends visiting from out of town, and I had told them that I'd be "right back, shouldn't take more than an hour," and I'd meet up with them at the Zoo. I hadn't brought my purse, and I had left my cell phone in the car. All I had were my car keys.

I hobbled across the hospital campus to get my phone and by the time I stumbled into L&D and was hooked up to the machines, my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. They decided to do a Fetal Fibronectin test, not wanting to admit me if I just needed some extra rest and hydration. It came back positive.

Shoot.

I was admitted immediately and an IV of magnesium sulfate was in my arm within the hour. I called Andy and our friends to tell them the news. Once the magnesium sulfate began to take effect, everything became a blur. 

That stuff is brutal. Your mouth is bone dry, you get hot flashes, can't walk without help, and basically you are totally incoherent. It's a smooth muscle relaxant and it relaxes everything. You are drugged.

The best way to describe it is like wandering drunk in the Sahara.

I was on it from Tuesday afternoon until Friday, regaining consciousness Friday morning. I was told to stay until Monday, and Monday stretched into another two weeks, over Andy's first Father's Day and his 29th birthday. I was 5 centimeters and 90% effaced. My mom and my sister came up to keep me company while Andy returned to work, wanting to save his time off for when the babies actually came.

Monday came and I'm still here, still effacing and still dilating. It's very hard to be here and stay encouraged. I can go home at 34 weeks, so I'm just counting down day by day. Today, 13 more days. I feel healthy and like I shouldn't NEED to be here in a hospital. I also feel disappointed in my body; I'm young, strong, have good nutrition, and take good care of myself. I feel like it's letting me down. It's hard not to feel bitter about those twin moms who made it full term without bed rest and wondering, "what did I do wrong and why can't I do it?"

My doctor knew about my aversion to intervention and did the best she could to make my stay as noninvasive as possible, but we still had the daily fetal monitoring. As someone who did not want to have more than one ultrasound, it nearly drove me mad. Especially when the nurses would hook us up and then go on their rounds and not come back until an hour later. Every time they hooked me up, I'd say a desperate prayer for God to protect my babies.

So I learned how to watch the monitors for the markers they needed to pass, then I would unhook the cords and go sit on the toilet until the nurse came back. The girls were always healthy and strong, even during the labor scare. I felt like it was me failing them, even though I knew it was nothing I could control.

I also learned how to hide the huge prenatal vitamins they gave me (I had my own, thank you), and sometimes the stool softeners. I also hated the Procardia, and would sometimes hide that, too.

I didn't cause any outward trouble, in fact, we were known around the floor as being very self-sufficient. All the nurses loved having us because Andy pretty much did everything for me, so they only had to come in and take my vitals. I laid as low as possible.

But I struggled inwardly and tried to work out my thoughts on paper. I could feel myself slowly giving up, but couldn't seem to bring myself out of it.

It's amazing to me how different this pregnancy is than what I imagined it to be. It's life, I guess, especially my life, it seems like my best laid plans go out the window every single time. Then, I move through the stages of grief because I cling to those ideas or plans and deny, resign myself, get mad, etc. and then finally just accept, while still trying to make involved decisions. So I'm still making birth plans and trying to plan for what I CAN control, or at least contribute to.

It's impossible to get good quality rest here, just by the very nature of the hospital. You are watched at all times. I'm tired of my girls being watched and monitored 4x per day. I'm tired of taking pills that make me feel icky. I'm tired of scrounging up food from home because the food here is not good. I'm tired of wearing the same two outfits, and I miss my bed. So I guess this is the time when I cling to God and ask Him to give me peace, His peace, and strength to see this through. There are so many things that I AM thankful for, and it could be much, much worse.


After a three week stay we were given the OK to head home. I was skipping and leaping for joy in my head as I waddled out of the building and into the bright sunlight. Ah, to be home. That was what I needed.

I had a glorious, albeit uncomfortable, five days at home before my water broke.
 




Thursday, August 9, 2012

blackberry peach crisp



My sister and I made this sweet and tangy crisp last time I was home...and I suggest that you make this before these summer fruits are past their peak!

Blackberry Peach Crisp
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Serves 4. 

3 medium peaches
1 1/2 cups blackberries
1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons flour, divided
2 tsp. cane sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup cold butter

- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Cut peaches into 1/2" pieces and add to a big bowl with the blackberries. 
- Add 2 tsp. flour, cane sugar, and cinnamon to the fruit and mix well. Pour into a greased 8x8 baking dish or pie pan.
- In a separate bowl, combine the remaining flour, brown sugar, rolled oats and cold butter with a pastry cutter or your hands until the butter is the size of peas. Top the fruit with the crisp mixture.
- Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

sponsor love: simply natural toys


Meet this month's sponsor!

I am a sucker for wooden toys and anything that harkens back to the days when toys were handmade with quality and pride, so it was no surprise that I fell in love with Simply Natural Toys and spent a good amount of time browsing their site, oo-ing and ah-ing over their beautiful products, especially the musical instruments and the kitchen play items.

I also love this shop because it was started by a mom who was searching high and low for toy shops that didn't compromise on quality and craftsmanship. You can read more about owner Kristen's story here.

Kristen's mission statement: 

"At Simply Natural Toys we specialize in heirloom quality, eco-friendly toys and products that are made from all natural, non-toxic materials. All of our natural toys are carefully selected to meet our high standards of safety, sustainability and quality. They are chosen for their thoughtful, beautifully crafted design. We are committed to fair labor practices, fair pricing and maintaining a low carbon footprint. At Simply Natural Toys WE CARE about kids, the environment and high quality natural toys that you can always feel safe in purchasing. Also, we will be generously donating portions of our sales to charities for children around the world."

Take a little time and shop (and admire) Simply Natural Toys!

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