Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

VBAC Consultation

Well, we had the big appointment yesterday. We went to visit the new OB office that had stated they would be supportive of a VBAC-2. We had a consultation, and friends and family that knew about our appointment are wondering how things went. This is the easiest way to share.

The couple days leading up to the appointment, I noticed myself getting more and more anxious. Nervous. Worried. All sorts of feelings. I didn't want to go in and have a dr say they would "allow" me to VBAC and then feed me all of these scare-tactics - or act great about it now and then try to scare me at the last minute. The day of the appointment was getting tough, and I sat myself down while Aiden was taking a super early nap and looked over some Bible verses to try to calm myself. This one kept jumping out at me, and it gave me what I needed to refocus and get to the appointment with a better frame of mind. 
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
I needed that reminder that God is with me and has a plan for me. He tells me not to fear, and sometimes I just need to stop and listen to that. 

I think we're still trying to process everything from the appointment. We were there for 45 minutes, and there was a lot of information. A lot. I can easily say that most of it was what we wanted to hear. Was all of it? Not necessarily. But MOST of it was. 

We went into our appointment with a list of questions. We were quite prepared. I've done a lot of reading, and Ryan has been trying to keep up and do some of his own. This isn't something we enter into lightly. Not at all. The doctor even said he could tell I was a reader (this did not sound at all like he was being condescending), and he seemed to really appreciate the fact that we completely understood all aspects of what we were considering and that we were highly motivated. 

One of the first questions the doctor asked me was what is my main concern. Really - I told him my BIGGEST concern was finding a provider that was supportive of doing a VBAC. It's true. And hopefully that won't be such a concern now... 

Here were our questions, and some of the answers...
  • How many VBACs/VBAC-2s have you attended? Well, plenty. No number, but they obviously do it. This doctor appeared to be very practiced in this area and seemed like he had plenty of experience with everything we discussed. We're not worried about that.
  • What is your success rate? He guesses around 70%, which is what is to be expected, from what we understand. Anything much lower would be a red flag.
  • How many uterine ruptures have you witnessed? He differentiated between the different kinds...a small tear/rupture, which is basically a hole and would be found while doing a c-section and could be repaired easily and then a catastrophic rupture, which if addressed quickly enough can be handled well. He's seen both, not as many of the catastrophic but "a handful" of them. I was pleased that he differentiated between the types and didn't lump them together and make me feel like ruptures happened often and were all terrible. He made it sound manageable, even if there was a rupture, while also being very clear about the possible dangers, even with the catastrophic ones.
  • Do you have any standard VBAC protocols that differ from a non-VBAC mom? Only attending can order pitocin.
  • How do you handle post-date pregnancies (going over 40 weeks)? Another thing we aren't thrilled about but want to ask more questions now that we've been home and have been thinking more about it. (This is one of the two things he said that we didn't LOVE.) He did say they wouldn't want me to go too much over 40 weeks....but if I went over, it would depend on if I was showing signs of labor, etc. If I was, they would give me a bit more time. If I wasn't doing anything, they might want to then schedule a section. They will *not* induce (which is exactly what we want to hear - induction is not desired, esp with a VBAC). I would rather have a dr that would allow me to go a week or even longer over a due date, assuming everything with mom and baby. This does not make me a glutton for punishment; it means I am aware that a due date is an estimation and my body and the baby are better at knowing when the time is right versus a date someone marks on a calendar. We'll discuss this more with him/other doctors later on to hear their reasoning. He did seem to be fairly flexible and not wanting to just rush to a c-section the second I would turn 40 weeks, but still. Something we want to consider more.
  • What is your philosophy on big babies? This is in there b/c some doctors think if you have a "big baby" (which is hard to determine - guesses are often wrong) that you should automatically have a section. He seemed to not think this and is not scared by the fact that my first baby was 11lbs and my second was 8lbs11oz. Actually (and surprisingly), that 11-pounder works in my favor in this case! As he said, he would be a bit more hesitant if I had pushed for so many hours and had not been able to push out a 7lb baby...but it's easy to understand why I couldn't push out an 11-pounder after several hours. Anyway, big babies don't seem to scare him. That's good.
  • What kind of monitoring do you require? IV. Just in case. I won't be able to walk around hallways, but I can move around in the room as long as I'm attached to that. They'll obviously want to monitor the baby more closely, just to be aware of any possible signs of distress. Not something I love, but I do understand.
  • Do you perform an automatic c-section if waters have been broken for more than 24 hours, even if there is no evidence of infection and mom and baby are fine? He said they don't base it on a certain time schedule, it all depends on whether or not the baby is in distress and I'm progressing at a decent pace without stalling. What I wanted to hear.
  • Do you have a time limit on how long my labor can be before you c-section me? Same answer as above. What I wanted to hear.
  • What is a reasonable length of time for VBAC labor if I'm healthy and my baby appears to be healthy? Can't really tell; it's dependent on factors other than simply time. Mostly same answer as above. These questions are mostly to determine if the dr will be quick to section if the labor isn't moving quickly. We don't want that. We want a dr who will allow the labor to go as it naturally will, assuming mom and baby are healthy. This doctor does NOT seem to be trigger-happy for surgery. We even discussed why some doctors might push for a c-section, and he let me know that shouldn't be a problem there. (Some reasons can be having to do with time. Would the dr rather have a nice easy, scheduled section at 8am or have to stick around for a day and a half while mom labors? Money... C-sections obviously cost more. Resources. VBACs require a lot of resources on hand in case of an emergency section, which also means everyone is on high alert. Yes, a lot of resources are needed for a planned section, but when they're worried about a rupture and a baby being in danger, they want to be prepared and have ALL of those resources at the ready. You could tell he didn't agree with some of these reasons - the first couple that were more convenience-driven. And at Duke and with this office who deals with riskier pregnancies, they also clearly have the resources right there.)
  • Do you require IV or helplock? Yes. IV.
  • Am I permitted to move and deliver in my position of choice? Seems to be fine, as long as I'm still on the IV. Also what we wanted to hear. Lying on one's back is actually the least effective mode for pushing, and I want to be able to do whatever position my body works with best and whatever position helps to reduce chances of a stalled labor leading to a c-section. Who knows what that would be, but I don't want a dr who tells me I have to be on my back simply b/c I'm a VBAC.
  • What do you think are my chances of having a successful VBAC-2, given my childbirth history? He thinks I'm a great candidate and will likely fit into the 70% that are successful. Odds are in my favor at *this* point, based on history and my current health, motivation, etc. Aside from my motivation and health, my history helps - the reason for my first c-section, the scars that I have (or how minimal they are) and how easy it was for the dr performing Aiden's c-section to get in quickly. The fact that I'm not large or overweight also helps a lot. Why? Because if he has to very quickly get in for a c-section, in case of emergency, a lot of excess weight (just like extra scarring) can hinder him being able to do that quickly. Basically, I don't have much working against me. Let's hope it stays that way. They will monitor me closely in regards to my placenta placement (multiple c-sections make it more likely my placenta could cover my uterine scar, which is not good, and they also can increase my chances for issues such as placenta previa and abruption). 
  • What can I do during my pregnancy to help increase the chances of a successful VBAC? He looked at Ryan and told him that *he* would like this answer... As often as possible during the last trimester. Haha! But really...just staying healthy and motivated. Both of which I won't have a problem with doing.

The other thing we didn't LOVE was the fact that he said they would want me to have an epidural during the labor. I really want to do it naturally, no epidural. I understand the logic. If there is an emergency, they want me already medicated and want to be able to easily add more to numb me for surgery. At the same time, I also know that having the epidural automatically puts me at higher risk for having a c-section, for many reasons. So, we're not thrilled about this. He did say I could control the amount and could use the least amount possible during labor. We still want to discuss this farther and make sure we understand exactly what they would require and think about it more ourselves. Ryan thinks he heard the doctor say, after I explained I wanted as natural a labor as possible and that I was hesitant about an epidural, that they would just need to have me ready for it, have everything in, and that way they could just administer the actual epidural if a section was suddenly needed. I am not sure I remember hearing that. BUT if they can have it in and he's told me I can control the amount before they *need* it for a surgery, it would make sense that they could also just have me prepped and not actually inject it until the time...right? We're going to try to ask about this sooner than another appointment, maybe emailing him, if he will respond.

Another problem with the epidural, which I totally didn't think about while in the office (seriously, if I don't have it written down, it doesn't get said!) is that epidurals/spinals make me EXTREMELY sick. I threw up all through Camden's surgery and the next couple days. I was pumped FULL of Zofran during Aiden's section, but during recovery the nurses always waited until I was on the floor throwing up before giving me more (how fun do you think that is when you've just had abdominal surgery?!), even though I would tell them while I was still in bed how sick I was. It was horrible, and I don't want to have to worry about throwing up the entire time I'm in labor and for days afterward. I know they can also give me the Zofran with the epidural, but I also don't want to be so medicated (or medicated at all)! So, we'll also need to mention this to him... Ugh. Just thinking about it is making me miserable. I was so loving the thought that a natural labor would mean not having to deal with all of that awfulness.

So, there are two things we were told that we didn't completely LOVE. For the most part, we were very happy with what we were told, though. But those two things are bugging us and giving us plenty to think about for a while. We already have a list of questions for the next time we go in...which could be a while b/c we won't be due back until we are actually pregnant. I suppose we could call or email, but talking in person is best with this kind of thing. Actually, some of it we might email about - parts that we want to be clear we understand.

Another concern we had, knowing this was a large office, was how other doctors in the practice would feel about us doing this VBAC-2 and would some be more likely to push for a section once in labor, especially if we weren't progressing as quickly as they wanted. Of course, some will be more section-happy than others, but he thought as motivated as we were, with me being a good candidate, etc, etc, that we shouldn't have a problem with that. He also stated that, as head of the department, he would have a say in how they treated us and would let it be known we are to be supported in trying for a trial of labor and delivery. Really, he was very pro-VBAC. He never made it sound like anyone in the office would be against the VBAC - just that some might push a surgery after a prolonged labor sooner than others. We never felt like we were trying to convince him; from the start he was very supportive and encouraging. It was such a positive experience. I was really nervous about the consultation beforehand, but the second he started talking, I immediately felt much better about the whole thing. 

He even gave me an article to read....and this wasn't an article trying to show how dangerous VBAC-2s were; it's a review with a meta-analysis (a research article that uses information from multiple studies, looking at various components, etc) that compares the risks/success rates/adverse outcomes with VBAC-1, VBAC-2, and RCS (repeated c-sections, specifically a third c-section for this article). It was actually very interesting, especially when it showed that there were no significant differences in all three groups when looking at neonatal unit admission rates and asphyxial injury/neonatal death rates. I appreciate a doctor who is trying to back up the safety of what I'm trying to do with others' research instead of trying to use scare tactics to get me to do something else.

Here's a snip-it from the article, if you're interested. This is from the abstract, so it's brief. Interesting stuff. I kind of felt like I was back in college/grad school reading this article. ;)
VBAC-2 success rate was 71.1%, uterine rupture rate 1.36%, hysterectomy rate 0.55%, blood transfusion 2.01%, neonatal unit admission rate 7.78% and perinatal asphyxial injury/death 0.09%. VBAC-2 versus VBAC-1 success rates were 4064/5666 (71.1%) versus 38 814/50 685 (76.5%) (P < 0.001); associated uterine rupture rate 1.59% versus 0.72% (P < 0.001) and hysterectomy rates were 0.56% versus 0.19% (P = 0.001) respectively. Comparing VBAC-2 versus RCS, the hysterectomy rates were 0.40% versus 0.63% (P = 0.63), transfusion 1.68% versus 1.67% (P = 0.86) and febrile morbidity 6.03% versus 6.39%, respectively (P = 0.27). Maternal morbidity of VBAC-2 was comparable to RCS. Neonatal morbidity data were too limited to draw valid conclusions, however, no significant differences were indicated in VBAC-2, VBAC-1 and RCS groups in NNU admission rates and asphyxial injury/neonatal death rates (Mantel–Haenszel).

Aside from VBAC/c-section stuff, we also asked how they treat Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), knowing going into the next pregnancy that I have this condition, which is known for being worse with each pregnancy (yay...). He first said to start taking Vitamin B6 before getting pregnant. Get Unisom once pregnant. I've heard a lot about using both of these for HG, so I wasn't too surprised. I appreciated this b/c he didn't automatically jump to medicating like the other office we currently visit have - they say to just get right on Zofran. And yes, this still means taking supplements/medication...but it's the lowest level before going on other medications such as Zofran, which I was on during the entire pregnancy with Aiden (that and phenergan). I would rather try what he suggested first and hopefully not have to take Zofran or maybe at least  put off taking it or not have to take it as long as before. He also discussed eating and drinking...being sure to drink caloric beverages but not to worry about eating if I couldn't. Maybe, he said, we're really designed not to eat much during that time and that's why we get so nauseous; that first trimester is when so many important things are forming in a baby, and it's when toxic ingredients, chemicals, etc, will be most dangerous. This is a whole other topic, BUT we really appreciated how he answered. Learning what his approach is to various things was helping us feel we could trust him more. He did say if we needed medication, we needed it. And I agree, but we'll start with these other things first. (My fingers are crossed! How I would love to not have to take medication for another entire pregnancy...)

So, for the most part we were very pleased. We do still have a few things to ask about. I forgot to ask how they feel about me having a doula around, in case we want to go in that direction, which we are considering. He happened to mention they are looking into having midwives working with them, and I really liked hearing that. Like he said, having a midwife there with us will help increase our chances with a VBAC b/c midwives are typically very against any unnecessary c-section. (He spoke about this in a positive way, which is good. Some doctors are pretty against having doulas or midwives around.) And we want to ask more about the post-date stuff and get more information on the epidural aspect.

But overall - fairly positive. I hope the rest of the doctors are as personable and assuring as he is. We really liked how he spoke with us and what his approach seemed to be. (He wasn't crazy about the fact that we don't get the flu shot, but that's a whole other topic. And just because he thinks it's a good idea doesn't mean we have to do it. Because we won't. But I digress...) We're looking forward to asking some more questions and seeing him in the future. And if it comes to it and we don't feel comfortable, we have one more avenue to explore - another office that we hear is very VBAC (and VBAC-2) friendly...but there might be some issues with insurance and navigating that would surely be a lot of fun. 

If any of you know some things to share about VBACs, suggestions, questions, or whatever, please comment away. We would love to hear what they are! Please keep it nice, though. We're seeking support here. Anything that's pushy in the opposite direction will not be appreciated. Not to say that if you have genuine concerns or questions you can't share that, but we would appreciate no rude remarks. :) Thanks so much! 

Oh, and if you're curious about WHY we're hoping for a VBAC-2, I'm happy to explain. But that's a topic for another post. This one is long enough. ;)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Meal Plan and other things...

I'm getting around to it, finally.  Made this up on Saturday for grocery shopping, but we've had an interesting weekend... Aiden started coming down with a cold suddenly on Saturday, and be evening, he was feeling warm. He had a fever all night, threw up around midnight and then when he ate breakfast, and he was up all throughout the night sneezing. The throwing up was not a stomach bug but was due to all the mucous he was dealing with... Every time he sneezed, snot launched a couple feet. I kid you not. He ran a fever all day Sunday and was pretty pitiful. Still launching snot all day and throughout the night Sunday night. He's been fever-free since Sunday evening, but he still is sneezing, coughing, and just has a ton of mucous bothering him. Nobody is sleeping well b/c he's constantly waking from the coughing or sneezing, all of which seem to hurt him. Mama's sinuses haven't been feeling great ever since Sunday. Aiden and I haven't hardly slept for the last three nights (Ryan's been up a bit, too; just not quite as much as mama), so we're all pretty exhausted.

AND then there's Camden...Now, last week on Valentine's Day, Camden comes home with a hurt finger. He was picking up his books at school (at 11am), when someone happened to trip and fall on his finger in a funny way. When he got home at 3pm, it was still swollen twice its size, and he couldn't move it. A trip to the urgent care center showed no break but a really deep bruise, and he came home with his finger in a splint. This made things a bit more challenging for him b/c it was the hand he writes with...but turns out a finger in a splint wasn't so bad, after all. Fast forward to Sunday afternoon, and Camden comes in from playing soccer in the cul de sac. He was playing with some friends that he plays with all the time. They don't play rough, don't tackle, and it's rare anyone gets hurt at all. This time, some boys Camden normally doesn't play with joined in. He normally doesn't play with them b/c they're so rough. So, one of them side-tackled Camden and knocked him down. Trying to catch himself, Camden ends up putting out his arm and bends his elbow in the wrong direction, hyperextending it. Talk about being in pain - he was in *severe* pain. It was hard seeing him in so much pain. :( Back to the urgent care center for x-rays before they close... While it's hard to tell based on the x-ray, they're sure there is a fracture. They set his arm up in a semi-cast and sling with instructions to call an orthopedist in the morning. Got in to see the orthopedist, and they say the same thing...seems to be a fracture, but they can't say for sure yet. They put on another cast that has his arm at a better angle, and we'll return next week for more x-rays, by which point it should be easier to see if there is a crack, after it has had some time to heal and for swelling to go down. If there is a crack, he'll have a better cast put on.

This injury happened on the same arm as his finger injury. Poor kid. And doing things like homework, showering, eating, and all sorts of things have suddenly become more interesting, challenging...and call for parental participation a heck of a lot more! Ha.

So, needless to say, we've been spending a lot more time on some other things around here. And things that can get put off have gotten put off.

But if you're interested, here is what's on the menu this week.

Dinner: Egg-free pancakes. Finally found a successful way to make them egg-free. These are really good! Fried potatoes (oh yum - I felt the need to fit these into our menu this week), and chicken/apple sausage. OJ to drink. The website that had the pancake recipe has a lot of allergy-friendly dishes...I'm eager to try some of her other recipes! Some look and sound really yummy.

Lunch: Sweet potato and apple casserole. Camden, who hates sweet potatoes, LOVES this dish. It smells like apple pie, and he says it tastes like it, too. I'm not sure I entirely agree because it does have sweet potatoes. But if anti-sweet potato Camden loves this dish, that's saying something... Aiden happens to be quite happy with just plain baked sweet potato and sliced apples. I'm happy with those on their own as well, but I also want Camden to find ways to like sweet potatoes, so I'm sure to make this dish for his lunches sometimes, too! :) We also had some hummus and pretzels.
Dinner: Beef & Lentils, green beans, bread, and apple slices. So, this is one of my most favorite dishes ever. Ever. This is the ultimate comfort food to me, for some reason. I should probably post the recipe soon...but think ground beef, lentils, a bit of rice, some seasonings including cumin (this is the dish to blame for my love for cumin - I smell that stuff and immediately think of beef and lentils, which is a good thing to me). My mom made this when I was younger, and I remember eating it with green beans and ketchup. I still eat it that way. I took the recipe my mom based hers on and made it into a crockpot dish. I was so proud when I finally got it just right, all on my own. ;)

Lunch: Well, we ate finger foods on the way to my afternoon (meaning right at naptime - had no other choice) doctor appt. Since the little guy has not been sleeping at night, he took his nap shortly after 10am, and I had to wake him to leave in time for the appt. He ate on the way and then snacked while there. Puffs, banana, apple, and an allergy-friendly snack bar (that he loves but is expensive, so we only pull them out on special occasions where we need him to be quiet...).
Dinner: Slow-cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes (thanks for passing this on, Katie!!). I thought this was really good, and it helped to have a crockpot dish, since we weren't sure what time we would be home from our dr appt. Ryan thought it was good, Camden didn't really care for it, and Aiden never even tried it (toddlers can be so much fun sometimes...). We also had pb sandwiches with the chili. Added sour cream, cheese, and then ate tortilla chips with the chili. I added some corn to the chili (trying to get the kids to like it more) and added a bit of sugar, too. I didn't quite have the right amount of chili powder, and Ryan thought the chili was too bland, so I should at least be sure to have the proper amount of seasonings next time, huh? ;)

Lunch: Sweet potato and apple casserole, avocado, and maybe some green smoothie
Dinner: Beef & lentils, some veggie yet to be determined, and some fruit. Maybe some rolls, too.

Lunch: Tuna, apple, raisin salad
Dinner: Parm chicken with pasta, zucchini boats (new recipe a friend sent a while back and I've been wanting to try)

Lunch: Tuna, apple, raisin salad
Dinner: Chicken tortilla soup (trying it out)


I'm starting to notice how many weelicious recipes I make every week, especially now that I'm linking to recipes that are online in these posts... Obviously we're a fan. ;)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Homemade Chicken Broth

Why make your own chicken broth? There are a number of reasons that make it more than worth the time and (little bit) of effort. It's cheap. It's fresh. It's healthy. It's tasty. It's cheap (oh, did I already say that one?).  And it's easy.

Are those enough?

Your house will also smell wonderful while simmering the broth.

Should be plenty of reasons.

I'm sure there are tons of recipes out there, and this is just the one I use. I looked up a number of them before going for it. This one was easy with few ingredients, most of which I always have on hand. Since I started making it more than a few months ago, I haven't even considered buying it from the store.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Meal Plan

I'm kind of glad this is a bit late b/c we've had to change the menu just about every day since Saturday... That's how it goes some days. Or weeks.

Instead of Hot Browns, we went for Goldenrod Eggs. We had a dozen eggs after buying them for Aiden's egg challenge...that got rescheduled at the last minute. Since it's not for another month now, might as well use up the eggs. We take some sauce out before putting the eggs in, so Aiden can have some egg-free. He's not a fan of that, though... He's right. It's just not the same. Assuming he can have eggs before long (surely), he'll learn to love the stuff. It's a family recipe that's been passed down several generations. Anyone in the family kind of has to love this stuff. (How could you not?!)

Lunch: The best sandwiches ever. Ryan and I had that. Camden had a sandwich of his own, and Aiden had the makings of a sandwich, just not in sandwich form.
Dinner: Leftovers.

Lunch: Avocado, cheese, apples, hummus, pretzels...and some other stuff I can't remember now.
Dinner: Turkey Salsa. Well, really it's supposed to be Salsa Chicken, a recipe my friend Leigh Ann gave me, but, for some reason, I always say it backwards. Camden used to correct me every time, until I told him I officially change the name so that I'm right (so, in our house, it's now Chicken Salsa). And instead of chicken, we used turkey we had frozen, leftover from Thanksgiving - the advantage to getting a bigger turkey than you need. We froze a ton of it. Anyway...easiest yummy meal ever. Chicken (or turkey...), salsa, black beans, and corn tossed into the crockpot. Oh, and cream cheese near the end. We put it over rice and eat it w/ tortilla chips.

Lunch: Turkey Salsa leftovers.
Dinner: Frozen pizza. Ugh. Camden was happy about it, at least. Not my favorite. Aiden's apparently not a huge fan, either. We did have apples and ants-on-a-log (celery, pb, and raisins) to health it up a bit.

Lunch: Lunch kind of got skipped today. Aiden fell asleep on the way home from a playdate, so I got him to bed right after we got home. He had a good snack afterward....
Dinner: Bean soup, beets, and cornbread. Kids had some veggies, pretzels, a little bit of green smoothie, and other stuff... Camden has to eat a bite of the soup, and we give Aiden a bite, too (but he doesn't actually eat it, and being a toddler, we're not forcing him to do so).

Lunch: The BEST chicken salad. Aiden LOVES this stuff. I'm replacing part of the vegenaise with greek yogurt. We'll see what he thinks about that. This recipe makes a big bowl, but it doesn't last long with Aiden eating it.
Dinner: Rest of the bean soup, beets, and cornbread.

Lunch: Chicken salad, crackers, and probably some green smoothie.
Dinner: Taco Soup. We usually make a ton to freeze some for later, but this time we're making a ton to give some to a friend and her family since she's having surgery. This is a great dish to make for sharing! Add some sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips. YUM.

Lunch: Leftovers or sandwiches.
Dinner: Taco Soup.

And then on top of that, there is a bunch of extra cooking...
Instead of canned beans, we buy dried beans in bulk, cook them, and freeze them to use in recipes. This week...black beans, pinto beans, and garbanzo beans, since we needed some of each in recipes I was making.
Made homemade hummus for the first time. Much better than bought (and this coming from someone who doesn't like hummus...). A bit too much lemon juice, and later I added some cumin and coriander to help lesson some of the lemon taste (plus, I like cumin). Edited to add: I also used sunflower seeds instead of tahini, since I didn't have any and didn't to shell out $8 for a jar when this was the first time making this. A comment in the recipe link mentioned using sunflower seeds - a coupe teaspoons, and it worked just fine!
Made some fruit and oat bars for the boys to have for breakfast. They came out crumbier than I hoped, but they are still *really* good! I baked them for the lower of the recommended time range, but I'll take it out sooner next time and see if that helps. Ryan will just have to wait until he's at work and eat it from a container (which he should anyway!).
Chicken broth, homemade. This stuff is so good. I'm thinking about a separate post for this, with the recipe. I haven't bought any since I started making it several months ago. Cheap, easy, and delicious.
And then bread and some other things. I pretty much live in the kitchen. I think I should require our next house have a super nice kitchen, since that's the room I'll be in the most...

And I almost forgot...Aiden and I made these for Valentine's Day. These were really good, and Aiden's decorating made them just perfect. :)

What's on the menu at your place this week? Any great recipes?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Calling All Bakers! Help a mama out...

I'm not a quitter. I'm really not. Sometimes I need to quit but just won't. I think this is one of those times I need to just let it go. Stop trying. Because it's not working.

It's not me, it's you? Nope. It's YOU.

I'm saying this to a recipe.

That's ok, you can laugh.

So, I've become a fan of a once-a-month-cooking site and have found some really great recipes from it. No, I don't do the once-a-month-cooking thing, but I do like to make big meals and freeze for a bunch of meals later; I just do it sporadically. I don't think I could handle a day or weekend of cooking THAT much, nor do I have any days or weekends that are THAT open to begin with... But I found this new recipe for banana bread. Now, I have quite a few banana bread recipes. One is the one I've used for years, and it has not let me down. It's great. And a few friends passed on some recipes lately, as well. This one uses sour cream, though, so I thought I would give it a go.

The batter...OMGoodness!! It is the BEST batter I have ever tasted. Ever. I could sit there and just eat the batter. I kid you not. (I don't tend to worry about raw eggs in batter, but if you're concerned about that...we don't use eggs due to the toddler with the allergy.)

BUT maybe some of you can help. Maybe I shouldn't let go just yet. I know a lot of you all are good bakers. Great ones. Probably a heck of a lot better than me. You wanna give it a go? Or should I just quit? I do have other great banana recipes, after all. They just don't have batter that is this ridiculously yummy.

So, here is the recipe:

Banana Sour Cream Bread, 32 servings (remember, this is baking in big batches)
from Once A Month Mom and from allrecipes.com (this was the original, I believe)

3 1/4 cups sugar (3 cups for recipe, 1/4 cup for pan)
1 tsp cinnamon (for pan)
2 tsp cinnamon (for recipe)
3/4 cup butter
3 eggs
6 bananas, very ripe, mashed
16 oz sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt 
3 tsp baking soda
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 (or based on some reviews 325). Grease four 7x3-in loaf pans.In small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Dust pans lightly with cinnamon/sugar mixture.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Mix in eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla, and cinnamon. Mix in salt, baking soda, and flour. Stir in nuts, if using. Divide into prepared pans. 

Bake one hour, until a toothpick comes out clean.This makes 4 loaves (made to freeze some). 

NOW....I have made this a few times now. Each time, I have done some in a loaf pan, some as muffins, blah, blah. I have read reviews to see what others have done to make it work. Apparently many have had the issue I have - it does not cook in the time it should!! Granted, I do not have pans the size this calls for, but I have made bread before and have adjusted the time based on that (and looking at reviews). I finally thought I had it down after using someone else's changes (2 cups sugar, 4 eggs, baking at 350) when the muffins came out ok. But the loaf...did not. She said to cook for 45 minutes, covering w/ foil for the last 15....I had to reset the timer in 10-minute increments so many times I lost count!! I did that the first go-round, and I'm not a big fan of cooking that way... Let's have a set time and get it right with that, yes?

This is ridiculous. I have made it using so many different oven temps, different amounts of time in the oven.300, 325, 350, even 375..might have tried 400 at one point? Sometimes I cooked just two muffins at a time to try out various times/temps with the same batter. Seriously, I should have given up long ago. (You're nodding your head and considering just not reading any further, I'm sure.) But the batter...if it weren't so stinking good on its own, it would be easy to let go of this recipe.

I will say, I do not use this much sugar! I used less and less each time. The last was using the 2 cups (instead of 3), and it really is still just as good. I tend to use as little sugar as possible without affecting taste. Do NOT skip the cinnamon/sugar mixture in the loaf pan, though. Oh my, that does make a difference! Didn't work well w/ my silicone muffin cups, though...mostly just stayed in the cups and didn't make that crunchy, sweet addition to the bread. We also like it with the walnuts sprinkled on top.

And even the times the bread has come out not completely cooked in the center, it was still good! None of us thought otherwise. Remember, no concern with uncooked egg because we don't use egg. And no, that should not be causing the problem here. I use egg subs ALL the time. Aiden is a big muffin fanatic, so I know this wasn't the issue.

So...baking friends. Feel free to give this a try and prove that it can, indeed, come out fully cooked and delicious. Feel free to tell me I should really give up. Feel free to tell my I'm being completely ridiculous and should have given up after the first try... I mean, is it really worth it? (But try the batter before you answer that question!)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Coffee Filter Wreath

Apparently DIY wreaths are all the rage in blogger land. If you read craft blogs, you've probably seen them. I wasn't reading craft blogs, so I wasn't aware they were all over the place. I saw a pic of a burlap wreath that someone I know made, and from there I found tutorials for those and coffee filter wreaths. I still plan on trying one of the burlap ones later because they are pretty cute and look terribly easy, but I wanted to do something different first (than what my friend did, I mean - didn't want to copy too much). ;)

So, I sat down one evening to make myself a coffee filter wreath. Was it easy? Yes. Very. Did it take long? Nope. An hour or a bit longer, while watching tv and taking my time. Was it cheap? Pretty much. I got the foam wreath at JoAnn's (without a coupon...), brown coffee filters are pretty cheap, and then some pins. (Don't tell Ryan that after I started making the thing, I read you can find the wreaths and filters at the *dollar* store.... Whoops.)

The good thing about making this wreath is that there is no right or wrong. It is not meant to be perfect or a specific way. You just go with it.

The bad thing about making this wreath is that there is no right or wrong. It is not meant to be perfect or a specific way. You just go with it.

Going with it is hard for me sometimes...Trying not to make something perfect is hard for me sometimes. Not having a "right" way to do something is hard for me sometimes.

Or all times. Whatever.

As I started out...and pretty much until I was almost finished, I kept wondering Am I doing this right? Does this look right? Should I be doing more of this? Less of this? and checking the tutorial I was using from another blog. It's ridiculous. Then I would tell myself to relax, get over it, and just press on.

So, if you make this and you start off thinking it looks like a hot mess, just press on. Push through it to the end. You might consider giving up halfway through. I thought about it a few times. Don't. Go with it. You might not find that as difficult as I did...

I didn't take pictures of the steps or anything. I really wasn't sure it was working... But here's the tutorial I used. And really, if you google "coffee filter wreath" you'll get (more than) plenty of hits. There are some with white filters, but I personally like the brown. I like how the tutorial I used...her wreath used fewer filters and looked looser, but in the end, I think mine turned out pretty ok. I finally stopped trying to fold the filters just right and did them all randomly. I fluffed them up some at the end and moved some around if it needed it. I love how it's not perfect in the end - you don't want this thing to be perfect! Don't put it somewhere that will get wet if it rains, though. These would look good inside, too. I'm trying to cut out dust collectors, though (how on earth would you clean this thing??) and have no really good place to hang one inside right now, so it's on our front door - where I needed something to hang.

And here is my wreath...

Closer view

Not too bad, after all.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Tables Have Turned

I told Ryan this would happen.

From day 1 Aiden was quite the mama's boy. It's hard not to be when Mama is your source of food and everything you need seems to be associated with mama's milk. Over his two and a half years, Mama has been the only one this little guy wanted when he was hurt, tired...or just about any other time.

And from day 1, I've told Ryan his day will come. One of these days, I told him, he will only want you. He'll want you to play with him and will be so excited when you walk in the door after work. He'll cry after you when you leave.

Well, folks, that day is here. It took a bit longer than I thought, but that probably has something to do with the fact that he's still nursing and is *quite* attached to mama's milk. Now, he is still a mama's boy. I'm still the only one he wants when he's hurt or really tired, too.

BUT...pretty much every morning, he gets upset because Daddy has to go to work. He asks about Daddy throughout the day. And he is super excited when he hears Daddy's keys in the door when he comes home.

I had a doctor appointment this morning, so Ryan stayed at home with Aiden. It was for allergy testing, which meant I would be there for a while and not able to chase after a little busy toddler, so we figured this was best. When I told Aiden goodbye, he was almost too busy playing to tell me back. I barely got a kiss! And he was back to playing before I was out the door.

Then I come home. He did say hello to me...and then went on dancing. I'm special, right? (Hahaha...)

Now, Daddy leaves for work... Aiden: "Where did Daddy go?" (He knew, not sure why he had to ask...) "He had to go to work, sweetie." Aiden covers his eyes with his hands and proceeds to whine and pout, saying, "Noooooo!!! I don't want him to go to work! I want Daddy to stay and play!!" It's all very endearing to see and hear. And of course, when Ryan is opening the door, coming home at the end of the day, Aiden is so excited. "Daddy!!!!" He's so in love. Whenever Daddy is home, Aiden is constantly at him..."Come play with me, Daddy!"

I could have some hurt feelings, but I totally don't. I LOVE seeing him love his Daddy so much.

I told Ryan from the start I didn't feel too terrible about the fact that Aiden wanted me over him earlier on. I wasn't being mean; it was because I knew one day the tables would turn. I knew I would have my turn for a while, and then it would be about him. While Aiden still wants me and only me for certain things, Daddy is definitely a favorite these days. And I certainly don't expect Ryan to feel bad about it, either. In fact, I hope he enjoys every single second of it all.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Meal Plan

I'm still not sure if I want to do this before or after the week the menu is for... Makes sense to do it before b/c it's about the whole planning part, but in our house, things don't always go as planned. Plus, I try a lot of new dishes and would want to say whether or not something worked or what I would change, etc. Eh, I'll figure it out. Anyway, here is this week's menu...

Lunch: Frozen pizza and apples. We're usually in a hurry b/c of grocery shopping after church, so we make it home just in time for lunch. (We go to the early service.) Aiden ate while the pizza was cooking and had some pasta with parmesan cheese and peas, but he was already pretty tired, so he didn't eat much and went to bed.
Dinner: Vegetable Lentil Soup. My friend that started posting about meal planning, giving me the idea...she got the idea from one of her friends (that I do not know). I looked at said friend's blog, saw this recipe, and thought it sounded really yummy. It was. Very. I added cumin...because I have a thing for cumin with lentils. I used 1/2 tsp this time but will try it with 1 tsp next time to see if I like that better. I think next time I might add some more carrots, too. I also use homemade chicken broth - I'll have to post the recipe for that soon. It is so much easier than I would have thought, is much cheaper than the organic broth we used to buy (even getting a free-range chicken from either the Farmer's Market or Whole Foods), and tastes sooooo good!Anyway, we will be making this soup a lot more. So good. Try it.

Lunch: Leftover pizza, leftover vegetable lentil soup, and walnuts. Might not be things that typically go together, but we managed. ;) We had some mozzarella cheese on the soup, and it was really yummy. Aiden ate about half of his. He never spit it out, so at least he doesn't hate it. I think he normally would like it, but he's in that fun toddler phase where something being new automatically makes it suspicious. Aiden is pretty crazy about walnuts, which I am loving. He will eat at least three handfuls at a time! And we're not talking Aiden handfuls but MAMA handfuls. That's a lot of walnuts!PS - Do you really know how good walnuts are for you? Check this out to learn a bit more than you might already...
Dinner: Corn Chowder (my friend Sonia's recipe - so good!) from the freezer, mayo (vegenaise for us) rolls. We had this on the menu last week but put it off until this night. Like I said, things never go just as planned. Aiden and I also made some zucchini coins. Apparently Aiden loves raw zucchini! While making the coins, he kept eating the zucchini by itself. The rest of us liked the baked result just fine (and I'm not a fan of cooked zucchini), but he preferred them raw. Guess I know what we need to buy more often!

Lunch: Pasta with parmesan and peas. This is always a good meal for Aiden. We had some leftover pasta, so this is a great way to use it up. He'll have some fruit with it and maybe something with hummus. That kid *loves* hummus. I want to. I really do. But I don't.
Dinner: Vegetable Lentil Soup, bread. This stuff is really filling. When I served it on Sunday, I kept thinking we didn't have enough to eat. Not true. Even hubby, who always goes back for seconds, no matter what we have or how full I fill his plate...even he agreed it didn't take much to fill up with this meal. It's those little lentils. :)

Lunch: Either pasta w/ parm and peas (if there's any left) or strawberry soup w/ bread, pb, and raisins.
Dinner: New recipe - Pizza casserole. Figured we needed to throw something in there that was more kid-friendly. Camden's excited to try it. I'm not sure how Aiden will feel (remember he has this problem w/ pasta and marinara...).

Lunch: Strawberry soup, bread w/ pb and raisins.
Dinner: Pizza casserole

Lunch: Leftovers...
Dinner: Veggie Stir-Fry w/ Sweet and Sour sauce. YUM. This is the best ever. We add in way more veggies than it calls for and never regret it. I can't get leftovers out of this dish because everyone eats it all up, no matter how much I make! We'll be making it w/ bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots, onions, maybe a bit of spinach...

Lunch: Whatever leftovers are in the fridge or sandwiches.
Dinner: KY Hot Browns. Oh, yes. I just hope making these are as good as the ones I've gotten at some favorite places in KY. The recipe is from my Food Network Mag and is supposedly from the original recipe from the Brown Hotel (though I've never eaten at the Brown). We're leaving out the egg. I'm excited to make it...I've never made it before, and it's been a while since I had one! I'm already drooling thinking about it. Here's the recipe on the Brown Hotel website. It's actually a bit different than what is in the magazine, even though it states it's the recipe from the hotel...so, really, it's not. But we bought ingredients for the FN version, so...

And I just have to add, last week I made Sweet Beet Cookies...and Aiden ate them like they were the BEST things EVER. Seriously. He couldn't eat them fast enough and was signing for more while he chewed, very enthusiastically. I'm going to have to make a big batch next time and freeze some (Catherine, from weelicious, told me on facebook to freeze before baking, if you want to try these out.)

What's on your menu this week?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

One more reason...

Some days I'm reminded why I love my husband so much. Some days it just hits me out of nowhere that, man, God really knew what he was doing when he put us together. Not that I think He ever doesn't know what He's doing, but...you know what I mean.

The other day I was hit out of the blue with that thought. I was cooking dinner; Ryan wasn't even home. It wasn't about a specific thing he had done, just the fact that we see eye-to-eye on so many things and that we work so well together. It's so nice when that happens.

And then the other night, Ryan gave me a good reminder himself.

See, Aiden's night terrors calmed down a bit after Christmas. We've been really strict with his schedule and such, and he's been doing much better. But for the last week and a half, it's been pretty much nightly. Not sure why all of the sudden, but there it is. Anyway, many nights over the last couple weeks, after he has an episode or if he wakes coughing or for whatever reason, we've brought him to bed with us. It makes it easier if it continues to happen (on us, too - we don't have to get up again!). So, a couple nights after he's actually woken up, he's said, "Mama's bed..." The other night he even did it in his sleep!

One night, while Aiden was still in his crib and Ryan and I were getting ready for bed, I asked how he felt about Aiden coming into our bed more often lately. He said, "Let him." Really? "Yeah. One day he won't want to do it. And we'll miss it."

(Feel free to pause for an "awwww" moment.)

I'm tearing up now just remembering it. It was definitely one of those moments where I was more than reminded of how much I love this man. I love the kind of father he is. I love how his heart works. And I love that we see so many things similarly. It makes life so much easier.

I know many people who don't agree with bed-sharing with their kids (and I know many people that do!). This post isn't about bed-sharing/co-sleeping, etc. Totally not. Let's not make it about that. This post is about my incredible husband and those little reminders that we work together so well. I don't believe in soul mates. I don't believe he is the only man I could have married and been happy with... But I am so very thankful that God lined things up for me and Ryan to meet and that we chose each other.

VBACs, Migraines, and other fun stuff

So, yesterday wasn't the most fun day ever. Could have been worse, I'm sure, but I'm certainly glad it wasn't. It started off with a small headache and just got worse from there... This post isn't just to gripe, though. It's about something I'm hoping to experience and to explain what a blessing my family is. My boys, all three of them, are incredible. :)

I had a dr appt in the morning, which means driving far from home because all of our doctors are at least three or four cities away...driving is often an hour or so, each way. Fun. I went in for a follow-up. Things were fine, but the doctor mentioned at one point (about a cyst on my ovary that wasn't changing any) that when we got pregnant again, I could just have the doctor take a look at it during the c-section. She knows I've had two and so it's assumed any more with also be sections. Well, that was a good segue into a topic that I wasn't really planning on bring up right then but would come up eventually, so I went on and brought it up... VBACs. (For anyone that doesn't know, VBAC means Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).

The problem is, not only have I had one section...but two. The first was absolutely necessary. While baby fat might squish, baby heads can only get so much smaller and no more. Camden had a very large head. After a very intense and painful labor and a few hours of pushing, an emergency c-section was necessary because his head literally would not fit through. Aiden's section...was planned. (And my what a difference between an emergency and planned! Wow.) They heard how big Camden was (11lbs - what's the big deal?) and said no way to a VBAC. At that time, we were not sure which way to go, and so we went along with what they said. Now that I know more, I wish we hadn't. But we did. What's done is done. Aiden wasn't nearly as big as expected. He still came in at 8lbs 11oz, but that's no 11-pounder. And not a big head. The big head comes from Camden's dad, so there's obviously no concern about that from this point on. The weight comes from my side, but I'm not concerned about that, either - remember, it squishes. The head was the problem.

While many places will attempt a VBAC after one section, depending on the reason for the surgery, it's harder to find people that will go for a VBA2C. My dr said they did attempt VBACs (after 1) but she didn't think they did them after 2, and on the way out, she ran into another dr in the practice who said, nope, they don't. I walked out feeling really defeated. Really. Some people will say, what's the big deal? There are risks to having VBACs. Well, yes, but there are more risks to having multiple c-sections. I want to at least have those risks weighed, look at all pros and cons of either possibilities, see what not only affects me now but also when it comes to possibly having more children, etc, etc. I might go into this more (the reasons, risks, etc) in another post at another time. But it's important to me to be given the opportunity if it is possible. There are a number of reasons. And having that option taken away...well, like I said, I felt very defeated.

On the way home, headache was getting worse. It started out a headache, now it's getting to migraine status. Quickly. We haven't decided why yet, but I've been getting them a lot lately (as in over the last six months or more - took me a while to realize they were migraines, and they've continued to get worse lately).

Then Aiden falls asleep on the way home. This is not good. Sometimes he'll go to his bed after falling asleep; sometimes not. If you saw the post on his night terrors, you know why his nap is important. Now I'm regretting having the appt so close to lunchtime, but there really wasn't a choice. And...of course, he doesn't nap once home. We tried. Really tried.

By then, my migraine was getting really bad. It soon reached the point where it might very well be the worst I have ever had. By the time Camden gets home from school, I'm lying on the couch, pretty much not able to function. He was the sweetest thing ever, trying to take care of me. He offered me something to eat about every five seconds, which was a tiny bit annoying...but I'll take that over ignoring me. It really was sweet, though, and he was so caring. I love being reminded of what a great kid he is. Aiden, who can't stand anyone to lie down (or pretend they're sleeping), finally got the hint that mom didn't feel well and showed a bit of sweetness, too. At one point, he was climbing to sit next to me, and he bumped my head really hard with his - right where my head was throbbing. I covered my face so he wouldn't see me crying about it (man, it hurt!), but he did notice after a while. He patted my face softly and said, "Oh, I'm sorry, Mommy. I'm sorry." (Sniff! Sweet child.) When Ryan called to say he was on his way home (you know mama is sick if she asks him to come home...and without even hinting about it first, too!), Camden took the call. I lifted my head up to hear something over speaker-phone, and Aiden gently tried to push my head back down and said, "No, go to sleep." Seriously, how sweet are my kids?! This is totally unlike Aiden, so he must really have understood I wasn't feeling well. It did take a while...first he kept shoving toys in my face and trying to play on top of me or tell me to get up. But still.

Ryan got home around 5:00 or so, and I went up to bed. Thank God I have an awesome husband that is willing (and able) to come home a little early and just take over with everything. I didn't get to sleep until 10pm or later, but it still was nice to lie in bed, in the dark. Aiden came up for his bedtime to nurse, and then he just stayed there and slept next to me. Since he didn't nap, we were worried about a bad night, and I didn't want to have to get up in the middle of the night. He actually did fairly well. A couple times he moaned some and kicked his legs around, tossed and turned some. I was worried it would get worse, but it really didn't. Maybe he should just start out in bed with us more often...

Anyway, it was a rough day. Worst headache ever. I even had nausea with this one, and I never have that. Woke up with a tiny bit of a headache this morning, but it was the kind I can ignore and still go on about my day. That's good because it was my turn to host a playdate, and I really didn't want to cancel! So, we were able to have friends over and have a great time. Aiden is now napping right on schedule. Today is a much better day.

Now, back to the VBAC issue... I love our ob/gyn office. I really do. And so I was very disappointed to have my bubble burst before leaving. But later the dr emailed me saying that some folks over AT Duke *would* consider letting me labor and try for a natural delivery (no induction, though, which is fine with me). The practice I see is affiliated with Duke but not located in the hospital. This other group is associated with the high risk ob dept, I believe. So, hopefully we can soon set up a prepregnancy appointment and see if they can do a risk-analysis and see what they say. (Um, don't assume this means much of anything. We are not pregnant right now. We're big on planning ahead. And this is not something you want to discuss and plan AFTER getting pregnant...) I'm not betting yet that this means I definitely will get to try for a natural delivery, but I'm hopeful that it might mean I have a chance. I know other things could get in the way, too, such as a chance of placenta previa (which I dealt with during both previous pregnancies), etc. Hopefully none of that will be a concern, but you never know. We'll just have to wait and see what they think after hearing my history, etc. Not sure how soon that will happen, but I'll update.