Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What a Difference a Year Makes

A year ago today I was sitting in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and medicine that were supposed to help get my baby to make his appearance in this world. My dear little nugget had held out for a whole week past his due date and if you saw me at that point, you would understand how badly he needed to come out. I'm telling you, he really needed to come out. 
This was 39 weeks. He cooked for TWO more weeks.
After birthing three children, I have come to the conclusion that I have what I call a "cervix of steel". Nothing's getting through that sucker without modern medicine. If we had let all of my pregnancies go naturally, I probably would have birthed three 2-year-olds.

I had been induced two times before this, thanks to my over-achieving cervix, so I knew the drill. Be there super early, sign the papers, get hooked up, and away we go. 
Water breaks.
Baby born.
All the feels.
Home in two days.
Wham, bam, thank you doctor.
Only this time it didn't go the way I planned. 
Everything was on track. The contractions were coming pretty good, sometimes two at a time, and were getting to the point that I couldn't talk during them. We were patiently waiting for the doctor to come check me and break my water so I could get an epidural (Yes. I get epidurals, I get induced if necessary, and I wasn't able to breastfeed. So all you Judgy McJudgersons can just judge away with your badself.) and then were hoping to have a baby that evening. 
When the doctor came in, he decided to break my water. About 16 minutes later, we had a baby.
When my water broke, for some reason the baby went up instead of down. I felt that something weird happened but wasn't sure what it was, and then the doctor hung around the monitor and watched it for a minute. That made me nervous. What I later found out was that he was waiting for the next contraction to see if baby would come down the way he was supposed to. They had me turn a little to the side to help him come down (I still had no idea what was going on). With the next contraction came all the chaos. Instead of baby coming down, my umbilical cord came out.
 Like OUT.
On the bed.
And then baby came down on top of it, cutting it off. 
I felt it happen, and I knew whatever it was wasn't good, but I still had no idea what was going on.
The doctor literally jumped on the bed and put his hand up inside to lift the baby's head off of the umbilical cord. My husband told me that the doctor said "Cord" and all the nurses started flying around the room. A nurse came over and replaced the doctor holding the baby's head up and he informed us that we were going to do an emergency c-section. The nurse climbed on the bed, still holding baby's head inside me, and they flew me down the hall to the operating room. Because it was an emergency, they had to knock me out. And my poor husband was left in the hospital room still trying to comprehend what just happened. 

Here's what I remember:
The doctor jumped on the bed and shoved his hand up inside me and started talking to me. I'll give him that he stayed calm, but he was trying to explain what happened while all these nurses were running around the room and I was feeling some serious pain. I didn't hear a word he said. I looked at him and said "Stop, tell me what is going on right now." and he said "We are taking you for an emergency c-section.". My stomach dropped. My heart was pounding, I was still clinging to the side of the bed from when they had me turn earlier. My muscles started shaking. The nurse came and replaced the doctor and they started wheeling me down the hallway with my legs wide open and a nurse's hand up my crotch keeping my baby alive. All the way down the hall all I could do was say Jesus' name over and over in my head. It was the only thought that would form because I was so scared. They wheeled me in the operating room and had to lift me onto the table. 
Have you ever literally felt like a beached whale? I imagine that's what it feels like...
Once I was on the table, there were people everywhere and they were doing all kinds of things to me. And all of it hurt. I can't even describe the pain. I had no epidural yet so I felt every single thing. At one point it felt like 5 people had their hands inside me. It was as close to feeling violated as I pray I will ever get. I actually cried out in pain several times, which I have never done before. I could hear doctors talking and one was talking to me, telling me to look at him and they were going to put me to sleep. All I could think was "Make it stop. Please make it stop!" Finally, they put the mask on and I fell asleep.

When I woke up my husband was there. He told me we had a beautiful, healthy little boy. And then he told me that in the process of the c-section, the doctor accidentally cut the side of his head with the scalpel. He had 6 stitches, but he was going to be just fine. 
I was so out of it that I just said "okay".
When I was ready, they moved me to my postpartum room. On the way, they stopped at the nursery so I could meet my little boy. He was perfect and looked just like his sister.
Honestly, the rest of that night is a blur. I remember holding him for the first time. And I remember my parents coming in the room. My husband had called them as soon as they took me back for the c-section. I remember at one point it was just my mom and I and when I looked at her I just started crying. I couldn't hold it in anymore.  
Everything hurt.
I missed it.
I missed him being born.
Nothing went the way it was supposed to.
He had stitches in his head.
I had experienced pain like I never had before.
I just needed to cry.

But he was perfect. He was beautiful. He was so awake. He would just lay and stare. And I was so thankful for all of that.

The next few days in the hospital were pretty rough. The recovery from an emergency c-section with local anesthetic and a vertical incision is worse than a planned c-section. It was painful and slow and to top it off I fought off a UTI for two weeks. It was at least a month before I felt like a human being again. But I got there with the help of my family and a lot of really great friends.
There's a bit more I could share about that first month, including another trip to the hospital and struggling with breastfeeding, but I wanted to share the birth story. People, women especially, can be so unforgiving when they don't agree with something, and thanks to the internet, anyone can say anything they like regardless of how it might make a person feel. So this is my story and I'm not ashamed to say that I was induced three times after going over my due date each time, I would have totally gotten an epidural again if I had the chance, and I tried my hardest to breastfeed but it just didn't work out. 
Sometimes things don't go the way we plan. When I signed those papers in the morning giving them permission to perform a c-section if necessary, I didn't even flinch because I never expected it to happen to me. But it did, and I thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that I still came out of it with a healthy baby. Some mamas don't. And my heart breaks for them. I pray that they find solace in knowing Jesus has his arms around those babies.

Now it's a year later and my silly, smiley, healthy, happy boy is sleeping upstairs. He has brought so much joy to our family and I can't imagine if we didn't have him. 
All of those things make it hurt a little less to think back to all that we went through to get him here. Three years ago we suffered a miscarriage at 16 weeks. (You can read about it here.) I was so broken by it I swore I was done having kids. Thankfully God changed my heart. Then my pregnancy was long and not easy. And of course we made it through the story I just shared with you.
I'm not saying my story is worse or better than anyone else's, but it's mine. And through it all I give God the glory. There are no promises that we won't see pain and hard times in our life. Being a follower of Christ isn't a hallpass to get through the world. It just means that when we experience life's hardships and struggles, we have a hope to hold onto and an awesome God in our corner. It still hurts to look back at these experiences, my muscles kept shaking as I relived this while writing, but my pain is lessened because I believe that God has a purpose and a plan for my life and for the life of my son. 
And I can't wait to find out what that is.
Happy Birthday Sweet Boy. 

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." ~James 1:12

Monday, May 16, 2016

Wacky Chocolate Cake

Last week we had a dinner to go to and I was asked to bring dessert. I usually have a box mix in the pantry for such occasions, but since we are slowly working towards 100% clean eating again, I didn't have one this time. 
This chocolate cake recipe quickly came to mind.
It's another great recipe out of the Mayo Clinic Kids' Cookbook.

I will state right away that this recipe isn't clean. It uses white sugar. However, the rest of the ingredients are pretty good, and it's egg free if that's an issue for your household. My plan is to play with the recipe and figure out how to get it completely clean. Once I do, I'll make sure to post it!

It's called "Wacky" because of how you make it. But maybe it's called wacky because that's how you feel after baking with your kids...
Well, lets find out!

Here's all the ingredients you need:

 Most of these are things you already have in your pantry. The only change I made so far is using olive oil instead of canola oil. I use just a little bit less than the recipe calls for. It makes for a very moist cake! For anyone not used to buy whole wheat pastry flour, you will most likely find it in a health food section of your regular grocery store.

The absolute best thing about this recipe is the clean up.
No. Bowls.
Or mixers.
I know, right?!

You just dump all your dry ingredients right in an ungreased baking dish.
Yes, you read that right.


Whisk the dry ingredients together. Yes. Right there in the pan.

*Notice my amazing baking helpers*
I mean, how do you make wacky cake without some wacky helpers?

Once it's all whisked up, take a wooden spoon and make three holes in the mixture.

This is where the kids have fun. 

In each hole you pour a different wet ingredient: vinegar, vanilla, and oil.

Now pour in the water and whisk everything together until the dry ingredients are completely mixed in.

*Again, notice the whisking by my fabulous helper*

Make sure to get in all the corners, and I even take a spatula to wipe around the edges.

This is what your batter should look like:

This batter is different than regular cake batter. Because of the pastry flour, it's more of a spongy consistency, so don't let that worry you. 

The downside to not using bowls is the edges of your pan get a bit dirty...but I know some of you obsessive cleaners will wipe all of that up. I'm not that ambitious.

Pop 'er in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Ok, so I may have forgotten to take a picture before we started "taste testing" it...

This cake is rich enough that you don't need frosting, another plus for watching your calorie
Just sprinkle some powdered sugar on top and dig in! 

That's Oliver. He's a fun guy. You should check him out.

Wacky Chocolate Cake
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar 
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (I use baking olive oil)
  • 2 cups water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour all dry ingredients into ungreased 9x13 in baking pan. Whisk together.
Make 3 holes with a wooden spoon. 
Pour vanilla in one hole, vinegar in another hole, and oil in the last hole.
Heat water in the microwave for 3 minutes (or until it's boiling) and then pour over the ingredients. Whisk them all together for 2 minutes or until thoroughly mixed. 
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool cake on cooling rack. 
Sprinkle powdered sugar, cut, and serve. 


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Homemade Salsa

If you are a regular reader (which is what...two posts a year?), then you know that in the past I have not been a green-thumb kind of girl. I grew up with a mother that I believe has 10 green fingers. Our house was filled with plants, we had a vegetable garden (that was my dad's project), and always had pretty flowers outside. I just didn't appreciate those things as a child...

Finally at 30-years-old, I tried my hand at the "plant thing". I figured if I have kept two kids alive this hard can plants be??

I started with a flower garden a couple years ago and it actually did really well. I was very proud of that accomplishment. However...somewhere in August I stopped watering and it took on more of a jungle-esque look. But some of them made it to the end of the season!

With how well the flower garden went, I fully intended on trying a vegetable garden the next summer.
That is, until this little cutie made his arrival in May.

Needless to say, a vegetable garden did not happen that year. I was just a tad busy.

Instead I continued to raid my friends' gardens and take whatever handouts I could get with no shame.

This year a garden crossed my mind...but in all honesty, since May of last year I feel like I've been playing catch up with life. So I knew a garden was beyond my capabilities.

One day a few weeks ago my mom was babysitting and she bought me a couple tomato plants, weeded my whole flower bed, and planted them for me. Have I ever mentioned how great my mom is?? So I now have two tomato plants! Woohoo!

Since my mom already did all the work of weeding the flower bed, I decided to plant some flowers. This year due to budget and time constraints, I planted flower seeds. 
This was about a week ago.
So far I have learned I'm not a very patient person...
In preparation of my potential future plethora of tomatoes, I thought I'd post a great recipe for homemade salsa. I don't claim that this is better than any other homemade recipe, but I made it last year and thought it was really flavorful. I found it at Kim's Healthy Eats.

However, I was politely informed it was not nearly hot enough. Thanks hubby.
I already had almost all the ingredients. Believe it or not, I had never bought a jalapeno pepper before. So that was a fun experience of trying to act like I knew what I was doing at the grocery store. The recipe calls for 2-3 and since I had no experience with them, I stuck to two. Which was not good enough for my fire-breathing husband. I'm pretty sure I could pour a bottle of Tabasco in and it still wouldn't be hot enough. (insert eye roll here)  
Some of us that also like to eat salsa also enjoy having taste buds left after eating it.
Next time he will just get his own special batch that will probably melt the container I store it in.

It's really quite simple.
Roughly chop up all of your ingredients.

I put all the veggies and cilantro in a bowl and then tossed them with the vinegar and lemon juice.

So pretty!

Toss it in your food processor (or blender).

Then pulse it until it's the consistency you like.

So simple and easy. And so yummy!
I don't know about you, but no salsa tastes better than fresh salsa.

I kept a large portion for us in a plastic container in the fridge. And then passed some on to friends in some jars.

I'm really looking forward to making more this summer with my own tomatoes.
Finger's crossed I can keep them alive!

Homemade Salsa
  • 3-4 lbs tomato (I say any kind, the original recipe says red/yellow grape tomatoes)
  • 1/2 small red onion, peeled
  • 2 or 3 small jalapeƱo peppers (or 10 if you are my husband)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • large handful of cilantro
  • 2 splashes of red wine vinegar (around 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 lemon or lime juiced
Roughly chop tomatoes, onion, and peppers.
Add all ingredients to food processor or blender.
Pulse until desired consistency.  

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Crochet Sunburst Granny Square Blanket

Talk about a labor of love.
I started this blanket in January of 2014. 
I had only been crocheting for about 7 months and I got it in my head to make a full size blanket. I had made two baby blankets up to that point, but not an adult sized one. 

A friend had started a granny square project around that time so that inspired me to try out the granny square. I had honestly avoided it because I was new to crochet's called a granny square. It made me think of old lady blankets. But when I started looking around on Pinterest I saw that I was so very wrong! Oh, how naive my newbie crochet self was.

In January of 2014 I started out with this. 

I knew I wanted gray and bright colors. 
At that point we thought we were moving (*spoiler - we were wrong) so I was planning on living in a rental house with white walls that I wasn't allowed to paint.
This blanket was going to be my splash of color against the white walls. 

I had no plan when I started except dark gray background, light gray with sparkle in the middle, and a color. I just pulled whatever colors I had in my ever-growing stash and started making more squares. 

Eventually I had a whole lot of squares. Like stacks. I laid them all out on my bed, got a pencil and paper and mapped out a plan. I came up with diagonal stripes of each color. I originally wanted to do spontaneous/sporadic colors everywhere, but I was trying so hard to make it spontaneous it was looking very calculated. Backfire. 
I decided stripes were better. 

Over the next two years, these squares went back and forth between sitting in organized stacks on a shelf and actually being added to. At some point I realized I had to figure out how the heck to connect them. I tried a couple different methods I found online and finally settled on just slip stitching them together. I love how easy it was and how the finished product looks with the slip stitch join. 

This blanket has spent the majority of it's life either folded up behind the couch or laying on the back of the couch half stitched together.

I added a couple more rows last year when I was pregnant and quickly realized that if I wanted it to be a full size blanket....I had a lot of work left to do. So back behind the couch it went.

In the last few months I've made some progress with my little crochet hobby/business. I was inspired by all the fabulous people on Instagram to make a ripple blanket with my yarn stash. (I'll post that another day) I finished it surprisingly fast and after I was done I had a thought of  "oh yeah....maybe I should finish that other blanket...".

I made the executive decision to join the rest of it, slap a border on it and call it good. 
I found the perfect border...and then the pattern turned out to be a complete pain. It may have been ripped out a couple times.
Remember when I said "labor of love"?
But finally I figured it out.

 It was a great day when I weaved in the last end on this project.
Two years and 4 months later.
And now it can lay on the back of my couch fully finished. 

Granny Square Pattern ~ Sunburst Granny Square