Friday, July 25, 2014

Our Newest Little One

We welcomed our newest little one into the world on July 22, 2014 at 3:37 p.m. As I had mentioned in my previous post, I went in to be induced. I was nervous about this because I had already had a previous cesarean and a VBAC, and really wanted to do another VBAC, even though being induced could increase my chances for another cesarean. We got to the hospital at around 6 in the morning and by about 8, I was on the Pitocin. My midwife was going to be coming in later to break my water but it ended up breaking on its own (yay!). Around noon, I was only about 4 cm dilated, so I sent my husband home to see the kids for awhile (we live about 5 minutes away from the hospital). Shortly before 3 p.m., I was finally measuring at a 7. I called my husband to let him know to go ahead and come back after he got Snuggle Bug to calm down (I could hear him fussing in the background). No more than 10 or 15 minutes later, I felt a lot of pressure and a strong urge to push. The nurse immediate got my midwife who checked me and said that I was all ready to go and baby was coming. My husband hadn't gotten back to the hospital yet so I called him again to let him know to hurry up. After calling twice with no answer, he walks through the door. My midwife finished getting prepped and it was time to start pushing. Just 15 minutes later, our baby boy was here!
He weighed in at 7 lbs., 14.7 oz., and measured 20 inches long. He's perfectly healthy and is sweet just like his older two siblings. He also has quite a bit more hair than they had at birth. 

This pregnancy has been my easiest (I did not throw up even once). The birth was also pretty easy (epidurals help, but I'm also glad I wasn't pushing for an hour). And while this little man is only 3 days old, he's been very easy to take care of. We had a very good first night at home. My husband went in to work this morning for half a day and things went very smoothly with all three children. A part of me is waiting for my luck to run out.

This sweet boy has made it very easy for us to fall in love with him.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Last Day as a Mother of Two

It's now official. Today is my last full day as a "mother of two". My due date for baby #3 was last Thursday, and I am now 4 days overdue. I had an appointment this morning with my midwife and she had mentioned inducing some time next week, as that would be the furthest they could let me go. However, after the crazy weekend we had it is just time to get this baby out (an illness that I'm not going to get into has hit the family which knocks out one option of childcare and my other source of reliable childcare will not be available next week---so my reasons for wanting baby out now are not entirely selfish, as I feel pretty good physically and could keep going).

I am scheduled to be induced tomorrow at 6 a.m. Honestly, I'm a bit nervous. I was hoping not to be induced as it could increase my chances for another C-section. I had a C-section with my daughter, and even though it wasn't what I had desired, it still went well. But then with my son, I attempted a VBAC, and did really well with that (and healing was much better!). I really hope I can have another successful VBAC, and that my decision to be induced doesn't come back to bite me.

I've been spending the remainder of my day at home with my two sweet children as I get in my last really good snuggles before their world gets rocked. Sugar Plum should be fine, as she's gone through this before, but Snuggle Bug may have a hard time. He knows there is a baby in my tummy and he snuggles it all the time. I just don't think he understand that baby will soon be outside of my tummy and making a lot of noise and needing a lot of attention. I've spent a portion of my afternoon on the couch with this little guy and had to get some last shots of him loving on my tummy. It's been an amazing few months as I've grown and got to experience Snuggle Bug's tenderness and his love towards his unborn baby brother.

I adore his big blue eyes.

I told Sugar Plum as soon as I got back from my appointment this morning that her new baby brother will be here tomorrow. She's so very excited. The picture doesn't show it, as the movie Alice in Wonderland has her attention. Just for the record, I love her big green eyes too.

As far as everything else goes, I feel prepared yet very unprepared. My house is not how I'd like it to be. I'm good on my everyday chores like laundry and dishes, but everything else is chaos. Not extreme chaos, but I wish I had more motivation to get some other things done. I've accepted the fact that the house will never be completely ready, especially with a 4 year old and 2 year old destroying it.

I think I'm prepared enough with food. I have two baked penne dishes and two lasagnas in the freezer, along with a bag of chili and a bag of Brunswick stew. I made a list for my husband of take-out options to bring me while I am in the hospital. While I am going to try finding vegan options on the hospital menu, I know it will not be easy so it's good to have a backup plan. As I experienced during our hospital stay last October for my sons surgery, the cafeteria does not offer hardly any vegan options. (Yes, they do have salad with one vegan option for dressing, but I, like many other vegans, have gotten very tired of salads as they are the only vegan option at most restaurants). While they did have hummus, it looked gross and dried out since hummus eaters in eastern North Carolina are few and far between.

That's about it I guess! My next blog post will hopefully be about our newest little one.


Recipe: Sweet & Spicy Baked Beans

Baked beans are one of those things that are hard to mess up. My dad always made his own and never had a written recipe. From him, I learned to just add whatever I wanted and to experiment with different flavors. However, once I concocted this recipe, I kept going right back to it. I love the sweet and spicy contrast. It's not too spicy to where my young children cannot enjoy it, but it does have a nice little kick. As they get older, I'll probably add a bit more chili powder.

Jenny's Sweet & Spicy Baked Beans
Recipe Source: Jenny's Creation

2 (28 oz.) cans Busch's Vegetarian Baked Beans
1 large onion
1 c. ketchup
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground mustard

Drain the liquid from the cans of baked beans (but do not rinse!). Add the beans into an oven-safe dish. Add all other ingredients and stir until well-combined. Bake at 350 for one hour (or longer, if desired).

It's that simple!


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Our Fourth of July

Bright and early yesterday morning, the Sugar Plum came into our room and asked in a very  loud and excited voice, "Is it time for the party?!!". I looked over at the clock and it wasn't quite 6:30 yet, so of course I told her no and to go back into her bed and read her books so we could get a little bit more sleep.

So that is how my morning of the Fourth of July began. I had done some baking the night before (a blueberry and lemon cake and chocolate strawberry shortcake cupcakes), which is how Sugar Plum knew that today was going to be a special day.

When it was time to wake up, my husband promptly went outside to blow up the kiddie pool for the kids. This got both of them very excited as they watched their daddy from the back door. I did a little bit more cooking and then relaxed for the rest of the morning. I waited until early afternoon to add the frosting and fruit on the desserts, so that it would be as fresh as possible (nobody likes a wilted strawberry). My husbands parents arrived in the afternoon and we all went outside to watch  the kids play in the pool. It's fun as an adult to watch little kids play and splash in a pool, or play on the swing set, etc. I remember having fun doing these things as a child but I think I love watching my own children have that kind of fun even more.

We had a good Fourth of July dinner and desserts, then sat around and chatted for awhile. Then it was time for my in-laws to head home. We opted not to go see the fireworks because Sugar Plum is terrified of loud noises, so the kids ran around the house and played for awhile before bed time. They were both being very silly, Snuggle Bug with his funny faces for the camera and Sugar Plum had fun running away from me while I tried to take her picture. Luckily with my new camera I was able to catch her in action without the shots being blurry. Her laughs and smiles are one of my favorite things.

By bed time, the kids were so exhausted from their busy day that Snuggle Bug fell asleep during the bedtime story and while Sugar Plum made it through the story, she decided not to have any books to read in bed and let us turn off the lamp early (she usually spends about 15 minutes looking at her books before she falls asleep). So we knew she'd be out soon (and she was, within about 5 minutes). I hope everyone was able to enjoy their Fourth of July holiday!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Recipe: Sesame Tofu

If you love Chinese food but have found yourself in a bit of a moral and ethical dilemma concerning our feathered friends, have given up eating meat for health reasons, or if you simply love tofu, then I have the recipe for you!

This is my "Better Than Take-Out, Better Than Chicken, Sesame Tofu", and it is omnivore approved!

Sesame Tofu

2 blocks of firm tofu
cornstarch (enough to coat tofu)
vegetable oil

green onion (for garnish)
sesame seeds (for garnish)

1/2 c. agave
3/4 c. soy sauce (I use Kikkoman)
1 c. vegetable broth
1/4 c. flour
3 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
1/2 c. brown sugar

green onion
sesame seeds

Tofu: Prepare tofu as desired. Our preferred method is cubed, then placed on a baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for around 30-45 minutes. Other ways we've prepared it is to coat in cornstarch before placing on the baking sheet and spraying with cooking oil. Another option is coating in cornstarch and pan frying in oil. We used to do this but it was labor intensive and not so healthy.

1. In a mixing bowl, combine agave, soy sauce, 1/2 c. vegetable broth, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and brown sugar. Mix well and pour into frying pan.
2. In a separate bowl, combine remaining 1/2 c. vegetable broth and flour. Whisk until there are no lumps, then add to frying pan.
3. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Bring the sauce to a boil.
4. After boiling for a couple of minutes, turn the heat down to medium-low. Let cook until the sauce is thick and sticky.
5. Add prepared tofu to the sauce and stir until tofu is evenly coated.
6. Add chopped green onion into the sauce and stir until well-combined.
7. Remove from heat. Transfer tofu to serving plate and garnish with sesame seeds.

Serve with brown rice.

Recipe: Light & Fluffy Pancakes

We have a Sunday morning tradition of eating pancakes or waffles for breakfast. The best part of the tradition is that my husband does the cooking for a change. We have (or should I say he has) tried a number of vegan pancake recipes and this is probably our favorite. 

The only weird ingredient is the Ener-G Egg Replacer. It's made from potato starch and tapioca flour and a few other vegan ingredients. It works well as an egg substitute for baked goods in many recipes, but not all. Unfortunately, I've never seen it in the store so we ordered ours from Amazon.

Back to this amazing recipe, it's our go-to recipe for a plain pancake. We have not tried to add fruit or chocolate chips to this recipe, as we do have other pancake recipes we prefer for those. But for a plain pancake with a dollop of vegan buttery spread and maple syrup, this recipe wins!

Light & Fluffy Vegan Pancakes
Recipe Source: My Vegan Cookbook

Makes about 8 pancakes

2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer, Unprepared
¼ tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda

1 Tbsp. vegan buttery spread (I use Earth Balance), melted
2 ½ c. unsweetened original almond milk (must be almond, not soy!)
In a small mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients and fold together slowly. (Do not over stir, as this could result in a rubbery pancake.) Fold and lightly stir until you have a lumpy mixture.
In a cast iron skillet (strongly recommend this), spray canola oil and turn on to medium-low heat. Pour 2/3 cup of batter onto the skillet. Cook until golden brown underneath and bubbles begin to rise to the top surface of the pancake. Flip the pancake and cook until golden brown on the other side.
Note: Do not stir the pancake batter as you continue pouring the pancake batter on the skillet. This will result in a gummy pancake.

Recipe: Southern Black-Eyed Peas

Southern Black-Eyed Peas
Recipe Source: Chef Chloe Coscarelli, Chloe's Kitchen

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cups cauliflower florets, roughly chopped into ½-inch pieces (I use frozen cauliflower)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (I use just a dash because I have young children)
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup water (I leave this out because otherwise the dish would be too runny)
¼ cup soy sauce
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat and sauté onions and green peppers until soft. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently, until it is lightly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, cayenne and salt, and cook a few more minutes.

Stir in black-eyed peas, tomato sauce, water, soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.

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