Monday, September 27, 2010

Soups On! (Updated 10/12/10)

It's fall, and today the weather is overcast, rainy, and in the 60s. This makes me want to eat soup.

Here are some crock pot soup recipes I plan on trying in the next few weeks (Note: I have not actually cooked any of these, so I don't know how they will turn out, and I can't give them my personal seal of approval yet. However, if you plan to make any of these, read the comments to see how successful others have been and to see what great additions/changes people make.)

Albondigas (Meatball) Soup (there is a suggestion to substitute parsley for the mint in this recipe....)

Pasta Fagioli (apparently very similar to Olive Garden's famous soup) I made this today (9/29) and it was fantastic! I prepped all my veggies/beans the night before and stuck them in a Ziploc in the fridge with my ground beef (turkey); I did increase the carrots/celery a bit to use up some of what I had, and subbed black beans for white, because that is what I had on-hand. I measured the spices into the crock pot (I used bullion cubes rather than stock/broth, so those went in too) and set out the cans of diced tomatoes and jar of pasta sauce. In the morning, I was able to just dump in the prepped veggies/meat, dump in the sauce/tomatoes, and fill the jar with water twice to get my 4 cups of water for the bullion/broth. Couple of dashes of Tabasco, a quick stir, and soup was cooking before my tea pot was even whistling! When I got home, I removed half the soup to freeze (by the way, this nearly filled my 6qt crock- it makes a LOT of soup!) then added about 1/2 a cup of dry rotini and let it go another hour. I served with shredded Parmesan cheese on top, garlic bread, fresh fruit (and was supposed to have a salad, but we didn't get that far.) This is very filling, excellent flavor, and a hit with the whole family; the half-batch made enough for generous dinner portions for 2 adults and 2 kids, plus 2 lunch servings left over. I love that I got 2 meals for the effort of one, and that it is hearty enough to eat like a meal. Plus, it's pretty darn healthy! What's not to love?

Butternut Squash Soup (This looks super healthy, and I will plan to serve it with a side of quiona to get our protein in for the meal) I made this soup last week. I did substitute applesauce for the diced apple, and used onion flakes instead of onion. This was very "eh..." in our house. It smelled wonderful (like squash-apple butter) and I think that was part of the problem. Because it smelled like a sweet treat (really, the spices are the same as you would use in pumpkin pie), it was a little disconcerting to have it turn out as such a savory soup. I think the kids were expecting something sweet. John and I liked it- it was creamy and filling, but I don't know if I will make it again. Definitly serve this with cheese of some sort (grilled cheese, or, as we in all our fanciness had- string cheese) because it really does enhance the flavor. Don't count on this to be a big hit with the kids, not because it tastes bad, but because the kids probably will smell it and expect something else.

Buffalo Wing Soup (I will add potatoes and serve with Blue Cheese crumbles/slices on top:) I made this soup on Friday (10/1). Unfortunately, when I came home from running errands, I found out that the people who have been fixing our kitchen (from our minor kitchen fire in August) had laid the flooring while I was gone, and we couldn't walk on the kitchen floor until Saturday. Thankfully, I could reach the crock pot to turn it off, but I couldn't reach the extra ingredients (I had planned to add the Velveeta during the last hour or so, since I wasn't sure how long I would be gone and a few people had mentioned in the comments that their cheese had burned when they left their soup go all day.) I managed to squeeze this into my 2qt crock, but probably wouldn't do that again since it was SO FULL that it would have been hard to add in the cheese. I will have to try this again... in my 4qt. On a day when I am allowed to walk on my kitchen floor. (I was so looking forward to this!!!! Maybe I will try it again tomorrow.)

Split Pea Soup (I have turkey bacon I can use, and if the kids won't eat the soup, the bacon can go a long way with some bread for their dinner.) I made this soup over the weekend. I randomly found a ham shank (which is apparently the meaty end of leg) at my local grocery (Karnes) for $2 and decided to pick it up for use in this soup. So glad I did! It really added a lot of flavor and richness to the soup. I did not add any extra salt since I used chicken bullion/broth and the ham shank. i was out of onion, so I used a good palmful of onion flakes. We all like this (even the kids ate the "green soup.") I did not mush any of the potatoes/carrots since I had so much meat in the soup, and I ended up kind of liking it that way. I served this with a side of cornbread and fresh fruit (except, we didn't have the fruit, because I forgot to put it on the table) and it was a very tasty, filling meal for a cold, rainy day.

Chicken and Rice Soup (this calls for Herbs de Provence- I don't have that on hand, but after looking at what is in Herbs de Provence, I think it is worth buying some on my next trip to the store- things like fennel and lavender cannot easily be substituted, although the link above does have a recipe for a substitution.) I made this for dinner tonight, 9/30/10 (told you I was in a soup mood!) This recipe filled my 6 qt crock pot. I used 8 cups of "broth" (bullion), and forgot the extra cup of "water." I also prepped a bunch of veggies in the food processor the night before (a whole head of cauliflower, carrots, celery, half an onion) so I had about double the veggies that the recipe called for. I think the double veggies was fine, especially since they were such tiny nuggets of them. I also used two 13 ounce cans of chicken breast (drained) instead of other types of chicken, since that was what I had on hand and was fast- this probably made it a little more chicken-y than the original recipe. The soup probably could have used that extra cup of water, as it was very thick, but we didn't mind. The rice did kind of get mushy and break down a bit, but we liked it that way. I doubled the Herbs de Provence, thinking the cauliflower might overwhelm the flavor of the soup- that seemed like a good call. We all thought it needed salt, though, and I really liked adding pepper to my bowls. This was very hearty soup that contained protein, grains, and veggies. I served with a salad, fresh orange slices, and yogurt. We have enough left over for me to have it for lunch for another 2 days, so I would call this a hit! The only down side was that my kitchen was painted today, and it really smelled, so I wasn't able to appreciate the smell of the soup, and all our food seemed a little "off" because of the paint odor:(

Saturday, September 25, 2010

35 Week Bumpdate

35 weeks. 5 more to go, maximum. Only 3.5 weeks to my goal of 10/20/10 (how fun would it be to have the birthday 10/20/2010?) The end is in sight.

We had a little scare earlier this week... on Tuesday morning I went in to L&D to get checked out. I wasn't feeling the baby move very much, and my fundal height was measuring small (much smaller than it had been at my doctor's visit.) These were the same issues that led to the emergency induction at 37 weeks with Abigail. We still don't know for sure what caused the issues in my pregnancy with Abigail, so I am a very aware and vigilant to monitor for those same issues this time around. If we don't know what caused it, we don't know that we have "fixed" or prevented it in this pregnancy, you know?

Anyway, things checked out great: I had a non-stress test for the baby, and Nugget had appropriate heart rates the whole time. I started feeling more fetal movement, and a quick ultrasound showed an appropriate level of amniotic fluid as well as showing that the baby was head down! It was really reassuring.

Not so reassuring was the weight on the scale at my routine OB visit on Thursday... I am half a pound short of the 50 pound mark. Sadness. Especially since it is all in my butt and thighs. :(

I will be going to the OB weekly now until the baby comes. Next week is the vaginal check (maybe I am dilating?) and the group B strep test. Bliss.

In non-medical news, I started packing my hospital bag today. What did you pack that was a life-saver? What was a waste of time/space? Did you pack anything special for dad or older siblings?

I have my stuff pretty well figured out... I am mostly packing sweats for after the delivery, since they are so forgiving. I read today that when you leave the hospital, you are about the same size you were at the 5-6 month mark. Here I was at the 21 and 24 week mark...

If I leave the hospital looking like that, I will consider it pretty darn good:) John and I were talking about how I should do "deflation" pictures... a picture each week of how my belly is shrinking and returning to normal. Which would probably be a good motivator, but perhaps a bit embarrasing? But who am I kidding- you all (few) who read this blog know all my crazy/embarassing stuff anyway:)

The girls at work were commenting that they thought I had "dropped"... as one of them said "you actually can tell the difference between the boob bump and the belly bump now!" I guess I no longer have the uniboobelly? I don't feel like I have "dropped" at all (especially right now, when it feels like Nugget is using a vice to separate my rib cage.) But maybe with the baby head down, I am carrying a little differently. What do you think?

2 Years

Oops, I meant to post this yesterday, but then I started having contractions, and I got a bit distracted....

2 years ago yesterday, my mom, Abigail, Anna and I landed in DC; Anna had been sick on the flight, and my mom and I had not slept at all. John met us at the airport, and on the way home Anna had her first taste of french fries and milkshakes. My sister flew in and arrived at my house shortly after we did. It was a surreal day.

And in the world of adoption milestones, that day will always be the day I consider our first "Family Day."

Of course, I had met Anna in Ethiopia 10 days earlier, but it was the milestone of having the four of us together- John, the girls, and I- that makes the 24th of September so special. At the time, John and I were dating- not even engaged yet- but when I look back, that is the day that our family finally felt right. Even though I had been worried it would be the day that our family turned terribly "wrong."

John and I were dating for less than a year before I started the adoption process; it was a hard time for him when I announced that I planned to adopt a child. There were a lot of things that made it difficult for him, one of which was the feeling that I was planning a future without him in it, and another of which was the feeling that adoption was simply not a fit for him. In my defense, I didn't realize that he was as committed to our relationship was he was at that point, and I didn't think we were at the point of planning a future together or making decisions together. In the end, we ended up breaking up for a while, with the adoption being one of the major issues that we couldn't resolve. Eventually, John decided that he wanted Abigail and I in his life, even if it meant also adding another child to the mix... although he was pretty convinced that he could never love that child the way he loved Abigail.

But when Anna came home, I knew. I mean, I knew all along that Anna was supposed to be in my life, but when Anna and John finally met, I knew that she was supposed to be in his life- and he in hers. As she started to come out of her shell and open up more, it became so blatantly obvious that Anna and John were 2 peas in a pod that even his extended family and friends commented on it. When John proposed to me less than 3 months after Anna came home, I knew it wasn't just that he wanted to marry me- he wanted to make us a true family and be Daddy to Abigail and Anna because he loved each of them in their own right, as well.

I am a month away from giving birth to the child that John and I have made. I look at our family, and I see how Abigail is my mini-me, and Anna is John's child in every way, shape, and form; I can't wait to see how the next one will turn out. The celebration of Anna joining our family is intricately linked to the joy of being married to John, because in a lot of ways, she could have been the reason we didn't end up together, but in the end, Anna was the piece of our family puzzle that sealed the deal on our love. And as we celebrate how lucky we are to have her in our lives, it seems so natural that we should be ready to start celebrating the newest addition to the family. Because that's what family is all about- growing and changing and becoming and being loved through it all.

Help Needed (Updated)

If you follow my blog(s), you know that it won't be more than a few weeks until I give birth to a little bundle of karate/heartburn awesomeness.  With a brand-new baby at home, I will probably not be as quick to check email or able to update the FBI as freqently as I normally do. If you are interested in being my "back up" for updating the FBI, I would love to have a helper!

It would be useful if you had a google/gmail account, but not a big deal if you don't. If you've ever used Excel, you will have no problem managing the FBI. Email me directly at yellow_grace at yahoo dot com if you are interested in helping for a few weeks!


Updated 9/26: Thanks to everyone who offered to help! I have a helper and will be putting the new contact info up when I am closer to popping:)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bumpdate 34 Weeks

So, there it is. My 34 week belly. (For better shots of the belly, go here. And then go here to book a session!) I feel huge. All the time. And while I feel like I am waddling, John says that what I am really doing is just leaning back constantly while I walk, trying to create some backwards momentum to prevent myself from falling forward from the weight of my belly.

I guess from here on out, they probably wouldn't stop labor if I were to go into labor, but after looking at my schedule, John's schedule, and our parents' schedule, we've decided the optimal date for the baby to be born is October 20. In fact, we need the baby to NOT be born before the 19th, because John's schedule is just insane until then. So, while last week I was saying "Oh, I have 3-7 weeks to go!", this week I don't get to say "2-6 weeks." :( I am saying "anytime after October 20."  Which, as of today, is 4 weeks and 2 days away. Gagh! But, I still could have 6 weeks to go. Boo!

I am having lots of low pelvis pressure, but I don't think the baby has "dropped" yet... I still feel the Nugget up in my ribs and need some sort of brace to hold my ribs together since it feels like the baby is trying to spread my ribcage apart. Other than that, I feel pretty good. Can't bend over comfortably, but that's to be expected. I am tired, but still have the energy to get stuff done, so I guess I am doing well! Once we get the car seat/ stroller assembled, we should be good to go.

I am starting to pack my hospital bag... anything I should make sure to take along?

Belly Bump Photo Shoot Previews!

So, how awesome is Kristen Charron Photography?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bumpdate 33 Weeks

I don't really feel like my belly has gotten any larger than last week, but I can see all my blood vessels more this week, as if the skin is being stretched further, so maybe.

On Thursday, we had our check up; everything continues to look good, measuring right on track:) We'll see the doctor again in 2 weeks, and then weekly until I pop. And I do kind of feel like it will be a "pop" rather than anything else. I kind of look like I have a balloon shoved in the front of my shirt since I am carrying all in front. My mother in law and husband continue to comment that I don't look pregnant from behind, except for the part where I am waddling:)

We got the crib set up yesterday, and this morning I finished setting up the "nursery." Since the Nugget will be hanging out in the guest room until we know if/when we are moving, there wasn't a lot of set-up to do. But the bedding is in, clothes are washed and put away, and the rocking chair has a new cushion on it. I am getting a few last things washed and put together, and then I won't have much to do in there until we get our first cloth diaper delivery in a few weeks.

I feel pretty good; the heartburn has been manageable, and I am sleeping very soundly, except for when I have to wake up and go to the bathroom. 4 times a night. Joy. Or when I have really strangely realistic dreams... like the other night when I dreamed that my water broke, and I got down on my hands and knees to clean up the mess while John stood there and laughed. Even in my dream I remember thinking that it was a typical doctor/nurse situation.

Maybe now that I have a working laptop again, I can get caught up on some of my blogging that I have been intending to do. Maybe not. We really could realistically have a baby in just 3 weeks!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Bumpdate- 32 Weeks

So, guess what? It really sucks to have strep throat! Thank God that penicillin is safe in pregnancy! Also, did you know when you are pregnant, you are in a hyper-immune state, so your mild, never-actually-diagnosed allergies can turn into raging-holy-bologna-who-knew-I-could-produce-that-much-nasal-discharge allergies wherein you are convinced you might actually lose the ability to breath if you lay down and your nose drips like a leaky faucet while still being crazy-congested? Thank God Zyrtec is safe in pregnancy! 

That pretty much sums up my week. Oh, except for the part where I fell really hard on Sunday and now my whole body hurts. All the time. (Thank God Tylenol is safe in pregnancy!)

We see the doctor on Thursday, and will be taking our finalized birth plan (and FMLA paperwork, assuming I don't forget again!) to be placed in our chart. We will also take our birth plan with s to the delivery, since outpatient and inpatient charts don't mix at my institution.

Hey, guess what else? Did I ever mention that there is a 90-95% epidural rate at my hospital? Yeah, I can't stop thinking about that. And the 5-10% who don't get epidurals are either the really high risk/emergency peeps who are done under general anesthesia or few who walk in with the baby practically falling out (at least in my limited experiences of working the post-partum side of things.) That has nothing to do with my 32nd week, but I just wanted to put that out there.

I need to sleep. Preferably while breathing at the same time. Grrrrr.
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