Saturday, March 29, 2008

Trader Joe Calzones

This recipe is loved by everyone in our family!

Here is what you need:
1 package Trader Joe's Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage
1 green bell pepper
1 package of baby portabella mushrooms
1 package of whole wheat pizza dough
1 cup of shredded cheese
1/2 cup pizza sauce

Preheat oven to 350

Cut up pieces of sausage, mushrooms, and peppers. Throw them in a sauce pan over medium heat. While they are cooking - roll out pizza dough. (I use whole wheat flour to make sure the dough doesn't stick to my rolling pin/pan.) Roll dough until it is in the shape of a rectangular pizza.

Once dough is rolled out, spread pizza sauce evenly around the middle of the dough. Remove sausage, mushrooms, and peppers from stove & add to the center of dough (spread evenly). Sprinkle cheese over everything. Fold the dough up on each side and close in the center by pinching both sides together.

Place the calzone on a non-stick baking sheet. (I add some cooking spray, just to be safe) Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Baked Ziti

When we were living in Bloomington, my friend Jaime introduced me to Baked Ziti. Why it took 26 years to eat this for the first time - I will never know! But not only is it SUPER easy - it is also a Jack favorite!

You'll need:
1 lb of Ziti pasta
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 tub of Ricotta cheese (16oz)
2 cups of Mozzarella
Parmesan Cheese - not sure how much...

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook noodles, as directed, and drain. In a separate bowl, mix ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella (save the other cup), some parmesan cheese, and spaghetti sauce. Place cooked noodles in a baking dish and pour cheese/sauce mixture over them. Stir well. Spread the remaining cup of cheese over everything and bake for 40 minutes.

Warning: Toddlers can get very messy while eating this...but they can also get full!

Chicken & Noodle Casserole

Jack has a "thing" for noodles! My Grandma makes this with tuna - which I love, but sadly my husband doesn't really enjoy fish. So I adapted her recipe and make this with chicken. (And sometimes, when I'm feeling selfish - I make it with tuna and keep it all for myself.)

You need:
A few cups of Egg Noodles
1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup
1 cup of chicken (or tuna) - I buy the canned kind from Trader Joe's
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup cracker crumbs

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook noodles, as directed, and drain. Place noodles and chicken in a baking dish/casserole dish. In a separate bowl, mix soup with milk (sidenote: when I'm feeling lazy, I just mix everything in the casserole dish). Add to the noodles/chicken and stir. Scatter cracker crumbs over everything and back for 40 minutes.

Jack gives this dish - two toddler thumbs UP!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Natural Birth - Part 2

**This post was back-dated. It was written 7/27/13

Tyson and I knew we wanted our kids two years apart and were so blessed to have that work out in our favor. A few months into my pregnancy with Josie, I signed up for a Prenatal Yoga class. It was late at night and after being home all day with a busy toddler - it was a nice {calm} escape for an hour.  The yoga teacher was SO nice...but she was also SO "yoga." I promise you - I could see her legs hairs from across the room.

Regardless - she was a BIG proponent of natural birth, which wasn't a surprise.  What was more surprising was how much her words resonated with me. Me. The person who once coward in fear over a shot.

One night after a class - I returned home and vowed to "educate myself." It seemed reasonable and attainable. I started by watching the documentary, "The Business of Being Born."  It was produced by Ricki Lake and I was immediately intrigued.  The next night I talked to Tyson about his thoughts on a natural birth. He was supportive and told me he would go along with whatever I decided. I continued to educate myself via blogs, online information, and books. I also talked to other moms that had natural births.

Aside from Tyson and those moms, I kept my intentions to myself. I knew people would question why I wanted to "go through all that pain" when I could just have an epidural. When I discussed my intentions with my doctors - they were willing to talk with me, but seemed to doubt my ability to actually go drug free. One said, "I don't know why you'd want to, but it's your body and plenty of women have done it." {thanks for the encouragement} Again, I decided to keep my intentions to myself and continued to educate myself.

Here are some books I found helpful:

The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake
Hypnobirthing by Marie Mongan

Other books I've heard are great {and will be reading}:

Pushed by Jennifer Block
Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds by Cynthia Gabriel

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Natural Birth: Part One

** This post is back dated. It was written 3/23/13

A couple months ago I received a message from a sorority sister (Jane) who remembered I'd had a natural childbirth (with Josie) and wanted more information. I was excited to talk with her and share my story (probably WAY too much info). She sent me an update yesterday, telling me she had been able to have a 100% natural birth and had delivered a healthy baby boy. My heart JUMPED with excitement!

I decided to create some posts for people looking for more information about Natural Birth. I'm not doing this to belittle people who have C-sections or get epidurals…I simply want to give encouragement to women who think natural birth is an option for them. AND I want women who are unsure - to hear my story and at least consider learning more about it.

So - without further ado…

Natural Birth - Part One:
Let me begin by saying I am not a vegan or vegetarian. I don't really care for granola. I eat donuts and Oreos like it's my job. I also drink (more around Parent Teacher Conferences than normal). Why am I saying this? Because I want people to understand that a woman who chooses to have a natural birth can be a normal person (who sometimes makes poor eating choices and likes a beer {or two} every now and then). I'm not a hippie.

I'm also not someone with a super-amazing tolerance for pain. True Story: I was sick in 8th grade, right before our Track Conference. I was on a pretty killer 4x4 Relay team (we ended up with a school record - still a proud moment) and I needed to get healthy ASAP. So my Dad took me to the RediMed Clinic. They gave a diagnosis and wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic. Then the nurse went to get a shot (to speed up my recovery). I literally hid in the corner and cried. I was 13. Moral of the story: I'm actually a big wuss.

Fast forward to my first pregnancy. I was pretty laid back throughout my pregnancy. I read a book or two, but didn't take any classes. Instead, we watched some DVD's about childbirth and let our doctors tell us whatever else we needed to know. We were the typical "first time" parents. We had no idea what was in store for us.

When I was 35 weeks pregnant, my doctor scheduled an ultrasound because I was measuring "small." The ultrasound revealed that my baby boy wasn't growing.  The doctors feared my baby had IUGR and decided I should be induced at 36.5 weeks.  My induction was scheduled and I *thought* I was ready to have a baby. 

When I arrived at the hospital my blood pressure was through the roof. I was scared as hell. (who isn't?) From everything I had read online - this Pitocin stuff was considered to be the work of the Devil himself. I was hooked up to an IV and the day began. Everything was sunshine & butterflies for a few hours…and then the contractions got nasty. I was 5cm and asked for an epidural.

The anesthesiologist was tied up in an emergency situation in the OR. I waited, and waited, and waited. Almost an hour and a half later - he showed up and gave me the epidural. I was expecting relief…but when they laid me on my side - I screamed in pain! Everyone looked at each other confused. I explained the pain to the resident and she immediately checked me. I was 10cm and ready to push. I had labored through everything without the epidural…

I pushed for almost TWO hours and little Jack was born at 3:51pm on January 8, 2010. He was perfect and healthy. He weighed 6lbs 3oz…and at that moment, I realized DOCTORS DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING. 

I know a new mom is supposed to feel completely IN LOVE with her new baby. But I didn't. And I thought there was something wrong with me. I held him and looked at him and thought, "Who are you, little guy?" When they took me to my maternity room, they took Jack to the nursery for some tests and his first bath. Tyson, my parents, and my in-laws all went with him.  Because my legs were still numb from the epidural - I was confined to my bed and I sat in my room alone.  I remember feeling so disconnected. My body was a mess and I looked like hell. I sat and cried.

Fortunately, I snapped out of my funk and kept my sweet boy with me overnight. We bonded as we both tried to figure out the whole breastfeeding thing.

Before I was discharged from the hospital I noticed that my right thigh was still completely numb. I asked my nurse about it and she told me that sometimes women experience nerve damage while giving birth. I thought it was a lingering side effect from the epidural and asked to speak with an anesthesiologist. In typical hospital fashion - the anesthesiologist skirted around many of my questions and concerns. I left, in tears, afraid I'd never be able to feel my leg again.

Six months later, the feeling came back. I'm still not sure what caused the problem, but when I got pregnant with Josie - I vowed things would be different.