We are a family of 4.

Baby C is our last child.

We took permanent measures to ensure this.

My uterus will never support a growing life again.

My cycle will return (please not any time soon!) and it will be a reminder that I am fertile, but not growing a life.

And I’m happy about all of the above.

And sad.

And content.

Confused?

Yeah, me too.

The best way to put it – it’s bittersweet.

I’m content though.

I’m at peace with our decision.

And I 100% stand by our decision to keep our family as a family of 4.

But I’m also savoring every single moment with Baby C right now, knowing I will never hold another baby that FirefighterDad and I created together.

It’s a mix of emotions.

It’s complicated.

It’s messy.

But it’s right for us.

 

Persepctive. It’s a crazy thing. It can instantly make you see clearly. It can make you change your mind, or reaffirm your decision.

And as I laid in my hospital bed at 23 weeks and 5 days and 2 cm dialated, I got all the perspective I needed.

My body doesn’t do pregnancy.

My baby was measuring 1lb 8oz….a weight the neonatalogist was ecstatic about.

It moved our odds a bit closer to 50%.

Odds that aren’t terrible.

People make bets on 50% odds.

50% odds are good odds.

Unless thoughs odds mean the difference between life and death.

Now 50% is a terrible percentage.

These were our odds with Baby C.

He could live, or he could die.

And we prepared for both outcomes.

We talked about an extended NICU stay with life sustaining measures.

And we talked about comfort care. Keeping our baby comfortable until he was called Home.

Two very different conversations, but when you have barely 50% odds, you have both conversations.

And in those moments I knew he would be our last baby.

Regardless of the outcome, he would be our last.

In those moments I tried to remove myself emotionally from the life I was carrying. I actually, at one point, convinced myself I didn’t love this child. I mean how could I? I never met him, saw him, or held him. I didn’t know him, so if the coin landed on death, I would be fine.

Then a split second later, I would cry.

Whole body shaking sobs.

Because I knew better than that. My heart was already so in love with the life I was carrying. And I knew if the odds weren’t in our favor, it would be the worst pain I had ever felt in my life.

So as nurses and doctors worked to stop my labor and keep Baby C cooking, I cried and I prayed.

And I knew I would do whatever it took to never get pregnant again.

Because when it comes to your child, no one wants 50% odds.

When it comes to your child’s viability, 50% odds are terrible.

Fortunately, our story has a happy ending.

With both of our boys.

With Brother I, I got 28 more days of pregnancy and delivered at 33 weeks and 5 days to a 5lb 8oz baby.

We weathered two NICU stays, but we have a healthy, happy, and vibrant 4 year old.

And with Baby C I got 12 more weeks of pregnancy and delivered at 35 weeks and 4 days to a 6lb 10oz baby.

We are weathering reflux, but we have a healthy, happy, and vibrant 2 month old.

We.Are.Lucky.

Our story could have been different so easily.

So I’m content.

I’m at peace.

Perspective is a gift I will always be grateful for.

So every day I savor.

I savor the snuggles, baby wearing, newborn floppies, sweet baby milk breath, baths, nursing, smiles, coos, and even the ache I feel when I hear the distinct sound of my newborn cry.

I savor the soft newborn hair, the smooth baby skin against mine, the diaper changes, the spit up, and the sleepless nights.

I savor the vulnerable newborn period – the time I feel the most like a mother. Able to provide food, comfort, and love in the most raw and uninhibited way possible.

I savor the moments, good and bad, committing them to memory.

Beacuse our family is complete.

We are a family of 4.

A family of 4 with a happy ending.

 

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After the NICU

When I read this Babble article my mind and heart kept screaming yes, yes, yes. 

This momma, like me has experienced the NICU and even though her twins are healthy and thriving, her 7 points are spot.freaking.on.

I’ve never been able to explain or communicate what it’s like after the NICU and this article does that so perfectly.

1. You never forget. You really don’t. You get to a point where you just stop dwelling and you accept that the NICU is part of your life story and your child’s. You stop grieving and you accept. You accept that your child’s first photos are ones that also include wires and tubes. You accept that this is your story. But even through the acceptance you never forget. Yes it hurts way less, but you never forget.

2. After Mr. I was born, I vowed I would never have another child. This was for many reasons but ultimately taking the plunge to have another child is wrought with mixed emotions with fear topping that list. I and C have a smidge over 4 years between them. It’s because I needed to heal from the PTSD I was experiencing post NICU, and I needed closure. And I needed a doctor who worked with me to get me as close to full term as possible. In the end we took the jump and had Baby C, but it was an emotionally challenging pregnancy even if all turned out well!

3. Everyone has opinions, but no one truely understands. They all mean well. They all want to help and be supportive but navigating the NICU and early post-NICU days is isolating and stressful even with the most supportive family and friends. I was fortunate that I never got any pressure or opinions on if FirefighterDad and I should have another child.

4. Shortly after Big Bro I got home, dear friends of ours had their first child – a sweet baby girl. I saw pictures and chatted to mom and dad and 3 of them were great. And in that moment my heart broke. I remember holding FirefighterDad and crying. Crying for what we missed out on. Crying for what we went through and crying because we would never get that. That perfect delivery. That perfect pregnancy. Oh and baby showers. I remember the first I attended after having Mr. I and I was the only mama who went through the NICU. We all gave advice to the soon mom-to-be and I froze. What advice do I give to a mom who will bring her baby home?

5. Oh a pregnancy do-over. I can totally relate. I think I’m the only woman hoping for stretch marks! In the end I got just about the most perfect pregnancy but I never did get those stretch marks of being full term and pregnant with a full rounded belly!

6. It still hurts to think about. Although much much less, it’s still there. As the Babble article says the sadness and the joy must coexist. A great example of this is when my baby niece was born. Seconds after being born, I heard her screaming her little head off. My mom was on the phone and my sweet niece in the background was crying. As an Auntie I was SO happy!! I was overjoyed, but at the same time I was sad. I was crying and letting all the feelings – good, bad, sad, happy pour out. Mixed feelings always coexist when you’ve been through the NICU.

7. You never stop worrying. With Mr. I doctors appointments always had me stressing days before it. The “what ifs” would play out in my mind. With Baby C it’s been SO different. I don’t feel stressed, I don’t get butterflies. I enjoy seeing his growth curve has it moves forward. It’s been, dare I say, fun to take Baby C to his appointments. Even today, 4 years later, I still feel apprehension taking Brother I to the doctor.

I was recently talking to mom on the phone and updating her on Baby C and myself and I was explaining some of this to her especially about taking C to the doctor and how different it was. And my mom simply said “honey that’s called joy.” And I teared up a bit because she’s exactly right. I experienced joy with Baby C. With Brother I the joy eventually came years later, but initially there was stress, guilt, and isolation. Love was always there, but joy took a while.

I’m not sure why I’m writing this, but if there are other NICU parents out there, please know I get it. And it does, eventually, get better. And until that time comes, take it a day at a time and know you aren’t as alone as you feel. And many many prayers to you and your child(ren).

Big Brother I and Oasis 235

About an hour after Baby C’s arrival, FirefighterDad went to pick up Brother I from our friends’ house so he could meet his little brother!

Leading up to this event I had some expectations but I tried to push them aside. Having a sibling is life-altering for kids and although Brother I LOVES babies, I still wasn’t really sure how Big Bro I would take it. Plus the hospital setting and a late night, but I’m happy to say Brother I was ecstatic to meet Baby C and was so proud and happy to hold him.

Right when he walked into the room he asked if his Baby Brother was here and assured him Baby C was here!

Big Brother I wanted to give us a hug!

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FirefighterDad and Big Brother ate some dinner while Baby C and I had some skin to skin time and I nursed him.

Big Brother was getting a little antsy and wanted to hold his Baby Brother and Big Bro I had the proudest look on his face!

 

Oasis 235

Shortly after 11 pm Baby C and I were moved to a postpartum room. This was new for me. After Brother I was born I actually stayed in the L&D room because it was right down the hall from the NICU. I didn’t really know what to expect but all of our nurses were great.

The neonatal doctor came to check on C and she explained that for 35 and 36 weekers, they don’t rush discharging and are usually in the hospital 3-4 days because they are late pre-term babies. I completely understood and was just SO grateful I was WITH my baby and could hold him and snuggle.

The biggest challenge Baby C had was his blood sugar was low. But after my milk came in and C got some good feeds, he passed his 3 consecutive blood sugar tests. From there it was easy sailing – C passed his pulse ox test, jaundice, and car seat test.

On Friday June 17th (my sister’s birthday) Baby C and I went home TOGETHER! I brought a baby home WITH me! I know this sounds crazy but it was so amazing to have him with me and not having to visit him in the NICU.

And at the same time it was bittersweet. I wasn’t expecting to be SO emotional over leaving my room. I got Baby C dressed and in his car seat and couldn’t hold back the tears. I was crying because I got everything I wanted – a baby coming home with me. And I was crying because our time in room 235 was coming to an end. And hormones – am I right?!

In room 235 I lived every moment as that – a moment. A moment of being fully present and aware. Every second was absorbed and cherished. And each moment fed my soul. It was nourishing, relaxing, and peaceful. Time stood still and my days weren’t measured by minutes or hours but rather by feedings, snuggles, naps, and love. My days were calm and peaceful; full of love and serenity. It was a place in the world, but away from the world. My days moved slower, I had no responsibilities, no agenda, no plans. I simply just was. Every touch, every smell, every noise was etched permanently into my heart as I got to know my son.

 

Welcome Baby C!

I’m going to attempt to give a brief birth story with somewhat-ish details so if you get scrimmage or don’t want to hear about cervical dilation, feel free to skip this post!

On Tuesday June 14th I had my routine OB appointment. I had been holding steady at 4cm and 80% effaced for about a week and half at this point. All my restrictions were lifted so I took advantage of the pool and took multiple walks a day hoping to get things moving. I knew sitting at 4cm, once labor really kicked in, things would go fast and my OB agreed.

So I arrived at my appointment and was 4cm and 90%. It was a change, although a small one so my doc put me on the monitors. From the moment she checked me, things were different. My back ached, my uterus tightness was constant, and the contractions now had a definitive start and stop to them. I also found myself needing to constantly move. I was swaying and pacing and when I got on the monitors sitting still just was not an option.

Unfortunately, standing and moving around, Baby C didn’t look good on the monitor. So I was quickly taken back for an ultrasound. A biophysical was done and Baby C got an 8/10…he looked great.

Back to the waiting room I went swaying, walking, and pacing trying to relieve the contractions. At this point the pain wasn’t unbearable. Moving or leaning over something and swaying actually felt good, but what I was experiencing was so different from previous weeks. I had a hunch I had progressed significantly.

I went back to the exam room and while waiting for my doc for about 15 minutes I counted 14 contractions. Quickly in between contractions my doc checked me again and I was 6 cm and 100% effaced! This all occurred within an hour!

So my doctor said “you’re getting your wish. Let’s go have a baby”. I was scared, nervous, excited, and SO ready to not be pregnant anymore.

Here’s where logistically it gets a little interesting. I drove myself to my doc’s office and fortunately it’s right next to the hospital. However, FirefighterDad was on shift. I had texted him a bit while being monitored and told him baby looked great on the ultrasound and that I was feeling different so he had an idea that this might be the day.

As I drove the 30 seconds to the hospital, I called FirefighterDad and told him we were having a baby! Maybe it’s men, or maybe he was distracted but he asked when. I emphatically replied NOW! I told him I was going to the hospital and I was 6 cm. From our experience, we knew this part of labor I would fly through so I told him he needed to hurry. Fortunately his Chief was understanding and he made great time.

The hospital was prepping for me and C and I quickly changed (how much do you hate those hospital gowns?! They are always SO big!) I got my IV which wasn’t so bad since I asked for a smaller gauge. Up until then I was dreading the IV more than pain of childbirth! My veins don’t hold up well to them.

The doctor on call checked me and I was 7 cm and having contractions every minute. At this point my pain was about 4-5. I was able to very easily breathe through the contractions. I would close my eyes, bend over the bed and sway and breathe through them. In between them I felt great. At one point my labor stalled a bit but moving around the room picked it up and my pain increased to a 6-7 but I was still very easily able to move through the contractions.

I would alternate between the birth ball, bending over the bed and swaying, and walking. I felt really relaxed and in control the whole time and every nurse commented on how relax and calm I was especially for being 7 cm. They all knew I didn’t want an epidural (again catheter in spinal cavity? No thank you I’d rather deal with the pain. Maybe I’m a chicken but anyone who gets an epidural is amazing bc it scared me too much) and were really impressed with my demeanor. It was really calm though- so calm FirefighterDad even caught a quick nap on the couch!

Quickly, I noticed I had more pelvic pressure and a nurse checked me and said I was 8.5-9. The doctor came in to confirm and she said I still felt about 7 cm. so she broke my water.

Having my water broken is fine but after that I knew the pain was going to be bad. Like bad with a capital B. The amniotic fluid acts as a cushion during contractions, so without it, the real intensity of contractions are felt, at least for me. The first contraction came and it was intense. I knew laboring on my back wasn’t an option so I turned around on my knees facing the back of the bed which a nurse had raised so I could rest my arms on it and I labored like that. Another contraction hit and my pain was topping the scales at a 9-10. It’s a pain that you just want to runaway from. My contractions were only about 60 seconds but those 60 seconds seemed like forever.

At some point I got unbearably hot and took off both my gowns (I was using the second one as a robe since the room was chilly) and just labored in my sports bra. At that point the pain was so bad and I was so hot I didn’t care that people could see my bare bum! The doctor came in and checked me real quick and I was 8 cm.

A couple contractions later and I needed to push. It was an uncontrable action. I screamed at FirefighherDad that I had to push and he got the nurse. The doctor quickly came back and still on my knees facing the back of the bed, I was bearing down and pushing through another contraction. With Brother I, I never felt this so I was a little freaked out and remember saying that I never felt this before and I was a bit freaked out. The nurses reassured me and I could see the doctor getting her shoe covers on and some paper scrubs.

With the next contraction my body neared down and pushed and Baby C’s head was crowning. I remember saying “there’s the head!” And the doctor checked and said “yep there’s his head”.

The doctor and nurses were trying to get me to turn around so they could take the bottom of the labor and delivery bed off. My back labor was so bad I made it about 20 secs before getting back on my knees. The doctor got those awful blue calf stirrup things out and I said “No I don’t want to use those. With my older son I had no leverage to push” her and the nurses were great because although it was clear I had to push on my back, I was sitting up more and my doctor got the foot pedals out and handles! It was perfect. My legs were lower then my body, instead of being higher like the calf stirrups, and I had all the leverage in the world by being able to use my legs and arms and 4-5 pushes later Baby C was born screaming!

I remember my doctor saying he was a big baby for his gestational age (35.4) and probably close to 7 pounds. I was just so relieved and kept saying “I’m holding him, I’m holding him.”

I also kept asking if he was okay and if he was breathing. I remember it as me asking 2-3 times but FirefigterDad told me I probably asked a dozen times and everyone in the room, him, the nurses, my doctor, the nursery nurses, all kept saying yes he’s perfect he’s crying and he’s pink. And I do remember how pink Baby C was but I guess in high adrenaline situations I get auditory tunnel vision because I don’t really remember Baby C crying. I know he did, but I can’t remember hearing him. And once he got to the warming bed he was silent and that was so disconcerting for me, because Brother I was born grey and not breathing. But everyone assured me he was so pink and breathing just fine.

After delivering the placenta, Baby C was placed skin to skin on my chest. Because his blood sugars were low and my bleeding was a little more than my doctor preferred, we hung out in our labor and delivery room for a bit.

I nursed Baby C and just marveled in holding my baby.

From the time my water was broken Baby C was born an hour later weighing 6 pounds 10 ounces and measuring 19.5 inches long.

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Stay tuned for Big Brother I meeting Baby C and Oasis 235.

35.4 and an Update

Its been a few weeks and that’s because Baby Boy has arrived! I will try to get to a birth story here shortly, but he’s here happy and healthy and such a good baby!!

I made it to 35 weeks and 4 days which surpassed the 33 weeks and 5 days I made it with Diapers. Baby Boy came out pink and screaming which was unbelievable for me. I held him immediately and got 3 glorious precious days with my boy. And best of all no NICU, and my baby came home WITH me.

It took us a couple days to actually settle on a name for him. FirefighterDad and I had a short “list”, for lack of a better word, of names we both liked, but honestly, none of them were screaming at me. I had a favorite but FirefighterDad wasn’t thrilled with it, and when Baby Boy was born he just didn’t fit the name. Or the name didn’t fit him. Either way on day 2 we settled on a name and for the purpose of keeping this blog anonymous to protect my family and kids, I will call him C, or Baby C, or Little Brother C, or Lil Bro C…you get the idea.

And speaking of blog names, I have decided to change Diaper’s. I originally went with Diapers because it fit the motif of my blog, but lets be real – he no longer wears diapers. And he’s four. He’s practically packed up and headed to college. Maybe I am being a little dramatic, but either way it doesn’t fit him anymore, so as happens with time, I have decided to change his name from Diapers to I. I imagine I might refer to him as Big Brother I, or Mr. I, or Brother I, etc etc. So heads up!

In other news, I have managed two shift days now with the boys, I have done school drop offs and picks for I with Baby C tagging along, and my house isn’t in complete ruin. I have laundry that needs to be done, and dogs that need to be walked, and dishes that need to be done, but snuggling with C is taking front and center right now, because this stage goes by too quickly.

I often find myself comparing I’s newborn stage to C’s newborn stage. To be clear, I’m not comparing my boys, but rather my experience and going from 1 kid to 2 kids. And honestly the difference is night and day. Obviously Brother I was in the NICU so EVERYTHING was different. I used a pump from the get-go, skin to skin was limited during NICU visits, I never got 2-3 days of alone time with Mr. I to get to know him. I got to know him through procedures, tubes, wires, and visits. And it wasn’t bad. It was hard. VERY hard. But my heart burst open with love for I the instant I held him, and navigating the NICU was just something I had to do. When I came home, I just felt like he was ALWAYS discontent. Like ALWAYS. he was always wanting to nurse, or be held, and he rarely slept. I sleeping for 30 minutes was considered a success.

My experience with Baby C has been completely different. C came out breathing with fantastic APGARS of 8 and 9. For comparison’s sake I’s were 2 and 3. I held C right away, I nursed C right away, and I had skin to skin right away. Then I got 3 unbelievable days with C. Bottom line is, I got to know C. Like really know him. I know when he wants to eat, when he needs to burp, and when he’s going to poop. I know his cry, his noises, I know him. And although I got to know I, with C its just been easier. that’s been the real difference. C is simply easier. And who knows if it was the 2 extra weeks of pregnancy, or the 3 days, or no NICU. I think its a combo of all 3.

All I know, is that even though both experiences have been completely different, I am totally, completely, soul-defining, and life-changingly in love with both of my boys. C definitely completes our family and I is an incredible big brother.

Stay tuned for C’s birth story!

 

*Reading through this post I now can see how confusing using I for Diapers can be since I am also referring to myself as I…so consider this the fine print and I reserve the right to change I’s blog name/initial again*

Nursery Reveal!

You guys, I am STILL pregnant. And you know my last post where I said some things would be easier to do not pregnant like Baby Boy’s room? Yeah well, sittin’ on my butt get olds too, so little by little I finally got this little boy’s room put together.

I’m so excited to have his room done and ready for him.

His whole room was done on the cheap by repurposing stuff I already had. I LOVE “going shopping” in my own house and using things differently.

The dresser was a Craig’s List find FirefigterDad got, the changing pad and covers are from Diapers, the blue crate (I’m LOVING that blue color!) was a clearance item at Hobby Lobby for 10 bucks which I’m using to store extra blankets and burp clothes in for now.

The “Love you to the Moon and back” canvas was something FirefighterDad saw and bought. Originally it was suppose to be for Diaper’s room but he’s growing up and I think a big boy theme will be in his future soon for his room. So I repurposed it!

The framed water color is a Diaper’s original! He made this when he was probably 16 or 17 months old and I just fell in love with it! I loved the colors and the overall effect so I held onto it and it became my inspiration for Baby Boy’s room.

The bear picture above, I actually colored from an adult coloring book. I used cerulean blue, greys, browns, and greens to tie in the colors with the other two pictures. And the two light 8 x 10 frames I already had.

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The crib of course was Diaper’s, the grey sheet was a baby shower gift, and the quilt on the back my mom made! She’s very talented!

Across from the crib is our futon and our rocking chair which we’ve had. The room came together nicely and overall is very simple but sweet and tranquil.

And lucky for us, this room was already painted a light sea foam/Aqua green color (the pictures don’t do the wall color justice) which is just perfect and saved me the hassle of painting. Which, if I’m being totally honest, I wouldn’t have even considered doing. Painting is not my favorite.

 

Moms out there, what was your nursery inspiration?

 

An Update in List Form

I have lots to share and my mind is mush so it’s going to be a list today…

Pregnancy: ya’ll, yesterday marked the longest I have EVER been pregnant – 33 weeks and 6 six days. Today I am exactly 34 weeks and this baby is still cooking! And I am oh so grateful. And I am oh so DONE. This has been a very tough road. On one hand I am so happy he’s healthy and thriving and still growing but on the other hand I am crampy, contractiony, back achy, pelvic pressury and have a baby bouncin’ on my cervix (ouch!). I am SO ready to meet this little boy, count his fingers and toes, see his nose and hair and give him a name and bring him home to his family. I’ve stopped all medications and plan to get a little house cleaning done and it take it a day at a time.

Here are a few stats:

34 weeks

17lb weight gain

No stretch marks

Belly button is poking out at the top only

I can’t see my toes

Having another BOY!

Due date is July 15th

Mable: my last post I introduced you to my sweet Mable (which btw means “loveable” and is such a fitting name for her!) and I have good news! She’s good to come home!! Her bladder repair surgery went SO well and she’s urinating a full bladder’s worth ON.HER.OWN. She’s also pooping on her own. Although she doesn’t have full rectal control, she has a lot more than a couple weeks ago and gets into position and poops! This is huge because it means her nerves are healing and are not completely dead! She’s still recieving TLC (read: spoiled rotten) at the vet office and even has free range to roam around on occasion. Her fractures seem to be healing nicely and are definitely not slowing her down. We need to get a couple other things lined up like a meet and greet with our two current dogs and getting Mable her own crate but I do have a collar and leash ordered for her! She’s coming home! Here’s a picture overload for your enjoyment!

Baby Prep: ya’ll, my freezer could feed the Chinese army. Or at least my family during a zombie apocalypse. Seriously it’s kinda insane. BUT having gone through the newborn stage once with round the clock nursing and very little sleep, I know I won’t regret all the food I have prepared. My mom and I worked leisurely these past couple weeks on a few final things: chicken casseroles, banana bread, and french toast which I got zero pictures of. I know – a professional blogger I am not. We also made some beef based dishes. Meatloaf, meatballs, hamburger patties, and chili!

I decided it would be easier for me to already have meat prepared versus pounds of ground beef in the freezer. So the meatloaf, meatballs, and hamburger patties were seasoned, formed and frozen raw. All I have to do is toss it in the oven or on the grill. The chili was cooked and simmered ALL DAY then cooled overnight in the fridge and portioned into zip lock bags for an easy meal. Outside of cooking and eventually some cleaning (my nesting doesn’t like the cleaning) there hasn’t been much else in terms of baby prep. I have the essentials in my room and the nursery is sort of together. The crib is in the room in pieces, the old tv is out of there, and the futon is folded up (as a couch vs a bed) and all of Baby Boy’s clothes are washed and in his drawers but honestly that’s been it. I want to get it all done and have a Pintrest worthy nursery but the truth is I hurt. A lot. All day every day and the reality is, it will be easier to do some of this not pregnant. And Baby Boy won’t need his crib/room immediately after coming home. So there’s time. At least I keep telling myself this.

Summer/Diapers/FirefighterDad: okay hands down summer is my favorite season. I love it all – the sunshine, the warmth, the pools, beaches, BBQs, being outside, watermelon, sprinklers, white puffy clouds…agh I could go on and on. The only thing I don’t like are the mosquitos but I am religious with sunscreen and bug spray so it’s a small sacrifice for a couple months.

With that said, Diapers has been practicing riding his bike (with training wheels). This is something I really want him to master before his brother arrives so the 3 of us can take walks! He got the bike for Christmas and was all like “no way”. Well a lot of encouragement and 6 months later he’s getting it. It’s not perfect, but we did make it around the half mile loop we have in our neighborhood. Progress! There has also been a lot of scootering, sidewalk chalk and playground time. I hope to get to the pool and beach more now that water temps are more reasonable and I even signed Diapers up for a free summer bowling program and our local library’s reading program. I figure since I’m not working full time right now (and for the next foreseeable future) I am going to take advantage of this staying-at-home-mom-gig!

FirefighterDad is doing well also and is extremely busy. His department is crazy short staffed so that means overtime and crazy hours. Plus he’s taking a class on the weekends so time with him now is limited, but by the time Baby Boy arrives, his schedule won’t be so hectic. A small sacrifice now for more time later.

And that’s all the update I have for you.

 

Now fill me in – what are your summer plans?!

Freezer Cooking Part 3

I know.

know.

Why should you get your hopes up about this post after the debacle of  Part 2?

And all I can say is that on this particular day I got my crap together and took pictures like a boss. Like a Big Bad Blogging Boss (nice alteration, huh?).

I started with cooking 2 boxes of pasta and 2.5 lbs of ground beef.

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Once these were done, drained, and cooled a bit, I made my ricotta cheese mixtures with I snuck in some blended cauliflower for an added punch of veggies.

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I added two eggs, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano to the ricotta cheese. The unpleasant orange glob is my blended cauliflower. I had to add some tomato sauce to it for some liquid.

Then began the assembly of Lasagna Cups for Diapers! I mixed meat, sauce, ricotta cheese, and pasta in a bowl then spooned some into paper muffin cups.

I topped it with some shredded cheddar cheese and baked them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. These smelled incredibly and FirefighterDad actually ate one and the best part?! He didn’t notice the cauliflower!!

While the cups were baking, I also made Lasagna Casseroles. Or Baked Ziti with meat? Either way they looked good and will be super simple dinners.

I started with a thin layer of sauce, followed by pasta, ricotta cheese, meat, sauce, pasta…well you get the idea.

I then topped them with shredded cheddar cheese, sprinkled some basil and oregano on top and wrapped these bad boys up for the freezer.

My final freezer cooking for the day was making Mac and Cheese cups for Diapers. I saved some of the cooked pasta and made a simple homemade cheese sauce with butter, milk (lactose free for Diapers), shredded mozzarella and shredded cheddar cheese, added in the pasta, stirred and plopped them into paper muffin cups. I topped them with a small slice of cheddar cheese and baked them at 350 for about 20 minutes until the cheese was ooey-gooey and melted.

And folks, that concluded my freezer cooking for the day. I had everything cool completely them put the cups into freezer bags.

 

What are some simple lunches you make for your kids?

What casseroles do you enjoy for dinner?

Freezer Cooking Part 1

Bedrest is still going ya’ll. I’m 31 weeks today (yay!), baby boy is doing really well, and all in all I’m stable. I feel miserable, but I’m stable so I’ll suck it up and continue bedresting a few more weeks of growing this precious boy!

In the meantime I have been on a mission to prepare me and Diapers for Baby Brother’s arrival by doing some freezer cooking. I first started freezer cooking a few years ago after reading Money Saving Mom‘s blog. She has some great ideas and it really is a huge help. With a 4 year old and soon to have a newborn, I knew I needed to get a jump on this.

I wanted to make fun, nutrious, simple, cost effective, and easy lunches that Diapers could reheat in the microwave by himself.

Enter my muffin pans.

I had a box of Jiffy cornbread mix and some BOGO hot dogs so I decided to try making corn dog muffins. I’ll admit the final product looked and smelled WAY more appealing than the uncooked/being assembled “muffins” looked.

Here’s how I did it:

First, I mixed up the box of Jiffy (how good is this cornbread?! It’s my fave and SO ridiculously easy to make!). Then I spooned a small amount in the bottom of each muffin wrapper. On top of that I cut up half a hot dog per muffin and then topped each muffin with the remaining cornbread mix.

The end result smelled just like a corn dog, and although I haven’t tried them, Diapers LOVES them!

FYI, I baked these at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Since I already had the oven on, I also made a double batch of my homemade granola.

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If you love granola, stop what you are doing and make this NOW. Seriously, you will not be disappointed. This granola is on point, simple, and the best.I’ve.ever.had. For realz.

And it’s more of a mix-it-together-and-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants recipe, which is just my style.

I use oatmeal (original, quick cook, steel cut – whatever floats your boat)

Butter (I’ve also used half butter and half coconut oil)

Brown sugar

Ground Cinnamon

I mix the oatmeal, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate microwave safe bowl, I melt the butter then pour this over my dry ingridents. I mix this up incorporating the butter to moisten the oatmeal. I seriously just eyeball amounts. If it looks like I don’t have enough liquid I melt more butter. The idea is to get the oatmeal damp not soaking wet.

I pour it onto cookie sheets, smooth it out and bake for about 15 minutes on 425 until it’s a nice golden brown. I let it cool for about 10 minutes so the melted sugar can set a little, then with a spatula I mix it up crumbling it along the way. I put it in freezer ziplock bags and freeze it when it’s completely cooled off. It also keeps in the fridge well.

Other add-ins I have done is honey, milled flaxseed, and protein powder. I also want to try tossing in some raw quinoa for a protein source.

 

What are some simple re-heatable lunches  that you rely on?

Anyone else do some freezer cooking?

WIC Take 2

Every month I get WIC vouchers for both me and Diapers. Last month I got them half way through April so I used them all at once. This month I ended up doing the same thing because I had some freezer and pantry items I wanted to eat through and my house was bare. Bare ya’ll.

This method makes for a longer grocery shopping trip and requires me freezing quite a few items, but it also is at the mercy of what items are listed on what WIC voucher. For example, if I need cheese, I have to get all the items on that voucher to maximize it.

So this month to stretch my WIC vouchers even further I used them with my local grocery store’s BOGO sales! And yes you can do this!! The lady at the WIC office even mentioned this and you can use coupons on WIC items. How awesome!

One big BOGO was WIC approved cereal. Diapers and I each get 36 oz of cereal per month, or 3 12oz boxes. With the BOGO sales I walked away with 8 boxes of cereal instead of 6.

Juice was also BOGO so I was able to get 4 bottles of juice versus our normal 2.

Some of the BOGO deals weren’t on qualifying WIC items which was disappointing, but I was still able to get some good deals.

This is the first month I got EVERY item on each of our WIC vouchers and all together it came out to be $139.99 that WIC covered.  That’s a pretty good savings!

I also had to do some regular shopping:

Bagels – reduced by $1

Spinach

Tomatoes

3x 2.5lb packages ground beef – each reduced by $3 (total of $9 savings)

Whole cut up chicken – reduced by $3

BOGO Pork Tenderloins – $6.27 savings

BOGO Smithfield Bacon – $5.50 savings

Sausage – 2 for $7

BOGO 16 oz Lunch Meat – $5.00 savings

BOGO ice cream – $2.95 savings

BOGO Italian ice – $1.88 savings

BOGO Vlasic pickles stacked with a $1/2 coupon – $2.50 savings

BOGO Cheese Its (Diapers’ request) -$2.60 savings

BOGO Mission tortilla chips

Pepperoni – 2 for $5.00

Simply Orange Juice (FirefighterDad’s fave OJ) – 2 for $6.00

2 boxes Capri suns – coupon $0.75/2

Kraft American Cheese – coupon $1.00/2

Butter – 2 for $6.00

Daisy sour cream – $0.64 savings

Toaster Strudels – not on sale just a pregnancy impulse purchase

2 pk cream cheese – coupon  $1.00 off 2pk

I got a few other random things but basically, I bought a lot of groceries. With all the meat and produce items, I was expecting to pay about $250 for these groceries.

After all was said and I done I paid $140.71 for these groceries!!! This accounted for a total savings of $69.94!! Say what?!!

This was not only a pleasant suprise with all the meat I bought, but it was a defining moment – WIC saved me just as much money as I spent. This is huge!

I know WIC is only a supplemental food allowance but since it covers produce (we got mangos, a pineapple, potatoes, avacados, spinach, cucumbers, and bananas), milk for both me and Isaac (all together 7.5 gallons of milk a month), dairy (yogurt, cheese, eggs), cereal, bread (or rice, pasta, tortillas – your choice), beans, peanut butter, and juice, it still saves a significant amount of money on food staples every month.

I’m really happy with my bargain shopping, penny pinching and grateful for WIC. I am guessing with what I have purchased, we have groceries for 3-4 weeks with the exception of additional fresh produce.

Do you have any bargain shopping stories, tips, or tricks?