Salmon and Veggies in Parchment

September 23, 2011 at 9:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The other day, Nodakademic wrote a post about her reasons for subsisting on a mostly take-out/processed food/cake-flavored vodka (!!) diet (for the time being).  I left a comment about how much I love junk food (it kinda hurts to call it “junk”), and it’s true.  I usually start the day healthy with a bowl of Fiber One Raisin Bran, and I even measure out the serving.  But from there, I go to second breakfast, which may or may not involve a Nonni’s biscotti and/or Lotus speculoos with my morning coffee.  I try to usually have at least a serving of fruit, and a semblance of a healthy lunch, often with yogurt or a sandwich on low-calorie bread, but what kills me and my efforts at eating healthily is the snacking.  In between second breakfast and lunch, I’ll usually have a handful or three (or five) of dark chocolate M&Ms (peanut or regular), or maybe a Kashi granola bar if I’m trying to be good (love the Cherry Chocolate Chip and Honey Flax), and between lunch and dinner there are often more M&Ms, or animal crackers, or a Little Debbie’s Pumpkin Delight.  Mostly I enjoy something I can just grab a handful of (hence the candy and animal crackers), but the problem is that I can never stop with just a handful.

Anyway, the point is, to try to make up for all the extra snack calories consumed during the day, I try to make something healthier for dinner (plus, the Army sort of frowns on overweight service members, so I’ve got my husband to think of as well).  I’ve mentioned before how much I love Cooking Light magazine; I’ve gotten a large chunk of my recipes there for the past several years.  This fish recipe is my new favorite way to prepare salmon.  Remember, we live nowhere near the ocean, in an area not known for its culinary prowess, so to speak.  The original recipe calls for Arctic char; I’m pretty sure that no one here has ever heard of that, so I substitute frozen, wild caught salmon filets.  Not ideal, but it works for me until I can get back to the East Coast. Also, when you make this, don’t bother to trace a heart and cut it out. A rough circle works just fine.

The benefits of this recipe are:

  • It’s quick (the faster you can chop veggies, the faster you can get it in the oven)
  • It’s easily adaptable: you can change the type of fish, or which veggies you use, or even switch up the herbs. Once I used fresh sage, but this week I used dried thyme.
  • It’s healthy and it tastes good enough that I look forward to making it again.

(source)

I didn’t get to take any of my own pictures this time because the baby was on the verge of a meltdown while I was cooking (and reached nuclear meltdown levels right before it came out of the oven).  But y’all. It was SO good (even though I had to eat mine cold). I served mine over rice, but couscous or another grain would also be great here.

Now, can someone help me say goodbye to my snack friends and get back on the exercise train?

LC at Six Months

September 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Posted in Family, Home, Life, Thankful things | 1 Comment

My darling girl,

I can’t believe half a year has gone by since we welcomed you into our family.  We’ve had our ups and downs as we’ve figured each other out, but fortunately the ups have far outnumbered the downs.

Here are some of the highlights from the past six months:

You were born on a Sunday morning and we had to wait until Tuesday evening to hold you for the first time because you were intubated until then.  It was such a good feeling to have you in my arms where you should have been all along.

After ten long, emotional days in the NICU, we finally  got to take you home. Best day ever.

We’ve had many occasions to dress you up and fawn over how stinkin’ cute you are.  We just can’t help it; no matter what you do, to us it’s the most adorable thing ever (except for spit up and poop…sorry, those are just never cute).

Since you’ve been born, you’ve had lots of people come to see you.  That’s a pretty big deal since your extended family lives 2,000 miles away.  You had your first plane ride, too, to Virginia just before you turned 4 months old.  You were so good on the plane, and many people commented that they didn’t even know there was a baby on the flight!

On your first trip to VA, you got to see both sets of grandparents, three aunts and uncles, and your cousin who’s only 9 days older than you.  Your aunt and I had fun dressing you in coordinating outfits and taking pictures of you together.  Your great-grandpa even drove all the way from Michigan just to meet you.

Cousins in their Costa Rica onesies!

Everyone that meets you notices what a happy baby you are.  You always have such a big grin, and it melts our hearts just thinking about it. I absolutely love going in your room in the morning when you wake up because you greet me with that cute gummy smile (no teeth yet!).  You have the sweetest laugh, and you mostly only cry when you’re tired.

Blowing raspberries

Speaking of tired, you have finally become a great night sleeper.  We had a rough patch between months 2 and 4, but once we came back from vacation, you started sleeping pretty consistently from about 7:30 pm-7:30 am.  Naps are another story. We are working on those!

At this point, you are rolling, rolling, rolling like crazy, and have started to army crawl.  You are a determined little girl and if you really want something, you’ll find a way to get it.  Lately you seem to really love getting your hands on Mommy’s magazines.  You seem to have a knack for picking out the one thing in the room you’re not supposed to have and then making sure you get it.

You’re also becoming quite vocal.  You are usually squealing with delight, but you also have started screeching (happily!) and you crack us up with the new sounds you make.  Mommy is speaking French to you, as well as English, but your grandparents are pushing for you to be at least trilingual, so we’ve got some work to do.

We started solids just over a week ago.  So far you have tried peaches, avocados,  and plums.  You seem to like the avocado best, but in general you are not too enthused about solids.  We hope you’ll grow up to be an adventurous eater because Mommy and Daddy love to eat!

Your 6-month checkup is later this week, so we don’t have official height/weight stats yet, but you are still fitting comfortably in 3-6 month clothes and size 2 or 3 diapers.

We love you so much and we can’t wait to see what surprises the next six months bring.

Love, your mama

6 months!

Pumpkin Pancakes

September 18, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Posted in Deliciousness | Leave a comment
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One of the best things about fall, maybe even THE best thing about fall, is the abundance of pumpkin-everything.  I get abnormally excited over the appearance of Little Debbie’s Pumpkin Delights, and I may or may not already be on my second box of the season.  Given my obsession with love of pancakes, it’s only normal that I look forward to pumpkin pancakes this time every year. But I somehow always manage to miss them at IHOP, and so when Serena at Big Apple Nosh announced that this month’s NoshGirl Party was weekend breakfast, I knew that now was the time to try them at home.

Best enjoyed with coffee with toffee nut creamer. Yum!

I started with this recipe from food.com. Yes, I started with Bisquick.  I hate to say it, but Bisquick has given me consistent results when other recipes have failed me. It’s been a good standby to have when I don’t want to have to guess whether my breakfast is going to turn out.  But I promise, once this box is gone, I’m going to make my own baking mix to keep on hand for my Sunday morning pancake fix.

Here’s my adaptation of the recipe:

  • 2 1/3 cups Bisquick
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let stand 10 minutes.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and ladle a scant 1/4 cup batter per pancake.  Cook until edges are dry, flip and cook 1-2 minutes more.  Keep warm on an ovenproof plate or baking sheet in a 200 degree oven.  Serve with butter and your favorite syrup. Enjoy!

Parents and Teachers

September 12, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Posted in Life, Things I think | Leave a comment

It’s back-to-school time again. As a teacher, one of the things that can make or break (perhaps not break, but impair?) a classroom are the parents.  At best, parents work with the teacher as partners.  Good parents can help take field trips or large-scale class projects from possibility to reality.  On an individual basis, a parent works with the teacher to ensure that their child is getting the best education possible.  A high school teacher routinely has over 100-150 students depending on the subject taught, and can only provide each student with so much individual attention, so a good parent will step in and provide extra help when needed. This could be anything from helping the student be more organized, giving them extra help at home if possible, etc., but most importantly, just being involved in the child’s life.  Not every parent has the capability to furnish tutors, or spend hours working on projects, but I believe that parents owe it to their children to at least be aware of their progress in school.

Cooperative parents make a teacher's job even more enjoyable!

Award-winning educator Ron Clark says it best in this article on cnn.com.  Everything he says here resounds with me, especially the part about disagreeing with a student’s grades. (This was a bit of a sore spot with me, having worked for an administration that routinely encouraged teachers just to pass their students.)  What parents need to keep in mind is that by and large, teachers really do have their students’ best interests at heart.  We’re not witches who take joy in using up boxes upon boxes of red ink pens.  Imagine how motivated your child will be if he begins to think, ‘It doesn’t matter what I do, my parents will get it changed.’

American teachers are overworked and underpaid.  We can spend so much more time planning interesting and engaging activities if parents are involved at home.  As a teacher, I try to make a point to make a positive phone call or email in the beginning weeks of school to establish a good rapport with parents.  But I also love it when parents take the initiative to contact me to ask me how their son or daughter is doing.

This is my plea to parents: Please be informed of what’s going on with your child: what classes he’s taking, what activities he’s involved in, what his grades are.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you suspect your child is having trouble.  I will be happy to work with you to find solutions.  Please do not do your child’s homework for them; homework is usually given for a reason, and I need them to have that practice.  Please do not make excuses for your child’s behavior, especially in front of them.  Please be willing to listen to what I have to say and know that I have the best intentions.  If I tell you that your child misbehaved, it is not because I dislike them or enjoy punishing.  It’s likely because your child’s behavior is affecting the rest of the class and that needs to change.  If you are dissatisfied with your child’s grades, please come to me before going to the administration.  I am happy to show you samples of your student’s work and to go over exactly how that grade was determined.

This is starting to sound as though parents are all horrible; this is simply not the case.  But there are far too many parents who view teachers as enemies instead of allies. I hope that in a few years when my daughter is in school, I can keep these things in mind.  As a parent, it’s natural to want to stand up for your child. But to assume that they can do no wrong and that teachers are out to get them is really not doing anyone any favors.

What’s your take, as a parent, teacher, or student?

LC’s Birth Story, Part III

September 10, 2011 at 7:44 am | Posted in Family, Life | Leave a comment
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When we left off, I was getting checked into the hospital.  Things went pretty quickly from here.  Before I knew it, I was stripped down and into a gown, getting an IV (honestly for a needle-phobic like me, this was one of the worst parts of the entire labor and delivery), and the nurse anesthetist was on her way in to discuss giving me an epidural.

I mentioned before that I didn’t really have a birth plan. Based on discussions with my mom who has worked as a labor and delivery/nursery/postpartum nurse for almost 20 years, I felt that the best thing was to go with the flow.  Everyone’s labor is different, and I knew that personally, if I get my mind set on something and it doesn’t work out the way I want it to, I don’t handle it very well.  My mom had four natural deliveries (with two babies over nine pounds!), so I felt that I should be able to go natural, too, but at the same time I felt that if pain relief would help me relax then there was nothing wrong with that. The only things I felt strongly about were not wanting a c-section (but I knew it was a possibility) and not wanting an episiotomy. [Does this sound judge-y of women who have a birth plan? It’s not meant to be, only that for me I’d be setting myself up for disappointment if I made a too-detailed plan].

When I was admitted, the nurse checked me and I was dilated four centimeters.  I was progressing at about one centimeter per hour.  The nurse anesthetist was great about going over the pros and cons of an epidural with me, and after some hemming and hawing (the girl across the hall wasn’t having one!) I decided I’d like the pain relief.  My main worry with the epidural was the needle slipping or something while the anesthesia was being administered.  Thinking about it actually makes me feel sick and faint.  So let’s just skip to the part where I tell you that about an hour after being admitted, I was signing a waiver and getting a big dose of pain relief. [So, the epidural: I’m a needle wuss–for blood draws I always ask for the butterfly needle–the kids’ one–and I just couldn’t look at it.  But I don’t regret getting the pain relief one bit.]

The rest of my laboring went by rather easily.  Around 9 am, my sister had to leave to catch her flight.  W wanted to drive her to the airport, but at that point I was already dilated to 7 cm, so the nurses told him there was no way he was leaving!  W called a cab to pick her up and she was off.

The anesthesia from the epidural slowed down my progress so I was given pitocin, and by about 10:45 am it was time to push.  45 minutes of pushing and one episiotomy later, and LC was here, born at 11:31 am.  When it came down to it and my doctor told me he was going to give me the episiotomy, I didn’t even care.  I just wanted to meet my daughter.

First family photo and the quick look I got at my baby

But this wasn’t the end.  While the nurses cleaned LC, they suctioned a lot of fluid from

her lungs, probably aspirated in the birth canal.  Her color wasn’t good.  Someone let me look at her for a hot second before whisking her away to go under the oxygen hood.  W followed her to the nursery where she was weighed and given oxygen.  My epidural had been turned off during labor but was turned back on again after (why??) so I was stuck in bed unable to move from the waist down.

After some time under the hood, she still wasn’t improving or breathing well on her own,

so my sweet labor and delivery nurse came in to tell me that they were transferring her to the NICU, and that it would be several hours before I could even go see her.  It was then that I had a major breakdown. I just bawled.  I knew she was being taken care of, but I hadn’t even had a chance to hold her.  I had barely even gotten to look at her!  I had had a totally normal pregnancy, so why was this happening to us??

The story of her time in the NICU will have to wait for another day.  For now, a couple pictures. I love this girl.

Getting oxygen

Under the oxygen hood

LC’s Birth Story, Part II

September 1, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Earlier in the week, I had wondered aloud to my mother whether I would know what it felt like when I went into labor.  I hadn’t experienced any Braxton-Hicks contractions that I could feel, so even though I had read a lot about going into labor, and countless birth stories online, I still didn’t really know what to expect.

I went to bed on Saturday night feeling completely normal, and the next day was full of plans to take my sister to the airport and run some errands.  Around 1 am, I woke up. I was used to waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, but this time I woke up because I was having contractions! At first they were around 6-10 minutes apart and they weren’t very strong.  I was so excited that I was going into labor on my own!  I texted my other sister on the East Coast who was awake with her 9-day-old baby boy. She texted me back, excited too.  I tried to go back to sleep because I wasn’t in much pain and I had no idea how long I’d be in labor.  My mom had had four relatively quick deliveries, but as with everything, I expected the worst.  If anyone was going to have a 40-hour labor, it would be me.  (Sidenote: WHY do I do this to myself?  Such a bad habit/frame of mind!).

About an hour later, I was awake again.  The contractions were coming harder and faster.  I got up and went to the living room to ride the contractions out. I quickly downloaded a timer app to my phone. 4-5 minutes apart.  I called the hospital to let them know I was in labor, and they very politely told me that I needed to wait until the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart for an hour.  I texted my mom, a nursery/postpartum nurse back home, to let her know things were happening.  She happened to be at work that night and texted me back.  It felt reassuring to let someone else know what was going on and to have them be happy for me. It was a nice reminder that this was a HAPPY event and not an ANXIOUS, WORRISOME event as I tend to turn things into.

At that point, I took a shower and dried my hair, to try to distract myself, and again, because I thought it might be DAYS before I could shower again (because I would surely be in labor for 85 hours), and I had to look good for all those postpartum photo ops, right? Not long after that the pain got much worse. I woke W up to let him know what was going on.  The contractions were coming closer together, but not consistently.  I wanted him to rest up, so even though I had already taken a shower, I thought I’d try laboring in the jetted tub to see if that helped.  I didn’t stay in the tub long, though; once I turned the jets on it became obvious that they had not been used in quite awhile. Yuck.

At this point, I think I got W out of bed.  The contractions were progressing fairly quickly.  He was a saint and patiently massaged my lower back with a tennis ball.  I found that to be really helpful, and that technique was probably the only useful thing I got from going to our hospital’s childbirth prep class.  At about 4:30, I called the hospital to let them know that we’d be on our way soon.  I woke up my sister, who was surprised that I was in labor.  She took over massaging my back while W took Duncan for a walk.  They got the car loaded up, and honestly, I thought I would die having to sit in the car on the 15-20 minute ride to the hospital, but it turned out to be much more comfortable for me than I expected.  I think my sweet girl knew that she had to calm down until we got to the hospital.

We made it to the hospital right around 5 am, just in time for the doors to be open so that we didn’t have to go in through the ER.  My sister and I went straight to the 4th floor to check in while W parked the car.

Next up: the good (and bad) part!

I went to the hospital looking like this...(photo actually taken at 36 weeks)

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