28 July 2014

{Meatless Monday} Recipe: Spinach Quinoa Cakes

Tonight, I was nursing Minion down for his evening nap and deciding what I was going to have for dinner since the kids had already eaten sandwiches and fruit. Just as I was thinking I'd just have a protein shake and a banana, my friend Carly (check out her blog over at Nursing Bliss from a Sleepless Mama) texted me a picture of her dinner...quinoa cakes she'd bought at Costco. She said they were yummy, and we discussed making them ourselves.

I had a bunch of stuff in my fridge that seemed like it would work well, so I decided to experiment once I put Minion down.

The result was delicious...and both Minion (he woke from his incredibly short nap just as I was finishing up) and BabyA approved.

1 bag Trader Joe's pre-cooked quinoa (in the frozen section)
1/4 medium white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c baby spinach, chopped
1 egg
1/4 c grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/8 c shaved Parmesan
2-3 TBSP wheat flour
2 TBSP olive oil (for frying)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the quinoa as directed, either in the microwave or on the stovetop. Allow to cool considerably. I let it cool for about half an hour while I washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen.

In a small frying pan, saute your onion in olive oil until soft. Add garlic and spinach and cook until spinach is just wilted (this takes almost no time, depending on how finely you've chopped the spinach). Set the mixture aside to cool while you grate the cheese.

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients until they're still wet, but will hold a ball shape.

In the same small frying pan, drop and flatten balls of the mixture until they form cakes. I got 4 cakes from this recipe...and the babies and I ate them all.

These would definitely be good with some kind of Greek yogurt sauce/dip, but Minion was fussing and I was hungry, so I'll have to try that another time.

21 July 2014

My Gentle Parenting Journey

It's been an unforgivably long time since I've posted. Life has had a way of seriously keeping me down for the past several months.

Taking care of a family of 5 with little to no help is exhausting. I really appreciate that The Husband works long hours and provides for us financially, but parenting alone for extended periods of time is really eating away at my sanity.

Of course, it doesn't help that I also got to recently discover that some friendships are only as deep as my pocketbook...and since we're in a seriously tight spot financially, I'll leave it to your imagination to decide where those "friends" have gone.

My writing has been sorely neglected, just like most of the rest of my life. I clean during most nap times and after the kids have finally stopped fighting sleep and gone down for the night (which rarely happens before midnight), and I can't manage to keep everything at an acceptable level of cleanliness for an entire day.

My main focus these days is finding a way to balance my dwindling patience with parenting  a toddler. I've immersed myself in gentle/positive parenting Facebook pages and Instagram accounts. I know that I want my children to grow up to be more than mindlessly obedient little drones who are constantly seeking approval and acceptance. It's tough, though, because I often find myself falling back into the familiar.

I don't have a lot of support outside the internet. My husband isn't entirely on board with the idea of parenting gently and respectfully, most of my family doesn't get it at all, and it's really more difficult to treat my children like individuals than like property that I can control.

What are your favorite gentle parenting resources? How do you cope with spirited/high needs toddlers without losing your cool? How do you handle people who just don't "get it"?

My favorites lately are:

Aha Parenting
Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond

I also have a profound amount of respect for Jeremy and Jessica Martin-Weber over at Beyond Moi. They have posted about choosing gentle parenting, and I absolutely loved the posts: Beyond Yelling and Why We Stopped Spanking Our Children.

12 February 2014


I have never been the type of person who handles a lot of stress well. Small amounts of pressure can encourage me to really put my nose to the grindstone and produce results (as was evidenced during my college years when I was a hardcore procrastinator), but anything above normal has a tendency to cause a complete meltdown.

As a mom of three with two under two now, stress seems to be just part of the daily routine. Between toddler behaviors that make me want to scream, a baby who fights sleep (and wakes up the moment he's unlatched from the boob), and an 8 year old who sometimes thinks she's a teenager, I often feel like stressed could be my middle name.

They look cute now...but wait until they decide to sync their crying times!

I'm still working on adequate coping strategies that also fit into my life as a mom. Before kids, when I faced a lot of work stress, I'd go get a pedicure or massage or hit the bar for happy hour. Aside from the fact that my lack of a paying job makes luxuries like pedicures and massages nearly impossible, I can't exactly leave my kids at home alone (or while The Husband is asleep after working all night) while I go have a beer or get my toes done. And let's face it, taking a young child with you to get a pedicure really defeats the purpose if you're attempting to de-stress.

I have to remind myself daily that I can't control anything but my own reactions and responses. If you'd met BabyA, you'd know that controlling my responses to her can require a herculean effort. I was definitely given a strong willed, opinionated, and very intelligent child. She's been blessed with all the qualities that will make her a fabulous adult, but have a way of making my life miserable while she's young. Sometimes, when I'm feeling considerably stressed, I close my eyes and remember that my child has all of the qualities that I had to learn as an adult so that people didn't ignore or take advantage of me.

Speaking of which, closing my eyes is something I do frequently. If I can't see the mountains of laundry in the living room, the overflowing sink and trash can in the kitchen, the dust on every surface, and the clutter that may or may not be taking over our tiny house, I can ignore it for a few seconds. I can picture myself on a beach somewhere, or in a field of wildflowers with a good book and a glass of wine, and I relax just a little bit.

Which leads me to my next coping mechanism. There is nothing wrong with having a glass of wine on occasion, and I occasionally do just that. I am a shameless lightweight after having children so close together and foregoing alcohol for so long, so I rarely have more than one glass of wine, and I usually try to time it so that I am not nursing Minion for an hour or so after I drink (thankfully, he's a good sleeper and will nap in the mamaRoo for a couple hours at a time).

My favorite escape, though, as it has been since I was a very young child, is a good book. I am a great fan of fantasy since it allows me to completely escape this world, but I also adore Regency fiction and Jane Austen/Jane Austen fanfiction. My Kindle has become a great friend (have you ever tried to read a traditional paperback while breastfeeding? It's definitely a skill set unto itself), and I'm finally checking books off my embarrassingly long TBR list. Granted, I'm reading at a much slower pace than I used to, but there's nothing better than lying in bed with my sleeping babies and reading until I fall asleep.

I also try to squeeze some yoga into my day, and when all else fails, we all take a nap together.

What do you do to cope with stress as a parent?

10 January 2014

A Birth Story

I know I've been MIA for a few weeks, so thanks for the patience while I adjust to life with two under 2 (The Husband went back to work a couple weeks ago, and it's been yet another adjustment).

I wrote my birth story within a few days after Minion was born, but just haven't had time to post it until now. Since he's been cluster feeding all day, BabyA has just passed out after refusing to nap, and The Princess is watching a movie featuring talking Golden Retrievers, I finally have a moment to use my actual computer!

 Monday, November 25. At this point, I've been waiting on a call from the hospital since 6 AM Thursday. I've gone for 2 last minute NSTs because my OB wants me monitored every 3 days. I've been told by the L&D ward that I'm first on the list and they'll call when they have a room.

I spent the afternoon at my parents' house, napping with BabyA on their couch and eating Del Taco for lunch (totally not low carb, but I wanted it!). We left around 5 PM, BabyA throwing a huge fit because she wanted to stay with Grandmama. I was less than a mile from my parents' when I got the call.

I called The Husband and told him to grab a few last minute things so we could go as soon as I got home. We dropped BabyA back off at my parents' with her bag, grabbed me some drive through chicken, and then headed for downtown and the hospital.

I was admitted around 7 PM, and had an awesome nurse. She asked about my birth plan, and went over every line with me. Since my birth plan was centered around natural spontaneous labor, some changes were made, but I have to give big props to the nursing staff because they were all very accommodating of my wishes.

My OBGYN happened to be the Kaiser OB on call that night, and he started me on Cervadil around 10:30 PM because my cervix was still very thick, I was only dilated to 1 centimeter, and Minion's head was very high. I settled in for the night since I knew they wouldn't start Pitocin for at least 12 hours, and the Cervadil probably wasn't going to kick me into labor since I'd only been having irregular contractions for the past few weeks.

I hate trying to sleep in the hospital. Between the monitors and cords everywhere, the beds like rocks, and the broken blood pressure monitor that kept inflating and then refusing to deflate (causing my arm to go numb every half hour), I really didn't get any restful sleep. Then there was the added bonus of my fluctuating glucose levels because I wasn't allowed to eat.

At 10:30 on Tuesday morning, they removed the Cervadil and waited on the new OB on call to see what to do next, since I was still only 5% effaced and dilated to 2 centimeters. The OB on call was great (I have to say I was mostly blessed with great staff). She had a gruff manner and was very forthright, but was also very knowledgeable and respectful of my wishes. She told them to let me eat, shower, and walk around unrestricted for a couple of hours before they started Pitocin.

After choking down a bland hospital lunch, I was started on a Pitocin drip. My contractions had been coming at 3 minutes apart for several hours at that point, but they weren't increasing much in intensity. The Pitocin started around 2 PM.

By 5 AM, I was exhausted, having contractions every minute or two, and still barely progressing. After a lot of prayer and a few texts with my best friend, I made the decision I didn't want to make. I requested an epidural.

I had a feeling that, similar to my lack of progression during my labor with BabyA, I was not responding well to the Pitocin and my body wasn't relaxing enough between contractions to dilate. I was right. The epidural was inserted around 6:30 AM. At that time, I was still only 3 centimeters dilated and 50% effaced. Within 4 hours, I dilated from 3 to complete and birthed Minion.

I was blessed to have the support of one of my dear friends and a member of my Mama Tribe acting as my doula. She was in and out over the days since she had her own nursling at home, but her support and encouragement were invaluable. I was especially grateful for her encouragement that helped me tune out the OBGYN and nurse who kept telling me to be quiet while I was pushing.

Minion was born at 10:28 AM on November 27, 2013. He weighed 9 lbs 13 oz and was 20.5 inches long (though we think they mismeasured because he was 21.5" at the pediatrician's office, and I doubt he grew an inch in 5 days). I had no tears and can't even describe the difference in my physical and mental health when compared with the aftermath of BabyA's birth.

Physically, I am still a bit tired, but not utterly exhausted. I'm getting around with very minimal pain, which is mostly in my abs and pelvic floor. My nipples are a bit sore, but not raw and bleeding like they were after BabyA.

Mentally, I feel like a different person. Really, I had somewhat similar labors and delivery. Both Pitocin induced, both with epidurals. Minion's birth actually sounds a lot more difficult on paper than BabyA's. Her labor was short: 12 hours from my admission in the hospital to her birth. BabyA was only 8 lbs 1 oz and 22 inches long.

The key difference was me. I felt cheated after BabyA's birth. I didn't feel supported or empowered to pursue the birth I wanted. I was not educated enough to deny an induction that was probably unnecessary. My wishes were never consulted with regards to intervention, and I really just felt completely powerless. For someone who is somewhat of a control freak, powerlessness is devastating.

During Minion's birth, I was confident that I had made the best decisions during my pregnancy for him and for myself. While I struggled with the question of induction, I believe I made the best choice I could make based on the information available. Maybe in a few years, another mom won't have my struggles because there will be better gestational diabetes-specific information with regards to insulin dependence in pregnancy.

Even though I didn't get the birth I planned for, I am not upset or depressed following Minion's birth. I feel empowered and strong because I knew the decisions I was making and I felt like I was supported in them.

Also, I don't feel quite as alone as I did in the weeks following BabyA's arrival. I struggled a lot with feeling overwhelmed and alone back then, and now I know that I have a wonderful support system in the form of my Mama Tribe. Plus, The Husband has really stepped up his game as far as doing things around the house while I sit and nurse Minion. Plus, I have wonderful "happy (placenta) pills" that are an entire post unto themselves. Maybe someday I'll post about how I had to basically steal my placenta from the hospital.

So tonight, as I'm enjoying a dinner that I didn't cook (thanks to some wonderful mamas in my local babywearing group) and hanging out with my newly expanded little family, I won't be mourning the birth that could have been. I'll be celebrating Minion's birth and enjoying my babymoon.

For anyone looking for a more empowered birth experience or the information to make the best decisions for you and your baby, I highly recommend the following websites:
Birth Without Fear
Evidence Based Birth
The Birthing Site
His first boobie snack

His first time being worn (in his legacy wrap) at 1day old so I could eat Thanksgiving dinner.
Santa brought him a stuffed Minion...how appropriate!

NYE...and our first night without The Husband

He's got such a personality already!

Their bond melts my heart daily

04 December 2013

An Introduction

My little man arrived a week ago today, and we're currently enjoying our time getting used to an expanded family and sleep deprivation.

James Thomas Harbour, aka: Minion. 11/27/13. 9lbs 13oz. 21".

Sore nipples, leaky boobs, and sleeplessness aside, I feel wonderful. Despite some hiccups, Minion's birth was empowering and healing in its own way...but I am working on that post for another time.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd share some of my recent thoughts and experiences.

First of all, I have been incredibly blessed with one of the most laid back newborns ever created. Minion is not a crier in the slightest, sleeps in 2-3 hour stretches already, and nurses like a champ with a great latch (a huge relief after the painful weeks caused by BabyA's undiagnosed lip tie). My one complaint is that his long stretches of sleeping have been the source of some serious engorgement, which leads to things like this:
I swear I only pumped until I was no longer in pain. I was never able to pump much when BabyA was tiny (I think part of that was related to my post partum anxiety), but I am apparently not having that issue this time around. I am very hopeful that I will be able to donate breastmilk. I really wanted to donate while I was nursing BabyA, but I could barely pump enough to leave her with my mom for a few hours while I went to the doctor.

I am also cloth diapering a newborn, something I didn't do with BabyA. I did use disposables for the first few days until Minion passed all of the meconium. As soon as I saw that yellow breastmilk poop, I excitedly popped him into one of the adorable newborn cloth diapers I'd carefully hoarded over the course of my pregnancy.

Of course, I have several diapers that won't fit him at all since he was such a big boy at birth and had surpassed his birth weight by 6oz when we visited the pediatrician on Monday. I have been surprised by how much I really like using prefolds and covers. I adore my Thirsties cover, and I am not so patiently waiting for Minion's cord stump to fall off before I try to use my upcycled wool. My second favorites are my Swaddlebees Simplex, followed by my WAHM hybrid fitteds.

BabyA is totally enamored of "Bubba." She loves to pet and kiss him, bring him her favorite toys, and has only recently stopped trying to share her food and "nom nom" (pacifier) with him. She is fiercely protective, and I have to remind her that Princess is Minion's sissy, too, and is allowed to talk to/touch him. Whenever The Husband or I are holding Minion, BabyA is not far from him. I have tried to hand off Minion to The Husband so I can spend some one on one time with BabyA, but she will sit with Daddy and Bubba instead of playing or cuddling with me.

I have been amazingly blessed. My beautiful little family brings such joy to my heart. The bond between BabyA and Minion is especially wonderful. I worried so much about having another baby this soon, and had some serious moments of guilt during my pregnancy while I wondered how BabyA would respond to having a younger sibling. She certainly has had some struggles, and she has learned that she gets away with more naughty behavior if The Husband is away because I can't act immediately when I have Minion attached to one of my boobs. Overall, though, she is handling some major changes remarkably well. She will be 20 months old tomorrow, and her entire world changed last week. I'd say she's entitled to some regression. I'm just thankful to have The Husband home for a few weeks to help me manage adjusting to life with two under 2.
Meeting Minion for the first time
Cuddling and holding hands
Thanksgiving Day

23 November 2013

Recipe: Taco Soup

Well, I'm still pregnant! The hospital is at least 2 days behind on inductions, and my OBGYN doesn't appear too concerned since all he did was have me come in for an NST on Friday and told me to schedule another NST for Monday if I hadn't heard from the hospital by then. I'm still praying I go into labor on my own before then, but it's not looking very promising at the moment.

Since I had planned to be in the hospital and then home with a newborn this weekend, I didn't plan any meals. That led to quesadillas for dinner on Thursday and inviting ourselves for dinner at my parents' on Friday. Today, in an attempt to keep busy and not go completely mad from being in limbo, I did quite a bit of cooking. Aside from my usual eggs for breakfast, I made muffins for The Husband and the girls (with the added bonus of heating the house since my antique stove works better than our central heating unit) and decided to make soup for dinner since it's been so grey and cloudy here lately...perfect soup weather.

I love making soup. It's a fabulous way to stretch our food and, really, is there anything better than a hot bowl of soup on a cold, cloudy day?

Tonight, I made taco soup. I've made versions in the past that were so-so, but this version is my favorite. It is slightly spicy, chunky, and very comforting. I actually prefer to make it as a vegetarian dish, but since The Husband has been in kind of a grouchy mood lately, I decided to placate him with beef.

Doesn't that look scrumptious?


1 lb ground beef or turkey (optional)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 (15 oz) can chili beans (you may substitute pinto beans if you can't find chili beans)
1 (15 oz) can dark kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can black beans
1 (29 oz) can hominy
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
1 packet taco seasoning (or you can use my recipe)
1 qt vegetable broth
Sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips for serving

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, brown meat with onion, salt and pepper. If you are omitting the meat, just cook your onion in a bit of olive oil until it's translucent.

While meat is browning, open all of your cans and mix up your taco seasoning. Using a colander, drain and rinse the kidney beans, black beans, and hominy.

Once meat has browned, drain off excess grease, add the rest of the ingredients, and stir to combine.

Bring soup to a boil, stir, and reduce heat. Allow contents to simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve the soup topped with sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips.

Taco Seasoning:
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
*This taco seasoning has replaced all of the msg-laden store bought packets that used to overflow my spice cabinet (we eat a lot of taco salad), and tastes SO MUCH BETTER than any brand I've tried.

One of my favorite parts of this dinner is that there are enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Although, I can't promise that BabyA and I won't eat it for breakfast instead.

18 November 2013

Nearing the End

I'm not even through the labor and delivery portion of this pregnancy, and I am already feeling like my body failed me.

This was not supposed to happen. This birth was supposed to be the culmination of my months of research, of inspiration. It was supposed to be my chance to take back my birth and to make up for the incredible lack of knowledge that led to such an unsatisfying birth experience with BabyA. Now, I almost find myself wanting to return to my blissful ignorance. At least going into my induction with BabyA, I was more excited than apprehensive.

I feel let down. By myself, my body, and the medical community. I feel like I shortsighted things, that I should have been more thorough in my research when I was first diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. I failed myself because I didn't think that I would end up on insulin. My body failed in so many ways, but the most devastating of them were the actual diagnosis of GD followed by the need for insulin because, though I could control my glucose levels with diet during my waking hours, my body failed to control them at night. Most of all, though, I feel let down by the medical community. I spent hours researching everything I could find about GD and possible outcomes. What I discovered is that, while I found enough information to make a confident decision about denying induction without insulin dependence, the information on insulin dependent GD deliveries is very minimal. The information I did find just lumped all Type I/II and GD pregnancies/deliveries together with very little separation.

So here I sit. According to an ultrasound at around 8 weeks gestation, I am currently halfway through my 38th week of pregnancy, and I'm holding a slip that says my induction is scheduled for Thursday morning. While I know that I am capable of refusing the induction, I am not sure that I should because my research is inconclusive and the last thing I want to do is harm my baby because I chose to value my birth experience over his safety. I also haven't had great results on my urinalysis (I'm spilling a lot of ketones in my urine), and my blood pressure has been elevated during my last 2 visits.

I am working on self induction, and desperately trying to hold on to positivity, but I'm tired. On the way home from my parents' house tonight, with BabyA snoring in the back seat, I found myself begging God to let me have this baby on my own. Up until tonight, I'd been really good about asking for things to happen the way He planned. I was clinging to the thought that His plan had to be for me to give birth the way He designed.

If I'm wrong, and I end up with another induction, I am sure there's a bigger purpose. I know it is all part of the plan. But right now, I'm anxious and depressed.