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