Thursday, December 20, 2012

In the WEEDS

I'm beyond behind this season. I've finished about 2 of the girls gifts, wrapped stuff from their grandparents to them, and that's it. No baking, no photos, not even a tree up yet :(

I may be slow the next few days.....or I may have a huge post to vent. We'll see :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Homeschooling Backpack - When We School on the GO!- MAM December 2012

It is completely unsurprising that the Holiday Season can really throw a wrench in the schedule and routine of most children. There are parties to attend, trips to take, photographs to shoot, and general schedule changes caused by longer and longer to-do lists. As a preschool homeschooling family, our school schedule has been off since the week of Thanksgiving. Travel, cooking, cleaning, and seasonal errands have made our daily safety net almost nonexistent.  I’ve come up with a plan on how to keep schooling during the holidays and it all fits nicely into Miss Moo’s backpack.

The Pack

Moo has a backpack from her preschool days and she’s still proud to put it on and wear it about town. She has become aware of our altered school schedule and now tends to ask for school when we are trying to get things done during time she’s used to doing an activity. Drawing on the idea of what I packed for our Thanksgiving journey, I’ve set up a traveling “school” on her back. She loves the notion of something to be responsible for as well as taking pride in her autonomy . We packed it together with items we both chose to include to incorporate her interests as well as the skills and concepts that we have been building and those that we need to work on.

Monday, December 17, 2012

You're delivering WHERE?? - Do Your (Home) Birth Research

When we made the decision to switch from the birth center to home birth midwife, I knew we'd get some questions and apprehension from some friends and maybe even some family. Both our girls were born under the care of very capable midwives who practiced in connection to either a hospital connected birth center or in a hospital. There was "emergency" care immediately available,  MD's in the facility at all times, and countless amounts of any and all drugs under the rainbow.

Miss Moo's birth was amazing, calming, swift, and everything I had imagined first my birth to be. Miss Roo's labor was a bit forced and had interventions - my membranes were prematurely ruptured and I ended up augmented with pitocin. Her birth was lightning fast - a full 10 cm to born in 2 minutes. Both girls were health, exactly the same size, and I was fine - merely a skid mark from their fast exits.

But there's something about the mere mention of giving birth at home that makes many people uncomfortable, even a bit scared. Truly, there's no reason to be either of those things. Home birth midwives aren't scary. They don't practice witchcraft or any kinds of sacrifices. They are extremely educated, experienced, and intuitive when it comes to the pregnancy and birth. They have families, lives, and interests outside of birth. They spend copious amounts of time with their clients, treating each woman as a person with a life and a family - not just a uterus that is occupied and needs to be checked on a routine basis.

Anyone considering home birth has done their homework. There are risks associated with a home birth, just as with ANY birth, even those in a hospital. Home birth is best suited for women with normal, low or no risk pregnancies.  Any high risk factors, such as preeclampsia or placenta praevia, should be weighed heavily and discussed with your midwife to determine if you are a good candidate for home birth. Home birth means no immediate access to pain medications or emergency medical interventions. This statement does not mean that any emergency that might occur cannot be addressed and treated - midwives are certified in neonatal resuscitation, can handle a maternal hemmorage to mange, control, or transfer the problem, etc. They are also aware of signs and indications of possible problems before they become emergencies for proper discussion and transfer, if necessary, before they become emergencies. However, home birth carries with it some risk that you and your partner must assess and be comfortable with.

There are tons of wonderful resources, both online, in your area, and in book form.  You can start at the website for the American College of Nurse-Midwives The North American Registry of Midwives, or Mothers Naturally to find out more about midwives, state laws and regulations in your area, and registries of midwives.  There are tons of  helpful websites about birth in general and home birth. Some of those to use as a resource are:
Bringing Birth Home
My Best Birth
Birth Without Fear

Most of the resource websites out there also have resource pages full of links.

For the bookworm crew, like myself, here are a few books I highly recommend:

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
Birthing from Within
Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care
The Birth Partner
The Doula Book
How Big is a Placenta Bowl?
Homebirth: The Essential Guide to Giving Birth Outside of the Hospital

Reasearch. Ask questions. Do more research. You are your biggest advocate and ally. Choose your birth no matter where that birth is or what it looks like. And respect all the various births that are out there. We are all women who carried children and brought them from our bodies. What a miraculous thing we women can do.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Meal Plan : Week of December 17-23

Sloppy Joe's, brussel sprouts, sweet potato wedges, cornbread

Shrimp and Grits

roasted red potatoes
green beans
sauteed onions and mushrooms
apple sauce

Cobb salad with chicken

Catfish Nuggets
Macaroni and Cheese
Fruit Salad

Saturday and Sunday:
We will be out of town to celebrate the holidays with Drew's family.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Recipe Collection: Real Food Adapted Baked Spaghetti

I must confess, I'm addicted to spaghetti. I have been pretty much since birth; Nana can attest to that. Miss Moo has received this gene from me and would eat pasta of any variety every day if I'd let her. I've been on a quest for the perfect baked spaghetti even since this pregnancy began. I've made some that were decent, but I haven't had much luck with gluten free noodles staying, well, noodle like.

Tonight I adapted a recipe that I found on All Recipe to make it GF and full of Real Food. This dish was on our Meal Plan for Wednesday but circumstances of time, or lack there of, moved it to tonight. I was very satisfied with the end result and will make it again with the following tweaks. The recipe below is my adapted recipe from the original that I linked. (I haven't made all the changes below to this batch, so yours will look slightly different from the photo.)

Real Food Baked Spaghetti

Preparation time:
30 mins

 Cooking time:
1 hour

Total time:
1 hour 30 minutes

Dairy (Casein), egg

Ingredients for Sauce:

  • 1 lb. grass fed, ground beef (ours is local)
  • 1 organic yellow onion, diced
  • 2 jars homemade OR organic tomato basil pasta sauce
  • 3 tbsp organic Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Real Salt

Ingredients for the Noodles:

  • 1 package (16 oz.) Trader Joe's corn spaghetti (although I am skeptical of corn, this is the ONLY noodle that comes close to holding it's texture)
  • 2 eggs (ours are local, free range)
  • 5 tbsp organic salted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Additional Ingredients for Layering:

  • 5 cups freshly shredded, whole milk mozzarella
  • 2 cups organic, whole milk, small curd cottage cheese

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chop onion, grate cheeses, and divide cottage cheese evenly.
  3. Grease lasagna dish or 9 x 13 inch dish.
  4. Add chopped onion, ground beef, and Italian seasoning to heated pan and cook, breaking up meat and mixing thoroughly until the onion is translucent and the beef is completely browned.
  5.  Add sauce to meat and onions and stir until completely combined.  Remove from heat.
  6. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with warm water to stop the cooking process.
  7. Beat the eggs.
  8. Melt butter over medium heat just until it has melted completely.
  9. Combine butter, eggs, and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Add the noodles to the egg solution and toss until the noodles are completely covered.
  10. Place 1/2 the noodles in the bottom of the greased dish. Place 1 cup of cottage cheese upon the noodles. Spread evenly.
  11. Add 2 cups of Mozzarella on top of the cottage cheese.
  12. Spoon 1/2 the meat sauce mixture on top of the Mozzarella.
  13. Repeat the layering with the other 1/2 of the noodles, remaining cup of cottage cheese, 2 cups Mozzarella, and remaining meat sauce mixture.
  14. Cover with foil and bake for 40 mins.
  15. Remove foil, add remaining 1 cup of Mozzarella, and bake for 20 mins or until the cheese is browned.
  16. Removed from heat and serve.

We all loved this dish. Roo ate 3 plates ;)

I served this dish along with a salad of organic: spinach, cherry tomatoes, avocado, egg, bacon, and goat cheese topped with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Festive Traditions Winner!

Thanks for checking out Festive Traditions! Our winner is Kristin S.! Congratulations!!

Stocking Stuffed with Care (And Fewer Toxins!) - Modern Alternative Heath December 2012

Image by dbtelford 
Each year as Christmas grows closer and closer, I dread a trip to search for one thing: Stocking Stuffers. While sometimes they can be inexpensive, stocking stuffers are generally plastic, unnecessary junk full of toxins that we are trying to remove from our home. This year I am attempting to make or purchase stocking stuffers that carry less chemicals, practical use, and maybe a little but of fun. The goal is for each to carry no more than 4-5 ingredients that I am completely aware of and use in my house.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Books on my Nightstand - 12.13.12

Here's a little look into what I am currently reading:
Sharing Nature with Children

Simplicity Parenting

The Write Start

The Doula Book

Choosing Cesarean: A Natural Birth Plan  (The title of this book had me so perplexed that I couldn't help but order it. I think women should be free to choose whatever birth they want, I just HAD to see what these folks had to say about it being "natural".)

The Birth Partner

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth  - I don't know how many times I've read this one!

I'm waiting on How Big is a Placenta Bowl? to arrive.

And always close at hand I have:

The Rhythm of Family 

The Creative Family

Playful Learning

A Few Pregnancy Tips

Unsurprisingly, this pregnancy is completely different that my first two. I'm craving savory instead of sweet, I have a LOT of water retention, I'm not constipated, and I still occasionally feel yucky in the afternoons.

I had a jump in weight gain over the last 6 weeks in numbers, but not in how my clothes fit or what I look like (other than the belly). My midwife wasn't terribly concerned, she just asked me to drink more water and pregnancy tea (mine comes from Totem Herbal ) and to keep an eye on it.  When I got home I asked Drew if I looked bigger. We both decided I didn't I just looked, well, puffy.

So, the water drinking began. Wanna know what happened? 9 lbs GONE in 2 days. NINE!! Guess I need to drink more water, huh?

I've also been having a lot of leg cramps and general sluggishness this time around. I know that I'm caring for two girls full time and keeping a house going (can anyone hear Drew snicker at that one?) but I feel worn out even past that. I've done some research and here are some things I've learned.

  • I need more sleep - I'm not getting much more than 6 hours a night and my body and my baby need rest.
  • I need more water - Other than the retention realization of this week, I have been really lacking in the water department. 8-10 glasses, DAILY - at least.
  • I need to snack - I need to get protein rich snacks in when I can and not stuff myself to misery at meals.
  • I need more potassium - This particular need is a difficult one because most people use bananas as a go to and I really, REALLY dislike them. A lot. So, I looked up some alternatives and I'm adding them to my routine and shopping list. My top 5 right now are: avocado  spinach, yogurt, brussel sprouts, and tomato juice.

Do you have any tips for pregnancy fatigue and water retention? What are your favorite snacks?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Miss Moo is much more aware of my pregnancy this time around. When I was carrying Miss Roo, she was VERY young and only could comprehend that there was a baby in my belly. This time she wants to feel him kick, know what he eats, how he moves, etc. She's interested in who my midwife is and what she does when I visit her. I tell her what she does and how she checks on the baby. I've also told her she can earn a solo visit with me after Christmas - she's getting a stethoscope from NanaPop so I'm sure she'll be excited to go.

We are always very clear and honest with our children when it comes to anatomy and biological processes. We talk about bodily functions openly and clearly so that we know what is going on with them and to teach them how to properly identify their parts and tell us of any problems. Given all the educating that we do with regard to our bodies and their cycles, I should have been ready for the inevitable question she asked me the other day. I SHOULD have been ready but I didn't let myself think she'd  "get" it that well. I had also hoped I would have been better prepared to answer it and in a better setting - not driving on the interstate.

"Mommy, how is my baby brother going to get out of your belly?"

I didn't want to lie to her and I didn't want to scare her. I also had to think fast. So I told her a brief version of the truth.

"You know how you and mommy have vagingas* that make us special? Well it is even more special because it lets babies come out of Mommy's belly. That's how you and Roo came out and your brother will come out the same way. Some Mommies have problems or really big babies and they need help - so they make a cut in their bellies and get the babies out. But Mommy is blessed to have you all with the help of her vaginga."

I glanced in the rear view and could see the wheels turning. Slowly she asked, "If I have a baby - it has to come out my vaginga?"

"Well,yes, but you don't have to worry about that until you are much older, Baby Girl, and we can learn more about all that then."

"Otay, Mommy."

So, now - faced with our planned home birth - I must enter a new level of education with regard to pregnancy and birth. I must decide what involvement she'll have in the prenatal learning as well as the birth. And, I need to find resources to help educate her gently. Although I think the Birth Doll is cool, I don't want to spend the money and I'm not sure we "need" it. There are several books I've seen mentioned around the web that I am considering purchasing for us - specifically We're Having a Homebirth!

But mostly, I'm just going to talk to her. I want her to feel excited about our new family member, her role in his life, and how special and loved she will be by him. If I want to openly communicate with my daughter, I have to do it at every age level and for every situation. I have to talk when she wants to discuss things and educate when I have the opportunity. And above all, I have to make her feel comfortable, listened to, and loved.

*Vaginga is what we have always called vaginas since she started pointing to body parts and naming them - she couldn't get the pronunciation right and we found it endearing.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Festive Traditions: A book review, AMAZING food and a GIVEAWAY!!!

I love the sounds and smells of Christmas time. I also love the food. Really LOVE the food. But as we are becoming more and more aware of what we eat and promote real food living in our lives, holiday festivities and food become stressful. Now there's Festive Traditions.

 Jill Marks, an incredible blogger and the editor of Modern Alternative Kitchen, forged the effort to create a Real Food holiday ebook this year.There are some great contributors from MAM and MAK.  My mouth waters just as I look through the table of contents. Nuts, soups, salads, desserts! I can't wait to try them all! Here's a look to get your taste buds excited:

Appetizers and Drinks
  • Spinach Artichoke Dip
  • Spicy Nuts
  • Pumpkin Pie Nuts
  • Marinated Goat Cheese
  • Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Bacon Wrapped Figs
  • Coconut Hot Chocolate
  • Pastured Eggnog
  • Christmas Punch
Main Dishes
  • Roasted Turkey
  • Salmon with Probiotic Dill Sauce
  • Chicken and Rice Soup
  • Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger Cream
  • Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff
Side Dishes
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Cheesy Potatoes
  • Autumn Stuffed Squash
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Christmas Salad
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
  • Crock Pot Stuffed Apples
  • Chocolate Creme Pie
  • Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce
  • Traditional Buckeyes
  • Gingerbread Muffins
  • Potato-Crusted Quiche
  • Soaked Oatmeal Pecan Waffles
  • Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal
  • Lemon-Poppy Seed Biscuits

Yesterday, Miss Moo and I took a stab at making Chicken and Rice Soup. I got us started by dicing and slicing up the carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms, and chicken to get things going. ( I love having Moo's assistance but knives for things that easily roll we haven't graduated to yet ;) ) Moo helped me place all the fresh ingredients in the dutch oven and stir it to cook. Who doesn't love the smell of fresh goodness cooking up in some REAL butter?? Then we measured out all of the dry spices - thyme, tarragon, salt, pepper -and added those with some chicken broth.  Mmmnnn -  it started to smell like Christmas! I whipped up the milk and arrowroot  to create a little cream concoction to slightly thicken the base and add just the right about of creaminess. All these flavors blended with the wild rice to make a soup fit for a King. We all enjoyed it for lunch - Miss Roo had 3, that's right 3, bowls!!

I can't wait to try the other recipes in this book for our holiday. This book isn't one I've bought, downloaded, and glanced at once. I keep coming back for ideas, meal, planning and holiday preparation. I am so thankful this year especially as I manage the girls, a pregnancy, and daily life to have this book as a reliable and genuine way to cook festive, real food for my family.The recipes are all well written and simple to follow. Ingredient lists are concise and clear, processes are uncomplicated for those of us still on a learning curve, and all the recipes are clearly marked to indicate what allergens are not present. For our Gluten Free household, that feature is a lifesaver! I know before I read the recipe if I am going to have to adapt anything. I can't say enough good things about this book.

I have good news for you! From now until Thursday, December 18th, you can get you very own copy of Festive Traditions at a special rate! My readers can save 25% by using the code EVOLVE25 at checkout!

Now I have GREAT news for you - we're having a giveaway! That's right - you can win your own copy of Festive Traditions! Through Thursday, December 14th, you have the opportunity to win your own copy! Simply do one (or more) of the following!

  • Leave a comment on this post saying what recipe you'd like to try and why.
  • Like Tryin' to Evolve on Facebook.
  • Share the giveaway on Facebook ad post on my wall letting me know!
I will select a winner with after midnight on the 15th and post the winner on Thursday's post.

Enter away, like some pages I've mentioned, and enjoy some REAL food this holiday!

We're Bringing Birth Home

 My previous two pregnancies and birth experiences were completely different. Miss Moo was born in a birth center attached to a hospital in Northern Virginia and Miss Roo was born on the L&D of a local hospital. They were completely different and both attended by midwives. I wouldn't change the outcomes of either of my births - two healthy girls delivered vaginally with no complications.

This time around, however, I wanted more control. I wanted discussion, options, support, and peace. We began our pregnancy at the free standing birth center here. The midwives there are great and the staff is exceptional. But I still felt that something was missing.

Friday I met with a fantastic midwife and her assistant. We talked birth, testing, options. We discussed what I wanted birth to look like and what their role is during labor and birth. We spoke about Doulas, placentas, and time. And I felt peace wash over me.

My third child, my son, will be born at home. I can't think of a better place for him to come into my arms and  into our family. I'm grateful to have the opportunity, support, and love to begin this journey and I can't wait to see where it ends at the crossroads to the next.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Meal Plan : Week of December 10-16

Getting back to normal means getting back to planning! Here's our plan for the week.

Green beans
Mashed potatoes


Hoppin' John Soup
Spinach Salad with champagne honey vinaigrette

GF baked spaghetti
Spinach Salad
Homemade bread?!?!

local, grass fed steak
green beans with garlic
fruit salad

Italian sausages on GF rolls with sauteed onions and peppers
French fries

I don't have to cook! Either Andrew will or we'll go to our local good food place :)

Pork chops
broccoli with cheese
baked apples
GF mac and cheese

Our Little Announcement....

Just when we think we have parenting figured out, God throws us a curve ball.
We can't wait to welcome our son in the spring!

So, I've been MIA...

It's true. I have had NO time to devote to myself or blogging. Or myself. And, honestly, I'm starting to go a little nuts. I've been busy with holidays, a pregnancy, a house, and a family. And, somehow, I've kept it all together - except for the me part.

So, I've decided I AM taking time for myself each day to write. I find myself settling down at night to slip into a brief slumber (before I'm up for the first time to pee) and things/articles/posts start running through my head and I wish that I would just get up and write. Perhaps I need to get a little tape recorder to sit by the bed so I can capture my thoughts in those moments.

But I digress. I'm back and I'll try to get some stuff up today. Thanks for checking back in....