Sunday, May 29, 2016

Grilled Steak and Potato Salad #SecretRecipeClub

Welcome to Secret Recipe Club Picnic/ BBQ themed reveal! 

The themed reveals occur on months where there are two Mondays and bloggers can opt into an optional themed reveal. This theme focuses on all things picnic like potato/pasta salads, sandwiches, cookies or bars and BBQ- pretty much anything on the grill. I was really excited about this theme because we love to grill and my blog is loaded with delicious grill recipes- perfect for Memorial Day weekend cookouts. 

I was assigned  Sarah's blog, Things I Make (For Dinner). Sarah had a ton of delicious recipes perfect for the grill. I few of the recipes I was eyeing up were: Garlic Balsamic Grilled Pork TenderloinCheeseburger Kebabs, and Tandoori-Style Chicken Burgers. Ultimately, I decided to make Sarah's Grilled Steak and Potato Salad. The recipe sounded delicious! How can you go wrong with grilled steak, seasoned potatoes, crisp greens, tomatoes, red onions, a little blue cheese and a tangy mustard dressing? The great thing about this recipe is it can be customized to your liking (like adding some mushrooms next time!?) and it is great for entertaining or for a casual weeknight meal with the family. My family loved this meal and it was perfect for for on our patio now that the weather is warmer. Thank you for a fantastic new recipe Sarah! 

I love long weekends. Granted I am on leave right now (last week *sniff*), but it is nice to have the family home with me and do fun things together. This weekend we have been spending time in Door County and are hoping to see the fireworks tonight, and go to the parade tomorrow with a few friends. 

Enjoy the weekend everyone! 


Ingredients

Salad 
2 Tbl Olive Oil
1 tsp Paprika 
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
8-12 Red Potatoes, halved (depending on size and how many you want in the salad)
8-10 oz Steak of Choice (I used two small NY Strips and original recipe used flank steak)
4-5 cups Arugula (any mixed green will do, but I like arugula)
1/2 medium Red Onion, sliced into thin rings
1 cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup Blue Cheese Crumbles

Vinaigrette
2 Tbl Olive Oil
1 Tbl Red Wine Vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Grainy Dijon Mustard


Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together oil, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir 1/2 the seasoning mix into the potatoes. Place potatoes evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes until golden and crispy.

While potatoes are cooking, rub the steak with the other half of the paprika mixture. Grill steak to medium rare (or desired temperature), and set aside for at least 5 minutes before slicing thinly across the grain.

Whisk the ingredients for the vinaigrette together in a bowl large enough to fit all the salad greens. Add the greens, tomatoes, and onions to the vinaigrette and toss to coat.  Divide the salad between the 2 plates. Layer steak and potatoes over the greens and top with blue cheese. 


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Weekend Chats: A Case For Placenta Encapsulation

I have had a lot of interest from you guys about placenta encapsulation and my experience with it. It makes me so happy that you are interested because I found it so helpful and I want to tell you about my experience after using encapsulation after both of my children. 


First things first, why did I do it? When I became pregnant with Kellen, like most mothers to-be, I dove head first into researching all different types of topics. I read briefly about placenta encapsulation because, at the time, was linked into the "crunchy" trend and was lumped in with many hot-button topics I had interest in. I had not given it a lot of thought until I spoke with my doula Emily at one of our first meetings. It was a service that she offered to clients and I decided to dig a little deeper into all things placenta before making a decision. As a disclaimer, I am not a medical professional and not certified, experienced, or trained in any type of encapsulation processes other than being a consumer, and any opinions I have are my own based on my own experience and results. 

In the wild, most animals eat the placenta after birth partially for survival to cover the birth from predators and instinctive nature of the mother.  I wasn't thinking that taking a big ol' bite of mine sounded like a pleasant idea after birthing my baby, but thankfully there are other ways to ingest and get the benefits. I have never been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, but I was very aware that postpartum depression impacts mothers who may not have experienced depression or other mental health issues prior to becoming pregnant or giving birth. In my research, I found many stories of women who experienced smooth post birth recovery including faster healing and shorter bleeding, increased energy, hormone balancing, decreased high and low mood swings, and increased milk supply. At the time, there was not a lot of clinical research that was done, but there were many personal stories from women who had elected this as an option. After reading the benefits my husband and I were both sold. I figured that it was not going to hurt anything even if it did not work. My feeling at the time was that I might only have one shot to have a baby because you never know your reproductive future and I wanted to give myself all the tools I could to succeed. I also wanted to be healthy in body and mind while in early postpartum for my benefit as well as my son and husband. 

Our next step was coordinating with our doula because she would take the placenta from the hospital to prep at her home and then return it to me. My doula was going to be with me at the birth and the transition would be easy and I (or my husband) would let the providers know of my intent when we got to the hospital. I did speak with my doctor about it during an appointment and he advised to let the staff know at delivery there was no reason that the placenta could not leave the hospital if there were no complications. 

The big day came and Kellen was born and my placenta left the hospital with my doula. A few days later she dropped off the processed placenta ready for ingesting. The question I get the most often is, "how do you eat it?". My placenta was steamed, dried, crushed and put into pills (The photo above is from Rowan's placenta, but Kellen's pills looked the same). Some women opt to cook theirs, have it in a smoothie, or just eat it raw. I selected pills because it sounded the easiest for me and most effective over a longer period of time..  I started taking the pills right when I got them from our doula and it was also when Kellen was in the NICU. I took 1-2 pills with each meal until they were gone (I am not sure how many I had with Kellen, but Rowan's placenta yielded about 180 pills and his placenta was on the larger side).

At the time, I had nothing to compare how I would be feeling to because this was my first child. However, there are things I can attest to while I was taking the pills. I had great energy for getting up multiple times per night and for needing to make multiple trips to the NICU each day while recovering from a vaginal delivery. I had some high/low mood swings and this is normal after giving birth while hormones are fluctuating (and having an inpatient baby), but I did not have extreme high/low or prolonged roller coaster type feelings. I gave birth to a 10 1/2 pound baby and I felt that I was able to heal quickly and did not have excessive bleeding. My milk also came in quickly and the amount multiplied relatively quickly for having a baby that was not with me 24 hours a day for the first 5 days. The most important thing to me was that I felt present, positive about myself, and connected to my role as a mom. From friends of mine that have had postpartum depression many of them described a disconnect to the world around them and/or to their child. I did not experience this, and I felt very in the moment and overall well. I think that my ability to process what happened to Kellen and I in those early days was because I had a pretty clear head and, how I always describe it, I was in a good place when it came to postpartum mental health.

Having the experience I had with Kellen it was a no brainer for me that I would do this with our next child. I hoped that I would have the same positive experience as I did with Kellen. When I was pregnant with Rowan I planned to have my placenta encapsulated into pills just as I had with Kellen. My friend Emily was my doula again and would process the placenta as she had the first time. However, the difference this time was that she was going to process in my home and not hers. I liked the idea of it being in my home because the placenta would be exposed to things I was living in each day and I know that my home is clean (not that Emily's isn't!), but sometimes you may not know the person processing your placenta as well as I knew mine or you may not have visited their house.  I again spoke with my doctor about my plans and she had issues with my plan and I was excited to move forward.

My doula processed my placenta while I was at home and I could peek over and see what she was doing. I actually wish I would have watched the entire thing, but Rowan was in the NICU at the time and I was just trying to focus on resting before returning to the hospital. Like last time, I started taking the pills as soon as they were ready to ingest.

So what the second time as good as the first? It was better my friends. Seriously. I felt/feel really good and I think that speaks a lot to the effectiveness of the pills considering I had a child in the NICU for almost 2 weeks. My energy was really good and when Rowan came home I was still feeling good even with a newborn's sleeping and feeding schedule. You will also remember from this post that we were struggling with breast feeding when he came home and I was very worried about supply. The pills, along with some supplements made by a friend, were so helpful....in fact I am now over producing, but that will likely change when I am back at work in two weeks. I, again, describe my mental health as present and good after Rowan's birth. I also felt that I healed even faster with Rowan and that is a good thing considering what a large baby he was. This time I also opted to get a tincture from the powdered placenta in addition to the pills. I can use the placenta tincture after the capsules are gone as needed.  By tincturing some of the powdered placenta in high grade alcohol I will continue to utilize benefits of the placenta. Tinctures can be used in times of  change, emotional times, hormonal fluctuations, or later in life during menopause. I am still amazed at the amazing things this organ can do.

My placenta was processed by Emily with Green Bay Doulas. They have a great info and FAQ section of their website. Click here to read more about their encapsulation services.  I also wanted to include another helpful link that addressed questions to ask your placenta encapsulation specialist. Click here for more details and FAQ answered by Green Bay Doulas. 

A few tips from my experience being a consumer of encapsulation as requested by you guys:
.
1) Make sure that you know the process at the hospital with your specialist and that your partner is also aware. It is helpful to include this in your birth plan so it can be included in your chart and you will need to call the person processing if they are not a labor doula for you.
2) Ask about where your placenta is processed. I received this question from a few people about an unseen processing site. If you select someone that does it in their home ask questions on their process. It should not just be thrown in their fridge unlabeled next to a few juice boxes or processed next to dirty dishes. That is gross. I think there is nothing wrong with asking to see the storage site and processing site. I would never hire someone who told me no to that request. You could also ask if preparing in your home is a possibility. Like I said previously, I have had one in home and one out, but not everyone has the same relationship with their doula as I did.
3) The second comment I received from many of you was apprehension that you knew it was your placenta. Make sure that your placenta specialist has an establish "chain of command".  Many of these individuals have great relationships with the hospitals and are very aware of protocol and procedure.
4) Be a careful consumer and use referrals. Odds are that if someone is good at what they do lots of people will be happy to tell you about it! If someone does have negatives I think it is important to look at if it is of a personal nature or if it actually has to do with their processing procedure or customer service.
5) Finally, someone asked me if the pills taste gross. The pills will have a funky taste/smell- they are a dried organ after all! This is normal, but I don't think I will chew one up anytime soon. Take it with food and lots of water. It is worth it!

I know there have been a few studies that have attempted to dispel claims of encapsulation's success, but I really can't put much stock into those because I have had two very positive experiences. For me, it made me a better mother from the starting gate and, like I have said before, I put weight on setting yourself up for success. I attribute my ability to be recover and enjoy my babies are much as I do to electing this option. I am a big believer in this and I am sure that it doesn't work for everyone (nothing works for everyone), but it worked wonders for me and that is what makes me so insistent on telling other mom's about this option.  Again, I highly recommend reading the links I posted about the FAQ's, and if you have more questions about my experience please feel free to e-mail me at cheesecurdinparadise@gmail.com or leave me a comment and I will reply.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Strawberry, Goat Cheese and Pecan Salad with Basil Vinegrette + A Giveaway!

Today, I am teaming with a brand that makes one of my favorite products for a busy mom. I love cooking with fresh herbs and Gourmet Garden makes it possible for me to have delicious fresh flavors year round despite living in the frozen tundra!  My garden is full of herbs in the summer, but during the off season I still want those delicious flavors. Gourmet Garden has sponsored a few cooking challenges I have participated in over the past few years such as: #FreshTastyValentines, #HotSummerEats, #TripleSBites, and #10DaysofTailgate. A few of my favorite recipes created for these challenges are:


The recipe above are just a small snap shot to showcase this great product. The herbs also have a longer shelf life and I feel like I am not wasting just to get a few tablespoons of basil. 

Gourmet Garden has generously offered to send one lucky reader a pack of 18 different herb products (12 stir-in pastes and 6 lightly dried).  This is the same prize pack that I have been able to work with and I assure you that you will really enjoy using their products of you have not had an opportunity already.  The pastes range from basil and garlic to a Thai blend and the lightly dried includes favorites like ginger, cilantro, and parsley. 

Today, I wanted to offer a different use for the stir-in paste and that is to make a dressing. The pastes are great for dressings because you get the fresh flavor, but do not have to breakout your food processor. Strawberry season is slowly approaching our area and after a long winter there are few things better than a warm sun-ripened strawberry right off the vine. I took Kellen picking last year and I think we ate more than we brought home! I wanted to showcase one of my very favorite flavor combinations- strawberry and basil. I love strawberry and basil together and it is usually something I love in a drink, but a salad is another great way to blend some of my favorite flavors. I added a little crumbled goat cheese for richness and candied pecans for a little sweet crunch (plain toasted work great too!). I also opted to use arugula for it's peppery bite, but feel free to use your favorite green. I made this salad to share with my family at a recent cookout at our home and everyone adored it- especially me. Even competing with the normal cookout sides it was the one bowl on the table that was completely empty at the end of the night! 

Enter using the rafflecopter below for a change to win and let me know what Gourmet Garden product you are most excited to try!  The giveaway is limited to U.S. and Canada readers. The giveaway runs till 5/26/16 to 6/1/16 and there are 3 different ways to enter- good luck everyone! 


Ingredients

5 oz fresh arugula (I use baby arugula for bite size portions)
4 oz crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup candied pecans pieces (I find these by the salad area of my store, but plain toasted will also work)
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
Basil Vinaigrette (see below)


Basil Vinaigrette
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbl apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 Tbl Gourmet Garden Basil or finely chopped basil
1 1/2 tsp honey
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl whisk together ingredients. Season with salt & pepper or additional honey is desired. Set aside. 


Instructions

In a large salad bowl, gently toss together arugula, goat cheese, strawberries and pecans. Dressing with basil dressing or serve on the side.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Baked Cheesy Ground Turkey and Bean Burrito

Burritos as not something that I make often but they always hit the spot when they are on our dinner table. I love a burrito that is filled with rice and bean along with a flavorful meat. For this recipe, I opted to use a lean ground turkey and add some of my favorite spices. I like to sub ground turkey for beef from time to time because it s a bit healthier. I also like to do a 50/50 combo of ground beef and turkey because it keeps the ground beef texture, but is a healthier option. 

We like to fill our burritos is a basic pinto bean and cilantro lime rice. This recipe I previously posted is a restaurant knock-off and if delicious for burritos or bowls.  I opted to bake my burritos for a nice crunchy shell and warm melted cheese inside. I also topped the burrito with a little additional cheese over the top right at the end for even more melted cheese. I serve our burritos with sour cream and fresh guacamole, but if you have other favorites use 'em- or have it plain!  This is a great meal to prepare in advance and pop in the oven for dinner. Kellen loves these burritos and always pulls all the meat, rice, and beans from his before eating the shell with a little sour cream and guacamole. These burritos are not spicy, but if you like a little kick adding a jalapeno with the onions would be a great addition. 

Kellen had his last swim class of the session yesterday and I love watching how comfortable he is getting. Kellen is cautious by nature and swim is a a challenge for him because he needs to learn the skill to be comfortable in the environment and its a great learning experience for him. The place he swims moved them up by level and it was clear that this is pretty important to some of the participants because they told me about 8 times that he was *almost* ready to move up. I don't really care if he moves up or not to be honest. I just see him having fun and that is what is important to me (and him too).  Tonight, we had an early dinner and did a lot of nothing. Ron and Kellen planted my new elderberry bush and Kellen proceeded to fall on it.....we will see if it survives the toddler run in! Tomorrow Kellen is home with me and Rowan, and we are going to swim with friends! I am loving being home with my boys during my leave! I am preparing a weekend post anticipating my return to work. I am going to touch on prepping before, first week back, and utilizing FMLA intermittently, but for now I am enjoying my time off! 


Ingredients

1 1/2 lb lean ground turkey (ground beef works too)
1/2 onion, diced
1 can diced green chilies
1/2 Tbl ground cumin 
1/2 Tbl chili powder 
1/2 Tbl garlic powder
1 tsp salt 
1 1/2 cup pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups cheddar cheese, divided
6 (10 inch) tortillas
Olive Oil
Sour Cream and Guacamole, for Topping


Instructions

In a large skillet, cook turkey until juices run clear. Drain and add onions, chilies, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. Cook till onions are tender and spices have had a chance to simmer together.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On a flat surface begin to assemble the burritos. Layer 1/3 cup rice, 1/4 cup beans, 1/2 cup meat, and 1/4 cup cheese evenly in the center of the tortilla. Fold the sides of the tortillas to the center and roll the burrito. Place the finished burritos steam side down in a baking dish. Brush the tortillas with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with sour cream and guacamole. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Weekly Meal Plan 5/23 - 5/29

Good Evening! 

This weekend was soooooo lovely in our area and we spent a lot of time enjoying the outdoors. On Friday, it was my sister's birthday and we hosted a cookout and bonfire at our place to celebrate. My sister liked the these selected by Kellen and myself- Finding Dory and Angry Birds. The woman at the bakery thought I was a bit odd when I requested an Angry Birds cake for my 28 year old sister.... I guess we all can't have the same sense of humor! Rachel should feel so fortunate that she is surrounded bu such an eclectic bunch of family members. Kellen also picked out her gift and selected a new beach bag for our cottage in Door County and a cool pair of casual flats. Rowan and I also enjoyed our beautiful blooming crab apple tree. 



On Saturday I was up early (these days I am always awake by default) and headed to volunteer at a walk with Kellen and Rowan. The walk was for No Child Wet Behind and works to raise awareness for diaper shortages and donate to needy families. I helped at the registration table and Kellen got to play for 2 hours at the park...win win. After the walk we headed home and packed up Kellen for an overnight with Ron's parents. Kellen was very excited to go and get a little one on one time with his Grandma. Ron and I grabbed a quick bite with Rowan before calling it a night. 

On Sunday, we bummed around the house before we needed to get Kellen. I grocery shopped and Ron worked on our yard. The front of our house looks like a scary jungle, but the back is looking great! We also planted elderberry and goji bushes I got from my sister. We recently bought a new stand-up freezer and relocated our chest freezer to the garage. We didn't realize how awkward it would be to get up the steps but we made it and it is so nice to have all the space! I am freezing a lot of breast milk right now and it tends to take over a little bit. For dinner we grilled and relaxed before getting the boys to bed. I think we are going to catch a quick show before bed tonight as well. Ron is not a Game of Thrones fan (I know- how are we still married!?) and I am saving it for tomorrow during Rowan's morning nap..... I must block all GOT feed from social media till tomorrow....

Tomorrow marks two week till I return to work *sniff*. I am working on a returning to work post to talk about what I did (am doing) to prepare myself for the transition. My sweet little guy is so full of social smiles these days it will be so hard to go back!

See what I mean:

Here is a side by side of Kellen (L) and Rowan (R) at 6 weeks with their first smiles for me:



And another one hanging with Dad:


This week we do not have too much going one besides enjoying the nice weather! I am hoping to get to Door County for the day during the weekend and make our first trip to The Farm! One exciting this is my friend Tracy is in town from L.A. for a wedding! We have been friends since high school and she moved last year and I have missed her since. It is going to be great to have a girls get together on Wednesday. 

Here is what is on tap this week:

Monday: Subs After Swim
Tuesday: Honey Beer Grilled Chicken, Cous Cous and Grilled Asparagus
Wednesday: Out with Girlfriends and Slowcooker Pieorogie and Kielbasa Casserole with Green Beans
Thursday: Spicy Honey Lime Pork Tacos, Rice and Black Beans
Friday: Out
Saturday: Door County for day
Sunday: TBA...depends if we go to Door County for the day

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Weekend Chats: Why We Hired a Doula

"What is a doula?", was probably one of the most common questions I was asked while pregnant with Kellen and Rowan once I told someone my husband and I had hired a doula for the births of both my boys. The word doula is defined as a person providing support and assistance to a person, in some cases, the partner and family before, during and after the birth of a child. doulas are non-medical and not to be confused with a midwife. Often times I was asked if our doula delivered babies. Ours was not trained to do that and we had an OB for both our births. However, our doula was/is an amazing piece of our team. 

When I was pregnant with Kellen I did not know anyone who had used a doula. I really enjoy learning about all things pregnancy and birth related as a personal interest of mine, and had read a lot about the benefits of working with a doula. In Green Bay I wasn't sure where to find a doula, but thankfully an old friend of mine named Emily connected with me on Facebook because she was moving back to Green Bay with her husband. I met with Emily (along with Ron) and we talked about what some of my goals were and what type of support I was looking for. I was hoping to have a natural birth, but having never been in labor before I was understandably nervous about how things would go. I also knew that having an extra person in your corner in what could be a stressful situation never hurt anyone.  I liked the fact that I could as her questions and that she would meet with me prior to the delivery. I also knew it was a person that would respect my birth plan wishes and value what was important to me. I jumped around to different doctors because I had a hard time finding one that was a good fit for me. I was not too worried because I had built a good external support system with my husband and doula. In Green Bay, at that time, things were a little different than they are now. I hate to say less progressive because it sounds negative, but I do not mean it like that. For example, when I would tell my potential doctors I was using a doula I was usually given a bit of a shrug or a nod (this has changed a lot and I will talk more about that later). I eventually decided to birth with Dr. DeMott. He was a lovely man and very kind. He was familiar with doulas and had positive things to say. I was induced with Kellen around 42 1/2 weeks. I had a really hard mantra that I believed that babies come when they are ready. Luckily I was very supported in my decision, but eventually induction was the best choice after 43 weeks of pregnancy was looming in my future. Our doula met us at the hospital for the induction and the process began. We worked on different laboring techniques, but after an entire day my body didn't respond to the induction and we went home (I didn't know that happens either). We returned and proceeded with another induction the following day and Kellen was born after almost 24 hours.  For Kellen's birth, having a doula made me feel empowered during a very long labor. I was so tired at one point I fell asleep in between contractions in the shower... Kellen's birth was very different than I had initially wanted, but with Emily's support I was able to process and realize how many things actually went the way I hoped. I was able to do move freely a large portion of my labor, delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin was achieved, and my husband got to cut the cord. I realized that there were things I wanted to do different next time, but it did not mean that there were failures on my part this time. I believing that being able to have someone to help me process the experience allowed me to come to that conclusion and resulted in a really positive postpartum for me and for Kellen. Another stellar aspect of having a doula was placenta encapsulation (this will be a later post because it deserves detail).

Since Kellen was born Emily and I continue to be amazing friends and knew she would be my doula for round two. There is something to be said about being a repeat client. My doula knows me and how I labor and knows certain things that are important to me, things I like, and things I dislike. My doula knows that I am a person who seclude and presence alone can feel supportive to me. Another positive of having a doula was that she knew I had two miscarriages in 3 months prior to becoming pregnant with Rowan and knew how to support me and my husband during my second pregnancy because I was more anxious and needed to talk things out more often.

I discussed my birth story in this post and don't need to re-write everything in regard to that, but somethings have changed since Kellen's birth. Emily now owns Green Bay Doulas and I was able to have two doulas this time around, Emily and Nakita. I really liked the structure of the agency because I was able to meet with both women and knew there would be no scrambling (not that there was the first time) and one of them would always be with me. Emily also has a great relationship with Dr. Swift and it was awesome to have a web of support when preparing to birth my baby. If you ready my account of Rowan's birth you know that it did not go to my initial plan. However, I was so supported while making my decision by my team it was easier for me than the first time. Emily and Nakita also supported me while Rowan recovered in the NICU. I also had my placenta encapsulated for the second time and it was another positive experience for me. I again was lucky enough to recover from birthing my baby while being mentally healthy. I  think a lot of this was due to support and ability to process the experience and birth.

I know many people hire a doula with the expectation it will be during labor.  After 4 pregnancies and 2 births I have found the value of hiring a doula to be in the before and after for me (not that the labor is nor helpful too!).  I know that is not the case for everyone but, for me, having to support in place and stable gave me the ability to make decisions during my labors and to feel good about them after. Emily is also my postpartum doula and helps me a few hours a week around our house to take some of the load off and allow me to focus on myself and our family. A postpartum doula was not something I opted to use the first time, but I am so happy that I did it this time and will do it again if we decide to have a third child. There are also sibling and bereavement doulas as well. We have not utilized those services at this point, but if we have a third child I will likely look more into a sibling doula to help with the boys.

I am a big believer in setting yourself up for success. Having a good team in your corner (in my case that was my husband Ron, my doula Emily, and my OB Dr. Swift- plus the amazing nurses at our hospital) makes the biggest difference in a labor and a recovery.

So, what do I think are important things to look for when hiring or considering to hire a doula?  First, I think looking at certification is important. Not all doulas are certified and they are not required to be, but I think there is something to be said about a professional that values continuing education.  In my line of work things are always changing and new ideas and strategies can be utilized- why wouldn't I want that from the person who is on my team to birth my baby?  Second, interview your doula before you commit. Be prepared with questions (no question is a bad or silly question- it is your birth) and don't feel bad if you are not the right fit. Somethings you might want to ask about are birth plans, placenta encapsulation, postpartum care, laboring at home and hospital, renting a birth pool, when to call, how their business is set up, certification, costs, maximum hours before breaks are needed or a back-up is called, breastfeeding support, ect. Third, be skeptical of a person that is negative on the OB. Working as a team with your medical professionals will be a blessing- trust me. If you are birthing outside a hospital it is still good to have a working relationship because you never know what will happen.  Finally, pick someone that you really like. The relationship between a doula(s) and a mother is very personal and they will know things about you that you would never tell anyone. They will see you in your most vulnerable state and potentially one of the best days of your life. A good doula will celebrate your victories with you and give you tools to review your options to make your best choice. You will grown to care very deeply about them because you respect and cherish what they have done for you.

One of my favorite sayings is a good close: "my doula was worth the moula!".

Preview for next week: a case for encapsulating your placenta. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Weekly Meal Plan 5/16 - 5/22

Maybe I should just start posting meal plans on Tuesday nights because that has been when I have been getting them together to post! Better late than never I suppose! 

This past weekend went by really fast and was really nice. I feel like we are really getting into our groove as a family of 4 and it feels really good. On Saturday we had zero plans and it was great to hang around the house. The only thing we actually did was head to Sears and bought a stand-up freezer. We buy a 1/4 cow each year and it was too difficult to find what we needed in the chest freezer so we decided it was time to go with another option, and we love it. I also need a place to store my frozen milk....if we are being honest.... On Sunday, Kellen and I did out weekly grocery shop and Rowan joined us at Kellen's request. Kellen really enjoys his brother coming shopping with us and, although it is a little more work for Mom, I am happy to see him wanting to include Rowan in different parts of his life. In the evening, we met my Dad for pizza and my friend Emily and her daughter came over later for play time and Law & Order. 

This weekend little man got into his cloth and it was so fun to get those diapers out again! We cloth diapered Kellen and really liked it, and were excited to use cloth with Rowan as well. I have an upcoming post on transitioning to cloth from disposables and experience with cloth. 

Here is Rowan in one of m favorite diapers (yes, I have favorite diapers #clothmomsbecrazy).


Another snap is a side by side of my boys- they look so much alike! Kellen is on the left and Rowan on the right. Both photos are at the 6 week mark and of their first social smiles. 


This week I had my follow-up appointment with my OB, Dr. Swift, and all is well! I also am looking to sign-up for a few more Pure Barre classes after the intro class was so much fun. Tonight, I grabbed dinner with a few girlfriends at a new place that specializes in cocktails. The drink I had a was delicious, but soooo strong! I have to husband brag for a moment because when I got home Ron had both kids in bed. It was so nice to come home to take and he earned major brownies points....I am not sure I could get both kids in bed by 8:00 all by myself....He celebrated with a big bowl of ice cream and a few re-runs of Scrubs on Hulu. 

This week we are having a play date with friends and celebrating my sister's birthday on Friday. The "old girl" is 28 on Friday and we are having a little cookout at our house to celebrate. 

Have a great week everyone!

Monday: Subs After Swim
Tuesday: Out with Girlfriends & Bacon Pieorogie Bake, Green Beans, and Salad for Boys
Wednesday: Creamy Jalapeno Popper Chicken Taquitos with Avocado Ranch
Thursday: Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad, and Garlic Bread
Friday: Grilling for my Sister's Birthday!
Saturday: Out
Sunday: Slowcooker Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches and Fruit

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Weekend Chats: My Thoughts on Breastfeeding After The NICU

Breastfeeding is a touchy subject these days. I have never hid the fact that I believe that  breast best for a baby and never will. That being said, a fed baby trumps everything in my book. Furthermore, I don't make decisions for other families just as they do not make decisions for me, but I like to come to my choices from an informed place. For me, saying breastfeeding just wasn't for me was not an option I felt comfortable with when it came to my children. However, I don't think less of a mom who uses formula because I assume they have their reasons just as I have mine..... it falls into the category of things that I like to label: none of my business. I never want to offend people with my views on breastfeeding because they do not come from a place of criticism and are mainly pulled from my expectations for my role as a parent. 

So how does my little disclaimer above come into my everyday life? I would call my breastfeeding journey with both of my children unconventional in my eyes.... Kellen (now 3 years old) is my first baby. Kellen was in the NICU for 5 days after he was born due to pneumonia. I wrote about this experience before and how I felt I had to fight to feed my baby. I felt really defeated by everything and eventually made the decision to exclusively pump for Kellen. Kellen had trouble with his latch and I was overwhelmed by the entire experience of my first baby being in the hospital. I visited the lactation consultant while inpatient and again after discharge. However, I ultimately felt pumping was a better choice for me and Kellen. If you are not familiar with what it means to exclusively pump it means you exclusively feed your baby breast milk from a bottle versus putting them to breast. Pumping is still breastfeeding. There are some people who do not feel that it can be classified as that, but those people can piss off for all I care, it's breastfeeding. There are various reasons to do this and mine, at the time, was to make sure my baby got breast milk no matter how it came to him. I will talk about exclusive pumping more in another post because it really deserves that to explain how it works because it is something, like any form of breastfeeding, that requires a lot of dedication. I started pumping the day I left the hospital and pumped 6-9 times per day and once over night to establish a supply. Some observations about Kellen's eating that I noticed as a result of being a NICU and bottle fed baby were that he ate a lot. He was a big baby to begin with, but ate quickly. Plus with a strict NICU feeding schedule he was always eager for his next meal (aren't we all, ha). I was always worried about maintaining a supply for him. Occasionally we needed to supplement with formula or, late in the year, we used donor milk. Ultimately, we made it to a year and switched to cow's milk. I was, and still am, very proud of the experience. It was really hard and affirmed my desire to include feeding my next child from my breast in addition to a bottle in the future.

Fast forward 3 years and Rowan is here. Rowan had a great latch from the start, but was admitted to the NICU the night after he was born. His breathing was quick and he had a central line and a gavage feeding tube. A gavage is a tube feed that goes directly into the babies stomach. He needed this because nipple feeds were a little too much for him with his breathing. The first 6 Rowan was in the NICU we could not hold him and certainly could not put him to breast as he was using the gavage. I was not very worried about feeding him once we got home because his latch was great at the hospital and some of the latch problems I had experienced with Kellen weren't there, or I was just able to deal with them better. I started my pumping routine of every three hours to build my supply for when he came home. In the back of my mind I knew that he may have a larger appetite than my supply because of the tube and eventual bottle feeding. Eventually, we were able to hold Rowan and able to feed him expressed milk and formula from a bottle. The NICU has lactation consultants and I worked with them prior to discharge and was given a few nipple shields to help with the transition from bottle to breast. I had previously tried them with Kellen and knew they could help with his latch after he was use to feeding from a rubber nipple. My view on the nipple shield was to use it for transitional purposes and hopefully move away from it after a few weeks.  I felt really good about going home and started feeding him once we were home. However, I hit a bit of the roadblock. My great latcher would latch and then sit there. He would not eat. He would just look at me with his sweet eyes and hang out till he got a bottle of expressed milk. We had to give a few formula bottles because, as it also happened with Kellen, he was eating 4 ounces every three hours when he left the NICU and I was not at the same pace as him. I found this a bit stressful, but kept pumping and putting him to breast. Gradually, his volume went down and my supply went up and we were able to keep up with each other. However, I was pumping a lot at that point and still having issues with him latching and not eating. I was getting really frustrated because I didn't know what to do. I actually almost threw in the towel and went back to pumping. However, I spoke with my Doula and also Rowan's doctor after a few weeks and they both mentioned SNS. SNS means Supplemental Nursing System is basically a feeding tube outside the body worn by the mother to help babies latch and, in Rowan's case, identify the mother as the food source. I met with the lactation consultant and learned to use the SNS. It is pretty tricky and I felt like I needed an extra set of hands to work it. When I finally got it working I looked down and my little baby had pulled the tubing off and was essentially drinking from the tube. Sneaky. I kept up with the SNS for a few days and hated it. I hated how hard it was to use and was getting very frustrated. I, again, contemplated just pumping but really wanted this to work and kept with it. After a few days Rowan stopped ripping off the tubing and started nursing. Actually nursing. I was so excited. I also was able to stop using the nipple shield and that was a big relief. Slowly, all these parts and assists we needed were going away. Rowan still preferred the bottle, but would actually nurse. I am still having to pump after most feeding because he does not always want to nurse long or will prefer a bottle in some cases. This was really challenging for both of us. Rowan needed to identify me as a food source and I needed to give him the time to learn without frustration of thinking how things "should" be. Currently, Rowan is 6 weeks and will nurse or take a bottle. He is a great little eater and I feel so lucky we can keep working on our nursing relationship and it is not a fight anymore.

What did I learn from both of these  post NICU experiences?
1) The NICU is hard and if you can breastfeed your baby after you discharge you are awesome because it is a bbbiiiiggggg learning curve. It was not till Rowan that I realized how much it is essentially starting over for mom and baby once you get home.
2) Prepare that you will have to work to establish whatever breastfeeding relationship you choose while in the NICU. It will be hard because you are not in an ideal situation. Accept that you can't control that and work on what you have the ability to influence or control.
3) Celebrate small victories often. My first was when Rowan latched for over 6 seconds. Relative to now that is very small, but at the time that was a big step for us.
4) Let people in who care about your goals when it comes to breastfeeding. Not everyone will care and that is ok- don't hold it against them. However, the ones that do care, will support you and remind you of why something is important to you- especially if you begin to feel frustrated. They will also praise the efforts of you and your child. Most importantly, they will let you complain to them and you will need this. I think I complained to my friends Emily and Kayla for 4 days straight when I was working with the SNS.
5) Do not beat yourself up if something does not go how you want. Try again next time, or know that you made the best decision you could at the time. That's being a parent- not every hand dealt is a great one and stand behind your choices. This is what I worked for when I was pumping for Kellen and now I am very proud of that choice.

That sums up my breastfeeding journey immediately after the NICU with both boys. My experience with Kellen taught me so much and gave me a  lot of insight on what I liked and what I wanted to do with our next baby.  Rowan and I are still very fresh out of the gate and still working together. I will keep you updated with another breastfeeding post as time goes on, but I am feeling really good so far.

Here is a quick preview of the next week: Hiring a Doula/ Placenta Encapsulation. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Meatball Sub Casserole

I saw this recipe floating around Facebook from one of those recipe pages that does the cooking demo shorts. I love meatball subs and thought it sounded tasty for a quick weeknight meal. After getting a good review from my friend Kayla, I put it on our meal plan. 

This recipe is so easy. 5 ingredients and ready to eat in just over 30 minutes. I used a store bought meatball and sauce for a post baby meal, but you could easily use a homemade meatball and marinara sauce. I loved this casserole and so did Kellen. Ron loved it when I first served it, but wasn't crazy about the bread being soggy for leftovers. I really did not mind because I think of the sauce soaked bread being one of the delicious parts of a meatball sub, but to each their own. I served this with a big green salad and a side of steamed green beans to make sure that we packed our dinner with veggies after having this cheesy casserole. Since originally making the casserole I have gone back to it a few times because, like I said earlier, it is wonderfully quick for a weeknight meal and kid friendly. 

We are all still adjusting at our house and Rowan is doing really well. I am feeling pretty rested after a good night of sleep last night. Rowan did 4 hour blocks and it just happened to work well with when Kellen got up got the day....those days are few and far between, but when they happen it feels great! I am also taking my encapsulated placenta pills and those work wonders for my energy as well. Kellen is also doing great and has been adjusting to his new brother well. One of Kellen's favorite things is discussing all things related to pumping. I breastfeed and pump milk for the baby and Kellen has decided that he wants in on the action and needs to pump. It is actually very cute because he has his own "pumping" bag to carry this supplies in. I had an old tube and things from Kellen and he has claimed them as his. Our insurance covers a new pump with each pregnancy and I ordered a new one to bring to work. It arrived last night and Kellen was thrilled that I ordered him a breast pump of his very own. However, once he realized it was for me the waterworks started. He screamed and cried and demanded that I share with him. I loved how sweet and funny this moment was. I think it is so sweet that he wants to be part of things. I am also equally amused by a 3 year old boy wanting so badly to use a breast pump.... I also can't wait to show the video I took of it to his girlfriend once he is in high school....


Ingredients

1 can (8) refrigerator biscuits (example: Pillsbury Grands)
1 (22 oz bag) frozen Italian meatballs
24 oz marinara sauce (1 regular sized jar of store-bought)
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Chopped parsley, for garnish


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. 

Cut biscuits into 8 pieces and spread evenly into the baking dish. Pour marinara sauce over the biscuits and stir to evenly coat. Evenly layer meatballs over the biscuits and sauce. Sprinkle with cheese. 

Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly and biscuits are cooked. Remove from oven, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Weekly Meal Plan 5/9 - 5/15

It appears that I am a little behind posting my meal plans, eh? Well I have a good excuse.... well two good excuses. How could I break away from this adorable moment?


Heart = melted puddle of mush.

This weekend was a lot of fun. We headed to Bay Beach opening day on Saturday morning and Kellen was quick to get in line for his favorite ride, the ferris wheel. We met my friend Maggie and her son there, and the boys had a blast trying out the different rides. This year Kellen was big enough to go on the helicopters without Ron or I and he was so proud of himself. It was so cute to see him and his little friend chatting as the circled above us. 


The race cars are always a big hit with Kellen as well. Rowan hung out in the stroller and enjoyed the fresh air and vitamin D in between his snoozes. I normally like to wear him in my sling, but it was a little windy and chilly, and best to bundle him up so he would stay toasty warm. Kellen was sporting his new bomber jacket from the WWII museum my parents brought back for him from their trip. 


On Saturday night we met the Lecker's for dinner. It was a lot of fun and the food was delicious, as usual. I enjoyed a brandy old fashion and after nine months that drink was strong! 

Sunday was Mother's Day and my family came over for lunch. I made strawberry goat cheese salad, deviled eggs, sub sandwiches, chips with guacamole and salsa and smoked salmon. We also enjoyed a little champagne and watched the kids play outside and enjoy the beautiful weather and dry backyard. The only gross this was Ron finding two dead mice he ran over with the lawnmower....eeewww... 

Ron cleared out my garden for Mother's Day and he and the boys sent me a lovely bouquet of flowers. MY sister also bought me an elderberry bush and I can't wait to plant it! In the afternoon, we napped and had take-out pizza for dinner. 

Here is a pic my sister snapped of Rowan over my should while we were heading outside. I love it. 


This week we are relaxing and still enjoying my time at home. I grabbed dinner with my parents after Kellen's Monday swim class. Today I am visiting my sister for lunch and heading home to work on laundry. Kellen is home with me later this week and we are planning a play-date with my friend Emily and two of his little friends. The weather is much nicer this week and we are taking advantage with a few new grilling recipes! 

In babyland things are going really well. Rowan is doing great with nursing and has really gotten the hang of things despite his rough start. I am going to do a longer post on this and talk a bit about Kellen's experience as well because they were both NICU babies and had their own challenges with breastfeeding. I think it is important to talk about breastfeeding and how difficult it can be but, how many resources there are out there to help and, in all honestly, sometimes the key is perseverance, patience, and time. Sleep has been going pretty well! We are usually up from 2-3:30 for diaper change and feeding. I normally need to pump after and that takes a little time too. I am hoping to start doing a parenting post on Saturday to talk about my boys and how our family works. It is also a way for me to organize some of these posts when I talk about mommy milestones and my kids. There are so many topics I find interesting with kids and I know that many times I like reading what other people do, not necessarily getting advice, but learning from other mom's systems helps create your own for your family. 

Here is what is on tap this week:

Monday: Chili
Tuesday: Steak and Potato Salad
Wednesday: Grilled Rosemary Ranch Pork Chops, Baked Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus
Thursday: Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp, Cous Cous and Grilled Veggies
Friday: Grilled Steaks with Blue Cheese,  Loaded Cauliflower Casserole and Grilled Asparagus
Saturday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Garlic Bread and Salad
Sunday: Out for Pizza

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Raisin Bran Muffins #SecretRecipeClub

Time for May' Secret Recipe Club Reveal! 


I sat out last month after giving birth to Rowan because I had a little too much on my plate with his hospital stay, and not enough time or energy to cook. Thankfully, this are much more peaceful in our house and cooking has returned to something I have time to do.....now blogging those recipes it is a work in progress. I think I have 5 pending that I just need to write posts for, but that is life as a mom with an infant! 

This month I received Wendy's blog, A Day In The Life On The Farm. I am familiar with Wendy's blog because we have done a bunch of blogging challenges and sponsored event together over the past few years. I was excited because I knew that she would have a plethora of delicious recipes to choose from. I was eyeing up a few recipes before picking my selection and sounded delicious! I was torn between French Bistro Chicken with Tomato SauceTeriyaki Meatballs, and Steamed Mustard Shrimp. These recipes sounds delicious to me, but I was intrigued when I saw Wendy's recipe for Raisin Bran Muffins. I am always on the look out for a quick breakfast recipe for Kellen and thought he would love these. Kellen loves raisins and I love having something he can quickly eat in the morning. Kellen is a bit of a hobbit and likes to have first and second breakfast. First breakfast is usually something quick at home before second breakfast at daycare.... like I said, a hobbit. This recipe is so easy- no mixer needed and a great way to use up that last cup of cereal in the box. The only adjustment I made was to add a few more raisins to the batter because the particular raisin bran I had didn't seem to be as full of them towards the end of the box, but that is something you can adjust depending on what you like. The raisin bran actually soaks in the milk till soft and creates a dense and rich muffin- perfect for breakfast. This recipe makes 6 regular sized muffins and that is perfect for my family, but it is an easy recipe to double if you want more muffins. This  is a recipe I know that my family will ask for again! 

Thank you Wendy for a wonderful new breakfast recipe that my little guy loves! Check out the round-up below to see other amazing recipe from of SRC bloggers. 


Ingredients

1 1/2 cup Raisin Bran Cereal
3/4 cup Whole Milk
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 Egg
1/4 cup Brown Sugar


Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 6 cup muffin tin and set aside.

Pour the cereal into a mixing bowl and soak cereal in milk for about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and mix well

Evenly divide batter in the muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes (mine were done at 23 minutes).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Weekly Meal Plan 5/2 - 5/8

Oh my what a crazy month it has been. 

I took sometime away to spend with my new little man and get use to being a family of 4. I have about 4 weeks till I return to work and I am loving my time with my family. 

Rowan was born on April 2nd and, just like his birth, this have been fast paced ever since. Rowan's birth story have very normal parts and a few twists. 

I went into labor on April 1st, and the day started out really normal with me not thinking much was going to happen. I did a little shopping at Target, watched a little Game of Thrones to get ready for the premier in a few weeks (priorities people), and went to get a pedicure. I even spoke with my sister in law and assured her that the family would be at her house for a belated Easter dinner the following afternoon.  After I got home from my pedicure something was off and a discovered that I was bleeding. I knew that this was likely not a good thing, and text my Doula. I had a bit more bleeding and my OB advised me to come to the hospital. I had been hoping to spend most of my labor at home, but I knew that my OB would not have me come down unless she wanted to check a few things out. On a side note, I have the most amazing OB (Dr. Swift) in the Green Bay area with Bellin Generations. To my Green Bay or NE WI readers, she is wonderful if you are looking for an OB. Anyways, I was not expecting everything to happen so fast and quickly had Ron pop in the shower before packing up Kellen to go to my parents house. 

My doula met Ron and I at the hospital and Dr. Swift was waiting for us. Another side bar, my doula is one of my best friends, Emily, and owner of Green Bay Doulas. If you are looking for Doula services in my area check them out- amazing. I got checked-in and they were a little concerned about the bleeding, and I was starting to contract and it was decided that we were going to be admitted. At this point I was still in denial that I was going to have a baby so I sent Ron home to eat dinner and relax a little after work. Emily stayed with me and started setting up my pool to labor in. One of my biggest labor comforts with Kellen was water and I was looking forward to using a pool this time. As the night went on I continued to have stronger contractions and labored in the hospital room. I tend to like to be alone when in labor and hung out in the shower for awhile to help with contractions till it was time to labor in the tub. However, my bleeding continued and the baby's heart rate was not have the increases they like to see during contractions. His heart rate was not low, but it was not having increases as a result of the contractions. There came a point that they wanted to monitor him closer and that meant having to lay in bed. This is one of my triggers for labor because I feel trapped. I am a mover, and like to be alone so laying still in bed was a scary thing for me at the time. However, I knew it was necessary so they could get good readings of the information they needed. I opted to get some pain medication at this point because I was worried that we would not get the information needed and it may result in a c-section (another one of my labor fears). I had really been hoping not to use medication, but it was important to me that they could get accurate readings. This also meant that I was not able to use the pool as I had planned. I was disappointed, but I wanted to do what I could to avoid a c-section. The baby was really low and the medication worked but didn't do much for cervical pain relief so I was still breathing though contractions. Ron was sleeping at this point, which normally would have made me crazy, but it has been such a crazy day at least one of us needed sleep. Thankfully, Emily and I were able to get a little rest, but that was a bit short lived. My OB wasn't on call but was monitoring us and watching baby and I (all the reason to find an OB you really like- it makes a big difference). Around 2:30 AM Dr. Swift came in and told me that she was thinking we may need a c-section because of the heart rate. I was so surprised and sad at the same time, but started to process the news. I woke Ron up and we discussed it, but, as if he knew Dr Swift was watching him, his heart rate started to have more variation. I knew that I picked the right OB when she said "I'll watch this". I was so thankful in that moment because things began to pick up and we were back on track. 

I continued to labor in bed and the baby was even lower and felt like he was barreling down my pelvis- ouch! I found that my best remedy was to grip the side of the bed and breath through each contraction. The nurses checked me a few times and soon Dr. Swift was there telling to let me know we were complete and ready to have the baby. The pressure was so intense I felt like I was going to hyperventilate, but fought to keep my breathing as controlled as I could.  After about 30 minutes of pushing, Rowan was born- all 11 lbs 8 oz of him! We delayed the cord clamping and he laid on my chest for a bit before he was cleaned and weighed. The nurses asked how I was doing and all I could say was "I feel great now!".  I high fived Dr. Swift after because I was so happy she gave us the chance to have a a vaginal birth. I respect her so much as a professional and she affirmed all the reasons that I knew she was the best doctor for us. After delivery, we packaged up the placenta so it could be made into pills (more about that choice after both my pregnancies in a different post) and relaxed. It was such a crazy evening and I was so happy that our little man was finally here. Ron called everyone to let them know that we had a new family member join the crew! 

My doctor, the nurses, my doula and m husband were wonderful to me. My birth was not at all how I planned (actually neither was Kellen's!), but this time I was much more accepting of that and so thankful to have a great team of people rooting for Rowan and I. I felt so respected and happy that I was able to make decisions for myself and keep in the moment of such an important life event. 

Rowan did well during the day and was doing well latching and starting to nurse. However, last the day/night went on our littlest family member would head off to the NICU due to breathing issues- similar to what his brother experienced. I can honestly say that there is nothing worse that hearing your child is ill and that they can't be with you. 

Rowan was in the NICU for 11 days. 11 horrible days. The best that they can think is that he had a sarfactant deficiency that could be generic or it could be just chance that both of my children presented with treatable breathing issues. The nurses and doctors were so kind to us and I spent most of the 11 days with him and when I was not at the NICU I was with Kellen till it was time for him to go to bed. I had a lot of time to process everything in the NICU and took it day by day. I was very fortunate to have family and friends/doulas come to visit us and make sure I was doing alright. My sweet friend Kayla came to have lunch with me almost every day. Thankfully, Rowan does not have any lasting impact from his rough start, but it is certainly a difficult way to start with a new baby! While in the NICU, breastfeeding was big challenge because he had a feeding tube for the first 7 days. I was pumping around the clock and since he has come home we have been able to get back to breastfeeding. I will save that for another post because that was a whole different challenge, but thankfully headed on the track I was hoping for and we are breast and bottle feeding expressed milk. 

So, this is a nutshell of the first two week of Rowan's life. The great part is that we are all doing really well. I am feeling really good. I am recovering from this pregnancy fast than the first and mentally feel great. I was lucky to feel good after Kellen, but I feel pretty energized this time besides the little sleep part..... 

Meals in our house are returning to normal and I am thankful to have Emily here once a week for postpartum support around the house and with the baby. I wrote about doulas when I had Kellen, but will do another post to talk a little more about my experience this time and why I think it is such am amazing thing. Plus, like I said before, Emily is one of my best friends so hanging out with her is just icing on the cake! 

This week I tried  Pure Barre for the first time and absolutely loved it. It was an event my friend Emily organized for her company to Meet the Doulas and I loved the class...I am thinking it is a perfect Mother's Day gift! However, I could certainly feel my weak abs after a pregnancy! 

Here is out menu for the week and there are a few things I need to add, but slowly getting back into the swing of life in our house! 

Monday: Subs and Fruit Salad
Tuesday: Pizza
Wednesday: Grilled BBQ Chicken, Mac and Cheese and Grilled Asparagus
Thursday: Baked Beef, Cheese, and Bean Burritos, Guacamole and Blood Orange Margaritas
Friday: Grilled Brats, Grilled Potatoes and Fruit
Saturday: Out with Leckers
Sunday: Mother's Day Brunch with my Family. I am planning the following:
              - Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad with Basil Dressing
              - Grilled Shrimp
              - Deviled Eggs
              - Asparagus and Bacon Egg Casserole
              - Lavender Lemonade
I am not sure on dinner menu at this point, but we will likely order out or have grilled steaks