Thursday, May 17, 2012

Baby Bell #4 Arrives!

I have been remiss in keeping up with my blog! However, I have a very good explanation. First, just trying to keep up with three boys, while running a household that also includes a dog, cat (that just had kittens) and chickens as well as homeschooling two of the older boys, is most definitely a full time job. Add to that, pregnancy (while being type I diabetic), and managing my 7yo's diabetes and well, it's pretty much organized chaos all the time.

So, things got more complicated when I started showing early signs of pre-eclampsia. It seemed to be fairly under control, until I went into labor. The doctor thought I was barely 38 weeks, but in the end, we found out I was just 36 weeks, so much earlier than expected.

I went into the hospital and labored for more than a day, but there was no progression, except that my blood pressure was dangerously high and baby's heart beat was dipping too low for comfort, with every contraction. Exhausted and scared, I was told that baby might not survive a natural birth and I might not either, as I was now at risk for seizures. Thankfully, my husband was there to give the immediate go ahead on a c-section. It wasn't what I wanted, but it had to be done to save our baby, and myself.

The doctors and nurses were amazing and so caring. Before my husband could come be with me during the procedure, the anesthesiologist was so reassuring, and the doctor talked me through every step. A nurse took pictures during the procedure so I could look back on what happened. They were simple and modest. At 8:22 am on April 30th, our sweet baby Brennen came into the world, bright eyed and squalling. My smallest baby at 6lbs 11oz and 19 1/4 in.

Brennen had some breathing issues, and his blood sugars didn't want to maintain. There appeared to be an unknown infection causing his little system to work harder than he could keep up with and I wasn't able to nurse him right away. It was so hard to see him, hooked up to monitors and with an IV in his arm (later in his foot when the IV blew). His heels were so terrible looking from all the blood sugar checks and my heart hurt when I heard him crying from my room.

The nurses were like close friends, rather than medical personnel. They hugged me and told me it would be okay. God heard so many prayers for his recovery, because I was eventually able to nurse him with no trouble and his vitals began to improve. He roomed with me for that last couple nights of our hospital stay and now, I want to never let him cry or be hurt. Our family is complete and together finally and I don't want to change a thing.

The boys love their new brother and even Lachlan (2yo) has learned to say "Baby Brennen" and strokes his hair lovingly. I am so very blessed to have such a beautiful and loving family!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Sneakin' In More Green!

Dearest Child of Mine,

Why must you fuss, and fight, contorting your precious features into grimaces that would frighten the most hardened horror film fan when I try to feed you healthy food? Don't you understand that I love you and the food I work hard to prepare is not just tasty, but will help you grow up healthy and strong?

Your Tired Mother

So, I know I am not the only one who struggles to feed her picky young, healthy veggies of any sort. This is evident by the many, many books out there that teach the sneaky art of hiding veggies in food the kids wouldn't suspect to have vegetable matter in them. Isn't it a bit of a triumph to see them stuff their little mugs with a chocolate cupcake laced with beets? How on earth do you hide that smug expression of total winning and not tip off the little rascals? A few times, I've not been able to help myself and as soon as they finish, I ask coyly, "So, did you like that? What did you think?" and no sooner than they utter the words, "Yes! That was really good!" I jump up and yell, "HA! YOU JUST ATE VEGGIES! MUAHahahahahaahahahahaaa!" To which they are surprised, and then quickly horrified by my evil laughter. Gotta try to work on the delivery of the reveal I suppose...

Anyhow, I have a good one for you, that has been tested on my most finicky child who somehow sniffs out the tiniest speck of green in a pile of food. Really, it's extraordinary. He's like the bomb sniffing dog of the Toddler Veggie Detection Unit. Granted, I served it to him with the lights dimmed and waited until he was half way done before turning them up. But he didn't falter once the green was more noticeable. So, they had to appeal to him flavor-wise more than the site of his most hated color.

I found this wonderful recipe on Pinterest (my newest obsession!) and just had to share. So without further ado, here is Broccoli Cheddar Muffins

Broccoli Cheddar Muffins
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 C. melted butter
  • 1 1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz. corn muffin mix
  • 10 oz. broccoli (frozen, chopped, cooked and drained)
  • 1/2 C. scallion (chopped) *optional
In a large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until light colored.

Add butter and cheese and mix on low.

Add muffin mix, broccoli and scallions and mix at low speed for another minute

Coat a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray; divide batter among muffin cups evenly.

Bake at °375 for 15 minutes, or until light golden brown.

Cool on rack before turning out of pan. Serve warm. Try this with a bit of smoked ham!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Healthy In Disguise

Can I just give a shout out to all the mommas who struggle, like me, to get her kids to eat veggies at meal time? Do you stress like I do, that they aren't getting the necessary nutrients in a natural form, to make a difference? Me too. Well, I love, LOVE when I find a recipe that is healthy, but no one raises a fuss at the dinner table.

I love many of Rachael Ray's recipes. She's cutesy in kind of an annoying "you have no kids and can travel the world freely so I hate you" kind of way. I can look past all that though, when I come across an amazing meal that isn't complicated and makes my kids sing. So, here is the recipe I just tried this evening and was pleasantly surprised to find, just enough left over, too good to pass to the dog, so I can have it for a midnight snack. Another testament to how good this was: I ate until I hurt. Which I don't think I've ever done. I know that's probably not healthy, but I figured, since it was a heaping helping of dark leafy green veggies, it was okay.

Chicken Tacos w/Kale and Salsa Verde
  • 2 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic unpeeled
  • 1 Serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, chopped coarsely
  • 5 sprigs cilantro, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (EVOO is so dorky to say!)
  • salt/pepper to taste
Preheat oven to °350 F. Place the tomatillos on a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and roast for 20 minutes. Cool. Cut into fourths.

In a small skillet, roast the garlic over medium heat, turning once until the skin is slightly blackened and the flesh is soft and fragrant. I didn't have garlic cloves, but a jar of chopped garlic. So I heated olive oil and on medium heat (watching closely as it can burn quickly), let it cook until it started to turn golden brown. I spooned out the garlic, draining slightly of the olive oil, but leaving the oil in the pan for later.

In a food processor, place the cooled tomatillos, garlic, chile, cilantro, and olive oil into a food processor with a pinch of salt, and pulse until a coarse textured salsa. Taste and add any additional salt and pepper if needed.
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 C. firmly packed green or black kale, chopped
  • 1/2 C. cooked chicken (I had turkey), shredded or cut into small cubes
  • 4 Corn tortillas (though we used around 6)
  • 1/4 C. red onion chopped
  • 1/4 C. crumbled queso fresco (a Mexican cheese)
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
In the skillet with left over garlic olive oil, add another tablespoon of olive oil, and heat over medium heat. Add the kale, season with salt and cook until wilted. Stir in the chicken and tomatillo salsa you just made. Cook until heated through. Lower the heat to keep warm and cover.

Preheat a griddle or large skillet. Cook the tortillas on both sides until soft and warm. We like to sprinkle with a little salt. The shortcut is to wrap the tortillas in a damp kitchen towel and microwave for 30 seconds.

To make, place a few heaping tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto each tortilla, sprinkle with queso fresco, onion and drizzle with Mexican crema or sour cream. Then, ENJOY!

You have to have the onion, it ties the flavors all together. So, if you aren't a fan of onion, try to just have a little onion. It really makes a world of difference. Also, white corn tortillas, we found, have the best flavor for this recipe. We noticed the difference between flour and white corn, since we ran out of the corn tortillas part way through.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Losing Sleep....

There are so many reasons why a person can have difficulty getting the sleep that every body needs in order to continue functioning at optimum levels. Moms adapt to less sleep out of survival of her young as well as herself. Yet, the one that is getting me now, is absolutely crushing me.

Stress. The dark unknown of things I have no control over. I toss and turn, evaluating how I went about a situation, and if there was something more I could have said or done. I pray for peace, and it usually helps, but this is a worry that is deep and sustained.

I know I'm not the only one. I am sure there are many husbands and wives, suffering battle fatigue from keeping a happy face on for the kids, despite the crush of financial turmoil. Unemployment brings more than just the concern for affording basics, but also concerns for what may happen sooner, rather than later as our government spends money like it really does grow on trees.

In August, I found out I was pregnant. Not exactly planned, but we take the Lord's blessings and are thankful for the chance to have another precious baby in our lives to add to our already happy brood. We just moved, and were struggling financially and being type I diabetic adds it's own kind of complications. I had been getting by, minimally checking my blood sugars (glucose strips cost around $50/mo.) and skimping on insulin by not eating breakfast or just running a little higher than I should (Lantus $250/mo and Humalog $95-$200/mo). I also take thyroid medication, which luckily isn't terribly expensive, in fact, it's the only truly affordable med I have ($12/3mo supply). As a diabetic, you are suppose to see a doctor every three mos just to check your blood work as see if you are taking the right amount of insulin and since I have a thyroid issue, that needs to be checked as well (average lab cost every three mos: $400). So, I bit the bullet and applied for medicaid.

The first time was the last week of August. I waited for the letter of approval in the mail, and didn't get anything. I was told not to call and bother them because they had such a high case load and that they had a maximum of 45 days to complete the process. After the 45 days, I called when I never received a letter. Long story short, they lost my paperwork that I had brought in and handed to them. So I was denied for failure to provide proof of pregnancy. I refiled, this time it took 4 MONTHS. Four long months of walking in more and more information. I was ultimately denied, because the property we have in Alaska, was determined to be a resource more than the allowable $3K. This is because the case worker found a property (not ours) that was selling for $100K. The other issue I struggled with, was the last day I dealt with the case worker, she requested I bring in proof of the tax liens (over 55K) and an ad showing what we were selling the property for (58K) which would have shown our "resources" to be less than the $3K maximum allowed. I received a letter that was sent the day she requested info (I walked in said info the very next day), that denied me based on excessive resources that she hadn't even received the proof of yet.

So, I filed a complaint and dispute and refiled for medicaid November 23rd. It is now January and they still have yet to come to a conclusion. I have four months left to this pregnancy and have been squeaking by medically, though, I went to see a doctor, had labs done and an ultra sound because, I couldn't imagine being denied since Chad is making around 2K/mos, which is WELL BELOW the income level allowed (allowed to make 3K/mo). Now, I have the collectors calling wanting to be paid (haven't had the courage to add up the current expenses I've accrued), and I can't sleep at night. I am so stressed, I swear, it's a miracle that blood isn't shooting out of my eyes right now.

What gets me, is that they can count property at all (that isn't income producing like land you rent out). In this economy, we've tried and failed to sell for four years, dropping the price significantly. On top of that, the IRS is waiting, like a rabid wolf, just outside the door to gobble up anything we make on it, so even if it sells, we won't get much. It's like saying, "Hey, you COULD win the lottery at some point and so, we can't help you even though you are unemployed and struggling to pay bills with a baby on the way. You are just TOO flush with POTENTIAL money." As I read the letter I got from an application for food stamps, it states that "should your income situation change for better or worse, you are to contact the Office of Public Assistance within 10 days and provide supporting documentation for a reevaluation. Failure to do so is considered a felony." it makes me wonder, why this wouldn't fall into the same category.

So, I'm sitting by the phone, surviving on just a few hours of sleep, waiting for the case worker to call me back so I can get her, yet more information to help her determine if we are truly in need of assistance. I just.... can't take it anymore.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Life Is Too Precious

One topic I feel very passionate about, is abortion. It is a terrible thing in my eyes, for any woman to so disrespect her body's amazing ability to create life, to have so little compassion for another life, the concept is foreign to me. So many have been deceived into believing it is just about their body, and therefore their right to do with it as they please. Yet, on the flip of a coin, you see that a person can be convicted of a double homicide if they kill a pregnant woman. Or if a woman intentionally harms her baby by taking drugs illegally, or paying someone to punch them in the stomach, she can also be charged with attempted murder, child endangerment/abuse or homicide if she succeeds. 
The other thing that I cannot wrap my mind around, is how, delivering all but the baby's head, then severing it's spine so that it dies before the head is removed, how that is not murder. That there seems to be this magic, invisible line between the uterus and outside world that makes it okay to do something so horrific.
Only in our twisted society, do women chant and scream and protest for the right to punish an innocent life, delivering a death sentence to that innocent life, for the crimes of another human who has committed rape. It is no different than carrying out a death sentence on a 3 year old, because his/her father robbed a bank, only, without the benefit of a trial.
I will not be moved from my position as opposed to the death of innocents. I will call it what it is: An abomination. A sickness of the mind. A crime against humanity. ...

At one time, it was legal to own, beat, kill slaves. We call that time in our history a horror. Many still carry around it's shame. The massive destruction of life on the orders of Hitler have been a horror that elicits tears of agonizing horror when touring the National Holocaust Museum in D.C. Now, it is legal to murder babies in the womb. When will we come to our senses and see it for the horror it truly is? The shedding of innocent blood, has cursed our country and we will see the blessings our forefathers partook of, taken from us. Mark my words.
Just a couple guys who know the importance of life and respecting it:

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Wonderful Things To Nosh On

Of course, being pregnant, food is a very important thing. Not just that it is good for me, but that it tastes divine and satiates my cravings. Lately, avocados, artichoke and beets have been heavily represented (low in beta carotene?). So, my search for the perfect dishes featuring these things has been on going.

I found, an amazing little cafe, that could be easily (and tragically) overlooked if you don't take the time to really look for the little gems in a town. This one, is in Columbia Falls, MT inside a little complex of businesses. I ended up there because I was seeing a doctor in the cluster of buildings, and when I was done, I was hungry. I had seen the sign many times we passed, but my husband was always too busy to stop. SO now was my opportunity to check it out!

Walking in, it has a fun modern feel with geometric patterns painted on the walls in soothing earth colors. The kitchen is open so you can see all the action of food being assembled. Photographs and paintings featured are really wonderful (some food themed or landscape) and by the owners. Both owners Jake and Becky Sorensen, work behind the counter and are so very friendly (not surprising in a small town, but so appreciated). They greeted me warmly with a menu and I sat at one of their elegant tables. The sun was shining through the big windows and the feel was just warm, with a touch of adventure as I perused their menu.

My eyes immediately lit on the panini sandwich selection, which had an artichoke version. Wow. It listed in the ingredients: artichoke, braised fennel, Gouda, spinach and I added turkey for just a dollar more. Then, as I scanned further down, in the salad section I was delighted to find two beet salads. One had roasted beets, the other raw. I decided on the one with roasted beets that included spinach, mandarin oranges, arugula, pistachio and pistachio dressing. Little did I realize what a fantastic meal I had ordered. Fresh, and so full of flavor! If I wasn't so stuffed, I would have ordered seconds!

If you are in the area, and I've piqued your interest, do not hesitate to stop in and indulge in such healthy, yet amazingly tasty fair. To top it all off, they have fresh desserts that include, cakes, cookies and truffles. I took home a Wasabi Truffle that my husband declared was, "Weirdly, and fascinatingly good." I agreed by the tiny nibble he gave me. I also took a chocolate chip cookie for the kids, which they told me was made with chunks of the same chocolate they use in making the truffles. The kids, were speechless and quite loving after eating them. I savored for nearly 15 minutes (eating tiny bites), a Rosemary Nut Caramel. It was salty and sweet with a delicate hint of savory. So very good!

For more info, you can find them on their Facebook page:
The Palette Cafe
For an interesting and well written article, check out this write up in
406 Woman Magazine page 42.
Article in 406 Woman Magazine

The Potential of 2012

Happy New Year!
So much happened to my family this last year, that I can't even imagine what 2012 will have in store. Of course, there were bumps in the road and some of the valleys seemed so deep, and that we would never get back on the mountain top. Yet here we are. Still together and still smiling.

We welcomed another member of our family, a 3rd boy, into our world in March of 2010 and we thought we were done, but in August 2011 we found out we were expecting again. In December we found out, this will be our 4th boy, and final child.

The middle of 2011 was quite eventful. We were living in Alaska and things were pretty good. We were attending a wonderful church that had a very loving and supportive church family. Chad landed a great job with a local contractor that we met while going to Soldotna Bible Chapel and his fellow employees were great guys that also attended their church. The kids were in a very good school, and going to AWANA, happy with friends close by.

In April 2011, Chad and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and while out to dinner, received a call from my parents with an offer to move us to Montana for a unique opportunity to be near family, and start up the family farm that had fallen into disrepair. A brand new home with more room to grow on 40 acres for very low rent and help to get started in a new (though not too new to me) community. After praying and considering our options, we took the leap. It hasn't been easy, but it has been an amazing experience for all of us.

Right away we started attending Fresh Life Church and it is an amazing spirit filled and blessed by God church. They are so active in the community, as a whole. It's like going to a rock concert with amazing house bands that sing such amazing inspirational songs every Sunday morning. The first Wednesday of every month, is a special night that is so amazing. The kids love this church and we are excited to go every time.

My concerns for 2012 are simple. Our government is so deeply corrupt and has strayed so far from the path where it was at it's best. Evil seems to be enjoying a coveted place in the spotlight and there are so many hurting financially, emotionally and spiritually that to dwell on it for too long invites a deep sorrow in my heart. My New Year's Resolutions are simple, but I have high hopes for success and know that if I can stick it out, I will be better for it and so will my family...

Resolution #1 : Spend less time online and more time within the pages of books. Specifically the bible.

Resolution #2 : Read the bible within a year or less.

Resolution #3 : Spend more quality individual time with my kids, so that they truly know how much I love them and how special they are to me.

Resolution #4 : Find ways to show my love more to my husband, in unusual and romantic ways.

There you have it. A little recap of the last year and my thoughts and hopes for the future. I hope anyone who stumbles on this finds this new year to be better than the last and that they never stop searching for the truth in their lives that will free them for eternity. God Bless!

Past Musings You Might Ponder

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