Shrimp Boil Packets

Today Minnesota extended the Stay-at-Home order until May 3rd. It feels so weird. Being trapped at home for three weeks now. Sometimes it is fun. I get to have lunch with my babies every single day. I see a lot more of Matt, since our desks are next to each other. But other moments it feels like the world is crumbling below us. And also that nothing is happening. Because everyone in my household is healthy so we are in this bubble where Coronavirus is this urban legend and we don’t see anyone. We are continuously living in the calm before the storm. The fear of getting sick and how sick we will get forever looms over us. Will we be the person who needs to be hospitalized?

We are lucky that that Coronavirus feels mystical. Because it means we are healthy and the people we love are healthy. We are away from the hectic, overworked hospitals. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

This recipe is from simpler times. When the biggest worry was getting lemon juice squirted in our eyes–not getting contracted with a scary virus that could crystallize our lungs.

I hope this meal brings some comfort to you.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 corn on the cob, halved
  • Andouille sausage, coin sized
  • 5-6 red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
  • 1 pound Shrimp
  • 3 Tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 3 Tablespoon Butter
  • Half Lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Also need Old Bay seasoning. Forgot to put it in the photo 🙂

Directions

I’d recommend cutting corn smaller and all in half again. Our knife is terrible so I gave up.

Put the sausage and shrimp in a big bowl.

Squeeze in lemon juice. This method is how the professionals do it 😉
Or do this.

Then add in the potatoes and corn in the bowl. Add in butter.

Time to go the grill to cook on one side for 15 minutes.
Remove from the foil carefully. If you’d like, drizzle more melted butter over everything.

Enjoy!

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Baked Chicken Tacos

Ok, so the last two weeks have gone entirely not as all as I expected. Thanks to the Coronavirus, life as we know it has not been the same. I started working from home full time. Court has been cancelled. I do not go to the grocery store to get those last couple ingredients to make a meal. Substitute with what we have or make something else. There are no trips to Target. Sunday church and then brunch at Red Cow is no longer our Sunday Funday. All the restaurants are closed. Church is live streaming from our living room. The boys and Ellie do not go out on their daily adventures. Museums and zoos are closed. Playgrounds are off limits. Beyond playing in the backyard, our family has hunkered down and stayed at home.

It feels like we are constantly living in the calm before the storm. So far everyone in our house is healthy. Our friends and family are healthy. I read about hospitals running out of medical supplies. That medical staff is overworked, and there are not enough beds. And it just doesn’t feel like that is what is happening in our city, our state, our country. That is something that happens somewhere else. But surely not here. It just doesn’t seem possible. But that simply is not correct. It is happening. It is happening here. And I am just lucky that I cannot wrap my mind around it because I haven’t had the misfortune to need medical help. And man, I hope it stays that way. I hope I have a hard time placing the realities that too many people are currently facing for as long as possible. Because that reality is too scary to stomach.

Those realities weigh on my mind. I have always been a worrier. When I was little, I use to have a hard time grappling with the concept of “forever.” That we would be in heaven forever. For so many people, heaven gives you a sense of peace and calming. But the idea of being somewhere forever made me panic. If I am being honest, even writing about it right now is starting to make my heart race. I have always been that person who may be a little too sensitive to cope with certain realities. This pandemic is not doing my heart any favors. I worry about my babies getting sick. I worry about Matt getting sick. I worry about me getting sick. I worry that this pandemic shut in will last a year or more. That my children will miss out on childhood moments that everyone should experience. I could go on and on and on.

Cooking calms me. Cooking something I know my family loves calms me even more. This is that recipe. Because everyone loves tacos.

Ingredients

  • Hard taco shells, flat bottomed ideally
  • Shredded, cooked chicken (if possible, I get a rotisserie chicken and shred that)
  • Refried beans
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Black olives, sliced (optional)
  • Lettuce, shredded (optional)
  • Salsa of choice (we like to mix mango, corn, and red/green)
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Guacamole/avocado (in my book, this is never optional. what is a taco without guac or avocado?)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grab a hard shell and coat the inside bottom of the shell with refried beans. Layer in chicken and cheese. Place into 9×12 or 8×8 glass hot dish container. Once all taco shells are filled, place into oven and cook until cheese is melty–about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in toppings as desired.
  4. Enjoy!

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Surviving Maternity Leave

To people who have never had a baby, maternity leave sounds like this glorious vacation. You don’t work for 6-12 weeks. You “just” take care of your baby. You stay at home on “your own” schedule. I cannot count how many times someone asked me, “So, what do you do all day?” I would stare at them, hair disheveled, covered in spit-up, wearing a diaper myself, and I would imagine smushing their face. Because while I truly did love maternity leave, it was not a vacation. It was work.

For my first maternity leave with JR, I had no idea what to expect. I heard the stories about moms who were so frazzled that they weren’t able to take a shower for days. That brushing your teeth would be a luxury. And I was not ok with that being my new reality. I was not ready to lose myself. Wearing diapers was one thing. I was not on board with the reality that my well-being would be last on the to-do list.

And before I had three children, was back to work, and gave up caring what other people think (well kinda of–I still care–I just don’t let it eat me up as much as I use to), the thought of people coming over to a messy house completely embarrassed me. But everything I heard about having a baby, I would have no time to clean. That terrified me. I didn’t want people to think I was this lazy mom on leave who just sat around all day binging tv.

So Matt and I made a pact. Matt and I each wrote down one personal care item that was most important for ourselves to do. The thing that made us feel human.

We then wrote down the one chore that was most important to us to be done in the house. The thing that made us feel like our house wasn’t falling apart. Even if it kinda was.

For personal care, I wrote down “put on makeup.” Matt wrote “brush teeth.” (yeah, I am not ashamed that my choice is far less hygienic). Every day, it was each other’s job to make sure we did met our item. Matt would ensure that I would put on makeup sometime during the day. I would make sure he brushed his teeth. It didn’t have to be first thing in the morning or even by noon. It just had to happen at some point during the day.

Once I had on my makeup, I felt a little more like myself. Sure, I now was full of spit up, milk always was leaking through my shirt, and my clothes weren’t fitting the way I hoped, but I had gosh damn makeup on.

No pants on. Unhappy baby. But my gosh, I will have makeup on.

For chores, Matt needed the dishes done each day. I wanted the bathroom sink wiped down. Every day, I would make sure that dishes were done at some point during the day (and no, that didn’t mean I did them. I just made sure they got done, which largely meant it was a duty delegated to someone else). Matt would make sure the sink got wiped down every day. The rest of the house could be in complete shambles. Diapers would need to be washed. Laundry piled up. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that we got those two chores done. The rest could be forgotten.

Ignoring the mess behind. As long as the dishes were done and the bathroom sink was clean, all that matters is cuddling my baby.

It made such a difference. The idea of having a million things to do on top of keeping this tiny baby alive can be overwhelming. There simply was no way I could nurse JR all day (I mean ALL DAY), keep up with laundry, take a shower, take a sitz bath, do my makeup, style my hair, dress myself, dress JR, change JR’s diapers 10 times a day, change my own diaper 3 plus times a day, make food for myself (that is super healthy and keeps my milk supply up), sweep the kitchen floor, wash the dishes, buy groceries, put away groceries, keep the house de-cluttered, and every other little thing that needs to be done. But I also couldn’t pretend like I didn’t need to be taken care of. And that the house needed tending to. So we just picked one each. And the rest got done when we had extra energy and time.

Moms, please take this unsolicited advice. Don’t set yourself up for failure and expect that you need to do it all in order to have a successful day. Keeping a baby alive while being utterly sleep deprived is an accomplishment in itself. But sometimes only taking care of your baby isn’t enough to feel ok on leave. And sometimes it hurts to feel yourself melting away. So set your list of one personal care item and one housework item and let the rest go.

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Cheesy Veggie Rice

Eloise is to the age where she can start eating solid foods. It’s exciting and terrifying. She is just thrilled that she is one of the big kids now. Of course, I am this nervous wreck, constantly worried that she is going to choke. She may be baby number three, but it never gets easier for me.

I’ve read about child-lean eating and we have dabbled in it. But mostly, my babies eat purees because I am scared to feed them more solid food.

my girl loves to eat. and i’m probably over mashing her avocados.

Eloise definitely wants to eat what we eat. She tries to swipe food out of our hands and mostly just wants to be part of the group. So when making dinners lately, I’ve been trying to incorporate foods that Ellie can enjoy too.

One of the first non-puree foods that I feel comfortable giving my babies is rice. It’s mushy, and the babies can grab the pieces fairly easily. I am not a baby food specialist so maybe rice isn’t a great option. I have no idea. But with my babies, they’ve been able to master rice. If you don’t feel comfortable giving your baby rice, don’t. Ask your pediatrician first. But for us, it’s worked. And rice is great staple for us to mix up a variety of dinners without making the boys the same meal over and over again.

This cheesy rice dish is a super quick meal you can make on the weekday. It’s easy to change out the veggies to whatever you have in the fridge. Sub the sausage for chicken breast. Whatever you’d prefer. But Ellie was so happy to be at the table, eating her cheesy rice (no veggies), just like the boys.

forgot to get a photo of Ellie eating tonight, but here’s the most adorable one. Toast is another earlier solid food we give the babies. Eloise is a huge fan.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white/brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 heads broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 links of chicken sausage (I used these from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions

  1. Get someone else to make rice for you. But if you are sucker and can’t, put the water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add in rice and stir. Move to a low simmer and cover. Stir periodically.
  2. Get a skillet and place broccoli and cauliflower in with about a tablespoon of water over medium heat. Cover. Once a little soft, toss in garlic, sausage, and peas.
  3. Cook until veggies are soft, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add in rice and cheese and stir until well-mixed.
  5. Enjoy!
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Sausage and Broccoli Rice

You know those posts where it says these recipes use only 5 ingredients. But then you find out that they didn’t count the olive oil. And salt and pepper. And the photo they posted for the recipe (which looks simply gosh darn delicious) includes all these “optional” ingredients. And the meal just doesn’t seem as hearty without them. Yeah, I hate that. As a working mom, sometimes I want a simple, only two steps, just a couple ingredient meal for those nights where I get home late, work was stressful, and I do not want to order pizza.

This is that recipe. There are only four ingredients. And I mean that.

There are three steps. Two of them are chopping. This recipe is incredibly easy and tastes great. Every time I share this recipe on my Instagram stories, I get flooded with reactions on how delicious it looks. It is.

Now is this healthy? Well, the chimichurri rice is prepackaged so I am sure there are more healthy choices than this. But I am going to out out on a limb and say this is healthier than ordering Chinese takeout. At least our family’s Chinese takeover order 😉

Ingredients

  • Broccoli, chopped
  • Andouille sausage, sliced in coin-sized pieces
  • Trader Joe’s Peruvian Style Chimichurri Rice
  • Water

Directions

  1. Chop broccoli into bite-sized pieces
  2. Cut sausage into coin-sized pieces
  3. Put broccoli, sausage, and rice into a large skillet over medium heat. Add in 2 tablespoons of water. Turn to combine. Place lid over skillet to allow the broccoli to steam cook. The entire meal should be ready to eat within 15 minutes.
  4. I toss about a cup per serving.
  5. Enjoy!
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Pot Pies

I remember when my mom use to make pot pies. I would have a fit. I hated them. My brother and sister would happily eat their dinner, and I would sit at the table, nose up, like a snot, refusing to eat my pot pie. I decided they were the worst and I would not even try them. Nothing would change my mind. They had peas, they had gravy, they were not for me. Now that I am a mom myself, I realize my mom is a saint for not slapping me!

Since my teenager-anxy days, I have never had a pot pie (I am nothing but true to my word). But around Thanksgiving, I kept seeing posts about people making pot pie recipes with their leftover turkey. The cutest ramekins filled with bright orange carrots, firm peas, and shredded turkey. Guys, it looked good. And I couldn’t believe it. I hate pot pies.

But I had a bunch of leftover turkey and I didn’t feel like making soup. I decided that it was time to finally try pot pies.

Ok, now I feel like an adult. I like them. They were good. It was filling, warm, and the perfect level of salty savory. I would make this again. And I can’t believe it. Guys, you should try this. They are good. You’ll feel like an adult. It’s great.

It doesn’t have to look pretty. It just has to taste good.

Ingredients

  • Yellow onion, diced
  • 5 carrots, diced
  • 1 bag frozen Trader Joe’s Mushroom Medley (OR a bunch of diced mushrooms)
  • 1-2 cups turkey or chicken (or opt if desire veggie)
  • 2 tbsp Trader Joe’s Garlic Herb Butter (OR just butter)
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • Lemon, squeeze
  • Maple syrup, drizzle or two
  • 1/4 tsp Trader Joe’s Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend
  • 2 cups peas
  • 1 package frozen pie crusts, thawed
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Over medium heat on the stove, sauté onions, carrots, and mushrooms in butter, salt and pepper for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add in cooked turkey/chicken.
  3. Remove from heat and sprinkle with flour.
  4. Then, put back on heat. Add vegetable stock, lemon,maple syrup, and umami seasoning.
  5. Simmer to until a bit thick. Toss in peas.
  • Scoop into ramekins, and top with the pie crusts.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
  • Enjoy!

Source: Cup of Jo

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San Antonio, Texas Trip

This July, we went on our first vacation as a family of five. My cousin on my dad’s side was getting married, and honestly, we do not see that side of the family much. Everyone lives far away, and now that we are older, people get busy. We have our own children, have careers, and family reunions with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins is no longer the go-to family vacation.

But with my cousin getting married, it was the perfect opportunity for my extended family to meet my children. Because outside of one uncle and aunt, no one had met any of my babies. So we decided that I would go back to maternity leave a week early so we could take a week off of work to spend a week in San Antonio, Texas–with the trip ending with the wedding.

When I told my parents our plans, they immediately asked if they could join. “Of course! We will never say no to extra sets of hands with the kids!” both Matt and I exclaimed.

Initially, the plan was to stay at a fellow content-creator’s house. The basement of the house could easily fit our family and the idea of not spending money on a hotel solidified our plans to stay a week. Already, the plane tickets were going to be a big pill to swallow. JR and Max were no longer free. And as a self-proclaimed cheap mama, I was not thrilled with the idea of buying 4 plane tickets. But I did. We got the tickets for the end of July through the beginning days of August, and waited for the trip to arrive.

Then, about two weeks before our trip, we got the bad news. We could no longer stay at the content-creator’s house. “Umm, what?!” I said to Matt when he broke the news. “That is the whole reason we decided to go down for a week! We wouldn’t have to pay for housing!” I cried. Matt just shrugged in his typical fashion. Of course he didn’t care as much. He wasn’t the one who would need to find us a new place to stay 9 days from now.

Most hotels were booked, and the ones that weren’t were ungodly expensive. I couldn’t stomach paying over $250.00 a night for just a simple room. So I went on Airbnb. had never rented a place through Airbnb, but I heard good things about it. Most people I knew had used it. Even my parents. But I was hesitant. Where you stay can really dictate the type of trip you have. I didn’t want to take a risk staying in a terrible place. But I also didn’t want to settle for mediocre. After some searching, I found the most perfect place to stay. Once I saw the pool and porch, I was basically already putting in my credit card information.

This place exceeded all our expectations! It is a 211 acre ranch property that is only about 15 minutes away from San Antonio. We got the benefits of the middle of nowhere while being so close to stores and things to do. The house was the perfect size for our family of five. The kitchen was big enough to cook meals while the boys played in the living room with the gigantic bucket of LEGOs that were in the closet.

The yard around the house is drop dead gorgeous. Every morning we ate breakfast tacos and donuts outside under a huge live oak tree. Pro tip: eat breakfast tacos for breakfast every single day. They are delicious and we have yet to find any taco that comes even close in Minnesota.

The property has two white horses that roam around that are friendly, and our toddlers got such joy petting and feeding them. Every morning, they would look out the window for the horses. And at night, my parents would sit with the kids, and Matt and I would walk around the property with a glass of wine, soaking in the sunset.

But you guys, the pool. It is amazing. The view. The water temperature. The pool toys. It’s just plain perfect. And the porch surrounding the pool is great for just relaxing and eating snacks before jumping back into the water.

happy family of five

We spent two full afternoons soaking up the sun and relaxing in the pool. With three little kids, it was perfect. We could still enjoy the Texas weather, have a gorgeous view, and not have to worry about carting them around or be concerned about them having a pre-nap melt down in public. We could simply walk back down to our house and put the kids to nap. If they were hungry, we would sit on the porch and eat snacks. It was wonderful.

And when we weren’t spending the day at the pool, we spent the day at the beach on Canyon Lake. There are a couple of different beaches at Canyon Lake, and we found this beach that was hidden below a huge cliff–Canyon Overlook Park The climb down to the beach was a bit challenging holding a little baby. But it was completely worth it!

It is a pebble beach so make sure to wear secure sandals. It not only helps with the climb, but helps with walking around once you get to the beach. The water is such a clear blue. It goes on forever. If possible, bring some shade with you (ie: umbrella or tent). The are no trees down on the actual beach and the Texas sun is strong.

Tip: bring an umbrella with you if you have a little kid. The hot Texas sun was much stronger than we are use to. So this umbrella was a life saver to keep Eloise from burning.

It was such a wonderful trip and a great first vacation as a family of five. While we were initially disappointed that our place to stay fell through, the place we ended up staying at made our trip such a success!

And sure, we did not do any of the typical San Antonio site. No Riverwalk. No Alamo. But it was exactly the kind of vacation that fit our young family. I cannot recommend it enough!

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Max’s Birth Story

Last month my little Maxie turned three! Which I have not entirely processed yet. Because it simply cannot be true that three years ago I bought my squishy Max home. Just like every quintessential parent says, time is cruel and it all goes by too fast.

I was reliving the day my littlest boy was born and realized I had never published a birth post! Middle child problems!! So in celebration of my boy’s third birthday, I am sharing my littlest boy’s birth story.

baby Maxwell only a couple hours old

//

I left work on December 14th a little too cocky. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow” I said as I turned off my office light. There was no doubt in my mind that on Wednesday morning, I would find myself sitting in front of my work computer, answering emails and working on briefs. JR was 12 days late. If I learned anything from JR’s birth, it was that due dates meant nothing. It didn’t matter that my due date was tomorrow. There was simply no way this baby was going to be born yet.

We didn’t have a special dinner or do anything really out of the ordinary. I gave JR a bath, put him in his doggie pajamas, and read him a book before bed. JR was his typically hyper self. Running around in the crib, singing, and laughing. By 9:00, he was asleep.

I made my way to the TV room and turned on a show. Within a half hour, I heard a large pop and it felt like I had peed myself. My heart immediately began to race. “Oh I am not looking forward to labor.” I reached down for my phone, but it wasn’t there. My hands were shaking. I hadn’t felt one contraction yet, but my anxiety of what was to come was climbing with every second.

“Where is my phone?” I got up, frantically looked under the couch, under the side table, no where to be found. I yelled to Matt. “My water broke, and I can’t find my phone!” My eyes were wild. “I need my phone! How can I tell Micah that she needs to get ready to come! We have to call the birth center! We have to call the doula!”

Matt put his arms around me. “Go take a shower. I’ll find your phone.” I got into the shower and let the water fall over me. It waited for the hot water to calm me. It didn’t come. I got out. Laid down in bed and closed my eyes. I still felt no contractions, but I knew what was coming. It was just a matter of time.

2 hours went by. I woke up to a cramp. Ugh. My lower stomach twisted. What the hell?! I had forgotten this is what labor felt like. I remained in bed and kicked my legs in frustration. It did not help.

I left the bed and went to the living room. I paced. It did not help. I was annoyed. Matt was sleeping. My stomach was exploding. BECAUSE OF HIM. Ok, me too. But whatever. It’s his fault. I walked back to the bedroom and threw a pillow at him.

“What?!” Matt said dreamily.

“I have contractions,” I said. Matt bolted up. He followed me to the tv room. I paced from one side to another.

“Do you want to watch Bones?” Matt asked. The two of us had been watching Bones together. It was show we could relax and turn off our minds. I shook my head no. For some unknown reason, I did not want to be distracted. These contractions were a bitch. And each one demanded my full attention.

I moved to my knees, with my forearms on our chair. Matt grabbed the scarf that he used to raboozo me during JR”s labor and wrapped it around my belly. He tossed his phone with the contraction app on the chair and I would click when my contraction started. When I clicked start, Matt would start to raboozeo. Two hours went by. It felt like forever. “Why the hell did I decide to do this again? I am a moron! Why did I think I needed another natural birth?”

Suddenly, the pressure felt so much more intense. “Matt, call Micah. Tell her to come now.” Yes, it felt weird to be able to speak. It didn’t seem like it was ‘the time’ yet. I couldn’t say a word when I was in labor with JR. Yet,here I am, speaking. Obviously, we had time. I wasn’t truly in labor yet. But still. I should be safe. Micah (our nanny) should get here. Just in case.

Only a minute or two went by. But then my stomach turned. OMG THIS IS INSANE. THIS BABY IS GOING TO FALL OUT. “F…..CALL MICAH NOW!” I yelled. I waddled into the kitchen. I toss my phone on the counter, and I pushed the recall button. I called Micah again. Why wasn’t she here already?! Matt was running around. Tossing bags into the truck. Grabbing a jacket for me. I rocked back and forth.

A huge wave of contraction came. It felt like a strong twist on my lower stomach. There was pressure on my butt. Fu—-k. It left like the baby was crowning. “Matt, I am pushing!” I was leaning against the counter. I WAS pushing. It felt good to push. But holy shit. I AM IN MY KITCHEN. WHERE IS THE NANNY? WE CANT LEAVE JR ALONE!

“We need to go now!” Matt yelled. I violently shock my head. “Get the car seat in the car!” I grunted. My stomach ached. MOTHER OF GOD! THESE CONTRACTIONS. But I can not leave JR. He’s my baby. I can’t leave him alone.

“NO! GET IN THE CAR. Micah will be here soon. GET IN THE CAR!” Matt urged.

I dialed Micah again. My voice ached. “How close are you!” I could barely get the words out. “Five minutes” Micah said.

I looked at Matt in terror. This baby was coming. I did not have 5 minutes. “Get in the car!” Matt said. I growled angrily and moved to the door. “Call us the second you get to our house. We have to leave now!” Matt said to Micah. I walked out the front door. Leaving my baby boy. Matt locked the door behind me.

I climbed into the truck. Matt jumped into the car and gunned it out the driveway. The contractions were strong. I put on my seatbeat, but fu–k, it felt too restrictive. Matt immediately started to drive 2o mph over the speed limit.

Halfway there, I started to panic. “Matt, I AM PUSHING!” I yelled. And I was. It felt good to push. As I pushed, it felt like the baby’s head was crowning. I wasn’t truly sitting in my seat. I was basically standing, while wearing my seat belt, with my hand firm on Matt’s thigh. Matt was going 90 mph in a 55 mph. We rounded on to the side street that would lead us to the Minnesota Birth Center. We reached the first set of lights. Red lights. My eyes widened. Nope. I am PUSHING. THIS BABY IS FALLING OUT. MOTHER OF GOD I WILL NOT HAVE A BABY IN THE CAR. DRIVE FASTER. JESUS CHRIST. I AM GOING TO HAVE A BABY IN THE CAR. Matt drove faster. He ran the light. The speed limit was 40 mph. Matt remained a steady speed. I felt taken care of. But oh my goodness. The pressure was so intense.

“Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!” I whispered. I couldn’t truly capture what I was feeling. But I felt the urge to say something. Even if it was at a whisper. Matt pulled into the driveway of the Minnesota Birth Center. The car sped into the parking spot. Matt slammed on the brakes, put the car in park, and jumped out the car. He opened my car door, and presumably I walked out. I have no memory of this. The next thing I knew, I was in the Minnesota Birth Center. Watching the water of the birth tub rising.

The midwife placed her stethoscope on my belly, confirming that the baby had a strong heartbeat and giving me the green light to get into the birthing tub. The midwife helped me into the tub, and I lowered my body into the water. The water felt warm and familiar. After the stress of driving here, I finally felt at ease. All I wanted was to get into the tub because getting in the tub meant pushing this baby out, which means my stomach will no longer feel like it is being twisted like a wet dishrag.

As I settled into the tub, the midwife and Matt looked at one another. The clear water had turned deep red. “You are bleeding too much. We cannot have you in this tub. We need to get you out right away. Please take our hands so we can help you out without slipping.” the midwife said. The fact that there was so much blood did not register with me. All I heard was that I could not give birth in a tub. The only place I had ever given birth before. The thought of giving birth on a bed, outside the soothing comfort of water, seemed insane. But I did as I was told. I slowly climbed out of the tub.

The midwife showed me to the large queen sized bed. I climbed on and placed my forearms on a big green birthing ball, trying to remain calm. Matt stood at my side, off the bed. The midwife placed a warm, wet washcloth on my crotch and calmly said, “when you feel the contraction, push through it.” I nodded. But honestly, since making my way to the bed, I didn’t feel anything contractions. It was as if my body had pushed pause on the labor. I wasn’t in the water, and I don’t give birth anywhere but the water. Instead, I felt out of it. Kneeling on the bed, on all fours, like a barn animal. Without the water around me, I felt exposed.

Finally a contraction came. It felt terrible and wonderful at the same time. As the contraction built up, I pushed. I buried my head into the birthing ball and pushed harder than I thought I could. “There’s the head!” the midwife said calmly. “Now just one more good push, Lindsay. You got this.” Her voice remained steady and low. I didn’t feel a contraction but I didn’t care. The pressure of the baby’s head was too much to bare. I pushed, and suddenly felt a wave of relief. The baby was out. It started to cry, and I rushed to move off my hands and knees to grab my baby. As I moved, I pulled the baby with me. The midwife quickly intervened, assisting me to a sitting position and bringing my little baby to my chest. My little baby boy. My little Maxie. I wrapped my arms around him, kissing the top of his head, and felt a strong wave of emotion fall over me. My perfect little boy was finally here. 8 pounds, 1 ounce. So much hair.

And as for all the blood, the midwife never had a concrete explanation for it. They were worried my placenta had ruptured, but it didn’t. If Max hadn’t been born basically 10 minutes after we got to the birth center, they were planning to send me to a hospital due to all the blood. But Max wouldn’t have that.

He’s still my biggest mama’s boy ever. I am forever grateful he’s mine.

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Split Pea Soup

Traditions.  If I could sum up November and December in one word, it would be traditions.  We have traditions for how we celebrate Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve.  All of it. Each day has been specifically calculated to include rituals we have done for years and years.  Molding my family’s traditions, with Matt’s family’s traditions, with our own hybrid traditions.  I love it. It feels like it is part of what defines what it means to be part of our family.  To know, celebrate, understand these traditions means you are a Cremona/Watson.

And after Thanksgiving, we use the leftover ham to make split pea soup (yes, we always have turkey and ham at Thanksgiving).  That is this soup.  After spending an entire day stuffing our faces with turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie, we stock up on Black Friday deals and make this soup.  There is something so comforting about dipping a chunk of crusty bread into this soup as we flip through the big box ads with my sister, dad, and sister-in-law.  It’s part of the Cremona/Watson family Thanksgiving weekend.  Just doesn’t feel like the holiday without it.

You need to add this to your recipe repertoire.

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Pesto White Beans with Grilled Zucchini

We spent Sunday afternoon decluttering our basement. We’ve lived in our house for over 8 years now and have accumulated   s o   m u c h   s t u f f.   My closet is full of buckets and buckets of clothes I’ve been keeping just in case they fit again, in case I need it for a costume, in case it comes into style.  I am certain Matt has every spare screw that ever came with any kit.  After a couple hours of tossing items in either the donate or garage piles, we called it quits and headed back upstairs to where the clutter is a bit more manageable.

The fall cleaning inspired me to clean out the pantry.  In the back as a lone can of white beans tucked away–likely bought for chili that I never ended up making.  There were two zucchinis on their last legs and a jar of unopened pesto from who knows when.  And that is how this pesto white beans with grilled zucchini came to life.

We ate it as a meal, but it would be a great appetizer or side dish.  It’s a fun interplay between heavy foods (beans and cheese) with lighter foods (pesto and zucchini).  Toast some crusty bread and layer the bean/zucch/cheese mixture on top.  It would be the perfect dish to bring to a late fall cookout or to eat in front of a fire.  It’s got just the right level of flare without feeling pretentious. Which is what I am always looking for in a meal 🙂

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