Thursday, April 24, 2014

{ My Birth Story :: Baby #2 }

I realize it's been almost a year since my last blog post. And that I still need to blog my daughter's first birthday. And second birthday. Yup, it's pretty bad! I feel so behind, but I feel like blogging my birth story is most important in this moment in time or I might forget everything (which might not be a bad thing when you consider the sheer misery of childbirth!) But nevermind all the procrastination, it's time to record "My Birth Story :: Baby #2."

It all started with my birthday! I turned 32 on Saturday, March 29th and well, it was sort of looking like it would be a very boring day. My husband works weekends and everyone else was busy with plans so I decided to make the most of my day by taking my daughter for a long walk. It was 3.54 miles to be exact. Most women would cringe at the sound of that number at 10 months pregnant, but I had been doing this same route almost every day of my pregnancy for the last 9 months, so I was pretty used to it. But looking back on it now, I probably pushed myself a little too hard and that's what put me into labor.

Anyway, after I finished my exercise I was absolutely and completely exhausted! I thought about throwing in the towel and just making my 2 year old watch movies on the couch with me for the rest of the day, but remember, it was my birthday and I didn't want to just sit around doing nothing. So instead we got showered and dressed and took ourselves to lunch at Corner Bakery.

By the time we finished lunch I was feeling even more exhausted than before and felt myself literally waddling to my car in the parking lot. But again, I ignored the feeling to go home and rest and took my daughter shopping at Old Navy. After a half hour or so of chasing her all over the store it was time to head home for her...or rather, our naps.

Still exhausted from my long walk that morning, I pushed through the rest of the afternoon until my husband got home from work and we enjoyed a nice quiet dinner together at Cheesecake Factory. Little did we know, it would be our last night out together, alone, for a long time!

After a long day of celebrating, we went to bed as usual. However, something woke me up a little after midnight. Contractions? Say what? At first I was a little unsure what was going on because 1) I was induced for my first delivery so I didn't actually know what it felt like to go into labor naturally and 2) I had just had a horrible stomach bug kick my trash a couple weeks earlier, sending my body into a wild wave of contractions only to end up with my face in the toilet for the next 2 days with the flu.

So here I was lying awake at midnight on a Saturday night looking at the clock and wondering if I should just try to ignore them and go to sleep, or if I should try and time them and see what we were dealing with. Well, after a big glass of water and some breathing techniques, they weren't going away. I text my mother to let her know what was going on and she told me to time them and call my doctor in the morning. Well, I spent the rest of the night wide awake timing the contractions that started at 18 minutes apart and worked their way to 12 minutes apart by the time my alarm for church went off at 7am.

Still kind of playing dumb, I decided to hold off calling my doctor and went about my morning. It was a special Sunday because my nephew, Gunnar, was going to be blessed at church that morning so even though I was feeling pretty rotten, I decided to go to church anyway. Boy was that a crazy sacrament meeting! I can remember grabbing my husband's thigh about every 8 minutes (I know, because I started timing them again after the sacrament was passed) and thinking to myself "Oh my gosh, I'm in labor in the chapel and my water is gonna break and it's gonna be everywhere and people are gonna stare at me, and I'm gonna look like an idiot and...!" I'm pretty sure my husband thought I was just being overly dramatic (because I usually am), because he didn't really seem too concerned at this point.

After the sacrament service was over we said hello to a few family and friends and then I told Matt it was time to get me home to call the doctor. As soon as I phoned in and shared what had been going on over the last few hours the doctor recommended I come in and "at least get checked out to see if I had progressed." At this point I was starting to have more intense contractions, the kind you can't walk or talk through and I think my husband finally caught on that this was really happening! Buuut, of course I kept trying to ignore them and tell myself it wasn't a big deal, so I went ahead and made the salad I had been asked to bring to the luncheon for Gunnar's Blessing after church.  I know, I'm crazy!

Luckily we had Matt's cousin's over that Sunday so they were able to take the salad and Blair along with them to the luncheon at my in-laws while we drove across the street to Foothill Presbyterian Hospital. We arrived at the hospital at about 12:30pm and within a few minutes I was changed into a gown and a nurse was in to check me. "You're at a 5 already!" she said looking as surprised as I was. "Looks like you'll be staying to have a baby today." Say whaaaaat? My husband and I both looked at each other in shock and thought no way, how can that be? I'm already at a 5? Secretly I was thinking HOORAY! THANK GOODNESS! With my first birth I was induced and just getting to a 5 was torture! So to already be half-way there was amazing!

From there the nurses asked me what my birth plan was and I told them that honestly I didn't know at this point because I was 8 days early and had an ultrasound scheduled for the next morning to find out how big the baby was going to be. I explained that my first daughter was born with a broken shoulder and that the doctors were concerned that if this were to be a large baby, they would recommend a c-section to avoid any shoulder trauma from occurring again. I told the nurses that if it was possible, I would like a last minute ultrasound to determine the size of the baby.  The contractions were coming too quickly thought and labor was progressing fast, so the nurses gave me a shot to stop my contractions (I didn't even know they could do that!) and we got the ultrasound done. Baby boy was measuring in at just under 8lbs. Thank goodness because all the ultrasounds before were telling me I was going to have a 10 pound baby.

From there the nurses contacted the doctor on call, who by the way happened to be one of the only doctors I had not yet met at the practice I had been going to throughout my pregnancy. But I tell you what, that turned out to be the biggest blessing of it all! Of the 3 doctors I had seen already, all 3 recommended I do a c-section. However, this doctor on call told me that he thought I could do this vaginally if that's what I wanted. And after much prayer and deliberation with my husband, that's what I wanted. So, now it was time to get these contractions started back up again!

According to my nurses I had two options to get things going again. I could have a pitocin drip or they could try stimulating my cervix with a pelvic exam. Because my birth plan was to go med-free with no epidural, I knew I didn't want pitocin. If you've had it, you know why. If you haven't, just trust me, the stuff is awful! So I went with the pelvic exam. After a few uncomfortable pokes and figure eights, I waited just 5 minutes before the contractions started coming again. Only this time they were back with a vengeance. Luckily, my parents had showed up by this time and my mom and my husband were able to coach me through the next hour and a half as I labored from a 6 to a 10.

Those few centimeters were absolute torture without an epidural, but I don't regret it one bit. Compare my hour and a half of hard labor with this baby to my first labor with my daughter which lasted for hours all through the night and the epidural only worked on half of my body because of my scoliosis. Now that was torture!!!

And let me mention that one of the biggest differences for me in this birth was that I was able to move around and labor in whatever position felt comfortable for me.  I found that for the first little bit that kneeling down on my knees, bent over on my arms was a really great position to be in.  And then as I moved closer to a 10 and the pain was absolutely unbearable I just wanted to lay on my back and shake my arms and hands in the air, almost as if I was shaking the pain out through my arms.  Weird, I know, but that's how my body dealt with the pain.

Once I was at a 10 I was MORE than ready to push. It was just like everyone says, you feel like you need to go poop. Sorry, but you do! And it's awful! All you want at that point is to GET! THAT! BABY! OUT! Thank goodness my doctor, Dr. Alvarez-Mott, came walking through the door and said "Okay, let's push!" He was the most calm and collected doctor I'd ever met. And thank goodness because I was a hot mess, all screaming and yelling. But thankfully the pushing only lasted 30 minutes (another reason I am all about going natural-so you can actually feel what you're suppose to be doing with your muscles down there) and my AMAZING mother and husband were able to coach me through the whole thing. I remember squeezing their hands soooo tight that afterwards my poor mother showed me her hand all bruised with broken blood vessels. Aren't mothers the best?

After a few hours of labor and 30 minutes of pushing, my beautiful son, Van Robert Laidlaw, was welcomed into this world on March 30, 2014 at 5:43pm, weighing 7lb. 13oz. and 20.5 inches long. I did it! We did it! He was here and I was alive! What an amazing experience it all was and how grateful I am for all of the incredible nurses, doctors, staff and my family that surrounded me throughout the entire experience. I am so in love with my beautiful son and feel incredibly grateful that I was able to have an all natural birth and bring a healthy baby boy (with no shoulder trauma) into this world!

The next few hours with my son were amazing. Right from the start Van was an amazing nurser and I could already tell that I felt so much better recovery-wise with this birth versus my last birth. I actually got to rest in the hospital and my incredible husband stayed the 2 days with me in the hospital and helped with just about everything he could while my angel mother stayed at my house with Blair until we returned home. I loved my experience in the hospital and call myself very lucky and blessed to have this sweet, healthy and happy boy join our family.  We love you Van!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

{ RECIPE :: No-Bake Energy Bites }

A few weeks ago I met some girlfriends in Corona Del Mar for a beach day!  It was the most gorgeous day I could remember at the beach since...well, since last summer!  But that's not what I remember most about that sunny day at the beach, I remember THESE!

They're No-Bake Energy Bites that my friend Crystal introduced me to.  They kind of look like strange little meatballs, but they are SO incredibly good.  And "healthy" too.  I'll leave the definition of healthy up to you.

But seriously, I love popping one of two a day right around 3 or 4.  You know, when you want SO bad to snack but you know you shouldn't because you've been so good all day!  Well these little guys are my guilt-free go to!  Try them!  I promise you'll like them!

- 1 cup (dry) oatmeal*
- 2/3 cup coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup all natural chunky peanut butter
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla

Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed.  Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.  Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

*You can use GF oatmeal for a gluten free treat!  So yummy!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

{ RECIPE :: Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole }

The husband LOVED this dish!  After he licked his plate clean he said "Put a couple stars next to that one!"  And as if that wasn't enough, my 1 year old monotonously cheered "Yummm" every time I placed a new bite on her tray.  So I guess we've got another winner on our hands with this one.

Of course I found the original recipe through Pinterest on THIS website. I love that this recipe calls for protein-packed quinoa rather than rice, and then I just added some shredded chicken (because my husband says "it's not a real mean unless there's a little meat") and swapped out the mayonnaise for some greek yogurt.  Your taste buds will never know the difference, but your waistline just might!

One 10 oz can condensed Cream of Broccoli soup (or mushroom), low-sodium if you prefer (*see note for gluten free)
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 cups reduced fat shredded cheese (cheddar, colby-jack, etc)
1/2 teaspoon Stevia/sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Dash freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup cooked shredded chicken breast
2 cups cooked broccoli
1 1/2 cups COOKED quinoa
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear. In a small saucepan combine the quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until fluffy and the white ring/tail is visible. Fluff with a fork.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a shallow (8×8 in or 5-6 cups) casserole dish – or individual ramekins – with vegetable cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine the soup, greek yogurt, milk, shredded cheese, Stevia, pepper, and nutmeg until well mixed. Stir in the quinoa and broccoli.

Spoon mixture into prepared casserole. Sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of Parmesan and bake for 35-40 minutes (20-25 minutes for ramekins) or until bubbly on the edges and golden. Makes 8 generous 1/2-cup servings.

*NOTE FOR GLUTEN FREE…Progresso makes a Creamy Mushroom Soup that is gluten free

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

{ RECIPE :: Easy Pad Thai }

I'm sorry that this blog has somehow turned into a cooking blog. Oops! Oh well.  It's just easier for me to keep all my favorite recipes in one place like this.  Heck, maybe one day I'll compile my own cookbook!

I found this next recipe through the blog Brownies For Dinner and I was skeptical at first. Mostly because every pad thai recipe I have made was a total disaster. But this one had me saying at the end of dinner "Honey, I think this recipe might have cured me of my cravings for take-out!" Imagine that! So if you're a pad thai lover like me, you might just want to try this recipe.

And for a step-by-step tutorial of this recipe (which I highly recommend following) check THIS out. Good Luck!

8 ounces dried, wide and flat rice noodles
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
3 tablespoons GF soy sauce
1 squirt (about 1/8 teaspoon) Sriracha (optional)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 scallions (green onions), white and green parts, separated and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 large eggs, light beaten (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Soak noodles according to package instructions. Drain.
In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, and Sriracha.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
Add scallion whites and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add eggs and cook, scraping skillet with spatula until eggs are almost set (about 30 seconds). Transfer eggs to a plate.
Add noodles, scallion greens, and sauce to skillet. Cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are soft (about 1 minute). Add egg mixture and toss to coat, breaking eggs up gently.
Serve noodles with lime wedges, topped with cilantro and peanuts.

Per serving: 315 calories, 7g fat (0.9g saturated fat), 3.6g protein, 60.5g carb, 1.4g fiber
Per serving: $1.50 or less.
As long as you use a gluten-free soy sauce, this is a gluten-free recipe.
Vegetarian, even. Skip the eggs for vegan.
If you’re a carnivore try this: While the noodles are soaking, cut up 1 small chicken breast (or half of one of the colossal ones) into bite sized pieces. Marinate the chicken in a little bit of soy sauce and garlic (or make a little extra of the sauce for the noodles and marinate the chicken in that). OR: use shrimp (marinate same as chicken)… heck, use both. Cook them before you add the noodles to the pan. Leftovers: heat in the microwave or toss in a hot skillet for a minute to warm the noodles. Not as good as the first day but with a little extra lime juice, it makes a nice leftover-lunch.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

{ RECIPE :: Chicken Gloria }

This dish is called Chicken Gloria, but I'm just gonna call it Chicken Get-In-My-Mouth-Right-Now!  Yup, it was THAT good!  I'm a huge fan of the Chicken Marsala at Cheesecake Factory and I would almost go so far as to say that this was even better than that!  Ok, I'll just go ahead and say it: This dish was even better than that!  Thank you for the fabulous recipe.

3 skinless boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and filleted in half lengthwise
1/3 cup of rice flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1 (8 oz) container of sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup of sherry wine
1 small can of condensed GF cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup whole milk
6 slices of Muenster cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, dredge lightly in flour to coat both sides. Shake off excess.

Add oil to frying pan and brown chicken in batches on both sides. You don’t need to cook the chicken completely. It will finish cooking in the oven. Transfer the chicken to a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Add the butter to the frying pan and let it melt over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and brown mushrooms until golden. Then add the sherry wine and cook for another minute or two. Add the creamy mushroom soup and milk and mix well.

Pour sauce over the chicken breasts, cover with foil and bake in oven for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top each piece of chicken with one slice of Muenster cheese. You can fold the cheese in half if it is too wide for the breast.

Place chicken back in oven uncovered and broil for 1-2 minutes to brown the cheese. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Top with chopped fresh parsley and serve.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

{ RECIPE :: Zucchini Lasagna }

I can't believe how much I loved this dish. I've had my eye one it for quite some time and finally got around to making it tonight. It's a naturally gluten-free Zucchini Lasagna from Skinny Taste. It was just like she said "you won't miss the pasta!" It's true! What a delicious, low carb, gluten free dish. The only thing I wish I had for the prep work was a mandolin to slice the zucchini quick and easy. Maybe a birthday present? Hint. Hint. We will definitely be making this recipe again and again and again.

1 lb 93% lean beef
3 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8" thick
15 oz part-skim ricotta
16 oz part-skin mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1 large egg

In a medium sauce pan, brown meat and season with salt. When cooked drain in colander to remove any fat. Add olive oil to the pan and saute garlic and onions about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 30-40minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.

Meanwhile, slice zucchini into 1/8" thick slices, add lightly salt and set aside or 10 minutes. Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.

On a gas grill or grill pan, grill zucchini on each side, until cooked, about 1-2 minutes per side. Place on paper towels to soak any excess moisture.

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. Stir well.

In a 9x12 casserole spread some sauce on the bottom and layer the zucchini to cover. Then place some of the ricotta cheese mixture, then top with the mozzarella cheese and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up. Top with sauce and mozzarella and cover with foil.

Bake 45 minutes covered at 375°, then uncovered 15 minutes. Let stand about 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

NOTE: I used a ready made tomato basil spaghetti sauce for lack of time. Still tasted great!

Servings: 8 • Serving Size: 1/8 • Old Points: 8 pts • Points+: 9 pts Calories: 345 • Fat: 17 g • Carbs: 16 g • Fiber: 2 g • Protein: 36 g • Sugar: 8 g Sodium: 801 (without salt)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

{ Dear Blair :: 11 Months Old }

My baby is 11 months old? Say it isn't so! In just one months time this baby girl of mine will be ONE!  I love all of the exciting new tricks you've learned in the last month and can't wait to see what's next.

You are so full of energy and life and always surprising me with how smart you are.  I've said this before, but sometimes when I worry that you aren't meeting a specific milestone by some specific date, I get all nervous.  But really, you are just such a cautious spirit and sometimes it takes you a little longer to get the courage to try something that a lot of other babies are already doing.  But no matter the task, you eventually come around and pick it up quick.

You are amazing Blair!  Everything you do makes us smile.  Here's a look back at the things you did this last month that made us smile...

  • We've got a crawler!!!  I'm pretty sure your daddy was the first to see it.  Rats!  But oh was it cute the first time I saw you get up on all fours and scoot those little knees across the floor.  It's so dorky but I was having a hard time holding back the tears.  Maybe just because we had taken you to the doctor and he said you might not be crawling because of neurological things or a hip displacement and other funny stuff.  So to see you take those first crawls on your own was awesome!  Now we'll see how long it takes you to figure out walking!  Let's just say I'm not holding my breath!
  • A couple weeks ago at the doctor we had you weighed.  I always thought you were ginormous for your age, but actually you're just right.  Perfect in fact!  You weigh 20 lbs 4 oz (59th percentile) and are 29 inches long (77th percentile).  I'm so excited to see you lengthening out and watching the rolls of your leggies disappear one at a time.  I'm sure the crawling will slim you down even more by next month.
  • Your favorite trick is CLAPPING!  You clap for patty-cake, you clap for yourself when you've done a good job, you clap to get the attention of strangers (you're such a flirt), and you even clap on tv shows when you see the audience clapping.  You're such a little crack up!
  • You also learned to wave "Hi" and "Bye" this month.  Sometimes you'll keep your hands down by your side and give a little flutter in your wrist and other times you'll just go nuts and wave to whoever will look your way.
  • It seems like whenever we go out you flirt with everyone!  And of course they love to flirt right back.  All day long I hear "She's so cute!" or "Look at those blue eyes!"  But my favorite comment was from a lady at the grocery store the other week "She must look like her daddy."  Haha.  It's true my sweet, you look just like your daddy!
  • We put the Christmas tree up last week and I thought for sure with all the crawling and exploring you've been doing that you'd b-line straight for the tree and rip off all the ornaments.  But for some reason I think you are completely intimidated by it.  Good!  Let's keep it that way.
  •  I wish you were talking by now, or at least saying "mama" or "dada" but such is not the case.  I can tell you're almost there though because just today we were playing with your favorite little stuffed dog from Mimi and I kept saying over and over again "Dog, dog, dog..." and you would watch my mouth intently, as if to study the movements of my lips, and then without uttering a sound you would move your lips exactly like mine, as if you were whispering very quietly the word "dog."  I'm sure it's just a matter of time before you finally connect all the dots and belt it out like your cousin Sydney.
  • You are already starting to wear your 18 month clothes!  Say wha??? And I'm sure any day now you'll have outgrown your size 3 shoes.  I mean really, Blair?!  Can't you just stay little forever?  Please?
  • You are slowly but surely saying no to your baby food.  Seriously, you're so over mommy feeding you.  Take the other day at Chipotle for example: there we were enjoying our lunch.  Daddy eating his burrito, mommy a salad, and Blair a cup of black beans.  When you were done making a mess with your beans on the table, mommy tried to feed you some baby food.  Oh NO!  You slapped that food out of my hand so hard and let out a yelp that sent all the eyes in the restaurant our way.  Of course all we could do was laugh our heads off!
  • It's been a LONG road, but we've made it 11 months with nursing.  You have been so good to your mama and so patient as we figured everything out together.  Thank you for sticking with me through all the ups and downs.  It was the best/worst, easiest/hardest, relaxing/demanding, most convenient/inconvenient thing I've ever done. 
  • You looove food from the table.  Your favorites include blueberries, olives, green beans, and chicken.  And just last month for your daddy's birthday you tried a little filet mignon and LOVED it.  Obviously. 
  • You make the BEST faces! We've probably mentioned this several times before, but you really wear your emotions on your face.  The look that gets the most comments from people though is the one you pull ALL the time where you hollow your cheeks and open your mouth as if to say "Oooh!"  It's the CUTEST!  Makes me laugh every time!
  • I think you've finally given up on your afternoon nap, which means you're down to only one nap a day.  And that one nap is GREAT, so long as we're at home and there are no distractions.  Today you took an almost 3 hour nap!  It was unreal.  I even found myself passed out in my bed for 2 of those 3 hours.  When I woke up I was shocked to see you still sleeping.  We'll see if this is your new thing, or just a new thing that you'll switch up again next week.
  • You are still having trouble sleeping at night.  It's weird because some nights you'll sleep through the night just fine, no wake ups.  And other nights its like there's an alarm clock in your room, waking you up every 2 hours.  I really wish we could get to the bottom of what is going on.  I hate the whole cry-it-out thing, but it seems to work...if only for a few weeks.  We'll see how these next 4 weeks go.
I'm sure this list could go on and on and on.  Blair, your mommy and daddy feel so blessed to have your sweet spirit in our home.  You keep us on our toes with your early morning wake up calls and melt our hearts with your sweet kisses and warm hugs.  We could not love you more.  And that's the truth.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

{ RECIPE :: Healthy GFree Banana Oat Cookies }

I have a serious sweet tooth! So naturally staying away from sweets when you're trying to diet is sheer torture. So instead of saying no to treats, I cheat! No, not like that. I cheat my taste buds with healthier alternatives that satisfy the craving and still keep my diet on track. And when I found this recipe pinned on Pinterest I was so excited to try it.

Now, I'm not going to go claiming that these are the best "healthy" treats ever, but they are certainly a delicious alternative to all the high calorie junk I wish I could be putting in my mouth. Even my husband though they weren't half bad. "The chocolate helps to hide the healthy," he said. Haha! So true.

3 large, ripe bananas, mashed (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 – 7 ounces dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in the top third of the oven.

In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and vegetable oil. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond or oat flour, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips. The dough is a bit looser than a standard cookie dough, don’t worry about it. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size, an inch apart, onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet.  Bake for 12 – 14 minutes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

{ Dear Blair :: 10 Months Old }

Happy 10 Months to my baby girl Blair and happy Election Day to the rest of you out there! We decided to do a little patriotic attire for today's photo shoot since this day only happens once every 4 years. What a special day to turn 10 months! I can't believe all the growing and learning you've done in the past month and as I sit down to document it all, it blows my mind all over again. You are getting smarter and brighter with each day. Some mornings I wake up and think to myself...did you just do all the growing last night in your sleep? I swear, you are the biggest, brightest baby and I just love you to pieces!

  • At your last 9 month appointment you weighed in at almost 20 pounds (60th percentile) so I'm SURE you've passed that mark and are sailing right on up the charts now.  Every time I pick you up I feel like you've gained another ounce.  You are one SOLID and SQUISHY baby!
  • You can clap your hands now!  You play pat-a-cake, you give yourself a round of applause when you do something good, and sometimes you do it just to make us smile!
  • You still aren't crawling.  Go figure!  We practice each and everyday but still, nothing!  However, you are scooting pretty well on your bum and can get from one side of the carpet to the other with your own weird and tricky methods.
  • You still have just the 6 teeth!  Two on bottom and four on top.  Although trying to get you to show off those top teeth is a feat in and of itself.
  • You're still wearing some of your 6-12 months clothes, but mostly your 12-18 months.  It's making me so sad that my little baby is growing up so fast.  I love this stage so much and wish you would stay this little forever!
  • You babble and chat with yourself all day long.  The other day at the grocery store you were making this awful sound, kind of like a growl, and a lady came right up to me and said to your sweet little face "I heard you talking all the way over on aisle three!"  HAHA!
  • I look to take you shopping with me.  No matter where we go or what we're doing, everyone has to come over and tell you how cute you are and you usually egg them on with a bid toothy smile and some cute baby babble.
  • You're eating more and more solids these days.  Lately you've started eating whatever mommy and daddy are having for dinner: rice, beans, chicken, veggies.  Your favorite is hands down the carrots and potatoes from the crockpot.  When you're eating you crockpot veggies you have this look on your face like "Don't bug me, I'm eating!!!"  You are seriously the BEST eater!
  • Bath time is still yours and everyone else's favorite time of the day.  You're just so happy and playful and WOW do you make quite the mess.  Splish splash Blairski's takin' a bath!!!
  • You give KISSES now!  Big open mouth ones on command.  It's my favorite!  You don't give them out to just anyone though.  Mostly just mommy.  Good girl.  Save those kisses Blair!
  •  Recently you have been figuring out some of your more complex toys and know what to do with them, rather than just eat them and beat them to death on the ground.  Like your abacus!  You now know how to swirl the beads and things through the maze and send them from one side of the toy to the other.  Such a little smarty pants!
  • You love to sit in front of your dresser or diaper bag or your basket of toys and completely unload them all.  Maybe one of these days we'll be able to teach you how to put them all back in when you're done.
  • For your first Halloween you were a butterfly.  And the MOST beautiful butterfly I've ever seen.
  • And now we're off to the happiest place on earth with your friends today to celebrate!  Disneyland here we come...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

{ RECIPE :: Quinoa, Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew }

Fall is finally here!  It's the most beautiful, drizzly, overcast day here and I just polished off whatever was left of this incredible Quinoa, Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew.  I originally made it for a crock pot night at church so this dish has really gone a long way!  It fed my husband and I dinner, was sampled by about 10-15 people, then served as leftovers to my mom and myself while we busily worked on wedding flowers yesterday and then today I finally polished off the last little bit.  And to be perfectly honest, I'm a little sad there's not more.  Guess I'll need to make it again this week!

1 T minced onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 1/2 cups cooked chopped chicken
2 14 1/2 oz. cans chicken broth
1 T chili powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 16 oz. cans red kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes with garlic and olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Saute fresh onion and garlic in pan. Mix all ingredients together in crock pot and cook on high for about 8 hours.
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