Category Archives: Little Momma

Tiny Wonder- A Birth Story

May 2, 2015

It has taken me 9 months to share this story, though it is perfectly ingrained in my mind.  For so long, it has still been too much; too overwhelming to relive in detail and in word…too raw, too
intimate.  But today, today feels like the day because you looked at me and said “mama”.  At 9 months, my tiny wonder has all but caught up, and my heart can finally forgive myself and my body for its misgivings.  And so, here is the story of the grand arrival of one tiny wonder.

(first, a little back story…)
My husband and I were told we would have a long and difficult road ahead of us to have
children.  I have a chronic disorder, which impacted our chances.  We had gone through all of the genetic testing, talked to my team of specialists, and had been TTC for nearly a year.  All signs pointed to 3 years, lots of tears, and lots of treatments and interventions.  We were prepared for that.  It was a difficult road, but we were mentally ready to take those steps to start our family.  Until, we didn’t have to… and those 2 little pink lines.. followed by 2 more little pink lines (just to be sure!) showed up and changed our course in the best way imaginable.  The pregnancy itself was pretty straightforward, and we had no real issues until week 29 when I received the unfortunate news that I had gestational diabetes, and would need to take 4 shots of insulin each day… and give up the waffles and nutella for breakfast. (In retrospect, I probably should have given those up, regardless!)  Still- no real concerns, which made everything that follows, all that more surprising.

On Friday, July 25th, 2014, we drove up to my in-law’s house.  My husband and I were so excited because the next day was our baby shower to celebrate the upcoming arrival of our baby boy that was due in September.  My sister in law, Paige, was having the party at her house.

Saturday arrived and it was party time!  So many people came to shower us with love.  “Aunt D” even brought brand new baby Vera.  Paige had decorated beautifully- fresh flowers, pom-poms, paper lanterns, and stars…even a special banner with rocket ships to match Henry’s room.  It was so pretty and so special.  She even pulled out my mother’s rocking chair as the seat of honor.  (A huge deal, since my mother passed away several years ago)  My mother in law made an incredible diaper cake, and we had a photographer there to capture all of the
moments.  (Little  did I know how thankful I would be for those shots!)  That night, we came back to my in-law’s to relax.  When we went to bed, everything was normal.  I woke up at
about 1:30am with a coughing fit, and we moved to the bedroom upstairs.  I was a tiny bit uncomfortable, but just figured that the baby was in a funny spot, so back to bed I went!

When I woke up at 5:30am, I knew something was off.  There was a bit more pain, and a bit of pink sent me tailspinning with near hysteria.  I was so scared that my peanut was in trouble and not okay.  DH was a rock star- he called my OB and we decided we should go to the hospital just to be safe.  I cried and prated the whole way there;  prayed my baby would  be alright, and that Jesus would hold us safely in his hands.

When we got to the Reading Hospital, we were whisked into a room to get checked out.  “Breathe” I remember telling myself.  “It’s probably nothing… just first time mom jitters.”

WRONG- THIS WAS MAJOR!!!

We got checked out and I heard the terrifying words, “You are at 4cm and are contracting.  This is active labor- you’re going upstairs to delivery.”

I’d like to say that I had an eloquent moment of grace and serenity upon hearing these words and accepting my reality, however, it wasn’t quite so serene.  As it turns out, my first words in
response were “oh, shit!” followed by a flood of tears.  That’s more my style in moments of extremely scary and surprising news.  Anyway, there were lots of tears.  Tears because it was too soon, tears because neither of us could possibly be ready for this, and tears because my sweet baby was so small and so fragile.  I was terrified that we would lose him, despite every monitor showing that he was perfectly fine and not in any distress.

Once more, we were whisked to another room, and I was given LOTS of medication to help thing and to try and slow things down.  I refused an epidural.  That first hour or so is a bit of a blur, but family arrived and we met with more of the doctors.  By that time, I had progressed to 7cm.  Not good.  We thought for sure that our little one was determined to arrive that morning, but
everything finally slowed down a bit, and I was able to breathe for the first time all morning.  That is, until they told us that we wouldn’t be leaving without a baby…however long that might be.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were a waiting game.  Our peanut would decide it was time to arrive, and then would change his mind.  I would have about an hour or two of strong, active contractions that would then fade out to nothing.  I was on bed rest, and for the first 36 hours, wasn’t allowed to eat.  It wasn’t very pleasant.  My room was a revolving door of doctors, nurses, social workers, visitors, and NICU staff that tried to prepare us for the worst…while showing as much optimism as they could muster.  I prayed for my sweet boy constantly.  I prayed he;d be okay, that he would be big and strong, and that we wouldn’t lose him.  I prayed that he’d come out breathing and crying.  I prayed that I’d be strong enough to face whatever challenges were ahead of us.

Finally on Tuesday evening, I was allowed to shower, and well, that set things quickly into motion.  I would have one contraction that wouldn’t be so bad, and then it would be followed by others that would make me want to cry.  Sometimes one would come on so strong that they would stress out the baby.  One in particular was horrific and caused his heart rate to drop.  All at once, 10 people flooded the room, rolled me over, gave me oxygen, and began to prep a table full of equipment.  It was completely terrifying, but short-lived.  Still, I refused the epidural.  “I got this far without it- I don’t want it.”… DH took my hand and asked why I was refusing.  “I’m afraid of what it could possibly do to him”, I confessed. “He’s just so little… I don’t want to hurt  him.”  And that was the end of the discussion. No epidural.

Around 9am, it was about time to get ready for the big arrival.  I was scared.  Dr. Yerram (not my doctor or even CLOSE to my favorite person) broke the last of my water and had me do a
practice push.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I hadn’t been to classes yet, I’d never done this
before, and everything just seemed foreign.  It was discouraging, and the doctor’s approach made me feel weak, incompetent, and like I was failing as a mother already.  It is hard to push when you don’t know how- it is even harder when you are afraid of what it could do.  I was afraid it would hurt my tiny baby if I pushed too hard.  What if I pushed and dislocated his tiny arm or shoulder?  What if I pushed and broke his nose?  What if he went into distress and was stuck and we couldn’t get him out in time?  My mind was racing.

Somehow it finally all blurred together…her nagging, the nurses, the 10 other people in the room, my fears… everything blurred until all I could hear were the words of encouragement from my husband, the pounding of my heart, and one clear thought: “Get my baby boy here.”

Out he came at 10:55am on Wednesday, July 30th, 2014.  They brought him to me for a brief
moment before rushing him off to the NICU, and he was absolutely perfect.  4 pounds, 8 ounces of pure miracle.  He wailed right away (much to my relief) and opened one tiny eye to peek at me.  And in that moment when his tiny face met mine, I knew life would never be the same ever again.  He was here, he was mine, he was perfect, and he was okay.  He was okay.  Thank God, he was okay.

I didn’t get to hold my tiny wonder until the next day, which was extremely hard to wait for.  I needed him with me- needed his little heart by mine, so he’d know that I was his momma and that he was safe for now and for always.  Sue, (one of our amazing NICU nurses) handed him to me for the very first time, and he cuddled right on in.  It was as though his little body said “oh, there you are…I’ve been expecting you.”  And it was love…big, fat, miraculous love.

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Rocky Road Brownies- Bonus!

July 4, 2014

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Who doesn’t love a brownie?  I have such amazing memories of my sweet Gramma Buffy’s brownies being at every holiday growing up, and while I can never fully replicate her delicious bites of gold, I’ve taken a stab at a new favorite for our get togethers.  Best of all- it starts with a box!  Brownies, marshmallows, chocolate chunks, and peanuts… in about 30 minutes.  Kids, dessert doesn’t get easier than this…

1. Start off with your favorite boxed brownie mix, and prepare as directed.
2.  Bake as directed, minus 3 to 5 minutes of cook time. (set timer.)
3.  Top mostly cooked brownies with mini marshmallows, chocolate chunks, and peanuts.
4. Return to oven for the remaining 3-5 minutes.
5. Enjoy gooey, delicious, sweet, and salty Rocky Road Brownies.

Summer Salmon Salad

June 23, 2014

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This weekend summer officially started- school let out, the days stretch out with endless opportunities, and the sunsets even seem to sigh with relief.  It’s in these lazy days where I find myself wanting meals that are bright and fresh.  I find this to be especially true this year, since I’m trying to eat healthy and nutritious for bambino and myself!

So this weekend, I whipped up a Summer Salmon Salad.  Super easy and super delicious.

2 Salmon Filets
2 TBSP Applewood BBQ Sauce
Mixed Baby Greens, Organic and well rinsed.
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, diced
1 cup corn (drained if canned, thawed if frozen)
Your favorite salad dressing- for this, I like sesame Asian.  Kevin likes to just add more barbeque sauce.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and on a foil lined baking sheet, brush 1 tbsp of barbeque sauce on each salmon filet.  Let them cook for 15-20 minutes.
(Sometimes, I make this step easier and buy Sea Cuisine’s Applewood Smoked Salmon.)
And if you visit their website, you can get a coupon!  http://www.seacuisine.com/coupon/

In the meantime, saute up your 1 can of corn in a skillet over medium heat.  I usually start this when there’s about 8 to 10 minutes left on the salmon, tossing occasionally so they don’t burn.
In the last few minutes, slice your tomatoes and your avocado.

When the salmon is finished, flake it up with a fork.  Assemble your salad, and you’re good to go!

What are some of your favorite summer salads?

 

Parmesan Chicken with Linguine in a Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce

June 6, 2014

IMG_0894 Wow- that’s a long title, but it really says it all… golden brown crusted chicken, bright bursts of flavor from sun-dried tomatoes, and a luscious cream sauce.  Best of all, it’s on the table in about 40 minutes start to finish.  If I can make this on a crazy Monday after work, I know you can too!  Go on, impress your family, or save it and really impress some weekend dinner guests!

Starting off with the chicken, create a breading station.IMG_0885  I use paper plates for easy clean up!  In one plate, you’ll need some flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  In the second, crack and whip up an egg.  In the third, combine equal parts bread crumbs with grated Parmesan cheese.  If you have massive chicken breasts, like mine were, go ahead and pound them out a bit- they’ll cook quicker and more evenly.  Then just move your chicken through the breading station, starting with flour, and ending at the bread crumb mix.    IMG_0889Once breaded, pop them into a hot skillet that’s been coated with a swirl of olive oil.  Brown the chicken about 3 minutes on each side. (Note: the second side usually takes a bit less time because the oil is hot and sizzling!)    Transfer to a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

About halfway through the cook time of the chicken, you can start your sauce.

Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 pint heavy cream
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp italian herb paste (usually found in your grocer’s produce section- it’s in a tube)
1 cup grated Parmesan/ Asiago cheese blend
2 cups chopped baby spinach
1 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Start with 2 tbsp butter.  Melt over medium low heat, and once melted, stir in 2 tbsp of flour. Slowly stir in 1/2 of the pint of heavy cream, along with 1 tbsp minced garlic, 2 tbsp tomato paste, and 2 tbsp italian herb paste.  Stir over low heat, gradually increasing to medium heat.  Add in 1 cup of the Asiago/ Parmesan cheese blend, 2 cups of baby spinach, and 1 cup of julienned sun-dried tomatoes.  Continue to stir occassionally, adding the remaining 1/2 pint of heavy cream bit by bit.  If sauce seems thin, add a smidge more cheese.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and reduce heat to low.  Stir occasionally and continue to simmer on low until chicken is finished cooking.

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For this recipe, I used Bertolli’s fresh linguine found in my grocer’s deli department, but you can use any pasta that you like!  I served it up with the bed of pasta, topped with cream sauce, and then topped with sauced chicken on top of that.  I was really longing for a nice glass of white wine to go along with it, but lemonade was on the menu for me!  If you make this- have  it with the wine for me!
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Enjoy!
J

**Disclaimer: This meal is by no means healthy…but it is healthy for your soul, so eat up in moderation!**

 

Caribbean Citrus Porkchops

June 1, 2014

Caribbean Citrus Pork

It’s been quite a while since a post!  New blog style- new blog web address- Same old me.
A lot has happened over the past few months though!!

Mainly, this Twice Around the Pan lady has got A BUN IN THE OVEN!  After spending much of the first trimester out of my kitchen, I am SO happy to be back in the swing of things.  Not to mention, happy to have the ENERGY to actually cook and write about it!

So, without further delay, the first REAL post on this new beauty of a site:

Caribbean Citrus Pork Chops!

In our house, we eat quite a bit of pork. One- because it’s pretty cost effective at our stores (especially in the big family packs- can you say, Hello Freezer?!) and two- because it’s a versatile canvas for many a meal.  Even so, darling husband and I tend to fall back on a few routine chops that we keep in rotation.  And that’s great, except when it’s not…. and it’s not… when I am bored.  So, what’s a girl to do? I pondered my predicament while mindlessly watching “Caribbean Life” on HGTV, and that’s when it hit me.  We needed a summery, bright take on pork chops tonight!  Into the kitchen I went, opened up the pantry, opened up the fridge, and went about creating something new.

The result?  A bright, vibrant, budget friendly meal that’s on the table in 20 minutes.  That is SURE to get your steel drums playing!

Pork Marinade
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup peach mango juice

Coat both sides of the pork chops in the marinade.  Honestly, I threw them in there for about 2 minutes, and the flavor came through just fine.  If you have more time than that, by all means…
Once coated, I seared both sides in a super hot skillet to get a little color on the chops, then transferred them to a 425 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  My chops took about 18 this go around.

While they were cooking, I mixed up a citrus salsa for on top:
1 small can of crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup diced mango
1/4 red onion, diced

Saute together with salt, pepper, a smidge of oil, and some fresh chopped cilantro.

Once the chops came out, each one was topped with a generous heap of the warmed citrus salsa.  I served it up with some simple couscous, but next time, I think I might try these Caribbean baked beans :

http://www.food.com/recipe/caribbean-baked-beans-92462

Until next time…
Jenny

 

Homestyle Mac N’ Cheese

March 9, 2014


Not much brings me comfort quite like my mummy’s mac n’ cheese.  Whenever I’d be feeling a little down, or the day had been too rough, it was always there- a warm hug on a plate, letting me know that everything would be just fine. 

These days, I only eat mummy’s mac when I need the big guns- those times when I need to feel her hug, even though she’s passed on.  I’m a firm believer that a good part of her lives on through her food, and there are times, when only that creamy mac n’ cheese will fix what ails me.

BUT, when it’s a Tuesday, and I need some mac for next to no reason at all, I turn to my mac n’ cheese makeover.  Half the calories, a quarter of the fat and four times the fiber.  NONE of the guilt. ALL of the satisfaction. 

Homestyle Mac N Cheese
6 tbsp unsalted butter (go ahead, use the butter)
6 tbsp flour
1/2 lb whole grain elbow macaroni
3 cups fat free milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 1/2 cups low fat shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter or spray a 2 quart baking dish.
Boil pasta- about 7 to 10 minutes

Melt butter in a 3 qt saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occassionally.  Slowly add flour and stir continuously, being sure not to brown.  Cook for 3 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, and paprika.  Slowly stir in 3 cups of milk and continue to cook for 3 to 5 more minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in 2 and 1/2 cups of shredded cheese.  Add pasta, stir, and pour into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs and a bit of extra cheddar cheese.  Bake @ 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. 

**Tip- if your baking dish seems full, place it on a cookie sheet prior to placing into the oven.  This will catch any sauce that may bubble over. **

Nutrition Comparison

Mum’s and most others per serving: 570 calories, 32g fat, 67 g carbs, 1.8g fiber

Mine per serving: 235 calories, 8 g fat, 28 g carbs, 8 g fiber