Thursday, March 31, 2011

This Isn't A Food Blog

I swear.  It really isn't.  But I really like food... And I like to blog... So the things kind of go hand in hand.

This morning, I dropped the kids off at my in-laws for their weekly visit.  The kids LOVE this visit.  When I say "Let's go to Uita and Grandpa's!", immediately, they both start "talking".  Maya says "shoes! shoes!" and Bobby walks to the coat closet.  I take out shoes and coats and they vie for who gets to sit in my lap first to get ready.  Today was no different.  I shoe and coat them, and get them in the car, promising that if they keep their shoes on, they can walk from the car to my in-laws' house.  This is for Bobby more than Maya, since she keeps her shoes on.  We get there and, of course, both kids have shoes on and I have to make good on my promise.  Did I mention it had drizzled and everything was wet?

I get Bobby out first and have perfected the art of keeping him inbetween the car and I while I get Maya out.  And then they are both down, one on each hand.  And we are, the three of us, walking down the walk to the front door.  It was a surreal moment and, I confess, I almost cried.  I mean, really, when they were born almost 19 months ago, so very early, this was something I had a hard time imagining.  And now, they are walking, dragging me by the hand, a second away of saying "Mom, let go- I'm too big to hold your hand."

When I left, I had planned to do my run first (instead of after cleaning).  I have my first (of four) childbirth education classes tonight (for my coursework) and have things to get ready.  I didnt want to feel hampered.  In order to get everything done, I actually stripped beds on Monday, dusted bedrooms on Tuesday, and made sure to scrub counters last night.  I didnt love fitting the extra into already busy days, but I would have loved not being able to run or get my stuff together for tonight even less.  So, I drove to a park I ran through in the beginning of my running, a year ago... A path that was SO hard.  And, it wasnt so hard today.  Funny how that works...

I did a 5 mile (at a 5mph pace).  And, I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I've fallen into an elevated category of runners....  I peed on myself.  I know.  I cant believe I'm actually typing that.  But it happened.  At first, it was this little "oops!" and then, I'm like "DAMMIT!  I actually have peed a little bit!"  But, I channeled Sarah who would have said something (I'm sure) like "Hey, it's raining and you've already peed... Finish your run."  So I did.  Wet pants and all.  I know... I'm embarrassed... But it's true.  You cant make stuff like this up.  Of course, getting in the car, I sat on my (waterproof) running jacket... just in case my body had more surprises in store (which it didnt).

After my shower and lunch, I cleaned a little, but my heart wasnt into it.  (Maybe the whole peed-on-self thing, I dont know...) I wanted to bake.  But I wanted it to be sort of healthy... Like peanut butter cookies!  Wait... Peter doesnt like peanut butter cookies...  So, a lightbulb moment.  What about chocolate hazelnut cookies!  You know... chocolate hazelnut... Nutella... Mmmm...  I looked around at several different recipes online and finally found one that I could easily modify.

These bad boys come in at only 50 calories a pop.  And they are 50 deliciously worth it calories.  You only put a little bit of "dough" but it expands to become a large, thin cookie.  SO.GOOD.  Seriously.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
4oz snack cup (111g) unsweetened applesauce
1/2c splenda
1/2c brown sugar
1 egg
1/2c Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp vanilla
1/2c plus 1/8c all purpose flour
1/4c plus 1/8c whole wheat flour

Mix all the ingredients together.  Using a tablespoon, spoon out egg shaped dollops onto a cookie sheet sprayed with no-cal spray.  Bake at 325 degrees for 9 minutes.  

I know it is hard, but let them cool for 1 minute before devouring them.  Really... They are worth it.  They are thinner cookies and are a pain to get off the cookie sheet, but it doesnt matter.  They are out of this world!!  Really... They are that good.  (36 cookies/50c each)

(want a modification?  for the flour, do 1/3c each of regular AP, whole wheat, and hazelnut and omit the vanilla.  ups to calories for 52c per cookie (36 cookies).  Totally delicious!!)

Peter's going to be happy when he gets home.  In answer to his "are there snacks???" question (because, he's obviously starving away and I never, ever send him to work with lunch AND snacks...), I can say "Actually, there are... But you wouldnt like them." And, while I smile, he'll grab the cookie tin from my hand and rip into them and say... "DELICIOUS!!!" or some variation thereof... At least, he'd better say something like that!

But, it isnt a food blog... I swear... Just a blog by someone who loves food... L.O.V.E.S. it...

(And, in happy news, I've broken the 180 barrier... This morning, the scale read 179.5!  Only 9.5 pounds until my goal of Peter's weight!!)

Working It Out

An old friend asked me the other day if I thought that my grief had worked itself out, since I was "back to normal".  It always strikes me off guard when I see the way that we, as a society, view grief.  That it is something work out... That it goes away... That our happiness or our "normalcy" is some sort of sign that we are all better.  She was asking for legitimate reasons; she's lost a child to miscarriage and wants to know if, someday, she'll be better... If her grief will pass...  That people will one day stop telling her to "get over it" because she will have.

Facebook is only good for so much; I'd love to reach out and give her a hug and tell her that, just over the horizon, her grief will be gone and she will be her old self.  But the truth is, she won't be.  That person is gone.  She has been changed.  She gets the choice of whether that is for better or for worse.  I look at this girl... This pre-1st miscarriage girl, who was still a newlywed in love, and so happy, in spite of anything else.
In 1998, when these pictures were taken, I was between 150-165, weight wise.  I was a freshman in college and, I'm sure, didn't eat well.  This was pre-miscarriages, pre-dealing with infertility, pre-autoimmine and PCOS issues.  I was happy, but I was so naive.  I was barely 18 years old and, although I thought I'd lived (and while, in a lot of ways, I had), I had no idea what life had in store.

And then, I look at this woman...  
This woman who was struggling with infertility and one miscarriage.  Who thought that that worst thing life could throw at her was what she had already overcome.  I was 24 and weighed about 220 by this point.  It's crazy to think that, now, although I can see the fullness through the face... The tired smile that was still hopeful.

She moves into this woman.
I was 28... 3 miscarriages under my belt, 3 dead babies taken from my arms.  240 pounds.  Smiling because I was told too... Smiling when I didnt want to...  A smile that didnt quite go all the way up to the eyes.

And she's become this woman.
The me of today (well, of Sunday, actually).  180 pounds of me.  30 years old.  A woman who is grateful for the life she has carried and is defined by their lives instead of their deaths... Who carries them all in her heart- a heart that is full and mended together through their love.  The scars remain- they always will.  They will always be just below the surface, ready to ache when the climate dictates.  But, they are scars.  

This woman smiles again- and means it.  This woman has rediscovered joy- and realized that it was never truly gone, just hidden beneath layers of cold, worn hurt.  This woman has found acceptance in the fact that she will never know why, but will know that...  That these children chose me to be their mother; that I was given the blessing of having them grow inside me even if but for a moment; that I will always be theirs and they will always be mine; that one day, I will be reunited with them in that Great Divide where the souls of those we love wait for us.

I like her better, I think...  
The knowing... The understanding... The life.

Do we one day work it out?  Does the grief go away?  Will she be back to normal?  As I shook my head, I typed into the chat window.  "No, you never are that person again.  You're a mother now.  You have a new normal, and, one day, that grief will become a part of you and you will smile again."

And she will... We all will.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Because I'm kind of anal (and have the mind of an 18 month old and cant remember anything), I keep pretty detailed lists about things...  Lists about what the kids are doing at their quarter ages so that I can answer questions from their doctor...  A "patient information sheet" for myself.  I actually got the idea from my in-laws, who have one for each of them by their front door, in the event there is an emergency and the EMTs need to know something NOW.  I hadn't updated mine since Alexander was born and died (so, I'm that that organized).  But, since I have my midwifery appointment this afternoon, I decided that I'd better update it, since she's bound to ask some questions since I havent seen her since December of 2007!

There was the new address... new insurance... easy, easy.  Then, came the section of medications.  Talk about a change!  That section went from 9 lines to 3!  (daily vitamin, vitamin d, and synthroid for my Hashimoto's).  Wow!  And then... "Pregnancy History"...

Once I was finished updating that section, it was quite a shock.  7.... 7 pregnancies.
(this is abbreviated but, you get the idea...)
#1... spontaneous conception...miscarriage...
#2... FSH injections... twins... live births... died... pPROM... IC...
#3... miscarriage...
#4...FSH birth...pPROM... placental abruption... IC...
#6...FSH injections...twins...16w births...27w5d...emergency c-section...mastitis
#7...spontaneous conception...miscarriage...

7 pregnancies... 9 babies... 2 living children...

I know this all, of course, but seeing it in black and white... It really gives the cold, hard fact that my body is shitty when it comes to getting, staying, and being pregnant.

And that really sucks.

18 Month Check-Up

The kids had their check-up last night and got their final Prevnar booster.  (Why Prevnar?  Due to Maya's lungs not inflating 100% at birth, we opted to vaccinate against pneumonia.)  Our peditrician said that they are doing great and, once again, show no signs of prematurity.  YAY!!!

I was updating their babybooks, and watching their weight/height checks over the last 18 months is amazing!

Bobby's Weight & Height
9/09: 2lbs12.7oz; 15"
10/09: 3lbs8oz
11/09: 8lbs2oz
12/09: 9lbs8oz
1/10: 12lbs1oz; 22.25"
2/10: 14lbs
3/10: 15lbs8oz; 24"
6/10: 20lbs; 28.25"
9/10: 23lbs10oz; 31"
12/10: 27lbs; 33.75"
3/11: 28.2lbs; 35"

Maya's Weight & Height
9/09: 2lbs5oz; 14.25"
10/09: 3lbs
11/09: 6lbs2oz
12/09: 6lbs12oz
1/10: 8lbs4oz; 20.5"
2/10: 9lbs11oz
3/10:  11lbs4oz; 22"
6/10: 15lbs; 24.75"
9/10: 16lbs10oz; 27"
12/10: 19lbs; 29"
3/11: 20.2lbs; 30"

Not only does it amaze me to see where they were, but also to see just how different they are!   Just so it doesnt get lost, here were yesterday's stats:
Height: 35"
Weight: 28.2 lbs
Head Circ: 20"
Height: 30"
Weight: 20.2 lbs
Head Circ: 18.5"

They werent too happy about their Prevnar injection (which means, in turn, I was on the verge of tears...) but were very happy when we took them out to dinner afterwards.    They actually slept really well (so we did, too!), which I didn't expect.  Usually, after shots, they are pretty unhappy during the night.  This morning, they did have a red, splotchy rash on their face (rash is one of the side effects) but, it has almost entirely cleared now.  I want to say this happened after the last Prevnar shot too, but I dont remember.

This afternoon, I have my annual with my midwife, who I haven't seen since I was pregnant with Nicholas and Sophia... since I switched pregnancy care to Dr. B.  We've emailed and I've kept up with her on FB, but it will be lovely to see her in person.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Alternate Universe

As I held Maya tonight, my eyes closed.  I was so tired and she was snuggly and warm.  I was awake but my mind began to wander...

A bridal suite in an old, stone church.  Two girls, in their mid-late twenties.
One, the bride, strawberry blonde hair hidden by her tea length veil, her simple ivory wedding dress cascading to the floor, bell sleeves draped over slender arms. The other, slightly taller, darker ringlets cascade down her shoulders, covering her open back, the deep gemstone dress capturing the light.  They laugh, knowingly, softly.  "It's time, Mei..." the dark haired one says.  MeiMei...Little Sister...  "I love you, Soph," the other whispers.

They pick up bouquets and walk beyond a wooden door, and into the light, shining through the simple glass windows of the old hallowed space.
First, the garnet dress glides down the aisle, and then the ivory, wrapped around the arm of her father, whose hair is a bit more speckled with gray.  There are men at the end and I instantly recognize three of the ushers.  One, looks like his father, only slightly shorter; the second, with the build of a soccer player and icy blue eyes that are melted by the sight of his sister; the third, tall and solid, with arms that look like they may burst through the tuxedo he's been painted into like the incredible hulk.  "No one would know they were twins," the woman next to me leans.

Her father- their father- walks this baby girl who has grown into a woman, down a rose strewn path and, as she gives herself in marriage to a nameless, faceless man, she hands her flowers to the sister who has been beside her from the start and stands to witness this joining.   Her father kisses her cheek and takes his place in the pew, next to her mother... Next to me.

I look down at the invitation in my hand.  The honour of your presence is requested at the marriage of our daughter, Maya Eirene... Saturday, March 29, 20... 

And I wake up, the smell of flowers all that linger and a tired baby girl in my arms

Here We Are... Again...and Again

(This was originally posted in 2010, but it still rings true... So very true...)

It's amazing how quickly time moves.  A moment ago, we were watching Nicholas and Sophia on the ultrasound in Dr. Lee's office for the first time.  But that was two and a half years ago (now 3.5 years ago)...  And, two years (now 3 years) ago today, many of our family and friends said "hello" and "good-bye" to them, all at once.

Having their Memorial Mass six weeks after they were born and passed was such a blessing because it enabled our loved ones, separated by distance, an opportunity to make the service.  At what could have been a crushingly lonely time, we were surrounded by the people who had made our lives what they are, who have always loved and supported us.  I'll never forget the feeling I had of walking out of the church and seeing my grandmother, surrounded by my cousins and (great) Aunts, walking towards the entrance.  I hadn't known they'd been able to make it.  They'd driven from Nashville...  To celebrate with us.  To remember.  To mourn.

I remember Terri, who didnt miss a beat when my email giving the details of the service was sent, responding immediately that she would be there.  She, who had a child not yet a year old and another in pre-school. 

Peter's uncle and godfather...  Family and dear friends who drove all morning from Vermont.  Family and friends from throughout New England and the Midatlantic regions... 

We were surrounded by our church, local friends and coworkers- a family that had celebrated our long awaited pregnancy with us and were devastated alongside us.  Godparents who read readings about life again instead of holding babies for their baptisms...  Friends who gave prayers while steadying their shaking voices...  A receiving line that lasted longer than the Mass because so many people came...  People we hadnt seen in years, people we'd seen moments before...

Back at our house, women I've known for what has felt like my lifetime joined in aside new friends and kept everything running smoothly.  Food trays were taken out and refreshed, drinks were topped off, everyone was made sure to have a plate.  Photo albums were looked at...  The line to see Nick and Sophie's book stretched beyond the one for lunch.  People commented on him having Peter's nose or her having my smile.  People saw them...  Really saw them...  And, what was more, they wanted to. 

So often, I am saddened by hearing about the responses of their family and friends to the death of their child.  The grief is expected to fade away, names are left unmentioned, children are forgotten by silence.  While we have had moments where Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander have been left out, remembering their services, where so many came to remember them and to be a part of our lives with them and after them...  Even now, when it is cold and I feel their absence so deeply, I am warmed by the memory of all who loved them so much.

There's one memory that still causes me to smile every time I remember.  In the center isle of the church, there was a table that held their marble box and a picture of Nicholas and a picture of Sophia.  As people walked up for Communion, the daughter of one of our friends reached out and stroked each picture while whispering to her mother, "Baby..."  Her mom simply replied, kissing her head, "Yes, babies..."  I still get choked up just thinking about it.

Monday, March 28, 2011


For those from our parish: Have you written a letter in support of our pastor yet?  Get out your pen and paper and write, write, write!  Let the administrators of our Archdiocese know that THEIR failure to act is NOT an indictment of priests who actually take their vows seriously!  We all make bad decisions- we're all sinners- but priests who have done their best to live up to the vows they took should not be thrown under the bus because our administration failed us.  

Write, Write, Write!!!  Let the Archdiocese know that you are mad!  Support our pastor in his fight against this mistreatment of innocent priests.

Cardinal Rigali 
His Eminence Cardinal Justin Rigali
222 North 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1299
His secretary is Fr. Brian Hennessy, former Parochial Vicar at SMG

Bishop Daniel Thomas 
Office of the Auxiliary Bishop
222 North 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103 

Msgr. Daniel Sullivan 
Convent of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
515 Montgomery Avenue,
Merion Station, PA 19066-1297

Let's storm the c.


I have my first prospective MHB client!

As I'd mentioned, my plan was to work on an as needed basis, responding to parents who are either miscarrying or delivering a child that they, most likely, will not bring home with them.  At a later date, when the kids are older, I planned to full expand MHB to labor doula, prenatal yoga, and childbirth education services.  But not today... Not yet...

But, I had an opportunity to send business cards to a birth fair... so I did... and, on Saturday, a mother called me to inquire about doula services.  She lost her first son to SIDS and her next pregnancy to early miscarriage.  Although she has living children, this time around, she's decided to seek out labor support... and she called me!  We talked for a half hour, and this morning, I mailed out my first information packet.  I'm pretty nervous, but I'm totally psyched!  She'd be due in the summer, which gives me time to finish up my coursework for my doula certification and would leave me in the stage of needing births (which, now that I'm thinking of it, any pregnant bloggers out there- IF or loss mamas- who are birthing summer-winter and are interested in helping a doula out?  I'm required several birth attendances for certification and will be looking for clients to make my cert.  You'd be required to evaluate me post your birth; I can provide you with the short form and a postage paid envelope to the school.)

But anyway... So, wow....  I cant believe that this opportunity has presented.  I know that it could go either way: she could decide to not use a doula or to use someone else, but the fact that she called really made me think that yes, there is a need for services for parents who are pregnant-after-a-loss.  It's not just about supporting moms through their losses, because loss colors our lives forever; support afterwards is important to.  So, while it moves up my timeline a bit, I feel like it is the right decision.

I guess I'd better print up more of my information, LOL!  Thank goodness for Peter, who took the time before work to print up the forms I'd prepared (but didnt have copies of!).  I guess I'd better start keeping my expense sheets for tax purposes too!  A lot to think about!

My coursework is going well; I'm actually getting through it quicker than I'd thought, although I'm not surprised.  I've always loved school and education; this has been simply re-evaluating what I do with my "free" time.

I've got the mind of an 18 month old.  Sometimes it's like having 3 toddlers in this house!  I completely forgot that I was supposed to go with a friend and pray outside an abortion clinic today! UGH!!!  She was a dear and called and told me not to worry with taking the kids out since it is so cold, and that she will go.  But I felt terrible!   I helped organize the schedule!  EEK... So, the kids and I will be praying our rosary at home, while she and her (teenage) kids are outside in the cold. :(  Bobby and Maya have their own rosaries and it's so adorable to see them with them.  They are chunky and large, which is perfect for little hands.
Maya knows the sign for "Jesus" and, whenever we go to church she starts saying "Je-Je-Je" and making the sign.  If I dont take her to an icon or a statue, she will start screaming "JE! JE! JE!".  And, cute of all cutes, the other day, Bobby pointed to an icon of the Blessed Mother we have at home and said "Mama"!  How sweet!

I've decided that a lot of my weight issues the last 2 weeks are self-inflicted.  This last week, overall, I lost 1/2 a pound.  Which is fine- the week before, it was 0.  But when you think about the amount of activity I was doing (six days of exercise, including that 8.5 mile outing) and then look at my calorie intake (that day alone, my "net" was 995 but my total was well over 2000), it's not hard to see that I've done this to myself.  It's not that I need less than my 1700 calories per day- it's that I dont need more than that!  And I sure as hell dont need to do a good day only to blow it at night.  I've got a nasty habit of keeping in check and then going hogwild at night.  And this, even knowing that, if I'm going to go wild at any meal, it should be breakfast or lunch- not dinner!  I know that it is me... That I am self-sabotaging... That what I've been doing works- and works well- and that it is a healthy place for my life.  I need to get back there.  My motto of "today is a new day" is true.  Every day is a new chance to make better decisions.  My body and health speak for themselves.  I am no longer obese; I no longer have high blood pressure or high cholesterol; I have a normal cycle; my measurements are moving into more normal measurements for my body shape; I am no longer in a size 20, but am a size 8 (although those are only numbers); even though I still have belly fat, I can see and feel a huge difference since I started dedicating 3 hours a week to strength training; I have made these changes and AM healthier because of them.  That is the focus; that is the goal.  I just have to keep sight of that.  I cook well, I eat well, I just need to remember that, when I'm full, I'm done.  If my eyes have been hungrier than my belly, I have to listen to my belly.

Sometimes I forget that...  My poor belly has been telling me, but the last 2 weeks, I havent been listening too well.  I'm sorry, stomach.  I'm back on track now.  Really.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Mother's Heart

Many in the ALI community know Barb.  Like so many of us, she has endured the loss of children.  Her son, George, was born still in 2008; later, she lost her sweet Little Poppet at 8 weeks when a scan showed no heartbeat.  Sadly, she's also among the land of infertiles (as I put my infertile hat on) and hasn't been able to conceive again.  She's a trooper, a strong mama, a brave woman... and she's one of the most talented people this world has seen.  I have proof.

Barbara has turned her sorrow into art and has some lovely pieces at her Corinadr shop.  Recently, she'd put a piece she was working on up on her blog and I mentioned to Peter that I'd love to have one of her masterpieces.  So, we decided to email and ask if she'd be interested in a commissioned piece.  Because Barb is one of the nicest bloggers you'll ever correspond with, she got back to me right away and the ball started rolling.

I told her what I was hoping to have: a necklace pendant that symbolized all the life I've had the privileged of carrying, even if for but a day.  I wanted something for the 4 little ones that I never had a chance a hold, something different but similar for Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander, and then something like theirs but slightly different for Bobby and Maya.  My mother's ring records the lives of the children I've birthed, but it has weighed on me that I dont have anything that remembers them all.  It's not something I'd wear all the time, but I wanted something that I could wear special... That would hold them all... in my heart.

She's an artist and, almost instantly it seemed, sent me a sketch of what she was thinking.  It would be a fairly large pendent, but she could do it... It would be a challenge... harder than things she'd done... But she was willing to give it ago.

I never had any doubts.  I knew it would be perfect.  And when she emailed to tell me that it was being shipped from England to my door in the U.S.A., I was on pins and needles waiting... Two weeks later, it finally was here, through Customs, and in my hand.  Does it make me sound like I'm 3 instead of 30 if I tell you that I ripped into it?  Then, I must be 3.  I could barely get the babies out of my arms and playing before I opened the little package.

When I saw how gently it had been wrapped in tissue paper, blues and pinks...  When I saw the tags... The "made with love"... When I pulled it out and it was revealed.  It took my breath away.  I knew that I had to tell her I had received it, but no words would come.  I managed a quick "it's here" and explained that I was speechless...  After a short exchange, she realized it was because I was so overcome with emotion.  She had brought to life something that before I had no thought could possibly be.  She gave me something so special that nothing else tangible can come close to.

The outer heart represents my heart, my mother's heart, that holds all of my children deeply within.  The four small hearts at the bottom are for those sweet little hearts that never had a chance to beat outside of my womb: Peter, Dimitri, Zoe, and Grace.  The three larger, open hearts are for Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander, who live on forever even though their lives on the outside ended so soon after they were born.  And, their counter hearts, the 2 filled hearts, are for Bobby and Maya, who continue to amaze me every second of every day.

I wore it today and I can only express that it was a deeply moving experience, being able to have a piece that was so unique and so full of love.

For a close up and to get an idea of the size...

Thank you, Barbara... From the very depths of my soul, thank you.  Every time I wear this, I wont only think of my babies, but of yours too... Of sweet George and sweet Little Poppet... Of their mother, who with such love and care, crafted from silver the hearts of my babies within my own...  Thank you... Thank you... Thank you...

Visit Barbara's blog to read her story or her store to find a piece that speaks to your soul 

Without Words

No words really describe this except to say that this is my favorite picture of the day...


I hate leftovers. Like, really, really hate them.  It probably comes from the whole "waste not, want not" mentality that my mom had of food... If we had it, then we ate it.  And, when there isnt a lot of money to waste, that is what you do.  I didnt realize it so much then (I just hated the idea of eating the same thing over- with a few exceptions), but I do now.  With one income, two kids who have decided they should eat like teenagers now, and a husband who enjoys his meals, we need to eat what we have.  Sarah usually raids the fridge right before I'm about to toss stuff, so at least too much food doesnt go to waste, LOL.  But still...It happens, and I realize that I need to find a solution and not just toss food that could have been eaten.

Some things, of course, cant have a new life.  But it is amazing all the things that can!

Last night, we had a lovely family dinner with Peter's parents, Sarah, and us, and I made peppercorn marinated pork tenderloin, olive oil & garlic couscous, salad, snowflake potato rolls, and asparagus.  With the exception of the salad, there were leftovers of everything.  Rather than let that food go to waste, though, today has been a day of makeovers!

This morning started with my delicious spin on an old Vegetarian Times recipe (my version follows at the end of this post): asparagus & cheese soufflé .  Quite a happy breakfast!  It did mean that we didnt make the 9:30 Mass and did the 10am one at our local parish instead, but it was well worth it (especially since the homily was awesome).  For lunch, I made a pork & asparagus salad with raspberry vinaigrette.  You wouldnt know it was only 250 calories; it was extremely filling.  Simply tossed some sliced pork and diced asparagus over a bed of baby greens that had been sprinkled with julienned carrots and a few tomato wedges.  Drizzled some vinaigrette and voilà!

Of course, couscous... What to do with that couscous...  I decided to use it to make a spin on tabouli.  I tossed in some diced or julienned veggies (including the remaining asparagus), diced up the remaining few ounces of pork, added some of the delicious sundried tomato and seasoned feta I get at Whole Foods, and then mixed it with a tablespoon each of olive oil and lemon juice.  It's delicious.  I cant wait to serve it (alongside no less, the corned beef & cabbage and soda bread I'm making for a potluck at our house tonight).

If every leftover dinner could be turned into the next day's delicious makeover meals, I'd be sold!  I guess I should really just think about it... Today could be every day...  Maybe...


asparagus & cheese soufflé

3/4c unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp  unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 large egg yolks (room temp)
4 large egg whites (room temp)
1/2tsp cream of tartar
1/2c grated swiss cheese (I actually use houlihan from Hendricks Raw Dairy)
1/4c grated parmesan cheese
2c of asparagus, steamed and diced

Preheat oven to 375. Place rack on lowest level.  With no-cal "butter" spray, spray 2 8oz ramekins and place on the baking sheet.
To make the Bechamel sauce, warm the milk in one saucepan and then, in a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in the flour (wooden spoon) until smooth and then whisk in the warm milk.  Dont brown or scorch.  Warm until the sauce begins to thicken (3-5 minutes), stirring often.  Stir in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg, then whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time.
To make the Souffle, beat the 4 egg whites and cream of tarter in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until they began to make forms that hold their shape.  Do not overbeat.
Combine the cheese in a bowl.  Using a rubber spatula, stir in a quarter of the beaten whites into the Bechamel.  Pour the Bechamel into the center of the whites and fold together.  With each fold, alternate and sprinkle in a handful of cheese and a handful of asparagus.  Carefully spoon the mixture evenly into the two dishes.  Put the baking sheet on the bottom rack.   
Bake 20-25 minutes (23 minutes is perfect in my oven).  They will be puffy and lightly browned.  Do not overcook; the centers should be moist and slightly runny.  Serve hot.

Makes 2 servings: 365 calories each serving

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Long Run

Today was my long run.  I upped my short run distance to 4.5 miles and today had planned on 7 to 7.5 miles, with a decent warm up and cool down too.  So, after the family visited the barber shop for Peter and Bobby to get haircuts (pictures soon- B's too darn cute for his own good!), we went to the farm and picked up provisions then met Peter's dad (aka Grandpa) for lunch at a restaurant near there.  The kids crashed in the car on the way home and, after we got them in their beds and squared away, I suited up for my run.  

We are really fortunate to have great trails in Montgomery County.  I drove out to one of the trailheads of the Perkiomen Trail  near our old house and got ready to go.  The trail is marked in 1/2 mile increments, which makes it easy to know where you are going and to keep up with your distance.  This particular entrance was at mile 7.5, so I walked a half mile warm up and started running at mile 7.  My goal was to make at least 7 miles before I passed out and, hopefully, the full 7.5 mile goal.

The trail is beautiful as it winds up and down in gentle slopes and follows the river through the townships of the county.  I had decided from the start to keep a slower, 5mph or so pace (which, by the end, I had!) because speed wasn't what I was going for- distance was.  As I ran, it struck me that it wasn't hard.  I mean, it was definitely not walking, but I wasn't out of breath or even tired.  I had fueled my body well with lunch (we ate the breakfast bar) and I had my fuel belt full of water, which I drank from every mile.  I passed the first mile of running and the second... and I was fine.  Then the third and the fourth... still fine, invigorated even!  By the fifth mile, I was thinking "I could run all day!".

Sarah had agreed to meet me at the end, since it was near her house, and drive me back to my car (and then join us for dinner) and, imagine how cool it was, to see her at mile marker 1, with a smile and a cheer! I passed her and took it all the way to the 0 marker, where the trail hits the Schuylkill Trail and turned around.  I was still going!!!  As I approached the 1/2m marker, I didnt want to stop, but I did... The last thing I want to do is hurt myself by not adequately cooling down.  So I stopped and walked... And drank my DELICIOUS Cheribundi  (OH MY GOODNESS- if you havent tried this, you must!  It REALLY is like drinking cherry pie!) as a recovery drink (it's tart cherry juice... so good!).

I have been on cloud 9 all day.  My winter run, although short, is still my favorite run, but honestly, this is a close second.  For the outing, I ended up with 8.5 miles, 7.5 miles of which were run at a steady pace!

Plateauing.... Again (LOMIM)

(Originally posted here)

Back in January, I had hit a plateau... I was hanging out at around 200 pounds and wasn't really getting anymore results doing exactly what I'd been doing.  Except, I wasn't exactly doing what I'd been doing.  There were some moments of mindless snacking... perhaps a few issues with portions (not so much with individual portion control but more adding more food when I wasn't really hungry)... 

It seems like getting closer to goals equals self sabotage.  The first time, I was struggling to get beyond the 200 mark.  And now, it's getting into the 170s.  I had set Apr 1 as my goal for 175 (that most likely wont be happening!)

I'm trying to figure out my issue here...  I havent been in the 170s since 2000, when I got pregnant.  I was 150-155 when I met Peter, gained the traditional 10-15 pounds during the year after our wedding, and then got pregnant and gained... and lost the baby and gained some more... and...  Part of me wonders if I'm struggling to get back on track because, subconsciously, I'm feeling like dropping these 10 pounds is somehow trying to erase 10 years.  I know that isn't true, but I cant help but wonder why I eat a cookie when I dont need it...

Perhaps part of it is passing Peter's weight.  My next 'major' goal is to pass Peter's weight.  He's 6'2 and weighs, give or take, 165-170.  We've set "170" as his general weight, so, for me to pass it and hit that goal (I'm 5'7 and shouldn't weigh more than him); am I somewhat afraid to do that?  To pass him?  I can already wear his jeans (which amazes me); you'd think that it wouldnt be more frightening to weigh the same or less...

I dont know... But I am struggling and the first step to fixing my January plateau was to give words to it.  2 months later, I'm 20 pounds lighter.  So, it worked!

Hopefully, it will work this time too!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Random Ramblings

Believe it or not, this is my 800th post.  Wow... I started blogging in August 2008, six months after Nicholas and Sophia were born and died and about the time we conceived Alexander.  Honestly, I dont know where I would be today without the support and warmth from the loss and infertility community.  Knowing I wasn't alone... to say it saved me in a lot of ways isn't too far from the truth.  And, here we are... 800 posts.  Wow.

Today, is March 25th: the Feast of the Annunciation...  I've written on it in the past but today, my favorite reflection of the day was on aka The Mom's post; these are her words and they just rang so true for me today: "God could have chosen for His Son any of the great kingdoms and thrones of the Earth.  He did not.  He gave to Him the most humble and simple seat of all, that of his loving mother's lap."  As my own kids were climbing in and out of my lap today, I couldn't help but just marvel at how they know that place is a safe place, a place of love and understanding and all the things I want to wrap them in every day.  And tonight, when I came home from the gym and Maya fell into my arms and laid her head on my shoulder and drifted, almost immediately, into sleep, I couldn't help but be humbled by that simple action, that simple grace.  As I laid her in her bed, I cuddled up next to her and just smelled the top of her head and felt her melt against me while she snuggled her bear.  All too soon, this time will pass and she wont want to sit in my lap or snuggle against me.  Why rush them to grow up...  Why not just savor these moments of pure, unadulterated bliss.

I think I'm ovulating... I'm on CD 19, and this whole body-acting-like-a-normal-woman still freaks me out... I still cant believe I actually have a pretty regular cycle after a decade of maybe 5 periods all together.  It it crazy that I want to get a cycle bracelet?? 

Well, Peter and I have 9 episodes of Law and Order: UK on the DVR and we're thinking tonight we may actually be able to watch one (if I can stay awake...)  

I am so exhausted...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chop, Chop

I cut my hair!  (Well, the stylist actually did the cutting...)


The kids are finishing their Super Why! episode while I work on compiling and reflecting over birth stories and Maya goes into the hallway (they love to play in the hall...).  I announce "Who wants breakfast?" and, as is her habit, she yells "I do!!" and comes running.  As she passes me into the kitchen, she hands me...her pants.  That's right; she took off her PJ bottoms.  And did she want them back?  Of course not...  So, I've come up with a few things she may have wanted to say to me:

  • "Thanks for breakfast; keep the change."
  • "Here Mama- you wash these."
  • "Why the hell do I have sheep on my pants???"


It snowed.  I'm actually in shock.  It was a light dusting, so no big deal, but we are sitting up April's skirt and it freaking snowed!  I was just out thinking about what to plant in my garden.  Come on, Cailleach!  Go away!  We are done with you!

Maya's godmother just sent a bag full of adorable clothes for my peanut!  (Her daughter is 11w older than B&M).  M's quite the shopper and puts me to shame with the ADORABLE outfits she picks out for L; it's great being the recipient of handmedowns.  (and, 9 times out of 10, if someone says Maya's wearing something cute, it was not my doing... sad but true).

Bobby is a musical genius... I know, I'm biased, but... He loves to play the piano and sing.  And I dont mean bang.  He actually contemplates the keys and picks things that sound, well, appropriate!  The other day, I thought Peter was playing the keys; nope, it was Bobby!  And, during some one-on-one time yesterday, he would echo the keys I was playing.  I would hit, for example, an A and he would look at my hand placement and find an A in another octave and play it.  So, I did it again, different key.  Same response.  Four times he did this before he pushed me out of the way so he could play around and sing.  I'll have to get it on video.  He's a heart melter...  But, he's not playing right now... Right now, he's climbing the loveseat and banging on the window!

I think I may take the kids to the library today.  They arent really up for schooling this morning, and I think they are going stir crazy since we'd been doing walks outside and now it's nasty again.  The alphabet blocks are everywhere except where we are and (gasp) the kids are walking on their board books.  I'll try for a language video to see if that puts them in a better learning space.  But, I have a feeling that lunch time is going to be a slow journey... They shot down the two books I've tried to read, although they were more than happy to get dressed.  Maybe they can help me strip their beds?  Oh, wait, they have clean sheets already...

Oh, and the scale?  It likes to piss me off... 180.5 for the third day in a row!  HELLO? SCALE? I'M WORKING MY BUTT OFF!!!  To which the scale replies, "it was the cookies and brownies yesterday... be grateful you didn't gain!"  Okay, I know... The scale doesn't talk... But if it did, at least I could yell at it. As it is, I know I ate 2 cookies and 2 brownies yesterday, and they were good, so I dont regret it one iota... just half a pound or so... ;)  I find that I self sabotage as I get closer to goals.  It's strange the way we do this to ourselves...

Tonight is the March Face 2 Face gathering!  If you haven't RSVPed already, what's wrong with you!!!  You don't want me eating Thai food by my lonesome, do you???

In related "really???" news, my nieces are a year old today!  Happy Birthday, Sophia & Grace!  (remember this post and this one?)  They girls are happy, healthy one year olds... It's wonderful, but I cannot believe they are a year old already! :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

THANK YOU!!! & Randomness

Thank you too all who responded to my request for birth stories.  I have gotten so many, and I'm so grateful to each and every one of you for sharing them with me.  I have my requirements met (on this assignment- dont worry, I'm sure there will be more!) but thank you all.  So very much.

On another note- I do need one participant for another assignment.  If you had a GP or Family Doctor monitor your pregnancy and deliver you and would be willing to answer a few questions about your experience, please email me!

And, some random musings of the day...

  • I did my 3 sets of strength training tonight- woo hoo!!!  And that was after a 600m swim this afternoon.  I wore my new tankini bathing suit.  It was pretty awesome!
  • Whoever, at the local Whole Foods, made this round of chocolate chewies... You are the woman (or the man, hey, I dont know!).  They are the best I've ever eaten.  P.E.R.F.E.C.T.  Heaven in a bite.  I had 2 of them with my lunch (they are only 100c each, but still... I should have eaten the one and moved one, but no... they were too freaking delicious!)
  • The milk bar is restocked... People must think I'm nuts when I come out of the store with 2 cases of oat milk and a case of unsweetened almond milk.  But really... It's just THAT good!
  • I am really hoping to see 17X on the scale tomorrow.  This 180.5 BS has got to go!!!
Okay, that's all folks.  Time for bed.

(And, seriously, again, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!)

Birth Story Submissions Needed!

If you are interested in sharing your birth story with me, I'd be most grateful.  It's for one of my assignments.

Your story can be about a child who passed away or is still living; the only criteria is that it needs to be an in-depth story of your pregnancy and birthing experiences.  Make sure to let me know how you fed yourself (physically, spiritually, etc), the type of labor assistants you had (family, friends, partner, doula), your care provider and location (home/hospital/birthing center, midwife/doctor/none), any childbirth prep you did, etc. Also, let me know how you were impacted post-birth.  What did your postpartum period look like?  How did you (do you) feel about your body post-baby?  How do you feel about your relationship with your partner and the type of parent you are/they are?   Did you have any birth interventions? (drugs, physical interventions, c/s)  How do you view your experience now?

Ideally, I'd be able to meet with you and chat about this in person, so, if you are local to Montgomery Co, PA, I would LOVE to treat you to lunch/coffee/tea and chat!  But, otherwise, if you would take the time to write this down and email it to me, I'd be extremely appreciative!


The Optimist

Not normally would I call myself overly optimistic... But I'm making the exception this afternoon.  I've blogged in the past about our recent sleep issues and how we were doing sleep training (I'm too lazy to backlink... sorry).  Well, the sleep training got us down to one intervention a night with Bobby and usually one intervention (or none- yay!) with Maya.  But, inevitably, that one intervention included some milk and a tired parent who usually crashed in said child's bed.  Fun times.  Except, for this parent, I love our Sleep Number bed and dont particularly care for the standard twin beds the kids have.  They hurt my back :(  So, I was fairly unhappy when waking, and Peter didnt love it either, not to mention if one (or more) parents is gone from the marital bed, that means the other (or no one!) is sleeping alone in that bed.  Sad times.

Yesterday, Uita & Grandpa (my in-laws) watched the kids so I could do my weekly housekeeping and then she made dinner (delicious, by the way!).  Afterwards, we bathed the kids there and got them in PJs before heading home.  Since they were awake and I needed to go to our local Whole Foods to pick up the case of oat milk that I had ordered, we chanced fate and went.  They were fine and still up when we got home.  But home brought with it a modified bedtime ritual of milk and snuggles and, finally (after only one snafu) sleep.  Good times.  When Peter and I cuddled around 10pm in our bed, we actually joked about how long we could snuggle.  We woke to baby chatter (the kids talk to each other from their rooms- it's quite cute, albeit loud)... at 6:40 this morning.  The best part- they stayed chatting (with each other, their bears, their siblings- who knows!) until just shy of 7am.  It was A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

So, in my optimism of putting them down for their nap at 11:40, I am crossing my fingers that no one gets up until 1:40.   And, while they are napping, I think I'll get back to my schoolwork!

Running Reveled

I was surprised by the amount of emails that I got on last night's post, echoing some of the commentors.  While this is what works for me (and may not work for everyone), I'm more than happy to share!

Half-Marathon:  Sarah and I are running the Women's Running sponsored Women's Half Marathon on Sept. 24th.  It starts at 7am and the course closes at 11am.  Join us!!!

Time: Finding time to work out is one of those things that I always used to avoid it.  "I dont have time."  But, really, I do.  And it's kind of amazing to think that I'm not scheduled out the wazzoo to figure it in.  I do quite a bit when the kids go to bed.  We have pushed their bedtime back a bit (since summer is on its way!), so they go to bed between 7:15-7:45 these days.  My PT appointments are scheduled for 8:30-9:30pm (the gym is only 2 miles away, so I can get there by 8:15 to start my warming up.)  When I'm working out at home, it's between 8-9pm.  I do my long run on one of the weekend days, so Peter is home with the kids.  2-3 times a week, I go to the gym for an hour or so.  On one of those days, the kids are at my in-laws for the afternoon (see below).  The other two days, my mother-in-law visits and hangs out with the kids for that hour.  It's good for Bobby and Maya because they love spending time with their grandparents, and it's nice for my MIL because she really enjoys babysitting the kids.  I do this after nap and lunch, so that there are no big things that have to be dealt with while I'm gone.  Other times, I dont leave when she is here, and weather permitting, I load the kids in the jogging stroller and we run together!  I look forward to more running together as the weather gets better, but since I started hardcore in the mid-fall, there have only been a handful of times using the jogging stroller.

Housekeeping: I do basic housework all week: laundry, cleaning the kitchen, straightening up the bedrooms and living room.  The kids help me in their rooms and in straightening the living room.  After their meals, they play in the LR while I clean up the kitchen.  It takes, at most, half an hour (usually half that!).  Once a week, however, the kids go to my in-laws for a visit.  I drop them off, do any sort of errands that have come up (like go to the bakery for fresh bread or the farm for meats), then go home and do a top-to-bottom, invasive house cleaning.  I'll do laundry and the like, of course, but this is the time for scrubbing bathrooms, floors, dusting, and changing sheets/towels.  When I'm finished, I go to the gym for an hour or so.  Then, because she is like that, my MIL makes us dinner!  Her reasoning: who wants to cook in a freshly cleaned kitchen?!  So, that's pretty awesome.

Homework: I'm still working on my BAI certifications as a labor doula and childbirth educator.  I do coursework and reading while the kids are napping in the afternoon and on the evenings that I'm not working out after they go to bed (unless I am really highspeed and then I do a little schoolwork too!).  From next week through April, I will actually be attending childbirth classes on Thursday nights, so I wont be home for 2 hours a night.  Fun times.  It's after the kids go to bed, but still; those days will be very busy!  I'm in bed by 10pm, so that gives me about 2.5 hours- at most- after the kids go to bed to workout, schoolwork, and any additional cleaning I need to do.

Eating as a Family: I'm always caught off guard by how surprised folks are that we all eat together at the table.  The kids dont have highchairs (well, they do, but they are in our basement and we bring them up for visitors or when we need extra chairs and we can transfer the kids into them, but that is rare!).  They have booster seats on top of our dining room chairs and they sit with us for breakfast and dinner.  For lunch, they usually are in the middle of the kitchen eating, while I stand and eat or sit in between them and eat.  But, yes, we all eat together.  And they eat what we eat.  Last night's dinner: roasted potatoes, red cabbage, rolls, salad, and lamb chops, with some banana bread for dessert.  This morning, they ate blueberries, dry whole grain cheerios, banana bread, and icelandic yogurt.  They (and Peter) drank juice and I had coffee- that would be the biggest difference!  They love food; that is something we, thankfully, dont worry about.  And dont let Maya fool you; she's smaller but that's genetics.  That kid can go head to head with Bobby in an eating contest.

I think I covered everything I've been asked, but please drop me a line if I missed your question!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rantings and Ravings (But In a Good Way!)

I'm tired and I have one more basket of laundry to fold, so I'll keep this (relatively) brief.

  • My "short" runs have transitioned from about 3.5 miles to 4.5 miles.  I did the first new short run today.  I've opted to keep my pace at 5.3-5.5mph right now (I'll max around 6mph, I think), which had me around 50 minutes.  I walked a .3 cooldown, so I finished up in 55 minutes and a nice sweat.  It was good.  But it wasnt hard.  (Dont get me wrong, it was tough and I was glad it was over!)  It's nice to feel like I'm not going to kill myself with upping my distance.  My long runs for this month will be 6-6.5 miles.  Fun times.  Takes me about 70 minutes or so.  But, there is a sauna afterwards, so it is all worth it.
  • I actually did the entire circuit of my physical trainer's routine!  All three sets!! Last week, I did one set of all the moves, just to get used to them.  I've set MWF as my strength training days (since I'll see Rob on Mondays or Wednesdays, I figure that works best).  So, last night, all three reps.  In under and hour!  (Not much under, but still.)  And I felt it afterwards.  But that's okay!  It may be the only way to get rid of the c-section F.U.P.A. (which, let's face it, was there before the section but I'm blaming the c/s anyway!)  And hearing Peter comment on my "sexy arms" (two words that should probably still not be put together) is pretty nice too.  And did I mention the size 8 jeans already?  Yeah?  Wearing them again and those are worth it.  Bring it on, Rob- I can take it!!!  
  • If you havent seen my facebook post from my time at the gym, I'll relive it here for you, because it summed up my afternoon: To the woman at the gym: you and I both have towels on our heads and yet there is something remarkably different about us... Oh, yes: I HAVE MY CLOTHES ON!!! Come on, people- be naked with a purpose! (and you, yes, the naked woman from the sauna: that towel- it needs to be around your body, not your shoulders. I'm all for nudity, but COME ON!
  • My ex answered my friend request on facebook.  I got to see a lovely picture of he and his daughter, who seems to be about the same age as Bobby and Maya.  Funny enough, I finally feel forgiven from our past and it's lovely...  I wonder if he'll ever realize that.  Or if it even matters anymore.
  • I'm making a lot of headway in my coursework for my BAI certification as a labor doula and CBE- woo hoo for me!!!
  • I've been asked to write an article on conception and pregnancy after loss for the Empowered Birth newsletter!!!  
  • I just booked tickets for Sarah and I's flight to Nashville for the half-marathon we are running together in September!!!  So psyched!
  • There was something else, but I've forgotten and I'm too tired to try and remember!
Have a good-night (unless you are in a part of the world where your day is just beginning!)