Monday, September 25, 2017

Crispy Hasselback Potato Stuffed with Pulled Buffalo Chicken

I am full on obsessed with buffalo chicken. Seriously, when I say obsessed I mean I literally ate this meal four times last week. I'd like to blame it on the pregnancy, but in all honesty I most likely would have done the same if I wasn't pregnant. Buffalo sauce is a must in my fridge.

You want to know what's even better than buffalo chicken? How about a crispy hasselback potato, stuffed with pulled buffalo chicken, topped with blue cheese crumbles, and drizzled with greek yogurt! Now this, my friends, is a meal beyond any pregnancy craving I could ever dream up. Is your mouth watering yet? Because I can assure you mine definitely is.

Let's take a moment to admire this beautiful and delicious piece of art...

Crispy Hasselback Potato Stuffed with Pulled Buffalo Chicken

  • 1 Medium Russet Potato
  • 1 Medium Chicken Breast
  • 1/2 Cup Buffalo Sauce (More If You Like)
  • 1/8 Cup Chicken Stock
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2 Tbs Avocado Oil
  • Blue Cheese Crumbles
  • Plain Green Yogurt (or Sour Cream)
  1. Preheat your oven to 425.
  2. Wash your potato and place it in the microwave and cook for 4+ minutes or until it is soft.
  3. In a small baking dish, pour in chicken stock, place chicken in the stock, and smother in buffalo sauce.
  4. Once your potato is soft, place on a baking sheet and carefully slice small pockets into your potato. Make sure that you don't cut down too far or else your potato wont stay together.
  5. Season with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and drizzle the potato with avocado oil. This step is key because it helps make your potato crispy.
  6. Bake chicken and potato for 35 minutes.
  7. Once the chicken is done, shred it with a fork, stir it into the leftover sauce, and stuff each pocket of the potato.
  8. Top the potato with blue cheese crumbles, drizzle with greek yogurt, and enjoy every single bite. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Apple Picking | Apple Cinnamon Braided Bread

On Thursday, we joined a whole lot of MOPS mamas and their babies to go apple picking. It was a very hot and humid day, but that didn't stop us from enjoying our tractor ride to the orchards. Jackson loved the tractor--probably more than the apple picking itself.

We made our way down the aisle of apple trees and every few steps Jackson would pick up the apples that had fallen, try to take a bite out of them (yes, even the rotten ones), and would throw them back down. He didn't mind the tall grass and fallen tree branches one bit. He climbed through one heavy patch of tree limbs and got stuck. I happened to be three trees away and all of sudden started hearing him scream, "Hellllp, helllp, mama!" I knew that little cry and sure enough there he was, stuck waist high in branches, and giving me a mischievous little grin.

After watching me pull a few apples off the branches, he started seeking out the apples that he could reach. At one point, he pulled an apple so hard that when it snapped he fell on his little bottom. He was so proud of himself that he didn't even register that he had fallen, but instead came running with the apple to put it in our bag. We ended up with a giant bag of golden delicious apples, sweaty red faces, rumbling tummies, and satisfied hearts. On the tractor ride back, he clapped his little hands all the way to the car. It was such a great way to transition into fall!

With so many amazing apples on hand, I got a little creative and made a dessert from scratch. I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, but I figured that you can't go wrong with apples, cinnamon, and homemade bread.

Apple Cinnamon Braided Bread 

  • 1 Tbs Butter
  • 2 Golden Delicious Apples
  • 3 Tbs Cinnamon, Divided
  • 2 Tbs Honey + Extra for Drizzling
  • 1 Pkg Yeast 
  • 3/4 Tsp Sugar
  • 2/3 Cup Warm Water
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 3 Tbs Avocado Oil
  • 2 Cups Flour 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel, quarter, and thinly slice apples.
  3. In a skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat and toss in apples. 
  4. Allow apples to cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Drizzle 2 Tbs of honey over the apples, stir, add 1/2 Tbs Cinnamon, and stir until all the apples are coated.
  6. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and allow the apples to simmer for 6 minutes. Stir the apples frequently to make sure that they are all being caramelized. 
  7. In a large bowl, add yeast, sugar, and warm water. Let the yeast double in size for 5 minutes. 
  8. Add salt, avocado oil, and flour to the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. 
  9. Add 1/2 Tbs cinnamon to the dough, knead for 5 minutes, cover, and allow it to rest for 30-60 minutes. 
  10. Roll out the dough into a large oval. Make equal 1/2 inch thick slices on both sides of the dough leaving 3 inches of uncut dough down the middle. 
  11. Spoon your caramelized apple filling down the center of the dough. Begin to fold the end pieces up and in. Next, carefully braid each strip of dough over the other until you get to the middle. Once you've reached the middle, move to the opposite end, begin to fold the end pieces in, and braid the strips of dough to meet the other half of the bread in the middle. 
  12. Drizzle with honey and bake for 15 minutes. 
  13. When you take it out of the oven, drizzle with just a tough more of honey and serve.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Gender Reveal | Luca Douglas

I anxiously marked off the days on the calendar for weeks, counted the hours and then minutes, and marked off all of my to-do's of the day that lead up to this appointment. A sinking nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach played on all through out the day until I laid on the table and she took out the wand. I laid there with the screen turned out of my view, I tapped my feet and fidgeted with my shirt, I listened to the clicking of the keyboard, watched the technicians facial reactions, and kept glancing over at Jack. I just wanted to know you were healthy, alive, and thriving. In that moment, I didn't care what part was between your little legs--I just wanted to know that everything was as it should be. She told us she wouldn't be able to tell us if something was wrong, but that we would get results within days. I was frustrated at that, but fidgeted to get my mind off of it. I peeked over and I saw your little legs and what I swore was a little peep. Sure enough, it was there. We found out you are undoubtedly a boy!

I thought for so long that I wanted a girl. I expected to be disappointed, but that disappointment never came. Instead I felt the butterflies creeping up into my belly and almost exploding out of my chest. Your big brother will have a forever friend--someone to wrestle, build forts with, and be wild with. I looked at your daddy and what I saw made my heart melt. I watched as a smile spread across his face and joy settle into his heart. Thoughts, dreams, and our future with you flashed through my mind. My heart is full--my heart is exploding.

Your name is Luca Douglas. Luca means "light" and Douglas holds a special meaning because it's my dad and my papa's name. Our hope for you is perfectly summed up in John 8:12 "Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." In the midst of change and trials in our life, you were given to us. You will be born into the cold dark winter, but you will be the source of so much light and joy to us.

We look forward to kissing your ten precious fingers and toes, admiring your sweet features, and snuggling you so very close. I am over the moon to be your mama. I am officially outnumbered and I'm proud to be a boy mama. I love you Luca Douglas. May you be a light to all who come to know you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Shredded Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Shredded Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable (or Chicken) Broth
  • 1 Cup Buffalo Sauce (or more depending on the spice level you like)
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Celery, Thinly Sliced
  • Cucumber, Thinly Sliced
  • Carrots, Thinly Sliced
  • Blue Cheese
  • Homemade Cashew Ranch Dressing (Recipe Below)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small baking dish, add chicken, broth at the bottom of the dish, and smother the chicken in the buffalo sauce.
  2. Bake for 35 minutes. When the chicken is cooked thoroughly, shred, and mix around in the remaining buffalo/broth sauce in the dish. 
  3. Place chicken on lettuce wrap, top with celery, carrots, cucumbers, blue cheese, and homemade ranch.

Homemade Cashew Ranch

  • 3/4 Cup Cashews
  • 3/4 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1 Tbs + 1/2 Tsp White Vinegar
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp Dried Parsley
  1. In a blender, add all ingredients and blend until thickened and smooth.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Knowing You're Real

You were the surprise that knocked me off my feet. There was the word 'pregnant', but I couldn't believe it--I didn't believe it. I didn't feel any different besides the occasional bout of nausea. I just kept waiting for someone to tell me that all of my excitement was for nothing and honestly I kept waiting for my hopes to be crushed by hearing the pregnancy had ended, but that excitement was never taken and rather than my hopes being crushed I saw your heart beat. 

At your first ultrasound, I went in believing I was almost 8 weeks along with you, but to my surprise you were only measuring at six weeks and all we could see was this tiny little flicker of a heart beat. I couldn't see your tiny little body, but we were told everything looked great. Just to make sure they rescheduled me for another ultrasound after we got back from vacation. The fear rushed in again. What if you didn't grow? What if I miscarried before the next ultrasound? 

I prayed and prayed that you would grow and that I would start to feel more pregnant. I wanted the reassurance that you were in there growing and healthy. Sure enough, my belly started growing, the nausea was frequent, and little-by-little the reality of your little life was settling in. 

We were gone for six weeks and when we came home I was giddy for our prenatal appointment. My palms were sweaty and my stomach was in my throat as we climbed into the elevator. I went into my appointment thinking that I was only 11 weeks with you, but everything measured at 13 weeks! She found your heartbeat faster than she found your brother's. There it was a strong at 164 bpm. You are most definitely real.

A few days later, we were able to see your beautiful little forming body on the ultrasound. Actively moving, sucking your thumb, and perfect. I felt as if I could breathe. Seeing you took away every fear and every doubt. Your brother sat on daddy's lap and whispered "". He could see you on the screen and he knew you that you were the baby we've been telling him so much about. 

Every now and then I feel you move. It took so long to feel your brother move, but you little won't let me forget that you are here. I feel so grateful that you are healthy and growing strong. I'm so thankful that you are real and someday soon I will see your face and call you by your name. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Birth | Training For My Marathon

I remember the contractions, the full body tensing, my breath being taken away with every wave, the deep concentration of trying to push Jackson down into the birth canal (not realizing at the time he was stuck sunny side up), the pain of changing positions, and longing to give up. At times I felt like I was dying. Contraction, break, contraction, contraction, contraction. "Where are my breaks in between? Where is this baby? I can't do this. Ouch! I can do this!"

I wasn't prepared for what my body was going through. I spent 6-7 hours a day sitting at a desk, taking small walks around the building, doing yoga maybe 4 times a month, eating whatever I craved, meditating, and reading birthing books. I just assumed my body would be ready and never thought about actually preparing my body for the grueling birth experience it would endure.

This time I'm taking a different approach. I'm training for a marathon--my birth marathon. On top of chasing a toddler this round, I'm trying to eat better (trying the keyword), running, walking, doing yoga often, and incorporating HIIT workouts each week. I want to be prepared this time and I don't want to end up on that operating table again. I can already tell a difference in how I am feeling. My energy level is higher when I exercise, I don't suffer from nausea as often, and I feel empowered.

Working Out In The First Trimester

 I found out I was pregnant as soon as a test was able to pick up my HCG levels and it has made this first trimester seem so long! Only two more weeks until the second trimester and I'm desperately looking forward to having my energy back. 

Let's jump back in time just a bit, I started working out consistently about two months before I found out I was pregnant in addition to teaching yoga since the beginning of the year. I started running and crossing out milestones--small milestones for some, but they felt grand to me. I finally was at a place physically, mentally, and emotionally that made me feel great. I didn't want all of that to end with those two little lines on a test. I made the decision to continue on and make this pregnancy one that I trained for. 

I was running 3-5 miles a week the first 6 weeks, teaching yoga 3 times a week, and working out to videos on youtube. We started vacation on my 7th week, my running slowed down, but I've been trying to maintain a consistent workout schedule. My exhaustion makes it hard to keep up with working out, but I grit my teeth and get it done because I know I'll feel better after. It's not perfect, it's not always easy, and my eating needs some work, but I'm moving and challenging myself. 

Setting Goals

My goal is a VBAC and experiencing a natural birth. I was so close last time, but I didn't have the endurance after the 40 hours of labor (does anyone really have endurance after 40 hours of labor?). My focus is set and that goal is pushing me to fight. Setting goals is easy when you have your end goal in sight. It's the completion of those goals that gets tough, but I take it day by day and remind myself that this isn't for my health alone--it's for the health of the baby being knit within me, too.

I'm leaving space for grace--I mean, I am growing a human and that's hard work! I want to train for this birth marathon, but I also want to make sure that I'm listening to my body and giving it the rest it needs. Am I working hard? Yes! I'm giving it all I'm able, but I'm being gentle to myself on the days that I can't power through it.

At the end of the day after all this work, if I still end up on the operation table I won't be disappointed because all that truly matters is mine and my child's health. Will I regret the work that I put in? Absolutely not, because all that work will help my body heal faster! It's all worth it!

How did you prepare for birth? What did you do to maintain a healthy pregnancy? 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Growing Our Family

It's been over a month ago now that I found out I am expecting another sweet little babe. It maybe from my lack of sleep or exhaustion from battling my toddler, who is just on the cusp of entering into his terrible twos, but I'm just now slowly beginning to wrap my head around it. I don't feel pregnant other than the occasional nausea that rears it's ugly head and the fact that I pee about every 30 minutes, but I'm excited--really excited. This pregnancy is different, though. When I was pregnant with Jackson, I talked to him and rubbed my belly it seemed like all day long, but with this baby I just feel so disconnected from my body. Please read that again carefully this time--disconnected from my body...not the baby. It's almost as if I can't feel the changes happening this time around or maybe it's just that I'm so busy chasing around my full-of-life toddler that I'm not able to feel the changes. Every now and then, I feel guilty about it, but I quickly remind myself that the person who I was when I was pregnant with Jackson just isn't me anymore. I've been through the process, through the excitement of seeing daily changes in my pregnancy app, reading all the birthing books I could get my hands on, giving birth (well, okay, more like worked hard for 40+ hours and then had him surgically birthed), watched him go through the newborn stages, and now I chase after a toddler who likes to pull hair, give slobbery kisses, tells me "No Mo, Mama" a hundred times a day, and still latches onto me for "mama milk".  Not that going through all of that has taken away from this new baby, but it really makes it different this time around. I have distractions that I didn't have before.

I do pray for this babe and dream about him/her. We even have names picked out! So, yes, I do care--I care very, very much. I'm just trying to wrap my head around this sweet little surprise. We prayed that this day would come soon, but we never expected it to come as quickly as it did. We prayed for God to guide us through our trials and this babe is an answer to that prayer. Even if it was an answer that we weren't expecting. His timing is better than our own--His timing makes sense even if in the moment it doesn't feel like it. I'm grateful that my body is able to grow and nurture another precious human. I don't take this experience lightly. It's a grand gift to be able to grow life.

I want to document these thoughts, these moments of figuring life out as a mama of 2 to babes two and under, and I want this blog to be a place where people can come to relate or just read about another person's experience of motherhood. Motherhood has been the greatest gift. I've learned more in these last two years than I did in my life before kids. My hope is that this blog can help to encourage a community that laughs together, cries together, shares triumphs and failures with one another, and finds joy through it all. Being a parent is messy and hard, but it chips away at the selfishness and flaws all the while changing all that we are inside helping us to become better people each day.