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Jamie’s almost a year old.

When people ask, I’ll say, “I have a 1 year old.” 

How can this be?  He arrived, like, yesterday.

But when I really think about the last 12 months…

the first smiles,

the first laughs,

his first meltdown,

my first meltdown,

learning to crawl,

the first fever,

all the snuggles and kisses…

I suppose it has been a year.  The hardest, most rewarding, love-filled year of my life.

My due date was April 11, 2011.  Throughout my entire pregnancy I was just sure I would be a couple of weeks early.  We moved to a new state when I was 34 weeks pregnant, which left me scrambling to get unpacked, the nursery decorated, and everything in place before we had our sweet baby.  We were ready for this little man by the time I was 37 weeks.  More than ready.  I was desperate for him to come.

We waited for signs of labor, contractions, water breaks, anything… but April 11 came and went, and no signs were to be seen.  I bought one of those excercise balls to sit on, I started taking longer walks, drank loads of pineapple juice and raspberry leaf tea, and covered everything I ate in hot sauce.  Nothing.

On a Wednesday, when I was 2 days past 40 weeks, my doctor decided it was time to schedule an induction.  We were supposed to check in the following Monday evening, and would begin the induction on Tuesday morning.  I prayed and prayed I’d go into labor before then.  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday passed and then came Sunday.  I woke up feeling normal.  We ran some errands, and tried to enjoy this last day as just the two of us.  We were grilling steaks around 5:30 that evening when I got my first real contraction.  It was different than the “contractions” I had been having for a few weeks.  More intense.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but we started timing them, and sure enough a pattern began to form.  They were 5-10 minutes apart, lasting 30 seconds to a minute all evening long.  We watched TV and I sat and timed them with a contraction app on the computer.  Since they weren’t getting closer together, we decided to go to bed and get some rest.  I was pretty sure the next day would be an exciting one.

ALL NIGHT LONG.  EVERY 5 MINUTES, ALL NIGHT LONG.  By morning I was pretty pooped and ready to call our Doctor.  She told us to go to the hospital and get checked out.  We get loaded up, drive to the hospital, and wouldn’t you know it… the contractions slowed down on our way.  Once we arrived, I changed into a gown, got hooked up to fetal monitors, and was checked by a nurse.  1 cm dilated.  That’s it.  1 flippin’ cm.  I was so discouraged after all that I went through the previous night.  The nurse kept us there for an hour to see if there was any change, but there wasn’t, so we were sent home.  Our induction was scheduled for that evening anyway, so we were told to come back at 7:oo pm.

While we were at the hospital Josh saw a KFC commercial on TV, which sparked a craving he couldn’t turn a blind eye to.  (Dad’s totally get pregnancy cravings too.)  We headed there on our way home, which was when the contractions came back with a vengeance.  I only managed a few bites of chicken before I was on my hands and knees breathing through contractions.  If I could make it until 7:00 pm when we were suppose to go back anyway, then I was sure we wouldn’t be turned away again.

By 7:00 I couldn’t talk through the contractions anymore.  We were admitted for the induction, got situated in our room and waited for the nurse to come tell us what was next.  I was clearly in labor on my own–no induction would be necessary.  YAY!!  I had progressed to 3.5 cm and the contractions were almost one on top of the other.  Our sweet angel of a nurse said I could have the epidural at this point, and I swear I would’ve kissed her if I could’ve gotten out of that bed.   It took a few tries to getting the epi in place, but once the juices were flowing, I was feeling just fabulous.  Relief that I hadn’t felt in 28 hours… oh… it was wonderful.

I got the epi around 8:30 that night, and the next several hours were actually very relaxing.  Josh and I watched a little TV, called family members, and actually sold our house in Oklahoma while I was in labor.  (That’s a story for an entirely different post.)  We tried to get some sleep, but seeing as I was feeling no pain at this point, I was just too excited to sleep.

All of the sudden, lights came on, nurses came flying in, machines started beeping and they were shoving my husband out of the way.  The baby’s heart rate had dropped dangerously low, and they were flipping me on my side and shoving an oxygen mask in my face.  Scary doesn’t come close describing that moment.  Looking back, it was my first real “Mommy” moment.  During all this commotion, I truly was scared, yet calm, thinking, do whatever you have to do to help my baby.  Don’t focus on me.  Just help my Jamie.  Once they got me in the right position, his heart rate came back up, and things started progressing more quickly.

My nurse checked me periodically, and I was making good progress, but my water still hadn’t broken.  I remember her saying, “Once your water breaks, that baby will be here so fast.”  I made it to about 9.5 cm, and she had me start pushing.  I remember the nurses saying, “you have to push harder!”  and all I could say was, “OK, thank you.”  They told my husband I was the most polite laboring lady they’d ever worked with.  About an hour later my water broke–and what a strange sensation that was!  My nurse was right, he was out within 10 minutes.

This is the part of the story I’ve been struggling with.  It makes me emotional to think about, let alone write out in story.  But here goes:

There are no words that can adequately describe seeing my child for the first time.

Holding him in my arms.

Touching his little face.

Counting his tiny fingers.

Looking into his deep blue eyes.

My sweet baby Jamie.

There are simply no words.

Watching Josh hold our precious son for the first time is a memory I will always cherish.  He was exhausted and exhilarated, and the look on his face was so pure.  Genuinely in love.

James Brien was born at 5:09 am, weighing 7 lbs 3 oz, and was 19.5 inches long.  He had a full head of light brown hair, the most beautiful blue eyes, and the instant ability to make me melt just simply by existing.

My sweet baby Jamie.  I love you more than anything on earth.  How are you already almost a year old?

I love you all the time,
Mommy

I’m back.  I guess, really, I’m just beginning.

I wrote 13 posts a year and a half ago… so I suppose we should just consider this an entirely new blog.

I started reading blogs back in 2009, and they were mostly fitness and healthy eating.  Then a few foodie blogs made it onto my Google Reader, then DIY and decorating blogs, and lastly and most recently, Mommy blogs.  I have interests in all of these things, and spend entirely too much time reading about them.

I am sure this will primarily be considered a “Mommy blog,” seeing as my son is the center of my universe.  I am, however, hoping to use it as an outlet to share delicious recipes, talk about workouts, clothes, and anything else that pops into my head.

I sincerely thank you for reading, and hope you’ll come again.

I’m sorry I’ve been completely MIA for awhile… life threw us a few twists and turns (all good ones) but they kept me quite occupied! 

My husband received a fantastic job offer in our hometown that we absolutely couldn’t turn down.  We were very young when we got married–20 years old– and the Army moved us to another state where we knew no one.  For the last six years we’ve been off on our own, with occasional visits home to see family and friends.  We’ve always said we wanted to move back before we started a family, so this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time!  Albeit, moving at 34 weeks pregnant was no easy task, but it was definitely worth it!

We bought a new house, packed up the pets and in a matter of weeks have made the move, started the new job, completely “re-fell” in love with our hometown, and are ready for this sweet baby boy to make his debut! 

I promise to update again soon with pictures of the house, and a bit more of what’s going on.  There will probably be a bit more “diaper” talk coming, but I definitely plan to throw a few “dishes” in there as well!

Last night I was making Josh his favorite meal, French Dip sandwiches, but I needed a side dish to go with.  So I decided to use the opportunity to try a new recipe for my Cookbook Challenge.  I am still working on The Deen Bros, Y’all Come Eat, and once again, this cookbook did not disappoint. 

I ended up deciding on a Black Eyed Pea salad recipe.  The picture looked good, and I thought it would round out our meal nicely.  But by the time I gathered the ingredients, I started having my doubts.  I don’t know why, but all of the sudden it sounded like a bunch of random things thrown together.  Balsamic vinegar with black eyed peas? 

I WAS WRONG.

It ended up being delicious!  Even Josh loved it, and he isn’t always a fan of balsamic vinegar.  He says it smells like feet.

First, gather up those ingredients:

Now, chop and combine everything in a large bowl.

Now, combine Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, and salt + pepper in a bowl and whisk away.

Drizzle the dressing over salad, and stir to coat.

Finished Product:

DEEEEEELICIOUS! 

These French Dip sandwiches are nothing fancy, but they are our favorite meal.  We have them for just about every special occasion.  Someday I’ll write a post all about these.

Black Eyed Pea Salad

From The Deen Bros, Y’all Come Eat

2 15oz. cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed

1 large tomato, finely chopped (3/4 cup)

6 Tbsp thinly sliced green onion

1/2 lg red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 lg green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 jalepeno pepper, seeded (if desired) and finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

salt + pepper

**In a large bowl, stir together the peas, tomato, green onions, bell peppers, jalapeno, parsley, basil, and cilantro.  In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, and salt + pepper to taste.  Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

****I cut the oil to 1/2 cup, but left the vinegar at 1/4 cup.  It was plenty of dressing.  Also, I just had some for lunch, and it was even better after chilling all night long.

On a separate note, I wanted to thank my little Sous Chef for always standing close by while I’m cooking.

Sammy keeps an eye on me from a distance.

Fried Chicken might be one of my favorite meals.  It is not healthy, not very pretty and kind of messy to eat.  But it takes me back to good memories, and is always comforting.  Growing up, my brother and I spent many weekends with my Grandma and Grandpa, and a frequent meal we had together was fried chicken.  One particular night, my little cousin was eating it with us.  He couldn’t have been more than 3 years old at the time.  My Grandpa was being silly, as he often is, and said something along the lines of “I think I’ve got the chicken’s big toe!”  Without missing a beat, my cousin proclaimed, “And I have the chicken’s penis!”  To this day, if I’m eating chicken, that story pops into my head.

I guess that’s why I picked Oven Fried Chicken as my last recipe to try out of The Best of Cooking Light Everyday Favorites for the COOKBOOK CHALLENGE.  And honestly, the picture in the cookbook sold me before I even read the recipe.

I don’t have step-by-step photos of this recipe, because dredging chicken thighs in flour is rather messy and unattractive.  (I didn’t use breasts or legs… no penis either.)  But all I did was remove the skin, let it soak in buttermilk for an hour or so, and dredged the chicken in a combination of flour, red pepper, white pepper, black pepper and cumin.  Yeah, this chicken had some heat to it!  Then popped it in a 450* oven for 35 minutes. 

I’ll admit that I was a bit worried upon first look.  I mean, it wasn’t really FRIED chicken, but baked chicken.  It didn’t have that extra crispy skin, but more of a soft breaded-like coating.  It was however full of great flavor, with quite a bit of kick to it!  The buttermilk marinade kept it very moist, and helped the breading stay glued on throughout cooking.  Overall, I would call it a success.  Not going to lie, it isn’t the best I’ve ever had, but I would feel good about serving it to my family as a healthier alternative to deep fried chicken.

I needed a recipe to go with the chicken, so I thought now’s as good a time as any to start the next cookbook for my CHALLENGE.  My choice?  The Deen Bros Y’all Come Eat.  I’ll discuss my reasonings for this choice in my next post.  The first recipe I picked was Corn Bread Casserole with Fresh Corn and Green Beans. 

Seemed to fit the bill for a comforting side dish, and Josh and I are lovers of all things corn.  This was so quick, and so easy. 

Gather ingredients:

Combine everything into a large bowl, and stir.

Once combined, pour into a buttered 9×9 pan,

and bake at 350* for 60-75 minutes.

Now cut yourself a piece, and eat it with Oven Fried chicken and some roasted sweet potatoes for a seriously comforting supper. 

Baby Gear Success

Tomorrow I will be 27 weeks pregnant.

Holy guacamole… it’s flying by!  Yesterday something clicked in my head, and I realized that Little Man will be here in 13 weeks or less.  What?!?!?!  I’m going to be a mom in 13 weeks?!?!?  This thought was the motivation I needed to get my ass rear in gear and start accumulating necesseties, and quit using curse words.  As you saw previously I have been picking up the cutesy stuff here and there.  I’m a sucker for baby clothes.  But what about the Diaper Genie?  Or travel systems?  Or, most importantly, the crib?  Well… yesterday I went shopping and took care of a LOT!

Here’s the goods:

Chicco Cortina Travel System

Sammy gives his seal of approval.

Also came home with:

The First years Ignite lightweight stroller

The Diaper Genie II (If this kid takes after his father at all, this just may end up being the most used nursery purchase.)

Swaddle Me wraps

And a  diaper bag.

This morning I also got the nursery furniture and crib matress ordered.  It’s all coming together, slowly but surely!

I’m now off to the kitchen to start working on a recipe for the cookbook challenge.  Check back tomorrow to see!

My husband proclaimed these pork chops “The best chops I’ve ever eaten!”  last night.  He had good reason, for these were probably the best chops I’ve had as well.  But first… the challenge…

Remember yesterday when I said I’d only made one other recipe out of that Cooking Light cookbook

Well that got me thinking, “I have TONS of cookbooks, and have only made a few recipes out of them.”  I seriously adore cookbooks.  I read them like novels.  Some girls buy purses, I buy cookbooks.  So why am I not putting them to use?

THE CHALLENGE:  I will pick a cookbook from my library each week,

 and try at least 3 new recipes from each one. 

We’ve got nothing to lose here, but everything to gain.  (Hopefully not in the form of lbs.)  As proof in the pork chop recipe I’m about to share with you, I think we’re going to find some new favorite dishes along the way.  Since I already made the Cheese Enchilada Casserole from the Cooking Light cookbook, I decided to choose a few more recipes for the challenge.  Tonight I made Buttermilk Brined Pork Chops, and Green Beans with Roasted Onion Vinaigrette.  Enjoy!

The pork chop preparation begins the night before.  You combine buttermilk, sugar, salt, lemon rind, and fresh herbs and pour over the chops in a Zip Lock bag. Refrigerate overnight.

 

When ready, remove chops from bag, and discard buttermilk mixture.  Pat dry with a paper towel, and sprinkle pork generously with pepper.

Get your grill pan hot and ready, coat with cooking spray, and add pork chops.

While the chops were grilling, I was busy roasting some red onions for the Green Beans:

This meal was seriously quick to come together, and was one of the best we’ve had in a while.  We don’t eat pork very often, but things have a way of changing.  The final products:

TRY THESE PORK CHOPS!!

Buttermilk Brined Pork Chops

Courtesy of Cooking Light

2 cups fat-free buttermilk

2 Tbsp kosher salt

2 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp grated lemon rind

1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp chopped fresh sage

4 (6 oz.) bone-in center-cut pork chops

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

cooking spray

***Combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top bag; shake well to dissolve salt and sugar.  Add pork to bag; seal and refrigerate at least 8 hours, or overnight, turning bag occasionally.

Remove pork from bag; discard buttermilk mixture.  Pat pork dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle with pepper.

Heat a nonstick grill pan over med. high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add pork chops; cook 3 1/2 minutes on each side, or until desired degree of doneness.

**************************************************************************************

Green Beans with Roasted Onion Vinaigrette

Courtesy of Cooking Light

2 lbs green beans

2 red onions, peeled

4 tsp olive oil, divided

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

3 Tbsp Champagne vinegar, or white wine vinegar

1 Tbsp stone-ground mustard

***Preheat oven to 400*.  Cook green beans in boiling water 5 minutes.  Drain and plunge beans into ice water; drain.  {;ace beans in a large bowl.

Cut onions in half vertically.  Drizzle cut side of each half with 1/4 tsp oil.  Sprinkle halves evenly with salt and pepper.  Place 1 thyme sprig on 1 onion half, top with other half.  Wrap in foil.  Repeat procedure with remaining thyme and onion halves.  Bake at 400* for 1 hour or until tender.  Cool to room temperature.  Discard thyme, and chop onions.

Combine remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil, onions, dill, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl.  Toss beans with onion mixture.

**************************************************************************************

We had seriously happy tummy’s last night.

** On the Diapers side of all this, I am headed out to order our nursery furniture, and pick up our stroller today.  (Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa!)  SO EXCITING!  I’ll post pictures as soon as I have them.

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