Friday, January 30, 2015

Raisin Bran Muffins

Firstly - our little love bug is one month old today! 
Where did that month disappear to?
At her check up yesterday we learned that she's gained a whole pound and grown a quarter inch since her last visit.
She is one healthy, happy, and very loved kid.

Secondly - Last week in my efforts to do some baking I also got around to making raisin bran muffins.
The idea was to make something healthy that I could grab quickly. Muffins aren't necessarily the healthiest... but the bran makes it easier to pretend that it is. 
If you wanted a slightly healthier version, substitute the vegetable oil with unsweetened applesauce. 

  • Preheat oven to 375 and line a muffin tin with muffin cups. This recipe will make one dozen muffins.
  • In a bowl, combine 1 1/2 cup bran with 1 cup buttermilk. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1 egg, and 1/2 tsp vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Add to bran mixture and stir until just combined. 
  • Add in 1/2 cup raisins and stir. For my muffins I used golden raisins and dried black currants. Pour into muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes. 

Happy 1/12th of a year, bug!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Irish Soda Bread

I'm trying to set a goal to accomplish each week.
I decided that this weeks goal would be to bake something. 

Lo and behold! 
I have baked something!

I was anticipating this taking two days or an entire day to accomplish but I was able to do it within 90 minutes. 
It helped that the bug went down for a nice nap and also that the recipe I decided to bake is about as easy as they come. 

Courtesy of my sister-in-law, here is a quick and delicious recipe for Irish soda bread.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan.
  • In a bowl, mix 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup bran, 1 1/8 tsp salt, 1 1/8 tsp baking soda. Mix in 2 cups buttermilk and stir to combine.
  • Pour into loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. 
  • Let cool slightly then serve and enjoy!

My other goal this week was to start going for walks and so far so good.
My sister came over yesterday and helped walk the dog while I had the stroller. We were out for a solid hour. It also helped that the weather was pretty decent. 
If only the dog was better at walking on her leash... 

Also amazing? I changed the sheets on the bed yesterday. Sleeping on fresh sheets is the best. Plus they had been stored in John's wooden chest for awhile so they kind of smell like camping. 
Small pleasures. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sausage & Bacon Tortellini Bake

Yesterday, day two of mat leave sans husband, my lovely sister came over to visit.
It gave me a chance to have a shower, play with the dog outside, and prep something for dinner. 
She also brought McDonalds which was highly appreciated. 

You might think that making dinner when you're spending an entire day looking after an infant who doesn't nap for very long at any given time would be the last thing you'd want to think about doing. 
But I actually enjoyed getting into the kitchen and putting a little thought into what we would eat.
It was a nice return to normal life for a bit. 

While browsing Facebook during our early morning feed, I came across a Martha recipe for a bacon tortellini bake. 
Since we had tortellini in the freezer, and since the dish was relatively quick and easy to prepare, I decided that making this would be my goal for the day.

It was, true to its word, quick and easy.
And delicious.

  • In a pan, add 3 or 4 sausages to 1/3 cup water and heat, covered, over medium-high until the sausages are cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Remove sausages and allow to cool. Drain water from pan.
  • In the same pan, fry 1/2 onion, diced, with 4 strips of bacon cut into strips. Add in 2 cloves of garlic, diced.  Add sausage back to pan. Cook until the onions are translucent and the bacon and sausage is cooked. 
  • Add in 2 tbsp flour and stir to combine. Pour in 1/2 cup milk and stir again to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add in 1 pkg tortellini and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and allow mixture to thicken over medium heat for about4 minutes. 
  • Pour into an oven safe dish and sprinkle top with more cheese (parmesan or whatever you want). Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, until warm and the cheese is browned. 
  • Then serve and enjoy!
Easy enough to make with a newborn (and someone to keep said newborn entertained)!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mommy-Daughter Day

Today was John's first day back at work. 
I was dreading this day a little bit, having enjoyed spending almost the last 3 weeks uninterrupted with my husband. It was wonderful.
I fell in love with him on a totally new level watching him in dad mode and seeing how caring he has been with her and with me as I birthed her and recovered from said birthing.

And now I'm home alone with a 2 week old, a dog, and a cat. 
None of whom speak or understand English. 
"Sit", "paw", "lie down", "okay", and "stay" not withstanding. 

Thankfully this little girl is an absolute angel.
She went to sleep at 11:45 last night, was up from 3:30-4:30 for a feeding, then went back down from 4;30-7:30 this morning. 
I feel like one well-rested Mama.

Next Dear Daughter post will include a promise to buy her a pony if she doesn't change her sleeping habits for the next few weeks.

This is my plan for today. 
Be warned, it's ambitious:

  • Enjoy a hot cup of coffee. Real, caffeinated coffee.
  • Watch the premiere of The Bachelor from last Monday.
  • Do exercise of some sort. Use baby as weight.
  • Do laundry.
  • Blog about being a new mom.

Coffee - consumed in bed, snuggled with baby & dog while watching Breakfast Television. Coffee remained warm throughout consumption. Do not anticipate this trend lasting.

Bachelor - watched. Will this truly be the most dramatic season yet? I'm glad we can have some Mother-Daughter bonding over trashy TV. John has no interest in it. I need to start Evelyn early so I have a partner in crime. 

Exercise - did 25 squats. Then ate a ziplock bag full of skittles. Plan to continue to do some squats and lunges around the house with the babe. Maybe lay out the yoga mat and do some stretches later.

Laundry - 2 loads! This day has been QUITE a success.

Blog - I've started up a sister blog to keep track of all my parenting adventures so that this blog doesn't just become all about the little baby that I'm currently obsessed with. My goal is to post every Tuesday and I will post the link on this blog for convenience :)
The new blog can be found here at 

Let's hope tomorrow is as successful as today was! 
Tomorrows goals include take a shower, eat something other than ice cream for lunch, and watch some Sherlock

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2014 Hopes & Dreams Recap

At the start of last year I decided that instead of making resolutions that I would inevitably break that I would instead come up with some hopes and dreams to try and guide my year.

So, how did I do with my 10 Hopes & Dreams for 2014?

1. Run at least one of the following distances: 21 km (my 4th half-marathon), 30 km (Around The Bay or A Midsummer's Night Run), or 42 km (my first - and most likely last - full marathon)

Didn't do this one unfortunately. I found out I was pregnant in April, which is usually around the time that I start ramping up my running and to be totally honest, I was usually too tired to go for a run. I even skipped the Sporting Life 10 k last year. 

2. Start a family. (temporarily) Gain 30 + lbs.

Done! And just before timer an out on 2014 too! I might be most proud of this one. 
I have a daughter and I am a mom.

3. Put away $5000-10,000 into savings for a house.

Also accomplished this one! Thank goodness for my tax free savings account! We also moved into a rental house this summer so our urgent desire to buy a house isn't so urgent anymore. We're happy here with our increased space and backyard until we have a solid down payment for a house of our own.

4. Stop telling myself I need to get lean/put on muscle/workout to be healthy. Do it only to be happy. Walk long distances with the dog, swim in cold lakes, get lost on runs, ride my bike to work, hike/canoe/portage through nature.

Done. Except I didn't really go for many runs because of the whole pregnant thing. But I did go on many many long walks with the dog, and I did go on a hiking camping trip this fall.

5. Make a Happy List on the blog once a month and be thankful for all the wonderful things in my life. 

Almost did this one. I did the 100 Happy Days Challenge instead.

6. Learn how to speak French again. A patient at work speaks only Swahili and French. While my French is passable (barely), having her laugh, kindly, at my attempts to communicate with her have made me acutely aware of how badly I wish I was bilingual. 

I took French classes but didn't stick with it. I missed a few classes because of work and other obligations but it was fun to get back into it for a bit. 

7. Appreciate my friends & family more and make sure they know it.

I hope I did this!

8. Become more of an activist for HIV/AIDS. Attend more conferences, correct common misconceptions, become a better nurse. 

I did attend a few conferences and workshops and tried to correct misconceptions when I heard them. This is one of those goals that I will work on throughout my career. It'll never be checked off as completely done. 

9. Knit more. Maybe learn to crochet.

I didn't learn how to crochet but I did knit 2 baby blankets, one with a cable stitch, and 3 hats this year! New skill accomplished.

10. Go on lots of dates. With John, friends, my parents, etc. 

I also think I accomplished this one. Maybe more friend dates could have bee planned but, like number 8, this is one that I continue to work on forever.

So all in all, it looks like 2014 was a successful year!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Motherhood (and how it happened)

After waiting an extra week, our little girl finally made her way into the world.
Our sweet, perfect Evelyn Grace was born Tuesday December 30th at 5:18 pm weighing 7 lbs 15 ounces.

Birth story coming up - turn back now if you don't want to read about it.

On Monday morning I woke up, went to the bathroom as per usual, and realized I was losing my mucus plug. We had an ultrasound at 2:30 and an OB appointment afterward where we would be setting a date to induce me. 
The ultrasound was fine, so the doctor did an internal exam and immediately after my water broke. All over the exam table!
I didn't realize it had happened until the doctor said, "oh, I think your water just broke!" And sure enough I felt like I had peed on the table. 
Suddenly, plans were changing.
John and I had decided that, if given the choice, we would opt for an induction on Thursday the 1st for a 2015 baby. We even planned to go to the Keg for dinner the night before for one last date night before we were parents. 
The doctor went to get John and as soon as he walked in I told him my water had broken. His facial expressions mirrored my emotions - excitement, terror, happiness and panic.
The plan now was to go home and wait for contractions to start. If nothing had warranted a trip to the hospital by midnight, we were to head down to be admitted and I'd be given meds to get the contractions going.

We drove home, both managed to keep it together, and made our game plan. We would make sure we had everything ready to go, watch a movie, tidy up, and spend the evening on the couch relaxing.
By 11 pm I was only having mild contractions and there was no rhythm or increasing pattern to them. We dropped the dog off at John's parents' and got to the hospital just after midnight. 
I was 1 cm dilated so they hooked me up to the pitocin and we settled in for the night. 
I woke up around 4 with increasingly intense contractions. I also had a few episodes of diarrhea which is horrible when coupled with contractions. 
I had one very intense contraction that caused me to sit up and when I did I was convinced I had peed all over the bed. Turns out it was just the rest of my water breaking but I was convinced that the bed would be soaked (it wasn't).
After that the contractions continued to build and I opted for the epidural.
One blunt but wise nurse told us to get as much sleep as we could because labour could take days and I would need my strength for pushing.
I got the epidural and it was bliss after that. The epidural seemed like such a scary thing - a giant needle being pushed into my spine - but it was nothing. The only thing I felt was the initial needle to freeze the area. After that it was a tiny bit of pressure but nothing painful, not even uncomfortable. 

After that we tried to sleep but it was hard for me to roll side to side so my sleep wasn't great. And I can't imagine John got a much better sleep on his pull out bed-chair contraption. 

At 6 am the doctor checked me and I was only 2 cm dilated but much more effaced. Some progress.

Family started to filter in, I met Dr. Berger who would be delivering my girl, and I craved a burger while I made due with my jello and popsicle and juice. 
At around 10 am they checked me again and I was 4-5 cm dilated.  Half way there!

By 2 pm I was about 7 cm dilated. 
Around 3 pm I started to feel the contractions a bit more intensely. My pitocin had been upped to a fairly high level which made the contractions very close together with little relief in between. The nurse explained that when they initially put in the epidural they give a higher dose to ensure that the area freezes but that this wears off over time. John and I tried unsuccessfully to get back to the level of comfort I was at before by giving myself a dose every 10 minutes but after 30-40 minutes of that it was evident that the epidural was starting to wear off in the upper half of my abdomen. Thankfully they were able to give me a top up dose and after that I was in heaven again. A little dopey but much more comfortable. 
All I wanted to do after that was sleep. 
So I did. 
I closed my eyes and slept.
When I woke up around 4:30 the nurse was checking me again and I was instantly awake when she said, "okay, we're ready to push. Let's get set up!"
John went to get my sister from the waiting room and our family members then also left the waiting room and gathered in the hall outside of the delivery room. 
As scared as I was to actually be in the process now of actively having a baby, I was excited as well.
After about 30-40 minutes of pushing (pushing, for the record, is HARD. Way way harder than I expected it to be. I thought I was going to pass out a few times), our little girl had arrived. The nurse brought in a mirror so I could watch the birth and holy cow... watching her head come out and seeing her face... there aren't words to describe how magical it is. 

Our beautiful daughter entered the world at 5:18 pm on Tuesday December 30th. 

John cut the cord and the doctors went in for an intense internal exam because they were afraid part of my placenta hadn't come out. This was by far the most painful and uncomfortable part of the entire process. 
Thankfully I didn't need stitches.

We were moved into the post-partum room after about an hour. 
Family came to ooh and ahh and we did the same, just staring at this perfect little human we had brought into the world. 

I learned how to waddle to the bathroom and only peed my pants once. I made it right into the bathroom and had just closed the door behind me when my bladder just let go. 
Thankfully I was wearing one of the giant pads the hospital gives you so it absorbed most of the damage. 

Why did I share that? There should be no shame if you pee your pants after giving birth.
Those muscles need time to recover! 

We stayed 3 nights in total as the nurses wanted to be sure I didn't have an infection since my water had broken more than 24 hours before she was born.

I also had my first I'm-a-terrible-mother breakdown (highly influenced also by raging hormones and 2 nights of no sleep) when Evelyn spent the third night unconsolably fussing and the nurses couldn't give me any advice beyond "just keep breastfeeding". 
In the morning our nurse, and my favourite of all of the nurse we had, suggested we give her a bit of formula in case she was hungry and my colostrum wasn't producing enough just yet. She gulped down the formula then immediately settled to sleep.
So I cried. 
Because obviously it was clear that 2 days into motherhood I couldn't provide for my daughter. 
The wonderful nurse assured me this wasn't the case.

Thankfully, Evelyn continues to have her fussy, inconsolable moments but she does eventually settle and we know that she is well fed. 

We spent our New Years cuddled together on John's pull out bed chair sipping champagne and watching the fireworks at City Hall from the window. 
It was actually quite romantic and definitely a New Years Eve I will never forget. 

Hard to believe we've had our beautiful little bug for a whole week now.
Things are starting to feel like routine and we're getting the hang of this parenting thing - although every day is different and sleep is hit or miss. 

Pictures of the little bug to come!