Keeping It Real With Veggie Lasagna

Today was a perfect day.

It was a beautiful 80 degrees during the day and evening had just a touch of chill to the air. Matt mowed the lawn while Maeve and I supported him.

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Afterwards we eat our delicious Veggie Lasagna outside on the blanket. It was one of those nights that reminded me of when I was little girl.

Now that I am almost 8 months post pregnancy I am going to focus on losing the last little big of weight I put on while pregnant. Well, actually, I have lost the weight but I still have a little chub around the middle I don’t want to see this summer.

With that said, I am trying to watch what I eat for snacks and how much sugar I get each day. While I am still breastfeeding I am not focusing on calorie intake because I need the calories to keep my little baby nice chubby. Now, instead of reaching for crackers or chips when I get hungry between meals I am trying to eat fruit in the morning and vegetables in the afternoon. When I want a cookie I have a small glass of fresh juiced orange or grapefruit juice (its whats in season and available on my moms trees) or a few almonds and raisins.

I have also upped my exercise routine. I have joined the wonderful Stroller Strides of Phoenix and am LOVING it!! It is a wonderful workout where we do far more than stride! I was having a hard time finding the time to exercise with a new baby, when, where how?! Stroller Strides allows you to bring your baby!!! I love this since I don’t want to leave her for an hour everyday.

On the days that I don’t attend Stroller Strides I try to hike, go for a run or do yoga. For yoga I highly recommend yogaglo.com. An online yoga center that has TONS of classes to chooses from!! I am not good at leading myself through yoga so this site is great for me.

Here I am mixing exercise with fun at a Mom’s Night Out doing poll dancing!

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Hiking with the hubby and baby girl.

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Hiking with my sisters and their babies on another day.

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And here is the dish we had for dinner. Please try it out and let me know what you think!



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Both my husband and I think that layering with the spinach and cheese on top really make it feel like there is more cheese than there really is.

Overall this dish has a ton of veggies but tastes like it could have pasta in it. We enjoyed it!

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Veggie Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 table spoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced

1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 zucchini, sliced length wise
1 cup spinach leafs 
1 cup mozzarella, grated
2 cups marinara sauce

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large frying pan heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic till onion is translucent. Add spices. Add the carrots, celery and mushrooms. Cook till tender.

In an 8×13 pan start your layering. First layer the marinara sauce, then cooked onion/carrot/celery/mushroom mixture. Then layer the zucchini strips, then the spinach leafs, then half the mozzarella. End with mozzarella.

Cook for 25-30 minutes till the top cheese layer is a nice crispy brown (at least that’s how I like it).

Let cool for 5-10 minutes.

Serves 4-6

Then, enjoy! Let me know how you like this recipe. I made it up myself!!

No-Bake Cookies


I have a problem. I can’t stop making cookies. So, over the next few days I’ll share with you some of my favorite easy cookie recipes. Of course I’ll try to stay with the “healthy” recipes but lets be honest, cookies are treats and should not be consumed after EVERY meal (I keep telling myself that and hope it sticks someday).

Today I’ll start with No Bake Cookies. These quick cookies don’t even need to be baked! Perfect for the up coming summer season when we all dread turning on our oven.

Try out these little nutty-chocolaty cookies and you wont go back to your old refined sugar recipe.

Enjoy!
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No-Bake Cookies

1/2 C. Organic Coconut Oil
2 Tbsp. Organic Cacao Powder (raw is even better!)
1/2 C. Organic Peanut Butter (you can also use Sun Butter or almond butter)
1 tsp. Vanilla (gluten free vanilla if you are Celiac or intolerant)
2 C. Oats (not instant, and gluten free if required.. Bob’s Red Mill has gf oats)
2 Tbsp. Raw Honey (or agave nectar, stevia coconut crystals to taste,can experiment until you get the sweetness you desire)

Slowly heat coconut oil in a large sauce pan along with the cacao powder. Add the peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and oats.

Using a teaspoon, place mounds of dough on parchment lined baking sheets or another flat surface, and allow to cool. Immediately store in refrigerator or freezer.

To mix it up, you can add coconut flakes, chopped almonds, or dried cherries. You can also add pinches of spirulina, dark chocolate chips -anything you’re craving at the time. I think one time I will try it with sprinkles of bee pollen, or add in a little cayenne pepper!

Birth Story – A Tale of Patience

A few people have asked me to share the story of how my darling little Maeve made her arrival into this world and so I have decided to make it easy and share it here.

Sleeping soundly. 10 days old.

(Pictures by rilie dee photography)

As a bit of background you should know that I am a huge advocate of home births and feel strongly in the ability of women’s bodies and the perfect design that God gave us in order to birth our children.

With that said, I also believe that there is a time and place for hospital births and I am so thankful that we live in a time and place where if a medical emergency takes place we can quickly get to a hospital.

I also believe that each women must make an informed decision about where she feels most comfortable to give birth.

So, here is my story, at least this is how I remember it 🙂

It’s midnight, July 28th, half asleep I walk to the bathroom to empty my bladder (just another one of the many benefits that come with pregnancy). I feel like I’m done but water just keeps leaking out. What is going on? It takes me a minute or two but I finally realize that my water has broken.

I wake up Matt right away and tell him I think my water has broken. I call my midwife and after a few questions she confirms that “yes, your water has broken”. She tells us to try and go back to bed and get as much rest as possible.

Not much sleep is possible. We lay back down but I can’t seem to quite my mind. I say a little prayer. I keep thinking I feel contractions, little tinges of pain here or there. After lying in bed for what seems eternity, we both decide to get up around 5am and make a good hearty breakfast.

We go for a walk. While walking I feel little tiny feelings of tightness here and there but nothing big.

We stay in touch with our midwife throughout the day. Because my water has broken this puts me on a timeline. I have to start having contractions by 11pm or I’ll have to go to the hospital, something that was not in my plan at all, actually one of my worst fears.

Through out the day contractions still not have picked up. My midwife says that if nothing has progressed by 2pm will should try the castor oil method. I’ll do anything to get things moving, I do not want to go to the hospital. My fears are growing at this point. I start wondering why my body is not working, what is going on? Is the baby ok? What is wrong with me? So many feelings and emotions are running through me.

At 2pm Matt picks me up a pasta dish from the restaurant down the road. I eat it and two hours later drink a mixture of castor oil, orange juice and baking soda. My midwife has stopped by to see how things are going at this point. She tells me that I cannot throw up this concoction, this is the only thing she says that I have to do. I tell her sure no problem and down the drink. The drink is supposed to start working within 4 hours if I remember correctly.

We go for another walk outside to see if we can get things moving. We try nipple stimulation. We try talking through anything that might be fearful to me. I honestly was most scared of having to go to the hospital, but even at that point was getting used to the idea. I wasn’t afraid of labor, I wanted to meet our little girl.

4pm, I am starting to prepare myself to go to a hospital to get induced. I tell Matt that we should start getting supplies ready to take with us. Standing in the kitchen Matt looks at me says with tears in his eyes that he does not want to go, he wasn’t expecting to feel this way, but he is, he was excited to have our baby in our home and is sad that things may not turn out the way we were expecting. We cry together trying to understand how things are taking a different route than we expected.

We were both tired, emotionally stressed and I had been walking in circles around the house because it was too hot to walk outside, for hours. My mom and dad asked to come over to say a blessing for me.

The four of us sat in our living room, first my mom asked me if I had anything I wanted to talk about, anything that I might be afraid of. I tell her that I really am not afraid of anything.

Matt, my dad and mom all lay their hands on me. My dad starts with a fathers blessing, Matt says a prayer and then my mom. I start crying. I can’t stop. I don’t know why. So many emotions, expectations and just being tired rolled up into one day. I needed that release. My mom tells me that when they leave I should just take some time to myself, pray, cry and feel what I am feeling, it is okay to cry and be sad or mad or scared, or whatever I am feeling at that time. She says I should dance, let my body move, allow it to react to whatever I am feeling; feel the motion of movement throughout my body. Dancing has been such a huge part of my life and for the past three years it has been absent, she thinks it will  be nice for me to just dance.

The clouds have started to gather and as my parents leave, Matt and I stand outside our door watching the sky grow darker. He holds be from behind and we stand there swaying. I ask him to give me a little bit of time alone. He kisses me and goes inside.

I can’t remember what it feels like to move, especially since my body has changed and is now holding a little life inside. I start by swaying my hips, circles, bend my knees, open my arms, roll my neck, try to feel and move each part of my body, feel each sensation. I am crying, I am praying, Lord please give me the strength to make the right decision, please allow my body to work in the way you created it, take away any fears, show me direction, give me and Matt peace, allow us to trust in your plan, be with our baby keep her healthly and safe. I don’t know how long this goes on. Raindrops fall on my skin. I am dancing again. I feel thankful.

When I go inside Matt is waiting for me, he too has been crying too and we sit and just are together.

Matt eats a little something for dinner, I try to eat this and that but everything tastes like metal, a strawberry Popsicle tastes best. We sit outside on our porch watching the rain waiting, waiting, and waiting.

About 10pm I start getting diarrhea, finally! It took long enough! By this time I have started little contractions I believe.

My midwife says that she will be over at 11pm and if I haven’t progressed any we will have to go into the hospital to get induced and get the epidural. She says that I should a use a pump to help with the nipple stimulation. I don’t have one. My dear eldest sister goes to the store to buy one. Once she gets to our house, she helps me to attach them right away. Time is running out.

After about ten minutes of pumping, I start feel really nauseas, Matt tells me I have to keep it down. Not happening! I rip off the pumps and try to run to the bathroom but don’t make it; I throw up all over everything, the carpet, and the curtains, anything that was on my way to the bathroom. I think I threw up twice.

Shortly thereafter, my midwife arrives. I am in labor, this I know for sure.

My contractions are starting to intensify.  By 11:45pm someone has called my mom and she arrives. By that point Matt is timing contractions and they seem to be about 2 mins long, 4 mins apart. I can talk between them at this point.

From this point on is a blur. As the contractions intensify. I start to become really internal. Only hearing bits and pieces of what people are saying.

I start having really bad pains in my lower back and front hip joints, I later learn this is because Maeve has her little hand right up by hear face.

Matt and I get in the shower and I sit on the medicine ball, this hurts REALLY badly because it puts more pressure on my hips. I remember hearing myself moan in the shower but thinking “is that really me?” As the contractions keep getting closer together my moans get louder. At one point Matt notices that I am starting to furrow my eye brows and scrunch my face, he tells me to relax my face and he later tells me I did whatever he said to do right away and didn’t do it again. He said it was pretty amazing how I didn’t question or hesitate; I just trusted that he knew what was best for me.

We got out of the shower and at some point my midwife asks me if I feel like pushing, I tell that I think I need to poop, she says lets getting ready to start pushing. Next thing I know I am laying on the floor next to our bed. Below me is my midwife, on my left is Matt and on my right is my mom.

Then its time to push. I felt so ready to do it. Let’s get this baby out!

My contractions helped me along for about half an hour, after that they become less and less intense. That didn’t matter to me though, at that point, I was just pushing out of pure might. My midwife kept telling me I was really strong and I had a dancers butt. She said it was amazing that I could kept pushing without the contractions, she even had to tell me to stop pushing so I didn’t tear. However, the problem with a strong butt is its tight, and when birthing a baby you don’t want anything to be too tight.

What I remember most about this pushing part was the pain in back and hips. Matt put his had in the low of my back to relieve some pressure and I wouldn’t let him take it away even though it was falling asleep.  My legs started shaking really bad, so bad that they were hurting.  Lots of push, then stop, my midwife would rise warm water and olive oil over me then stretch me with two fingers (yes, it hurt!), then back to pushing. This went on for two hours.

Once Maeves head was out, her hand was still stuck up by her head, my midwife had to push Maeve’s head back in and push her hand down so she could come out. Once this happened things were easier and it seems like she slipped right out!

She was put right on to my bare chest and looked right at me with big blue eyes. She was alert and content. We had to make her cry to make sure she could breath okay.

She latched right onto my breast to start feeding. What an amazing feeling. I was so happy to finally meet her.

But still no contractions. My placenta was not coming out. Matt took Maeve and back came the breast pump. It wasn’t till about 40 min later that my placenta came out. Next thing I know I hear a gushing noise. My midwife says I am bleeding a lot. She pushes deep down into my abdomen to stop the bleeding but when she lifts her hands it starts gushing again.

She tells matt to get his phone because he may need to call the paramedics. I see Matts face and realize this is serious. Matt runs to fund his phone and my midwife looks right at me and says, “Caitlin, you have to stop bleeding”. I am not sure if she was talking to herself or me or but it sounds like she is commanding my body. I start praying. Lord please stop this, over and over. Next thing my midwife does is stick five little pills up my bottom. We continue to pray. She takes her hands off me a few minutes later and the bleeding has slowed.

I am lying there shaking, asking where is my baby is she ok? I just want my baby.

I am so blessed. Everything turned out okay. My dad has come at this point and my sister Nikki came to bring me iron. Dad and Matt move me to the bed.

I have a beautiful baby girl and I am lying in bed cuddling her.

I am out of it but I know we are all okay. I can rest now.

This experience has taught me that I am strong. This may sound a bit obnoxious but I can kick your butt! I know that if I put my mind to something I can achieve it.

I have an amazing husband whom I could never have done this without. And my mom, wow, just having her near by gave me strength and I felt her love for me and my baby throughout this processes. My midwife was perfect. She was there when I most needed her and in the shadows when I needed alone time.

Even though this birth was hard and painful, scary, and unpredictable, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have learned so much about myself and my relationship with others. God had a plan and he wanted to make sure I knew he was in charge.

Yes, I will have another home birth and would suggest that you look into it too.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like the information for my midwife, she’s amazing!

Meeting our baby for the first time.

Matt holding his baby girl for the first time.

A few hours after giving birth I feel a bit rested.

12 hours old.

Growing fast! (and mom still looking tired)

Such a big girl now!

Playing with bunny – 6 weeks, 3 days

Chilling out

Cubby cheeks!

What’s for Dinner – Agave Lime Chicken with Asparagus and Toasted Coconut Butter Cookies

At the start of each week I try to have my meal agenda for the week. Go shopping on Sunday evening and plan my meals for week.

Each Monday starts out well, I make exactly what I planned for the week. Delicious and ready to go once Matt gets home. By the end of the week however, things get a little less organized. Things come up; friends want to go out to dinner (we want to go out to dinner), working late, don’t feel like what I planned, etc.

This is why I have tried to become more flexible with my planning. I have been trying to plan by main dish and side dishes with lots of options for salads. This gives me the flexibility of deciding what main dish I want to make and what side dishes I feel like for each night. So far it has  been working well.

This week I found a great recipe on Elana’s Pantry website, Agave Lime Chicken. However, since I didn’t have a whole chicken I used chicken tenders that I had on hand.

Here is my version of Elana’s recipe.

Agave Lime Chicken
Ingredients
  • Chicken tenders or breasts (I used about 2 pounds of chicken tenders)
  • 1-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • Dash of celtic sea salt
  • 1 lime
  • Half a red onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic
  • dash cumin dash chili powder
Directions
  1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry
  2. Place chicken in a baking dish
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and agave, then sprinkle with salt, cumin and chili powder
  4. Cut the lime into quarters, squeeze the juice from one quarter of the lime over the chicken and place the other quarters in the pan
  5. Cut the onions in half and place in the pan
  6. Leaving the skin on the garlic, break the head apart and scatter the cloves around the pan
  7. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes until inside temperature reaches 165 °F
  8. Remove chicken from oven and raise heat to 450°
  9. Remove chicken from oven
  10. Drizzle with pan juices and lime before serving
  11. Sauté the asparagus in a pan for about 8 mins with a dash of salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder. Serve along with chicken.
Serves 4

Now for dessert!

My pictures below DO NOT do these tasty little cookies justice.

They only take about 10 minutes to make and once they come out of the oven, you will hardly be able to keep your hands off them. I found the recipe on a new blog I found, Studio Cuisine.

Whip up a batch now and by the time your chicken is done cooking, you will be able to put these right into the oven. Enjoy!

Toasted Coconut Butter Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp almond flour*
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 5 (I used 4) tbsp butter, melted in saucepan over low heat
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar (or honey for SCD)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Spread coconut flakes out on baking sheet, and bake for 2-3 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from oven.
  3. Mix almond flour, baking, soda, and sea salt in a medium-sized bowl.
  4. Combine melted butter, agave nectar, and vanilla extract.
  5. Add wet ingredients into dry and mix together.
  6. Fold in toasted coconut
  7. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Now What?

This past Friday was my last day of work (for now). It was a bitter sweet day for me.

I will have been with my company for four years. In those four years so much has happened, shaped and changed me into who I am today. Each and every person in my work place has made an impact on me, both personally and professionally. I feel lucky to have grown into the person I am today while working there.

With that said, NOW WHAT?!

“It feels so strange, now I’m just a stay at home mom” – Me

“You’re not JUST a stay at home mom, now, the possibilities of what you can be are endless, being a mom is just part of who you are.”  – Matt/husband/daddy-to-be

Don’t be jealous, I have the best husband ever. I cannot tell you how incredible he has been these past 9.5 months.  Not only supportive, caring and loving but he also tells me how great I look and embraces my new “softness”. (Although this new “softness” could come across as insensitive, the tone that he says “you are so soft and perfect, God is making you soft and comfy so baby can’t help but fall-in-love with you” is so sweet I can’t help but melt.)

I chose to take my maternity leave a few weeks before my due date (July 25th). Again, my great husband encouraged me to take this extra time for me, to rest and relax before my life changes forever. (Told you he is awesome).

Now that I have plenty of time (but a little less energy) I want to choose what I do with my time wisely. The first few things on my to-do list are clean, organize, rest, exercise and mentally prepare for my homebirth.

Even though I know these next few weeks will go by fast I still feel a little lost. Where is my place in the world? I start thinking, “Since I can work I really should  be working”, I feel lazy for not doing more. But then again this is what this time is for, for a little R & R and to feel prepared (as much as I can) for my little girl to enter this world.

I feel so thankful that I am able to take this time, that I am supported my both my workplace and my family.

I am so excited to meet my baby girl!

Till then, I will continue to clean, relax, and ponder what life will be like in a few weeks.

With love,
Caitlin

          38 weeks