the one about meatloaf

My sister in law & brother gifted me the Magnolia Table cookbook by Joanna Gaines for Christmas.   I was drooling as I was flipping through the pages, picking out things I knew for sure we had to make.  Jake did the same thing, and actually picked the first recipe!  All the recipes are relatively simple, and she mentions specific national brands of things to use (Hellman’s & Pillsbury are both mentioned in different recipes).   We decided to pick one recipe at a time to have each week, and cook them together if possible.

The first one we picked was Meatloaf.  Seems simple enough, but this isn’t your mama’s meatloaf – not at all.  It started with saucing chopped onions in butter until they were translucent, then adding it to the mixture of spices, ground beef, saltines and egg.  Oh and cheese!  We used a Pampered Chef stoneware pan that I have had for years, but rarely use to make it.   It was out of this world delicious.   We only made 1 tiny change to the recipe, that really had no effect on the outcome or the taste.   The recipe calls for putting ketchup on the top, which usually has a high sugar content.  We had some leftover tomato sauce from the recipe, so we just poured some of that on top.  We did have to cook it longer than the recipe indicates, which I attribute to using the stoneware pan.  The stoneware pan made it crisp up on the sides & ends (I ate the end piece!) and it was so delicious!

I’m obviously not a food photographer, so hopefully these pictures give you a general idea of how the process went!   We actually made patty melts on Sunday with the leftovers and some rye bread and they were also so yummy!

 

things not to say or do

So I am roughly 7 months pregnant, with what seems like a few short weeks to go (about 10 now).   There are some things that people have said to me that have left me shaking my head.  And others that have made me want to run away crying.   There is something about seeing a pregnant woman that makes people completely lose their filter.

1 – Your birth story.  Don’t just volunteer that information.  Only tell me if I ask.  Medicine has changed so much in just the last few years, even things that happened when I was pregnant with Natalee 10 years ago are totally obsolete.

2 – Don’t tell me how big I am, how big I’m getting, etc.   “You’re getting so big” stopped being a compliment when I was 6 years old.   Instead say to a pregnant lady “here, have some XXXXX” (insert whatever she is craving).

3 – Don’t touch my stomach.  I am not a petting zoo or a lab experiment.  If you ask, chances are I will let you, however if I say no, please don’t take offense.  I have severe eczema at times, and there are times that I feel like my skin is on fire and I don’t even want my clothes touching it.  But then again, running around naked is frowned upon.

4 – Don’t ask me “are you having twins” or “are you sure there is only one in there?”   Literally, shut your face.  Whether it’s kid #1 or kid #4 – I am confident there is only 1 in there.

5 – Going back to #2, I am not a size 2, hell I’m not even a size 10.  However, telling me “oh I got back to my pre pregnancy size in 5 weeks” is NOT helpful information.  I’m super happy for you, but peoples bodies are NOT all the same.  For your information, I have only gained 6 lbs this entire pregnancy – which my doctor explained means I’m losing weight elsewhere as baby girl grows.  So, again – shut your face.

 

well that was unexpected

Well hello 2019, and hello first day back to work in the new year.

I’m kinda glad to see 2018 go – while we had some great moments, like finding out I was expecting and celebrating our 1st anniversary, we also had the hurricane (and subsequent damage), and Jake losing his job.   All that is behind us now!

The end of 2018 naturally brought about some doctors appointments.  I had my 1 hour glucose test on December 18th, and found out 2 days later that I failed it.  Boo.    Scheduled by 3 hour test for December 26th.  Immediately after finding out I failed the first one, I changed my diet, this meant – no sweets, no sweet tea, no juice (oh how i miss orange juice) and no soda.   I pretty much dropped 8-10lbs in a matter of days.  Go to the hospital to take the 3 hour test (which is 4 blood draws total) – their computer system is a mess, and I spend a bunch of time on the phone with my old doctor (who was helping out since my regular doctor was on maternity leave).   We finish up at lunch time and Jake takes me out to lunch at Cracker Barrel.   One giant plate of carbs (mac & cheese, hashbrown casserole & chicken & dumplings) – I get the dreaded phone call that I failed the 3 hour one.  Boo again.  Jake said “well aren’t you glad you ate all those carbs now?”   The soda was a hard one, because that was my main form of caffeine, so I weaned off that slowly by having 1/4-1/3 of one of the tiny 8oz bottles per day until my stash was gone (about 3 days).  Now I’m doing pretty well, the withdrawal headaches are gone.

Dr. H calls in a prescription for a glucose meter, lancets and test strips and tells me to test 4 times a day (wake up, and then after each meal).  No white bread, white rice or white potatoes, no juice, no sweet tea, no cereal and limited fruit.   Dude, I’m pregnant – fruit is life!  So I started testing the morning of December 27th.   I have the hang of it now, and it’s not as painful as it was the first few days.   I got some awesome tips on how to get a sample when your hands are cold from some nurse friends, and to just remain calm when doing it and don’t get overly anxious.   I have yet to meet with the doctor since this diagnosis, but based on the research that Jake and I have done – my numbers for the most part are relatively good.

But the diagnosis was certain unexpected.

Never Have I ever….

I saw one of those “never have I ever” bingo things on facebook recently, and thought it would be fun to share here!

Didn’t get a true “bingo” at all, but it was fun to see what I have done.   We used to ride horses off and on growing up at a church friends home.  I did once fall asleep in art history class in college.  The teacher was in her late 70’s and had a very monotone voice.  She would turn off the lights and show slides, meanwhile my assigned seat was in the corner against the wall with my back against the radiator.  Needless to say, when it was winter – i fell asleep once or twice.   I have traveled “abroad” to the Dominican Republic for a mission trip and I have also been to Mexico and Canada.   I had food poisoning when I was pregnant with Katie, and it was horrific.  I had it again 14 years later when my husband (now my ex husband) made sausage.  My son to this day refuses to eat sausage because of this!   I like most teens, had braces in high school!

I have been in an ambulance twice – each time because Natalee was being transported to the children’s hospital.  Once when she was diagnosed with RSV and required hospitalization that our local hospital didn’t have, and the 2nd time when she was transported due to a febrile seizure.   I’m 99% sure everyone in life has broken their phone before, or at least their phone screen (chances are Jake is going to say “I have never done that).  Of course I’ve kissed someone, haven’t you?   Failed a test – sure have, several times.  Been on TV – yes in fact!  Growing up, we played “extras” in several movies including JFK and Miss Rose White.   I play the piano, and I have played in the rain (on purpose and not on purpose both).  And almost died – unfortunately when I was giving birth to Katie, the doctors made Matt make the decision who he would like the doctors to “save”, because I was slipping in and out of consciousness due to my heart rate bottoming out.

What are some things you have done, or never done?

creeping in again

I have been very candid in the past about my ex-husbands affair, the failure of our marriage and lots of things that stemmed from that.  I have written extensively about postpartum mental illness (much of which stemmed from what was happening with him), had long talks with friends who have also suffered and reached out to new mamas to make sure they were ok.

You can read a lot about my postpartum anxiety experience at the link below and while the Climb out of Darkness organization no longer exists, I think it is important to recognize that pre and post partum anxiety and other mental illnesses do occur.  Link to the post:   http://www.vannclan5.com/2016/05/cotd2016/

A few weeks ago, I felt that anxiety creeping in again.  Let me first say this – my husband Jacob is absolutely wonderful.  NOTHING about the anxiety I feel stems from him, the way I am treated or anything.  This pregnancy I have been supported, lifted up and taken care of in ways that I never imagined were possible.

I have an hour commute each way most days.  In the mornings I drop off Natalee at the elementary school and then Katie at the high school.  If we leave the house at 7, I can have both girls dropped off by 730-740 and be on the road to work.  Some mornings if it’s raining I take Jonathan too, as his school is right next to Natalee’s.  Drop off is easy.  In the evenings, I leave work at 5pm, and get home between 550-615pm.  In the evenings, I am a white knuckle driver.  My hands often hurt after the ride home because I live in this constant fear of being in a car accident.  When I lay my head down at night to go to sleep, it’s one of the first things that pops in my head – I am going to be hit by someone who doesn’t stop at a red light, or something.  It takes me probably 30-45 minutes to fall asleep.  Here comes that anxiety creeping in again.  When I wake up in the morning, it hits me again about car accidents, but not for me – for Jake.  I worry until he texts me to tell me he made it to work (our morning routine).  I worry about it being dark, and a deer running in front of him on his way in since he is mostly on back roads.

I have anxiety about fixing everything at the house in time, since we are still displaced from our bedroom due to the hurricane flooding our bedroom.  We have a repair plan in place for the chimney (cause of the leak that caused the flooding), and the company we are using is doing their best to get it done quickly because of the situation.  I hate the out of control feeling that stems from not knowing when that will be done.  We can’t start on baby girls room (painting), or even put her furniture up until that is complete.  As it stands now, we couldn’t even fit a bassinet in her room along with our mattress (currently on the floor).   Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and mentally calculate how many weeks we have left, along with how much money it will take to finish everything to get things livable.  Here comes that anxiety creeping in again.

Lastly, the last thing I should possibly worry about (but I do) is who is going to take care of everything at work while I am gone.  My plan is to take 8 weeks of maternity leave, and thanks to the caring nature of our faculty – I am able to do this (they have donated leave to me).  I just worry about all the little things I do that no one else knows how to do.  Faculty and students have actually commented on “what are we going to do without you”, and sadly I think the staff is in for a rude awakening when I am gone and not easily accessible as I once was.   Here comes that anxiety creeping in again.

Devotional Journals Review

Hi friends!

I was blessed again to receive 3 devotional journals to review by Ellie Claire!   And they are absolutely beautiful!    I received the following journals (clicking each title will take you to an amazon page):

Peace Begins with Me

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

The Earth is the Lord’s and Everything In It

First, let me say they are all extremely well made, and the colors on each are beautiful.   They would make a wonderful stocking stuffer or other holiday gift this year.  Each is a 365 day journal.

The Peace Begins With Me journal has a soft sea foam green cover, with an elastic band to keep it closed.  In addition to the closure, there is a ribbon marker to keep track of what page you are on. I did not test the paper in any of the journals, but all descriptions I have read about these say they are non-bleed paper, so you could use your favorite pens in it without worrying if it bleeds through.  Each day has a short devotional, and under that space for writing out thoughts or prayers, or other memories.

 

The Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus journal has a colorful floral cover, without an elastic band closure.  It does however have a ribbon marker inside to bookmark certain pages.  Like the others, it has a short devotional for each day, along with a verse from scripture.  Underneath is a lined section for writing out daily thoughts or other notes.  Each page is full color as well, with flowers adorning the corners.

 

The Earth is the Lord’s and Everything In It journal has a full color cover, with a pair of peacocks on it.  This one does have an elastic band closure, and a ribbon for page marking on the inside.  The lined pages have a verse of scripture, a short devotional and usually a short one line prayer verse.   Like the others, I did not test the paper in any of the journals, but all descriptions I have read about these say they are non-bleed paper.  This journal also has full color pages on the inside too!

 

 

disclosure – I received these books for free from the publisher in exchange for my review.  All thoughts are my own.

 

December is busy.

It’s only the 7th day of December and I already feel like it is flying by.  At work, it’s the last week of classes and then exams start on Sunday.  I feel like things are about to get real crazy, real quick.

We have a department holiday party coming up, and I am taking meatballs.   I found a recipe for Cranberry BBQ Meatballs from The Chunky Chef, and I am sitting here drooling looking at the recipe.  I wanted something that was easily cleanup (hello crockpot liners!), and was an easy to eat party food.    Three ingredients and maybe 10 minutes of prep time – yep, I’m sold!   Also wanted something simple in case I buy all the ingredients, and we end up with weird winter weather that prevents us from going to the party.   Yes, SC is expecting weird winter weather this weekend.  Granted, I’ll believe it when I see it, since it was 70 on Sunday and Monday of this week.

We also have an annual family reunion at my uncle’s church for all my moms siblings (7 of them total), and their kids/grand kids.   It is always fun, because we typically only see this side of the family once a year.  We weren’t able to make it last year, so we are going up on a Friday to stay with my mom, attending the party on Saturday and then going back to moms for the night.  She wants to make cookies with the kids (and us) on Saturday afternoon/evening.   Later in the month we’ll head back to moms for actual Christmas stuff and my birthday!   This is something we have gotten to do every year since the kids and I moved to SC.  They live so close (5ish hours), that I want to try to get there as much as possible.   I cannot wait for birthday dinner this year, because this girl wants her seafood!   I’m bummed because one of our favorite places to eat was torn down due to extensive hurricane damage, so we’ll have to find somewhere else to go.

After that week, its my last week of work, and my kids last week of school for 2018.   I have the dreaded glucose test later this month too.  I am looking forward to having one glorious week off work, with no alarms (for me), and no rushing to get kids to school on time!

What does your December look like?

they read my mind

I saw this cartoon on facebook, and knew I had to share it!   This is literally ME in cartoon form.  After Natalee became really sick around 18 months old and ended up hospitalized, I became super aware of people breathing on her and around her (germs, cigarette smoke smell, etc).  If you think I was bad when she was 18 months old – then you will probably hate me as the mom of a newborn.   I think I have more of a voice now than I did back then, and I’m less afraid of offending people than I used to be.  It is my job as a mom to protect baby girls little lungs and her health.