Strawberry Pancakes (gluten free!)

dsc_4061

All last week Sophie begged me for strawberry pancakes. This was prompted by a popular Daniel Tiger episode, where HE eats strawberry pancakes for breakfast after going to the community garden to pick perfect, fresh strawberries. “Land of make believe,” INDEED.

I opened the cabinet over the stove to find bugs — yes, BUGS — in our bisquick. I discovered this only after I had announced to Sophie that today would be the day I would finally make her the strawberry pancakes. Luckily for her, I still had this gluten free recipe in my repertoire of cooking knowledge.

dsc_4047

  • 1-1/3 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup Milk or dairy alternative
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, washed and chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp agave syrup

dsc_4060

Whisk together all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Heat a skillet and spray with coconut oil [or any oil of choice, to prevent sticking]. Pour 1 pancake in the pan at a time, and flip when the batter begins to bubble. Top with whipped cream and more strawberries!

I let Sophie help mix the batter, as she always eats more at meals when she is involved in the preparation.

dsc_4056

dsc_4053

Life Update

13330986_10153677236171239_8652720298040440640_n

Last week was a crazy week. It was one of those times in life when all the gears are moving so quickly, that you don’t even have time to emotionally process all that is happening around you. If you follow me on facebook then you know I was in the hospital the week before memorial day weekend. I came home with only days to prepare for a joint birthday and baptism party for the girls. My family arrived, and every thing was looking up when we lost a very special family member the morning of the baptism, my husbands uncle. He and his wife have been very involved in the girls’ lives ever since they were born. It was a heartbreak and a shock to receive that news as we were getting ready for church.

13308186_10206774969238347_891586354378704401_o

I’m still recovering, mentally, from being in the hospital. I’m not prepared to talk about the details of why I was in the hospital, [and I may never be ready to…] however, there were some instances of malpractice during my visit that I am trying to process and seek legal counsel for. If you add renovating the house to this craziness, you can imagine how overwhelmed we’ve been feeling lately. So much happiness amidst so much suffering. Your prayers are greatly appreciated during this time.

13319751_10153677236221239_99939350647979772_n

I’m trying to focus on the positives though, like how well the kitchen turned out, and the fact that I got to see my beautiful family from California. I put my focus on to decorating the new place with fishy decorations that entertained the girls and hopefully distracted them from the craziness that adults were going through.

I’ve had an outpouring of love from my local community of moms. Ever since I got out of the hospital, they have been rallying around me, showering me with gifts and meals. Also, an honorable mention to my family both near and far, who have been doing anything and everything they can possibly think of to help me.

I know I’ve been absent from social media as well as the blog, but since writing is so therapeutic for me, you can expect to see more posts now that I’m feeling better.

The Unapologetic, Stay At Home Mom

DSC_3858

I remember when we came home from the hospital with Sophie, I had help from my mom during the nights, and Justin was also able to help on a few occasions since he had taken the week off of work. After my mom left and J’s paternity leave was over, I felt it was up to me to take on the care and nurturing of our child. I was a stay at home mom, so obviously it was my job during the day to look after her and surely, I thought, I must also do it all through the night seeing as how Justin has to get up for work in the morning.

DSC_3875

It was exhausting, isolating, and I couldn’t take it anymore. Not seeing an obvious solution, I turned to the internet (I think you can guess where this is going…) Like many ventures to be consoled by the internet, this one also failed. I turned to a forum of moms and simply asked how stay at home moms (or SAHM’s as they are abbreviated on the forums,) split responsibilities with their working husbands. To my dismay, the majority of women answered that they took on 99% of the responsibilities noting that it was the “least they could do” since their husbands all worked and they got to stay at home.

DSC_3863

So I continued, struggling to handle the responsibility with our new child. If other moms were doing fine without the help, then their must be something wrong with me, and I’d have to learn how to do it solo. I felt guilty for even considering the possibility that my husband should be helping me. After all, I was indebted to him for the privilege of staying at home. Then one day it hit me: I work just as hard as J does. He gets up and goes to work, and I get up and work from home. Yes, caring for children is work, and anyone who tells you it’s not, must not have kids. In fact, I think I work harder as a mother than I ever did working as a groundskeeper and landscaping assistant. Anyway, that was my first revelation. My second revelation was that it took 2 people to create this child, therefore it should take 2 people to care for it. Yes, mothers are predisposed to being nurturing caretakers, but that shouldn’t make them slaves to the children.

DSC_3881

I was sick of apologizing for being a SAHM. I was sick of justifying to people why I needed help. If I had come home from a day at the office and said I needed help, people would respond without question, but as a SAHM I felt like people didn’t understand my need for assistance (even other moms!) Well I do, I need help. Once I expressed these concerns to J he was eager to help me. In fact, he admitted wanting to help but not knowing how. I breastfed the baby, so I thought I was the only one who could get up to feed her. Sure, J could help change diapers, but why wake him up if I was already up? As logical as that thought is, the truth is, I needed the support from my partner in the middle of the night and I needed to know that I didn’t have to feel guilty for asking for it.

DSC_3880

Now that we’re on baby number 2, I have had better sleep, little to no depression, and J and I are closer than ever. He is the first one to roll of of bed and get Cora. He changes her diaper, brings her to be me to fed, then either burps her or waits for me to be done burping her so he can rock her back to sleep. He takes them off my hands almost the same second as when he walks through the door after work. I cook dinner, then we put  Sophie to bed, and I’ll take the newborn back from him so he can unwind and do the things he wants to do. We trade off. If he’s had a hard day I don’t mind taking on 80% of the parenthood to allow him to relax, because I know when I have a hard day he will take the 80 and let me be the 20. It’s a partnership from conception until birth, until we die, or at least that’s what I’m counting on. I’m not exempt from needing my husband’s help just because I stay at home and he goes to work. I need help because I’m a human person who is raising 2 other human persons and I get tired.

If you’re SAHM and you feel like you need help, don’t feel ashamed, don’t apologize, and don’t feel like you can’t ask for what you know you need. I spent way too many nights crying myself to sleep wondering what the solution was. The solution is to ask your partner for help. Whether he works 8 hours a day doing manual labor or 12 hours a day at a desk, you are allowed to ask for help.

Freezer Meal: Breakfast Burritos

Our little baby girl is fast approaching, and I want to be prepared for when all my help leaves me! My mom is coming for 2 weeks, which will be such a blessing, but I know I will have an overwhelming time right after she leaves. Luckily, I have awesome in-laws who will drop everything to help me, but first, I intend to help myself. Freezer meals aren’t some thing I vented much time in before Sophie was born. I maybe made 3 of them? This time, I’m trying to be more prepared since, as a stay at home mom, I will now be outnumbered by my kids.  This recipe makes 20 burritos that can be microwaved 1 at a time, I know I’m at least set for breakfast for awhile!

12400741_10153382584091239_1296964494258198073_n

What you need: 

2 large baking potatoes, peeled and chopped into small chunks
2 teaspoons olive oil oil, divided
1 pound chicken or turkey chorizo or breakfast sausage
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup of baby kale, finely chopped
12 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces shredded Mexican blend cheese
20 flour tortillas, warmed [I used whole wheat and microwaved for 2 minutes to warm]

Directions

Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until just tender, about 7 minutes. Drain.

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the chorizo, pepper, kale, and onion, and cook, breaking the meat up into small pieces, until just cooked through, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the potato and cook over medium-low heat until the flavors are combined. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl whisk the eggs together with the milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Heat the remaining teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook, stirring to scramble, until just cooked through. Remove from heat immediately. Do not overcook.

Top each tortilla with the chorizo mixture, eggs, and sprinkle with cheese. Roll up into a burrito and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with all the tortillas. Freeze the burritos until frozen. Remove to a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, wrap the burrito in a paper towel. Microwave for 2 minutes, or until warmed through.

12573052_10153382584136239_3551930559870714178_n

Hubby’s Birthday

10313492_10153359657626239_3814005541146802461_n

J turned 28 yesterday and we had the most fun celebrating him this past weekend. So, let me take a minute to brag about my husband… pretty much every morning, for the past 10 weeks, J has gotten Sophie out of bed, allowing me to sleep in, he feeds her breakfast, gets her dressed, brushes her teeth, and then tucks her into bed with me [and some times my cell phone on “kids mode”] before he leaves for work. This allows me to sleep in even longer, as long as Sophie is content to be in bed with me. That is just ONE of many things he does to try and make my life easier.

Since we plan on moving in the near future, he’s only showed me more how great of a father he truly is. He works hard to provide for us [and clip coupons for us], making sure we have enough food for the week [thank you coupons], that I can have the heat on as long as I want during these frigid Ohio winters, enough clothes [thanks again to coupons], and finally a home. Becoming a home owner is a big deal, and as the sole provider of this family, I’d think the process would stress him out or be a burden on him, and all I’ve heard are remarks of anticipation from him, and how he can’t wait to build a home with me and our 2 baby girls.

12391379_10153322410846239_7747610205110516478_n

He is silly, makes me laugh, is kind and tender to this overly-emotional, some times seasonally depressed California girl. I feel so blessed to have him in my life, and I couldn’t have concocted a more perfect spouse for myself if I tried. Now, I’m not saying he’s perfect, that’s definitely not the case… but I see where his weaknesses collide with my strengths, and vice-versa. Furthermore, I see how our chemistry together will help us to raise beautiful, God-loving girls.

12004007_10153230096916239_6717367415784137066_n

So happy birthday to the best dada and hubs I know! You bring so much joy to my life!

Comfort and Joy

12401019_10153369359261239_1706997566569687674_n

I’ve been lucky enough to have my brother here helping me nest for the past 2 weeks, but he leaves on Monday. Besides spending time with his [sassy] goddaughter, he’s been helping me clean, organize, and been cooking us meals from scratch. If you’ve followed my blog for more than a year, then you know winters are especially tough on this former Southern California girl, but having my brother here has really helped me from feeling overwhelmed and isolated.

12400649_10153369359241239_1135345557261415082_n (1)

Another thing that has helped, is baking! [My blog is named after a cookie for goodness sake…] While I’ve been trying to take care of my [and baby’s] health, winter time always calls for comfort foods. See, my brother never left the golden state after he turned 18, like I did, instead he stayed there for college and wasn’t expecting the winter wonderland that appeared here over night when he planned this visit. He too, has been needing comfort food during his stay, and so after my kale smoothie in the morning, the day usually progresses with either some fresh baked cookies, or a pan of baked mac’n’cheese. I’m not going to go as far to say that is a “balanced” nutritional diet, but it’s all about survival here in the winter. J got me a fitbit for Christmas, and that in and of itself has helped me to be more aware of my habits and how to improve on being a little more active.

12494656_10153369359226239_4173202235488725385_n

Though I’ll be sad to see my brother go, as I’m sure Sophie will be sad to see her playmate disappear, I rest assured knowing my mom will be here in less than a month for the birth of this new baby! In the meantime, I have J’s birthday to look forward to, as much as some well-deserved alone time I’m planning for us.

947_10153367585746239_2264640874621116550_n

Despite having a pretty mild winter here overall, it is still hard for me to cope when the snow starts falling. How do you all survive the winter months?

What do you need for Baby #2?

DSC_2121

Lets face it, when baby #1 comes around, you’re clueless. Who knows if I want a ring sling versus a structured baby carrier? Do I even need either of those? Isn’t that what strollers are for? And why are there 500 different types of bottle nipples? You don’t really know what you’ll need, what you or your baby’s preferences will be.

I have a closet full of things I thought I would need, that I didn’t end up using. I thought the anti-colic Dr. Brown bottles would be a life saver for me, and perhaps they would have, if Sugar Plum hadn’t only wanted to drink exclusively from tommee tippee bottles. I have about 20 Dr. Brown’s. Want to know how many tommee tippe bottles we have? One. That’s right, only one of my daughter’s preferred bottles. In any case, I will be putting together a small registry for baby #2, now that I’ve been able to try a variety of products with baby 1. Here are some thing I’m thinking of:

1. white noise maker – for some reason, I thought our baby mobile would suffice. Little did I know, it sounded like the loudest music box known to man and required a loud cranking, in order to get the music to begin. At some point, Hubs got a stuffed animal that played a variety of noises, one of them being white noise. We’ve been able to get by with this toy, but I’d rather invest in an actual white noise machine for future babies to come.

2. more bottles – I breastfeed, in fact, I had an easy time breastfeeding with no latch problems or tongue ties. That being said, my baby loved to nurse. The tommee tippee bottle is much closer to resembling a breast than the Dr. Brown’s model. Since I know I will be primarily breastfeeding, I think its wise to invest in bottles that I know my baby will be able to transition with.

3. Nursing essentials –  with that being said about the bottles, I was pretty clueless as to what I would need for nursing. I figured they made nursing bras, but I had no knowledge of nursing tanks, tops, or nightgowns. You can get by without all of these things, but since we plan on having more children after #2, it seems like now is a good time to start investing in pieces I’ll be using over and over again [also, they DO make life easier as a nursing mama]

4. essential oil diffuser –  When you have a baby, particularly one under 12 months, it is very hard to medicate the child for anything. Luckily, a friend introduced me to the world of essential oils. When Sugar Plum was sick or seemed to have allergies, I couldn’t give her any kind of medicine, but diffusing oils such as eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender, helped her to breathe easier and sleep better. It’s definitely not some thing I ever would have thought to register for, for our first child.

What are things you wish you had the first time around?