Friday, January 25, 2013

Prepping for Baby #3

When I was pregnant with Asher, there wasn't much to prep other than deciding what to bring with us to the hospital, making sure we had a car seat, and having a crib.

With Aiden, I still didn't do a whole lot of preparation. Dusty and I made sure to have a list of things for my mom to know - what Asher's routine was, what he ate/didn't eat, some translations as far as what certain things in his vocab meant since he was only 17 months, and directions for how to work the TV/cable.

For this baby, I feel like there are a million things I should have ready that I just didn't think of when Aiden came around. Here are some of the things I've done to prep, and some of the things I'm working on:

* Cleaned out the boys' closets and packed away all the stuff that didn't fit anymore. I don't know about you other moms, but I'm horrible at keeping up with that! I tend to know just by looking if something still fits, but if my husband were to get them dressed, he'd assume that it fit, even if they outgrew it 4+ months ago. It's a logical assumption - why would it be in there if it didn't fit? So, I figured that for whomever is staying with the boys while we're at the hospital, I should really only have clothes in there that still fit. Common courtesy, right?

* Cleaned out my closet and drawers. It was way overdue. Everything was so unorganized, and my maternity clothes were all mixed together with regular clothes that I still wore while pregnant. I separated all of my strictly maternity clothes into one section so after the baby comes it'll be easy to pack away. I also streamlined the rest of my clothes because there were a lot that I knew I wouldn't wear anymore. Also, I decided I'd put my biggest pairs of jeans/pants right up front for convenience post-baby. I still kept my smaller ones, but they're a little more tucked away.

* Keeping up with laundry. The last thing I want is for us to be at the hospital and the boys' clothes to be piled in the dirty clothes baskets - how annoying for whoever's watching them! I really hate putting laundry away. Hate. It. I'm not sure why. But, I came up with a new laundry strategy that's been working really well for me! Instead of washing, drying, and folding 3 loads of laundry at once and then letting them sit there until I needed the baskets again, I made a change. Now, I wash, dry, and fold one load only. After it's folded, I bring it straight upstairs and put them away. It's much more manageable for me. I can still get three loads done in a day, but now they're all put in their proper places, too!

* Keeping the fridge stocked. I want to make sure we're not out of milk, eggs, cheese, bread, or any of the other staples we use for the boys each day. I want the transition from 2 to 3 kids to be as seamless as possible.

* Keeping the freezer stocked. The difference here is that it's being stocked mostly with things that I've made. I'm trying to keep a variety of breakfast options for the boys both while we're in the hospital and after we get home so mornings aren't totally crazy. I've frozen a couple different kinds of muffins, some quick breads, and we also keep frozen waffles on hand. Also, frozen veggies are a must, and I froze a few supper options, too to make life easier. (The boys really aren't difficult as far as food goes, and we'll only be gone probably 2 nights, but I want whoever's watching them to not have to wonder about what to give them).

* Keeping some easy snacks on hand for after the baby comes. I want to make sure we have fresh fruit both for me to munch on, and the boys. Also, I'm trying to make sure we have some mixed nuts around because 1) I love them, and 2) they're a great source of protein. Cereal is great, too, especially if you're like me and like to munch on it dry.

* Keeping the house neat/tidy. I really don't want the floors (either hardwood or carpet) to be covered in crumbs and gunk when we're gone. How gross for someone to have to come watch the boys in that! :) That means I'm trying to stay on top of the vacuuming and sweeping and keeping the counters spic and span.

I think that about covers all of it - I'll post separately on what I'll be bringing to the hospital for baby and me.

What did/would you do to prep for a baby?

On a side note: I absolutely love, love, love Trader Joe's soft, strawberry licorice. It's heavenly. And I'm not usually much of a licorice fan. The bad thing is that there isn't a Trader Joe's even remotely close to us. Well, the other day I was in the dollar section at Target, and they had packages of soft, strawberry licorice there that I hadn't ever seen before (I think it's made in Australia or something). It's Darrell Lea brand, which I hadn't heard of, but it's a perfect substitute for Trader Joe's as far as flavor and texture, and it's only a buck. Seriously, it's delicious! Anyway, I wanted to share that tidbit with you in case you happened to be in the same circumstance as I was. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie and a 39 Week Update

These cookies are amazing. They're pretty different than these Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, both in texture and taste. If you're looking for an across-the-board-crowd-pleasing cookie these are it. The Browned Butter recipe is absolutely delicious, but it doesn't really appeal to kids as much because it's a little more sophisticated. These, on the other hand, have the classic buttery flavor, are incredibly soft and chewy, and are totally dangerous because of that - I made two batches in a matter of days because we (or I) gobbled them up!

The method is what's really important with these cookies, and because they require a half hour of refrigeration they take a little longer than some cookie recipes. But, they're totally worth it. Whip up the dough in the morning, and bake them off during/after supper for a delicious treat! The other great thing is the versatility - it's just a really great dough base, so by changing up the mix-ins, you can have endless varieties of cookies! If you visit the original source, they tell you all types of things that can/do go wrong with cookies, and how to fix those problems; so, if your cookies don't turn out right, or you've had problems in the past, check it out because it's really helpful!

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie (original recipe found here)
1/2 c. softened butter
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. minus 2 Tbls. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
2 3/4 c. flour
1. Beat butter and shortening together with the whisk attachment for 3 minutes.
2. Add both sugars and beat again for 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs, vanilla, soda, and salt, and beat until combined - about 1 minute.
4. Scrape down bowl and stir in chocolate chips by hand.
5. Stir in flour just until combined.
6. Form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, and refrigerate 1/2 an hour, or up to two days.
7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (allow 15-20 minutes for this to ensure oven is the right temperature) and place dough on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cookies should be light golden brown around the edges with some light brown spots on top. If the tops are domed and shiny-looking, they need another minute or two. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Prepare to gain a few pounds!

In other news, I've made it to 39 weeks pregnant, and still nothing to show for it other than a large belly and bags under my eyes. :) I still am not getting much sleep - Aiden has a cold that kept him up with a cough for a couple nights, which meant it kept Dusty and I up comforting him. Thankfully it's improved a lot. But, even though he slept well last night I had the worst night of sleep of my life. I literally felt like I didn't get any sleep until sometime after 3 a.m. when I last looked at the clock - I'm sure that's not actually true, but it felt like it. My body just can't relax anymore . . . Time for this little lady to make an appearance!

Asher's been really cute lately - he asks on a daily basis if his baby sister is here yet. :) Unfortunately for all of us I keep having to tell him "no." Aiden turned 2(!) last Friday so we celebrated with family on Saturday, which is always fun. It also helps keep my spirits up when I get to spend time with family . . . Time is a-draggin'! 

I've had some contractions and quite a bite of cramping, but clearly it hasn't led anywhere yet. The longest I'll be pregnant is up until February 6, so hopefully these last two weeks fly by! I keep hoping that maybe the third time's a charm and I won't have to be induced this time. We shall see . . . Until then, I'm thankful to have had a healthy pregnancy thus far, and that I'm not nearly as uncomfortable as I could be. Now I'm just focusing on praying for a smooth delivery and a healthy baby!

39 weeks with Baby Girl

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hot Cocoa Cookies

I love hot chocolate. It's my winter indulgence. Of course I love fancy, flavored types, but I definitely don't turn my nose up at a Swiss Miss packet! Often, I have more cocoa on my hands than I know what to do with since I'm the only one in the house who drinks it, so I was excited to find a way to use a couple packets for something other than drinking.

For this recipe, I used a combination of these cookies and these cookies, and added a little spin of my own by rolling the cookies in hot cocoa/powdered sugar before baking. They were a hit in our household - Dusty loved them, and the boys kept asking for them . . . It probably doesn't hurt that there's half a marshmallow right on top! The cookies are soft, chewy, and fudgy and sure to please a chocolate-lover. I hope you like them as much as we do!

Hot Cocoa Cookies
1 pkg. brownie mix (dry)
1 1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 eggs
2 Tbls water
2 packets hot cocoa mix
1/4 c. powdered sugar
large marshmallows (about 10)
chocolate bars (probably 2 or 3; cut into about 1 inch pieces)
1. Mix together brownie mix, flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and water until a stiff dough forms. Refrigerate 2 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Mix together hot cocoa mix and powdered sugar. Drop dough by heaping Tbls. into mixture and roll until covered. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, cut each marshmallow in half, and stick a piece of chocolate on the bottoms. When cookies come out of the oven, gently press marshmallow/chocolate into the center and continue baking 4-5 minutes.
5. Eat warm for an ooey-gooey treat, or allow to cool.

Hugs and cookies,


Monday, January 07, 2013

36 Weeks and My First Weird Pregnancy Craving

Hip-hip-hooray! I'm almost done with this pregnancy. It hasn't been horrible by any means, but I'm ready to be done. I look forward to being able to breathe easily, roll over in bed without it being difficult, not feeling tired all the time . . . Wait, that last one won't change. Oh well. Mostly I'm looking forward to meeting this little girl! 

We've been working on figuring out a name for this gal. It's never easy. Dusty and I combined our lists of names we like and there are 15 of them. Yikes. We're each going to narrow it down to our top ten and see where we stand; then top 5. When we go to the hospital we'll probably have two or three to choose from after we see what she looks like. That's what we did with both boys and it seemed to work well for us.

I've been sleeping pretty horribly at night, which is getting annoying. It's not due to discomfort, which is almost more frustrating; I wake up around 2 or 3 a.m. and am so restless and wide awake that it takes 1-2 hours to get back to sleep. Then of course my mind wanders to all the things we should get done before she comes. We're working from the assumption that she'll be overdue (like both boys), but are realizing that she could come at any time. Need. To. Prepare. Everything.

The other day I had a really bizarre pain where my upper thigh connects to my hip and I almost had to call Dusty home from work. I don't know what it was (I'll ask my doc tomorrow), but I could barely move because it was so painful. It lasted a few hours, and gradually receded. I haven't had it since, so who knows. But, I hadn't experienced with either of my past pregnancies, so it was a little scary. Good thing my mom was available via phone for reassurance and advice. :)

My weird pregnancy craving? Crushed ice. Not flavored. Just plain ol' crushed ice that I can chew on. I actually crave it. We don't have an ice maker in our fridge, so I put a bunch of ice cubes in a glass and put hot water on them so they can more quickly get to a small enough size for me to chew. My husband thinks I'm loony. I agree.

I think both boys must sense that a big change is coming because they're both unbelievably sweet to me lately. Asher out of the blue says, "I love you, Mommy" and is free with his hugs and kisses. Aiden (who has never been a snuggler) will snuggle right in with a book, ask for hugs and kisses, kiss my tummy, and is just generally sweet. You can bet I'm soaking it all in! 

The last month of pregnancy tends to drag (especially now since the holidays are over), but having weekly doctor appointments helps to speed it up somewhat. By the time this is posted I'll almost be 37 weeks . . .