Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

There are a few foods that I claim not to like... even though I've never had them. Brussels sprouts has been at the top of that list for many years. I've heard Paul talk highly about them (and even recall him eating them for a snack when we visited his parents for Christmas). One thing I adore about my husband is how he eats whatever I make-- even if he doesn't like some of the ingredients i.e. tomatoes and green beans.  Since he's always eating what I want, I decided to go out on a limb and try fixing up some of these weird tiny cabbages on his behalf. To ensure the whole meal wasn't a bust, I picked a recipe with a staple that I'm mildly addicted to: sweet potatoes. The recipe was meant to be served as a side but I didn't want leftovers so we ate it as the main dish.

The verdict: Simple to make and actually tasty! I was prepared to gag throughout dinner but I truly liked it. I will say, it's best hot. The more it cooled the more I began to think"... maybe this is a little weird." Even Vince said, "Hey, I like this, Mom!" 

We won't eat this all the time, but when I'm feeling wild I'll throw it into the meal rotation for sure.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
Yield: Serves 6-8
Recipe by The Food Charlatan
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 large sweet potato (1 pound)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed (I used 2 cloves minced garlic)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • fresh thyme, to garnish
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Trim your Brussels by cutting off the little brown end. If there are any yellow leaves, pull them off. Cut any large ones in half. Add to a large bowl.
  3. Peel your sweet potato and chop into 1-2 inch pieces. Add to the large bowl.
  4. Smash 2 cloves of garlic and add it to the bowl.
  5. Pour 1/3 cup olive oil over the vegetables.
  6. Add cumin, garlic salt, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir to coat.
  7. (Line a large sheet pan with foil if you want super easy cleanup)
  8. Drizzle a little olive oil onto the sheet pan and rub it all over the pan (or foil) with your hand. Or you could spray it really well with nonstick spray.
  9. Pour the veggies onto the pan.
  10. Roast at 400 for about 40-45 minutes. The veggies are done when they are brown and a fork slides into them easily.
  11. Place the veggies in a serving bowl and toss with 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar to taste. Garnish with fresh thyme if you want. Eat hot!
The garlic is there to add flavor, not necessarily to be eaten, although I do think it's quite tasty.
If you want to reheat these, take them out of the oven and let cool. (Skip adding the red wine vinegar.) Store in a tupperware in the fridge for up to 2 days. When you are ready to eat, spread the veggies on a greased pan and roast at 400 for about 5-10 minutes until you can hear them sizzling and they are hot. Remove from the oven, add a little red wine vinegar, and serve!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Break 2016

Following our grand Thanksgiving vacation I had a hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit. I forbade myself to make cookies until just before Christmas Day, often forgot to turn on the holiday tunes, was stressed about Andrew's sleeping schedule, etc. It wasn't until Christmas Break started that I really got into my holiday groove. No more waking up to hurry Vince off to school, holiday leave so Paul could be home, visits from friends & family, cookies, fudge, egg nog, and Christmas movies every night. Now THAT is what I was waiting for!

 Christmas Puzzling with Heather. Andrew did most of it ;)

 Vince got a new toy at his school Christmas party. Kate promptly tried to grab it from him and it wound up in her hair. Almost had to resort to giving her bangs. 

Took a leaf from Rachael's book and celebrated the Winter Solstice with a candlelit dinner.
Selfie Stick to the rescue!

 On December 23 we went to the ballpark and drove around looking at all of the light displays. Followed by a visit to Santa Clause! They wouldn't let us snag a picture without paying so we'll just use our memory to recall how cute Kate was sitting on his big lap. At first she wouldn't make eye contact, then it was shifty eyes, followed by sweet smiles and excitement. She asked for a doll. Vince asked for video game. He was nervous to sit on Santa's lap but Kate already being there gave him the courage to overcome stranger danger. They each were gifted candy canes as they hopped off his lap and then we enjoyed hot cocoa together (Vince insisted that it was Cocoa, not Hot Chocolate).


Holiday baking really gives me the Christmas feels. I can't let this season go by without making my mom's 7 layer cookies and my Grandma Griffioen's Fudge. A new family favorite is Rachael's M&M cookie recipe. We made all of these goodies in record time and proceeded to give them all away (insert hangry sobbing here). The most memorable part of goodie making was seeing Vince and Kate eat the fudge batter from the bowl. Whenever my dad made fudge we would beg to lick the beaters and the bowl. I loved seeing my kiddos make memories similar to mine.

Christmas Eve is where it gets really awesome. Am I right? Snow on the ground, no responsibilities, family gathered together, good food, our Fiesta (thanks to Christie's delicious tamales!), new jammies, cuddles by the tree, watching A Christmas Carol (only the George C Scott version will do), and most importantly-- reflecting on the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

The magic is so real here. But the sleep is even more real! Haha! We had to wake up these sleepy heads at 8 am so we could make it to church on time. Since we didn't have enough time for presents, we let the kids open their stockings. After our lovely church service we returned home to find Nana and Grandpa had already arrived! We got settled and then opened presents. The best reaction of the day was Vincent when he opened his Optimus Prime Toy, "THIS IS WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED!"   Boo yeah! Kate showed an obvious preference to the marbles we got her. Christmas was definitely a success!

After gifts my mom whipped up the most satisfying Christmas Dinner. I didn't have to lift a finger (which may have been the best gift of all). The rest of the day was perfectly lazy. We watched It's a Wonderful Life, did a puzzle, skyped with Grandma and Grandpa Brallier, played games, ate the rest of the tamales, watched Andrew "open" his gifts, and played with new toys. What fun it has been having them here for Christmas Day 2 years in a row. 

It was a Merry Christmas indeed!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016

I've never been good at coordinating costumes. I pretty much let them choose whatever they want and Kate has gone to the extreme with changing up costumes (adding batman ears to Minnie Mouse and adding a ninja turtle mask to her lion costume). I think it's fun to let them pick and I love how enthusiastic they are about dressing up.

This year we had quite a few Halloween festivities: Trunk or treat at the church, a school party with a parade, a playgroup Halloween party, and the real deal on Oct 31. Paul headed up pumpkin carving too. The kids picked the faces and then bailed while he did all the work. Haha! But they couldn't get enough of painting their mini pumpkins. I love that there are so many kid friendly crafts for this time of year.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Week one with my Newest Angel.

Little Andrew, you've been here a whole week now. You scared me at first. Since you were born with meconium in your amniotic fluid they suctioned your mouth and nose forcefully. Afterward you were in a bit of shock and didn't want anything in your mouth. Nursing started off a bit rough but by the end of day seven you're proving to me that even at a young age you can overcome obstacles. On day four you weighed 6 lb 15 oz and today you weigh 7 lb 2 oz. We're still working on getting your weight back up but I know you'll rally so I'm not too concerned.

You are the most darling little boy. I cannot get enough of your sweet cuddles. You're still new enough that you naturally curl up into a little ball when you rest on my chest. Oh and your little baby skin rolls kill me! When you arch your back there are these tiny little rolls all over. And you're still covered in a little bit of baby hair on your arms and shoulders. I love it! It's always exciting when you open your eyes but it generally doesn't last very long. You are one tired little dude. No worries, I know you're working hard on growing so you can be like your big brother. 

When you cry you're not shy about it. You skipped the newborn cry phase and went straight to full out baby crying. On day three I was so discouraged by all of your crying. You hardly slept a wink that night. This wouldn't have been such an issue except for the fact that you cried the entire time. There was no content wakefulness, just a fussy, sad boy. I thought for sure that my luck had run out and that I was finally given a colicky baby. But the last three nights you have been a champion sleeper and have hardly cried at all. I am so thankful that we just had one rough night this week!

You love your Nana. You fall right to sleep when she holds you. She discovered that you love sleeping on your side and she doesn't even need a paci to get you to pass out. You two hang out until midnight watching documentaries while dad and I try to catch a few zzzzz's before we take our "shifts". 

Today you had the biggest open mouth smiles while dreaming. I wonder who and what you're dreaming about. Milk fountains and clean diapers, perhaps? Nah, I'm sure you're reminiscing about all of your angel friends.

I love the way Daddy adores you. When he changes your diaper (which is almost every dirty diaper) he says "Hi, Andrew" in the sweetest, most smitten voice. It's so obvious that he fell in love with you right from the start. How could he not, though? You're so perfect. 

Vincent and Kate can't get enough of you either. Kate constantly says, "Hi baby!" to you and frequently requests to hold you. Both of your siblings shower you with kisses and get very excited when you're awake. You look a lot like Vince did as a baby but you have Kate's coloring as a baby. With time we'll see if you look totally different or become more like one of your siblings. For now though you're doing a great job at staying happy (and asleep) while they hold, rock, grab, and love on you. Way to rock your job as a third child!

I love you so much, Andrew. In one short week you've made my heart grow three sizes. I cannot imagine life without you. How did I ever think life was normal before you came? You're already one of us and it makes me so happy to know that you're mine forever. I feel like I'm never going to sleep again but you are so totally worth it. Keep being the sweetest thing on Earth, okay?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Andrew William Hannibal

Vincent Paul- 39 w 0 d, water broke
Kathryn Olivia- 39 w 4 d, induced to avoid 4th of July craziness
Andrew William- 40 w 4 d, induced... but only after begging and promising my body could totally handle induction before 41 weeks

In Utah, they are just ready to pop your baby out once you hit 39 weeks. My experience in Michigan was very different. Whenever I mentioned setting up an induction at 39 weeks my OB would deflect and talk about the importance of not letting women go longer than 42 weeks. Ahhhh! With a bit of luck and a lot of asking, I secured an induction at 40.5 weeks. This was my longest pregnancy by a week, but it felt like an eternity! Whether it was the hot Summer or the exhaustion from chasing two other kids I was ready to have the baby.

With Kate I went in the morning of my scheduled induction. They cranked up the pitocin, totally supported my choice to get an epidural, wouldn't let me eat or drink anything, immediately bathed and cleaned her following brief skin-to-skin, and let me stay in the birthing suite until I got over the shakes and nausea. Keep that in mind when you see how different my experience was in Michigan.

With Andrew I went in the night before around 9 pm for cervical dilation. It took a long time to track down the needed people and we didn't even start the first round until midnight! The bed was hard and I did not sleep well. Thankfully, I was given the clear to get myself up to pee without help (the IV was cruel to my smashed bladder). We got very little sleep and the ripening agent did little to progress my dilation. Then I was told we had to wait for my OB to talk to me before I got the clear to start pitocin.

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. The clock was ticking and nothing was happening. I had been prepping the kids and told them they would meet Andrew on the 15th. With the slow start I was concerned that he wouldn't be delivered early enough for them to visit before bedtime (these were my worries at 8 in the morning! geeze!).

We got the green light and started the pitocin... at the slowest rate ever! I didn't realize there were 2 methods for using pitocin. In Utah they used a high dose to really get things going and would turn it up every 30 minutes. In Michigan, they started with hardly anything and took decades to increase the dose. I wasn't aware that a low dose could be just as effective so I became increasingly anxious about the timeline for the day.

My nurse was a hoot. She was a good mix of quirky and nice. She didn't hide the fact that she was more into natural births and whenever I brought up an epidural she would give me different options: bouncing on a ball, walking around the room, leaning on top of a ball (awkward!), applying pressure to my back, etc. When she went on her lunch break Paul spoke up and said now was the time to get an epidural before she could "push me" into another method of coping/relief. I cannot tell you have thankful I am that Paul advocated for me. Often the doulas and support are given the spotlight for natural births, but in this case he saw that what I needed was pain relief and rest, not another go on the ball. The epidural was a breeze and I was instantly much happier.

Holy cow, I almost forgot to mention that they let me drink sprite and eat jell-o! During my first two labors I was so weak by the end and I attributed it to being NPO the entire time. I took it easy and only had sips of pop and one jell-o, but it made all the difference! Another difference was not having a foley catheter once receiving my epidural. I thought that was totally weird and was worried that my bladder might explode or something but (spoiler alert) I was just fine.

I'd been there since the night before and I was almost dilated to 5 cm. With the epidural going my doc stopped in and broke my water to speed things along. You guys, I am glad I got my epidural first because within minutes of breaking my water, I felt so much pressure! I hesitantly asked my nurse if something was going on because I already felt like I needed to push. I felt so stupid because just minutes before I was hardly dilated.

Lo and behold, I was a 10 and the baby was coming! It was like less than 30 minutes that I went from a 5 to a 10! All of the sudden things got real and I could hardly believe that after all of the waiting, it was time. My nurse did a practice push with me and instantly told me to stop because the baby was almost there. She asked if I wanted a mirror. That was something I didn't want to see so I declined. Remember how I told you she was quirky? She rolled the mirror over and said, "I'll leave it here just in case you change your mind and want to look." Haha! That lady just cracks me up. She was so certain she knew what would give me the best experience and she wouldn't take no for an answer. Had it been something like totally denying me an epidural I'd be ticked, but since it was just odd things it provided a good laugh.

The room filled and it was time to meet my sweet baby. Since there was meconium in my amniotic fluid we had extra staff on hand prepared to take care of any potential respiratory issues when the baby was delivered. The delivery went incredibly fast and before I knew it Andrew was laying on my chest and all I could do was say, "I love him. I already love him. I love him so much." With his birth brought all of the precious memories of my two previous babies. I could already feel how much I was going to grow to love him over the years.

Andrew William Hannibal was born at 4:38 pm on September 15, 2016 weighing 7 lbs 7 oz and "measuring" 19 inches long (insert quirky nurse while measuring the baby, "what!? He can't only be 18 inches... I'm going to say he's 19 inches")

I was expecting Andrew to receive a bath but in Michigan they don't give the baby a real bath because it increases the chance of taking home "extra" bacteria from the hospital. So he was gently wiped down with a towel, Paul put on Andrew's first diaper, then he was wrapped up and returned to me. I was given time to nurse him and bond through skin-to-skin while the doc taught some youngin' how to sew me up. 

The kids were able to make it in time to visit but the circumstances were less than ideal. My nurse didn't have anyone coming to replace her so I felt rushed to make it up to my recovery room. Meanwhile, my post delivery nausea was in full force and because of that wonderful jell-o and sprite, there was actually something to hurl this time around. So with my mom and kids in the room, I sat there puking while trying to show them how excited they should be about the new baby.

They moved me upstairs and I let my family stay for a little longer before my head hurt so bad and my stomach was churning so violently that I asked them to let me rest. With the lights off and the baby by my side I began to recoop and recover from the terrible awfulness I feel after every delivery.

I loved the different emphasis they had on breastfeeding. It wasn't about how long you nursed the baby, it was about how many times they would suck and swallow. This made me feel more relaxed about the process. I didn't have to stare at the clock and freak out because the baby fell asleep again. There were no repeated pokes to check his blood sugar and no pressure to supplement with formula. It was so nice! But do you remember how there was meconium in my amniotic fluid? To ensure he didn't get any stuck in his lungs they suctioned him vigorously after he was born. This created an aversion to anything in his mouth afterward and he didn't really want to nurse because of it. I was blessed with the best lactation consultant who gave me the confidence I needed in such an emotional time. It took some practice but within a few days we worked through it and overcame the trauma from all of the suctioning he went through.

Since this wasn't my first time at the rodeo and everything went relatively well during my delivery, I was itching to leave the hospital. Andrew cried the entire drive but stopped the moment we got him out of the car seat. The kids were thrilled to have him home and constantly wanted to hold him. My Dad even surprised us with a visit (on his birthday, no less) to see Andrew and spend time with us. It meant a lot to me that he would travel on his birthday and be away from his own home so he could be with us at such a special time. I also can't imagine how rough the transition would have been without my mom there to help us survive. Thank goodness for family!

Here's the play by play that Paul recorded for me:

2100: Arrive and register at the hospital, change into gown, blood draws, IV in
Waiting for doctors...(for 3 hours!)
0000: 1.5 cm dilated, 70% effaced, -1 station. Start Cytotec.
0400: 2 cm dilated, 70% effaced, 0 station, cervix in middle (no longer posterior, not yet anterior), 2nd dose of cytotec
0530: Experiencing some contractions now, got maybe 2 hours of sleep that night
0830: After waiting to hear from the doc we started Pitocin at 1ml/hr
0930: Pitocin @ 2 ml/hr
0945: Bounced on birthing ball for 20 minutes
1015: Pitocin @ 4ml/hr
1050: 3 cm dilated, 70% effaced, -1 station (she took away my 0 station!)
1105: Pitocin @ 6 ml/hr
1315: 3.5 cm dilated 70% effaced, -1 station. Feeling discouraged about lack of substantial progress
1325: Contractions are getting more painful. Tried laying on ball on hands & knees with Paul putting pressure on back
1355: Libby: "I don't think this is a good idea."
          Paul: "...Having a baby?"
          Libby: "Yeah" *quickly nods head with concerned face*
1415: Anesthesiologist in for epidural
1430: Epidural in and working! Relaxing while we wait for Dr. Rhone to visit

1530: 5 cm dilated, 70% effaced, -1 station. Dr Rhone breaks water
1545: Begins feeling pressure, asks nurse to check but hold off to reduce introduction of bacteria
1609: Feeling urge to push but resisting it, check by nurse- Completely dilated & effaced, baby descending
1620: Room set up, practice push, mirror incident
1636: Head delivered after one push. Cord around baby's neck (like Vincent)
1638: Baby born! Dad cuts the cord, skin to skin with mom, then Dad puts on first diaper

Do you see that?! Just over an hour from 5 cm dilated to delivery!