Archive for November, 2010

Week One: Home With Baby – a New Perspective

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Week One: Home With Baby – a New Perspective

We have been home exactly one week now with the new baby.  Compared to our first child, this has been a calmer week than before.  Some people chalk it up to experience, knowing what to expect, steadier nerves, and lessons learned.  I say it’s a mix of all those things, plus a less temperamental baby. 

For all those new mommies-to-be out there, you have no idea what you are in for and nobody is going to tell you the truth about what to expect.  After I lifted my head from the milk-drenched trenches of yesteryear, I called all my mommy friends and asked them why they didn’t tell me what to expect.  Oh sure, everyone had something to say about labor and delivery, but not one soul told me what I was going to go through the first few weeks being home.

Want the honest truth?  Now that I’ve been through it once myself, there is really no way of describing the aches and pains of recovery, the pain of engorged breasts, the zombie-like sleep deprived haze, the constant worry of this thing called SIDS, stumbling through breast-feedings, the projectile poops, and the crying, crying, crying of a newborn whom you feel helpless to soothe.  My mommy friends simply told me that I would have to go through it myself, so no point worrying about it before hand.  Plus, they said they didn’t want to scare me.  Anticipating pushing a watermelon through a straw for 40 weeks is scary enough, why add to that stress?

The second time around, our first week went much smoother than before.  I even got out of the house for some recreational play with the family, something I didn’t do for 6 weeks with Oliver.   We are older and wiser now.  This time around we had a Grandma stay with us from day one in the house to help.  We have a more efficient diapering station setup.  We already have a bag of tricks to soothe a crying child.  We can tell which grunts, groans, and sighs mean, “help me” vs. “just passing gas mom”.  And the breastfeeding – so much easier the second time around.

New mommies, rather than tell you what to expect, let me try relating from a different angle.  I’m going to throw out some numbers.  You do the math from there.

Situation: 

Zero-complications at labor and delivery, vaginal birth, epidural/no-epidural, stitches from an episiotomy or tear, healthy baby, breast-feeding, first 7 days at home after a 2 night hospital stay.

Numbers:

325 pictures taken
84+ glasses of water drunk
82 diapers changed
78 maxi-pads used
40 minutes average time for one feeding including changing diaper halfway through
36 200mg ibuprofen tablets taken
16 ounces of liquid hand soap used
18 lbs lost after a 16 lb gain throughout total pregnancy
6 accidental poops and 1 surprise pee (baby)
6 surprise pees after 6 surprise sneezes (mommy)
4 nose squirts and squeezes (baby)
3 showers taken (mommy)
3 nights of 4 hours sleep or less (mommy)
3 loads of baby laundry done
2 boxes of diaper-wipes used
2 periods of sleep greater than 2.5 hours each out of 168 available hours (mommy)
2 trips to the pediatrician
2 unexplained bruises from things that you bumped in the night
1 trip to Babies-R-Us for things we forgot to get before

The times you kissed your baby’s cheeks, watched him or her roll away from the breast milk-drunk, cuddled them close to your heart while rocking them to sleep, gazed into their little eyes when they were alert, and smiled at their little chuckles while they slept – priceless.

Countdown is Over – Welcome Baby!

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

We made it to 37 weeks and on the day that I was writing my countdown post our baby decided to arrive instead.  Please join us in welcoming little Evelyn to our family.  She was 7 lbs 15 oz and 21 1/2 inches long.  She is perfectly healthy and has a sweet little personality.  She is always smiling in her sleep or chuckling over something funny.  Her big brother doesn’t quite know what to do with her yet, but at least he hasn’t tried to flush her down the toilet or throw her in the garbage can.

My mothering instincts told me that she was coming early and I was right!  We were able to get the office cleaned out and half of our bedroom setup for the nursery just in the nick of time.  My contractions started just after dinner early last week.  I had a feeling that they were the real deal and not Braxton Hicks.  I promptly jumped in the minivan and headed to JoAnn’s to buy some yarn to finish the baby blanket that I’m crocheting.  I also picked up some fleece for some jammies for Oliver and the lady behind the counter asked me when I was due.  I told her possibly tonight or tomorrow morning.  Cue shocked looks!  She asked me if anyone knew I was out driving and in labor and if I needed her to call someone.  I said that my husband knew where I was.  I also told them that he said I’d better hurry and get the yarn before my 20% off coupon expired during delivery.  Talk about saving a dime!

That night I labored away while everyone else slept.  By 5am, my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and I woke everyone up.  We all got cleaned up, ate, packed the van, and hauled Oliver over to a friends house around 8am. I got to my doctor’s around 9:30am and guess what?  We were ready to have a baby!  We were sent to the hospital immediately and I was 5 cm dialated when we checked in at 10:30am.  Evelyn was promptly born at 11:55am.

There was no time for an epidural and my hubby owes his life to a fantastic labor and delivery nurse who got me through the worst of it.  We stayed in the hospital for 2 nights and have been home now for almost a week.  Wow!  I still can’t believe it.

2 Pennies will be taking a turn for the baby for a little bit.  I have baby on the brain right now and can’t help it!  :-)  As for this very minute, I am headed to bed.  I forgot how exhausting it is to be a moo cow 24-7.  I love my little girl, but she can be draining sometimes…

Frugal Food: TVP – zero fat “beef”

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Where’s the beef?  Many years ago, my favorite hairdresser turned me on to Texured Vegetable Protein (TVP).  She was a strict vegetarian who gave me a great recipe for meatless tacos.  She used TVP – a dehydrated product made from defatted soy flour – to replace the ground beef.

When I tried it, I actually added the TVP to my ground beef mixture nearly doubling the recipe and LOVED it.  Here’s why I’m so passionate about TVP:

1 ) It’s healthy.  TVP has 0g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 2 mg sodium, 4g fiber, 3g sugar, and 12g or protein per 1/4 Cup dry serving.  It also contains 15% of your daily iron and 8% of your daily calcium.  When using it as a ground beef extender we always add 1 Cup dry TVP to 1 lb of ground beef.

2 ) It’s cost effective.  TVP can be bought in bulk from a store like Whole Foods for $1.99/lb.   In comparison, 1 lb of 93% lean ground beef sells for $3.49/lb at our local Food Lion – and that’s on sale.  Per ounce, TVP costs approx. 13 cents and the aforementioned ground beef costs 22 cents per ounce.

But how does that savings work out for cooking?  Well, 1 Cup of dry TVP weighs approx. 2.75 ounces.  At  13 cents an ounce, 1 Cup of TVP costs about 36 cents.  To equal the volume of 1 lb of cooked ground beef, which is approx. 3 Cups, you need 1 and 1/2 Cups of dry TVP.  That comes out to a grand total of 54 cents.  Meanwhile, the 3 Cups of cooked ground beef still cost you $3.49.  That’s a $2.95 savings.

3 ) It’s convenient.  TVP is a dehydrated soy product and can be stored on your shelf.  It takes a few minutes to rehydrate after boiling liquid is added and you are ready to use it.  There is no freezer storage and thawing, no bloody mess, and no greasy cooking.  We actually cook up large batches of a ground beef/TVP blend, portion it out into freezer bags, and freeze for future meals.  It’s easy to thaw and add to recipes (like tacos) on a busy night.

4 ) It doesn’t taste too bad either.  The plain TVP has what I would call a slight soy flavor, but I think I’ve been biased since I know it is a soy product.  In either case, it has a mild flavor.  I actually munch on it dry or rehydrated sometimes.  The beauty of the product is that it absorbs the flavor of whatever food it is mixed with similar to tofu.  I recently started dissolving beef bouillon cubes in the water used to rehydrate the TVP and WOW!!!  It tastes great!  My son actually prefers the bouilloned TVP over real ground beef.

This  is the dry TVP with a regular ibuprofen tablet for size comparison.

We use TVP primarily as a ground beef extender for tacos, spaghetti sauce, lasagna, hamburger helper, casseroles, chili, etc… We also use it to add protein and texture to soups and stews.  Why haven’t we swapped out the beef completely?  Well, to put it plainly, my husband is a carnivore of the beefiest kind.  He would literally yell, “Where’s the beef?” and leave the table.  Currently, I add 1 Cup of dry TVP to 1 lb of ground beef.  That is the cooked equivalent of 2 Cups of TVP to 3 Cups of ground beef.  Since I’ve been using beef bouillon to rehydrate the TVP, I’ve been increasing the TVP portions so now we are 3 Cups of TVP to 3 Cups of ground beef.  For us, it’s a good balance between cost-savings, health benefits, and flavor. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to how we use TVP to extend our ground beef.

1) Measure out 1 Cup of dry TVP into a bowl.  Add 7/8 Cup of boiling liquid (water, broth, bouillon, etc…) to the bowl.

2 ) Stir well with a fork and let set for 3 – 5 minutes to rehydrate.

1 Cup of dry TVP yields approx. 2 Cups of rehydrated TVP.

3 ) Brown 1 lb of ground beef.  1 lb of ground beef yields approx. 3 Cups of cooked beef.

4 ) Mix the two together.

Either use the mixture in current recipe or freeze for future use.  We normally cook up 3 – 5 lbs of ground beef when it goes on sale.  We rehydrate 1 Cup of TVP per 1 lb of beef, mix it all up and then portion it out in freezer bags.

When I want to use it, I either pop a bag in the fridge overnight, pop a bag in warm water for an hour, or nuke it in the microwave for 4 minutes at 50% to thaw.  Either way, making spaghetti sauce, tacos, etc… during the week has never been easier.

If you would like to try TVP you can probably find it at your grocery store.  Ask the people for help as it can be stored anywhere they decide to shelve healthy/vegetarian foods.  The most popular brand by the bag is Bob’s Red Mill TVP.  It comes in a 3 lb bag and costs more per pound than buying in bulk, but is a good trial size.  I cut out the back of my first package and affixed it to my bulk container so I would have the directions and nutritional info handy.  For buying in bulk, I go to Whole Foods.  They have it in the aisle with all the bins of loose grains, beans, granola, etc… I scoop out a huge bagful and it will last us months.

If you give it a try, leave a comment and let me know how you like it!

36 Weeks and Counting

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Happy Halloween!  We carved up the rest of our pumpkins and lit them just in time for the onslaught of trick or treaters last Sunday.  We had probably 40+ kids come through, our biggest year so far!  Thanks to shopping the bargains last year, we had several very large ghouls, monsters, and creepy things to decorate our house with.  Quite a few of the kiddos were too scared to come up to the front door and my hubby had to go outside to meet them.  Awesome! 

I’ve finally packed away the Halloween gear for next year and, believe it or not, started working on the nursery.  We are at 36 1/2 weeks, as of today, and don’t have much time left for dilly-dallying.  Our nursery is actually a corner carved out of our bedroom, but is complete with changing table, shelves, rocking chair, and bassinet.  What else do you need right?  (Famous last words)

The office will be cleaned out this weekend to be used as our “master guest suite” for the visiting grandmothers.  When the baby is old enough for her own room, she will move into the office and the office will move into our bedroom.  We will make it work! (or die under an avalanche of junk while trying…)

Baby and momma are doing great healthwise.  I’m working on our hospital bags and Oliver’s babysitter bag.  I’ve been typing up a user’s guide titled, “Everything you ever wanted to know about Oliver, but was afraid to ask” for the caregivers.  Looking at the sections titled, “Schedule” and “Routines” surprised me to see how well we’ve figured out how to run things around here.  I went from being lost and confused 8 months ago to semi-confident and settled now.  Of course, the new baby will throw us all for a loop again, but I hope I’m better prepared than I was when I left my job.

I’m also working on my own personal list of “The Essentials” for baby and momma gear.  As I’m getting ready for my little one, I’m creating it in tandem and will post for the new mommies to be out there.  It’s not as fru-fru or fluffy as the lists that are constantly being shoved in their faces, as I am not that type of gal, but hopefully it will be helpful.

Well, back to my Oliver guide and the section about food titled “To Eat or Not to Eat – That is the Question.”

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