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Laura
Follower of Christ. Wife to Adam. Mama to Joshua (9), Abigail (8), Esther (7), Hannah (6), Noah (5), Joseph (3), Peter (2), James (9 months), and Blessing #9 due late August. Soli Deo Gloria!
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Adam and Laura

Adam and Laura

Joshua Addison

Joshua Addison

Abigail Lauren

Abigail Lauren

Esther Rebecca

Esther Rebecca

Hannah Ralene

Hannah Ralene

Noah Evans

Noah Evans

Joseph Patrick

Joseph Patrick

Peter Edwin

Peter Edwin

James Emil Robert

James Emil Robert

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mary Grace's Birth Story

Seven of my nine births have been inductions.  Our babies are stubborn. :)  I had a new doctor with this pregnancy and he was very laid back and hands-off for the most part.  That was nice, especially when I wanted to do things like skip the gestational diabetes testing.  He was not willing to let me go past 41 weeks though.  Mary Grace's head and chest were measuring quite large at a 38-week ultrasound and he wanted to get the show on the road.  I'm really not a fan of inductions, but to be honest I was ready to get things moving too.  We waited 10 days past my due date for James and ended up inducing anyway.  In the meantime, he just got bigger and bigger.  Thankfully I didn't have any complications with his birth, but 41 weeks was plenty long enough for me this time and I was glad to get things moving!


Papa and Mary Grace


Wearing her first girly accessory. :) 


They started the pitocin around 7:30am last Thursday, September 4.  I was 1cm and not effaced to speak of and the baby was very high.  We told my doctor and the nurse that my body doesn't respond very quickly to pitocin and that in the past they've had to really crank it up to get any productive contractions going.  They typically start it at 2 and bump it up by 2's, but this time they started at 4 and bumped it up by 4's.  I immediately started having some pretty good contractions fairly close together, but they were totally manageable and I just kept changing positions and trying to rest.  I planned to get an epidural but wanted to hold out as long as I could so as not to slow the process down.  (Pitocin = epidural for me.  I went 24 hrs on pitocin with Joshua in an attempt to have him naturally.  Never again!!)  By 10:00 I was starting to think that I was being a big wimp this time around.  I could tell that the contractions were doing something, but based on my previous labors I thought I couldn't possibly be more than 2cm, if that.  I got the epidural around 11:00 and was 4cm.  Woohoo!  The anesthesiologist was wonderful and it was the best epidural I've ever had!  I rested for awhile, which was nice since I didn't sleep much the night before.


Grandpa and his 16th grandchild!



Mary Grace gets lots and lots of kisses :)

Around 1:15pm I was surprised to start feeling some pain and pressure.  I was virtually certain that I was complete and the baby was on her way, but I was also a little bit in denial since we were expecting it to take a lot longer.  We thought she'd probably arrive around 6:00 or 7:00 that evening.  I asked Adam to get the nurse and sure enough, Mary Grace wanted out! :)  My dad was holding down the fort with all of the children at home and I texted him at 1:26 to let him know that I was fully dilated and the doctor was walking over from his office.  Everyone thought I had hours to go, so they hadn't turned on the warmer on the baby bed or set anything up yet.  There was a scramble to get things ready, the doctor came in, I pushed 4 times, and Mary Grace was born at 1:39!  8lb 12oz and 20 1/2 in long.  There had been a good bit of meconium in the water, so I got to peek at her and then they whisked her over to the warmer to get her suctioned out.  She didn't start crying as soon as our other babies have, but it didn't take too long.  She's got a good set of lungs. :)  She started nursing shortly after and has been going strong ever since!  The first couple of nights were a little rough.  She swallowed some of the meconium on her way out and had some tummy troubles as a result.  They worked themselves out after a few days though, and she's doing wonderfully now.  I took her to the doctor last Tuesday (5 days old) and she had gained back her birth weight plus an ounce.


Sisters


James loves to kiss Mary Grace!


We're adjusting and settling in well.  I wasn't sure how James would respond to a new baby, but he thinks she's the greatest!  He was a little put out with me for a couple of days, but he's been so sweet with Mary Grace and loves to give her kisses.  Adam had all of last week off, which was great.  He took the older children to do some fun things and he handled meals and cleaning and getting some projects done around the house as well.  My dad was here for a week which was extremely helpful.  We all love having Grandpa here, and it was so nice to head to the hospital and not worry in the least about our other children.  He handles all 8 of them like a pro!  He even came to the hospital and spent an afternoon with just Mary Grace and me.  That was really nice as the last time we'd had a chance to just sit down and chat was...well...I don't remember.  I suppose before Joshua was born!


Home!


There's never a shortage of arms to hold a new baby.




Snoozing. :)


All in all this was my easiest and fastest labor and delivery yet!  I'm feeling a little tired, but otherwise well.  We're so thankful that Mary Grace is here and healthy and we are grateful for your prayers!





Napping on Grandpa's lap





James gave Mary Grace a train to sleep with. :) 



One week old!



Napping in Mama's arms


My friend, Kelli, had a baby girl a few weeks before Mary Grace was born and named her Mary Grace!  Neither one of us had any idea that the other was considering the name!  Kelli made this hat and sent it to us. :)



Another nap in Mama's arms



12 days old and so sweet!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

She's Here!

We are grateful to God for the safe arrival of Mary Grace!!


September 4
1:39pm
8 pounds 12 ounces
20 1/2 inches

I am particularly thankful for my fastest and easiest labor and delivery yet!  Details and more pictures to follow later.  



Thank you all for your prayers!




Monday, September 01, 2014

Pinterest Links to Remember

I composed and scheduled this post last week.  Hopefully by the time it publishes we will be holding a baby!  In the past few months I've found some recipes on Pinterest that I would like to record here so that I don't forget about them.  Several of them have made it onto our favorites list.  I've had problems with Pinterest links not working in the past, so I'm going to go ahead and copy the whole recipe here just in case.  I have changed some of the instructions to the recipes to reflect how I like to prepare them.  The original instructions can be found by clicking the links.  





This Oven Baked Rice is really good!  It is, however, a bit rich when paired with the Chicken Curry that I topped it with, which also happens to have a good bit of butter in it.  Don't get me wrong...it was delicious!  It was probably just a little over the top for everyday eating though.  Rice baked this way would make a nice side dish or a good bed for some sautéed veggies.  I doubled it and we only had a tiny bit left over.  

1 cup jasmine rice
2 1/5 cups water
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white vinegar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.  Pour rice into dish.  Stir water, butter, salt, and vinegar together in a saucepan.  Bring to a rolling boil, pour over rice, and stir.  Bake until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20-25 minutes.  



I've tried two of these DIY Baking Mixes and both were great.  I substituted whole wheat flour for half of the white flour in both cases and theta made them hearty and filling.  

Pancakes
3 1/3 cups milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
3 cups flour
3 Tbsp honey or sweetener of your choice
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.  Grease hot griddle and make your pancakes!  You can combine the dry ingredients ahead of time and store them in an airtight container to save time later.  


Mix and Match Muffins
3 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt 
1 cup honey or sweetener of your choice
1/2 cup oil
1 cup milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I substituted buttermilk)
2 eggs

Combine dry ingredients in one bowl and whisk wet ingredients in another.  Gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Batter will be slightly lumpy.  Fold in any mix ins that you choose to add (blueberries are wonderful!).  Fill muffin cups completely and bake at 350 degrees
 for 25-35 minutes.  



I had a craving for Salisbury Steak a month or so ago.  My first thought was to check the Pioneer Woman blog and sure enough I found a super yummy recipe!  This makes for a wonderful Sunday dinner when served over rice and with loaded mashed potatoes and a salad!

Meat mixture:
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tsp dry mustard
1 cube beef bouillon
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil (for frying)
1 Tbsp butter (for frying)

Gravy:
1 whole onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cups beef broth
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp corn starch mixed with a little beef broth or water
Salt and pepper to taste
More broth, if needed, for thinning

Combine all the ingredients for the meat mixture and knead until all combined. Form into 4 to 6 oval patties, then make lines across the patties to give them a "steak" appearance.
Fry in a skillet with oil and butter over medium-high heat on both sides until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from the pan and pour off excess grease.
Reduce the heat to medium and add in the sliced onions. Stir and cook for several minutes, or until golden brown and somewhat soft. Add the beef stock, Worcestershire, and ketchup. Stir and cook to reduce.



I use beef sausage and whatever veggies I have on hand...usually onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, sometimes broccoli, etc.  This is so easy and so good!  Just toss everything together in a bowl with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.  Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Stir occasionally.  



Chicken Burrito Bowl is a one-dish meal that is also fairly easy to make and very tasty.  I like to serve it with tortilla chips.  

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite sized pieces
  • 3 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup of uncooked extra-long grain rice
  • 1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups of colby jack, monterey jack or cheddar cheese
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • freshly diced tomatoes
  • diced green onions
  • sour cream
  • guacamole
Saute onions in 2 Tbsp olive oil until they start to soften.  Season diced chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan and cook over medium high heat until it has started to brown.  Move chicken to one side of pan and in the other side add an additional Tbsp olive oil.  Saute uncooked rice for about 2 minutes or just until some grains start to turn golden brown.  Stir in black beans, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin.  Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook about 20 minutes or until rice is tender.  Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.     Top with cheese, tomatoes, green onions, sour cream, and guacamole.  Serve with tortilla chips if desired.  



Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Roasted Brussels Sprouts is yummy and healthy!  I double this and we usually don't have any leftovers.  The children love it too.  I haven't found a chicken sausage that we really like, so I usually use beef sausage.  I've changed the directions below to reflect how I like to prepare it.  The original instructions can be found by clicking the link.  

1 lb fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 lb pasta of your choice
4 sausage links, sliced 1/4" thick
5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup pesto
Parmesan cheese for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Saute brussels sprouts in 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper until tender.  Add the remaining olive oil and sausage.  Cook until nearly browned, about 6-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain and toss together pasta, pesto, and sausage/brussels sprouts/garlic mixture.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.  




I recently asked for pork chop recipes on Facebook and got several great suggestions.  This is the only one I've had the chance to try and it was great!  I like how the potatoes are cooked in with the meat and then mashed later.  It gives them a wonderful flavor!  I doubled this and next time I'll triple the sauce ingredients.  

4 pork chops
1 package garlic and herb soup mix
1 lb potatoes, cut into chunks
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 red onion
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup half and half (I just used milk)
Salt and pepper to taste

Place pork chops on top of vegetables in slow cooker.  Add other ingredients on top and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.  Remove potatoes and mash with butter, milk, and any other ingredients you'd like.  





This Shrimp Scampi is another Pioneer Woman recipe.  I don't think I've ever made anything from her blog that wasn't tasty!  I don't make this too often because shrimp is pricey, but it is so good!  This one definitely needs to be double in our house, and I'll probably triple it next time.

4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup white cooking wine
1 lemon, juiced
4 dashes hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz angel hair pasta
Chopped fresh basil to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Boil water for pasta.  Heat olive oil and melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes or until onions are translucent.  Add shrimp, then stir and cook for a couple of minutes.  Squeeze in lemon juice.  Add cooking wine, butter, salt and pepper, and hot sauce.  Stir and reduce heat to low.  Cook pasta and drain, reserving a cup or so of the water.  Remove skillet from heat.  Add pasta and toss, adding a splash of pasta water if thinning is needed.  Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.  



Slow Cooked Broccoli Beef is another easy meal.  I've made this on the stovetop and in the crock pot and it works fine both ways.  This is another one that I double and I ended up making extra sauce last time.  

1 1/2 lbs roast or round steak cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup beef broth
2/3 cups soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp corn starch
4 Tbsp water
Broccoli florets, washed and cut into desired sized pieces

Place beef in slow cooker.  IN a bowl mix together broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and rice vinegar.  Pour over meat.  Cook on low for 6-7 hours.  One hour before serving, combine water and cornstarch.  Mix until smooth and stir into the meat mixture.  Stir in broccoli.  Cook on low until broccoli reaches desired tenderness and sauce has thickened slightly.  Serve over rice.  



I made Spinach Lasagna Rolls for the first time last week and everyone wanted seconds.  These are much easier to make than a traditional lasagna.  Next time I'll add some more spices as the filling was just a little bland.  I will probably use spaghetti sauce instead of tomato sauce as well.  I doubled the recipe.

9 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
15 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg 
Salt and pepper to taste
32 oz tomato sauce
3 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in medium bowl.  Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 in baking dish.  Lay out lasagna noodles, making sure they are dry.  Spread 1/3 cup ricotta mixture over each noodle.  Roll and place seam sir down in baking dish.  Pour remaining sauce over noodles and top each one with 1 Tbsp mozzarella cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  



These Sweet and Sour Meatballs have turned into a favorite.  This recipe makes a good bit and doubling it leaves us with some leftovers, which is nice.  I have only used beef meatballs from Costco for this.  I may try making them at some point, but for now the pre-made ones have been a great time saver.  This isn't the healthiest meal, but it's simple and good for every once in a while.  

Meatballs
2 lbs lean ground beef
2 cups plain bread crumbs
1 cup milk
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce
1 cup chopped green pepper 
1 20oz can pineapple chunks in juice
1 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
4 Tbsp vinegar
4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix meatball ingredients together and form into balls.  Arrange in a single layer in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish.  Combing all sauce ingredients and pour over meatballs.  Bake uncovered for 1 hour.  Serve over rice.  




Saturday, August 30, 2014

August in Pictures

I'm on a roll with blog posts this week!  I'm just trying to catch up and squeeze a few in before Baby Girl comes and I don't have time for much blogging.  These are some of my favorite pictures from August.  Hopefully baby's arrival will make August even better, but if not we should be meeting her by the end of next week!


Just playing a little baseball


Sunday afternoon at one of our favorite places!


We went to a minor league baseball game a few weeks ago.



The right fielder tossed Abigail a ball.



These two are something else!



I love how Peter periodically comes up to me and says, "I schnuggle you??"  :)  



Who says homeschoolers aren't socialized? :)



We enjoyed a visit from Adam's brother Chris and his family (Joy and four boys - Grayson, Tate, Reed and Micah) week before last!


We enjoyed pizza at the fountains downtown one evening.  These are 8 of the 12 cousins.



We drove up to the mountains to do a little apple picking last weekend!  Adam successfully placed his first dental implant on Friday (a huge accomplishment for him!) so we celebrated with a little road trip.  It was good to squeeze in some apple picking before the baby arrives too.  It was really hot, but we had a great time!


Yummy!




Munching on a James-sized apple.




Little boys in plaid shorts. :) 



We took a tractor ride to get into the orchard.



Picking (and eating) some Honeycrisps.



Friday, August 29, 2014

Fun With Grandpa



Back before Joshua turned six my parents decided that his 6th birthday would be a great time to take him to the aquarium by himself.  He loved it and Abigail did as well when her turn rolled around.  My mom passed away just a few weeks after Esther turned six, so of course a trip was just not possible.  Well, Grandpa is retired now and he took both Esther and Hannah to the aquarium last week!  They were gone most of the day and they had a wonderful time!  They're still talking about it and I'm sure they will be for quite awhile.  Of course they enjoyed the aquarium, and even though they miss Grandma they loved the Grandpa time and it is something they will always remember.  Dad kept me updated with some great pictures throughout the day.





















What better way to end the trip than with onion rings and Frosted Oranges from The Varsity!?!