Happy Mother’s Day 2017

It’s hard to believe that in a little more than a week I could myself take on the role and title of “mother”. I know it’s comes with a lifetime of work and joy and I am so honored to be chosen for this beautiful responsibility.

I want to say thank you to all of my friends and family who are mothers. No matter how long you have been a parent, you have all provided me with guidance, advice, and set wonderful examples for me as I prepare to join you soon.

To all of of you Happy Mother’s Day!

Setting up: furniture

We never fully established our home in Wayland with furniture and then downsized what we did have when we moved to Centralia.

For a few months everyone who visited seemed content to use stools, folding tables/chairs, a blow up bed, and share our only sofa/ love seat.

But it was obvious when we moved to our new home in Chehalis, which has even more square footage then Wayland, that we had minimal places to sit or eat.

Now that we have moved, we have been blessed to borrow or be gifted many pieces of furniture. We are honored to use furniture for mine and Luke’s childhood for the nursery (more on this to come). Plus we were gifted a desk, two bench seats, a bed/ bed frame and several other pieces by family members. These have helped us set up a guest bedroom; which has already gratefully been used several times.

Even with all of these items, we realized we did not have places for people to sit or eat when they visit after Baby Greene is born. We have been looking the past month or so on craigslist and offerup impatiently trying to coordinate the right items, price, and timing/resources to pick something up.

This past weekend, Luke’s parents came to help us with any last minute prep before baby. We asked them to bring the trailer so we could pick up furniture. In two days and only two trailer trips, Luke and John were able to pick up a leather couch and chair set, a vinyl couch, and an oak dinning table set with six chairs.  All of this costed us less than what an outlet store would offer for a living room set alone.

On top of these blessings, the couple who sold us the leather couch and chair gave us four tall backed bar-stools for free, perfect for our galley kitchen for free. Next thing you know, our living room and family room are full.

This is the first time in our marriage we have bought a couch set and even owned a dinning table set, items we plan to keep for a long time. I am relieved to no longer have guests sleep on a blow up bed or eat around a folding table and chairs.  It makes this house feel so much more welcoming.

Thank you family for providing us with furniture and helping us pick-up what we need to establish ourselves and our home.

Pre-Baby Freezer Meals: Beef Roast

For more information abut how we made more than a month’s worth of meals in two days see my other posts: Pre-baby Freezer Meals: chicken and Pre-baby Freezer Meals: Ground Beef

Luke and I bought a large roast from Costco, although it seemed expensive, for the cost per pound, and for how many meals it provided, it was a worth while investment. Luke carved up about half of the roast for freezer meals we had planned. But then we had half a roast left. What to do with it? Easy, cut into two and make pot roasts of it!

After all the meal prep for the weekend, I realized I had potatoes and carrots leftover. So I filled up two ziploc bags prepped with raw potatoes and carrots to go with the roasts.  Suddenly we had more meals for the freezer than I had planned.

Luke cuts roast meat three different ways: one way for our latin meals,  for our asian meals, and last for stew meat. It is part of our normal routine to buy a smaller roast and split the meat into portions like this; so it was not that much more work to do it for a larger roast.

As stated in my other pre-baby freezer meal posts I will not be sharing recipes now, but depending how they turn out once enjoyed post-baby I may share a few.

Hint 3: Label and List: Stina and I bought large printable sheets of labels with enough room to write the cooking/heating instructions as well as what to serve with each of the meals. Later the next week I printed a “menu” list of all the meals that included what items needed to be bought or added in order to complete the meal-most items are in the pantry ready to go. I stuck this list on the top of the freezer with a magnet. Anyway to make everything as easy as possible for other people to help us with dinner.

 

Beef Roast Meals:

Beef stew

-crockpot meal

-serve with corn bread

Fajitas

-crockpot meal

-serve with tortillas, black beans, and sour cream

Beef and broccoli

-crockpot meal

-serve with brown rice

 

Pot roast

-in crock pot or oven in roast pan

Bonus: Lentil stew=no meat

-crockpot meal

-serve with pita bread

The actual recipe for this meal is already on my blog! For more see:Lentil Stew: a vegetarian meal

Save

Pre-Baby Freezer Meals: Ground Beef

To hear how we did all of these meals and more in two days see my blog earlier this week Pre-baby Freezer meals: chicken.

While Luke and I went to birth class on Saturday night, Stina cooked up 10 lbs of ground beef in our cast irons on the stovetop. Thank You! It seemed like a lot of meat but it was just the right amount for all that we made. The meat was split into two parts ziplocs. Half went into preparing my tomato meat sauce. I have never made such a huge helping of meat sauce in my life! The mixture of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, meat, and seasoning took up both my large boiling pot and my medium sauce pan. I went through ALL of my diced tomato cans in the house.

While that mixture cooked down we got to work on the other ground beef meals. Luke is good with portions and has a way of folding burritos into an envelope shape that holds well. So Luke showed Matt how to portion out beans, cheese, and meat and the two of them assembled. Once a stack of burritos were piled I took them to the cast iron to be sealed by slightly grilling both sides. Then Stina took the pile of burritos, wrapped them in foil, and put them into ziplocs.

It was fun to have such an assembly line going.

Once the meat sauce cooked down and cooled off  we assembled lasagnas and pasta bakes.  In the end I had only enough sauce leftover for two spaghetti meals.

As I said in my last post, I will not put recipes and instructions here. I am waiting to see which meals really worked out well after cooking before sharing them with all of you.

Hint 2: Buy disposable freezer protection for your meals: tin foil, foil trays, plastic wrap, and freezer ziploc bags. Most meals that will go in the oven were put in foil trays then wrapped in plastic wrap- a tip from Stina.

Ground Beef Meals:

Ground Beef Chili

– crock pot meal

-add canned beans

-serve with corn bread, over potato, or with eggs as omelette etc.

 

Spaghetti/meat sauce

-sauce defrosted on stove top or in crockpot

serve over pasta

Beef and Bean and Cheese Burritos

-easily microwaved

-serve with fresh veggies: salsa, avocado, etc.


Beef and Spinach Lasagna/Pasta Bake

-put in oven to cook

-serve with salad

 

Save

Pre-Baby Day-cation

With our crazy busy lives it’s been difficult to go on proper dates; let alone vacation. Luke and I haven’t had an official vacation since last year’s spring break trip to New York City.

With three weeks to due-date we decided we would get in one last pre-baby day-cation. We planned to travel to Seattle; only two hours from us. We left mid-morning and arrive in the city by noon time.

We drove straight to our destination: MoPop formally known as EMP; right next to the space needle and monorail. The Experience Music Project was a modern music and culture museum which hosted concerts and festivals year round. It was known for it’s interactive exhibits especially the sound lab where you could record music in studios and play instruments of all varieties. I was lucky to go to the museum for a college end of the year party and was able to return later bringing my brother and mother as well. Luke has never been and we thought this would be a great place to spend the day.

It’s been a few years since I have explored Seattle and of course that means some changes. EMP is now called MoPop. It still has plenty of interactive exhibits, music festivals, and the sound lab, but now the focus shifted to a wider Museum of Popular Culture.

We started with the indie-gaming exhibit.  We read he history of gaming technology and tried out demos of recent games put out by local and independent gaming programmers. Luke probably had more fun than me but I appreciated the history and art of programming.

After this we explored the third or basement floor exhibits of sci-fiction and horror. We were happy to see props from some of our favorite sci-fi movies and shows including light-sabers and hover boards. Luke enjoyed guessing which weapons came from which sci-fi shows and confirming it using the computer database. We glimpsed quickly through the horror exhibit and headed back upstairs .

I loved the way the fantasy exhibit was designed. You open a huge wooden door to pine needles on the floor of a dimly lite forest, in the center is a large tree made of silver dragon scales. Highlights of this exhibit include costumes, art, and weaponry from many famous fantasy movies as well as many interactive programs, one allowed you to create your own fantasy world map.

The traveling star-trek exhibit is a celebration of 50 years of the TV series(es) and movies. I only in the last year watched a few TV episodes via netflix and have seen the most recent movies. Luke who knows more of the star trek world  enjoyed the exhibit but was not impressed enough for the five extra dollars to view it in comparison to the rest of the museum.

Other than these, we explored the exhibit detailing the history of guitar technology over time; especially amplifying sound and the creation of electric guitars. Luke liked the guitar tree, a staple piece of the museum. However we were a little disappointed to see the third floor interactions with the tree, where you can use computer screens to play guitars on the tree, did not seem to be working. We also walked around the sound lab, which was very busy with high school students on field trips.

We left the museum a little before closing time, drove South to Olympia where we had dinner at a brewpub. Afterwards Luke treated me to a late night (well at least for us) movie date to see Beauty and the Beast before we headed home. A very full day-cation before baby Greene arrives.

Save

Pre-baby Freezer Meals: Chicken

A couple of weekends ago my brother and sister-in-law came to visit us for the weekend. While Luke and my brother Matt did yard work Stina and I did major meal prep.

I started research into typical freezer meal recipes via pintrest but quickly realized many of the meals are not in our normal routine. I decided instead I would convert our normal meals into freezer meals.

Now this may seem like a lot of work but post-baby we will be adjusting to new life changes. A sense of familiarity in our diet could be beneficial for everyone, including Baby Greene. With a little research it didn’t take long to change stove top meals into oven or crockpot options instead.

The deep freeze arrived on Thursday; Luke and I went to Costco before family arrived on Friday. The next day Stina and I got to work. We found it best to categorize meals by the type of meat; so that is what I will do to share these meals with all of you.

We bought bulk chicken breasts of which a few were whole or cubed and left raw to go in a crockpot. The rest were cooked in crockpots on high. The meat was so tender and moist that it took little effort with a few forks to shred it when done.

I am not going to provide the recipes for all of these meals, many of them are already easy to find online. Once we actually defrost them and cook them up, I will see what worked well and possibly write up recipes and instructions then. But I will give tips and hints along the way.

Hint 1: add dairy products later: other than cheese, it is best to add sour cream, Alfredo, etc. to the meal once it’s cooked for awhile in the crockpot, just as dairy can curdle if it gets too hot, the contents can separate in the freezer as well.

 Chicken Meals:

Broccoli Alfredo and shredded chicken:

-crockpot meal

– Alfredo added later

-to be served with pasta or over a baked potato

Buffalo shredded chicken:

-crockpot meal

-sour cream added later

-to be served with baked potato or as part of a salad

Shredded chicken enchilada soup

-crockpot meal

– sour cream added later

Shredded chicken, spinach, and cheese enchiladas

-oven meal

Cubed chicken curry

– crockpot meal

-coconut/milk to be added later

-to be served with rice

Mustard chicken breasts:

-crockpot

-to be served with salad

Save

Save

What you won’t see

You may have noticed through the past 8 months, yes we are to 36 weeks now, I have not been posting belly bump photos or sharing progress on baby Greene’s size in comparison to fruit or vegetables. I haven’t done any pregnancy photo shoots either. You might have thought this was because we’ve been so busy with other life events. In reality the lack of pictures, what you haven’t seen, it intentional.

Our current culture says the more social media sites you keep up with the more the expectation for tweets, casual pictures, comments, check-ins and so on. It’s easy to get caught up in those expectations; to be allured into creating a false identity that says your life is pintrest-able.

I have the right to post about every second of this pregnancy in mass details to everyone as the social media world expects and our culture deems normal. But, I reserve the right to withhold information as well.

I remember life before social media; before we became the connected generation of the over-informed. My childhood is documented on video tapes and Kodak film (even slides), and is re-told in the memories my parents and grandparents share. Their stories bring it all to life.

I have the privilege, for the most part, of sharing what I want of my life and childhood. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my whole life documented, not just for close family but for the world online.

I want to respect my child’s privacy, and his childhood by not posting every milestone and moment.

So what you won’t see are the naked bath tub shots, the diaper-as-only clothing times; the diaper messes, the drawings on the wall, or food all over the face.  Those to me are personal, memories of motherhood to share with close family and friends, in conversations, in person.

Those moments may be cute, funny, or receive sympathy for us as the parents, but could cause anger and embarrassment for our son when he is older.  The children of our generation have little to no control over what moments of their childhood are shared with the world. We as the parents have to do what we feel is right to preserve a sense of privacy.

There are plenty of beautiful moments of our new adventure as a growing family that I will gladly share with all of you. But fair warning, there are plenty as well that you won’t see.