NCRegister Blog: Our Open Hands Can Open the Hearts and Arms of Mothers

There is a growing feeling among pro-life Catholic Millennials that those segments of the pro-life movement that focus just on law have failed to see and do what will really save lives. Having all been born since Roe v. Wade, we have lived all our lives with the reality of legal abortion. Many of us spent countless hours of our youth praying outside abortion clinics, being yelled at by passing drivers, being scorned by the media, but not afraid to be persecuted for our defense of life. We have heard from our earliest days that Pope Saint John Paul II told us, “Do not be afraid!” So we have been brave in our defense of truth and life issues, and we are not afraid to continue to face persecution.

Read more at the NCRegister…

The Birth Story of the Masculine Child

Okay folks, for those of you who like this sort of thing, this is a BIRTH STORY. There will be discussion of blood, waters, measurements, contractions, and other birthy things. If that is not something you like, then feel free and please do, skip this one!


When does this story really start? Just like my last labor, I spent well over a week having regular mild contractions for most of my waking time. Some hours I did not, but most I did. It was no problem, just kind of annoying.

About 10 days before the birth on a Monday (and 8 before due date), I had my first, “this could be it” evening, with intensifying contractions. And once I called around for childcare back-up they stopped. That is the way of babies.

When I had my 39 week exam on Wednesday, I let the doctor check my dilation and I was 3 cm, which is not too bad a week before the due date. But the baby’s head was not engaging. Dr. M gave me some exercises to help the head descend, but no matter how often I did them, head stayed up. After the exam, I had another several hours of increasingly painful contractions, and reluctantly sent M to teach the first of his summer night classes. He was teaching for six weeks on Mondays and Wednesdays, and was gone from 4-10pm both of those nights. My mother’s helper was coming that night to feel out the routine before baby came, so I figured if it was labor, at least she would be here already. But contractions stopped again after about 3 hours.

Again on Friday, I had 3 more hours of painful contractions, which stopped as soon as we sat down to wait them out through a movie. And during all of these episodes of pre-labor, I would text my parents and ask them to pray that the contractions would stop if this was not labor or be very clearly labor if it was. So, we got what we prayed for each time.

Things settled down, and I even made it past my Tuesday due date to my 40 week appointment on Wednesday. I had not dilated beyond 3 cm AT ALL, and Dr. M could not even feel the baby’s head. She got worried that the baby had flipped. So, she brought me into the ultrasound room to find the baby’s head, and when she could not find it (I guess it is hard to find a head on a huge overdue baby), I started mentally preparing for a C-section delivery.

After a few more minutes of searching, she called in the tech, who, much to my relief, found the head down in my pelvis right away.

I then questioned Dr. M about 10 times to be assured that even though there was no head engagement whatsoever, I could still go into labor whenever. She explained that when it is not your first delivery, engagement sometimes does not happen until active labor anyway, and for this baby that ended up being the case.

Oh and the other funny thing about that appointment was that I had gained 4 pounds in one week, and everyone said that I was still “all baby.” I blame the donuts I consumed that week and the “due date” cake I baked for the baby. I figured that if he was not going to come on the due date, then I could at least have chocolate cake. I started to wonder if I was going to have a huge baby.

That evening was another Wednesday night with M teaching, but I decided to let my mother’s helper have a night off. I just had a feeling that it was important for me to have a night with just me and the girls. We had a nice evening, and I savored those last few hours with them and no baby. I guess I had a feeling things might happen soon.

My parents have started calling it the Spencer Way and my close friend in St. Paul does not understand how we do it, but we work hard to have morning to pre-dinner time labors. We also really wanted the baby to come on a Thursday, so that M would not have to teach for as a long as possible (until Monday).

And according to our plans, Thursday morning, right at 7:00 am, my contractions started. I am not joking. After breakfast and coffee M and I decided to do some of my house cleaning chores (since it is summer he does not go to campus everyday and had been helping me with chores for a couple of weeks anyway). He agreed to vacuum, if I would do the dusting. At this point, I figured, it was nothing to call anyone about. Though the contractions were not slowing down.

At 9:00 am I went on Facebook to discover the above mentioned St. Paul friend had given birth to her son at 4:30 am several days before her due date. I told M the news, and said, “I better be in labor, because it would not be fair!” Plus, we had been joking for months that we were going to have our babies on the same day and at the same hospital.

I decided to take a shower. Things kept on happening and when I got out, we decided to call Aunt J two hours away in Wisconsin to see if she was available to come to town to be with the girls. She had a wide open day and could come whenever we were *sure* it was labor. I was still only 3 hours into contractions, so I did not want to make the call yet. I wanted to have at least 4 hours before I made the call. I decided to work on dusting, but kept on having to sit down during contractions. They were getting bigger!

Around 11am (after 4 hours of labor), we started looking to see who locally could watch the children until Aunt J arrived. We got a hold of my mother’s helper, but she was going to be busy from 11:45am-12:45pm (at Mass) unless we decided we needed her before that. I was not sure what to do, but thought that maybe I could wait until then.

I decided to call my mom and ask her to pray, but she proved to be unreachable (turns out she was somewhere without cell phone reception the day after my due date… silly mom). So, we had to pray alone for clear signs of labor.

Then, as what seemed an answer to my prayers and uncertainty, at 11:30 am, I had a HUGE, ACTIVE LABOR contraction, and I said to M, “This really is it.” We need to go to the hospital. I can’t remember if the dusting got finished. Maybe M did the downstairs? I got most of the upstairs before this happened.

That huge contraction set us in motion. M called the mother’s helper to have her come over, and called Aunt J who said that she could get here by 3pm. I looked for the hospital number to call, because, I had forgotten until that moment that we had to call first. There I was on my knees leaning over the foot of my bed during contractions, searching frantically on the iPad for the Maternity Care number. We found it eventually, and I called, explained the situation, and they said to come in.

We gathered our things, M made the girls lunch, I sat in my favorite glider rocking chair, calling people to let them know what was going on. Still no Mom, Dad, or my middle sister or brother. My oldest sister answered, and got excited, and promised to pray. The mother’s helper arrived, we said goodbye to the girls, and we left.

We drove to the hospital. They had not entirely fixed all of the winter potholes and bumps in the roads. Do you know what it is like to be almost in transition and go over a pothole? Not fun. But I had a short list of really important intentions I focused on during my labor, and offering up the pain for a friend in a desperate and awful family situation made it a grace-filled labor for me and later I learned a grace-filled day for her.

I did experience some relief on the way. We were almost there and a huge contraction was coming on, and right before us the light changed to red. I had a nice still 60 seconds to ride out that massive contraction while we waited for the light to change.

We decided to park in the ER lot this time. Last labor I walked from the main garage. I told M that I did not think that I could walk through these. So, we went into the same ER and waiting room we last entered when I was bleeding too much after the loss of JP at 9 weeks over a year ago. It brought back a few memories. We sat in different seats and talked about that day. And we were thankful and said a prayer for this happier circumstance.

After about five minutes, a nurse came down to wheel me to Maternity Care. I suppose I could have walked, but why walk when you are 9+ months pregnant and are offered a wheel chair?We discussed with the generous wheel chair pusher how we used to live in Buffalo, NY and all the snow they had gotten there last winter.

I got to stand at the counter when we arrived in Maternity Care and hand over things like my ID and insurance card. We even mentioned the names of our friends who had a baby at the same hospital that morning, and they said, “Oh yeah, they are here!”

So, we finally got to our room around 1 pm, and I was still contracting. I did the whole sample giving thing, and tried to put on the gown. But honestly, those elbow-length thick sheet-like sleeves really bother me, and there is no way I can relax properly with them on.

I decided to keep on my own shirt and tied the gown around my waist as a skirt. I think it was pretty brilliant. I could maintain my modesty a bit longer (not walk around bottomless), and not bleed all over my own clothes. It was a win-win situation.

Anyway, they did a bit of monitoring and finally checked me, to announce that I was a FULL 7 CM already. I did not even feel like I was in transition. Labor had been intense, but not that bad up to that point.

They called Dr. M, and she decided to come right away. I was only a bit worried that I was not going to get my antibiotics in before delivery. If I got them in time I could go home 24 hours after delivery, but if I did not, I would have to stay TWO nights. I sleep badly everywhere but my own bed, so getting home ASAP was at the top of my list, besides having a healthy delivery and baby.

They got the IV going around 2pm, and Dr. M showed up sometime around then. She then got me to do all sorts of things to get the baby’s head to descend. I spent awhile kneeling on the bed over the birthing ball rocking my hips during contractions, and discovered that counter-pressure on my back relieved the pain of TRANSITION contractions almost entirely.

To make up for the ease of those contractions, she had me lay on my back during four contractions and stretched my bent leg across my belly so that I could not breathe. The point of these was to mimic a lunge to get the head DOWN.

Thankfully we switched back to the ball on the bed after that. We also tried a peanut shaped ball which also helped me relax on my side but open things up for the head to move downward. During this time (maybe between 2:30 and 3) I checked out at 9 cm.

So, there I was at 9 cm, water intact, baby’s head still not engaged, and started to experience the urge to push. We hung out like that for awhile. I decided to get into an upright pushing position, but my pushes were ineffective. We made it past 3pm and my antibiotics were done. We made it to 3:15, and my water was still hanging out intact. I knew that if my water would break, I would be really pushing the baby out.

To tell you the truth, the contractions were doing nothing at this point, and I was getting a bit bored of being stuck in limbo between transition and pushing. Though maybe it was the best thing for me and the baby to have a calm before the pushing.

Finally at 3:30, I asked, “If we break my water, do you think the baby will be coming out?” Dr. M’s face lit up, and she said, “Yes.” I confirmed with M whether he was okay with it, and he was. So, I asked her to break the water.

Then all of a sudden, my bed was being raised, the bottom was taken off, and they set up a bag off the end of the bed to catch the water. So, she went to break my water, which was fascinating for me, because I have never had it done before. The other three labors, it broke on its own at 9 cm. She used a dull plastic rod, but my membranes proved resistant to breaking. She made it through one layer, and then told me: “You have membranes of steel!”

Looking back, it is funny to me that she said this, because I spent the last three weeks of pregnancy wondering at least once a day if my water had broken and was trickling, when in fact, my membranes never wanted to break on their own.

So, anyway, the water broke and gushed, and the baby’s head was right there. She checked my dilation again, and this time I was ready, but had a slight cervical lip (which is common after multiple deliveries), which she was going to manually help the baby around. So, I began to really push.

The nurse was monitoring the heart-rate holding the doppler with her hand on the left side of my belly. After the first couple of pushes, the heartbeat switched to the right side. The baby had turned, and finally the head was engaging.

Then came the hardest part, or so I thought. I started pushing the head out, it took a couple more pushes and the head was out, but the body did not slip out (like it always had in the past).

Dr. M told me I had to push the shoulders out, which were wider then the head…

I feel like these words are not properly describing the intensity of the situation. The baby’s head was 15 inches around when I pushed it out, and then broad shoulders, and then finally I had to push even more to get the baby’s body out that was just as wide as the head…

It took me 25 minutes from water breaking to getting that baby out (with baby #3 it took 5 minutes, with the first two it took 10 minutes each). It was a long, super uncomfortable 25 minutes, and Dr. M even had to help pull the baby.

At 3:54pm (right before the cafeteria opened for dinner orders and almost 9 hours from the first contraction), the baby was out. A true Spencer.

“What is it, Dad?” Dr. M asked.
“A boy!”
And that I could not believe, “Really?!”

A boy! But it felt so right. “He is a BIG boy!” they all said.

And he was snuggling on my chest, my big 10 lb, 3 oz, boy was born. The cord pulsed awhile, and M got to cut it when it was done. I did no even care about the massive placenta coming out next, which was “as big as some babies”. I required some stitching up, and once that was done, baby T nursed like a champ. And I got my cranberry juice and ginger ale “cocktail”, which I remembered so fondly after F was born, and asked for specifically.

M called Aunt J, and she put her phone on speaker for the girls. “You have a brother!” he told them, and they responded with squeals and screams. We then called everyone else, and M posted this blurry iPad picture of me breastfeeding to Facebook.

And what made things even better, is that I did not hemorrhage this time. I always hemorrhage. I wonder if it was the hour I spent at 9 cm with my water intact, and the longer pushing phase that helped. Apparently, when you don’t lose 1.5 liters of blood after delivery you feel about 1000x better afterwards than when you do. They didn’t even do the next morning hemoglobin check.

The main concern was that T was so big, they were worried that he was going to have his blood sugar drop too low. The poor baby had his heel stuck before and after nursing for the first 12 hours of life, but he was fine and my milk came in while we were still in the hospital.

After the medical staff left us all alone, M realized that he was hungry. He had missed lunch, so had I, but I don’t eat when I am in transition. We decided to have him go home and see the kids and help Aunt J for a hour and get some dinner. T was sleeping and eating fine, and I ordered my dinner and sat to wait for it.

I messaged my friend, to tell her I was down the hall from her, and she, her baby, and her husband came for a visit. We chatted a few minutes until the nurse came and fumbled with something hooked up to me still.

Nursing stupor.

So, we spent one bad night in the hospital, and a restful morning and afternoon. Aunt J brought the girls for a visit in the morning, and they were all really happy and took turns holding T. The lactation consultant came, and saw that I was fine… fourth babies and an experienced mom make their jobs easy!

I even got to receive Communion in the afternoon. And at 6pm on Friday, we checked out and went home.

Hey big guy,  newborns are not supposed to be this big in their carseats!

It was good to go home. The girls were really happy to have T and I there. They all got out their dolls and pretended to nurse them while I fed T. It was pretty funny.

And that is it. I think I covered everything…

It’s a BOY!

In case you have not heard, the baby is here!

Labor began at 7am on Thursday morning, and our little T was born just before 4pm.
He weighed in at 10lbs 3oz, is 20 3/4 inches long, and has a rather large 15 inch head.  All my other babies came out easily after the head was through, T not so much. He has the biggest birthweight by almost 2 lbs!
We are doing great, just taking it easy, and sleeping as much as we are able. When I am more recovered, I will get to writing up the birth story. And while it may look like we barely made it to the hospital, since I am no wearing a gown, the truth is that we were there for nearly 3 hours before he came. I just can’t stand those gowns. (If you want to know, I tied the gown into a skirt around my hips, and wore my own top.)

Hopefully the last bump shot…and other thoughts

We made it to May 31, and this baby still is not ready to be born. With the due date only 2 days away, I might actually make it to the due date this time. I have not done that since G was 8 days late six years ago!

It looks like I am all set to share my birthday month with this newest little Spencer (but definitely not birthday, since we are over three weeks from my birthday). I suppose we have a few hours left for this baby to come in May, but that would be a quick labor for me… My shortest is 12 hours.

Will this be my last Sunday in this dress?

I asked M to take a photo of me before I changed into “play” clothes for our Sunday morning romp in the park. It is nice to have the whole morning for the family after 7:30 am Mass.

And then I couldn’t resist a few pictures of the kids before they changed as well.

Finally, in case you missed them, I wrote for both ChurchPOP and Blessed is She this weekend.

5 Tips for Praying at Mass While Taking Care of a Toddler

For Trinity Sunday: Participating in the Life of the Trinity

The toddlers at Mass post reminds me of L on Easter two years ago…

Any Baby Guesses?

UPDATE 6/6/15:
Thanks for the guesses!

Baby is a BOY. Born 40 weeks, 2 days, weighing 10lbs, 3oz.

We are coming down to the end of this pregnancy, and really only God knows when this baby is going to come out and meet the world. But that does not have to stop the fun of the guessing… if that is your thing.

The photos are approximately 38-39 weeks of each of my full term pregnancies.

Girl #1 (G) was born at 41 weeks, 1 day, and weighed 8 lbs 5 oz

Girl #2 (L) was born at 38 weeks, 3 days, and weighed 7 lbs 8 oz

Girl #3 (F) was born at 39 weeks, 6 days (1 day early), and weighed 7lbs 15 oz

Here I am at 38 weeks with the current one. I have gained the most weight this pregnancy, and am too big for all of the shirts previously pictured. I am fairly certain I am carrying lower than the other pregnancies, and that seems visible from the photos. Otherwise, pregnancy symptoms have been about the same as always, with maybe slightly less heartburn.

Fun facts:

  • My mom’s parents had 3 girls and then a boy (then girl, boy, girl)
  • My parents had 3 girls and then a boy.
  • My sister had 3 girls and then a boy.
  • My dad’s parents had girl, boy, boy, girl, girl, girl, boy.
  • My in-laws had boy, girl, girl.
  • Our close friends who are due a few days after us have boy, boy, boy, and a boy in utero.

So, any guesses? It is okay if you don’t have any; it is just fun to compare while waiting to meet baby.

The surprise at the end is the most exciting/enjoyable part of labor, I promise. 🙂

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, May 1

1. I have really been off the blogging train these days, except for random updates about traveling. But I have some quick takes today, and I did have a devotion on Blessed is She last Friday (which I failed to share online because last Friday was packed with things to do). I also have been working on the next Vatican Film List article for ChurchPOP, so that should be coming soon. I hope no one has missed me too much, or maybe you have missed my blogging a lot. If I get my nesting done by 37 weeks pregnant and don’t have the baby until the due date, you might hear a lot from me on the blog…

2. Speaking of nesting, can you say freezer meals?

I got 15 in the freezer last week, and have four in the fridge ready to freeze. Last week was my chicken week, and this next week will be beef. They are all stacked in the front of the freezer to stay flat, but I have plenty of room to rearrange and move them to the back.

3. Other nesting feats include: purchasing camisoles to do this with, ordering new diaper paraphernalia and other baby items that need to be replaced, getting drawers at Ikea to free up the changing table baskets for baby clothes (a potty trained two year old does not really need a changing table anymore), final seasonal and size up sorting for the children’s clothes, washing winter coats and gloves, and realizing that this bump of mine would be so much nicer with the baby on the outside.

The crabapple is budding.

4. It really is Spring in Minnesota. I am banking on having had the last frost as my sugar snap pea plants are already two inches tall and would not tolerate a frost very well. We covered the outside seedlings a few nights last week, but this week has been low 40s with the highs near 70. I am really enjoying gardening again this year, though I wish that I could do weeding without bending over. In other garden news, I repotted my 3-4 inch tall tomato plants and I am not sure they all survived the transfer.

I have been accused of growing an indoor garden. And yes, we grew butterflies as well.

Some seem to be reviving their leaves, but they looked so much better before I repotted them.

5. I am always surprised when plants grow the way they are supposed to. I had no experience with gardening before we bought this house two years ago, so all of it is so new. I have plans for growing flowers this year, and my tulips that I planted last Autumn came up beautifully.

I did the weeding this week as well, and I plan to put in some annuals and mulch in the next couple of weeks when the tulips are finished blooming. Flowers make a yard so cheery.

6. In case you were wondering, low 50s and cloudy is the perfect weather in which to go barefoot. 

Also, to paint yourselves in mud, but I took no pictures of that. These girls are turning into real Minnesotans I think.

7. So, that is about it for me this week. I have been extremely practical, but in case you are worried that I am doing too much, be assured that I have been taking some time to stare blankly at what the internet has to offer and am reading another Dostoyevsky novel, The Idiot. I am finding it easier to read than Crime and Punishment or The Brothers Karamazov, but M promises me that it will get heavier.

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

13+ Freezer Meal Ideas

My friend Jacqui, who is due in four weeks, asked me to give some freezer meal ideas, so here they are! At 33 weeks pregnant, I have not put one meal in the freezer for when baby comes, but I plan on getting the freezer stocked by the time I am 37 weeks. I usually have one or two things in the freezer, but Lent was an emptying things out of the freezer phase.

While I do some freezer cooking, I am not an expert, like my sister who has whole cookbooks devoted to it. I probably should have her write a guest post with her favorite ideas. She does things like freeze whole casseroles, while I am a bit lazier initially and am satisfied with thawing and heating a sauce and throwing it on noodles I cook the day we eat the meal (also, pasta is something that my husband is expert at cooking).

A note on freezing:
You should never freeze warm or hot foods, wait until they are room temperature or stick them in the refrigerator overnight. My favorite way to freeze things is in freezer quart bags in stacks. Like this:

Some meat dishes I precook and freeze the meat, while other meat dishes I throw the raw, cut meat into a marinade and it is all ready for cooking when it thaws. So, without further ado, I give you the dishes I plan to cook/prep in the next four weeks. I will probably make at least 2 dinners worth of each dish to make my efforts more productive.

1. Tomato Sauce. I used a modified recipe from this edition of the Joy of Cooking:
Some people buy this canned, but my husband is a sauce snob. He actually prefers home canned tomatoes made into a sauce as opposed to store-bought canned tomatoes.

I love having tomato sauce in my freezer, because I can use it on all sorts of things like meatless cheesey pasta, pizza, “pizzadillas” (cheese, sauce, and toppings baked between two tortillas), spaghetti and meatballs, etc. I only make the sauce in huge batches, so I will probably make four dinners worth, and maybe serve it for dinner the night I make it.

2. Meat Sauce. I used the recipe from the Joy of Cooking.
I also make this in huge batches. I plan to use 2 lbs of meat for 16 cups of sauce.

This will last us about 8 spaghetti dinners, or maybe I will get adventurous and freeze a lasagna. I also love St. Louis style “mostaccioli” which is layered sauce, tube noodles, and lots of cheese.

3. Chicken and Biscuits. I use my mom’s recipe.
This is basically chicken pot-pie filling baked in a 9×13 pan with biscuits on top. I will make my favorite freezer biscuits (I use half whole wheat flour) and freeze the filling cooked in it’s entirety.

On the day of cooking I simply thaw the sauce and raw biscuits, and bake them all at 400°F for 15-20 minutes.

4. Bow tie chicken. Another recipe from my mother.
I have never freezer cooked this before, but I am going to do it this time. The sauce is diced chicken cooked in garlic, then added chicken stock with peas and shredded carrots, and the sauce is thickened with cream cheese and finished off with Parmesan. It is served with farfelle/ bow tie pasta. I am going to freeze everything but the cooked pasta.

On the day we eat the meal, I will simply thaw and reheat the sauce and cook the pasta.

5. Fajita chicken. I use the marinade from the Joy of Cooking.
I know I am supposed to use strip steak for real fajitas, but the chicken is soooo good and much more affordable. For this meal I will simply cut my chicken breasts into grillable size pieces and freeze it in the marinade.

On the day of eating, we will thaw the chicken, cut up sweet peppers and onions for our grill basket, and gather other toppings. The hardest part of the meal is prepping the chicken.

6. Marinated chicken for salad or rice.I am not sure which marinades I will use at this point, but I am going to find a few that look good and prep them in the same way I did the fajitas. If you have any favorite marinades, I am up for suggestions!

On the day of cooking, my husband can thaw and grill and decide if he wants to do grilled veggies with rice or a green salad.

7. Brown sauce stir fry chicken. A recipe from my MIL.
This recipe involves coating the chicken in a cornstarch-soy sauce mixture and letting it sit, so I am going to throw the diced raw chicken into this mixture and freeze it. Then I am going to pre-make the brown sauce that goes with the recipe and freeze it adjacent to the chicken.

The day of cooking we will simply have to thaw the sauce and the meat, prep and cook whatever veggies we want, make rice and cook the chicken. Once again the labor intensive step of prepping chicken and washing raw chicken dishes will be skipped.

8. Sesame chicken. I found this sauce online and we really love it.
I will prep the chicken and freeze it raw and make the sesame sauce and freeze that separately.

On the day of cooking, I will thaw the chicken and cook it, prep a veggie to stir-fry (I always add veggies to this), and cook rice. This meal is already really quick and easy to begin with.

9. Steak kebobs with pita. Not sure what recipe yet.
My plan here is to find a good steak marinade, and cut the steak into kebob size chunks and freeze it in the marinade. If I am feeling motivated I will make my favorite homemade pita from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and freeze them in family size portions.

On the day of eating, we will thaw the steak, and cook it with mushrooms, grape tomatoes, peppers, and onions. And eat it on thawed pitas or rice.

10. Beef Stroganoff. A recipe from my MIL.
This recipe has two steps. The first is cooking mushrooms, onions, and browning the beef and mixing them with the sauce. The second step is baking it for 40 minutes. I am going to prep it up to the point of baking.

On the day of, we simply thaw the sauce, bake it, and cook egg noodles.

11. Blackbean chili. I use an adaption of this recipe I found online. I add diced tomatoes and frozen corn (my husband loves corn).
If I have ever brought you a meal post-partum (and on a Friday), there is a good chance that it has been this. What make it even better is that it is gluten free and dairy is optional as toppings. This I will cook mostly, but probably cut back on the flavor combining simmering, since the freezer will add to that.

On the day of we will thaw and reheat. We do at least the cheese and sour cream toppings and like to eat it with corn chips or on macaroni noodles.

12. Alfredo sauce. I found this one online. It may not be authentic, but it is sooooo good.
This sauce takes literally 10 minutes to make. I am going to make a whole bunch and freeze it in dinner sized portions.

On the day of, my husband might grill meat or shrimp or do veggies in the grill pan, and we will eat it over pasta. Or we will use it as pizza sauce, because we love white sauce pizzas.

13. Macaroni and cheese. I use a recipe that I got from a friend.
This is a stove top sauce that is mixed with cooked noodles and baked to brown the topping. I am going to make the sauce and freeze it into portions enough for an 8×8 dish, which still serves our family of five.

On the day of, I simply thaw the sauce in a bowl of water while cooking the pasta, combine, top, and bake.


And that’s it! I would love to hear of other easy freezer meals, especially hot weather friendly ones. If you really want a recipe, send an email and I will see about typing it up!

How I am Really Feeling About Having Another Baby

This is one of those posts that my friend Anna would call a “Mom Confession.” I have one to make, and probably I just need a pep talk. It has some content that may not be familiar to those who have never been post-partum or around a post-partum woman from day one until the baby is one.

I have been struggling against a dread of the newborn phase for the entire pregnancy, actually since I first got my cycles back after F was born. I was visiting Buffalo, NY at the time, and discussed my unreadiness while using a hot pack to battle a small bout of mastitis/clogged duct. I had a rough first year with F. She was a great baby, my easiest yet, but I spent 9 months dealing with infections that only women can get, 4 months dealing with post-partum depression, and barely knew anybody in the Twin Cities. On top of that I was dealing with my first Minnesota winter.

The three girls.

The first two months with F were actually really pleasant. She was born in early November, so I took some walks with her as a newborn. We had grandparents helping for two weeks, people we knew brought us meals, so I actually saw people without much effort, Thanksgiving was brought to us by our Wisconsin relatives, Advent was lovely, and we traveled over Christmas. Then we came home in early January, and the PPD and isolated stay at home mom loneliness set in. The only way to see people and attempt to make friends was to venture out into the Minnesota cold with 3 children under 4. Then infections.

Since F has been 18 months, things have been really nice. I feel like I am finally used to having this many kids. I remember last summer just enjoying the kids and our family, not really wanting it to change. But we also felt like we needed to be open to having more children, we wanted more children, we still want more children. And here we are about to have another child in our arms. The newest child is squirming inside me as a write this. I feel like this year of being content with three kids has been really good for me, like an amazing retreat. I have not been night nursing for almost a year now. I have not been nursing at all for five months. But I am feeling afraid of the change before us. I am not looking forward to sleepless nights. I am not looking forward to being post-partum, especially the physical recovery.

32 weeks along and counting.

What I am looking forward to is the baby having a regular nap schedule, and a bedtime, and being able to be put to sleep easily. All of our children have gotten to that point, and that is when I feel the most relaxed with a baby. I crave a loose schedule, ie. morning nap around 9, afternoon nap around 2, bedtime around 8. But I dislike the in between time, when baby is too little for structure.

This is the point when you should tell me that it is just for a short time. Or you could tell me that I don’t need to feel guilty about not being a huge fan of the newborn-6 month stage. You could say it really is a hard time. I know some people love the stage, and I recognize the perks. I just love my routine. Being more flexible is something I need to work on, so I guess baby is going to help me with that.

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, March 13

1. I have been pregnant with and/or nursing my babies for just over 3 months shy of seven years.  Since my first was born six years ago, I have had a three month, four month, and am in the middle of a seven month gap of not nursing anyone. Well, mothers of young children will know that it is not really possible to get nights away from exclusively nursing babies, so when they are weaned and there is no other baby out of the womb, there is a window of opportunity. For what, you ask? For a SILENT RETREAT. I am departing this afternoon for 48 hours of prayer and reflection without my family. This is the first time since I have been married that I will be away from all the members of my family for even one night. Further, I have not been on a longer than three hour retreat since my last semester of college seven years ago. That being said, please pray for me this weekend, because I am not sure I can really handle uninterrupted, prayerful silence for more than about 20 minutes. Yeah…

2. Not only am I abandoning my family for a weekend, but I am doing it on their birthdays. M has to celebrate his birthday (and real Pi day 3.1415) without me. I am sure he will have a lovely time with the girls. And let us not forget about the Ides of March, and the change it brought in our lives… I will be back for dinner for G’s birthday. And being the awesome person that she is with amazing taste in food, she has chosen this pie for her cake:

Which means I can take on some good old fashioned third-trimester laziness, and just eat peanut butter, chocolate filled pie goodness. Also, pizza pie for dinner. Is it okay to honor Pi day on the Ides?

3. In other news, where did all the snow go? It has been so warm here, that we have been grilling. M had an early birthday/traditional feast of St. Thomas Aquinas dinner last Saturday. We splurged on shrimp (which I cannot even smell comfortably while pregnant), and M grilled it along with vegetables and threw it all on pasta Alfredo.

It is in the 30s, so why not grill? I was told that I will not have to cook dinner again until the Fall if I just keep a steady supply of charcoal and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale on hand…

4. And here is my almost six year old looking like a reader. She says that she was “just looking at the pictures,” but it gave me a glimpse of a girl who might, like her parents, spend hours every day, curled up with a book. She has been doing really well with her reading lately, and I do not think this possibility is too far into the future.

5. If your mom is not big on doing crafts, you make your own:

G (6ish) and L (4) have been cutting out and gluing together surprisingly recognizable paper dolls, and other creatures. It is pretty fun to see them create. F (2) has been sucking on capped glue sticks while wearing socks on her hands. That is called being 2.

6. My basil seeds have sprouted, but only one has made leaves. I might have to do a redo with the other seeds. But since we started the plants so early, I do not mind:

7. Hello, third trimester! My earliest baby was born at 38 weeks… that is ten weeks away… yikes!

I think I finally have leveled out in size compared to week of pregnancy…

Linking up once again with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, February 13

1. We had an emergency grocery run yesterday. The things we were low on? Toilet paper, bread, and milk. So, since I had to go the store in the 2 degree weather with all three kids, I decided to make it a whole week grocery run. I am now contemplating what to do with a free Saturday morning… Anyway, I must look really pregnant even with my coat on, or people felt really sorry for me. I was a little cranky with the girls, who seem unable to listen these days, and also kept on dropping things. The thing is, every time I dropped something a stranger would come by and pick it up for me. I guess between the three kids, the big belly, the ridiculous cold outside, and my hair falling out of its ponytail, I looked a little desperate.

2. I am just going to say it, St. Valentine’s day is the one saint feast day that people don’t seem to mind celebrating with the old calendar. We always do our favorite old calendar saints on their old feast days, so it is normal for us.

3. We are trying childcare/date exchanges with some friends for the first time. They have three boys (expecting a fourth in June) and we have our three girls. Anyway, our date is tonight. Theirs was last night, and it went pretty well once we got the one year old to stop crying. If things go well tonight, I think we should do it again! It is hard to feel like we can afford to go out very often when you add the cost of the sitter to that of the meal.

4. Back to pregnancy, I passed my glucose test this week. Woohoo!! So, this means that my measuring big at every appointment is just that I have a bigger baby or the due date is a week off. Both are entirely possible given what I know about when this baby came into existence (charting win). 😉

5. Further, my friend R. wrote this great piece at the Federalist about adding a component of “danger” to one’s sex life. While she never stated it, it seems like a great example of what is missing in people’s intimate lives that they need things like that stupid, awful movie coming out tomorrow to entertain them. Really, there is a bit of fear involved when knowing you could be co-creating a new human being, plus all that comes with bearing, birthing, and raising that new human.

 We had 35 total, but the other are in the mail!

6. February has been a beast so far. Everyone has cabin fever. I decided to suck it up and make the month more interesting, so we spent every school day this week making St. Valentine’s day cards (braving the glitter glue!) to mail to family. It included handwriting of course, and gluing and cutting. We may have barely done much other school. We have been trying to get our more often. So, I took the girls to two different stores this week. I was actually enthusiastic about housework. We had a fun visit M’s office in a snowstorm, plus tried a burger place in St. Paul, Snuffy’s Malt Shop. They were super kid friendly, and while I prefer a shake to a malt, I even liked their malts. Anyway, we are trying to make February less dreary, and I plan to keep it up even with Lent coming up. Going out with the kids is easier now than it will be in June!

7. And to make it feel more like summer I am including a greenhouse photo. Our amaryllis is blooming, I bought a mini rose bush to fill things out, and the parsley is still green. The girls had me buy the little lady bug plant to give to our recently widowed neighbor for St. Valentine’s day, “We want her to know we love her soooo much!”


I am linking up once again with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum, the host of Seven Quick Takes!