Family · Food · Home · pregnancy

Preparing for Armageddon (or a baby)

I posted some pictures of my meal-prepping endeavors on Insta the other day, and got some questions, so I thought I’d write a post about pre-baby meal prep in our house. Disclaimer: this is not a picture-heavy post because #rawchickenfingers.

jars
Most of my “meal prep” isn’t meal prep in the traditional sense. I’m not a big fan of crock-pot meals (I know, I know) and the way I cook isn’t usually conducive to one-pot, make-it-and-freeze-it sort of stuff. I wish it were because it’s easier, but I’m a pretty picky eater (read: I have to see all the parts of my food, so soups and casseroles are off the table) and so this is how I make it work for us. Yes, this will be pasta and rice heavy, because my favorite easy recipes usually contain one or the other, and the first few weeks after having a baby is all about ease, comfort, and good fuel.

For me, a lot of it is about the meat. Handling raw meat on the daily is not something I enjoy, and you know how it is with a newborn: anything with germs is like the anti-Christ and must be kept away at all costs! Thus, I prep all of our meat in advance. I do this monthly, although not to this extent.

First, I made batches of chicken parm and plain chicken cutlets. For the chicken parm, dredge in seasoned flour, then a water or milk and egg mixture, then a mixture of panko, Parmesan cheese, Italian herbs like oregano and basil, paprika, garlic, and a little salt and pepper. For the plain chicken cutlets, same deal with flour and egg and then panko plus basil, a little parm, and lots of garlic. Freeze flat on parchment or a silpat or waxed paper, then divvy up into freezer bags. To cook, I bake the chicken parm in the sauce, and I saute the plainer cutlets in butter and olive oil (not the healthiest, but so delicious).

I also bread and freeze these pork chops.

I know that seems like a lot of breading, but serve with a little pasta or wild rice and a lot of veggies (our faves are roasted asparagus or broccoli, or sauteed green beans) and it’s not so bad. I also try and find whole-wheat panko instead of the processed white.

For more “flexible” meat ideas, I dice chicken breast and slice beef and freeze so I can just thaw and throw into stir fry or whatever without actually touching the meat. I like stir fry because it’s heavy on the veggies, light on the junk, and requires minimal effort. I get the big bag of stir-fry veggies from Costco, and make several batches of this sauce which has become our tried-and-true favorite. We eat it with rice or with Asian ramen-y noodles! I also make ahead the sauce for the Pioneer Woman’s Beef and Snow Peas and slice up beef for it. I used to put the whole kit and caboodle in the freezer to eliminate a step, but Bert and I both agree that soy sauce tastes funny when it’s frozen and thawed. Another sauce I made ahead is for this Kung Pao Chicken. Again, it’s a great, easy recipe and you can throw a ton of veggies in!

Since the meat is sliced and the sauce is made, all you have to do is throw rice in a rice cooker or some noodles on the stove (the noodles we like cook in less than four minutes), and throw the rest in a skillet. No knives or cutting boards or effort, really, and you can do a lot of it (not the actual skilleting) with a baby attached to you!

Another sauce I make ahead is the sauce for Simple Sesame Noodles, which I serve with veggies potstickers that I’ve pre-made and frozen, or just purchased from Costco.

A “fancier” meal I sort of prep for those miraculous good days when everything is jiving is fajitas. I pre-marinated some steaks (and arm roasts, I think, this time around) with this recipe, and they can marinate more while they’re thawing and I’m cutting up peppers and onions. But still, not a ton of dealing with meat!

I also do a couple of batches of meatballs, and this time I’m trying my hand at a couple different recipes for lactation cookies and some blueberry oatmeal breakfast bars–I’m hoping Wace likes the bars because he loves blueberry muffins but they’re not the healthiest!

I make sure we have plenty of “Bert Food” too, like frozen burritos and pizzas and roast beef and such, because even though I love cooking for my boys, I can’t always manage it in the crazy postpartum days. He’s super busy this time of year, too, and so it’s nice to know that he’s set. I’ve made sure to have a huge abundance of granola bars, fruit pouches, Naked smoothies, string cheese, peanut butter, juice boxes, whole-wheat bread, protein waffle mix, and fruits and veggies for us all to eat during the day, and try to keep sugar and soda out of the house since I’ll just devour it. When I had Wacey, I kept a stash of mini York Peppermint Patties in the freezer, and I’ll probably do the same this time around–Yorks aren’t as sugary as usual candy bars but totally hit the spot for me, and the peppermint is wonderful since I haven’t eaten anything minty since, like, September. #heartburn.

Other easy dinner ideas: Pasta (we use Bucatini) with Italian Sausage and Herbs, breakfast for dinner with canned or homemade-and-frozen biscuit dough, angel hair with sauteed Canadian bacon and asparagus (Bert eats his with homemade alfredo), pasta primavera with canned or pre-made pesto sauce (Costco has a GREAT one in the refrigerated section, just saute some veggies and chicken and throw it on some pasta with the pesto and BAM), chicken nuggets with mac and cheese when you really just cannot (we get the dino shaped ones from Costco so we obviously cannot on a semi-regular basis), Italian sausage links with pasta or tortellini/ravioli, sauce, and veggies (if you live in CO get Sara’s Sausage, it’s SO good. I know we can get it from either Safeway or Walmart most of the time), and, of course, frozen pizza.

Basically, we’re ready for Armageddon over here, which is pretty unnecessary but gosh it makes me feel good. #TypeAPlanner.

…and no, we haven’t had the baby yet.

 

Family · Home · On The Ranch · pregnancy · Wacey

Lately

Last week I had my 36 week ultrasound, after which my doctor informed me that there’s very little chance I’ll make it to my due date, and even though I never though I would, it sort of set off a freak-out in my brain. Combine that with an unplanned day of working cows, and the blog took, like, tenth priority. Totally not fair, but all is sort of fair in love and impending childbirth, right?

So here’s the haps. We’re still calving! It’s still going well, we haven’t had any more twins, and there are about sixty cows left!new-calf

The weather’s been gorgeous, but we did get snow last week and have some more coming this week–it’s actually good since it’s been so dry. Our morning stroller trips to the calving barn are one of the best parts of the day!
wace-leading-ace
hipster-wacey-walk
Aaaaand speaking of strollers…we found ours!! YAY! I’m SO excited. Like, unreasonably excited. We even came in under budget! #momlife
bob

And speaking of #momlife, our pregnant mare (on the left) is fat fat. I mean, all the horses are currently fat fat, but she’s taking pregnancy to a whole new level. Get it, girl.
mares

Last week, our favorite vet came down with some students in hopes that we’d have some things for them to look at as a practical lesson. Lo and behold, the day before they arrived, we had a calf break a femur! Not good, of course, but the good doctor and his students set the bone and put on a fancy splint in hopes that the calf (now named Forrest Gump, don’t judge) will make a recovery. It’s hard to fix broken limbs in calves, especially when they’re high up like this one, but we’re hopeful!
setting-a-broken-leg
Here’s Forrest with his fancy cast–it’s made of rebar and gauze and bandages and Frozen (yes, Frozen) duct tape, and it’s pretty amazing. Also he’s still a little sedated in this picture, hence the cloudy eyes. Bert brought his mom in so he gets plenty to eat and we’re hoping for 4-6 weeks with the cast on. So far, he seems to be doing okay!
broken-legThe vet and the students treated some sick calves, set another (less severe) broken leg, fixed a cow who wouldn’t clean (she calved but not all the afterbirth would come out), and pulled a calf. So, lots of “fun” vet stuff!

Our surprise cow working day on Friday was PAP testing heifers, which is one of my favorite things because I just love the vet that does it (the same vet that fixed up Forrest), and it’s so interesting! This vet PAP-ed our bulls in Montana so we’ve known him for years, and it’s so fun when he comes around. Plus, we do love our barn days! Bert’s in between AI groups on cows, so he took Wacey for the afternoon. It was so weird and yet exciting (and relaxing?) to be able to just work and not get snacks/milk/toys/etc.
vets
My outfit was on fleek, too. Belly shirts (crop tops?) are in, right? Also, apparently I have the lovely pregnancy skin pigmentation that I didn’t know about until…just now.
coveralls
Our local elk herd (on the hill in the middle of the picture) paid us a visit, too.
pens-and-elk
There’s a rule that you can’t sit down while you’re working cows, but I violated it pretty flagrantly. Ah, well.
sitting-down-at-barn
THIS would be why. OH MY GOSH this is completely ridiculous. Like, what?!? I have SO MUCH ENERGY but I have to sit down because this is what happens if I don’t. By far my least favorite pregnancy symptom to date.

(I posted this picture on Insta and got some concerned texts from friends and family, thank you for worrying about me! My doctor’s seen the monster ankles, and since my blood pressure is low, and I don’t have any other high blood pressure symptoms, she’s not worried. And I have an appointment tomorrow. The good Lord just wants me to wear my new mocs a lot!)
ankles

Also very much on the agenda: baby survival meal prep. Yesterday was breading chicken parm and chicken cutlets, making lots of sauces and marinades and packets of fajita seasoning, and thawing a billion pounds of beef and sausage. Today or tomorrow, some of that seasoning and all of that meat will be made into meatballs and fajitas, and sliced up for beef and snow peas. If Bub stays put (the theme of our lives right now), I’ll write a more detailed post later this week!

fajitas
jars

Last week’s ultrasound was so hilarious! We didn’t get a ton of good pictures because he accidentally hit himself in the face and made himself mad, but it was so neat to watch him move and feel it at the same time. Also, totally got the bison swaddle set and I’m in love. I do like the Aden + Anais swaddles, but man alive these ones are delicious. They’re Little Unicorn brand, and are bigger and softer and thicker than the A+As, and the three-packs are a great deal! Girl mamas: their floral swaddles are so beautiful. I
bub

So there it is. Bert’s calving, I’m trying to get everything done for the baby’s arrival and finish up projects at work, Wacey’s being adorable and also two, and we’re all waiting on Baby Brother. It’s weird to be in the final “any time now” weeks because I want another two months to do everything, and I also want the baby to be born tomorrow. Give me a few more days to finish meal prepping and clean our bathrooms, though, and I’ll be firmly entrenched in the latter camp. Bert thinks March 9 will be the day, I think it will be the following weekend because it’s a full moon, and I had Wace on a full moon weekend. Wace still thinks a “brother” is a belly button, so I don’t think he gets to put in his vote quite yet!

Happy Monday, happy almost March (can you believe it’s almost March?!?) and thanks for bearing with me. I want so badly to be a regular blogger, and I’m truly working on it, but it’s hard to suppress my slightly obsessive have-to-get-everything-done-before-the-baby-comes tendencies that have been surfacing for the past six weeks!

Family · Friday Favorites · Home · pregnancy

Ranch Baby Gear

As we’re preparing for Little Brother’s (increasingly) imminent arrival I’ve been looking at baby gear because I can’t help myself, and because there always seems to be something new and snazzy. I have a lot of tried-and-true things that would be staples no matter where we lived, but that’s not the case for everything. I keep finding that so many of the new “cool” things are not quite for us, either because it’s not our style, or more often because there’s no way it’s going to hold up or be very functional where we live.

collage

To wear:
Like every other mom ever, I’m all about Sleep N Play footies (especially for the first month or two–that’s all Wace wore–with zippers preferably, snaps are hard while sleep-deprived!), and Carter’s onesies. I like Carter’s stuff for babes because it fits well, and holds up to a thousand washes,and you can find solid colors without something stupid on the front.

Another essential? Muslin swaddles. We have a bunch of Aden + Anais ones, but I would still love some more that fit our style just a little better, like this horse swaddle, or the bison one I can’t stop thinking about! They’re great as a light blanket, a nursing cover, or as a carseat/stroller cover when, say, you’re at a rodeo in the day and the sun is blinding. Again, they also wash well!

Since ranch babies can’t always stay inside even when the weather sucks, it’s so important to me to find things to keep our boys warm if we all need to be at the barn. I love the sack version of the Carhartt coveralls, and this George hat is great–so soft, and fits a little baby head perfectly.

For bigger babies on up, it’s all button-downs and jeans over here, and I love that most brands have matching shirts in both toddler and infant sizes. Jeans are essential even before the kids walk because sweatpants stain and get holes in them much too easily around here! I like button-downs because you can layer them over a t-shirt to deal with changing temperatures (and they’re adorable), although I don’t dress my babies in collared shirts much before they’re a little bigger, because bibs+collared shirts result in weird situations! For jeans, we like Oshkosh the best so far, and we’ve also had good success with Wrangler.

The bull wubbanub is our fave. Wacey’s had two (maybe three?) and we’ve never lost one! They’ve just become casualties of puppies and rough treatment, haha.

For Feeding:
Feeding our kiddos needs to be portable. With Wacey, I didn’t make nearly enough milk and he was all formula-fed by four months. I’ll try nursing again this time (I got a Medela Pump In Style since I hated my Ameda pump), but if it doesn’t work, we’ve got the formula system down! The formula dispenser keeps pre-measured amounts of powdered formula in a no-spill, easy-to-dispense canister, and this water bottle keeps water hot for like, days. We bring a bottle of hot water, and a bottle of cold, and mix it to the right temperature. Toting water is necessary because often our drive is long, or wherever we’re headed (like a rodeo) may not have easily accessible, drinkable, or warm water, so we bring our own!

For the nursery:
We keep the nursery stuff simple, but there’s a couple of things I have come to love. A sound machine is clutch, and comes in handy every day, and when traveling. I love One & Done wipes because they’re literally a miracle–they don’t dissolve when scrubbing hineys or faces, and something in them is like, the best on-the-go stain remover.

Since we’re outside so much, I slather everyone in sunscreen (don’t worry, I wait until the baby is old enough), and I like this one for the littles (the bigs sometimes use it, too!). I like that it doesn’t have a ton of junk in it, and goes on a little white so I can make sure I applied it everywhere. I actually preferred Honest Company’s, but with the debacle a couple of years ago with people discovering that their kids were getting burned while wearing it, I don’t use it anymore. I’m sure they’ve fixed the problem, but it’s lame that it happened and we live at a higher altitude, so I don’t take chances.

I’m sure you’ve heard me wax poetic about Tubby Todd–their All-Over Ointment is the only lotion that works for Wacey, and I just stocked up on shampoo and lotion for Little Brother. This baby fresh spray, though not as used as our other TT stuff, is so great for tiny babies and I still have a bottle from when I used it with Wacey. To me, newborns smell delicious, but their clothes smell like sour milk, I smell like sour milk, the carseat, blankets, etc., smell like sour milk, and after awhile I feel like we all just stink, especially if we’ve had a full day in the sun and are all packed into the truck for a long ride home. Enter this spray, which *doesn’t* smell like sour milk. It smells like heaven, and makes us all seem a little fresher.

For Mama: 
This isn’t exclusive of ranching families, but I find it to be especially true in their (our) situation: you need to carry the baby, but have both of your hands free. Whether this is because you’re at the barn, or a branding, or a bull sale, or because you’re fixing dinner for the crew, or because you have a wild toddler about to fall in a huge pile of cow poop, carrying babies hands-free is necessary. For this, as you know, I am a devotee of the Solly Wrap and the Ergo 360. Both are easy to use, wash up well, and work amazingly. I’ve considered the Ergo Performance with the mesh inserts since the 360 can get hot, but we’ll see how into being worn Bub is.

Again, also not exclusive of ranching families, but definitely something to consider, especially with more than one baby: a huge diaper bag. Whenever we go anywhere, I don’t always have the option of easily running back to the car for a change of clothes/more diapers/snacks, so I bring everything with. This can be a mess, and can be a pain. Enter the Lily Jade Meggan bag. It’s the biggest one, and converts to backpack carry which is so, so necessary. Better yet, it’s beautiful and durable (cloth diaper bags do not hold up well around here–I have a beautiful Vera Bradley but I don’t want to destroy it further so I keep it in the car), and fits and organizes so many things.

Strollers. Why is it so hard to find the right one?! This is where the “cool things that don’t apply to us” happens the most, because I see all these beautiful strollers that convert from a bassinet to a seat, or have the option of adding another seat, or have leather handle grips, etc–and they all have teeny tiny wheels or fussy fabric. So, my solution is that we basically only use a jogging stroller, plus I need one since I walk so much. With Wacey, I use a Jeep single that I love, but as soon as you get into the realm of doubles, everything changes. I have my heart set on a (used) double Bob (Revolution Flex) because: lots of reasons. Big tires. Made for rugged situations like dirt roads, rodeos, barnyards, and maneuvering at the mall at Christmas. Independent canopies that extend extra far, so that each kid can choose how much sun they get, or none at all. Swivel/lock front wheel, because the ones that don’t swivel are a nightmare unless you’re an actual long-distance runner (I am not) and only use your stroller for that. Attachments for everything, including carseat adapters, snack trays, and extra drink holders for up top. In addition, there’s the one-hand maneuvering, an adjustable handlebar, huge underneath storage, and durable material. Plus it fits through doorways.

Basically my stroller unicorn, especially if I find one under my $300 budget. We’re going used because I can’t stomach spending two car payments on a stroller, and there seems to be a decent availability on Craigslist. When and if I find this unicorn I will shout it from the rooftops!

Other things we love: big minky blankets because they’re soft and warm, and thick enough that you can spread them on grass and not get poked. An angel friend of ours made one for Wace, and sent one for Bub and one for me a couple weeks ago and of course I cried when I opened the box. A cute ranchy option here! We use an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper as our bassinet (another great thing to Craigslist), partially because it’s portable, and I’ve already posted the bibs I bought for Bub. We also have a Boon Lawn that we love, and with Wacey we used Dr. Brown’s bottles.

Whether you’re in town or not, though, there are so many options these days to fit both your style and be functional for babies. I am so grateful that we have more options than primary colors and things covered in bunnies for my babes, especially when I can integrate my own style into the things we use most. It honestly makes me feel more like a human when I’m not surrounded by not-too-baby-looking baby things, although we have our fair share of those things, too. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a few pretty things, especially as a boy mama.

Happy Friday! My littlest bub is kicking the snot out of my side and my biggest bub is hollering at me from his crib, so that’s my cue!

 

 

Family · Personal · pregnancy

Pregnancy Loves and a Bumpdate

Hey and happy Friday! We’re on day three of some pretty cold weather, but that’s okay because we don’t have any calves born yet and also I don’t have to go outside much–perk of being very pregnant and having tons of office stuff to do, I suppose!

I’m firmly in the Third Trimester (aka the S**t’s About to Get Real Trimester) and I’m happy and nervous and excited and scared all at once. I’m really starting to feel pregnant and pretty darn uncomfortable which is no fun, but I know it’s temporary. That being said, I’m in survival mode over here, and thought I’d share a few things that are getting me through.

second-tri-faves-collage

Zantac: Oh hey, heartburn. Didn’t see you there. So glad you’re here. Really. This boy must be as hairy as his brother!
PiYo: Oh hey, hips hurting all the time. Didn’t see you there. So glad you’re here. Really. My go-to workout is long walks with Wacey in the jogger, but lately the hills have proved a little much for my preggo self. So, for now, it’s walks on a flat treadmill with these workouts a few times a week. They’re easily modified for basketball bellies, and I always feel like I worked hard without having to jump around. I got my full set on eBay for less than $30 brand new, PS.
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter: I love this for an itchy belly. Bert put it in my stocking and I am ever so grateful he did–it lasts much longer than lotion but isn’t as expensive is lots of other butters and balms. I find that lots of things labeled as being for “baby” or “mama” are more expensive because they’re labeled that way, but you can get the exact same thing for a lot less if you’re okay with forgoing all that cute packaging.
Bobbi Brown Concealer: It’s hard for me to feel pretty when I’m pregnant, and I so appreciate makeup that helps. I wear this every day, pregnant or not, but I appreciate it even more right now!
Joggers: These pants. These pants! I love them. So. Much. They’re even more comfortable than leggings, and I’m thinking about ordering more. So soft, so comfortable under the belly, and I haven’t taken them off in three days except to wash them.
Dry Volume Blast: Big bump, big hair. My aunt and uncle gifted me with hair and makeup supplies for Christmas, and I love it. Big hair makes me feel less like a bowling pin when I’m pregnant, and for that, you need this!
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: This goes along with the Zantac, because the only thing that calms my heartburn before the Zantac kicks in is milk and ice cream. I like to have some good ole Vanilla Bean with strawberries in the evening after dinner and it’s lovely.
BumpStart long-sleeve tees: I love these. My mom got me a black one and a white one, and I wear them constantly–like right now! They’re thick enough that you don’t need a cami underneath, and fit really, really well. Bonus, they’re super affordable so you can buy several.
Sports Bra: Another mom gift, and I LOVE this one. Again, will likely buy more. It’s so much more comfortable than a regular bra (TMI? Probably not, since it’s pretty simple physics that an underwire has no where to go but digging into your ribs, and that’s uncomfortable).
Flannel Sheets: Ohhhhh, these sheets. We were gifted this exact set (by my mom, who obviously knows precisely what I need) and they are so wonderful. It makes crawling into bed an absolute dream. They are thick, wash really well, and just keep getting softer.
Essie Chinchilly: Bert slipped this into my stocking this year as I was having a hard time finding it at our local Walmarts (but of course he walks in and finds it immediately) and I love it. Essie wears so well, and adds just a little more pretty to my large self. This dries more grey than taupe, just FYI.
Starbucks cup: I know I’ve talked about this cup specifically and my Starbucks cup addiction in general, but it really does help me to remember to drink my water to have a pretty straw cup to drink out of!

Bumpdate:

bump-selfie-with-waceBoth my boys! We like bedhead, no-makeup, jammies-and-sweats selfies around here.

Bub is growing, growing! We have one more ultrasound in about a month and I’m excited to see him again–my last OB didn’t offer another ultrasound after the anatomy scan, so this is a change for us.

How far along: almost 30 weeks
Gender: Boy
Weight gain: 15+ pounds (I’m not actually sure–this is pretty terrible, but I don’t remember what my starting weight was!)
Maternity clothes: I have been wearing a lot more regular clothes this pregnancy than with Wacey, it’s kind of weird, but I think it’s because Bub is sitting transverse and super low so nothing is comfortable. Out of necessity I’m wearing more and more maternity tees, but I’ve been living in joggers and leggings. If I do have to wear jeans, I have a couple pairs from when I was pregnant with Wacey that are good for a couple of hours, or a pair or regular jeans a little bigger than my normal size hairtied waaaaay below the belly haha.
Sleep: It’s on and off–putting a pillow between my knees and changing the sleep number on my side of the bed has helped a lot. Mostly, I have to make sure that I don’t drink too much before bed because if Bub kicks me in a full bladder at 2am it hurts and I have a hard time getting back to sleep.
Best moment this month: We’ll go with month as “the last four weeks” since it’s the first week of January. Christmas, obviously, was amazing, and getting out for our first movie date in years was so wonderful. I also mucked out some major stress-inducing areas of our house and things are starting to feel so fresh and so clean clean. Or as fresh and clean as they can get when you live on a ranch, haha.
Worst moment this month: The recurrence of the dreaded pregnancy hip pain. It’s a bear, and I’m figuring out ways to manage it, but man oh man, 9-10 more weeks of this business is going to be no fun. Ah, well. And, I had my glucose test last week, and my results were just a little on the high side, so I have to go back for the three-hour test next week, ick.
Miss anything: Being able to bend over or do anything without being out of breath. But mostly, my normal jeans. This was about the point with Wacey when I really missed regular jeans and just being able to throw on clothes without the production of having to rest in between haha.
Movement: OH YES. Right in the bladder. I think he might be migrating upwards, though!!!! Just keep swimming, Little Brother!
Cravings:  Fresh food like fruit and salad, and oddly? Chicken and waffles. And a burger from this great place in Boulder that has a pretzel bun and the best cheese buuuuuuuut it’s a little excessive to drive almost 200 miles round-trip for a burger.
Queasy or sick: Feeling good, minus being so full after 5pm I can hardly eat and some wicked heartburn starting at about ten in the morning every day. But, nope, none of that junk from the first trimester! You take whatever you can get at this point.
Looking forward to: Short term, this month has so many exciting things–a concert and the Stock Show this weekend, a visit from one of my favorite people (my aunt) later this month, and elf-ing for Wacey’s birthday in a month. Longer term, meeting little brother! I’ve been pretty nervous about being a mom of two, I kind of just want to get started with it already. Also my old jeans. I miss them so!
Hope your Friday is spectacular and your weekend is sunny, both literally and figuratively!