Travel Often

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

Love Deeply, but Laugh Along the Way

"Happiness is only real when shared." - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

View Marriage as an Adventure

"Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage." ~Finnish Proverb

Fuel your body with GOOD (It's the only one you get)

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. - Arabian Proverb

Open your Soul to Motherhood

A Grand Adventure is About to Begin - Winnie the Pooh

A New Kind of Love is Born

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

Friday, April 27, 2012

What to Expect When You Have No Idea What to Expect - Week 2

Oh. My. Frickin. God.

Yes, I've said that more than once over these past two weeks. What on earth just happened to my life? Who am I anymore?

While I was pregnant, I heard over and over the first two weeks are the hardest. I tried to shake it off. I tried to tell myself I was different, stronger...that I could handle more than most. Ummmm...who was I kidding? I'm here to admit that, yes, the first two weeks are hard.

Very hard.

But at the same time, very awesome too. My heart swells more every day. I stare at Jackson and love  him up any chance I get. I can't believe we made something so precious. But that's not to say there are moments where I want to hide under the sheets in bed.

Professional photo taken by Ali Hohn in Northfield, Minnesota

This little post is a reminder to myself a few years (months, etc) down the road when we start talking about baby number two. Just in case I forget the craziness of it all.

What to Expect When You Have NO CLUE What to Expect:

1. Sleep. What the F is that?
Remember that very first sleepover you went to when you were in grade school? Like...the really cool popular girls invited you and you felt cooler than cool? And you played silly games like kick the can and tried to hypnotize each other by saying, "stiff as a board, hard as a rock" and watched movies and ate junk food? And then stayed up all night? It was pretty awesome, right? Then you got home and crashed because your little body needed sleep - after all you had just put it through the ringer. Well, parenthood is kind of like that...but you don't ever get to fall asleep to catch up. Ever. You just keep going. And going. And going. Slumber party after slumber party, but this time you're changing poopy diapers and breastfeeding and pumping and leaking all over and soothing a wailing baby. And any chance you do get to sleep, you wake up and realize you get to do it all over again, but on even less sleep than the day before. It's pretty nuts how the body adjusts to very little sleep. This is probably the part that surprised me the most. Just how much little sleep the human body can still somewhat function off of.

2. Breastfeeding is no walk in the park
Breastfeeding is hard. Very hard. Thankfully I had some brave friends share their stories with me ahead of time, warning me that b-feeding isn't as easy as it looks. I also had a few friends plead with me that I just need to hang on for two to three weeks and things would get better.

I'll soon be entering week three, and things are FINALLY starting to get better in this department.

I was prepared for things to not go as planned, just so I wouldn't get so upset. Unfortunately, I sort of ended up with things not going so great. And with very little sleep and body parts not working, it's hard NOT to get upset and freaked out, and anxious.

Little Jackson had to go in for his weekly checkup and his weight was down. Rats. The doctor didn't like that at all so she sent me up to the lactation consultant. The lactation consultant (who Karl calls the breast whisperer and the Jane Goodall of boobies) and I became friends in the hospital. I used her expertise a lot just because I wanted to be the "star feeder". But we know how life is and that our plans doesn't always go as well as we planned.

Jackson is amazing. He sleeps a lot, as most newborns do. BUT, the minute his clothes come off. Forget it. I was having issues week one with Jackson screaming his brains out when we'd undress him and put him skin to skin on me and tried getting him to latch. I couldn't stand him being so hungry and unwilling to latch. So into the breast whisper's office I went. We spent a couple hours getting a plan down. I thought we had it down, until the scale said otherwise. And the doctor wasn't having that. Crap.

The doctor insisted I come in AGAIN to get Jackson weighed within 24 hours but she wanted me to feed and then pump and save. Say what? And then do whatever the breast whisperer wanted. Say what? More of my efforts needed???

After sitting with the breast whisperer for another two hours, the plan was to feed Jackson for 45 minutes, then I had to pump and feed him 1 ounce of my milk, THEN I had to pump and save milk for after. This whole process took about an hour and 45 minutes at one sitting. Now, all moms know that you must feed a baby every 2 to 3 hours, eight to 12 times a day. And babies don't always just fall asleep...there is coaxing and rocking and then I'd finally get to pumping. So....where does sleep fit in? You do the math.

It doesn't.

My anxiety levels were through the roof. Sleep? Non existent. And I was so scared I'd have to stop and formula feed Jackson. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I just really wanted him to breastfeed for as long as possible. Ten days just doesn't seem like enough.

Then I went to get professional pictures taken of Jackson and they needed me to feed him so he was easier to photograph. Crap. The four women in the room would have to see how bad I was at breastfeeding. They'd JUDGE me and tell me I sucked! But little ol' me...the one who's always been shy of her lil' ol chest, bared all. And in no time I had four women tending to my fears and worries...offering up advice and suggestions, tying back my hair, rubbing my back that everything would be OK. So we got some awesome pictures and I got some piece of mind too! Nice little therapy session.

Anyway, after following doctor's orders and emailing the breast whisperer and talking to her on the phone and crying to Karl a lot, I took Jackson in today and he is up 4 ounces!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM IN THE CLEAR.

Moral of the story: Breastfeeding is HARD WORK.

3. There is NO Crying in Motherhood. Ha!
Let's see... I have cried to the home health care nurse that came by. My mom. My dad. Karl. I cried at a Pampers diaper commercial. I cried at a country song I've heard numerous times. I just cry.

My emotions are out of control. I rarely ever cried in my old life. My husband once asked me if I had a soul since tears didn't come easily. I bet he takes that back now. I can't help it. I just cry. Sometimes I freak myself out so much because it feels like I've completely lost myself and my "old" life. But, each day...things get better and better and better. And I wouldn't share this if I didn't think it was NORMAL.

4. THANK GOD for Girlfriends
Honestly... I am SO grateful for my girlfriends, especially the ones who have been through this or are also nursing and texting me at 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 a.m. cheering me on. I don't feel so alone. Or I love the ones who openly share what a struggle motherhood was for them at the beginning too. Then I know I'm not alone! My advice: find some g-friends going through the same thing and let it all out. Just let it out. Nobody is judging. It's like WE KNOW the secret voices going on in your head. It's OK!

5. Halo-lujah
Whoever invited the Halo Sleepsack is awesome. We wrap Jackson in this and he's out. He loves being all bundled up. And to go with that, The Happiest Baby on The Block book has been spot on so far. Swaddle, Shhhing, Swinging, Sucking, Side holding. Works like a charm. That, and marching up and down the stairs thanks to my stair stepper addiction during pregnancy. Or sticking a finger in Jackson's mouth to suck on.

6. The Books Aren't Always Right
I struggle with this. Everyone is saying 8-12 feedings a day, no pacifier until 4 weeks, no bottle until 3-4 weeks, etc., etc., etc.Talk about information overload. Too many cooks in the kitchen. Dude. Right now I'm at the point where enough is enough. I'm going off what I feel and what Jackson needs. It's too much to follow a book to perfection.

7. Limiting Visitors
HOLY MOLY. People will be chomping at the bit to see your little one. Be prepared. It may become very overwhelming, especially if there are struggles with feedings and such. The hospital warned us about this, but I never realized how crazy it would really become. One thing I did hear is just shut your phone off. That is a bit hard for me, but I can see how that becomes good advice.

8. Day by Day
Yes, this is the greatest piece of advice I've received. Take each day...even hour...minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Jackson is only going to be this little for a short while. I need to enjoy him and not all the worries and fears. I need to LIVE!

Anything that shocked you as a new mother?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Welcome to the World Jackson James Koester - Day 3

My Labor Journey

Our son Jackson James Koester entered the world on Sunday, April 15 at 4:30 p.m. He weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces and was 21 inches long. He came out perfect. And that's one thing I remember saying over and over again when he was handed to me. "He is perfect!"

Jackson's Labor Story
Thursday, April 12
Karl and I both got home from work and decided to go on a walk. It ended up being a lot longer than I thought. I had to start shortening my walks to only around the block. I could do stair climber just fine, but walking killed me. But Karl's dad called and they talked for a long time and we both decided we still needed some time to talk to one another about our days and whatever fears we were having before the baby came, so we went a total of a few miles. When we got home, I felt sore. I thought I overdid it.

Friday, April 13 (yes Friday the 13th)
I woke up and headed into work. I heard a lot of..."Let's hope your baby isn't born on Friday the 13th! Not a good day."

Not funny to me. I was crabby. I was also tired and very very very sore. I slept like crap. But the Friday before I was crabby too. I think I was just giving my all to get everything done at work, that when Fridays came, I could barely focus I was so dead tired. I noticed every time I stood up or got out of my chair, pain shot through me. Everything hurt and it seemed everyone needed something from me. It was hard to keep it together.

I headed home and Karl was all excited for my brother Mike to get home so they could have a couple of drinks. He also brought home Papa Murphy's pizza. The three of us talked a lot about anything and everything and had a bunch of laughs, but I felt very tired again and headed over to the couch. I hated leaving all the fun, but I just wanted to sit down. Mike and Karl headed over in the living room to join me. We continued to talk...they continued to drink... And all of a sudden around 9 p.m., I felt my first shot of pain zap through my body. "Ouch!" I yelled.

Mike looked at me. Like he just knew. Karl laughed and said, "Braxton Hicks babe. Braxton Hicks."

I didn't think Braxton Hicks felt like that. This pain was different. It was like someone grabbed hold of my ovaries with a rope and was trying to pull them out through a pin hole. But it went away pretty quick.

30 minutes later... Bam! Same pain. "Ouch!" I yelled again.

Mike looked at me again. "What?"

"I felt something again."

"Yep, baby is coming tomorrow," said Mike.

"No way," I said.

Karl chimes in, "Braxton Hicks babe. Braxton Hicks."

Two more times the pain came and went and I headed up to bed. Nothing. Phew. Must've been nothing. Maybe Karl was right....

Saturday, April 14
2:18 in the morning and I jumped awake. "OUCH!" The pain was back again and this time a whole lot more intense. My intuition took over and I grabbed a pad of paper and a pen and watched the clock. Nine minutes came, same bit of pain hit and lasted for 30 seconds. For the next four hours the pain came and went like clockwork. Always nine minutes apart, lasting 30 seconds. The body is truly something amazing. But let's  just say I didn't sleep. I don't think Karl slept a whole lot either, enough where he got out of bed and studied for his school exam coming up and paid a bunch of bills and then took his exam.

Part of me was so thankful it was Saturday and I thought in my sleepless state of mind I could sleep the rest of the day. Right. The clock hit six and the contractions became stronger. A lot stronger and a whole bunch closer together. I found a couple of books from the classes we took and read through them. All of them said I had to wait for the contractions to be 3-5 minutes apart and for them to be about a minute in length. I became nervous when they went down to 7 minutes apart, then 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and then back up to the point they were 5 minutes apart for a good steady 30 minutes and then back to 9 minutes they went. And remained that way allllllll day and afternoon.

So I did laundry. I put clothes away. I'd have a contraction up the stairs on the toilet over the bed. We both made sure we had everything together and ready. Karl insisted I call my parents. I did. They were going back and forth on if they should leave and head up - I don't think any of us could believe this was really happening. I could barely talk to my mom on the phone when a contraction came. And when people started calling, I couldn't even imagine talking to anyone. I WAS IN PAIN! I avoided picking up the phone all together.

When Karl felt like he was all organized, he pushed me to call the hospital. I talked to the nurse on staff and told her I was dying but knew my contractions had to be 3-5 minutes apart. I also made the mistake of telling her I was doing laundry. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. She didn't know I'm a freak of nature that way. I keep busy to keep my mind off pain. She told me I had to wait for my contractions to be 3 minutes apart for TWO HOURS and I had to be in serious pain!!! But I was!!!

Was she kidding!?!??!?

Two hours came and went of 5 minute contractions lasting over one minute. Karl went up to take a nap. I tried to deal with the pain. I sat on my exercise ball. I tried walking around. I couldn't do anything anymore but die. Karl suggested we walk to DQ to get dinner. Part of me thought he was crazy, but part of me knew what he was doing. I thought it was going to be impossible, but I've heard of so many people who go out walking to get things moving further along. I got as far as 20 feet and almost collapsed in the grass. I told Karl I couldn't do it. So I turned around. Another one hit. And as I was headed up the stairs, another one. This time the contractions felt like a thousand pound steel block being unloaded full force on my ovaries, then being squashed.
Moments before we headed out. Last pic - April 14 at 39 weeks

I tried to eat my dinner, but I couldn't. I was beyond uncomfortable. Karl called the hospital again after taking record of my contractions for an hour and told the nurse, "NO, her contractions aren't three minutes apart but she is beyond uncomfortable. They are five minutes again." We were told to come in, but needed to know that I might be sent back home. How?? Could they at least give me something for the pain? There was no way I'd be able to survive another night feeling this way.

I was sure I was dilated 10 cm and the baby's head was going to fall out.
And we're off!!

When we pulled up to the hospital, Karl had to wheel me in. I couldn't even walk. I was so embarrassed. Finally we made it to the Birthing Unit and I signed some papers. Sweat was pouring off me. I was hooked up and checked. And let me just say getting checked isn't the most pleasant feeling in the world. Ouch.

"You are one centimeter dilated. We'd usually send someone home..." The nurse looked at me.

"SAY WHAT!?!?!? ONE!?!?" I wanted to cry. Or die. There was no way I could make it back home. No way I could deal with the pain anymore.

Nurse could see the look on my face - and thankfully saw me go through a series of contractions. "Actually you're doctor is on call. I'll bring him in and have him decide."

He came in. I was relieved to see him because I wanted him to deliver our baby, but knew our chances were about 20 percent. Luck was on our side. He took one look at me and said, "You are in labor. I can see that."

Thank you! Thank you!!!

"We'll admit you."

Thank you! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I looked at the nurse. "Now, what can I do about the pain? 1 cm!?!?!? And I have to go to 10?? How will I handle?"

She grabbed my hand. "Honey, what's going on here? You are tense and look scared. Tell me what's going on?"
I don't know how I didn't bawl but I bit my lip and said, "I'm scared of everything."

"You have to let that all go. It's going to be okay, but you have major anxiety going on." She gave me some options. All I wanted was the epidural but she said it might be too early. She gave me a shot of something that made me think of the time I drank a whole bunch of beer and smoked a cigarette (like my second time smoking....ever....gross). I felt buzzed and loopy. She had me jump in the bath and lit some candles. I had this whole aromatherapy thing set up. My tall body couldn't fit in the tub very well, but I will say the warm water felt great. And this is when all modesty went out the window. I didn't care who saw me and my extra 35 pounds. The shot of medicine wouldn't take away the pain but it would at least calm me down. It worked for what felt maybe 30 minutes but those darn contractions still took over. I got another shot. Didn't do as much. I needed more.

The nurse looked at me again. "You know...being you're going through this for the first time and it usually takes longer, I think we should do the epidural."

I wanted to hug her.

The epidural came. Supposedly I was the fastest one they ever did. I guess I have a long back or something. I was always nervous about a needle going through my back, but it's not so bad. Felt three more strong contractions and then NOTHING!!!!! OMG!! I wanted to cry and rejoice. I told everyone I could in our room I was going to write the person who invented the epidural a thank you card. I loved him/her.

Sunday, April 15
I don't know how many hours later... many...many...many... I was told I was dilated to six. YES! I was able to sleep a few hours. THANK GOD. I was going on empty. Doctor came in around 9:30 Sunday morning and checked me. He said I was only a 4 and he didn't know where 6 came from. The baby's head hadn't moved down anymore. He wished he had broken my water the night before.


So he broke my water. This is the part Karl thought was the grossest. I didn't know what was going on. Couldn't feel much, but I knew there was a lot of water because the doctor kept saying, "Oh wow. Oh wow. That is a lot of water. Jeez. This is a lot of water. Baby will be moving now."

Nurses would come in and out and check me. I started to feel my left ovary tense and pressure down low. The nurse suggest I bump my epidural. I never thought I would. Then she looked at me and said, "You have to push yet honey."

Pushing. Ahh, yes. I had yet to do that. For some reason there isn't a ton said about pushing but all the while I was getting text messages from friends saying, "Remember to breathe during pushing. You can do it." My friend Sheila told me it's a bit hard. How can it be hard, I wondered. Now I know.

I bumped. And bumped. And bumped the epidural so much that they had to put in a whole new bag! The nurse said she never had to do that before. Uh-oh.

Then the shakes began. Major shakes. Major. I couldn't lay still. Karl's parents and sister arrived and came in. My mother in law tried patting me down and massaging me so I could stop but nothing was working. I was checked and was dilated to 7. Then was told Mike was coming in before he had to fly out for work. This is when the out of body experience kicked in. I didn't even feel like me. Karl and Mike talked and I just kept thinking...what was going on here? I'm going to be a mom. I'm really going through this. But am I? Who am I? Is this really happening?

Totally whacked out goofy.

Then I was checked again. I was a 10. OMG. Mike left and I was told I'd begin pushing. Then I was told that usually pushing lasts about 3 hours for first time moms. I almost cried, but Karl reminded me I told everyone in the room I loved them. OK...

A mirror was wheeled over and set up so I could see what was going on down there. I gave my first set of three pushes. And saw just a little piece of the head. To me it looked funny. Like it was the world's smallest head. I couldn't quite comprehend how the baby would come out and where. I saw the videos but this was me. This was different.

A few more pushes and I felt like my head was going to pop off, eyeballs were going to roll out of the sockets or a few blood vessels would jump out of my neck. Karl said my face was as red as a Coke can. But every part of me was like...dude you better do this. You workout. You can handle.

Then I saw the outline of the head pressing through my skin. OMG. OMG. OMG. I was going to push that giant round object through what small space!?!?!? But seeing this was good. I knew it was only going to be a few more pushes when the doctor came in and the nurse said, "Girl, you are a champ at this pushing. You're going to have this kid out fast."

I had to skip a few contractions until our doctor could get on his gloves. And then the real fun began.

The pressure. Intense. The moment. Surreal. The pain...oh, I felt it. Even after all those epidural pumps. I was one push away from throwing up. I thought, how can I do this? I don't want to do this. OUCH! But I cheered myself on. I said, "Christie come on! You CAN DO THIS!" Karl laughed, but it's what I needed.

Moments before the nurses, Karl and doctors were sharing funny stories and they weren't very funny to me at the time. I wanted baby out.

One last push and baby came out alright at 4:30 p.m. 50 full minutes of pushing. Thirty eight and a half hours later from my first contraction on Saturday morning!

And all the pain, fear, worry, anxiety, sleep deprivation, etc., didn't matter when I saw our little guy. My heart melted.  

Karl cried, "It's a boy." We both bawled and I held Jackson to my chest and melted. He IS PERFECT!!!!!!!

The nurses cried and hugged both of us. It was so emotional. So wonderful. So perfect. Then I think I told everyone I loved them again.

More to come on the rest. I have a baby to feed. Life has changed in a way I never could've prepared for. Wow. A lot more to come on this. Oh, how things can change in an instant.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Favorite Maternity Photos - Month 9

39 weeks

We received our awesome maternity photos back from our friends Sam and Shannon Storie, who also took our wedding pictures! We love how the pictures turned out and I wanted to share some of our faves.

Love all of these!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Freak Out Moment - Month 9

39 weeks

Your baby's waiting to greet the world! He continues to build a layer of fat to help control his body temperature after birth, but it's likely he already measures about 20 inches and weighs a bit over 7 pounds, a mini watermelon. (Boys tend to be slightly heavier than girls.) The outer layers of his skin are sloughing off as new skin forms underneath. (
My growing at 39 weeks!

Major Meltdown Alert!

OK, I had my major meltdown. I hear this is pretty common for first-time moms. Thank goodness.
I was feeling like there was something wrong with me for a second.

So there I was watching an older episode of CSI (it had nothing to do with babies). In fact there were a lot of guns and a helicopter crash and blood...who knows what else. All I know is the episode ended with one of the CSI detectives holding back her tears and finally letting them out when someone put their arm around her. For some reason that scene resonated with me at the moment and I burst into tears.

I've been so good emotionally these past nine months, enough where Karl even said..."I can't believe how normal you've been through this whole pregnancy thing."

(Just wait until delivery...right? Ha! He's going to see a whole new Christie.)

Even a coworker said, "You are the happiest, bubbliest pregnant person I've ever seen in my life."

No crying. No freaking out at Karl. No flying off the handle at work. But the moment that CSI scene ended it was like reality hit. I was going to be a mom very soon and I wasn't sure I'd be able to handle it.  Was I really ready for it? Would I ever be ready for it? Could I turn back time? What was I ever thinking?? Every possible thought came washing over me. My routines were going to change. I couldn't just get in my car and go or do whatever I wanted whenever. It wouldn't be just me and Karl anymore. Would I even be able to sit on the couch and watch TV like I was? Would I ever read books again? Will I be able to do it all? How much juggling would I be able to do before I reach my limit? It seemed like the list of responsibilities coming soon were just too much to handle.

Then the weirdest thing happened. A song started playing in my head. A church song. I don't know why or where it came from since I can't really remember church songs. It's the one that goes.... "Do not be afraid, I am with you." And it kept playing and playing and all of a sudden I was fine. The panic was still there, but it was like someone wrapped their arms around me and whispered in my ear, telling me everything was going to be just fine. I had nothing to be fearful about.

It's hard to compare what the feeling is like. And I'll feel horrible if one day our child is reading this mom didn't want me. Oh man, I do!! I so do. It's just so darn scary...all of it. I have no training. No knowledge of diaper changing or holding infants or adjusting to something like this. I'm not really friendly and bubbly when I get less than six hours of sleep...

I guess it's almost like starting a new job. In a strange way. I mean, we're at our jobs most of our days and when you start over fresh at a new place with new people, new responsibilities, goals, personalities, it's scary. You're not sure what to expect or aren't sure if you'll even like it. Did you make the right decision? The comfort of your old job sounds so much better because you're familiar with it. And you second guess yourself. But more times than not, the decision ends up being a really good one. Change is good. It's refreshing. It allows us to grow as people. It allows us to see what we are made of and how much more we can really take on. Why do we limit ourselves? Why do we get comfortable and chose to stay that way?

And maybe in the end the job isn't your dream job, but at least your eyes have been open to what it is you really want out of life, and you're one step closer to something amazing. And you push yourself to get there! That's what I call cool.

So yeah...that was my freak out moment.

But then I did realize I hadn't worked out for a few days and the anxiety kept building. Last night I hit the gym and felt like a whole new person. I can do this. I want to do this. It's really going to happen. So part of this post is a reminder to myself to workout when I can because it really is my happy drug. I need those endorphins. Even if I'm tired and crabby, get to the gym!! Get a work out in, even if it's 20 minutes. Just do it!

And here's a fun little Easter picture of the Koester family! This picture reminds me how important family is to me. I love family. I love spending time with family. And I want my own little family and to keep it going and going...and going... Just think where that might lead? Awesomeness.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Super Cute, Creative Baby Gifts - Month 9

38 weeks

Totally loving these gifts from the heart...

Karl and I have received some really awesome, creative baby gifts for Baby Koester since finding out we're expecting. Three of which we just received recently. I would love to go through every awesome gift, but since these just came about, I wanted to share!

Check out this incredible quilt made by Donna Shay. I grew up across the street in Illinois from the Shay's. My mom and Donna were pregnant the same time - my mom with me and Donna with Heather (Shay) Velasquez! Heather and I spent many days playing and still remain friends, even with a lot of miles between us. You can imagine my surprise when I got home from work this week and saw a package out front. I couldn't believe my eyes when I opened up the quilt. It is PERFECT! It matches the nursery great!
Adorable quilt made by Donna Shay

A coworker had left a box at my desk. I wasn't sure what it was but I opened it and found a beautiful (and very kind of colors) afghan inside. She said she spent about a month working on it. I couldn't believe it. In the bottom corner there was a cute tag that said, "Made by Alura Smith." Totally cool!
Afghan made by Alura Smith

I met up with my friend Meegan at Olive Garden a couple weeks ago. She's a mom to four little ones and is incredibly awesome (great setter in volleyball too). She had spent many hours working on this amazing awesome step stool for Baby K's nursery. We totally love it because it goes perfect next to our little zebra friend!
Awesome step stool made by Meegan Saucedo

We have such awesome friends. Feeling so lucky these days. Thanks to everyone for just BEING YOU and for BEING THERE for us:)

Grilled Venison Loin Dinner

Karl's Secret Grilled Venison Loin Dinner
serves 4
recipe from a family friend
A nice low-fat dinner on the grill

Thaw venison
Let soak in marinade 6-8 hours in a Zip lock bag

2-4 TBS Olive Oil
2 TBSP soy sauce
1 TBS worcestershire sauce
2 tsp garlic powder
1 finely chopped small onion
1 TBS black pepper
3 heaping TBS brown sugar
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup

Throw meat on grill.
Don't overcook (internal temp should be 135 degrees). Needs to be pink.
Sit for 3-4 minutes then slice

Karl's reaction: "This is pretty good. A little dry and overdone. Marinade is really awesome and can be used on other meats. Yum."

My take: Still acquiring a taste for wild game, but I did eat it and liked it a lot! When Karl is cooking, I'm happy!

"Better than Sex" Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes

“Better than Sex” Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes
serves 16
recipe adapted from Cupcake Project and Chockylit
I never bake and this turned out SOOO good.

1/2 C butter, room temperature
1 1/4 C sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 C flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 C milk
1 t vanilla

 Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter until softened and smooth. Add sugar and beat for a few minutes, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each until well combined.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a separate small bowl, combine milk and vanilla.

Add about 1/3 of dry ingredients to butter and sugar and mix until combined. Add about 1/2 of wet ingredients to mixture and mix until combined. Continue alternating dry and wet, mixing in between (finish with the remaining dry ingredients).

Fill cupcake tins about 1/2 full (don’t overfill – you only need 1/2) and bake for around 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. They will come out flat.

Nutella Buttercream

1/2 C butter, room temperature
1 C Nutella
1 C powdered sugar, sifted
1-2 T milk
Beat butter until smooth. Add Nutella and beat together until thoroughly combined. Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing until combined. Add 1 tablespoon of milk. Add additional milk or powdered sugar as needed to reach desired consistency.

Karl's reaction: "These are pretty good! Kind of dry but I'll be eating these for sure. The frosting is amazing."

My take: I ate a lot of these. Not ashamed. LOVE Nutella!!!

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

A recipe I had to try

King Ranch Chicken Casserole
serves 8 to 10
recipe found on

This recipe keeps showing up on my email so I thought I'd give it a whirl.
Good flavor!

1 (4 1/2- to 5-lb. ) whole chicken (I bought a rotisserie chicken)
2 celery ribs, cut into 3 pieces each
2 carrots, cut into 3 pieces each
2 1/2 to 3 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped1  medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
2 (10-oz.) cans diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican-style chili powder*
3 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
12 (6-inch) fajita-size corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips

1. If applicable, remove giblets from chicken, and reserve for another use. Rinse chicken.
2. Place chicken, celery, carrots, and salt in a large Dutch oven with water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 50 minutes to 1 hour or until chicken is done. Remove from heat. Remove chicken from broth; cool 30 minutes. Remove and reserve 3/4 cup cooking liquid. Strain any remaining cooking liquid, and reserve for another use.
3. Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 6 to 7 minutes or until tender. Add bell pepper and garlic, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in reserved 3/4 cup cooking liquid, cream of mushroom soup, and next 5 ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes.

4. Skin and bone chicken; shred meat into bite-size pieces. Layer half of chicken in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with half of soup mixture and 1 cup Cheddar cheese. Cover with half of corn tortilla strips. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining 1 cup cheese.

5. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

*1 tsp. chili powder and 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper may be substituted for Mexican-style chili powder.

Quick-and-Easy King Ranch Chicken Casserole: Substitute 1 (2-lb.) skinned, boned, and shredded deli-roasted chicken for whole chicken, 3 cups coarsely crumbled lime-flavored white corn tortilla chips for corn tortillas, and 3/4 cup chicken broth for cooking liquid. Omit celery, carrots, and salt. Prepare recipe as directed, beginning with Step 3.

Karl's reaction: "Tortillas have a nice crispness. I don't dislike it but I think this is just average. Would have been better with Frito's."

My take: I actually liked this. I think it had too much spice for Karl or something. Kind of a pain to put together though.

Sweet Mustard Chicken Thighs

Easy grill recipe

Sweet Mustard Chicken Thighs
serves 4
recipe found on
So easy to make and really tasty!

1/2 cup prepared mustard
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 (3-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray

I didn't have allspice so I mixed in some Ginger and Nutmeg and that seemed to do the trick. I also mixed yellow mustard and some fancy whole wheat mustard I had in the fridge.

I also bought red bell peppers and a red onion and a sweet potato. My intention was to get these on the grill too but we didn't have enough time. So I cut up red onion and bell peppers and roasted them in the oven with olive oil. Turned out great!

1. Prepare grill.

2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well. Reserve and set aside 1/4 cup sauce mixture.

3. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Brush half of remaining 1/2 cup sauce mixture over one side of chicken. Grill chicken 3 to 4 minutes. Turn chicken over; brush with remaining half of sauce mixture. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until done. Place chicken on a serving platter; drizzle with reserved 1/4 cup sauce mixture.

Karl's reaction: "Double yum! This sauce could go on pork too!"

My take: So easy to make! I could eat this once a week for sure.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

38 Weeks and Counting - Month 9

38 weeks

Your baby has really plumped up. She weighs about 6.8 pounds and she's over 19 1/2 inches long (like a leek). She has a firm grasp, which you'll soon be able to test when you hold her hand for the first time! Her organs have matured and are ready for life outside the womb. Wondering what color your baby's eyes will be? If she's born with brown eyes, they'll likely stay brown. If she's born with steel gray or dark blue eyes, they may stay gray or blue or turn green, hazel, or brown by the time she's 9 months old. (

Holy smokers! I'm 38 weeks.

When we saw the fill-in doctor this week (a female), she said that most women deliver the week before or the week after their due date!! I have this feeling it will be next week, but my feelings have been off too - maybe it's more wishful thinking than anything. I have decided baby will come out when baby is ready. I don't really want to be induced. Plus, I had a coworker tell me I'm way too small yet. But I'm measuring 37 centimeters now. So it's not like I'm uber small or anything. I think it's the height that's throwing everyone off. Anyway, here's the latest....
Car seat has been installed and approved by an Eagan Police Officer/Car Seat Specialist

My health...and all those pains and aches
I know I shouldn't complain. I've been very lucky. I feel great, but I have noticed more aches and pains if I do too much. Even when I go on a 40-minute walk, it's not long before my back and neck are killing me and even my feet. Can't say that normally happens. But I love the way the fresh air makes me feel and it's nice to get my heart rate up. So I push through. Plus, I'm up about 35 pounds - I really don't want to add on anymore pounds. But the scale showed no weight gain this week...even after making those Better Than Sex Nutella Chocolate Cupcakes... I will post the recipe for those soon.

My massage lady is a genius. I've been drinking about 6 ounces of milk before bed and NO leg cramps. I am getting up every hour to use the bathroom though, which makes me pretty tired throughout the day, but thankfully on the weekends I've been able to take a couple naps. And I have no idea how I'm so focused at work, but I am. I'm cruising through projects. I'm on a mission not to leave anyone hanging and to get as much done as I can.

I can really feel baby move. I swear yesterday he/she physically grabbed one of my ovaries in his/her hand and squeezed! Ouch. It's just so crazy to see parts of his/her body move across my stomach. As of now, no stretch marks....fingers are crossed they don't decide to show up anytime soon.

I see cellulite. Like...even when I'm standing. I'm not even pressing my skin against anything - the cellulite is just there, staring at me in the mirror. That's tough for me, but I know after baby is out, I can fix that. I'm not used to it though, and it's a hard pill to swallow.

I'm now down to working out hardcore only one day a week, as in sweating up a storm on the stair climber and the rest of the week I'm walking. I kind of feel that the sweat fest helps keep the bloat away. And I was hoping working out would make labor go faster, but the doctor said it mainly will help me get in shape faster after delivery and I'll heal a lot faster too.
Me! 38 weeks. Getting pretty ready these days!

Oh, man, I've been nesting. I spent all day Saturday doing laundry and dishes, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning out the fridge, washing the edging around all our windows, baking...washing the strollers. You name it. Boy, was I sore after all that though. I think I have one more weekend of intense cleaning in me and then I'm done. I still have to hit up the freezer and our bedroom. Why is it every other room is clean but our bedroom? Anyone else have this problem?

Car Seat Installed
I met with a super cool police officer/car safety check lady in Eagan over my lunch break on Monday. Since car accidents are the number one reason for children's deaths, I wanted to ensure I had our car seat installed properly. I need that peace of mind. Plus, it's free! I got a major high-five from her when she saw we had the Chicco Keyfit 30 (which I didn't realize is pronounced 'See-Co'). She said that is the number one car seat out there for safety and installation!!!! YEAH!!! Trust me, I've done a lot of homework and research on every piece of product we registered for and have brought into our house. Yes, it's more expensive. Always seems to work that way, doesn't it?

Anyway, we spent about an hour going over all the specifics and she walked me through everything. I feel really good about that.

But I will say as I was filling up with gas, I looked through the window and stared at the empty car seat, realizing quickly that a body will be in there...soon. Oh, how life is about to change is so many ways. I also thought this as I was getting ready the other morning. I have my routine down to about 20 minutes... And my husband sleeps as long as he can. But soon we'll have to factor in a baby. How will that change it all? Will the hubby start springing out of bed all of a sudden? Hmmmm. Change is so good though. Scary. But good.

Thoughts/Feelings up to this point
I met a great friend in college while at UW-Whitewater. We played volleyball together. She texted me as soon as she found out I was pregnant to tell me she was due just a week and a half before me. Well, the minute she was induced on Monday night, she was texting me play by play. Karl couldn't believe she was doing this, but I could and I loved it!!! Over 30 hours of texts and I received her final one that she had a 8 pound 7 ounce boy. I loved every second of it. I thought all those updates and texts would make me nervous or more fearful...even when she said that volleyball conditioning didn't hold a candle to pushing a baby out. It was just a really cool moment. I've accepted the fact this is going to be painful and it could be quite long. But I know I can do this. I'm probably not going to like it, but something wonderful is going to come from all the hard work.

That's about it. Our next appointment is next Wednesday and who knows what that'll bring. Every day I wake up wondering if today will be it, but then I kind of go into work mode and forget that I'm ready to go any day. My life always seems to be so crazy, busy that it's hard to focus on baby and when his/her shining moment will be. I'm more worried about getting everything done on time so I can be that devoted parent. It's kind of fun. I feel like we're on the brink of something big... Just a matter of time.