Monday, May 12, 2014

Chocolate Chunk and Walnut Brownies

Chocolate Chunk and Walnut Brownies:

2/3 c. almond flour
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 c. salted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/3 c. honey
2 T. unsweetened sunflower seed or almond butter
1/3 c. dark chocolate chips (or add 1/2 t. stevia for added sweetness and omit these)
1/3 c. walnuts, chopped (I like using candied walnuts that I make at home with maple syrup)


Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients until well incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, honey, sunflower seed or almond butter. Pour the wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients and mix well. Add in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour into greased 8X8 baking dish and spread evenly. Bake for 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Sunflower Coconut Smoothie

I love smoothies and I especially love when others share their recipes, so I thought I'd share one of my new favorites.

Sunflower Coconut Smoothie

- 1 c. Whole milk (or substitute almond, coconut, or hemp milk)
- 2 T. Sunflower seed butter
- 2 T. Raw unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 whole banana*
- 1 or 2 dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg
- About a cup of ice*

Fill your blender with the above ingredients and pulse until well incorporated and you're left with a nice thick consistency. Enjoy!

*Omit the ice if you use a frozen banana

Do you have a favorite? Share!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Oscar's Birth Story

It's pretty ridiculous how little gets written in the baby books once the third child comes along. First baby, wrote the birth story out the very next day. Second baby, maybe a week or two later. This one? Only three months. I can't imagine how much time will lapse after the births of our next kids... "Johnny's only 12, it's about time I wrote out his birth story!"

The amount of free time I have now with three very dependent babies under the age of 4 is, well, not much. Or at least not enough that on any given day I'd rather write instead of just sit in silence with a coffee in hand for those blissful 10 minutes. But, since I have at least one hand free I better get to it.

Oscar's Story

It was Thursday, December 5th, exactly 6 days past my due date of November 29. I was home with the kids doing our regular stuff and preparing for Emery's Christmas pageant that night at 7pm. I'd had Braxton Hicks pretty regularly throughout this pregnancy but this day they felt more like very mild, but real, contractions. It wasn't possible to time them but I was having at least two per hour and they'd last maybe 30 seconds at a time. Very mild, cramping, but not painful at all.

I didn't mention any of this to Dustin because we had a couple false starts throughout the previous week. A few days before I was certain labor had started so with high hopes we started filling our tub, but of course, contractions tapered off completely and that ended in lots of frustration and no baby to show for it. I didn't want to be let down again, so I brushed this off and went about the day. We all went to Emery's pageant that night, got the kids to bed around 8:30/9, and just relaxed for a couple hours. During the bustle of the afternoon/evening I don't remember having many contractions so I figured it was just another tease. But, we went to bed around 10 and I woke up about 11:30 unable to sleep because I was having definite real contractions. I figured that this was just the beginning of a long labor so I should try and go back sleep and get a little rest. That didn't work so well. The contractions weren't extremely painful yet, but they were annoying and the excitement that this might, hopefully, be time for baby to come was too much for me to get any real rest.

I woke Dustin up about midnight and told him that I thought this was real this time and that we had better start filling up our tub. We had the tub set up in our basement next to our couch, surrounded by a couple wool blankets, and a laundry basket full of birth supplies close by. Since we don't have shades on the windows Dustin decided to prop pillows up so that our neighbors wouldn't get a peek of what was going on in our basement that night. I changed into some comfier clothes that I had planned to wear for this occasion and we just started timing contractions and preparing for the birth of our baby boy. At that point, about 1:00am, contractions were getting stronger and concentrating into my low back, coming every 3-5 minutes, and lasting about a minute each.

Birth Tub

I was walking, swaying, and trying to get our little boy moving down as Dustin was timing contractions, doing his best to keep the rice pack for my back hot, checking and preparing the tub, and putting counter pressure on my back during each contraction. We called our midwife at 2:00am to let her know what was happening and told her we'd call back when we needed her to make her way over. Contractions were painful and frequent by now. By 2:30 I told Dustin to call her back. I'm a very private person, so I really enjoy being able to do most of the laboring with just the two of us and I hate to have our midwives get there too early and have nothing to do but wait.

It was a little before 3:00am when our midwife showed up, asked a few questions, listened to baby's heart beat and began setting up and preparing for his arrival. Contractions were very painful at this point and they were coming every 2-3 minutes. By the time our other two midwives arrived (about 3:15-30 I believe) I was deep in transition and in too much pain to really notice. Plus, they are all so quiet and awesome at keeping with the mood so they just snuck right in and got everything ready. During transition Dustin could tell I needed some motivation so he began talking about our boy, about holding him and about how excited the kids would be to see him. It was so helpful. Whenever I hit transition I always start to pray. I feel so helpless and I'm in so much pain at this point that I don't even open my eyes. I just pray to my Maker and the Creator of this little baby still inside. In between the deep groanings of the contractions I ask
for strength to get through. To see my baby boy. To hold him and kiss his little cheeks.

Dustin and I had settled in our bedroom, which is right off of the living room area of the basement, for the past hour. I found it somewhat comfortable to kneel on a pillow while leaning over the bed, resting my head on another pillow. Dustin had his back against the wall and was applying counter pressure into my throbbing low back through each contraction. I'm certain his arms were aching because I would let all my weight fall into his when a contraction would begin.

It was nearly 4am when I felt pressure on my cervix and the weight of baby shift. I needed to push. Dustin and my midwives led me out of the bedroom and to the tub. Very shakily, I got into the tub. Each contraction and push felt like it was taking over my body and felt more like a dream than real life. The pain. I could hear myself make these odd shaky groaning-like noises that I wasn't even aware I was making, nor did I have control over them. The time seemed to stand still through these moments and I could see my team around the tub, smiling, cheering me on. After another push I could feel my baby's head, his hair, lots of hair! Two more pushes and he was out. Slowly Dustin and my midwife pulled him up and out of the water.

At 4:11am, on Friday December 6, Oscar Daniel Ranem was born! Weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces and 20 inches long. He came out, my baby, my adorable little man with already full and chubby cheeks. My little blondie with bright blue eyes. Oh the love. The amazing and miraculous love that makes your heart just leap and melt at the same time. It's always so dumbfounding to me how much pain you can be in just seconds before and yet when this little person is handed to you it is nearly forgotten, at least in that moment. God is good. He is always good!