Category Archives: Pregnancy & Baby

Miles & Motherhood: Five Months

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I just love this little boy to pieces! His personality shines through more every single day and he has such an endearing sweetness about him. He lights up our world! He’s so busy wriggling, rolling, knocking down blocks, and exploring the world around him that I’m so grateful for the tender moments. Those sweet snuggles are more precious than ever these days.

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I’m astonished at how quickly babies change. People told me this would happen, but there’s absolutely nothing like witnessing it for myself. I feel like Miles is a different baby every week. I think that the biggest change over this past month is how he communicates with us. He makes eye contact, mirrors our facial expressions (omg the smiles—I melt!), reaches for objects (toys, Robert’s glasses, our faces, Remy’s tail, our fingers, and our food*), follows us around with his gaze, puts everything in his mouth, grunts when he wants something, and has a big vocabulary of coos. To think that all of this will continue to take off in the next few months makes me so very excited for what’s to come. I feel like I’m just getting to know him and he’s the absolute best.

IMG_6251Truth be told, I was really worried about month four. I’d heard about the four month sleep regression and had visions of being up all night long. Without being able to nurse him to sleep (I guess I’m still not over it…) I was worried there’d be nothing I could do to help him during those long nights. Thankfully it wasn’t as hard as I feared, but sleep has been quite a roller coaster over the past month. At the beginning of July I was pretty sure we’d won the baby sleep lottery because Miles went from waking up once or twice per night to sleeping through the night several nights in a row. I was ecstatic…until he started waking up twice at night again (there’s that regression!) We’d feed him and, thankfully, he’d go back to sleep pretty easily each time. At the end of month four he dropped back down to one nightly wakeup. Now, the first week of month five, he’s been sleeping 12-hour stretches at night again and it’s spectacular. Let’s hope the streak continues!

Falling asleep at night is another story. For naps, we can put him in his crib fully awake and he can get himself to sleep, no problemo. But boy does he hate going to sleep at night no matter how tired he is (and we always try to start bedtime before he gets overtired.) I just remind myself that he’s becoming so much more aware of his environment and knows that he won’t get to see us again until morning. It’s a work in progress and we’ve made some strides this week, so I hope that it continues to improve. Truthfully, though, it’s been one of the hardest things we’ve faced so far.

This month we stopped using a swaddle (he started breaking out of it and waking himself up) and now he sleeps in Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit for naps and at night. It’s the most absurd thing on the planet—he looks like the Michelin man—but it’s a great transition and it’s so stinkin’ cute. Next, we’ll move on to a sleep sack with his arms out.

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This is the first month where I truly feel like Miles is on some kind of a schedule. We never pushed any kind of schedule on him and I’m so happy for that. Lately, Miles wakes up between 6:30 and 7am most mornings (Robert and I love going into his room together when he first wakes up!) and then takes his first nap within one to two hours after waking. Once he wakes up from that nap, we put him down every two hours for a total of about three naps per day plus a late afternoon cat nap during a walk in the stroller. The boy is powerless to any kind of motion! I’ve tried keeping him awake, but he can’t help catching a few Z’s on the go.

Can I admit something totally ridiculous? In the past, I’ve mentioned how much I love wearing Miles and how much he loves it, too. But this month, I only wore him a handful of times. And that makes me so sad! Lately, he’s been completely content being left alone in his crib, on the floor, or in his rock n’ play whenever I need to have my hands free. I’m grateful that he’s such a happy little guy and can entertain himself, but I wish he needed me a little more. (Sob.) I’m sure, like everything else, this is just a phase. But I really miss wearing him all the time.

IMG_6178I feel like month four has been a really big shift for me as a working mom. It’s so hard. I’ve felt a lot of pressure (all coming from within, of course) to have everything figured out by now in terms of caring for Miles, our home, our family, and my work. The reality is that I always feel like something is falling through the cracks. I’ve been back to work for more than a month now. July was actually my busiest month of work ever. I wrote 41 articles. I’m starting, slowly, to do more food prep on the weekends and cook more meals for us, but it’s not where I’d like it to be quite yet. I’m still learning how to manage my time during the day, but I end up working most nights after Miles goes to sleep. It’s okay for now, but not ideal in the long run because it eats into the little time that Robert and I get to spend together each day and means that some days I don’t get any time to relax. All of this is to say that I want to have everything figured out and I feel like I should by now, but I don’t. I’m still learning how to allocate my time and be present and effective in everything that I do, but I have a very long way to go.

IMG_6642Month five is going to be pretty epic for our little family. I have a huge and exciting new work opportunity and we’re preparing for our move to New York on August 18. I can’t believe that we’re leaving our friends and our life here in Chicago. It feels surreal and, at times, kind of sad. But we’re so hopeful about what our life will be like in New York. In my moments of worry, I just think about how much Robert and I love Miles and the fact that soon he’ll be surrounded by even more people who love him so much. Then, I have no doubt in my mind that we’re doing the very best thing for all of us.

*Regarding feeding, earlier this month I posted on Facebook that our pediatrician gave us the green light to start solids at four months old. However, once I did more research, we decided that we’re going to try baby-led weaning (in which baby feeds himself solids—no purees). For a variety of reasons it’s best to wait to do BLW until he’s at least six months old and showing all of the signs that he’s ready including being able to sit up unassisted. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down the days–I’m so excited for that experience to begin and plan to share it with you!

Miles & Motherhood: Four Months

IMG_5343Four months in and it finally found me. Grief. Silly, silly grief. I thought I’d somehow escaped it like some new-mama ninja, but no such luck. How can you be so happy and so sad at the same time? This motherhood thing is so confusing. There’s so much good, so much sweetness, and so much joy. And yet…

Even when Miles is giggling and babbling and practicing newly acquired skills like rolling over or shaking a rattle, I miss newborn baby Miles. How? Why? I don’t get it. As I watch him smoothly and intentionally move his hands to grab the giraffe hanging from his activity gym or stretch his freshly unswaddled body first thing in the morning, I feel utter bliss. And yet…

I yearn for those rigid flails and tightly clenched tiny baby fists. How can this be? My greatest job in life right now is to help this little soul grow. So why does my heart yearn to turn back time? I’m often caught off guard in these moments. I remind myself what everyone says—things like “it gets better” and “it gets easier.” Why should I feel sad when I have so very much to look forward to?! For us, it’s all been good. I’ve loved every single stage. Even in his neediest, fussiest and my most sleepless moments, I loved it then and I love it now. I know that in a matter of weeks I’ll look back and miss the little baby Miles who’s in front of me today. Even when it’s hard and he’s crying, even when I haven’t exercised in weeks and can hardly remember whether I’ve eaten a vegetable today…even then I’ve loved it all.

IMG_5514This has been a big month of ups and downs for us. Miles is doing great. He’s the sweetest, happiest little being I’ve ever known. My favorite thing in the whole wide world right now is when Robert picks him up out of his crib around 6 a.m. when he starts to cry. Robert walks back into our room with Miles glued to his chest like a little sleepy tree frog and gently lies him down between us. Sometimes he’ll nod off for a little while longer. But then he begins to wake up. He stretches his arms and legs, which won’t stop moving for at least the next 20 minutes, and smiles up at us with the greatest gummy grin. He then whips his head from side to side as if trying to get mom and dad to fit with a single glance. What a way to start the day.

IMG_5926This is also the month that I returned to work. Working again has been great, actually. I’m so happy editors didn’t forget about me and I feel so lucky that I get to do this job. I enjoy my work and I enjoy earning an income. The 14 weeks that I was able to step away from my computer during maternity leave were so very needed. Maternity leave wasn’t exactly what I’d call a restful break (ha!), but after doing the same job for nearly nine years it was so nice to hop off of the treadmill for a little while. Now that I’m back to work, I’ve never been more focused, organized, or productive in my life. I know that as soon as I finish everything on my To Do list I get to spend time with our sweet baby.

IMG_5928On the other hand, figuring out our childcare situation has been a struggle. Before Miles was born, we had a nanny share lined up where I’d take him to the other family’s house three days per week. The nanny had tremendous experience and heaps of glowing references. Everything seemed great.

And, to my surprise, I did fine on that first day. I think that I was so focused on getting him there, remembering to bring everything, and getting my work done so I could pick him up that I didn’t let myself feel very much. But day after day, it became more difficult to bring him back. I dreaded it. The nanny did things so differently than we did. When I picked Miles up he was always so tired (from crying? From not napping?) Those few precious hours that I got to spend with him in the late afternoon weren’t with the smiley boy I know him to be. Pretty soon I started finding countless things that felt so very wrong. And so, we decided to end it.

I dreaded telling the nanny. I agonized over it and cried more than a few tears. Finally, I made the call. And you know what? She already knew what I was going to say. It didn’t matter what reasons I dug up to explain to her why it wasn’t working. She’d worked with enough parents before and was experienced enough to know why it wasn’t working. I wasn’t ready. The moment she said that I felt a weight I’d been carrying for weeks—long before we started bringing Miles there—melt away. She said exactly what I was unable to recognize in myself. She. Was. Right. I wasn’t ready.

Still, I felt silly. Countless new moms return to work even before I did and somehow make it work. It doesn’t mean that it’s easy and it doesn’t mean that they want to, but they do it. Why couldn’t I? I guess the fact that I don’t have the expectation of showing up in an office every day has something to do with it. I didn’t have to power through these feelings and so I couldn’t. What’s more, if I lived in just about any other part of the developed world I wouldn’t be expected to be separated from my baby so soon. There’s good reason for that. Understanding this has helped me put a little less pressure on myself over the fact that I don’t want to leave my baby for eight hours a day.

After speaking to the nanny, I called Robert at work and apologized. I don’t want to stifle our son. I want him to be social and adventurous and independent. Being the most understanding human being on the face of the planet (seriously people, I married a saint), Robert reminded me that Miles can’t even sit up on his own yet. It’s okay to want to be there for him, to have him nearby. It makes sense.

IMG_5724So what am I doing? I’m still working full-time. But for now we have a babysitter coming to our house during the workday and it already feels like a better fit for us. I’m able to work upstairs while she takes care of him downstairs, but I can pop in for baby smiles, giggles, and kisses any time I like. I should’ve known this was the right path for us from the very beginning, but I also realize that it was impossible to anticipate how I was going to feel.

So there it is: I’m ready to work, but I’m not ready to be away from our little guy. And that’s okay—for now at least. We’ll get there. One step at a time. Maybe by the time Miles leaves for college : )

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Newborn Favorites

BABY STUFF!!! If I told you how much time I spent reading blogs, researching, and perusing Amazon and Buy Buy Baby while pregnant, well, I’d be a little embarrassed. To be honest, though, I think that doing so actually helped take my mind off of the fear and uncertainty I often experienced about our baby’s wellbeing because they allowed me picture him using them some day. That kept me positive and hopeful.

Of course, raising a baby is about so much more than STUFF, but some things are necessary (hello, bottles!) and some just make life a little bit easier (thank you, Rock n Play!). It was all a wild guess as to how well these items would work for us until Miles was actually here. Now that we’re nearly four months in, I’m happy to say that my hard work and time paid off. So today, I’m sharing our favorite newborn items plus one big flop (thank goodness for returns!)

{Sidenote: I was going to make a fancy collage like I did for my Pregnancy Favorites, but then I remembered how many hours went into teaching myself how to do it and then I had a nice little laugh about how I used to have so much time to do whatever I wanted. HA!}

Rock n’ Play Any swing or cradle-like device will work, but what I love about the RnP is how light and portable it is. We have one on our main living floor and one on the floor where our bedrooms are located and I’m often moving them from room to room so that Miles can be near us. He loves it! It’s so important to have some kind of contraption in nearly every room—or at least on every floor—where we can safely put baby down whenever we need to (bed and couch = danger!) Even if it’s for just a few seconds while I put on my shoes or feed the dogs, I always know that he’s safe and comfortable in there. Speaking of the dogs, I like that he’s a little higher off the ground when he’s in the RnP so they’re not all up in his business like they would be if he were closer to the floor.

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Green Mountain Diapers unbleached newborn prefold diapers and Thirsties Duo Wrap Size 1 diaper covers Well, this is something I never expected to write about on what was once a food blog, but we LOVE cloth diapering. (Btw I hope to resume writing about food some day…) Briefly—and without getting all gospel-y about it—here’s why I love cloth diapering: I love the idea that we aren’t contributing to diaper waste, we’re saving a lot of money (we’re talking in the thousands–especially if we add to our brood some day), and we’re avoiding exposure to the chemicals in disposable diapers. Plus, the fluffly cloth-diapered bum is just so darn cute! If you have any specific questions about cloth diapering, our laundry routine, or anything else please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me. And if you think we’ve lost our marbles, that’s cool, too : ) For the newborn stage, prefolds and covers were one of the most economical options and we’ve had great success with these items. We have 24 newborn prefolds (he outgrew them at about 3 months old), 24 small sized prefolds (that’s what he wears now), and about 10 Thirsties covers (which is actually way more than we need). I do one load of diaper laundry every other day and it’s no big deal. Other cloth-diapering supplies we use and love: GroVia cloth wipes (oh yeah, we went there) and Planet wise pail liners.

Thirsties diaper cover & Wubbanub (described below). OMG he's so tiny here I'm going to go cry buckets now...Newborn prefold + Thirsties diaper cover + Wubbanub pacifier (mentioned below). OMG he’s so tiny here I’m gonna go cry buckets now…

Baby’s First Year Calendar I love the idea of a baby book, but I don’t think I’d be able to keep up with one. But a calendar where I write one little thing every day and record his milestones? Easy peasy! In fact, my mom did this for the first two years of my life and gave me the calendars at my baby shower. When I saw something just like it I knew I had to have it. We have this calendar hanging in Miles’ room and at the end of each day I jot down something from that day that I want to remember.

Solly Baby wrap I think I’ve waxed poetic enough by now that you already know how much I adore my Solly wrap. It’s so soft and comfortable, but most of all I love how close Miles feels to me when I wear him in it. It’s nearly as good as when he naps on my chest, but allows me to get stuff done at the same time. I tend to use the Solly when I’m wearing Miles around the house, but when we’re out and about or Robert’s wearing him we use the Lillebaby, which we also love.

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The First Years Infant to Toddler Tub with Sling Bath time is one of the things I looked forward to most about having a baby and it’s even better than I imagined. Miles loves his baths! He’s so calm and relaxed in there, you’d think he was at the beach. Robert and I even have a song that we made up (spa day…) and sing whenever he’s in the bath. (Yep, we’re totally those parents.) There are a lot of fancy tubs out there, but in my opinion this one has everything you could possibly need and transitions easily from infant to toddler. We’ve been using it ever since Miles was a week old. We keep it in the bathtub and fill the water to just below the sling before putting Miles in it. It’s so simple and practical and will last a very long time.

Born Free Nighty Night Nursing Light File this under Ridiculous Things That Work Really Well. And you don’t need to nurse to use it. Basically, it’s a dim light that you can clip onto your shirt, though I just left it on my bedside table. It gives off just enough light so I could check on Miles when he was sleeping in our room without turning on a lamp and waking everyone up.

In addition, here’s a quick list of items we have, love, recommend, and use all the time that need little explanation:

Finally, there’s one thing that I thought would be a lifesaver, but for us was a total fail: The Momaroo. I debated getting one for a really long time and finally took the plunge shortly before Miles was born. I ended up returning it. Some babies adore it, but we didn’t use it often enough to justify the cost or the space that it occupied. Miles only lasted a few minutes in there at a time before he started to fuss. Ultimately, I found that keeping him near us in the Rock n Play or wearing him in the Solly were far more effective than putting him down in the swing, which isn’t very portable. What can I say? The baby loves to be held and this mama is more than happy to oblige.

Miles & Motherhood: Three Months

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I know I say this every month, but I really can’t believe that Miles turned three months old this week. In some ways it feels like he was born yesterday and in other ways I can hardly remember what life was like before him.

We have one happy baby and two very happy parents! Just how happy is he? Often, while I’m giving him a bottle I have to stop midway to give him a break so he can smile and “talk”. He just can’t contain it! We also get some of his biggest smiles while he’s on his changing table or hanging out in his activity gym.

There’s so much change that happens from one month to the next, but I feel like I’ve noticed some of Miles’ greatest leaps over these past four weeks. It seems like he started out the month still a newborn and is now a full-fledged baby. The fourth trimester is totally a real thing. Within this past month he: eats more at each feeding; goes to bed earlier and sleeps longer at night; strings together noises to make more complex sounds; outgrew his newborn clothes and fits into his 3-month outfits; smiles and “talks” constantly; is more interested in toys, and much more. As you know, he was a tiny 4-pound peanut when he was born so we’re thrilled that he’s growing like crazy. We think he’s about 12 pounds now.

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I think that the biggest lesson over this past month, for me, was to put the gosh darn parenting books down! Every family has their own parenting style and that’s totally cool. All along, Robert and I have taken a figure-it-out-as-we-go approach. Still, I’ve consulted different books for some guidance along the way. But you know what? Miles is our greatest guide–at least at this stage. We may be his parents, but changes are so much easier for all of us when he leads the way because it tells us that he’s ready for them. All we need to do is watch for his cues and help make it happen.

IMG_5216His bedtime is a huge example of this lesson for us. I’d read that babies should start going to sleep earlier as they get a little older. At the beginning of this month, he still had a pretty late bedtime—around 9 or 10pm. I tried moving it up (because the books told me to), but it was a struggle to get him to fall asleep any earlier. That is, until one night Miles moved his own bedtime to 7pm and it has been that way ever since.

Here’s how that went down. One evening around 6pm, when Miles was about 9.5 weeks old, he was completely inconsolable. We tried everything we could think of to calm him down and nothing worked. Finally, as a last-ditch effort we decided to give him a bath because he’s always happy and relaxed in there, even though it was several hours earlier than we’d normally bathe him. Happily, it worked. While taking a bath, he started to yawn so we decided to continue with our bedtime routine and just see what happened. So, after his bath he got some snuggles while wrapped in his towel, we put him in his PJs, I fed him a bottle, and before he was finished he started falling asleep. We swaddled him, put him in his crib, and before 7pm he was fast asleep. Robert and I snuck out of his room and as soon as we got downstairs we did a happy dance. Success! What’s more, he slept 6.5 hours (instead of his usual 3 to 4) that night before waking up for a feeding. Nearly every night since he’s gone to sleep between 7 and 7:30pm. Especially now that Robert isn’t working such crazy hours, it feels pretty spectacular to have our evenings back. Although we know that we should probably get in bed shortly after we put Miles down, we’re just so happy to have a few hours together in the evenings right now.IMG_5106

Miles still wakes up twice at night to eat (the second time is  usually between 4:30 and 5 a.m., so technically I guess he’s only waking once at night?) I’ll take it for now, but I’m hoping he’ll drop at least one of those feedings over the next month, especially now that he’s eating more during the day. But do you want to know a secret about those nighttime feedings? I kind of like them. I realize I probably sound like a weirdo for saying that (and I may change my tune when I’m back to work), but for now I really cherish them. It isn’t always easy to get out of bed when I hear him crying on the monitor, but there’s something so sweet and peaceful about holding and feeding our baby in the middle of the night. I know that Miles won’t be waking up at night forever (right? Right? PROMISE?) so I’ll take those late-night snuggles and sleepy smiles while I can.

IMG_5122Without a doubt, the highlight of this month was our first family trip to Saugatuck, MI. Robert and I went there last September to celebrate our first anniversary and loved it so much. It’s this adorable little town along the Kalamazoo River and we were so happy to be back with Miles. He did great! He slept the whole three-hour long car ride there. He was such a champ while we bopped around town during the day and he napped while we ate a fancy steak dinner (with Robert wearing him in the Lillebaby and standing up at the bar – ha!)  He kept us entertained with smiles in our little rental house and he slept well at night while Robert and I shared a bottle of wine and played cards.

I’m so excited about what’s to come during his fourth month. Miles is on the verge of so many cool things. We’re waiting for a giggle to happen any day now. When he’s really excited he wiggles his entire body, gives us the biggest open-mouthed gummy smile, and makes a sound that’s almost a giggle. It’s like he’s trying to figure out how to coordinate the facial motions and sounds necessary for producing a giggle. When Miles is on his tummy, he lifts his head and chest nice and high and leans to one side (see below) so I know that rolling over is just on the horizon. He did it once on his own last week, but we’re eagerly waiting for him to do it again. His head control has improved dramatically over this past month—it makes such a difference—so I’m sure it’ll continue to get stronger until he can totally hold it up on his own.

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Finally, this is the month that I start back to work. We have a fabulous nanny share situation (I’ll be taking him to the other family’s house) that he starts the second week of June. I’ve already reached out to some editors about my return to work and have quite a few assignments waiting for me when I’m back at my computer. I have about 10 million feelings, both good and bad, about returning to work. I’m so fortunate to work from home, work for myself, enjoy what I do, and have some flexibility so I’m incredibly grateful for all of that. But the thought of being apart from Miles and having someone else care for him is really difficult for me to wrap my mind around at the moment. I know that over time we’ll find our new normal and figure it out together as a family. Just like we’ve done all along.

Miles & Motherhood: Two Months

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Happy two months, little man!

I can’t believe how much has changed since my last post. In his second month, Miles has definitely woken up. He opens his eyes nice and wide, makes eye contact, and focuses on people and objects (and dogs!) around him. He’s also started to vocalize with the cutest “gahs” and “ayes” and we always babble those sounds right back to him. I can’t get enough!

As you can see in the picture above, last week he started giving us some smiles, and…just …wow! Seeing those first smiles—real, unmistakable, on-purpose smiles—is the best thing in the world. It reminds me a lot of what it was like to feel him kick for the first time when I was pregnant. It’s hard to explain, but in both instances I suddenly felt so connected to this little life. We’ll do anything to make him smile no matter how ridiculous we may look.

Robert and I feel incredibly lucky that Miles makes it pretty easy for us to be new parents. Like any baby, he has his moments of crying and fussiness, but overall he’s a calm and content little fella. Not only does he look like his dad, I’m pretty sure he has his easygoing demeanor, too.

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Our little wolf pack

I’m happy to say that a lot of the things that felt so hard during the first four weeks are becoming much easier now. Of course, every day brings new adventures and challenges, but I feel like we’re really getting the hang of things now. In the past month, I’ve also started doing some things that make me feel a little more normal again. I go grocery shopping with Miles, we’ve gone to a few restaurants with him, and I try to go on a super long (70-90 minute) stroller walk most days. Cooking is still way too intimidating–I’ve only cooked a handful of things since he was born, so we’re still living off of those freezer meals and foods that are really easy to assemble (salads, sandwiches, eggs, etc.)

Sleep is a work in progress. In general, I’d say that he’s a pretty good sleeper for an 8-week-old. Currently, he goes to sleep between 8 and 9 p.m. and wakes up twice at night for feedings, which last 30 to 45 minutes each, and then goes down pretty easily after each one. When Miles was about 6.5 weeks old, we moved him out of our room and into his nursery. It was bittersweet, but a good decision for all of us. He makes so many noises at night that were keeping us up! At first he was sleeping in his rock n’ play in his room and he did really well with that. However, we know that he should be sleeping in his crib (which he’s never really liked) so we’ve been working on having him sleep in there at night and for some naps. We still swaddle him using either a Halo Sleepsack or Summer Infant Swaddleme.

IMG_4089No matter how much or how little sleep I get at night, I always look forward to the morning. Morning Miles is my favorite! (Bathtime Miles is a close second.) Even if our day starts at 5:30 a.m., I’m totally okay with it because of how sweet he is. After Miles has been fed, he’s super alert and so fun to be around. We’ll hang out in the jungle (aka his activity gym), do some tummy time, read some books in bed, make funny noises back and forth, and chill. Miles doesn’t even need to be entertained–he’s just happy and alert–but now that he’s awake for longer stretches, especially in the morning, I try to take advantage of that time when I can.

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This is probably a result of spending way too much time on social media and reading too many blogs, but I often see people lamenting the fact that their baby is growing up and getting bigger. Is it weird that I don’t feel sad about this? As much as I adore this newborn stage (and I really really love everything about it), I’m excited about everything that’s still to come! I can’t wait for giggles, babbling, playing, crawling, and on and on. I love that he’s getting bigger. I love that I’ve already packed away his preemie outfits and his newborn-sized clothes are next. I love that every day he discovers something new like the crocodile hanging from his activity gym or the lights in the kitchen ceiling. I love that as soon as I think I know him, he becomes someone new. For me, this is what it’s all about and I’m happily soaking it all in.

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In my last post I mentioned how much I love the Solly Baby wrap. Well, I’m convinced that babywearing is the key to a happy baby and happy parents, at least in this household! In addition to the Solly, we love our Lillebaby. I love the close contact babywearing provides, while enabling me to have my hands free to do things such as walk the dogs, put together a meal, eat, fold laundry, answer e-mails, and more. It’s also a great alternative to using the stroller when running errands. Babywearing is pretty magical—as soon as I put Miles into one of the carriers, he snuggles close to me and falls asleep. Some evenings I’ll wrap the Solly on while he’s still napping or hanging out and as soon as he starts fussing I plop him in there and all is right in the world again.

Looking ahead, this next month is a big one for us. Robert has one week left of his busy season and then he’ll be around a lot more. Woo hoo! In many ways it feels like a fresh start for us as parents. He’ll be taking a week of paternity leave in May and we planned a little getaway to Michigan for our first family trip, which should be really fun and, hopefully, relaxing.

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Finally, I wanted to end this post with something that’s been on my mind since Miles was born. I realize that it may seem like it’s all puppies and babies and rainbows and unicorns around here, and for the most part it is (well, minus the rainbows and unicorns). What follows, which is about feeding Miles, has consumed a lot of my thoughts and energy during these first few months. As we enter his third month, I think I’m finally starting to accept things as they are, focus on the positive, and let my disappointment go.

So here it goes…

I had every intention of breastfeeding Miles for at least the first year. Before he was born I did everything I could to set us up for success. I took classes, read books, researched, stocked up on everything I could possibly need, and more. It was really important to me to make it work.

Unfortunately, that is not our reality. I just never produced anything. I worked with lactation consultants and tried everything imaginable, but still had nothing to give him.

Finally, my doctor offered one more option: a medication to treat acid reflux that’s prescribed off-label to induce lactation. I considered it briefly. I wanted to know that I did everything possible to feed our baby and that certainly would’ve been everything. However, after careful thought and discussion, I decided that the side effects such as anxiety and depression were too risky (what new mom needs that?) and there wasn’t enough long-term evidence for me to feel certain that it was safe for Miles and me. I also felt that I didn’t want to force my body to do something that it clearly wasn’t doing on its own. And so, our reality is that our baby is formula fed.

Accepting this reality has been the most difficult thing I’ve faced since he was born. I know that in the scheme of things feeding him formula isn’t that big of a deal. (Heck, I was formula fed and I seemed to turn out okay…) And of course, the most important thing is that he’s happy, healthy, growing, and loved. He’s certainly all of those things. It’s just that knowing all of the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby, I’m disappointed that we don’t get to experience them.

Whenever I feel bummed about giving Miles a bottle I call to mind something my mom said that put it all into perspective for me. At his two week doctors appointment when we found out that he was over five pounds, which was a big milestone for us, I texted my mom the news followed by “no thanks to me.” Her response: “Babies also grow on love.” Isn’t that the truth? I may not be able to feed him in the way I had hoped, but I’ll always be able to nourish him with an endless supply of love.

Meet Miles!

01-IMG_0338 He’s here, he’s here! We welcomed our son, Miles Atlas Fowler, on Friday, February 27, 2015 at 5:39 a.m. I can’t believe the little life that was growing and squirming inside my belly is now sleeping soundly next to me while I type. It’s surreal and more wonderful than I ever dreamed it would be. We’ve been home since Sunday, March 1 and are settling in beautifully as a family of three. (Or five if you count Remy and Pippa, which we certainly do .)

Before Miles was born, I wasn’t sure whether I’d share his birth story or not. Being on the other side of things now with a healthy baby in our lives, I want to be sure to document the experience before it fades and honor the incredible journey we went through in order to bring him into the world. So here it goes…

Miles Atlas’ Birth Story

bw-08-IMG_0378 Robert and I are some of the biggest planners you’ll ever meet, so it’s surprising that except for the fact that I knew I wanted an epidural, we adopted the no-plan plan when it came to our baby’s birth. I’m so grateful that’s what we did because it enabled us to embrace the process as it unfolded in a very unexpected way.

At my 36-week doctors appointment, my belly hadn’t grown since two weeks prior so my doctor ordered an ultrasound to check our baby’s growth. It showed that he was small, but everything appeared healthy. With a month left before my due date, he still had plenty of time to grow.

However, on Thursday, February 26 at my 38-week appointment, another ultrasound showed that our little guy hadn’t grown since the previous scan. Again, there was nothing that appeared to be impeding his growth. Just as I was contemplating whether I wanted to pick up Chipotle or Protein Bar for lunch on my way home, my doctor walked into the dimly lit ultrasound suite and informed me that I’d be having a baby that day. (Or the next morning as it turned out…)

She explained that although there was no apparent reason why he wasn’t growing, it would be safest to deliver him as soon as possible. The moment she mentioned the risk of stillbirth the longer he stayed in there without growing, I knew it was what we had to do. In fact, she strongly urged me to head to the hospital right then and there to begin an induction. I still can’t believe I was so determined, but in my state of shock I pleaded with her to let me run home, grab our bags (or, in my case, pack my bag…oops), and drop the dogs off at boarding. Robert was working at a client about an hour outside of the city that day and it was snowing pretty heavily. I feared that by the time he got home, accomplished those tasks, and arrived at the hospital, I may have already begun the induction process. I didn’t want to go through a moment of it without him so I insisted she let me go.

The drive home is still a blur. I called Robert at work and told him to head to the hospital because we were having a baby (!!!) I called my parents and my sister. I then started calling editors because I had interviews scheduled that afternoon that I needed to cancel or have them cover. I arrived home, sent e-mails to more editors letting them know what was happening and that I wouldn’t be able to finish various assignments. I blew through our house like a tornado grabbing clothes, toiletries, and snacks. I packed up the dogs and their stuff. I dropped the pups off at boarding and headed to the hospital while shoving a banana and two granola bars in my mouth. So much for that burrito bowl.

By the time I arrived at the hospital, Robert had already started checking me in. We unpacked the car, waited briefly in triage, and were then on to Labor & Delivery. There, we waited in a waiting room for an hour or more while they prepped a room for us. Robert and I discussed names some more (we hadn’t fully committed to one just yet), and I chugged as much coconut water as I could. I’m sure we said “We’re having a baby!” and “Can you believe we’re having a baby!?” a few hundred times. Finally, we were admitted to the room where our baby would enter the world early the following morning.

My very last bump picture

My very last bump picture before Miles was born

As far as induction goes, it’s an extremely slow process. Without going into too many details, the rough chain of events went something like this: By Thursday evening I started the CRIB procedure in which a balloon-like device begins to dilate the cervix. At first it was bearable. Robert sat at my bedside, we talked a lot, he ate the leftover quiche he’d brought to work for lunch, and I snuck some Saltines and an applesauce muffin (I was supposed to be on clear fluids only). 

Then the contractions started. They offered to give me a medication through my IV to help relieve the pain. At first I declined, but eventually they became too much to bear especially since I knew that I still had hours to go with the CRIB even before moving on to the next step (pitocin). It was a great decision. The medication made me drowsy so Robert and I got an hour or more of much needed shut-eye before it wore off.

Robert made a genius move and brought a sleeping bag to the hospital. Everyone who walked into our room throughout our hospital stay was impressed–they’d never seen anyone do that before.

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After six hours, if the CRIB didn’t work they were going to leave it in for another six. I was sure I’d need six more, but, fortunately, the first six did the trick. By about 10:30 or 11pm I was 4cm dilated so it was on to the pitocin. After a while a nurse came in to break my bag of waters. However, her attempts were way too painful so she suggested I get the epidural and she’d come back to do it after that was working.

As anyone who’s had an epidural knows, it can take a while from when you request it to when you receive it, which was the case for me. Thirty to 45 minutes later, through a series of painful contractions (people say they’re worse with pitocin, but I have nothing to compare it to), the anesthesiologist arrived. As far as the epidural goes, I’d say it was uncomfortable, but completely bearable and totally worth it for me. It took about 30 minutes to administer the epidural.

As we moved from one step of the induction process to another, my body shook uncontrollably. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life. It happened even before the epidural so I can’t attribute it to that. I’m pretty sure that it was fear overtaking my body. Going through labor for the first time (or maybe every time is like this?) is terrifying. There’s no doubt about it. It’s especially so when one moment you’re contemplating what to eat for lunch and the next you’re being told that you’re about to have a baby two weeks before his due date (when you were sure you’d go past your due date). I didn’t know what anything would feel like or whether any complications would occur. And, due to how urgently my doctor wanted me to be induced, I often felt more fear about our baby’s wellbeing than about what I was experiencing. I just wanted to deliver him and find out if he was okay. While shaking, I did my absolute best to soothe myself with deep breaths. Robert was at my bedside every step of the way holding my hand, reminding me to breathe, and providing endless reassurance. I always knew he’d be amazing when this day arrived, but the reality was so much better.

Once the epidural was in and started working, the nurse came back and broke my water.

From that point, the nurse explained it could take many hours to dilate from 4cm to 10cm. Neither Robert nor I kept track of time during the labor process (we were a little preoccupied…), but I kept reaching the next step much faster than anyone anticipated.

In the early morning hours on February 27, I told the nurse that I felt like I needed to push. She couldn’t believe it, but when two different people checked they agreed it was time. The only problem? Since they figured it would take many more hours before I’d be ready, my doctor was still at home, more than 30 minutes away!!! The wait was excruciating. Not only is it the oddest feeling to want to push and not be able to, but I’d misunderstood the anesthesiologist’s instructions on how to use the bolus to administer more of the medication. For a while, the pain got away before the medication could catch up. Robert was there holding my hand as I breathed deeply through each contraction.

As a side note, ladies, if you ever plan on giving birth start taking yoga now. Seriously. I can’t tell you how helpful it was at every stage in the labor process. Being able to control your breath and use it to its full capacity is an incredible skill I’ve never been more grateful to have. I’m certain that yoga is invaluable if you choose to have a natural birth. But even if you take a medicated route like I did that doesn’t mean it’s painless or comfortable. And when you have to be confined to a bed and can’t use your body to change positions (except from side to side–and even that is limited depending on how baby’s heart rate responds) your breath is one of the only things you have that will bring you any relief. Knowing how to use it makes all the difference. Yoga also proved to be incredibly helpful when it came to pushing…

Which, thankfully, I was able to do shortly after the doctor arrived. Speaking of the doctor, I go to a medical practice that has about six OB’s on staff. Whoever is on call when you’re in labor is the one who delivers your baby. I’d met all of them prior to that day—except the one who delivered Miles. In fact, I had an appointment scheduled for the following Tuesday to finally meet her. As luck would have it, she couldn’t have been more wonderful. Now, I can’t imagine anyone else delivering our baby but her. Between contractions, one of the most helpful things I did was to ask the doctor where the baby was within the birth canal and what exactly I was trying to achieve with the next series of pushes. She explained it all so clearly so that from then on, at each contraction, I was able to visualize what was happening. Not only did this help me make the most of each contraction, it gave me something to focus on beyond the fear and immense pressure I experienced. This is again where I felt my yoga practice made a huge difference thanks to the mind-body connection I’ve developed over time. When I could visualize in my mind what I was trying to do, my body was able to carry it out.

The doctor explained that most first time moms push for two or three hours before baby is born so I braced myself for the long haul. But the contractions came fast and furious. A little more than 20 minutes after I started pushing, at 5:39 a.m.on February 27, baby Miles was born.

I think that every parent hopes they’ll hear those cries as soon as baby is born and I’m so grateful that that’s exactly what we experienced. I’ll never forget that moment for as long as I live. I immediately dissolved into a flood of tears, crying just as hard as our newborn son. I’m still weepy every time I think about the moment he was born (like right now…) It was the greatest sense of joy and relief I’ve ever experienced in my life.

07-IMG_0375 While I’d hoped they’d be able to lay him on my chest right away for some skin-to-skin, the nurses had to take him to the warmer first so they could make sure he was okay, given his tiny size. And tiny he was: Miles weighed just 4 lbs 13 oz at birth. And, like most babies, he’s lost weight since then–bottoming out at 4 lbs 6 oz. He was almost back to his birthweight at our one week doctors appointment and he’ll get checked again this Friday, at two weeks old, which is also his actual due date.

Thankfully, he was completely healthy and continued to pass every test for both full-term and small for gestational age (SGA) newborns with flying colors throughout our hospital stay. Robert cut the umbilical cord, the nurses cleaned our baby off, confirmed that he was okay, and moments later they laid him on my chest for the first time. During labor, we’d settled on his name, Miles Atlas, and I’ll never forget the first time after he was born that I uttered it out loud. Miles Atlas, our son, was finally here! It’s entirely impossible to capture in words what it felt like to hold him for the first time, except to say that it was the purest sense of love I’ve ever known.IMG_2043 We may never know what stopped him from growing during my pregnancy. It falls under the category of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), but that may be due to countless factors or for no reason at all. The best the doctor could say is that for one reason or another, my placenta may have stopped working. They sent it to pathology, but told me the results are often inconclusive. I’m just grateful that I was able to carry Miles to full-term and he entered the world as safe and as healthy as could be. My dad has already nicknamed him TBM–Tiny but Mighty–and that’s exactly what he is.

Our hospital stay couldn’t have been more wonderful. I’m healing really well, Miles is doing great and I couldn’t dream of a better husband or father than Robert. There’s no other way to describe how I feel right now, even through the sleepless nights, new mom doubts, feeding challenges (it’s so hard, but we’re working at it) and fussy moments–than peaceful. It feels like Miles was always supposed to be ours and caring for him is already the greatest joy I’ve ever known.

Thank you so much for joining us on this incredible journey!

P.S. I got my burrito bowl on our way home from the hospital : ) 15-IMG_0416

The Most Epic List of Healthy Freezer Meals Ever (Part I)

The most epic list of freezer meals ever

For the past few weeks I’ve been on a mission: To stock our freezer with as many delicious and healthy recipes as I possibly can. It’s become a bit of an obsession, really. I can’t be stopped. Since reaching 34 weeks, I’ve spent pretty much every spare minute cooking and freezing meals. I’ve chopped onions at 5 a.m. I’ve put recipes into the slow cooker at 10 p.m. I’ve been to Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods more times than I can count. I’ve made so many lists that Robert’s sure he’s going to come home from work one day to find recipes scribbled on our walls. I’ve spent so many hours cooking on weekends that by the end of the day I can no longer stand.

The most epic list of healthy freezer meals ever

And you know what? I’ve loved every single moment of it! Honestly, deep down, I know that it may be a long time before I get to spend six consecutive hours on a Sunday by myself, cooking in the kitchen, blasting the Taylor Swift Pandora station. It’s my happy place. I know it’ll always be there for me, but I also know that it’ll look a little different for a while once Baby is here. So for now, I’m trying to soak up every moment and along the way create meals that hungry, sleep-deprived Future Paige and Future Robert will be oh so grateful to have.

I’ve also kept careful notes (more lists!) of everything I’ve made along with instructions for prepping, freezing, and serving every recipe so I can share them with you! No matter your situation–baby on the way, crazy work schedule, busy home life–everyone can benefit from having a few (dozen?) freezer meals ready to go.

The most epic list of healthy freezer meals ever

My plan is to share my epic list in three parts:

  • PART I: Entrees {That’s today!}
  • PART II: Breakfasts & Baked Goods {Coming soon!}
  • PART III: An update on how everything worked out, things that froze exceptionally well, changes I’d make for the future, etc. Freezing meals isn’t rocket science, but I’ve never done anything like this before so I’m sure there will be plenty to learn.

But first, some things you should know:

  • Although I try to avoid plastic, stocking up on glass containers proved to be way too expensive for the volume of meals that I made. Once completely cooled, I froze most things in BPA-free 1 gallon sized freezer bags.
  • Freeze plastic bags flat (place on a plate or baking sheet while freezing) so they take up less space in your freezer.
  • Keep a list of everything that’s in your freezer and cross them off as you eat them
  • LABEL LABEL LABEL EVERYTHING!!! What’s inside, date, etc.
  • I’ll always prefer fresh food to frozen. So rather than cooking every single recipe all the way through (though some I did), in many instances I cooked it up to a certain point, froze it, and included instructions for how I’ll finish it once it’s thawed. All of these modifications are included in the instructions below. But if you want to cook a recipe all the way through and freeze it like that, by all means go for it!
  • When the instructions below say “thaw in refrigerator overnight” it’s smart to place the bag in a baking dish or bowl in case any tiny holes occurred in the freezing process.

Here’s the complete list of meals that I made for PART I. Scroll down to find cooking/freezing/thawing instructions for each recipe.

Complete List of Freezer Meals (PART I)

And we’re off!

Supplies you’ll need (besides food ingredients):

  • LOTS of 1 gallon BPA-free freezer bags
  • Labels
  • Sharpies

Main ingredient: Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala 

I made the sauce and froze it with the raw chicken

To cook:

  • In a bowl, combine raw chicken, coriander, cumin, salt, and yogurt. (Skip browning the chicken). Transfer to freezer bag.
  • Make the sauce: Saute onion, garlic, 1 chopped, seeded jalapeno (instead of adding it whole), and salt until onions are soft & translucent (8-10 mins). Add garam masala and fresh ginger, cook about 1 minute, add tomatoes, increase heat and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and set aside to cool.
  • When sauce is cool, pour into freezer bag with raw chicken. Freeze.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Empty contents of bag into slow cooker. Follow remainder of the recipe.

Main ingredient: Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Slow Cooker Sesame Honey Chicken 

made the sauce and froze it with the raw chicken

To freeze:

  • Season chicken with black pepper, add to freezer bag (raw)
  • In a bowl, combine soy sauce through sriracha. Whisk together. Pour into bag with raw chicken. Freeze.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Empty contents of bag into slow cooker. Follow remainder of the recipe.
  • Serve with brown rice, green vegetable (such as steamed spinach, broccoli, or bok choy), top with sesame seeds and chopped green onions.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken 

I made the sauce and froze it with the raw chicken

To freeze:

  • Place chicken breasts, raw, in freezer bag.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the barbecue sauce, Italian dressing, and Worcestershire sauce (I omit the sugar). Pour into bag with raw chicken. Freeze.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Empty contents of bag into slow cooker. Follow remainder of the recipe.

To serve {options}:

  • BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches: Pile chicken onto whole wheat buns with toppings.
  • BBQ pulled chicken quinoa bowls: Layer cooked quinoa on the bottom of a bowl, top with BBQ pulled chicken, black beans, corn, green onion or cilantro, and avocado. (Inspired by recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking)
  • BBQ pulled chicken pizza: Top prepared pizza dough with extra BBQ sauce, BBQ pulled chicken, sliced red onion, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake. Top with chopped cilantro.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

To cook:

  • Follow recipe all the way through. Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag (I divided it into 2)

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Reheat soup in a pan on the stove or individual portions in the microwave.
  • Add any toppings you like (cilantro, tortilla chips, fresh lime, hot sauce, etc.)

Main ingredient: Rotisserie Chicken

Freezer Chicken Quinoa Burritos 

Makes about 20 burritos

  • Changes I made: Add chopped red onion & use whole wheat tortillas
  • To make, freeze, and reheat: Follow recipe!

Homemade chicken broth using rotisserie chicken carcass from the freezer burritos

This is totally extra credit, but SO easy especially if you use the slow cooker! Just dump the chicken carcass from the rotisserie chicken (and any remaining skin, etc.) into your slow cooker. Add any veggies from your veggie drawer: I usually add 3 to 4 carrots (unpeeled, quartered), 3 to 4 celery stalks (roughly chopped, it’s okay to keep any leaves on), fresh herbs such as parsley or green onions (if you have it—I’ve made it with and without), 1 yellow onion (unpeeled, quartered), 4 to 6 garlic cloves (unpeeled, smashed), 1 Tbsp or more black peppercorns, some Kosher salt, and then pour enough water to cover everything by about 1 to 2 inches. Cover and cook on LOW 12-24 hours. Pour contents of slow cooker through a strainer into a container (discard solids) and store broth in the refrigerator until chilled (overnight or even a whole day is fine). Skim the fat off of the top and either use the broth within a few days or pour into freezer bags or mason jars to freeze.

Main ingredient: Ground Beef

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

To cook:

  • Follow recipe (I substituted ground beef for the sausage), but skip pasta. Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • When ready to eat, cook pasta
  • Reheat soup on the stove. Taste and adjust any seasonings. Add cooked pasta. Add additional broth if needed.

Easy Meaty Mushroom Marinara Sauce

Original recipe: In a large pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and sauté 1 yellow onion, chopped until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add 10 oz sliced mushrooms (I used cremini), and sauté until softened. Add 1 to 1.5 lbs lean ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Pour a 2 lb jar marinara sauce (any kind you like—I used an organic kind from Costco) into the pot. Add 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried parsley, ½ tsp dried thyme, and ½ tsp red chili pepper. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Allow sauce to cool completely. Transfer to freezer bag (I divided it between 2)

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Reheat in a pot on the stove. Add extra sauce, if needed. You could also mix in some spinach or other greens until wilted.
  • Serve on whole-wheat pasta or zucchini noodles

Slow Cooker Beef Chili

To cook:

  • Follow recipe. Changes I made: Saute 1 jalapeno with the onion instead of using chipotle in adobo. Add 2 cups frozen corn when it’s done cooking (it’ll quickly thaw). Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag. Freeze.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Reheat in a pot on stove. Add any toppings you like.

Main Ingredient: Ground Turkey Breast

Barefoot Contessa Turkey Meatloaf  

Recipe is for one huge meatloaf. I made 5 smaller ones—see instructions below

To cook:

  • Follow recipe through mixing ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Instead of forming one giant meatloaf, divide into five smaller meatloaves (you’ll need 2 baking sheets). Spread as much ketchup as you like on each meatloaf.
  • Bake about 60 minutes until internal temperature is 160 degrees.
  • Allow meatloaves to cool completely.
  • Individually wrap each meatloaf in parchment or wax paper, leaving a little space so the ketchup doesn’t get smushed. Then wrap in foil. Store in freezer bags.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Reheat in microwave or oven
  • I like to serve meatloaves with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes and something green such as sautéed broccolini.

Turkey Meatball Parmesan 

I browned the meatballs and froze them in the sauce

To cook:

  • Follow recipe through browning the meatballs. Remove meatballs to baking sheet or baking dish to cool.
  • Pour pasta sauce into freezer bag. Add meatballs. Freeze.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Finish following recipe: Empty contents of bag into a baking dish. Top meatballs with mozzarella. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes until bubbly. Uncover and broil until a light brown crust forms on the cheese, about 3 minutes.

Other

Beef Vegetable Soup

To cook:

  • I used lean beef stew meat instead of bison.
  • Follow recipe all the way through. Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a pot on the stove. Add extra broth if needed.

Chicken Sausage Vegetable Soup

To cook:

  • Follow recipe all the way through. Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a pot on stove. Add extra broth if needed.

Barefoot Contessa Winter Minestrone 

doubled the recipe and separated into 4 freezer bags

To cook:

  • Follow recipe through adding beans.
  • Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag(s).

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a pot on stove. Add extra broth if needed.
  • Cook penne. Add to soup.
  • Stir in pesto, if desired (I sometimes skip)
  • Serve with baguette or other crusty bread

Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup with Chickpeas 

To cook:

  • Follow recipe all the way through. Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag (I divided it between 2).

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a pot on stove. Add extra broth if needed.

Red Lentil Soup 

doubled the recipe and separated into 2 freezer bags

To cook:

  • Follow the recipe, except double the carrots per recipe (if you’re making one recipe use 2 carrots, if you’re doubling it use 4). Use low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth (not water). All soup to completely. Transfer to freezer bag(s).

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a pot on stove or reheat individual portions in microwave. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Top with fresh lemon juice (so key!) and fresh chopped parsley.
  • Serve with naan pizzas: Heat whole wheat naan (frozen) in the oven according to package instructions. Top with hummus, raw baby spinach or arugula, and anything else you like!

Other items I froze:

  • 3 packages of naan from Trader Joe’s (great with the slow cooker chicken tikka and as naan pizzas)
  • Basil pesto from Costco (emptied the contents of two containers into four sandwich-sized baggies; great on toasted baguette or other crusty bread served with soup, excellent in pasta salad similar to this)
  • Giant bag of frozen stir-fry veggies from Costco
  • 2 lb bag of frozen shrimp
  • Frozen wild caught salmon
  • Frozen pizza (pesto, tomato, mozzarella) from Costco
  • Frozen organic chicken dumplings
  • Frozen fruit for smoothies
  • Frozen pie dough for quiche (recipes such as this or this)