Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I Made a Special Desert

Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to make a Baked Alaska. My favorite movie as a kid was Annie. When Annie first arrives at Daddy Warbucks' house, the cook gives Miss Farrell the menu for the evening meal. The desert was Baked Alaska. Here is my take on it:

First, I needed five bowls for the ice cream. Most people use ramekins, but I found these bowls at Target. I thought they would be handy to use later as they came with lids and only cost $0.99 each.

Then I lined each bowl with plastic wrap. It makes it easier to get the ice cream out later.

Next, I divided the ice cream between the bowls. These went into the freezer to set while I moved onto the next step. I chose to use Coffee ice cream. The 1.5 quarts wasn't quite enough to fill the bowls to the top.

I used one box cake mix and poured the batter into two pans. You can use one pan, but then you have to slice the cake later. I was trying to save a step. I used a spice cake which I think goes well with coffee ice cream.

Then I cut 5 big and 5 little circles out of my cakes. For the big circles, I used a 6th bowl. For the little ones, I used a drinking glass. After I cut my circles, I started on my Italian Meringue.

Next, the challenge began. Gordon Ramsay says to warm the bowls with your hand to get the ice cream out. He must have warmer hands than me. I ended up dipping the bowls in a warm pot of water. Mark helped me with this and in getting the Meringue right (I've never made it in my life and he has).

Once we got the ice cream out, I stacked the cakes like this:

Then I took the meringue and spread it around the cakes. I used the flat of my knife to create the peaks all over.

Now my favorite part: I got to use a blow torch to finish the Baked Alaskas.
I have to say, they turned out pretty well. While they tasted as good as they look, I did think they were awfully sweet. I was only able to eat about half of mine and that was pushing it. However, this is one desert that freezes well so there are currently three half Baked Alaskas in my freezer. I try not to think about them late at night when I want a snack.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Austin!

Austin turned 3 on Friday, April 9th. I can't believe how much he has grown and changed over the past year. He is just the sweetest and most lovable boy! He's always willing to give me a kiss or a hug. Austin also likes to play acrobat. You can toss him in the air, swing him around, or balance him on your feet and he thinks it is the biggest thrill. He's a character for sure!
I don't know if I like this hat.

Blowing out the candles.

Serious about the cake.

The rocket cake (not my best work).

It was supposed to look like this.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Austin's Birth Story

Austin’s Birth Story
an unexpected home birth

In the Spring of 2007, I was pregnant with our third child and second son. I was due on April 20th, but since our other two kids had come early (7 days and 6 days respectively) I figured I would go early again. On Easter Sunday (April 8th) I had contractions off and on all day, but nothing regular. Later that night, they were becoming more painful, but still sporadic. Mark and I stayed up thinking either the contractions would get closer together or fizzle. So I did some laundry and he did the dishes. At 11:10 PM I had a very painful contraction and Mark and I decided to start timing them. The next one didn't come until 11:22 PM and the one after that was 11:32. I didn't have another one until after midnight. The contractions were painful and strong enough that I was having to grip Mark’s hand and really concentrate on my breathing, but they never got closer than 10 minutes apart. All conventional wisdom says not to go to the hospital until contractions are less than 5 minutes apart or your water breaks. I wanted to spend as little time at the hospital as possible so I was waiting for one of those two events. I should have remembered I am anything but conventional when it comes to labor and delivery.

Sometime between 1:30 and 2:00 AM , I decided to take a nap, just in case this was it. I awoke a little while later thinking it might be time to get ready. I went to the bathroom (you know how pregnant women have to pee). I was really trying to empty my bladder when I heard a ‘pop’ and water gushed everywhere! That was a shocker! My water had never broken anywhere but at the hospital. I noted that the fluid was clear, then I called Mark into the bathroom. He comes in and see me standing there, shorts and panties around my ankles and I sheepishly say, “I think my water broke.” He looks straight at me, grins a little and says, “You know, I think you’re right.” Then being the wonderful husband he is, he brought me some fresh clothes (and helped me put them on).

After I was dressed, I walked out onto the back deck (and the cool air) to call my parents in Texas to tell them that my water had broken and that we were going to leave for the hospital as soon as everyone was ready. In the meantime, Mark was waking up Emily and Garrett to get them dressed. My mom was telling me to get a move on it and I was telling her that my contractions were still at least ten minutes apart. Honestly, I didn’t think there was a great need to hurry. Then, I had a huge pain that I really had to concentrate to breathe through. When it was over, I quickly told my mom that I had to go.

I rushed to the bathroom thinking I really had to poop (sorry, TMI). As soon as I sat down, it suddenly hit me--the baby is coming! I yelled for Mark to call 911 (I only yelled because he was in a different part of the house—not because I was panicked). He hollered back and asked me if I was sure and I replied, “I don't know, maybe not.” What was I thinking? I just knew I didn't want an ambulance to show up and everything be fine. Then it happened—I could feel the baby’s head—he was about to be born, and I was sitting on the toilet. I yelled to Mark, “Call 911 and come here—the baby’s coming!” In my head I was thinking that I didn't want him born in the bathroom, so I tried to make it to the guest room. The guest room is next to the bathroom and it had an air mattress in it. I figured we could just throw the air mattress away. I got just outside the door and into the hallway when I absolutely could not take one more step. I was feeling the urge to push. It's a good thing the hallway has tile floors otherwise I would have made a mess on the guest room carpet.

Mark was with me by now and he had the phone on his shoulder, talking to 911. I was still standing up, but I tilted my head back and closed my eyes as I braced my hands on the walls on either side of me and pushed. Mark, with the phone cradled on his shoulder, reached down and delivered Austin Wyatt. I lowered my head and opened my eyes to see Emily peeking around the corner just in time to see him being born. Mark handed Austin to me and I cradled him to my chest. He didn’t cry at first and Mark was worried, but I reassured him that Austin was breathing fine. Austin had a very serious expression on his face, with a little pucker between his eyes. Mark says that as soon as Austin was born I became tranquil, but he kept asking if the baby was okay. I told Mark to get a clean towel out of the dryer and I used it to wrap up Austin. Then Mark found a shoelace and used it to tie the cord. A few minutes later we heard the ambulance pull up out front (no sirens) so we were able to hang up with 911.

As the EMS was coming up the walk, Mark heard them arguing over who was going to deliver the baby. Mark met them at the door and told them they were too late, he had taken care of it for them. They wanted me to sit so they could get the gurney out of the ambulance. I asked Mark to bring me one of the card table chairs (again I was trying not to make a mess). I took the opportunity to call my mom back and tell her the baby was here. My mom had looked at the clock both times that I called. Only 19 minutes had passed between phone calls! When the guys brought the gurney into the house, they loaded me up on it. Only when they tucked a blanket around my legs did I realize I was only wearing a large t-shirt. With the umbilical cord still attached and all, I just went with it. Another thing to laugh about later. The good thing is I got to hold Austin the entire time.

The ambulance ride was….interesting. First, Bob (the EMS in the back), had to get an IV into me. Those that know me know I don’t like IVs. The needle was huge! Second, I had to try and deliver the placenta. That was not successful. I had never ridden in an ambulance before. I guess I expected a smooth ride considering they are used to transport sick and injured people. I would say now that an ambulance ride feels like what I imagine riding in a horse trainer does. The drive to the hospital is not short; it takes about 30 minutes. Later, I realized if we had left as soon as my water broke, Austin would have been born in the van or on the side of the road.

When we got to the hospital, one of the first questions I was asked was the time of his birth. In the chaos we hadn't noted the time, so we they had to check with 911 dispatch. Austin was born at 3:27 AM. We were directed to one of the labor and delivery rooms where Austin and I were transferred to a regular hospital bed. It happened just like it does on TV. They grabbed the sheets with us on them, counted to three and moved us over. For the first time, Austin had to leave my arms to be looked over and weighed by the nurses. Before handing him off, I jiggled him a bit and said, “I think he’s about 7 and a half pounds.” I was really close. Austin weighed 7 lbs and 9 oz.

Then the real fun begun. It was about 4:45 in the morning and I still hadn’t delivered the placenta on my own. Dr. P (whom I usually like) came in to see how I was doing. Other than the placenta thing, I was doing really well, but he thought it needed to come out now. He started to try and get it out and it hurt like the dickens. I kept saying, “Ow, ow, ow, that hurts!” It felt like he was using a knitting needle. Nothing was offered, but I finally broke down and asked what they could give me for pain. All that was available to me was Demerol. I refused at first because I remembered reading how some women regretted using it. They didn’t like it because they could remember very little about their children’s births. Then in a “duh” moment after I had screeched, “Son of a bitch, that hurts”, I realized I had already had my baby and it was okay to forget this experience. So I got my shot of Demerol and no longer cared what was going on.
Before Dr. P left, I asked if I could go home that afternoon. Maybe he thought I was still drugged up, but I was serious. I felt fantastic and did not want to stay in the hospital any longer than necessary. He just said, “We’ll see.” Hmph. A little later, Mark and the kids showed up. I was so glad to see them. In his haste to get out the door and to the hospital, Mark had not changed Garrett out of his sleeper pajamas. No big deal, except when Mark’s friend R showed up to take the kids to her house for the day and he had to go like he was. Garrett didn’t seem to mind. He and Emily had a great day playing with R, her husband and her kids (it was the first day of Spring Break).

Our pediatrician stopped by to see Austin about 7:15AM. He was in almost perfect health. We did find out that he had a small hole right at the end of his spine, but she wasn’t too concerned (we had testing done later that determined the hole was sealed on the inside, so all is good). I asked her if she would release Austin that afternoon. She said she would if I promised to bring him into the office on Wednesday. Then we were moved to a regular room and I got to meet my nurse. She was not my favorite person, then again my hospital stay was not my most pleasant. I don’t want to dwell on it, so I’ll just name my top annoyances:

  1. I wasn’t allowed to take a shower for 4 hours. Excuse me, I just gave birth. I think I need to wash!
  2. I went downstairs to get some chocolate milk. While there I got reprimanded for leaving my floor. WTH? Austin was with Mark so that wasn’t the problem.
  3. When I told the nurse I didn’t want to stay any longer than necessary, she told me I wouldn’t get any rest at home. That was laughable. Did she think the hospital was a restful place? I only had someone coming in my room every hour wanting a temperature reading or some blood or me to sign something. Sheesh!
  4. I was required to attend a newborn care class before I could be released. Are you kidding me? I’ve already had two newborns. In fact I only had one 18 months ago, I think I knew what to do.
  5. Dr. P did not come release me until the next day. In fact, I didn’t even see him until then.

We were released from the prison, I mean hospital, at 2pm Tuesday and I was so glad to go home. Mark and I decided that IF we had another baby, we would have a homebirthing kit "just in case". This time it would have been nice to at least have a bulb syringe and a pair of scissors handy.

Some final notes:

• I think the fact Mark grew up on a farm helped. He knew exactly what to do. He’ll tell you though that delivering your own child is a bit different than delivering say, a calf.

• Emily never batted an eye to seeing her brother born. She was, however, upset with me because I got blood on her toy dinosaurs that happened to be in the hallway at the time.

• When Mark delivered Austin, he was wearing a blue shirt that said “Super Dad” inside the Superman emblem. We won’t discuss the fact he was wearing orange Clemson pajama bottoms with said shirt.

• For Father’s day that year, I got Mark a pair of blue scrubs. I had the top embroidered with : Mark C., HD, Last Name Family Practice. The ‘HD’ stands for Home Delivery.

• Although we didn’t plan for Austin to be born at home, it was easily my best birth.

• We did have another baby. This time we planned a water birth at a birthing center. It was fabulous.

Hallway where Austin was born.

Austin, home from the hospital.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter 2010 (photo blog)

Individual Shots

Miss Anna Jaye

Mr. Austin

Mr. Garrett

Miss Emily

Question: How many photos does it take to get a good picture of four kids, ages 1-9......

one with everyone looking at the camera.....

or with all eyes open.....

and mouths closed........

with all eyes on the camera....

and mouths closed.....

and all eyes open...

and all eyes on the camera?

Answer: I don't know, but I'll take what I can get: