Thursday, October 23, 2014

Weeknight Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Yes, I realize it has been quite a while since I posted anything remotely close to a recipe on here, but here's to hoping this gets me back in the habit. I've learned that with an active baby/toddler, the slow cooker really is your best friend. You can throw everything in there the night before or even during nap time and stick it in the fridge until it's time to start cooking. This morning's cool fall temps make it a great day for a savory roast with veggies. This is quite possibly the easiest dinner as there is little to no preparation and the finished result is so yummy.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast
  • 1 decently sized pot roast or chuck roast (this will depend on the size of your family and how much you want leftover, but mine was around 3lbs.) *I'm all about lean cuts of meat, but with a roast, you want one that is nice and marbled as that will be the most tender and have the most flavor.
  • 1 sweet onion roughly cut into eighths
  • 1 bag of small golden potatoes whole (or you can quarter them if they're large)
  • 1 container of whole mushrooms
  • Half a bag of baby carrots or about 4 whole carrots peeled and cut
  • Half a carton of beef stock
  • Seasonings of your choice (salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary are good starters)
*Trader Joe's actually has great all natural (no artificial anything or preservatives) pre-seasoned roasts and I bought the Cabernet kind. If you want this same flavor, just cut down the beef stock to about a third of a carton and add a couple pours of red wine. 

1. If you bought a pre-seasoned roast, just simply place it in your slow cooker after spraying the pot with some non-stick cooking spray. If you are seasoning yourself, be sure to season both sides of the meat generously with salt and pepper.

2.  *Optional* you can sear your roast in a pan on the stove with a couple tbsp of olive oil on all sides until it's nice and brown (a minute or two on each side). This will help to lock in the flavor before placing it in the slow cooker, but it will turn out just fine if you don't have time (or don't want to dirty another pot) and want to skip this step.

3. Once you place your meat in the slow cooker, just throw in your potatoes, mushrooms, carrots and onion.

4. Pour the stock and optional red wine in last over everything and then sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice if your meat was not already pre-seasoned. I also added in a splash of Worcestershire and soy sauce for good measure but this is also optional. 

Cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Your house will smell amazing and you'll have a delicious home cooked meal with virtually very little effort. 

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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Follow Up

Thank you everyone for the sweet words, thoughts and prayers after our fun announcement on Saturday. It has definitely been a whirlwind of emotions from the beginning. We are first and foremost so thankful that God chose to bless us with another precious little and can't wait to meet him/her. We know that Finn will make a terrific big brother (even though he doesn't know it yet). I hope to keep you all as updated as possible on here within the reality that we have an active one year old boy that can keep mommy away from the computer. So here are our answers to the most common questions we've been getting...

When are you due?
March 17 - St. Patrick's Day

How far along are you and is this the furthest you've ever made it?
18 weeks. Well 19 weeks tomorrow. Yes, previously I made it to 12 weeks (though development stopped around 9), 7 weeks, 5 weeks and 8 weeks.

Are you going to find out what you're having?
Yes! Hopefully in two weeks.

How are you feeling?
Great! I was nauseous off and on in the beginning and super exhausted. Now I'm just hungry and tired a lot (but this I also attribute to our sweet active toddler :) I have yet to feel the baby move to my knowledge, but everything I read says that is most likley to happen around 20-24 weeks. I'm growing which is good and I've never been so happy to gain weight.

How did you feel when you first found out?
There was an obvious level of anxiety there, but also a peace in knowing that this pregnancy would be out of my control anyway and the end result was really already decided either way. Remember, with my translocation it all really just depends on which chromosomes are selected for that given cycle. The last time I spoke with the genetic counselor, he said that our odds for a healthy pregnancy were still really good (my miscarriage risk is really only around 38% for any given pregnancy). Given that we've been at 100% over 4 pregnancies, we knew it was only a matter of time. That's the medical side of things. In reality, we know that we serve a loving God who is good- all of the time. Even if we lost this pregnancy, we knew that He would be there to see us through it- just as He's always been. If God chose to take this baby that wasn't ours to begin with to be with Him we knew that it would be because He has something better planned for our family. Receiving the gift of our sweet baby boy has made us see that more clearly than ever. It is still hard to say that he's made the past four years worth it, but Finn has brought us more joy than we'd ever thought possible. We know that God handpicked him to be our son and we couldn't imagine it any other way.

Did all of your nerves go away once you were out of the first trimester?
Absolutely not. Hence why this didn't make it to the blog until now. But with each subsequent ultrasound, they've gradually lessened. At 8 weeks, we were both prepared to face another loss that day. I even planned the appointment on a Thursday so that if I needed surgery, it could happen Friday without waiting through the weekend. I did same at 10 weeks. After a healthy 10 week ultrasound with good development and a strong heartbeat, Dustin and I both breathed a little bit easier as we've never truly gotten that far. We went in at 12 weeks and the first thing they did was listen to the heartbeat without an ultrasound. I can say that my heart was in my throat thinking about this as the memories of our first pregnancy came back since this is when we found out we lost that one. She picked up the heartbeat as soon as she touched my stomach and I felt a gentle nudge of God's reassurance. We saw a perinatal specialist at 13.5 weeks for the nuchal translucency screening. This is the screening that is typically done to rule out more common chromosomal abnormalities (trisomy 13/18, downs) and given that mine was so specific (chromosomes 5 and 8) it most likely wouldn't tell us anything about that specifically. The doctor took a thorough look at the ultrasound and told us that in his opinion, he couldn't see any reason why this pregnancy would be affected by it. The baby had a strong heartbeat and looked good. If something was wrong with those chromosomes, it wouldn't have developed that far. My most recent appointment was at 16 weeks where, again, we got to hear the heartbeat without an ultrasound and they said everything continued to look good *deep exhale*.

Is this blog going to become all about pregnancy going forward?
Absolutely not. This blog has always been a way for us to share our story and snapshots at what's going on in our life. Pregnancy loss was a very real reality for us (and could still be in our future) so at the time, that was our story. In the past year, we've seen more joy through our baby boy so we've tried to capture that in the hopes of using this as an online journal and photo album. We are just now getting around to actually embracing the gift of baby #2 instead of trying not to think about it so I will obviously write about that. This blog has always been about our family and the story that God is writing through us.

What's next?
Well according to my doctor, we should be looking into hospital tours and filling out hospital registration forms (which feels weird to even type). According to pinterest, I should be planning the perfect nursery (you know, in all of my free time). Honestly though, we are still just taking it a day/week at a time. Yes, all looks good but something about actually planning for the reality of having this baby still feels surreal. I'm sure I'll come around to it eventually, but right now we are just enjoying our sweet little family of three.  I'll go back to the perinatal specialist for my 20 weeks and then see my regular OB the following week.

So that's it for now. Stay tuned for updates!
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

And then there were four

Baby Oprea #2 is on the way! I wasn't sure how to start out this post, so I figured I would just throw it out there. This has been our secret for some time now, mostly because given our history it took quite some time to really sink in and we've just been taking it one week (really one day) at a time trying not to get ahead of ourselves. In the past, we've seen precious early heartbeats and then somewhere between 7-9 weeks, our little ones have gone to be with their Heavenly Father due to my translocation. With this pregnancy, we chose to not even go to the doctor until I was 8 weeks. This way, if it was another little one that would be gone too soon, we most likely wouldn't have the couple weeks of hopeful waiting to see what happens. This also was all happening right around camp time for me, so I certainly had enough on my plate. We went in for an ultrasound at 8 weeks and sure enough there was a little heartbeat fluttering on the screen. Fast forward a few ten weeks and here we are. I am 18 weeks pregnant with our second (technically 5th) little miracle and we could not be more thrilled. There is so much more I could write right now, but I will save that for another post. I will just simply end it by saying that all the praise belongs to our Creator and we are blessed that he has entrusted us with another precious little life.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Twelve Months

Well this is it. The last of our sweet boy's monthly posts. I would like to think that I would keep them up over his second year, but I'm just being real. He is about to turn 13 months and I'm getting this one up in the nick of time.

Sweet boy, you have brought us more joy over the past year than you could possibly ever comprehend. We are so blessed to be your parents and wake up every day so happy to see your sweet smile. It is apparent that the feeling is mutual, because you save the biggest grins and loudest giggles for first thing in the morning. You are now pulling up on anything and everything and cruising your way around the house. You love walking with your walker, but have yet to take an actual first step with those chunky little legs. You still love to laugh, dance, clap and wave. Most of it happening all at the same time. You will clap at anything really, even mommy's singing and daddy's dancing. It's taken 12 months, but you're finally starting to pick up on the sign language we've been showing you for the past four months. You can now sign "more" (but again this looks more like a clap), "please" and "all done". You say "mama" all the time and you were beginning to say "baba" for your bottle just when we took it away- cruel, I know. You are starting to say "meeel" when we're about to give you your milk.

You have 8 teeth (and are currently fighting your way through 3 molars, but that wasn't technically by the 12 month mark).

You're up to 23lbs and 30in which puts you right in the 50% for both height and weight. But you, sweet boy, are anything but average.

Your favorite foods right now are sweet potatoes, avocados, any and all fruit, blueberry waffles, scrambled eggs, toast with strawberry jelly, yogurt, turkey and almost anything mommy cooks for dinner. You are starting to get better with drinking milk and water, but I know there is a part of you that is still longing for your bottles and formula (mommy misses it too).

Some of your favorite toys right now were gifts you got for your birthday. You love playing with your Little People pirate ship that was a gift from mommy and daddy. You also love your Noah's ark set from Oma and Opa along with some really cute wind up cars from Addie. You play with pretty much anything that is in front of you, but those are the ones you typically crawl to first thing. You have fully discovered the stairs and can mange to climb your way to the top in no time (with mommy and daddy close behind spotting).

Here are some highlights from the past month...

We took multiple trips to the lake with daddy's side of the family where you discovered boats and love to go fast.
We go on many family dates to Taqueria on Friday nights and you love their fish tacos.
You hate wearing your bib which means most meals look like this.
We had another wheezing episode that took us to Urgent Care and could potentially be looking at some form of asthma in your future.

And now for the last of our sticker posts... which I think you are completely okay being done with. One or both of us may have broken a sweat during this photo session.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pumpkin Patch

Here it is, friends. The obligatory fall pumpkin patch post. But really, we had such a great day. Before Finn, I would usually just snag a couple pumpkins at Publix or Home Depot. Last year was really no different, because he was so little he wouldn't have known the difference. This year, I had visions of crunchy leaves with hot cider, plaid and vests when I thought about visiting a pumpkin patch (or this may just be the JCrew version in my head). Either way, yesterday ended up being 85 degrees so we sweated our way through this fun family fall activity. Here are the pics to prove it.

 He talked, sang, danced and waved the entire time on the hayride.

 A sign of a good afternoon at the pumpkin patch.
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