William’s Birth Story. 

It started on our due date: January 30th, 2017. 11:00pm I laid down in bed and immediately had a contraction. 

 I had been having prodromal labor for several weeks (real-feeling labor that doesn’t dilate/lead to birth, but different than Braxton hicks), so I was hesitant to believe it was the real thing. Ten minutes after the first, I had a second contraction. 

The contractions continued to come every ten minutes. By midnight, I gave up on sleep and decided to see if anything would make the contractions stop or speed up. I rocked on the birthing ball, walked around the living room, had a snack and some water, and tried napping on the couch. The contractions were definitely painful, but stayed ten minutes apart. 

Around 3:30am, I decided to call the midwife on call. I filled her in on my past false alarms, including one that lasted seven hours. She suggested I rest and maybe try a bath and if the contractions continue, that I can decide when I think it’s time to come in since it’s my second pregnancy. 

At 4:00am I went back upstairs to try and nap in our bed. I would start to doze, but every ten minutes I continued to wake, moaning in pain as I felt labor transition into my back (ugh. had back labor last pregnancy, too). At this point, David woke up and realized what was going on. He pressed on my pressure points on my back to help me cope through the contractions. 

Around 5am we decided I should try a bath and start gathering our “last minute items” for the hospital bag. The contractions were not lessened by the bath, so my hopes that this was really it began to elevate. 

We decided to have some breakfast (protein and carbs, please!), and prep the house for our parents to care for Ellavie while we waited for my father in law to arrive. 

At 8:00, I seemed to stop having contractions. At 8:25 I finally had another one, but at this point I’m assuming that they’re fizzling out. My father in law arrives at this point and we need to decide how to proceed. Do I go to triage anyways? Or do I wait until my 11:30am clinic appointment? I decide if I get two more contractions less than 10 minutes apart, I’ll go to triage. 8 minutes later I get a contraction. 6 minutes after that I get another. 

My husband is giving my father in law detailed instructions, while I tell him not to worry too much because we’ll most likely be back in a couple hours. Needless to say, I’m still pretty convinced it’s another case of prodromal labor. 

We arrive in triage around 9:30am. I’m hooked up to the contraction monitor and baby heartbeat monitor. Such a sweet sound! The nurses monitor me while we wait for the midwife who was attending a delivery. 

The midwife arrived close to 10:30 and checked me. Much to my surprise and relief, she declared I was 4cm dilated! Thank goodness. (During my prodromal labor I never progressed past 1cm). She suggested sweeping my membranes at that time to hopefully give the contractions the little kick they seemed to need to get closer together. She also says she is admitting me at this point. 

I sincerely believed we would get sent home, so I’m thrilled! We were assigned a delivery room at 11am. We settled in and went to walk the halls until noon when they wanted to monitor me for a bit. 

We were able to order some lunch to fuel up for the last stretch- thank goodness. 

By 2:00pm, the fatigue started to catch up with me, and the contractions continued to increase in intensity. I could feel my coping strategies becoming less effective, and started to worry I wouldn’t have energy left when it came time to push. 

I felt like it might be too soon to get the epidural, because I didn’t want to slow my progress. 

The nurse suggested fentanyl to take the edge off of my contractions so I could rest. I agreed to try it. It worked for maybe 15 minutes but wore off quickly. I didn’t get rest from it so at 3:00 I requested to have my cervix checked so I could decide how to proceed. I was 6cm, almost 7. I was satisfied with my progress and ordered the epidural so I could take a nap; it was administered at 3:30. 

Shortly after getting the epidural, my blood pressure dropped. This has happened before so I knew what was happening. Unlike last time, it took a lot to stabilize me. After three doses of blood pressure medication had been injected into my IV to no avail, another nurse came in and quickly resolved the issue by simply turning me on my side. Whew! 

I rested and briefly napped between chatting with David and my friend Vanessa, who was present for our labor and delivery as an extra support person. 

At 6:30 I suddenly felt a lot of pressure down low, despite the numbing effects of the epidural. I paged our nurse. 

Five or so minutes had passed and the nurse hadn’t arrived. I paged her again, and began to feel panicked. The pressure was strong and I felt like I was doing all I could to RESIST pushing. 

A few minutes later, she arrived and quickly flagged down the midwife. The midwife sat next to me on the bed and checked my cervix. 

“Your cervix is gone and I can feel his head… Let’s break your water and push!”

Turned out my water had broken and we somehow never noticed. 

I requested a mirror because I thought it would help me push more effectively.  I was right. With the first push, I was able to see his hair. 

Ten short minutes of pushing later (four contractions), William made his debut!! I was able to reach down and assist him out, which I didn’t do last time. What a special feeling! 

David was able to stomach cutting the cord this time; so proud of him! 

Recovery has been a breeze in comparison to my first, though I’m forcing myself to take it very easy while my body heals. 

All in all, I am thrilled with my second birth experience. I might sound crazy, but  I can honestly say after two different experiences, I truly enjoy childbirth. I may even skip the epidural next time. 😉 (don’t hold me to that. I said *might*). 

Despite the pain I find it to be such an adrenaline rush- an absolutely empowering experience. 

Moms of the world- no matter what your birth story is, you kick ass!! (Excuse my language- but really. You do). 

Life + Ramen 

Apologies, first: it’s been a whole month since my last post!! -and a busy, busy month it has been.  

We heartbreakingly said goodbye to my paternal grandfather as well as a dear family friend, both within two weeks of each other. We spent back to back weekends grieving with our family and friends, yet celebrating the end of pain and everlasting joy and life with our Heavenly Father for both men that were loved so dearly. 

Other big changes this past month include a promotion for my hubby! The downside to the promotion is that he will be working overnights for the next year and a half. We are adjusting (slowly) and finding our new normal in this atypical schedule, but so thankful for the opportunities it presents for him and for our family; especially with another baby on the way and my recent transition into stay-at-home-mom (aka the best job EVER). 

Okay, updates are done. On to the next important piece: 

THANKSGIVING is TOMORROW!! 

Thankfully (no pun intended), I am not hosting this year. I am, however, in charge of bringing a salad 😉 (because gosh darn it being pregnant with a toddler running around is HARD). 

My Grandma Shirley made a Napa Cabbage salad with crunchy ramen that I simply adored! I make an ever-so slightly healthier version of it (because it requires a lot of butter, vegetable oil, and sugar). I say ever-so-slightly because I don’t necessarily leave all those tasty ingredients out, I just cut back on some. And it’s still just as lick-the-bowl good. 

Enjoy!! 

Napa Cabbage Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 head Napa cabbage
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 package ramen noodles
  • 1 cup slivered or sliced almonds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil*
  • 1/2 cup sugar*
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

Directions

  1. Wash and shred Napa cabbage. Wash and chop green onions. Toss together and set aside. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  3. Crush ramen noodles (throw away flavor packet) in a ziploc bag using a rolling pin. 
  4. Combine crushed ramen, almonds, sesame seeds, and olive oil in a bowl. Toss to coat. 
  5. Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet. Toast in oven, turning frequently, roughly 8 minutes, or until light golden brown. Do not over-toast the mixture! 
  6. In a small saucepan, combine vegetable oil*, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and olive oil. Bring to boil, and let boil for 1 minute to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. 
  7. Once crunchy mixture and vinaigrette have cooled, put into separate containers until ready to serve. 
  8. Combine cabbage mixture, crunchies, and vinaigrette just before serving. (Prevents crunchies and cabbage from getting soggy)

*feel free to experiment with vegetable oil and sugar amounts. I used the vegetable oil because I wanted a blander flavor than olive oil and a higher boiling point. I did, however, use only about 1/2 cup vegetable oil and replaced the other 1/4 cup with coconut oil. Because the coconut oil adds a little more sweetness, I also decreased the sugar to closer to 1/3 cup. 

Happy Thanksgiving!! 

108 Steps to Deodorizing a Dog Home


Four years ago, I picked her up in a relatively shady neighborhood of Los Angeles. Back then, she was a tiny, eight week old, sweet smelling puppy. 

Fast forward a few years and rather than a puppy, we have a dog. More specifically, we have a rather LARGE dog. Runner is roughly 80lbs. We’re told she is half German Shepherd, half Boxer; though we aren’t 100% certain of this, as we had rescued her from a litter of free puppies on Craigslist. 

Here’s what you need to know about Runner:

  • She is a GREAT guard dog
  • She has endless energy
  • She has short hair like a Boxer, but sheds like a German Shepherd

I started out truly loving Runner… Really. But between her social awkwardness (she doesn’t do well in crowds. Or with other dogs. Or in public, in general. In fact she got quaranteened in her obedience class- but that’s a story for another day…), her larger than life bark, and the way she makes my home SMELL, she frequently annoys me more than most. 

I have tirelessly searched and experimented over the years for ways to keep my home smelling fresh; and to no avail. I thought the problem would resolve when we moved out of a tiny apartment and into a house, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, it almost seemed worse. 

After a lot of trial and error, not to mention a lot of money spent on products that did NOT work, I think we finally got the smell under control. I still catch a whiff of dog from time to time, but that could be because she still lives here. 😉 

I’ll skip all of the failed remedies (and the obvious bathe/brush your dog- be careful not to over-bathe!! It can dry out their skin. No good.) – but here are the steps that seem to be working for our smelly yet lovable mutt:

  1. Vacuum. EVERY day. This is an obvious one; but it really does make a difference. I try to run over the living room rug going in all different directions and using short motions to more efficiently lift the hair and dander from the fibers of the rug.
  2. I take it one step further, and use the attachment to vacuum the dog bed, daily. I’m not super thorough, and yes, it’s machine washable which is helpful on occasion as well, but getting that fresh layer of hair and dander up helps keep things mild. 
  3. EMPTY the vacuum! I do this once a week. It’s really only practical if you have a bagless vacuum. I swear the heat from the vacuum intensifies the dog smell, so emptying it frequently prevents the spread of smell through the home. 
  4. Essential oils. I dilute a few drops of Purification and Lavendar in a spray bottle with water. I lightly spray the dog, her bed, and areas of the rug that she frequently lays, daily. 
  5. I also use an essential oil diffuser to help purify whatever might be stirred up into the air. Purification or Lemon + Lavendar are great. 
  6. Shampoo the rugs/carpet. We went ahead and just purchased our own shampooer since a renting Rug Doctor can get pricey if you’re doing it a lot. Instead of using the carpet shampoo, we use a white vinegar/water mixture to avoid chemicals and a film on the rug. We do this just a few times a year. 
  7. Baking soda/Borax. Sprinkling this mixture on the rugs for an hour or two and then vacuuming also helps to absorb any lingering scents. I do this roughly once a month. 
  8. Fabric refresher. Last but not least, it’s important to remember that smells tend to cling to fabrics. I make a simple fabric refresher I learned from my mother using water, a spray bottle, and a couple dryer sheets. Just stick the dryer sheets in the bottle, fill with water, and shake it up. Spray over fabric furniture, curtains, rugs, pillows and blankets as needed for a quick refresh between washes. 

    Like I said, it’s not perfect: the dog still does live here, after all. But it’s leaps and bounds better than it was; I can walk into my home, take a deep breath, and feel confident that my house smells clean. 😊

    The BEST Apple Breakfast Cookies

    Okay, okay; I’ve gone a little bake-crazy lately… But the PERFECT fall weather we’ve had in Minnesota this month, coupled with delicious freshly picked apples we hand-selected at the orchard have just made my favorite fall activity THAT much more irresistible. 

    I had exactly one apple leftover from our orchard stash, so I had to make it count. I decided I really wanted to make cookies with it, so I searched Pinterest for a recipe resembling what I was craving (with every intention of making it my own, of course). I found this recipe, if you’d like to try the original… Or, keep reading to try The Modern Homemaker version!

    This cookie is everything that is good about fall and cookies. It’s chewy, slightly tart, sweet, and is bursting with warm spices. 

    As always- I encourage you to mix it up. Try different add-ins or spices and make it your own!! (Suggestions I thought of while baking- omit one of my add-ins for almonds or walnuts, or trade out the nutmeg for pumpkin pie spice. YUM…)

    The BEST Apple Pie Breakfast Cookies 

    *disclaimer: might actually eat all 24 cookies before breakfast. 

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup flour
    • 1 + 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used Mexican vanilla extract)
    • 1 + 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
    • 1 apple- peeled, cored, chopped into very small pieces (tart is really good!)
    • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
    • 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
    2. Mix together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Set aside. 
    3. In a separate large bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well blended and smooth. 
    4. Add in egg and vanilla, one at a time, and mix until blended. 
    5. Slowly add dry mixture into sugar mixture. Stir until combined. 
    6. Add oats. Mix well. 
    7. Add apples, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips. Mix until evenly dispersed throughout dough. 
    8. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. (Helps to pack them when rounding somewhat, to keep the add-ins from falling)
    9. Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden. 
    10. Cool on rack.

    ENJOY ALL THE YUMMY GOODNESS! 

    Pumpkin Spice Protein Bites

    First things first: updates!! 

    1.  It’s been a crazy-busy last few weeks of summer. My brother AND my sister both got married within 6 weeks of each other, Hubby started his cross country season (assistant coaching), and I worked the last day of my job, which means that The Modern Homemaker is now officially a stay at home mom!! I’m so excited!! 

    2. We found out that baby number two is a BOY!! Here’s how we told my husband’s side of the family 😉 


    Note: this was actually round two of the game. The first round included ONLY balloons filled with white paint so the fun wouldn’t be over too quickly. The fam wasn’t too happy when they popped the last balloon and it didn’t reveal the gender. 😉 It was such a blast, though! 

    3. And now, onto the purpose of today’s post! I was inspired by the pumpkin-spice everything that I’m seeing everywhere and had to make SOMETHING now that it is officially fall. I went with protein bites, but naturally I wasn’t satisfied with using just any recipe I found. So I winged it and luckily, they’re delicious!! Enjoy ❤️

    Pumpkin Spice Protein Bites

    Ingredients:

    • 3 cups quick or steel cut oats
    • 5 tbsp chia seeds
    • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
    • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
    • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
    • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon 
    • 1/4 cup dark honey (or maple syrup)
    • 1 cup pumpkin purée (I like Simply Balanced Organic Pumpkin!)
    • 1 cup peanut butter 

    Directions:

    1. Mix all ingredients together!! *if you’re feeling less lazy than me, mix dry ingredients together separately, first, for an even distribution of spices. 
    2. Roll into tablespoon-sized balls and place on pan lined with parchment paper. 
    3. Freeze for one hour; transfer to air tight container and refrigerate. I’d tell you how long they’re good for but it wouldn’t matter because they’ll be gone long before they go bad.

    *Makes 2-3 dozen, depending on your definition of “tablespoon-sized balls”

    *Mix it up! Chocolate and cranberries appealed to me, personally. You can swap either or both for chopped walnuts, almonds, peanuts, raisins, coconut flakes, mini m&ms, butterscotch chips, etc. Peanut butter may be swapped for Almond butter, and chia seeds for ground flax seeds. 

    *Want an extra kick? Try adding a few tablespoons of ground espresso! Yum! (I skipped this because- preggo).