Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Guest Blog: Introduction to Fatherhood

Every woman knows how hard it is to get your man to talk about his feelings. In asking my husband to do a post explaining our experience from his point of view with getting pregnant, dealing with loss and finally becoming a father, I think I half expected him to just jot some things down and blow it off. I'm 99.9995762% sure that he thought this blogging thing was super easy when he excepted the challenge. Turns out, it's a little harder than he expected to spill your emotional beans out on the table for everyone to see. Instead of one little guest post, he has informed me it will have to be spread out over a few posts which he can put out once a month (I'm thinking this may become a mommy AND daddy blog).

Reading over this post made me both choke from laughing so hard, and choke from crying so hard. I only give this one piece of advice while reading in my husband's hand, he writes the same way he speaks, with a little bit of "twang". So it may help you to understand his humour and vocal style if your put your inner monologue on "country accent" when reading. Hope you enjoy!
The Dad Post, Part II
When it comes to making babies, I knew I had years of practice, but when the spot light was on, how do you turn off all the years of not wanting to make a baby. It seems that it took a little more than practice and setting the mood. I was promptly handed a stop watch, some boxers, and bottle full of vitamins. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind the regular attention, but the stress of failed expectations builds after several months. The attention wasn’t all fun and games either. One of the worst days of my life turned from uncontrolled excitement and anticipation of wanting to see our first child, to looking at a lifeless ultrasound while trying to comfort my inconsolable wife. There I was, standing there with my camera phone ready, filled with confusion, heartbreak and sorrow inside, trying to be strong for Kelli on the outside, all the while the dull forgettable sound of our doctor trying to explain what happened in the background. Then we had to somehow get ourselves together to call our close family and explain that the first grandchild was only a misfortune so far, embarrassed and humbled.
Only when we finally said, “Screw it, let’s quit trying to make a baby,” did it actually happen. We couldn’t have planned the timing any better, conception in the summer to be big pregnant during the winter months. The whole first trimester was filled with skepticism and doubt. With fingers crossed and no camera phones allowed, we revisited the same fateful ultrasound room, with the same poor ultrasound tech to deliver the news. Could this be a sign of déjà vu? Nope, there entered Nugget to the show, dancing around (like he still does to this day). No sex and no name, that’s how Nugget came to fame. We planned to not know the sex until birth, but I hated calling my child “It.” We played around with some nicknames, but one day I called him my little butt-nugget and it stuck, just like he did. We were ready for Facebook to announce that this little nugget is for real and happy to dance around with my wife’s daily dose of all-day Pandora.

Then what? What if we actually have a baby? It didn’t seem real to me except that my wife started changing. I couldn’t feel the kicks and emotions that she was going through, so I guess my paternal nature was delayed until towards the end of the pregnancy. My wife started signing us up for birthing classes, and next thing you know, I had to look up the definition of “doula” because she had set us up a meeting with one. My wife wanted to have a natural birth, and I knew that meant bad news for me. All of the most horrible movie scenes of birth came through my head. I just knew that she would crush my hands, scream obscenities at me, and throw any loose objects in reach. I figured anybody who would willingly stand between me and that was worth the money. I agreed to a doula, but only if I could be the “Dude-a” (LOL). So my wife even made me a t-shirt for Nugget’s birthday.
Next thing you know we needed to start preparing for Nugget’s arrival. I painted the baby’s room different shades of green, and we filled our baby registries with the essentials. That was a plus for not knowing the sex. We got diapers, wipes, and useful stuff as gifts instead of clothes. I started reading up on what to expect, especially on business trips. I don’t know if some guys read baby books to pick up women, but I had more middle-aged women come up to me and strike up a friendly conversation because of it. I might as well have been wearing some BDU’s. I mostly got shared stories, “good for you,” and good luck’s. I never told my pregnant wife about those conversations at the time in fear of having to ride the hormonal roller coaster. I perfected my swaddle, and even had my wife time me as I practiced on our poor dog Murfy. My wife researched and fine-tuned “The Birth Plan”, and we felt ready.
So there we were, counting down to B-Day. Bags packed with the birth plan ready to go. Some of the more unique items I had prepared were tennis balls in a panty hose, honey sticks, exotic massage oils, and a bathing suit. Most of the crap I hauled up to the birth suite wasn’t needed, but better to be prepared than not. Her water broke at home in the middle of the night. She started laboring but was nowhere close to being dilated. We went ahead and took off to the hospital. We had everything planned out, the best doula in the world, and the most natural friendly hospital in the area, but after 28 hours, you can throw all that crap out the window. The grandpas were in the waiting room making jokes, saying “that’s got to be a boy in there, and he’s tough as nails if he makes it through this ordeal, we’re gonna name him Tuff.”
Emergency C-section it was. That was scary as hell too. They whisked my wife away, and the doula and I had to wait for at least 30 minutes before they would let us come into the operating room. My wife was freaking out. I was told to “stay here”, “don’t look at this”, “don’t touch that”, “be careful not to trip there”... All I could do was look at my wife’s eyes, hold her quivering hand, and pray with her, hoping it would all be over soon. Finally they pulled out our little Nugget. All I could do was blush and tell my wife that he had the biggest set of nuts I’d ever seen. She laughed so hard she cried, but we were both quiet after that because he was as blue as a smurf and not crying like I thought he would be. Was this really happening? After all of this work, emotion, and effort, could this life be over as soon as it started? We watched nervously as a team of doctors and nurses worked feverishly to get Nugget going.
Finally, one of the nurses asked me to come over and say hello to my son and see that he’s okay. I stared at my brave little Tuff Man with a smile as it was harder to tell who had a rougher morning, him or my wife. I took a picture and brought it over to my wife to see because she was still in pieces over on the operating table. I got to spend quite a bit of time in the NICU with Tuff while we waited on momma to get put back together. She was heartbroken every minute that she was away; blaming herself for what she felt was a failure on her part for not being able to have the natural birth that we wanted. She was motivated though. She was out of that hospital bed within hours and dragging her IV down to the NICU to see her little man. Once she got there, she didn’t leave. I’m not sure whether it was physically or emotionally impossible, or both, for her. We sat there and all got naked and did a skin to skin group hug.
All the grandparents took turns visiting, and my dad got the gift that he always wanted. He witnessed me change the first diaper when Tuff got out of the NICU. I got pee’d and pooped on, and my dad was fist pumping and whooping saying, “Yes! That’s why I came, right there!” We were all tuckered out after this whole ordeal and felt like we all got pooped on. After a couple of days of not really resting with the all the monitors and regular nurses visits going on, we were finally discharged to begin our little family and really know the meaning of not getting much sleep.

To be continued …..
Daddy Eeb


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tuff Bites: Breakfast for Dinner

Making breakfast for dinner is always fun. I always feel weird about posting recipes because I never (EVER) follow them, I think of them more like guidelines and inspiration.  When I'm actually cooking, every ingredient added relates to my current mood, and the "recipes" for my meals change almost every time I cook. You'll learn as I share recipes that my measuring is not conventional either, I use terms like "pinch" and "handful" because that is how I cook... with my hands!

Having a toddler that eats the way Tuff eats makes it all the more fun, and it has forced me to be so much more open minded about my own palate. Like the ingredients that go into my meals, my favorite food shift from week to week. One week I will be obsessed with mangoes and include them in everything from salad to sandwiches and even eat them dehydrated for an after workout boost. The next week it's bacon, and the next week it's sprouts. Needless to say, my plate is everything but boring.

I have made egg "muffins" when it's just me and Tuff-man on the weekends for breakfast, but they are usually basic (egg, coconut milk, cheese, bacon). This week my taste buds are craving eggs and cheese, and I want them for DINNER. Cheese is a staple in my diet and I could not go a week without it. Eggs are another principle ingredient that I mindlessly add to everything for a creamier, fluffier and richer texture. Seeing a blog post from a fellow blogger earlier this week made my mouth water, and I could think of nothing else (see original recipe here from Multiply Delicious). Then the evil of Pinterest got a hold of my computer and flooded my poor brain with more ideas for these little fluffy angel muffins.

So without further ado, here is the recipe I went with (and the whole family gobbled up):

"Tuff Bites" Ingredient List:
1 chicken sausage, out of casing (we used the apple and mozzarella)
1/4 orange bell pepper, diced
4 baby carrots, grated
handful fresh spinach, finely chopped
4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

5 Italian parsley stalks, finely chopped (leaves and upper stems only)
pinch of Mediterranean sea salt
2 pinches of fresh ground pepper (or about 6 grinder turns)

14 rosemary leaves
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/2 C Colby Jack or Parmesan cheese, grated from the block
6 eggs (free rage, cage-free, extra large)

1/2 C unsweetened coconut milk

10 Steps to Perfection:
1. Preheat oven to 375

2. Chop vegetables and herbs, put them all in one bowl on the side

3. Remove chicken sausage from the casing, crumble with your hands and brown in a skillet on med-low (don't for get to wash your hands :)

4. Crack eggs in a mixing bowl and add coconut milk and melted coconut oil.. whisk, whisk, whisk!

5. Using a paper towel or dry (clean) wash cloth, dab in hardened coconut oil and then gently rub the insides of the muffin tin

6. Dump bowl of veggies and sausage into the whisked egg, turn over several times with a spatula

7. Pour egg mixture into muffin tin about 3/4 full each for full size muffin tin, almost to the top for small muffin tin (I find scooping with a small measuring cup makes this easier and reduces the mess)

8. Top each with a pinch (or so) of the cheese

9. Stick in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until you see the cheese bubble and brown up.

10. Let cool after removing for about 3-5 minutes, if you can, then GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE!

This recipe is great for little hands if you use the mini muffin tin. I like that I can change this recipe so easily depending what groceries we have and it's still scrumptious! This is a more sophisticated version since it was for dinner, but I would eat them any time of the day. The mixture of the spices and sweetness from the orange bell pepper and apple make your tongue tingle. Then there is the smoky flavor of the chicken, so hard not to eat the whole thing by yourself!
I like pairing it with some Naan bread topped with the remainder of any seasonings I have left over (seen below with a few pinches of parsley and basil, and the rest of the cheese - pop in the oven for 10 minutes, voila!) Another cool thing about these is that I can put a few in the fridge (if any are left) and give them to Tuff for a little snack or pack them in his diaper bag to take with us when running errands. They keep about 24 hours in the fridge.

I really hope you enjoy my first recipe post, and I'm anxious to hear what your favorite "breakfast-for-dinner" food is in the comments below!