slow-cooker pasta sauce & cheesy garlic bread

These are a few of my favorite things...  red wine. pasta. crushed red pepper. garlic bread!

Ohmygoodness, I just concocted the best less-than-5-minutes-of-effort-needed pasta sauce!!  I am SO not the semi-homemade type.  If I am going to cook it, I am usually going to go alltheway, or noneoftheway.  This dish might have just converted me.  You MUST try it.  Please.  Thank you!

So, I had some ground sirloin that needed to be cooked.  Seeing as how there was no one home but me and a non-solid-food-eating baby, I needed to come up with something that would at least keep until, if not taste better by, the next day.  Owing to said non-solid-food-eating baby, who is also a very miserable not-feeling-good baby who needs constant comforting, I also needed to come up with something that required minimal effort.

What I found was a jar of store-brand Artichoke Pesto Tomato Sauce that I had bought a while ago, because it was on sale and sounded fun and different.  By the way, I NEVER buy store-brand anything.  Ask my husband.  In fact, ask my mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, or anyone else who knows me!  It's a thing I have.  I know.  It's weird.

Anyways, here is the result of my ingredients that had to be used and my desire need to cook relatively hands-free.  I loved it, and from now on, I am converted and will be buying only store-brand ingredients and cooking the semi-homemade way.  Just kidding!  I won't be doing any of that, but I will be keeping these ingredients on hand (oh wait - I already do!), so I can throw together this sauce at any time!

Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce

1 lb uncooked ground beef (whatever you amount you have on hand!)
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
     (yep 1-tsp!  We like it spicy.  Adjust accordingly!)
1 good splash red wine
     (please use what you are going to have with dinner.  
        It will make the whole meal better...  I promise!)

Place the ground beef in the bottom of your crockpot and break it into chunks with a fork. Pour the rest of the ingredients over the beef.  Turn it on low.  Walk away.

Seriously...  it's that easy!  Of course you could do all this on the stove... but why would you?!  Unless of course you don't have a slow-cooker, in which case you should jump in your car this minute and go get one.  You won't regret it!  My slow-cooker is one of my best friends.

When the meat is no longer pink, or after up to 8 hours, serve this sauce with your favorite cooked pasta (we like penne) and some crusty garlic bread.  Oh, and don't forget that glass of wine!

Speaking of garlic bread...  I found this recipe for The Pioneer Woman's cheesy garlic bread, and it completely stole the show!  Of course.  I could have easily eaten the whole loaf.  But I didn't.  Not that I would admit it if I did!  ;o)

sweet baby boy,

You are still so sad...  and in so much pain.  We keep waiting for some relief, and every day ends with the frustration of pain that is not going away.  We are halfway through this trial of medicine number one - baby Zantac.  So far - no relief!  But the doctor says it can sometimes take 2 weeks before the medicine shows any results.  And we can't try something new until those 2 weeks are up.  So, we wait...  ohnot-so-patiently.

How can we really be patient, when for you patience equals pain?  You are so miserable.  Screaming in pain at times, and just staring at the world with your big, sad eyes the rest of the time.  Your eyes are so expressive.  You can't say a word yet, but your eyes say so much!

Even now, as I sit here typing this - with one hand, I am holding you and watching the pain flit across your face while you sleep.  It seems you really find no escape, even in your dreams!

Now don't get me wrong, you do have good moments scattered throughout your day.  But they are just that... moments.  Brief glimpses of the happy little boy being trapped inside by your pain.

I love those moments.  I live for those moments!  When you smile, you melt our hearts.  You're such a charmer, and you have such a beautiful smile!  All squinty-eyed with a dimple in your right cheek.  I love that dimple!  I love YOU!

Your happiest times are early in the morning.  After your  firstbreakfast at around 4:30 every morning, while we're cuddling and deciding if you're still sleepy, you smile at me like I'm your best friend in the whole world and you haven't seen me in weeks.  I love those smiles!

Someday we will be able to show everyone your wonderful smile, but for now we just try to enjoy them when they come.  You smile so rarely, and by the time we run and grab a camera, the moment has usually passed... as you again remember your pain.  I am trying to focus on just enjoying those smiles, instead of trying so hard to share them with the world!

One more week to go, sweet boy.  Then we hopefully see some relief, or at least are able to move on to medicine trial number 2.  For now we keep on waiting.  And we hug and cuddle you as much as we can, so you at least know that we wish we could help you...  and so you know how much we love you.


fresh strawberry cream tart

This is a quick, almost no-bake dessert that is a perfect way to show off fresh fruit!  Tastes best after chilling a full day, so it's a great make-ahead recipe for entertaining!  If you try it, I would love to hear what you think...  :o)  Thanks!!

4 cups chocolate teddy grahams (1-10oz box)
8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 
+ 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or
1 teaspoon almond extract

strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
1/4 cup strawberry jam, warmed

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind cookies in food processor. Add butter and blend until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press mixture over bottom and up sides of an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Bake crust until color darkens, pressing sides with back of spoon if beginning to slide, about 8 minutes. Cool completely.

2.  Beat filling ingredients until smooth.  Spread filling in prepared crust. Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

3.  Arrange strawberries decoratively. Brush with warmed jam.  Serve, or refrigerate up to 6 hours.

You can use chocolate wafers or graham crackers to make the crust.  Just break into pieces before measuring the 4 cups into the food processor.  You can also substitute any berry and jam for the topping.  Enjoy!


living with colic silent reflux

I think I just had the most painful and emotional discovery, so far, of my son's short little life.  I have been doing lots of research lately and it seems to me that Bjorn may not actually have colic, but rather Silent Reflux.  His doctor's appointment is in two days, see *update!

Silent Reflux is a form of acid reflux that is very easily missed and often not so easy to diagnose.  Basically it is acid reflux that the baby usually 'catches' before it becomes spit-up and swallows back down.  Sounds like a good thing, right?  For me at least?  Not so many clothes to wash, etc?  Well it's horribly painful for him, and does twice as much damage to his esophagus as regular acid reflux because, in essence, he is having to suffer through the pain of acid burning his esophagus twice as often.  As it comes up, and again as it goes back down.  

If this is what he has it explains a lot of his behaviors and also breaks my heart completely.  You see, Silent Reflux is often misdiagnosed as colic.  The biggest difference between the two is that colic is generally assumed to be not-painful for the baby, just uncomfortable, and is something that most babies grow out of 'over-night' usually at around 12 weeks.  Silent Reflux, on the other hand, is very painful and if we're lucky, he may grow out of it by about 1 year old.

My mother's intuition has been telling me all along that he has been in very real pain...  not just colicky discomfort.  But listening to everyone else and not having anything else to go off of, I kept telling myself it was just colic and (as "they" say) it was more miserable for me than him, and he would grow out of it...  hopefully around the 4th of July (his 12 week birthday!).  

But even though I kept telling myself that, over and over again, I never really believed it.  My heart kept telling me that there was more to his fussiness than that.  Which explains why I have been unable to put him down, holding him practically all day long every day, only putting him down to sleep at night (which, thankfully, he does pretty well!).  I just couldn't put him down and see his pain.  The looks he gave me screamed "mom! why can't you just hold me and let me nurse!  I don't know what's wrong with me either, but I do know that's all that helps me feel a little bit better!"

Those looks absolutely break my heart.  They are so very real, and knowing and full of big huge instant tears.  Not the same as other looks and tears of "I'm impatient" or "I'm bored" or "I'm a little uncomfortable".  These are looks of "I'M IN PAIN!  HELP ME MOMMY!".  Ugh.  I can't stand those looks.  They hurt so bad.



We just got back from Bjorn's doctor's appointment.  Dr. Rose confirmed my diagnosis...  he has Silent Reflux.  Now the fun part begins...  the medications!  We are starting with Baby Zantac - 0.7ml twice a day.  We will give that 2 weeks, and if it doesn't work, we will try something new.  Although I am so glad there are options, I am praying with all my heart that this first try works and my sweet boy can start feeling better!

On a more positive note, here are his current stats:
(at 9 1/2 weeks old!)

Weight: 10lbs 12oz - 25th percentile
Height: 24 1/2 inches - 80th percentile
Head: 39.4 cm - 30th percentile

The bottom line?  (In the doctor's words) We have "a long and lean boy with a perfectly average head!"  :o)

Anyways, we'll keep you posted on Bjorn's progress.  And we would really appreciate your prayers that this medicine works!


living with colic

My dear sweet baby Bjorn,

Life is so hard right now.  For both of us.  Sometimes it seems like every hour of the day has one or the other of us in tears!  You see, you have colic.  Not that you can understand that, or that you even care what we're calling your misery.  Really I guess "colic" is just our way of saying we really don't know what's wrong with you, but that you will get over this...  eventually.

In the meantime we struggle through each day, you and I.  Fortunately you do sleep well at night...  swaddled tightly in your miracle blanket with your favorite CD playing.  But every morning our struggle begins...  starting out manageable, and getting worse as the day goes on.

When you wake up around 4 after your 6 or 7 hours of sleep, you are starving and still so tired.  The only way to keep you calm is to feed you and then let you snuggle with me and snack for a few hours as you very slowly wake up.  If I feed you and try to put you back in your crib, you end up screaming within an hour!  So I try to appreciate the 5 or 6 hours of sleep I just had, and focus on enjoying your sweet cuddles, and occasional morning smiles.

After a while, we wake up daddy so you can hang out with him and have some guy-time while I have a little break and take a shower!  He loves to snuggle with you, sing to you and talk to you.  And you love to play the "I'm Not Looking At You" game with him!  It makes you both smile (yours is more of a smirk actually - like you know you're winning!).  On a good day, he can keep you happy for almost an hour before you remember your colicky misery and cry for your mommy!

Refreshed and sometimes even coffee-d, I get ready for another snugglesnack session with you... short and sweet on the days we have to go in to work and long and relaxed on the days we get to stay home.  This time of the day is your best time.  I love late mornings with you!

Then the day starts to get harder.  Usually I'm feeling pretty good about you and your colicky-ness at this time of the day, so we try to do something - like go to Starbucks the grocery store - which always ends badly!  You'd  think I would learn my lesson, wouldn't you?  But I crave the normalcy of an outing... even if it is painful and exhausting for both of  us!

When we make it home you almost always end up in your Moby, snuggled tightly to me, no matter how hot it is outside and how sweaty we will end up together!  It calms you down, and being drenched in sweat is a small price to pay for the look of almostcontentment on your face.  If only it was fall or winter right now, we could be more comfortable together!  But we all know that if only's are a waste of time.

The best days are when daddy comes home early enough and gets to spend time with you before you go to bed.  Lately, daddy has been wearing you in the Baby Bjorn and we  have all been going on a nice long walk.  You sleep a little, and we stay out until you are so hungry youcan't stand it anymore!  :o)  (You are a very impatient little man!)   The rest of the evening is spent fussing and crying (you) and eating and crying (me) and fussing and eating, until you are full enough and sleepy enough to be put to bed for the night.

After your last diaper change of the day, I swaddle you very tightly in your Miracle Blanket, put on your favorite CD, and snugglesnack with you one last time in the darkness of your room before laying you down in your crib and tiptoeing out of the room - all the while praying that 'tonight would be a good night'.

And so the cycle continues.

I love you, my sweet, sad, colicky boy.  You are an amazing blessing and the best thing that has ever happened to me, second only to marrying your dad!  I can't wait to see who you become as you grow up!  

Hugs and prayers and so much love, 


First Steps

Isn't it amazing how fast babies grow?  Look...  
Bjorn is already taking his first steps!

:o)  Ok, so obviously he's not.  I mean, come on, he's only 2 months old!  But, he does love to stand and has very strong little legs.  I can't believe he is almost 2 months old!  (tomorrow actually!)  

This time has flown by SO fast, and at the same time seems like an eternity...  I feel like I have known this sweet little boy forever!  Like our family was always waiting for him.  And now it feels right.  Of course, there are still a few empty spots in our family waiting to be filled, but for right now...  it is complete!  And we are happy...  colicky, sad, fussy baby and all.  Those few smiles scattered throughout our day make every tear (his and mine!) worth it!


a Delightful Day with Daddy and a Deer

Andrew got to have a day off with us today, because he worked on Saturday.  It was so nice to all cuddle together in the morning and not be in any rush.  We even went for a long walk in the sunshine this afternoon, enjoying the beautiful day!   Bjorn slept peacefully in his BabyBjorn the whole time we were out...

We saw lots of salmon berries that were ready to be picked.  They sure tasted good!  And aren't they pretty?

On our way back home, Andrew spotted a deer laying down hiding in the trees!

He was a good model, and stayed very still for us, the whole time I stood there taking his picture!

Apparently it's hard work being carried around by your daddy!  :o)

What a great day...  I wish every day could be like this!


his first hickey?!?

Look closely... 
on that left forearm...

yep, right there...

Bjorn gave himself a hickey!!  :o)

Fortunately he's too young to care...  
but this will be fun to show him when he's older!


(oh and I almost caught a smile on camera today...)

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