Hey everyone!  I've finally created a Facebook page for sweet anna's!  It's an easy place to comment, ask questions, give me ideas & inspiration, and just plain hang out!  :o)

Come join me, would you??

You can click on this picture below to get to the page or the small Facebook box on the top right corner - right over there ----->

Love you all!!


MY top 5 recipes!

Last week I posted the top 5 reader-favorite recipes on the blog.  Today, I want to share 5 of my favorite recipes with you!

(I'm not going to say these are my top 5 favorite recipes ever, because I have way too many favorites.  But these are definitely up at the top of my list right now!) 

easy caramel pecan rolls (recipe here)

fully loaded baked potato soup (recipe here)

the 'best' salad (recipe here)

split pea & ham soup (recipe here)

& homemade Starbucks Cranberry Bliss bars! (recipe here)


our day in pictures...

Haakon, Grandma and I spent the day/night at Children's...
...and we're so glad to be home!


an update...

Haakon's MRI was clear and they were able to remove the skin tag!  We were discharged  at 1:30am Sunday morning and were able to go home to my parents house...  It has never felt so good to walk out of a hospital!

After a rough night/day of getting back to 'normal', we are home now and getting back in to the swing of things.   Haakon is doing much better, although he is still very tired from his ordeal, and a little bit scared of not being fed again.

I know that sounds odd to say about a 7 week old, but it's true.  If he has to wait even a minute to eat when he's hungry, he starts to freak out like he's not going to be fed all day again.  (It ended up being over 12 hours of not eating for him on Saturday... torture for both of us!)

He also has a very sore throat from being intubated and is beyond exhausted, but it is getting better.  I can't even express how painful that was to see him so miserable after coming out of anesthesia.  He was so hungry, but his throat hurt so badly that he couldn't eat, so he would just bob around popping on and off, taking tiny sips and crying with his hoarse scratchy voice.  It absolutely broke my heart.

After a few hours of trying he finally got enough into his stomach to relax and with a bit of Tylenol was able to sleep.  The morning was much better and now I am just trying to feed him as often as he wants, as I know that breastmilk is the best medicine for his throat!

We don't actually know anything more about his MRI other than that "it was clear".  The skin 'tag' was sent to pathology and we will hear about that in a week or so, but it is also expected to be 'normal'.  We will still have an appointment with his doctor at Children's to go over everything, but at this point we believe he is completely fine and healthy!

I wish I could clearly express how strongly we felt everyone's prayers this weekend... especially at the hospital.  Haakon was an angel the whole day.  You would hardly have known how long he had gone without eating...  he was as calm as a baby can be under those circumstances!  Grandma was even able to comfort him and get him to take a pacifier, which he had NEVER done before!
I am so grateful that my mom was able to be there with us through everything.  I couldn't hold Haakon because my smell would make him more upset and remind him how hungry he was.  I can't even imagine how much more difficult it would have been if she hadn't been there with me!  (I love you mom!)

Thank you all so much for your prayers, thoughts and kind words...  we truly believe that his clear MRI and the calm spirit he had all day was a direct result of those prayers.   We love you all!

(I will update again after we have the final word from the doctors...  whenever that happens!)


Haakon at Children's...

I am going to try to fill you all in on some of what is going on, because I know there are many who have questions and we haven't been able to communicate much on this blur of a day.

We are at Children's right now and baby Haakon is in getting an MRI as I type this.  I am trying to figure out the best way to explain everything to you all, but right now my brain is spinning and we really don't know much of anything to tell you anyways so I will just do my best.

We came in here today to get a skin tag removed from his bottom that had become 'problematic'.  I want to say infected...  swollen, covered in blisters... but it seems that it may not really be infected, just irritated.  Regardless, it's painful for him and we want it off.

Apparently that wasn't such an easy thing to do.  He was born with a slight birth defect... a 'space' in his lower spine, an asymmetrical gluteal cleft, and this skin 'tag'.  We don't know how it's all connected and we don't know what it all means.  That's what this MRI is for.

We actually had an MRI scheduled already for March when he was a little older and stronger, but with this complication, they decided to move it up to right now.  At this point it may not be a huge deal.  He may be just fine.   And that is our prayer.

My struggle right now is just in the MRI process itself and of course the unknown.  Haakon is only 7 weeks old and 12lbs.  He has to be put under full anesthesia (and therefore intubated) because he is so young and can't lay still on his own for an MRI.  We took him up to the MRI room and then they told us I couldn't go with him.

I am not with my baby.  My tiny infant boy is laying strapped to a table with tubes and wires, pumped full of medicines and I am not allowed to be with him.  I have never been away from him for more than a few minutes and my heart is breaking right now.  I wasn't ready for this and it is absolutely killing me.

Today has been so difficult.  We have learned nothing today and been told nothing except for repeatedly being told not to let him eat (which now has been a total of almost 12 hours since he last nursed)...  "just in case".

Which of course means that I haven't even been able to hold him today because every time I get near him  he is reminded how hungry he is and my smell makes him even more upset.  I want to hold my child.  I want to nurse him and take care of him and let him know it's all going to be OK.

I just want this day to be over.

I'm going to stop writing now, because my head is spinning and my emotions are all over the place and I can hardly remember what I'm thinking.  I hope this has answered some of your questions, but I'm sure it has probably only raised more of them.  Please feel free to comment here and ask and I will do my best to answer what I can!

Thank you all so much for caring, and for praying...  we appreciate you!!

Oh, and I will do my best to keep filling you all in as we know more.  I do have my computer with me here at the hospital, so we will be able to keep "in touch" even though our phones will probably die soon (no chargers with us... and no clothes, toiletries, etc...).  


adjusting to life with two under two...

has been an interesting journey so far.
The first few days were a blur of blissful emotion and joy as I got to meet and enjoy the baby I had thus far known only in my heart and my womb.
The rest of that first month, however, was one of the most difficult times of my life so far.

In those first weeks, I felt completely overwhelmed and helpless.

Lost, alone and hopeless.

I felt like I was attempting an impossible task...  mothering two, for the most part on my own... and couldn't figure out how so many had done this before me and had come out unscathed.

How did they do it?  How did they find enough strength to get through each non-stop, demanding and seemingly never-ending day?  How did they meet the demanding needs of both toddler and baby, often at the same time?

Well,  in some ways I still wonder those same things...  though I have added myself to the equation.  How have I done it so far?  How have I found the strength to survive each day?

I only wish I knew.

How did you do it??


homemade Starbucks cranberry bliss bars...

a.k.a. white chocolate cranberry blondies!

If you have ever visited a Starbucks around Christmas, you have most likely seen, tasted or at least heard of these bars.

And if you have tried them and are anything like the rest of us 'cranberry-bliss-lovers'...  you are probably pretty sad once the holidays are over and they are gone from the stores until next year.

Well, here's your solution...  these bars are super similar to the ones sold at Starbucks, way cheaper and available all year-round!

A chewy sweet buttery base with chunks of white chocolate and tangy cranberries, topped with a smooth citrusy white chocolate cream cheese frosting and more cranberries makes for a perfect treat with your cup of morning (I mean afternoon!) coffee!

Enjoy your 'fix'!

Homemade 'Cranberry Bliss' Bars Recipe

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup good-quality white chocolate chunks
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
zest of one orange (about 1 tablespoon)
1 cup good-quality white chocolate chunks
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Line a 9x13" baking dish with foil or parchment paper and butter the foil.

Melt the butter in a medium bowl and stir in the brown sugar until smooth.  Set aside to cool to room temperature while you prep the rest of the ingredients.  In another medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; set aside.

Once cool, beat together the butter mixture, eggs and vanilla until smooth.  Add in the flour mixture and beat until incorporated and then stir in the 1 cup white chocolate chunks and 1/2 cup cranberries.

Spread the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minutes, until lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar and orange zest until smooth.

In a small bowl, melt the white chocolate in the microwave (30 seconds, stir well, and then 10 seconds at a time more, stirring in between, until smooth).  Beat half of the melted white chocolate into the cream cheese frosting until smooth.

Spread the frosting on the cooled bars in the pan.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup dried cranberries over the top and then drizzle the whole pan with the remaining melted white chocolate.

Store in the fridge until cool, cut into bars or triangles (these are rich!) and serve.  These bars freeze wonderfully, and in my opinion taste even better frozen or only slightly thawed!

(This recipe is adapted from this one at tasteofhome.com!)


sweet anna's top 5 recipes!

I'm trying to come up with simple blog posts during this "I'm rarely in the kitchen because I have a newborn and a toddler" time...  so I decided to share with you my top 5 reader-favorite recipes!

These are recipes that have gotten the most reviews/comments/searches/etc. from my readers...  coming soon will be a post with my personal top 5 favorite recipes!  :o)
monster cookies (recipe here... and there's a smaller-batch recipe too!)
banana split ice cream cake (recipe here)
slow cooker beef stroganoff (recipe here)
white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake (recipe here)
and simply rustic chocolate truffles (recipe here)!



slow cooker broccoli cheddar soup with chicken

This is not your traditional broccoli cheddar soup...  The lemon juice and wine add a delicious freshness to the soup and the red pepper flakes add a comforting warmth.

Not to mention the fact that it's a very simple hands-off slow cooker recipe!

You can puree this when it's done if you prefer a thicker soup, but I like to keep things simple.  Add a loaf of good french bread on the side to sop up all the juice and you've got the perfect comforting winter meal!

(If you want to leave the chicken out, cut down the chicken stock to 3 cups instead of 4!)

Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken Recipe

1 1/2 lbs broccoli, finely chopped
1 raw chicken breast, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt & pepper, to taste
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup cream or half & half

Throw everything except the cheese and cream into the slow cooker and stir to combine.  Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.  Stir in the shredded cheese and cream and continue cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheese is melted...  15 to 30 minutes or so.

Serve with a loaf (or two!) of crusty french bread!


the perfect tuna melt

There is something about a tuna melt that just screams comfort food to me.  Cozy, family diner comfort food to be exact!

I used to work at a cute little café near the Space Needle that had some great comfort foods on the menu...  tuna casserole, grilled cheese with the works, kicked up BLT's... and tuna melts.

I always loved their tuna melts and it was one of the most popular items on the menu.  When they closed down I had to recreate the recipe at home, and I must say...  I nailed it!  :o)

Tuna Melt Recipe

2 cans albacore tuna, drained
3-4 celery stalks, diced
2 large pickles, diced
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup real mayonnaise (not miracle whip!)
salt & pepper, to taste
4 sliced lightly toasted wheat bread
8-12 slices medium or sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.  Stir all the ingredients together (except the cheese and bread) in a medium bowl.

Place the toast slices on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spread 1/4 of the tuna salad mixture onto each slice.  Arrange enough cheese on top of the tuna salad to cover.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown!


what brought me to homebirth...

Having my baby at home was the most amazing and empowering experience of my life.  In some ways it is hard to explain the emotions and effects this experience has had on my life, but I will try my best.

I really want you all to understand what this meant to me… because if there is anything I could say to get you to consider homebirth for yourself or to encourage someone else to consider it, I would feel complete.  One of my greatest desires is that as many people as possible could experience this life-changing event.

In order for you to understand what brought me to homebirth, I need to start at the beginning… my first birth.
Bjørn’s birth in 2009 was a typical hospital birth experience… similar to what many of you have experienced, I’m sure.  We checked in to the hospital at 2cm, were given a cascade of interventions… Pitocin, epidurals (twice!), blood pressure meds, catheter, saline, continuous external and internal monitoring… basically most everything that tends to go hand-in-hand with a standard hospital birth.

At the time, of course, it all meant nothing to me.  All I cared about was that I was going to soon meet my little boy!  I didn’t know much about birth, and the only fear or thought that I had (mostly based on media’s ridiculous portrayal of labor and birth) was that I wanted to avoid a c-section at all costs!

I didn’t end up with a c-section (although it was threatened), so I guess you could say my birth went ‘as planned’… and maybe it did.  But I walked away from that hospital feeling very lost, hurt and confused.

This was supposed to be the ‘high’ of my life, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something had gone wrong… that something was missing.  I didn’t really understand my feelings, and it would end up taking weeks and months for me to really process them and begin to heal.

I now know that what I had lost was the true experience of giving myself to birth the way God intended it to be.  He created this beautiful, perfect process that we as a society have twisted, altered and broken.  And the saddest part is we are only hurting each other and ourselves.

Birth, the way it is intended, is meant to be the high of all highs.  The ultimate challenge and resulting rush of endorphines and emotions that ultimately shapes who we are as mothers, fathers and families.  Taking away the endorphines (which is a side-effect of all the interventions common in birth today) also affects our ability to adapt as fully and freely to this major sacrifical life-change.

Of course we can bond with our children no matter the circumstances of their birth, but I promise you… It’s just not the same.  I wish I could explain this better, but as this is just me trying to share my experience with you, I will have to leave it at that for now.

Let me get back to what brought me to homebirth.  After Bjørn was born, I started doing a lot of research about birth in general.  This all led me to Rikki Lake’s documentary “The Business of Being Born”.  I watched it and I wept.  I finally began to find the answers my heart was looking for, and also learned that I was not alone in my pain.

I was not alone in feeling like something was missing.  Something was not right, and even though I did get the perfect end result of a beautiful little baby, it was ok to mourn the loss of birth as God created it.  It is ok to grieve even though others may not understand the loss!

I knew at that point that I would want a homebirth for my next child.  I talked to my husband about my it, and he agreed as he trusted me to make the right decision for our family.

I began looking around for a midwife even though I was not even pregnant at the time, and once I found her, I couldn’t wait to get pregnant again someday and finally get to meet her and begin the journey that brought us here...

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