Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Theophilus Ian Vail

He came!

My beautiful baby boy finally decided to make his appearance. After a false alarm the night before, he chose to arrive at 10:24 in the evening, Wednesday, May 25 after only three hours of labour. He weighs in at 8lbs. 15oz. (big boy!) and is 21 inches long. He's healthy, handsome, a great little nurser, and somewhat nocturnal - my only slight regret!

We chose his name for a couple of different reasons - I've always loved the name Theo and suggested it back when we were expecting Eli. However "Theo" on its own didn't feel like a complete name to me, so I figured we would just use Theodore and call him Theo his whole life. Neither of us were big fans of Theodore though (we grew up on Theodore Tugboat), and when Cory suggested Theophilus instead we both fell in love. I really liked the idea of using another Bible name, I kind of want to use all Bible names for our children. No particular reason why, I just like the idea of it. Theophilus is the benefactor to whom Luke wrote the books of Luke and Acts. It's commonly assumed that Theophilus was wealthy, and sponsored Luke to travel and research the life of Christ and record it for him. Luke and Acts are both addressed to him. Also, it means "Lover of God" or "Loving God" or "Friend of God," depending on how you choose to translate it. I love the meaning. We chose his middle name, Ian, after my dad. Ian means "Gift from God" or "God is Gracious." I love his name, even though I'm a bit shy about telling people what Theo is short for. We've gotten some weird looks and reactions, and I realize that most people think it's too far "out there" - but I'm happy with it. And yes, I realize that "Theophilus" sounds a lot like "the awfullest." We've been told many times. The joke is getting stale.

It began Tuesday night - Cory and I went to bed but I couldn't sleep because of contractions. I've been having contractions since I was about 28 weeks pregnant, sometimes painful, but these were steady and seemed to be coming closer together. I waited a couple hours, wandered around the house in the dark and catching up on some blog reading, but they stayed steady and painful, so I woke Cory up. Since Eli came after only six hours of labour and the second is supposed to be faster I didn't want to risk not making it to the hospital! We packed Eli up and dropped him off at his Nanny's, and took our time heading to the hospital. We probably got there around midnight, but things just didn't seem to be progressing. After a few hours of walking the hospital halls, I was exhausted and we both fell asleep. My contractions had disappeared entirely, the doctor checked and I was only 2cm, so he let me go home. It was so frustrating. I had kept us both up all night, Cory ended up missing work the next day and Eli's sleep had been greatly interrupted. We went home and tried to make it through the day, taking shifts with Eli so the other one could try to sleep. By Wednesday night I was completely exhausted and couldn't WAIT for a good night's sleep. It was the first night in several weeks where I was certain I did not want to go into labour. I needed to catch up on sleep! I got Eli into bed, Cory left for prayer meeting at the church and I flopped on the couch to watch some TV before crashing. It was 7:30. Then the contractions started again. I was in complete denial - I had had a false alarm the night before and I didn't even want to have the baby that night. I drank a large glass of water and laid down on my left side, both things that the internet informed me would slow down false labour. I probably should have clued in that this was the real deal when I starting having to pause my show during contractions just to be able to concentrate. Or when I started groaning in agony. These were much, much stronger than the night before had been. Cory got home about quarter to nine and got in the shower and I finally relented and started timing the contractions. They were about 2 minutes apart, lasting 60-90 seconds. I kept timing them until almost 9:30 and then urgency struck. I guess I finally realized that the baby was coming, and I needed to get moving! Cory again woke Eli and took him to his mother's, and I waited for him to come back getting more and more desperate. We drove to the hospital, normally a 45 minute drive. I think we got there in under 30. For reasons beyond me, we actually stopped on the main floor to register before heading up to labour and delivery. I couldn't even walk at this point, Cory was pushing me in a wheelchair. We got there and were sent into a room. I managed to get changed and collapse on the bed. From this point it's a bit of a blur, but I can remember things in terms of contractions.

First contraction

Nurse enters to check how far along I am, but another contraction hits before she gets a chance.

Second contraction

She asks me to lie on my back so she can check me and starts putting the head of the bed up. Before I can even roll over...

Third contraction

My water breaks. Er, explodes would be a better word. Pretty sure the entire bed was drenched. I roll onto my back.

Fourth contraction

Nurse takes a peek, and sees my baby's head completely crowned. She runs out into the hallway and starts yelling for people to come.

Fifth contraction

Nurses and doctor run in... shouting... everyone telling me to "stop pushing!" As if. Makes me wonder if these women have ever even given birth.

Sixth contraction

Baby's head is out. Shouts of "stop pushing" turn into shouts of "keep pushing!"

Seventh contraction

Theo enters the world. 

And that's pretty much how it went. Cory cuts the cord, doctor and nurses laugh, relieved that they made it there in time. I get to hold my boy. Bliss. Of course the bliss is followed up by the excruciating pain of stitches, afterpains, having blood clots removed and nursing Theo all at the same time - childbirth is still not an incredibly pleasant experience. But he's here. He's beautiful and healthy and perfect. Tomorrow he'll be one week old, already! I'll try to take some more pictures to post, but we didn't really get many this time, everything seemed so panicked.

And here I am, a mother of two. So perfectly happy!

Friday, May 20, 2011

39 weeks

Today, I am officially 39 weeks pregnant. I never made it to 39 weeks with Eli, so it feels strange to be farther along than I ever have been. I don't know how women cope with going 41... 42 weeks before baby comes. I really hope God doesn't ask that of me!

Cory's off with the youth group having a pizza party, Eli's in bed and I guess it's cultured dairy products night for me, since I got a batch of sour cream started, a batch of raw milk yogurt culturing in the oven and some buttermilk curdling on the counter to make cream cheese in the morning. To be honest, I have a craving for carrot cake with cream cheese icing... that's why I'm making the cream cheese! I'm really hoping that I go into labour tonight (of course!) but if I do I might also end up wasting some dairy products. Might have to send someone over to the house to put everything in the fridge for me! Honestly that's been my thought process every time I've started a project over the past week or two. What if I go into labour when I'm halfway through this? Obviously this hasn't yet been a problem. With all the practice contractions though I keep pulling up Contraction Master to see if it might be real labour, but every time they are too far apart or just go away. Soon. Having patience waiting for a baby to arrive is I think one of the most difficult things to wait for in the world. Even more difficult than waiting to get pregnant was (though that was hard too, in a different way). Cory has a very laid back, "he'll come when he comes" sort of attitude. He also acknowledges though that it's easy for him to say that since he's not the one lugging the kid around! I do admire his patience though, I need to be more like that.

Tonight for dinner we had vegetarian chili with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese and some Tostitos. I was worried that Cory might complain about a chili with no meat in it, but turns out he loved it! I'm so thankful to be married to someone who doesn't complain about healthy cooking but is supportive and eats whatever I choose to serve. Sure there are some things he likes more than others, but in general he's always appreciative and not picky. I think I'll keep him. Best part of the chili was the fresh corn I got from the farmers market across the street. Crunchy and fresh and soooo good. For dessert I made some smoothies - raw milk, yogurt, lots of spinach, blueberries and mango chunks. And now my blender that was a little bit broken is completely broken. Cory has promised me a new one for my birthday in July (I'm going for the KitchenAid!) but until then I think we'll be smoothie-less. Oh well.

Oh, and Eli learned how to drink from a straw today! Finally... most kids I think figure that one out a lot younger, but he just could not understand that you had to suck on it. He's learning so many words now too... his latest is "Jesus" and "Edward" (our cat). So cute... he'll say "Jesus!" and then run and get his Bible to look at. I'm so glad we're having another little boy that I can watch go through these stages again.

I guess that's my eclectic post of the day. Hopefully next time I blog it will be about our little Baby #2's birth!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuna Casserole

Baby Update: No baby yet. Went for a walk last night, took Eli to playgroup today and jumped around, went for a walk in the graveyard this afternoon and skipped and hopped, took another walk tonight, climbed on the playset at the school... nothing. Heavy sigh. Learning to wait. Nine days until my EDD.

When you think of healthy food, tuna casserole is not exactly the first thing that pops into your mind. Mine either. And I'm not even going to pretend that my tuna casserole recipe is extraordinarily healthy, but with the right ingredients you can get a delicious meal that's really actually pretty good for you. For me, tuna casserole is comfort food. It's one of my favourite things to eat, has been since I was a kid. My mom used to make this a lot, and while the ingredients have changed slightly to reflect my food convictions, it's still essentially the exact same tuna casserole I grew up eating. The best thing about it? You don't need any fresh ingredients, so if you're running low on groceries it's a great "pantry meal," and it goes from start to finish in about 15 minutes. Very quick and easy supper... especially if you're almost nine months pregnant and don't feel like cooking!

Curried Tuna Casserole
1 box whole wheat or brown rice pasta (I usually use macaroni or shells)
1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise
1/2 cup raw milk
2 cans flaked tuna in water, drained
1-2 cups frozen peas (however much you want, I just dump in a bunch)
1 tablespoon curry powder (less if you aren't as big a curry fan as me)
sea salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cups grated cheddar cheese (again, according to your taste!)

Cook the pasta according to package directions. While it's cooking, grate the cheese and in a large skillet, stir together everything except the cheese and let it heat up. When the pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse and add to the skillet. Stir it all together, then add the cheese and stir until it melts.
And that's it! You're done! Throw it on a plate and enjoy some serious comfort food. If you use decent ingredients, tuna casserole doesn't have to be terribly unhealthy. And you could always add in some more veggies if you wanted, but when I'm making it I want it on the table, FAST.

Last thing, wanted to share this video I found on youtube today. These homemade veggie burgers look incredibly yummy, and I actually can't wait to try them. I'll probably put bacon on mine ;) And topped with avacado!? Such a good idea.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage, wait for the LORD! ~ Psalm 27:14

I know it's silly, but I now feel like I'm overdue with Baby #2. I'm not at all, it's actually still 10 days before my EDD, but Eli was born by this point and I just so hoped that he would be too. I got into bed last night really kind of expecting to wake up in labour. Nope.

Lots of "practice contractions," but nothing really substantial. I have never wanted to be in severe pain so badly before. The really firm contractions actually started on Sunday. I had them all day Sunday, all day yesterday, all through the night last night... but no pain yet. Just firm, uncomfortable contractions. It could mean the baby will be here really soon... or it could mean nothing and he could take another week to arrive.

Still not sleeping that well, I woke up at 5:30 this morning when Cory's alarm went off and ended up just getting up. I think I would rather be getting up to nurse every couple hours as long as I was sleeping soundly in between those times!

Cory keeps reminding me - and I keep reminding myself - that God's timing is perfect. He knows exactly when this baby needs to arrive, when he's done developing and when I need him. I'm trying very hard to treasure this last little time I have with just me and Eli at home. We're reading lots of books together and trying to have fun. He loves wrestling but I'm not really up for that at this point.

I have so much to be thankful for though. The end of this pregnancy has been so much better than last time. Being huge in the summer is really difficult, as I was so, so swollen with fluid when pregnant with Eli. Also the hip pain - near the end of my pregnancy with Eli my left hip kind of gave out, and I ended up walking with a cane for the last week before he was born, and a week or so after he came too. I couldn't walk and carry the baby, someone had to bring him to me whenever I needed to nurse him. That was hard. God's spared me that happening this time, my hips - although loose and making weird clicking sounds - are not painful like last time.

And now I wait. Anticipate. Maybe go for a long walk...

Sunday, May 15, 2011


After a delicious, healthy breakfast this morning of whole wheat pancakes with real maple syrup, blueberries and whipped cream, it got me wondering something... why are we so obsessed with throwing white sugar into everything we cook?

I used to obediently follow recipes and add the sugar in, until I started realizing how unnecessary it was. Let's take our breakfast this morning for an example: the pancake recipe originally calls for white flour (basically sugar once it enters your body!) and a tablespoon of sugar. Using whole wheat flour instead of white actually can make it easier to get that fluffy pancake texture. Since one of the keys of making pancakes is to stir ever so gently as to avoid activating the gluten in the flour, using whole wheat flour makes it more fool proof, since it takes a lot more stirring to get the gluten going in whole wheat. Even better you can use a low-gluten flour like stone ground spelt. Then you can give that batter a good stir and get everything well combined without worrying about gluey pancakes. As for the tablespoon of sugar... really? Is it really that important? I can tell you having experimented that it isn't. Leaving it out makes absolutely no difference in your finished product, and you can't even really taste it if you do put it in. So why would you?

We like our pancakes decadent, covered in maple syrup, berries and whipped cream. But this doesn't have to be unhealthy either. The berry syrup is as simple as dumping some frozen berries from my freezer into a bowl and microwaving it for a minute or two. No need to add sugar, berries are plenty sweet enough on their own. If you do need a little sweetness, stevia works great, but I don't even bother with that anymore. Disclaimer: microwaves are really not an ideal way of cooking stuff, it would be healthier to throw the berries in a small saucepan and heat them up on the stove, but I'm lazy and the microwave is very convenient. I've promised myself that if/when this microwave dies I'm not going to buy another one, I will learn to live without, but until that time... the berries get microwaved.

Lastly, the whipped cream. It was a revelation to me when I realized that you don't have to sweeten whipped cream. It still tastes amazing on food when it's just the straight up cream, no sugar needed! It's so ingrained in our minds that we have to add sugar while whipping cream, but why? I love it unsweetened now, and when it's sweetened it tastes sickeningly sweet to me now. Leaving it natural lets the rich taste of the cream shine through. And there are those that would argue with me, but I'm a big advocate of natural fats like cream. They contain loads of vitamins that your body craves, and will help you stay full all morning. A breakfast of white pancakes with low fat table syrup will spike your blood sugars and leave you hungrier than ever half an hour later. Won't help you loose weight. A breakfast of whole wheat pancakes (if they contain lots of eggs for protein even better), real maple syrup, berries and whipped cream where the only sugar is the natural sugars in the berries and maple syrup will fill you up and keep you going. Plus if you ask me, it's way, WAY yummier.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mayonnaise, Whey and Cream Cheese

(not my photo)
I've mentioned here a lot of times before that I make my own mayonnaise, but I don't think I've ever talked about it. It's seriously about one of the easiest things to switch over to making at home. Takes less than 10 minutes. You do want room temperature eggs, so you have to remember to get them out ahead of time, but besides that it's SO fast and easy to do. I'll write out my method using my stand mixer here, but lots of people have better success using the blender or food processor to do this. If I had a decent blender, or even owned a food processor, I might give that a try. [UPDATE: I now own a good blender and use that. It works much better than the stand mixer! You just need a funnel to help with the oil, because it splatters like crazy.] Also, I use all olive oil, but this does have quite a strong flavour of olives. My mom mixes hers half sunflower oil half olive oil, for a milder taste. You can even use all sunflower oil if you want. Just please, please don't use canola oil! It's SOOO bad for you, you really might as well just keep buying the store bought stuff if you're going to use canola. And that's my little health rant of the day.

Homemade Mayonnaise
2 egg yolks, room temperature
pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whey (optional)
3/4-1 cup oil (sunflower/olive)

In a blender or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, combine egg yolks, salt, lemon juice, mustard and optional whey. Give it a quick pulse or whisk to blend. Now with the blender running or the mixer on fairly high (I use 8), SLOWLY start to drip in the oil, just a few drops at a time at first. After a minute you can add it a little faster, but still just in a really thin steam. I would estimate it takes me between 5-10 minutes of standing at the mixer slowly pouring in the oil. This is the only part that takes any effort on your part. If you don't do it slowly, you will end up with a runny mayonnaise. It's still edible and tasty, but it won't be that thick creamy texture we're going for here. If you didn't add the whey, then put your mayo in a jar and refrigerate immediately. It will keep for 1-2 weeks. If you do add the whey (and I always do) then put the mayo in a jar, cover, and let it sit at room temperature for 7 hours before putting it in the fridge. The whey starts a slight fermentation process that not only increases enzymes and makes the mayonnaise even healthier for you, but also will help it keep in the fridge for at least a few months. I've never had it go bad in the fridge on me, and it takes us a while to get through a whole jar.
And that's it! Super easy and pretty much a million times better for you than store bought "mayonnaise" (I'm using that word in the loosest sense possible).

Now as for the whey, I'll admit that when I first heard about using whey I really had no idea what it was or how to get it. Whey is a bi-product from cheese making, and usually discarded, but it actually contains a lot of valuable enzymes that can be very beneficial to your digestive system. Making whey is also very easy. All you need is either some plain yogurt, some cultured buttermilk, or some regular milk. If you're using yogurt, just set a strainer lined with a cheesecloth (actually I just use a dishcloth!) over a large bowl and dump in the yogurt. Gather the corners and tie the bundle up so it can drip into the bowl. It's handy to use a cupboard knob for this and just set the bowl on the counter beneath it. Leave it overnight or longer if necessary, and you will end up with a bowl full of whey and a dishcloth full of homemade cream cheese. Scoop the cream cheese into a container in the fridge, it will keep for about a week, and pour the whey into a jar, also in the fridge. It will keep for a really long time - months at least. If you decide to use buttermilk or regular milk, let it sit on the counter until it sours and separates, between 12 and 24 hours. This will look nasty and you will question your sanity, but I've done it many times and haven't died yet! Do the same thing you would do with the yogurt, pour it into a dishcloth then tie it up and let it drip out. Ta da, cream cheese and whey. Your cream cheese will have a slightly different flavour depending on what you use to make it, but it's yummy and works well in recipes that call for the commercial stuff. Or you can mix in some herbs and spices and make a spread or dip for fresh veggies. Or stir in some honey and diced fruit and make a dip for fruit. The possibilities are endless, and you know you're doing good for your body.

The whey can also be taken just to help digestion - a lot of people swear by it. Stir a tablespoon into a small glass of water and drink it a couple times a day. I've done this - it doesn't taste good, but it's not awful. Better than pepto-bismol *shudder* and certainly a lot more natural. One must wonder what they put in that stuff to make it that colour...

I should note that the recipes and ideas I'm posting today, while slightly adapted to my own taste, come for the most part from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, which I've mentioned on my blog before. While I don't ascribe to everything she writes in this book, I really like the overall principle: sticking to wholesome foods that are as natural as possible, and using traditional methods of preparing them. I take a lot of my cooking inspiration from her.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Even though my actual due date isn't until the end of the month, the 27th to be exact, I'm getting very excited for this baby's arrival. I'm starting to get that "it could happen any time" feeling... having lots of strong, persistent Braxton Hicks, and nesting in full gear. I don't remember having the same sense of urgency to get the house clean last time. This time the thought of leaving and going to the hospital with laundry unfolded, dishes unwashed and Eli's toys spread out all over the house is driving me crazy, because I know that is not what I want to have to come home to! I know that as soon as I actually do go into labour I'm going to be running around the house trying to straighten things out before we leave and it's going to drive Cory crazy. I was only in labour for 6 hours from start to finish with Eli, and usually you go faster the second time. At my doctor's appointment on Monday I was already sitting at 1 cm (my apologies if that's too much information for you - pregnancy makes you reveal some very personal things!). That's encouraging if only because it's one less centimeter I have to work through when the actual time comes. Since everything seems SO much like it was the last time, I'm thinking he'll probably arrive around 10 days early, just like Eli. So hard to know though.
I do want to bake another loaf of bread and get that into the freezer for when baby comes, also maybe throw together a quick macaroni and cheese to have frozen as well. With my Mom coming to help out and the church bringing meals I'm not too worried about having lots of meals frozen ahead of time, but it's still nice to be prepared.
Speaking of freezers - our landlord replace our fridge for us on Monday. SO EXCITING. Our fridge barely held things cold, and it was a race against time to see if I could cook and serve all our fresh veggies before they went bad, and drink the milk before it soured. I didn't always win that race and was so sick of throwing out expensive food. Good news is I don't have to be in such a rush anymore. Our new, spacious fridge keeps things MUCH colder. So nice to not have to stress about that anymore.
Eli and I are heading to playgroup at the school this morning, so we must be off. He fell off of our bed this morning and narrowly missed hitting his eye squarely on the corner of our nightstand. He's got a good scrape next to his eye now, but it doesn't seem to be bothering him at all now, thank goodness. I'm thanking God for keeping him safe - he does a much better job at it than I do!