29 Weeks

(photo taken at 27 weeks)

Time really does fly. How is it that I'm already 29 weeks along in this pregnancy? My OB appointments are now every two weeks and at my appointment last week, my physician asked if I am feeling any contractions yet — UMMM YIKES! Gladly my answer to that question is no. Don't get me wrong, Husband and I can hardly wait another moment to hold our squirmy little boy, but we also want him to grow big and strong before his arrival. Plus, we still have lots to do around our house. Me, being me, I thought it was a good idea to hand-make a mobile for Valor's crib. What a joke! 29 weeks along and I've done about one sixth of the project...yea, you do the math...I better get into gear and start sewing faster (err, actually working on it). We have a door to hang in our laundry room, some basic organization projects and I want to get one major deep clean in before his arrival. For me, summer is hard to get things done because I'd rather be outside. My dear friend just welcomed her healthy baby boy into this world, but he was 15 days early and made me realize...I may not make it to my due date and need to be ready early. So after this post, I am dedicating today to work, work, work!

Baby Size: Valor is now the size of an acorn squash! He measures about 15.2 to 16.7 inches long. Right now, he weights a little over 2.5 pounds. Can you believe he will triple in weight before birth?

Weight Gain: As you know, weight gain has been a struggle over the course of this pregnancy. It may not look like it (which I think is so odd), but I've only gained 13 pounds this entire course, two pounds in the last month. My OB really wants me to continue to up my calories and to gain at minimum, another 10 pounds before delivery. I guess all 13 pounds have really gone just to my belly. Hey, I'm not complaining! I've been told from numerous sources that you cannot tell I am pregnant at all, not even from the back, only when you see my big-smuggled-basketball-belly.

Overall Feeling: I am doing okay. Thankfully I think I can honestly say, "MORNING" SICKNESS IS OVER! I haven't gotten sick in about two weeks! But, if it isn't one thing, it is another. I definitely can feel my organs being squished and have been struggling for a little while now with some severe back pain. I do great if I can stand, but the sitting really gets to me and unfortunately with work and then two hours of commuting in my car each day, the evenings are a little difficult. Thankfully, as all of you know by now, I have the world's greatest husband who lovingly rubs my back in the evenings and bought me a prenatal massage — which I need to schedule. I've been trying to hold off scheduling, but think I am about ready to break down and cash that in...spa day!

Excited For: At my 24 week update I said I couldn't wait for Husband to feel Valor's kicks, and he now has, which is awesome. Now that the time is getting closer, I am becoming more and more eager to see Husband as a Daddy. I've seen him with very limited amount of babies, and with him being his family's baby, there weren't any to follow. I know, with his personality, he is going to make the best Daddy!

Advice Needed: I have searched all of Pinterest and the web for hospital packing lists. There are so many out there! Some of them look as though I could be packing for a trip around the globe! What do we really need to be bringing? Also, being that I am delivering an hour away from home (without traffic issues) I want to make sure I bring everything that we need, because Husband won't be just "running home quickly" to grab something we forgot. Recommendations are much appreciated!

All the time we wondered and wondered, who is this person coming, growing, turning, floating, swimming, deep, deep inside. — Crescent Dragonwagon


PS — Fun Fact: This post is number 100 on The Passionate Parsley!

Babymoon Staycation Recap


Sometimes coming off a weekend can be a little hard when the 5:00 am alarm sounds on Monday morning. Or maybe a little hard when sitting in traffic or sitting in a meeting that's dragging on way too long. But this Monday I am tired, but still flying a bit high from my excellent weekend — my babymoon staycation with Husband. Yes, it's back to the grind for us. Yes, by 7:00 am today we already had major discussions of budget, school loan payments and what on earth we are going to do about childcare, but that has definitely not taken away the wonderful memories of a well-spent weekend.


This past loooong weekend, Husband and I dedicated it as our babymoon staycation. Friday we slept in (ahhhh), I made red-white & blueberry cinnamon rolls. We leisurely enjoyed piping hot coffee on our patio and simple, laid-back conversation.


We went to the local 4th of July parade, then came home and enjoyed more of each other's company on our patio, took a nap and made grilled vegan pizza. The day closed at a local firework display with a couple of dear friends.


Saturday we took a day trip to Milwaukee and toted Braxton along with us. We shopped the South Shore Farmer's Market, purchased a big, warm bag of fresh kettle corn, sat underneath a huge maple tree to snack on our purchase, enjoyed the live musician and watched a local painter sit and recreate the lively scene on his stretched canvas.

A little later Saturday we walked along the lakeshore, soaked in the glistening water dotted with sailboats. Honestly, I don't know what could make for a more beautiful or relaxing scene. Then we finished up our day enjoying vegan burgers on the Stack'd patio — a local beer for Husband and a local root beer for me. On our way out of town, we had to stop at Babe's, which has a huge selection of vegan ice cream and toppings — talk about a happy pregnant woman!


Sunday again was very low-key and a much needed day of rest. For brunch we went to Barbakoa, a local modern Latin bistro and ate way too much! We ordered pomegranate-ginger-habenero nojitos (a virgin mojito) — probably the best and most fun drink I've had since being pregnant. Haha! Waiting for our meal, we noshed on a guacamole and salsa flight. Corn, wild mushroom and fire roasted poblano tacos on homemade corn tortillas, sushito peppers, and for a sweet finish — cantaloupe, watermelon, jicima, and pineapple, dusted with a spicy piquin pepper powder. Is this post making you hungry? 


We closed out our babymoon staycation, way too fat and happy. We spent the rest of our Sunday afternoon walking around a nearby outdoor shopping center and bought Valor the cutest little sweater. So maybe we didn't go on the actual vacation that we were hoping for, but we did get dedicated time together. Time where we pushed everything aside — conversations of to-do checklists, schedule logistics, and whatever other everyday business we need to take care of, and just soaked in the weekend together which, as you know, is an extreme rarity for our family. I am just so blessed to call Nick my Husband and very soon, Valor's dad. There isn't a better guy out there for me or our family!

Babymoon Staycation


To some of you this may not make sense because your family schedule may be a little more typical than Husband's and mine...I am so giddy because of how spoiled I'm going to be this weekend. Husband is off work this holiday weekend and I could not be a happier gal! The last weekend we spent together? Honestly, I couldn't tell you - it's been that long. Our schedules make us pass in the night. I'm gone during the weekdays. Husband, gone on the evenings and weekends. But this weekend, I'm going to soak in every blessed moment I have with my favorite person on earth. We are going to make simple, but good memories. We were supposed to be traveling this weekend for our babymoon, but due to my job situation we unfortunately are not taking our before-baby-trip. But at this point in life, I am just so excited to have dedicated time with Husband. We're going to pack as much as we can into the next three days with a 4th of July parade, fireworks, vegan ice cream eating, restaurant adventures, a day trip up to Milwaukee, and even a few small projects around our house. Regardless of what we do, this weekend my soul is going to be fed and nurtured. I feel so blessed and thankful.

Follow along on Instagram @passionateparsley and have a fantastic 4th of July weekend!

Polenta & Orange Salad With Fennel Salsa (GF)



Another recipe, wahoo! Like I said last weekend, I broke into my cookbook collection for some recipe-inspiration. Husband and I love polenta on the grill. Remember my gluten-free grilled polenta bruschetta? Something just magical happens when sizzling brown grill marks are formed on the polenta, making it crispy on the outside and warm and creamy on the inside...mouth watering...Anyway! When going through Makini Howell's cookbook, Plum, and saw the recipe for Polenta & Orange Salad with Fennel Salsa, I knew that was a must try recipe! Grilled Polenta — Vegan — Gluten Free — What are you waiting for? Fire up your grills people!


I ventured slightly off the recipe, what else is new, right?

Ingredients
1 - 18 oz. sleeve of polenta — If you have ever made polenta from scratch, you know how time consuming it can be, stirring endlessly for proper consistency — This is an excellent short-cut to get dinner on the table quickly after work.
6 cups arugula
orange-cilantro vinaigrette
fennel salsa

Orange-Cilantro Vinaigrette
1 T. vinegar
1 T. chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
1 T. gluten-free tamari
1 T. minced, peeled fresh ginger
1 t. sugar
3 T. olive oil
2 T. orange juice

1. Whisk together the vinegar, cilantro, tamari, ginger, sugar, olive oil and orange juice.

Fennel Salsa
2 T. olive oil
2 T. white wine vinegar
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
2 t. gluten-free tamari
2 t. minced, peeled fresh ginger
2 t. sugar
3 medium oranges, peeled, segmented, pith and membranes removed
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced into 1/4-inch-wide by 2-inch long matchsticks
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
sea salt & freshly ground pepper

1. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, cilantro, tamari, ginger, and sugar. Gently stir in the oranges, fennel, and onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Any leftover salsa will keep a good two weeks in the refrigerator. You can use it as a salad dressing or even as a condiment on a sandwich!

To Serve
1. Cut the polenta into discs and lightly brush each side with olive oil. Heat the grill to medium-high heat, and cook the cakes for 1-3 minutes on each side or until distinct grill marks form.

2. In a large bowl, combine the arugula and fennel salsa. Dress the mixture with 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette.

3. Divide the salad among the plates and arrange your polenta cakes alongside the greens.

4. Enjoy!


Another excellent recipe from Plum is the vegan mac & cheese, check out the recipe here.

Creamy Vegan Pasta Salad with Quick-Pickled Chiles


Dear food, it's been a while...

Hello kitchen, you've been underutilized. Do you feel purposeless?

Appliances and utensils, do you want to come out and play?

My goodness. I went from the Queen of the Kitchen to Queen of the Couch in the last six months. It is so very interesting how you really have no idea how pregnancy will affect you until it really does. The last six months looked a lot like this:

Toast.
Morning sickness.
Something random and nothing with spinach for lunch.
Midday sickness.
Take-out because there was no way I could possibly fathom cooking anything, plus I was starving.
Evening sickness.
Bedtime.
Wake-up.
Repeat.

Thank goodness I'm coming out of that horrible routine and feeling up to cooking again! ...still wondering why it's called "morning" sickness and not killer-all-day-sickness...

Last recipe I posted? Snow (ice) cream, back in January! Time for a new recipe huh? With the last few months's meals consisting of ginger ale and saltines, I was a bit short on food inspiration, so I hit up my Pinterest boards. Being that it is now officially summer, I decided a pasta salad would be quite fitting.


This recipe is: Lemony. Bright. The pickled chiles adds a touch of heat but with an excellent added dimension. Punchy saltiness with the olives. Creamy. Mmm-mmm-mmm, it is just plain good!

Creamy Vegan Pasta Salad with Quick-Pickled Chiles
Recipe by Laura Wright

INGREDIENTS

for the quick-pickled chiles
1 large or 2 small hot chiles, seeded + de-stemmed
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
fat pinch of sugar
pinch of salt

for the sauce
4 green onions
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp grainy mustard
3 tbsp oil

for the pasta
4 cups dry pasta, a small shape like orecchiette or elbows is preferable
10-12 asparagus spears
handful of snap peas, ends trimmed
1/2 cup olives (pitted or not—your choice!)

PREPARATION


Chop the chiles into small pieces and place in a small, non-reactive bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, sugar and a pinch of salt to a boil. Pour this mixture over the chopped chiles and set aside for at least 10 minutes.


Cook the pasta according to package directions.


Drain, rinse, and set aside.


In a saucepan, bring about 4-5 cups of water to a boil. Remove and discard the hairy end bits of the green onions and chop off just the white parts; you’ll use the greens later. Once the water is boiling, throw the white parts into the water and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the onions with a pair of tongs (you’ll be using the water again) and place them in the pitcher of a blender.


To the blender, add the lemon juice, mustard, a splash of water, the oil, some salt, pepper, and a bit of the vinegar from the quick pickled chiles if you’d like. Blend the mixture on high until everything is mixed and creamy. Check the dressing for seasoning, adjust, and set aside.


Bring the saucepan of water back up to a boil. Chop the asparagus into small bits and throw them into the water. Simmer until the pieces are slightly tender, about 3-4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent further cooking.


Thinly slice the greens from the green onions. Chop the snap peas up as well. Drain the pickled chiles.


In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, pickled chiles, cooked asparagus, chopped green onions and snap peas, the olives, and the dressing. Toss it all together and add salt and pepper to your liking. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

What is your go-to pasta salad recipe? Or have you found a recipe on Pinterest you'll be trying this week? Please share!

25 Week Ultrasound


This past week I scheduled an ultrasound and invited my sister, Joy, to attend. To give a brief background, Joy is about to embark on her final year of nursing school...but on a major adventure! From August through November she will be studying abroad in Zambia! Personally, I am so glad she is going because it is definitely an opportunity of a lifetime. But, while in Zambia, our little Valor will be born. Because she will miss the birth, I really wanted her to be a part of the experience and attend an ultrasound. It was such a cool experience. As I laid on the bed, stomach glazed with the jelly, Joy and I held hands and watched Valor squirm around on the ultrasound screen. I will never forget those moments as I watched my sister's eyes fill with delight and the happy tears stream down her face.

Joy, I couldn't ask for anything better than a sister — because of you, I'll always have a friend. Even if I got to choose who Valor's aunt might be, I'd still choose you. Valor is going to be so blessed to call you Aunt!

Only an Aunt can give hugs like a mother, can keep secrets like a sister, and share love like a friend. — unknown

Valor is a healthy little boy, weighing almost two whole pounds — 1 pound 12 ounces! He was moving and giving the tech a bit of a hard time. The only slight concern is that Valor is comfortably in a breech position, as he was at the 20 week ultrasound. He does have time to adjust his position before his due date and I am praying he does, so that my doctor won't have to forcibly turn him. The ultrasound tech said that we will most likely have one more ultrasound closer to the due date to check on Valor's positioning. So, prayers are definitely welcome!

To follow Joy's African nursing adventure this fall, visit her blog.