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My new favorite snack! No-bake Protein Bars

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Confession time.

Judge how you will, but this pregnant lady is hungry all the time and I only want to eat three things: cheese sticks, cereal, and frozen waffles with almond butter.

I have them everyday and have to restrain myself from having seconds throughout the day.

I’ve been needing another go-to snack and remembered this awesome no-bake protein bar recipe that Rob found years ago. I made them again about two weeks ago and am in love. IN LOVE. I now eat cheese sticks, cereal, frozen waffles, and protein bars. Look at me shakin’ things up!! ūüėÄ

For years I’ve turned to Kind Bars, and the like, as an easy on-the-go snack. However, they are expensive, and don’t seem to fill me up for very long. These homemade protein bars are saving me some cash-o-la, are super easy to make, and are¬†keeping me happy between meals.

I’ve been digging these so much, that the last batch I made was a double recipe. For convenience, I cut them into squares and put them in baggies ahead of time. I’ll be honest in saying that I’m less likely to eat something if I actually have to take a whole pan out of the fridge, cut a square, and put it on a plate. Silly? Yes. But this reality has made me aware that I need to make things as convenient as possible for myself.

Prep the bars

A note on this recipe before you dive in: the texture really is dictated by the type of protein powder you use. Some powders leave the dough a bit dry, so you’ll need to add more of the wet ingredients (almond milk, applesauce, or honey). Other powders leave the dough very moist, which makes it a bit sticky, and therefore, a little less easy to eat on-the-go.

I recommend mixing all the ingredients and decide how the dough looks to you. If it seems dry, add wet, and vice versa. Then refrigerate. It may take a try or two to get the texture just right with the type of protein you’re using.

That’s really the trickiest part. Everything else is √ľber easy! So, here we go: No-bake protein bars to the rescue!

No Bake Protein Bars

NO-BAKE PROTEIN BARS

DRY INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups Quick Oats
  • 1 cup Whey Protein Powder
  • 1/4 cup Slivered Almonds or Crushed Peanuts
  • 1/3 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 T Cinnamon Powder

WET INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 1/4 cup Almond Milk
  • 1/4 cup Applesauce
  • 1/4 cup Dark Chocolate
  • 1 t Vanilla Extract

DIRECTIONS

Stir together the dry ingredients. In a pot on the stove, melt and stir together the wet ingredients. When fully melted, mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Place dough in a 8x8ish size pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

And that’s it!! Enjoy!! ūüėÄ

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Writing and Publishing Things!

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So guys, the next stage of my life is taking shape. I had a closing ceremony last weekend to officially release what’s been weighing me down, I’m aligning with my priorities and spending my time in the ways I have hoped to.

Rob’s first rotation has been going well. We’re still able to see him here and there, and it’s quite refreshing to all be on the same page about what we’re expecting from each other.

Pookie has the month of August off from preschool, so we’ve been getting lots of mommy-daughter time together. I’ve really been enjoying the easy feel of the mornings with no rush to get out the door. Pookie has also become a lot more comfortable in our new space. She’ll spend hours making up her own play and rediscovering all her toys. We’ll do an outing once a day or every other day. We’re discovering fun places on the island and making friends.

Things feel easy and relaxed. Just what I need right now!

Matching Aprons

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all rainbows and sparkles every day. Some days Pookie and I get frustrated with each other, and I lament the fact that I can’t down a glass of wine after she goes to bed. Pregnancy, ya know? But all-in-all, things are good. Really good.

The other activity I’m putting my energy into right now is writing and putting my ideas out there; sharing what I feel called to share in this new way.¬†That’s why I’m continuing this blog. I’m also working on a couple other small projects.

My first project, which some of you already know about from facebook, is a monthly column on Student Doctor Network called “The Medical Spouse Survival Guide.” I will write one article per month devoted to issues that medical spouses face. My first article is up and you can check it out here!

Getting this gig has been pretty significant for me.¬†I have always loved writing, but never thought I was “good enough” to be a writer. The things we tell ourselves!! I decided it was time to get rid of all the self-imposed limitations I had put on myself and just try.

“I think I was afraid of failing, so I would make excuses to not try.”

My excuses for writing have been numerous. I knew I could weave ideas together and explain things clearly, however, I always focused on things like: not having an extensive vocabulary or being a good speller; not knowing or using proper grammar; making little mistakes and typos that even after numerous edits, still find their way into a post or draft; and often flipping words around or writing one word when thinking of a different word.

But so what? These are all things I can work through. And I’ve decided that I will. I’m excited about the possibilities that can arise now that I’ve removed this perceived obstacle!

My second project is actually a book!! Squee!!! I plan to self-publish it as an e-book, with maybe a few limited hard copies, by next year. This book is a collaboration with a few close and trust friends who are helping me bring an idea to life.

I proposed the idea for the book to a friend who is a writer and was knowledgable about the subject matter.¬†She wrote a beautiful story and I’ve been serving as the “creative editor.” I proposed the idea, am managing the project, have edited and helped shape the story, and will be the one to get the word out about it.

So what is this story about? Well, it’s a children’s story about the folklore of Easter. Random? Yes. But let me explain:

Once I had Pookie, I realized that Rob and I were now going to be the ones in charge of shaping and celebrating holidays with her, and following customs or making our own. One holiday that has always perplexed me is Easter. I could never find a good explanation for the whole secular part of the holiday (i.e. Easter bunny, colored eggs, hunting for eggs, etc.).

I am not the type of person that does things “just because that’s how it’s done” and that became a problem once Pookie’s first Easter arrived. I had a lot of questions. Do I do an Easter basket and egg hunt? Why? I know that’s what we do, but why? What do I tell her? What do I say about the Easter Bunny??

I personally needed something I could connect to and also that I could explain to Pookie as she gets older.

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For her Easters so far, I’ve done the traditions with her anyway, despite not having an explanation, because they are fun. I liked taking Pookie to the Easter egg hunts and being part of the community. I also liked doing something special and “magical” for her. But I have still been unsatisfied. I want to be able to tell her a reason – to tell myself a reason.

I lamented about this to my friend and she told me a wonderful old folklore story that relates to these traditions that was both fun and intriguing.

That story gave me a reason beyond “just because” to continue celebrating the secular traditions of Easter. I talked to my friend a few months later and asked her if she’d be willing to write the story down. Then, voila!, I had the idea for this book.

I am really excited about it because I think it gives a fresh perspective and is a fun story for parents to share with their children. The story is already completed and I’m currently working on the illustrations with another good friend.

My big hope has been to have it available by February, so people could have it by Easter 2017. Of course, I didn’t anticipate getting pregnant so quickly this time, so I’m working to figure out how to still get this book together while having a new baby!

I will keep you all updated on the progress and will give you little sneak peaks along the way. If this book is received well, I’m hoping to collaborate on some more holiday traditions and stories with my friends to make a holiday folklore series of sorts. Exciting stuff!!

You guys are awesome and are such great supports to me. I am so grateful!! I will leave you with this parting thought:

Is there something that you’d like to do but have made excuses about for too long?¬†Can you identify any self-imposed limitations that you can dissolve so you can fulfill a dream or desire?

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A Closing Ceremony

Closing ceremony

When we first moved to Columbus in 2012, I had just went through a whirlwind and was about to experience a new one.

I had gone through four years of trying to have a baby and losing pregnancies, searching for optimal health and diet, taking control over my mind, living and saying goodbye to the military life, gaining and losing friendships, and spending a year traveling around the world. I was about to start the journey of being a medical student spouse, starting and running my own business, and following a dream I had for a long time: devoting myself to teaching people how to sing and creating an online business.

2012 was a year that symbolized the culmination of so many difficult, and also thrilling, years that had come before it. When 2013 rolled around, I felt a strong pull to do something to put closure to those years. I didn’t know what I needed to do, but I was ready to shed that layer from myself. It was old and weighing me down. I had grown, but not freed myself from it yet.

After hearing me talk about this, Rob offered me an idea, a ritual of sorts. He suggested that I write everything down that I wanted to release on a piece of paper and then burn it.

It sounded awesome and like exactly what I needed.

So I scheduled a date in our calendar and called it our Closing Ceremony. We actually invited a couple of friends over to join us and ended up having this incredibly deep experience together.

We wrote and we drew our burdens, then we went outside to an outdoor fire pit and shared with each other whatever we felt called to share. There were tears, there was pain, but we all stood as witnesses for each other and it felt sacred and magical. After we each shared, we threw our papers into the fire and we all watched as it went up in flames, turned into ash and disappeared.

The burdens were now gone. We were freed. It was so very, very powerful.

Of course, I’m not claiming that this is a cure-all, but it definitely is a big step in moving forward.

One of the lessons I’ve learned in my life so far is that each person has to find a way to process experiences that have caused them, or others, pain or emotional distress. We each need to find a way to release what is weighing us down – whether that be a specific experience, a relationship, a period of time in one’s life, disturbing emotions, or feeling the lack of something that you want but that hasn’t come to you.

Sometimes we don’t even know what the thing is, we just know that we’ve felt “down” too long and we are ready to transcend it into the next phase of our life.

Ritual is something that has been important to people for thousands of years. A Closing Ceremony is not something popular or routinely done by our society, but I find it to be one of the most important ceremonies that we can have for ourselves. It’s there whenever we need it – for release, for healing, for processing emotions, or for finding new paths and happiness. Whether it’s big things or little things.

So here is the basic structure of what I call a Closing Ceremony:

  • Airing what’s happened by writing it down and/or drawing it out.
  • Giving voice to it by sharing it with trusted witnesses (not necessary – you can always keep it private)
  • Throwing the writings and drawings in a fire.
  • Watching it burn and disappear into nothing.

For the first part, I basically journal for however long I need to. I write about what’s bothering me, what has bothered me, and what I know specifically needs addressing. I also write allowing space for deeper stuff to surface.

Writing 1

It’s always good to have a favorite snack on hand! :D

I write out the things that are sitting there, pulling me down while my body and mind fight to get freed. Sometimes the real stuff comes out easily, sometimes it’s takes a little while for it to surface. I acknowledge it, face it, and put it outside of myself, which is the first step in setting it free.

Writing 2

The next step is the sharing part. I do Closing Ceremonies with Rob and it helps give a voice to it, which is the second stage of setting it free.¬†I’m usually a sobbing mess during this process. It hurts, it’s raw, it’s hard, but it is so incredibly powerful.

The last part of the Ceremony is to release what you’ve written through fire. There is something ancient and strong about this act. In the past, I was able to use a real outdoor fire for this release (which I highly recommend!), but this time, since we live in the apartment and can’t easily jaunt off to the woods, we had to improvise.

Rob said absolutely no burning of anything inside, no matter how “safe” it seemed. Good advice, I’d say! He suggested using the outside grill at the complex. We put aluminum foil over the grate and lit each paper one-by-one. It wasn’t quite the same as seeing it disappear into a fire, but it was still satisfying.

Fire Release

I cannot express how relieving this little ritual is for me and I’m sharing it on the blog today because I hope you’ll give it a try.

It will feel strange, and “out there” from our normal way of thinking about processing experiences and emotions, but I venture to say that our society does a poor job of teaching us any techniques on how to process things. We’re often taught to blame, to get angry, and seek vengeance.

A ceremony like this gives us responsibility and control over ourselves and allows us to make the decision to be in charge of our own well-being. We are no longer a victim. We can work through the painful parts of our life and be our own champion.

So what did I release this time in my Closing Ceremony? Three things:

  1. Music and Singing. I let go of my past connections to music and all the expectations, doubts, excitements, highs and lows, and relationships I’ve had with it. I am re-inviting music into my life again, fresh and without expectation. If I feel like singing, I will sing without caring whether it sounds good. I will listen to what I want to listen to. I don’t need or want to “prove” anything.
  2. The “seize each moment, do it all now, and no excuses” mindset that comes with the world of online business. I am done with this for now. I released that pressure and embraced this new direction my life has gone.
  3. I explored the truth of why I feel unresolved about my first birth experience. I was able to identify some key emotions and feelings, which I was able to address and free. I freed them by saying, “I felt….” then by saying “‘I’m ready to let the go.” I followed it up with inviting in new, positive emotions, “I am ready…I am strong…I re-establish the connection I have with the power that resides within me.”

I released the expectations, the unfilled hopes, and the struggles. I embraced the new and invited in fresh perspectives.

I’m feeling so much better after doing the ceremony. I feel resolved and feel like I can move forward.

I feel at peace with myself again. I feel love for myself again.

I hope you will try this out for yourself and that it will give you some of the peace and freedom that you are searching for. May you be well and happy, as I wish to be well and happy. We’re in this together. *hugs*

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Thoughts on birth

Pookie birth

Last week at Pookie’s dentist appointment, they scheduled her next checkup for three months out (apparently kids under the age of three go every three months to the dentist – who knew?). As the receptionist told me the first available date, October 31st, I had one of those “holy shit” moments.

In my head I thought, “Um, that’s about a week before my due date. Holy crap!!!!”

The receptionist must have noticed my sudden change of expression because she asked if I was ok. “Fine,” I said, “It just really dawned on me at this moment that I’m having a baby. In like three months.”

She looked at me sweetly, although with a little hint of “you crazy” in her eyes. Sidenote:

This situation was kinda like how about two weeks ago my upstairs neighbor stopped by, who just had a baby, to see if I wanted any of their extra newborn diapers. I thought for a minute and replied, “Hm…I can’t think of anyone I know that needs that size. Thanks though!”

She looked at me perplexed and then a lightbulb went off, “Oh right!” I laughed, “I’m having a baby!! Sure I’ll take them.” I think she really thinks I’m missing a few marbles. It was not a proud moment for me. As usual, I blame hormones.

In three months I’ll not only be going from having one child to two, and entering into the unknown chaos of infant+toddler, but I’ll have to do the work to get that second child into the world. Labor will be upon me.

I’m not sure if I ever really talked about my birth experience with Pookie, and don’t worry, I’ll save all the details, but the overall experience has been on my mind – a lot.

With Pookie I wanted, and prepared for, as natural of a labor as possible. I believed in my body and mind’s ability to take on the task. Rob and I took a Hypnobirthing class and I am thankful that we did. We received wonderful information and techniques that really made us feel empowered and full of confidence.

The downside was that I felt some of the class was a bit misleading. We saw lots of videos of women peacefully pushing children out of their bodies with little or no sound or obvious discomfort. The idea was: if you do x, y, and z, then your labor will be like that.

It wasn’t.

That aside, the most important thing that the instructor taught us was to not focus on the “I’m not having this or that,” strategy but focus on having a good birthing experience. If you end up needing a c-section, here’s the information so you can prepare yourself beforehand. So you can still feel in charge of your body and ask for things that are available to you.

Pookie was born ten days late. My water broke and had meconium in it (= not good) but I wasn’t in labor. Hence my birth plan already was a no-go. I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible before transferring to the hospital. Now I had to go in right away.

I worked with amazing midwives at OSU and the on-call midwife was compassionate while also giving it to me straight. This was the gist:

Midwife: “Your water broke and it has meconium in it which means we’re on the clock with getting this baby out. You’re not in labor and you’re only dilated one centimeter. You need Pitocin to get this labor started. You’re looking at a long road ahead of you, and the longer the labor, the more likely it will be that you will need/want an epidural.”

Rob and I processed that information, mourned a bit that I needed Pitocin, and then said, “Ok. We trust you. Let’s get this started.”

With all that said, my body was so ready that I ended up delivering Pookie about eight hours after starting the Pitocin. Pretty great for a first time mom. To all involved it was an incredibly beautiful labor and birth. Very smooth, progressed at an ideal pace with no complications, and Pookie was perfect. I had no epidural and birthed little Pookie with full sensation and presence.

I could recognize how wonderful of a labor it was, especially for a first birth, but it was so much harder than I expected. It’s indescribable. Intense is a word that now has a whole new meaning to me. I attribute part of my surprise to the Hynpobirthing class.

I really thought that if I did a lot of the techniques during labor, it wouldn’t necessarily be “easy,” but it would be manageable. When it was all said and done, I was thrilled with the outcome, felt very positive about the labor and birth, but it was by far a peaceful or enjoyable experience for me.

I remember that point, the breaking point. I looked at my doula (yes, I had a doula and it was awesome) and said, “I’m there. I’m at that point. I can’t do this anymore.”

Pookie Labor

I remember asking my midwife, “How many more centimeters do I have to go?” in partial panic. Thankfully I had an amazing team of people helping me and I got through it. I ended up having exactly the birth I had hoped for. All natural except for the pitocin.

I remember thinking afterwards that next time, that epidural is going to sound real good.

And now it’s next time. Actually, about three months until next time. And I’m not excited about going through it again, but I know I need to get myself ready and pumped for this. It’s going to happen and I want it to be a positive experience, like it was with Pookie.

I decided that I’m not going to decide whether I want an epidural or not until the moment is upon me. During my first pregnancy, I read many natural birthing books and several made the analogy that: “If you’re going to run a marathon, you don’t practice with the mindset that you’ll see how far you get during the event. You practice so you can finish. Natural birth is the same way.”

Well, people, I’m not feeling that this time. Here’s what I am hoping for:

  1. To find some more resolution regarding my first birthing experience before birthing for a second time.
  2. To feel committed and strong going into this birth by embracing it rather than fearing it.
  3. To be ready to deliver without pain management if it feels right or if labor progresses too fast, but also to be open to accepting pain management if I want to feel more relief this time around.

The way I’m going to address #1 and #2 is by doing a Closing Ceremony, which I will write a post about soon. For #3, I’m going to review my Hypnobirthing notes and do the exercises, but with more experience and openness this time.

As another aside, to anyone who is reading this and will soon be giving birth for the first time: I’m not an advocate for one way of birthing over another. I am an advocate of education. Take a birthing class or ask your provider about details of the processes that you’ll go through, medications that might be offered to you, and what you might experience if you have natural birth, an epidural or c-section. It will greatly help you toward having that “positive birth experience” no matter how things unfold.

So there you have it. That’s where I’m at with preparing to bring this baby into the world. I feel like I’ve forgotten most of the stuff I need to know for infant care, but I also feel that it will come back quickly and it’s an easier thing to brush up on.

It’s the actual birth that I’m needing to rally my energy for, especially since birth is such a defining experience. I want to set myself up for feeling lots of positive vibes and warm fuzzies whenever I think back on Baby #2’s entrance into the world.

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Let the rotations begin

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Man, we’ve had it pretty sweet. Rob’s first month of intern year has been just peachy. A month of orientation with Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm workdays. Plenty of time for weekend outings and the usual gettin’ stuff done.

Rob’s residency program has made connection between the interns a priority. They have scheduled several dinners and events to help them really gel and feel supported before they all go their separate ways and launch into all the crazy rotation schedules.

The highlight event was the annual intern sailing trip last week. Rob and his nine co-workers were able to spend their last day of orientation out on a boat. Living the life. Soaking up the sun. Luckies.

However, all this fun and calm did feel like it had a ticking clock on it. We knew it was going to end and then the real stuff would begin.

Fun with dad

Yesterday was the end of fun and the beginning of WORK. The true beginning. The start of long shifts, overnights, no weekends off, and no time for fun as a fam. Sigh. It’s part of the gig, but it’s still hard to know that I won’t be able to hang out with my favorite person for a while – like months.

Rob left for work yesterday filled with nerves, energy, and excitement. This is it, what he’s been training for. Now he is someone’s doctor, making the calls and providing the care. It’s crazy that it’s here already!

When Rob’s shifts end, he will have enough time to get home, quickly eat, and then go to bed, so he can get at least six hours of sleep before having to get up and do it all over again. I joke that I’ll get to see him in November. ūüėČ

And while Rob is busy putting his skills to the test, Pookie and I are spending our days on the other end of the spectrum. We’ll be trying to get out each day and enjoy what Galveston has to offer. We’re also trying to get along and work through any challenges that come our way.

Fun with pookie

For example, right now, I’m moody and Pookie is a toddler dealing with change after change. I’m usually pretty good with keeping my mood in check, but it’s been hard lately. I will blame this on pregnancy and hormones. My patience has been running low. I’m easily irritated and have occasionally brought out my own inner toddler when Pookie is testing me.

Scene: Pookie taking for freakin’ ever to get ready to go somewhere. The stalling, the distractions, the testing of every little task to be done in order to leave the house. I have found myself reaching my limit and stating, “Fine, whatever. I’m not doing this anymore. You figure it out,” as I stomp out of the room and go pout on the couch. Real mature, Amy, real mature. Pookie proceeds to meltdown and then tries to bite me. That’s how she knows she can get to me – by trying her best to sink those 2-year old chompers into my arm, or better yet, my face. Grrrr. Speaking of grrrrr…

I found a new low yesterday. I had waited over an hour at the doctor’s office to even be called back to a room. I had to pee like five times while I was there. I was hungry, and I was helping Pookie keep her composure as she waited with me. After I finally was seen, and we were on our way out of the office, Pookie wanted to use the bathroom so we stopped. When she was done, she began to mess around while I was trying to get her dressed. I looked at her straight in the eye and growled. Yes, growled. Like an animal that has no other means of communication.

Of course Pookie thought it was hilarious and “roared” back at me. “Mommy roared like lion!” Yes, my dear, your mother could only muster a primitive sound in response to this situation. I’m glad you found it entertaining.

So Rob and I are going to be leading very different lives right now – he is saturated with medicine, patients, and hospitals. I am living the highs and lows of pregnancy and toddlerhood having fun outings and infuriating misadventures. When Rob and I have a chance to really reconnect, it will be time for Baby #2 to arrive and then we’ll have a whole other world of crazy to navigate!

Good news: Rob does get paternity leave, so he’ll be home with us for about a week after baby arrives. *HUGE SMILEY FACE!*

So if I cross your mind in the next few weeks/months, imagine me frolicking on the beach with an adorable little girl, but also imagine me eating all my meals with someone who: likes to touch all the food on my plate, tries to shove partially chewed food into my mouth, tries to climb on the table, and who stares me square in the eye as she drops her utensils on the floor Рjust to see what will happen. Imagine me quietly celebrating the end of the day and trying to restrain myself from devouring pints of Tonight Dough.

May my coming days, as well as yours, have more laughs than growls, and more fun than fury. These little moments make our lives, so I continue to work to find ways to love and laugh at myself along the way! xoxoxo

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