Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bulk Freezer Meals

In efforts to be more prepared for baby Joy #2, I had a list of freezer meals on my to do list for months! Well, it's been a couple weeks since Mason was born and we have definitely enjoyed a fair share of the freezer meals that I prepared. I would highly recommend doing freezer meals to anyone - new mom or not!

Keep in mind I did all this in one day at 38 weeks pregnant and had Mason at 39 weeks. Shame on me for procrastinating! Probably wasn't the smartest idea, but I got it done and packed away 20 easy and delicious freezer meals! My point is, you can do it too!

I didn't take any pictures throughout the process, so I just have the recipes to share. Obviously there are many variations to some of these recipes as well, this is just what I chose to use. I skipped out on a few additional meals I intended to make because well... pregnant and tired, duh. But maybe next time I'll try those and share as well! And also, I have a pinterest board dedicated to freezer meals that I'd like to try eventually as well! 

Chicken Pot Pie (Made 2 pies. I added corn to mine as well and used 10" foil pie pans)
Tater Tot Casserole (Made 4 - 8"x8" foil pans) Baked covered for 30 minutes then uncover and bake for an additional 30 minutes. 
Broccoli Chicken Rice Casserole (Made 4 - 8"x*" foil pans)


Chicken Enchiladas 
(This is an all time favorite recipe of mine that my Mama passed onto me)

10 tortilla shells burrito size - 2 pkgs mexican shredded cheese - 2-4 chicken breasts cooked & diced w/ taco seasoning - 1 can refried beans - 1 can black beans - 3-4 cans enchilada sauce. 

Layer shell with refried beans, black beans, chicken, cheese, and enchilada sauce. Fold both ends and roll shell. Place in foil pan upside down (so the shell stays closed). Repeat until pan(s) is full and all shells are used. Pour additional enchilada sauce over enchiladas and top with additional shredded cheese. 

You can bake ahead, let cool, and then freeze. Or freeze and bake later @ 350 for 45-60 minutes. 


Chili (Made 3 quart freezer bags)
(There are so many variations of chili, this recipe is also from my Mama!)

1-2lbs ground beef/venison - 1 diced onion - 1 or 2 C diced green pepper - 2 cans hot chili beans - 2 cans kidney beans (drained/rinsed) - 1 can tomato sauce - 2 cans diced tomatoes italian flavored - dash of chili powder

Cook the burger with the onion and green pepper. Drain. In large pot, mix beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and burger mixture. Bring to a boil. Add chili powder to taste. Let cool. Pour into freezer containers or ziploc bags. 


Crockpot Dump Cilantro Chicken (Made 2 servings)
(This recipe is from my sister in law, thanks for sharing Jess!)

4-6 chicken breasts (depending on size preference for serving portion) - 2 cans black beans - 1 bag frozen corn - fresh cilantro or 1/2 tube of cilantro - 1 diced onion - 1TBSP minced garlic - 3 limes juiced

Mix all ingredients except chicken breasts. Add more corn or cilantro based on your preference. Place chicken breasts in gallon ziploc, top with bean mixture. To cook: dump bag contents into crockpot. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve in tortilla shells or over rice. 

Leftovers?! Jess recommends mixing with greek yogurt and stuff in halved avocados for a southwest chicken salad! 


Lasagna (Made 1 - 11x13 pan and 2 - 8x8 pans)
(Again, there are so many variations to lasagna, however this one from my friend Sarah is delicious!)

1lb cottage cheese - 9oz spinach (frozen, unthawed, drained) - 2 eggs - 1/2C grated parmesan cheese - 1/4tsp. salt - 1/4tsp nutmeg - 1/8tsp. pepper - 1-2lbs ground beef/venison - 1lb noodles - 32oz spaghetti sauce* - 16oz mozzarella cheese

*I make and can my own spaghetti sauce with tomatoes from our garden using a similar recipe to this

Cook burger. Drain and add spaghetti sauce. Let simmer. Prepare lasagna noodles. In a separate bowl, mix first 7 ingredients. Set aside. Begin layering lasagna in pans. I do noodles, burger/sauce mixture, cottage cheese mixture, mozzarella cheese. Repeat. 

Cover with tinfoil. Freeze. To prepare, remove from freezer and bring to room temp or refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. (I would recommend removing the foil halfway through baking so that the cheese doesn't stick to the foil and it allows it to brown). 


I am probably the furthest thing from being a good cook... I'm more like a mad scientist in the kitchen and just mix a little of this and that. Hopefully you enjoy these freezer meals (fresh or frozen) as much as our family does! 

What's your favorite recipe to make as a freezer meal?! 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Birth Story of Mason Lee

On Monday, Mason Lee will be two weeks old already! Where does the time go?!

I've always loved learning and reading about baby's birth stories. The miracle of bringing babies into the world is truly an amazing gift. Therefore, taking the time to write down the memories (good, bad, and the ugly) about such a special day in our lives is very important to me! 

This story is mostly for me to remember, so feel free to skip over it if birth stories aren't any interest to you! Or just scroll to look at the pictures.. especially the last photo that captures Remington's reaction perfectly! ;)

I left off with my final 39 week bump update on Sunday, July 31st. In complete contrary to Remington's birth story, we had a scheduled delivery day chosen for Baby Joy #2's birth. 

A little back story... at my initial Dr. appointment for this pregnancy, the discussion of a VBAC versus a scheduled cesarean were discussed. Having another c section wasn't really on the top of my list, however I knew I needed to do what was safest for myself and the baby. As my prenatal appointments continued, the Dr. continued to believe that with my situation (body size/birth canal versus size of baby), a CS was going to be in my best interest. They continued to monitor the size of the baby throughout my appointments. I typically measured ahead 1-2 weeks. Therefore, the chanes of having a "smaller" size baby was looking pretty slim. At one of my weekly appointments Dr. Hartman said "Well today I'm going to have you schedule your delivery!" Which caught me off guard and was kind of weird to be honest! Rather than pick a specific date for any reason, I just told them to choose the earliest day available. And there you have it, Baby Joy's birth day was set for August 1st! 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Sunday, July 31st
Delivery Day Eve

Our last day as a family of three was bittersweet! It truly hadn't sunk in that we were so close to having our second baby. I had been having contractions all week long so every day was a wonder of when it would be our last moments as a family of three. We were staying at the camper in Nana & Papa Furtah's backyard still since we live 75 miles from the hospital. Our weekend consisted of relaxing and enjoying our time with Remington before we had to take her to Lola & Lolo's for her first overnight stay away from us. 

We headed to my Dad and Miriam's around 4 so we could enjoy dinner and visit a bit before leaving Remington. I was more emotional and anxious about leaving Remington for the first time than I was about having a baby the following morning. 

After going over the list of things/schedule for Remington and getting her stuff unpacked, we decided we better head back to the camper and finish packing so we could try to rest up for the big day. As soon as we started to leave Remington ran for me and cried with her arms wide open. Simply broke my heart. So my waterworks were flowing before I even walked out of the house. I cried for a half hour. Michael thought I was ridiculous and our ride was pretty silent. Until he asked if I wanted ice cream from DQ. 

We made it back to the camper around 7:30pm. We took showers and finished packing our things for the hospital. Dad and Miriam kept us updated on Remington until she went to sleep. Once I knew she went to sleep and wasn't still up crying, I felt a little better about going to bed myself. Michael and I laid in bed and disagreed on looked at baby names one last time. Soon we would know if baby was a boy or girl! 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Monday, August 1st
Baby Joy #2's Birth-day! 

The alarm going off at 5am came early. Between missing Remington, thinking about the delivery/recovery, waking up to urinate every hour along with a side of heart burn, I don't think I slept very much. 

I brushed my teeth, got dressed, tossed a little bit of makeup on and fixed my hair and we were out the door. I couldn't eat or drink anything and my stomach was gurgling! Driving to the hospital for a scheduled delivery was such an odd feeling. It almost didn't even feel like we were going to have a baby! 

We checked into the hospital at 6am. This time, I walked up to our room rather than trickling water down my leg and sitting in a wheel chair. They took our info at the front desk and sent us to Suite 3 where we got ourselves situated and I changed into an ugly hospital gown. The first nurse we had happened to be one of Michael's co worker's wives. Small world. The anesthesiologist stopped in to discuss the spinal and have me sign some papers. The nurse got my IV started. Blew the first one. Ouch. They hooked up the monitor on my belly. The baby's heart rate was 120bpm. Dr. Fabian stopped in to go over the plan for the day and then my nurse, Susan, started her shift at 7am. It seemed like time was moving so slow. Once Susan got there, she got the ball rolling. She started my catheter, (insert lots of cussing), Michael changed into a hospital outfit and at that point, I remained uncomfortable, impatient, hungry, and THIRSTY until we waited patiently to go have a baby!

At 7:45am they wheeled me back to the OR room. Michael had to wait outside of the door. They got me situated onto the OR table and then made me sit up, straddling the table (with a catheter mind you) so that I could lean forward while they gave me my meds via spinal. With a scheduled CS they give a one time shot rather than an epidural. Which means there isn't a needle left in my back that has to be pulled out later and supposedly the meds are better. 

Starting with my toes, I could feel the warm numbing sensation taking over my lower half. Once I was lying back down and the curtain was up, Michael was escorted into the room. He sat next to my head and held my hand as my arms were strapped down to the sides. They kept "pinching" my skin to ensure the meds were working. The first few times I could feel it so that was kind of nerve wrecking. Once they began the surgery I could feel a lot of pressure and tugging. It was very uncomfortable. I don't really know how to explain it... almost like I could feel my insides being torn apart yet it just felt like I was getting punched in the stomach. 

Michael asked me one last time what my prediction was on the baby's gender. Between my "oohs and ahhs" of pain I mumbled "girl". The doctors said just one more hard push and baby will be here. Then they pushed really hard on my upper stomach. I felt some major pulling and pressure. Squeezing Michael's hand, taking deep breaths, and closing my eyes was all I could do to keep from screaming. We heard the baby cry and Dr. Hartman said "it's a little man!" 

Mason Lee was born at 8:05am weighing 8lbs 5ozs and 20.5" long. 

At this point I was starting to get nausea, seeing triples, and having a hard time keeping my eyes open. I remember looking at Michael and smiling with tears in my eyes. I was pleasantly surprised to hear it was a boy! The doctors asked if we had a name and Michael said "I think it's going to be Mason Lee." I just nodded my head. We had a few names picked out but Mason was the one we've talked about for years. Mason is my maiden name and Lee is Michael, Jasmine (sister), and Sharon's (mother in law) middle name. We were hesitant because it's a popular name, although we liked the meaning behind it. 

Michael wanted to get up to go see Mason for the first time (who was still screaming) but I was still squeezing his hand as they pushed and tugged on me some more. Once I gave him the all clear he gave me a kiss and went to the other side of the room to finish watching him get cleaned up and measured and took some pictures. He brought him over to see me but I was still having a hard time focusing. We snapped a picture and they let Michael leave the room with Mason while they got me situated back in my hospital bed. 

Once I was back to the room and situated I really just wanted something to drink and to hold my baby but I couldn't. All I could have was ice chips until some more time passed and since I was still completely nausea and dizzy I didn't feel comfortable holding Mason yet. Suddenly I felt like I was going to puke so I sat over a bucket and dry heaved until the feeling went away. I also started feeling very itchy all over, which is a side effect of the meds from the spinal. All I could do was close my eyes and doze in and out of sleep. Mason was still crying which they said was normal and a good thing to clear his lungs. 

I dozed in and out of sleep from the time we were back in the room until around 11am. In between sleeping the nurse kept checking my vitals and stomach. She had to keep pushing on my stomach every so often. Which was as pleasant feeling as it sounds. I was able to hold Mason for the first time and do skin to skin for a little while in between my naps. Actually we took a brief nap together while he was on my chest. Michael had been waiting to let our families know the baby was born until I was awake and feeling better. I'm sure those couple of hours felt like days to him. We decided it was best to give ourselves plenty of time to rest and hold Mason before contacting anyone. This way we didn't have visitors knocking on the door while I was still recovering and/or sleeping. Which is what happened last time with Remi.  

We sent out some text messages and made some phone calls. I let the photographer know as well and got a hold of my Dad to make arrangements to have Remington there at the same time for pictures. They delivered me some fluids, jello, and popsicles. I asked for Mason to got a bath because they said they typically wait 8 hours after birth but I wanted him to be cleaned up before visitors arrived. My Mom and Greg were the first ones to let us know they were on their way. They stopped to get some food for Michael and a snack for me to have once I got the all clear to eat solids again (since the hospital food is so gross). 

It was around 2pm when we had our first visitors, Mom and Greg. Then two of my best friends, Janel and Natalie came. They completely spoiled Mason with a new wardrobe!

At 4pm it was time to remove that yucky catheter and get out of bed! What a relief. I was slightly dizzy at first when I got up and moving. But it felt so good to stand up! I was still having a bit of bleeding so they changed my bedding while I was up and moving. I was able to freshen up a little bit for pictures so I didn't look like a complete zombie. 

Remington arrived with my Dad and Miriam just after 5pm. I missed her so much I was so excited to see her. She came walking in with an "It's a Boy!" balloon and sat in bed with me. My Dad brought Mason over to show her her little brother for the first time. At first we think she thought he was a babydoll because she reached for him really fast and wanted to pick him up. And then he moved and it freaked her out so she shook her head no, blew him a kiss, and then pushed him away. :)

Shanell from Shanell Photography arrived around 5:30 to take photos of Mason and us as a family of four for the first time. Watching Remington observe Mason for the first time was humorous. She really didn't know what to think of him! Her facial expressions were priceless. 

Michael's Mom and Rick arrived around 6:30. At this point there was quite a few visitors in the room and it was getting slightly chaotic. Not to mention the A/C wasn't working in my room and I had requested a fan 10 times by now. Remington was starting to get tired so they started getting ready to go (which made me want to cry all over again). My Mom and Greg also left around the same time. Huge shout out to my Mama for taking pictures of our guests with Mason as well as of the three/four of us! 

Once everyone left, I finally had my dinner (ew, thank goodness for that snack my Mom brought instead) and we settled down for the night. Well, we tried to settle down. However between the high of excitement and all the other fun happenings - nurses checking on Mason and I, taking him in and out of the room for tests, checking my vitals, me having to urinate 100ml before 10pm in order to avoid getting another catheter, giving me new pain meds every 3 hours since the meds I received via spinal were wearing off, nursing Mason, and finally sharing the news on social media - it was about midnight before we attempted to sleep. 

Words do not describe how thankful we are for our healthy little Joy boy! This special guy is the only boy to carry on the Joy family name (until Derek & Jess start making babies! hint hint) We are also so very thankful for the excellent doctors and nurses that took great care of us during our 3 day stay! And lastly, for my Dad and Miriam for taking such great care of Remington during her first overnight stay away from Mama & Dada! 

The following professional photos are credit to Shanell Photography

^^ The best for last! Her expression kills me! ^^ 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Final Bump Watch ♥ 39 Weeks

Yep, you read that post title correctly... this is the final bump update for Baby Joy #2! Due to the size of the baby and based on the complications I faced when I had Remi, I will be having a scheduled c section slightly early. Now I'm not going to shout it to the world which day it is (because I'm weird like that)... so be sure to follow me on snap chat (justjuliejoy) and/or IG (justjuliejoy)! 

How far long:  39 Weeks 3 Days

Gender: We will know SO soon! Eeeek! I definitely am getting more anxious about knowing. Part of me thinks it's a girl, yet part of me thinks its a boy since this pregnancy has been so different. It's slightly annoying how many people think that we truly know and we are lying. Thanks for raining on our parade people.

Since we found out with the first baby, I thought it would be different to not find out this time around. Not to mention, we have so many other things going on right now that occupy my mind and time from allowing me to even prepare for a specific gender if I wanted to.

Minor detail.... we may have an envelope from an ultrasound appointment that we got "just in case" we decided we wanted to know! The envelope has be folded up and tucked away and honestly, we've had no temptations! But we've laughed about it! It will be fun to have as a keepsake and a story with the baby book. 

Weight Gain: 39lbs. Seriously. Yikes. The weight is all pushing straight out on my belly button and I'm not quite sure how much more my belly button can stretch! :(

Baby Size: As big as a pumpkin.

Fun Fact: Baby is able to flex limbs! (Duh, it's kicking my insides all day and night! Ha)

Maternity Clothes: For the most part, all maternity. Thankfully, we haven't had to go anywhere or do anything so I pretty much wear comfy clothes every day. Michael's t shirts, a few maternity tanks/tees, these or these shorts. I've even worn a bikini (non maternity yikes) to take Remi swimming. Ha!

Sleep: Not so great. This past week I've been having contractions in the middle of the night like whoa. Not to mention waking up every 1.5-2 hours to pee, being uncomfortable, or having indigestion and feeling like my throat is on fire. Some days I just want to nap when Remington naps. But heck, I already sleep in until she wakes up so that's probably bad enough.

Movement: Yes! Tons of movement. Sometimes even painful! He/she sits/protrudes to the right just like Remington did too.

Stretch Marks: Nothing major that I can see, although I did notice some purple marks near my belly button. I thought maybe they were veins but I think they are actually stretch marks. That poor belly button of mine can't really stretch inside out much more!

Cravings: Artic Freeze from DQ. Oh my heavens. Fruit and ice cream. I blame the summer weather for my cravings!

Belly Button: Umm.. my poor belly button has stretched beyond it's reach. It's pretty hideous. Let's just hope it returns to normal.

Anything making you queasy or sick?: No

Symptoms: Consistent contractions day/night. Sore back. Light headed. Thirsty. Tired. Weak feeling, especially in my legs. My Dr said my iron is extremely low so I'm on some iron pills. Acid reflux. Short of breath. Tired. Cellulite on legs and butt (TMI?). Emotional. You know, same ol'.

What I miss: Chasing/playing with Remington easily. Being comfortable. Bending over.  My summer clothes. Sleeping on my back/belly. Being able to carry Remington in the ergo. A nice ice cold summer cocktail (wine, Redd's apple ale, sangria, mojito... you catch the drift)

Emotions: I'm not sure if I'm more emotional about leaving Remington for the first time or meeting our new bundle of Joy. I am also nervous about adjusting to having two babies. It's going to be a rough adjustment for Remington. And I know it's going to be a rough adjustment for me being alone a lot. I am excited to meet this little guy/gal though! I truly can't believe it's happening so soon! This pregnancy went by soooo fast!

Dreams: None that I can think of.

Hubby's thoughts: Nothing new here. I'm not kidding when I say he didn't act like he knew I was pregnant for the last 9 months. At least the last two weeks he decided to start thinking about names. (eye roll)

Nursery: Empty. Literally. We took out a tote of clothes from storage to get us by for a little bit. We also have the swing, rock n play, and car seat out. We ordered a dresser for now. Which isn't going to be here before the baby arrives. After he/she arrives I would like to choose some what of a color scheme for the room and even if we don't paint, I would at least like some curtains or something.

Favorite Moment(s): Getting caught up on my to do list before the baby arrives! I made 20 freezer meals (post to come on that!) and we got our maternity pictures back! I was surprised at how many favorites I had despite how bad I thought they were going to turn out! I also went to my Mom's salon for a pedicure this week. Which was heavenly! 

What I am looking forward to: Well... I guess I can officially say I'm as ready as I'm going to be so bring on that baby boy/girl!!!

Catch up here...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Baby Joy #2 Maternity Photoshoot

The days of being a family of three are quickly winding down! Despite the bright mid morning sun and our extremely crabby toddler, Shanell still knocked it out of the park with our session! As you already know, she's my favorite friend and photographer for capturing the greatest moments in our lives!

Since we've taken these photos, I honestly didn't think I was going to have many favorites. Remington cried (for no reason) the majority of the time and the sun was sooo bright. By time we left, I wanted to cry. I was frustrated and disappointed. However, as I sit here and look through these pictures, I can't help but smile as I admire our little family... My soon to be family of four! I'm thankful for Shanell's patience with us and for her amazing talent. Without her, I wouldn't have such beautiful keepsakes of these precious moments in our lives (side note: Michael tried very hard to persuade me away from getting maternity pictures for the second child).

Now if only I could narrow down a couple favorites... because of course, I have too many! ;)

All photo credit goes to Shanell Photography