The bird is D-O-N-E.  Last night we officially polished off the last of the turkey, and we used all of it.  We bought a 12 pounder for Thanksgiving this year, and I decided to try a couple of new things.  1) I brined the turkey this year and cooked it differently than I normally do and 2) I made turkey stock from scratch.  I’m not sure why I chose to be so ambitious having a 10 week old newborn.   She did prove to add extra time to my cooking ability so dinner did get pushed back to 8 ish instead of 6 ish like I had originally planned, and I had to pass off delegate two side dishes to Ariana and Brett.

 

Brining the Turkey – I used this great blog, Savory Sweet Life, to help me get started.  I used the recipe, but also added a couple of other things to it, like fresh lemon juice (and the lemons).  The turkey had an AMAZING flavor!  I was a little worried because I had read that you shouldn’t brine a previously frozen turkey, because it would make it too salty, but it was fine.  I also used Alton Brown’s turkey recipe for the cooking part (normally I do the brown bag turkey cooking technique).  And since I always seem to make last minute changes, I had to head out to Albertsons around noon on Thanksgiving to buy a roasting pan, and the aromatic ingredients for the turkey.  I cooked it without a digital probe because I didn’t have one, so I cooked the turkey for 2 hours.  Brett said he thought the turkey was moister when I used the brown bag recipe, but we both agreed that it had a different flavor this year (in the good way🙂 ).

Making the Stock – This wasn’t too hard.  After we stripped all the meat off of the bones I threw them into a pot filled with water, a quartered sweet onion, few stalks of celery and carrots chopped up, some peppercorns, garlic, and a few sprigs of Rosemary and Thyme (leftover from the turkey aromatics) and boiled it for a few hours.  Then I strained it and put it in the fridge.  I did have to keep reminding myself that I needed to put a container under the strainer to catch the liquid (because in my poor confused head, I’m used to not keeping the liquid that is being strained, lol).

Turkey Leftovers-

Sandwiches:  I LOVE turkey sandwiches made with cranberry sauce, dijon mustard and Miracle Whip as the topping.

Turkey Brie Bites:  I used this recipe that I found and made them when we had friends visiting during the weekend.  They were super yummy, and I bet they could be (since I didn’t make them this way, I can’t guarantee it), yummy with turkey added to them.

Turkey Chili:  I have been using Rachel Ray’s Turkey Corn Chili recipe for years. I don’t follow it exactly (I normally don’t have any peppers of any kind lying around), but it is another tasty dinner for turkey leftovers.

Turkey and Dumplings:  I will make this Chicken and Dumplings for the fam on a regular basis, so I thought  last night, “Why not make it with turkey”.  This is a great way to get rid of the leftover carrots and celery and I also got to use my homemade turkey stock😀.  The dumpling recipe left out the fact that you also need to add an egg to the mixture, so don’t forget that, and I like to add a can of Cream of Chicken soup to the broth.

Check out the size of those dumplings!!

The Cox Family Elf on the Shelf Makes His Debut

 

Our family is so excited because our Elf on the Shelf, Blink, arrived some time Tuesday night!  I have been eagerly waiting these last three years for us to request an elf from Santa, and this year we decided that Brady was old enough🙂 .

If you don’t know what I am talking about, Elf on the Shelf  is a great Christmas tradition for the entire family.  Your family’s elf is sent by Santa as a sort of scout.  He or she will quietly watch over the children of the house, report back to Santa every night after they go to bed about their behavior for the day, and then return to your home.  Every morning, the elf will “hide” in a new spot so it becomes a fun game for the kids to find it in the morning.  There’s also a book that will arrive before your elf to tell the story and “rules” to the kids. From what I have heard and read from other people that also have elves, they can be quite mischievous while waiting for the kids to wake up.  I have heard of TP-ing escapades, drawing on the family pictures with dry erase markers, and snowball fights with mini marshmallows.  The kids are encouraged to talk to their elf, but not to touch because that will take away their magic. Santa will pick them up on Christmas Eve and your elf will return every year after Thanksgiving.

Brady looked for ours this morning and with some help from me, found him on top of the speaker over the living room entrance-way;  I found out later that Blink had scared Ariana when she was leaving for school, heee heee. After finding Blink, Brady chatted with him throughout the day (although he wasn’t given his name until this evening over dinner – did I mention you get to name your elf?? – so Brady just referred to him as “elf”), and I got in a “Can you show your elf how well you pick up your toys?”.  I’m not sure that Brady fully understands the purpose of Blink right now, but I hope he will have fun finding him this year, remember him next year, and then in a few years, I’m sure he will be a good big brother and tell Cat all about Blink; I’m looking forward to seeing all of the mischief  Blink will get into😉 .  Even Ariana seems to be getting into it; as she went to bed tonight, she said that she was going to look for him before she left for school.  I look forward to all of the memories this will make for us❤ !

Ariana, better hide yours, Brady is on the prowl.  Little man is going through a stuffed animal phase.  His current favorites are Moby, his green monkey (that I snagged for free last summer at Pier One Imports due to a coupon🙂 – check out my other blog, Retail Rebellion if you are interested in getting some good deals), of course Bobo, his pillow pet, and two new ones that he snagged from me last week.  Yes, he found my Meerkat from a trip to the Ft. Worth Zoo, and even knew what it was due to a poster on his wall from our trip to Seattle last year.

Brady and Meerkat

Meerkat is now part of the “must haves” when Brady goes to bed at night and at nap time and when he wakes up.  He always grabs “Blanket”, Moby, Bobo, “Pillow”, and now Meerkat too.  Meerkat has also been the chosen one a couple of times when we have headed out for errands and proudly sits next to Brady in his car seat.  Brady will occasionally notify us, “Mommy, Daddy, Meerkat sit”.  He is just too cute❤ .  The other stuffed animal he found was my tiger that Brett won for me at Six Flags many, many years ago.  Tiger is grabbed on occasion upon wake ups and at bed time, Brady asks me to put him up by his head in the corner of his crib.  I asked him if it is to watch over him, and he replied, “Yes!”.

As for his main favorite, Bobo, Brett thinks we should probably buy a back-up Bobo just in case and when Bobo has a “bath”, poor Brady keeps running back to the washing machine and/or dryer anxiously throughout the process and asks, “Bobo done?”

Bobo’s Bath Time

29 weeks turned out to be eventful in the area of testing.  The day before my 29 week check, I found out that I failed my first glucose test, so I was going to endure the fun 3 hour glucose test for gestational diabetes.  I did not have to do this with either of my other two darlings, which just further proves my statement that Catarina is ensuring that she is our last child.  I keep telling her, “Don’t worry Cat, there won’t be anymore babies after you – be nice to mommy!!”  Either that, or pregnancy karma has caught up with me and because I had none of the yucky pregnancy side effects that others seem to get and I enjoyed my other two pregnancies, I was getting paid back with this one.  The count is now up to:  having “all day” sickness for the first trimester so bad that I was put on Zofran, pregnancy induced carpal tunnel syndrome causing me to have numb hands just about all day long starting near the end of my second trimester, and now this in the third trimester.  Booooooo!

So anyways, the 3 hour test involves the same yummy drink, but instead of getting your blood drawn once after an hour you get to have your blood drawn 4 times.  This occurs: 1) Before you drink the drink, 2) 1 hour after, 3) 2 hours after, and 4) 3 hours after.  Besides this, I was also informed at the appointment that my blood tests also showed I was anemic AND B12 anemic.  SERIOUSLY?!! This girl is trouble already!  I left the appointment totally feeling beat down and like a pin cushion; I received a B12 shot in addition to the 4 blood draws during the 3 1/2 hour appointment.

On a funny note, Brady now thinks any time I leave the house, it is for the baby and whenever I return, he expects pancakes because I have brought home mini pancakes from Jack in the Box for him a couple of times.  It’s a great deal, 8 mini pancakes for a buck and he loves them🙂 .

On Monday I will be 29 weeks pregnant, and this is making me a little nervous. Due to having a bicornuate uterus, both Ariana and Brady were born premature.  Ariana was born at 32 1/2 weeks and Brady was born at 31 weeks.  With Ariana, I spent about two weeks in and out of the hospital stopping my labor only to have it start again not long after being released from the hospital.  Brady decided to move a little quicker and my water broke before we even left for the hospital, and arrived three days later after I luckily received the two shots of steroids necessary to mature his lungs.  Sooooooo, it seems my “be on the watch out for labor” time is 30 1/2 weeks.

Obviously the condition wasn’t found until Ariana was delivered via c-section and afterwards I was told that pre-term labor may or may not happen again, and that one factor could be time and growth (I was 19 when I had Ariana).  When I became pregnant with Brady 11 years later with a new ob/gyn, I told him about my previous pregnancy and was told that “we would keep an eye on it”, but not to worry too much.  I continued that pregnancy with no worries, did not make any arrangements for an early delivery and found myself in complete shock waking up around 2 a.m. the day after Christmas in labor.  I had just had my 30 week check up right before Christmas and there were no red flags.

My current pregnancy has been a little different.  I started with the same doctor that I was seeing when I was pregnant with Brady (I can’t say the doctor that delivered Brady because I was transferred out of the hospital he delivers at because Brady was going to need a higher level NICU), and he laid out his plan of treatment for this pregnancy which included progesterone shots starting at 26 weeks and steroid shots at 28 weeks.  I love my doctor, but I began researching on the internet (which he jokingly told me was bad for my health and causes cancer – that’s just his sense of humor and one of the reasons I love him) and became that paranoid pregnant woman at my appointments asking why I wasn’t starting the progesterone shots at 16 weeks like all the literature suggests, and asking about seeing a perinatologist in conjunction with him.  I wanted to see the perinatologist because if I went into labor before 34 weeks, I would once again have to go to a different hospital and have a different doctor for the delivery, but they also call in a perinatologist when you are having preterm labor.  I wanted someone that I was familiar with and that was familiar with me if that was the case, hence the perinatologist request.  My doctor was fine with that, but the perinatologist would only see me with a doctor referral, and my doctor couldn’t refer me to him because he was at a different hospital.  So my doctor suggested I see his old partner that now delivered at the hospital that I would possibly have to go to.

It took a lot for me to make the decision to switch doctors.  I really liked my doctor, he is such a sweet guy and I’m normally laughing most of my appointments with him, but he wasn’t quite as proactive as I was hoping for with this pregnancy.  I had already heard all of the “Well, next time I would do this and that differently” after Brady was born, and I didn’t want to hear it again, nor did I want to feel the guilt that I could have done things differently.  I also knew that it was going to be a small, tiny chance that he would even be able to deliver this baby because of his hospital’s NICU not being a high enough level.  I REALLY wanted one normal pregnancy and delivery.  You kind of feel robbed when you have your baby prematurely.  There really isn’t happy visitors beating down your door at the hospital to see the new baby and congratulate you, they pretty much so keep their distance.  My daughter couldn’t even meet her brother until he came home 6 weeks after being born because of NICU rules; how surreal must that have been for her.  And the hardest thing to do is leave your baby at the hospital when you are released and I have had to do it twice.

After researching the new ob, I learned she specialized in high risk pregnancies, and I made the appointment for a consult to hear her plan for my pregnancy.  Brett and I went to the appointment, and she was definitely proactive.  She wanted to start the progesterone shots as soon as possible (I was 17 weeks pregnant at the time) and she would monitor me by checking my cervix length every two weeks up until 29 weeks and then switch to every week (or if I wanted to start the weekly checks sooner it was my call).  Another MAJOR plus was that the hospital she works out of has a level 3 NICU and it was much closer than where I was transferred to have Brady.  Could it be that I might actually know the doctor that delivers my baby this time around?!  Neither Ariana nor Brady was delivered by my doctor at the time.  With Brady, I had a different doctor every day and EVERY day I had to tell them why I was having pre-term labor and even then, when I was in the recovery room, the doctor came in and said, “Well, you were having pre-term labor because you have a bicornuate uterus”.  Ummmmmm, yeah, I just told you that when I met you before my delivery.

My progesterone shots began pretty quickly after that.  I have a nurse that comes to my house once a week to give them to me and check my blood pressure, and chit chat with me about how I’m doing and what is going on with my doctor appointments.  I even get to hear the baby every week because she checks the heart rate; Brady gets excited when she gets to our house and says, “Baby” and sits next to me to listen to his little sister’s heart beat.  It is too cute.

Around 20 weeks, I was having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions, so I had to go in for a Fetal Fibronectin test along with my cervical length check and both were fine.  So far, I have steadily had a cervical length of over 4 cm and my doctor is really pleased with both that and how everything else looks (fluid and such), and the Braxton Hicks contractions lessened after that one week.

The plan at this point, is to keep watching the cervical length every week, and if it begins shortening, another Fetal Fibronectin test will be performed and the steroid shots will be started along with other precautions like bed rest.

I’m trying to have a positive outlook and not get too stressed out about the possibility of pre-term labor, but I’m also being realistic.  Do I know what date I hit 30 weeks – I sure do, it’s July 9th.  I am making my arrangements, knowing there is the chance of bed rest at home, bed rest in the hospital, or having the baby early, but hoping that my hospital bag will collect dust until I at least make it to 37 weeks.  Hopefully, this baby will be the stubborn pain-in-the-butt youngest child😉 and keep us all waiting.

Whew it has been a while; so much has changed and happened since my last post!!  Where to start?

Well, here goes with the highlights, the Cox Clan is expanding soon – I am expecting our third child in September, a girl!  Besides that, we are in the home stretch of our house remodeling (not quite planned but necessary and has been going on since the first weekend of March), Brady is halfway through the Terrible, I mean Terrific Twos (we hope), and Ariana just completed her first year of Junior High and is now learning what it means to have a part time job and be a working girl🙂 .

It is a very crazy, hectic, busy time in our lives, but we are trying to remember to have fun during it all as always.  And if that means only unpacking our beds from the POD when we moved back into our house and heading off to Six Flags for the evening, then so be it.  Who needs living room furniture when you have new carpet, right?  Just yesterday, my poor hubby Brett sat down after working all day on painting the front hall, closets, and doors, AND doing yard work outside (while I could only watch guiltily), all while wrangling his little helper Brady (and not to mention smoking a delicious turkey breast on his new grill) and said, “Whew, that was a LONG day and a lot of work, but it was fun.”  I threw an “are you delirious” look and tried to figure out when he ran out and did something fun and he explained that he had fun hanging out with Brady and I during the day and going with us to The Home Debt, a.k.a. The Home Depot (Ariana had escaped to Six Flags with her bestie for the day).  What an amazing guy to find the fun in that day of grunt work – I’m a lucky girl!

My family will be walking in this year’s March for Babies at White Rock Lake.  Both of our children were born early.  Ariana was 7 1/2 weeks early and weighed 4 lbs at birth.  Brady was 9 weeks early and weighed 3 lbs 13 oz.  I was lucky enough to hold off my labor with both once I was admitted into the hospital long enough to receive steroid shots that matured their lungs.  Ariana did not have a long stay in the hospital, but Brady stayed in the NICU for six weeks.  I know from personal experience how heartbreaking it is to leave your newborn behind at the hospital and I am so thankful that both of my babies are very healthy and vibrant with no residual effects from their premature births.  Please help us reach our goal of $500 for this wonderful cause.

Ariana in the NICU
Ariana in 1998

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brady in NICU
Brady in December 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brady and Ariana, Brett Cox Photography

Brady and Ariana in 2010