Wednesday, September 26, 2012

60+ Dinners for Picky Eaters

My husband is a super picky eater.  As in bread, meat, potatoes, pasta, and pizza only.  That is simplifying it a bit...he will eat cheese and a select few fruits and veggies too.  His choice in fruits include strawberries, bananas, and oranges and his veggies are limited to broccoli and corn {if you even consider corn a veggie}.

This makes it tough on me to plan dinners and use recipes that I find anywhere without adapting them.  Any dish that is mexican, chinese, barbecue, or spicy is out.  Any onions or veggies in the dish?  Forget it...he won't eat it.  Picky kids are a lot easier to outsmart and sneak veggies in than picky husbands {or wives} are!

I know I'm not alone out there!  There have got to be others who have a picky kid or husband that they have to accommodate :)  Hence, the list of my dinner options for picky eaters.  If you have other ideas, add them in the comments!  I'd love to add them to the list!



A lot of these meals can be made a lot of different ways.  The preparation can be from mostly store bought to totally made from scratch.  And of course, this affects your grocery costs. The more you buy pre-made, the more expensive it will be, but the quicker your dinner prep is.  And the more you make from scratch, the cheaper it will be, but will obviously take longer to make dinner.  Do what's right for your family and your budget!  Plus, you can make just about all of these gluten-free or allergy friendly if your family needs it.

{CP = Crockpot Dinners}


For these pizza dishes, make with sauce {bought or made from scratch} and cheese.  Add whatever topping your picky eater will agree to!  We usually serve with salad or raw veggies & dip for the rest of the family.


1 - Traditional Pizza
      Variations: Boboli pizza crust, refrigerated or frozen crust, pizza crust mix, made from scratch crust

2 - French Bread Pizza
      Variations: With frozen garlic bread, refrigerated bread dough, bakery bread, made from scratch

3 - Pizza Roll
      Variations: Make with refrigerated pizza crust or make from scratch

4 - Pizza Muffins
     Variation:  Make with refrigerated biscuit dough

5 - Crescent Roll Pizzas


6 - Inside Out Pizza

7 - Bagel Pizzas
     Recipe: Top bagels with pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings.  Sprinkle with a little oregano & garlic powder.
     Variation: Use mini bagels for a yummy appetizer for get togethers!

8 - Pizza Dip
     Recipe: In 9x13 dish, spread a block of cream cheese on bottom, then a layer of sauce, then cheese of your choice!  Serve with cut up bagels or full bread sticks for dipping!

9 - Pizzadillas

10 - Chicken Alfredo Pizzas

11 - Deep dish pizza

12 - Calzones
       Recipe: Make 6-8 inch circles from pizza dough, stuff with yummy fillings, pinch edges to close and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

13 - Pull Apart Pizza Bread


Chicken is the perfect dinner meat! It's delicious, lean, and can be prepared so many different ways!
We typically serve our chicken entrees with a potato dish and vegetable side.  I try to make a variety of potato dishes so that Mr. Picky doesn't get bored, but that's another post for another day!

Budgeting Tip:  I buy my chicken breasts in bulk when it's on sale.  Then I use as much as I can to make freezer meals and cut up the rest into the necessary portions {breasts, tenders, cubes, etc}.


14 - Chicken Cordon Bleu {Weight Watchers recipe that we've used for 7 years}

15 - Breaded Chicken Parmesan
       Recipe: Prepare chicken breasts using this breaded pork chop recipe.  Top with marinara sauce and provolone cheese.  Serve on top of linguine.

16 - Grilled Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches
        Recipe: Grill chicken breasts, top with marinara sauce & provolone, serve on buns. {Add spinach leaves for non-picky eaters}

17 - Chicken Tenders
        Recipe: Cut chicken breasts into strips.  Bread using the method in this recipe.  Bake 15-20 minutes until breading starts to brown a tad.

18 - Chicken Marinara
       Recipe: Cook cubed chicken using desired method {boiling, baking, saute}.  Add chicken to pasta {penne, rotini, farfalle} and marinara sauce.

19 - Italian Marinated Chicken Breasts
       Recipe: Marinate chicken breasts in Italian dressing at least 1 hr {overnight is best}.  Grill on outdoor grill, on George Foreman grill, or in the oven.

20 - Chicken a la King {CP}
        Recipe: Prepare this recipe without veggies. Prepare mixed veggies on the side {carrots, peas, corn}.  Separate & mix veggies in half for the rest of the family, reserving the other half for your picky eater :)  Serve over country biscuits!


21 - Chicken & Dumplings

22 - Savory Chicken & Noodles
       Recipe: Prepare chicken a la king {above} or Chicken & Gravy {below} and serve over egg noodles.

23 - Chicken Club Sandwich
       Recipe:  Grill chicken breasts.  Top with colby or cheddar cheese & bacon & serve on buns. {Add lettuce or tomato for non-picky eaters!}

24 - Chicken Bites
       Recipe: Cut chicken breasts into bite sized pieces.  Bread using the method in this recipe.  Bake 15-20 minutes until breading starts to brown a tad.

25 - Crispy Chicken Legs

26 - 20 Clove Garlic Chicken {CP}

27 - Chicken & Gravy
        Recipe: Pour thin layer of chicken gravy in baking dish.  Place chicken breasts on top.  Add more gravy and bake for 15-20 minutes or until there chicken is cooked through.



Breakfast for dinner is a treat around here!  The hubby and the kids love breakfast foods.  I generally serve bacon or sausage {links or patties} on the side with most of these dishes.


28 - Pancakes
       I use the recipe from the Better Homes & Garden cookbook 12th edition or this one looks yummy!

29 - French Toast
       Recipe:  Mix 6 eggs, 3/4 c milk, 1t vanilla, & 1/2 t cinnamon in shallow bowl.  Dip bread on both sides and cook on griddle or skillet.

30 - Waffles
       I use the recipe from the Better Homes and Garden cookbook 12th edition.

31 - Biscuits & Gravy
       Recipe:  Brown 1 lb sausage in large skillet, chopping finely as you brown.  Lower heat to low.  Add enough flour to absorb grease {3-4 Tbs}.  Add milk to fill skillet 3/4 way.  Mix and heat and gravy will thicken.  Let cook on low for 10 minutes.  If needed add more flour or milk to reach desired consistency.  Salt & pepper to taste.  Serve over country biscuits.


32 - Cinnamon Rolls
Variations: From canned rolls to Pioneer Woman recipe.

33 - Fluffy Scrambled Eggs & Toast
       Recipe: Beat as many eggs as needed for your family.  Add some milk {I use about 1/3 c milk for 6 eggs}.  Mix well.  Add a few pinches of salt and a few shakes of pepper.  Pour into a skillet on med-high heat.  Keep stirring and scraping with your spatula until most of the "juice" is gone.  It will still be nice and moist from the milk and you won't be left with plain dry scrambled eggs!

34 - Fried Eggs & Toast
       Recipe: Put 2-3 Tbs oil in a warm skillet.  Crack eggs into the skillet and let cook 2-3 minutes or until the whites are getting pretty solid.  Flip and allow to cook for a few minutes on the other side.  This makes the eggs pretty over easy.  If you prefer more solid yolks, add a minute or two to each side.

35 - {BLT - LT} Sandwiches or more simply, Bacon Sandwiches
       Recipe: Cook bacon via preferred method.  I prefer baking in the oven, but I also use the stove top and the microwave.  Serve on bread with mayo/Miracle Whip. {Add LT back in for the non-picky eaters!}

36 - Sausage Biscuits
       Recipe: Cook sausage and serve on country biscuits.  Optional: Add cheese and/or egg to the biscuits.

37 - Omelets
        Recipe: Beat 2 eggs together.  Pour into hot skillet {med-high heat} and allow to "firm" up on the bottom.  Add mixings {ham, sausage, bacon, cheese for picky eaters.  veggies too for non-picky eaters}.  Flip over and cook other side for 2-3 minutes.  Flip out and serve.


Pork is our other go-to meat.  We are mostly a chicken and pork family!  As with the chicken, I usually serve a potato dish and veggie with these entrees.

Budget Tip: I buy chops and loins on sale and freeze them.  I try to do some of the prep work ahead of time (ie. breading them or marinating them) before freezing.  It simplifies dinner time!  I also will buy the whole loin and "butcher" it myself.  I can usually get 2 dinners of pork chops, a pork loin, and pork roast from one whole loin.


38 - Herb Crusted Pork Loin - I omit ginger, cilantro, and lime :)
       Yes, it has onions.  Yes, he still eats it.  But only after he discovered he liked it before he discovered the onions.

39 - Pork Roast {CP}
       Recipe: Place pork in crockpot after rinsing it off.  Apply pepper to outside very liberally.  Add 1-2 inches of water to the crockpot.  Add veggies for the rest of the family {carrots, potatoes, etc.}.  Cook 5-6 hrs on low or 2-3 hrs on high.

40 - Grilled Pork Chops
        Recipe: Marinate in Italian dressing for at least one hour {overnight ideal...or freeze with marinate}.  Grill and serve!

41 - Breaded Pork Chops

42 - Baked Cavatelli


We love pasta dishes at our house, too.  They are filling and yummy!  Plus, it's very budget friendly!  A box of pasta is very cheap and can feed most families with one box.  Add in some jar or homemade sauce and you are set!

If your picky eater likes broccoli or spinach, add some to any of these dishes.

We usually serve our pasta dishes with a salad and either garlic bread or french loaf.


43 - Spaghetti

44 - Baked Penne
        Recipe: Mix cooked pasta, plenty of sauce, and cheese together and place in a casserole dish.  Top with cheese and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

45 - Fettuccine Alfredo
        Easy Alfredo Sauce Recipe or packet mixes

46 - Pasta with Creamy Garlic Sauce
        Recipe for Creamy Garlic Sauce or packet mixes

47 - Cheese Tortellini
       Recipe:  I cheat on these :)  I buy the big bags of frozen tortellini, boil, and serve with marinara sauce.

48 - Cheese Ravioli
        Recipe:  I cheat on these too.  I buy the big bags of frozen ravioli, boil, and serve with marinara sauce.

There is something so comforting about soup.  I love soup.  My picky eater...not so much.  There are a few {as in 2 - #49 and #50} that I can get him to eat.  I included a few others that may be successful with other picky eaters.

These soups are perfect paired with a big yummy salad, sandwich, or french baguettes!


49 - Cheesy Potato Soup

50 - Chicken and Noodle Soup
       My recipe for this changes all the time!  I never really follow one :)  I've attempted to capture what I do here.
       Recipe:  Boil 3-4 chicken breasts in a large pot until cooked through.  Strain and shred or chop chicken while retaining the broth from the pot.  Add 16 oz chicken stock or broth to retained broth.  Add 2-3 spoonfuls of chicken soup base.  Chop 3 stalks of celery and 3-4 large peeled carrots and add to the broth.  Optional: add 1 c fresh chopped spinach.  Bring to a boil and add large egg noodles.  Cook until pasta is al dente.  Reduce heat to low and add chicken back in.  Season with plenty of salt & pepper.

51 - Ham and Cheese Soup
        Recipe:  Use this recipe with or without potatoes and add 2 c diced ham.

52 - Italian Wedding Soup



I don't tend to use a lot of deli meat in my dinners because Mr. Picky takes a lunchmeat sandwich for lunch every day.  As if he doesn't get tired of lunchmeat anyways, I don't want to overwhelm him with deli meat for dinner too.  When I do use it, I try to be creative...and make it warm!


53 - Lunchmeat Calzones
       Recipe: Make 6-8 inch circles from pizza dough, stuff with yummy fillings, pinch edges to close and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.  Ideas:  Ham & Cheese, Club {turkey, ham, bacon}, Italian {Ham, pepperoni, salami}

54 - Ham & Cheese Croissants

55 - French Dip Croissants

56 - Hawaiian Baked Ham & Swiss - you guessed it...without the onion.



57 - Mini Monte Cristos

58 - Toasty Subs
       Recipe:  Slice sub buns in half and spread with butter.  Toast on a skillet or griddle.  Pile high with meats and cheeses of your choice and bake for 10 minutes in the oven at 350F to warm.  Top with any veggies that your picky eater will eat!


When compiling this list, I realized how little beef is in our diet!  One reason is because its so dang expensive.  The other is because of my picky husband!!  I'm listing a few ideas for ground beef for picky eaters, but in reality, hamburgers is the only beef meal that we currently eat, unless we splurge on steak.


58 - Hamburgers
       Recipe - Apply salt & pepper very liberally to both sides and grill or broil.  Seriously, lots of salt & pepper is the secret!

59 - Fab Flank Steak

60 - Baked Mostaccioli - a family fave {no mushrooms}...just not Mr. Picky!

61 - Spaghetti & Meatsauce
       Recipe:  Brown 1/2 lb to 1 lb ground beef and add to sauce.  Put on top of spaghetti!

62 - Spaghetti & Meatballs

So, let's hear it!  What are your other dinner ideas for picky eaters?  I'd love to do a 2nd post with even more ideas.  And I'm always open to new things to mix it up!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Remember always


Knox is changing so much!!  I feel like he's becoming a baby so quickly...no longer a newborn.  I'm finding new things that I love about him everyday.  And I'm already quickly forgetting the little details that I loved when he was first born.  This post is for me...so I can look back and remember my favorite things.

I love how loud he is when he nurses.

I love how he lays on my chest after eating for 10-20 minutes.  It's the best snuggling time.

I love how he still has the startling reflex when he hears loud noises.

I love his little receding hair line...and the warm, fuzzy hair on the back of his neck.


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I love his chunky jaws that sit on his neck.

I love that little blister on his lip from nursing.

I love those rolls!  Arm rolls.  Thigh rolls.  Belly rolls.

I love that his hair color is yet to be defined.  It's like a mystery.  Somedays it looks dark blonde, others it looks red, sometimes it's brownish.

I love how hairy he is...if you look closely you can see the hair on his ears...it's like 1/2 inch long!

I am so unbelievably proud of this little man!!  We feel so blessed!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Dress {and Giveaway!}

This post is long overdue!  I've had so many people ask about the dress that I wore for my maternity pictures.  I wore it to a few weddings and family events and it was so comfy.  And I was constantly getting compliments.  Everyone was surprised to find out that I made it.


I've posted about Seamingly Smitten patterns on here before {tunic here and shirt here}and when I saw this pattern debut, I couldn't wait to test it out!  Of course, I was big and pregnant, but I made a few super simple modifications and wore this dress with ease!

The dress that I made was the Bardot Dress.  I love the Seamingly Smitten patterns!  They are so easy and simple to follow.  The instructions are clearly written with a photo for each step.  And there is no pattern that you have to draw or print or cut out.  It just has simple measuring instructions.  Besides the pocket...there was a pattern piece for that :)  I love that this dress has pockets!!



I used jersey cotton to sew it...a flat sheet to be exact.  I got it at the thrift store for $6.  Considering it's probably 3-4 yards, that's a steal for knits!  And I have tons left still for another project.   I would typically sew a size small for me, but for this dress, I used the size medium dress width measurement, but used the size small elastic measurements.  This just gave a little extra room for my belly, but kept the fit nice and perfect.  And I extended the length to make a maxi dress.


Thanks, Jenny, for letting me test this one out!!  I can't wait to see what else this lady comes up with!

And Jenny is giving away 2 Seamingly Smitten patterns to 2 different people!!

You must be a This Crazy Blessed Life follower via GFC.

To enter, do one or more of the following tasks and comment with a separate comment for each one!


* Visit the shop and tell me which two patterns you would choose.


Giveaway ends on Friday, September 28th!

**Photos by GKB Photography**

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Knox {1 month update}

This is, oh, about 2 weeks overdue!  But better late than never.

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This little guy is seriously an awesome baby.  I was afraid that I spoke too soon in my post about our life with three kids right after he was born, but this guy has seriously been a seamless addition to our family.

Eating & Spitting
Knox is a fantastic eater!  He has nursed like a champ since day one.  And his weight shows how much he likes to eat!  He gained over 3 pounds in 3 weeks.  Until recently, he was eating around every 2 hours.  This past week, he is going about 3-3 1/2 hours, which has been nice.  I actually have a few extra minutes in my day :)  

He's a big spitter though.  Like my other kids, he definitely has reflux.  The difference is that it doesn't seem to make him uncomfortable constantly like it did them.  He has a few episodes a week where it clearly bothers him, but we've decided to hold off on giving him medicine for the time being.  And it seems to be working okay.

He looks like...
Knox really looks like his own baby.  Some people say he looks like me.  My mom swears he looks like Matt.  Others swear he is a dead ringer for big brother Gray.  I just can't tell.  I'm so excited to see who he ends up looking like as he grows.  I don't think my older two look anything alike, so he'll probably look totally different too.

Sibling Love
Layne and Gray both love him to death.  If they have been jealous of him or the attention, they don't take it out on him.  They both want nothing more than to hug, hold, and kiss him.  Sometimes to the point where it's a little much.  They are such great helpers...getting me diapers or wipes, new clothes for him when he covers them in vomit, or a pacifier when we are in desperate need of one!

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1 month stats
At one month old, he was 22 1/2 inches (~50th percentile) and 11 lb 11 oz (83rd percentile!).  He went from 8 lb 6 oz at 1 week to a whopping almost 12 lbs at 1 month!  He was meeting all of his developmental milestones.

Sleeping
I feel like I should preface this by saying, "Knock on wood" or some other superstitious saying.  Knox is a great sleeper!  For the first two or so weeks, he was awake around twice a night.  For the past three weeks, he's been going to bed around 9 or 10, sleeping until around 3, waking up to eat, and is back down until 6 or 7.  I feel more rested now than I did when I was pregnant!

If you missed it...I posted his birth story finally!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

10 Loves of Fall

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Scotts Miracle-Gro for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I love fall!  The cool crispness in the air, but not having to wear a coat yet is wonderful!  Besides the weather, here's my fall favorites!

#10 - Carving Pumpkins

This is sort of a love/hate thing.  It always starts out fun with the kids seeding the pumpkins and picking out the designs.  Then they get bored and go find something else to do and leave us to finish the tedious work of carving a beautiful design...sigh.  But they are so pretty once they are done!  {Link to the Hello Kitty template can be found in our Pumpkin post from last year}.

{source}

#9 - Beautiful Fall gardening

As much as I love the beautiful flowers in the spring, there's something special about fall flowers.  Find beauty in the Fall.  This year, I want to plant some mums to put on our porch with some pumpkins and gourds.  And anytime that I plant, I use Miracle-Gro Potting Mix.  It's so simple to do.

MiracleGro Logo(1).jpg

Find a beautiful pot and buy a potted mum from the store.  Fill your pot  3/4 of the way with Miracle-Gro potting mix.  Transfer your plant and cover with more Potting Mix.  And the mix will feed your plant up to 6 months! {Checkout out Miracle-Gro Facebook page where you can talk to fellow gardeners and share stories!}

{source}

#8 -  Boots!

I cannot wait to pull out my brown riding boots!  They are perfect with a pair of skinny jeans or leggings.  I'm also in the market for a pair of gray ones this year...comment if you know of a good place to find an affordable pair!

{source}

#7 - Pumpkin Food

Mmm...I love anything pumpkin flavored!  My hubby isn't a fan, but I've already been perusing Pinterest looking for some delish Pumpkin recipes to make this fall to take places!

{source}

#6 - Thanksgiving Turkey

There is something so comforting and nostalgic about roasting a delicous turkey!  I have made Thanksgiving dinner for our friends for the past few years and I cannot wait to do it again this year.  

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#5 - Fall Leaves

It's so easy to see God's hand and creativity in so much of our lives.  The way our bodies are designed and work.  The birth and creation of a child.  The beautiful ocean.  And fall colors in the trees.  It looks like He took a paint brush and created the most beautiful picture.

{source}

#4 - Halloween

I love getting the kids all dressed up for Halloween and going trick-or-treating.  Its kind of like carving pumpkins though.  Everyone starts out all excited and enthusiastic and just when we get to the furthest point of our "circle" that we walk in, they poop out.  Its sill one of my favorite things of fall!

{source}

#3 - All things apple

Apple pie.  Applesauce.  Apple butter.  Apple dumplings.  Apple crumb cake.  Bked Apples.  Yum!  I love any cinnamon and apple combination!!

{source}

#2 -  Scarves

There is something so cozy about scarves!  I know that they are a year round accessory, but scarves just speak, "Fall."  And what's even better than scarves?  Boots and Scarves :)

{source}

#1 - Kentucky Wool Festival

The first weekend in October is Wool Fest time in Falmouth, KY and I look so forward to it every year.  Walking through the craft booths, seeing the animals, and, of course, eating the yummy homemade chicken and dumplings!  Its a fmily fall tradition and always means the start of fall!!

{source}

What did I miss?  What are your favorite things of fall?

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Substitutes

As I've talked about before {here, here, and here}, my Laynie has a severe peanut allergy.  We suspected it when we tried to give her peanut butter and jelly when she was 18 months old.  She refused to eat it, but she still broke out in a rash.  The doctors brushed us off since she didn't eat any of it.  Since my niece had a peanut allergy, we suspected that Layne did.  Over the next year or so, we tried to give her small doses of peanuts or peanut butter to test it {which looking back is the most idiotic thing ever!}.  When she was 2 1/2, we took all of her Easter candy containing peanuts away, but didn't pick out things that were made around peanuts. That night she had a severe reaction.  The next week, the allergist confirmed that our baby had a peanut allergy.  The rest is history.

We immediately got rid of peanut butter and we scrutinize every food product that comes into our house.  We made our own Almond butter once, but it wasn't our favorite.  When a friend found a peanut butter substitute for us, we tried it and were hooked.  Since then we found another.

For what it's worth, here are my thoughts and opinions on both!


Pros
  • Sunbutter is a peanut-free, tree-nut free, and gluten-free butter made from sunflower seeds.  
  • We love the flavor.  It has a very salty, roasted peanut butter flavor.  When trying it alone, you can tell it's made from sunflower seeds, but on a sandwich or used another way, it tastes just like peanut butter.  Hubby & Gray prefer Sunbutter flavor.
  • You can use as a peanut butter substitute in any recipe, although I'll admit that we haven't tried using it to bake yet.
  • It's also a healthy alternative.  Chock full of protein, but has 1/3 less saturated fat than peanut butter.  It also is rich in vitamin E and has more iron and fiber than peanut butter.
Cons
  • I would definitely recommend the Natural No-Stir version pictured above.  They have other varieties, like Creamy, but it separates horribly and you get super oily sunbutter on top and super thick dry sunbutter at the bottom of the jar.  The No-Stir version is perfect.
  • It's pretty difficult to find around here, but there is a store locator on their website and it's available on Amazon - SunButter Natural No-Stir Creamy, 16-Ounce (Pack of 3).
  • It's pretty expensive, but so is peanut butter.  You can generally find it for $5-6 for a 16 oz jar.
  • Sunflower seeds are also a common allergen, so it doesn't help someone with a sunflower seed allergy too.

Pros
  • WOWbutter is a peanut-free, tree-nut free, dairy-free and gluten-free butter made from soy.
  • We love the flavor.  It has a more sweet, peanut butter flavor.  When trying it alone, you can tell it's not exactly peanut butter, but on a sandwich or used another way, it tastes great.  Layne prefers WOWbutter.
  • You can use as a peanut butter substitute in any recipe and we've tried successfully in a peanut butter cookie recipe.
  • It's also a healthy alternative.  WOWbutter is considered a complete protein food since it has all 9 of the essential amino acids (peanut butter has 6). It also is rich in vitamin E, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Cons

Note: I was not compensated by either company to write this post!  I just want to share safe peanut butter substitutes.  This post does contain affiliate links.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Journey to Knox

I can't believe that our little guy is here!  It seems like yesterday that I found out that we were expecting him :)


And then we found out that he was a boy!


It is so hard to believe that it has already been 6 weeks since we were blessed with his arrival.  And it's taken me way too long to sit down and write out the story of Knox's birth.

For those of you who aren't a birth nut like me...here's the short story.
Contractions started around 10-12pm on Tuesday.  They were consistently 10-12 minutes apart until around 6am and then were around 6-8 min apart.  By 9 am, they were 4-5 min apart and we started to get ready for the hospital.  We arrived and waited forever only to be told that I hadn't made any progress with dilation.  We headed home only to turn around 45 minutes later to head back.  I got my epidural when we got there, they broke my water, and he was here 45 minutes later!

{24 weeks}

Now the long story!
First, some background.  With Layne, I had a failed induction that turned c-section. {her birth story}  With Gray, I decided that I didn't want to go through another c-section and was determined to have a vaginal birth (VBAC - Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).  After 24 hours of long labor, he was born!  It wasn't easy and there were several times that I stalled for hours and they started to talk a repeat c-section.  I was super stubborn and pushed through. {his birth story}

This time, I wanted to do everything possible to make sure that I would have another vaginal birth.  I researched and researched and decided that having a natural {med-free} birth gave me the best chance of success.  Gray was posterior and having an epidural {and hence not being able to move around} was the worst thing possible to getting him to turn the right way and allowing my body to progress.  This time, I decided to do everything possible to avoid it.  To prepare, I read tons of books on natural child birth and did a Hypnobabies Home Course.

{30 weeks}

I had been having contractions for days, but they were never more than 20 or so minutes apart consistently.  On Tuesday night, around 8 pm, my contractions were 10 minutes apart consistently.  I decided to try to sleep some around 11 pm and was able to get about 2-3 hours of sleep before waking up around 2 am.  Hubby was awake too, so we watched the Olympics. Around 5 am, we both laid down to try to get some sleep.  I was back up by 6:30 with contractions around 6-8 minutes apart and had to breath through them.

I decided to try to get a bath and listen to my Hypnobabies CD.  The water felt wonderful!  Laynie woke up and hung out with me for a little while until she decided to get some breakfast.  During contractions, I'd have to put my head down and concentrate.  By 8 am, my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart.  Grayson woke up and kept me company between contractions.  I was too distracted to do my Hypnobabies though.  We waited another hour or so and decided to get showers and get ready to head to the hospital.  {This was my biggest dilemma!  We live an hour from the hospital so I didn't want to wait too long, but I also didn't want to get there too early and be tempted to get an epidural since I was trying to go natural.}

{36 weeks}

We dropped the kids off at my parent's house and headed to the hospital.  The car ride was miserable, but my husband was amazing with helping me to stay focused and continue to breathe.  At this point, it helped to use the "peace" cues from my Hypnobabies tracks to focus.  We got to the hospital and went straight to L&D.  We were told that triage was full and waited in the waiting room for over an hour.  Every contraction, I'd have to stand up, hold onto Matt, and sway my hips.  I finally sent Matt up to the desk to see how much longer.  I was ready to leave and go to the OB office to be checked instead if it was going to be much longer. They finally brought us back only to find out that I was 3 cm {I had been 2-3 cm for a few weeks}.  I decided to leave and labor some more at home.  I was discouraged, but I knew that my body was doing what it needed to do.

I was exhausted by this point...and hungry.  We grabbed something to eat and went back home.  We got home around 2 pm and I decided to turn up my Hypnobabies CD and try to rest.  I quickly went to sleep only to be woken up with each contraction.  They were getting so much more intense and since I was dozing off in between them, I wasn't able to get on top of them each time.  I decided to stay up and get into the bath again.  After 2-3 more contractions, I could sense a big change in the intensity.  I was shaking terribly and vomiting. I yelled and woke up Matt and we decided to head back in.

{39 weeks}

This car ride was much worse and right during rush hour too.  My legs were trembling and I was being very vocal through my contractions.  Matt prayed with me through several of the contractions, and I swear that was the only way that I didn't lose my mind.  I was borderline hysterical...and if I wasn't almost fully dilated, I knew I wasn't going to make it without medication.  We valeted the car...no way that I could walk from the parking lot and they skipped triage and took us straight back to a room.

They checked me right away and I was only 4 cm.  I was totally broken emotionally.  I asked for the epidural and 20 minutes later, I had relief.  They gave me the perfect light dose.  Enough to take the edge off, but I could still move and feel my legs and feet and move around by myself.  Right after the epidural was administered, I was already 5 cm and they broke my water.  Within minutes I was feeling pushy.  Checked...and I was 7 cm.  Two more contractions and I knew I had to push.  They checked me again and I was 9.5 cm with a little lip.  There was no holding back...my body was telling me what to do.

{39 weeks}

By this point, my epidural had either started to wear off (my body metabolizes epidurals super fast) or wasn't working fully because I could feel every sensation in my bottom.  Pushing was the weirdest feeling.  I screamed through my first two pushes which I think scared and amused my hubby at the same time :)  Two more big pushes and he was out.  The "ring of fire" was the perfect description for what it felt like, but once he was out...it was the most amazing feeling ever.  A mix of relief and euphoria.

My sweet angel was put right on my chest and proceeded to pee all over me :)  He was beautiful.  That was when my heart melted for the first time that day.  I looked over to my husband and saw him praising and thanking God and that was when it melted for the second time.  The whole experience was perfect.

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When we realized how quickly I was progressing, I had Matt tell my parents to bring the kids over with them instead of dropping them off with my grandma.  I was so happy to have them come in and spend time with us and Knox before anyone else did.

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They were totally smitten with him...as if you can't tell.  And they both wanted us to come home right away.  They couldn't understand that we had to stay for a little while.

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Since the birth, I've thought a lot about how the birth went.  And I've really thought about if I had any regrets.  My answer?  Absolutely not.

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I put everything that I had into preparing and trying my best to have a natural birth.  And I whole heartedly believe that this birth was so much easier because of all of my preparations.  I love that the birth went so quickly once I was in active labor.

I've went back and forth on if I think things would have been different had I stayed at the hospital instead going back home.  I've thought through what would have happened had I had them break my water before getting my epidural.  In the end, I'll never know.  What I do know is that the raw emotion that I felt with Knox's birth was totally different than with the other two births.  And I wouldn't want to change that for anything.

Read here about our first few weeks...I'll have some updates soon!