Are you a New Mommy in Central Alberta? Register today for our next Pre or Post-Natal Program! Mommy Connections Red Deer offers modern 8-week pre and post-natal programs to new and expectant mamas in Central Alberta. With weekly Expert Presenters who cover topics ranging from Baby Wearing styles to Maintaining Your Relationship after Baby, we make that first post-partum year a lot less stressful and a lot more fun. Connect with other new moms. Share your stories and advice. Learn from the pros. And remember that we're all in this together!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Pot of Gold....

I've been asked to post a few of my favourite slow-cooker(or my pot of gold, which I refer to it as!) recipes by some expectant and new mamas ~ these are simple, kid-friendly and oh-so-good..... hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Scalloped Potatoes:

2 cups Water
1 tsp Cream of tartar
5 cups medium potatoes, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced in rings
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1.5 cups milk
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (can omit).

Combine water and cream of tartar in large bowl. Stir.
Add potatoes and onions. Stir well. This will help keep potatoes from darkening. Drain. Turn potatoes into slow cooker.
Stir flour, salt and pepper together in saucepan.
Whisk in milk gradually until no lumps remain. Heat and stir until boiling and thickened.
Stir in cheese to melt. Pour over potatoes. Cover. Cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours. Makes 4 cups.

Hashbrown Casserole

10 oz(1 can) Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup Low-fat sour cream
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

2 1/4 lbs Frozen hash brown potatoes
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp Hard margarin (or butter)
1/4 cup crushed saltine crackers

Stir first 5 ingredients in large bowl.
Add hashbrowns and cheese. Turn into slow cooker. Cover. Cook on High for 3 to 4 hours.

Topping: Melt margarine in small saucepan. Stir in crushed saltine crackers. Saute until crisp. Scatter over top before serving. Makes 6 cups.

Barbecued Spareribs:

3 lbs Meaty pork spareribs, cut into 2 or 3 rib sections
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 cups Smoky Barbeque sauce

Place half of ribs in 3.5 L slow cooker. Sprinkle 1/2 of onion over top. Spoon 1/2 of barbeque sauce over onion. Repeat layers with second half of ribs, onion and barbeque sauce. Cover. Cook on Low for 10-12 hours or on High for 5 to 6 hours. Serves 6.

Beef Bourguignonne:

1 1/2 lbs Boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup Sliced white onion
2 cups small whole mushrooms
10 oz (1 can) Condensed Cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup Red (or alcohol-free) wine
1 tsp Beef bouillon powder
1/2 cup water
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper.

Place beef cubes in 3.5 L slow cooker. Add onion and mushrooms.
Combine 6 remaining ingredients in bowl. Stir well. Pour over top. Cover. Cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4 to 5 hours. Serves 6.

Chicken Cacciatore

1.5 cups chopped onion
3 lbs chicken parts, skin removed
14 oz canned tomatoes, with juice
5 1/2 oz tomato paste
10 oz canned mushroom pieces, drained
1 Bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried whole oregano
1/2 tsp liquid gravy browner
1 tsp granulated sugar.

Place onion and chicken in 3.5 L slow cooker. Combine next 12 ingredients in bowl. Stir. Pour over chicken. Cover. Cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours or on High for 3 to 4 hours. Discard bay leaf. Serves 4.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What is Mommy Connections?

Once a week, the new mamas in my pre and post-natal program meet to talk with local experts on a variety of topics, discussing our concerns, asking questions, and learning things about pregnancy, new motherhood and infant development that we have never even thought about needing to know. I have had three of my own babies, went through nursing school, and have worked as a nurse for 6 years - and I learn new things every time. I'm by no means trying to imply that I'm an expert - but what I am trying to say is that the whole reason for this group is to learn things from people that we never would have known that we needed to learn in the first place.  And if I come away with new things, then my hopes are that the other mamas are learning things, too.

I'm all about support systems for a new mother. That first year is such a roller-coaster of emotions - we're so excited that the baby has been born, sad that the baby bump is gone (sort of), happy that we now have this wonderful little being to care for and love, upset when the baby is upset, learning about what undying love for a child is, wondering if we're doing it right - questioning, questioning, questioning. This is where I want Mommy Connections to come in. There are so many wonderful resources and knowledgable people in our community who want to be a part of this program, because they too think that post-partum support is so important - and I am so proud to be doing this for so many reasons. I can't even count how many times I've been told by mothers that they wish there had been a Mommy Connections around when they had their babies, and I always respond with, "Me, too". The support, the opportunity to learn, connect and share with other new moms is truly invaluable.

So please help us spread the word about our programs! If you know of a new or expectant mama in Central Ab, send her to seek out Mommy Connections. We have never had anyone say, "Well that's a dumb idea"..... and we really think it's an outstanding idea. We want to help be that village that it takes to raise a child!

Monday, February 7, 2011

What I'm Reading...

If you know me (or if you've read my previous post), you know that I love to read. I have a closet full of books - some of which I haven't even read yet! I collect old books (because I love to imagine where they came from) and new books (because I'm such a sucker for chic lit), and everything in between. One of my favourite scents in the world is the inside of an old book. Seriously- try it, you'll know what I mean. That smell reminds me of the library that my mom used to take us to as kids, in the basement of our local community hall, and I remember thinking that those small rooms in that library were full of the most amazing stories. Every time I crack open an old book and breathe in that heavenly scent, I'm taken back to my childhood summers and the hours we spent in that library.

I'm also in love with The Pioneer Woman's blog (find it here), so of course I was beyond thrilled when she came out with her own book, "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels". Of course I simply had to have my own copy- so when it arrived in my mailbox last week, I could hardly wait to bury my nose in it. I save my favourite treasures to read at bedtime when I'm snuggled in my bed and the house is quiet, so as of today I'm only a few chapters in - but I already never want it to end! It might possibly be one of the best books I have ever read. If you're a farm girl turned urban mama like me, you will love it! Five Stars from me.


Learning to Take Time

As a new mom, it's so easy to get caught up in the fact that your world has forever changed. When you're pregnant, it's all about you... "How are you feeling?" "Are you getting lots of rest?"  "How far along are you?".....the questions and concerns all revolve around you. And it was truly wonderful for me ~ I had never experienced such attention as when I was expecting!

As soon as that warm, snuggly, sweet-smelling little bundle arrives, the attention is instantly diverted - it's simply not about you anymore. This is often a welcome change, since some of us (me) got very tired of the never-ending belly-rubs and concerns....but at the same time, it's easy to get lost in all of the attention on baby. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to make time for myself, too - and not get caught up in all of the new changes that were taking place in my new world. I had to learn to remember who I was -  that I was once a true bookworm - and when was the last time I sat down to read? I used to be a sucker for chick flicks - but when was the last time I watched one - for myself? My daily concerns revolved around   feeding, changing diapers, consoling, bathing, swaddling, feeding, rocking, cuddling, sleeping, feeding..... and somewhere in there I lost my sense of Self. And soon, I began to wonder who I was, other than Mama, Maid, Chef, Laundry-washer. I became wrapped up in who I was now - and forgot who I was before.

After the birth of my second baby just 17 months later, I realized that my children needed a mama who was sane - and this meant letting go of the feeling that I needed to do everything for everyone except myself. Instead of worrying about cleaning my house while my babies napped, I pulled out my favourite novel and read. Instead of spending hours in the kitchen cooking supper, I broke out the slow cooker (whoever invented that thing must have been a mother). Instead of sitting on the couch watching my babies play, I read my favourite magazines on the floor beside them. And seriously, that did wonders for my sanity. I was a person - with passions other than my family. And there was nothing wrong with that!

Now that I have three busy little people in my home, it's a lot more difficult to find those moments of "me time". But I still do - I make time. My boys know that Mama loves to read - I read after I throw in a load of laundry, or while they're busy playing. I've gone through two slow cookers, because I use them almost every day. I watch my favourite TV shows after my boys are in bed. I always have a book on the go - and I read at least three chapters every night before I go to bed. It's those few minutes of taking time to do something for myself that I have learned to embrace - because no matter what, I'm still the same person as I was before I had my babies.

I think one of the biggest challenges of new motherhood is learning to take those moments for ourselves. And that's a huge learning curve - whether we realize it or not. Don't forget who you were before you had that sweet baby. Make time for yourself - and you will be a much better mother because you did.