Monday, 25 March 2013

Meal Planning Monday/Prodromal Labour Version

As weird as it may seem, one of the main reasons I like menu planning in advance is that it means I have a back-up plan if things are subject to change. For example, last week after posting (and before linking) I began the very early stages of labour and was assessed in hospital for a few days, so one night both my husband and I ate hospital food while the kids stayed elsewhere, and the meal that was planned for that night stayed in the freezer until Saturday. Luckily we've not wasted a lot of fresh food, even though I've remained in prodromal labour (ouch, sleep deprivation, etc) and the best thing for me is to be on bedrest for when my contractions actually start doing something, so thank goodness for convenience food. Last week's curry remains in the freezer, as does the mixed grill meal which I've been planning for weeks, and may (or may not) be the last thing I eat before I go nil by mouth later in the week prior to my 'planned' C-Section. If I've not gone into full labour and had 4thSister by VBAC-2 by then. Are you keeping up?! (I think there is a post in itself in here somewhere!)

Thanks as always to Mrs M for the inspiration and the link-up. If I get to link up this time!

Monday - Hot Dog Sausages in Finger Rolls with Onions, Oven Fries & Coleslaw

Tuesday - Meat Free today: Pasta with Pesto & Parmesan

Wednesday - Mixed Grill of Beef, Lamb & Pork steaks with chips

Thursday - Frozen pizza if anyone is at home (possible hospital food for me)

Friday - Scampi/chicken nuggets out of the freezer, oven fries, frozen peas (hospital food)

Saturday - Doughballs and pizza (again! - the easy option)

Sunday - Abel & Cole meat pie served with chips, peas & gravy

Can I just say I also scoured the school lunch menu for 'inspiration' this week. We send ours with a cold, packed lunch as it's a) healthier, b) more likely to be eaten and c) what they want to do. The only thing the school menu did was remind me we hadn't had spag bol in a while, and made me glad I didn't serve sausages with oriental noodles and mixed vegetables. I have to say, the hospital food I encountered last week looked more appetising and, despite the county's efforts to the contrary, I find their meal options disappointing.

A Book to Save a Life

Last summer, pregnant with my fourth child, I was at the end of my tether. Struggling to do anything much for my family, almost resentful of the new life within, unable to keep much food down and wanting to hide away from everyone, including God, it no longer felt that expanding our family was the best 'plan'.

Enter Sarah Reinhard and The Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy (at first in proof form, bless her dear generous trusting heart, and then my own copy posted from the US.)

I can state for the record that I'm not a member of the Catholic church - in fact I've trained as a Recognised Lay Minister in the Church of England (although severe morning sickness put my commissioning ceremony on hold.) But, that's almost beside the point. I'm not sure how a non-Christian would interact with the book, but despite not being Catholic I can honestly say that this book helped save my life (especially spiritually speaking) and, amongst all the self-help, mother & baby books, 'what to expect' and so on tomes, it's the most helpful writing on pregnancy I've encountered.

NOT LEAST because it lists duration of pregnancy in number of medical weeks AND in foetal age!

NOT LEAST because it recognises that although a wonderful blessing, this doesn't make pregnancy an easy thing, and it's okay to admit this.

NOT LEAST because the book doesn't end with birth, but starts with conception and progresses to baptism and beyond.

NOT LEAST because the inspirational connection with 'Mama Mary' as Sarah calls her, is direct and compelling, particularly when some of us fail to see how on earth those such as St Paul or even Jesus could possibly understand what we go through as expectant mothers.

The book is divided into weekly sections, each focusing on how baby is doing, how you are doing, and how you are both doing in terms of connecting to God. Humbly and beautifully written, Sarah also calls on a selection of other Catholic moms to make contributions about various aspects of pregnancy - including miscarriage, being an older mother, stillbirth and unplanned pregnancy - that give a wider perspective not merely on being pregnant and having a baby, but on the role of contemporary motherhood in general.

Whereas many 'pregnancy books' give a focus on, say, the medical, the emotional, and best baby buys, Sarah's narrative cuts through what we might expect and instead offers a rounded guide to having a baby which also incorporates the psychological and the spiritual, without being all preachy.

To conclude, I don't think this book is "The guide to pregnancy that Catholic women have been waiting for" as Hallie Lord says. I think it's the guide to pregnancy that all women have been waiting for. Yes, the faith aspect runs through it like the lettering inside a stick of rock - it's not tagged on, it shines authentically from every page. From my perspective, as an NFP-user who is open to life, and belongs to the Christian church, the Catholicism within cannot be divorced from the rest of the text. But the way information about pregnancy is presented, with its very humanness and humour, is by far the best writing on this topic I have encountered, and it has a spiritual bonus.

Others have reviewed this book far more comprehensively and better than I have - and it has taken me until my 38th week of pregnancy to feel able to even jot down my few feelings on the subject! So check out Melanie's post on the subject, which puts everything I wanted to say into proper cohesive form; some of the reviews on Amazon; and Calah Alexander's honest review (as well as some of Calah's more recent writings on motherhood, which are amazing.)

Finally - the thing that compelled me to finally write on this, is the project Sarah has launched to make the book available in 20 pregnancy centres in the USA, under the Catholic Mom Lenten Project. If this book can help one woman, particular someone in their first pregnancy or worrying about an unplanned pregnancy, like it helped me, that would be wonderful, and you only need to donate TEN DOLLARS! I hope to post further about the project later in the week (unless I have to rush off and have 4thSister), but if I don't, please check it out.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Note to self - must blog on other themes than Meal Planning Monday!

I'm officially full-term with this pregnancy and scheduled for a C-Section in a mere 10 days. I'm trying to wind down cooking (watch me hobble across the kitchen floor on crutches and you'll know why!) and I have 2 freezers which are stacked with easy-to-prepare food for both my sake and my husband's. (There are also lots of puddings in there.) Meanwhile I'm doing what I can, trying to incorporate fresh food where I can! Oh and we're still keeping things simple for Lent :-) Because of my mind & meals being a little mixed up over the past week, I've moved things around from my original monthly plan, so things are a bit different than usual, though probably not noticeable to outsiders!

Monday - Ploughmans dinner with freshly purchased baguette, cheeses, celery & other salad

Tuesday- Baked salmon fillet served with rice and garlic bread & broccoli

Wednesday- Bought-in prawn balti, tarka dahl and saag aloo served with rice and chapatis

Thursday- Roast chicken salad

Friday- Tortilla wraps with chicken, guacamole, salsa, soured cream & leaves 

Saturday- Greek meze with falafel, pitta, Greek salad, etc

Sunday-  Mixed grill that we didn't have last week because New Baby was demanding a dirty great curry

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Meal Planning Monday ~ 11 March 2013

Yes, it's late! I'm having another baby, don't you know? (#36 weeks pregnant.) So yesterday, when 3rdSister was at her Gran's, the priority was getting gifts for the Sisters from the new baby, and picking up 2ndSister's party invitations from our local playcentre, because these are OBVIOUSLY things that need doing NOW in case 4thSister comes EARLY, aren't they! (I can see just a smidgen of hormonal nesting syndrome and hormonal rage creeping through everything I do at the moment....)

Anyway, here's what we're eating this week. Still a fairly plain Lenten menu ~ I'm trying to do quicker and easier meals over the next month just in case baby arrives in which case, sticking a chicken in the oven isn't even something I'm going to contemplate!

Monday ~ Wholewheat penne with chargrilled vegetable and tomato (supermarket) sauce & grated parmesan

Tuesday - Cooked Chicken in a (supermarket) Teriyaki sauce with red pepper, red onion and white cabbage, served with packet noodles and boiled brown basmati rice

Wednesday ~ Frozen tuna steaks served with oven fries & green beans

Thursday ~ Chicken salad with crusty bread

Friday - Battered fish fillets, oven chips & mushy peas

Saturday - Spaghetti Carbonara

Sunday ~ Mixed Grill AND a pudding!

See - minimal cooking, which is good, as standing up isn't even that easy right now. I've also ordered in some ready meals from Abel & Cole this week, and will be stocking up on supermarket freezer stuff too. Obviously I had great plans to freeze homemade meals but what with life and everything, they've gone out of the window, although there is a Nigel Slater Double Ginger cake in the freezer to feed people who come round to visit once we're home with the baby. I would LOVE to be doing lots of cooking and baking right now but it's just not practical! Lovely to look at everyone else's ideas though - share yours with Mrs M!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Sunday Worship ~ what do we expect from it?

Sometimes we're called to be at the foot of the Cross. Life...people...merely existing physically can be a struggle. But I've always thought that attending Communion or Mass on a Sunday morning should provide, to a greater or lesser extent, at least some of the following:

  • A sense of wellbeing;
  • An opportunity for joyful worship in song with others;
  • A sense of reverence and prayer;
  • Communion with God;
  • Joining in spoken worship with other Christians;
  • An opportunity to meet with the Holy Spirit;
  • Finding Jesus in the Eucharist;
  • An enhanced understanding of scripture;
  • Time for personal prayer and reflection;
  • Spiritual refreshment, and hopefully fulfillment;
  • A period of peace;
  • A chance to share fellowship with other worshippers;
  • A break from the strains, stresses and duties of the week ~ a Sabbath.

Do you find this at your Church on a Sunday morning? 

If so, where?

If not, do you find it elsewhere?

Monday, 4 March 2013

Meal Planning Monday

Well...I missed the last couple of weeks due to the kids being off school, and generally being tired and disorganised (35 weeks pregnant, anyone?!). I assure you my menus were all planned out, even though things have had to chop and change due to aberrations like me, oh, you know, forgetting to order the essential ingredient we needed or having to collapse on the sofa and order takeaway at the last minute :-) !! Generally this is why I menu plan, to avoid spending extra money or having to dash out for something I've forgotten, but my hormones clearly have other ideas (as well as NEEDING to eat yogurt A LOT.)

Meat Free Monday - Aubergine Parmigiana I absolutely LOVE this dish, although it's very time consuming to prep the aubergine. I now usually cheat by using passata or chopped tomatoes with basil added, rather than using fresh basil, which obviously doesn't taste as great, but....

Tuesday - Tortilla Wraps with Chicken, Leaves, Soured Cream, Guacamole & Salsa

Wednesday - Fish in Passata (Jools Oliver's recipe) This isn't dissimilar to Monday's recipe ~ as it's Lent we're having fish twice a week, and this is one of my favourite ways to cook it. The recipe is from Jools' book about her first two babies, 'Minus 9 to One', and I've had more success making this and her spag bol than with her husband's recipe! 

Thursday - Chicken Salad

Friday - Fishfingers, oven chips & frozen peas

Saturday - Frozen pizza & salad

Sunday - Lamb chops & roast dinner trimmings

Read about everyone else's meals over at Mrs M's (I particularly enjoy the ones where recipe links are included as they give me inspiration...)