Easter

Okay I know, Easter was nearly two weeks ago. But after working out some stuff on the back end of my blog, which took me longer than expected, I am finally ready to post these pictures!

A couple thoughts on Easter:

First of all, you should know that Easter is my favorite holiday. It’s just so inherently joyful! And I also love it because it isn’t so hyped up as, say, Christmas. But also because of the relative lack of hype, I sometimes feel a little disappointed if it doesn’t turn out just so. Like for example, last year we only sang one Easter hymn during the whole Easter Sunday church service. And it wasn’t even my favorite one. Granted,  Mormons don’t usually celebrate Easter too much differently than an average Sunday, but c’mon! What’s Easter without rockin’ out some Easter hymns. This year, we sang a whole bunch of Easter songs, and I was seated right next to the organ, too, so I got to belt ’em out as loud as I wanted because that organ was way louder.

Second, the weather was perfect. I mean gorgeous. Sunny and a little warm with blooming flowers everywhere, just like it should be.

And finally, we all looked great in our Easter Sunday outfits. Pretty sure I took way too many pictures of Winter because she looked so adorable in her dress!

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Welcome Winter: A Birth Story

 

Winter Grace

Winter Grace Cox was born in the early hours of the morning on a snowy Christmas Day.

She was due on December 20, but for most of my pregnancy I never even expected to make it to my due date. When I was pregnant with William, I was induced early due to high blood pressure, so I (and my midwives as well) just kind of assumed that my blood pressure would go up again during this pregnancy and I would once again be induced early to avoid the complications of going into labor naturally with hypertension. When my blood pressure was still normal well into the third trimester, I started to prepare myself mentally to go into labor naturally– a first for me! I still never really thought I’d go past my due date though, because seriously, what woman wants to be pregnant more than 40 weeks?!

I was sure of one thing though. I did not want to have a baby on Christmas. With family coming into town and all the holiday festivities planned out, I was hoping to be out of the hospital and feeling somewhat back to normal by Christmas so I could enjoy it along with everyone else, while people ooh-ed and ahh-ed over our newborn baby. So strong was my desire to not have a Christmas baby, I think that I may have created a mental block preventing myself from relaxing and going into labor before then. Because as Christmas Eve rolled around and I was still pregnant, I finally surrendered to the fact that we might have a Christmas baby after all, and that would be much better than staying pregnant forever. And sure enough, that night, I went into labor.

We ate dinner with Garrett’s family at his parents’ house on Christmas Eve and left William to stay there overnight just in case. That night, I woke up at 1:45am with painful contractions and started timing them. After some walking around the house, and convincing myself that I really was in labor, I woke Garrett at about 2:15. I called the midwife who told me that I could probably labor at home for a while before coming to the hospital. My gut feeling, though, was to go sooner rather than later. I planned on having a water birth, and I knew they would need time to set up the birthing tub. Plus the idea of sitting in a warm tub sounded quite nice and there wasn’t really anything else to do in the middle of the night, so Garrett and I gathered up a few things and headed out.

It was snowing as we drove to the hospital, so Garrett drove very smoothly and cautiously as I did my best to relax through the contractions. We knew ahead of time that we wanted to name our daughter Winter, although we hadn’t told anyone. We had joked about how we’d be able to tell each other “Winter is coming” in ominous tones as I went into labor, but I don’t think either one of us actually said it that night.

As it turns out, it was a good thing we went to the hospital when we did, because my labor was quite short. It was about 3 am when we arrived and I was already dilated to about 7 or 8 cm. A nurse got to work right away setting up the birthing tub, but I guess it took longer than usual– something about a smaller hose than usual and water temperature not being quite right… I wasn’t really paying attention. The contractions were so intense and painful that I wasn’t really upset about not being in the tub. It was nice to be able to relax completely on the bed during the short breaks that I was getting between them.

When the birthing tub was finally ready, we could all tell I was getting really close to being ready to push. My water hadn’t broken yet, though, so the midwife informed me that she was going to break my water and then I was going to immediately get into the tub and have the baby. Sounded simple enough. Except the instant my water broke I felt the unmistakable urge to push and I was not going anywhere. Soooo… my water birth didn’t happen, but it’s okay. After ten minutes or so of pushing, Winter was born, just two and a half hours after the labor contractions had woken me up.

I didn’t get to hold her right away. The cord had been wrapped around her neck and she was having some difficulty breathing so they whisked her away pretty quickly. I had caught a glimpse of her as she came out and landed on the bed, thanks to my hands-and-knees birthing position (waaayyy better than giving birth on my back as I did with William!), and I think I said something profound like “I see her!” right before they took her away. A nurse and doctor from the NICU came in to help with getting her breathing– something that seems scary, but no one was acting too worried, so I tried to stay calm as well. Garrett was by her side giving me updates and it was certainly a relief when we heard her cry. Despite all her difficulty getting a start on life outside the womb, she was surprisingly pink! Once she was doing a bit better, they put her on my chest for some skin-to-skin and I finally got a proper look at her.

 

We spent Christmas Day in the hospital, but it didn’t really feel like Christmas. No one came to visit us because of the snow, but it was very peaceful. After a stressful holiday season of wondering when the baby was going to come and how things were going to work with family plans and such, it was nice to finally just relax knowing that everything had gone well.

A Favorite Family Recipe: Baked Sweet Potatoes with Coconut

I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend! Just in case you haven’t already had your fill of holiday food, I’ve decided to share one of my all-time favorite family recipes.

Recipe: Baked Sweet Potatoes With Coconut

I have no intention of turning this into a food blog– I just don’t have the kitchen skills to handle that. But I do believe in sharing favorite recipes. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to create that perfect taste from a recipe that someone took with them to the grave. And that’s why I was thrilled when my Aunt Jeanie gave me permission to share this amazing recipe here on my blog. Because good food should be shared!

But first, a little Thanksgiving recap. Garrett and Will and I spent the day with Garrett’s family. When we left our home in Salt Lake, it was pretty mild outside. Chilly, but pleasant and sunny, and not a single snowflake on the ground. When we got to Garrett’s parents’ house 40 minutes north of us, this is what it looked like:

Cox Family Thanksgiving 2015

Helloooo, winter! Personally, I love snow. I love cold white winters, so I didn’t mind this at all. But we didn’t come super prepared. Neither Garrett nor I had proper shoes for traipsing through snow, and Will definitely wasn’t equipped to play in the snow. All he had on were canvas sneakers which immediately got soaked, and although I was working on knitting a pair of mittens for him, only one was complete, so his hands froze. He did have a hat, though, which he refused to wear. I felt terrible. Will’s initial excitement over the snow quickly turned to tears and we ended up heading inside for some warm cuddles and by the fire while his pants, socks, and shoes dried out and his hands and feet thawed. Not one of my finest moments in parenting.

Cox Family Thanksgiving 2015

Garrett and I went shopping in the evening to catch some of the late-night sales while everyone else slept off their food comas, and we made sure to purchase a good pair of snow boots for Will which he has insisted on wearing around the house ever since. I also finished knitting that pair of mittens this weekend, so hopefully we won’t have any repeats of Thursday any time soon.

Okay, so back to the sweet potatoes. These are seriously soooo easy to make and soooo good. And if you ever had a craving for a sweet potato bake that’s not made with brown sugar, pecans, or marshmallows, this one is for you.

Cox Family Thanksgiving 2015

Check out that baby bump hanging over the counter! I have to be super careful when cooking these days so I don’t burn it on the stove!

This recipe has become my go-to recipe for any holiday season gatherings, whether they be for family or church or potlucks, or whatever. Since it always goes so fast, I like to cook enough sweet potatoes for 2 recipes (about 6 cups, so 5 to 6 sweet potatoes, depending on their size). That way I can make a second batch just for me and the immediate family once the first one has been devoured. You can save yourself a lot of prep time on the day you want to make these by baking the sweet potatoes a day or two ahead of time, mashing and preportioning them into 3 cups, and storing them in the fridge or freezer until needed.

Baked Sweet Potatoes With Coconut

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Coconut

(vegetarian, gluten free)

Prep time: 10 minutes (+ 1 hour if you start with uncooked sweet potatoes)
Bake time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hr, 10 min
Servings: 8

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (lumpy is okay)
2 cups sugar
1/2 pound butter, softened or melted
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup shredded coconut*
5 eggs

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Using an electric mixer or crank beater, beat the first 3 ingredients together until the butter and sugar are completely mixed in with the potatoes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Pour into a 3 quart baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350° for about 1 hour, or until the edges are slightly browned and the center is set. And that’s it! So easy!

*I always use sweetened shredded coconut, because it’s cheap and easy to find. But feel free to use the unsweetened stuff, especially if you’re looking for ways to cut back on sugar a little. This dish is already very sweet.

 

So there you have it– a new, slightly different recipe to sweeten up your holiday meals. If you try it, let me know what you think in the comments below!