Kim
I was positive I was going to never have my baby. I had missed my due date by almost two weeks and my co-workers were taking bets behind my back on when I would deliver. When I found out one of them had bet on the 28th day, I thought I would literally be the first woman to die from the sheer agony of carrying a baby for 42 weeks. A little melodramatic, I know, but I was desperate, and a tad hormonal.

On the 19th, I had tried to induce myself into labor by drinking 3 ounces of castor oil mixed into a Braums milkshake. I have not had a milkshake since. And let's just say, one week later, still no enema was needed. Which is also not surprising since my acid reflux was so bad I could eat nothing, and yet, I would still spontaneously puke egg yolk. I won't even go into being nine months pregnant in August, in Oklahoma. Total strangers would come up to me and say oh honey, I am so sorry.

Have I been able to convey how miserable I was? I had even tried attaching my electric breast pump to the only thing fabulous about my pregnancy, my large breasts (I would love to have those babies back because they were, SPECTACULAR). Instead of starting contractions as it did for my high school friend's sister, Julie, (who ended up having an emergency c-section that we all secretly thought was due to messing around with the breast pump) I was only able to get a jump start on my colostrum. And the humiliating and awkward crab/squatting tribal woman walk? nothing, but I was so hopeful. I remember crawling around my living room during an entire episode of Oprah.

But when the time to deliver actually did arrive? Whoa mama! I woke up at 1:30am with a pain that went around the front of my stomach and felt like I was tying a knot at my spine. I thought oh wow, this really is it. Five minutes later I was laughing that I had even confused Braxton-Hicks for labor contractions. I woke my mom up who told me to get into the shower. She woke up my dad, and after driving me three times to the hospital just to drive me back a few hours later, went back to sleep. I remember taking my shower and thinking how pathetically huge I had gotten that I couldn't even control my bladder. I started crying and when my mom asked, in a panicked voice, what was wrong, I cried that I could not stop peeing on myself.

By the time we got to the hospital, only a couple of miles away, I was having contractions about every two minutes. I think my mom was a little freaked out and my dad could not understand why I insisted on crawling, on my hands and knees, to the hospital doors. (you know what I just thought? why didn't he drop me off at the door?) Anyway, after stopping every minute to rock back and forth while moaning on my hands and knees, I was now in a labor and delivery room.

My friend, and constant support even during my hormonal rages, LouAnn, had told me to opt out of painkillers before my epidural. She had told me that it would just make me feel out of it. So when the nurse said I needed to take some Demerol because they needed to slow down my contractions, I tried to say no; but no matter how much Lamaze breathing I did, I could not get on top of them. The nurse went ahead and gave me the Demerol and then told me that I would have to wait almost four more hours for my epidural because the doctor didn't come in until 6 am. I didn't really care. I was more focused on the fact that it felt like I had a gigantic wooden corkscrew, like the kind they used to use to raise and lower orchestra pits in a theatre, being turned every few minutes and consequently spreading my hip bones apart.

After the Demerol kicked in I no longer cared about the pain, I still felt it but I had calmed down. I panted and focused while my mom rubbed my back. After a series of particularly hard contractions, I told my mom that this was just like having an orgasm, but not quite being able to get there. She pretended to not hear me, and I will always thank her for that.

Then came the checking and the rechecking. Apparently, my baby was facing the inside of my leg. I had so many different people checking me that I just hoped they all actually worked at the hospital. There was one petite nurse, I really liked her, when she would check me I would have dilated to a seven and then an eight. However, when my big burly man doctor checked me he pushed it back down to a six.

Finally, after nine months of hell, and as my mom so clearly remembers, two remaining months of depression and misery, my beautiful baby girl was born, at exactly 9:30 A.M. on September 26th of 2000. I remember my mom and I both looking at her and then at each other. My mom said it first, oh my goodness, she looks just like Mark (my soon to be ex-husband). But from that moment on all of my worries, all of my hang ups about being a single mom, and most importantly, my anger disappeared. She was absolutely perfect and she was ALL mine. I am still amazed that this was eight years ago, it really does seem like it just happened. Happy Birthday baby girl!

*A side note regarding having a baby in the small town you grew up in:

Go through your yearbook and familiarize yourself with the people and faces. You never know who your nurse will be that will help you to the toilet, kneel down in front of you to look at your stitches in order to tell you how to perform a sitz bath. Because as my recovery nurse was kneeling in front of me and squirting water on my stitched up waa-waa, I was reintroduce to Julie Laramore, from junior high. They should have a sign at the entrance of the maternity ward, "Check all modesty and pride at the door".


Kim
Since when did I become someone who looked old enough to be asked, isn't this a great price for bell peppers? and can you remember when peppers were this low? The lady asking me had to have been ten to fifteen years older than my mother. She was serious too. It wasn't like she was making idle chit chat it was more along the lines of remember when Kennedy was shot? My own mother is not convinced of my maturity she still thinks she has to call to remind me of doctor appointments or to call my grandmother.

What's next? yelling Turn That Music Down? I have accepted the 3-5 day hangover and the dry scaly hands but those were personal and I thought hidden signs of no longer being 29. But to now suddenly jump to discussing the price of produce? Oh no she didn't!
Kim
What a great dish! Sweet, spicy, and my daughter said, a little sour?? (I am sure she said that just because I said it was sweet. The sky is not really blue either, by the way) My husband said he would like to use the sauce as a marinade for brisket and I liked it because it was simple.

The last couple of weeks shook my routine up. I am not sure if it was the twice weekly soccer practice, the ragweed swirling in the air, or the incredibly cumbersome amount of homework and flashcards my second grader has. Whatever it was I found myself letting my husband and daughter fend for themselves for dinner or trying to make them forget that it is dinnertime, that actually worked once. In an effort to get back on a routine, I decided to go back to planning a weekly menu, this means Get Out the Cookbooks and Try Something New. Enter Israeli Orange Chicken from the 1983 Bishop Kelley cookbook, Calling All Cooks.

I switched some things up because I wanted to use my crockpot and frankly I just don't have time to bake, turn, and baste. Be sure to serve this over rice. We had noodles because I mistakenly mentioned I love rice so now my daughter thinks rice is gross and will make her sick. She ended up leaving the table, without finishing her dinner, anyway; for her own safety.

The Ingredients (printable copy here)

2-3 lbs boneless Chicken, I used thighs because I had some but breasts would be great too.
2 tsp Garlic Salt
2 tsp Paprika (I love to use the HOT Hungarian brand)
1 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Dried Tarragon
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme (mine is s powder)
1 1/4 cup Orange Marmalade
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/2 can of Orange Juice Concentrate
1/2 cup of Water

Place chicken in Crockpot and sprinkle all the seasonings over all. Spoon the orange marmalade and place on top of chicken in various places. Do the same with the orange juice concentrate. Add lemon juice and water. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 if chicken was frozen, but note that with all the sugars in the marmalade and concentrate there might be some carmelizing the longer this cooks. But is this a bad thing?

And don't try to make nice by serving with noodles use rice, it will soak up the juice so much better. If I had known this was going to be so good I would have taken pictures but a scratch and sniff webshot would be better. And yes, I do realize that I named myself Crockstar and yet I haven't posted a recipe in a couple of months, but that is because I am just recycling the same recipes. How many times should I post Chicken Burritos or Creamy Chicken and Noodles?

Want to see my Weekly Menu? (September and October)
Kim
My daughter likes to bring her lunch from home instead of buying a meal from the cafeteria. Anyone who knows me, knows I would much rather write a check, for the entire year, then get up five minutes earlier to make her lunch.

Kindergarten was almost 80% school cafeteria, but then she realized that her stepsister, the super picky eater, brought her lunch and first grade became 90% lunches from home. (Damn my super responsible, caring, sympathetic, loving husband for letting the cat out of the bag) So this year, second grade, I didn't even bother writing a check for the cafeteria in the hope I would be off the hook and able to sleep five minutes longer. I sucked it up and decided to not be lazy and go ahead and pack her a lunch everyday. I even bought an assortment of little note cards I can periodically stick in her lunch box and hopefully brighten her day.

The school year started off great. Can you believe it has been a month already? I made four loaves of homemade bread to use for sandwiches and went to Sam's to stock up on other lunch goodies. This is where I made one of my first errors. Chex Mix is not an acceptable snack. When Anna told me this I was like, WHHUUU?? She told me Chex Mix has too much salt and she can't have it. Again, WHUUU?? I thought I was finally going to take my, "peanut butter allergies and bee allergies are both serious so is the school going to forbid bees on the playground?", rant straight to the school board. But my husband told me to just ask the teacher and stop yelling at him I decided to ask her teacher if it was true that Anna couldn't have Chex Mix for a snack. Needless to say, her teacher had no idea where Anna had gotten that information. I do, her "friends". Apparently, it is not cool to have Chex Mix. FYI, granola bars and fruit snacks are the IN snack, and they have less salt. Right, uh-huh, obviously these second graders need to read Eat This, Not That. Funny thing about this is that Anna picked out some granola bars at the grocery store and they are the generic Always Save. When I was a kid that was a big no, no.

My second mistake was sending leftover Hungarian Ghoulash in a soup thermos. "I couldn't eat it. They said it was gross." I was then informed that only soup, and it must be chicken noodle, or spaghetti can be sent in a thermos. I didn't bother asking the teacher about that one.

My third mistake, and where I have decide that this is not a hill worth fighting for, was when I thought I would surprise her with a turkey tortilla wrap. The Internet says wraps are the perfect sandwich to break up the monotony of PB&Js (not that she can even bring peanut butter). I made the wrap awesome! I put red bell peppers, her favorite and used veggie cream cheese for the dressing. When I asked her if she liked my surprise for lunch she proceeded to tell me that NO, they wouldn't even sit by her when they saw her lunch. They got up and moved to another table. And why did I do that to her?

Okay, forget it, from now on it will be Instant Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup, like that doesn't have salt! a granola bar, grapes, and a Capri Sun. Like I said, not a battle worth fighting for, though I would love to take on these little "friends". By the way, saying they're just jealous does NOT work, but thanks anyway. Just kill me now.
Kim
I love September weather, not too hot and not too cold. Too bad I can't really enjoy it. Every year since I have moved back to NE Oklahoma September brings on the ants. No, not ants in my house-they would be much more welcome-but the feeling of ants crawling around my sinus, eyes, and throat. I am severely allergic to Ragweed and this flower from Satan blooms abundantly at the end of summer. Each year I get a prescription that helps immensely, once I even had to get a shot because I had waited too long and was a convulsing, snot laden, sneezing, wheezing, crying, and writhing madman and the ants, they needed to stop, stop immediately!

I am able to remember when my mother's friend died because just walking from the car to the chapel made me sneeze uncontrollably. And I was 9 months pregnant! Nothing is better than a sniveling, writhing, pregnant lady trying to sneeze without expelling her unborn infant. On that note; Sudafed does not work! It is a useless placebo, like the white pills in birth control. Once Anna was born I begged for Allegra and Prilosec; finally, real drugs for sneezing and acid reflux.

Then there were those first three years after Anna was born where I didn't have insurance because I needed every single penny my paycheck was written out for. (Anna had insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield, $57 per month paid by ME, not a Universal Health Care plan -- Oops! wrong post) During the years of no insurance I made use of my trips to Mexico and Central America. There, I was able to buy prescription strength Allegra and mommy's little helper Tafil, or as it is known in America, Xanax, without a prescription or shelling out for a doctors visit.

Since experiencing September 2000's blooming of Ragweed while nine months pregnant, I have always tried to be prepared for September. It would just be frustrating to be required to have an in office Doctor visit just to get an allergy prescription. One lovely time, while I waited until my appointment day, I even mowed my lawn with a mask on. Oh yea baby! I was lookin' H-O-T! By the way, the mask didn't really help, my t-shirt was covered in snot and I had completely wet my pants. Yes, I wet my pants. Because you see not only do I feel like my skin is alive and itching but since I have had my daughter I can no longer sneeze and walk at the same time.

This Saturday jump started my allergies. While standing in our driveway talking to a neighbor I was stricken. After crossing my legs and sneezing for the 100th time I ran up the driveway into the house yelling over my shoulder that I would talk to her later but I just can't take it anymore. I would marry my bottle of Flo-Nase, if I wasn't already married.