Tatortot Casserole Recipe

Not sure the origin of this recipe,  Ive just made it my whole life.   Ive seen several tator tot casserole recipes,  but never one like this, and honestly to me the others sound nasty gross.  So…heres how I do it.  Also, it freezes great, just freeze before baking.

1lb ground beef (we use venison because thats how we roll)
1 can mixed veggies (only VegAll here)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Cheese, slices,  shredded cheddar,  velveeta, whatever you want
1 pkg frozen tator tots

Brown meat.  In 9×13 casserole,  mix meat, veggies,  and soup.
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Top with cheese.  I cheat and use slices,  melts nice,  is easy, but any cheese would work fine.
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Top with tots.
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Bake at 375 until bubbly, melty, and browned.
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Yummy!

Menu Plan

Last week went great until about Friday…then I got sick, and family ate too much take out and ramen noodles.  But we are back on track,  been shopping,  and already rolling on next two weeks.  

This shopping trip I added more apples and pears, as we ran out!  But mostly the two week gig worked well.

Thursday: Tacos
Friday: Ranch Porkchops
Saturday: Homemade Pizza
Sunday: Tatortot Casserole
Monday: Potato Soup w ham
Tuesday: Chicken Strips, rice, veggie
Wednesday: Pulled Pork, potato salad, ???
Thursday: Quesadillas
Friday: Spaghetti
Saturday: Stirfry
Sunday: Cheesy Sausage Pasta
Monday: Stew/Soup
Tuesday: Take Out due to out of town appt
Wednesday: Chili mac

Here we go! 🙂

James’ Story-His Birth

When Isaac was around two we decided we’d try this again and start trying for another child.  We got pregnant pretty quickly this time, exciting.  However I miscarried very soon into pregnancy.  Then we got pregnant again two months later, I also lost that baby.  Then a couple months later pregnant again…and James was conceived.

We watched things closely.  Got weekly progesterone shots.  At last ultrasound around 23 weeks everything looked great for our baby boy #2.  We were happy, healthy, pregnant, and about to celebrate Isaac’s 3rd birthday.

On Isaac’s birthday, I was feeling great, frazzled because I was tired and all the work I had to do for his amazing (small, family) party I had planned for when I got home from work.  I left a bit early, picked up some lunch, and headed home.  Since it was the 3rd anniversary of our first preemie I was a bit paranoid.  So I called the doc over some minor symptoms, she was also paranoid and suggested I get checked out.  This was NOT in my birthday party plans, but I called everyone and said “its probably nothing, but I’ll let you know if party is a bit late, but dont worry I’m sure everything is fine.”

Got to hospital, joked about about I was probably crazy, nurse checked me.  Said she was having trouble, got head of L&D.  She checked me, checked again, went and got doc.  Doc checked and said, yes, thats what it is…5 cm…go see if we can get a helicopter.  And, again, while everyone was bustling around, my world stopped…I accepted this happened once, but no, it does NOT happen twice…not on the same day…no way no how.  Then the IVs were started and I got loopy…

Helicopters once again were not available, so I got a lovely ambulance ride.  100 miles with lights and sirens…this time I had a smart phone and could text and message people on the way.  Ambulance drivers were rather amused at how laid back I was…I was not in active labor, I was told with hospital bed rest I might actually make it pretty close to term, and if not, I knew where we were going…it was all ok right?

All checked in, told to settle in for long haul, things looked good, and we wouldnt deliver for a while.  I was really annoyed to be missing Isaac’s 3rd birthday though.  He came to visit me that weekend and ate the cake off my lunch tray and we called it a party.  He finished potty training while I was there.  Klay bought me a new lap top so we could skype.  My friends bought me a Kindle.  Klay went home and had Isaac’s birthday party and videoed it for  me.  Everything was going good…for 3 days…

Klay was visiting…he got held up on an errand to get me something (new houseshoes I think) and decided to go ahead and stay the night.  After dinner I was on my regular nightly monitoring…baby did a big flip…I laughed…then nurses came running in because they lost his heartbeat…they finally found it. Then monitoring resumed…then my back started hurting in waves…then I went to rest room and there was blood…nurse called the doctor….

Doc checked me…and looked concerned…he checked again…yup,thats what he felt…feet.  He said they’d get someone in to give me an epi but all he felt was feet so I must be fully dilated.  But since he was footling breech and small we’d go ahead and deliver.  I told him I didnt really need/want the epi unless there was a reason and he said that was fine.  Off to L&D we went….

So we went to deliver…I pushed…we broke my water…then doctor panicked and said prep for C-Section….baby was out to his waist…but I wasnt anymore dilated..I was only 5cm.  NICU nurse showed up, told me she’d take good care of my boy.  I told her his name would be James. I was wheeled to OR…I told anesthesia that that IV burned.  I woke up in recovery looking for my glasses.

Baby James was here, 2lb 2oz , 13 inches long and taken down the hall to the NICU.  A short while later I got sick.  Then I was wheeled to the NICU, I got sick again.  I peeked in at my baby.  I was then taken a couple floors up to recover…alone.  Not pregnant.  No baby.  But at least we were in the same building this time.
I had come to terms with being a preemie mom, but lightening doesnt strike twice right?  This was absolutely not supposed to happen again…no way no how…but it did.  We were here, again…

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Isaac’s Story-His Birth

We are “Preemie Family”…we have two preemies and one full term baby.  This is a part of our story…

The day Isaac was born started out like any other…I had no idea my life was about to be forever changed.  I woke up, told hubby that my back hurt and went off to work. I liked the outfit I wore that day, so comfy and I felt pretty cute in black capris and black and white sleeveless top.  My back ached all day, weird that it seemed to be in “waves” every 20-30 mins..but hey..I was 28 weeks pregnant..your back hurts then right?  And you “just know” when you are in labor..this didnt hurt THAT bad. Went to a meeting at lunch…I stood…none of the “community leaders” wanted to give up a seat for a pregnant lady.  I got an extra big drink at lunch on my way back to work..I must have been dehydrated or something. \

After work I met hubby at the hospital for the first half of our childbirth class.  She mentioned to call doc or go to hospital if ever had anything timeable.  After class I told her my back was  hurting in “waves” ever 15 minutes…she asked how bad..I said not too bad. She asked if my tummy was tightening, I told her no. She said to go home and put my feet up and drink a big glass of water.  (She would be apologizing to me a few hours later when Isaac was born).

We went home, I put  my feet  up and hubby went to his home office to work on some stuff.  My back was really hurting.  I tried to go to bed, took a Tylenol PM and laid down.  It was really bad.  I felt like I needed to use the bathroom but couldnt.  I spent a while pacing and whining and going to bathroom.  FInally I told hubby I didnt think this was right and maybe we should go to hospital  He said ok, let me finish this up.  I went to restroom, there was blood…we left immediately.

I got to hospital.  Was checked…I was 10cm and doc could feel him….while everyone around me began running and wringing their hands…my world stopped.  You dont have babies at 28 weeks…  I went to the doctor..I took my vitamins.  I got pregnant on purpose..this doesnt happen to people like me.  I asked if he’d be ok…they said they’d try everything they could….

All the helicopters at all the hospitals in the state with NICUs were out busy…I wasnt the only mom having a preemie this night.  Most of the ambulances were out busy.  But Baptist had an ambulance and an on call transport team and they headed my way.  I was asked to try my best to wait until they arrived…I later learned no one thought I could do it.  But the NICU team was his best hope…so I didnt push.  I got a crash course on breathing and the condensed version of the second half of childbirth class I’d never attend…I was apparently pretty good at it.  Hubby was an awesome coach..though at the time I thought he was mean when he yelled at me to breath and not push…but it kept me focused.

NICU team arrived 3 hours later…I pushed a few times and he was born.  Thankfully he came out screaming, I looked up long enough to see him leave the room.  He weighed 2lb14 oz and was 13inches long.  I wouldnt see him again for an hour while he was stablized, intubated, IV started, and in an isolette.

He was brought back to me an hour later, I touched his hand.  There would be no holding for a long time. I was given a book with “what happens now”.  Told what floor he’d be on and how to get there.  Told they would call me in a few hours when docs saw him and stabilized him.  Then he was wheeled out of my room, to go 100 miles away.  I was alone…no longer pregnant.  No baby.  My life had just went down a path I never ever expected…and never ever wanted….

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4 Seasons…One week

In true Arkansas fashion we had a span of weather ranging from near 0° on Monday to near 70° on Sunday.  Even had a lovely coating of ice come in Wednesday resulting in early,  and nerve wracking due to quickly deteriorating conditions and no buses being ran, dismissal of school and no return until Monday.  I did enjoy another few days of break with Isaac, however this also means they no longer get winter break, Mt Luther King day, or Good Friday off.  😦

Potty training update…due to stomach bug our adventure is on hold.  And I hate stomach bug diapers and I’ll not elaborate further….

Had some family time outside this weekend,  the vitamin d and fresh air was much appreciated and did wonders for our moods.  Weather was even nice enough that I hung my diapers outside to dry, I must say, those colorful flapping covers is my favorite part of cloth diapering.  

Isaacs first tooth “just fell out” this weekend resulting in a visit from the tooth fairy and the utilization of the tooth pillow I hurriedly constructed when I learned his tooth’s days were numbered.  He was quiet impressed with the trail of fairy dust from window, across his bed, and all over the money. 

Here are some pics for you to enjoy while I’m off to conquer the less glamorous aspects of motherhood.

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Menu Plan

Thursday…errr Friday…. I went shopping and am going to try to make that do for 2 weeks.  I had a plan thru Sunday so this plan will start with Monday…so really a week and a half.

Monday: Cheeseburger Soup
Tuesday: Crockpot Italian Chicken and Broccoli
Wednesday: Tatortot Casserole forgot tator tots soo..tbd
Thursday: Venison Steak and Baked Potatoes
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Broccoli Rice and Ham Dish (new recipe!)
Sunday: Ritz Cracker Chicken Casserole, steamed veggies
Monday: Basalmic Roast, veggie side tbd, rice
Tuesday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes,  veggie tbd
Wednesday: Ranch Porkchops in crockpot, veggie tbd, rice pilaf

And that should get us to next payday!

I was asked about keeping produce for the two weeks, and really with what we buy we dont have much issue.   Sure we are out of (or theyve been turned into something else) bananas before next trip but apples and grapes keep well.  Which is the most of our fruit purchases.   Our veggies keep well too…celery, carrots, potatoes,  onions, lettuce, tomatoes.  Tomatoes and lettuce are giving it up by end of period but we dont consume that much anyway.   We usually do veggies such as canned green beans and peas.  Frozen broccoli or mixed frozen veggies.  

Last week I am proud to announce I actually stuck to my menu!  With the exception of my tacos became taco soup when we had a layer of ice outside and Sunday night I crashed, craved pizza,  so I got carry out..whoops!  Keeping it real…lol

Hows your menu plan looking?  Anything yummy to share?

Potty Training

Isaac is back to school.  Its too cold to leave the house for the rest of us.  So its time.  Potty Time.  As soon as James gets up (my momma was kind enough to take Isaac to bus so babies could stay in) we will begin the “potty train in a weekend” method.  I still dont buy that you can do it in 2 days but it will be a good kick start for us and we’ll just see.  Isaac was staying with grandma when he trained and “finished up” when I was in hospital with James,  so I’ll fess up…Ive not done all the “work” before.   So…say a little prayer…here comes the underwear…lol
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