Saturday, November 30, 2013

26 Week Update!

So I'm late to the game starting this, and I highly doubt I'll do it weekly (ain't nobody got time for that!), but I thought it would be fun to have at least a few of these around to read later on, probably especially in any future pregnancies when I've forgotten all those little details! 

Comparison shot! Above: Halloween, Below: Thanksgiving 

How far along are you? 
26 weeks (and 3 days :) )

Total weight gain: 
I think about 12 lbs but could be a little more. I haven't weighed myself at home recently but I do know my clothes fit differently than they did 2 weeks ago!  

How big is baby?:  
Should be 1 and 2/3 lbs and 13-14 inches. Since I'm at risk of intrauterine growth restriction, we have an ultrasound on Thursday to check.  

Maternity clothes: 
Um, yes! I still have a few pre-pregnancy shirts that work, but for the most part I'm wearing all maternity clothes. Luckily I have awesome friends who have given and loaned me about 90% of my maternity wardrobe! 

Stretch marks?:  
Nope, but I'm hyper prone to them so I am guessing it's only a matter of time!

I sleep so much better than I did in early pregnancy! I am actually more comfy and usually only wake up once to use the bathroom. It can take me up to an hour to get back to sleep, but it doesn't bother me too much.
Best moment this week?:
We got very excited over baby's first in-utero big holiday :). It was also cool feeling baby move on multiple spots of my stomach at once because it puts some of my fears about growth to rest. Baby has to be growing if I can feel it in more than one area (I'm assuming I am feeling feet on one side, head on the other when that happens).

Baby has been having this 2 wild days, 2 sleepy days pattern but so far week 26 has brought about quite a bit of movement every day. If I sleep on my stomach/side, baby kicks insanely. I love feeling it all the time!

Food cravings?:
I haven't really craved anything in weeks, until Wednesday. I was thinking about Thanksgiving food (which I normally don't really care much about) and was THISCLOSE to buying a Thanksgiving tv dinner to last me until the next day lol. Then on the way to my in laws on Thursday, I thought I might go crazy if we didn't get there so I could get some of that food!

Food aversions?:
The only thing that has lasted is that I don't like to peel hard boiled eggs, even though I love to eat them. It just makes my stomach churn! And Steven can't stand the smell, so I've been eating a lot of scrambled eggs. 

Labor signs?: 
Um, I hope not!!!! Nope. I had one freak braxton hicks really early on, like 17 weeks, but nothing since then. 

Belly button in or out?: 
It's in but has decidedly less depth lol. I don't think it will survive the next 14 weeks.

What I miss: 
Stamina. I have good energy, but not good stamina. I had to keep taking breaks while decorating our house for Advent and Christmas yesterday, when normally I'd go, go, go until it's done. If I do something in the kitchen, I have to sit before I can do my next task. I'm not very good at slowing down!

What I'm looking forward to: 
Seeing baby again next week! 

What I'm not looking forward to: 
Getting the rhogam shot and taking another glucose challenge test next week. 

We'll find out at birth! Most people think it's a boy due to how I'm carrying. But (of course I've researched and) I can find nothing scientific that backs that up, so I still don't have a gut feeling about it either way. I think that if I lean the smidgiest bit toward boy, it's only because that's what other people keep saying! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Advent Plans in 7 Quick Takes Fashion

How is it already almost Advent!? Ahhhhh! This season is just so, so busy for us this year and both Thanksgiving and Advent have completely snuck up on me. I don't know that we'll do much different than we did last year during Advent, but I thought I'd share our plans here. Since Advent is a time of expectant waiting on baby Jesus, I think I do want to focus a bit more on my relationship with Mary this Advent as I expectantly await my own baby. I always hear women talk about how much closer they grew to Mary during pregnancy and, while I've experienced a bit of that, I have just been so busy that I haven't focused on it as much as I've wanted. What better time than Advent!? I was thinking about this book, but it looks like I've missed the boat since I'm nearing my 3rd trimester (though a friend told me it is week by week so I guess I could just jump in!). Any ideas?

On to our more solid plans and also a semi-cheating kind of quick takes:

  • I started early and did Advent activities with the child with special needs that I work with in faith formation. See, I work with 2 kids, one preparing for sacraments and one not. And the calendars for them are different. So I got all confused thinking it was the last class for non-sacramental child until the end of January, when in fact it was the opposite way around! So I came prepared with all kinds of cool Advent coloring and writing pages to do before Thanksgiving, not realizing until after the class that I'd see him again when it actually IS Advent! But that's perfect, because I ordered these Nativity sticker sets, and after thought it was a waste since I wouldn't see him again. But since I will, we can have MORE Advent fun! I've never done much kid-related Advent stuff, so this helps me get in the spirit in a more child-like way! 
  • We'll be decorating this weekend, preparing our house for the coming of Jesus. It's a bit early for us, but with how busy December is (house guests the first weekend and our out-of-town shower the next!) it just made sense for us. So I'm going to try to focus it on Advent as much as I can!
  • I'll dig out our Advent calendar and, as tradition has it, we'll fill out little slips of paper with activities ranging from simple prayers, to date nights, to cuddling and watching a show together, to reading the Bible together. We put them in the boxes of our Advent calendar and then each day we do an activity that brings us closer as a family, as we think about the Holy family. It's only ever tricky on the days where Steven closes so we don't cross paths during the day, but then we get 2 fun activities the next day!
  • Our Advent wreath will be set on the table. Last year, we did a prayer each Sunday as we lit another candle, and then just lit them for the dinners in between. We'll see if we can't do a prayer nightly, but no promises ;). 
  • We have not 1, not 2, but 3 Advent devotional books that we received this year. We'll have to settle on one and then have a nightly devotional. Hopefully the other 2 can be saved for next year!
  • Advent reconciliation service. Services are easier for me, but I haven't figured out why. Something about the busy-ness maybe and not just being the one single line waiting for the one single priest? I don't know, but I like it so much more! There are 2 churches really close to us so we'll definitely attend the service at one of those this season. 
  • I really, really, really hope to get to Taize prayer this month! They usually do it every Monday night of Advent at the Cathedral. Normally I'm teaching faith formation on Monday nights but we're out the last 2 Mondays of December, so I'm hoping that lines up well with the Taize schedule. The chants, the lights off, the candles.... it is seriously one of the best prayer experiences I've ever had! 
So those are our plans; we'll see how well we do! What are you doing this Advent? I especially want to hear about those of you with littles, since that will be us next year (though Penny will only be 9 months old so not sure we'll add much more than a few Advent picture books ;) ).

Bonus: Here's me and my little turkey on Thanksgiving!

Link up with Jennifer at Conversion Diary for Quick Takes! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving!!!! I always have SO much to be thankful for, but especially so this year. Today I'm missing my parents, but enjoying a relaxing morning until my husband gets off of work. All you who cook, PLEASE remember to do your shopping in advance so people like my husband can at the very least get out on time or early on Thanksgiving day! I think it's shameful that grocery stores are even open today, but that's a whole different blog post! When he gets home, we'll head about 90 minutes away to enjoy dinner with his parents. Tomorrow he is off so we'll be decorating for Advent and Christmas except, oh yeah, a tree? I guess we need to fit getting that in somewhere or decorating will go pretty quickly! This morning I am eating our now-traditional cinnamon roll breakfast, watching the parade, and then the dog show. Each year my parents and I would have a contest to see who could guess the most winning dogs in the dog show. They've got new contestants this year (my brother, SIL, neice, and nephew), and I'm playing from afar! I'll be texting in my answers ;). Last year we actually had ballots! I so love my family.

So back to being thankful. In no particular order, here are things I'm especially thankful for over the past year:

  • Our families and friends. The support, prayers, and love they have given us. Some of the best love we've been shown has been from online friends we'll likely never meet! And some online friends we've met have become so incredibly special to us. Then there's the tried and true friends who have always been there, and who always will be. Our families, as always, continue to be so amazing and supportive. I wish everyone had the experience of love that we are fortunate enough to have.
 Celebrating 10 years since graduation! I've known them since 5th grade, middle school, and 9th grade so at the very least we've been friends for 15 years! 

My cute mom and dad in town to celebrate my birthday. 
  • Our jobs. It's been another tough year for our nation job-wise, and when we complain, we are quickly humbled by realizing that we are so blessed to bring home a paycheck and be able to not only cover our bills, but save for the very near future.
  • Our vocations. Though we haven't totally figured out the financials of my staying home (down to the wire, amiright?), we trust that God will take care of us as long as we continue to do His will and to discern that will, whether it changes and whether we like it or not. I'm so thankful that we have discerned what we feel God is calling us to, rather than just simply what we want, which is largely how we lived in the past. 
  • My doctor. To say that he and Naprotechnology has saved the life of our baby is no understatement in the least. I am constantly thankful for modern medicine and for the unique care Napro provides. If not for that, Penny would not be here kicking today.
  • Of course, for Penny! This little baby is loved beyond what we ever could have imagined, not just by us, but by everyone who loves us. I am so thankful for the gift of carrying a child in my womb and I don't take a second of it for granted. 
One month!

Six months! 
  • Redemptive suffering. I've had a lot of challenges in this pregnancy, as most of you well know. But I'm so thankful for the gift and knowledge of redemptive suffering so that my suffering has not been in vain. I've been offering it up for those of you attempting to grow your families. What a gift to be able to serve others in that way! I don't think I really got redemptive suffering until this year.
  • Our house. I know you don't need to own a home to have a baby, but I'm excited to bring our baby home to our house that we scrimped and saved for and bought, and then worked our butts off for 2 months to make it feel less like a dirty short sale, and more like a cozy, personalized home. I so love our house and love the room we are preparing for our baby (that he or she will likely not use for a long time lol!). I love our little piece of yard, our house, our front porch, our neighborhood, and our town. A year and a half later, we still express to each other how fortunate we are to have found the deal we did and how perfect living in this area of town has turned out to be. We are home for a long, long time I hope!
An old picture from before we even bought the house, because apparently we don't take pictures of our house often! Baby's nursery is the very left window ;), living room is the middle, and our room is the right.
  • My marriage and husband. We have grown so much in the last year and a half, and I know we'll continue to do so. I love my husband for pushing me to be a better Christian and person. I love how much we have learned from each other, even the hard lessons you learn when you share a house and life with someone else! I love the blessings we feel pour into our marriage daily. I love having my best friend as my husband. I love living every day life together as a team. I just love him!
 My cute hubby getting ready for baby!

Love us!
  • Last but not least, of course I am so thankful for God. Whether I like it or not, He gives me what I ask for! I have been amazed to see His works in my life, especially in the last 3-4 years. I asked Him, no petitioned Him, for a spouse and he brought Steven. I asked him for Steven to consider Catholicism, but for himself, not for me, and Steven made the journey, then converted. I asked for a sweet baby, we went through some emotional experiences, and we are expecting. There are lots of less pretty things I'm thankful for, too. Like asking for humility and struggling through it when God granted it to me. Or asking for His will on something and flat out not liking what that is. But I'm thankful for it all because it brings me closer to Him.
Steven the day he converted! This was 6 days before our wedding. As the priest said, he likes to get his sacraments all at once ;).

On our wedding day (obviously ;) ). The Easter lilies were a total bonus. They left them in there for us since they were still in good condition!

Our sweet little baby, 13 weeks ago!

I'd love to hear what you're thankful for this year. If you blogged about it, please leave me a link! I hope you all have a fun, happy, and tummy stuffing Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Gearing Up for Many Life Changes

In just a few months (2.5 to be exact!), I'll be making a huge transition to stay at home wife and mother. I've wanted this for a very long time and we truly believe it is the best thing for our family, not just our children but the entire family, but that doesn't mean I'm not nervous about certain aspects of it! I've only ever worked in both my adult life and my married life, so my role has developed on that path even though I hoped that this would be my ultimate vocation. It will be very different not being on a schedule I'm used to, not having a paycheck to show for my work, and not being around people all day every day. It'll be weird not having to put on business casual clothing each day, and it will certainly be new to spend so much time at home. These are things that both excite me (casual wear- woot! and I <3 home!) and scare me (I like my work people and I like money). Anyway, I've been thinking a lot, and talking with people, about what things have helped them as they transition to similar roles. My own mother stayed home with us and I know one thing that really helped her, and still helps, is to have a routine. She cleans on Mondays, groceries on Wednesdays, and many other chores fit into certain days. One of my friends shared that getting dressed in socially acceptable clothing at a minimum of 4 days a week really helped... so no lounging in pj's/yoga pants all day every day. And still another said that she gets out of the house every single day, even if it's just a quick trip to the library or grocery store. It's been really interesting to think how I'll adapt these things to my own life.

Of course I can't know until the time is here, but I imagine a few things when I think about myself staying at home. I do thrive on a schedule but, with Steven's schedule, I've had to adapt and become a lot more flexible than I'm used to. That will continue when the baby comes because Steven's schedule will continue to vary and I can't imagine wanting to, for example, clean the house on a day where he is off and home. I'll just want to hang out with him and baby (besides the usual things like dishes and laundry). What I'm thinking is that each time he gets a schedule, I'll make my schedule for the week from that. Because I definitely do better with goals and lists, so I need something to keep me accountable. Then I can check off each day and see my accomplishments. And if something doesn't get done, I can assign it to another day. I kind of do this now on days off, though the list is more mental, and it works well for motivating me.

I like the whole getting dressed thing because though I'm more comfortable in pj's (who isn't?), I also feel better about myself when I wear even something really casual, like jeans, a tshirt, a little powder, and mascara. I'm lucky to have a husband who loves seeing me in tshirts best, but I'll probably switch between that and 'real' tops because I feel better in those. Maybe I'll give myself two days a week in loungey clothes because that's what I do now if I have nothing going on during the weekend. I've read on Moxie Wife about having a stay at home "uniform" and I like that concept. I'll just have to see how my uniform develops.

I don't think I'll leave the house every single day, but probably 4 or so days a week. I'm a home body, so being home doesn't bother me much, but I do get a little cabin feverish after two or more days in a row. Luckily, I've got some friends in the area who stay home, plus there are things like babywearing meetups, breastfeeding groups, and I can totally kill time at Target and the library and love it! I'm also hoarding Starbucks gift cards that I earn on a survey site so I can hit up the drive through if I just need to get out for a free treat! I don't think I'll be wanting for places to go, but I'll have to be mindful of gas usage. At the very least, the grocery store I prefer is about 20 minutes away and is right near my (soon to be old!) office so I'll be going there every week or every other week.

I've also been working on a (forthcoming) list of projects to work on after baby... way after baby. There are lots of little things around the house I just don't get to now because life seems so busy between both our work schedules, church commitments, and getting ready for baby. So any day where I'm about to climb the walls, especially if I don't have money to go somewhere, I'll at least have a list of projects to work from. Not that I love projects, but I do feel super awesome when I accomplish them, so I know that will help boost my morale.

For my SAHM readers, what are some things that you found helped you as you transitioned to staying at home?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Stacy Saves!

I haven't written a post on frugality in a while and, seeing as I will need to be more frugal than ever in the super near future, I figured I should up my ante on that again! I'm going to share some of my current, favorite ways to save money in no particular order. As always, feel free to share any that come to mind in the comments. I often get really good suggestions of things I've never thought of from YOU! If any of these are a repeat from my previous posts, well.... all I've got to say is you have a way better memory than I do! ;)

Stacy's Current Ways to Save!

  • Chocolate banana peanut butter smoothies for breakfast. It's a mouthful, literally! I buy one of those giant jars of peanut butter, a thing of unsweetened cocoa powder, bananas, and milk. I only replenish the bananas (cheap!) and milk (not since I drink organic) each week. Throw in 6 ice cubes, 1.5 cups of milk, whatever amount of peanut butter you want (I do 2 servings because I'm doing the Brewer's diet), about a 1/2 tablespoon of the cocoa powder, and just break the banana into chunks. Blend it all, pour, and you have a tasty smoothie for very little money each week. It makes a big smoothie, so you could get 2 child portions out of it, or use slightly less for a smaller adult portion. So much cheaper than eating cereal, and a lot better since you are getting protein, dairy, and a fruit. The only annoying part is washing the blender every day! Hint: be careful upping the cocoa powder. I was using more for a while until I connected it with some.... stomach discomfort. 
  • Rubbing alcohol and peroxide (50/50 mix) as carpet cleaner. It continues to amaze me how well it works, even if it does stink a little going on. When we had our carpets professionally cleaned upon moving in, the cleaner guy gave us that recipe to use for touch ups. I don't think we've found a stain yet that it can't handle, and it is so much cheaper and less chemically than store bought cleaners! Even when we were using the green enzyme stuff, we were still spending a ton more than we do on this. You can put it in a spray bottle, or just pour it right on the stain (I do the latter). 
  • On that same token, we're still going strong with a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar for household cleaning. I usually add quite a few drops (40 or so) of essential oil to it, orange being my favorite, but I ran out and this bottle doesn't have any. It works perfectly, you get used to the scent which fades quickly, and we clean for the whole year for the cost of one of those giant bottles of white vinegar. Technically longer since it will probably take us longer than a year to use that up! I use it on everything but wood, which we don't have much of. I just use a microfiber cloth on wood, so also nothing to purchase routinely there! But really, we use it in the bathroom, kitchen, on glass, to mop floors, etc.
  • Target's Cartwheel App. If you aren't using it, you really need to be. I have saved anywhere between $8 and $12 on a shopping trip with the app alone, and those are NOT on huge purchases. I think the $12 came off of a $60 purchase and brought me down to $48 before coupons! It isn't the most intuitive app, but once you figure it out, it's pretty easy. I just check it before going to Target so I don't have to fiddle with anything but the barcode in the store. FYI: watch out for the trap of buying things you wouldn't have otherwise ;).
  • Re-purpose everything! I've still got a long way to go on this, but any start is a good start. When we have clothing that gets ratty, like socks or tshirts, I cut them up into rags and put them in a container in the bathroom. We can then use those for cleaning, especially cleaning up messes where you might not want to re-use it. Since it's already on it's second use, it's ok if you want to throw it away (although if you re-use it, you are just saving more and more money!). We rarely use papertowels for anything any more, which is a huge cost savings because we used to go through probably a roll a week. Now I'd say it takes us a good month or so to go through a roll, if not longer. Another thing we repurpose is newspaper. We get a free paper twice a week and, if we have no projects, it goes straight into the recycle bin. But it's a great thing to use as a drop cloth for painting and other projects. Just make sure you layer it pretty thick!
  •  Never, ever, ever purchase something online without googling a coupon code. The site Retail Me Not usually has the best codes with little hassle. I save money on online purchases all the time doing this! I only ever buy things that I'm going to buy regardless, but finding a coupon code for them is like icing on the cake- especially if the item was already on sale! 
Hit me! What are your current savings go to tips? 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Not So Pretty Side of Pregnancy

I don't talk much about the aspects of pregnancy that I mourn, because no one likes a complainer. But I do realize that it's important for me to process, so what better place than a blog?

I'm pretty naturally minded. I'm probably what you'd call "crunchy light", but I am really drawn to the more natural, hands off way of doing things. This extends into medicine (as in, the practice of medicine but also medications, too) and my ideas of pregnancy and childbirth. Before I became pregnant, I imagined a fairly easy, normal pregnancy and a birth at the local birth center, safely tucked away from interventions. Before I had ever even met Steven, I somehow found out about the birth center and the midwives there, and I just knew that's where I'd birth one day.

Well, then I got pregnant. And my progesterone was so severely low that miscarriage was a real threat. I needed to remain under the care of my (awesome) doctor who knew precisely how to manage it. I needed many ultrasounds early on to make sure everything was progressing normally with the baby. And then my blood pressure began to raise a bit. So I needed a low dose of pregnancy safe medication to lower it, so my doctor would know with more accuracy if pre-eclampsia was a risk if it began rising again. And then it did start rising again, so I had to double my dose and now go in every 3 weeks for growth checks. And then I found out I'm RH- and need the rhogam shot, which does carry some extremely low but extremely scary risks.

I have guilt that my body seems to have missed the memo that it is made for this. If all these things were caused by the baby, I could joke, "this baby is a handful! He or she is lucky I'm its mother!" and sweep it under the rug. But instead I sit and think about how this baby has to be such a fighter because I'm its mother. It's dealt with dangerously low levels of progesterone and still stuck around, and now it may have to battle growth restriction? What is my body doing to this poor child!? I have guilt that my body isn't the safe haven for this baby that it should be. And then back to the RH- thing, again I know it's a routine, 'easy' fix, but to think that my body would fight off my baby's body as a foreign object? No mother wants to feel like her body is actively harming her baby, whether they are things under my control or not.

And so I know with of all this that my chances of having a labor with interventions is pretty high. If my baby stops growing at any point, he or she will need to be delivered. If my blood pressure goes out of control at any point, I will need to give birth to lower it. I know that I'm not just your 'average healthy mother' who has no need for medical interventions. And though those interventions can be life saving when needed- I get that!- it doesn't mean that I'm any less sad about the fact that I may need them.

It's pretty clear that, like many things in our lives, my ideal and my expectations did not come true or is not coming true. I have so many people tell me that all that matters is a healthy baby. And I know they mean that supportingly and lovingly, but all that does for me is invalidate how I feel. Because yes, a healthy baby does matter (though I'd love an unhealthy one just as much, of course!), but my feelings and my experience matter, too! I can't just throw that all away because the baby matters more... I still have to process through it because we carry our experiences with us for life.

So while I sit here and thank God daily for modern medicine, I don't let myself feel bad about the aspects of this pregnancy that I mourn not experiencing or experiencing differently. I recognize that it is ok to be disappointed with how something turns out, and then I pick myself up, dust myself off, and count my blessings, of which I have so many. I have a God who is ever trustworthy, a doctor who watches my baby and me like a hawk, a husband who takes such good care of me and is growing into an amazing daddy, and family and friends who pray for me unceasingly, and offer comfort and support. I know I'm blessed, and that is what I choose to focus on most of the time.

Friday, November 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
This week brought a lot of stuff. At what I thought would be a super simple 24 week appointment, I found out my blood pressure is sky rocketing and I need the rhogam shot. The rhogam shot is obviously more routine, though I'm hoping they have the mercury free one! The blood pressure on the other hand is a wee bit scary since it can indicate pre-eclampsia, which can cause a host of problems, one being intrauterine growth restriction. I go back in 3 weeks for an ultrasound to check baby's growth, so prayers for him or her to be on track would be much appreciated. I'll get an ultrasound every 3-4 weeks after that for the same reason. 

--- 2 ---
More exciting was that we celebrated 24 weeks with a dinner out, building the crib, and organizing the nursery a bit. It has been a lot of fun to see it come together! I have suspicions that baby was feet down from weeks 20-24, and now I think baby has just turned to head down. I know I won't feel this way when I'm bigger, but head down kicks are SO much more comfortable than the feet down ones! 

Check out the (corner of the) rug I won on Camp Patton forever ago! And yes, those are the baptism outfits my siblings and I wore... can't wait to see which we'll be using next year!

--- 3 ---
Last weekend, I had great girl time with my mom, sister in law, and niece at a Christmas shoppe/show. This weekend my parents are coming to help a bit in the nursery and just hang out. Love seeing them twice in the same week! I normally have weekends planned out to a "T" when they visit, so I'm sure they'll enjoy some down time! I'm also excited to go to the local coffee shop which has drool-tastic concoctions. See below for more coffee love.

--- 4 ---
The other day I was really craving some coffee so I went to Target to pick one out. I had the hardest time deciding between hazelnut and breakfast blend, but ended up going with the decaf breakfast blend. The next day on my desk was a bag of decaf hazelnut from my coworker who thought I'd like it. Sweet and coincidental! I've got coffee to last me months now. Luckily Target had a Cartwheel deal on the natural creamer... sweet cream *drool*. Speaking of cartwheel, we saved about $15 in one trip with that and a few $1 coupons. Love scoring deals! Back to coffee, though. My husband drinks Mystic Monk caramel and I have a mental block against it since it made me nauseous early on. Sad times! I think I'll have to order another of their flavors because I love supporting monks! 

--- 5 ---
I've had my cat for 6 years (she's 11) and in that time she has always preferred sleeping on hard or at least firm surfaces. She gets weird about things like down comforters that are fluffy. All of a sudden, she has taken to pillows. She sleeps on a couch pillow in the living room and on my body pillow in the bedroom. It's funny how she can change like that! She must have just realized what she was missing all these years. Steven and I joke that she's our very own Pillow Pet. Although I did complain that I paid $75 for my pillow pet when they can be bought for much cheaper. But I guess she's worth it ;). 

--- 6 ---
I'm planning on leaving work mid February. Since the 14th is a Friday, I figure that just makes sense. Today (I'm a quick takes cheater) is the 14th. That is only three months away. Not only is this flying by, but wow, what a different life awaits me in just a quarter of a year! I will miss my coworkers and my job, but I am so, so excited for what's next for our family! Also exciting is that my shower is one month from today. We also got married on the 14th (of April) so apparently that's just a good date for me ;). 

 --- 7 ---
Friday Question: Do you have a favorite Etsy shop? I could spend hours on Etsy searching for random things in handmade. For example, I spent about 30 minutes perusing wooden toys even though I had no intention of buying any (right now). Etsy window shopping, I guess! So anyway, if you have a favorite store, share it with me in the comments and feed my obsession! 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dear Penny: Letters to our Child #17

I'm trying to play a bit of catch up so I can post these in 'real time'! As an update to the letter below, my levels have been decent since 18 weeks and I'm no longer a crazy person. It is SO NICE to just enjoy this pregnancy finally! For the complete series of letters to our baby from pre-conception til now, click on the "Dear Baby Series" tag!

Dear Penny, 09/25/2013

I felt you kick for SURE on Monday night! I thought I felt you last week, but Monday night really felt like the real thing. Daddy and I were laying in bed talking when I started feeling a light thumping deep inside. It was further in than I expected (*ahem* probably due to my pre-existing fluff) and was so bizarre! It felt like someone was poking me from the inside… which I guess you kind of were :). I can’t wait until I’m far enough along that I feel you everyday. It will do my anxiety good! My progesterone levels dropped a bit at 14 weeks and even more at 16… which is the time when they should have gone UP due to my placenta helping out. The risks make me so scared. I feel like I’m never ‘out of the woods’ about losing you. I don’t get that “ahhh second trimester” sigh of relief. You HAVE to have progesterone to survive, and that is so scary. My doctor upped my oral dose, so we will see on Tuesday if that helps at all. I JUST LOVE YOU SO MUCH. Today I may have felt hiccups. It was rhythmic but really, really fast (like twice as fast as my pulse). Any day I feel something makes me feel so much better! I’m again counting down until we get to see you on ultrasound. Two and a half weeks. Grow, grow, grow Penny and drink up that progesterone. Mommy and Daddy love you so much and already can’t imagine life without you!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dear Penny: Letters to our Child #16

For the complete series of letters to our baby from pre-conception til now, click on the "Dear Baby Series" tag!

Dear Penny, 08/21/2013

Penny, we had SUCH an amazing day yesterday. Our 12 week ultrasound was scheduled for 9:15 am. I didn’t feel that nervous, and luckily have felt SO peaceful these past 2 weeks. But I knew I was nervous because my stomach was a MESS. We didn’t have to wait long to start the ultrasound, thankfully. As soon as the doctor started, he pointed out your flickering heart. You were very still, but I immediately knew everything was ok. After just a few seconds of looking around at you, you started moving your legs and kicking! Then a minute or two later, you were sticking your arms out in front of you. That was seriously one of the best moments of my entire life. We weren’t allowed to take a video of it, but we got a few good pictures. You measured 11w4d at 11w6d but the ultrasound can be up to a week off by that point. The doctor had no concerns, and mommy and daddy were THRILLED. We had to take a minute and just hug when it was over because we had so many emotions running through us. We both called our moms on the drive home to let them know the good knews and shared pictures with family by text message right away.

We decided not to announce you on facebook til today since Daddy had to work last night, but we both told our coworkers. I called my coworkers together and said I had show and tell. They saw me holding an envelope of pictures (Daddy printed them on photo paper so they’d be durable and we’d have copies), and they thought I brought cruise pictures, so you can imagine how fun it was to pull your picture out! Everyone was so excited and gave me hugs. It was nerve wracking sharing something that big, but so fun too!

Today when mommy got home from work, we let the whole world (via facebook of course!) know about you and we have been enjoying seeing all the ‘likes’ and comments rolling in! We have such great, supportive family and friends. Celebrating your life is so much fun, little baby.

Can’t wait to finally hear that sweet heartbeat in 4 weeks!!!! Stay safe and healthy in there.


Friday, November 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
Go read my post on attending worldwide marriage encounter. And then go sign up for a weekend near you! For NC folks, it's . You can also use . It's not just a Catholic thing! 

--- 2 ---
The highlight of this otherwise dull/ordinary week (I'm talking the week that started on Monday!), was that Steven felt the baby kick on Wednesday, which was when I 'turned' 23 weeks. It was so, so exciting! I will never understand what made this baby go from once a a week wiggles to multiple times a day overnight, but I am loving it. It is so, so good for my anxious heart! We won't talk about the day this week that I was convinced the baby had a seizure... but luckily I was able to tell myself that was irrational, which is a step in the right direction! I really need to post more letters to Penny and catch up so I can share these letters when they happen, and not 2 months later! 

--- 3 ---
Next Thursday I have my 24 week appointment, and it's my first and last one I'll be attending alone. My husband's work schedule might have a lot of crappy aspects, but one great one is that he is almost always able to go with me to these appointments. I love having him there, and love that he likes being there! This time he couldn't make it work, but I think it's my last appointment without an ultrasound, so I gave him a free pass ;). Also, as of next Thursday we'll have paid the doctor off (in advance) for the birth! Woot! 

--- 4 ---
I realized one of the only things I don't like about owning vs renting. The forced opportunity to clean out! I've moved 9 times in the past 10 years so I was constantly cleaning out and thinning out STUFF. But now that we're settled, I notice it accumulates so much easier! I'm going to have to go through the house with some trash bags and boxes one of these days. I married a sentimental packrat, so it should be a good communication exercise. 

--- 5 ---
I work in the I/DD field so when I saw this video the other day, I knew I had to watch it. Oh man, I laughed and cried so much. It is SO sweet! What a beautiful job those parents are doing. You won't regret watching it (unless you are headed out the door and don't have on waterproof mascara).

--- 6 ---
This weekend I am headed to SC for a girls' day with my mom, sister in law, and niece. We're going to go to the Junior League Christmas show where I'm sure I'll need ALL THE THINGS. I saw my parents toward the end of October, then this weekend, and then they are coming for a visit next weekend! Plus, I'll be there for Christmas and you KNOW I'll see them a ton next year say around.... March? :) I love all the family time! Do you have any fun weekend plans? 

 --- 7 ---
Friday Question: Do you do a Jesse tree? Does it line up with Advent or is it separate? I've never done one but I thought this might be a good year to start if I want it to become a yearly, family thing. Our advent 'calendar' is a tree of boxes and we usually put a slip of paper in each one with an activity, prayer, date, etc to bring us closer together as a family during advent, while we await the littlest addition of the holy family. So I'm going to have to figure out how to balance the Jesse tree with our Advent calendar since we don't even cross paths some days! Although, this is the last year for that, at least for a long while :).  

PS- If you came over from Conversion Diary and noticed that my picture is sideways... yeah, I don't know either. 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Marriage Encounter: An Investment In Your Marriage That You'll Never Forget

I will probably say it an annoying amount of times, but look up your local marriage encounter weekends, pick one, and GO! Going into it, I just knew that I liked retreats and that we had an incredible time at our engagement retreat a few years back. Ever since we were dating, I'd see ads for Marriage Encounter in the bulletins at church and tell Steven we were going to go some day. I felt like we should probably pass that year mark before going (although there was a couple there who had only been married 3 months!), and started looking over the summer for dates. There are 3-4 a year in our state, and I immediately picked the one at the beach because how could I not!? Now that the baby is on the way, we figured it'd be a great last weekend away together, too. And it was! Fun facts: it is held in 90 different countries and 11 faith expressions. Marriage Encounter began in the 1950's in Spain by a priest. We met couples who had been married 40 and 50 years who were back for more after attending multiple times before! 

Room with a view, or what?

I'm not going to go much into what you actually do at Marriage Encounter for a few reasons. One, I would do it a horrible disservice, I'm sure. If someone had told me the specifics beforehand, I think I would have scoffed and found it a bit cheesy. It's not, I assure you. Even the men, even the ones who had been dragged there, raved at our group meals about how amazing it was! Reason two is that I think it's just way more fun to discover it yourself! So anyways, Marriage Encounter is very couple-centric and involves learning a form of communication that I guarantee will be new to you. The only time you are really interacting with others is at meals. Other than that, you are either in presentations or directly working with your spouse. We loved that aspect of it... no pressure to socialize so we could just be together. It was exhausting mentally and emotionally but in such a perfect way. We'd get through one exercise and just hold each other in a tight embrace. It was amazing. Tears were shed, lots of hugs were given, and some powerful things were shared.

We had a little break time on Saturday (much needed since the day was 7:30am-9:30pm!) and we took a romantic walk on the beach. It was admittedly short since I start hurting after just a little bit of walking, but we put our toes in the water, took pictures, and talked. It was delightful! Other than that, we were enriching our marriage the whole time... 44 hours worth of work into this marriage I love with this man that I love. 

Writing hubs a love letter on the balcony. Poor chap was in the conference room writing his!

The priest who helped to run it (we had 1 priest and 3 presenting couples who we LOVED) said that he thinks each couple should come every 5 years. For $50, we definitely will be doing that! Yes, you heard right. The entire weekend cost us $50. We did give an anonymous donation when they handed out envelopes towards the end of the weekend, but that $50 is all that's required for lodging, food, and the retreat. They said they never turn someone away for lack of ability to pay.

One of my favorite things about Marriage Encounter is that they really push for you to not lose the skills when you get home. They give you really in depth resources, plus there are local circles of Encountered couples who meet regularly! There is one in our town so we are definitely going to attend as much as possible. And yes, we'll be back in 5 years, if we can wait that long! 

I'll share one of my favorite parts of the weekend that actually happened during Mass. During the homily, the priest had us turn our chairs to face our spouse. We were to hold hands, gazing into each other's eyes while the priest spoke on wedding vows. He spoke as if we were speaking to our spouse and when he got to the part about lovingly accepting children, I was sitting there staring into Steven's eyes, holding his hands with our knees touching, and my baby kicking. It was about one of the most powerful and emotional moments. Of course I was crying! Right after that, we got to renew our wedding vows. I never thought we'd be renewing them 1.5 years in, but it was so special!

 I swear I don't look this large in real life. At least, that's what I tell myself ;). 

Neither of us wanted to leave the weekend, but we are already really loving incorporating our new skills into our marriage at home. Seriously, go. You will be so happy you did! 

Nerdily excited about our certificate and candle!

Friday, November 1, 2013

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
Oh my goodness, is life busy! Is it bad if I feel like we don't have enough hours in the day and we don't even have any ex-utero children yet!? This week we had something going on every single night, plus we had to fit in some more nursery furniture painting, and this weekend we are off to Marriage Encounter at the beach! It's all good stuff, but we stay so busy that I feel like I can never catch up on my sleep. I guess I'm just getting prepared for the near future ;). Speaking of Marriage Encounter, if you get a chance, GO! I know I haven't gone yet, but this is what I know so far. $50 (with the option to make an anonymous donation later in the weekend) for the hotel, food, and retreat. It's $50 no matter where it is so we skipped on all the cities around us and opted for the beach, since the entire hotel has ONLY oceanfront rooms! Yeah, buddy!

--- 2 ---
Last weekend at Ikea was such fun with the fam! Although, 4 hours of walking/shopping did me in for the next 2 days. I was so tired and achy! I needed my chiropractor appointment so bad this week. There was a lot of baby stuff progress this weekend including the travel system, stroller, bookcase, toy storage, and crib. I can't WAIT to get painting done so we can start setting stuff up! I was like a kid in a candy shop playing with the stroller and car seat. I can't wait to have a little baby in it! Anyways, family time and shopping was a whole lot of fun, and was over way too quickly! Would you believe that the guys even had a good time? :)

--- 3 ---
Do you know what I've never done until this week (at least I don't think)? An adoration and reconciliation combo. It's always just been one or the other. But this week, we happened upon both and my pre-confession anxiety level went from like a 6 to a 2 since I had Jesus in the flesh to focus on. Um, AWESOME. This church does it every Wednesday apparently and isn't that far from home. Me thinks it's like spiritual xanax! 

--- 4 ---
Halloween was fun yesterday. I really love low key Halloweens at home, handing out candy to the kids! We started our day with a traditional Halloween themed donut from Krispy Kreme (drooool). And ended it by trying to give out the candy we were least excited about so we could save the kind we liked for ourselves in case we had extras. 
 My little pumpkin!

<3 him

--- 5 ---
This is the first year I've really been excited for All Saint's Day. I mean, not to say I never didn't like it, but I think it's the first year that I thought about how, not only are we celebrating all our saints (and I'm not going to lie... all our favorite saints!) in heaven, but also any family members who might be there. I think it's just been in this past year that I really get the whole 'communion of saints' thing, so it makes the day a little extra special for me. 

--- 6 ---
Speaking of, how is it NOVEMBER!? Time is flying but that makes sense since I am having so much fun!!! On the agenda this month? Our retreat this weekend, visiting with family and friends the next, my parents come to visit the next, and then Thanksgiving! Plus I have a goal of getting the baby room mostly done this month (I'm a permanent nester, even pre-pregnancy!). 

 --- 7 ---
Friday Question: Another baby related one. How many books did you read before you gave birth? I feel like people read soooo much, but with our crazy lives we are struggling to make it through one! We're reading The Birth Partner which is actually super informative for me, too, and we love how thorough it is! I have a few other books I've been flipping through but I'm not reading anything else straight through- just bits and pieces that I find interesting. And I figure at some point we should read a baby's first year type book, right? I need a staycation to get some reading done! Or I could just toss the books and hope instinct kicks in, which I'm partially joking about but will probably partially happen!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!