Tuesday, January 31, 2012

To E-Read or Not to E-Read, That is the Question...

We were having book club at my house on Friday night and when it was time to begin our discussion, we all pulled out our books.  Or, I should say, I pulled out my book.  Everyone else pulled out their e-reader: two Kindles, one iPad2, one Nook, and one iPad.  It was the first time I thought to myself, "hmm, I might like one of those..."

I've been pretty resistant to e-readers thus far.  I like having a physical book in my hand and on my bookshelf.  I like that you can walk into the library (now nursery) of our house and see the hundreds of books we've read between the two of us.  How if I want to re-read something - or want to read a "classic" - chances are, it's sitting on my shelf and I can just grab it and go.  I like the smell of books.  And the feel of paper.  I like the crackling noise a new hardback makes when you first open it.

Amazon has also added to my love of physical books because you can pretty much always buy a good used copy for super cheap ($.01 in many cases) as long as you pay for shipping.  And with Amazon Prime, I can order a qualifying book and get free two-day shipping.  Not quite instant - but not too long, either.

But then the girls were talking about their e-readers.  How convenient it is to order a book and have it in an instant.  How cheap the books are - $7.99!  How lightweight and small they are (the Kindles and Nook).  How they tell you how far along you are.  How you can adjust the font size to your liking.

And I started to think about times when it would be nice not to prop open the pages of a book...  When I'm eating lunch; when I'm blow drying my hair; when I'm waiting for stuff to cook in the kitchen; etc.  Or the times when it might be inconvenient to have a bulky book in my bag, but would be easy to pull out an e-reader...  In line at the grocery store; waiting rooms; waiting for food at a restaurant (if I'm picking something up for myself); while pumping gas, etc.

I think, if anything, having an e-reader would increase the times of day I find a second or two to read.  And I've got to say, this sounds nice, considering Baby will probably take away a lot of reading time I have now.

But then I'm still a little resistant!  Books!  I don't want to give them up!

I would want an original Kindle, I think.  That is, not the color Kindle Fire.  (But actually, I don't know which model I would want - the Kindle Touch?  The one with 3G?  The one with a keyboard?)  I feel like at some point, we'll get an iPad, but we don't need to make that investment now.

Any e-readers out there?  What do you think??  Any Kindle owners - and if so, which model would you recommend?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend

Even though my weekend wasn't jammed full of events, it was still lovely.  Actually, I'll say the weather probably contributed to this.  Memphis winter weather has been insane this year: it was in the 50s and sunny this weekend, and then this week, temps are predicted to be in the low 60s moving into the high 60s!  When I told Jonathan that, he said, "that's air conditioning weather."  Not quite...but close.  I keep wondering if February will plummet us back to winter.  We'll see.

Anyway - weekend events:

1) Friday night book club at my house!  We don't usually do weekend nights, but with scheduling issues, we decided to test it out.  It was great!  We all agreed that Friday nights are usually spent on the couch catching up on the DVR and/or going to bed early, so it was fun to have a low-key, but fun event for the night.

2) Organizing and errands on Saturday.  Jonathan had a work retreat, so I tried to get a bunch of stuff done.

3) Dinner at the pizza bar at Boscos on Saturday night.  I needed a portabello club and sweet potato fries.  Needed.

4) Church, errands, general Sunday-ness on Sunday.  But also Jonathan's parents over for dinner for his dad's birthday.  I like having dinner with them Sunday nights (even more so if they have us over, ha) because it sort of forces us to get stuff done earlier in the day and then by the time they leave/we get home, we're done with all our stuff that needed to get done.

I feel quite pleased with everything we accomplished - a good weekend!  I hope you guys enjoyed yours, as well!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fetal Friday: 35 Weeks

I think going 35 whole weeks without any kind of scare or major freakout is pretty impressive, right?  So yeah, I went 35 weeks without any kind of scare or major freakout...

And then yesterday I had an "incident."

Basically, all morning I noticed less movement from baby than normal.  So around 11 I decided to eat some sugar (a pear and a piece of chocolate) and have some caffeinated coffee.  I lay down on my left side (on the floor of my office) and drank a big jug of water, expecting baby to wake up and move.  But (s)he didn't.  And when I pushed on my stomach (trying to nudge it a little to get some movement), it felt different than normal - much more squishy and I couldn't even feel the baby in there.

So I called the Dr. and left a message on the nurses' line.  Then I called Jonathan, who told me not to freak out, it would be ok, and just wait for the Dr. to call back.  Then, about one minute after we hung up, he called back and said, "come down to the lobby, I'm picking you up and we're going to the doctor."

I was in tears and having a full-on panic attack.  I imagined arriving at the doctor and being rushed into the OR to have an emergency C-section, etc.  I imagined a freak accident where the baby got tangled up in the cord and lost oxygen, etc.  It was a massive slippery slope of bad thoughts.

Anyway, once I got in the car, I asked him to drive home first since, a) I hadn't yet heard back from the Dr., and b) I needed to tinkle and didn't think I could make it out there.  In the car, I started to feel kicks. Then when we got home, I chugged a glass of orange juice (for the sugar) and lay on my left side.  Lo and behold, once we started counting kicks, we got like 50 in 2 minutes (you're supposed to feel for 10 kicks in an hour to make sure everything is ok).

So when the nurse returned my call, I was pretty calm and explained the situation.  She said we could certainly drive out there to get on the monitor if we wanted, but she said she felt pretty comfortable that all was well.  I did too.  Non crisis averted never happened.

This whole scenario probably doesn't seem that scary - but there were just these terrifying 10 minutes for me when I knew caffeine, if anything, should make the baby pep up.  And nothing happened.  And my belly felt different.  And I was just super scared.

But anyway - all that is fine now.  Hopefully no more freakouts before D-Day.

35 Weeks...

How Big Is Baby
Still the size of a large cantaloupe (mmm cantaloupe - stupid Listeria outbreak greatly limited my consumption while pregnant).  6 lbs and 19-22 inches.

Symptoms
Big-time mood swings and a general ornery disposition - I'm going to try to overcome the hormones and work on this, because I don't want to be a brat for the last month...  Also, my chin is broken out like a teenager.  Also, I think the baby has dropped a little because I've been having less heartburn (and am able to eat more in one sitting), and I'm starting to feel pelvic pressure, which I didn't feel before.

Weight Gain
I probably gained about 1/2 a pound this week.  When I got on the scale, it sort of wiggled between one pound up, but then landed down.  Since I don't know exactly (our scale only shows the pounds [no half pounds or ounces or anything]), we'll just say no weight gain.  Total: 24 pounds.

Exercise
Trying to walk as much as I can.  Time and body permitting.

Food
I tried hard to cut back on sweets this week and did pretty well until yesterday (which was when I ate/drank all that stuff to get the baby to move...and then we got Muddys after birth class).

Dr's Appointments
Not this week.  Next week we start weeklies.

What I'm Looking Forward To
Meeting the babe!  And if you can believe it, labor.  I might do a post on my hopes for the labor experience - but even if it doesn't go exactly as I hope, I'm still in awe of all the stuff a woman's body can do and can't wait to experience it.

Preparations / Decisions Being Made
We finally decided on a girl's name!  And in terms of prep, I think if we can get everything done this weekend that's on my to-do list, we'll be pretty much set & ready.  I really hope this happens, because it would be nice to have a month-ish for us to just be us and not freaked-out first-time parents trying to get stuff done.  Oh - and also - we finished our birthing classes last night.  Now we just have 2 more supplemental classes we're taking on natural childbirth.

General Mentality
Per the baby-moving freakout, I think you could say I have a little anxiety.  I just don't want something to go wrong with baby in these last few weeks - we've been cooking this long, I want all to be well until the end.  It seems like since (s)he is so big now, there are more ways to get hurt - like twisted up inside me or stuck in some corner of my uterus.  Deep breaths...

Belly
Um yeah...totally forgot to take a pic last night.  I'll take one this weekend and re-publish the post with it.

TGIF, guys!

(Yeah, you heard me; I say "TGIF" now.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Craziness of the Internets

Have you guys ever thought about the crazy vastness of the Internet's ability to teach us things?  We don't need to make this all philosophical - but essentially, anything you need to learn, you can learn it on the Internet.

The things that are really on my mind today are all the insane "teaching" videos you can watch on You Tube.  It's wild because you can pretty much learn to do anything by watching someone do it on You Tube.

Our toilet had been having some trouble flushing for the past couple weeks.  Jonathan, who isn't a super-duper, I'll-never-call-a-handyman type guy, didn't know a ton about toilet troubles.  But, after watching a couple You Tube videos, he went to Home Depot, bought what he needed, and fixed the toilet!  No problem!

Another time, our garbage disposal was messed up.  It was a serious problem because we'd put a TON of food down it, so if the food didn't get out asap, we'd not only have a clogged garbage disposal but a stinky kitchen.  We were thisclose to calling a plumber.  Instead he spent some time on You Tube - and TA DA - fixed the disposal with no trouble!

I received a Moby Wrap and an Ergo baby carrier at a shower.  They have some instructions on how you can wear them, but nothing is quite like seeing someone do it.  Hello, You Tube.  I watched a couple videos on how to tie the Moby and put the newborn in it.  And then I learned how to use the newborn insert with the Ergo to carry him/her that way, as well.  I feel 100% more comfortable (especially with the tricky Moby) actually seeing a human insert another human into it (vs. just looking at the drawings that came with the package). 

I would not have been able to do this 5 years ago - how crazy is that??

For Christmas, I got a new, fancy makeup product from my sister.  I'd read about it on some beauty blogs, which is why I asked for it, but I didn't know exactly how/where to apply it.  Luckily You Tube has loads of videos about makeup application!  Not only did I learn about my new powder, I learned how to do a smoky eye!

It's just insane.  Have you guys learned to do anything awesome via You Tube?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Moments of Mania?

I don't know much about manic depression, so I'm certainly not trying to de-value the seriousness of it.  But I have to say, there have been a few moments in pregnancy when I experience what I imagine comes close to a mania-type state of mind.  The raging hormones, perhaps?  Basically, my mind reels and thinks up 100 things, I come up with a monster to-do list, and then just pound it out until it's done. 

(Maybe this isn't mania?  Maybe this is how a person more productive than myself lives her daily life??  Or maybe this is "nesting" to the extreme?)

Regardless, I had one of these days yesterday.  I woke up at 5 and wasn't able to go back to sleep.  But from 5 until 6:45, I sat in bed thinking about everything I needed to do.  Our week is suuuuper busy (Bible study last night, meeting with a pediatrician tonight, birth class on Thursday, and hosting book club at my house Friday), and there were certain things that needed to get done. 

So in no order, yesterday I...

- bought my dad a birthday card and mailed his present
- contacted a daycare to make sure our name was on the waiting list (it was)
- visited a different daycare and got our name on its wait list
- pre-registered at the hospital where I'll deliver the baby
- researched and bought a nursing bra online
- researched inexpensive mirrors (to buy for the nursery) and came to the brilliant conclusion that I can re-finish and use a mirror I have in my office at work - saving quite a bit of $$!
- researched and bought some wall art for the nursery
- became comfortable with the fact that we need to spend a fair amount of money to: a) fix some leaky windows in our attic (which we've known, but have been putting off); and b) need to fix one part of our roof and potentially get a new roof/re-tile the other part.
- once I arrived at this conclusion, I realized this needs to happen asap, since roofers hammering at 6am is probably not all that awesome when you have a newborn.  SO...Jonathan called some guys and I researched and found some guys, and we have two appointments set up thus far to get estimates.
- paid some bills
- read about 75 pages in our book club book (for Friday) that I hadn't started until Sunday night
- walked the dog
- cooked dinner
- went to Bible study
- and wrote this blog post!

I'd say a productive day for sure!  If only they could all be like that.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend Highlights

I was explaining to my friend this weekend that if we knew 100% this baby wouldn't arrive until close to his/her due date, I would feel 1000x less stressed about preparations right now.  But since the little guy/gal could show up any old time (s)he pleases, I'm trying to get a bunch of stuff done now.

So our weekend was filled with lots of baby prep...

1) We spent our exciting Friday night trekking out to Garden Ridge (yippee!).  And then since we were on Summer Ave., we went to one of the many Mexican restaurants, El Palmar.  The funny part of the whole night was when Lb texted me a picture she found of us in college having some crazy antics.  Jonathan and I commented how my weekend night was now spent at Garden Ridge and not getting c-r-a-z-y with friends.  Oh growing up...

2) I had a lovely breakfast with Emily at Stone Soup on Saturday morning.

3) I ran a bunch of errands during the day (things like buying baby clothes, making returns, buying a diaper bag, etc.).

4) Saturday night we went to Sweet Grass Next Door, sat at the bar, ate dinner, and watched the Grizzlies game.  It was a fun night!

5) Sunday morning we went to church, then spent the day doing normal Sunday stuff, and cleaning up the nursery and washing baby clothes/gear.

6) There was a lot of basketball, football, and tennis watching, too.

7) We also attempted to trim Hank's hair ourselves.  Maybe not our best idea?  He looks a little bit like a puppy ragamuffin now.

Overall it was a good weekend.  I hope you guys had good ones, too!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fetal Friday: 34 Weeks

Now that our showers are done (and we're quickly approaching the 30-days out timeline [which is when amazon and Babies R Us give us 10% off anything still left on our registries]), it's time to get real about assessing what we have/making returns/buying stuff we still need for the babe.  I'm hoping to figure this out this weekend.  I was also hoping to watch some DVDs checked out from the hospital's library - but the dumb place closes at 4 and I didn't leave my 2:30 doctor's appointment until after that!  Note to Memphis people - Baptist Women's has a nice library and they let anyone check out from there.  I'm going to hit it up asap.

Ok - on to 34 weeks...

How Big is Baby
Baby is the size of a large cantaloupe.  5.5 lbs and 19-22 inches.  Apparently the length doesn't really change anymore - most babies are born at this length.

Symptoms
Same.  I'm feeling pretty good.  I've actually been wondering, of late, if most women still feel this good when they're this far along, or if I'm super lucky.

Weight Gain
1 pound this week.  Total gain: 24 pounds.

Exercise
A few walks.  I got a little overheated after a 40-minute treadmill session on Wednesday, so I think I might need to keep my speed/incline in check a little more.  Don't need to be a superhero at this point.

Food
LOTS of leftover shower food, which included a fair amount of cupcakes.  Also, I had to throw away the remainder of the King Cake because I realized I would stand over it for minutes at a time cutting myself more and more slices.

Dr's Appointment
It was a good one!  She acknowledged that my appointment with Dr. Jerk was awful, unlike the practices of the group, and that she'd talk to someone about it.  Take that, Dr. J!

At this appointment I showed her my preliminary birth plan and she's all on board.  (Funny enough, the one part of the whole thing she was iffy about was "permission to eat popsicles," ha.  [This caused "iffy-ness" because she said the no-food thing is more related to an anesthesiologist than her - but hopefully we won't need one, so it won't be an issue.])  Another interesting fact I learned: apparently this far along in pregnancy, if I go into labor, they won't try to stop it.  The baby is big enough that it will most likely be fine outside of the womb, and generally, if a woman goes into labor at this point, her body is doing so because the baby needs to come out.  Weird!

What I'm Looking Forward To
I'm getting more and more excited to actually have a baby at the end.  It might seem like that would be one's mentality the whole time, but honestly, I've felt a shift the past couple weeks in my attitude toward that.  Before it was maybe the inevitable, ie, "at the end of all this, I will have a child, for better or for worse."  Whereas now it's more like, "I'm excited for the end of this, because I want to have a child."  Chalk that up as yet another example of God's perfect crafting of the whole pregnancy & birthing process - ie, let a woman carry the baby long enough to get really excited and attached (but not so long that she's resentful of the thing causing her discomfort).

Preparations and Decisions Being Made
As I said, we're getting all the needed gear sorted out.  Also - we're trying to close in on a girl's name...I'm totally back & forth, though!

General Mentality
Pretty good!  I'm still a little nervous about if I were to go into labor soon (and probably will be until 37 weeks [when baby is considered "full term"]), but it's not necessarily consuming my thoughts.

Belly
Here we are from the front (yes - I'm wearing the same shirt I wore to the shower last weekend):

And from the side:

Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Some Randoms

1) I think I might have a mild obsession with looking at baby clothes online.  I love it!  And it's especially fun since we don't know the sex, so it's a little game to look at the "boy" and "girl" clothes and determine which ones are neutral enough for the other gender.  Also, seeing these cute little clothes makes me want to have a little baby to put them in.

2) I never really recapped the rest of my weekend with Katie & Lb in town (aside from the shower).  It was definitely more low key than our "normal" weekend-long visits, but not worse, I didn't think.  We ate some delicious food: 3 Angel's Diner, Cortona, Central BBQ, King Cake (brought by Katie), and leftover shower food.  We watched the Saints game at my house (sad) and then watched the breakdown of Tebow while at a bar.  We colored in the rest of the letter project.  We bummed around on the couch a little.  We went for a walk in the neighborhood (sadly they left Sunday because Monday the temp was 70 degrees or something absurd).  And just generally, we chatted a lot, laughed a lot, and enjoyed each other's company.

3) I've been working on my "birth plan" to take to my doctor's appointment on Thursday.  I want her to look it over and decide if I need to add anything or take anything off.

4) Our glider and ottoman arrived for the nursery this weekend!  They're sooo comfy and cute!

5) On that note, do any moms reading this have thoughts on scotch guarding the rocker?  Did you scotch guard yours?  And also, does anyone in general know if chenille is a fabric that wouldn't be affected by scotch guard?  It's so soft and comfy right now - I don't want to mess that up.  But also, an enormous stain of puke or poop would potentially mess it up even more...  A lot of questions here, people.

6) I'm really into clementine "cuties" right now.  Mmm.

7) With all the talk around my office about who will potentially move forward with the new company and who will lose his job, I think there's a lot of Survivor-esque wheeling and dealing going on.  Like, people agreeing to "team" up, but then also talking with other people.  And/or being completely prepared to ditch the "team" if need be.  It's turning into a floor of closed-door conversations and low tones.  Since I vowed to keep a good attitude about the whole thing, the atmosphere around here is actually pretty amusing.

8) Yay for my mom - she's turning in her PhD dissertation today (a month & a half ahead of schedule, at that!).

9) We went on a tour of the hospital where I'll deliver the baby last night.  It's really nice.

10) Anyone have an idea what I can get my dad for his birthday?  He's officially the most difficult person I know to shop for...

This is a pretty random post.  Happy hump day!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baby Shower #3: Memphis

I'm coming off of a great weekend!  It was the last of our three baby showers and was the only one thrown by and attended by my friends (vs. my mom's).  Patti, Katie, and Lb decided awhile ago to host a Memphis shower for us, and when my mother in law heard, she also jumped on the hostess bandwagon.

Overall, it was fantastic!  I loved having so many different friends all in the same room!  (And of course, it was great to have Katie in town from New Orleans and Lb from Chicago.)

The shower was held at my in laws' house, which is awesome for entertaining.  Patti was the chef (which is appropriate, since she's definitely the best cook out of all of my friends).  And Katie and Lb are both crafty and can come up with good, interesting ideas, which definitely translated well into shower hosting.  So overall, the food was delicious and the house looked adorable!

But really.  I'm not just saying that.  The food was so good and unique: citrus salad with feta and red onion; asparagus with lemon vinaigrette; quinoa salad with avocado and veggies; croissant sandwiches with either pimento cheese or chicken salad; ginger carrot cake cupcakes; homemade fortune cookies (I mean, homemade?  come on); vegetable tartlets; veggies with blue cheese dressing served in baby food jars (baby food jars!); and Patti's homemade ketchup served over cream cheese (with crackers for dipping).  Freaking awesome.

And then there were just 1000 little details of decor that were so, so cute: little baby book titles printed on paper & mounted on a toothpick to stick into the cupcakes; baby blocks spelling things out on the food table; tissue paper flowers hanging in the window; a diaper cake; nametags that were affixed to homemade fabric flowers; layered peppermint hot cocoa mix in baby bottles as a party favor; and beautiful tulips on the food table.

And I have to mention the two "games" we played.  For the first, they read me a series of questions either about our little babe or about my childhood and I had to answer them.  Then they had answers that Jonathan had given about our babe, and definitive answers my mom had given about my own childhood.  It was fun to compare (and I'd say I did pretty well).  Then for the second "game," they set out a big box of art stuff (crayons, markers, stickers, colored pencils, etc.) and gave everyone one or two letters from the alphabet that said, for example, "A is for" and then the person had to decorate the page.  They're going to turn it into a book for baby.  Both of these were fun and a) not as competitive or dumb as some shower games tend to be, and b) more conducive to chitchat and hanging out than something more structured.  Very pleased with this portion of the shower!

Finally, we opened presents, and I was completely "showered" with tons of loot!  So thankful and blessed for sweet friends!  On the invitation, the girls told everyone to bring a book for baby, so in addition to much-needed baby gear, we also worked to build up our baby's library.  Love it!

Here are some pics...













They aren't really in any kind of order (since it's 30000x easier to upload pics that way), but you can see pretty much everything I mentioned.

Thank you again, to Patti, Katie, Lb, and Janie!  It was so much better than I even imagined (and I imagined it would be pretty nice)!

(And if you're interested, Patti has already written a little on her blog about it.  And I'm sure Lb will do the same on her blog at some point.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fetal Friday: 33 Weeks

We're getting so close to meeting this little baby!  Well...so close, yet still so far away.  And I'm happy about both of those statements.

33 Weeks...

How Big Is Baby?
Baby's a pineapple prince/princess this week!  19-22 inches; 4.9 lbs.

Symptoms
Nothing new.  Still: back pain when I've been standing for awhile; heartburn at night; exhaustion after doing a lot of tasks and/or at the end of the day; lack of motion because of the huge belly, etc.

Weight Gain
1 pound this week; total gain: 23 pounds.

Exercise
A couple walks with the dog this week.  It sort of sucks because I know if I take the dog for a walk after work and then have to stand up for awhile cooking dinner, I'll get really, really tired early in the night (like, fall asleep on the couch at 9).  Not just that, but my body just feels exhausted and my belly feels kind of tight and nagging.

Food
I ate a lot of grapefruit this week - mmm.  I also ate a lot of crap while in Ohio.  And I've had a pretty strong desire not to cook.

Dr's Appointment
Not this week.

What I'm Looking Forward To
This weekend!  Baby shower!  And Katie & LB in town!

Preparations and Decisions Being Made
We're trying to figure out what all we still need for the babe.  After the shower this weekend, we're going to really sit down and go through our list.  Also, I really got into diaper bag searching this week, ha.  If any mom hasn't already weighed in with me, I'd love to know what brand/model of diaper bag you like the most.

General Mentality
I've been a little anxious, but unrelated to the babe.  Related, actually, to the fact that my company has been sold to another company - meaning I will I might lose my job in a couple months.  I'll blog about this next week.

Belly
Here we are from the front:

And the side:

Have an awesome weekend!  Anyone else with a 3-day weekend like me??  Love MLK Day!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My New Primping Routine

A couple months ago, I wrote about my hair.  I was unsure if I should keep growing it long (so I could have it in a ponytail), or cut it short again so I could wash it at night and have it look good the next day.  As we can see from all my pictures, I'm sticking with the long and trying to get it to maybe shoulder-length?  Maybe a tad longer?

Anyway, I'm really happy with the shape of my last cut.  So, because of that, I'm hoping to wear it down a lot.  But the problem is I'm a night showerer and by the next morning, it doesn't sit right (it gets creases and loses all volume and can't be fluffed up with products).

(And no, I don't want to switch off of night showering.  I have some weird germ issues with getting into bed when I'm not clean.  But that's a whole other post...)

So!  I've come up with a new plan that has been working great!  I do a "rinse" shower at night - this is my term for when I completely shower, but don't wash my hair.  And then in the morning, I lean over the faucet in the shower and wash my hair.  Both take substantially less time than if I do a full-on shower (since, when taking a "normal" shower, I tend to stand in there and let the hot water run over me for longer than the average person, just to relax a little).  And another great benefit is that my skin looks good when it's time to leave the house.  I have super dry skin, so especially in winter, after I take a full on shower, it gets really red and blotchy and doesn't die down for a couple of hours.

I'm wondering if this will be good, too, for the first month or so of baby's life?  It seems like Jonathan could watch the child while I do a rinse at night, and then at some point during the day, I'd be able to bring the baby into the bathroom with me while I spend 3 minutes washing my hair.  Or I could just have dirty hair during the day.  We'll see.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Green Smoothie - Yum!

I have a little secret.  Or maybe it's no secret at all...

But hear this: if you put raw spinach in a smoothie, you can't taste it and it doesn't affect the texture of the drink.

It's not that spinach tastes bad, but usually when thinking about smoothies, it's not the first ingredient to pop  in your mind.  But think about it - spinach adds nothing calorically, but adds a lot of extra vitamins and fiber you wouldn't get from fruit alone.

So I've developed this little almond/spinach smoothie I'm obsessed with!  It tastes delicious and gives me & baby a ton of raw spinach (which has been a slight food aversion in pregnancy).

What you need:
Fresh spinach, a frozen banana broken into pieces, a packet of Stevia (or your zero-calorie sweetener of choice), 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk - vanilla or chocolate - but you must buy the unsweetened kind if you want to keep the calories in check, and 2 Tbsps. of almond butter (make sure you choose an unsweetened, strong-flavored one - I like Trader Joe's Almond Butter with Roasted Flaxseed).  You might also want a few ice cubes.  And you can add any other frozen fruit you want.

In the blender, first put in your almond milk, Stevia, and almond butter.  Then pack in the spinach (I use quite a bit).  Finally, put the frozen banana, ice cubes, and any other frozen fruit you'd like to add.  I think this order of ingredients is key.  Having the heavy banana and ice on top pushes the spinach down once it starts blending.
Then blend.
Then enjoy this delicious, bizarre-looking drink!
This smoothie as written (so, with no other fruit) has 381 calories, according to the Lose It! app on my phone.  It definitely packs a calorie punch, but it's realllllly filling.  I've been known to have it as a meal on it's own.  But you could also add an English muffin or small sandwich and definitely be set for your meal.

If you like almonds and want to get some more raw veg in your diet, check it out!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Our Ohio Baby Shower!

We spent this past weekend in Ohio.  The main purpose of our trip was a baby shower thrown by my mom's BFFs on Saturday; but of course, it was also a time to see my dad & crew and visit with them for the weekend. 

(If any blog readers don't know, my dad, stepmom, half sister [age 18] and half brother [age 17] live in Ohio and I was born there.  My mom was born & raised in Ohio; we got to St. Louis because my stepdad's job was transferred when I was around 10.  Fun fact: I lived in Ohio about 10 years, St. Louis about 10 years, and now Memphis about 10 years.)

Anyway.  So we got in around 5pm on Friday and after some chitchat and catching up, we went to a cutesy Italian place for dinner.  Then we came home and watched football.  Saturday morning we just lazed around the house until it was time to get ready for the shower.  Jonathan attended, as did my stepmom and half sister.

Overall, it was a really great shower!  My mom has this big group of girlfriends from college to whom she's still really close (like, they do a girlfriend vacation every year, throw each other's kids wedding & baby showers, talk on the phone a lot, etc.).  So they were all at the shower.  And so were a couple of my mom's non-college friends who still live in Ohio; and then some of my family: my 94 year old great aunt, my aunt, and my cousin, his wife, & their 4-week old baby.  (Another random tidbit, my cousin's wife is the daughter of my mom's best college friend, who was one of the hostesses of the shower.  Is anyone confused yet?)

So this shower was really nice because for me, as the "guest of honor," there wasn't really any pressure.  Everyone wanted to know how I was doing & feeling, but for the most part, they were in town/at the shower to chitchat with each other and have girlfriend time.  So I didn't have to go around and make sure I'd put in time with everyone or make sure everyone was having fun and feeling included (except for maybe my stepmom & half sister), because it was a pretty self-sustaining group.  I think Jonathan loved it for that reason, too, but also because: 1) we didn't play shower games, and 2) my cousin was there (ie, he wasn't the only guy).  I'd say a good majority of our time was spent with cousin/wife/baby, which was great because we don't get to see them enough.

We took a ton of pictures (go us!), so here's a random sampling.  The guests were told to get us gift cards (since we'd be airplane traveling), so there were only a few non-giftcard items to open.

Before the shower at my dad's house:
Practicing with Baby Andrew:

With cousins!

Opening presents (the Raggedy Ann & Andy were handmade by my mom's friend Becky):



And finally, with my mom and our lovely hostesses:

Overall, it was a great shower!  We had a delicious sit-down luncheon with a cake for dessert that was out of this world!  And all those gift cards are most certainly going to help us complete our registries.

When we got back to my dad's house Saturday night, we went out to one of my favorite Ohio restaurants, Carsonie's, and showcased a complete, utter display of gluttony among the 6 of us.  (Carsonie's is a little hole-in-the-wall owned by family friends that has the World's best [in my opinion] stromboli.)  We got Italian "fries" to start with (deep fried pizza dough that puffs up & is then doused in parmesan cheese); chicken wings; 3 strombolis; an "elephant ear" for dessert (fried pizza dough sprinkled in cinnamon and sugar) and then 6 pieces of chocolate peanut butter pie, which were brought out by the owner.  Yeah.

Sunday was sort of lazy, for the most part.  My half sister had a big project due on Monday, so a lot of time was spent helping her prep.  Then the whole fam went to the big outdoor mall in Columbus and had lunch and walked around.  Our flight was at 5, so we went straight from there to the airport.

Overall, it was a quick, but good trip.  Our travel, thank goodness, was incredibly pain free and easy (which I was sort of worried about, given the whole 8-months pregnant thing).

We're so thankful for friends and family who want to "shower" us with love before this baby even arrives!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fetal Friday: 32 Weeks

We're getting closer and closer!  32 weeks...

How Big Is Baby?
The size of a honeydew.  19 inches, 4.5 lbs.

Symptoms
General discomforts related to the size of my belly: annoying achiness in my back; heartburn at night; difficulty bending over to pick stuff up, etc.  Also, I'm not sleeping quite as awesomely as I had been, but this isn't really a negative, I don't think, because it will prep me for the babe's arrival.

Weight Gain
One pound this week.  Total gain: 22 pounds.

Exercise
We've had a pretty busy week, so not as much walking as I would've liked.

Food
I can't really eat as much as I want to.  That is, if I eat a large amount, there's too much pressure from the uterus on my stomach and the food wants to come back up.  It's a little weird, actually.

Dr's Appointment
Wow.  This could be a whole blog post in itself.  I went to the doctor on Wednesday and saw someone other than my normal doc.  (I was planning on seeing a different doctor all along, but it was awesome when I arrived on Wednesday at 9:40 and they said, "your appointment was yesterday at 9:40."  But anyway, a different guy was able to squeeze me in.) 

Basically, this was the worst doctor's appointment I've ever had because the guy I saw was an A. HOLE.  Like, if this guy is on call when I'm in labor, I might weep in the room when he walks in (and the weeping will be unrelated to the pain I'm in).  Huge jerk.  HUGE.  Some of his lovely comments (with my response thoughts in italics):

1) When I pulled out a sheet of paper with questions to ask him (which I bring to every appt.): [super cocky/condescending] "Oh.  So you're one of those patients?"  Informed?  Interested in gaining knowledge from the expensive resource [the doctor] I pay to see every few weeks?

2) When I told him I'm interested in trying for a natural childbirth:
          a) "You should probably just mentally prepare for a C-Section.  3 out of 4 first-time mothers I see end up having them."  Really??  3 out of 4?  50% above the national average?  That doesn't seem excessive or inaccurate...
          b) "You don't want a natural childbirth anyway.  Epidurals are great.  They make you less grumpy in the delivery room, which is good because then you don't end up kicking out your parents and in-laws.  Also, your hair will stay all pretty and not get messed up and sweaty."  I mean...  One, don't tell me what I do and don't want.  Two, definitely planning to have no one but Jonathan in the room.  Three, "grumpy" I guess equals going through the extremely physical task of delivering a baby?  And four - assuming I care more about the way my hair looks than the delivery experience of my first child is a condescending, generalized assumption about women that suggests to me you shouldn't be an OBGYN.

3) And finally, when I asked at what point I should be concerned if the baby hasn't turned to a head-down position: "Never.  It doesn't matter.  If the baby's breech, we'll just do a c-section.  They aren't that big a deal."  Ok.  I understand and am trying to mentally prepare that if something goes wrong in the delivery room, I will have a c-section.  I get that.  But to call them "not a big deal" again just shows me that this guy doesn't care about women or providing the best possible care.  A Cesarean is a major surgery.  It greatly impacts your first few weeks with your baby (ie, you can't drive and you can't lift anything heavy [the baby]).  Also, your body doesn't completely heal for six months!  Comparing a normal, vaginal birth to a major surgery requiring six months of recovery is absurd.

He made me really mad.  I was pretty fired up when I left the office (and maybe just got fired up again while re-thinking about it??).  Ok.  Deep breath...  Moving on.

What I'm Looking Forward To
A shower this weekend and next weekend!  And my lovely hostess friends coming in town for next weekend's!

Preparation & Decisions Being Made
All that stuff I mentioned in yesterday's post.  I guess at some point we need to get some names going for this child...  We also had our first childbirth class last night.  We didn't necessarily learn anything new, but it was still nice to be with other couples who are in the same place we are.

General Mentality
I've had a ton of anxiety this week.  Work has been crazy.  And I've started fixating on pre-term labor (the same way I fixated on miscarriage in the 1st trimester and birth defects in the 2nd).  I know this baby doesn't need stress, so I have to find a way to cooooool ouuuuuuut.

Belly
And here's our belly.  From the front:

And from the side:

I hope everyone has a glorious weekend!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What's Been Getting Done Around Hur

As I mentioned before Christmas, I had a ton of vacation time to take in December before the year end.  And quite literally, most of those days were spent doing stuff that needed to be done.  There was only one day, really, when I just sort of hung out and made cookies and got a massage.  All the other days, I was getting 'er done.

(As a quick side note, I'm not sure I've mentioned on the blog why I think having a baby at the end of February is the perfect time of year to have one.  There are a million reasons.  To name a few: 1) not huge and pregnant in any nasty summer heat; 2) the cold weather discourages swelling; 3) the kid's birthday isn't too close to Christmas; 4) good months to be on maternity leave; 5) leggings; 6) Thanksgiving and Christmas and you're not that concerned about calories; 7) not wearing a swimsuit; 8) no reason to shave legs on a regular basis (because trust me, it becomes difficult); 9) and finally, time off work around the holidays to get the nursery ready.)

Anyway, rant over.  Point number 9: time off work to get baby-related stuff done around the holidays.  I know a lot of people probably get baby stuff done sooner than their 7th month, but I actually enjoyed waiting until then.  It was late enough that a miscarriage was probably out of the cards, but pre-term labor was still a risk that seemed farther out.

So...what did we get done?  (This was not just done by me - Jonathan worked hard after work and on the weekends, as well.)

-We cleaned out the office.  This included getting rid of a lot of junk and organizing the rest of the stuff.  We had to clear out two desks (moving one to storage and one to another bedroom).  We had to clear out a few of the built-in bookshelves (one side that contained Jonathan's extensive cd collection, which needed to be sorted and stored).  There was a large garbage pile at the end in addition to a more organized system for storing the stuff we need.
-We used two coats of primer and two coats of color to bring the room from hunter green to light grey-ish blue.
-We had the carpets cleaned in the nursery and in the hallway (the area of the house with carpet).
-We bought a used dresser to have in the nursery and use as a changing table.  We painted it, which isn't that big of a deal except it's made of wicker and we used normal paint on it (vs. spray paint) in an effort to save $$.  Have you ever painted wicker?  I don't recommend it.  It took days.
-We painted another little side table to put next to the dresser.
-We created our baby bedding (by choosing fabrics and a pattern) and ordered it.  (Actually, it was a Christmas present from my dad.)
-We set up the crib, which we got from my sister in law, and then put the bedding on it.
-We ordered the glider and ottoman, gifts from my mom, which will arrive this coming week.
-We washed all the baby clothes we have in the free & clear detergent and got them put away in the dresser.
-We cleaned our bedroom.  And switched out the tv that used to be in the office with the bedroom tv.  (We don't really watch tv in our bedroom, but we have one in there anyway.)
-We set up our desktop computer in the guest bedroom, which now functions as a crowded quasi-office.

And so what do we have now?

A nursery set up in our house!  A new office space.  A pretty clean and organized house.  And a happy, nesting momma-to-be.

I'll definitely show pictures of the nursery on the blog at some point, but it's not decorated yet.  And actually, I'm debating if I should hold off on the decorating until after baby is born, because if s(he) is a she, I might want to throw some girly-ish things on the walls.  To be decided...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Goals

I've been teetering back and forth about making New Year's Resolutions this year.  Generally I like the idea of setting new goals for the new year.  But it feels a little different this time since so much is going to change with the arrival of baby.

I could certainly try to set some of the classic exercise/diet-related ones - but again, it's too hard to guess what things will be like after baby.  I could say I want to lose all my pregnancy weight in a reasonable amount of time, but sine I've never had a baby before, I have no idea what my body will do after the birth.  I could make a general exercise goal like, "I will work out at least 3 times a week every week of the year," but that doesn't seem reasonable given all the unknowns.

Last year my resolution was to be nicer.  And I think to an extent, it worked well for me.  I think I'll keep that on the list.

So here we go - "the list."

1) Be nicer - especially to certain people at work.
2) Keep our marriage a priority.  I don't want us to become parents who forget they are (and were first) a married couple.
3) Make some professional growth and changes.
4) Survive and thrive.  I joke a little - but I know there will be a lot of sleepless nights and fears and worries and moments when I feel overwhelmed and unhappy.  But I know we can (and will) survive and even thrive.

I hope to remember all these in a few months (when the New Year is pushed far from the front of my mind).

What about you guys?  Did you set a new goal with the new year?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

NYE 2011

New Year's Eve felt a little weird this year.  There was some juxtaposition between the fact that I'm pregnant and tired, and the fact that this was the last NYE we'd have for awhile when childcare wasn't an issue.  So part of me didn't want to do anything but go to bed at 10, and part of me wanted to enjoy this last bit of "freedom."

In the end, we decided to cook a lobster feast with another couple at their house, which was a good compromise: ie, still doing something, but nothing requiring too much energy/big crowds/expensive fixed menus/etc.  And it was a fun, chill night overall!  It was just what we needed.  (Although, I'm not sure we needed 3-pound lobsters per person!)

Here's Jeremy with the lobsters before their "bath"...and then once they were actually in.
We all had awesome head gear.  Here's Katie sporting her fashion hat.
At the table - ready to chow.

Our last New Year's Eve as a family of two.
And finally, getting c-r-a-z-y at midnight 11pm.
Yeah, you read that right.  We decided to countdown and celebrate with the East coast this year (just in case I got too tired to stay until the actual event).  Whatev - judge as you want - it didn't make the night less fun or less climactic.  And in fact, we did stay at their house past midnight by about ten minutes.

Did you guys do anything fun?  Anything legitimately crazy??

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas 2011

In the midst of everyone's new year's blog posts, I'm going to go ahead and start where I last left off - with Christmas.  Go ahead and rewind your brain a little bit - we'll get to the New Year sometime later this week.

So in our marriage, as of right now, we're in the school of "trade off" holidays with our families - that is, one family gets us for Thanksgiving and the other for Christmas, and then the following year it switches.  Well, as you might recall, we were in St. Louis at my mom's house for Thanksgiving this year, so for Christmas, we were with Jonathan's.  And that meant going to Chicago where his sister's family lives.

First off, I was a little apprehensive about the drive for many reasons - namely: 1) when we drove two years ago, it snowed pretty much the whole time and took many more hours than it should have; 2) 4 people in a car isn't the most comfortable (us and his parents); and 3) my doctor told me I needed to stop every 2 hours to walk around so as to control the risk of blood clots in the 3rd trimester - I usually don't drink anything a few hours before leaving on a roadtrip so I don't have to stop at all, so the idea of every 2 hours was foreign to me and sounded awful.

But surprisingly - the drives both there and back were fine.  We made decent time, even.  And stopping every two hours was sort of nice because we could remain hydrated in the car, knowing we'd be stopping sooner than later.

And driving aside, any other apprehensions I had about our trip ended up being non-issues (ie, having SO MANY PEOPLE packed into one house [9 if you include the kids], but it was fine; nasty weather in Chicago [because I was really scared of slipping on ice], but it was actually unseasonably warm and sunny; being physically restricted to do some things because of pregnancy and thus appearing to be the huge stick in the mud [which just didn't really happen]; and/or going insane with so much in-law time [which, again, just didn't really happen]).  So the trip was great!  It really was!

There was a fair amount of lounging around and playing with the kids.  But, more specifically we:
-went to the Botanic Gardens one night to see the Christmas lights and the train display they do every year
-had dinner at their country club
-played paddle (I was a cheerleader)
-went ice skating (again, I cheered)
-ate a ton of delicious food
-played a lot of Cranium and Whoonu
-went to see movies (Jonathan's parents took the boys [aged 9 and 7] to see Hugo; Jonathan, his sister, and brother in law saw The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; and me and Eliza [age 4] saw Chipwrecked - yeah, you read that right)
-ate a lot of delicious desserts

But overall, it was a great time!  We got there Thursday night and left Monday morning, so the timing was good and wasn't too long.  I'd post some pictures, but we literally took zero.  Like, our camera didn't even come out of its case, which is super annoying.  (We've thus decided, moving forward, to try to remember to bring the camera with us so we can document these last few months of pregnancy.)

I hope everyone had very merry Christmases, too, and that Santa was generous (as he was to me)!