Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tristan: Six Months

Summer has flown by, and so has the time with my little baby!

Tristan is becoming quite the animated little guy. He absolutely LOVES his big brother and will giggle at him for really no reason at all. I love that they like each other so much right now, and although I know that will inevitably change, I can see them being quite the pals during their childhoods at least.

At six months, Tristan is around 20 pounds. I have no idea where this big boy came from, but soon he will be closing in on Brady's lean 32-pound frame! It's hard to keep him in any one size of clothing, shoe, or diaper (size 4!) for very long.

He is wearing 12-month or 12-18 month clothing, although I still squeeze him in some 9 month items if I can. I just can't wrap my mind around his size - he is outgrowing stuff at six months that Brady wore at 1+ years. The one thing that ISN'T large - his head :)

Even with his size, the kid still loves to stand. He finally started rolling over back to front at around five months, but if he could have his way, he'd stand all the time.

Tristan is a bit of a mama's boy - in the evenings, he will watch me like a hawk and hates to be away from me. It's cute and all, but hard to be gone for very long. And he's stopped taking bottles of any kind, so yeah, we're mostly a package deal these days!

Little man is really good with his hands. He loves batting and shaking toys, and grabbing his toes. Patty Toes (aka Patty Cake) is his very favorite, and I even found him grabbing his toes and patting them together a few times when I would sing the song - it's so precious!

As much as daddy really wants a ball player, T-man might just be another musical type (not that he can't be both!). He is terrible at riding in the car, but a few weeks ago I discovered loud rock-type music with lots of guitars and drums will quiet him immediately! Unfortunately for Gamma Lauterbach, I forgot to pass along this handy little tip the other night when she drove him from downtown to her house....whoops!

I think he is going to be teething soon - I sound like a broken record, but he's so slobbery, and his gums are rock-hard. He's got a constant runny nose this week, so I'm betting something will break through soon. Oh, joy.

In case you couldn't already tell, Chubber LOVES food. It took him two times to get the hang of eating with a spoon, and now he hoovers it. I can't shovel it in fast enough. He loves peas, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, rice cereal....everything I've given him, he's loved - EXCEPT the sweet peas I made for him. Awesome.

We are going through a phase now where he constantly wants attention. He loves to be held, and that includes while he falls asleep. I really don't hold him all the time and let him fuss quite a bit, but it's a bad habit he's developed and it needs to be stopped! In fact, he's screaming right now, has been for at least a half an hour, and it's almost 10:30pm. Did I mention he's strong-willed? He's exhausted but just won't give up - I even put the pacifier back in, but he just wants to be held. It's hard to know if he's just being a stinker, or if he's not feeling well from his teeth. 

When he's not screaming endlessly, he really is the happiest, smiliest baby alive, I swear. He is constantly grinning from ear to ear, and just loves to interact with people. I think he might be a little distracting at church to those who sit behind us, but who can resist a cute, toothless grin from a baby :)

It's so hard to believe he's already six months old. It feels like I just brought him home. Our nephew Jaxon was born at the end of August, and he weighed the same as Tristan did when he was born. I just shake my head in amazement, and a little sadness, that Tristan went from less than 7 1/2 pounds to the boy he is today in so few months. God truly is incredible.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tristan: Three Months

I know it's a tired expression, but in this case, the time really has flown by. I don't know if it's because I have two kids, or we've kept busy, or maybe because Tristan is just gargantuan, but I feel like my little baby is gone already at 3 months!

Tristan is such a joy and at such a fun age right now. He is such a happy, smiley, LOUD baby. He will tell you all about it and then some, competing to be heard over big brother's constant jabbering.

At three months, Tristan weighs SIXTEEN pounds. yes. sixteen. He's very tall and has a budda belly as well as some mega-thighs :) I would swear he is older than he is if I didn't know better, he looks more like a six-month-old than an infant half that age!

He has great control of his arms and found his thumb a couple weeks ago. I know it's not a good habit, but it is just adorable to see him sucking his tiny thumb. He loves to lay on the floor and play with toys suspended over him. He is quite good at batting or pulling on toys, and loves when people play with his feet.

He seems to look less like Brady all the time and more like me. But one thing that is a total deja vu moment for me is when he gets excited about something. He stands up (with assistance of course!), gets this serious, Zoolander "Blue Steel" kind of look, and shakes his arms. It's really cute, and exactly what Brady used to do when he was excited, too.

Praise God the colicky phase is over, but now he might be's early, but he chomps and drools, and just gets kind of crabby. He loves gnawing on my knuckles, and kind of seems like he might be trying to cut some teeth soon.

I figured out I wasn't drinking enough water to keep up with his appetite. Since I have been forcing myself to drink more, I've been able to keep up with nursing much better. Obviously, his weight isn't suffering :)

Tristan is in size 2 diaper, and is in size 6 month clothing, although I think he will be out of that pretty soon. I can't get out the next box of clothes and get them washed up fast enough, he starts outgrowing them immediately.

I feel kind of bad that all of his nicknames revolve around his size. chubber, chubber cheeks, budda belly, chunky monkey, to name a few :) 

He may be a big boy, and I do miss my little baby, but he's super snuggly. My favorite is when he rests his head on my chest, wide awake, and just lets out a few coos and gurgles. He's just happy and content to lay with his mommy, and it's those moments that I wish I could just bottle up and cherish forever.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Pursuit of Happiness

What is this perpetual pursuit of happiness to which our world is addicted? What does it even mean to achieve true happiness?

I've spend a lot of my days trying, and failing, to attain a level of happiness I thought I should have, that others had. You know what I'm talking about: those people who always seem to have everything together. Like nothing could ever rock or phase them. How did they get so....happy.

I actually think the problem lies in the question itself: "How do we achieve happiness?" I mean, the very word 'happiness'; is the culprit. If we strive for constant happiness, we are going to be constantly disappointed.

The Bible clearly states this life will not be without it's struggles, disappointments, hurts.  "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows" - John 16:33. So it would be impossible to attain pure happiness in a world where bad things happen, where evil exists and temptations lurk.

Pursuing happiness will always result in dissatisfaction, in UNhappiness. We should instead strive for an underlying joy that supersedes happiness, which allows us to be thankful in the midst of suffering, find beauty when we are hurting, rejoice in the Lord when our flesh tells us we are down.

Back to those people who have it all together. They have happy days and sad days, great days and horrific ones like we all do. But their underlying joy in life is what takes them away from the pursuit of what the world says is true happiness (cars, money, houses, wealth, good looks, career, etc.) and lets them rest in the fact that the next thing God says after telling us this life has it's burdens is to "Take heart! I have overcome the world." He is giving us permission to be unhappy with life on Earth at times, and assures us that underlying joy can co-habitate with unhappiness because of salvation and His eternal promise. 

To help do that and remember the things that bring me joy, I've made a joy list. In the hustle and bustle of life it is easy to forget the very things that we love most about life: a list helps bring those to the forefront of your mind so that when you see a newborn puppy or a rainbow or get a kiss from a loved one, you don't simply take it for granted but remember to recognize the joy simple things bring to your lufe, and to thank God for the joy, even if it's hard to be 'happy'.

I'll be sharing my joy list over the course of a few postings as it's quite lengthy - I hope you'll make your own, and even find some on my list to get you started.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tristan's Milestones

I plan to keep this post updated with Tristan's milestones. For now we don't have many, but that changes daily as he grows into a happy little boy!

First roll (tummy to back): March (yes, MARCH!!) 23

First (real) smile: April 11

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Introducing Tristan Daniel Marks

Whew, it's been a whirlwind of a month, but I think we've finally settled into life with a toddler and an infant! It's a bit overdue, but I'm glad to finally introduce Tristan Daniel to the blog!

Tristan was born March 7 at 6:11am. He was 7lbs, 6oz and 19 inches long. A full pound smaller than his big brother, which I didn't mind! I also didn't mind that he came a week early, also opposite of his brother :)

I hope to post details of his arrival soon, but until then, here are some fun facts about our little guy:

  • Tristan was tongue-tied at birth, which was a whole big issue I won't go into. But one tongue-clip later, he eats great and has full use of his tongue!
  • Tristan also had an ear that was bent forward and didn't curl at the top (I call it his Yoda ear). We had a mold put on his ear that was supposed to correct it in two months, but after 10 days, it had already worked!
  • The boy eats like a CHAMP. Before bed he downs 5-6 oz at a time!
  • He is a super fussy/spitty baby. It's taken a full month, but I am hoping we've turned the corner away from sleepless nights and screaming until 2 am.
  • With his big appetite, he has a big tummy to go with it :) Brady was always a small, skinny kid, so this chubby baby thing is new to me! His tummy and cheeks have earned him the nickname "Chunky Monkey".
  • Tristan is the squeakiest child! He grunts and squeaks ALL the time - earning "Squeaky" as his other nickname.
  • When he was born, Tristan could hold his weight with is legs. He could also hold up his head and look around without flopping. We knew he was strong, but we were pretty surprised when he started rolling over at two weeks!
  • When he's happy, Tristan breathes really fast like he can't catch his breath, his eyes get really big, and then he sighs with a happy "OHHHHH!". It's pretty cute :)
  • We've fought it for a month, but it's clear that Tristan is a tummy sleeper.
  • I know it's not on purpose, but he smiles in his sleep all the time. Not little smirks, but full-on, gummy grins that are really precious!
  • Although I admit I was hoping for a girl this time, I love my two boys!
  • Brady is the best big brother, and loves Tristan more than I ever thought he could at age three.
  • Two children is a lot bigger adjustment than I thought it would be. Thank goodness for family and friends who've helped in the beginning, especially my mom and dad!
I don't know when I'll get back into regular blogging, but for now, here are some photos from Tristan's big arrival!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lent 2012

Do you give up things for Lent? I remember in elementary school several Catholic kids made a big deal about this. I think they did it for the attention and didn't really get why they were giving anything up, but I gave it a stab a couple times because it seemed like the cool thing to do. It was usually brownies or chocolate or something, and I always caved - quite early. I'd start by making exceptions, and then all out blow it by week two or so.

"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." - Matthew 6:1

A few years ago, I tried again, with greater success. I remember an Ash Wednesday sermon that encouraged taking an action as a way to grow closer to God, but to do if privately. Instead of flaunting the fact that I couldn't eat certain things, I only told those who needed to know, the the sense of willpower at the end was very, well, empowering! I consulted God throughout my day to help me abstain from the temptations and cravings. And at the end I felt like, although it was a relatively small triumph in the grand scheme, that I COULD do all things through Christ, even against my fleshly desires.

This year I am not giving up food - I'm pregnant. I'm not committing to anything - I will soon have a newborn. I'm not gettin' my exercise on - again, the pregnancy card is being played....

I'm not doing anything to set myself up for failure. I'm simply giving up stress/worry for Lent.

How can you actually give up stress. Or worry. I decided, while I may not always be successful or even remotely rid of stress and worry, I do tend to let myself focus on those emotions too often rather than learn to let go of the unnecessary and lean on God for the rest. So, I think it's pretty timely with the baby coming and all. I've already let go of a few things: Lost camera at IKEA? Borrow one. Only a handful of diapers at home? Wal-Mart is two miles from home. Seriously, these are the kinds of things I stress and worry about, more than I should. And then of course there are the bigger worries: healthy baby, safe delivery, Brady's response to a sibling, my emotional state, potential accidents or catastrophes, etc, etc.

I know this isn't something I can do on my own. My natural tendency is to be a controlling worry-wart. I will have to lean on Joel, family, friends, and of course God to help me keep stress and worry at bay - especially with wacky hormones.

I don't really have a way to track, succeed, or fail at this, which is also a good thing. It is what it is, and at the end maybe, just maybe, I'll start to naturally worry/stress less and remember to take each day at a time, being thankful for all I have today instead of anticipating the worries of tomorrow.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:3

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done." - Philippians 4:6

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pregnancy Update: Week 36 + WYRW

Swollen, blobby mess. That about sums up my physical and mental state these days! I think a ban on all photos of me should be enacted now through D-day.

Last Friday, I went to the OB for a check up and to get the OK to travel to Minnesota for a quick weekend getaway. I have suspected I've had low iron at various times throughout this pregnancy, and a hemoglobin test confirmed that - so more steak, broccoli, and spinach for me! Hopefully that will help curb my lightheadedness, extra fatigue, and irritability I've been experiencing. Yes, I blame all irritability on the iron deficiency, and not that fact that I am an emotional roller-coaster anyway and have a tiring toddler to contend with everyday. The attitude of a teenager with a toddler's body and mind. It's just such a treat....

I gained three pounds in two weeks, which was more than past weeks, and I have a feeling between vacation, my couch-potatoness, and swelling, that trend will continue. But we did discover that I have started dilating (tmi? sorry!), which could mean nothing but is encouraging nonetheless! I KNEW all these contractions aren't just practice :)

The doctor also said once I was considered full term, they would probably order an ultrasound to check the baby's size. It took a couple seconds and then I realized what she was saying. "He's big, isn't he?" I'd been saying for the last two weeks that he just all of a sudden felt HUGE. She said yes, he seemed to be a good size little guy. Good news - maybe I will go into labor early and/or be induced (ick) closer to 37 weeks rather than 40 (or 41). Bad news - I am not a large or tall person, and I have a short torso. My ribs, lungs, and back are at their limit NOW!

As soon as we got back from Minnesota, which was an adventure in and of itself that I will write about shortly, serious swelling set in. And I've had about as much of our mattress as I can take - it USED to be comfortable due to our nice feather topper. A couple years ago after a suspected bed-bug incident, we purchased an expensive casing to go over our mattress and feather-topper. Well, since then the feather-topper ripped, and the thousands of feathers that are now loose in the casing have nestled into every crevasse where our bodies DON'T lay. Basically, we need a new mattress - NOW.

Complain much, huh? I do want to acknowledge that I am very grateful for relative health and well-being for both the baby and myself. I know I sound ungrateful - around 8 weeks I was annoyed and irritated with my nausea. I felt terrible and couldn't muster the energy to do anything. Granted, our scare at 10 weeks gave me a little boost of "I will endure anything I have to if the baby can just be ok!" But, the woe-is-me attitude returned once the pregnancy was back on track.

I have close friends and family who have struggled with fertility. In all honesty, it’s nothing I have experience with. I can’t imagine how couples endure who wait months, or years to have a baby. Or how women who have one, two, three, more miscarriages, well into that first trimester. They endure over and over the gross symptoms I complained about so routinely, with no baby to show for it in the end.

It’s true, at least for me, that much of pregnancy just sucks. But I hope I never, ever forget how lucky I am to even be married and able to carry children naturally, without intervention. My prayer today is for those who are unmarried and desire children, those who are married and struggling with conception, and those who have tried everything and still continue to wait. That God would choose to give to them what He so abundantly has given to us!

Even if all I feel like today is a swollen, blobby mess :)

Would You Rather Wednesday: Would you rather take multiple, small trips each year, or one bigger trip every year or two?

I'd say a combo! We haven't been on many big vacations, but like to take smaller ones more regularly, especially a warm-weather escape in the winter. However, even with the new baby and basement expenses, we are going to try to get in a nice, big trip this fall to celebrate our five-year anniversary. How far we've come in five short years!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pregnancy Update: Week 35 + WYRW

Whew, what a long week it's been. The first time the weather decided to dump any kind of measurable snow this entire season was before and during my Pampered Chef brunch on Saturday - lovely, eh? I've battled extreme backaches most days, and even though I've done well so far, I managed to gain more weight than I cared to. I think the swelling has started, and I wake up every morning with ribs that feel like they are broken they are so painful. Well ok, I don't actually know what a broken rib feels like, but the sharp pains and aching is no picnic. Thankfully once I stretch out and stand up, it starts to lessen....

Speaking of sharp pains, I don't recall having this with Brady, but I have heard about it. When the baby sits just right, usually when I'm standing, I get this sharp pain down my right leg. I don't know who this alien baby is, but he won't stop moving!

I don't mean to gripe, and I'm sure I'm just painting a lovely picture of pregnancy :) I just feel like this baby is full size and out of room can we have five (or more) weeks to go?! And yet, I need those weeks....the nursery isn't decorated, birth plan isn't finalized, pre-registration has yet to be sent to the hospital, baby book hasn't been purchased, hospital bags aren't packed, etc. etc. Yikes! I guess I better be off to do something productive.

As for Would You Rather Wednesday: Would you rather be caught in ice, snow, wind, or rain?
I think I'd have to say rain, if it's a warm rain! Ice is dangerous (right, mom?) and cold, snow is cold and can be dirty/slushy/messy, and wind just messes up my hair on the rare occasion I wear it down. If I'm driving, though, I actually like to drive in the snow!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Recipe: Mini Corn Dogs

Ever since I received a mini-muffin pan for Christmas, I have been OBSESSED with making everything, well, MINI. I won't even touch my regular muffin pan. So, to kick off the first of many "mini" recipes, I had this post planned for awhile now. Then a couple days ago, I popped on over to my favorite foodie blog, Iowa Girl Eats, and what did I find? THE SAME RECIPE! AHHH!

I will admit, I've made several of her recipes, and do get inspiration from her blog time-to-time, but this was just UNCANNY. I thought about not posting my recipe because it just seemed too fishy (not actually fishy, but you know....). Upon further investigation, I realized they weren't quite the same, so I don't feel like I'm stealing her idea, even if it appears like I am :) 

Plus, my version is way easier - BONUS!

So I present to you, my not-ripped-off, uber-easy recipe for....

Mini Corn Dogs

The Stuff
1 package Jiffy cornbread mix
1 T. brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 C. milk
1/2 C. cheddar cheese
4-5 hot dogs, cut into bite-sized pieces.

The Sauce
Ketchup. Or Catsup. Or however you want to spell it.

The Stir
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk the egg and milk in a medium-sized bowl, then combine the Jiffy mix, brown sugar, and cheese. Using a spoon, scoop mixture into a well-greased mini-muffin pan, filling each about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Add hot dog pieces until each cup is basically full (how many pieces you add to each cup will depend on how large or small you cut the hot dogs). Pop 'em in the oven for 10-12 minutes, although it could take less time so check periodically for the muffins to start lightly browning. Yield= 24 mini-muffins, or you can use a regular, 12-cup muffin pan at 400 degrees for 14-18 minutes....but why would you want to!

Friday, February 3, 2012


I didn't really think about it until recently, but I was bullied quite a bit as a child. I had frizzy hair. I had freckles. I didn't understand sarcasm. I rocked my head all day long. And I was teased for those things....a lot. Only back then, no one talked about bullying. I started using my imagination to escape reality or pretend people liked me. I don't make excuses for my mistakes, but I do remember the desperate feeling of just wishing someone, ANYONE, would like me for who I was, and being willing to change myself to try and gain "friendships." I didn't value myself as I should have or have the confidence to be strong in who I was - I was easily molded by my peers, simply because I was relieved to have friends and would do anything to keep them. I can't say if I would have made any choices differently, and I wasn't really a "bad" kid, but I can see now that the reason for some of my thoughts or actions didn't start in high school or even middle started in kindergarten when a boy mocked me on the swing set. I remember it still, so it obviously bothered me back then.

We have recently made it our national crusade to end bullying. We tell kids to come forward, to speak up, to tell someone about their troubles. But I am so bothered by the simplicity of this message, as if it is just as simple as these kids telling an adult or peer about what is happening. That if we just get the message out there that bullying is not tolerated, it will somehow translate to support that actually makes a difference to that one kid.

But who is going to step in to actually MAKE these bullies stop? Who is going to be there when these kids are further bullied for "tattling"? 

Who is going to realize the awful choice these kids have to make: risk making things exponentially worse and being branded a tattle-tale by telling someone, or wonder if anyone will even believe them, or realize that people just might not care enough to step in because, well, it must not be TOO bad since they aren't dead yet.

It is a thin line kids teeter on between choosing to become the "dork" or liar who tattled, or choosing to end their life.

See, even though we wear bracelets, post images on Facebook, and cry OUTRAGE at the latest teen suicide over bullying, no one is providing these victims any sense of confidence that the bully will actually be punished and stopped. So, they just endure, until they can't anymore.

It's a nice idea, to start organizations, create awareness, post things, and put out all the lip service you want about the issue. But at the end of the day, who is actually going to make things better? 

I'm sure this is what most bullied kids across America are wondering, and why the suicides keep happening.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Basement Project: If You Build It, They Will Come, pt. 2

Joel and I both grew up in great homes with amazing families. We realized, though, that neither one of us spent a particularly great amount of time "entertaining" friends at our houses. We were usually more likely to spend time at another friend's house before inviting them to hang out at ours. With all of the influences kids have these days, it was super important to Joel and I that our kids have a place where they can bring their friends for a fun, safe environment to "hang".

Now, we aren't naive. We know there is a great chance our kids will want nothing to do with our house. Or that we may move before our kids are teenagers. Or a million other variables. I just know that I'd rather provide the space and fun for our kids in our own home and have the friends come to us than wonder where they are and if they are up to no good.

So, we set out to make a practical, yet livable and fun, area in our basement.

Looking into the office.

Standing in the office looking out into the "rec" room.

Standing just outside the office in the "rec" room. SAY CHEESE!

After the drywall guys did their thing, my dad primed and painted all the walls.

Much easier with a sprayer!

Not much to see yet, but at this point in the progress, you could see the drywall is up and painting was going to be commencing soon. Eventually, the main room is all set to contain a ping-pong area with a corner-mounted TV, a flat-screen swivel wall-mounted TV with comfy seating, a fully-equipped wet bar (more like mini-kitchen), and potentially a high-top pub table/chairs. We can't wait to show you some Before's and After's, and where the basement is now! Carpet was just laid today, so we are making good progress!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pregnancy Update: Week 34 + WYRW Revival

The weeks are starting to drag along now that sleep is elusive, back and contraction pain is frequent, and a million other "woes" have set in. At my latest appointment, everything looked and sounded great. Baby seems to be head down, so that's a plus! I'm still trying to mentally prepare for a 40-41 week pregnancy, but I still feel like this little guy is coming early. Of course, I thought that with Brady, too....and that went well.

Fuzzy camera photo! Getting ready for Joel's fancy company party.

Same ensemble as last post? Yep - company parties two weekends in a row!

On another note, I've decided to revive WOULD YOU RATHER WEDNESDAYS! To start things off, I have a couple "Would you rathers" and can't wait to hear your thoughts on some of these things :)

WYRW #1: Sticking with the pregnancy theme of the post, would you rather have all girls, all boys, or a mix?
I would definitely love to have both genders someday, but I do think it might be easier/saner to raise all boys if I had to choose. And, well, so far so good there :)

WYRW #2:  To acknowledge the political season that is upon us, would you rather vote for a president who has poor leadership qualities but good vision, or a candidate who fires up the call for change but doesn't really have a plan for how to follow through with that vision.
I think far too many of us are voting for the "cool" guy these days. We want someone relatable and likeable, and even charming or witty, but at the end of the day none of that really matters as much as having a plan of action that is executable. I have no idea who can provide that....

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pregnancy Update: Week 33

It's been since, what, 18 weeks that I last gave an update? Geesh! Well, maybe no one really cares all that much, but one thing I wish I had done a better job of when I was pregnant with Brady is document my pregnancy. Mostly because in the 3 1/2 years that have passed, I have forgotten what aches, pains, highs, lows I had the first time around, so I find myself constantly wondering things like, "When did heartburn kick in? How much did I weigh at week "X"? When did my energy wane? When did I start sleeping poorly? When did the Braxton Hicks start?" You get the idea....

So, even though we have a mere seven (EEK!) weeks to go, I wanted to give an update, a photo, and plan to do so weekly from here on out.

The second trimester was basically uneventful, but did bring regular headaches, lightheadedness, and digestive woes. Thankfully I managed to get a control on the first two by not completely eliminating caffeine some days (doctor suggestion!) and by ensuring I regularly took my vitamins and consumed as much iron-rich food as possible. I passed my glucose screening (YUCK!), maintained healthy weight and blood pressure counts, and generally just had a boring time of it, thankfully!

The third trimester began with the new year, and despite it usually being the worst trimester, I found myself energized, productive, alert, and generally feeling great! Plus, the mild winter has been a bonus as I have no winter coat that fits me, and after my mom's spill on the ice last March, everyone in my family is extra-cautious of slippery surfaces! 

Cue week 33....

In a matter of a few days, I went from feeling big but good to exhausted, achy, emotional, non-productive, no energy, heartburn, infection, sleeplessness, crankiness, on and on and on. I'm a pleasure to be around, I'm just sure :)

I honestly feel like my body is wrapping up this pregnancy very soon, although I need to mentally continue to plan for another late arrival. Braxton Hicks started at week 31, and while they were annoying and regular in the evenings, they weren't bad. This past week the accompanying cramping has been so bad I have woken from a sound sleep and even started timing them one evening thinking they were progressing. It's so weird how regular and strong they are, and yet....nothing. It could be a LONG 7 weeks at this rate!

Baby is over 4 pounds now, and after this week, his lungs are basically mature. We FINALLY have his room set up, thanks to the help of my parents, and even though basement progress is slower than we'd like, we at least don't have to bring him home to a room that looked like it belongs on "Hoarders."

I asked this question on Facebook, and I think we know what we are going to do, but I thought I'd post it here, too: Assuming the pregnancy remains uncomplicated, would you rather deliver at downtown Mercy hospital which is over-crowded but fully equipped with a NICU, or deliver at Mercy West where you are basically the only patient but has no NICU? I know, I haven't presented all information in this question, as both have distinct advantages/disadvantages, but it's good to get opinions in case someone shares something we haven't thought about yet!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Farm Boy Casserole

I don't think cooking gets much easier than this: take a bunch of comfort food-type ingredients, throw 'em together, and call it a casserole. Joel is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, so I know when I make this for supper, he's gonna love it! Give this fast, easy, cheap meal a try while it's crazy cold outside!

The Stuff:
1 lb. ground beef
1 can drained green beans
1 can drained corn
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped carrots
1/4 c. chopped onion

The Sauce:
1 can cream of celery soup
1 c. shredded cheddar or monterrey jack cheese
2 T. olive oil

The Stir:
In a large skillet, brown and drain the burger. Set burger aside, and using the same skillet, coat the bottom with the olive oil and layer in the frozen hashbrowns until the bottom of the pan is well covered. Let simmer on medium-high.

While the hashbrowns are defrosting, mix together the vegetables, burger, and celery soup and pour on top of the hashbrowns. Cover the skillet and let everything simmer until veggies have softened and it is warm throughout.

I like to use my Pampered Chef skillet that can also be used in the oven up to 400 degrees. Once the casserole is done, I sprinkle the cheese on top and stick the uncovered skillet under the broiler at 400 degrees until the cheese starts to brown on top.

Try adding or substituting other veggies, or give ground turkey a try instead of beef - the sky's the limit! Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Basement Project: If You Build It, They Will Come, pt. 1

Who is they? I don't know. Friends. Family. Rodents. Hopefully not rodents.

Stealing a line from the famous Iowa movie, the basement project began as a sort of vision. No one whispered random remarks in our ears - not that kind of vision. But more of the kind of vision when two people talk about what the future might look like and their hopes for their family as it grows.

When we purchased our house in 2008, we immediately began thinking about what to do with the 1,600+ square feet of unfinished basement we had to work with.

View into the Office.

Bedroom and Bathroom

View from the bedroom closet into the bedroom and family room.

Middle of the Family Room.
We knew the necessary items: an office, a 4th bedroom, a large rec/entertainment room, storage, etc. But we started dreaming about how and why the space should be used. It went beyond simply "slapping up some walls and calling it good". We developed a purpose, a vision, for the space. And my-oh-my has it been a roller coaster of fun, chaos, headache, confusion, indecision, vision, expense, and creativity. I'll be posting much more in the coming weeks on our basement progress - stay tuned!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Baby B

I apologize in advance for the lengthy post. Chances are you know we are expecting baby #2 mid-March. I wanted to share the other part of the story that not many know. Some people may think it’s private and shouldn’t be shared. For whatever reason, I just don't feel that way.

At around 10 weeks, I was working on a normal Thursday when I (sorry if this is TMI!) had some spotting, which is not really what you want to see at any stage in pregnancy. Back at my desk, my phone was at 5% battery life. It was 4:30 so I shut down the computer, left work quietly, and texted Joel: “I’m spotting, low cell battery. Call the OB to see what we should do, text me back.” I then used what little battery life I had to call my parents to get them in the loop. Between all of us, we got the message that the OB said to go to the ER since their offices were closing for the day, and my parents would be waiting with Brady at our house for the plan of action while Joel came from Ames.

I drove the 25-minute drive from Adel to home as fast but safely as I could. A million thoughts went through my mind. I knew the risk of miscarriage was significantly greater in the first trimester. I don’t tend to panic prematurely – I am the type who tries to stay calm and cool until I know the outcome of a situation. But it was a long drive home.

At home we decided my mom would accompany me to Mercy West, since it was close by and Joel was not due home for another 40 minutes or so. Check in went pretty fast, and Joel arrived soon after I was admitted.

At the exam, everything looked good. We were waiting on the final piece of reassurance, the ultrasound, but due to some complication at the downtown hospital, we decided to go home after three hours and do the ultrasound in our doctor’s office the next day. We felt pretty confident that nothing was wrong, but still anticipated the results of the ultrasound.

The next day, the technician got right to work. After checking a few organ-type things, she focused in on the baby. She told us, “I have good news and bad news.” That was not at all what we expected her to say! She started by telling us that she didn’t see any concerning signs or sources of bleeding, and that the baby seemed healthy and normal for 10 weeks….but that we were pregnant with twins and, unfortunately, one didn’t make it.

That was…..totally unexpected. Aside from some several jokes on my part about carrying twins, (maybe I just knew??) we never expected to hear that kind of report. We could clearly see, though, the larger, thriving baby with beating heart, and the smaller, less defined baby measuring a couple weeks behind.

The tech left Joel and me, and we didn’t quite know what to say or think. We were sad and happy at the same time. What a strange range of emotion, to be relieved I was still pregnant, but to also mourn the loss of the other baby. While I’m not sure I would know what to do with twins, no one wishes for the loss of a child.

Healthy Baby "A" at 10 weeks.

Baby "B" at 10 weeks, stopped growing around  weeks.

The twins - you can definitely tell size and developmental differences.

We met next with an OB in our practice. He came in and didn’t quite look at our chart closely, making a couple errors. Most notably, he didn’t realize one twin was no longer alive, and he was just Mr. Jolly about the whole thing, asking us if we were surprised by the ultrasound and what not. I think he thought we were ungrateful and weird when we replied with melancholy faces and indifferent expressions. After he explained the whole twin thing to us for awhile, he finally flipped the chart and realized his error.

I was still unsure what to feel the whole time we were in the appointment. The hardest part was seeing the lost baby on the ultrasound and in the photograph. I did manage a little humor, telling Joel, “You know, Dwight was a twin.” Referencing a favorite show of ours, The Office: “Yeah I was a twin. I reabsorbed the other fetus. I now have the strength of a grown man and a little baby.” It made him smile, and I think he was glad to see I was doing ok with the situation.

We are now just weeks away from delivery. We weren't sure if we'd see anything of Baby B on the 20-week ultrasound, and to our untrained eyes, we didn't.

It’s a strange feeling, knowing we lost that baby. Many people who miscarry don’t tell people about it. I can understand why some would want to keep that private. For whatever reason, I think I’m the opposite. It feels unfair to just pretend he or she never existed. Most people would never know they lost a twin since you don’t actually miscarry the fetus. I’m so thankful we didn’t plan on having twins and then find out otherwise: we found out at the same time that we had two and lost one.

In the book Heaven is for Real, the author claims that his son met a girl in Heaven who was the miscarried child of his parents. That she was alive and well in Heaven, and anticipating the day her parents would get there and name her and meet her. I don’t know if that is true, if unborn children, who would never be viable outside of the womb, are in Heaven, but I like to think that could be the case. And maybe someday, we will get the joyful surprise of meeting a child we never got to hold and love here on Earth.

So, this is our recognition of little Baby B. We can't wait to meet Baby A in March :)

On a side note: our neighborhood has eight houses, with three pregnancies at once. The other two families are expecting or just had twins and, well, we were on that path, too. We marvel at how statistically impossible that is! So, I don’t know what’s going on, but if you don’t want twins, don't move here :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New Blog

Back in September 2009, I had no concrete ideas or intentions for this blog. I thought "Hey, I love to write, I need to be better about documenting life and memories, and someone somewhere just might like a thing or two I write about." So, I just dove in!

Over the last 2 1/2 years, I have been quite inconsistent, very text-heavy, and super sporadic in my blogging efforts. And that's been ok. But one of my main goals in 2012 is to actually make this thing a tool of use, for myself, my family, and hopefully you!

I thought about all kinds of strategies and themes, and determined that, while I have specific things I love and am good at, I couldn't just narrow it down. For example, I love cooking and baking, but don't want to be another food blog. I enjoy deep-thinking and reflective writing, but doing that all the time would hurt my brain, and who wants to read that?! Gardening and crafting are fun, but I'm so so SO amateur, and not necessarily year-round. I love writing about my family, but that is only interesting to, well, us :)

So I'm not limiting it, simply focusing the blog. I intend to have more of a schedule of sorts as well as themes to the posts. Some of my goals for January-March include three posts each week, theme-ing the posts so you know if you want a certain kind of post, which day of the week it will occur, and increase photo usage. If all goes well, the second quarter of 2012 will include a blog re-design.

When I decided I was going to run the half-marathon in 2010, the only way it was going to happen was if I told people about it. The more people I told, the more I felt like, "Oh crap, I have to actually DO this thing now or risk failing!" So, that's what I'm doing here. It's so easy to have good intentions, but unless there is some form of accountability from others, I usually hop off the bandwagon.

So, I guess that is kind of my New Year's Blog Resolution (Blogolution?). Some exciting things to write about coming up: pregnancy/baby news, travel plans, fitness tips & efforts post-baby, projects (including our massive basement finish), and much more! I hope you will continue to join me!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Mother's Love

One thing I've wondered since Brady was born is how I could possibly love another child as much as I love him.

From the moment Brady was put into my arms, he had my heart. It truly is a miraculous connection, which I've written about before, but I couldn't help but wonder how I would be able to love another child as much.

You see, once Brady was born, he had my whole heart. All of it. No other kid even held a candle in comparison. That's normal, I think. So what happens when baby #2 comes along? How is that 100% distributed? Do you lose some love for child #1 to accommodate for another child? Do I care less about the new baby than I did about Brady when he was born? How can you divide a mother's love?

I guess time will tell, but I have this funny feeling it won't divide, but simply double. It's a concept that puts mathematics and logic aside. The 100% love I have for Brady will remain, and instantly my capacity to love will be doubled. It's probably a lot like God's love for us: we don't get a fragment of His love, we get 100% of His unconditional love, all the time.

I guess I'll find out soon enough :)