Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nursery Bird Wall Art

Almost immediately after we got pregnant I decided I wanted to have a bird-themed nursery. I found some cute wall decals, mobiles, and felt birds on different sites and got to pinning them on my Nursery Ideas board.

As we began purchasing fabric and getting comfortable in the room that was transforming into a nursery, I made some decisions about how birds would be incorporated. I decided that I was going to make these birds. I spent $11 at Wal-Mart buying squares of different kinds of fabric. I bought 9 different patterns of 1/4 yard fabric in a section of the fabric department that has pre-cut squares. I used these fabrics in conjunction with the fabric from the pillows and other scraps I already had to make the birds.
I wish I could tell you that the birds were easy and came out as nice as they did here. They didn't. I imagine that's partially to do with the fabric I chose and my remedial sewing abilities. The pattern is very delicate and requires intricate stitching. After 4 birds on the sewing machine, I discovered hand-stitching them would be MUCH easier and made the rest that way.

I decided against the mobile in the tutorial and opted to make wall art to hang above the changing table. After searching for the perfect fake stick at Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and Wal-Mart, I talked to Jarrod and we decided to cut a branch off of the tree in our backyard. We've wanted to trim the bottom branches of the tree anyway to make it easier to mow and this was the perfect excuse. Jarrod cut and trimmed two branches and we decided to use one for the wall.

We hung the branch on the wall using three picture hangers that Jarrod spray-painted white and fishing line. We got the branch where we wanted and Jarrod tied the line to the hooks. I attached the birds to the branch using white thread but now am wishing I'd used brown or clear. The branch is very light and the birds are as well, so we're not worried about it falling. We hung it high enough so that if/when the baby decides to dance on the changing table, the branch will still be somewhat out of reach.
All told, I spent about 2 hours making the birds for the branch (I made others that will appear in other spots around the room!) and we spent about 30 minutes trimming the branch and hanging it where we wanted. We had the hooks, fishing line, and spray paint left over from other projects, so the wall art cost a total of $11 for the fabric. Not a bad deal!
The verdict? I adore it. I think it looks fabulous and really brings the room together. I love the additional colors that the birds add and the whimsy that the art adds to the room.

Pin It
Pin It!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pregnancy Update - Week 21

What’s Happening This Week: Your baby now weighs about three-quarters of a pound and is approximately 10 1/2 inches long — the length of a carrot. You may soon feel like she's practicing martial arts as her initial fluttering movements turn into full-fledged kicks and nudges. You may also discover a pattern to her activity as you get to know her better. In other developments, your baby's eyebrows and lids are present now, and if you're having a girl, her vagina has begun to form as well.

How far along? 21 weeks
Weight gain: 13 lbs. - I gained another 2 pounds last week. Seriously, I'm eating healthy and exercising, so I'm guessing it's just what my body needs.
Stretch marks? Still the ones on my hips, but that's all.
Sleep: This week wasn't bad. I still wake up through the night with weird dreams, stiff joints, or to go to the bathroom, but ultimately I'm able to go back to sleep and am not terribly uncomfortable. The body pillow is incredible.
Best moment this past week: I had a really wonderful week. On Friday I drove to Waco for three wonderful meetings with some incredible people. I met with a campus pastor, a pastor and his wife, and a student from my days in local church youth ministry now a freshman in college. All three meetings were inspiring and energizing. On Saturday I had a student leadership planning meeting that was equally energizing. On Sunday I was asked to speak to our congregation about hope - hopefully I was able to inspire and energize!
Movement: All the time. Sometimes the kicks are hard and outward and sometimes the baby likes to kick my spine and organs. I absolutely love it, even when it is distracting and uncomfortable. This is a very wiggly baby!
Food cravings: McDonald's vanilla cones were awesome this week...
Labor Signs: None.
What I miss: This week I'm missing independence. I miss being able to move quickly, carry heavy things, and walk down stairs without people worrying about it. It's nice and I appreciate concern, but I almost forget what normal life feels like. I know the attention will all shift to baby soon and I'll miss it...maybe.
What I am looking forward to: Getting the crib! Jarrod and I have a few picked out and are going to do some shopping this weekend. I will immediately get to work on the crib skirt and cannot wait to have that completed.
Anxieties: Liking the baby. I know, it's silly, but the other night I was praying that we'd bring home a baby that we were not just crazy in love with, but a little one with incredible personality that we really like. I feel like I already know the baby and his/her personality, but I hope that we bond with the baby and feel like he/she has always been part of our family like people say. It's hard to imagine a baby in our lives, but I imagine I'll join other parents someday saying, "I can't imagine our lives without him/her."
Weekly Wisdom:
Pin It!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pregnancy Dreams

I have very vivid dreams. I always have, but now with the pregnancy and waking ever 90 minutes or so, I'm remembering them more. More than once during the day I think, "Did that happen? Was that a dream?" because my dreams are so vivid and life-like.

But this doesn't mean that they are realistic....

Several weeks ago I had a dream (after a conversation with Jarrod about how you could microwave water for formula or water to warm up breast milk, but you could not put breast milk in the microwave) that I put the baby and a mug of hot water in the microwave. I kept adding 15 seconds to the time, waiting for the water to heat up. The baby was brand new and our house was full of friends and family. After about a minute in the microwave, someone finally said, "Leanne, you can't put the baby in the microwave!" When I went to get the baby out, it turned into burned popcorn. Strange.

Last night I had a dream that I wanted to see the baby, just for a minute. So my solution was to cut the baby out of my side and simply return it when I was done. Cutting the baby out was no problem. I looked at the baby and went to return the baby to my belly, but the incision had closed. I called to my sister so she could help cut me open again and get the baby back inside. We did that, but soon I worried because I couldn't feel the baby moving around anymore. What if cutting the baby out of me at 21 weeks was a bad idea? Equally strange.

Pin It!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sharing Church

One thing I'm very excited about is raising our child in the church. Specifically, the United Methodist church. I cannot wait to teach our baby about communion, grace, and to pray the Lord's Prayer. Church is a huge part of our family and our relationship, so bringing the baby into that will be such a blessing. I recently received communion from our pastor, "The body of Christ broken for BOTH of you," he spoke as I received the bread. Our child is already covered with the grace and love of God and surrounded by the love of so many.

I'm under no delusions that it will be easy - I work with teenagers and they are snarky, moody, and don't always like going to church. I get that. But I'm so excited to watch our child grow up in the church, wrestle with their faith, and experience God in new and different ways. I know they will teach me more than I could ever teach them about the love of God. I get teary when I think about taking our baby to be baptized in the church. For Methodists, baptism is a sacrament, a covenant made between the church and the baby and family to guide the child (or adult) into a relationship with Christ. It is a promise that the congregation makes to help raise that baby and I cannot wait to share our little one with the church (universal).

There is something magical about babies and children in worship. I adore watching little ones sing, dance, and pray, even when they get energetic and excited. They bring a dynamic to worship that would be missing otherwise. It makes my heart happy that we found a church that delights in having little ones in worship.

My nephews come to church with my sister-in-law. It is so beautiful to watch them wave their hands while the choir is singing. (Just like Uncle Jarrod!) They love following along in the hymnal, listening to Pastor Jim, and eating their "daily bread." While they tend to chat during church and struggle with sitting still the entire time, they are definitely getting something out of being in worship and understand the importance of their church family.

My sister-in-law recently posted this on her blog about joining the church. I couldn't be more thrilled. I'm honored that they want to join the church where Jarrod works and I am a member. I'm overwhelmed that I can share in the boys church experience. I cannot wait until our little baby is here and they can share church with him/her. I can already picture them running up and down the aisles and jumping off the steps on the chancel area.

I cannot wait to stand in the front of the church with my family as they proclaim their love for Jesus and our church home. Welcome to the Church Team! :-)
Pin It!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Parent's House

My dad and stepmom had a gorgeous home and love to entertain. I knew that I'd be getting some shooting practice with my new camera while I was there and I'm pleased to share some of the gorgeous shots that I got. They have spent a great deal of time making their backyard an incredible sanctuary. The beautiful flowers, landscaping, and furniture make it so peaceful and pretty. 

Because New Jersey gets rain in the summer, the flowers and grass weren't dead when we arrived in late June. We did spend time each day walking around with watering cans to be sure everything stayed lush and alive, but even that was fun because we got to explore some of the most beautiful gardens.

Seriously, I couldn't get over the beautiful flowers. Who has bushes full of vibrant blue hydrangea in the middle of July?! 

They've also done an incredible job of creating areas for entertaining. They have a deck of several layers with couches, tables, and chairs, a beautiful area with bird houses, a slate patio with fire pit, big open space for playing, a water feature, and a shaded area in the back with chairs, a hammock, and arbor. 

 Beyond having a gorgeous yard, Dad and Marie have a beautiful home and they can COOK! It doesn't look like it, but their home is in the middle of a neighborhood - otherwise I'd convince them they need to open a bed and breakfast! 
Pin It!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Cousin's Wedding

About a month ago, Jarrod and I traveled to New Jersey for my cousin's wedding. I don't know why it's taken me so long to blog about this, I took a million pictures and we had a great time!!

Jarrod and I left Dallas on Wednesday afternoon set for Newark via St. Louis. The trip was relatively uneventful and somewhat uncomfortable for me. While it's funny to think about now, I thought I was huge back then and was having a hard time getting comfortable on the two plane rides. It didn't help that it was at the end of the day. But we arrived at my dad's house unscathed and happy to be with family.

We'd looked forward to the trip to Jersey for many reasons, but one reason was because it would be cooler! Wrong. It was one of the hottest summers in New Jersey, in the high 90s with humidity in the high 90%.

The primary reason for our trip was because my little cousin got married! There are 16 cousins on my dad's side and we all grew up together, but haven't been in the same place in years. Our of the 16 of us, 13 were at the wedding, which is awesome! I got to see my cousins that live in China, Alaska, and travel extensively. Jarrod got to meet some of my family that he'd never met before.

It was an absolutely beautiful wedding and we had an incredible time with our family. I loved seeing my cousins all grown up. One of my favorite parts of the wedding and reception was just sitting back and watching my cousins hang out. I'm second to the oldest cousin and watching the younger ones (who are in college!) interacting, dancing, and laughing, was an incredible joy. Seeing my older cousins was magical and I'm so thankful we had the chance to be there.

On the cake table Stephen and Joy had pictures of their families. There was a picture (that I will NOT share!) of all of the cousins. It was probably the first and last picture of all 16 of us. My youngest cousin was an infant in my arms in the picture. She's 14 now.

Dad and Marie before the ceremony. 
Besides the wedding, we spent a lot of time with my dad and stepmom. They love entertaining and were throwing a surprise birthday party at their home the day we left. We spent time making their house and yard look as beautiful as possible. They are incredible hosts, chefs, landscapers, and have a gorgeous home. I'll share pictures from their house tomorrow, but for now, here are some pictures from the wedding!
Exchanging rings.
My cousins!

Jarrod at the reception. 

My uncle and his precious grandson.

My aunt and uncle making their way to the reception. 

This is my grandmother on her wedding day.

Maid of honor toast.

Dancing the night away! 

Pin It!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pregnancy Update - Week 20

What’s Happening This Week: You're at the halfway mark — congratulations! Your baby weighs about 10 1/2 ounces now. He's also around 6 1/2 inches long from head to bottom and about 10 inches from head to heel — the length of a banana. (The way your baby is measured changes now.) He's swallowing more these days, which is good practice for his digestive system. He's also producing meconium, a black, sticky by-product of digestion. This gooey substance will accumulate in his bowels, and you'll see it in his first soiled diaper (although some babies pass meconium in the womb or during delivery).

How far along? 20 weeks
Weight gain: 11 lbs. - I don't know how I gained 2 pounds in one week, but it happened....
Stretch marks? Still the ones on my hips, but that's all.
Sleep: I'm sleeping very lightly and wake up several times a night to the dog, Jarrod, or my bladder. It's tougher to go back to sleep also, but it's totally okay. Also, dreams are so vivid. Everyday I wonder "Was that a dream or did that happen?"
Best moment this past week: Jarrod FINALLY felt the baby kick! The baby has gotten more wiggly and stronger, but most movements are still light. After a good lunch and a large cold bottle of water, the baby went nuts. Jarrod put his hand on my belly and got some great kicks. Before then, I'd asked, "Did you feel that?" and he'd say, "Not really..." with a confused look on his face. This time, he lit up and got so excited!
Movement: All the time. Most of it is just little twitch-like feelings, but a few times a day I get a good kick.
Food cravings: Still sweets. McDonalds vanilla cones made me very happy this week.
Labor Signs: None.
What I miss: Wine and clothes.
What I am looking forward to: I'm not sure. I'm really loving this season, so I am trying really hard to live for today and not 20 weeks from now! I'm loving the special time I get to feel the baby wiggling around. It's very special.
Anxieties: Having a healthy baby.
Weekly Wisdom: Don't worry. You'll figure it out. :-)
Pin It!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Creating a Budget

There is no magic pill that you can take to change your financial situation. There's not a prayer that Jarrod and I pray to stay on the same page financially. It's not easy, but for a healthy marriage, we've found it essential to maintain open communication and work together financially. The number one thing that makes everything else work for us is the budget.

I learned the magic of the budget about 4.5 years ago when I left a job and found myself wondering what I was going to do. The budget provided me peace in the midst of a chaotic storm. I started budgeting around March of 2007 and haven't skipped a month since. It was one of the first things Jarrod and I did to prepare for our marriage and arguably one of the best things we do each month to maintain a healthy marriage.

Starting a budget seems so overwhelming. The bills keep coming and you can't just hit pause on spending to set everything in the budget. Once you get going, maintaining a budget is much easier than starting one. But don't fear, starting a budget can be simple too!

Here are some helpful hints:
  • Starting a budget is probably best done at the first of the month. This doesn't mean you MAKE the budget on the first, it means you have everything ready to go once that first paycheck hits your account. 
  • All of your income and expenses need to be month-specific. Groceries for July need to come out of the July budget. The world is grey, but budgets need to be black and white.
  • If it's not in the budget, it doesn't happen. If something comes up and needs to be added to the budget, add it knowing that the money will have to come from somewhere else.
  • Use cash as much as possible. It's much easier to keep track of and monitor than debit transactions. When it's gone, there's no more spending.
  • Be realistic. Your budget needs to be a reflection of your actual life, not your ideal world. It's much easier to stick to a realistic budget that fits your lifestyle than it is to try to mold your life into a budget. The first few months your budget will change many times through out the month, but after a few trial months, you'll get the hang of it and won't have to make near as many changes in the future.
  • If you get paid weekly, monthly, or biweekly, it's important to time your expenses with your paychecks. Pay your rent out of your second check from the previous month or split your cash expenses in half and only get out enough cash for half the month to prevent overdrawing your checking account. 
Practical steps to get started:
  1. Start with a blank sheet of paper, open word document, or excel spread sheet. Put your monthly take-home income at the top of the page. If your income is variable, estimate low but realistic. We use an excel spreadsheet that we import into Google Documents so that it can be accessed by either of us regardless of where we are.
  2. With your checkbook, bank statement, or account ledger, begin to lay out your monthly expense categories. We have our expenses categorized based on whether they are cash, check, auto-draft, or online payments. Here are some of our categories: Cash - gifts, Car repairs, Restaurants, Grocery, Gas, Travel, Prescriptions, Jarrod Blow Money, Leanne's Blow Money, and Insurance Premiums. Items like restaurants, grocery, gas, and blow money is spent each month. Items like car repairs, gifts, and insurance premiums go into an envelope in our office to be spent when needed.  Check Payment - Tithe, rent Auto Draft - Health insurance premium, cell phone bill, cable/internet, insurance Online Payment - Student Loan - because we pay more than the minimum, I manually pay this online each month. 
  3. Once you have your categories set, begin to place in estimates on spending. The first few months will be challenging, but do you best to keep these figures as accurate as possible. You will change them later, I promise, so don't worry about perfection. 
  4. After you've added in all of your estimated figures, total that up and subtract from your income at the top of the page. Hopefully there is money left over, but this isn't always the case. If you are left with a deficit, go back and adjust until you are at zero. This may mean not paying on debt, not going out to eat, or canceling cable. If you make MORE money than you've estimated you'll spend, congratulations! But you're still not done either.
  5. The point of the budget is to balance at zero. You will need to adjust in either direction to make that happen. Hopefully you make more than your initial budget estimate and will need to find out where to put "extra" money. We typically put ours on debt, but now that we've put our debt snow-ball on hold, we put every extra penny in our Baby Emergency Fund - our fund to be used if we need cash during this pregnancy for emergencies only. 
  6. Once you have everything set, you live by it! Start on the first day of the month (or another convenient day based on your pay cycle) and take out the cash you'll need for either the month or two weeks. Spend only what is on the budget because if you overspend in one category you will essentially overdraw your checking account. If something comes up, reevaluate and take the money from another category.
Real life application:
Jarrod and I meal plan for the month at the beginning of the month with the calendar in one hand and the budget in the other. We try to estimate meal costs and balance more pricey meals with less expensive meals so that we don't run out of money before the month is over. But sometimes that happens and we need to readjust our budget or our menu. If we've planned on having grilled salmon on the 28th of the month, but only have $15 left in the budget for a week's worth of groceries, we'll reorganize and plan something else for dinner so that we can purchase all of our necessities without going over budget.

I have been waiting to get glasses for several years. My old pair are from late high school and while I wear them rarely, I knew it was time to get a new pair. I made an appointment with the eye doctor and discussed with Jarrod the possibility of getting glasses this month. I didn't think about it until the month had begun and we were well into the budget. He agreed that I needed new glasses, helped me estimate the cost, and together we added glasses into the budget. Because the money had to come from somewhere, we reduced how much will go into the Baby Emergency Fund this month in order to purchase the glasses. Luckily, we got a great deal because Target was offering $100 off lenses and frames!

The most important part is getting started! Don't worry about it being perfect - budgeting is messy! Just stick with it, be honest, and tell your money where to go.

Has creating and maintaining a budget helped your family find peace? How have you struggled with your budget? What tips do you have for someone just starting out?
    Pin It!

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Date Night at the Drive-In

    There is a drive-in theatre not too terribly far from our home and I was so excited when I remembered how close it was once we moved back. I immediately began planning for a date night picnic at the drive-in. We scheduled the date night for last Friday many weeks ago so that we could plan a menu and make sure that it actually happened. I waited all week and was so excited! We loaded up the truck with goodies, pillows, and wore our most comfy clothes.

    Our menu consisted of crackers, hummus, homemade peanut butter, fresh cheese, apples, and juice. At the theatre we purchased sweet snacks. Wine would have definitely been on the menu if #1 - I could drink it and #2 the theatre allowed it. (Technically they don't allow ANY outside food or drinks, but the glass bottle rule seems stronger than the others.) The finger foods were perfect and filling as we grazed while waiting for the movie to begin.

    It was quite warm out, but a bit cooler evening than normal. We set out blankets and pillows in the back of Jarrod's truck and enjoyed The Change Up. It was definitely not the most intellectual movie we've ever seen, but it was funny and we had a good time.

    In the future we'll probably wait until a cooler time of year before heading to the theatre. I was also very excited when I realized that we could probably have family date night at the Drive-In when the baby comes.

    We were out way past my bed time, but it was such a fun night I didn't mind at all! For $12 it was the perfect picnic date night.
    Pin It!

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Why We're Team Green

    Not finding out the sex of this baby is not only unpopular and counter cultural, but completely against my personality. I'm a planner who hates surprises and always wants as much information as possible in order to be prepared. Anyone who knows me would expect me to want to know the sex of this baby.

    But almost immediately I decided that I didn't want to know until the baby was born. I went back and forth for the first many weeks, but always knew I wouldn't want to find out. I felt pressure from society about what we should do, but ultimately I never wanted to find out. When I finally let myself relax about it and be okay not finding out, the pressure disappeared.

    Jarrod has always wanted to find out, but has been supportive of my desire to be surprised. We weighed a lot of pros and cons. While some of them seem completely silly, I'm going to be honest with my feelings. I am by no means judging anyone else who finds out the sex of their baby. Nearly all of my friends did or want to.
    • Waiting to be surprised means we'll get and have the chance to get more useful baby items before the baby arrives. Rather than having a closet full of ribbons, bows, and pink clothing in 5 sizes, we can have a stroller, car seat, and play yard. I'm not talking exclusively about shower gifts but also things that Jarrod and I purchase. If we don't find out the gender, I won't be tempted by every "I'm tough like my daddy" shirt that I see at least until after baby is born! 
    • Waiting to be surprised means we get the chance to be surprised! There's something magical about picturing Jarrod running out to the waiting room to exclaim, "It's a girl!" or "It's a boy!" The thought of that really brings tears to my eyes. I also like the idea of finding out the sex when we meet the baby for the first time. I can't explain the feelings, but I am overwhelmed by the thought of being surprised.
    • Waiting to be surprised means we don't need to have a name picked out. If we don't know if the baby will be a he or a she, no one will be pressuring us into deciding on and announcing our name choices. I don't think I'd definitively decide on a name until I saw the baby's face regardless - and Jarrod feels the same way. Not finding out gives us the freedom to be undecided and keep our choices to ourselves. It also means that we can pick something out and after seeing the baby, can change our minds! 
    • Waiting to be surprised means I won't be disappointed. Follow me here because what I'm going to say sounds controversial. While I have absolutely no preference on whether this baby is a boy or a girl, I will have an ounce of disappointment either way. If I don't get to buy sweet little dresses, I'll miss that. If I don't get to share a little boy with my nephews, I'll be sad about that. There is slight disappointment either way. While everyone assures me that I won't be disappointed, even if we find out early, I know myself and my feelings. I'll mourn a little bit. And that's not even to say that we won't have other children! But you only have your first child once. By waiting until the baby comes to find out, I feel like I'll lessen the disappointment. Maybe that's crazy, but that's me. I hesitated even writing about this disappointment because I do not want to come across as being disappointed with our baby, either sex, or anything at all related to this pregnancy. That's not at all what I'm saying. I'm simply saying I'd mourn what isn't. 
    Above all, I was anxious and overwhelmed until I decided not to find out. Once I allowed myself to just be content with that, the anxiety (about that!) disappeared. Thankfully, while Jarrod would find out, he's totally on board with my desire to wait. He sees the benefits of waiting, especially because it means he has a more sane wife. 

    I cannot say enough that this is just my decision and even I'm surprised that I've gone this way. I have absolutely no judgement for or against anyone else making a decision to find out or not find out the sex of their baby. 
    Pin It!

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Introducing Baby Beignet!

    Jarrod and I have been anxiously awaiting our 20-week sonogram since we got pregnant. There is something magical about seeing your baby swimming around on the screen actually looking like a baby, unlike a grain of rice like our last ultrasound!

    Our appointment was Tuesday, August 16th at 8:15am. Our ultrasound technician was absolutely incredible. I walked into the room telling her that we didn't want to know the sex and she told me that she wouldn't even go in that direction then. She won't know if we don't know. She was absolutely delightful and said that our wiggly baby was very photogenic. Even though the baby moved around a lot, the technician said she liked that a lot because she could get some great views and pictures that way. The baby turned and flipped, waved and kicked. It was glorious!

    Here's a great profile shot with a little fist by his/her nose. As you can see, there are 5 finger bones and a beautiful profile. All of the necessary parts are there - we saw the stomach, kidneys, spine, brain, bladder, a 4-chamber heart, and lots of bones.

    Here's a great shot of a foot and 5 little toes. This might be my favorite picture of them all. The baby was kicking like a little swimmer the whole time and there is nothing sweeter than that. I loved the little hand and feet movements. Jarrod still hasn't been able to feel the baby move so having him see it on the screen was magical. It was also great assurance that the baby is moving around even if I cannot feel him/her. Sometimes I worry because the kicks come and go, but the baby was moving all over the place in the ultrasound and I could only feel a fraction of the movements.

    And here's a final profile with the spine. Such a cute little nose, right? Jarrod and I both have very round noses and know this baby will more than likely have a round nose too. Since I began feeling the kicks, this baby has been real for me, but watching the baby on the screen and seeing the pictures makes it that much more real. Knowing that everything is going according to schedule and the baby is healthy thrills me. Nothing is promised, but knowing that so far, things look good will help me sleep a little better tonight. The baby is 10 oz and 8" long - right on schedule!

    The rest of our appointment was short and not as positive. I had a new-to-me doctor at the practice and she wasn't nearly as positive and insightful as my previous doctor. I asked some questions about hip and pelvis pain - all normal. I asked about participating in the 3-day for the Cure and was flat denied. The doctor has walked and staffed the medical tent in the past and thinks it's a very bad idea for me to walk. I explained that I had no intentions of walking the whole thing and have been dedicated to healthy training for years. She came around slightly, but still was obviously against my participation. Jarrod said she was just cranky, but it was a wet blanket on my least until I looked at the picture of the baby again!

    I will be seeing a different doctor at the practice in 4 weeks and will bring up my participation again. I plan to do everything I can while understanding that my primary purpose on the planet is to keep this baby safe. God willing, the baby and I will walk in November. 

    Pin It!

    Boy or girl?

    Yesterday we had the opportunity to find out if this baby is a boy or a girl. We've decided to go the unconventional route and be surprised at birth. Perhaps I'll write about why we've decided to remain "Team Green" but for now, let's have some fun!

    I thought this would be a fun little test to determine if the baby is a boy or girl. :-) (stolen from Heather)


    (These use the mother's age at conception and month of conception to determine the sex)

    Chart #1 = GIRL
    Chart #2 = GIRL
    Chart #3 = GIRL
    Chart #4 = GIRL
    Chart #5 = GIRL

    The Johnstons may think we're having a boy, but the Chinese think it's a girl! The verdict here is definitely GIRL.



    The Mayans determined the sex of the baby by taking the mother’s age at conception, and the year of conception. If both are even or both are odd… it’s a girl. If one is even and one is odd… it’s a boy.
    I was 28 and it was 2011.



    The old wives tale is that a girl will make you more nauseous. I was intensely nauseous from week 5 to week 10. Not a long time, but DEFINITELY nauseous!


    Heart Rate

    The old wives tales is if the heart rate is above 140, it’s a girl. If it’s below 140, it’s a boy. The heart rate has not been consistent at all. Sometimes it's over 140 and sometimes it's under. So this is a draw!


    The old wives tale is that if you crave sweets, it’s a girl. If you crave sour, it’s a boy. I crave sweets pregnant or not, so I don't know if this one is fair, but I definitely craved sweets more while being pregnant. I've never liked sour foods.


    Husband’s Weight Gain

    The old wives tale is that if your husband puts on weight during the pregnancy, it will be a girl. Jarrod gained 5 pounds during the first trimester...just like me!



    The old wives tale is that a girl will cause acne because she is doubling your hormones. I look like a teenager... I can't blame the baby, because my skin is not perfect, but I definitely have acne!



    The old wives tales is that if you are clumsier than before, it’s a boy. If you are as graceful as ever, it’s a girl. I am DEFINITELY clumsy. I don't know if I can blame the baby or not because I'm clumsy naturally... 



    The old wives tale is that if your boobs grow a lot, it’s a girl. The girls are HUGE. 



    The old wives tale is that if you prefer to sleep on your right side, it’s a boy. If you prefer to sleep on your left side, it’s a girl. Before pregnancy, I preferred my left, but now I tend to the right. Really I just miss sleeping on my stomach. :(



    The old wives tale is that if you have softer hands, it’s a girl. Rougher hands, it’s a boy. I haven't noticed any changes in my hands...


    High or Low

    The old wives tale is that if you feel heaviness down low, it’s a boy. If you feel pressure up higher, it’s a girl. This baby is super high! That might change, but once the bump popped, it was very high. 


    In Jarrod's family there are a lot of boys. Folks assume we're having a boy. We might be and that would be awesome! But these myths or wives tales tell a different story!
    GIRL - 8
    BOY - 3

    As we get closer to the due date, I'll set up a pool so that you can get in on the action as well! 
    Pin It!

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Baby Square Square

    This memory deserved it's very own post! Our little nephews are 3.5 years old and we love them. They are one of the primary reasons we moved back to Dallas. Seeing them several times a month makes my heart so happy. They are awesome and are now beginning to understand more that Uncle Jarrod and Aunt Lele are having a that my belly is showing where the baby is. :-) They have named the baby (since the very beginning) Baby Square Square. We're not sure why. They claim it has something to do with Sponge Bob Square Pants, but I don't know how true that is. Honestly, I'd name the baby Round Round if I were them!

    I got to sit with the boys in church on Sunday and they were talking about Square Square more and more. Evidently, later that night they were thinking about the baby. My sister-in-law sent an e-mail saying that one of the boys was playing with a Little Tykes Xylophone "piano" and brought it to her saying, "Mommy, you know what? This is really a baby toy, and I'm not a baby, but I like to play with it so I will play wit it, but really, I'm saving it for Baby Square Square...because I love Lele's baby, so I'm going to give it to him."

    And my heart melted into a puddle on the floor. 
    Pin It!

    Pregnancy Update - Week 19

    Last Wednesday we officially hit 19 weeks and day 40 of temperatures well over 100. We were about to break a 31 year record with this intense heat. While on one hand it thrills me that I'm "only" 19 weeks, only carrying around 9 pounds of extra weight, and not worrying about shielding a newborn from this scorching heat, I'm also so tired of this weather! It's too hot to do anything outside unless you do it between the hours of midnight and 7am. I heard on the radio that the high on Sunday is predicted to be just 99 degrees - break out the sweaters!

    What’s Happening This Week: Your baby weighs about 8 1/2 ounces, and measures 6 inches, head to bottom — about the size of a large heirloom tomato. The hair on her scalp is sprouting. This is a crucial time for sensory development: Your baby's brain is designating specialized areas for smell, taste, hearing, vision, and touch. Some research suggests that she may be able to hear your voice now, so don't be shy about reading aloud, talking to her, or singing a happy tune if the mood strikes you.

    How far along? 19 weeks
    Weight gain: 9 lbs. - Okay, I ate like a PIG this week. I feel really bad about it and I'm back on the healthier band-wagon this week.
    Stretch marks? Still the ones on my hips, but that's all.
    Sleep: It comes and goes... Some days are better than others, but I'm definitely getting more and more uncomfortable.
    Best moment this past week: Jarrod and I were standing in line at Wal-Mart buying groceries and the woman in front of us asked when our baby was due. She blessed our baby and was so sweet. Normally I consider it completely rude to assume someone is pregnant, but this time it thrilled me. I finally look pregnant enough for random people at Wal-Mart to notice!
    Movement: All the time. Unless Jarrod's got his hand on my belly and then the moving completely stops.
    Food cravings: Still sweets. Jarrod made delicious peanut butter cookies this week and I loved them. I also enjoyed some apples and a soft havarti cheese.
    Labor Signs: None.
    What I miss: Wine.
    What I am looking forward to: Our 20 week appointment next Tuesday! I cannot wait to see the baby!
    Anxieties: Actually, same as what I'm looking forward to! I'm anxious to find out that things with the baby and me are going great!
    Weekly Wisdom: This was last week, but my sister-in-law suggested I go as a pumpkin for Halloween. Filing that away and already thinking about how I could make that work!
    Pin It!

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Homemade Peanut Butter

    After reading Amanda's post about gourmet peanut butter, I knew it was something Jarrod would LOVE. Jarrod is a huge peanut butter fan and is not particular about it at all. He'll eat crunchy, organic, smooth, cheap, expensive, anything peanut butter and he's happy! He recently started talking about making his own peanut butter, so I shared with him the line-up at Spread. He was thrilled and began researching homemade peanut butters.

    Here's a secret - making your own peanut butter is so easy! It's almost easier than buying peanut butter! And it's incredibly delicious. Jarrod started out simple and made a honey peanut butter with just plain peanuts, a little kosher salt, and a drizzle of honey. Mix that in the food processor and in 10 minutes you have a delicious, home-made peanut butter!

    Here's Jarrod's recipe:
    All you need is unsalted peanuts and a food processor. Dump 'em in and run it for about 10 minutes. When it's done it balls up on itself. I added honey and a little kosher salt about halfway through. It's stinkin good. You have to keep it in the fridge though, and it only lasts a week or so because it doesn't have any preservatives. Super easy.
    We decided that this was the week to make peanut butter because we had a picnic date night at the drive-in theatre on Friday! I had been looking forward to this date for weeks and it did not disappoint! I'll share more about our menu and experiences soon, but for now just know that we had homemade peanut butter under the stars at the drive-in!

    Homemade Peanut Butter

    1/2 jar of unsalted peanuts
    teaspoon of kosher salt (to taste)
    teaspoon of honey (to taste)

    Add the peanuts to the food processor and grind for 5 minutes. Add salt and honey. Continue running the food processor until the peanuts become creamy and it begins to ball up on itself. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for about a week.

    Pin It!

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Feminism, double standards, and pregnant women

    I am a feminist - "a person who advocates equal rights for women" and believe that men and women were created different, but equal. I have never needed someone to hold the door for me, carrying groceries, or do things for me that I can do for myself. Independence and stubbornness has made me work hard, speak my mind, and insist on being treated as equal. It's not really a conscious effort, it's just part of my nature. Perhaps it's because I'm from New Jersey.

    I also come from a place where compassion and service is essential. I hold the door for others, male or female, young or old. I speak out for those who can't and I carry the weight of my brothers and sisters when they need help. That's what makes the world go 'round. We help each other by showing compassion and serving everyone.

    I thought that this "feature" of mine would be an incredibly challenging thing to get over in my current condition. I knew that once I got pregnant that I'd be more limited than I have ever been. I knew that for the sake of this life growing inside of me, I'd need to put limits on myself and ask for help much more than I'd like. All of these things worried me. I also worried about the emotional side of being pregnant. I am a very emotional person and can get upset or overwhelmed at simple things. I worried that pregnancy hormones would control my body and I'd have no restraint - crying in the grocery store or insane with road rage.

    Asking for help, letting others do things I'm unable to do, and resting when necessary has been a lot easier than I ever thought. It's especially easy now that I'm sporting the undeniable baby bump. If I'm tempted to pick up a heavy box, stay outside too long, or neglect rest, I feel a little baby flutter and I remember that my purpose right now is to keep the baby safe. I definitely do what I can and do not want to abuse the pregnancy card, but it's nice to remember that I can cut back some to make sure that this is a safe and healthy pregnancy.

    Along the same lines, I have made a paradigm shift in the past few weeks and think that pregnant women should be treated as their own category, much more special and with more care than men or women. There are things that occur in my daily life and I am left thinking, "This should NOT happen to a pregnant woman!" I've never felt like I deserved special treatment as a woman, but now that I'm carrying a child, I want the world to take notice.
    None of this has anything to do with how pregnant one is. I would give this much special attention to a woman who was 6 weeks pregnant, 6 months pregnant, or 6 weeks postpartum! 
    For example, I left work 5 minutes early on Wednesday in an effort to miss some traffic and get home in time to eat before choir. Instead of it taking 35 minutes or so, it took me 65-70 minutes to get home. I was stuck in traffic for more than 30 minutes because of a clearing wreck. I was furious. This shouldn't happen to a pregnant lady!

    I was vying for a close spot at Target, turn signal on and ready to go, when someone swooped in and stole my spot. Can I walk the additional 25 feet? Of course, but this shouldn't happen to a pregnant lady!

    Someone I've never met before recently went off on me because of a variety of completely unrelated things that all had absolutely nothing to do with me. He was rude, inconsiderate, and offensive, albeit unintentionally. I bit my tongue to not cry for the following 30 minutes. His rant was nothing personal and literally had nothing to do with me (or reality) at all. And still, I was very upset. This shouldn't happen to a pregnant lady!

    Do women need special treatment from men because we can't open our own car doors, carry packages, or pay for our own meals? Absolutely not. But pregnant women need to be handled with care. It's just smart.
    Pin It!

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Long-term perspective

    Something changed inside of me shortly after I turned 27. I can pinpoint about a 6 month range when my life really changed and because of those changes, I am who I am today. Prior to that time, I'd always been a dreamer, an idealist that had a passion for the perfect life. I knew that the life I had always wanted was out there, I just had no idea how to get it. While my heart never wavered, I vocalized things differently based on how much confidence I had in myself and attaining those dreams.

    Sometimes I'd tell people that I was excited about the future and that included a husband, children, a master's degree, and a wonderful job helping youth ministers.

    Other times I'd convince myself that those things weren't in the cards for me and I didn't really want to be married, have children, or my master's degree. While my dreams never changed, my confidence in achieving them did.

    This all went on for years, which the dreams shifting slightly, until I turned 27. That's when I discovered a long-term perspective. For years I'd been unhappy or dissatisfied with my life because it wasn't what I thought it would be. I assumed at 25 I'd be married, expecting a child, and well on my way to the life I'd always dreamed about. When at 25 I was under-employed, scared, and unsure about my future, I lost confidence.

    When I hit 27 something inside me shifted. I spent time with healthy families, beautiful children, and alone with my thoughts. I read books, was introspective, and enjoyed peace for one of the first times in my life. I was happy. I was content. I realized that the husband might never come, but I had incredible friends that treated me like family. I realized that I might never have children of my own, but I had children that loved me and that I would move heaven and earth to make happy. I was already on my way to getting my master's degree, but discovered that I had no idea why I was getting it and what I would do once I'd graduated. Still, I was happy with where I was in life.

    For the first time in my life, I was content with today even though today wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I hadn't planned for life to go the way it did and I was able to give up some of the control and enjoy life. Even in the midst of this life-transformation I knew something magical was occurring. I maintained the same dreams, but came to terms with the fact that life would still be beautiful even if I never married, had children, or landed my "dream job."

    I began to think long-term even if things didn't work out according to my well-orchestrated plans. I began to imagine what my life would look like and how I could find peace and joy. I let go of control. And I started really enjoying and living life. It was beautiful.

    I am not at all arguing for The Secret or anything about the power of positive thinking. However, once I began to enjoy life, all the things I'd been dreaming about began to happen. I'm not saying life's been easy or my dreams haven't changed, but my life started to come together just as I'd always thought it would.

    Shortly after this life transformation, Jarrod and I began dating. Three months later, we were engaged. Seven months later I was a Master of Theological Studies. One and a half months after that we were married. Now I'm nearly 29.5 years old and I am almost halfway through the pregnancy with our first child, working at a job that I always knew I'd love and be good at, and I married to a man whom I adore. It has not been easy, but with a little long-term perspective, I am accomplishing the things I always knew I could.

    Is life perfect? By no means. Is life good? Absolutely. I have peace, motivation, passion, energy, love, and am happier than I ever imagined. I still dream about what the future holds, but I'm much less concerned with it. the future will be what it will be. I'm happy right here for now.
    Pin It!

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Pregnancy Memories: Volume 2

    In an effort to remember as much as possible, here's a random stream of thoughts about this pregnancy.
    • On Sunday evening Jarrod and I were on the couch watching TV and relaxing. I had my laptop in front of me and I was working on uploading pictures. While I've felt small movements, I've not felt anything earth-shattering from the baby. This week the cartilage skeleton is turning to bone and I'm hopeful to begin feeling bigger movements soon. On the couch, I felt a big movement, almost like a twitch, but coming from the inside - right in the center of my belly! Hello, Beignet! 
    • Jarrod, his brother, his brother's girlfriend, our sister-in-law, and I were eating at Subway. It had been a very long and hot evening and we were gross and dirty. I scarfed down my sandwich, chips, and cookie. As everyone was finishing up, Jessica said, "I'm too full for these chips." Will responded, "Yeah, I can't eat my chips either." Jarrod piped in, having just finished his chips, "I'm going to save my brownie. I'm full." I conveniently took the last sip of water from my water bottle as everyone turned to look at me. I ate everything and still wasn't stuffed. We all laughed. I wasn't hungry, but the baby was STARVING!
    • I've been feeling little baby twitches for the past few weeks. They are getting more frequent now and I'm dying for Jarrod to feel them. On the couch the other night I made Jarrod sit with his hand on my belly for 30 minutes. Nothing. The next night we do the same. Jarrod puts his hand on my belly and the baby stops. He decides that it must be a girl. She's already his little girl. "Aww, there's my daddy! I'm going to take a nap." 
    • At church on Sunday our pastor (who ADORES children and loves that we're pregnant!) mentioned Psalm 139 and how a baby is being knit together in my womb right now. He was excited and went on about my new "pooch". People giggled and I probably turned red. He is so sincere and was definitely not making fun of me - he has absolutely nothing but excitement and joy for Jarrod and I. Then he said that the "pooch" is not from nachos - it's actually a baby! I was so embarrassed my head dropped into my hands as I laughed. Of course our video crew caught me and it was shown to the congregation. Completely awesome and definitely something I can laugh about today and in 10 years. (Note: You can watch it here and fast forwarding to 23 minutes 40 seconds.) 
    Pin It!

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Pregnancy Update - Week 18

    What’s Happening This Week: Head to rump, your baby is approximately 5 1/2 inches long (about the length of a bell pepper) and weighs almost 7 ounces. He's busy flexing his arms and legs — movements that you'll start noticing more and more in the weeks ahead. If you're having a girl, her uterus and fallopian tubes are formed and in place. If you're having a boy, his genitals are noticeable now, although he may hide them from you during an ultrasound.

    How far along? 18 weeks
    Weight gain: 7.5 lbs. - huge shock that I actually lost weight this week because I ate like a pig (and much less healthy thanks to a conference and lots of travel!) It could have been the scale and next week I'll have gained like 3 lbs!
    Stretch marks? Still the ones on my hips, but that's all.
    Sleep: I bought a body pillow! It helps a lot, but also wakes me up sometimes when it gets shifted or ends up on Jarrod's face... I think it'll help, but I think my nights of not waking up at all or only waking up once are completely over.
    Best moment this past week: Having people recognize my belly with excitement. Church members, friends, and family now look at my belly and are excited to see a noticeable bump. And Jarrod loves it. :-)
    Movement: Small movements are becoming more noticeable. I've been disappointed that I don't feel the baby more even at 18 weeks, but I rarely hold still long enough to feel any movements inside of me. I'm working on slowing down and paying attention more.
    Food cravings: Sweets. My coworker made me banana chocolate chip muffins this week and it was all I could do not to eat the entire bag in one sitting. DELICIOUS!
    Labor Signs: None.
    What I miss: Caffeine. I still drink some, but have limited it considerably. I wasn't a HUGE caffeine drinker, but I do LOVE my diet coke. Now I drink one every few days and feel bad even about that.
    What I am looking forward to: Our 20 week appointment next Tuesday! I cannot wait to see the baby!
    Anxieties: Child-care, health insurance, and logistics after the baby comes. I know it will all work out, but I'm feverishly researching, thinking, discussing, and praying about all of our options.
    Weekly Wisdom: I've gotten some great advice about baby products we need/don't need.
    Pin It!

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Favorite Day of the Year!

    Jarrod and Lucy cheering me on in DFW 2010.
    One of my absolute favorite days of the year is the day that online check-in opens for the DFW 3-day for the Cure. The 3-day season officially started with the Boston 3-day several weeks ago, but for me, the 3-days season begins with online check-in!

    Online Check-In marks the final countdown to the 3-day event. It is where you review the safety video, answer medical questions, pick a tent-mate, and get officially ready to go! Online check-in signified that it's time to really kick it into high gear in preparation for the 3-day. We are currently at 13 weeks and counting until the DFW 3-day for the Cure and I could not be more excited!

    Renee and I at the finish line in ATL 2010. 
    This year will definitely be different for me. I've not missed one mile of the 60 in each of the 4 events I've participated in so far. This year I will not be walking 60 miles. Perhaps I can walk 30 miles and we'll count it twice because I'm walking for two. I will not be staying at camp for the first time as well. Camp is not my favorite part of the event, but it is definitely a wonderful experience. The thought of sleeping in a tent even at 18 weeks terrifies me and I know at 31 weeks it will be all but impossible.

    I get teary-eyed when I train because I think about crossing the finish line - wiggly baby in my belly - knowing that together we've been part of the fight against breast cancer. I am thrilled to share this event with my unborn child this year.

    Dancing at closing ceremonies in DFW 2008
    But we don't do it alone. I am so thankful to share that I have surpassed my fundraising goal already this year. Each year I commit to raising $2,300 in order to participate in the 3-day for the Cure. Each year I am fearful about whether or not I'll be able to raise the funds. And each year I am blown away by the generosity of others and the wide-spread affect cancer has had on our lives. This year was no different. Because of donations from Dad & Marie, Monty & Mara, Jared and Alina, John and Marie, Lauren, Stephen & Conor, Pam and Marco, Renee, Brenda and John, Carol, Deborah, Todd and Shelley, Mika, Mary Lynd and Randall, Light, Mary, Sandy and Mike, Susan, and Kathy and Jim I have met my goal (plus some) with 13 weeks to spare!

    With some sorority sisters in DFW 2009
    As many of you know, in order to participate in the 3-day for the Cure, I MUST raise $2,300. This is not an arbitrary number that I come up with each year - it is the set fundraising minimum that each participant is required to raise in order to participate in the event. At Online Check-In if you have not met the minimum you have several options including payment plans that begin after the event, giving you even more time to continue fundraising. Putting your own debit/credit card on the line sure lights a fire under you to get to raising funds!

    I am so thankful this year that I don't have to worry about fundraising or paying any funds out of our budget to meet the minimum. What this also says to me is that people are passionate about finding a cure. We are tired of cancer taking the lives of our loved ones. We don't want to live in fear anymore. There is something you can do to help. While we can't control cancer, we can be part of the fight. I am so thankful for the folks that have supported me on this journey for the past many years. If you want to donate, please consider making a donation to my sister, sister-in-law, best friend, or father. They are all walking, the money all goes to the same place, but they are all under their fundraising minimums and need help getting there. You can join them in the fight. If you need any more incentive to join us as we kick cancer's ass, please consider reading Bridget's latest chapter. She's a fighter, but she needs our prayers, dollars, and support.
    Pin It!


    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
    Blogging tips