Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pregnancy Update: Week 26

We matched in our chambray :) Cute photo bomber!


 Weeks: 26

Trimester: Second, one week away from the third trimester

Gender: GIRL!

Name: Ha, like we even know. I tried to make a go for the name “Eden” but Lance hates it.

Baby's Size: One and 2/3 pounds
Cravings: Root beer floats. Sweet creamy goodness. The occasional pickle.
How I'm Feeling: More energy than first trimester (thank goodness, I don’t think Lance thought that I was ever going to make supper again and I think Lucan thought that the baby and momma must need a lot of rest.) But about mid-second trimester I started developing more lower back and left hip pain which seems to go hand in hand with a protruding belly. After walking around the Iowa State Fair all day, I thought that I was going to keel over and die. I’m just trying to be mindful of not overdoing it. 

Sleep has been good, just never enough of it. Rolling over is quite the process these days and will only get worse. I miss sleeping on my back. 

I do seem to be doing a few absentminded things which can only be attributed to needing more sleep and baby brain. For example, I wrote out Lucan’s daycare check to the wrong daycare. I completely got the wrong day for a chiropractor appointment. Forgetting treats I made for treat day on the counter at home and having to go back for them. Burning a pan of bacon to a complete charred mess. Silly things that usually I’m much better at remembering to do.

Movement: Little girlie seems to think tap dancing on my bladder is a fun activity. Not a fan. Or she tries to stretch up into my ribs making breathing hard.

Wearing: 90% maternity clothes, 60% mine, 40% borrowed from friends. I love having gracious friends to loan me their clothes. There are some looser or stretchier things I’m wearing that are non-maternity, but as I’m rounding into the third trimester, my thought is, why bother?! Embrace elastic people! No one is impressed by the fact that you uncomfortably compressed yourself into your pre-pregnancy clothes. I wearing lots of dresses because dresses = no waistbands. I’m not sure what I’m going to wear when it starts getting cold outside because 80% of the maternity pants I own are jeans.

Momma thoughts: I am amazed by different people’s reactions that this baby is a girl. Some of them are outright overjoyed by the fact. And yes, while we feel extremely lucky to have a boy and a girl, there would have been nothing wrong if this baby had been a boy too. So moral of the story people, be excited that it’s a healthy baby. Not that it’s a healthy baby girl.
I filled out a Target online baby registry. Not that I have expectations for anyone to actually buy me anything or throw me a shower, but it’s a good way to keep track of things that I want to get for baby girl. 
Picking garden produce with a pregnant belly feels like a punishment. Seriously. It's too bad that Lance's color blindness really impairs him from knowing which tomatoes are red and which are green... 
We canned a small batch of salsa two weekends ago and it also felt like a punishment. Lots of standing. Boiling water. Hot kitchen. Not a good time. We'll see how much I feel up to come apple time.

Nursery thoughts: We officially moved Lucan out of the crib this weekend. It’s a convertible crib and we had taken off all the sides months ago, but we finally bit the bullet and bought him new bedroom furniture in preparation for the crib to be girlie girl’s. Lu’s having fun sleeping in his new "big boy" bed and enjoys tucking all of his animals in. But it’s nice to be making steps forward to getting ready for baby girl (or as Lu has named her this week “Paco”).

We’re keeping Lucan in his present room and turning the guest room into the nursery. I haven’t purchased anything yet, but I’m trending towards a grey and pink theme. Light pink, light grey. Grey walls with one wall that is grey and white horizontal stripes. Lance readily agreed, which I was a bit surprised by. I wonder if there’s any way I could convince him to install a chandelier...

Placenta problem update: at my last appointment and ultrasound things had remained largely unchanged. My patient OB-GYN (best doctor ever!) explained to me while there is nothing that they can specifically pinpoint that caused this “spot” on my placenta and nothing that can be done to resolve the spot either, as long as the baby keeps growing and the “spot” doesn’t increase in size they aren’t going to be too concerned about it. I will have another ultrasound in September to check everything out but if things remain unchanged they will discontinue the ultrasounds. Which is fine, I’m already getting a little concerned about how much more this pregnancy is going to cost.

Exercise: I'm still doing some yoga  and bike rides and irregular walking and running about with Lucan. I took Lu on a tricycle ride the other night (he rode and I walked) and there were times where I felt like I was getting a side ache from trying to keep up with him. Pregnancy is slowing me down. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Toddler "Calm Down" Glitter Bottle


Isn't it pretty?

The tantrums that our toddler throws are real and very much alive. Cue this sensory "calm down" bottle I've seen popping up on the web and on pintrest. This magical bottle has been credited with helping kiddos calm down mid-tantrum simply by having them watch the pretty swirling glitter settle to the bottom. Cut to the part where this desperate momma thinks "this is the key to ending tantrums." Ha. I'm such a naive first-time mom.

Lucan does really like his glitter bottle and will shake it and play with it when he's happy. He's gladly showed it to several different visitors who have appropriately "ohhhed and ahhhed" over it. But when I tried to give it to him mid-tantrum, he promptly chucked the whole thing at my head. Not really the point of the "calm down" part. #realworldmom

But if you feel inclined to make one for your child to help them calm down mid-tantrum, far be it from me to stop you. Just don't expect miracles like I did. Foolish mommy.

The trickiest thing I encountered was finding the water bottle I wanted, which is a bottle of Artisan Voss Water, checking in at $1.47. The only place I could find it was in the health foods section of the Hy-Vee on Jordan Creek Parkway in DSM (for all you locals). Lance asked me what the bottle of fancy water in the fridge was for. I felt a little foolish telling him that I had bought it for the packaging and less about the contents. I had remembered a past co-worker ordering a bottle of Voss Water at a Christmas party in 2007 at Trostel's Dish, but I wanted to avoid going to a restaurant and ordering a bottle of water and walking out. Hy-Vee seemed like a better option. Turns out, Voss has started packaging their water in plastic bottles instead of the glass bottles I remembered. For my purposes, this probably is a plus rather than a minus. You can use any sort of container or water bottle or jar, but I wanted one that didn't scream "upcycled spaghetti jar."

The rest of the supply list include a bottle of Elmer's blue glitter glue ($2.99 at Target) and two vials of loose chunky glitter ($1 for both of them) found in the dollar section at Target. And hot water.

Step 1. Remove water from bottle and any gummy labels. 
Step 2. Using about 1/3 of your bottle of glitter glue, squirt into your bottle. (I've read to use anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottle of glue. I used more like 2/3 of the bottle, which I probably shouldn't have. The more glue you use, the longer it will take for the glitter to settle to the bottom = antsy toddler)
Step 3. Add hot water (I just used hot tap water and ran it for a couple of minutes) and shake rapidly to incorporate with the glitter glue. Hot water makes it easier for everything to come together.
Step 4. Add in your chunky glitter to your liking.
Step 5. Fill the rest of the bottle with water.
Step 6. Shake vigorously and enjoy your falling glitter! 

I hope you feel calmer after making this. I brought it to work for all of my co-workers to play with and they are all planning on making ones for themselves. So even if it doesn't work for your toddler, it might help the adults in your life :) It's a partial pintrest win.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

True Confessions: a month of budget fails.




http://www.bascexpertise.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/7027596629_1b17209fa6_m1.jpg

I know that I have a tendency to be equally encouraged by people’s budget fails as their good deals. That’s the nice person I am :)
 
But realistically, sometimes it’s a good reminder to see other people’s humanity and erring ways. Most months we do pretty well when it comes to our budget. There’s usually not a ton left at the end, but I view it like tax returns: as long as I’m not in the red, close is pretty good because it means that we accurately predicted exactly where we should be. 

July, on the other hand, was a majorly red month. I knew that July would be a more expensive month because I needed to buy a couple of wedding and shower gifts, but I didn’t plan for anything else out of the ordinary. Normally we get by just fine on those types of assumptions. What we didn’t plan for was the Grand Am to die in the middle of a busy intersection over the 4th of July. So we certainly didn’t plan for almost $340 in repair work or another $260 in replacing the back tires for the same car. Normally all of those things would come out of some sort of emergency savings account. We do have a small amount set aside for car repairs, but it’s something piddly like $150. In light of the fact that out of the three cars we own, there is a total of 32 years and 467,200 miles between them, we should probably have a more robust savings account for that area. (Lance, math genius he is, calculated that our cars have been around the globe a little less than 19 times at 24,902 miles each trip).

And while I knew that we were going to have to shell out money to replace my dead Nikon D200, I hadn’t settled on a model or a final amount. I bit the bullet and bought a new Nikon D3200 for $475 off of Amazon because I knew that I’d want to take lots of pictures at the State Fair in August (which incidentally Lance left my camera at home thus negating one of the main reasons for the camera purchase). 

In regards to the gifts that I really didn’t think to factor into the budget, I talked with another friend who was attending the same wedding and split some of the wedding gift costs. I tried to make smart decisions about the shower gift basket I put together (wedding night themed: utilizing a basket and champagne flutes I already had; going to Trader Joes for the gourmet foodstuffs; not getting food items that would have to be refrigerated, etc.) As a result those gifts didn’t really cost me as much as I had originally thought they might. 

On the flip side, July is actually an example of God’s provision. Lance’s employee referral bonus was finally added onto his paycheck (just two months late) and we received an FSA reimbursement check for dependent care. Not to mention that Lance has been receiving his sales bonus checks which we’ve been using to make additional loan payments but this month used to help with unplanned expenses. 

So there's our budget fails for July. Feel encouraged :) 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Gender Reveal: Girl

Congratulations it’s a girl. Wow. Shocker to say the least.

I think in every mom’s heart there is the desire for a daughter. At least if I’m being truthful with myself, I really hoped for a girl. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lucan wholeheartedly but there is something to be said about the bond of a mother and a daughter. Lucan is more than I can ever ask for but I’m quite certain he won’t be wearing gold glitter polka dot leggings. Lance and I will probably keep our family numbered at four, so I knew this was it. Ever since the start of this pregnancy, I had repeatedly told myself that I would not allow myself to be heartbroken if I ended up being the mom of all boys. God knows what he's doing and would know if I would be better suited to being a boy mom. So I left it at that.

I know that I’ve mentioned that Lance has his conviction that second children don't get as much special attention as first children, so he wasn’t content to find out the baby’s gender at the doctor’s office like normal people. When we had Lucan we had a big brunch with our families and found out with everyone at the same time. It was fun, but more work then I really wanted to put myself (or my mom) through. And after four and a half months, I just plain wanted to know. But that type of thinking was not amenable to dear husband.

When we went to the OB/GYN’s office, I was a little confused that we had our OB appointment before the ultrasound. But I figured they had a better idea of these things than I did, so I went along with it. Lo and behold, I had my OB appointment scheduled but not my ultrasound. DISAPPOINTING. So five days later, I had my OB appointment and my ultrasound. In the ultrasound technician’s office she briefly told us to close our eyes and then fifteen seconds later, she told us we could open them again. Based on that alone, Lance and I were fairly certain that this baby was a boy.

Cut to six days later. July 30, National Cheesecake Day at the Cheesecake Factory. Both of our sets of coworkers were beside themselves waiting to find out boy baby or girl baby. A couple of Lance’s coworkers convinced Lance to give them the card with the gender written on it and they would call into the Cheesecake Factory and have them bring out our cheesecake revealing the baby’s gender. Pretty cute, huh?! So as we got settled in with appetizers and such, Lance talked to our server and made sure everything was arranged. And then this happened:




Needless to say we were both left speechless. Lucan was busy stuffing himself full of chocolate flavored whipped cream while we both hugged and sat in stunned silence. There's nothing like finding out the gender to make everything being really real, really fast. Our friends and family have been so excited about the news and keep saying things like "Lucan is one of the most adorable children ever, but this baby, wow, she's going to be so cute!!" I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed by "how cute" this child is supposedly going to be.

We will be going to see this kiddo monthly until the end. After my ultrasound, the doctor said there is
a spot on my placenta they're concerned about and will be monitoring the growth of the baby to make sure this spot isn't interfering with her development. It's my prayer this pregnancy will continue smoothly and that the most exciting time will have been finding out that we're blessed with a daughter! (PS: should we start saving for a wedding, like now? Just kidding. Sort of.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

31 Things to Be Thankful for in July

Better five days late than never?!

1. Living in a free country and getting a 3 ½ day weekend without having to take a single vacation day.
2. Seeing our baby via ultrasound. Always memorable.
3. Celebrating nine years of marriage and all the good and bad that comes with those nine years. We went to Kansas City at the end of June and called that our anniversary celebration.
4. Celebrating the marriage of two special people and seeing a whole bunch of college friends to boot!
5. Having a helpful, handy husband. The Pontiac left me stranded in a very busy intersection over the 4th of July holiday and Lance managed to replace the fuel pump and the EGR valve (don’t ask me what it does, that’s not my forte) by the end of the week. AND he got his old crappy car working in the meantime. Three car family!!
6. Lance also made progress on painting the exterior of our house. See what I mean, helpful and handy!
7. Nothing in our garden has died yet – with the caveat that the lettuce and spinach don’t count because they never really had a fighting chance to begin with.
8. Swimming at my parents’ house and seeing Lucan delight in the act.
9. Local sweet corn! Yum, delish!
10. Having my mother-in-law come to our house and babysit Lucan while we went to my friend’s wedding.
11. Fun date night with just the small group adults at one of our most favorite restaurants, Flying Mango.
12. Sweet, succulent nectarines, juicy as can be.
13. Tractor rides for my boys.
14. Trips to the chiropractor.
15. Mild summer weather. Being pregnant calls for mild weather.
16. Long car trips filled with adult conversation.
17. Lucan’s funny chocolate covered face after I let him lick the bowl to the chocolate cake I made. 18. Attending the craziest parade in DM – Urbandale 4th of July parade. We’ll not be reliving that one again in the immediate future.
19. Fantastic yoga classes at Studio B Yoga.
20. Sleeping. I’ve not had problems to date with pregnancy interrupting my sleep patterns.
21. Clean bill of health from my dentist.
22. Comfy skirts and dresses that stretch. Just say yes to elastic.
23. My new Nikon D3200.
24. Quiet, home-based weekends.
25. Watching my friends live out their trials of life in a faith-based way.
26. Friend conversations.
27. Gender reveal parties at the Cheesecake Factory.
28. Homemade pesto from garden basil
29. Finally figuring out how to utilize Wilbor to borrow e-books from the library. My kindle is grossly underused and I need to change that.
30. Simply Raspberry Lemonade. It always tastes good.
31. Quality friend time with Molly watching trash television (Bachelorette finale). Because nothing says friendship like trash television.
Hospers RAs minus Nicole. We missed her greatly at Rae Rae's wedding! (baby Brock is standing in for Nicole)

Pregnant me, the beautiful bride, Rachael, and lovely bridesmaid Molly


 
Adorbs picture at the DM Farmer's Market with Cubby Bear. Lucan wanted to give Cubby Bear a high-5!
 


Gender reveal dinner at Cheesecake Factory/ 1/2 off cheesecake day! Can you see Lucan's binoculars?



Silly boy with short hair.


This kiddo is fearless. "I just love Gramp-er's big pool. We should get a big pool."


Morningside College's production of "Honk." Sadly, it did not go the best and ended up with me bodily hauling Lucan away and tears.


But it was a good time for most everyone else: namely my nephew, Wyatt, and my niece, Andrea.


Lucan, on the other hand, was more concerned with the sewer.



Wyatt and Lucan are six months apart in age. Wyatt very much enjoyed sitting in Lucan's "Cars" chair.


Tractor rides at papa's house are always exciting!


Silly boy in the corn.


Bucket calf named ... er ... Light something. I think Half-light. My in-laws have named all of the calves this spring/summer after some sort of "light" and I've sort of lost track by now.


Monster basil plant. You can't even tell I made a big batch of pesto.


Enjoying a cider doughnut at the Farmer's Market. One of the more reasonably priced items that isn't too terribly messy.


I made a chocolate zucchini cake. Lucan enjoyed himself. And the cake batter. (Yes, raw eggs. I know, I know.)



A clean bowl and spatula. And a very happy boy.


My coleus plants and geranium pot looks great. Go figure, my mom repotted it and it looks a million times better now. All of my pots: dead/dying.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Grilled BLT salad


Has anyone started wondering if I still cook anymore? Ha, so it's just Lance that wonders if I still cook? At this stage of our life, less is more and repetition happens. We have standbys that will please everyone and things I know I can make that won't make me want to throw up once I smell the finished product (food smells are still bothersome). I really like summer and the minimally prepared seasonal foods that go with them. Lance tolerates salad reasonably well and Lucan, well, not so much. But in the case of this BLT salad, I was able to deconstruct it some where Lucan was eating "parts" of the salad along with us. And in the eyes of Dinner: A Love Story, that is a dinner win.

Salad
2 romaine lettuce hearts, cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup cherry tomato halves
1 cup cooked largely diced bacon
1 cup seasoned croutons
1 medium avocado, skin and pit removed, and diced

Dressing:
1/3 cup mayonnaise (you could also sub plain greek yogurt too)
¼ cup milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
½ teaspoons garlic powder (the original recipe calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic and that was waay too much)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Heat the grill on medium high.
Brush the romaine lettuce with olive oil.
Place the romaine lettuce on the grill, cut side down for 3 minutes, then flip it to the other side and grill for 3 minutes (really watch your lettuce - if your grill runs hot, you don't want to burn your salad. Burnt lettuce is as about tasty as charred paper. I speak from experience.)
Plate the lettuce.
Top the grilled romaine lettuce with the tomatoes, bacon, croutons, and the avocado.
To make the dressing, whisk the mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, garlic powder, and pepper together until smooth.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad.
The best bites are the ones that include a little bit of everything on them. And of course, no burnt lettuce :) For inquiring minds, Lucan ate bacon, croutons and some avocado. That's kind of a balanced meal, right?
 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lucan's 3 Year Milk & Cookies Birthday Party



Birthday Par-tay Recap

This year marks the third birthday party I’ve thrown for Lucan. As a reminder, we’ve had a) a crabby themed party b) a Hungry Caterpillar themed party and c) and now a Milk and Cookies party. I figured this was the last year I really got to “choose” a theme for the party so I milked it (ha! Did you catch that!?) for all it’s worth. That and I got really lucky in the fact that my friend Molly had done a Milk and Cookies party for her son and let me borrow a ton of things from her. Where would I be without my friends? Nowhere NEAR as blessed :)

 
Molly loaned me all of the milk bottles, the cookie containers and shared the printable files that weren’t personalized. The bottles were definitely one of the cutest things about the party; Molly had asked around on facebook if there was anyone who had extra Starbucks Frappucino bottles and hit the jackpot when she found a friend who was addicted to the stuff. 
 
I purchased an art file off of Etsy for the party invitations and then had them printed at a local printer here in town. Easy-peasy. The rest of the printables I printed off a color printer and then cut them out in my "spare time" (spare time meaning the Wed night before the party at 10:30 PM).  The pennant banner was a last minute addition. I printed off the individual triangles on just regular paper because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of going and printing them at a professional printer or purchasing cardstock. I made a slightly larger triangle and traced it onto paper bags I got from the grocery store! Each paper bag pennant triangle served as the backing for the colored pennant. I used glue dots to adhere the two layers together, checked with my mom to make sure she had some twine, punched holes and called it good. And it was the item (besides the milk bottles) that everyone commented on at the party. 

We served four different kinds of cookies, two kinds of milk (white and chocolate) and my mom had one of those giant chocolate chip cookie cakes made for Lucan. Lucan loved his cookie cake, especially licking off all the frosting and not eating a bite of the actual cookie. Silly boy. I made monster cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies and hot chocolate cookies. I purchased the chalkboard clothes pin labels off of etsy with a credit I won in a giveaway. My momma, the saint, made peanut butter cookies and graciously hosted the party. One of the nice things I’ve found that if I’m having “family” only parties is that if I have them at my parents’ house I don’t have to make a full meal for everyone. And I don’t have to clean. 


 

Another kind friend, Kelly, loaned me the glass drink dispenser for the chocolate milk. Chocolate milk was definitely the crowd favorite. The straws were from Molly. Like I said, I have great people in my life. 
 
Last minute party details included assembling the pennant banner, taping on the milk bottle wrappers and adding decorative paper to the cookie containers. If there isn’t a ton of last minute things the night before the actual party, it isn’t a Kara party. Lance says that he’s just come to expect it out of me :) I think he'd appreciate if there wasn't last minute stuff, but we don't always get what we want! 

For Lu's first birthday party, I made a laminated "happy birthday" and "lucan" pennant banner and I reuse them year to year. I forgot to make a welcome sign so we hung the Lucan pennant banner outside. Just in case people were confused.



No birthday party is complete without a few construction themed birthday presents.





It was at this point my really nice DSLR Nikon unexpectedly up and died on me. I was happy that I had captured most of the party up until then, but I still wasn't pleased. I naively thought that if I took out the batteries that it would fix itself. I was wrong. I ended up working with a local photography retail store to have them mail it into Nikon in which I received a bid of almost $300 to fix my camera. I wasn't pleased as the repairs basically equaled the value of the actual camera. Annoying.

Anyway, I missed getting to shoot everyone's expressions as Lucan opened up his final present: ours. This present included his "big brother" t-shirt and our announcement that Lucan was about to be upgraded to big brother this December.

On Lu's actual birthday, he was pretty sick with strep and an ear infection so he got to hang out with Mom and Dad. We had thought it would have been fun to take him to Chik-Fil-A or out for ice cream as his special birthday treat, but it just didn't happen. Instead we stuck around the house and had his special ice cream sundae at home. Not nearly as fun in my eyes, but fun in Lu's eyes, which is the most important thing. This boy loves his ice cream!