Monday, December 19, 2011

the sweet spot

I had grand intentions of posting about our Advent activities more frequently this month, but that's been buried on my never-ending to-do list. For the last 6 weeks or so I've averaged about 90 minutes of TV per week and that's come in the form of 10 minute snippets of football here and there. (I have Grey's episodes from OCTOBER saved on DVR. I dream of an afternoon where the kids are at grandma's and I can be a lazy couch potato and catch up on my shows...) I've wanted to write about how J and I both signed up to run the Lincoln half marathon on May 6th (we're taking applications for cheerleaders...) (and omg a half MARATHON? The longest race I've ever run is a 3k, which I'm already running and I've only been training for a week). More on that later.

Saying this month has been busy would be a huge understatement. It's been insane. Yet, through all the busyness and rush rush, I feel like I've really truly enjoyed each day. Seeing Christmas through the eyes of a two and a half year old is pure magic. His joy makes every ounce of stress worthwhile.

2012 is 12 days away and while it's always refreshing to flip the calendar page to get a fresh start and a clean slate, I'm feeling a bit nostalgic about this particular Christmas. This is the year that Bubba really *got* Christmas. He knows fully that it's baby Jesus' birthday. He knows that it's about family and togetherness and love. And he CANNOT WAIT to see all of his grandmas and grandpas, he talks about it several times a day. He wakes up every morning to find Oliver the elf (nevermind the 48 hours this past weekend when we seem to have, um, lost Oliver). He's thrilled for Santa to come.

By that same token, this is the last year that Jbug will be completely oblivious to Christmas. Next year he will be 18 months and into everything I'm sure. It's the last year that I can shop for his presents with him in the cart, and I can wrap them while he plays contentedly beside me. He has no idea what's going on and it's precious.

People ask me how the boys are all the time (note: the phrase "the boys" takes my breath away, still) and I usually say "they're great, growing like weeds", and if that person probes a bit further I will tell them we're in a sweet spot right now. The boys are happy, healthy, growing, they really are enamored with each other, and I mean that truly. B doesn't have a jealous bone in his body, and j just thinks B hung the moon.

When j was born our lives were turned upside down while we struggled to find our new normal as a family. We worked very hard to keep B's life the same though, and for the most part he's thankfully just bobbed along through life the same as he did before j joined us. B interacts with his little brother frequently, but he's also a very independent toddler who isn't afraid to ask us for what he wants. This may sound a bit bizarre, but to some extent, it's almost like my mind has the boys and their needs completely separate - at the moment they're more different than they are alike. But, I also hold that dear - they rely on me for completely separate things and I can get their undivided attention because they don't want what the other has (yet).

The time will come when they're fighting over the eleventy million Hot Wheels cars in our possession, or they both want fruit snack at the exact same time and omg-boys-can-mom-please-just-go-to-the-bathroom-alone-just-this-once? I hope they're best friends. I hope they still think mom and dad are the coolest people in their lives (ha!). But I don't know how that will all work out.

What I do know is that this Christmas is the only one of its kind and I'm going to enjoy every single moment. We're in a sweet spot and I want it to last as long as possible.

Merry Christmas, friends.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jesus, Santa, and an Elf Named Oliver

Christmas as parents is so very different than Christmas before these two little dudes came along. Before, we could be selfish - buy ourselves gifts, celebrate when and how we wanted, all while knowing that Christmas was about more than just candy canes and Rudolph (but never really needing to explain that to anyone). However, now that we're parents, Christmas seems to come with a Huge Responsibility. We want the boys to know that we celebrate Christmas because it's Jesus' birthday, and we want them to experience the spirit of love and magic that the holiday season brings with it.

Bubba is really getting into Christmas this year, and we've definitely had to slow down the presents!presents!presents! talk more than once to remind him why we celebrate Christmas, and to reinforce that if he gets a gift it's because that person loves him, and we also give gifts to show our love for others.

I know that some families don't "do" Santa for a variety of reasons (and that's a-ok with me!), but we do and B is very excited about Santa visiting. He's asking for "a bike and Scooby Doo". (Which is bizarre because we don't recall ever watching Scooby Doo with him, so I have no idea where this came from, but anyway.) We're trying not to make Santa a BIG DEAL so they won't be terribly disappointed when they find out that Santa lives under their roof, not at the North Pole. And we're trying to avoid the "Santa is waaaatching" thing, because kid, you need to listen to me on April 12 just as much as you need to on December 12. We may take him to see Santa this year, maybe not. He's so shy I seriously doubt he would even approach Santa, let alone sit on his lap. For the most part, I think we're treating the "Santa thing" similar to the tradition that Joey and I both grew up with: he shows up on Christmas Eve, takes a bite of your cookie, leaves a gift, and we all go on with life.

I've seen the "Elf on the Shelf" thing popping up around the Internet the last few Christmases and this year decided we needed to test drive this tradition too. So I got the cutest elf that I could find: Christopher Pop-In-Kins. He's been a smashing success so far, B adores him. He's named him Oliver. Again, we haven't said anything about B needing to "be good because the elf is watching" (because whoa, creepy) but Oliver does get into some mischief overnight and always is hiding in a funny place when B wakes in the morning. Yesterday when B woke up I said, "hey, where's Oliver? You should go look for him!". B: "He flied away, back to Santa." (complete with arm flapping motion). The cuteness in that alone was worth the $20. :) We forgot to hide him last night (oops) and B found him on the couch this morning and proclaimed "MOM! Oliver (prounounced all-duh-ber if you're 2 1/2) was silwy last night! He was jumpin' on the couch!"

I wanted to try one more tradition this year - the Advent calendar. Growing up, we sometimes had the chocolate Advent calendars, those were fantastic. After talking about it with Joey, we want to make sure we're experiencing Christmas, rather than just talking about it. I remember wayyy back to Sunday School at church, we always had an Advent activity this time of year. I remember specifically hearing that Advent was the season of "preparing our hearts for Jesus' birth" - and while the elf and Santa thing are fun side distractions, I didn't want to lose Jesus in all of the elf mischief. So we came up with one thing to make/read/do every day from now until the 24th. To our family, it's really about squeezing every last bit of Christmas joy out of the next 25 days - this month always goes SO fast and I want to cherish it.

This is our Advent list, big stuff and little stuff mixed together. I had to take into account our schedules and how much we could do that day, etc. etc.

1) talk about Advent and the calendar + read a book
2) read a Christmas book
3) watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
4) B's Christmas program
5) make ornaments
6) B's Christmas program (yes, we have 2 (!))
7) Christmas devotional
8) make Christmas cards
9) pick out someone from the giving tree and buy a gift
10) visit Santa (hopefully)
11) bake Christmas cookies
12) deliver cookies
13) make hot chocolate & read a Christmas book
14) Christmas devotional
15) visit Living Nativity
16) do a Christmas coloring page
17) make teacher gifts
18) watch Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
19) unwrap a new book
20) drive to look at lights
21) Christmas devotional
22) "open" our stockings
23) watch a Christmassy - movie? (any suggestions? or it's going to be Thomas the Train Saves Christmas, HALP!)
24) Read Twas the Night Before Christmas

I don't think we're ever going to "do" this Christmas thing perfectly. So far B vacillates between admiring the month-old Toys R Us catalog for the 423rd time and climbing up on the piano bench so he can stare at the nativity set once more ("I was borned just like Jesus was, mommy!" quoth he.)

What are your holiday traditions? What are your favorite Advent activities? Where should we hide Oliver next?

Friday, November 18, 2011

10 things you might not know about us

A little bit of randomness for your Friday...

1) For as type A and organized as I am, I'm so not a list-keeper. When I start to get stressed, my brain can't hold all the things I'm trying to keep track of, so I start randomly writing things down - at home, at work, in the car. Which makes me even more stressed because I can't remember where I wrote what. I'm testing out Google tasks and so far I like it, we'll see if it sticks.

2) Joey and I both work in IT, but we don't fit the typical IT stereotype. We have one video gaming system - a Wii - that's probably been played for an hour total since January. We don't have a server or an elaborate home network, and we don't rush out to buy the latest gadgets. We're the boring type of nerdy.

3) Joey drove a 1991 Chevy Caprice when we first met. And I still married him.

So big a family of 6 could ride comfortably.
4) We sold this car on ebay. I changed the battery in it before the buyer picked it up, by myself. I inherited my dad's mechanic skills. Joey, not so much.

5) Joey thought we should head to Vegas when we'd be dating for 3 weeks, and you know, get married. I still married him, 18 months later, in Vegas.

We married in Vegas, not by Elvis, and not in a little white chapel.

6) When I was 6 (ish) months old, I fell down my grandparents' stairs in my walker. This explains a lot, right? :) I think my aunt (who was watching me at the time) may still feel a twinge guilty about this, but I just think it makes for a good story now.

7) Joey has a metal rod in his hip that is the size of an unsharpened pencil. Something about his hip not being formed correctly, or something. (I listen, I swear!) No, it doesn't make metal detectors go off, but it does cause him some pain when the weather changes.

8) Joey moonlights as Captain Planet... we recycle so much stuff we only end up with one little trash bag of trash per week.

9) I don't own a hair dryer. I couldn't go out in public if I ever used one to dry my hair, it would be like blonde Carrot Top.

10) I have a rather strange love of even numbers. My favorite number is 24, it's round and looks nice, and 2+2=4. I like that all 4 of us have birthdays on even numbered dates. I was kind of adamant that our anniversary be on October 14 because 10/14/06 looks nice to me. I realize this is totally weird and I'm ok with that.

It's your turn - I want to read 10 things about YOU!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

you too can make your own baby shampoo

Over the last few days, there's been some chatter in the news about Johnson & Johnson having two potentially cancer-causing chemicals in their baby shampoo. I generally take this type of thing with a grain of salt and don't pay much attention to the outcome, but this one just makes me angry. We've been using J&J's Baby Wash (which also contains quaternium-15) on both of the boys since they were born. And the thought of rubbing formaldehyde on their wee melons... ::shudder::

You can take away what you want to from the story and make the best decision for your family. I thought we could do better. There's tons of other options for organic and natural baby washes, but they can be pretty pricey. And now that we all know I'm pinching pennies, I was on the lookout for something more cost friendly.

So! I made my own. And? It was so easy I should have done this long ago. It literally took 15 minutes from start until I was washing Jbug's hair with it.

I used this "recipe":

And I took pictures!

You'll need:
12 oz. distilled water
4-5 Tablespoons of castile soap flakes
1-2 drops essential oil (I used orange, lavender would be lovely too)
a storage container (I used an old salad dressing jar)

A few notes: To get the soap flakes, I just bought the bars and used my cheese grater. You can probably use the liquid castile soap too, but I'm not sure what the conversion on it would be (let me know if you try it though, I'm curious!). Castile soap is natural soap made from olive oil, mine also had coconut oil in it. I got the soap and essential oil from our local natural food market, but someone mentioned Target has the soap as well. It's CHEAP, the soap bars were $1.38 each and the oil I chose was $4. And I have enough to outfit a small island nation with shampoo for a whole year.

Bring the water to a boil then remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Stir in the soap flakes until they dissolve (they'll dissolve, I was worried they'd just get gloopy, but they don't). Then add the drop(s) of oil - it's very very concentrated, 1 drop would probably be enough. Stir until blended.

Store in a container with a lid. Shake gently before using. (Those are bubbles on top, but they went away quickly.)

We gave Jbug a bath as I was finishing up. Gratuitous photo of giant baby in the tub:

I had visions of the shampoo being thicker, but it's really only a bit thicker than water - I thought it would be too runny but it's not at all. I was also worried the soap wouldn't lather, but it did! It's a really light soft lather that washes away quickly - it's really more awesome than our old body wash which took several rinses to get all the soap off. He was squeaky clean when we finished, and smelled just a tiny bit like oranges and mostly like a deliciously clean baby. I've read that castile soap can be a bit drying, so we made sure to put lotion on him.

Let me know if you try this. Seriously, SO easy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

non-extreme couponing

First, allow me to introduce you to Bubba and Jbug (and their parents) ...

Same kids, new names. I got a little eeked out by having their names on the Internets. Not really from anything specific, just... well you know. Paranoia and all.

Photo taken by the always AMAZING Tracy Wood. Seriously, if you're in Eastern Nebraska, you need to call her. She took the most incredible pictures of our little family a few weeks ago - and she did it in 25 minutes since we signed up for a mini-session. You won't be sorry!


I can't believe in all the time I've been babbling at this blog that I haven't mentioned how Dave Ramsey is the 5th member of our family. Or he might as well be. Not quite two years ago, we decided to dip our toe into really trying to get to the point of being debt-free. Except we fell in head first and haven't looked back. Someday I'll write in greater detail about our experience thus far, but for now: we've paid off $20,000 in 21 months and it feels fantastic. But that means we've had to be very mindful about what we're spending our money on.

Random confession: buying things like toilet paper and toothpaste drives me crazy. I'm not saying that the manufacturers don't deserve to be paid for their products nor do I think we should have a socialist toilet paper program. It's just that being an adult didn't hit me so hard as that first toiletry purchase when I started college. Growing up, some of those things (toothpaste!) were just always there, in the drawer, like a magic elfin toothpaste genie deposited it while we slept.

In the past, we'd head to Walmart (yes, I know, we have a love/hate relationship) once a month and load up on groceries and household goods because they have the market cornered on price and convenience (where else can you buy hair gel, tortillas, and windshield washer fluid at such low prices?). If we needed it, we bought it. It was a necessary evil; we used to joke that part of our paycheck should just go directly there. We were casual couponers then - if we happened to get the Sunday paper, we'd cut out a few things that we used or we wanted to try. We maybe saved $5 a month with coupons.

Last Spring during one monthly budget revamp, I began to realize we needed to stretch our dollars further if we ever wanted to see a light at the end of the tunnel with being debt-free. I started following a local coupon blog, Chicks Dig Deals - she does matchups of coupons + what's on sale at our local stores. I was totally overwhelmed at first, so I started slowly - just clipping coupons and matching one or two stores per week. In truth, I still don't do as good of a job with grocery couponing but that's my next goal. It's so easy though - I just make the list of what's on sale and what we'll use and match it with a coupon. We don't have coupon "doubling" around here (except at our tiny neighborhood store, once a week) so we don't get the amazing deals that other parts of the country do. But still, it's something, and I bet we save $40-60 a month on our grocery bill now.

However. CVS and Walgreens have all my love. I haven't paid anything for a tube of toothpaste since, I don't know, March or something. And I've gotten past my hatred for buying toilet paper since we can get it so very cheap. I delved into drugstore shopping around the time Jbug was born. It uses the same principle of sales + coupon matching, but the deals are much easier to get (for me). For instance, last night I went to CVS and got 2 jumbo packs of Pampers, 2 bottles of Wisk laundry detergent (probably my favorite detergent anyway), and 2 tubes of toothpaste. After my manufacturer's coupons and store coupons (they stack - you can use 1 manu. + 1 store coupon on any item) and CVS' ExtraCare Bucks rewards (they're like cash back from a previous purchase), I paid $6.42. Before the discounts were applied, it was $34. And that is all on stuff we'll use (I keep donating the toothpaste to family members, because it's FREE) (hi, Mom!), I don't buy stuff we won't use, unless it's free and I can donate it to a shelter or something. We have a nifty little stash of stuff started, but usually just 1-2 extra of something, I don't have 23 bottles of ketchup or anything (although we would certainly use it, Joey).

For drug store shopping I use Hip2Save (just a personal preference - there's dozens of couponing sites). She does a great job of laying out the entire week's ad for a certain store (this is last week's CVS ad). I just go through and pick out the things we use, match them to manufacturer's coupons I have, and then cross my fingers for some extra savings from CVS' magic coupon machine (talked about here, in the store guide).

So now, rather than that mega Wal-mart trip, we're buying things ahead of time, when they're on sale. I imagine we save, conservatively, $100 a month over what we were paying prior to my deal busting. It's an awesome feeling to buy things we'll use (hello, diapers) for $3-4 per pack (of Huggies or Pampers) rather than $9-11 that we paid when B was in dipes. It's possible, I did it last night!

I've acquired some tips and tricks over the last few months, and I might share them in a future post. But I want to hear about your tips too! I know I'm not the only one stretching a dollar lately - what do you do? And do you have any questions? I can answer those too.

Have a fab weekend!

Friday, October 7, 2011

our opposite

When B was about 14 months old, we were picking him up one Sunday from the nursery at church. There's a one-way window over the room the kiddos were in, so we could see him, but he couldn't see us. We observed him on the back wall of the room, sitting on a couch, eating his goldfish, watching the kids play around him. This struck me as a bit odd at the time - why wasn't he joining in with the others? I even thought perhaps he was sick and not feeling up to playing. At that point he was still at our wonderful infant-only daycare provider, and he was the oldest of four babies there (they "graduate" at 18 months), so I hadn't really had the chance to watch him interact with others his age. When we checked him out of the nursery he was all smiles and obviously had a great time. I filed that memory away though.

If you know J and I at all, you know we're both fairly outgoing (him especially) - we love interacting with people and making new friends. I just assumed that the whole "apple doesn't fall far from the tree(s)" thing would apply to our kids - I kind of forgot the part where they were going to have their own indivudal characters, strengths, likes and dislikes.

B has always been a pretty "normal" toddler around us - he talks (a lot, lately), he dives into his play, and loves life. But when he's out of our little cocoon, he's a different kid. He's actually quite shy and slow to come around to others. Admittedly, at first this was a bit shocking to me. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I was stuck on thinking this was something he learned somewhere and not just the way he was perfectly wired. I couldn't figure out why he was so reserved when we aren't, at all. Sometimes I still struggle with trying too hard to pry him out of his shell when he's having a quiet moment in front of new people. He got a lollipop from a new hair stylist the other night and I was all but begging him to tell her thank you, and he didn't utter a peep. (In fact, he didn't make a sound the entire thirty minutes she was cutting his hair either.)

This kid is teaching me so much about how to relax and just let him be. I've long since realized that his shyness isn't some weird character flaw, it's just the way he is. Once he warms up to people (which sometimes literally takes months), he comes out of his shell. I'm hoping as he grows up he will learn to be comfortable in new situations, mom and dad aren't always going to be there to hold a hand. But for now, he's only two, and I'll hold his hand any chance I get.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

update from joey: finding a balance

Usually when someone else shares my story, they share that I had a large amount of weight loss in a relatively short amount of time. It's all very positive information, and it's all true, but the story has a bit more to it than you get in the 30 second version. These last few weeks have been the most challenging for me in a long time. Life has finally caught up with me and has been interfering more than helping me.

Winning the first weight loss challenge at Good Life Fitness was probably the coolest thing I have ever won in my life and one of the things I am most proud of! It was the initial goal I had in what I hoped would be a series of weight loss milestones. I was coming off a great high in winning that contest and felt a ton of pressure personally to make sure that I am in great health and to make sure that I am around for a long time to watch my kids grow, and to be a husband. But I also felt a lot of pressure from my peers at the gym. When your pictures are on a board that a lot of people see almost daily, I had a lot to live up to if I wanted to finish what was started. I want to prove not only to myself, but also to everyone at the gym - no matter if they're a staff member or a newbie - that I was worthy of winning that award. I know that for all that I have given to that gym, I have gotten back. It's awesome feeling to succeed personally while being able to assist other people on their journey as well.

I know that I should be hitting boot camp classes, working out in the weight room, and getting as much cardio in as possible! The last couple of weeks I have failed at almost all of those things due to excuses and life getting in the way. I would get so down on myself when I would miss class or gym session - it  made me feel like I was just reverting back to old ways, which is really scary.  I NEVER want to be back in the same situation I was in when I started at Good Life Fitness. It really bothers me when I don’t get the fitness aspect of my life in order. I fully know that when it comes to fitness and dieting that you if you stumble you have to get back up and try again, but the last couple of weeks it's been hard to get back up!

When you have one aspect of your life out of order, it usually means something else is out of order too. What I realized with the help of my wife, was I had NO plan. I would wake up in the morning and decide that x, y, and z are going to happen today for fitness. Do a "fly by the seat of my pants" fitness routine doesn't work, I was lucky to get x done, let alone y or z. Life would always have something different for me to do. Whether it was a sick kid or a work problem tying up my time, I never fully finished my workout agenda for that day. Steve always says that if you “fail to plan, you plan to fail” - this couldn't be more true. I was failing over and over again because I didn't have a weekly plan of what I wanted to accomplish.

I finally have a plan in place to do all of my boot camps in the early morning and lift weights over lunch. In turn, this will free up my nights for my family. After my second son was born this past June, our lives got turned upside down and our family has been finding our new normal as things have settled down. Having two working parents and shuttling kids to daycare and home requires a lot of communication and scheduling. What I failed to realize after he was born is that my exercise plan needed to be adjusted. I needed to find a balance to my life that included both family and fitness.

I encourage everyone to take a step back and review your fitness plan and make sure your plan is still working for you! I know sometimes working out just gets to be routine. It's possible that a small change could be a good thing for your fitness journey and your overall happiness.

Now that my new plan is in place and I am more than ready to continue on my new leg of journey to finish what I have started!

Friday, September 16, 2011

inspired pin: painted footsies

I have this charming annoying habit where I make the most normal words sound more "fun" to Bubba by making them sing-songy. So instead of toes, they're toesies; hands are handies; and feet are footsies. I'm realizing we're reaching the point where I should probably start referring to them by their proper names, because now B is referring to his hands/feet/toes with these cute monikers too. It's "momma, I need to wash my handies!" or "there is sand in my toesies!". It's too funny to correct, so we just roll with it, for now...

Remember when I told you about the merits of Pinterest? I've been using it more and more and I continue to love it to pieces. I like to think I'm a fairly creative person, but this actually gives me a way to channel to that creativity.

I came across this pin on footprint butterflies and thought "hey I can do that!". B's favorite teacher was moving away, and we wanted to make her something as a goodbye gift. So I gathered up the supplies - small canvases (these were 8x10s), washable paint, and foam brushes - and my kids' tootsies. I just bought big bottles of primary colors (red, blue, and yellow in case you forget third grade art) plus white, so I did a little mixing (thank you to my Color Theory class in college) and came up with blue, lime green, and purple.

Then it was as simple as bribing B with fruit snacks to let me paint his feet. He actually enjoyed it, I was so nervous we'd have a disaster that I didn't get any pics of the painting part, but these were the results after the first stage:

Cute, eh? You can totally do this. Please note, my kids have ginormous feet (Joey wears a size 14 and I wear a 9 1/2, so...) otherwise I could have used one of those cute smaller square canvases too, I just didn't think they had enough square footage (HA! I crack myself up). Yes, we did two of j's right foot - I messed up and it wasn't worth trying to fix.

Then you just draw the butterfly body, and write some cute words if you want. This one was for his teacher so I wanted her to know how much she's meant to B (and to us too!).

Lastly, I used some modpodge to stick his photo on the back - I thought it'd be nice to preserve his picture at the age he was when we made this.

The mod podge was still a little wet when I took this picture, but it dried completely clear.

I love how it turned out! If I can do this, so can you, trust me. And I want to see pics when you're done!

Friday, September 2, 2011

friday night leftovers: the football edition

  • Football is back, y'all! Football that counts anyway... preseason NFL is kind of a warmer-upper. But our beloved Huskers hit the field tomorrow!
  • For the last 8 months, B has been a basketball fan. Like ob.sessed with the orange orb. Every now and then he'd sprinkle in a little baseball chatter, especially if we'd recently been to a baseball game. But basketball ruled his brain. And then sometime in the last two weeks he's become ob.sessed with football. It's all he talks about. "Momma, we go to a football game today?" "Daddy, I watch football on the T-B?" (TV, but it's too cute to correct.) He woke up at 5am to announce that it was "time to put my 'Braska shirt on!". Unfortunately, no, sweetness, it's time to go back to bed.

    Eventually it was time to put his Husker gear on, it is football Friday after all:

    He then spent the next 20 minutes yelling "GO BIIIIG RED!" and "GO Braska!". It's in his blood already and I honestly have no idea how that happened. I mean sure we watched games and yelled at the T-B last season, but I didn't really think he was catching on. Little sponges they are.
  • j is 3 months old today. Holy. bananas. He's SUCH a happy baby. If you would have told me 2.5 months ago how happy he'd be today I would have laughed in your face. It didn't seem possible after how discontent he was with MSPI. He's so ful of joy right now - free with smiles and cooing and giggles. We really seem to have turned the corner about 2-3 weeks ago with his MSPI though - he was just acting... differently. Much calmer and more content. So I started testing the waters a teensy bit and added a bit of soy back in, and he was... fine. Good in fact. Then I started using a little butter here and sprinkling some cheese there, and it had zero effect on him. I've cautiously been eating "normally" for the last few weeks and so far so good! I don't want to go too crazy in case he's not completely over it, but I think we're over the hump, and it feels great!
  • Vanilla almond milk is soooo much better on cereal than normal milk. I'm not giving up my almond milk, and I think I've made a convert out of Joey too.
  • A few of you asked me more about this whole Google calendar thing I talked about the other day. You can add as many calendars as you want to your Google account - it's so quick and easy. We had our main family calendar already on my google account and then I added the meal calendar so that I can turn it "off" if I don't want to see the meals at the moment. Google "layers" your calendars and they're color coded so you can see what's what. To add a new calendar, just click the gear thingie in the upper right corner of your google calendar, go to calendar settings, then Calendars, and Create New Calendar. You can even share the calendars with your significant other so they know what's for dinner! Like I said, it syncs to the calendars on our phones and we can each add appointments, events, etc. and have it all go back to a single calendar. We use our family google calendars to keep track of everything. Love it!
  • B helped me make peanut butter bars last night, and they were yummo! Here's a recipe in case you have a few minutes to kill this weekend, they're soooo quick and easy!
    Bar ingredients:
    1 C flour
    1 C oats
    1/2 C sugar
    1/2 C brown sugar
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/2 C butter
    1/3 C peanut butter
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    1 egg
    1 C chocolate chips
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 pan. Mix all bar ingredients except chocolate chips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into bottom of pan. Bake for 15-20 min or until golden. Sprinkle immediately with chocolate chips. Allow the chips to melt for a few minutes then spread the melted chocolate on the bars.
    Glaze ingredients:
    1/3 C powdered sugar
    2 T peanut butter
    4 T milk
    Mix glaze ingredients and drizzle over bars.
Go visit Danifred for the rest of the Friday Night Leftovers participants!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


As it always happens, he was being much chattier right before I got the camera out. However, if you skip ahead to around the 1 minute mark, you'll get a few smiles.

Or watch him attempt to eat his fists for the first 45 seconds... your call!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

how I got my cooking mojo back

Each time we've brought home a baby, it's meant that our lives as we previously knew it were put on pause, and as time went on, randomly, certain things hit play before others. First Joey went back to work. Then Bubba went back to school. Then we found out Jbug had milk and soy protein intolerance. Then we went on vacation. Then I went back to work, and Jbug went to school.
It felt like we were on this weird tilt-a-whirl all summer. We'd sort of make progress at getting to a new normal and then we'd be yanked backwards and sent on another course entirely. I'm not complaining or ungrateful, it just comes with the territory. There has been no semblance of "meal planning" over the last few months - and that's been ok! When I was home all day, it was easy to meander into the kitchen at 3pm and figure out something for supper. Our fallback is always the grill, we always have something to grill, be it a ribeye or a hotdog.

But. This wasn't going to sustain us forever. Our family functions better if we have some sort of meal plan so that we can make a grocery list - otherwise we're wandering down aisles tossing stuff in the cart that we may or may not need.

I think I finally have a solution that's going to work for us, and I'm so excited! It required a little bit of geekery (which, hello, you know my level of geekiness) - I made a google calendar for our meal plans. The calendar syncs to our phones and we should never need to say "what's for dinner?" again! (If you click the calendar, it'll make it bigger.) I've only added a few meals so far, but you get the idea. The beauty of this is, we also have our family google calendar, so I can turn that on and it adds in all of our events. Husker night game at a friends house? I don't have to plan a meal for that night.

So! Creating the calendar was easy, but what to put on the calendar is a bit trickier.

Earlier this summer, I was introduced to Pinterest. Pinterest is a bit difficult to explain - I can't do it justice to its awesomeness. It's a visual bookmarking site. So you know all those links you have saved in your favorites? Maybe a recipe to try, a few Christmas gift ideas, and a site for a vacation you may take. With pinterest, you save an image (called a "pin") of each of those things (to a "pinboard" - and you can have as many boards as you want) - so when you go back to them, you have a picture to remind you of what that link was. The magic of Pinterest is that everyone else is doing the same thing, so if you see a pin you like, you can repin it to your own board. I have several boards - recipes, crafty stuff, things for the kids, etc.

See? You're probably all sorts of confused. :) It's really easiest to understand by just digging in and playing with the site. Let me know if you want an invite!

Anyway, over the summer I've been adding meal ideas to my "recipes" board on pinterest, and I now have quite the yummy collection going on. It makes adding meals to our meal calendar a piece of cake!

Another site I found in the last few days is Crock Pot Girls - 3 moms started this facebook page just 10 days ago and there's already over a half a million fans! Crazy! There's a TON of good recipes on the Discussions tab over there - I have lots of good ideas for meals coming up.

Now that we have a meal plan, and a grocery list, I feel like I actually want to cook again! Weekday evenings move so much easier when we don't do the 5:30 stare into the pantry hoping that something will jump out at us. Give it a shot! Share your favorite recipes in the comments, we love to try new things!

Friday, August 26, 2011

on having two

Before Jbug was born, I had a handful of people give me advice on how things were going to go. That of course I would love Jbug as much as Bubba. That my heart would surely make room to hold another little guy. That I would love them equally but differently.

To be honest, I wasn't ever worried about how to love them. All of those things were true. I do love them so much it hurts. And I do love them in completely different ways. My fears about having two were more practical in nature. Like, what happens if I need to take them both to the grocery store. Or, let's back up, what happens when I have to watch them both by myself, in our house?

Bubba loves to love, complete with Big Hugs and wet kisses. When his little brother entered the scene, he was instantly enamoured with Jbug. Like omg! mommy! he's little! and lovable! and I love him! a lot! a lot! - and to show all that giddy excitement, he would hug Jbug's head. He didn't have a "gentle" level, it was always at the "I'm going to squeeze him SO HARD so he can FEEL MY LOVE" level". And when he wasn't hugging him, he was within 1.5 centimeters from Jbug. Which meant we spent the first month of Jbug's life saying "Bubba, gentle!" "ok, that's good, he knows you love him" "please get away from his head" "do not put your fingers in his ears" "or his nose" "Jbug doesn't need your car" "you're squishing him!". To complete the awesomeness, B was waking up 2-3 times a night to come to our room to check on j. Sweet, but, KID, go to BED. Keeping both of them happy (and separated) was stress.ful.

And then there was the part where we had to continue to parent B while making sure Jbug was fed, changed, and sleeping on a somewhat-normal schedule. Throw in some milk-soy protein intolerance for j, and a tantruming two year old, a hormonal mom, and a dad trying to keep us all happy and that first month was basically F-U-N. (or not. it was not fun.)

B continued to go to school (daycare, but we call it school, because it is) (we also call j's daycare "school", which is kind of comical because it's infant-only, but she calls it school so we do too) (but I digress) while I was on maternity leave. We would have had to pay them weekly to keep his spot open, and he asks to go every day anyway. This was a Huge Blessing because oh how I was overwhelmed those first few weeks.

Saturday mornings Joey goes to the gym. Those first few weeks it had worked out that B was at grandma's or for whatever reason I either had one kid or neither of them on Saturday mornings. But around the time j turned 1 month old, Joey woke up on a Saturday morning and was getting ready to leave. I felt like I was about to have a nervous breakdown. The thought of keeping both of them, by myself, for three whole hours was more than I could manage, and he hadn't even left the house yet. Thankfully I have the most understanding husband and he took care of all of us (again) and convinced me that I was not a bad mom and that I'd feel better if I just slept a little. So I did, and he was right.

Around the six week mark, we turned a corner. It was kind of like we all went to bed one night and woke up with a whole new outlook. B was fun again! and happy! and listening to us! Jbug's tummy was markedly better and he started smiling and cooing around then! I started to feel like I could handle this mom thing again! And I think Joey took a long deep breath and thought "finally".

A few weeks ago, Bubba's school had an inservice, so he was home with Jbug and I all day. It was fun! I was able to be the mom that both of them needed that day. It was a far cry from that first time I about had a panic attack over having them by myself. Earlier this week I took them both to the grocery store, and it was a piece of cake.

All of this long story to say that having two kids is nothing like I expected it to be. Of course, the love is unending and they fill my heart with so much happiness. But from a practical standpoint, life is so much busier. Our laundry doubled even though our family only increased by one member. We almost need a calendar to schedule things like daycare drop-off and pick-up, and gym workouts, and grocery shopping. Something simple like making a meal takes an act of Congress to make sure one kid is fed, burped, and happy in his swing while the other has fruit snacks, a drink, and something to keep him occupied for 20 minutes. I used to get home from work (pre-kids) and sort of coast through the evening... cleaning the house if I felt up to it, or eh, maybe I'll just save it for the weekend. Now, if I don't do at least something to keep the house clean during the week, it'll take me all weekend to get it back to normal.


It is oh so very worth it. When Joey is holding one of them, and I have the other, and we can have a family hug, that is what fills my cup up. And trust me, a full cup (of Something) is a mom requirement.

If you ask me for advice on having two, I won't tell you about the love part, that's a given. I will tell you there will be peaks and valleys. And when you're in a valley, you'll still have a baby that smells divine to make you smile. That it will be hard, but it will get easier. That you'll have to leave all expectations aside and go with the flow. That you will need to ask for help. And when things settle in and you find your new normal, it will be oh so sweet.

Friday, August 5, 2011

friday night leftovers

  • Because it's been that kind of a week, leftovers (and bullets!) are what's in store for you, sweet blog reader. (Thanks to Danifred for hosting!)
  • Jbug turned 2 months old on Tuesday and had his 2 month well visit that same day. He's healthy (woo!) and weighed in at 14 pounds even and 25" long. He's huge and cute and we love him to smithereens. 
  • Smithereens is a funny word.
  • At one point in his little life, I thought B was a slow talker. He always had just enough words to keep me from worrying to much at that particular moment. Turns out he was just saving them up, because now his vocabulary seems to be expanding weekly. Sometimes hourly it seems. 
  • It's a blessed 81 degrees today. Amen, amen, amen.
  • I started running last night, the first workout since Jbug was born. I just did a mile and then 2 miles today. It felt great, but wow I'm out of shape. That will happen when you take 10 months off. I need to get back in gear, we signed up for a 5k mud run on the 27th of this month. I'm excited and nervous!
  • Next up boot camp...
  • I wanted to do a post of "things I'm loving right now", but that never really materializes because I keep forgetting them. So! Here are two of those things, for now... more to come later... [note: these aren't paid endorsements, these companies have no idea who I am. The end.]
    • Purex Crystals - oh em gee. I love a good smelling load of laundry and this stuff rocks! I added it to a load of our sheets and could still smell the scent - lightly - by the next wash. It's not a knock you over smell, just light and wonderful.
    • - let's say you have a bunch of books that you thought were "meh" the first time you read them, and you really don't want to read them again. You can try to sell them, or donate them. Orrr, you can list them here, and turn them into books you DO want to read - for free! When someone wants one of your books, you pay the postage to ship it to them (they go by media mail, so it's almost always less than $2.50 per book). Then you get a book credit, and you can pick out a book for yourself - you don't pay for shipping for books you want. I like to turn books I don't want into books for the boys.
That's all for now - what products are YOU loving right now? I always like to try new stuff out. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


This summer is absolutely flying by, as I suspected it would. I have 3 weeks of leave left, and while I'm not exactly excited to be away from my littlest mister quite yet, I am excited to have a routine again.

I promise someday I'll post something other than a kid update, but that's all the inspiration I have right now. Plus I'm oh-so-awesome about writing in their baby books (or not) so I want to have this to fall back for memories.

Happy, healthy, and growing like a weed! He's definitely very TWO right now... we get the pendulum swinging from hilarious to hellacious several times a day. He LOVES Jbug, and gets this very high-pitched sing-songy voice when he talks to him - [typical conversation] "Hi! Baby Brother! Hi j! Hi j! Hi!". It makes me laugh just sitting here picturing his squeaky little voice talking to his little brother - he's not that calm or quiet with anyone else, EVER.
B loved swimming lessons last month, and he did SO well. His fear of the water is completely gone (God help you if you try to wash his hair in the tub though, aye yi yi) and he's turning into a little fish. I think we'll have him do lessons again in August.

He's completely potty trained during the day, which Joey and I really can't take much credit for. Daycare was wonderful at getting him started but he sort of took care of training himself. He was doing well with night time too, then the atom bomb known as j was dropped into his life and we had a bit of nighttime regression. We're going on vacation soon, so we'll try nighttime again once we get back. One last bit of potty chatter, if you need a training potty, I highly recommend this one, especially for boys (it comes in pink too)... no mess! Also, this book was fantastic (there's a girls version too):

The other night I was putting B to bed. I was half-lying down next to him and we'd said our prayers and sung ABCs and I asked him for a goodnight kiss. Usually he sticks his cheek in my face for a smooch, but that night, he grabbed me behind the neck and gave me a big kiss. It was the most awesome moment, one I never want to forget.

Oh little peanut. He's been in our lives for seven weeks tomorrow and I already don't really remember what life was like before him.

He and I are still doing the MSPI (milk soy protein intolerance) diet and things are going well! He's muuuuch happier now and smiles all the time. It was difficult initially finding foods that I could eat but I have a short list now of things to choose from. I'm not sure how long we'll have to deal with this but it's worth it for now! He's happy, healthy, and huge too! We are so blessed!

Speaking of the tiny dictator, he demands food... More updates soon!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

three weeks

We've been at this family of four thing for 3 whole weeks now, and I think we may finally be falling into some semblance of our new normal. The days seem to be flying by, and the nights do too when the boys let us sleep.

B is the proudest big brother. He loves Jbug So! Much! Initially he was a little rough with the baby so we worked on being gentle. And then he wanted to check on j 55 times an hour, day or night, and was coming into our room several times a night to "see baby j!". Thankfully we seemed to turn a corner this week and B is back to sleeping in his room all night (which may or may not have taken some bribery of new Cars 2 toys, but sleep deprived parents can be desperate...). He has been looooving weekly swimming lessons! We're so proud of him! He's eager to go under water and kick his feet to paddle around. (But don't try to wash his hair in the tub, that's a major freakout...)

Jbug is growing like a weed. For looking like B's identical twin, he's very set on letting us know he's got his own personality thankyouverymuch. He's a bit more feisty than Bubba was, and takes a bit more effort to get him to a content place. As time has gone on, we've noticed that maybe there was something more to his discontent. He's been gagging, coughing, and sputtering 30-45 minutes after eating, though he never has spit up. Well, technically he's spit up out of his nose a few times, that's... fun.

Anyway, Jbug's 3 week appointment was today and for the most part he's healthy and relatively happy. He weighed in at 9lb 7oz (55th percentile), was 22 1/4" (85th percentile), and his head was 15" (65th percentile). (He's gained almost 2 lbs and grown almost 2 inches in the last 3 weeks.) But. I expressed our concerns about the gagging, etc. and our pediatrician felt he had reflux (silent reflux as the case may be, since he never spits up) and prescribed Zantac. He also wanted to check Jbug for MSPI - milk and soy protein intolerance (which they do by testing a stool sample from Jbug). They look for blood as well as sugar concentrations. Babies with MSPI apparently have a really tough time processing sugars. Thankfully there was no blood, but there was a ton of sugar. Dr. D said on a scale from 0 - 1% (with 1% being the highest he's ever seen), j was at .75% (they measure in quarters of a percent). So our little bubba is understandably not feeling the best.

I'm going to attempt to keep nursing him, but it means I have to cut all milk and soy out of my diet. Do y'all know how much I love cheese?! Thankfully our pediatrician is so fantastic and supportive - he gave me a cheat sheet that has everything to avoid as well as a long list of "safe foods". We'll try it for 2 weeks and if it's not helping he'll give me a few more foods to cut (first on that list are lettuce and CORN. CORN!). I think we can make this work, I guess it's a jump start on that diet I was planning next month. Heh. And worst case scenario and it doesn't work, we'll switch to a lactose/soy-free formula for Mr. j. Whatever keeps him happy and healthy!

So tips on surviving MSPI? I'm all ears!

: :

We got family pictures taken a few weeks ago, by the always-amazing Tracy Wood. She's taken our pics for the last 18 months or so and become a good friend and such a blessing to us! If you're in the Lincoln/Omaha area, you so need to check her out. She will come to you, and she's soooooooo patient with kiddos, even my exhausting newborn. Tell her we sent you!

Anyway, just a couple pics from the day, there's so many good ones to pick from!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

hey jbug

We're excited for you to meet little J:

He's fantastic! In lots of ways he reminds us of Bubba, but he's definitely his own little man. I've looked back at  few pictures from around the time B was born and it's incredible how much they look alike. Of course they are brothers and all, but geesh!

Speaking of pictures, I so wish I would have taken more than I have up to this point. Must. take. more. photos!

I hate the the details of Jbugs's birth are already fading into post-labor amnesia, but I'll try to get down what I can. As I did with B's birth story, I offer the disclaimer that none of this is super gory or anything but there might be stuff you don't care about. :)

J's birth was a planned induction at 39 weeks, 5 days. We were supposed to be in labor and delivery at 5:00 am. As we are perpetually early to everything in life, except our childrens' births... we arrived at 5:00 on the dot. We were taken right back to a room and by 5:15, my IV was started. By 5:45 the pitocin was flowing. When I started I was 70% effaced and 3cm dilated.

It didn't take long for contractions to start and even out. Initially they were 4 1/2 minutes apart and I was still feeling great! Somewhere around this time it was 7am and we got a new nurse - Carol - we looooved her. She was fantastic, I told her we'd hire her to be our baby nurse. (Ha! If we had an extra million dollars lying around...) Carol later told me she was "known for her quick labors and fast deliveries", and she "delivered" on that promise.

Dr. C showed up around 8:00 I think. I love my OB, she's great! She broke my water and at that point I was 3.5cm and 60% effaced (different person doing the measuring... :) I was STARVING and it was only 8am. Carol was thinking a baby by lunchtime at this point and I was thrilled! She's been a labor and delivery nurse for 20 years, so she definitely has a feel for how these things would go.

At 9:30 Carol checked and I was 4cm and 80% effaced. I was still feeling good, but since I wanted an epidural, we decided to get in line for one so I didn't miss my window in case things started to go faster. L&D has their own anesthesiologist and I love that. But I was third in line for an epidural and thus began the longest hour ever. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but the contractions were not so much fun. I was able to breathe through them easily, but I hate the sense of doom knowing that the next one is only 2-3 minutes away. And you can see them coming on the monitor which seems to make it worse.

10:30ish brought a fabulous anesthesiologist who gave me a magical epidural. Ahh, sweet relief. And I was already at 6cm and 90% effaced - all that contracting the previous hour had done its job. When you get an epidural it can make your blood pressure drop a bit. Mine is already normally low, it had been running 100/70ish up to that point. 45 minutes after the epidural started, my blood pressure dropped to 80/50 and Jbug's heart rate dropped to 60 beats per minute (it had been hanging out around 130 bpm). Obviously not good. I felt awful... nauseous and shaky and generally miserable. Thankfully Carol rushed in and fixed things quickly.

Everything was easy peasy from that point on. I didn't go from 6-10cm quite as quickly as we'd hoped, but by 3pm, I was at 10cm and ready to meet him! We had to wait a few minutes for Dr C, but by 3:20 I was pushing and he made his entrance into the world 8 minutes later.

J had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck twice (just like B) and he was also holding onto it. Unlike B though, he came out screaming and Ready! To! Eat! and hasn't slowed down since.

B is the proudest big brother ever. He loves Jbug soooooo much. The transition from being an only child to being the big brother is going well. I was prepared for the worst, and have been pleasantly surprised. I haven't had them both by myself for more than a little while though. :)

We're so blessed with these two little guys. Jbug has only been here a week and yet it's hard to remember what life was like before him. I can't wait to see his personality grow, and watch the two of them becoming best buddies. Thank you so much for your love, we've felt every squeeze!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

swim in da water yike nemo

In an effort to give B an activity "just for him" after baby J joins us. We decided on swimming lessons as he's getting big enough to really enjoy the pool and have some control over what he does in it. Plus he's not so much a fan of having water poured on his face in the tub.

So off we went to lessons last night, and they went fabulously! They're only 30 minutes, once a week for 5 weeks, but it was incredible to see how far he came in just 30 minutes last night!

Waiting to swim!
Just warming up...

Bonus of swimming lessons: B's good buddy L is also in the class!
Swimming allstar! Working out the dumbbells while we kick-kick-kick.
Swimming little dudes!

Monday, May 30, 2011

room redo

Since the boys are sharing a room, we didn't have a big nursery project to do this time around. That just meant I got to shift my nesting focus to a few other house projects I'd been putting off. One of those was our bedroom. I finally (you know, T-1 week until J is due) got everything almost the way I want it (just a few more things to hang on the wall) so I wanted to show off the final product. I'm in LOVE with how it turned out.


I wanted our room to be black, white, sunny yellow, and gray. I started with the walls...

When we moved in, my fabulous mom helped me paint it... I was really wanting a chilly blue and earthy brown bedroom, but my paint color picking didn't quite go as I'd planned. I think four years was plenty of time to determine that no, sadly, it wasn't ever going to grow on me. Our first mission was to paint the walls Valspar's Stone Mason Gray. I wanted a warm gray, but not brown-gray, and somehow I managed to hit the nail on the head.


From the doorway

The comforter/shams are from Target... on clearance (I got the set for TWENTY DOLLARS).

I also showed you how to make the bed skirt (and I can say after 4 months, it's holding up beautifully!).

The flowers are vinyl wall thingies from

The shelves on the left wall (from Michael's, I think) need some frames and family pics. Family pics coming after Baby J comes. :)

The dresser normally doesn't live there, but we had to move it to put the Pack 'n Play in our room. I have high hopes that J will in his crib in no time, but we'll see. :)

These are metal wall thingies from Hobby Lobby... Joey even picked these out.

Artwork is my own. :) (With a lot of help from Adobe Illus.trator)

The other wall... I want to find one more yellow picture/print of some sort that'll hang above where the Pack 'n Play is now.

I love how it all turned out, and I think it's finally ready to welcome a peanut home to!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

while we wait...

J is still an inside baby and 39 weeks today. So while we wait for him to pick a birthday, here's some pics of what we've been up to this spring...

We wore our boots, with sweatpants:

We made sure kitty had something to drink:

We practiced our smile:

We wore shorts!

We lounged:

 And lounged some more:

We dyed eggs:

 We got into sticky situations with our cousin:

We looked for eggs:

We had our first "popsicle" (aka frozen OJ):

We went to the state museum:

We played choo-choos with our cousin:

Friday, May 27, 2011


Floating baby over on the left says 8 DAYS TO GO. I'm still not completely convinced that we're really at the end, but I think Baby J has other plans.

Appointment yesterday was great. Nothing exciting. I'm still 2ish cm dilated, and "very thin" - she didn't give me an effacement %. His head is still wayyyy low, so I suppose in theory he could fall out at any moment. :) We even got an extra ultrasound because she wanted to double check fluid levels, his activity, etc. Which means we got a sneaky peek at our boy. And you guys? I'm about to give birth to the same child all over again. Proof:
To me, one of the best parts of having a second son has been the part where Joey and I have started to refer to them as "the boys". And I know I've said "my boys" a time or two to a friend. Growing up, my sister and I were often referred to as "the girls" and I loved this - it's fun to be half of a pair like that. While it would have been equally awesome to have a girl to add to our fam, it makes me so happy to have another boy - I like being the main gal in their lives. At least for 30 more years. :)

Anyway, everything is the same. More baby baking. Woo!

Friday, May 20, 2011


We had our weekly checkup with Dr. C yesterday - all is boring and well, whew! He's still verrrryyyyyy low. She'd barely begun the exam and was like "oh hi, you are right there" - so that's a little... creepy? Anyway, I'm 80% effaced and 2 cm dilated! So that's something. I know it means nothing, but I always figure it's 2cm less that I have to do in labor and delivery. This was roughly the same amount I was dilated with B at this point.

It sounds like she would like to induce me the week of the 30th, so we shall see! Just a few more weeks to go.

Enjoy your weekends! I will keep you posted on any developments, promise!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Days to go that is. I assumed things would go fast this pregnancy, but I'm really not sure how we've gotten to 37 weeks, it's all just a blur.

I know you've all been waiting with baited breath for the appointment update from last Thursday, but you're going to be disappointed... there's not much to report. :) My doctor had been called out for a delivery so I saw her colleague, which was fine. I really like all 4 OBs in the practice, but my doc is my fave. They all try to deliver their own patients so that's nice to count on... except we found out last week that my OB is on vacation for 10ish days starting in a week. SO! It'll be fine either way, but I'm really hoping she'll be able to be there for delivery again, she's the best.

And that was pretty much it. Baby J's heart was thumping away in the 140 bpm range. Next appointment is this Thursday.

We're finishing up getting things ready for his arrival. We got the car seat bases in the cars today. I have yet to pack the hospital bag, but I did make a list of what to put in it. So that's a start, right?

Thanks for checking in on us!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

B & B

B is lucky to have a cousin just three months older than he is. Our "B boys" (they both have names that start with B) are separated by 5 hours and 350 miles but you wouldn't know it from the attention they give each other when they're apart. One of B's top 5 random phrases to spout is "Bear-bit GO?!" - like Momma, I lost him, where is he? These two don't miss a beat when they get back together, they're going to be best buds for life. And we're in bigggg trouble when they can drive. ;)

These videos are from last Christmas. They were chasing laser lights around on the carpet, it was hilarious. I don't know why my son is pantsless, I think it was just about jammie time. :) Enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

quick update

We had a appointment Friday to check on Baby J and all was well. I was 36 weeks yesterday (Saturday) so we're in the last days as a family of three! My blood pressure was normal, I actually lost a pound since my previous appointment 10 days prior, and my belly was measuring right on.

We talked about labor and when to go to L&D (when contractions are 5-7 minutes apart, unless I want to go in sooner, it's up to me and my pain threshold). (Did I mention I love my OB? She's fantastic.) We asked her if we needed to be concerned about baby J having a huge head since B did - she said we could do an ultrasound next week if we want to. I said I didn't feel like he was that huge, he "seems" to be about the same as B to me. She said that a mom's (in a subsequent pregnancy) perception of the size of the baby is almost always as accurate as ultrasound - weird, huh? We'll see if she wants an u/s next week, but I don't feel like he's 10 pounds.

Anyway, we're still here, still baby baking. :) I think we have almost everything crossed off our "pre-baby" to do list. We just need to get the bassinet/pack n' play set up in our room. We got the crib mattress raised back up to newborn height today, so I'll try to take a picture of the boys' room this week, it's surreal to see TWO beds in there!

B is (we think) excited to meet his little brother. We are too! Next appointment is Thursday, I'll be back with an update then!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

thought bubble tuesday

Thought bubbles! Because it's Tuesday, and it's about as much of a post as I can wrap my mind around at the moment.
  • I had an appointment with my always-awesome OB, Dr. C, last Wednesday. Everything has been really good and normal so far this pregnancy. I've gained less weight this time than I did with B... which I attribute completely to being in shape at the beginning of this pregnancy. (Thank you boot camp, I'll be back very soon!) This appointment was more of the same, normal normal. Blood pressure was 120/60 or something? And Baby J's heart was lubbing away around 140 bpm. I've had some crazy crazy pelvic pain this time though, and was beginning to get a wee bit concerned. She wanted to check if his head had dropped already and lo, it has, and is verrryyy low. No progress to speak of, dilation-wise, but he's heads down and ready for his escape!
  • I really need to post some pictures of B. Which would mean I need to take some huh?
  • I want a new camera... I know, what mom doesn't? But I don't think I'll ever be a Photographer, so I can't really justify spending $700 on one. Maybe something in the $300-450 range? Do those exist? Any recommendations? Mainly I want one that will take pictures faster than ours does now, and also takes ok pics in our dark-ish house (we have a ranch built in the 50s, we're unfortunately not swallowed by sunshine all the time).
  • Speaking of the munchkin, he's great as usual. Definitely very TWO right now. The sweetness melts me and the tantrums make me pull my hair out. Par for the course, right? He may look like a carbon copy of Joey, but I see myself as a kid in his actions constantly. He's a stubborn little button pusher through and through. He knows how to work the system, even if he is only two.
  • I swore I would never be a mom that talked about her kids' bathroom progress, but since this functions as a baby book to some extent I feel like I need to record that today was day one of wearing undies to daycare. Toddler teachers don't get paid enough. We'll see how this goes, he's eager so far!
  • We're basically ready for Baby J's arrival whenever he decides to come. I mean we have like 2 days worth of diapers and his clothes are hanging, what more do we need? :) Perhaps we should work on getting the crib situated and the rest of the stuff (swing, etc.) up and operational soon. I'm much more relaxed about baby #2 than I was about baby #1.
  • Any advice on welcoming baby J into B's world? Bubba is a super loving kiddo, but he's also a normal jealous 2 year old, and I'm a wee bit nervous. Obviously things will be fine in the end, I just want to avoid unnecessary heartache for him if possible. Sometimes he doesn't handle change the best, and he really doesn't like sharing Joey and I with anyone.
  • In other, non-kid news, Joey was honored with a nomination for the American Heart Association Lifestyle Change Award at their annual Heart Walk last week. He didn't know about the nomination until we got to the walk (I told him we were helping our nurse friend, Kelli, finish up some final pre-graduation requirements she had). He was irritated that we had to get up so early on a Saturday morning and he thought we were picking up trash (?), and he about freaked out when I told him Kelli wasn't even there. :) Thankfully we were able to surprise him with the nomination booth and he was excited - as he should be, he deserves it!
  • Last time I ask for advice this post: what is your must-have baby item? Anything that made life with two peanuts easier? A friend wanted ideas on baby gear that I loved/hated, and I'm curious as to your thoughts as well!
Have a great week! Next OB appt is Friday!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

busting a myth

Myth: Infertility is Always Hopeless

So let's scroll back 3 1/2 years, shall we? Joey and I had been married for a yearish and were anxious to add a baby to the mix. Things weren't happening as one might think they would. Our main issue was the fact that my cycles were lasting 60+ days. There was no predictability to anything and it sort of felt like we were driving on foreign roads with no map.

I'll spare you the boring details that culminated nearly a year later with a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). This is a fairly common condition, affecting as many as 1 in 15 women, and presents itself in different ways. My main symptom was that I was completely anovulatory. Meaning: without help, the likelihood of us having a babe to dote on was practically nonexistent.

Our help came in the form of metformin. (Which is also the same medication Joey was later put on for his diabetes... I was well versed in its side effects by then - the humor was not lost on us. :) The met and I became besties. It evened my hormones out and for the first time in maybe 10 years (since all that girl business began), I felt really... normal, and balanced. And lo and behold, this wunderdrug also made me ovulate.

We were very, very lucky. We found out B was on the way just 2 months after starting the metformin.

If infertility is a spectrum, we're so far on the "easy to manage" side that we're about to fall off the spectrum entirely. However, without the met, I truly believe there would be no B, and no Baby J. I think it would have taken many more medical interventions to get to our kiddos.

Three and a half years ago when things weren't going so well on the baby front, I found a little community of blogs of women dealing with infertility. Many of them are linked over on the left on our blogroll because they have become my friends. Most of their stories would take your breath away with how hard they fought, or still are fighting, for their babies. Most of them fall much further along the spectrum than we do, but there's this common thread that infertility weaves, so here we all are.

If you know me, you know I'm forever an optimist. I never reached the point of feeling hopeless about not having kids; I just wanted to push through the roadblock and try the next thing. Once we found our answer, our wait was short. B was so wanted, so very much dreamed about and prayed for, as was his little brother (we had the benefit of knowing what worked by the time we thought about #2). These boys are a beacon of hope and every day remind me what it means to persevere. We could have just let things be when we found out that babies were going to be hard to come by, but it goes without saying that I'm so glad we pushed forward.

I didn't "cure" my PCOS, there is no cure. I will have it forever, it's just a matter of management. It's a complicated disease with lots of little tentacles to be mindful of. I have an increased risk of uterine cancer and heart disease. Interestingly, studies are showing that my dad and mom have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease as well, simply because they have a daughter with PCOS. (Truly the gift that keeps on giving...)

It's National Infertility Awareness Week, and Joey and I wanted to share our story. Infertility sucks, there's no sugar coating it. It affects 1 in 8 couples, most likely some of you reading this now. But it doesn't have to be hopeless, our family is one tiny example of hope realized.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

more than chocolate bunnies

We hope you have a happy, happy Easter. Full of family and friends, chocolate, bunnies, eggs, and duckies.

After all the fun of the day fades though, the three of us will keep smiling from the comfort that comes from the true meaning of Easter.

This is our King, do you know Him?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

how i got here (by Joey!)

Here goes my first blog post….Many people have asked me questions or wanted me to tell stories about how my weight loss journey began so here we are. I will probably share more information then you want to hear but here is how the story goes from my point of view.

About two and a half years ago in October/November I wasn’t feeling very good, it’s not that I was sick but just had one of those feelings that something was not right. I was sleeping all the time… Always tired and always drinking something - water, pop, tea whatever was around. I went to the doctor for my annual physical and they ran some tests and said everything was cool, and that if I lost some weight that would for sure help things out.

So, fast forward a couple months and include a brand new baby. My wife and I were doing the “grown up” thing and getting life insurance. Alison got it with no problem. I, on the other hand, did not! A few weeks after my insurance physical, I got a call from the insurance company saying that I needed to see a doctor ASAP! I was able to see my doctor the following week and when they ran the same tests again they told me I had Type 2 Diabetes.

At the time I remember feeling relieved, because I really thought something more serious was wrong with me. I am in NO way downplaying diabetes, I just thought there was more wrong. The worst part of this for me was that I had a brand new son - to find out this crap was going on was tough! How can I feel positive about bringing new life into this world when I was in no way taking care of the life I had? I was determined not to become a statistic! I had seen first hand what diabetes can do to people when left untreated; there are people in my life that had lost eye sight, even part of a foot! If that is not the wake up call of all wake up calls then I am not sure what else the good Lord could throw at you to understand the importance of this disease!

After trying to work out by myself and randomly going to a gym, I remembered my long-lost friend Steve Auxier and started going to N10sive Boot Camps, the first class was crazy!! We did the normal stuff i.e. jump rope, medicine ball, RUNNING and I just about died. Steve was teaching the first class and it went alright! I thought I could possibly come back again. BUT, the second class was the WORST! I met this nice little girl named Liza and she killed me. Using the word killed is probably the nicest world I could use. Anyway, the next day I was stuck in bed could barely move and cursing boot camp and most importantly LIZA!! That workout was the hardest workout that I had ever experienced in my life and one I will never ever forget. I know when the instructors tell people to come back more and more it will help that is the TRUTH! The more I came the better I felt.

Now, after being member of N-10Sive Boot Camp for over a year, I have lost over 100 pounds and gained crazy amounts of muscle. I am also co-instructor and I even teach with Liza so my cursing Liza has stopped or I should say slowed down. She still puts on tough classes! AND my favorite accomplishment is I just finished my first race! I ran the 4 mile Bee Buzz Run in 49:20. Now, my time is not that cool, but for the VERY first time I ran over one mile not stopping - actually I ran 2 ½ miles without stopping and that was such an accomplishment for me! I couldn’t even run a mile in high school track! My current weight is right around what I weighed in 8th-9th grade! It's crazy to think that was about 1996-1997, 14 years ago!

I know some of you reading are having problems with workouts and exercising - here are a few keys to success for me:

1) BE positive! Even if things do not work out the way you want them too, they will in the long run. The race you are running now is not a sprint it's a marathon and you can’t stop just always keep moving forward and towards your goal!

2) Take one meal, one workout, and one day at time! When you start looking forward in time you lose focus. Think about what’s happening now, and not about what is going to happen in 6 weeks or year.

3) Never forget it took you lifetime to get to the point of where you are at today no matter your where you are in your journey, this process is going to take a ton of hard work and TIME! You will get there just be honest and positive with yourself the entire way.

4) The last one is the most important one. Good Life Fitness is more than just a gym; All the instructors and co-instructors have been in your shoes at almost any step you are at. We are ALWAYS hear to help, listen, or if you just need a crazy workout. All of us want you to ultimate success in your journey and we will do whatever it takes to make sure you succeed!
[editors note: pictures added by Alison... :)]
Joey, pre-diabetes diagnosis, pre-baby, pre-everything:

And more recently, looking svelte and hot! :) (Yeah I know, not an awesome picture, YOU try getting him to take a picture...)