Friday, November 18, 2011

Domestic Stuff

Today as I was making my menu plan for next week, I started feeling domestic. And that inspired me to post a blog about domestic stuff. Now, "domestic stuff" is a very general term, and a lot falls into that category, so I thought I'd just briefly touch on some of the domestic stuff I do (or should do) that might help someone else feel domestic too, and get stuff done.

Menu planning -
Some people have very elaborate menu plans - we're talking worksheets, lists, rotations, etc. I'm not that hardcore. I just write down a few recipes to make next week, and then make sure I have all the ingredients for them. In fact, most of the time I don't even do this. But I should! When I menu plan for the upcoming week, I'm always glad that I did. It's so much easier than standing in front of the fridge/freezer/pantry at 5:00pm, hollering to James, "Honey, what do you want for supper?"

Freezer meals - 
If you've been following my blog for a while, then you know how I feel about freezer meals (see this post) - I love 'em! If you have a weekend where you don't have much going on (ha!) you could set aside some time to make a bunch of meals to freeze. Or, if you're making something for dinner that would freeze well, you can make a double batch, eat one, and freeze the other. I do this frequently with meatloaf. Most freezer meals you can just pop into the oven while frozen, although if you thaw them it will take less time to cook.

Organizing -
Ok, so I'm not so good at this one, but I'm working on it. It doesn't help that we just moved and are still trying to find a permanent place for everything. At any rate, I've been reading a lot of organizing blogs lately. Some of my favorites are I'm an Organizing Junkie, I Heart Organizing, and A Bowl Full of Lemons. Here's a little disclaimer: don't feel like you should be doing everything that these ladies do. You will feel like a failure. I'm pretty sure they don't do anything besides organize and blog, because honestly, who has time for all that. So while I feel that these blogs are a bit unrealistic, they do have some really great tips and ideas. I love reading them. They really inspire me to get organized, although that hasn't quite happened yet.

Cleaning - the green way
No, I'm not a tree-hugging hippy. I'm a mother of two kids, and I want to do everything I can to keep them healthy. And if it's also better for the environment - bonus! When I was pregnant with Isaac, I bought some natural bathroom cleaner because I didn't want to be breathing in all those harsh chemicals. I felt good about it, so I've been slowly trying to buy more green products, or using natural products to clean, like vinegar and baking soda (you can add a few drops of essential oils if you want to mask the vinegar smell). Before we moved into our new house, I cleaned the entire fridge/freezer out with vinegar (well, I wiped it out with soapy water first, then cleaned it with vinegar). I would have used bleach, but I didn't want to use something so harsh on a surface where we store our food. Don't get me wrong, not every cleaner I own is green, but I'm making an effort.  Here's a good link on making your own household cleaners. If you would rather buy it than make it, I've heard great things about Shaklee and Mrs. Meyers, although I haven't tried either of them.

Saving money -
Lets rewind a minute - back to homemade cleaners. Not only are these better for your family and the environment, but they're cheap! A big jug of vinegar costs, like, a dollar. Baking soda is even cheaper. I really want to try making my own laundry detergent (I like the idea of knowing exactly what's in it), but I'm hesitant because I have a high efficiency washing machine and I don't want to void the warranty by using something other than HE detergent, even though I've heard it's okay to use in HE machines. Anyway, from what I've seen, homemade laundry detergent ends up costing around 3-5 cents per load. That's crazy cheap. A few homemade things I do plan to try are dishwasher detergent, and hand soap. Don't worry, I'll be sure to blog about them when I do. :)

Another, more obvious thing you can do to save money, is use coupons. Duh, right? Saving 50 cents on two boxes of crackers might not seem like much, but if you were going to buy those crackers anyway, why not save 50 cents? It adds up, every little bit helps, and all those other cliches that we've all heard a hundred times before. If you have more time, you can pair coupons with sales and really save a lot. Check out sites like Totally Target and Hip2Save. They do all the hard work for you. You just have to print the coupons.

Whew, ok that's all for now folks. I'm all domesticated out. Now go forth and meal plan/cook/organize/clean/save money.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

S'more Bars (A.K.A. The Most Delicious Thing EVER)

To know me, is to know that I love anything and everything s'more. In fact, one time when we went camping with my in-laws, my mother-in-law thought it would suffice to bring chocolate graham cookies to use for the s'mores in place of regular old graham crackers and Hershey's bars. Clearly, I chastised her sufficiently for that misdeed, because she never did it again.

So when I ran into this recipe while perusing Pinterest, I knew immediately that it was going to be my new favorite thing ever. And I was right. It is ah-freakin'-mazing!

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8 full graham crackers)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Hershey's chocolate bars
1 1/2 cups marshmallow Fluff

First you need to cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix it in. Next add the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt. Technically, you're supposed to mix those last four ingredients together, and then add it to the butter mixture, but I never actually do that.

Next, press half of the dough into an 8x8 baking pan.

Place the chocolate bars on top of the dough.

Then spread the marshmallow Fluff onto the chocolate bars. This step proved to be slightly difficult, as the marshmallow Fluff kept wanting to lift the chocolate bars up.

After the marshmallow layer has been spread, flatten pieces of the remaining dough with your hands and place them on top to form the top crust.

Bake it in a 350 degree F oven for 30-35 minutes. When the timer beeps, get ready for nirvana.

Now, the person who posted this recipe (whom I have the utmost respect for) says that you should let it cool completely before you delve into it's deliciousness. This is where we disagree. You see, when God made s'mores, He meant for them to be enjoyed in all their warm, gooey glory. A room temperature s'more? Blasphemy! I let them cool for about 30 minutes and then proceeded to eat half the pan. Kidding... sort of. In fact, when I had one the next day, I actually put it in the microwave to warm it up before diving in. That is how I recommend eating them.

And there you have it, my friends - my new all-time favorite recipe ever. Ever!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Homemade Tomato Soup

This post is long overdue, but I knew I'd get around to it eventually. I made homemade tomato soup about three weeks ago. I'd like to say that I finally have time to cook again, but that is certainly not the case. I am, however, slowly trying to make time to branch out and make things out of my normal repertoire again. Two little kids and a lot of unpacking really gets in the way of cooking nice meals.

My dad grew tomatoes this year, so I was going to use those. But by the time I got around to making the soup, the tomatoes were rotten. :( Then my co-worker, Mrs. Z, stepped up and brought me a bunch of tomatoes from her brother's garden! So, I was able to use fresh tomatoes, which really is the way to go if you're going to make soup.

Anyhoo, here's what you need:
  • 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 slice onion
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar, or to taste
Now, I doubled this recipe because that's how many tomatoes I had, but I think a single batch would have been fine. We just froze the rest, though, so now we can have a hot, delicious bowl of tomato soup anytime.

First, you want to chop the tomatoes and the onion and throw them in a big ol' pot. Then add the cloves and chicken broth, and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes to let the flavors meld. Here's the thing, I only put six cloves in because I was worried about the flavor of them being too strong, and boy, was I ever right! Even with only six, the cloves kind of overpowered the soup, which is not what I wanted. Next time, I'll only put two cloves in.

Once the tomato mixture has simmered for a while, you'll want to either put it into a really good blender (I used my parents' VitaMix) or run it through a food mill so there are no chunks. Unless you like that kind of thing. Ew.

Then make a roux by melting the butter in a stockpot over medium heat, adding the flour, and stirring it until it's a golden brown color. Add a little of the tomato mixture and whisk it so there are no lumps, then add the rest of the mixture.

And voila! There you have it. Homemade tomato soup.

This is a great recipe. I would even venture to say it's perfect if it wasn't for the excessive clove taste. Next time, it'll be perfect. But until I get more fresh tomatoes next summer, it's Campbell's for me.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Adjustment Period & Shiny New Things

When a person moves to a new home, there are all sorts of things that you need to get used to. For example, the noise the the refrigerator makes, or how you like the thermostat set. I had an interesting experience one morning last week. Alex was sleeping, Isaac was watching cartoons, and I was in the shower, when all of the sudden, I hear the smoke alarm going off. With a body full of suds and hair full of conditioner, I jumped out of the shower and tried to find which alarm it was. It was hard to tell, because it echoed throughout the entire house. The entire time, Isaac was at my side saying, "Mommy, what that?" I finally figured out it was coming from the smoke alarm in Isaac's room, down the hall. I wondered if maybe the steam from my shower set it off, so I waved my towel in front of it, and it stopped. So I hopped back in the shower. A minute later, my shower was interrupted again by the same smoke alarm. As I was getting out to make it stop, the hall smoke alarm went off, too. I went into Isaac's room and unplugged that alarm. Then I tried to unplug the one in the hallway, but it's hardwired into the electrical system, so I couldn't figure it out. I finally tugged on some random cords and it came unplugged, but was still beeping! So I quickly grabbed my cell phone and called James in hopes that he could instruct me on how to turn the darn thing off. Seconds after he answered, it went off. I guess it has a battery backup that made it keep working after it had been unplugged. James pointed out that that must be why the previous owners had removed all the batteries from the smoke alarms... who wants them going off every time you take a hot shower? Mercifully, Alex slept through the whole ordeal. What a wonderfully hectic start to my morning, though.

In other news, we bought a new dishwasher yesterday. The one that came with the house is a piece. The soap dispenser doesn't open, unless you're able to jerry rig it so the dispenser isn't all the way closed, which usually consists of it popping open while I'm closing the door several times before I get it right. Plus it's really noisy. I look forward to being able to have a conversation in the dining room while the dishwasher is running. Plus, Isaac kept wanting to turn the dial and push the buttons on the old one. This one has all the controls concealed on the top side of the door, so he won't even know they're there. Our new one gets delivered tonight. Can't wait to run a load and test it out!

Ain't she a beauty?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trials and Tribulations of Moving

It's done! The house is officially ours and we're all moved in. We've still got a lot of unpacking to do, but the important stuff is all put away. We already love several things about our new house. The street we live on is really quiet. Not much traffic, because the road doesn't go anywhere, it just loops around the the same street that it starts on, sort of like a cul-de-sac. We've met several of the neighbors and they all seem very nice. We love having the extra space. And the extra storage, as we have an abundance of closets in our new house. Also, I love love love my new washer and dryer that we had to buy, my new Dyson vacuum cleaner (housewarming gift from my parents), and our new Keurig (housewarming gift from the in-laws). Oh what fun!

But there is still much to be done. First of all, our basement has no furniture. It will be that way for a while, probably, although we do have grandiose plans for it. Also, lots of painting needs to be done. We're starting today with our pink bedroom. Next will probably be the kitchen/dining room, then the living room, and then the boys' rooms. After that I will tackle the wall paper in the basement. This is all going to take quite a while. Oh, and I'd like to also paint the upstairs bathroom sometime. Wow, that sounds like a lot more when I type it all out. I'm going to paint at my leisure, though. It's not something that needs to be done immediately. Also, we're in the process of trying to find a kitchen table. We have one that the owners left for us, but it's WAY too big, and the top is all scratched up and not in great shape. We want a different one right away. (UPDATE: Literally 10 minutes after posting this, I bought a table from the GF Facebook Garage Sale site for a steal! And it's exactly what we were looking for! Yippee!)

On the agenda for next summer is new windows. Not sure if we'll be doing all of them, or just some of them, but it needs to be done. Now that I know how wonderful new windows are, I'm spoiled and want them ASAP.

I feel very stressed and frazzled lately. James and I are trying to do about 1000 things all at once. We're trying to unpack, make small repairs and improvements, organize, as well as do normal things, like, tend to two small children, work, cooking, dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. I am also taking a tax class so that I'll be able to prepare taxes this year. That's two nights a week for eight weeks, two hours each night, and it includes homework. Also, this week, I have another class for work (I need so many training hours every year). Life has been hectic lately, to say the least. We go to bed completely exhausted every night.

But it's worth all the hassle. Soon, we'll be unpacked, organized, painted, etc. and life will be back to normal. We look forward to that.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Moving Day and Tomato Soup

Moving progress: My parents watched the kids for several hours on Saturday so that James and I could pack. Although, we spent most of the time hauling garbage to the trash. We had lots of leftover supplies from various home improvement projects that we needed to dispose of. Instead of taking it to the dump (which is way out there and costs money), we hauled it to a couple of apartment building dumpsters (much closer and free). I don't know if you're supposed to do that or not, but we did. Then we went home and packed up just about the entire kitchen and some miscellaneous stuff. Last night I did some more packing while James kept an eye on the kids. I packed up their clothes and our towels and some of my clothes. The kids only have enough outfits left unpacked to last until Friday, and we only have two sets of towels left to use until then. Also, we sold our kitchen table yesterday, so the kitchen looks very bare.

Today we get to start moving stuff into the garage at our new house. We can't move anything into the house yet for liability reasons, but at least we can get stuff moved out of our current house. We close on our current house at 9am on Friday and we close on our new house at 10am, so there is an hour where we will be homeless. Everything needs to be out of our house by 9am that day.

On Thursday morning, James' parents are coming to town to help us move. His dad has a truck and a trailer, so that will help a lot. That's probably when we will move most of the bigger stuff.

In other news (since all I've been talking about lately is moving), I'm going to try my hand at home-made tomato soup tonight! My friend, Erica, and I went to Boardwalk Bar and Grill one time earlier this year and had grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Ever since then, I've wanted to make my own. My dad had a bunch of tomatoes set aside for me to use last week, but when I brought all the ingredients over to my parents' house (I have to make it there because my whole kitchen is in boxes in the garage), we found that the tomatoes had gone bad. :( So then on Saturday, the teacher who I work with, Mrs. Z, called me and said she had just picked some tomatoes from her brother's garden, and had extra that she would bring to school on Monday. Yay! I got a second chance! That was so nice of her! She knew I was planning on making it last week, but the tomatoes were bad. So sweet! I'm so lucky to have had such great teachers to work with. :)

So anyway, it's moving week! This is the last Monday we will be spending in this house. Bittersweet.

P.S. Stay tuned, because I plan to blog about the tomato soup!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

More Moving Talk

Well, moving day is fast approaching. 12 days, to be exact, but who's counting? ;)

On Friday, our realtor texted me to let me know that the sellers are okay with us moving stuff into the garage the week of closing. So that means, starting on Monday, October 17th, we'll be moving lots and lots of stuff into the garage, so that on moving day (which is the 21st) we won't have that much left to move, and can focus on getting it all in the house and unpacking. Yay!

I don't want to jinx myself, but this has gone SO smoothly. It's unbelievable. I truly feel that we were meant to have this house. All the stars aligned so perfectly for us.

Yet another reason why we are so very blessed!

And I'm planning a trip to the Cities to visit my good friend, Gina, in November! I'm super excited to (a) see Gina, and (b) go shopping! Ikea and Container Store, here I come! It's gonna be so fun! I am pumped!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Why is it that my kids always get flat heads? Isaac had to wear a helmet for a few months and it killed me. I don't want to go down that road again, but here we are.

At Alex's two month doctor visit, I told his pediatrician that I noticed he always liked to turn his head to the right side. She checked him out and diagnosed him with Torticollis, which is Latin for "twisted neck". She said that the ligaments (or something) on one side of his neck are shorter than on the other side, causing him to favor one side, making that side flatter than the other and pushing that ear forward. I'm not sure if this is what caused Isaac's flat head. It's hard to tell because we didn't notice Isaac's until he was about 6 months old. The doctor said it's good we caught it early, and gave us some neck stretching exercises to do after every diaper change. She said if the stretches don't help, we'll need to bring him to physical therapy, and if that doesn't help, he'll need a helmet.

So is it working? I don't know. I want to think it is, and sometimes I feel like it is, but other times he goes right back to sleeping on his right side. I think I'm going to schedule a doctors appointment for the near future so she can look at it again, and if it's not satisfactory, go forward with the physical therapy.

I seriously loathe the thought of another one of my babies wearing a helmet. Please say a prayer for him.

Monday, October 3, 2011

This is Madness

WHAT were we thinking, trying to move with a little baby and a toddler?! I know it will be worth all of the work, but man is it difficult to get anything packed. First of all, when we actually have some spare time (ha!) to pack a few boxes, it's hard to figure out what to pack. We need most of the stuff in our house. I've been doing a lot of organizing/purging lately. It helps to know what I can pack, and what I can't. I've organized our kitchen, the boys' bedroom closet, and the upstairs. On my "to organize" list is our bedroom closet and the bookcase in the boys' room (which has become a bit of a catch-all). The week before our move is when we're really going to be hardcore packing and living bare bones from that time on. We're talking paper plates, plastic ware, only a few kids' toys, sleeping on the mattress on the floor type living. Should be a good time.

In other news, I went back to work today. I was slightly looking forward to it, but only slightly. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, except for one small thing. When I got to work this morning, the teacher (Mrs. Z) greeted me at the door and told me that she needed to go home because she had some sort of stomach bug. Grrreeeaaat. So it was me and a substitute teacher all day, and neither of us really had any idea what was going on. It was... interesting. Hopefully Mrs. Z is feeling better tomorrow.

It was hard for me to leave my sweet little Alex at daycare today. :( I don't remember it being this hard with Isaac, but that's probably because when Isaac went to daycare for the first time, I was in the hospital hoping that they didn't have to send me to Minneapolis for more procedures because of my gallblader surgery. I was a bit preoccupied. But Alex did fine, of course, and so did I.

So that's what's been going on in our household lately. It's been a crazy ride, but we're so excited to get settled into our new house! Only 2.5 more weeks! Woohoo!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Somebody Stop Me!

I absolutely can NOT stop shopping for house stuff online. It is way too easy having every store imaginable at my fingertips. Thankfully, I have enough self-control not to buy anything. I might buy more after we actually move, but I don't want to have to move it from one house to the other.

Ok, so I've bought a few things. I bought four outdoor folding chairs from because they were on clearance, and since we're going to have this totally awesome backyard, we're going to need some comfy chairs to sit in. They are really nice chairs and I got them for a steal.

Also, I bought some cute little French coffee cups from Pier 1 to hang on the hooks by the sink (the current owners have some there, but mine are way cuter). I had to buy them now because they were on clearance and might not be there later. Right? Right!? Aren't they adorable?

I am especially obsessed with organization. I am bound and determined to keep my new house organized and relatively clutter free (or as clutter free as it can be with two small boys). Oh how I wish we had a Container Store closer than The Cities!

I'm organizing all my new-found obsessions on Pinterest. You can check it out, if you'd like. Here's my Pinterest page. I've got paint colors, organizing ideas, decorating ideas, etc.

Now if only I had a few extra thousand dollars to blow on all this neat stuff...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Ok, so this post is a bit overdue, but we've been crazy busy lately.

We sold our house!!

It officially went on the market last Tuesday (we had to wait because of Labor Day). We had two showings that night, and one of them made an offer! It was a very reasonable offer - full asking price minus some closing costs. We listed the house at a price higher than we actually expected to get, and the net offer was higher than I had hoped to get for the house, so we accepted! And not a moment too soon, and I'll tell you why...

When a sale is contingent on the buyer selling their house, as it is with the house we're buying, the seller can still accept another offer if they want to if that offer doesn't have that contingency. If that were to happen, the sellers would have to give us 48 hours to remove the contingency, or our contract would be void and they could sell the house to someone else.

Well, when our realtor came over to present the offer on our house on Tuesday night, he told us that the house we're buying got two more offers that day. So it was very good that we sold our house so that we could remove the contingency if we had to. About 20 minutes after the realtor left, he called and told me that they did, in fact, ask us to remove the contingency. So, if we hadn't have gotten an offer that day or the next day, we would have lost the house. Yikes! That was close!!

So last Thursday, we had both the inspection for the house we're buying, and for the house we're selling. Both houses passed, so now we only have to worry about the appraisal. Our realtor used to be an appraiser for a bank and said he doesn't think either house will have any issues with appraising for the selling price. So it looks like this whole thing is really going to happen! It's so crazy to think that in 6 short weeks, we'll own a different home!

I think this whole process is a bit more exciting for me than it is for James. Last week, he said, "It was more exciting the first time around," to which I replied, "This IS my first time around!" James owned this house before we were married, so I didn't get to pick it out, or get all excited and think about where I was going to put what, and how I was going to decorate, etc... It's stressful to buy a house, but so exciting!

And I'll leave you with this picture that I look at when I need to be reminded that this is really happening...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

We're Buying a House!

Yep, we're buying a house!

It just went on the market on Friday evening. I called our realtor that night and told him we'd like to see it. We went to see it at 1pm on Saturday, and we were already the fourth viewing that day. Yikes! That's a lot of interest in one day. Long story short, we loved it. So I called my parents and they came to see it while we were there. They loved it too. We decided to put in an offer. Later that evening, our realtor called and said they countered (they only wanted to pay half our closing costs instead of all of them). We accepted. Woohoo!

Here's a picture:
Four bedrooms (three upstairs, one downstairs), two bathrooms (one upstairs, one downstairs), 2208 square feet, decent kitchen, huge dining area, lots of closet space, nice finished basement, double attached garage, and a decent back yard. We totally love it! There is nothing that we have to fix in this house. There are some things we'd like to do eventually, but nothing pressing. For example, some of the carpet/linoleum is not my style, so we'll replace that someday, but it is in good condition, so I can live with it. The kitchen will probably need updating in 5-10 years. The downstairs bedroom has paneling, and I'd like to tear that down and put up sheet rock. The family room in the basement has wallpaper, so we'll get rid of that. James would be able to do that and he could do it at his own pace because we don't have to live in the basement. The siding is in good shape and freshly painted, so we won't need to mess with that for a while, although eventually we will probably get steel or vinyl siding. And it will probably need new windows in about 5 years. The only thing we'll have to do sooner rather than later is put in a fence. No big deal, James could easily do that. Now that I think of it, we do have to repaint the master bedroom. It's bright pink right now. Yeah, no.

The best part it that both of my kids will have their own bedrooms!! I am so incredibly thrilled by this! And we'll have almost 1,000 more square feet than we have now. The neighborhood is really nice, I can totally see my kids growing up there. Although neither a double garage, nor an attached garage were requirements for us, we're so lucky that we're going to have both! And I can NOT wait to have an actual dining area rather than a tiny table crammed into the kitchen! I am so happy to say that this could very well be our forever house! We may never have to move again.

And oh, the move. I am not looking forward to packing up our entire lives and moving.

I should say that the sale is contingent on us selling our house. We have until October 7th to get an offer, or there will be no new house. Please cross your fingers for us!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Life Update

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. As you can imagine, we've had our hands full with a newborn and a two year old. Well, Alex isn't so much of a newborn anymore. He's already close to outgrowing his 3 month clothes and he's only 6 weeks old (almost 7)! He's eating 5 oz of formula at a sitting, and only recently stopped eating every three hours. Now he eats more like every 4 hours, give or take a half hour. Last night, he went 6 hours between feedings, which was nice for me. I actually got to sleep a little. And he's getting baptized on Sunday! He's getting so big so fast!

Actually, a lot has been going on in our household since Alex was born. A week after he was born, my blood pressure skyrocketed and I had to, once again, be admitted to labor and delivery. It takes some serious talent to get admitted to labor and delivery when you aren't even pregnant, but I did it. Lucky me. Anyway, I got to go home that same night, they just increased my dose of Labetalol. A few weeks after that, my blood pressure started to stabilize and my dose was cut a lot. Today, I was taken off of it completely. So far so good. That was a scary ride.

The last weekend in July, James' family rented a lodge at Mina Lake in Aberdeen, SD. We hadn't planned on going since we didn't think camping with a newborn would be particularly fun. But we ended up going, against our better judgement, and I'm glad we did. It was the first time a lot of his siblings had met Alex, and he was really good while we were there. Also, Isaac had a blast playing, fishing, and swimming with all his cousins! We spend one day at Storybook Land in Aberdeen. We had a blast, even though it was hot as begeezuz that day. It was a very fun trip.

Isaac fishing with Daddy at Mina Lake
Family picture at the Oz exhibit at Storybook Land in Aberdeen
James went back to work on August 8th. He works at 4am, so I'm on my own with Alex at night. It's been tough, but thankfully it's starting to get easier. I like having James home earlier in the day, and he lets me take a nap if I need it. Isaac will be starting daycare again tomorrow, so I'll have about 5 weeks to get used to getting two kids ready in the morning all by myself before I go back to work. I think it will be good for Isaac to go back. He misses his friends. And it will be easier on me just having Alex at home during the day. Maybe I'll actually be able to shower before James gets home! :)

I'll be going back to work on October 3rd. I'm not particularly looking forward to it, but it will be nice to be getting a paycheck again, albeit a pretty small one after you subtract out daycare expenses. Sigh.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that we almost bought a house! Four bedrooms, two bathrooms, finished basement, awesome deck and  fenced backyard, two-car detached garage. We put in a lowball offer (the house wasn't worth what they were asking) and after counter offers on both sides, didn't get it. You didn't know we were looking for a new house, you say? We weren't. I always like to keep an eye on houses in our price range, and I just happened to see one that looked perfect for us, so we decided to go look at it. We liked it. It needed a little work, like new shingles, lots of interior paint, and eventually new carpet, but that doesn't scare us. Before putting in an offer, we decided to look at other houses in our price range, just because I would feel weird if the house we bought was the only one we even looked at. I wanted to make sure there was nothing better out there. Nothing else really struck our fancy, so we went for it with the original house we viewed.

We're disappointed that we didn't get it, but we're not too upset about it. We don't need to move. We'd like to have a separate bedroom for Alex, and another one for a guest bedroom, and just some more room in general, but it's not necessary. So we'll keep an eye on the market, but we'll probably do some more serious house hunting starting this spring. There will be more on the market then, and the longer we wait, the better our financial position will be for house buying, so we're okay with waiting. Plus, we like our house. It's cute and cozy and I'll actually be a little sad to sell it.

So there is an update about what has been going on in our lives for the past six weeks. Hopefully I'll have a little more time to blog in the next six weeks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Introducing Alexander John

Alexander John was born on Friday, July 8th, 2011 at 12:31 PM. He weighed in at a whopping 9lbs 15.4oz and was 21.5 inches long. And he has LOTS of hair. A lot. Dark hair, just like his dad. He's beautiful, and we're completely head over heals in love with him.

We went in at 10:00 AM for our 12:00 PM c-section. I was extremely emotional because a c-section is not what I wanted. I was torn between the joy of the impending birth of my son, and the feeling of loss for the birth I had hoped for. It didn't help that I started to have regular contractions while we were in the hospital room waiting. They were coming every 3-5 minutes. The nurse said they wouldn't even bother checking me for dilation since we were going to have baby soon anyway. I was thankful when the contractions stopped, simply because I didn't want to wonder if I would have soon gone into labor on my own. It would make the whole c-section thing even harder to take.

Shortly after we arrived, they put in an IV, which was problematic and painful since I apparently have small veins. My nurse wasn't able to do it, so she had to call the anesthesiologist to do it. Luckily, she got it in on the first try. It still hurt, though. :( Then my parents came to the room to help us pass the time until the surgery. My doctor came in and said everyone was ready to start a little early because they knew my dad had to work around 1:00 PM and I really wanted him to meet the baby before he had to go. I thought that was really nice that she remembered that and was trying to help make it happen. J changed into his scrubs, and soon I was being wheeled into the OR while J was ushered into the Daddy-to-be waiting area.

Once I was in the OR, they had me get into position for my spinal. A spinal is like an epidural, only it's put into a different part of the spinal column so it's a little more reliable than an epidural and it's a little stronger. They told me to let them know if I felt any pain in my legs and if so, to let them know which side. Almost immediately, I had to tell them that I had pain on the right side. They tried to readjust it for about 5 minutes, but I kept feeling pain on my right side, so they decided to start completely over. After they tried again, the same thing happened. Then I think they started to aim farther to the left, because I started to feel pain only on the left side. Eventually, they got it right. There must be something weird about my spine, because when I had my epidural with Isaac, it only worked on one side of my body. I feel like these two experiences must be related.

Anyway, after the spinal, they got me into position, and started to prep me for surgery. Then J came in, held my hand, and things got underway. It was SO much different from my last c-section. Last time, I couldn't feel anything. No tugging, no pressure, no nothing. This time, I felt pressure and tugging. It didn't hurt, I could just feel that something was being done to me. Also, this time I only felt slightly nauseous. After I told them that, they gave me Zofran and I felt better. Last time, I was dry heaving during the entire surgery. It was awful. I was thankful to avoid that this time.  The nurse who was standing by my head was super nice. I really liked him. He was very attentive, and made sure I let him know if I needed anything and was constantly checking to see if I was okay. He helped make this experience much better than I had hoped.

When it came time for baby to come out, I felt like someone was sitting on my chest, pushing baby out from the top. I honestly think that's what was going on. I don't remember any of that from last time. It was weird. Then the doctor said she could see him. She said he was huge! Here exact words were "Oh, look at that chubbers!" All of the sudden, there was my Alex, being held up over the curtain. He had so much hair! I couldn't believe it! They had James go cut the umbilical cord, which is largely ceremonial because the cord was already cut, he just cut it shorter. I remember laying there, watching them clean him off and thinking "He's not that big. What are they talking about?" Clearly, I am not versed in what a newborn should look like, because I was shocked when they announced his weight. 9lbs 15.4oz! Although, I still didn't think he looked that big. He carries his weight well. LOL.

Everyone was in good spirits. Jokes were being made about his chunkiness and his hair. My favorite nurse said when they announced his weight, "Probably about a pound less without all that hair!" Then they gave Alex to J for him to bring to me. My nurse took pictures of the three of us. Everything was wonderful. So much different than last time. This was not just a routine surgery, this was an experience. Soon it was time for J and Alex to head to the nursery, although I feel like they stayed with me much longer than last time. I was feeling very positive about the whole experience. Not at all what I had expected.

Not long after my boys took off for the nursery, I started to feel something on the right side of my abdomen where they were working at stitching me up. This was not just pressure and tugging. This was pain. I told my nurse that I could feel something. He asked what it felt like, and I told him a dull pain. It was hard to describe. He said to let him know right away if it got sharper or unbearable. After about 30 seconds, the pain got sharp. It hurt like someone was slicing me. I told him immediately. He was shocked, but it seemed that my spinal was wearing off. He ran off to get me some pain meds to put in my IV. I started to cry and breathe Lamaze style to deal with the pain. I heard the doctor say, "Can we get her something, please?" Then the pain started to ease up and I started to feel loopy. I can't remember what they gave me, but it was some sort of narcotic. Fine with me, I just wanted the pain to stop.

Then, my nurse chatted with me. I guess he has a son named Alex James. And the doctor chatted with me. My c-section was her last task before going on maternity leave (she ended up having her baby on Sunday, we were in the hospital at the same time). I didn't feel nearly as alone as during my last c-section. Last time I had excess bleeding, so there wasn't much chatting going on and the mood was not nearly as light. The doctor told me that it couldn't have gone better, although I disagree - I could have done without feeling them sewing me up. She also said she thinks I made the right decision about the c-section because he was so big. It made me feel better about it, too.

We spent the next three days gushing over our new addition. We had lots of visitors, and lots of help with Isaac. Both of which were much appreciated. I had a pump full of morphine where I could just push the button whenever I needed it. I felt amazing! I even was able to get out of bed and move to a chair ALL BY MYSELF the evening of my surgery. It wasn't even that painful. Last time, I remember crying when I stood up the next day because it hurt so bad. We got discharged on Monday morning.

So far, Alex is a little more high maintenance than Isaac was when he was a baby. He is awake a lot more, eats a lot more, and cries more than Isaac did. I had a hard time keeping up with his appetite, so breastfeeding didn't last long. He would latch on, and get frustrated because he couldn't get as much milk as he wanted, then unlatch and cry and cry and cry. Right now, I'm just pumping and giving him bottles of breast milk a few times a day. It makes me feel better to give him what I can. It's better than nothing. I had a low supply with Isaac, too, so I'm not surprised that it didn't work out. Thank goodness for my breast pump.

Anyway, things are going well and we're doing our best to adjust to being a family of four. Isaac seems to really like his baby brother, and likes to go over to him and talk. I'm not sure if he's talking to him or talking about him, but it's really cute. And he's obsessed with his toes. he always goes over to Alex and says, "Where toes go?" LOL. And Mommy gets a lot more snuggle time with Isaac because he is just a tad bit jealous.

Thanks to everyone for all the messages and texts. We appreciate all of your well wishes and congratulations. We're so very happy!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

C-Section Scheduled for Friday

This post is bittersweet.

On Tuesday, we had our 39 week doctor appointment. First, we went in for the NST, which went well. Baby did need some stimulating, though. They have this little instrument, like a little horn on a speaker, that they hold up to your belly and try to startle baby with in order to get him moving. But he responded to it, so all was good. The only thing that wasn't good was my blood pressure. I was not surprised by this, because I had a lot riding on this appointment. The information we got from it could make or break my VBAC, so naturally, I was a bit anxious. They took my BP again after about 20 minutes and it was better, but still a bit high.

So after the NST, we went in to the exam room to wait for the doctor. She came in and checked my cervix, which, to my dismay, was still very high and closed up. She said she didn't even think she could call it 1 cm. I was confused because last week she said I was at 1 cm, but she said that last time she was being generous. She then sat down and told me that she doesn't think that a VBAC is going to happen. She's concerned that if we wait, my high BP is going to give way to pre-eclampsia, and that her medical opinion is that we should have a c-section toward the end of the week. I instantly started crying. I don't want a c-section. She then proceeded to tell me how she never really thought I would have a successful VBAC, but was willing to let me try. She said it was our choice, but at 39 weeks, baby is "better out than in".

She gave J and I some time alone in the exam room to discuss our options and what we'd like to do. J was ready to take the doctor's word as gospel, and do the c-section. Of course, he's not the one who has to deal with the physical and emotional repercussions of that decision. And he hasn't done nearly the amount of research that I've done on the topic. I know he's worried about me and the baby, but he clearly doesn't understand or feel that my concerns are valid. We discussed (argued) for a while, and I finally conceded. When the doctor came back in, she said she was going to admit me to L&D to be monitored for a few hours and get some blood work done to look for signs of pre-eclampsia. Plus, that would give us more time to discuss things.

Well, I decided to stay strong. I didn't want to feel as though I was being pushed into a c-section, when I feel so very strongly about NOT having one. So I said no. I'm not having a c-section. So when the doctor came to our hospital room to check on me, I told her that I was not ready to commit to a c-section yet, and we scheduled an ultrasound for Friday, followed by another appointment with the doctor. Then on Monday, we would do another NST and have an appointment with our new doctor (since my doctor is going on maternity leave next week). I made sure to ask her, just in case, what to do if we changed our minds and decided to schedule a c-section, and she said to just call.

After I was discharged from the hospital, J and I talked more about waiting vs scheduling a repeat c-section. At this point, I was just getting so worn down by the whole thing, that for some reason (which I'm having trouble remembering now) I decided it would be okay to just schedule it. So today, we called. And our baby's birthday will officially be this Friday, July 8th.

And it's scheduled at noon. This was another disappointment for me because my dad has to work at 1pm that day. His job is not one that really allows day off. That sounds weird, but I'm not kidding. It would mean a lot to me if he would be able to meet his new grandson before he had to leave. But apparently that was the only time she was available on Friday, so that may not happen. However, sometimes they get called for work late, like 2 or 3pm, so I'm really crossing my fingers that that's what will happen.

When I spoke to the doctor, I asked her a few specific questions about the process. My first request was that after J and the baby leave for the nursery, that my mom be able to come in and stay with me for the remainder of the surgery. Last time I felt so alone in there, without my husband and without my baby, making small talk with the nurses while I was being stitched up. That was hard for me. But to my dismay, the doctor said no, that wasn't possible. Apparently not even J would be allowed to stay for that part. Again, I cried. Here I am, trying to make this c-section experience, which I don't even want to being with, easier to take, and I can't even do that. The one request she did consent to was pulling the curtain down when it's time for baby to come out so I can see him enter the world. Moms who give birth vaginally get to experience that, so why shouldn't I?

I am so very excited to meet my sweet baby boy, but I also feel a deep loss for the birth experience that I'll never have. This is not how I wanted to do it, but it's going to happen anyway. And even though I've heard that recovering from a second c-section is 10 times easier, I have a hard time seeing how I'm going to do it with a toddler and a newborn at home.

Anyway, I can't really go into my feelings very much right now because I just feel so emotionally drained. Now I just need to focus on getting ready for baby to come home. Tomorrow will be a busy day full of packing, making plans, and making sure everything is in order and ready to go.

Jumping on another train of thought - I wonder what he'll look like? Will he have light hair and blue eyes like me and Isaac, or will he have dark hair and eyes like his dad? It might be hard to tell at first, because Isaac had very dark hair when he was born and most babies are born with blue eyes.

I can't wait to meet my little boy and show him off to the world!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Two Weeks to Go!

Well, I'm 38 weeks pregnant now. That makes this my longest pregnancy - Isaac was born at 37 weeks 6 days. I sure hope his brother follows suit very soon.

We had a doctor appointment on Monday and it went very well. As usual, we had an NST before the appointment. Sequel was very cooperative today. They didn't even have to give me Sprite to get him moving! He was having a dance party, I think. I'm always relieved to find that he's not in any distress - one less reason for the doctor to suggest a c-section! :)

My blood pressure was very good, too! 126/84, or something close to that. My doctor was thrilled! And she was also very happy that I am finally starting to dilate, even if it was only 1 cm. She said she was totally expecting to have to have a conversation with me at this appointment to try convince me of a c-section because my blood pressure would be high, but since everything seems to be going very well she's still on board with the VBAC as long as I continue to progress at the next appointment. I left feeling very confident that I'll get a trial of labor.

Then, on Tuesday in the middle of the night, I thought that I might possibly be leaking amniotic fluid. I called on Wednesday to see if I could get an appointment so she could check. Apparently, my doctor has Wednesdays off, so the on-call doctor told the nurse to make me an appointment with a nurse practitioner. I went in, she checked me out, and as it turns out, my amniotic sac is very much intact. I am very relieved, because if your water breaks, you have to have a baby whether you are contracting or not (which I was not), so I probably would have ended up with a c-section. I was pretty disappointed however, when she checked me and I was still only 1 cm. Oh well, I guess I can live with that. After all, it had only been two days since I was last checked. But then she mentioned that my cervix is "still way up there" which means that baby hasn't dropped yet. Crap. Here I thought he was locked and loaded, but nope! He needs to get his little patootie down there and put some pressure on my cervix so I can dilate!

Also, I keep having these start-and-stop contractions. It's frustrating to know that they aren't doing anything. Every time I get them, I think "Maybe this is it!" and then when the contractions stop an hour or so later, I think, "Oh well, at least they're probably helping me dilate!" And then I find out that they aren't even doing that! Grrrr.

I only have one more appointment with my regular OB, and that's on July 5th. She starts her maternity leave on July 10th, but I was really expecting to have had the baby by then. Now I have to decide who I want as my backup OB, although I have a pretty good idea because I've had some really great recommendations. I am a little concerned, though, that my backup OB won't be quite as VBAC friendly as my current OB. My current OB knows how I feel about everything and has been pretty darn supportive thus far. I don't want to get to the delivery room and have a doctor who will not be on my side. I guess I'm just nervous about getting a new doctor because my current one has built my trust, and now I'll have to put my faith in someone totally new. Ugh. I just have to remind myself that it will all be over soon, and I'll have by baby boy in my arms no matter what.

Deep breaths.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tater Tot Casserole

Well, as you probably know, I'm on modified bed rest per doctor's orders. I'm not really sure why, because the Labetalol is controlling my blood pressure well, but I have to do what the doctor says. The good thing about modified bed rest is that I can still do some stuff, like cook. The problem is, often times, cooking requires standing for a good length of time, which makes my feet and legs puff up like marshmallows. Don't get me wrong, I like marshmallows. Just not as my feet.

So anyway, I've been making easy and quick to prepare meals for dinner. And I thought, "Hmm... I haven't put many recipes up on the blog lately." I realized that I don't post my go-to meals that I like to make when I don't know what else to cook. It occurred to me that you guys might need some go-to meals, too. So here you are.

I'm starting with one of my long-time favorites - tater tot casserole. Don't judge me. I know the first thing that comes to mind when you think of tater tot casserole is Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar. But normal people who don't have 19 kids (and counting) like tater tot casserole, too. Plus, my brother works at a potato processing plant and gets us super cheap tater tots. It's all about who you know. ;)

Here's what you'll need:
2 lbs ground beef
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
2 cans of whole kernel corn
4 oz sour cream
2 cups shredded cheese (I used colby jack)
Tater tots (enough to cover the bottom of a 9x13 pan - one bag from the freezer section of the grocery store will be more than enough)

This is a double batch, so you'll probably want to make half of this. I like having leftovers because then I don't have to cook again sometime this week. Or you could split this into two casserole dishes and freeze one.

First, you want to put a layer of tater tots on the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish. I don't pack the tots in too tightly because we like a higher ratio of meat than potatoes. You can do whatever works for you. Put them in the oven and bake them according to the package directions. This will make it so you don't have to bake it for so long after it's all put together.

Then brown the ground beef.

While the beef and tots are cooking, get the rest of your ingredients ready.

Put one cup of cheese in a large mixing bowl.

Add the sour cream...

...and the cream of mushroom soup and corn. I've also heard of people using green beans instead of corn, but I like corn better.

Add the cooked ground beef to the mixture. At this point, I started to realize that I should have used a bigger bowl. Oops. But it worked out okay.

Mix everything together (except the tater tots, of course).

Then start glopping the mixture on top of the cooked tater tots.

Once the entire mixture is in the dish, even it out with a spoon or rubber scraper and top it with the rest of the cheese.

Bake on 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

And you end up with a delicious glob of meat and potatoes. Okay, I know it doesn't look all that appetizing, but it is really, really good. Seriously.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Love Shopping For (Almost) Free

There are these matching shirts that I've been wanting to get for my boys. One says "Big Brother" and the other one says, you guessed it, "Little Brother". The problem is, Carter's doesn't make these specific shirts anymore, so they're really hard to find. Well, the "Little Brother" one is really hard to find. I have found the "Big Brother" one in a few different places online. I did find the "Little Brother" shirt in the newborn size on eBay, but I didn't win it. :( And now it's nowhere to be found.

So one day last week, my parents called and told me about a garage sale that had a lot of baby clothes. I decided to stop by. I know I'm on modified bed rest and shouldn't be going a lot of places, but I was going to go over to my parents' house to use their jacuzzi tub anyway, so I decided to stop by the garage sale on my way. I am SO glad I did because guess what I found? Yep, the "Little Brother" shirt!! Brand spankin' new, it still had the tags on it! And the best part - it was only 50 cents! Although, now I'm a bit worried that it won't ever fit him because I'm told he's going to be huge... oh well. Maybe we just won't button it.

I also found these adorable little shoes for Sequel. Normally, I think baby shoes are a total waste of money. They're unnecessary, and usually only worn a few times (which would probably explain why these shoes look completely unused). In fact, we didn't even have shoes for Isaac until a month or two before he started walking. However, these were just so darn cute that I couldn't help myself. And for 25 cents, I won't be heartbroken if he never wears them.

Then today I realized that I had a coupon from JC Penney for $10 off of a $10 purchase that expires today. I love it when they send me these coupons. I get them about 6 or 7 times a year. Don't ask me how you get them sent to you, I have no idea. I do think that you won't get them if you have a JCP credit card, however. Both J and my mom have JCP credit cards, and the coupons they get are usually $10 off of a $25 purchase. So I guess sending me these awesome coupons is a great way to get me to NOT sign up for a CC. LOL. Anyhoo, my coupon expires today, so naturally, I had  to use it. I found this cute 3-piece pajama set for Isaac on clearance for $10.40. Now, I don't really think that's much of a clearance, but with my $10 coupon, it's a steal! So with tax, I spent a total of 43 cents! Woohoo!

I love it when I can shop and hardly spend any money! :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

One Month and Counting

We had an ultrasound today! I always love seeing baby. It's so fun! Especially this far along, he looks much less alien-like than he did before - more like an actual baby. It makes me realize how close we're getting! Anyway, Sequel looks great! He's still head down, fluid was good and all that good stuff. The tech said that his diaphragm was going up and down, indicating breathing-like movements, so that means good lung development. And he's measuring at... drum roll... 39w3d, which is all fine and good, except for the fact that I'm only 35w5d!! The u/s tech actually had to check her measurements. She thought I was due today instead a month from today. But we have to take this with a grain of salt because the tech said that it's accurate within 22 days. That means it could be off by three weeks. Either way, he's still measuring a bit ahead, but maybe not by as much as we think. Based on the measurements, the u/s tech estimated that he is 8lbs 4oz right now (give or take a lb). That's the 90th percentile! Even if you subtract 1lb for margin of error, he's still over 7 lbs. Isaac was 6lbs 13 oz when he was born at 37w6d. This kid is already bigger than his brother was when he was born! Eek!

Next we had our NST (non stress test). This consisted of me sitting on the exam table with two monitors strapped to my belly - one to monitor baby's heart beat, and one to monitor contractions. The goal was for baby to have two "accelerations" in a 20 minute period, meaning his heart rate had rise by 15 bpm twice in that 20 minutes. They also gave me a little button to press every time I felt him move. After about 5 or 6 minutes he wasn't moving a whole lot, so the nurse gave me a Sprite. That did the trick. Then he moved around like crazy and we got our accelerations. Everything looked great!

Finally, we saw the doctor for our appointment. She was very happy with how everything was going. My BP was 130/65, which she was happy with. She had a pretty frank talk with me about re-evaluating my VBAC, though. She said that she really believes that our bodies don't make babies that are too big for us to give birth to, and that I certainly can still plan on having a VBAC, she just wanted to lay all the cards on the table at this point. If this was a first pregnancy, or if I hadn't had a c-section before, she would probably suggest induction after 39 weeks because the baby is so big. Unfortunately, we can't induce for a VBAC (as I've mentioned before), so I'll have to go into labor on my own. She didn't seem very comfortable letting me go too far past 39 weeks because of his size, and I'm pretty certain that she won't let me go past 40 weeks. She also said that labor will be more difficult if this baby is a 9 pounder, and if I were to end up needing a c-section after my trial of labor, the recovery would be harder than it would be with a planned c-section. She said, if I get to that 39 week milestone and haven't had the baby yet, we'll have to have a more serious talk about scheduling a c-section.

To be honest, this is exactly what I was afraid of. I knew that if baby measured big, my VBAC would be in jeopardy. And I also know that ultrasounds later in pregnancy are much less accurate for measurements. I do know he's big. I can feel that. I'm much more uncomfortable than I was in my last pregnancy. My belly is bigger, and I've gained more weight than last time, so this news is not surprising to me. However, women deliver 9lb babies all. the. time. Heck, my mother-in-law's last baby was over 10 lbs. It's possible. And I want to try it. And I'm fairly confident that I will, indeed, go into labor before 39 weeks, although there are no guarantees. (Hey Cat, when do you want to come over and give me a foot rub? LOL)

James and I talked about it, and as of right now, here's how we feel: We will still plan for a VBAC, but we will schedule a c-section for July 8th. July 8th would bring me to 39w2d. If I haven't had baby before July 8th, that will be his birthday. For me, this decision really had nothing to do with his size. I feel like July 8th is a good date because it's not too close to Isaac's birthday (July 13th) and not too close to the 4th of July, and it's two days before our OB goes on maternity leave, so she would be able to deliver him. I am pretty comfortable with this decision, but I reserve the right to change my mind, of course. ;)

The OB also said that I'm past the point where they would intervene if I did go into labor. That means baby could come any time now! Although, I think it will be a few more weeks. I was only a fingertip dilated today, which is the same as I was on Thursday. I was hoping for a little more, but I know that it doesn't necessarily mean anything. Oh, and she also said that I still have to take it easy, but I can do a little more since my BP is down. Yay!

Ok, I'm cutting myself off now. This post has gotten really long. If you're still with me, thanks for reading. :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Adventures in Labor & Delivery

Ever since our appointment on Monday, I've been monitoring my blood pressure with a cuff that goes on your wrist that I borrowed from my dad. Last night, I got some really high readings. Like, scary high. 160/100 high. Add to this the fact that I'd been having headaches for about a day and a half (which she said to watch out for), and I got a little worried. So I called the on-call number and spoke with the on-call OB. He said that the wrist cuff was probably not the most accurate, but I should definitely head up to Labor & Delivery to get monitored and some blood tests. This was at about 9:30 PM, so my parents came over to stay with Isaac (who was in bed), and James and I left.

Needless to say, I was freaked out. Here are some of the thoughts that were going through my head, "OMG, what if I have preeclampsia and they have to deliver baby TONIGHT?! I'm only 35 weeks! Are his lungs developed enough? Will he have long-term affects of being premature?" Yeah, I'm a bit of an overreactor like that sometimes. But when the doctor tells you to get your butt to labor and delivery asap, you tend to get a little scared.

So when we got to labor and delivery, the nurse took me back to the room where they keep the people who they aren't sure are staying. This particular room has three beds and they only really keep you there to be monitored, not if you're actually in labor. Thankfully, I was the only person in there. Anyhoo, the nurse took my blood pressure and it was in the 170s/115. Yikes! After a few more tries and doing different things that might help (switching arms, turning off the lights, etc...) she got a reading of 150something/108, so that's the one she recorded. Then the resident came in and said he talked to the on-call OB and they were going to do blood work and test my urine for protein, and that since my BP was so high, they were going to start me on a beta blocker called Labetalol.

We were there for a few hours. Poor James had to get up for work at 3am, so around 11pm, he went home and my parents came to keep me company instead. It seemed like a long night, and we didn't get home until midnight. Long story short, my labs all came back looking good, which was a huge relief. So instead of preeclampsia, I just have Pregnancy Induced Hypertension. This does put me at a higher risk of developing preeclampsia though, so I'm still on modified bed rest for now. That means no trip to the lake for us this weekend. Boo.

They wanted me to follow up with my regular OB today, so I called this morning and went in for an appointment at 1:30 PM. At the appointment, my BP was 140/88. She said I absolutely did the right thing by calling last night and that she was SO glad I did. She's going to keep me on the Labetalol and we're still shooting for a VBAC. But she explained to me that if my blood pressure gets too high or if I develop preeclapsia, a VBAC is pretty much out of the question because baby would have to be delivered early, and she won't use Pitocin if you've had a previous c-section (increased risk of uterine rupture, as I believe I mentioned in my previous post). But she made it clear that, at this point, there is no reason why baby would need to come now. I still have an ultrasound and another appointment scheduled for Monday, but she also added a NST (non stress test) to the list, which I believe I'll be doing weekly from now on. A NST is just where they have you lay there with a little contraption on your belly that monitors baby's heartbeat for about 30 minutes, just to make sure everything is okay.

And I just want to end by saying THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to my wonderful parents. They dropped everything to come watch Isaac so we could go to the hospital, they were more than happy to come chill with me at 11 PM, and they spent all morning/afternoon at my house to help me with Isaac so I could take it easy per doctor's orders. I do NOT know what I would do without them. They are truly amazing. I love you guys so much!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The News Could Be Better :(

Well, we had our 34 weeks doctor appointment today. Baby's heart is beating strong at 143 bpm. :)

And my blood pressure was high again. It looks as though I could possibly have the early signs of something called Pregnancy Induced Hypertension, which is essentially high blood pressure brought on because of pregnancy. The main concern with this is that it can lead to Preeclampsia. In order for Preeclampsia to be diagnosed, my blood pressure would have to be 140/90 (which it was today), and I would have protein in my urine. Fortunately, I only had a trace of protein in my urine today. Last time it was +1 for protein, so the fact that it is back to normal is good. I found out today that the blood work from two weeks ago was all fine and dandy. The nurse said that no news is good news.

My doctor is a little concerned since this is the second appointment where my blood pressure has been on the higher side. She told me today to stop working (which I'm not anyway because school is over), and that I'm not on bed rest, but I need to take it easy. Her words were, "The couch is your new best friend. Vacuuming is no longer your friend. Doing the dishes is no longer your friend." I'm glad James was there to hear it directly from the horses mouth or I'm afraid he would think I was making it up so he would have to do all the housework. Honestly though, it's going to be tough for me. I'm home all day with an almost-two-year-old. I have to make him breakfast and lunch and take him to the potty and change his diaper and stuff. Plus it's going to be hard for me to NOT do that load of laundry that's sitting in the basket, or that load of dishes that's piled up in the sink. Especially since I feel fine. I feel like I should be doing this stuff because I'm the one who's home all day. I already feel guilty about it.

She also had me get more blood work done. An hour after we left the hospital, I got a call from the generic hospital/clinic number on my cell phone. I got really nervous, thinking that they wouldn't call me if the results were fine. When I answered, I was fully expecting the nurse to say that my blood tests came back abnormal and I would have to go to the hospital to be monitored or something. Fortunately, she was just calling to tell my that the lab results were in, and everything looked good. Holy heart attack, Batman!

My doctor wants to see me back on Monday, so we're skipping right to the weekly appointments now instead of two weeks from now. We're also getting an ultrasound on Monday to make sure baby is growing ok. She said sometimes when you have high blood pressure for an extended amount of time, it can cause baby to not grow as much as he should. But she said I'm measuring a little ahead (as I have for the entire pregnancy) so she's not worried, she just wants to know for sure.

My sincere hope for our next appointment is that I will go in, my blood pressure will be back down, and everything will be hunky dory. (Do people still say hunky dory?) I don't like restrictions. And I really, really don't like what Preeclampsia could mean for my VBAC. If I end up getting diagnosed with it, the only way to get rid of it would be to deliver the baby. And they don't like to use labor inducing drugs for VBAC mom's as that increases the risk of uterine rupture, so that would mean the only way to deliver the baby would be another c-section.

So I'm trying to stay positive here, although it's hard. I've been so very emotional lately anyway, that it doesn't take much to reduce me to tears these days. I am currently accepting thoughts/prayers/good vibes/whatever you want to send my way.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sequel Update

James and I went in for my 32 week doctor appointment yesterday! Man, I can't believe I'll be 33 weeks tomorrow! I had Isaac 5 weeks from where I am right now in this pregnancy. Crazy.

Anyhoo... baby is doing well. His heart rate was 135, which is good. He's still head down. Also good. I did have a little protein in my urine, though. The nurse told me this, and I know it's a sign of pre-eclampsia so I was a little nervous that my blood pressure would also be high (another sign of pre-e). Since I was nervous about it, naturally, it was higher - in the 140's over 93 (or 97, I can't remember). The doctor took it again a little later and it was 130-something over 90. Still high. So she had me do some blood tests and another urine test at the lab after my appointment to check my liver and kidneys. I haven't heard back yet, but I'm assuming no news is good news. When I had my liver enzymes checked after my gallbladder disaster, it only took an hour or so to get the results, so my doctor should have them by now. I won't even go into what would happen if I do have pre-eclampsia because I really think the doctor would have called me by now if I did.

The doctor also said that we'd have one more ultrasound before baby comes so that we can check his weight to make sure I'm not going to try to VBAC a 12 lb baby. I have mixed feelings about this, however. I know that late-term ultrasounds are not very accurate in predicting a baby's size, and I've heard stories about women who are told they're going to have 10 lb babies, and found out after the birth that baby was actually only 7 or 8 lbs. I really don't want large size to be the deciding factor for a repeat c-section, only to find out that baby was really nowhere close to as big as they thought.

Next up - our hospital tour! You might be wondering why a couple who's had a baby before would need a tour of the labor and delivery floor. Well, because they've remodeled. Or rather, they are in the process of remodeling. Unfortunately, this could mean that I'll have a roommate, which would suck. Big time. I can't imagine trying to recover from childbirth (especially a c-section), feeding your newborn every few hours, having visitors, and trying to rest all while someone else in the same room is doing all the same things but at different times! Talk about hectic! Sorry, but I really don't want to have to wake up every time my roommate needs to feed her baby. I barely want to wake up to feed my own baby! My doctor assured me, though, that if there are enough patients where rooms need to be shared, they will try to put you with someone who will be discharged soon. So, hopefully I wouldn't have to have a roommate for the entire stay. I guess we'll see what happens.

Our next appointment is on June 6th. I'll be 34 (almost 35) weeks then!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chocolate Cobbler

Let me start by saying that this recipe is a pregnant woman's dream. Or any woman's dream. Any woman who loves chocolate.

I got this recipe from Tasty Kitchen. I sure do love that Pioneer Woman. She knows what's what.

Here's what you'll need: 
1 cup flour 
2 tsp baking powder 
¼ tsp salt 
7 Tablespoons cocoa  powder, divided 
1-¼ cup sugar, divided 
½ cups milk 
⅓ cups melted butter 
1-½ teaspoon vanilla extract 
½ cups light brown sugar
1-½ cup hot water

First, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, 3 tablespoons of the cocoa, and 3/4 cup of the white sugar together in a mixing bowl.

Then add the milk, melted butter, and vanilla to the flour mixture.

Then spread it into an 8 inch dish.

Now combine the rest of the sugar (½ cup), the brown sugar, and the remaining cocoa powder (4 tablespoons).

Sprinkle it evenly on top of the batter in the dish.

And now for the weird part. Pour the hot water on top of the whole thing. If this step feels weird to you, you're not alone. I'm not sure how, but it works. Just believe.

Pop it in the oven for 40 minutes or until the middle is set. 40 minutes worked just fine for me.

Here's what it looked like when I took it out of the oven. And it smelled fantastic!

And it tasted heavenly. I only wish I would have had some ice cream or even whipped cream on hand. Instead, I just drank a big 'ol glass of milk while I ate it.

This would be a great dessert to make when you have company. It will impress, and it requires very little prep. It's ooey and gooey and delicious.

Ok, I might have to go get another piece. Now.