Wednesday, November 27, 2013


i'll be honest. for me, thanksgiving hasn't typically involved a lot of contemplation of what i am thankful for. it's been more about where we're going, what we're eating, when i'm napping, and what time the packers are playing (at least every other year, that is). i'm not even really a big thanksgiving person as it is. i'm not crazy about thanksgiving food- i mean, it's fine, but i certainly don't look forward to it for months or weeks ahead of time. a lot of times it ends up feeling like a whole lot of time and work for a decent meal that lasts 20 minutes.

last year we didn't even really "do" thanksgiving. bennett was 4 months old and didn't believe in naps longer than 20 minutes, i was fried from working full time and caring for a newborn, joe had been traveling quite a bit, and bennett came down with fifth's disease (a bad virus). the combination just about put me over the edge and i begged joe to let us just stay home for thanksgiving and recharge. he agreed and we spent the weekend at home. not an ounce of turkey in sight. and i was thankful.

now, i understand i sound like a huge scrooge. or whatever the thanksgiving version of a scrooge is. pilgrim? but thanksgiving has never had that magical holiday feeling for me. thanksgiving just feels like a pleasant obstacle you have to get past to get to christmas, the REAL holiday.

now that i'm a mom (to a child who now likes nice, long afternoon naps), i think i'm becoming more sentimental and thanksgiving is starting to mean a little more to me. i mean, how often do i really take the time to reflect on all the blessings in my life and how thankful i am for this life? not nearly often enough, that's for sure. i spend significantly more time worrying, nitpicking, and feeling frustrated about the everyday details than being thankful for the big picture.

"above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. and let the peace that comes from christ rule in your hearts. for as members of one body you are called to live in peace. and always be thankful. let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts." -colossians 3:14-16

i want to live a life of gratitude for the immeasurable blessings i've been given...

i have a wonderful, supportive, generous, fun family. we all have our quirks and get on each others' nerves at times, but we love each other and truly enjoy spending time together.

i have an amazing husband who loves and supports me unconditionally and works selflessly and joyfully to provide for our family. i'm thankful for his servant heart and his positive outlook on life even in the midst of hardship.

we have a precious, healthy, happy son who makes us laugh every single day. he's feisty and strong-willed, and while i let that frustrate me far too often, i'm thankful that he is just who he was made to be and love him for his determination and spunk.

we're expecting another sweet boy and my pregnancy has been relatively smooth sailing thus far. i'm thankful that God has blessed joe and i with the responsibility of parenthood and for equipping us with all we need to fulfill that responsibility and bring him glory through it.

i'm thankful for the opportunity to be a stay-at-home-mom shortly (12 days of work left!). i know this new job will come with many, many challenges, but i'm thankful that i'll be able to spend each day watching my kids grow and learn.

i'm thankful for our home. it's even more than i had hoped for when we started our home search, and i feel so blessed to have such a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood where we can raise our family.

happy thanksgiving, everyone. take time to be thankful today, and every day.

Monday, November 25, 2013

baby boy nursery.

joe and i decided to do a whale nursery for this little baby boy. when we had bennett, i was very anti-theme for his nursery. i didn't want it to feel gimmicky or cheesy. and it turned out super cute. BUT i wouldn't say it felt very baby-ish. this time, i'm more open to a "theme" and letting it be what it is: a nursery.

bennett's nursery was red and gray. several months ago i bought these cute bumper pads for his crib from pottery barn kids, thinking we'd we'd use them when we moved to the new house.

Harper Nursery Bedding Collection

i'd never had bumpers in his crib (except those dumb breathable ones) because i was semi-paranoid about SIDS, but they look so cute that i wanted to put them in after bennett was out of the "danger zone." well, bumpers don't look as cute when you have to lower the crib all the way down so your baby can't fall out when he's standing up. so we never put in the bumpers. but i didn't return them either. they're gray and white, very gender neutral, so i figured we could use them for baby #2 whenever the time came (and i'm still semi-paranoid so as soon as this babe looks like he might be thinking about rolling over i'll probably take them out).

i love navy. if everything i owned- clothes, decor, etc.- could be navy, it would. i mean, i guess i'm a grown up so i'm allowed, but it'd be weird if EVERYTHING was navy. i digress... so when i came across this bedding at the land of nod, incorporating the gray we already have going (bumpers, sheets, and the walls) and my favorite color navy, i immediately sent the link to joe. he approved. as if he had a choice...


we're not quite sure yet what we're going to do about sleeping arrangements once the new babe comes along. i'm not opposed to getting bennett into a big boy bed before then, but i'm just not sure he'll be ready yet and i don't want to push him. at the same time, i'm not crazy about spending a bunch of money on a second crib... a few weeks ago at bennett's swim lesson i was talking to another mom who is also expecting her second baby this spring. she said that her sister-in-law is looking to get rid of their crib (which converts to a toddler bed) and that she'd ask her about selling it to us. i just emailed her to follow up about it today so we'll see what happens. otherwise, i guess we'll have to figure something else out! either way, i think we'll revamp (for the 3rd time, mind you!) our bedroom's dresser with some paint and use it as a changing table for the new baby. we'll let bennett keep his current crib and dresser/changing table when he moves to his new bedroom downstairs.

joe and i are probably going to be getting a new bedroom set for our room and our current dresser would look cute painted navy (perhaps something similar to this one i found on pinterest?)

Navy changing table

we never bought a nice bedroom set for ourselves, instead opting for a hand-me-down from his parents. we're ready for our grown up bedroom set, so joe suggested we look for a black friday deal. don't have to tell me twice! i want a king, but after measuring and silently contemplating whether being able to walk around each side was really necessary (apparently it is), we decided a king is just not going to work. so we'll stick with a queen and a sleeping bag on the floor for joe.

anyway, back to the baby room.

we have a super comfy glider in bennett's room, but it's red, so that's not exactly fitting with our color scheme this time around. fortunately for us the previous owners of our house left a glider that they weren't going to use. it's a white wooden glider with denim cushions. a little '80s, but whatev. i think if my mom i recovered the cushions it could be super cute.

Gray Minky Dot Fabric
maybe something cozy like this?
i also found this adorable pillow on etsy. something like this would be cute on the glider.

Whale Pillow/ Light Gray/ Whale Cushion/ Decor/ Nursery/ Baby Gift/ Kids Room/ Children's Decor/ Decoration/ Nap Pillow/ Modern Nursery

as for the walls, there are a couple bookshelves hanging in there now that we'll leave. i want to do something with the baby's name over the crib, like we did with bennett's. over the dresser/changing table though, i'm thinking a gallery wall of some kind.

Rock a Bye Baby

well, that's about as far as we've made it. no shopping, no actual work done. we have our work cut out for us after the holidays, that's for sure. we're not only having to get a nursery put together for the new baby, but we're also needing to put a room together for bennett. now i need to find some inspiration for bennett's "big boy" room (excuse me while i lose it over how fast he's growing up...).

Monday, November 18, 2013

restaurants with a toddler.

over the past few months, i've become increasingly more stressed when we go out to a restaurant with bennett. sometimes he does great, but more often that not lately it's a disaster and we're both in tears by the end of the meal (if we even make it that far- i've taken my meal to-go more than once).

bennett is a busy 16 month old. he doesn't like to sit still for long. restaurants like panera, noodles, chipotle, etc. are ideal because the food comes out relatively quickly and we can usually distract him long enough to get through the short waiting period. sit-down restaurants are the big challenge. waiting for a table, waiting to order, waiting for your food, waiting for the bill, it can sometimes end up being close to an hour and a half before we're out of there. it's just too long for our active boy. not to mention that most times we go out it's for dinner in the evening, which is easily his hardest time of the day. he's usually tired at that point, worn out from his day, hungry and crabby. our usual distraction tactics (toys, snacks, books, etc.) just aren't effective. he wants what he wants and he wants it now. books and toys are thrown, he freaks out like we're torturing him when we try to sit him in the highchair, and it's overall a stressful experience for everyone.

now, i know that i have a "spirited" child. we've known that bennett is feisty and strong-willed from the beginning. he is not easily swayed from what he wants and he makes it known to everyone when he's not getting his way. part of this is that he's a toddler, and part of this is that he's bennett. i make a lot of attempts to avoid going out to dinner, mostly by inviting friends and family to have dinner at our house instead of going out. bennett is happier that way and i enjoy my time with friends and family far more when i'm not stressed that my child is going to melt down at any moment. but there are times when going out to eat is inevitable, and it's honestly something i like to do so i don't want to avoid it completely. and, let's face it, he's gotta learn eventually.

i'm just not sure what to do to make restaurant dining more relaxing and less tense. i'm sure part of it is just his age and it will get better with time. also, i need to work on not letting his mood/behavior get me all worked up because i'm sure my anxiety/frustration just makes matters worse. there's no way he doesn't notice that and respond to it. what can really be expected of him at his age? i'm not sure it's age-appropriate to expect a 16 month old to sit pleasantly at the table for an hour or more. but i also don't want to teach him that freaking out gets him out of his highchair and/or "reward" him with more toys and snacks to calm him down. at what point is it distraction and at what point is it rewarding negative behavior?

man, parenting is hard... any tips that have worked for you to help making eating out a pleasant experience for everyone?

why the y.

i joined the YMCA last wednesday. i'd been a gym member previously but got out of the habit of going, so naturally i stopped paying for it. the gym just wasn't that close to our townhouse and i didn't like the childcare there (they were always rude to me and i never could get the protocol right- always scolded for not doing or bringing this or that...) so i never wanted to go when joe wasn't available to stay with bennett.

since we moved to shoreview, we've talked about joining a gym again. joe and i have both felt like we needed to get active again, and with me being pregnant i have even more incentive to workout since it's good for the baby and helps with increasing energy and limiting unnecessary weight gain. originally we'd discussed joining the community center. bennett has done 2 sessions of swim lessons there and it's less than a mile from our house. it has an indoor waterpark and an indoor playground, which would be great for me to bring bennett to when i start [SOON!] staying home full time.

when i started looking into it further, however, there were some things i didn't like. first, the group fitness classes are not included in the membership cost. the membership fees are pretty low so paying for the classes on top of that wouldn't be the end of the world, but i didn't love that it wasn't a one-shot deal. childcare also isn't included in the membership fee. while it's only $1 per hour per child, again it's an additional cost to think about each time i go. finally, the biggest thing that swayed me away from a community center membership is that you can't bring kids to the childcare center until they're 6 months old. since we have a new baby on the way, i don't want to have to wait until he's 6 months old before i can go to the gym without securing my own childcare. i would far rather workout during the day than wait until the evening when joe is home because by then, i'm spent. also, i'm sure there will be days when that hour or two at the gym will be a very welcome break from my soon-to-be 2 under 2 :) even if i only go to get a shower!

the biggest things i liked about the community center are the indoor waterpark and indoor playground. i saw on the website, though, that you can buy a 10 pack of day passes for $46, or pay $5 per visit. i figured this would be a good way to still be able to utilize those fun spots for bennett without committing to a full membership, and it's relatively inexpensive.

so, i started looking into options at other gyms. lifetime fitness is probably a 10-15 minute drive from our house. however, because the closest club to us is the highest "level" of lifetime's clubs, the monthly membership fee was rather hefty. our insurance plan doesn't offer any health club discounts, so we'll be footing the whole thing on our own and i just couldn't justify the cost there.

so, that led me to the YMCA. our closest Y is less than 10 minutes from our house and i found it to be a good compromise financially between the stripped down membership at the community center and the expensive monthly fee at lifetime. everything is included- group fitness classes, childcare, etc. and you can bring kids as young as 6 weeks to the childcare center. they have an indoor and outdoor pool and you have access to all the YMCAs in the twin cities.

joe is now an individual member at the community center, as he wouldn't use any of the amenities (primarily group fitness classes) that i was looking for in a gym. and joe could bring bennett to the childcare on the rare occasion he'd workout at a time when i wasn't home to be with ben or when the new baby comes and i want to spend some [likely rare] one-on-one time with him. i joined the Y so i can utilize the classes and childcare starting at 6 weeks postpartum. i went to yoga on saturday morning and felt great afterwards. and i apparently lost my mind and went to a spinning class monday night. it was intense but it did feel good (minus the soreness thanks to the tiny seat- ouch!). i'm 
really enjoying being active again so far and look forward to having the gym as an option for getting out of the house this winter.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


last week was kind of a rough week. joe worked early mornings (out the door before my alarm even went off every morning) and several late nights. plus he was gone all night friday and all day saturday for the state podiatry conference. we'd been in sioux falls the weekend before visiting joe's older brother and his family so we started off the week feeling a little out of sorts as it was. on top of that, bennett has been exceedingly crabby lately, so dealing with him by myself was a challenge.

i know i've been more emotional lately (hello, hormones!), but honestly this last week really had me questioning whether or not i could handle two kids. i was also questioning whether or not i have what it takes to be a stay at home mom. it's hard not to feel like a failure when your child is crying and melting down most of the day and nothing you do seems to make it better. how do you not take that personally after a while? and when you don't have much of a break it's easy for patience to wear thin and emotions to run high.

i tried to meet my mom for dinner one of the nights joe was working and that resulted in ben having a meltdown in granite city and having to take my food to go and head home in tears. our attempt at a nice saturday morning trip to the library resulted in another meltdown and carrying a crying, squirming child out to the car within minutes of arriving.

what bothers me when looking back over our tough week was that there were some highlights i mostly ignored, instead choosing to dwell on (stew in) the hard moments. bennett and i had a BLAST together at music class on friday morning. he participated more consistently throughout the class than he ever has before and seemed to really love his time there. ben was so snuggly and sweet all week, constantly giving me hugs and kisses. we had a very successful trip to target (no small feat with a 16 month old, i assure you) where i was able to get all the groceries i needed while bennett rode happily in the cart. he took great naps all weekend and i was able to get some rest in, too.

holding hands with my little man
saturday morning cartoons with his best buddy, george
coy smile
(don't mind the mess in the background...)
on sunday i finally discovered why bennett has been excessively fussy! sure enough, a little tooth is working on pushing its way through. if it's anything like the first time we went through a teething spell, there are a few more teeth coming in too and we have a ways to go til he's back to his normal self. if you're not a parent it might be hard to understand, but i felt unbelievably relieved to see that little tooth. i was able to explain his mood with something other than "i guess my child hates me." i know that might sound dramatic, and it is. but seriously, any mom would be lying if she said she didn't have that irrational thought- albeit subconscious- now and again.

it's so easy to focus on the hard times, the challenges, the "failures." it's easy to feel defeated, frustrated, and burned out. there's a level of mommy guilt that inevitably comes with the territory. whether it's feeling guilty for being a working mom, guilty for not breastfeeding your child for a year+, guilty for not throwing the perfect pinterest-inspired birthday party, guilty for wanting (and taking) "me time," guilty for letting your child watch a little too much tv, guilty for hiding his favorite book because you can't bring yourself to read it one. more. time. (wait, no. i wouldn't do that.)... the list goes on. at some point i believe every mom wonders, "do i have what it takes?"

in short, the answer is a resounding YES. if you have a child, God has called you to parenthood. when God calls us to something, He also gifts us and equips us to handle the challenges that accompany that calling. the series at our church this fall was called "labeled" (you can listen to all the messages in the series here) and talked about getting rid of the labels we're given by ourselves or the world and embracing the labels that God gives us: chosen, blessed, strong, alive, filled, gifted, new, protected. i need to remember that no matter what kind of day or week i have as a mom, God has chosen me to be a mom. He's chosen me to be a mom to this feisty, strong-willed boy in particular. and He has given me all i need to fulfill that calling and bring Him glory through it. instead of doubting myself and dwelling on my frustrations, i need to turn to Him and ask Him to fill me with his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). the best part is that He will. i just have to stop long enough to ask.

Monday, November 11, 2013

it's a...

it was hard to get up and get going this morning... mondays are tough- ESPECIALLY after a nice, long weekend! we had our 20 week ultrasound on thursday morning so i took the whole day off, meaning it's been 4 days since i last worked. (by the way- the countdown is on! just 6 more weeks of work!)

it was so fun to see our little one on the screen on thursday! our babe was VERY active and the ultrasound tech commented that she hadn't seen a baby that active in a long time! everything looked great on the ultrasound except one of the kidneys had a little too much fluid in it. they like it to measure at 4 mm or less, and one of the kidneys was at 5.1 mm. the other was within normal limits measuring at 3.8mm. apparently this is one of 20+ markers for downs syndrome. however, our baby didn't have any of the other markers and the OB assured us that the odds of downs syndrome only increased from 1/700 to 1.5/700 based on this. she also said this is probably the most common thing that comes up on ultrasounds that they recheck. we'll have another ultrasound at either 28 or 32 weeks to see if the fluid measures within normal levels at that point. they also may do an ultrasound on the baby after birth to check the fluid levels again. i'd be lying if i said it didn't make me a little nervous, but our doctor was very insistent that this is likely a non-issue and that we shouldn't be overly concerned.

also, there is a gender component related to fluid in the kidneys, as it's much more common in BOYS. we're having another little BOY! :) we are so excited that bennett will have a little brother and that they'll be so close in age (21 months apart).

we have chosen a name for baby boy #2! we were going back and forth on two names and couldn't decide. joe told me to just pick one of the two. i had wanted to order a christmas stocking for this baby that matches the rest of ours, so i ordered one and had it monogrammed with his name. joe will find out which of the two names i chose when the stocking arrives! we'll probably share the name at that point, since we already decided on it. only a little longer, mom and dad ;-)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

beyond the external.

i find myself struggling a lot with my feelings surrounding my body during this pregnancy. honestly, feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction with my appearance have plagued me most of my life, and pregnancy is no different. in fact, i think they're somewhat exacerbated in pregnancy. i've never been what i would consider extremely overweight or anything. i'd probably be considered average more often than not. but the real issue for me is emotional. the ideal body has always seemed unattainable to me. in many ways, it probably is. let's face it, i'm 5'8" and have a larger frame. i'm never going to be considered "petite" and i'm certainly never going to weigh 110 lbs.

the problem really lies in the fact that it's not really about my weight. i mean, in my head it is. but when i think over the years of fluctuating weight, i don't think the nagging feeling that i was unattractive and fat ever really went away, whether i was at my highest weight or my lowest. if those feelings truly went away with losing weight, then i'd have more hope that i could kick these feelings. but obviously this issue goes beyond the external.

it's a vicious cycle- i try to eat healthy, but inevitably life gets in the way, i eat things i "shouldn't" or eat more than i need and i let it derail me. my feelings of failure and frustration lead me to continue eating poorly and the cycle continues.  i've been stuck in this cycle for as long as i can remember. it's not healthy for me physically or emotionally, and i know that but i guess i don't know how to change it.

this has been even that much harder in pregnancy when i'm supposed to be gaining weight. even though i know you gain weight when you're pregnant, actually seeing the number creep up on the scale is disheartening. when you start out at a weight you're not happy with as it is, it makes things that much more difficult. i want to keep a tight reign on my weight gain, but to a certain point it's out of my control. it's not just gaining body fat. my blood supply is drastically increasing, the baby is growing, the placenta is growing, and all kinds of other crazy things are happening. when you're not pregnant, weight gain is usually a direct reflection of your actions (diet and exercise). when you're pregnant, that's only a part of the equation. but i've "trained" myself over years and years to see an increasing number on the scale as failure and a decreasing number as success. it's not easy to dismiss those deeply ingrained beliefs just because i'm pregnant.

19 weeks
we find out on thursday if we're having a boy or a girl. i will truly be so excited either way- it really doesn't matter to me. i want to hear that the baby is growing strong and healthy, just as he or she should be, and that's honestly all i care about. but i do have to admit i'm somewhat fearful of having a girl. not only because i've already had a boy and feel like i have a better handle on how to be a mom to a boy, but also because i'm afraid to pass along my issues with body image and weight on to a daughter. not that boys are immune to it, but i think it's far more common struggle for girls. blame pop culture, blame genetics, blame whatever. i think it's just a fact that girls are more prone to issues with food, weight and appearance. and i don't want my daughter to feel about herself and her appearance the way i often feel about myself and my appearance.

jennifer polimino writes "pray for your baby," a website that sends weekly emails that correspond with each week of your pregnancy and encourage you to pray for your growing babe. i read this in the email from week 17 and it definitely struck a chord.

Dear Lord, as my baby continues to grow, I pray that he/she will gain the right amount of weight, including the healthy amount of body fat. Help me to eat in a healthy way and exercise on a regular basis so I don't put my baby in jeopardy of having diabetes or other obesity-related health issues. Give me the strength to avoid junk foods and excessive sugar and fat.

Lord, help me to concentrate on good health and not become obsessed with body weight and body image. I know my self-worth comes from You, and not from the way I look. Please help me with that, and help me pass on to my child only good attitudes about his/her appearance and his/her weight. Protect my child from eating disorders and a poor self-image.

Empower us, as a family, to live a healthy lifestyle. Empower us to be good testimonies of Your love, forgiveness and life-changing power. I pray that we would shine from an inner glow of Your Holy Spirit, and that it would attract people to You.

Dear God, please continue to bless and guide my baby's development. I thank You for Your love and protection.

In Jesus' name. Amen.

if that doesn't get to the heart of what i'm going through, i don't know what does. that is my prayer and i'm committing to praying that prayer throughout the remainder of this pregnancy. i need to lean on God to help me with this struggle both now and as i raise my kids.

Monday, November 4, 2013

recent kitchen adventures.

in an effort to spend less money and overall be healthier as a family, i have been cooking a lot more lately. i don't want ben growing up thinking dinner is takeout every night! my parents really made family dinner a priority (much to my brother's and my annoyance) and i really appreciate that looking back. i want family dinner to be a non-negotiable in our house. if we can't do it when we're completely in control while bennett is little, it sure won't be easy when school activities, homework and friends are thrown into the mix.

it's hard to continue coming up with ideas for dinner each night. i have a few tried and true recipes i tend to fall back on (mainly tacos and lasagna!), but beyond that i tend to draw a blank. i really can't wait to be a stay at home mom and read cookbooks and watch food network all day in between restful naps (only interrupted once in a while by the maid).

wait, what? that's not what it's going to be like? huh, i'll need to rethink this...

in all seriousness, though, working [almost] full time doesn't leave much time for planning or for actually cooking the meals. i am looking forward to having a little more time to prep and not feel like i walk in the door and instantly have to start frantically getting dinner together. bennett is ready to eat promptly at all.the.time o'clock so time is of the essence and we are always moments away from a meltdown right before dinner.

anyway, here are a few of the successful meals i've made over the past couple of weeks...

chili- the pioneer woman
i didn't do the frito pie part (although i did put tons of fritos in mine). i just made the chili. and i omitted the cornmeal mixture because it sounded weird and i didn't feel like getting out more stuff from the cupboard.

cheeseburger soup- taste of home
yep, it has velveeta in it. which makes it awesome. and processed. oh well.

mexican chicken spaghetti- the pioneer woman
umm, this recipe calls for 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. enough said. except that next time i would do even less cayenne or omit it entirely. ben was not a fan of the "kick." so pretty much it wouldn't be mexican. and i used egg noodles instead so it's not even spaghetti. the title really gives nothing away.

salmon with balsamic glaze and sauteed veggies- giada
i used salmon my parents had given us from their trip to alaska. how very green and sustainable of me, you say? well thank you. unfortunately bennett felt that the salmon would be put to better use in george's tummy. my mom, a salmon hater herself, probably would've agreed.

crockpot beef stroganoff- somewhere on pinterest
i skipped the mushrooms because i don't like them. regardless, joe and bennett both devoured this! let's face it: so did i.

white chocolate bread pudding- thank you google
just yum.

and because no post would be complete without them, here's some recent pics...

saturday breakfast at OPH
YUM! syrup everywhere...
nightly bubble guppies
cute baby belly :)
my little monkey in his halloween costume!
bennett and his friend, landon,
as curious george and the man in the yellow hat