Tuesday, February 26, 2013

10 Things I'm Happy About Right Now...

They aren't all big things by any means, but it's a good practice to list things that make you happy, yes?

1. We got to spend Saturday visiting my sisters and snuggling my brand new nephew.  Always a wonderful thing.
2. Despite the stress of this big move and the fact that we are WAY behind in preparations, these next few weeks before we go will be jam. packed. with family time which is wonderful.  One of my sisters (with the babe) is coming this week for a few days.  More snuggles for me, and more play time for Henry with his cousin Emerson (they are just 10 weeks apart).  Saturday I leave for Mississippi with another sister and two more nieces to visit my Dad as he is in a production of Fiddler on the Roof.  (It's the first time I'll be leaving H for more than a night... but more on that later.) The following week my Dad and family come here to Iowa to visit us, we will have a little welcome baby party, etc. And then hopefully if I can get organized, a small birthday party for Henry with family here, just days before we head back north to Alaska. Whew!
3. Henry's kitchen.  I feel bad admitting it, but we failed a tad in the Christmas department when it comes to Henry this year.  Well I shouldn't say failed, but it sort of slid under the radar a bit.  We were in Alaska over Christmas for over two weeks, so we couldn't figure out how to handle Christmas.  There was no good time for a little family celebration of our own, and we couldn't very well bring gifts and whatnot when we were already loaded down with necessities for the trip.  We gave him a couple little things while we were up there, and he received loads of generous gifts from family and friends up there, but we felt a little bad that we didn't get to do our family thing at all.  The gift we had planned for him was a play kitchen, as his favorite thing to do is "help!" and "cook!"  Eric has been working on one from scratch, and while it's well past Christmas, it is now finally snuggled into our home and ready for play.  Henry is in love, and it makes me happy to see it sitting here in our front room.
4. Making things.  Like I said I would in this post, I made the vanilla almond milk that I have been wanting to try.  It was a fun project, and it's so satisfying to make something like that from scratch. The good news is, it tastes delicious and would make a great addition to oatmeal, cereal, etc.  I am sure I will make it again. The bad news is, I can already tell it won't kick my craving for coffee creamer (dang it!).
5. A few new skincare purchases are making me really happy right now.  I try not to break the bank with new products or put too much focus on them, and for the last few years my skin routine has been nothing more than a bit lazy.  I have tried picking up various inexpensive things at the drugstore, but have just watched my skin get more dry and more dull as the years go on.  Since hormones have been having their way with me for basically the last three years (thank you pregnancy, breastfeeding, and odd sleep schedules!) I decided maybe it's time I try some heavier duty products.  I've made a few trips to Sephora and received great recommendations and samples, and I'm feeling much better.  I don't strive to be fancy, but I do like to look more or less awake and not grossly dry during the day.  My hope is that although it does mean some of the things are a little pricier, the quality will allow them to last long enough that I'm not truly paying more in the long run, since I won't be trying 3 other things in each one's place.
6. I cannot say packing up our house again, or organizing it and moving it all excites me in the least... it really doesn't.  I do hope the motivation comes from somewhere and soon.  BUT, in packing up, we get another opportunity to purge things from our house and lives that we don't really need or love, and I'm excited for that.  We will only be taking with us things that make us really happy, and everything else will be given away.  When we get back to Anchorage, we will have a bit of a fresh canvas.  I hate how long it takes us to settle into a place and make it feel like home, but I'm also a little excited for the challenge of doing all of the craigslist searches, bargain hunting, and re-purposing/craft projects for the things we need for the next home.
7.  And on that topic, I'm excited to actually see the next home.  It feels so strange heading out in 4 weeks to a house we've never seen.  It'll be an adventure!
8. Springy things.  I'm nervous about the trip to Mississippi, even though it will only be for four days.  But I'm excited to feel a bit of sun and warmth!  Oh, and to have some good southern tea.
9. Henry's new bedtime habit has been consistently cracking me up night after night.  He is such a giant chatterbox (I have no clue where he gets this...:)) and we will do our routine, and just as I tuck him into bed his little head springs up as he recalls every detail of the day, along with approximately three thousand other thoughts.  It's like last minute word purging where he just spits out thought after thought and they are coming from all different angles. He wants to talk about who likes broccoli and who doesn't, who rides horses, he wants to be sure that not only will he be eating cereal in the morning, but Mommy and Daddy will be too.  It's so silly and hard to keep up with, and so fun.  He'll rest his head for about three seconds, and just as I reach to close the door he pops up again to discuss a few more things. Who we will see on our next trip, where babies drink their milk from, the fact that we don't hit or bite... It's no wonder toddlers need so much sleep at night when all of these words and concepts are coming together in their little minds.  And on the topic of Henry, he is calling himself by name now, and says it like "Hessy". Oh the cute!
10. Exercise.  I haven't been doing anything extravagant, but I've been exercising this entire pregnancy.  It has felt amazing this time around.  It's also nice because it gives us another activity during the days that we go, where Henry gets to play with people other than me, and I get an hour to do something good for myself.  On Thursdays we work in the daycare there together, and it's been a lot of fun!

What's making you happy right now?

1&2// Almond milk in the making.
3//Henry loving on his new cousin
4//One little Henry jumping on the bed!
5//Baby girl at the gym

Friday, February 22, 2013

Brand New Love

I have been absent for a few days, and for the very best of reasons... I was lucky enough to be able to drive the two hours to the town where my sisters live, and watch the birth of my newest nephew, Jack, on Wednesday.  I have seen a lot of births and love each one, but this one was nothing short of amazing!  My sister had a rough go with her first delivery, and we were all so hoping that this one would be better.  It was pretty unbelievable, she smiled the entire time, and even commented as his head was coming out how crazy and different this all was.  She was able to see him being born, and pull him herself from the shoulders down.  It was an incredible day, and I am so happy I was a part of it this time around.  I was in Alaska for the birth of my youngest niece and my other nephew, so this was very special.  He's a big boy, weighing in at just shy of ten pounds, and he's perfectly squishy with that delicious baby soft skin that is just made for burying your lips in for kisses.  I'm looking forward to a little day trip tomorrow to soak up some more of his goodness!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Something Delicious To Try

I'm feeling pretty excited about a little recipe I stumbled upon today- homemade almond milk!  This recipe will absolutely be tried by the end of the week, that's my goal.  Just as soon as I find one of the little mesh strainer bags needed to do it! Eric has been eating loads of raw almonds recently, and while I very much dislike nuts of all kinds in their straight up nutty form (I wish this wasn't so, since they are great for you!), I do like almond milk.  We will just call this my contribution to using up our giant Costco bag of the nuts.  What excited me most while reading the almond milk instructions, was that by the sounds of it, it may be just the thing to get me off of one of the ugly habits I have still lurking around that I just can't seem to kick: coffee creamer.  I wasn't always a creamer gal... but somewhere along the way, I believe after Henry was born, vanilla creamer crept its sneaky little way into my life, and I just crave it with my morning cup.
*Little side note: Yes, I still drink coffee while pregnant. I stopped for the first half of my pregnancy with Henry, and then got over it.  During that first year as a mom, it became a dear friend of mine.  And there was essentially no chance of me giving it up this time around as I'm about one zillion times more tired.  I lost my taste for it for a few weeks at the beginning, but luckily it has come back!
Anyway, I hate that I drink creamer regularly.  It isn't much, but it's definitely junk I don't need to drink.  I just recently switched to vanilla soy creamer, but I don't feel that much better about it.  Naturally flavored, ultra creamy almond milk? PERFECT! SIGN ME UP.
The given recipe is for a vanilla+ cinnamon+ caramel sort which sounds great of course, so let me know if any of you decide to try it! I'm going to stick with a simple vanilla and see how it goes.

image source

Monday, February 18, 2013

Small Changes

I don't really make new year resolutions, but it just so happened that as the new year came around and we returned from our trip to Alaska, I made a little change in my day to day life that has ended up being such a good thing for me. The change?  I have barely been watching any television.  The first few months of this pregnancy, I was so exhausted I hardly knew what to do with myself.  The moment I would put Henry down for a nap I'd go collapse in front of the tv and watch anything I could find until I just zoned out and quickly fell asleep.  Fast forward to bedtime, and the same thing.  I'd make a run for the tv and just zone out there until I was falling asleep and able to peel myself up to go to bed.  It sort of bums me out, the amount of time I sat there doing absolutely nothing, but I guess that is just what I needed at the time.  There was no chance of me being productive, because I literally felt as though the energy had been sucked straight from my body.  Pregnancy will do that.  Zoning out seemed to be the only answer.  But as bits of energy came back, I was of course not very happy with the habit that I had started.  I felt lazy and unproductive, and somehow still found myself feeling like I didn't have time to get anything done.  No time to read the books I had been wanting to read, no time to clean, no time to blog or be creative, or just have quality time to myself. Since coming back from Anchorage in January, I have spent very little time in that room.  Instead, I've been spending nap time picking up the house, getting whatever needs to be done done, and then I retreat to the front room where the big windows let in lots of light and I can sit and enjoy my time... quietly.  No browsing through shows I don't care about, no commercials, no noise, and I have absolutely loved it.  I am feeling more energized, more inspired, and overall better now that I have given myself time to read and peek around the internet.  It may sound like trading one waste of time for another (the internet part) but to me it's not.  I would much rather browse pinterest for fun recipes and ideas that get me excited and inspired, or read other blogs that I love, than sit and watch shows I don't like just because they are on.  That doesn't mean I don't watch tv at all anymore, simply that I've cut out all of the mindless watching that I was doing.  I just go in there intentionally now, to watch the few shows that I still love and look forward to, and then I get right up and leave again and come out to the room that is brighter and makes me happier and calmer.  At the end of the day, I'm feeling happier and it's been a welcomed change.
I just finished reading a book that I found last year at an Anchorage neighborhood sale (for $.25!) called Little Earthquakes, by Jennifer Weiner.  I had heard good things about it, but it just sat in the untouched pile of books to be read.  Once I started it this last week, I was hooked.  It follows four new mothers along their individual journeys into motherhood as well as their friendship together.  While it may not have been a mind-blowing, thought-provoking read, it made me feel like I was sitting down with a group of friends that I could easily relate to, and that is such a great thing to find in a book, in my opinion.  I would highly recommend it.  Today I picked up Wild by Cheryl Strayed from the library, and I'm looking forward to diving into it!
I've asked on facebook and twitter for any other book recommendations, so if any of you lovely folks have something you've enjoyed, please share it with me in the comments!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Snippets of Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!
We have never done much celebrating at our house, but I have to admit the little holiday feels more fun with a little one around.  I was more inspired to make valentines, fun treats, and a couple little touches here and there to make the day special.  We kept it entirely simple, and there were more things I sort of wish I would have done, but there's always next year!

Henry and I made cake balls for Eric.  This was my first attempt at them, and sure they aren't perfect, but they were delicious and fun and I think that's what counts!  Henry gets full credit for the lovely sprinkles.

I was not expecting flowers by any means.  My husband knows me well.  Roses and cards are beautiful, but sunflowers and a simple thoughtful note is just my thing.

This goofy attempt at a heart on my nail makes me giggle.  But I had no red or pink that fit and I thought I'd give being festive a try in a different way.  

Our little valentine waiting for an after dinner treat.  We had heart shaped ravioli for dinner (thanks, Costco!) but I just couldn't stand the terrible picture I took and saw no point in posting an ugly picture of food. No one wants to see that.  Again, it was yummy and easy and I'm all for it!

I made smoothies for dessert, and Henry just refers to them as "pink".
I hope you all had sweet days doing what makes you happy!  If you celebrated, what did you do? I'd love to hear!
I would love to tell you all that I'm off now to enjoy a healthy snack while I watch Glee, but Valentine's Day sounds like a great day to eat strawberries with nutella, am I right??

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Little Spring Inspirations

It's happened again... The temperature hits above 35 degrees and the sun comes out, and suddenly I'm convinced it's spring.  Today after buying lots of fresh and delicious food, I tore through the refrigerator and sprayed the whole thing clean, flung the windows open, and allowed myself to daydream about the coming season.  I pictured a jacketless Henry without cold pink cheeks, running to the park (we loved the park today although it wasn't quite spring like, but getting there!) and I imagined all the vegetables seeds I could soon be starting before planting them in the garden,  the flowy skirts and bare legs, the family bike rides, and the springy recipes I could try.  I enjoyed the next hour of daydreaming, but now I'm settling back into the reality that winter is here for quite a bit longer, really.  While there are signs of spring all around today, tomorrow it will snow.  And next month we will move back to the land where it feels like winter never ends.  Luckily, it does end for a short time, but it's months down the road.  I have no clue whether there will be a garden this year, as I truly have zero idea what our new rental house will be like.  I don't imagine there is space for a garden, but I may try to do a few half-barrels for this season.  All I know is how many bedrooms the place has, and the fact that there is a large painting of a nude man on the walls.  There is much to learn about where we will be next month, I suppose.
I know that we won't be jacketless until at least June when the last of the snow melts away in Alaska, but at least it'll be just in time for baby girl to be born and for us to all break free of the house and chill and enjoy the outdoors as a family of four.
I'm a cool weather girl, but we can all crave some warmth from time to time.  For today, I'm having fun pretending like spring is just around the corner, and thinking of little inspirations for the changing of the season.
May have to do something like this for this year
Strawberry shortcake is a spring/summer favorite in our house, and these cookies look like they're worth a try!
RHUBARB. Enough said. recipe


Tuesday, February 12, 2013


* I wrote this a few days ago after a few difficult days, but I'm happy to say we have more or less gone back to normal since then.  I'm still posting it though, because I sure know there will be more days like these in our future.  

       I blog about parenting and Henry often, and as I think about it I most definitely write more about the good and special moments.  There are many of them, and they're more fun to recall and write down than our occasional bad days.  But that doesn't mean that we don't have rough days, of course.  I feel incredibly lucky that Henry is almost always happy and pretty even-keeled.  He likes to talk through things until we cannot possibly talk about them anymore and he tries hard to process all the new information constantly coming at him.  Up to this point, talking things through is usually enough for us when he's doing something that we would rather he not.  This week has been a whole different thing, and I have to admit it's kind of thrown me a little.  Let's see, we have had two screaming tantrums, two hard slaps to my face in very public places, one random bite on my butt and countless kicks to my growing belly while changing his diaper.  None of this has ever been a problem, and suddenly, it's all a big fun game to him.  He giggles himself silly while he kicks me.  Then later he talks about how he isn't supposed to kick only to do it again the next time.  The slapping happens in a moment of frustration and then he follows it with a kiss.  I have no idea where it is all coming from, other than just a phase that comes with his age.  Yes, I'm confident that he will outgrow it and go back to normal, but no, I do not plan on just letting hitting, biting, and kicking slide.  I'm a little lost as far as the course of action goes though.  One thing that I have always strived for in my couple short years of parenting is consistency, and so far so good with that.  We try our hardest to be very consistent with him and I think it helps so much in so many ways.  As we delve into the world of toddlerhood though and are faced with these hard moments that come out of nowhere, I find myself fumbling for the approach that will work for us.  I have had multiple moments of guilt wash over me over these last few days when I just worry that he is going to become confused with the change in our responses that go along with the change in his actions, if that makes sense.  I just want to have the right answer, the "right" way to handle things so that we can go back to being consistent.  I know that in matters of parenting though, there is no "right" way.  It has to be about what works for the child and entire family.  These moments can be so frustrating when we're used to the most affectionate boy ever.  It's just hot and cold this week.  If any of you parents have suggestions that have worked for you, I would love to hear! Leave a comment below.

Here's hoping for zero more days of bite marks on my butt!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Packing Up, Once Again.

Iowa has been somewhat short lived for us this time around.  We have been here for seven months, and we will be packing again in a matter of weeks.  It was not expected, but life is calling us back to Alaska.  Who would have guessed?
I will admit that some of our decisions are made quickly.  We appear to have no problem picking up and moving on to something new, but I think both of us had our eyes set on coming back to Iowa for the long haul, so quickly moving here when the opportunity presented itself seemed like a solid plan.  Being near family here has been wonderful.  Henry is the greatest example of it, as he could not be happier than he is now seeing his grandparents so often.  We are so sad to leave that aspect of it, but there is still a home for our family in Alaska.  Our jobs are still there, our opportunities are there, and so we too, will be there come the end of March.  It's bittersweet, of course.  We do not want to leave the family that is here, we wish Alaska was much closer, and the timing is hard with a baby due this year.  Undoubtedly that is the hardest part of it all, for all of us. But at the same time we have only been gone a short time so in a way it feels like going home.  I would have never thought I would be one of the people who leaves Alaska and ends up right back there, but apparently it happens often.  There's a strong pull coming from up there, so watch out if you go!  We have things we love so much in both areas, but for now we have to pick the right one for our growing family, and the answer has been made clear.   
Eric needs to be back at his office, and thankfully I too, have things to get back to.  I will be birth assisting again, and trying to accompany our lactation consultant on as many visits as I possibly can to complete the hours to be an IBCLC.  I had high hopes that reaching that goal was possible here in Iowa, but sadly it is not in the time frame I am aiming for.  
We are excited about the fact that wherever we move next, whether it be to Iowa again or somewhere new, I will be able to take that with me.  I feel so lucky to be welcomed back and able to continue in a field where my heart has surely stuck, and with a group of women that have honestly become my family.  
It still feels a bit unreal, as everything once again happened over just the course of a couple months.  It is going to be an adjustment, saying goodbye to family again, settling into a new routine once again, but that is life for us now.  We are getting quite used to it!  Huge changes have taken place every year since we first got together, so why stop now right?
So that's the short version of it.  Obviously we have lost sleep over the decision and had endless discussions and feelings galore, but I will spare you some of that for now.  I won't promise that some of it won't pop up later, however.  For now, I can just say we are leaving what has always been home, and heading back to the place we made home. It won't be forever.  More adventures to come...

These were taken during our visit over Christmas. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

20 weeks

We have hit that technical half-way point!  Though who really knows when the little love will decide to show up.  It feels like a milestone nonetheless.  I remember the first time around things moved much quicker in the second half of pregnancy.  It's so much easier to tell that you are, in fact, carrying a baby and not just feeling run down and not fitting in your pants just for fun. So hooray for that!  We had our anatomy scan yesterday, and of course had a lot of fun looking at every little part of baby's body.  We were slightly less lucky this time around as far as photos and good views go, because baby was snuggling its placenta and therefore wouldn't give us a good face shot.  But it doesn't really matter, because the most important thing was that all is well in there.  Everything is developing just as it should!  Babe is measuring a few days larger, and is approximately 12 little ounces.  I put myself into a little unnecessary panic last night, because the ultrasound technician at the clinic we went to wasn't allowed to directly answer any of my questions, but rather had to wait for the radiologist to look everything over.  Makes sense, and is probably standard operation most places.  I don't know how we got so lucky at the clinic in AK though, where we were literally walked through every detail and told exactly how everything measured up.  Naturally I felt like this meant there was some sort of problem and basically made myself sick the rest of the evening.  Dramatic, I know.  But we will just pretend like that didn't happen, as I'm feeling much better and relaxed again now.  Little babe wiggled around in there for a while, then started rubbing its eyes before snuggling up and going to sleep.  Isn't it wild that we can watch that sort of thing on ultrasound?  I fell in love watching that little eye rub. We did get confirmation that the gender is definitely what we thought, but that is secondary to the overall health of baby so I'm still saving it for a different post!

This makes me smile.  What a weird position to sit in, there's still plenty of room in there!
The closest we got to seeing the whole face.  I wish the detail was better, but oh well! From what I can see the nose and mouth looks just like H.  That big light thing on the right is the placenta, so you can see baby snuggling in.

Have a very wonderful weekend, friends!