Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Baby Story... First Trimester

(The coffee cup I had earlier on the day I took my first pregnancy test...  
Interesting, huh?)

I really should have just titled this entry "Ugh."  Yeah...  I would be happy to never re-live the first Tri ever again!

It wasn't long after finding out that we were pregnant that I noticed just how TIRED I was - all the time.  I had been visiting a dear friend the weekend before and couldn't figure out why I wanted to sleep so badly...  Totally not my usual self!

(But it all made sense a couple of days later!)
And that was just the beginning...  I hesitate to write about this time period for me, because I know I had it easy compared to many.  Every time a new symptom arose, I looked it up in my pregnancy books or online and was reassured that this was just part of the ride.  So I didn't really get nervous or upset...  Just took a break.  When my midwife would ask how I was feeling, I would look at her and grin, "textbook, really."  She'd laugh.  All was fine - just not fun.

Our daily mantra was, "one day at a time."

But that doesn't mean it was easy.  Fatigue set in big time - making work really hard.  Concentration was tough.  I felt nauseous 24/7.  I'd get really hungry...  Try to eat...  And then realize I couldn't...  And would get frustrated.  And the cycle would continue within 20 minutes or so.  (If I never eat another saltine or drink ginger ale again - it will be too soon!)  I had quite a few headaches (until I realized that a little caffeine went a long way to prevent them).  My boobs hurt so bad that showers were painful some days!  I couldn't eat vegetables - which drove my hubby nuts.  I got very short of breath and taking walks or exercising became hard to do.  And the smells!  Oh dear Lord...  Our dog wanted to be in my face and up close all the time - and she stunk!  Her breath, her fur...  I couldn't take it!  I couldn't go near our kitchen for weeks - every smell set me off.  Poor hubby had to cook and clean the kitchen that whole time - I wanted nothing to do with it!  Even opening the fridge, looking for the ginger ale was a struggle... 

The only things that tasted good consistently those early weeks were oatmeal, cereals with almond milk or yogurt, banana smoothies, and water with a splash of lemonade or vita water mixed in (and it had to be COLD).  

Life just changed so drastically, I didn't know what to do with myself!

(Feeling good enough to go to our God-daughter's dance recital!  This was one of the first outings when I realized smells in large groups of people - like theatres - was going to be an issue...  Ewww..!)

We had decided early on to keep the news to ourselves until we were past the 12 weeks mark (mostly because we had so many unsuccessful pregnancies in the past).  It just felt like this was "our journey" until things looked a little more promising...  But let me tell you - I think that made for the loneliest 6 weeks of my life!  Not feeling well.  Being excited, yet unsure at the same time.  Trying to keep up our social life - yet, ending up letting my hubby go do things without me due to the whole fatigue thing...  I just felt lonely.  And that was completely unexpected!  No one talks about that stuff - and it came as a complete surprise to me when I felt like I should be "flying high" with excitement.

And I'm sure part of that was the hormone fluctuations...  Funny, I kept reading message boards about women crying over the silliest things and thinking, "Geesh!  Glad I'm not having THAT happen!"  Ha ha ha.  Then my first silly cry came...  I was on my way home from a really long day at work, followed by a coffee date with my sister, and was tired.  Bone tired!  And hungry.  Ravenous!  But since I left work late, I was stuck in rush hour traffic...  And thinking about what I wanted for dinner...  Nothing sounded good, until I thought of soup.  From Panera.  And then that's ALL I could think of!  Yep, that's what I wanted.  But...  I would have to drive out of my way to get it.  And I would have to get out of the car.  And go in a restaurant.  And that would take FOREVER in this traffic.  And my belly was bloated - and all I wanted was my sweatpants!  And yes...  I started crying!  Right there in my car - in rush hour traffic.  Oh brother!  I called my hubby.  Explained my need for Panera - and before I had the sentence out of my mouth, he said, "broccoli cheddar soup in a bread bowl?"  Yep.  "On it!"  He had it home before I pulled in the driveway...  And I'm pretty sure I shed another tear out of sheer thankfulness!  (He's a good one - I couldn't have made it through those weeks without him!)

Oh dear...  The things we do when we're hormonal!

(Another good day...  Heading out to a Saints Baseball game!)

...Another favorite story from the first Tri, involving food of course, is about needing some Punch Pizza.  We had spent the morning at the zoo - fresh air, a new gorilla exhibit, and a bit of a walk.  Perfect!  Then we had to stop at my parents' to pick up their dog for the weekend.  No big deal - but I hadn't packed enough food to munch on between locations...  Uh-oh.  By the time we left the zoo and had a twenty minute drive to my folks' house, I was starving.  But I couldn't decide for the life of me what I wanted...  Nothing sounded good.  I asked my hubby for suggestions, and he mentioned pizza (because I'll ALWAYS eat pizza!).  Then, I got all excited because I knew there was a Punch Pizza in my parents' town.  So we decided we would stop there after a quick stop at Mom and Dad's.  Well, the "quick stop" ended up taking about an hour...  We rushed over to Punch, Mike went in and ordered my pizza while I waited with the dog...  When he came out, we traded - he took the dog, I sat with the pizza box on my lap - and ate HALF the pizza while riding in the car!  Ohmygoodness...  I felt like such a gluttonous pig.  But it was so good.  Ha!  I'm sure our kid will hear that story many times - the hubby has never seen me devour food like that!  We laughed the whole way home in the car...  And I took a picture of the momentous occasion:

Speaking of food, everyone always wants to know the cravings...  Well, mine were all week-long adventures.  First, a week of only wanting Panera mac and cheese.  Like, every day.  (Have you tried it?  It's delicious!)  Then, when the thought of that made me want to hurl, we moved on to Chipotle tacos...  Every day.  Once I got sick of those, onto Bruegger's Bagels (plain bagel, veggie cream cheese, cucumber, and tomato).  By the third day I ordered that, the guy behind the counter tried suggesting a different cream cheese "to mix things up a bit."  I laughed at him and told him to give the pregnant woman what she asked for!  And then, of course, Punch Pizza.  Yum.

Other than that...  Every midwife appointment went well through the first Tri.  Every test came back "normal."  We saw and heard the heartbeat on a couple of occasions - always exciting!  And I got one "impromptu" ultrasound (unfortunately, when Mike wasn't with me) - at 12 weeks, I went in for the genetic counseling appointment and when they did the Doppler to let me hear the heartbeat, my tummy was growling so loud we couldn't hear anything!  So they decided to take me in for an ultrasound "real quick."  I got to see the baby doing just fine, with a strong heartbeat - and totally kicking and punching its arms!  It was fun to see the movement - even before I could feel it!

(Celebrating my mom on Mother's Day...  With a BIG secret!)
Oh!  One other question I've gotten a lot - I am considered a mother of "advanced maternal age."  (Oh good grief!)  So, it was recommended to me to consider genetic testing.  After lots of research, conversations with my hubby, and prayer - I decided to go ahead and do it.  The newer tests are very un-invasive with practically no risks.  It's a simple blood test - they can extract the baby's DNA from the mother's blood.  How cool is that?!  And, it's 99% reliable for Down's Syndrome and Trisomy 18.  It also tests several other things within 90% accuracy.  We could have chosen to test for gender disorders as well...  But chose not to, simply because the test results would have told us the gender of the baby - and we chose to not know.  (Well, the hubby didn't want to know, anyway...!  That's another story for another post...)  Why did I want the tests?  Well, if something was wrong with our baby - I'd want to know.  I'd want to educate myself on doing what's right for this little person - and prepare ourselves for what would come.  I'd want to be prepared.  That's it.  Luckily, all came back normal...  A huge relief!

So, that's the first Tri in a nutshell.  The next post?  How about Revealing the News!?  That made for some fun conversations...  And I've got a video to prove it!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  The space - and time - to write these stories down.  Fun to think about!
2.  So far - a healthy pregnancy!
3.  Prenatal yoga classes - the best thing ever.
4.  Cool breezes.
5.  Cherry Coke.
6.  The hubby started a new job yesterday!  Assistant Parks and Rec Director for our little city.  Pretty awesome.
7.  Finding that the baby moves every time I play music or go to a concert - that's pretty fun!
8.  Eating breakfast with the hubby before work every morning, now.  It's lovely!
9.  All my "mama" friends that have been responding to my requests for advice - all kinds of great tips coming in!
10.  Loving life.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Baby Story... Part Two

The first ultrasound.  Ha!

So, the week I went for my blood test to confirm the pregnancy - hormone levels were high enough to get me in for an ultrasound the very next day.  Since I had a history with ectopic pregnancies, they needed to make sure the embryo was in the uterus ASAP.  My hubby had to work, so I went on my own - excited and scared all at the same time.

I got into position, the tech began doing her job...  And as I lay, looking at the screen...  I started to get a little nervous...

"See this?  That's the yolk sac - in the uterus!  Looking good so far!"  The tech confirmed the good news!

But as I continued watching her take measurements...  I was getting more and more nervous.  I could see the dark gestational sac with a yolk in it.  That's all good.  But...  There was also two more dark gestational-like sacs.  Uh-oh.  I waited for her to say something...  But nothing.  She was concentrating very hard on the task at hand. 

I had just convinced myself I was being silly, when she innocently said,
"So, you were doing fertility treatments?"

Um.  No.  No, we were not.

But thanks for confirming my fears!

The tech left the room and the doctor came in.  He explained that it was totally possible those spots were not sacs, but only irregularities on my uterine wall...  But we wouldn't know until my next ultrasound - in 10 days.

10 days?!  We could be having twins or triplets...  and we wouldn't know for 10 days!

I was kind of in shock as I called my hubby from the car.  I told him all about the appointment - and listened to the "pregnant" silence on the other end of the phone.  (Ha!  See what I did there?)

We were overjoyed that the pregnancy was viable, but had no idea what to think about the rest.  For ten days all I could think about was what would happen over the course of the pregnancy - my poor body!  Would I have to be on bed rest?  What on earth would we do with two or three newborns - when I was nervous about one?!

This was also the period of time when I started getting up several times of night to use the bathroom...  And each night, I'd wake up and my poor hubby would be wide awake on the couch - obviously thinking about stuff.  I'd sit down and ask what was troubling him - and every night, it was the thought of multiple babies.  I don't think the poor man slept for ten days straight!  (I tried to keep telling him "we don't know that, yet" and "one thing at a time - we'll find out more at the ultrasound."  But I was just as unnerved!)

Finally, the day arrived to go to that second ultrasound.  We went together this time - more than a little anxious.  As the procedure began, I took a deep breath - and let it out almost immediately!  One sac!  One baby!  And a little heartbeat going crazy! 

7 week ultrasound.

We had some good laughs over dinner that night - and that's when I learned what all the hubby had been worrying about (things I hadn't even gotten to, yet!)...  Bigger cars - 3 car seats wouldn't have fit in either of our current cars.  A bigger house.  3 college educations.  And on, and on...  No wonder he hadn't been sleeping!

But one.  One, we could handle.  And are thrilled that all was well! 
8 weeks.  First "Mama" picture!

Part three coming soon...  The first trimester.  Ugh!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A beautiful day!
2.  Feeling the little munchkin move like crazy while writing this post.
3.  A huge change coming for our little family - and I'm not talking about the baby!
4.  A phone call from an old friend last night - and the request she made.  An honor, for sure!
5.  Putting together a timeline for getting projects done around the house.
6.  Plans to visit another friend tomorrow.
7.  Our 20 week ultrasound is tomorrow!  (That will be a little different than the little "bean" pictured above!)
8.  Vacation plans in October.  Colorado, here we come!
9.  A yummy dinner - chorizo hash and fresh cantaloupe.  Mmmm...
10.  Feeling good and loving life!

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Baby Story... Part One

Well, friends, if you haven't heard by now - the news is OUT.  Surprise - I'm pregnant!

19 weeks, in fact.  Goodness.  Almost halfway, already!

I thought it was time to write out part of the story, some thoughts, some surprises, and a couple of pictures...  So here goes:

As many of you know, I've had my share of health issues over the years - miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, cervical cancer - all of which led my hubby and I to the conclusion that having babies probably wasn't in our best interest.  About five years ago, we just decided to live our lives and make the most of them, and not worry so much about having kids.  We even have spent time bouncing around the idea of eventually adopting a kid who would otherwise age-out of the system. 

And we were good with this.  We know how truly blessed we are in our life together and were really ok with spending our lives sharing our blessings with others, and enjoying every minute.  Life was good.

Well, almost two years ago, I started feeling the itch.  I hadn't had any health concerns for awhile.  Life was moving along happily.  We had babies and toddlers all around us - and were loving every minute with them.  And I started to want our own little family.  I asked the hubby what he thought - and his face said it all.  Of course, we could try!  I went to a series of doctors appointments and had some procedures done to see how complicated things could get - and was given a clean bill of health.  So, we started trying.

After a year, our doctor asked if we wanted to look at other options - in vitro, hormones, etc.  Hubby and I had decided early on, if this was meant to be, it would happen.  With no interventions.  We were still okay with whatever would happen.  Life was still good.

More months go by...  I celebrated my 36th birthday with hopes and plans for all kinds of life changes over the next year.  I had a new focus and drive on working towards what my future would hold - I signed up for some classes.  I decided to lose weight - and dropped about 30 pounds.  I challenged myself to raising the money and walking in the Susan G Komen 3 Day Walk - money raised, training going awesome!  Life was good!

On my birthday, in March, we discussed how much longer we were going to put life "on hold" with the possibility of getting pregnant at any time...  I was beginning to feel like I couldn't move forward on some of my goals as long as I was always waiting for "what happens when...?"  Well, we decided we'd keep trying into the fall and then re-evaluate and possibly call it quits.

Well.  I'm pretty sure three weeks after that conversation - we got pregnant!  I'm pretty sure God was laughing when it happened.  What's that quote about God laughing when you make plans?  Yep. 

I had a weekend trip planned to go see an old friend - and in an email told her I was excited to share some of my life changes with her...  Only to realize, she would probably read that and think I was pregnant - so I emailed her back quickly and explained that that wasn't it!  (4 days later I would find that the joke was on me!)

I came home from the weekend, led a high school girls' book group on Monday night, and on my drive home realized I was late....  I stopped to pick up a test, thinking I would just be verifying that I was indeed not pregnant - again.  I waited for the hubby to go to bed and took the test.

Plus sign.

Seriously?!  I have to admit I cried out of shock.  Those first emotions were of being overwhelmed, totally surprised, and to be honest...  A little resentment.  I had finally given up on the idea of being a mommy - and had started working towards other things for my life.  And now?!  Really?!  (Please don't tell me what a horrible person I am for feeling this way - I'm just being honest.  It gets better!)

I decided to sleep on it, and take a second test in the morning.  Sure enough - that one was positive, too.  This was real.  It was happening!  And surprisingly, a good night's sleep was all I needed.  The next morning I cried again - but tears of happiness this time!  I couldn't wait for the hubby to get home, so I could tell him!

I called the doctor's office and went in immediately for a blood test (ahhh...  the joys of being "high-risk").  It was positive - and the hormone levels were high enough for an immediate ultrasound, scheduled for the very next day (one of the perks of having past ectopics - they have to verify right away if it's a viable pregnancy).  And the midwife appointment was made for the day after that.  Busy week!

When Mike came home that day - after a very long workday - I told him we were going out for pulled pork sandwiches at a favorite restaurant (I had been craving them for weeks, but he kept dissuading me from going in order to help me with my diet).  He grimaced and tried to talk me out of it...  So I pulled out the "ace up my sleeve."  I had a picture of the two positive pregnancy tests on my phone, and told him I wanted to show him a picture before we left.  I handed my phone to him...  He looked, and said, "whose are these?"

Ours, Babe.  They're OURS!

It took a second.  Then his face turned bright red, eyes welled up with tears, and he was speechless - and full of hugs!  ...And yes, I got to go have my pulled pork sandwich - finally!

We cautiously celebrated that evening - laughing, dreaming, sharing concerns and ideas over our dinner.  He had beer with his meal - and for the first time in a long time, I did not.  My new life had begun...

I say we celebrated "cautiously" because the ultrasound would confirm things were good - and that would happen the next morning.  But let me tell you - that's a whole other story!  And a funny one at that!  So watch for "Part Two!"

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Surprises.
2.  Writing down our story.
3.  A Friday morning at home.
4.  Huge possibilities for the hubby!
5.  A night out at the ball game, with friends, last night.
6.  Cuddles with the pup this morning.
7.  Bookshelves ordered and received - let the "nesting" begin!
8.  Time for a nap...  Thank goodness!
9.  Yoga pants.
10.  "Munchkin's" movements in my belly!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It's Time...!

This made me want to blog again.  Today.  Right now.

It made me want to remember all the little things in my day that make life perfect.  Right now.

A book group with amazing ladies last night - laughing and sharing the struggles in our lives, and helping each other see ways to move forward.

Time to spend with my mom - talking and laughing about pregnancy and the first days of motherhood.  (Oh yeah - for those who don't know, I'm pregnant!  More updates on that later...)

A cool breeze coming through my office window on a beautiful summer day.

Peanut butter.

Planning for a school year full of time with teenagers - the mischief, the questions, the giggles, the absurdities, and the connection.

Driving with the moon-roof open.

The anticipation of news...  And the prayers going up in honor of it.

New calendars and getting organized.

Surprise packages left on my desk and chair - things that make me smile, knowing others are caring for me.

Cherry Coke.

Authors that challenge how I see the world and my faith.

The lilac tree outside my office window is blooming again...  and the blossoms are wafting in that oh-so-lovely lilac scent.

Every now and then feeling the "pops" and "squirms" of new life in my belly!

A husband that makes me smile, every day.

Life is good.  Right now.  No need to wait for the next big thing to happen.  No need to dread what could happen.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Say thanks.

And now...  Back to work.  (Which I am also thankful for!)

And five minutes later...  I read this.  I'm sensing a theme today!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday Check In

Today's weather, news, events:  Mid-30's, but sunny!  You know...  I haven't watched the news in several days...  Yikes!  Events?  Just spring break around here!

Today I feel:  Like I'm getting sick, gosh darnit.  Headache, sore throat, tired...  Unfortunately, I'm sure the worst is yet to come...

I am grateful for:  An evening home alone.  Rest.  Quiet.  Advil.  Early bedtimes.  Puppy cuddles.  Pretty sunsets.  The Voice.  Hot tea.  Springy scarves.

Spiritually I:  am appreciating the Easter sentiment of new life, new beginnings, new creations!

People in my thoughts today:  Amanda and the start of her new job!  Been sending good vibes her way all week! 

Magical moments (comfort, peace, and love):  When I asked our nephew, Brandon (who is 16), what he liked best about having a baby sister - he said that she sings all the time.  How cute is that?

Donations of the Heart (acts of kindness, sharing, caring, and forgiveness):  I've witnessed lots of nice things this week.  Friends helping friends move.  People bringing elderly loved ones to church on Easter Sunday.  Daddies taking their little girls to the zoo. 

For a better tomorrow (Goals, ideas, etc):  Need to get healthy - before getting worse!!!

QotD:  Who do you feel closest too?
Easy peasy.  My hubby.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Break Begins

So...  Our nephew, Brandon, has chosen to spend his spring break with us this week.  Awesome!
We love when he comes to stay - he gets to pick the meals (all yummy, of course!), what restaurants we stop by, what we do for fun, and when we take naps...  Yep - thatta boy!

Monday is the one day I get to spend with him, so as we lounged around this morning, he asked, "Can we go to that free zoo today?"

A kid after my own heart.  Of course!

So, off to Como Zoo we went - on a 30 degree day.  Brrrr!  Luckily, most of the animals were inside, so we had lots of opportunities to warm up!  But the Polar Bear.  Now he was having a great day!  I've never seen him so active and fun - we loved it!

And the giraffes, orangutans, and zebras said "hi!"

Even the bison...  Old friends from South Dakota!

We even stopped in the Conservatory for a peak at the spring flowers - and a glorious whiff of lilies!  The smell alone was intoxicating!
I think our visit to the Conservatory just made me crave spring more....  The smell alone was pure loveliness!

Our last stop was lunch at Teresa's...  A little Mexican food to top off our day!

Gotta say...  We're pretty lucky.  We have a pretty darn cool nephew.  We adore the fact he still blesses us with his presence over spring break!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Waking up to sunshine streaming through the blinds.
2.  Being asked to go to the zoo...  I love the zoo!
3.  Polar bears.
4.  Orangutans.
5.  The warmth of the Conservatory.
6.  The smell of fresh flowers!
7.  Playing in the gift shop.

8.  Talking about adventures and trips - and dreaming about future ones!
9.  Going to bed early.
10.  Contentment.

QotD:  Who are you fooling?
Ha ha ha.  Apparently, no one!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Easter in Minnesota...
Photo: Easter in Minnesota...!  (No worries, I took nice shoes with me.  Lol.) Happy Easter!
Gotta love getting dressed up in a pretty dress...
And wearing your Uggs to church -
Then, changing into the dressy, strappy shoes!

Kind of funny.

We had a great church day - my favorite part of the service was a reading that contrasted scriptures from the Christmas story and scriptures from the Easter story...  Imagine this read with a soft female voice (A) for Christmas, and a bold, male voice for Easter (B)...  Very cool!

A: And it came to pass in those days, that there went up a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed...and all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
B: He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
A: And Joseph also went up from Galilee.
B: When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man was a Galilean, and as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod.
A: Out of the city of Nazareth
B: Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?
A: Into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem. Behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he that is born king of the Jews?"
B: "If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself."
A: "For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."
B: And all his acquaintances stood afar off, beholding these things.
A: And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.
B: From the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
A: And they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, "Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."
B: For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles.
A: "For unto you is born this day..."
B: And shall be mocked.
A: "In the city of David..."
B: And spitefully entreated.
A: "A Saviour..."
B: And spit on
A: "Which is Christ the Lord."
B: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
A: And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
B: And having said this, he gave up the ghost.
A: And she brought forth her firstborn son,
B: And when Joseph had taken the boy
A: And wrapped him in swaddling clothes
B: And wrapped it in a clean linen cloth
A: And laid him in a manger
B: And laid it in his own new tomb
A: Because there was no room for them in the inn
B: Wherein never man before was laid.
A: And when they were come into the house,
B: Upon the first day of the week,
A: They saw the young child with Mary his mother
B: They came unto the sepulchre,
A: and...they presented unto him gifts
B: Bringing the spices which they had prepared.
A: Gold and frankincense, and myrrh.
B: They found the stone rolled away. Behold, two men stood by them in shining garments;
A: And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
B: They said; "Why seek ye the living among the dead?"
A: "Glory to God in the highest,"
B: "He is not here."
A: "And on earth, peace, good will toward men."
B: "He is risen!"
A: But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
Things I am thankful for today:
1.  My migraine was gone when I woke up - thank goodness!
2.  Laughing about snowy, cold Easters - and wearing boots to church.
3.  The smell of Easter lilies.
4.  Easter egg hunts!
5.  Beautiful music.
6.  Dinner with my parents.
7.  And yes...  I got to search for eggs!
8.  A beautiful evening to drive home.
9.  The hubby and nephew got home safe.
10.  Easter - faith - hope - new life!
QotD:  What invention can you not live without?
I love my car seat warmers on cold mornings...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Project Life

It finally came today!  My "Project Life" supplies are here - woo hoo! 

(I had hoped to spend my entire quiet day, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, putzing away on this...  But it didn't arrive until 3:30pm!  Buggers.  So I only got a few hours in before a migraine took hold...  But, I got a good start and can't wait for another day to play!)

Basically, it's a scrapbooking kit - with photo pockets and these fun little journaling cards...
So all you have to do, is print out your pictures, and write little notes about things that happened that week.  That's it!
I had some fun little stickers I'm using to decorate a little more...
But basically, all the "creative" parts are already done!  I love it!
I'm thinking next Sunday, I'll be jumping in again...  Fun!
What did you do today?
Things I am thankful for today:
1.  A day off.
2.  Waking up at my normal time and getting things done.
3.  Watching season 2 of "Girls."
4.  A "warm" beautiful day.
5.  A thunderstorm early in the morning.
6.  Getting ready for our nephew, Brandon's, visit.
7.  Excedrin PM - the perfect weapon for my migraine!
8.  My peanut butter reappeared - with a SHMILY note.  Thanks, honey!
9.  Loving my new shamrock - so pretty.  Thanks, Jill!
10.  Green tea.
QotD:  Pick a color for today.
Green...  I'm so looking forward to lots of GREEN!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sweet Spot

"It's time to look for your sweet spot - where what you do (your unique giftedness) intersects with why you do it (making a big deal out of God) and where you do it (every day of your life).  How do you discover what God packed in your bag?

"Simple: identify things you love to do that you also do well.  Consider those your sweet spot experiences.  Think of times of full-flight energy, of unclocked time.  Times when you thought, I was made for this!  Times when you felt a rush of accomplishment.  You at your best.  These foundational experiences reveal your uniqueness and help you identify your sweet spot."
--Max Lucado, Cure For the Common Life
I've been doing a lot of thinking about this lately...  Interesting question - and fun to remember all the times I felt "in the zone!"
I started writing down some of what I came up with - and saw a common thread...  It's always about being in the moment with another person; taking all the time in the world to listen, offer comfort, guidance, or support; help them come up with a plan; and help through the process.
I get to do a little bit of this in my job, and a lot of other meaningful things, too.  But I wonder if there are other places I could use this "unique giftedness?"
Something to think about...
Things I am thankful for today:
1.  "Sweet spot" experiences.
2.  Being home to send the hubby off for the weekend.
3.  A 3 mile walk with the poodle.
4.  Puddles - a sign of spring.
5.  My first robin-siting of the year!
6.  Watching the show "Girls" - Season 1, all in one night! 
7.  Getting the house cleaned up for the weekend.
8.  Projects to work on.
9.  Our Good Friday Prayer Vigil went well.

10.  Having the sanctuary to myself for a half hour tonight...  Beautiful. 
QotD:  Write down a few lines from a song or poem that you identify with today:
"The way you invest your love... the way you invest your life."  --Mumford and Sons

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Depend on God

Julia Cameron's book, The Sound of Paper, encourages us "to be independent, by depending on God."  Funny, yesterday's reading in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People talked about moving from dependence, to Independence, to interdependence...  The only way to maturing.

What if the ultimate "maturity" test, was to depend on God?  Would we get there?  Really?

Here's what Julia Cameron says as an introduction to today's exercise:

"Sometimes we are loath to rely on the Great Creator.  Perhaps we still believe in a difficult, negative, or withholding God.  The kind of God we believe in  has a great deal to do with our willingness to draw close to God..."

Number 1-10 and list ten attributes of your childhood God:

1.  In the clouds.
2.  Judgmental.
3.  Powerful.
4.  Creative.
5.  Distant.
6.  Old.
7.  Punishing.
8.  Loving.
9.  Able to forgive.
10.  Male.

"Now, number from 1-10 again.  This time, list the characteristics you would like your God to have:

1.  Grace-filled.
2.  Forgiving.
3.  Guiding.
4.  Neither male nor female.
5.  Joy-filled.
6.  Creative.
7.  Encouraging.
8.  Near.
9.  Personal.
10.  On this adventure with me!

"Holding in mind the positive traits you have envisioned, write a letter to God asking for specific help regarding your life or creative projects..."

Love this idea!  She then says that you can put these letters in a "God Jar" or "God Inbox" (as Anne LaMott would say...).  I may be writing God a letter this afternoon...

It's interesting how life changes our views of God, isn't it?  Every year when my confirmands get ready to write their "faith statements," they tend to get all stressed out about "getting it right."  I always have to say Don't Worry About It.  The thing is, due to life's experiences and the things you learn along the way - your beliefs will change and grow with you. 

I think God intends for us to discover our faith in the ups and downs of life...  the twists and turns.  The "dazzle and delight" and the "darkness and drear."  I think God wants to tap us on the shoulder once in awhile and say, "I'm still here.  And I still love you."

Today is Maundy Thursday.  At church tonight, we will remember the night that Jesus was betrayed up until he was crucified on the cross...  Our sanctuary will be cleared of all decoration, black shrouds will be laid on the altar, and candles will be extinguished, until we are left in darkness and silence.

For me, this is one of those moments.  God is tapping on my shoulder.  Remember the story?  All of this darkness, this sadness, this hopelessness...  For now, sit with it and let it wash over you...  Reminding you of all the times in your life when you've felt this, too.  When there didn't seem to be a happy ending in sight....

And then, take a breath.

And remember.

Sunday is coming!

That's the God I believe in.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Spring is in the air.
2.  Moonroof OPEN!
Photo: Today is the day!  Moonroof is OPEN!  Welcome, Spring!
3.  Maundy Thursday service.  One of my favorites.
4.  Silence.  So powerful.
5.  Setting up for the Good Friday Prayer Vigil.
6.  Candlelight.
7.  Coming home to a dinner waiting, thanks to the hubby!
8.  Playing with the poodle and her "bobo."
9.  An invite from Mom.
10.  Faith.

QotD:  What do you want to remember about today?
Dark, silence... 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Seven Habits

So...  Lately, many of the things I've been reading have quoted the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  I've seen this title four places in the last week and a half.

And I kept thinking...  I should really read this book.

Then I remembered. 

I have it.  I've had it for many years.  Since my freshman year of college, to be exact.
And I still haven't read it.

So...  I dug it out of a box and decided to give it a try!
I read the intro today...  And am excited to spend some time developing my "habits" over the next several weeks!

Here's my favorite tidbits from the intro:

"We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."  --Aristotle

"Our character, basically, is a composite of our habits. 
'Sow a thought, reap an action;
sow an action, reap a habit;
sow a habit, reap a character;
sow a character, reap a destiny,"

"..a habit is the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire" 
Or knowing what to do and why to do it,
how to do it,
and wanting to do it!

Hmmm...  I'm excited to start jumping in to the first habit!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Books.
2.  Tea.
3.  Slippers.
4.  The mysterious cat that lives in our drainage pipe...
5.  A 3.5 mile walk with the hubby and pup!
6.  A sunny day.
7.  Prepping for our church's prayer vigil.
8.  Beginning to watch "Game of Thrones."
9.  "Bon Appetit" magazine.
10.  Mahi mahi.  Yum.

QotD:  When was the last time you felt like you were on top of the world?
On our road trip last summer.  I had everything I wanted (except our poodle).  Life was good - and a grand adventure!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Check-In

Today's weather, news, events:  It's mostly dreary this morning...  But it's supposed to be 36 degrees and sunny today!  (Really, any day without new snow feels spring-y at this point.)  In the news - today, the Supreme Court begins to hear arguments about Gay Marriage.  And events...  Not much going on!  Getting ready for the end of the week - Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter.

Today I feel:  Tired.  Really tired.  I haven't been able to fall asleep until 1am two nights in a row.  Ugh!  And I'm getting back on track with my diet - which is harder than I thought it would be....  I'm hungry!  Hopefully, I'll get my "groove" back soon!

I am grateful for:  The hope of spring.  Melting snow.  More sunshine.  A 50 degree day in the forecast.  Flowers in my dining room.  Bright colors.  Birds chirping.  Eagles returning.  Puddles.  Long walks.

Spiritually, I:  Love this week.  I love the fun of Palm Sunday - kids singing, waving palms, talking about the donkey...  I love our Tenebrae Service on Maundy Thursday - a reading of the saddest, darkest day of our faith...  With lights being extinguished, the sanctuary being stripped, ending in silence.  I love our Good Friday Prayer Vigil - a whole day of people coming and going, having the sanctuary to themselves, prayer stations set-up in order to spend time with God in any way that works for them.  I love my time.   Peaceful.  Sacred.  And of course, I love Easter morning!  The celebration of all that God has overcome in order for us to know God in powerful ways.  Love it.

People in my thoughts today:  All those waiting to hear what the Supreme Court decides...  I just can't even imagine being told I couldn't marry my husband...  That my love for him wasn't "valid."  That our life together would never be respected or affirmed by our country...  It's time to move forward, people.  I'll be praying for our judges through this process...

Magical Moments (comfort, peace, and love):  I've got two this week, both from my family!
1.  My youngest sister, Kayla, and I decided to have a standing appointment to Skype one another every Friday at noon.  She was home on Spring Break last week, so we went out on Thursday night with our men, and planned to not worry about Skyping on Friday...  But while I was out with a friend, I got a text at noon anyway, thanking me for a fun night out the night before - and just letting me know she was thinking about me anyway.  I loved it.
2.  My birthday card from my parents.  A note was written in it that meant the world to me!

Donations of the Heart (acts of kindness, sharing, caring, and forgiveness):  We were invited to "Rock the Cradle" on Sunday afternoon by a friend who is a single dad with a 3 year-old and a 1 year-old.  This event is at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Children's Theatre - art, books, crafts, music, dance parties, storytelling - all for little kids and their parents.  Pretty cool - and yet, very chaotic!  We went, and I quickly found myself doing whatever I could in order for our friend to be able to enjoy his time with the kids.  I carried coats, his backpack, took pictures for him, and mosied through the art galleries with his little girl.  And it was pretty darn fun.  (I highly recommend the event!  And it's Free!)

For a better tomorrow (goals, ideas, etc):  Stay on the diet plan this week - and get more sleep!  Also, looking forward to starting "Project Life" this weekend while the hubby is out of town...  And planning adventures for next week, when our 16 year-old nephew is staying with us over his Spring Break!

QotD:  Who do you aspire to be like?
Oh...  I have a lot of pretty fabulous people in my life...  I don't think there is just one - but maybe pieces of many.  Mostly, they all are "real,"  enjoy the little things in life, don't dwell in the past, love with their whole-hearts, are generous souls, make a difference in the lives of others, and are always seeking to grow.  So much inspiration - I can't narrow it down to jusy one!

Monday, March 25, 2013

No Capes

"Do you know the movie The Incredibles?  There's a superhero dad in the movie, and he's tired of his desk job.  He sells insurance, I think, but he knows that's not the real him.  So he starts doodling on his sketch pad, drawing different superhero suits because we wants to go back to being who he knows he was really meant to be.  Most of the outfits he draws have capes because that's how most superheroes dress, and he wants to be the same as them.

"He has a friend, Edna, who makes superhero uniforms, and every time he shows her a design, she keeps telling him to lose the cape.  She shows him video clips of superheroes who wore capes, and in the end, the capes caused big problems for them, like getting caught on something and causing them to be sucked through a jet engine or worse.  That's her reason for my favorite line int he movie: 'No capes.'  Her point, I think, is that you can get a lot more stuff done without a cape.  I think Jesus agrees."
--Bob Goff, Love Does
Great chapter.  The whole thing!
Things I am thankful for:
1.  Good stories.
2.  Quiet Mondays.
3.  Getting things done.
4.  Spring is coming...!
5.  Going through my clothes and weeding out those that no longer fit.  Uffda!
View photo.JPG in slide show
6.  Cute texts from friends.
7.  Planning a fun Science Museum outing!
8.  Green peppers.
9.  Notes from former youth group kids.
10.  Fun paper clips... 
QotD:  ____ made you laugh.
Bailey gave Mike "eskimo kisses" yesterday morning...  Very funny!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


"The circumstances of our lives are not always exciting, yet they tend to change only when we do.  The excitement we seek will not come from an external source, but only from an internal one.  I have never known an exciting person who lived a really boring life.  And exciting person makes a decision to live in a more exciting way...

"Every moment, faithfully lived, is a chance to practice the art of living.  A life of magnitude does not just happen; it is consciously chosen.  Living is an endlessly creative process in which we work on achieving the life we want through our willingness to be who we would like to be...

"...The frustration of traffic is a good metaphor for the frustration of modern life.  We want to get somewhere...  But it's going too slow, and all these other people are in our way!  If we wish to remain affected by traffic, or by anything else, then that's our choice.  The day is hot, perhaps, and we have no air-conditioner, or the day is cold and we have no heater.  We can think, Poor me.  The drivers around us are acting nuts.  We can think, These people are total jerks.  We can think that way if we choose to, but we cannot diminish the power of our thoughts.  Every thought of victimization or attack is an attack upon ourselves.  When we think them, we are opening a door: enter stress, enter sickness, enter fear....

"...There is no corner of the earth in which God's love, expressed through you, is not desperately needed.  And our most needed prayer, at times, is for the calming of our impatient nature."
--Marianne Williamson, Everyday Grace
I love this little book.  I read just a short chapter every Sunday afternoon, and I love it.  There is always some little tidbit that speaks directly to my heart and my life.  And it's a little on the whimsical side of spiritual.  Love it.
How many times have we complained about our lives?  That they are boring?  About the little things that we let derail us?  About the ways we let other people and circumstances dictate how our day went - and where our day is going?
And how often, do we DO something about it?  One of my biggest pet peeves is listening to people complain about the same aspect of their life - time after time after time after time - without ever making a move to change it.  I'd personally rather move forward in a wrong direction and have to back track, than stay put when things seem bleak.  At least then, I'll have learned something new that might help along the road later!
But even I get stuck sometimes.  And then, really - the celebration is even greater when I start moving forward once again!
So what's your "boring" complaint today?  And what's one baby step you'll take to start moving forward...  To walking away from stress, sickness, and fear - and walking toward a life of knowing God's love - and sharing it through your EXCITING life? 
Things I am thankful for today:
1.  Palm Sunday - always fun at church!
2.  Many birthday wishes and hugs!
3.  Mom and Dad coming to church with us.
4.  Laughing with my youth group kids about weird things.
5.  Lunch at Teresa's after church.
6.  The Zettler family singing me Happy Birthday every time they walked by - to the surprise of the rest of the restaurant, I'm sure!
7.  A day at the Art Institute with Alex and his kids - enjoying music and art!
8.  Naps.
9.  A lazy evening.
10.  Getting to watch an episode of "The Bible."  Not quite sure what I think yet...
QotD:  What did you daydream about today?
Decorating a house someday...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

It's My Birthday!

Today was a great day!  One of those where you feel like you're on vacation...  Even though you're playing in your own backyard.  But without a care in the world!

We started out this morning with a little "Brew Day" activity.  It was time to move Mike's brew into "Secondary Fermentation."  So, once again, our kitchen looked like a science experiment as we siphoned the beer from one carboy to the other (in order to take just the liquid, without the sludge and "floaties").  I have to admit, it's kind of fun doing this with the hubby!

The sludge we're avoiding...  Eww...

Siphoning out of one carboy...

And into another...

Look how nice and clear that beer it!  So far, so good!

Next, we drove to "Patisserie 46" in South Minneapolis.  It's a french bakery that's known for the best macarons in the Twin Cities (and since I never got to try one when we were in France due to a stomach bug, I decided this is what I wanted for my birthday dessert!).  So, we had a delicious lunch - their tomato bisque soup is amazing!  And of course, tried some macarons.  Yum!  I loved everything about this place - it was small and cozy, but bustling and busy on a Saturday!  All the food looked awesome, and I had a tea that was absolutely perfect.  We'll be back, I'm sure!

Since this bakery was only a block from the house we wanted to buy a couple of years ago, we decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood after lunch....  I still hope to live there someday.  We're working on it!

Next on the agenda was a stop at REI and Midwest Mountaineering to try on cross-training shoes.  The hubby's been watching for sales for me - for training for the 3 Day Walk.  But alas!  Neither store carried the shoes we were interested in anymore...  But, at Midwest, we picked up a brochure from Glacier National Park - our vacation destination for this summer!

After leaving the outfitters, we headed to Northeast Minneapolis to visit Indeed Brewing Company's new taproom.  What a great place!  It's in an old warehouse, kind of off the beaten path - but when you get there, it's packed with people enjoying good brews and good conversation!  We had a great time sitting there and trying a couple of new beers.  And yes, starting to plan our vacation!

Photo: Mike just sent me the one and only pic of me in my birthday...  Lol.

Love him...

By this time, the dinner hour had arrived and our stomachs were starting to growl...  Anchor Fish and Chips was nearby, and by this point I was completely off my diet - so fried fish it was!  I love this place.  Busy and crowded, great food, friendly servers, tattoos to admire...  Pink, purple hair.  Vintage clothes.  Love it.  So fun.  We shared a meal of fish and chips and a side of curry chips.  Delish!

And no...  I wasn't quite ready to go home.  We were having so much fun!  So we tried to visit Harriet Brewing Company - but they were having a private party...  Buggers!  Instead we finally checked out the Lyndale Tap House in the LynnLake neighborhood.  We finished off the night with a couple of beers (one I haven't had since we were in San Diego - Kona Brown Nut Brown Ale - with coconut!) and some March Madness basketball.

What a fun day!  And to top it all off - when we got home, my birthday present from Mike was waiting for me...  Pretty ironic, really.  We started planning our vacation to Glacier National Park - on a total whim - and when I get home, what's waiting for me?  Binoculars!!!  Ha ha ha.  And that's why I love my hubby so.  Perfect pair!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Sleeping in.
2.  Birthday messages, texts, posts, etc.
3.  Getting to help with brewing!
4.  Macarons!
5.  Daydreaming about living in a different place.
6.  Experiencing new places.
7.  Lots of laughing.
8.  A 3 mile walk!
9.  A day with no cares in the world.
10.  And sharing it with the hubby!

QotD:  Are you country or rock'n'roll?  Or hip hop, emo, punk, folk...?
I'd say lately, I'm mostly americana folk, or adult alternative?  But I like a wide variety of music!

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