Dearest Express...

“I will never be the mom who stops shopping for herself after she has kids.”

This was a line I often used on my own mom as we shopped together, pre-pregnancy. As I spoke these words through the walls of the dressing room at Express, I never dreamed I would think differently. Shopping has been a hobby (some would say an obsession) of mine since junior high. I love clothes. I watch TV to analyze the latest trends and wardrobe decisions of the rich and famous. I shop to relieve stress, to reward myself, and to counteract boredom. I spend weeks looking forward to a shopping adventure at Jordan Creek and have now embraced the beauty of the online shopping world.

 Express has always been my shopping haven (heaven?). I usually have a difficult time finding things I don’t like, which makes shopping there a blessing (in my eyes), and an absolute curse (in my husband’s). Whether I’m looking for something new to wear to work, to a wedding, or to lounge around the house, it’s almost a sure fire bet that I can hit the jackpot at Express.

I hadn’t really stopped to think about how much I’ve changed since becoming pregnant, well, besides the bodily changes of weight gain, swollen feet, and the never-ending back ache. Yesterday, however, I had a reality check. On my way out the door yesterday morning, I grabbed a couple of bills and noticed an Express coupon that was sent to me for my birthday. Although my birthday was just a few weeks ago, I remember receiving the $20 gift card mid-summer. A year ago, a coupon of this nature would have lasted approximately a week before it started burning a hole in my purse pocket. Receiving a coupon to Express was like Christmas to me, a chance to justify my reason to hit the mall.
 
This morning, however, I grabbed the card noticing it expired August 31, aka, today. I absolutely couldn’t stand the thought of it going to waste, although I didn’t know if I would have the time or the energy to head to the mall after a full day of school in an excessively hot building.

After school, I had to literally force myself to pull in the mall parking lot as I drove by on my way home. I picked up a hair product I was almost out of, a birthday card, and some new, more maternity-esque underwear. As I walked by my once favorite store front, I again, forced myself to go in. I felt like I had walked into a foreign country. I didn’t know the store staff (shudder), the styles had changed (shudder), and nothing looked close to fitting my belly. I instantly felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, only instead of the knee-high black pleather boots, my swollen feet bulged from my $10 Target flats. I felt completely out of place.

I quickly found a cardigan on sale that I could wear now and after Baby J arrives. I brought it to the register and thumbed through my purse to retrieve my debit card. Before I knew it, the contents of my billfold spilled out across the desk, revealing my Babies R’ Us Rewards Card, a Baby Gap coupon, and a coupon for a complimentary sample of Enfamil Baby Formula.

This is when it dawned on me. I have officially entered a new world. One where women no longer enjoy trying clothes on in a dressing room, spending hours picking out the perfect outfit, or wasting hours in a clothing store. I have traded in my stilettos for a comfortable pair of flats. I have officially entered motherhood.

When I trade in the flats for a pair of lime green crocs…well then I’m really in trouble.


After my experience at Express, I happily browsed the sale racks in the baby section of Von Maur.

I think a relocation is in my cards.

A whole new level of nesting...

Tonight, Beau and I are sitting at the kitchen table, each hiding behind our laptop screens for one reason...

...we have no where else to go.

I guess you could say my nesting tendencies lately took an all new turn this week.
 
Our living room is empty, and the kitchen and bedroom now hold piles of photo albums, picture frames, and decor.  Last week, I got the wild brain idea that I could not lay a baby on carpet that had never been professionally cleaned.  A little much, I admit, but until it happened, I would never feel 100 percent satisfied that the living room was nest-ready.  My wonderfully loving and helpful husband moved all the furniture while I was at work, vacuumed vents and corners that hadn't seen the light of day since we moved in, and got us a discounted rate on a carpet cleaning, thanks to a fellow networking partner of his.  So on Friday, after a long week of work, I walked in to this...

A fresh room of lush, baby-ready carpet.  I was ecstatic!   Did I care that I spent most of Friday night and all of Saturday morning reorganizing all of our living room belongings?  Are you kidding!?!?
 

I cleaned windows, reorganized drawers and shelves, de-furred most of the furniture, and Windex'ed' picture frames and television screens.  And when everything was spic and span, I decorated for the season of color.


FALL...



And as I decorated, I spent a little extra time on the details.  I found a special place for every leaf, every pumpkin scented candle, and every burnt orange 'pretty' that brought visions of brisk October walks, steamy hot cocoa, and cozy hooded sweatshirts.  These decorations not only represent one of my favorite times of year, but would be the decorations that would welcome a new person into our lives, our home, and our hearts.  Just like my tube of Lip Smackers Strawberry Gloss will always take me back to Friday night football games at beautiful A-B Trojan Field during high school, my pumpkin spice candle, 'leaves' scented wallflower, and cider-scented garland will be the scents that remind me of this special time in our lives.  It's getting so close and it was so much fun preparing for the 'party' that awaits!

Although I had a lot of fun decorating on Saturday, Beau had other things to say.  He followed me around, especially as a I strung garland on top of our cabinets, often mumbling things like, 'you are making me nervous,' or 'this is a bad idea.'  I laughed at his paranoia and put him to work.  

(Sorry, Mom.  I'm sure this picture makes you nervous!)

Some People are Just Not Subdivision Material

Up until three and a half years ago, we lived in a neighborhood. There was no overall theme--the homes were whatever style the owner chose, and the lots were anywhere from half an acre to four acres. We had two acres with a brick house built in the sixties that I absolutely adored. Sugar called it Barbie's Dream House, and it was. It was Southern traditional--big front porch, screened porch in back, lots of big oak trees in the yard.

But... we travel a lot, and two acres of yard plus a large house with fifty-year-old parts that needed continuous maintenance made us think life would be less complicated if we had less to take care of. Small house, big scrapbook, we said to ourselves. Simplify.

I REALLY wanted to live in downtown Greenville, where we could walk to dinner, or to Falls Park, and could ride our bikes through the park trails without having to load them up on the bike rack. Sugar was not so keen on this idea, as ninety-five percent of the real estate in downtown Greenville is condos. "But our back yard would be Falls Park," I said. Sugar gave in on the condition that we would rent for a year, and if we liked it, we'd buy.

We sold Barbie's Dream House, and moved into a 1,200 square-foot condo half a block from Falls Park. Despite all the amenities of downtown living that we both loved, within six months we were both claustrophobic. No patio, no deck--no place for Sugar's grill.

We started looking at new houses, ones that didn't need anything done to them. The beautiful homes in neighborhoods that border downtown Greenville were older than the one we'd sold, so we looked further out. A subdivision, we thought, is the middle ground. Half acre yard, new house.

Covenants and restrictions? Oh, those are just to protect your property value--to make sure folks don't put up outhouses and such in the backyard. This is the fiction we were sold. Don't ever let anyone tell you this.

I believe there are three kinds of people on any given Architectural Review Committee:

Type One, the well-meaning sorts, who volunteer because they want to do the right thing, give back, etc. These are the minority, and they will be worn down to a nub by the rest of them, and likely take to strong drink.

Type Two are dragged in kicking and screaming, or perhaps convinced when they've had a few martinis, by their friends who are Type Ones. Type Twos will hide when trouble starts, and it will.

Type Three are the folks who want to be in charge. They have a driving need to decide what is best for all, and then shove it down their neighbors' throats. They will rule the ARC in any homeowners association because they are the most invested. They crave POWER. Likely, they were bullied in high school.

Two and a half years later, we love the house, but have ascertained that we are not subdivision people. We're rebels. If, on Saturday afternoon, we decide we want to put a trellis in front of the air conditioner compressor, we don't want to have to draw a picture, fill out forms, and wait FORTY-FIVE DAYS for the Architectural Review Committee to approved it (or not).

And don't get me started on the trees. The ARC has tried to dictate which trees we can plant and in what configuration. Thankfully, the attorney who drew up the covenants and restrictions assures me this is unenforceable, not covered in the covenants and restrictions, and ridiculous.

We're currently working on a scheme with our old neighbors--the ones who live next to Barbie's Dream House--to convince the folks we sold it to that the place is haunted so they'll leave. In the meantime, I'm thinking of taking up sculpture and creating a heinous piece of orange and pink yard art with tassels and old shoes stuck on.

Peace, out...

Susan

My Life...8 Weeks Pregnant!

So you may be wondering how I'm doing now that I'm 8 weeks pregnant, and the answer is great! I feel very fortunate that I've haven't had any morning sickness, my main discomfort is just that certain foods don't sound too great and in the evenings I get this "really full" feeling in my stomach. Certain foods do sound really good though, like I've mentioned to some of you, like spaghetti and sweet potato fries. Yum! Here's a little recap of what's going on with my little olive (the baby's current size related to food, I know kind of corny, but I love it!) and how it's making my body feel.


8 weeks
Early Baby Bump? This has been an issue I've been struggling with the past week or so, because I am in that "in between" stage, where I'm not far along enough to have a true baby bump, but I definitely don't have the same stomach I used to. I'm still fitting into my old clothes, even though some have been getting much tighter around my stomach. Usually in the morning, things fit fine, but by the time I get home I want to rip them off because they are too tight! It's left me scratching my head because I've been working out about the same and I still do ab exercises daily, but none of this seems to be helping...probably because there's a baby inside- duh!! Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to keep my abs over having a healthy baby, it's just that I'm in between the two stages and I worry that if I start to show already then it will lead to a slippery slope of gaining weight and the possibility that I will be huge during my pregnancy. This is totally irrational I know, but it's what the perfectionist in me keeps saying! I think a lot of this stems from the fact that I've weighed around the same since I've been in high school, so I'm not used major changes in my weight, but I think this will be good for me to work through and accept that there's more important things going on in my life than having a flat stomach! Time to grow up Ash ( :

So my conclusion to the baby bump drama is the same as it's been for anything to do with this baby, just relax. So people may see that I have a "tiny bump" who cares, I'm pregnant! Besides it doesn't not feel good to suck my stomach in all day! Ouch! Baby does not like that! It seems like the time where my "bity baby belly" shows the most is right after I eat. Not sure if things are moving around by my digestive tract or what, but I tend to want to relax my stomach out way more than usual after eating a meal. So I'm going to work on just letting go of this issue this week, I'll let you know how it goes... also, I'm going to try and wear some more comfy clothes!

Alright, so on with the rest of my life as a pregnant mama! Sorry to be boring all the fellow greenies out there with this pregnancy talk, I just thought that some of you out there might be interested to see what pregnant life is like (if you haven't already gone through it)! I know there aren't many resources out there that just tell it like it is or list those symptoms that you only share with your friends and family...hopefully I can be a resource for those of you who plan on becoming pregnant soon or just someday. And for those of you have gone through this already, I'd love to hear what tips or tricks you have that made your pregnancy more happy, healthy, and enjoyable.

Tired much? Oh yeah, I've been feeling quite a bit of fatigue lately, mainly because last week was the first week my students started back to school, so even though I was very excited to have them back, my energy took quite a hit. My solution to this? A 20 minute nap after I get home from school. Now don't get me wrong, my mind is way to active for a nap, so I instead do 20 minutes of an iPod App called, "Breath Pacer". It's helps me focus on my breathing which in turn relaxes me a lot! I'll post more about this another time, but I highly recommend it! Anyways after 20 minutes of Breath Pacer, I'm ready to start my evening duties of making dinner, doing yoga if I have time, and other domestic jobs! Here's a pic of the screen of the Breath Pacer in action.

source

Amazon...get me off this website! So Amazon.com has become my favorite spot this weekend as I've already started creating a baby registry...I know it's early but I love to plan! Plus there are so many great eco-friendly products on there I don't want to forget about them, so I just click and add them to the baby registry so my list is ready when the holidays roll around or it's time for the baby shower! I'm having way too much fun with this! I'll give you all a link later, so you can see all my favorite eco-friendly products, but I'm still building it and I will continue doing so especially since I don't even know the sex of the baby! In the meantime, I'm sure I'll have fun adding more stuff to that list! By the way, even if you're not pregnant you can still make Wish lists on there, which is great for birthdays and holidays...I love Amazon!

So I think that's about it for week 8, who knows what week 9 will have in store for me? Now I'm off to go workout, luckily I've been able to keep running on the treadmill even though I've slowed down a bit and changed up my intervals- I now run for 2 minutes and then walk for 2 minutes (I do this for an hour). Kind of different, but it works for me and little olive right now, so I'm sticking with it! ( :

My favorite meal...


The purpose of this post is to pay homage to one of my all-time favorite meals.  It's a meal that is not only delicious and fairly easy to make, but it's a sort of history piece for us as a couple.  All summer, our suppers revolve around the grill.  Burgers and hot dogs, grilled chicken and cedar plank salmon, and of course, big, fat, juicy steaks.  There's (almost) nothing better than a good old fashioned, all-American supper....

That is, if we're forgetting pasta alla vodka.

Here's an excerpt from an essay I wrote about my journey learning, and loving, to cook:

I guess you could say my journey learning to cook is as if reading an open book. I never liked cooking while I was growing up; in fact, my mother worried that she failed to pass on her homemaker genes to me. I was perfectly fine getting by on Hot Pockets, Pizza Rolls, and pudding cups, and preferred going out to eat instead of staying in, cooking, and accumulating a counter-full of dishes in the process.


It wasn’t until “The Sopranos” came into my life that Carmela Soprano, my New Jersey, mobster-wife and my boyfriend (later turned husband), turned me on to great Italian food. What started as a couple episodes of the HBO legend here and there, accompanied with a plate of Barilla noodles and red sauce, evolved to all-night marathons of mouth-watering bruschetta, fresh linguine primavera, savory chicken piccata, and hours of nail-biting, cursing, and bonding behind the television set. The smell of fresh garlic simmering in a pan of olive oil, the taste of crushed tomatoes and fresh basil, and the flash of dimly lit candles illuminated our run-down college apartment and swept us off to another world of wealth, romance, and passion. Cooking became our escape, our refuge, and our idea of a perfect date.


Years later, I am still cooking; however, my palette has now reached realms far beyond Italian cuisine. I see it as an art; a way to create and a way to show love to others. Although I now experiment often with Greek, Asian, and Mexican-inspired dishes, there is still a comfort that comes along with cooking a great Italian meal, paired with a glass of vino. I’m 98% German by birth, but hold the heart and palette of an Italian.

Last Tuesday, after a long day at work, Beau and I shared some bonding time behind our cutting boards and paring knives.  We minced garlic extra small, boiled penne until it was perfectly al dente, and shared frequent spoonfuls of the sauce just to make sure it was seasoned right. 



Thanks to my sister-in-law, Gina, I replaced my usual glass (or two) of wine with Archer Farm's Italian Soda.


It was a lovely meal, a lovely night, and a lovely week of leftovers!

And now, for the recipe....

-3 tbsp. butter
-4 large garlic cloves, minced
-4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into thin strips
-1 28 oz. can Italian Chopped Tomatoes
-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
-1/4 cup vodka
-salt
-1 lb. penne
-1/2 cup Parmesan

-In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the prosciutto and cook for another two minutes.  Add the tomatoes and red pepper, simmer and stir frequently for 5 minutes.  Stir in cream and cook, stirring for an additional 2 minutes.  Add vodka and cook 2 minutes.  Season with salt. 

-Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain.

-Add the pasta to the sauce and toss until well-coated. 

-Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese...

P.S.  This makes great leftovers!

Dear You...

Dear Baby J...

Hi baby boy.  In t-minus five weeks (give or take), you will exit my womb and enter our lives.  And as every day goes by, I'm more and more ready for that to happen.  I can't quite imagine how all of this is going to play out, the pre-labor and eventually labor, the hospital, the delivery, and the first few days of parenthood.  It catches me off guard every now and then and I get a little out of breath thinking about it.  It's hard to put into words, that's for sure. 

For awhile, early in this pregnancy, I was perfectly content with you growing and staying safe and sound inside of me.  In fact, I didn't really like to think about the certainty that laid before me...the fact that eventually, you had to come out.  All of the blockbuster movies and TLC episodes of 'A Baby Story,' were no longer funny or sweet, but rather, a little horrific to watch.  I was much more content choosing to think about cute maternity dresses and baby sleepers over epidural needles and stirrups.  

Every now and then, I become strong woman.  I feel hints of feminism bursting from my veins, proud that I get to take part in the process of birthing a child, embracing my womanhood and baby-bearing hips.  I listen to Salt n' Pepa's 'Push It,' and feel prepared and ready to work it in the delivery room.  

Which of the following two scenarios do you think cloud my thoughts more?!?!

Lately, I just feel content.  Content knowing that I have millions of women on my side.  Women like my Great Grandma Hoodjer, who gave birth to not one, but two sets of twins, or my Great Grandma Miller, who basically gave birth to half the town of Allison (I think she had around 11 kids).  I think about all the women who had their babies at home, with nothing but a blanket, a shot of whiskey, and a stick to bite on.  No hospital beds, no drugs, and no giant whirlpool (I'm excited for this part).  

When I think about all of them, I feel like a big wimp.  A big wimp that can by all means deliver a baby.

So, as you get closer and closer to D-Day, know that I am mentally preparing to be strong woman.  I may cringe when Beau attempts to get a sliver out of my foot, but childbirth...no problem ;)

Respectfully and lovingly yours,

Strong Woman

35 Weeks!

How far along? 35 Weeks

Total Weight Gain? 23 pounds

Maternity Clothes? The other morning, I came to the stark conclusion that I am indeed still growing. I tried to put on a black and white dress I wore to school last spring and let’s just say, it fit a little differently than I remember… I’m glad I looked in the mirror before heading out the door!

Stretch Marks? No...still crossing my fingers!

Sleep? No complaints. Now that school has started, I’m exhausted at night!  I'm typically in bed at 9:30 and up at 5:30. 

Symptoms? Pregnancy, especially the 3rd trimester, is physically and mentally exhausting! It’s a roller coaster ride. Last week, I felt great; this week, I’m more than ready to have this kid. I officially want my body back! I’m getting to the point where I can’t really find a comfortable position, whether I’m sitting, standing, or walking.  I can't wait to sleep on my stomach again and eat tacos without suffering through hours of heartburn afterwards.  I can't, however, imagine a life without a little foot pushing up against my skin...I'm sure I will miss that!

Let’s not forget a new and growing symptom…my swollen feet!

Cravings? Pasta ala Vodka, Soprano cookbook style.

Best Moment This Week? The head way I made on Baby J’s room this last weekend.

What I Look Forward To? Saying hello to our baby and kissing his little face!

Weekly Wisdom? Never again will you get so much attention. Savor the door openings, sweet smiles, questions, and polite gestures…everyone is nice to pregnant women and when that baby comes, the attention paid to you will be gone!

Milestones? Next week I hit the weekly appointments! The countdown is on…

Check out my hump...my hump, my hump, my hump

A Home for Baby J...

Well, as promised, the baby furniture!  It's done, it's beautiful, and it fits in Baby J's little room perfectly.  If you know me well, this was a slight fear of mine.  Beau repeatedly attempted to reassure me; however, as every new piece of furniture was carefully placed in the room, I grew more and more wary of it all fitting.  Once again, I learned to trust and listen to my hubby and his dad.  They're pretty smart...

...and pretty damn talented. 


If it wasn't for the fact that I have been carrying this child for nine months, battling with pelvic pain, heartburn, allergies, weight gain, exhaustion, abnormal sleeping positions, and now, 'kankles,' I'd feel more guilty.  I pulled my share in the creation of our kitchen, traveling with Beau to Hampton to spend hours upon hours sanding every inch of our hickory cabinetry; however, when it came time to build a set of baby furniture, I had the easy part.  My part involved clipping and snipping random pictures of cribs and changing tables, asking Beau to reinvent a combination of three to five different pictures in order to created what I envisioned as the perfect product.  What started with a couple Pottery Barn catalogs, some sticky note diagrams, and a lot of imagination, turned into a set of furniture that will serve as history pieces in our family for generations. 

Thank you, husband, for your patience, your hard work, and your desire to build something really special for our baby.  Thank you for creating Excel files to help me 'visualize,' for following me to Peek a Boo Baby to survey their cribs, and for wanting everything just right.  Baby J will look so sweet sleeping in his new bed.

Thank you, Grandpa Ray, for helping us both bring our vision to life.  Thank you for the hours you spent configuring and reconfiguring, for your constant, we-can-do-thats and no-problems, and for not killing my bedskirt during 'surgery.'  Thank you for building me a dresser big enough for lots of shopping trips and a tornado shelter that will keep us safe in any storm. 

Assembly Day:  August 15, 2010...approximately seven weeks from D-Day!





Again... a little nervous...


I'm Pregnant!

Someone is going to have a baby...me!
Hey fellow greenies, I have some exciting news! I'm pregnant! It turns out I'm 7 weeks along and the baby is due around the beginning of April. I've been feeling pretty good so far. Certain foods don't sound so great right when I first wake up, but after about an hour or two, I usually get my appetite back and certain things sound really good like spaghetti, sweet potato fries, and vegetarian baked beans- yum! Oh and I've been really hot when I first wake up, almost like hot flashes...kind of funny, so I have a little portable fan in the kitchen, I'll take some pics, it makes Brandon laugh every time! Again, once I eat something this "heat wave" goes away.



 Anyways, I think I will have plenty to blog about over the next nine (oh wait...7 and 1/2 months), from what type of birth I want, to the food I'm eating, decorating a baby room as green as possible, and other fun topics. Here are some pics from when we found out the exciting news! We sure hope this baby likes green smoothies! ( :


Nesting...

Sunday, while the boys sat shaded in the humidity and drafted the perfect team for the upcoming football season, I worked on my nest. 


I deep cleaned my kitchen, wiping out the microwave and vacuuming the cracks of our walnut floor.  I baked brownies simply for the smell that perforated through the kitchen.  I almost replaced my coconut, lime, and tropical scented wallflowers with my favorite fall scents, but forced myself to wait until at least September. 

It's begun.  Even if I wasn't pregnant, I'd be nesting.  It's that time of year again.  As the dog days of summer draw to a close, I transition to the next season with a new welcome mat.  Closets get cleaned, floors get waxed, and pillows get washed.  The grilling cookbooks are replaced with the comfort food ones, and soon, mums, pumpkins, and tri-colored leaves will replace shriveled petunias and wilted impatients.  

But this year, as I slowly begin to crave a mug of spicy cider and a stack of blueberry pancakes, my nesting is a little different.  

Today, I tied a bumper on a crib, rearranged a growing collection of books until they were perfect, and positioned a changing table pad.  I rearranged dresser drawers to make room for more itty bitty clothes, and found the perfect place for a family of stuffed animals.  Although the nursery isn't quite finished, I'd say it's ready for a sweet, sleeping baby.  

Since I found out we were having a baby boy, I've been planning, dreaming, and scheming plans for his nursery.  While Beau was trying to bring to life the vision of baby furniture I had floating through my sometimes scattered pregnant brain, I was scouring the internet for theme, inspiration, and budget-friendly decor. 

I decided to create a summer surf shack theme.  A fresh breath of escape during any month of the year.  I love baby blue, but wanted to take it up a notch.  I found the perfect bedding, full of bright blues, reds, navys, and greens.  Thanks to Pottery Barn Kids, I scored a matching rug, valance, and wall hangings. 

Sunday night, after a long day of awkward bending, standing, sitting, and lifting, I dimmed the lights, turned on the stereo, and rocked in Baby J's recliner, a hand-me-down treasure from Beau's Grandma J.  This is it, I thought.  For the first time in my pregnancy, I felt ready to bring a baby home.  I lit a few candles and read my monstrous tummy a few books.  It was a peaceful and sweet moment between mommy and baby...

And now, just a few previews of the nursery.  I still have a few ideas up my sleeve, but will see how much time I have and how swollen my feet stay over the next month!




Stay tuned for pictures of the furniture!  There is a separate post for that!     

Jazzercise: The Cult

Okay, the thing with Jazzercise is, you really can't quit. They won't let you—I’ve tried. It's like a cult: Once you're in, someone has to send a team of deprogrammers to kidnap you out.

I had every intention of quitting earlier this month. But, as Betty (who power-guzzles her Kool- Aid) pointed out, my strategy was faulty. I went on a day when both Precariously Perky Julie and Casey, The Queen of Pain were there. I should have known better. They gave me all kinds of reasonable-sounding arguments why it was in my best interest not to quit. I caved.

Then, I went out of town, again, like we all knew I would. Since I didn't get home until after the 15th (the cutoff date for cancellations in any given month) I'm in through the end of September. This, of course, was their plan.

But... I figured I'd go ahead and fill out my cancellation for next month ahead of time (having come to my senses) when I drug myself in there yesterday.

Jules was ready for me. When I walked in the door, she shoved a clipboard at me and told me to fill out the form. Okay, I started doing that. A few lines in, I realized I was filling out the "I agree not to sue you if you kill me" form that everyone has to fill out once a year. I scratched my head. It wasn't time for me to do this. "Why do I need to fill this out?" I asked.

The place was full of people—Jules had some kind of special going on. She was very CONVENIENTLY too distracted to answer except for an over-the-shoulder, "It's the release."

Well, I knew THAT. I looked at her sideways. "You're just trying to distract me from asking for my cancellation form."

She trilled a laugh, tossed her ponytail, and quickly engaged in a serious conversation with someone behind me related to childcare.

“Here, Susan.” One of the class managers handed me a ticket. “We’re having a drawing today.”

When I turned back, Jules was chatting up a potential recruit. She had no time for my nonsense.

The crowd was moving toward the dance floor. All I could do was drop the clipboard and move with the group. It was that or be trampled.

After an hour with The Queen of Pain, I was too tired to argue with them.

Resistance is futile. At least I'll be 24 forever...

Peace, out...

Susan

Baby's got a new set of wheels...

That's right, Baby J.  Not only do you have the best furniture in the house, your very own towel set, and a recliner in your room, but you now have the nicest set of wheels in the family.  Your dad and I drove to Cedar Rapids yesterday to pick up your new ride and I must say, it sure is a beaut.
  

It rides, glides, and clicks.  Its ride is smoother than the skin on your bum, and it has a suspension system that will allow you to nap even on the wildest of rides.  It turns like a dream, and its sunroof, cushion support, and auto-pilot will make you feel like a million bucks.  

It's the Chicco Travel System, baby.  Get ready to ride in style...  

Happy Friday!

I made it through my first week of classes...it's going to be a great year!  I teach 9th and 10th grade this year and have some great groups of students.  They're fun, like to be challenged, and pick things up for me when I drop them :).  They'll take care of this pregnant lady!

When Friday rolls around, though, I'm always thankful for it.  I've been more tired than I ever thought possible this last week and am looking forward to a weekend of more nesting and even more relaxing.  Tomorrow, Beau and I are taking a quick road trip to pick up Baby J's new set of wheels, and I hope to get some work done in the nursery. 

So...as I welcome another weekend, I reflect on all the little pieces of happiness that were strewn across my week.  As school starts and life gets busier, it's a matter of looking at the little things...

62.  The TV show, Friday Night Lights.  If you don't watch it, you should.  Best. Show.  EVAH.

63.  Rain showers while the sun shines.  Little kids refusing to let a little rain spoil their summer night play.

64.  Baby Gap Clothes.  Sleepers with footies, crocheted booties, tiny sockies, and soft onesies...

65.  Kate Mcrae.  The bravest, sweetest, most adorable little girl I know.  A girl who taught me about life, about faith, and about hope. 

"Patience with others is love, patience with yourself is hope, patience with God is faith."

 
66.  The Little Caesar's Guy.  You know, the ones who stand outside the pizza shop on University Ave., holding signs and using killer dance moves to lure customers in for the $5 Large Deal.  I don't know how many times I've missed a green light at an intersection because I can't take my eyes off the dance dude!  If I've ever in a bad mood, I'm absolutely, positively guaranteed a laugh on University and Progress Ave.  

67.  Pretty Woman.  The fairy-tale lovin' little girl comes out in me everytime!  If I happen to run across it flipping through channels on a busy afternoon, I can kiss productivity goodbye!

68.  Sam's Club.  Beau and I are fanatics!  We are actually considering building some additional pantry shelves to begin storing food in case of a nuclear missile attack. 


69.  A fresh, late summertime meal.  Tomatoes from Beau's secretary's garden, the best corn on the cob, and grilled hot dogs.

70.  The sounds of an ice cream truck in our neighborhood!  One night, Beau and I spent an entire walk attempting to find the direction of the music!  I've never actually seen a legitimate ice cream truck, only in the movies, and I was determined to finally witness one at the ripe age of 26.  I pictured little kids, shrieking and running towards the truck, waving their dollar bills, envisioning orange push-ups, fudsicles, and drumsticks.  Although I didn't get a chance to see the ice cream truck, I have a feeling the vision in my mind is far greater than the real thing! 

Happy Friday and Happy Weekend! 
   

Belly Pictures...

I wanted to give a quick shout-out to Darcy from At Play Photography here in Cedar Falls!  She took some 'belly shots' for us last week and posted a sneak peek on her blog to tease us a little!  More to come soon!   

34 Weeks!!!

How far along? 34 Weeks

Maternity Clothes? Today was the first ‘official’ day of school. I wore my white Gap Maternity city shorts, and my new favorite Gap Maternity black ruffle top. The only thing that didn’t fit were my shoes! They were so tight by the time I got home, I had indents on the sides of my feet.

Sleep? The night before school started was restless, but since then, I’ve been so exhausted, I could go to sleep after school and wake up the next morning.

Symptoms? I finally have the bladder of a pregnant woman and it’s a long walk to the bathrooms from my classroom! Let’s just say I’ll probably be a little lenient on tardies for awhile!

The movement has been really crazy this week…I constantly feel that foot of his in my ribs and my entire stomach will flip flop. I feel it the most when I sit in a chair…Baby J is running out of room!

Cravings? Laffy Taffy… Saturday afternoon, completely out of the blue, I had to run to Hy-Vee for some taffy. I came home with three different kinds, tried out three different kinds, and was left with nothing but a stomach ache!

Best Moment This Week? The CRIB IS FINISHED! On Sunday, Beau’s parents delivered it. Contrary to a few initial fears, the crib fits in the baby’s room perfectly. I’ve started unpacking all the decorative treasures I’ve been storing for the past several weeks, but refuse to share pictures until it’s complete! Right now, the room is serving as my escape mechanism…it’s so peaceful in there!

Least Favorite Moment This Week? My swollen feet. It took two days of school for my feet to look as if they were in an MMA fight. I haven’t even attempted to take my wedding ring off…

What I Look Forward To? This weekend I hope to get some wall hangings up and the bedding all washed.

Weekly Wisdom? You like to talk, Mrs. Jorgensen. Drink water and sit down every now and then.

Milestones? Baby kicked away all day during the first day of school. My students loved seeing Baby J’s growth spurt!

Dear YOU...

Baby J...

Happy 34 weeks, little man!  Last night I had a panic attack thinking about that number in my head.  It is getting unbelievably close to your D-Day, and we are overwhelmingly excited.  Pretty soon, when people ask when I'm due, I can reply that I'm due 'any day.'  Will you be a September baby?  Will you practice punctuality and come on time?  Or will you drag this process out as long as possible and arrive somewhere in the middle of October?  My guess right now is that you will be late; however, as much as you continue to squirm, you might be ready to exit that small space sooner than later.  My single request is that you do not decide to exit during the middle of class, resulting in a huge pool of water at my feet.  I'm sure this embarrassing water-breaking scene only exists in my dreams and in movies, but you've surprised me enough throughout this pregnancy, I'm readying and preparing for just about anything!

This week, things have been a little different around the Jorgensen household.  School has started, which means early mornings, quick lunches, a sore throat from talking A LOT, swollen feet, and one exhausted momma!   I can't believe how tired I was Monday night.  I was foggy headed, could hardly put words together in an email, and would have been satisfied crawling into bed at 5:00!  It was torturous, but has been progressively better each day since.

Today was the first day with students.  It was so great to see them!  They already love you!  They flocked over to see your growth spurt, gave me lots of hugs, quizzed me on names, and demanded I bring you in to see them as soon as you are born!  One of my favorite memories was the roaring applause you received during the welcome back reception!  It was almost as if you knew what was going on.  You squirmed, rolled, and tumbled more today than you have throughout my entire pregnancy!  Turns out, you are pretty good at this whole school thing!

Other milestones to record for this 34th week?  Well, your crib is finished and it looks awesome!  Your mom has diligently packed her lunch every day this week.  Oh, and you mingled with the President Ben Allen and his wife, Pat, last night!  It was my first invitation to the President's House and with you in tow, you were a welcome conversation piece with the Allen's!  Beau said that we should have asked them to take a picture with the belly for your scrapbook...
 
As we close the page of another summer, I anxiously anticipate this next season!  I get so excited sometimes that I can hardly breathe!  Thanks for joining me on this ride in a hot school building, for listening to my boring syllabus talk during school today, and entertaining me with your constant belly flops and somersaults.  You keep me on my (now swollen) toes, that's for sure.   

Love you, Baby J! 

Your Mom ;)

A Twenty-Something Momma...

Last Friday, Friday the 13th to be exact, I turned 26. 

No longer closer to twenty than thirty...

No longer under a quarter of a century...

No longer a UNI student, an Express fiend, or a Diet Mountain Dew addict. 

No... at 26 years old, I go by a few new labels...


I am now a 26 year old mom-to-be, with a little baby boy that rumbles, tumbles, and rolls in my tummy constantly throughout the day, making sure he already stays the center of my mind, my attention, and my focus (especially during back-to-school professional development days).

I am a 26 year old mom-to-be who prefers celebrating with a quiet walk in a pretty park over a crazy night out on the town.  



I am a 26 year old mom-to-be who considers the perfect birthday party one that involves an ice cream cake, corn on the cob, and families gathered around a finished baby crib (it is done!  pictures to come...) 

I am a 26 year old mom-to-be, content with all-you-can-eat crab legs and a big glass of root beer over a girl scout martini or shot of 'birthday cake.'  

I am a 26 year old mom-to-be who actually considered purchasing a nursing bra with my birthday money...

Yes, times they are a changing...

Even though I think I've cried on every birthday since turning 16, I still love them.  I have no idea why tears are shed, but sometimes growing up does make me a little sad.  It's like every year that passes, I feel myself getting farther and farther from the innocence of childhood.  A time when life is simple and quiet, and birthdays mark a little extra magic in an already fairytale existence.  

This year...I feel a little closer to childhood.  

Six weeks closer.
  

Almost...

For as long as I have known him, Beau has always wanted a dog.  He is a dog lover.  He thinks he can make any dog, no matter what the size, a lap dog, and the bigger and rougher the dog is, the more Beau likes him.  I, on the other hand, have never felt the appeal of owning a dog.  This might be because we never had pets growing up.  I was actually quite scared of dogs for a good portion of my life.  Frankly, I can do without the slobber, the constant jumping (and humping), and the smell of dog breath and even worse, damp dog hair.  Beau and I compromised in the pet department by rescuing a cat, and it's been fun watching my husband attempt to teach her numerous dog behaviors.  She eats just about anything you give her, plays fetch, and sits on Beau's lap whenever welcomed.  If she could only go on neighborhood walks... 

Yesterday, for a little under an hour, Beau's dreams turned into reality.  A collarless, fawn colored, panting pug showed up in our backyard.  She was tired, hungry, and friendly, and immediately took a liking to us.  We had no idea where she came from, but decided while she was here, we might as well pretend a little.  Beau got her a bowl of water, I fed her some fried bacon, and we borrowed a leash from our neighbors "in order to scout out potential owners," aka, "take our new puppy on a walk."  


I called the Humane Society to see if anyone had called about a missing pug.  When the lady from Animal Control asked if we wanted her to pick "Pugley" up, Beau quickly declined her offer.  He was not ready to give up his new found friend. 

After about a half hour into dog ownership, Beau decided to take his loyal companion on one last walk.  Shortly thereafter, I watched my husband return, longingly dragging his empty leash behind him like Linus's blue blanket in the Charlie Brown classics.  Beau said the young man was very happy to see his pug again. 

"She's so friendly, I was worried someone would find her and never give her up," the owner said as Beau handed in his claim. 

And as he walked away, empty leash in hand, he whispered to himself...

"You're lucky my wife is eight months pregnant."

So thank you, kind owner, for rescuing your precious pug and rescuing me from a kennel, a pooper scooper, and an endless supply of bacon flavored bones.

I do admit, she was a cute little snort of a thing :)

I guess it's true what they say about dogs resembling their owners ;)...

Why Not Save The Rain For Another Day?

With fall and winter right around the corner it's time to start thinking about rain. When you're up on that ladder this fall, cleaning out your gutters, you should give a good thought to saving that rain for another day. With water demands on the rise in the Sacramento Valley these days; why not save that rain water and reuse it for something other than watering the streets and gutters?



Why not rain water harvesting? No, I'm not talking about complex water piping systems with huge cisterns... I'm talking about simply buying or building a rain barrel and hooking it up to one of your downspouts for safe keeping.



Utilizing a rain barrel at your home is a great way to save on garden watering costs and it allows that precious rain water to be saved from our storm water systems and waterways. Diverting even a small amount of water could help make an impact on seasonal flooding. With current trends in green technology and the natural desire to be "green" it's now easier than ever to get involved. These days you can pick up a relatively inexpensive rain barrel at major retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe's or smaller mom & pop hardware stores if you would rather skip the construction process. Which ever way you choose, you can't go wrong with saving that rain water for another day...

In the Sacramento Valley you can find simple rain barrels at many fine retailers or you can purchase or salavage the materials to make your own.

This is a first...

Dear Baby...


Well, this is a first.  It's currently 3:48 am and I am on the couch, wide awake, unable to sleep.  I'm pretty sure my joints and muscles are asleep, but my mind is awake.  I yawn as I type; however, I've tried laying in bed three times in the last two hours with no sleep success.  I've watched an episode of True Blood, drank a glass of milk (almost drove to Hy-Vee to get some Oreos for dunking), and made a to-do list, but my insomnia is proving relentless.  It turns out, you are up too, tossing and turning as much as I am.  So, I type.  I reflect.  I duck tail from thought to thought, hoping my restless mind will soon give in...


I've always been a girl who needs her sleep.  To be honest, I'm a little nervous about joining the N.P.I.C., or New Parent Insomniac Club.  I'm known to get quite crabby and a little whiny when I'm running on little sleep.  So advice number one before joining this family?  Go easy on your mom.  Get all your late night energy out of your system before you enter this world.  Deal???


Tonight was a good night.  Tonight, your dad and I (and you in tow), strolled up and down Main Street, laid in fields, and shared an ice cream cone, all while being photographed like a couple of celebrities who decided to escape their so-called private sphere for a simple date night on the town.  Now usually anything that involves 'pictures' and 'your father' in the same sentence speaks anything but fun; however, tonight was.  It might have something to do with the fact that I bribed him with Toads if he decided to cooperate.  I think it has more to do with the reason we were there together.  We were there, celebrating a new chapter of our lives.  Our sweaty heads have been pressed together during other important stages of our relationship...as a newly engaged couple, a soon-to-be married couple, a couple of honeymooners, and now, a couple of expectant parents.  It was special to be able to set apart some time to really soak it all in. 


Well, baby, this is it.  My last few days of summer vacation.  Soon, I will be battling long days on my feet, a hot classroom, and hyperactive 16 year olds.  But before all that, I want you to know how much I've enjoyed this summer preparing for you. 


...those moments in my kiddie pool, laughing to myself as I watched my bare belly move up and down, up and down, up and down...
...the hours I have spent planning the details of your nursery
...the nights I've sat and rocked in your chair, fiddled with the perfect lamplight, and dreamed about a sleeping baby in my arms.
...the little clothes I've washed, folded, refolded, and hung or placed in your closet and dresser
...the doctor's appointments, especially the ultrasounds
...the late nights up with Beau, talking about who you will look like, who you will act like, and how we plan to conquer parenthood!
...all the "Beau!  Come here!" shrieks as you made an indent in my tummy or kicked a field goal towards my ribs! 


This weekend will be a great one.  As I near the next quarter-century of my life, I look forward to all that is to come.  Life is going to change, that's for sure, but I have a feeling 26 is going to be a pretty great year...

Enjoying Eight...

How far along? 33 Weeks

Total Weight Gain? 20 pounds

Maternity Clothes? We had maternity pictures taken tonight and I had an absolute terrible time finding the right clothes to wear. I think I tried on the same two dresses ten different times. I blame it on the pregnant brain…

Stretch Marks? No

Sleep? I’m writing this at 4:41 am and have been up since 2:30. Enough said?!?!?!

Symptoms? Other than the relentless insomnia tonight, I’ve had a great week. I’m very thankful…

Best Moment This Week? Belly pictures were a lot of fun! Even amidst the 105 heat index, sweat rolling down my belly, and lifeless hair, it was a perfect night. As Darcy snapped away, I couldn’t stop thinking about this special stage in our life. There’s something about standing forehead to forehead in an alleyway in Downtown Cedar Falls, smiling as our eyes grow crossed, that makes me think about all the special moments we’ve shared together. I’m not sure how the pictures will turn out, but the image of this night will be etched in my mind forever.

Least Favorite Moment This Week? Let’s just say I’ve never been one to handle no sleep with grace.

What I Look Forward To? This weekend! Celebrating 26 years of birth with my husband, family, and friends. Good food! Maybe an ice cream cake (hint hint family)… And…drum roll…our CRIB! DONE! Delivered on Sunday!

Weekly Wisdom? Approximately seven weeks left. Soak. It. In.

Milestones? I finally identified Baby J’s hiccups! Poor baby…I can’t believe how fast they are!

In Which I Cancel My Jazzercise Membership--Again

Every few months I realize that I'm not home enough to make regular Jazzercise participation a reality. It's more like something I really want to do, and so, in one of my alternate realities, I Jazzercise daily. Here in the real world my attendance is not so regular. But the draft to my checking account is.

So, every now and then I go in and fill out a form to cancel my draft. Precariously Perky Julie (who owns the place) is no dummy. You can't cancel by civilized method like email or phone. You have to go there and fill out a form. Which makes you think, "Well, if I can drag myself in there to fill out the stupid form, maybe I should just put on my dancing clothes and go dance." I have done this several times.

Every time I go through with the cancellation, I email Jules a day or three later and say, "Never mind." Because every time I cancel, my schedule shifts (because Sugar's does) and I end up being at home because I don't typically go with him on a trip if he's flying. Precariously Perky Julie WILL allow you to cancel your cancellation via phone, email, smoke-signal--whatever. Like I said, she's no dummy.

Today is August 9th. We are 221 days into 2010, and I have MAYBE been to 15 Jazzercise classes. I'm thinking I need to come up with an exercise plan I can actually execute. I've decided to make an iPod playlist and dance in the family room--just do random Jazzercise moves I've learned over the years plus whatever the music moves me to do. I think I'll call this Spazzercise. If I'm out of town, I can Spazzercise in the hotel room.
 
Since I've already paid for August, I'll go dance with the Queen of Pain today. That way, I won't have to have the argument with myself about whether or not I should just go (because I can today) or cancel. I'll do both.

I'll let you know how long it lasts this time.

Peace, out...

Susan

Creamy Peanut Butter Smoothie Recipe

I've been craving some peanut butter lately and on a hot day, I wondered what this would taste like in a smoothie. So I decided to give it a try and it was delicious! It reminds me of a creamy milkshake, and even better, no one will know it's ice cream-free and full of spinach! Ha ha! So here's the recipe, feel free to tweak it anyway you want and enjoy the creamy coolness on these hot summer days. ( :

Creamy Peanut Butter Smoothie
 
Creamy Peanut Butter Smoothie

Ingredients:
  • 1 handful of spinach (or you could leave this out)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk (rice milk, or even cow's milk would work for this)
  • 1/4 cup water (I put it in the same measuring cup as the almond milk so it gets a little bit of the milk flavor in it)
  • Optional: 1 tsp Chia Seeds (these little seeds are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and even fiber...read more here)
  • 2 frozen bananas (or 4 banana halves...frozen is best because it will give it that milkshake-like texture)
  • 2 Tbs. Natural Peanut Butter (I get this fresh from my local health food store, only one ingredient: dry roasted peanuts- no sugar, extra oils or preservatives- score!
  • 4 or 5 ice cubes to keep it extra cold and icy
Steps:
1. Add all the ingredients to the blender.
Almond milk
 
 
Some good ol' chia seeds
Key ingredient: frozen bananas

The best part...peanut butter!

2. Now blend! (For those without a Vita-Mix, you might want to
add all the liquids and spinach, then add the bananas, peanut butter,
and ice- this will make sure the spinach gets all chopped up).


Drink up the delicious goodness!
 Do you guys have any fun ingredients you like to add to smoothies? Tell me about it!
I can feel it.  Summer is slipping away.  As I hazily turned the calendar over to welcome August the other day, the days in this month seem to fly by more than other months.  August is always like this.  As the school year seems to creep closer and closer to July each year, I find myself desperately trying to hang on and savor every day left before I'm once again trapped into a routine of 5:45 alarms, quick showers, and uncomfortable shoes.  

But...we live in Iowa and when one season wilts away, we are assured that another is waiting to take its place.  And the season that follows summer is quite possibly my favorite.  As damp swimsuits, wilted flowers, and an overworked lawn mower make room for cozy sweatshirts, crisp nights, and football games, I get excited for all that is fall.  Lately, I've been dreaming of pumpkin pie scented candles, day excursions to the river, apple crisp, gooey chocolate chip cookies, and pot roast.      

And comfort food isn't the only reason I might be a little more anxious for the fall months to roll around...


That's not to say, however, that I'm not going to miss this...




Yesterday, we discovered that Beau's birthday present is ideal for two.  With zero humidity, a great breeze, and a shortened afternoon at the office, we lazily rocked, talked, and felt baby move in the hammock.  We drifted into a sort of summer-induced coma, where the leaves on the trees became a hallucinogen and the breeze swept us away to another place.  

I hope you have enjoyed your birthday present, babe.  I know I have :)