Monday, November 23, 2020

Giving Thanks

2020 has been A TRYING YEAR. And while we shouldn't need a national holiday to remind us to give thanks, it is convenient that Thanksgiving comes around once a year and pushes us to think about what we are thankful for. The year has presented a lot of challenges for our family and the broader world, but when I stop and think about it, I can still come up with a long list of things I am thankful for. So here are some of the things/people I am thankful for in no particular order!

I'm thankful...

- we are in a larger home than we were last year. We moved out of a 1,300 sq ft home and into a 2,400 sq ft home the weekend before Thanksgiving last year. We knew we wanted to have a 2nd child so that was the main reason for moving (our last home had 2 bedrooms plus an office). But I sure am glad we have more space since I've been working from home since March 12th and likely will through much of 2021! Phil WFH about 2 days/week but it's still nice that he has space to do so. We would have been very cramped in our old house, especially when Paul is home with us - which has been a lot. He's missed over 12 weeks of daycare (that we still paid for of course - ouch!). Only 2 weeks were due to his classroom being closed. The other 10 weeks were times we pulled him out to lower our risk of getting covid, with the exception of the 1 week we kept him out for a visit to my parents lake home. 

- that I have a healthy marriage. Phil and I have spent more time together this year than ever before since we've worked from home a lot and have not had the busy social calendars we had in the past. I will be honest and say that it's been challenging at times, especially during those 7 weeks in March/April when we had Paul out of daycare and were not seeing anyone - and I was dealing with first trimester exhaustion. Most friends that I've had candid/real conversations with have said this year has definitely put stress on their marriage but I'm glad we've been able to weather it. 

- for Paul. He reminds us what is most important and keeps the mood light when things can feel heavy. He loves to make people laugh so he is the best mood lifter! He's a healthy, thriving, bright little guy and I can't imagine our lives without him.


Icing his 'owie' (he didn't have one). He knows all about ice packs since most days I have one on a joint.

It's nearly impossible to not smile when you are around Paul!
  
- that we are adding a 2nd boy to our family! This pregnancy has been HARD but I don't take for granted how lucky we are to be able to grow our family. I just can't wait for him to be here! I'll take major abdominal surgery/recovery and the challenges of a newborn over being pregnant!

- that we've all stayed healthy and covid-free despite Paul going to daycare. His daycare has done an excellent job. They did close his room for 2 weeks when a classmate tested positive, but no one else got covid - thank goodness! We've been very careful about keeping our risk of getting covid as low as possible, which has resulted in some sacrifices, like not seeing family, only seeing friends outdoors, not going to restaurants, etc. But the sacrifices are all worth it.

- that there is a covid vaccine on the horizon! Huge shout-out to all the scientists who have worked tirelessly to deliver a vaccine in record time. 

- for my extended family. I miss my grandma, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews so much. I look forward to a time when we can all safely gather. Not everyone has the kind of family dynamic where they miss time together so I know I am lucky to have healthy relationships with my family!

- that Biden won the election. Enough said, right? 

- that my boss/team has been really understanding during this final stage of pregnancy and have cut me some major slack!

- for my wide group of friends. I'm glad I was able to fit in lots of walks and outdoor visits before the cold weather arrived. I can't imagine my life without my circle of friends.

- for all of you out there who are reading this blog, especially the faithful commenters! There are times when I question whether I should keep blogging or not but I love engaging with all of you!

Your turn! What are some things you are most grateful for this year? 

Monday, November 16, 2020

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

It may only be mid-November, but it's looking like Christmas in our house. This is extremely early for us to decorate. I'm typically "give Thanksgiving its due before decorating." But this year is different. Plus, we are having a baby the week after Thanksgiving, so who knows how I will be feeling Thanksgiving weekend. When we got our first snowfall in October, Pablo said "It's Christmastime!" No idea how he already has that association between snow and Christmas, but he had a point. It does feel like Christmastime. I've even seen outside decorations - and I'm not mad about it. Is there anything more cheery than holiday lights on these dark nights? We will still have a special Thanksgiving, although it will be different with just the 3 of us. I bought some November/Thanksgiving books so we are making sure the holiday doesn't get lost in the shuffle!

Since I didn't have flares in my hands this weekend, it seemed like the perfect time to decorate. I assembled the tree during nap and decorated the top 2/3s with our breakable ornaments and then let Pablo decorate the bottom 1/3 when he woke up. He only ended up hanging a couple of ornaments but he pointed out where we should put things. 


My MIL Joan sent us these adorable felted kitty ornaments. I didn't have a lot of kid-friendly ornaments, so this helped us build out that collection.  


We also put up this little felt tree that Joan gave us last year. Pablo did not really understand what to do with this last year, but he loves it this year. He's already re-decorated it multiple times. It's something I never would have thought to buy since I'm not a shopper... but I am glad my MIL thought to buy this for him as I think he'll love it for years to come. Plus it's nice for him to have his own little tree.


If I'm feeling good next weekend, my plan is to get our outdoor planters and maybe do our window boxes. It wasn't possible this past weekend as I had flares in my hip and ankle that made walking difficult so I had no interest in going to a large greenery. But hopefully next weekend is better - fingers and toes crossed. Worst case scenario, I will buy the planters and materials and have my mom decorate when they come to watch Paul. She did 100% of the decorating last year as they were here for Thanksgiving so it won't be much of a change from last year! ;) 

It's amazing what the glow of a tree can do for a person's mood so I am definitely glad we switched things up and decorated early. Between Covid stress (our numbers and positivity rate are terrible here), grief from the loss of Phil's brother, and just a general feeling of this year being off, I need that warm glow of the tree! 

If you celebrate Christmas, when do you plan to decorate? 

Friday, November 13, 2020

TGIF

TGIF! I'm off work today so yesterday was kind of my Friday. I realized I hadn't taken a day off work since our August vacation so felt like I needed one day off when Paul is in school before the baby arrives! I don't really have any plans for the day besides taking it really easy. In pre-Covid times I would be getting a massage but that just seems like a bad idea for a high risk person like me. But I will find other ways to relax/treat myself.

The book I'm reading is Beach Read by Emily Henry, which is another romance novel. I have read more romance novels than ever this year because I have craved light, happy books during this heavy, challenging year. I've heard great things about this book so am sure I will enjoy it!  I used to kind of turn my nose up at romance novels, but I've change my mind this year. There are great romance writers and it's not the 'ripping bodices' plotlines you might picture on Harlequin novels. There's great character development and strong female characters. And sometimes a person just wants a guaranteed happy ending (if there isn't a happy ending, it's not a romance). 

The high of my week was that the baby looked good during all of the monitoring at my 36 week appointment. They did a growth ultrasound and he's measuring about where Paul did at this point (I also had a lot of ultrasounds/monitoring with him) so I'm guessing he'll be similarly sized? We'll see! To be honest, I do wish at every appointment that they will see something minor that will require moving up my c section. Obviously I want baby to be healthy but the sooner this pregnancy is over, the better, given how challenging these final weeks have been. 

The low of my week was pregnancy stuff. I'm in a bad stretch of RA flares so ended up getting 2 steroid injections on Tuesday. I haven't had any this pregnancy since it's been hard to get in with a PA due to reduced staffing, but I was able to get in this week thank goodness, as these flares did not seem to be going anywhere. The other low was finding out I needed to have a CT scan of my chest. Phil pushed me to email my OB to let her know I've been having trouble getting deep breaths. I didn't have this problem with my last pregnancy but I chalked it up to the baby restricting my lung capacity. But since I have a history of blood clots (I had a massive one at 34 weeks with Paul), my OB said I had to have a CT scan to rule out a pulmonary embolism. We knew it was incredibly unlikely since I've been on blood thinner injections since 6 weeks but better safe than sorry. The scans came back clear but it wasn't fun to spend about 2.5 hours at a hospital getting a scan/waiting around for results. December 3rd can NOT come fast enough!

A recipe I made was loaded Italian Sausages with asparagus and bake potatoes. We have a lot of turkey sausages in the freezer so this was a good low-carb way to use a package of them. Even though my baked potato was small, I got a slightly high blood sugar from this meal. But I'm just accepting that I am going to have 1-2 highs/week - my endo is ok with that. 

A show we are watching is the 2nd season of Fargo. This show is a bit too dark for my taste but it's interesting enough to keep me watching. We aren't liking it as much as the first season but decided to stick with it. I'm looking forward to the new season of "The Crown" which comes out on Sunday as that is a show we both love!

The best money spent was on lattes! I did get a suggestion for a vanilla creamer that is diabetes/keto friendly, though, so I might have Phil try to find that to me so I don't keep spending $5/day on coffee. But we'll see - with less than 3 weeks left of pregnancy, I feel like coffees might be worth the splurge.

My plans this weekend include crickets. We have no plans. The weather won't be terrible but it's not 'have an outdoor play date' kind of weather either. I'm sure we'll go for walks and find ways to fill the days but we don't have anything specific planned. Such is covid life in the winter! If I don't have any bad flares this weekend, I think we will put up our Christmas tree. This is extremely early for me to do that, but I feel like the warm glow of a tree would be nice and cheery! 

How was your week?

Monday, November 9, 2020

Virtual Coffee Date

Hi, friends, and happy Monday! I thought I'd do a virtual coffee date catch up this morning. I've got my beloved Starbucks whole milk latte with just a little SF vanilla syrup next to me. It's become a daily treat since treats are pretty limited when you are on the gestational diabetes diet. But I figure it's ok to spend about $5/day for the last month of pregnancy. I did try to switch to brewed coffee with my FF french vanilla creamer and it made my blood sugars SKYROCKET so I said forget that and have become a very good Starbucks customer. :) Typically, a latte is a once/week treat so this is NOT normal for a frugal gal like me! Anyways, here's what's going on in my world.

If we were having coffee today...

- I'm sure we would talk about the election. I voted for Joe Biden so was very happy with the results. I hope that he can unite our country and that we can end the phase of bitter, attacking insults against those on the other side of the aisle. I don't like talking about politics on my blog, but I think it's important to note that I used to vote for Republican candidates up until the 2016 election. I've always been more of a moderate, though, and Trump's decisions, policies and rhetoric were not a fit for me. I hope the Republican party returns to the era of people like John Kasick, but we'll see. I definitely breathed a heavy sigh of relief when the race was called on Saturday morning but it felt anti-climatic given how long it took. 

- I'd tell you that the last week has been really hard and sad for my family. My brother-in-law passed away last week. It is not my story to share and Phil is an intensely private person so I will leave it at that. But it was a difficult blow in the midst of a year that has already presented plenty of challenges. I'd tell you how glad I was that the weather was so nice this past weekend. We went to my MIL's on Saturday morning since it was nice enough to be outside for most of our time out there (we are trying not to be indoors w/ her since Paul is in daycare). 

- I'd talk about how we made the most of the nice weather this past week. It was so gorgeous, so I made sure to get as much fresh air as possible when my body allowed. We went to 2 parks - one by our house, one by Nana's - played in the back yard and did lots of scootering. I bought a scooter earlier this summer but Paul refused to try it until the last couple of weeks... It's taking some time to figure it out but he's really enjoying it. 




- I'm sure we'd talk about pregnancy, too. Oof, my RA is angry. I'm getting flares nearly daily, sometimes in multiple joints. I'm a little terrified about what will happen after the baby is born but hopefully I get a little reprieve. And I'll go back on my $1000/injection wonder drug ASAP so I know that will help, but it can take 4-6 weeks to be fully effective. I'm glad Phil will be home for 2 weeks of paternity leave, and will work from home a decent amount around the holidays. I did have a lot of flares before Paul was born (not as bad as this pregnancy) but I don't remember having them after he was born so hopefully I get lucky again this time. 

- We'd of course have to talk about reading! I'd tell you about the 2 books I read over the weekend - "Notes from a Young Black Chef" by Kwame Onwuachi and "Party of 2" by Jasmine Guillory. The first one was non-fiction and a very interesting read. Kwame was a contestant on "Top Chef," which is one of my favorite shows, but I knew very little about his back story. "Party of 2" was the latest installment in Guillory's romance series. I have loved all of her books - they are very light and easy reads but the characters have substance. Check them out if you need a break from the heaviness of life! Then I would want to hear what you are reading or are looking forward to reading!


After talking so much about myself, I'd be sure to ask how you are doing? How is your family? What are your plans for the holidays? Are you as excited to turn the page on 2020 as I am?

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

What We Read in October

I’m ignoring the elephant in the room and decided to talk about something besides the election today. But I am hoping and praying for a Biden win in the days to come!! Most stressful election ever for me. 

October was another full reading month for me. I imagine my reading will really drop off come December when the baby arrives, though! We'll see! I read 9 books this month, bringing my 2020 total to 82! 



Hits:

- Dear Edward was a total page-turner for me. It's about a boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash. His whole family was on the plane with him, so he goes to live with an aunt and uncle. This is a dual narrative novel - one part tells the story of the day of the flight, the other part follows Edward as he deals with the grief of losing his family and survivor guilt. Definitely not something you want to read on a plane, but who is on planes these days anyways? 

- Anne of Green Gables was a delightful re-read from my childhood. My MIL bought and read the entire series this summer and pass it on to me so I plan to read more books from the series and would also like to watch the re-booted show on Netflix. 

- The Tenth Muse was another book I burned through. The protagonist is a female mathematician so I especially enjoyed this book since I was a math major/love math. I'm not sure the average person would enjoy it as much as I did, though, since math features prominently in the story line. 

- Raising White Kids really made me think. I am looking forward to discussing this with some other moms in November. 

Misses:

- Again, Again was a 2-star read for me. The author wrote the book, "We Were Liars," which I loved, so I decided to try another novel by her. It just did not work for me. 

- The End of the Day was another disappointing read. I loved the author's first book, "Did You Ever Have a Family," so had high hopes for this one. Most of the characters were very unlikable - I struggle to enjoy books when I don't have anyone to root for!

Paul's Reads:

I knew this Halloween would be a little different this year, so I decided to make it extra special by buying some Halloween books. Every week I'd pull out a new one. A friend also sent Paul 2 Daniel Tiger fall/Halloween books. Of the books I purchased, Room on the Broom and Pumpkin Soup were our favorites!


I want to do something similar this month for Thanksgiving and again in December for Christmas. I rarely buy books for myself but I will gladly spend money on books for Paul because they get read SO MANY TIMES. 

We've also been getting a lot of books for Paul from the library. He's very into the Llama Llama books right now, so we have 3 checked out and I'll pick 2 more up this week. We've also checked out a lot of construction equipment books in October. I'm very glad that Paul loves books so much. I'd estimate that we read about 10-15 books/day, and more on the weekends - but he's usually the one bringing books to us to read, it's not us pushing books on him! 

Have you read anything good lately?

Monday, November 2, 2020

A Spooktacular Weekend

Happy November! Another month is behind us and I am not sad. Time can just keep marching on. We had a special Halloween weekend, despite Covid limitations. Here's how we celebrated!

On Friday night, we had our friends over for pumpkin carving. Our kids go to the same daycare, and 2 of our boys are in the same room. Since we are in the same 'immunity bubble' it felt safe to get together indoors. We also know they take Covid seriously, wear masks, etc. I'm thankful we can get together indoors with them - play dates with them will be our saving grace this winter!

This was the most 'mailed in' pumpkin carving party we've ever hosted. I knew I'd be in pain from a flare (it's a given these days - good days are few and far between), so we ordered pizza and Phil got a cauliflower crust GF pizza from Aldi for me. Our friends brought a salad and everyone had Halloween candy for dessert. It's a reminder that you don't have to go all out for gatherings and people will still have a good time. The kids enjoyed having their own table to eat at - this was a great hand-me-down from my college friend Heidi!

I cleaned out our pumpkin and Phil did the carving (the cat one of course!). The other 2 were carved by our friends. 


The kids played really well together, too. This barn is such a hit with Paul and Gus loved it, too. I've said it before but I'll say it again, "Green Toys" are amazing! They are made from recycled plastic but are indestructible, come with minimal packaging, no batteries are required and they encourage creative play! Check them out if you have a toddler in your life!


On Saturday I pulled out all of our Halloween books so we could give them one last read before tucking them away for next year. I really added to our collection this year so we had quite a few to read. 

Reading a Daniel Tiger fall book, gifted from my friend Erin

Paul took a good 2 hour nap that day. When he woke up, it was time to head out to our block's treat hunt! A group of us moms organized this and it came together great. Each kid had a bag of treat and 5 orange eggs or black cauldrons to find. Before the treat hunt started, we did a little costume parade around the block. It was the perfect covid-safe way to celebrate Halloween. Paul is incredibly shy around people he doesn't know so I think this is a way better fit for him than trick or treating. I think he would have a very hard time going up to people's houses and I don't think he would say trick or treat... 



We also ended up with a small amount of candy which I prefer since Paul is so young. The only things he seems to really like are m&ms and we got plenty of those!

And that was our Halloween - pretty low key and easy peasy. We did not hand out Halloween candy but we really didn't see much foot traffic on our street so I don't think many kids in our neighborhood were out. Hopefullly next year is a more normal'ish year? 

How was your Halloween weekend?

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Pregnancy Update: 34 weeks

I hit 34 weeks on Tuesday. That means I have one more pregnancy update at 38 weeks and then I will deliver the following week, if all goes as planned. So 5 weeks from yesterday, our baby will be here. Please do not tell me how fast these last 5 weeks are going to go - I've had multiple people say this to me. If it was a normal pregnancy - i.e. no flares to contend with - I could probably 'enjoy' these last 5 weeks of being a family of 3.... but it's hard to enjoy life when you are getting a new flare every 2-3 days... I'm not asking for sympathy by saying this - I knew pregnancy was going to be hard but we decided it was worth it to have a 2nd child. I just don't want any comments about how fast time is going to go between now and December 3rd!

Baby size:  he was measuring about 5#13oz at the growth ultrasound last week so he continues to measure ahead. They said Paul was measuring ahead on his ultrasounds and then he was 7#5oz which is pretty average so who knows!


Feeling very large and in charge at 
33 weeks... I am so much bigger this time around. 



34 weeks - I feel like I look a little less large than 33 weeks? Who knows! 


Sex of the baby: boy! 

Name progress:  We've made a final decision on this. Woo hoo!


Symptoms/RA management: My RA is bad. Way worse than it was with Paul. I have no options at this point so I just need to grin and bear it. I'm on oral steroids and even at my max dose (which I had to start decreasing last week), I was getting flares every 2-3 days. I just hope things improve once the baby is born. I am going to start taking my weekly RA injections as soon as the baby is born, but it can take 4-6 weeks for them to be effective. So I just hope and pray I won't have terrible flares after he's born. Phil will be home for 2 weeks of paternity leave so that will help, but being in pain while caring for a newborn is not ideal... Outside of RA, I feel pretty ok although I have had a lot of cramping/discomfort which might be a UTI (did a urine culture today). Because of course I need another thing to contend with/another medication to take.

Gestational diabetes management: things are going better in this realm. I have some ketones in my urine but my endo isn't concerned about it. I've adjusted to the low carb diet which is just not fun. But I get to eat as much fat as I want so bring on the peanut butter and whole milk lattes. ;) I am not a big meat eater, so this diet is challenging for me as you really need to get your protein in, so I will be glad to be done with this diet in December in time for the holidays! I miss beans and lentils. And tacos. 

Recent/upcoming appointments: I have weekly marathon appointments that include a biophysical profile (ultrasound where they check for things like practice breathing and big/small movements, etc), growth ultrasound every 3-4 weeks, and non-stress tests (you get hooked up to a monitor and I have to press a button when I feel movement - they look for heart rate acceleration during movements and then deceleration after movement). I end up being at the OB practice for at least 1.5 hours, so am gone for 2 hours with the drive to/from. I'm very glad my company does not micromanage me and doesn't care when I am gone for appointments. In my previous jobs, that would not have been the case and I would be very stressed about the frequency/length of these appointments. I don't know what I would do if I was a pharmacist or teacher or had a job where you can't just be gone for 2 hours every week... 

Sleep: Meh. I'm up at least 3 times during the night to go to the bathroom and tend to have trouble falling back asleep after 1 of those wake-ups. But this is typical for sleep at the end of pregnancy. 

Cravings/favorite foods and aversions: Fairlife Chocolate Milk and Whole Milk SF Vanilla lattes are treats I'm leaning on heavily. I have a glass of chocolate milk every night as part of my bedtime snack and have been getting lattes nearly daily... Typically I would only get a latte once/week but right now I'm leaning into lattes because it's something I enjoy that gives me that 'ahhhh this is good' feeling.

Exercise:  walks have really tapered off due to the RA pain I've had... So when I have a good day, I make sure to take a walk. Also the weather lately hasn't helped. It's felt like January out there! But it will warm up this weekend, thank goodness, so hopefully I have some good days so we can take advantage of the milder temps!


Recent baby prep/decisions:  I moved all of the baby stuff out of storage and have it piled in the guest room in the basement. Phil 'gets' to move it all upstairs but probably won't do that until close to when the baby is born or shortly thereafter. There really isn't much a baby needs in the early days - just a bassinet, diapers and clothes really. And a car seat of course, so Phil will install the base sometime this month so we are all ready to go. I also washed all the newborn and 0-3 month clothes and ordered some more newborn stuff. It will be interesting to see how this baby grows. Everyone told me you use newborn stuff for like a week - Paul was in it for 2 months! We had borrowed a lot of newborn stuff and that friend gave it to another friend so I ordered 5 more newborn sleeprs more clothes and will probably order more - but will wait and see what this baby's growth trend is like.

Mood: eh. Not great. The RA flares are a real drag. I can't really 'enjoy' these final weeks as a family of 3 so I am very much wishing time away and ready for it to be December 3rd. I want to emphasize that we are very grateful to be pregnant/growing our family but pregnancy is very very hard for me, so I keep reminding myself that you can be grateful for something and absolutely hate it at the same time.