Thursday, December 7, 2017

Girls Gone Mild in St. Louis

Girls gone mild seems like the appropriate way to describe my weekend visit to see my friend Nora in St. Louis! Or really, that phrase has been fitting for me for a long time, even before pregnancy, as I'm all about low key celebrations. As I have mentioned before, I went to visit Nora to celebrate her being in remission and having her last chemo treatment behind her! Nora and her husband were excellent hosts. I had the best time and came back really refreshed. Here's how we filled the weekend.

I flew out on Friday afternoon and treated myself to a decaf latte at the airport.


When I got on/off the flight, I had to ask someone to get my bag in and out of the overhead bin as I had a flare in my shoulder so couldn't raise my right arm above my head. Pregnancy + RA is teaching me how to ask for help, which is not easy for an independent person like me.

Nora and her husband picked me up at the airport and took me back to their house so I could get settled into the guest room. After chatting for awhile, we headed out to dinner at a restaurant in their neighborhood which had a great gluten free menu! After dinner, we chatted for awhile and then I headed to bed early as I was pretty tired!

On Saturday morning, I slept in and then we lazed around the house that morning before heading to our first stop of the day:  The Novel Neighbor. This is a book store that has been mentioned several times on my favorite bookish podcast, What Should I Read Next hosted by Anne Bogel. In fact, earlier that week, Holland, the owner of The Novel Neighbor, was a guest on the podcast (episode 107). She talked about bookish gifts for the holidays which made me especially excited to see her store in person!

Nora and I in front of the store
The book store was even more adorable that I had imagined and I was able to meet the owner. They have a special "Modern Mrs. Darcy/What Should I Read Next" area with books/items that Anne Bogel recommends.


I also could not resist buying this onesie for Baby S. This is the first outfit I've bought for the baby and it seems fitting that it's book-related.


I also picked up some book darts, a book for the baby (I'm trying to build of a collection of "Good night" books), a book for myself (I couldn't resist a Christmas book set in Paris!) and a St. Louis tree ornament (not pictured).


After that, we headed back to Nora's. She warmed up some white chicken chili for lunch and I ate about a half a bag of tortilla chips. Whoops. Then she turned on the live action version of Beauty and the Beast. It was really good but between pregnancy exhaustion and a full belly, I fell asleep during it.  Whoops. While I was watching the movie napping, Nora whipped up some gooey butter cookies, which is a treat that St. Louis is known for. I enjoyed a couple of cookies, which were delicious!


That evening, Nora's dad picked us up and we headed out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant which was so good! After dinner, we stopped at Ted Drewes for some custard. Ted Drewes is a famous custard place in St. Louis. I've been wanting to go for so long but on my other trips we either didn't have time or it was closed! I'm glad that I finally got to try it. I was also surprised how cheap it was! We got 3 sundaes and the total bill was around $10!

After that, we checked out some Christmas lights. This area of St. Louis is known for their Christmas lights. I've never seen anything like it! We looked at lights along 3 different streets and I was blown away.


Things kind of took a turn for the worse on our way home, though. I started to feel nauseated but *thought* I could make it home before getting sick. I was wrong. :( Nora and her dad were incredibly sweet but I was absolutely mortified - and disgusted with myself. I'm not sure what caused me to get sick - maybe too much food? Since then sweets have not appealed to me so maybe that is a new aversion that I'm developing. I'm just glad it wasn't the stomach flu as Nora's immune system was so compromised since she had chemo the week of my visit. I would have felt extra horrible if I had gotten her sick!

Luckily I was feeling better on Sunday morning so we caught a 10:30 showing of Wonder before heading to the airport. I read Wonder last year and it was one of my favorite books. The movie adaptation was excellent. As far as I can remember, it stayed very true to the book and the acting was wonderful. Even though this is a middle-grade novel, I think it's something everyone should read!

After that we headed to the airport. It was a wonderful trip and I am glad I got a chance to have lots of girl time with Nora before Baby S. arrives.

Phil picked me up at the airport and I was back home by 5:30. Oscar seemed happy to have me home - probably because that means the heating blanket was back out in use!


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Podcasts and Books of November

Happy December, everyone! I'm struggling to believe that it's the final month of the year! I know that is such a cliche statement to make, but I'm just stunned by how fast each successive year goes!

I've decided to skinny up these monthly recaps even further and am leaving out the 'looks' portion of the recap because, to be honest, I'm not too excited about how I look these days and I tend to wear the same things over and over and over again, so there aren't a lot of 'new' looks to share. ;) Someday I'll be back to sharing workouts and looks as part of my monthly recap, though!

Podcasts:

Chatty Sisters Podcast - This is one of those podcasts where I will stop in the middle of a podcast and click over to this when a new episode drops! I know Kelly and Caroline, but even if you don't know them, you will enjoy this show. It's 2 sisters talking about a wide variety of topics from family traditions to goals to Myers-Briggs personality types.

From the Front Porch - This is a podcast hosted by the owner of a bookstore in Thomasville, GA and one of her employees. I started listening to this podcast when the owner was on What Should I Read Next, another 'must listen' bookish podcast. They talk about all things bookish. The most recent episode was about children's books, which is of particular interest to me now that I'm starting to build a library for Baby S.

Books:




November was a huge month of reading for me as I read 10 books! I had a lot of flares in November, which forced me to take it easy. And my favorite thing to do when I am taking it easy is read. My favorite book of the month was Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I can see why Amazon chose this as the best fiction book of 2017 as it was excellent! Ng's first book, "Everything I Never Told You" was also selected as the best fiction book by Amazon in the year it was published. So Ng is on quite a roll with her first 2 books!

Essentialism by Greg McKeown - 2 stars - This book, which is about simplifying your life, just didn't work for me.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng - 5 stars - This is excellent! Ng has this amazing ability to tell you what is going to happen at the end of the book on the very first page. The ending matters, but what's most interesting is what drives her characters to make the decisions they make.

The Course of Love by Alain de Botton - 3 stars - This is a thought provoking fiction read about the trials and tribulations marriage.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave - 2 stars - This is one of those books that I considered abandoning early on as I wasn't connecting with it, but it's gotten great reviews from others so I soldiered on. In hindsight, I should have abandoned it.

The Banks of Certain Rivers - 3 stars - This is an interesting book about a high school teacher that gets accused of physically assaulting a male student. The assault was captured on video but is the video showing what actually happened?

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin - 3 stars - I loved Zevin's last book, "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" so I was excited to check this book out. It was pretty good but didn't live up to my standards. It's about a young woman who has an affair with a U.S. Senator and then moves away to start over due to the scandal.

It's Okay to Laugh by Nora McInerny Purmort - 4 stars - This was a re-read for me and I think I enjoyed it even more the second time through because after listening to the author's podcast for the last year+, I could "hear" her voice. It's her memoir about dealing with the loss of her father and husband and a miscarriage, all in the span of about 6-8 weeks.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid - 2 stars - I really wanted to like this book as it's an immigrant story, which is a genre I tend to love. But the detached writing style of the book did not work for me. This has been critically acclaimed and has made several 'best of 2017' book lists, but it just didn't resonate with me.

Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker - 3 stars - This is a re-telling of Jane Eyre from Mr. Rochester's perspective. It was interesting to read an imagined back story on how he came to marry 'the woman upstairs'.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Pregnancy Update: 26 Weeks

Happy Friday! I'm back with another pregnancy update.

Baby size: the baby is a size of a scallion this week (lengthwise, obviously) or the size of an eggplant from a weight perspective. The baby is 14" long and weighs about 2 pounds. My bump has definitely grown over the last several weeks!

24 weeks

25 weeks
26 weeks - also my least flattering picture I've taken! :P 

Symptoms/RA management: Eh. My RA is still very active. I'm continuing to get about a flare a week. Some last longer than others. I am going to try acupuncture this month to see if it gives me any relief. I figure it can't hurt!

Other than my RA/feeling really tired, I started to have some rib pain last week which I attribute to everything shifting up as my uterus expands to accommodate our growing baby. It seems early to feel rib pain as my bump isn't that big but I guess everything is shifting up and putting pressure on my ribs.

The only other issue I'm having is that my complexion is AWFUL. I've always struggled with hormonal acne and it's just terrible right now with all the hormones pumping through my body. In the past, it has helped to remove dairy from my diet but I don't really want to do that as the baby needs calcium or it will leech it from my bones. I could take calcium supplements but I feel it's better to get my calcium naturally versus a supplement. So I guess I will just have to put up with bad skin. I am reminding myself that I notice it more than others. I switched to a new line of Arbonne products for acne-prone skins, so hopefully that will help!

Recent/upcoming appointments: I had a prenatal appointment yesterday with our OB. My appointment went well. The baby's heartbeat was strong at 158 bpm. My belly is measuring a week behind but the doctor wasn't concerned since it's such an approximation. My next appointment is the screening for gestational diabetes (GD) in mid-December. I'm kind of paranoid that I will fail the screen and find out I have GD because it seems like my mom probably had it with us since 3 of her 5 babies were over 9 pounds and they broke the collar bone of my little sister during her delivery (broad shoulders and heavy babies can be a sign that the mom had GD). Plus my older sister had GD with all 3 of her babies. We'll see what the test shows, though! If I have GD, it's not that big of a deal. It's just another thing to monitor.

Sleep: My sleep has been ok. Some nights are better than others. I have to switch from side to side during the night because if I lay on one side for too long, my hip and shoulder start to hurt. I'm still getting up 2-3 times a night to go to the bathroom, too. Naps on the weekend have been so helpful, though!

Cravings and favorite foods: I don't have any real cravings. I find that I am VERY thirsty for water sometimes. My favorite snack these days is dried mango. I can't get enough of it. Unfortunately it's not a cheap snack as the brand I prefer (peeled snacks) is almost $4 for a bag with 2 servings (which is sometimes just one serving for me - ha).

Recent baby prep/decisions/purchases: We purchased this combination dresser/changing table from Target on Cyber Monday when they had a 15% off deal.


Eventually we will purchase the matching crib. I think I've mentioned before that we are not going to order the crib until we find a house and move in. I'm really hoping we can move by early summer (I've lost all hope of finding a house before the baby is born). We are hoping to get by with a halo bassinet and pack-n-play until we move. We are just trying to avoid assembling a crib, taking it apart and then assembling it again when we move. This of course means that I won't get the experience of decorating/setting up a nursery before the baby is born but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter all that much to me. It would be such a waste of time and money to decorate a nursery when we know we won't be in the house much longer. We're just too practical for that!

Our next purchase will be the glider. I'm going to shop for one with my mother-in-law next Friday. We're also going to buy a less-expensive glider off of Amazon to have upstairs in the nursery/guest room so that we will have somewhere to rock the baby at night (our 1915 home has super steep steps so I won't want to walk down those with a baby at night!). The other glider will go in our living room where I imagine we'll spend most of the time with the baby (the only rooms upstairs are our bedrooms/full bath so we don't 'hang out' up there).

Mood: The pregnancy hormones have REALLY set in over the last couple of weeks and I've had some long crying spells over insignificant things. I'm usually not very emotional, so it's been an adjustment for Phil to see me having these crying spells. I told Phil that I wish there was a virtual reality game that would let men 'step in to the mind' of a pregnant woman and see how it feels to lose control of your body and your emotions! I know it comes with the territory but I don't enjoy being extra emotional.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Shouldless Days of '17: November

I made last Sunday a shouldless day. I wasn't sure if I was going to fit one into November as it's been a busy month, but I am glad I was able to sneak one in! Here is how I spent it!

As usual, I was up before Phil. I had oatmeal with raisin and bananas and pumpkin spice tea for breakfast.


It was laundry day so I went through the diapers I bought on sale during Thanksgiving week and figured out which ones I needed to prep. Some cloth diapers require that you wash them 6-8 times so I figured out which ones I needed to add to our laundry. We aren't going to use cloth diapers until the baby fits into one size diapers (around 10 pounds) but I wanted to get the prep work done well ahead of when the baby arrives.


We had plans to decorate our tree that day so I made a special brunch, as is our tradition. I made this easy egg bake with pork sausage from our meat share. While it baked, I read and kitty kept my lap warm.


Then it was time to eat! I forgot to take a picture before we dug in (we were both really hungry and ended up eating 5 pieces between the 2 of us!!).


We lounged around after brunch and got a kick out watching our little sun-seeker catch some rays.


Then it was time to decorate the tree! We decorated a fake, pre-lit tree. We pretty much always had fake trees when we were growing up so it's what I am used to.


It didn't take long for Oscar to start poking around. She did pretty well with the tree last year so hopefully she does well this year, too. We just keep the ornaments off the lower branches.


After that, Phil headed to the gym and I laid down to read and nap. I'm still feeling really exhausted and need naps on the weekends. Oscar warmed my feet and kept me company and we both eventually fell asleep.


Phil likes to keep our house pretty cool (63 degrees!) so I pretty much always have a heated blanket on my lap. Oscar is a big fan, too.


She continued to poke around the tree but so far she hasn't broken any ornaments. She just can't resist something shiny that she can bat around with her paws.


For dinner, we enjoyed Thanksgiving weekend leftovers while watching 60 minutes.

It was quite the lazy day but it was just what I needed after several busy days. It was nice to have Phil around for a shouldless day as he's usually at his mom's on my shouldless days! And Oscar really seemed to love having us around all day, too.

I am going to enjoy these shouldless days while I can as I know they won't be possible once baby Segner arrives!

Have you had any relaxing days recently?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

My favorite holiday of the year has come and gone! Here's how I spent my 4-day weekend!

On Thursday we gathered at my brother's to celebrate Thanksgiving. My parents and both my brothers and their families were there. So it was a 'smallish' group (13 total - when my whole family is together there's 19 of us!).

My nephews Matthew (9) and Kolin (10)
We waited until after the Vikings/Lions game to eat (the Vikings won but they made it a nail-biter, as they are wont to do). We had quite the spread! My mom made some GF stuffing for me. Stuffing is probably my favorite Thanksgiving dish so I appreciate that she always makes me own little crockpot of stuffing. I brought the vegetable tray and dips and this brussel sprout salad (which is so good!).


After dinner we lazed around. My dad made a blanket out of newspapers because he was a bit chilly. What can I say - he's a quirky guy. He claims that he felt warmer covered in newspapers. My dad and I are both always cold but I opted for a blanket!


On Thursday night I came down with a flare in my knee. I've never had a flare in that joint before. It was very painful and made it difficult to sleep on Thursday night. So I was very glad that my mom had planned to come over on Friday afternoon to help me prep for the dinner I hosted for my family that evening. I was hobbling around since I couldn't put my full weight on my left leg, so I was very happy to have her help! I had made and froze a meat lasagna the previous weekend so she helped me make the veggie lasagna. Both turned out great!


Our house is really small - about 1300 square feet, so it was a little bit crowded with 12 guests, but we made it work!

The kids table!
My knee felt much better by Saturday morning so it was a short-lived flare. Since I was feeling better I spent the day turning 18 pounds of roasted tomatillos, which I harvested from my garden this summer, into salsa verde! It was kind of a putzy job since I had to chop a lot of onions and cilantro and I had to roast the garlic and jalapenos. But it was fun to spend some time in the kitchen.


With my mom's encouragement, I used the pressure cooker to can the salsa instead of using the hot water bath method. I have an Instant Pot and am not intimidated by that at all, but I was intimidated by the stove-top pressure cooker! After reading the instructions it didn't seem so bad. The Instant Pot had introduced me to how pressure cooking worked, so it was less intimidating. And I knew my mom was only a phone call away if I needed help!


The first batch of process jars
By 3:30 pm I was done and had canned 12 1.5 pint jars of salsa. We are looking forward to enjoying these over the winter and will share some with my family at Christmas. I was really proud of myself for figuring out how to use the pressure cooker. I know my mom's mom, Grandma Val, would be so proud of me for carrying on the canning tradition. My mom grew up canning with her mom, and then I canned with my mom. Hopefully baby Segner will pick up this tradition and carry it on when he or she is an adult!

I was pretty wiped out after being on my feet for so long so I laid down on the couch and Oscar promptly jumped up for some snuggles. I think she knows something is going on in my belly as she kind of avoid sitting on my belly. When she does sit on my belly, the baby will kick!


I had leftovers for dinner and watched another Hallmark Holiday movie. Phil came home (he had spent the day at his mom's) when there was about 20 minutes left and figured out the plot line in about 5 minutes .  ;)  I know that Hallmark movies are predictable and cheesy but I just love them.

We settled in and watched Allied on Amazon Prime which was really good! It's set during WWII and is about a Canadian intelligence officer that begins to suspect that his wife is a German spy.

My loves
I'll talk about how I spent my Sunday in another post as it was a "shouldless day" for me. How was your weekend?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thankful

'Tis the season to reflect on all we have to be thankful for. This should be a daily exercise for us, but I'm glad that a holiday comes around once a year that reminds us to reflect on the many blessings in our life. I usually do a 10-day series of Thanksgiving posts but this year I decided to do one post instead! Here are some of the many things I am thankful for.

1. This Guy


Phil keeps me on my toes and prevents me from taking things too seriously. We celebrated 6 months of marriage this past weekend, which kind of blows my mind! Our first year of marriage is going to fly by!

2. Our Growing Baby

My baby bump at 24 weeks
While I don't love being pregnant due to how hard it makes it to manage my RA (I had to go off my most effective $1,000/week injection), I feel so grateful that we were able to conceive so easily and quickly and that the baby's development has been healthy and normal.

3. Our Sweet Kitty


Yes, she prefers Phil by a landslide, but it makes me appreciate the moments when she will cuddle with me even more. I never thought I'd be a cat lady but Phil has certainly made me one. I can't imagine our house without our furry little friend!

4. My Supportive Family

My beautiful nieces and nephews!

My siblings and their spouses

My dear mom, who is looking at my dad with such adoration and love

My dad during his very funny and sweet speech at our wedding. Phil is a lot like him - they have a strong sense of humor, hate attention, and have the softest hearts.
I don't know what I'd do without the love and support of my family!

5. The Amazing Wedding We Pulled Off




Our wedding was all I had dreamed of and more. I'm especially proud of the fact that I DIY'd so much of it - with the help of family and friends. Of course the most amazing part was marrying this guy!

This is one of my favorite photos from the day. You can see how happy I am wrapped in the arms of Phil!

6. The Travel Adventures We've Had

From hiking in Southern California...


to skipping rocks on the beaches of San Diego...


to hiking in Maui...



to hiking in Northern Minnesota...


to hiking in Western North Carolina!


We packed a lot of adventures into the past year! I guess you can tell how much we love hiking since we tend to hike on every trip we take!

7. Friends

URL  turned IRL friends

College friends

I'm lucky to have so many wonderful, supportive friends who have been there for me through good and bad!

8. A Warm House and a Fridge Full of Food

Through my involvement on my company's United Way Campaign committee, I've become even more aware of how many people are struggling in my community - 25% of the people in the broader Twins Cities area live in poverty. That is such a sad statistic. I thought about how very fortunate I am when I was loading up my grocery cart with food for Thanksgiving weekend. We have a warm house and never have to worry about how we will pay the heating or electricity bills.

What are you thankful for? To all my American readers, have a very happy Thanksgiving!