Friday, December 29, 2017

Pregnancy Update: 30 weeks

Happy Friday! I'm closing out another year of blog posts with a pregnancy update!

Baby size:The baby is almost 16" long and weights about 3 pounds, making him/her about the size of a head of cabbage. It's kind of crazy to think that I have a 16" baby in my stomach because my bump doesn't seem all that big! But I guess the baby is scrunched up in there!

28 weeks

29 weeks
30 weeks

Symptoms/RA management: My RA remains pretty active and I got my 9th steroid injection of this pregnancy the week before Christmas. However, since then I have gotten a break from RA flares - possibly because my body is focusing on fighting a bad chest cold that I got over Christmas! Other than feeling tired and having to go to the bathroom often, I don't have any other complaints (no heartburn luckily!).

I also was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GD) in the last month which has resulted in quite a change in how I eat. I've always been a low-carb eater due to being GF, but now I have to eat way more protein and fat than I was before. The first couple of days were pretty rough but now that I have adjusted it's not too bad. I've learned that I need to eat way fewer carbs than the GD diet prescribes. I will say that I am very glad that Christmas is over because all the sweets pushing I experienced (ice cream, gelato, etc) drove me a little crazy. I'm glad we won't be eating at others' houses much for the rest of the pregnancy as it's easiest for me to follow the diet when I'm on my home turf.

Recent/upcoming appointments: We had our 30 week OB appointment yesterday and I had Phil come with me so that he could be there for the explanation of how my GD diagnosis will change the way my pregnancy will be managed. I'm measuring 2 weeks behind but that's fine as you can measure +/-2 weeks with no concern from the doctor. The best part of every appointment is hearing the heartbeat, which was 150 bpm.

Then in the afternoon I met with the endocrinologist. She decided not to put me on insulin yet because my blood sugars have mostly been in a healthy range. I've had some high reading the last couple of days but she thinks it's due to the stress my body is under from the bad chest cold I have. I'm really hoping to not have to go on insulin as it would really change the way my pregnancy is managed. I would have to see my OB twice a week and would have a lot of extra monitoring which just sounds stressful. Fingers crossed I can continue to manage it with my diet. It's not easy but I keep telling myself it's only for ~10 more weeks.

Sleep: Sleep is tough, especially this past week with the all the coughing I am doing. Plus I get up to go to the bathroom about every 2 hours so I can't say I feel all that 'rested'. Weekend naps are my saving grace.

Cravings and favorite foods:Well GD has really thrown a wrench in my ability to give into any cravings. I was sad to have to give up eating dried mango (which is basically straight sugar) as that was my favorite afternoon snack. Womp womp. Since dairy is a good source of protein/fat, I'm eating lots of cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese. I don't know how a person could have GD and be lactose intolerant or a vegan...  it would be so hard to find enough sources of protein/fat!

Recent baby prep/decisions/purchases: I went shopping for a glider with my MIL in mid-December and we ordered one. It will arrive in early February. It's sooo comfortable so I can't wait to have it in our house. Besides that, Phil assembled the changing table we purchased around Thanksgiving and we shifted things around in the guest room to make room for it. I'm really happy with the changing table. It was fun to fill the top drawer with cloth diapers!

Ignore all the stuff piled on the guest bed - this room is in a state of transition so not very tidy!

Classes: We were planning to do Bradley birth method classes, but they got cancelled due to low registration so instead we signed up for some lamaze-based classes which start next week. We also did a hospital tour in early-December which made things feel a bit more real!  We also registered for a breast feeding class at the hospital in January. That's all the classes we plan to do so hopefully we feel ready for childbirth by the end of January when the birth classes end!

Mood:  My mood has been so so. The GD diagnosis was pretty hard on me. The pregnancy has been pretty tough as is with all the RA flares I've had so it was tough to get another diagnosis that puts me in the 'high risk pregnancy' category. But after following the diet for a week and mostly having great blood sugars, I am feeling better about the diagnosis. I'm just really ready for the pregnancy to be over with as I think I will much prefer caring for a newborn (which means being sleep-deprived) than dealing with being pregnant with a chronic illness (RA) and managing GD. I will definitely be ordering a chocolate milk shake or something indulgent like that in the hospital after the baby is born!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Year in Review: My 2017 Goals

It's time for another "year in review" post. Today I am taking an account of how well I did on my 2017 goals. In 2017, I set fewer goals since I knew that wedding planning was going to really take up a lot of time in the first half of the year. It turned out setting fewer goals was a really good plan since we found out we were pregnant in July which rocked our world in the best way possible.

Here's how I did with my 2017 goals!

1. Plan a wedding and try not to lose ourselves in the process.  SUCCESS!  I think we I did a really good job at planning our wedding. It was a lot of work but it was so worth it in the end. I wouldn't change a thing about the day. And in general, I kept my cool for the most part - until the RSVP deadline rolled around. Then Lisa Dotzenrage made an appearance. Seriously, some people's inability to return a self-address, stamped envelope just amazes me. But aside from frustrations over that aspect of wedding planning, I think I stayed pretty calm and was referred to as "bridechilla" on our wedding day. I will say that I am glad that I will NEVER plan another wedding again because it is so expensive and so much work. I do not miss it one bit and enjoy being married 1,000 x's more than planning a wedding.

2. Read 52 books, including 6 physical books I already own.  SUCCESS! As of today, I've read 83 books, and I will probably finish one more before the end of the year. I'm really happy with the number of books I read this year. Not doing a read harder challenge was the best thing because it let me read what I "wanted" to read versus what I felt like I "should" be reading. In the past I've challenged myself to read 12 books I own but this year I took it down to 6. I'm glad I did that as I've started to donate more and more of my unread books. There were some books on my shelves that interested me years ago but don't any longer so I've decided to let go of those books and sell them at Half Priced Books or donate them to the library.

3. One shouldless day/month.  10/12 = partial success. I came pretty close to having a shouldless day each month. I missed the months of May and October. But I took vacations both of those months, including a super relaxing 9 day trip to Maui, so I could cheat and consider those vacations as shouldless days. If I didn't set this goal, though, I would have had far fewer relaxing days in 2017 as it's so easy to fill up my calendar. I know that shouldless days will become a thing of the past once Baby S. arrives but I'm glad I've spent the last 2 years focusing on relaxing one day each month! 

Monthly Goals:  The Happiness Project - FAIL

So I meant to set a monthly intention based on the book The Happiness Project  - but I fell off the wagon back in May and never got back on.  Whoopsies. This taught me that monthly goals/intentions just don't work for me. Lesson learned! 


Goal setting in 2018 is going to look a whole lot different. Meaning, it's not going to happen. I just feel that having a baby and figuring out how to balance being a mom + working full time + everything else is going to be challenging enough. I'll set a reading goal on Goodreads but I am not going to put pressure on myself to read the 52+ books that I typically read in a year. 

It's kind of weird to go into a new year with no goals but I think this is the year to give myself grace and to allow life to unfold as it will. Maybe I will run a 10 mile race or a half marathon in the fall or read 50+ books. But I just don't want to add any unnecessary pressure because, as a perfectionist, I already put far too much pressure on myself! 

Did you set goals in 2017? If so, how did you do? Will you be setting goals for 2018? If you typically set goals, have you ever taken a year off from setting them?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Year in Review: Best Books of 2017

For those who celebrate, I hope you had a great Christmas holiday! Since we are in the final week of the year (how!!), it's time to post a couple of 'year in review' posts.

One of my favorite parts about this time of year is all the'best of' lists that get released - especially best books lists! It's fun to look through them and see where I agree and disagree. So to kick off my 'year in review' posts, here are the 10 best books I've read (out of the 80+ I've read so far this year!). 

1. When Breath Becomes Air (Best 2017 Read): This is a memoir written by a neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. This book is sad and heavy but it's so beautifully written. Warning: do not read the afterward by Paul's wife in public - unless you are comfortable ugly crying in front of others. I think this book should be read by all medical residents as he talks about how much he learned about patient care when he went from being the doctor to being the patient. This was the best non-fiction book I read in 2017.

2. Her Every Fear: This is as page-turner thriller that I had the hardest time putting down. It is very creepy as the story line deals with a stalker, so if that freaks you out don't read this book! This is the second book I've read by this author and both were excellent 5-star reads! I've recommended this to several people and everyone loved it!

3. Homegoing: This is a multi-generational story that starts in the 1700s in Africa with 2 sisters. One is sold into slavery in the US; the other is married to a white British man involved in the slave trade industry. Each chapter follows the next generation of each sister. The book does an excellent job of showing how slavery impacts every generation over the course of nearly 300 years. I recommend reading a hard copy of this book as you'll want to reference the family tree at the front of the book so you can keep the characters straight. This author was in her 20s when she wrote this book. 

4. The Mothers: We meet several characters in this novel. The story is about two friends, Nadia and Aubrey, and a boy they both develop feelings for. There are several narrators but one of the narrators is a chorus of church ladies ("the mothers") who have opinions about everyone and everything and gossip as if their lives depended on it. The writing was so beautiful but it wasn't beautiful for the sake of being beautiful, as is often the case with literary fiction. Instead the writing advanced the story and helped the reader gain a better understanding of the characters and the complexity of the issues they faced. The author of this book is also very young - she wrote it when she was 25.

5. Behold the DreamersThis was a heart-breaking, fictional account of a family that comes to America from Cameroon hoping to build a life. They could not afford to pay for immigration lawyers and such, so the husband comes as a visitor, extends his stay, seeks asylum and eventually brings his wife and son over. It is fiction but the author is from the same town in Cameroon that the characters in the story are from, and she, too, immigrated to the US. So it has an authentic feel given the author's first hand experiences. 

6. We Were the Lucky Ones:  This was a late addition to my best-of list as I just finished it mid-month. It's a WWII novel about a Jewish family living in Poland at the start of the war. The parents and siblings all experience different tragedies so it is a heavy read, but it was so well-written. It's especially moving since it's based on the story of the author's family. It's a powerful book and it will upset you to read about the capacity man has to be cruel to others. 

7. Expecting BetterThis is a unique pregnancy book as it is written by an economist and mother of 2. When she was pregnant with her first child, she became frustrated when her midwife wasn't able to explain the risk behind the things they were telling her not to do, from not drinking any alcohol, to not eating sushi, to not eating sandwich meat. So she looks at many research studies behind many of the decisions a woman needs to make in pregnancy and makes a decision for herself based on what the data says. Will I make all the same decisions as her? No. But it was interesting to read a book that took an evidenced-based approach to pregnancy recommendations.

8. Bear Town: This is such a timely read as it addresses the topic of sexual assault. The story is set in a hockey-obsessed town in Sweden. The hockey players are basically gods in this town (I could so relate to this since I grew up in a small town where high school jocks could do no wrong). But something happens at a team party that shakes this community to its core. I couldn't care less about hockey and I still loved this book so don't let the hockey theme prevent you from reading it. 

9. This Is How It Always Is:  This is a beautifully written book about a couple that is raising a transgendered child. The title of the book alludes to this quote about making decisions as a parent: 

 '...You never know. You only guess. This is how it always is. You have to make these huge decisions on behalf of your kid, this tiny human whose fate and future is entirely in your hands, who trusts you to know what's good and right and then to be able to make it happen. You never have enough information. You don't get to see the future. And if you screw up, if with your incomplete, contradictory information you make the wrong call, well, nothing less than your child's entire future and happiness is at stake. It's heartbreaking. It's maddening. But there's no alternative.'  

10. Little Fires Everywhere:  I was worried that Celeste Ng's sophomore novel would be a disappointment since I loved her debut novel, "Everything I Never Told You." But she hit it out of the park again. This this novel she tackles topics such as families living in different socioeconomic conditions and interracial adoption.  It would be a great book club book! 

What were your best reads of 2017?

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas: Yes and No

After yesterday's downer post, I'm switching gears to something a little bit more fun - another 'yes and no' post - this time about the holidays!

Around Christmas time, this is what we say yes and no to!

We say yes to:

- sending out Christmas cards. However, since we send 100 cards (which I will need to increase next year as more of Phil's extended family is sending us cards so we need to reciprocate in the future), I go with the cheapest option because I know it's going to end up in the garbage. I love seeing the other fancy tinyprints cards but I could not stomach the cost associated with the nicer styles of cards given the volume we order! We are just too cheap!  I also say yes to using address labels that I print off my computer instead of hand addressing the cards. My handwriting is dreadful!

- an artificial tree. I love the idea of a real tree, but again, we are cheap frugal people and it's more economical to have an artificial tree. It would be nice to have that fresh tree smell in the house but it's also nice to not have to hassle with going somewhere to buy the tree each year!

- being flexible about how we spend time with our families at Christmas. Some years we are able to see one side on Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas Day, like we did last year, but that won't work this year since all the traveling would just exhaust me. So instead we will spend Christmas Eve/Day with Phil's mom and then we'll spend NYE weekend with my parents. Yes, it's super hard to not be there for my family's Christmas celebration, but it will be nice to have 2 solid days with each side of our family instead of rushing from one celebration to another. I'm grateful that my parents are so understanding. We've probably spent more time around Christmas with Phil's mom than with my family over the last several years because if we aren't with Phil's mom then she is alone (she's a widow). But my parents are very understanding and never make me feel bad for how we split our time.

We say no to:

- exchanging gifts as a couple. Instead we make a special meal together. Usually we bake a GF treat after dinner but that won't be happening this year since sweets are off limits with my GD diagnosis. In general, we say no to gift exchanges as much as we can. I don't exchange gifts with my siblings and my siblings pool the money we would have spent on my parents' gift to sponsor a family. Gifts are dead last in my list of love languages and I just don't feel like we 'need' them in order to celebrate Christmas. Obviously once we have a child, this will change, but I want to keep the gifts from getting out of hand!

- outside decorations. This kind of bums me out as my parents had such beautiful outdoor lights on our house when I was growing up and they continue to put lights up at the cabin. But we don't have a tall enough ladder to put lights on our roofline and Phil has zero interest in putting up lights. In the future I would like to get a festive wreath for our door but that just didn't happen this year.

- giving toys to my Godson. Instead I only give books and money for his college account. I know this does not make me the most fun and exciting aunt, but now that my nephew is old enough (13) to understand what he's seeing when I give him a statement for his savings account each Christmas and birthday, I'm gaining popularity! I just feel like kids get soooo many toys. I also use this same approach for all of my nieces and nephews birthdays. After all, I am the aunt that works in financial services so this isn't too surprising. And my siblings have told me that they really appreciate the fact that I don't add to the toy clutter in their homes!

What do you say yes and no to during the holiday season?  For those who celebrate Christmas, I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Gestational Diabetes: Dealing with Another Diagnosis

As I mentioned in my TGIF post from last week, I failed my glucose test (a test where they make you drink a super sugary drink and then test your blood sugar after an hour). After-the-fact, I learned that prednisone, which I take to keep my flares bearable, raises your blood sugar so I basically had no chance of passing. I decided to skip the 3 hour test because I would have had to go off prednisone for a week and that is just not possible with how bad my RA has been. Instead, I just had them give me a referral to an endocrinologist. Who knows if I technically have gestational diabetes or whether my sugars are artificially high due to the prednisone use. Either way, high blood sugar isn't good for me or the baby so getting them under control is important.

I met with a registered dietitian at the endocrinologist office on Tuesday morning and learned all about the diet. I have to say it was pretty overwhelming.

One of the pages of the meal planning book which helps you count your carbs
The biggest surprise to me was HOW MANY carbs they want you to eat each day. In my mind, I was thinking I'd be eating less carbs, not more. But perhaps I am the outlier in my carb consumption compared to the average person. With my gluten intolerance and dietary habits, I just don't eat a lot of carbs. Yes, I have fruit which is a carb but besides that, I'm not eating a lot of bread, potatoes, rice, etc. So I'm kind of confused about how this diet is going to help me when it would result in me eating MORE carbs. For instance, at lunch and dinner I am supposed to be eating 3-4 carbs at each meal. I usually eat maybe 1-2 carbs or sometimes no carbs at all, besides the trace amounts that are in vegetables that I put on my salad. I honestly don't even know how I would physically eat as much as they are prescribing as it just seems like soooo much food (you are supposed to eat 3 meals a day and 3 small snacks a day). So I am just going to eat what I can and hope that it all works out. I am sure that eating more protein and fats will help as those help your body break down carbohydrates (you eat a fat and/or protein with every snack and meal which is a big change for me as well).

In addition to following the diet, I also need to test my urine every morning and test my blood sugar 4 times a time: when I wake up before eating anything and an hour after breakfast, lunch and dinner. So far, my blood sugar results haven't been great as about 3/4 of the time it's too high, even though I'm eating exactly what I'm supposed to eat.

All this has left me feeling pretty defeated. I feel like a failure for not being able to get my blood sugars in a healthy range but then I also feel like maybe it's completely out of my control due to the prednisone use. Whatever the cause, there have been a lot of tears since Tuesday morning. I meet with the endocrinologist next Thursday to review my blood sugars and then we will go from there. I am just really worried that I am going to have to go on insulin. I HATE the thought of having to put something else in my body on top of all the drugs I am taking for my RA.  :(  But if that is what it takes to keep my blood sugar under control, then so be it.

So right now I have quite the case of the sads. Phil has reminded me that we are lucky to have a healthy baby that is developing on track (as far as we know) - and for that I am grateful. But having gestational diabetes introduces all these other risks like the respiratory system not developing properly. And even though I know this is completely out of my control, I still feel responsible. I already feel bad about exposing the baby to steroids, which also carry risks, and now there's another batch of risks that are being introduced. Plus moms with gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life, which would really suck.

With time, I am sure I will get the hang of this. And one upside is that I'll have more ultrasounds to track the baby's growth so we'll get to see Baby S. more than we would have otherwise. But right now I'm just sort of having a down week. Which is ok and to be expected. Hopefully the excitement of Christmas will give me a bit of a pick-me-up. For now I'm giving myself permission to feel a little bit blue and frustrated.

This should go without saying, but I feel like I need to emphasize that we are SO VERY GRATEFUL to be pregnant. But you can be grateful to be pregnant and also dislike being pregnant at the same time.

And that's my real talk for today.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Shouldless Days of '17: December

I had my last shouldless day of the year on Sunday. It's a good thing I had set aside Sunday as a shouldless day because even if I had committed to doing things outside the house, I wouldn't have been able to thanks to another flare that was pretty brutal. Here's how I spent my day, which was probably the laziest of all the shouldless days this year!

I didn't sleep much during the night on Saturday night as the pain from the flare in my wrist was pretty bad. I went through 3 ice packs during the night as ice is the only thing that takes away the throbbing pain. But it's really hard to sleep when you have something freezing cold on your wrist. I moved down to the couch at 7 am and ended up falling asleep until 9:30 which felt good as I really needed the rest!

When I woke up, I had a breakfast of oatmeal with raisins and some hot cocoa with marshmallows. I know that hot cocoa and sugary treats like that will be a thing of the past as of today when I go on the gestational diabetes diet so I figured I had earned one last treat. And yes, I used Phil's mug for my hot cocoa as I had used the "Mrs." mug the day before and this set of mugs is the best for things like hot cocoa!

Phil and I watched Face the Nation and then he headed out to his mom's for the day.

The rest of the day was the definition of laziness. I pretty much spent the whole day on the couch. I spent a good chunk of time reading, "We Were the Lucky One." I finished it by the end of the day. It was a really wonderful book albeit so heartbreaking to hear about the cruelty of WWII, especially the cruelty inflicted upon the Polish people.

At noon, I turned on the Vikings game. Apparently Oscar is a fan as well as she "watched" the game, too. We both fell asleep during the 2nd half. The Vikings dominated the game, which was exciting but didn't make for the most interesting game to watch.

In the late afternoon, I watched one of my favorite Christmas movies, "The Holiday." That movie is so delightful. Oscar was an attentive nurse kitty as she spent most of the afternoon/evening curled up on my lap.

Phil got home around 7:30 and we caught up on our days before I headed to bed at an early hour.

This is such a busy time of year but I am glad that I was able to make time for a shouldless day because whether or not I had scheduled it, it was definitely what my body needed.

Since we are expecting in March, I won't set a goal of having a shouldless day/month. But it's been great having this as a goal the last 2 years! If you haven't made a goal like this for yourself before, I highly encourage it, especially if you are an over-scheduler like me, as it's a great form of self-care!

Friday, December 15, 2017


Oh man I am so happy that it's Friday today. This has felt like the longest week for some reason!

The high of my week was getting together with 2 friends during the week. One was the friend that sang at our wedding. I hadn't seen her since the wedding, which is crazy. She is so excited that I am pregnant as she knows how much I have wanted to be a mom so there was a lot of pregnancy and baby talk! I also got together with another friend the following night for a happy hour. It was great to catch up with her as I hadn't really sat down and talked with her since early October!

The low of my week was my glucose screen yesterday. I failed the test big time and was scheduled to come in for the 3 hour test on Monday. Then my genius sister alerted me to the fact that I failed because I am on prednisone which increases your blood sugars. When I called my OB office to mention this, the nurse told me to go off prednisone for a week - which is just not possible with my frequent flares (I had 2 more this week). So after calls to my rheumatologist and a call to a friend that is an OB, I learned that I never should have taken the glucose screen in the first place and should have just been referred to an endocrinologist. I'm just so fed up with all these doctor appointments and trying to coordinate my care between specialists. I love my OB so I am telling myself that human error is the reason she didn't think to have me skip the glucose screen due to my prednisone use. But seriously - March 7th (baby's due date) can't come soon enough. I'm soooo over having RA while being pregnant and all the complications that have resulted.

Recipes I made were *crickets.*  I did not cook this week as I had a lot of leftover lasagna from the cookie decorating party I hosted on Sunday. But tonight I am going to make this salsa verde chicken bake which sounds really good! I'll serve it with some rice.

The best money I spent was on these probiotics that a friend recommended. Pregnancy really messes with the digestive system so I am hoping that these help in that department (sorry, probably TMI!).

My plans this weekend include making dinner tonight and then playing cards with another couple. Tomorrow I am going to a cloth diaper 101 class, church, and then we'll play games with another couple after dinner. We are clearly all about cards and games with other couples! Sunday is going to be a much-needed shouldless day!! If my flare in my hand clears up, I am planning to finish a blanket I've been working on for quite awhile while watching some Christmas movies!

What was the high of your week? What was the best money you spent this week?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Currently: December

Well here we are in the final month of the year! Here's what's currently going on in my life as we close out 2017!

Reading: We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. I've heard great things about this WWII novel that focuses on a Polish family. At the beginning the book, the author shares a shocking statistic:  90% of Poland's 3 million Jews perished during WWII. How awful is that? Think of all the potential future generations that were wiped out by the Holocaust. 

Loving:  feeling the baby move, which was what I was loving last month as well. I felt the baby have hiccups for the first time this past week which was a neat thing to feel! I've gotten to know the baby's movement patterns. He or she is most active in the evening, especially when I am going to bed. We might have a night owl on our hands when he or she is born!

Feeling: pretty tired and still having lots of issues with my RA. Lately I've been getting what I refer to as 'microflares.' Before I would get a flare (which means swelling and pain in a joint) and it would last for 2-3 days and then I'd get another one about a week later. But recently I have been getting flares that last about 1-2 days but come more frequently. For example, last week I got 3 different flares - one in metatarsal joints of my left foot, one in my right hand and one in my right wrist. I saw my doctor last week and she's upping my dose of steroids for awhile to see if we can end this cycle of flares. I'm crossing my fingers and praying that I get a break as I've had weekly flares since early October!

Thinking: about how excited I am to go back on a RA injection medication once the baby is born. I honestly kind of hated giving myself weekly injection before I got pregnant but now I am yearning to get back on a good drug! Luckily there is one that is safe for breastfeeding so I will start that asap after the baby is born. Like maybe at the hospital. Ha. 

Anticipating: my baby shower in mid-January. My mom and sisters are hosting it. This will be my only baby shower so they invited family and friends. I got the invitation last week and it is so darn cute! I can't wait to see all the details they come up with! I love that they asked guests to bring a book instead of a card!

Watching: holiday movies! I watched the 4 Hallmark movies that my friend Erin sent me, which were so cheesy and good! Now I want to watch some of my other holiday favorites such as The Holiday, Love Actually and You've Got Mail. I know You've Got Mail isn't a traditional holiday movie but I love to watch it this time of year. Plus a portion of the movie takes place during Christmas so it's "kind of" Christmasy.

Grateful: that we will see both sides of our families around the holidays. We'll spend Christmas with Phil's mom and then we will head to my parents' lake home for NYE weekend. My dad turns 70 on the 28th of December. My dad does not like attention so we will celebrate this milestone birthday by eating out as a family on NYE. 

Working: on moving things around in the guest room to make room for a few baby items. I got rid of 1 of the 2 bookshelves in that room to make room for the changing table (which we need to assemble soon!). We'll shift things around a bit more to make room for a glider as well. That's about all we plan to put in the guest/baby room, though. The baby and I will share a closet and a hamper (my closet is in the guest room since I have waaaay more clothes than Phil and they wouldn't all fit in the closet in his bedroom). 

Listening: to lots of podcasts as usual. I'm starting to shift towards more pregnancy/parenting podcasts these days in preparation for the baby's arrival. I started to listen to The Mom Hour recently and I am really enjoying it!

Wishing: for a break from flares - even 2 weeks would be great!

What are you loving, watching and grateful for?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Bullet Journaling for Unartistic People

I had heard about the bullet journal awhile ago but was hesitant to give it a shot as it seemed like it was for artsy/artistic people. That is so not me. I can't draw and my handwriting is so far from pretty. But after seeing multiple posts on Instagram, I decided to give it a try. I've been meaning to do a post about bullet journaling and Monday seems like the perfect day of the week to talk about planners!

First things first, paper planners are not for everyone, but they are for me. I'm so analog when it comes to managing my schedule. I do use my Outlook calendar at work for daytime appointments and appointments that require me to leave early so that no one books meetings during those times. But in general, I prefer to write everything - from social plans to appointments to do lists - in a paper planner. Some people are more on board with going digital but that just doesn't work for me! I can see the benefit of going digital if you are married and your husband is on board with using a digital planner but Phil isn't. So I stick with what works best for me.

Previously, I bought an Erin Condren Life Planner every year but I found the free-form approach to bullet journal appealing. I started using my bullet journal in June and it definitely took me several months to get a feel for it and figure out what layouts worked best for me. But after bullet journaling for over 5 months, I have a system worked out!

Here is a summary of the layouts or spreads that I use to plan each month/week:

Monthly Layout #1

This layout is pretty straight-forward. I list out all of the days of the month with a letter next to each day indicating the day of the week. I then draw lines to mark off weeks. This layout has made it easy for me to tell when I am starting to over-plan my weeks. In general, I've gotten better at limiting myself to 3 social plans/week but that rule got thrown out the window in early December since it's such a busy time of year with holiday social events and such.

I used to create these monthly layouts as I approached the end of a month but in 2018, I have the monthly layouts in one section so that I have somewhere to write down plans I am making in the future. This alleviates the need to use something that is referred to as a 'future log'. A future log, pictured below, is a place to write down future commitments. Then when you created a monthly layout, you'd add those commitments to the monthly layout and check them out. This did not work for me as I needed a clearer way to see what I had planned in the future to avoid over-planning and double booking.

Monthly Layout #2 

In addition to the first monthly layout, I also have a 2nd monthly layout that summarizes birthdays/anniversaries/etc, appointments and social events, books I want to read that month and to dos. It's a little bit redundant to write out the appointments and social events since they are in the other monthly layout but I like having them in both layouts - at least for now. The nice thing about bullet journals is that you can always adjust your layouts as you figure out what works for you! I usually create this second monthly layout 1-2 weeks before the month begins, so it's a good way to refresh my memory about what the month to come holds. The birthday/anniversary list isn't always complete as I often rely on Facebook to remind me about birthdays!

Weekly Layout

I use my weekly layout to keep track of meal plans and to dos. When I was working out, I would also write out my workout plans on this page that is obviously not happening these days thanks to my RA. I start a weekly layout about 3 days before the week starts. The to do list is kind of a running list of things I need to do/places I need to be and then I transfer those to dos to specific days when I start my daily layouts.

 Daily To-Dos

Last, but not least, is my daily to dos. Sometimes I don't write out the week all at once so I have room for growing to do lists. I transfer to dos from the weekly layout to the appropriate day and then add other to dos that come up during the week. I check this every day so that I don't forget any to dos. Sometimes I will shift a to do to another day and will use an arrow to indicate that it got moved. I can be forgetful so it's so helpful to have one place to check to make sure I'm not missing anything that I should be doing.

Miscellaneous Pages

The pages above are the ones that recur every month or week. But I use my bullet journal for other things like keeping notes from doctor's appointments. My bullet journal is small and fits in my purse so I always have it on me. It was really helpful to have one place to keep all of my notes related to changes I needed to make to my RA drug protocol once I became pregnant. Yes, the doctor put those notes online in MyChart or I could have called if I had questions but it was nice to be able to reference notes from my doctor's appointment. I also used my bullet journal to make notes on all of the daycares we toured. That way I didn't have to trust myself to remember all the details and didn't have to reference the materials the daycare centers handed out.


I've been really happy with my Leuchtturm1917 Journal and the Pilot Juice 0.5mm Gel Ink Ballpoint Pens. I think it works best to use a fine-pointed pen in a journal like mine as you kind of need to write fairly small so a fine-tipped pen makes it more legible.   


So there you have it! That's probably more than you ever wanted to know about bullet journals! Let me know if you have any questions. Are you an analog or digital person when it comes to planning? Or do you not need any sort of planner (I can't wrap my mind around how that is possible, though!!) Have you tried or would you try bullet journaling?

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!


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.


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.