Tuesday, October 28, 2014

26 Weeks

I never got around to the 24 week post, but I did take a picture, so I'm adding it into this post. The swan dress photo on the left is 24 weeks, and the one on the right is 26.

Weeks pregnant: 26
Baby size: hothouse cucumber
Total weight gain: +20 lb
Total waist gain: ?

Physical stuff: SI joint pain is back. If you've been around here for awhile, you might remember that I had awful SI join pain with Olive's pregnancy, and I was walking with a cane by the end of it. I am starting to feel tweaks of SI joint stuff, which is mildly freaking me out. I think yoga has exacerbated the problem–I am super flexible, and I think the extra relaxin of pregnancy is putting me over the edge, so I decided to take a yoga hiatus to see if that helps. So far, it has definitely helped. I have been walking instead, which doesn't quite aggravate it the same way, but I have to be careful about not going overboard. Chiropractic did not help in my last pregnancy, but I did try again here in Omaha because my chiropractor here is particularly awesome, but it still didn't help. I got the name of a women's health PT from my midwife. I tried PT in Chicago with Olive's pregnancy, and it didn't help, but I didn't have a specialist, so I will go to this PT if things get worse. It makes sense to me that if things are too loose, PT would be more likely to help than chiropractic, as I likely need strengthening rather than adjusting. Also lots of Braxton-Hicks happening–nothing painful or regular, but I get them when I have to pee, when I need to drink a bit more water, or when I've been extra active.

Emotional stuff: I had been feeling a bit of the change of seasons blues, so I increased my vitamin D intake. It also helped that we have had two weeks of gorgeous clear, sunny, unseasonably warm weather. We carved our pumpkin on Sunday in 80 degree sunshine. I was taken away from blogging partly because an extended family member is having some health issues that are somewhat related to my field of study. I've been spending a lot of my "quiet time" talking with relatives and managing a Caring Bridge page for the family. It's been tough emotionally, but I do like to feel useful–it helps me process things like this better if I can find something to do.

Baby Prep: Hmm, we are kind of back to square one with the sleeping arrangement decisions. We had tried to move Olive to a bed (ok, a mattress on the floor). It went well for a few days, but then went downhill fast, so we decided to just bag it. If she isn't ready, we will just keep her in the crib and play it by ear. We do have a second crib that I mentioned I bought from a friend, but it didn't come with a mattress, and I don't really want to shell out for a new one. I know baby will be in our room in the bassinet for at least a couple months, so that buys us at least until spring. So basically, nothing really new on the baby prep front.

Birth Prep: I had a prenatal appointment this week. Belly was measuring 1-2 weeks ahead, which doesn't really mean much at this point. I had my gestational diabetes test, which I passed just fine. While they were doing a blood draw, I asked them to check my thyroid and vitamin D. My thyroid number (TSH) came back at 1.68, which is totally awesome for me. I haven't been on thyroid medication for over a year now, and my numbers have never been better. That is a huge relief for me. My Vitamin D, however, was off the chart low. There are 400IU in my prenatal, and I added in 2000IU a few weeks ago. Now I will add in another 2000IU to make my total daily dosage 4400IU. I'm still not sure that will be enough to raise my levels to adequate based on past experience with this, but I don't want to go crazy with vitamin D when I'm pregnant, so I'll try this for now. I definitely notice depressed mood and more susceptibility to illness when my vitamin D is low. They also found that my hemoglobin was low. I guess it was 11.9 when they checked in early pregnancy, and now it is 10.2. It should be above 11.5, and it has to be above 10.5 in order to deliver at the birth center. My midwife recommended this iron supplement called Floradix and said that many of her patients have seen really good results with this product in raising iron levels. I ordered some on Amazon and will start taking it in two days when it arrives. They won't check again until 35 weeks, so hopefully all will be well by then so that I can deliver at the birth center and have a healthy baby. The nurse did kind of irritate me a bit when she told me "If you went into labor today, you wouldn't be able to deliver here because of your iron level." Seriously, lady, if I went into labor today, I would be delivering a micropreemie, which would be completely inappropriate to deliver at the birth center anyway, and my iron level would be the least of my concerns.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

22 Weeks

Weeks pregnant: 22
Baby size: spaghetti squash
Total weight gain: +17 lb
Total waist gain: +7"

Physical stuff: I keep getting told how huge I am. I don't really feel like I'm much bigger than with my other two, but maybe I am? I know with Olive I gained weight fastest in the second trimester and then slowed down a lot. I don't think I gained anything in the last 2 months of her pregnancy. When I look back at my blog, at this point with Olive, I had gained 18lb and 8", so I'm right there this time too. Maybe somehow I am carrying differently, or maybe people just don't know what they're talking about. I finally made it back to yoga yesterday, and I'm so glad I did. I felt crummy after I went the last time, several weeks ago. I've been feeling very lazy lately and knew that I needed to be more active. It was stupid to not go because I'd pushed too hard–it makes way more sense to still go but just take it easy during class. I talked to the teacher beforehand, and she was very helpful in showing me some modifications and helping me figure out what would work for me. I have to stay away from too many inversions because my blood pressure is super low, and I think that made a huge difference. I left class feeling great, so I'm definitely going to try to get over there once a week.

Emotional stuff: I know this is complete classic pregnancy symptom 101, but I have been so emotional lately! I never remember feeling this way with the girls, but I am teary and emotional all the time. Sometimes I start crying and can't even figure out why. So bizarre. And completely forget about reading or watching anything touchy-feely. Waterworks. I'm hoping this does not last the next 4 months. I'm also really struggling with the baby name. I knew for sure 100% a girl name, but I'm totally indecisive for a boy. I was kind of that way with both other pregnancies that I knew girl names but never really picked a solid choice for a boy either time. Now that I know I am definitely having a boy, I have no idea what to name him. There are definitely names that I like, but none of them totally feel right. I'm also really hung up on never being able to use the other girl name that I love. Don't get me wrong–I am totally thrilled to have a son and excited about everything that that means for our family and my life, etc. So this is in no way about boy vs girl. It's a total name thing. But in this strange way, it's making me question whether I want to truly be done after 3 kids. Every logical part of me wants to be done with 3, and I have so many really good reasons to be done with 3, but it almost feels like this person with the girl name is missing from our family. Of course, having a 4th child wouldn't guarantee that I'd get to use that name, so it is pretty ridiculous and would be a terrible reason to have a 4th. And I'm sure there are many many people who never got to use a name that they loved, so it's probably a completely normal way to feel/part of life. But there is this, maybe 5% of me, that is having some doubts. I would love to hear someone else say that they've felt this way because I pretty much feel like a complete crazy person on this issue.

Baby Prep: Oh my goodness, have I been having fun getting boy stuff! I caught the last fall consignment sale last week, and I found so many completely adorable little boy things. The sale itself was humongous and a total circus trying to take both kids at lunchtime, but it was worth it anyway. I focused mostly on newborn and 0-3 sleepers, since I know that's all I'll need for the first few months, but I couldn't resist a few adorable and smart little ensembles. I love shopping used. It totally takes the guilt out of it. I am starting to figure out what types of boy clothes I'm into. I like non-traditional boy colors–like everything doesn't have to be blue and grey. And I like simple design, nothing with words. I am also a total brand snob, and I am not afraid to admit it, so anything with certain labels will always make me look twice. It is fun to open this whole new world of kid's clothing. I've also started clearing out some girl stuff. My SIL is having a girl in early Jan, so I can pass on my newborn girl stuff to her, which makes it a little easier to part with it. I sent a big bag of all my tiniest girl stuff her way this week. It really wasn't as hard to part with as I thought it might be. I'm hoping to start consigning what's been outgrown next year, and it will be nice to clear out that storage room real estate.

Birth Prep: I had a prenatal appointment this week. They're all pretty much alike. My blood pressure is super low, which isn't a problem I guess–just might cause dizziness. We talked a bit about flu shot and the new DTap recommendations–I'll probably decline both, but thinking about it. I rarely get the flu shot, but I think I did get it when pregnant before? Maybe? And I've had the DTap shot within the last few years–they're just recommending it with each pregnancy now. They sent me home with the glucose drink so I can do that test at my next visit. They had a dye-free version, so I took that one. We also started discussing birth preference things like circumcision (no), vitamin K shot (no unless some kind of birth trauma occurs), eye ointment (no), hep B shot (no). As you can imagine, the birth center midwives are pretty flexible with these things and gave me the impression that most patients there are kind of on the same page as me regarding these choices. Not that I really care what other people are doing, but it's nice to be in a place that matches my values. We also discussed childcare options for the birth, and I'm thinking I might just pack the kids up and take them down there with us. I kind of want them to be involved, and I think it would be cool to have the kids there. I'd need a babysitter or someone to meet us at the birth center to keep an eye on them, so there are details to work out of course. Somehow, it's hard to imagine them not being there, but we'll see. I'm not feeling great about winging it, but how much can you really plan in this situation?

Monday, September 15, 2014

20 Weeks

Weeks pregnant: 20
Baby size: small cantaloupe
Total weight gain: +13 lb
Total waist gain: +6"

Gender stuff: I will start with gender stuff today because we had our ultrasound this morning! Baby #3 is a BOY!!!! We are super duper excited. Although, in all honestly, I am 100% sure that I would be equally excited either way. Penny thought boy all along and really wanted a brother, so I am thrilled that she will get her wish. I am also excited to indulge in some cute boy clothes–most of our girl stuff is pretty worn by the time Olive gets through it, so it will be nice to change pace a bit. I think it will be great for the girls to grow up with a brother and vice versa. Maybe it will help them understand the opposite sex a bit (most of us are still working on that!). I am also so excited for the mother-son relationship. I of course love experiencing the mother-daughter relationship as a mom, but now I am excited to have both experiences. I think there are/will be challenges and joys in both relationships, and I feel so lucky to experience that full gamut. I'm also excited to experience life through the lens of a little boy, something I have never done. I am positive there will be lots of challenges here, but I am excited to have the chance to experience them. This will be the first grandson for my parents, which is cool. But again, just to be clear, this doesn't in any way mean I am not thrilled to have two girls too, nor do I think that moms of all girls or all boys are missing out.

Physical stuff: More and more baby movement happening. I think baby has moved up a bit because I definitely feel less pressure on my bladder and am not peeing four times a night like in the beginning. Baby gave a huge kick right at the ultrasound wand this morning. It was the hardest kick I had felt–I don't think he liked the ultrasound.

Emotional stuff: I think I am extra sensitive this pregnancy. I'm finding myself annoyed or offended by things that normally wouldn't bother me at all. I have very tough skin, so this is really odd. I am blaming it on pregnancy at the moment, but who knows. I'll be honest and say that I've been a little annoyed by some of the reactions I've gotten today about having a boy. Most people have been perfectly lovely and appropriate, but I have gotten a few reactions in the "just wait–you don't know what you're in for" camp and the "oh good, I'm sure you were hoping for a boy" camp. I would normally just laugh that kind of stuff off, but for whatever reason, it bothered me.

Baby Prep: A friend is selling her crib at a very reasonable price, so we decided to go ahead and grab that to use as toddler bed for Olive. This way, we don't have to worry about when she'll be ready to move out of the crib/toddler bed. We were thinking about getting a twin bed for her or maybe having her share Penny's full size bed, but I think this is a nice solution that will buy us plenty of time for not much money, and then we can figure out as we go. We are planning to try it out in October. We also decided to take a trip to Orlando in November. We had frequently flyer points and a free timeshare, so the trip is basically free, and we thought it would be a fun getaway before baby comes. My mom lives down in FL, so she will join us. We probably won't do the Disney stuff for more than a day or two, but it will be a fun getaway with some special memories with the girls before brother arrives. I can't see getting on a plane with three kids under 5, so I'm thinking this might be our last long distance trip for awhile.

Birth Prep: Nothing much except the ultrasound. All the body parts looked good according to the doctor, and baby looks healthy. Baby measured on target (12 oz) and moved around a lot during the ultrasound. He started out breech and then flipped head down, which is also super normal. I was a little taken aback when they did a 3D u/s at the end of the procedure. They hadn't asked me or told me before they did it, and I wasn't expecting it. I would have preferred to have a conversation about it before they just did it, and it seemed that they only did it to get a picture of the face, so I'm not sure it was necessary. I didn't realize that was standard procedure now (or is it?), so just maybe something to keep in mind for any pregnant women out there.

Here is a cute shot of our happy little dude.

And biggest sis when she heard the news:

When I told Olive she was getting a baby brother, she replied "Pee-yew."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Gender Predictors

I thought my Baby Gender? post during Olive's pregnancy was really fun. We find out on Monday the baby #3 gender, so I thought it might be fun to try out the old wives' tales again. They had pretty much a total zero success rate last time, so expectations are low of course.

Chinese Gender Chart
I remember that there is some ambiguity about how to even use this chart, but if I follow the rules at this site, it says boy. For Penny, it said girl, and boy for Olive. This test is 1 for 2 so far.

Red Cabbage Test
This one showed a pretty solid red, which is supposed to mean boy. I never did it with Penny, but it showed boy for Olive too. 0/1.

Carrying high/low
If you're carrying high, it's supposed to be a girl and low for a boy. I'm not really sure I even understand how to tell how I'm carrying. I feel like my bump looks exactly the same–which is probably more a product of my body than the baby, but what do you think? Here are my three pregnancies, about midway through.


Baking Soda Test
You mix a bit of pee with baking soda. If it fizzes, it's a boy. No fizz means girl. Mine had no fizz. Girl. I never did this one before, so no track record.

Apparently if the heartbeat is above 140, it indicates girl and below 140 indicates boy. This baby's heartbeat has been 160. So girl here. Olive was below 140. I think Penny's was right at 140. A 0/1 record?

Husband's weight gain
If hubs gains weight during the pregnancy, that indicates girl. I will have to double check with Josh, but I don't think he's put on any weight lately. Boy. And 0/2 record.

Sweet is supposed to be girl, and sour is supposed to be a boy. I could not stomach sweets during the first trimester, but I couldn't really stomach much. No sour cravings or any cravings really. Maybe cheeseburgers. Or pizza. Just saw another one that says meat and cheese cravings mean boy. So I guess boy here?

Face shape
If mom's face gets round and full, it's supposed to be a girl. I think it's probably too early to tell on this one. I don't think my face looks any different, so boy for now? Also 0/2 record.

Ring test
Suspend a ring on a string over the pregnant belly. If it swings back-and-forth, it's a boy, and if it swings in a circle, it's a girl. Boy. 0/1.

If mom gets acne during pregnancy, it's supposed to be a girl. None so far: boy. Again, 0/2.

Key test
Ask preggo lady to pick up a key. If she picks it up by the thin end, it's a girl and the round end it's a boy. I can't really do this one now because you kind of need the element of surprise.

Dream test
If you dream you're having a boy, you'll have a girl and vice versa. I have dreamed boy all three times. Hmm, interesting. So girl. And 2/2. Most accurate test so far.

Breast test
If your left breast is larger, it's a girl. Right breast larger means boy. My left is larger (but always has been). Girl. 2/2.

Morning sickness
If you have bad nausea and/or vomiting, it's supposed to be a girl. Mine has gotten worse each time, and I never threw up in pregnancy until this one. Girl. 2/2 I guess?

Headaches are supposed to indicate boy. I have had headaches each pregnancy. So boy, but 0/2.

Mother's intuition
A study asked pregnant women with no knowledge of their baby's gender what they thought they were having, and 71% of the time the moms were correct. With Penny, I definitely had strong girl feelings. With Olive, I thought boy. This time, I started out thinking girl, then thought maybe boy, and now I just don't know. Josh is 2/2 so far and he thinks boy this time. Inconclusive.

So final tally on the silly OWT is boy: 8; girl: 5. Hmm, a little more mixed than last time. But interestingly, most of the tests that said boy have been 0/2, and most of the 2/2 tests say girl. What does it all mean? Probably nothing. Any final guesses? We will find out on Monday!

Penny helped me with some of these tests, and I made sure to explain to her before we started that these aren't really scientific ways to find out the gender. I didn't want her to misunderstand what we were doing. She thought the whole thing was hilarious and fascinating. I almost died when she came up to me later in the afternoon with a felt strawberry and told me she was going to do the strawberry test to see what the baby is. She held it up to my belly and declared that the baby is a boy. I guess it is no more ridiculous than most of these!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Interview with Penny, September 2014.

I was so tickled by the interview I did with Penny last year, I am hoping to do them periodically. I can't stick to any kind of a schedule, so it will be totally random. Here's one from 9/2/14 when she was just over 3 and a half.

What is the meaning of life? I don't know.
What do you want to be when you grow up? In outer space.
What brings you the most happiness? My sister.
When do you feel the most loved? When I hug my sister.
What are you afraid of? Monsters.
If you had one wish, what would you wish for? Cake.
What is the funniest word? Who went to the farmers market.
What is the hardest thing to do? Do a long long long puzzle.
What is the easiest thing to do? Build.
What is the best thing in the world? Going to the zoo.
What is the worst thing in the world? Getting hurt.
What makes you mad? When my sister does something I don't like.
What is the meaning of love? I don't know.
If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it? Put it in the meter.

There you have it, folks. I love that her wish about cake still stands. I also love that Olive has replaced me as her source of happiness and also her source of anger.

Friday, September 5, 2014

18 Weeks

Weeks pregnant: 18
Baby size: sweet potato
Total weight gain: +9 lb
Total waist gain: +6"

Physical stuff: Feeling pretty good this week, but time is starting to get away from me! This middle part of the pregnancy flies by. I have had some aching in my cervix area. I'm not sure if it's because this is a third pregnancy, so things are achier in general or what. It almost feels like that late in pregnancy feeling that the baby is heavy against the cervix and feels like it might fall out. But the pregnancy seems normal and healthy, and I don't have any signs of preterm labor, so I am guessing this is normal? We had a fun and relaxing long labor day weekend. Josh took a couple extra days off to work on our kitchen, and we had some family visiting, so it was really nice to take it easy and have lots of extra hands around.

Emotional stuff: It has been kind of an emotional roller coaster lately. I never felt like pregnancy hormones really affected my emotions, but I'm starting to wonder lately. Is it me and my hormones, or is it an unusual amount of junk to deal with? I am really not sure. Sorry to be vague, but it's really not that interesting. Excited for fall though, the schedules and routines that seem to come with the season and the peace that I find in those things.

Baby Prep: I keep holding myself back from the consignment sales or baby shopping until we find out what we're having. Just over a week now! I feel like I got something baby-related accomplished, but now I can't remember what... We did get car seat configuration settled. Still thinking about sleeping arrangements. Now also trying to decide on child care stuff for the actual birth. I wasn't so stressed with the home birth because a middle-of-the-night birth meant we didn't have to worry about childcare, but this time, a middle-of-the-night birth would be a childcare nightmare. So there's that. I might ask the midwives if they have any insight there. I really don't want family members hanging around here from out of town waiting for me to give birth, but who else can you call on at 2am?

Birth Prep: I had a prenatal appointment this week. I had sitter troubles, so I had to bring both kids with me, which actually went fine. Except for the fact that they were both napping when we had to leave. They were both having a bit of a rough napping week, so that was painful to wake them. But everything seems good, you know.

Gender stuff: I think I've resigned myself to not taking a stance on what the baby is. I had this big revelation a couple weeks ago that it is totally a boy. But before that I thought girl. So I have no idea. Josh is sure it's a boy. We find out in 10 days!

My little cuties got hair cuts today. Penny is growing out her bangs, so they gave her a sweet little side braid. I really need to learn how to do things like that. And Olive loves to cheese for the camera.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

16 Weeks

Weeks pregnant: 16
Baby size: avocado
Total weight gain: +9 lb
Total waist gain: +6"

Physical stuff: Worn out, tired, trying to do a lot to get ready for fall/preschool, and I'm just drained. We still have a couple house projects that are dragging out and taking up most of Josh's free time. Penny is really starting to struggle with nap time/quiet time. She still needs a nap but is resistant and can get through the day without one. I've been enforcing quiet time all summer for an hour or so in the afternoons, but it's been a struggle lately to get her to stay in her room for that time. I think it's good for her to play quietly for an hour where we all get some time to ourselves, even if she doesn't actually sleep but we'll see how things evolve.  I've been having more headaches, but I have some good tools to treat them–deep pressure helps, and chiropractic and massage have helped some. I've also been feeling tiny baby flutters occasionally for the last few weeks. They are tiny and fleeting.

Emotional stuff: Also emotionally drained. We've dealt with some life challenges lately that have just been very draining. It's nothing serious, and some of it is not even about us, but it's been a challenging couple of weeks in lots of ways. Josh and I are getting a little vacation in September, just the two of us, and I am really looking forward to that. It will be my first time away from either of my kids.

Baby/Birth/Gender stuff: I haven't had any other appointments or anything. I am anxious to find out what we're having, but I'm fine with waiting until my 20-week appointment. Only 4 weeks to go! Mainly I want to know so that I can organize newborn clothes or purge some girl things and pick up some boy stuff, and there will be plenty of time to do that this fall. Some friends were trying to convince me to go to a recreational ultrasound place, since they can tell the gender at this point there. Aside from the $79 it would cost, I just really don't like to have extra procedures done–I know they are generally considered safe, but I think it's good to only do them if there is a good reason. Finding out gender 4 weeks early isn't a good enough reason for me (no judgment to others!). And for some strange reason, Josh has been telling people I want to get a 3D ultrasound (?!??). I have no idea where he came up with that, but definitely not happening and not even something I have ever considered.

Needed to keep things short and sweet today. Please send some invigoration and energy my way!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer Park Photos

When Penny was old enough to sit up, I started taking her out to the park or the backyard to get a few photos with my nice camera. I'm definitely not a skilled photographer, and I kind of let that get in my way and stopped getting the nice camera out as often. We also didn't have access to sprawling green space in Chicago (another excuse!). But I love the pictures I took of Penny as a baby and toddler! I am totally kicking myself for never doing this in France. So when we were heading to this gorgeous local park this week and I managed to get the girls in sweet coordinating outfits, I decided to stop making excuses and bring along my camera. I have a long way to go with photography skills, and it is so much harder to photograph two kids than one, but here are a few favorites.

This Olive sister expression is priceless! 

Friday, August 8, 2014

14 Weeks

Weeks pregnant: 14
Baby size: lemon
Total weight gain: +7 lb
Total waist gain: +5"

Physical stuff: I'd say I'm 90% back to normal in terms of nausea stuff. Still the occasionally icky evening, but really nothing to complain about. I have had a few headaches the last couple of weeks–always in the same spot on the back left side of my head, just above my neck. It's pretty typical for me to get second trimester headaches, but deep pressure right in the painful spot helps, as does chiropractic care. As far as the bump goes, I'm in that awkward in-between phase where there's enough of a baby bump to not quite fit in my clothes right but not quite enough bump to be obviously pregnant. I always feel kind of awkward wearing maternity stuff at this point, but it's just too uncomfortable not to. The belly band is not doing it for me–I can't stand how it moves around and is so itchy. I picked up a pair of shorts and some capris/skinnies on consignment to get me through the end of summer and into fall, and I officially put away all my non-maternity-friendly summer stuff. I'm kind of lucky that I've had the exact same season timeline for maternity with all three babies, but I've still picked up items here and there each time (almost always secondhand for second and third babies). I don't feel too bad when I'm buying used, and I know I can pass it on when I'm finished. I also feel like some of the stuff I bought when I was pregnant with Penny is just kind of old and tired.

Emotional stuff: It's been fun talking about the baby with Penny. I've been telling her little things here and there to get her ready and help her understand how the baby will fit into our family. This morning we talked about bedtime and how Daddy will probably have to put both her and Olive to bed when the baby comes because the baby will need mommy milk at bedtime, and I'm the only one who can give that. We've also talked a lot about nursing–the Dr. Sears children's books are great conversation starters and have helped her understand a lot of this stuff. I think she will do beautifully–she's such a sensitive and caring sister, and I'm excited to see her experience a new baby again now that she is a bit older.

Food: I've been struggling to find good snacks. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon, I feel like I need to eat something, but the things that sound good are not things I generally have on hand–like granola bars, muffins, breads–carbs basically. I like to make that kind of stuff from scratch, and it just hasn't happened too much lately. I need to make some time for this kind of thing, especially because the girls love to put on their aprons and help me in the kitchen. Otherwise, I've been eating normally for the most part.

Baby prep: My 20-week ultrasound is scheduled for September 15th, so we will find out then what we're having. I'm so excited to find out! All the fall consignment sales are starting up now here since school starts in a week or two. Unfortunately, I think they will be about over by the time we find out what we're having, so I won't be able to take advantage of that chance to get some newborn stuff. If we have a girl, we have tons of clothes, but I have now figured out exactly what I like to dress a baby in for all of the infant phases, so I might still have an excuse to trade out some baby clothes for different items. And if we have a boy, of course I will have to get some clothes. But I will just have to visit the resale shops and mom-to-mom resale networks instead of the sales.

Birth prep: I had my second prenatal appointment this week. It was pretty quick and easy. My midwife found baby on the doppler right away and heard a strong 160 heartbeat. We also went over my 3-day food diary that she requires. She gave me an A+ rating on my diet. Heh.

Gender stuff: I've been wavering a bit this week. Part of me feels like God might give us a boy to mix things up a little. I've heard parents of 2 girls or 2 boys say that they were hoping to just have another of the same because they didn't have the energy to change course at that point. I don't really feel that way–I still feel energized about babies and would enjoy having a new challenge. Plus, Penny is really hoping for a boy, so I don't want her to be disappointed. But I don't know. I don't really have a strong feeling one way or another, but I do think the first instinct is probably the most powerful one. And I still very much feel like it is a total win either way.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

12 Weeks

Weeks pregnant: 12
Baby size: plum
Total weight gain: +4 lb
Total waist gain: ? Slacker. Still haven't measured this.

Physical stuff: I have slowly been feeling better this month. I still feel sick late in the day, but it's been pushing back later and later for the most part. Still some good days and some not-so-good days. I've been tired of course–sometimes I will close my eyes for a bit when the girls nap. I've slowly gotten back into yoga in the last couple weeks. I didn't find a yoga class in France, and it took me awhile to join a gym here, but I finally did and have taken a couple yoga classes there. I felt really worn out after this morning's class and have felt kind of crummy since, so I need to be careful not to push it too much.

Emotional stuff: We filled Penny in on the new baby news, and she is super excited. She has been asking for another baby for awhile. I am excited for her to be a little older and more aware of what is going on this time. She brought the ultrasound picture in for show and tell at school this week.

Food: I'm starting to get back to normal with food, or at least pregnancy normal for me. I really try to listen to my body and give it what it needs. I am eating more meat than usual, but most really good pastured meat. And lots of whole grains, fruits, and veggies. I am drinking a cup of coffee once or twice a week. I didn't drink caffeine with my other two pregnancies, but it's happening this time. I couldn't stomach it for most of the first trimester, and that is when apparently it slightly increases your risk of miscarriage. At this point, I think it's pretty much deemed safe, and I've got two kids to keep up with.

Baby prep: The main baby prep thing on my mind for the moment is room/sleeping arrangements. We have 3 bedrooms on the second floor and one in the attic. Penny has the attic room now. On the second floor, we have the master and then two other bedrooms which adjoin with a Jack & Jill bathroom. Olive is in one of those, and the other is our guest room. We really don't want to lose the guest room because our family all lives far away and likes to visit/stay with us. Especially when new baby comes, we will have lots of visitors come to help and stay here. The baby will be in our room for awhile, but I'm already thinking about how/when to switch up the other sleeping arrangements. Penny is in a full size bed, and Olive is in a crib. I'm thinking we'll move Olive up to Penny's room where they will share, but I'm not sure whether Olive will be ready for that at barely 2. I also don't want to cut it too close to when new baby needs his/her own room because I don't want Olive to feel like she's being kicked out for the baby. I'm also trying to decide whether the big girls will share the full size bed or if it's better to get a twin bed for Olive to add to that room. No decision made–just thinking about options at this point. Would love input on how this kind of thing worked for other families.

Birth prep: I haven't had another prenatal appt yet, but I did have my first trimester screening yesterday. I didn't do the first trimester screen with Olive, but for some reason I wanted to do it this time. I can't even really say why. Official results will come back next week, but it sounds like things looked good so far. It was fun to see the baby on ultrasound, but there's not much to say about it really.

Gender stuff: I am still feeling girl, and Josh still thinks boy. There is this "angle of the dangle" theory out there claiming to be able to tell the gender at the 12-week ultrasound. What do you guys think? I'm not even sure I know what I'm looking at here...

Friday, July 4, 2014

4th of July Dessert Recaps

 We have a family tradition of making a flag-themed dessert every year for the 4th of July. It started the first year Josh and I were together, and we carried on from there. I have a little red and white starred photo album where I keep the photos. I took a few phone shots of the past photos (sorry for the awful photo quality) so I could share.

2004: at my in-laws' in Missouri. We were 21. Standard yellow cake with flag design.

2005 MO again. Another standard flag cake.

2006 at our first apartment in Virginia. I made a fruit tart completely from scratch, including the crust. Josh had to take the picture. Recently engaged.

2007 MO again. Another plain 'ole flag cake. I think the stripes look really good in this one.

2008: Newlyweds at our first house in VA. Slice of leftover wedding cake that we doctored up.

2009 Cooperstown, NY. We took a first anniversary trip to the Fingerlakes. Made a flag out of our fruit and yogurt breakfast.

2010 at our house in VA. Pregnant with Penny. Made a strawberry pie with flag design crust.

2011 in-laws' MO. Cupcakes.

2012 at our second house, which was in Omaha. Pregnant with Olive. Ice cream cake layered with brownies. I think this was my favorite dessert so far.

2013 at Josh's brother's house in OH (we lived in Chicago at the time). Olive's first 4th. My niece joined in the photo too. It was an angel food cake with raspberry filling to make the stripes.
This year, we are at our third house, which is also in Omaha. Penny helped me make a chocolate chip cookie cake (this recipe), which we decorated with whipped cream and fruit. I am participating in Plastic-Free July again this year. I managed to make the cake plastic-free by buying from the bulk bins or in glass/paper. I used sucanat brown sugar for the first time–it was available in bulk, and I thought I'd try it. It doesn't clump like most brown sugar, and I loved it. The berries did come in plastic but from Costco where at least the berry-to-packaging ratio is decent.

Monday, June 30, 2014

9 Weeks

Guess what? We're having another baby! I am due February 1st, just under a month after Penny turns 4 and Olive turns 2. I guess we are on the two-year plan. We are planning for this to be the last baby and are so excited for our family to be complete!

Weeks pregnant: 9
Baby size: green olive
Total weight gain: +1 lb. I started out about 5-7 pounds over where I started with the other two, so that is the little gut you see in this photo–it's not baby!
Total waist gain: ?

Physical stuff: Oh my gosh, you guys. I have been miserable these last few weeks. I was feeling great until the day week 6 hit, and then it ran me over like a freight train. I've been super nauseated, vomiting, and dry-heaving like never before. With the first two, I was definitely nauseated, but I never actually threw up, and I don't remember any heaving. Most days I can get through the morning okay, but by mid-late afternoon, I am a drooling mess on the couch. Thank goodness the girls are pretty good about playing together and entertaining themselves. Josh has had to completely take care of dinner and bedtime for both of them. It's not been fun for any of us really. The last couple of days have been a bit better, so I am hoping maybe the worst is over. It is usually worst for me up to 9 weeks, and then completely better by 12 or 13.

Emotional stuff: We were surprised to find out that I was pregnant, but only surprised in that it happened so quickly (as with Olive). Once we found a house in Omaha, we decided to become open to a third baby. A few weeks later, we found out we were expecting. It was actually the day we moved in–I was unpacking a bathroom box and found some pregnancy tests. I thought "hmm, maybe I should take one of these." Then, "Hey, Josh, this is interesting." I wasn't charting this time because  my thermometer was in storage. We are super excited. I love that the kids will be close in age. I think a 4-year span from youngest to oldest will be great for us. I also suddenly felt this huge sense of closure/peace/decisiveness about this being the last one. I didn't know before how many kids I wanted–I knew I wanted at least two, but I just wasn't sure exactly. I was afraid I wouldn't ever feel confidently "done", but I definitely do, and I'm so relieved to feel that way and be able to go through this pregnancy, birth, etc. with that feeling of closure. I feel like I can really savor it that way. But I am also excited to move on as a family, to purge baby stuff, to eventually have my body back to myself, to have kids close enough in age that they can relate to each other and do similar-kinds of activities. All of that is good, and I'm completely at peace with it. I think three will be a little jumbly, a little chaotic, a little more than we can comfortably handle, but not complete chaos.

Food: I have completely been letting my gut take over all food-related decisions. I am not worrying about what I am eating right now–just trying to get through the first trimester. It's been lots of carby-things. I have to have a bagel with cream cheese and jam for breakfast every morning. I have also been eating tons of noodle soup. You know that kind that comes in the little red box? It's not quite that bad, but I make a homemade version with egg noodles, jarred stock concentrate (that "Better-than-Boullion" stuff), and frozen veggies. At least there are some veggies in it, right? Saltine crackers, pretzels, lemon popsicles, ice chips, turkey sandwiches with lots of mayo–I've been buying the roasted turkey breast from Whole Foods that they actually roast there. It is ridiculously expensive, but no nitrates or processed junk, and I don't have to worry about listeria. I can handle chicken usually, cheeseburgers, pizza, tortilla chips, bread, strong peppermints... Some of it comes up anyway, which is why I have only gained 1 pound. I cannot stomach anything sweet (except fruit and tart popsicles). Any kind of dessert/sweet/chocolate is completely off the table. Water makes me pukey unless I drink it in small amounts with food, especially lemon water (ugh!). Even the smell of coffee makes me gag. Eggs, no. Anything spicy or particularly flavorful, no. Cheese, no (except cheddar on a cheeseburger). Also no to vegetables, especially raw, and pork or fish. I pretty much just want to gorge on cheeseburgers and chicken pesto pizza all day.

Nursing/boobs: Olive weaned a few weeks ago (maybe 2 or 3?). She was down to twice/day, just before nap and before bed. Once we moved into our house, Josh started putting her down at night, so she stopped nursing then. Then over a weekend, he put her down for naps too. After a whole weekend of not nursing, I was able to put her down for a nap without nursing, and then she was weaned. I think she was ready, and I was definitely ready. I had been feeling ready for awhile, but I didn't want to wean her during so many transitions and travels earlier this year. I also definitely didn't want to drag it on to the point where I started to really dislike it like I did with Penny. So this worked well. I also cannot imagine nursing when I feel so crummy. No soreness since weaning, although the "girls" do look a little deflated.

Baby prep: There were two things I right away knew I wanted to get for the baby, and I have managed to get them both already! I wanted to replace my Rock N Play sleeper/bassinet that I had used with Olive and then loaned to my SIL. We moved and she was still using it, so I just let her keep it. I found another one on CL last week for a good price in really good shape, so I got that. I also got a stash of Lil Joeys newborn diapers! Those worked the best with tiny Olive and were the favorite choice of myself and Josh. Someone local was selling a whole bunch of them, so I went for it. They are all yellow and so super tiny–I forget so quickly how tiny babies are. I really wanted to get a genuine newborn stash this time because I resorted to disposables (begrudgingly) for a short time with both of my other kids because they were just too small to fit into most of what I had, even other newborn diapers! With Penny, I just didn't know enough to have newborn diapers. And then with Olive, I sought professional advice and still couldn't make it work for the first week. I had newborn prefolds with x-small covers, which were ridiculously huge on her. I also had a couple BG newborn diapers, which were also too big until her cord fell off (no cord cutout, BG? Why not?). I scrambled on my local swap and grabbed a few lil joeys and a few Grovia NB a few days after Olive was born. They both worked, but the Lil Joeys were a better fit with no leaks. So now I am prepared–hopefully! I think I have about 25-30 newborn AIOs, mostly lil joeys.

Birth prep: Since we lived in Omaha when I found out I was pregnant with Olive and for half of that pregnancy, I had already done a lot of research on birth options here two years ago. Home birth is not an option for me in Nebraska– CNMs are not legally allowed to attend births at home here (one of only two states), and I'm not comfortable giving birth without a CNM. But there is a beautiful and fantastic birth center here that will be a great place for me to deliver. The only downside is that it's about 20 minutes away. Hopefully that won't be an issue since I tend to deliver quickly. If I had the choice to deliver at home or at the birth center, I'm not sure what I would decide. There are some perks to a birth center–no prep/birth supplies and the big built-in tubs are much nicer and easier to contend with than the inflatable ones you rent at home. But the downsides are having to get there and having to then get home shortly after the birth with a teeny baby in winter.

Gender stuff: I am guessing girl this time. Josh thinks boy. So far I'm one for two, and Josh is two for two. I should find out at the end of September.

Anything I am missing or you are dying to know?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Safety Razor

In my journey towards plastic-free/waste-free, I bought an "old-fashioned" safety razor last fall. The one I bought was new and made by a German company called Merkur. I was a little skeptical, because, I mean, there must be a reason these went out of style, right? If they were better than the cartridge razors everyone uses now, why would people have stopped using them? Well, I'm pretty sure the answer is marketing and herd-mentality, because the "old-fashioned" razor is, in my opinion, hands-down a better option in so many ways. I really can't think of a single benefit cartridge or disposable razors have over the original. Let's take a look at what I'm talking about, since many readers might never have seen a safety razor. Here is what it looks like assembled.

And here is an image that shows the components to this razor and how it comes apart. There are two separate razors in this image. The one I bought is like the one on the right. The razor blade is placed between the top two pieces, and then the handle screws to the top piece to hold everything together.

The other neat thing about mine is that you can disassemble it, flip over the middle piece, and then screw it all back together–this way the blade is actually not exposed at all, so it's nice to store it that way for safety or travel. Just be sure to handle the blade by the short ends so that you don't cut yourself.

All the pieces are stainless steel. There is a nice weight to the razor. It is super easy to clean–gone are the days of blades clogged with hair/soap. It works just as well as the models with 16 blades, or whatever ridiculous number they are coming out with now. It is simple, works well, saves money, and makes less waste. I also feel just a tiny bit like a badass when using it.

I bought one for Josh too, and he tells me all the time how much he loves it. In fact, there are many online forums for people who appreciate a good shave, and it is pretty common knowledge in these circles that the safety razor is a superior product. I bought Josh the long-handled version, and I think if I could go back, I would have bought that one for myself too. It was a few dollars more, but if you have big hands, I think it is worth it.

My razor came packaged in a cardboard box and will probably outlast me. It is very high-quality steel and solidly made. The blades come in a tiny box the size of a match box. Each blade has a paper sleeve, and the old blades can slide back into the back of the razor box. Once the blades are all used, you can safely dispose of the whole box at once. There is still some waste, of course, as I will dispose of the box of old blades once it is full, but the waste is very little, especially when compared to all that is thrown away with cartridge razors.

What do you think? Would you try a safety razor? Here is an affiliate link through Amazon if you want to check it out. Just to be clear, I purchased one myself (two actually) and am just a happy customer. If you buy one through my Amazon link, a small percentage of the sale will support my blog, but this is not why I'm recommending this type of razor. You can also find antique used ones on ebay, and there are instructions online for how to sanitize them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Plastic-free groceries in France

Every time we move, it is an adventure to navigate the new landscape. Of course, there are many levels to that landscape–medical care, schools, activities, friends, "crunchy" mamas, farm food, any number of local resources, and of course plastic-free shopping. Food is usually the most pressing and most difficult. When we moved to France, I was really interested to see what grocery shopping would be like and whether it would it be easier to be plastic-free.

At first, we found the major supermarkets, and there really wasn't much difference between those and the ones in the US regarding plastic packaging. One big difference of course is plastic bags. In France, you are generally expected to bring your own bags (or pay for bags), whereas in the US, I think most people still use free bags provided by the stores. So that is one big difference, although it's something I haven't even thought about in years, since I always bring my own bags. One other difference is in regards to the produce section. In the grocery stores in France, each produce section has a digital scale where you weigh your own produce. You put your produce on the scale, push a button that corresponds to the item, and the machine prints out a sticker with the price. I loved these machines! I never use produce bags–I think they are totally unnecessary, and I think people only use them because they are there. I am not worried about my produce getting dirty because I wash it before I eat it. Plus, it is grown in the dirt/outside. Anyway, I loved that I could print off these little stickers, and then, either stick them directly to the produce or stick all the produce in a grocery bag and stick the stickers to the outside of the bag. Beautiful and easy.

A couple of weeks into our stay, I found a health food store in our neighborhood. In France, they call it a "bio" (organic) store. From then on, that is where I primarily shopped. I snapped a few photos so I could share them with you. They had a nice little bulk bin section with the same type of scale I mentioned when talking about produce above. They provided plastic or paper bags, or they were happy to let you use your own cloth bags.

There was a great produce section with loose nuts, fruits, and veggies (not pictured–the veggie section was behind the fruits on the other side of the aisle).

This was my favorite part. There was a brand of yogurt that came in returnable glass jars. Oh my, it was heaven. This yogurt was incredibly rich and delicious and came in lots of flavors. There was a bottle deposit, so you returned the glass jars when you were finished, and they collect them for reuse. Love, love love. I so wish we had this here. The only yogurt I have personally seen in the US in returnable glass is from Traderspoint Creamery in Indiana, and they will only accept the bottles back at stores within a certain distance. They sell that yogurt here in Omaha, but they will not take back the bottles, and it is super pricey. I know you can make yogurt, but the yogurt I have made is nowhere near as good as this stuff in France.

In France, the outdoor markets were also generally pretty packaging-free-friendly if you took the initiative. Meat, cheese, and produce vendors were usually happy to have you use your own bags/containers. Even if you didn't bring your own container, plain butcher paper was usually their default. The bakeries were also great with this. The bread and pastries are all loose in cases or baskets, and the shopkeepers wrap things up on demand (in paper typically). It was no big deal to have them just hand me the bread naked or put it in my own cloth bags. There seemed to be a great emphasis on things being fresh and prepared to order. Cheese and meats were often in cases and cut to order. Whereas, in the US, it is much harder to find unwrapped cheese that is cut to order–even at the gourmet cheese counter at Whole Foods, most cheeses are already cut and wrapped in plastic.

The cons.
Most grocery items in the stores were prepackaged, just as in the US. There were only bulk bins at the health food store, not in the regular grocery stores. Even worse, the packages were generally much smaller than in the US, so really the packaging per quantity of food was even worse. There was no Costco equivalent or anywhere to buy prepackaged food in large containers to bring down the ratio of packaging to food.

Composting was nowhere to be found. There was no curbside compost or community compost bins. I know this is only available in limited places in the US, but I expected Europe to be ahead of us on this front. I expected to at least be able to bring our compost to a drop site, but I never found anything like that.

As much as I expected Europe to be far ahead of us on the environmental front, I didn't really find that, at least not in France. I believe Germany does have composting programs, and they definitely have extensive bottle deposit/collection for refill, and recycling programs. In France, we had recycling at our apartment for cardboard/paper, and plastic bottles. There were also bins on the street for recycling glass. But everything else went into the trash bins. Even aluminum cans, which seem like a perfectly easy thing to recycle. So I suppose each country is very different in terms of these values, but I was disappointed that the environment didn't really seem like a priority in France. I saw almost as many wasteful practices there as I see here, and I got the feeling that people just didn't really care or notice about environmental issues. This is a global problem.