Monday, December 31, 2012


Robin usually looks at me like a crazy person when I say that this pregnancy has been easier, but physically, it has. I've gained less weight, avoided nausea for the most part, and have yet to puff up like a marshmallow (***knockonwood***). While emotionally, it has been far more challenging, my body seems to have coped much better with the hormonal changes brought on by growing a child.

The biggest challenge, far and away, is exhaustion. I am so, so tired. I was anemic when pregnant with Lydia, and I was sure that was the case this time around, but no. Just tired. The problem is compounded by Robin's and my work schedules. I have to leave the house by 6:40 AM to get to school on time, and Robin generally gets home around 6:45-7. He gets Lydia off to school in the morning, and I pick her up at 4 and make dinner most nights. By the time Robin gets home, you can practically scrape me off the ground. I know that lots of people deal with much more, but a twelve hour day between leaving the house and having parenting assistance in the evening has proven to be a lot.

This level of fatigue is really frustrating for me, especially as Baby G2 gets bigger and basic things like giving Lydia a bath or getting her into a grocery cart are becoming increasingly difficult. I just can't get done what I would like, and I can't be the active (not to mention patient) parent that I want to be. Yesterday I hit my breaking point as Robin returned from his second two-night trip away during the past two weeks, and as I drove out to Forest Lake to fulfill a commitment, I cried half the way. I'm just. so. tired.

Robin and I have had a lot of talks about knowing my limits and stopping when I know I'm about to go over the edge. This really isn't in my nature, and I tend to want to power through. As we go into these final seven-ish weeks, I'm going to really try to make some mental shifts.

Lydia's First Haircut

Some parents wait patiently for their child's first birthday to cut their hair. At Lydia's first birthday, she looked like this:
We began haircut talks about a year ago, but Lydia was adamant about not cutting her hair. Finally, in November, her friend Marit got a haircut, and this prompted Lydia to want one, too. A call was made to my cousin Shelly, and Lydia received her first haircut at Rocco Altobelli in the IDS Tower in downtown Minneapolis. We had the last appointment of the day, and Shelly made a big deal out of it--Lydia got the full salon experience. She had her hair washed and conditioned, cut, blow-dried, and then styled. She was SO proud of her new haircut, especially the curls. Thanks, Shelly! 

Christmas 2012

Lydia is still waiting to build her first snowperson. Everytime she tries, it hasn't been the "right" snow, or she's gotten too cold and wanted to go inside!

Christmas dress courtesy of Grandma Jeanette

Christmas Eve 2012

Lyds with Gramma Mree and her Ganser aunts

Presents ready to be opened!

Lydia was so excited to give her gifts. It was one of my proudest parenting moments.

She picked out a Disney puzzle for Grandpa Dale...

and an ice cream maker for Daddy!

Our Little Lamb

Lydia started Sunday school mid-November at Bethlehem Lutheran, the church down the street from us. She LOVES Sunday school, and I've enjoyed reconnecting with my Lutheran roots in a church that is progressive and community-minded.

The weekend before Christmas, Lydia participated in the Sunday School Christmas program. There was something so wonderfully Prairie Home Companion about the whole thing; it was in the church basement, kids were crowded onto risers, and Lydia dressed as a little lamb.

She did very well, especially considering she'd only been to Sunday school a handful of times before the program. She only opted out of one song, telling us later that she didn't know it. During the others, she sang and did the action, and she sat and behaved well when she was supposed to. Her funniest moment was during the opening processional to the riders when she saw me and said, "I want my headband!!" as the chain of children dragged her by. (I had taken it off when putting on her lamb hood.) Since the program, she has continued to sing her Christmas songs with gusto.

Lydia the Little Lamb


Lydia and her Sunday school classmates (minus a few)

Lydia and her good friend Marit, who is in the same class!

Lydia the Gymnast

Last Christmas, Robin's parents gifted Lydia with gymnastics classes. True to form, we didn't enroll her right away, and she ended up starting GymKids classes at TAGS Gym in September. My cousin worked there, and we are glad we took her recommendation. Lydia's teacher, Ms. Linda, is a miracle worker with preschoolers, and gymnastics has been a wonderful experience for Lydia. She continued classes through December, and we are taking this session off and plan to re-enroll her next session so that she has something exciting to start up after the baby comes.

Gymnastics has made Lydia a lot more confident with physical movement; she does more climbing and experimenting with her body in a way that is really fun to see. As a tall girl myself, it is important that we start early developing not only coordination but confidence for her so that she is comfortable in her skin even as she towers over her peers. I also like that preschool gymnastics class help kids work on following directions in a sequence, taking turns, etc. Genetically, Lydia is not predisposed to be an Olympic gymnast--we are not joking when we say we think she'll be six feet tall--but it's been fun to watch her thrive in her first athletic endeavor!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Baby's First A

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Baby G2 decided earlier on he didn't want to blend in with the crowd, so rather than grow a nice, normal two-artery umbilical cord, he decided he only needed one. Maybe he was trying to be thrifty, or just sleek and chic. Anyway, this anomaly, known as Single Umbilical Artery, or SUA, is the last remaining leftover from our September scare.

Yesterday, we began weekly monitoring appointments that will continue until Baby's delivery: a biophysical profile and a non-stress test. Yesterday's appointment also included a growth scan, but I'm under the impression that the growth scan won't happen weekly. The biggest risk with SUA is interuterine growth restriction--the baby doesn't get enough nutrients through the one artery and can't grow enough. Also, with one artery, there isn't the same wiggle room should something in the umbilical cord become comprised. With this said, everyone I know in the medical field has assured me that SUA is generally not a big deal. In fact, yesterday as the nurse was getting the non-stress test going, she asked what exactly prompted this extra monitoring, and when I told her SUA, she said, "Oh. That's it." While anything abnormal causes stress and anxiety for me, the message we've constantly received is that while the doctors want to make sure everything is okay, everything will be okay.

As far as the monitoring yesterday, Baby G2 passed with flying colors. He is measuring at 4 lbs. 11 ozs, or the 64th percentile--about 5 ozs. less than Lydia was at this point, though there is a margin of error with ultrasound growth measurements. No growth restriction. (For those that weren't around or don't remember, Lydia was monitored for the opposite problem; she was huge.)

Biophysical profiles are ultrasounds that assess fetal movement, muscle tone, amniotic breathing, and amniotic fluid paired with a non-stress test. Baby scored 8 out of 8 on the ultrasound portion and did his thing on the non-stress test, though I needed to down some apple juice in the middle to get him moving--seems he tuckered himself out kicking away during the ultrasound and wanted to lay back and relax during the non-stress test, not giving them the movements and, more importantly, heart rate accelerations, they wanted to see. Once I got a little sugar in my bloodstream, he got moving and things didn't take too long. Biophysical profiles end in a score out of 10, and Baby scored 100%--his first A.

I am not thrilled that this will be a weekly event until Baby's debut, but after going through one appointment, I have less anxiety about the 8 or so to come. I am going to take a fellow mama's advice and listen to Hypnobirthing meditation CDs during the next appointment; I think that might ease my peace of mind while waiting for the ultrasound tech and nurses to count all of the things they are looking for. For the first appointment, I wanted to be able to listen and ask questions, but in the future, I think keeping anxiety at bay during the two hours at the clinic might be more important; they'll tell me what I need to know.

One down. Eight to go.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Check, Check, and Check

As I've said, preparations for Baby G2 have been very different than round one. Our lives are more hectic , and our focus is split. Over the past month, we've finally checked a few things off our list.

#1.) I started going to prenatal yoga at Blooma in Minneapolis. Prenatal yoga was a huge part of my pregnancy with Lydia, as was my standard vinyasa practice. Because the complications with this pregnancy happened to occur the night I went to a hot, intense yoga class, I had a very hard time breaking my association between that kind of workout and things going wrong with my pregnancy. As a result, I stopped the standard yoga and switched to prenatal.

Blooma is an amazing place. They are almost totally focused on pregnancy, birth, and babies. They offer education series as well as baby and toddler yoga on top of prenatal yoga classes. I love it. It's a place where pregnancy and birth is celebrated, and that's been tremendously helpful for my mindset.

Blooma is also the place where we met the person whom we've chosen as our doula, so on to...

#2.) Yesterday, we officially chose our doula. Brooke is one of my yoga teachers at Blooma, and last week as she was adjusting me, I thought to myself, "I wonder if this lady is a doula..." Something about the moment made me think,"If she is, I think this is our person." We had initiated conversations with six different doulas and interviewed two, and I was starting to feel like I just had to accept that I wouldn't have the same connection as we did with our first doula, Kristen.

Enter Brooke. We had a great conversation after the yoga class, and I emailed her that evening to set up a meeting with Robin and me; Lydia ended up tagging along, also. We met yesterday before we headed out of town for Christmas, and chatted for two hours. Robin joked later that the conversation only needed to last three minutes--we both knew pretty quickly that she was going to be our person. We reflected on Lydia's birth and some ideas we would like to incorporate this time around, talked budget a bit (since her fee was slightly higher than we had originally planned), and I left feeling really excited. Yay!

#3.) Finally, we have started nursery preparations. Robin painted the baby's room, and I spent a snowed-in weekend sewing eleven stuffed birds for a hanging mobile. Robin and Dale are talking about making the baby's crib as we speak, and I have identified my next craft project. (This one involves the baby's name so it will have to stay under wraps until he makes his big debut.) It's nice to see the baby's room begin to look less like a storage locker and more like a nursery.

It's clear that preparations for this baby will just not look the same as they did for Lydia, but it feel good to do a little nesting and see things start to take shape.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dinner Conversations with Lydia

Wednesday at Dunn Brothers

Every now and then Lydia and I stop at Dunn Brothers on our way home. She loves their hot chocolate as her "sweet of the day" and I am a sucker for their white mochas. (I also am a sucker for their M&M cookies.) My favorite thing about Dunn Bros. is that several of their south Minneapolis locations have kids' play areas and Lydia feels welcome and comfortable; she started cheering today when we pulled up in front of the storefront.

Today the store was unusually packed with adolescents. I mean PACKED. There were at least fifteen teenagers hanging out, some doing homework, some just spending time together, most drinking sugary, frozen, blended drinks despite the snow on the ground outside. I was instantly thrown back to my junior high and high school days when I along with groups of girlfriends and the occasional boyfriend would sit at Kodiak Coffee in Forest Lake, drinking Flakes and "Beary Blasters" while munching on sugar cookies, scones, and really amazing rice krispie bars. I remember those days so vividly, and watching the teens at Dunn Bros. evoked a strange combination of "Wow, they look so young," and "Am I really this old?" In some ways, that was eons ago--twelve different places of resident, four institutes of higher learning, two "grown-up" jobs, one wedding, one three-year-old, and one baby-in-utero. In other ways, though, it feels so close.

I was torn out of my personal nostalgia, when Lydia said, "Mommy, I'm going to the bathroom." I started to get up to accompany her, and she put up a hand and said, "No." She preceded to go to the bathroom alone, wash her hands (yes, I checked), and return to the play area, all on her own. I held back tears as I realized how quickly she is growing and gaining independence and that she is closer in age to most of the teens in the coffee shop than I am. While, truth be told, I relished the few minutes of alone time at the coffee shop while Lydia was in the bathroom, the cold, hard, proof that times are a-changing made me simultaneously proud and sad.

The days are long but the months and years are short. Wow.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Getting Ready for Baby?

This pregnancy is moving along rapidly. Baby G.'s due date is in a little over ten weeks, and we are absolultely, completely unprepared. Poor guy--when I was this pregnant with Lydia, we had purchased a crib, a stroller, had planned our nursery, all of those things. We have (kind of) moved all of the boxes that were being stored in the baby's bedroom to the basement, and we are interviewing doulas next week. I have a list of crafts I want to do for the nursery, but have yet to start any of them. Paint has been purchased, but it is still sitting in tightly sealed cans. On one hand, we learned with Lydia that so much of the prep you do before baby isn't actually needed in the first weeks and months of the baby's life. On the other, the nesting is fun and part of the excitement-building.

Our lives are so different from what they were four years ago, we just don't have time to prep and discuss and reflect the way we did for Lydia. Robin's work schedule is much more demanding (thankfully!), and we're already caring for one child. What would be baby prep time has been consumed by moving, settling in, my classes and homework.

It's a weird catch-22. I am savoring these last months of Lydia's only-childness. We've enjoyed being able to focus on her for these (almost) four years. At the same time, though, it is strange and a little sad to think of raising a child that we can't focus on in the same way that we have on Lyds. In the same way that there is no way to picture what your life will look like after you have your first child, I feel like I'm just not able to get my head around what things will look like once this little guy arrives and is thrown in to the mix.

This weekend, I am bound and determined to finish one baby crafting project. I think it might be a mobile for the baby's room. I also have some pillows in mind. We shall see, we shall see.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Lifelong Learner??

When we began the process of moving to Minnesota, my teaching license presented a challenge. Not initially, but when the Minnesota government shut down in July of 2011, my license was not yet processed and stuck behind closed doors. Exactly 9 days before the school year started, it cleared, and I began the process of taking tests and meeting requirements. Per encouragement from the Minnesota Department of Education, I focused on taking the MTLEs--Minnesota Teaching Licensure Examinations--and getting my Human Relations course requirement out of the way. Fortunately, I passed all three exams (seven subtests in total!) and MDE granted me a waiver of the Human Relations requirement after I compiled a very thorough file demonstrating I already had covered the content in previous courses. Last February, then, I moved on to determining what coursework I needed to meet any discrepancies between my Texas licensure and what was required in Minnesota.

That's where the story gets interesting. Long story short, I needed a LOT. Two substantial differences were discovered: my Texas licensure focused on Language Arts and Reading for grades 8-12. Minnesota's Language Arts license is "Communication and Language Arts" and I have never taken a Communications course. The Reading licensure in Minnesota is K-12 rather than 8-12, meaning I would essentially have to start all over. So last February, I sent off my materials to several schools and came to terms with the fact that I would again be a student for at least the next year. At one point, I was told I would need to take 15(!) classes to meet both licensure requirements, but fortunately that was an extreme. The grand total ended up being 29 credits, or 9 full classes and one short class.

I currently am wrapping up the third of the four requirements for my Language Arts license. Technically, I have been a full-time student since last June. I will take the fourth course during the Winter session at Augsburg. I am enrolled for the final two reading classes at Hamline to be taking in the spring; fortunately, they are online classes, so completing them with an infant should be challenging but not impossible. The end is in sight. I've managed to balance family, work-school, and student-school, and maintained a decent GPA. I just can't help but shake my head; will I EVER not be a student? It seems eternal life in the academy is my fate.

A few lessons I've taken away:

1.) Learning is much more effective when it's immediately applicable. I wish I could go back in time and retake my education classes while in my own classroom. I wonder what great lessons I missed.

2.) I could have slacked off a lot more in the past. Robin keeps teasing me that I'm not pulling Cs. My GPA doesn't really matter for these classes, but despite just how lazy I am, my grades are fine. I wonder what trouble I could have gotten into during college had I known this...

3.) I am 100% confident I will never teach in another state. This craziness is just too much.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Deer Isle Hostel

In a catch-up post awhile ago, I mentioned our rustic stay at the Deer Isle Hostel in Maine. A highlight of our summer was our trip to the east coast. We spent time in both Boston and Maine--Boston because it was a city neither Robin nor I had ever explored and Maine because Robin's cousin Daniel married his wife Beth there on a beautiful island on the coast. When it came time to make our reservations, Robin and I explored the options and discovered the Deer Isle Hostel. We were intrigued; a house built by hand, a garden, communal meals, and a private room for a very affordable price! The Deer Isle Hostel it was. We made our reservations and didn't think much of it. As our trip approached, we confirmed our reservations and looked into our accommodations more closely. What's that? No hot water? A shower in which water needs to be heated on the stove? A composting toilet in an outhouse? All electronics were discouraged by musical instruments were very welcome? I began to have the feeling that we were getting more than we bargained for, but at this point, reservations elsewhere were non-existent and our travel budget had been exhausted. I comforted myself knowing that we would be able to use the shower at Robin's parents hotel room and decided our only option was to make the best of it.

While this was not the ideal location for this trip--we had to look presentable for several events during our stay, and the no-shower situation was tricky--the hostel was really interesting. Their garden was massive, and the couple that owned and ran the site live almost completely off the grid. They use solar panels for electricity, have a small gas stove, and in the winter, they close down everything but one room that they heat by wood fire. It was a total reality check on the resources we use daily--when you have to pump your water, heat it up, then carry it to a shower tank, a shower seems like a luxury rather than a given. The hostel also provided some entertainment in the form of overheard conversations that were worthy of Portlandia, one of our favorite TV shows, and for those who are wondering the composting toilet was actually kind of amazing.

All in all, I would probably opt for different accommodations next time, but I was glad to have a chance to learn and reflect on the way we live. 

Lyds woke up VERY early on our first morning at the hostel.

One of the owners built the main building following traditional construction--by hand. All of the lumber was milled from trees onsite--again, by hand, by the owner himself.

This trail was just down the road and provided beautiful morning walks.

A Birthday Party

Yesterday marked what I thought was a milestone--Lydia's first birthday party for a friend whose parents are not family friends of ours. Lydia spends every Tuesday with my parents, and one Tuesday, they took her to the wading pool near our old apartment. At the pool, Lydia began playing with another little girl named Marit. Lydia shared her kickboard, Marit shared her princess toys, and a friendship was born. Since then, my mom has organized several playdates with Marit's mom on Tuesdays, but we had yet to meet Marit or her parents. When Lydia was invited to celebrate Marit's 4th birthday, I was excited to finally connect with her family!

Lydia was SO excited about this birthday party. She started thinking about gifts immediately, and for once, we had our gifts purchased weeks in advance. This past week, she started planning her birthday party outfit, putting articles of clothing into a designated drawer. We knew she was excited, but we didn't realize just how important her outfit was to her until Wednesday night when she woke up crying due to a "bad dream." In the morning, we finally got her to tell us what happened in the bad dream, and we tried to stifle our smiles when she said, "In my dream, I went to my drawer to get my outfit for Marit's birthday party, and I couldn't find it!" Because Lyds was so enthusiastic about the outfit, I promised myself I would do as little "gentle redirecting" as possible, and I have to say, Lydia did pretty well. (The wings were put into place when we arrived at Marit's house.)

Lydia had a lot of fun at the party! Marit's parents, Peter and Katie, did a great job planning a party that was fun for the kids but didn't feel over the top. Lydia was so excited to see Marit and watch her open her gift. The only blip was when Lydia became upset that another boy was playing with the yarn we'd used to decorate the wrapped present. Some tears ensued, and then all was right again. I'm hoping that we will reconnect with Marit's family; they were very nice people, and Lydia LOVES her friend Marit!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Living Out of Boxes

Our lives are mostly in boxes and the internet hasn't yet joined us in our new hood, so I'm going to do a quick update from a coffee shop between finishing up a homework assignment and heading home to crash.

Sidenote: Yes, I said homework. The course requirements to make my licensure in Minnesota full has been an experience that warrants a separate post. Someday when I'm not blogging about the incoming infant or our spirited toddler, I'll write about it.

The move has gone as smoothly as expected. We love our new place and know that once we're settled, it will be wonderful. Lyds loves her new purple bedroom.

In the meantime, we've been taking little jaunts--today for the purpose of getting our lone set of keys from Robin at his office downtown. In an effort to kill time, we landed at the Minneapolis Central Library, which I love. A Dunn Bros. in the library? You had me at hello. Lyds loved the Children's section and made a new friend named Breya.

I enjoyed a weekend with my college roommates, Anna and Elise. Past weekends have been held in Chicago, Austin, and New York, but this one found us on Bonner Lake in Wisconsin at Anna's family's cabin. A weekend of conversation, good food, and one really bad movie was exactly what we needed. I'm so thankful that over a decade after meeting in Middlebrook Hall, these lovely ladies are such a staple in my life!

Baby G2 hits the 24 week mark tomorrow. Where has the time gone? Our list of to-dos and to-buys is slowly growing, and I'm eager to get going on the nursery. Pinterest wasn't a thing when Lydia was born, and I'm pretty excited to put this room together with some Pinspiration. I'll put up the obligatory belly photo. I've been diligent about taking them on the 4-week mark, something I didn't do with Lyds.

This weekend brings Mike, Brittany, and Harrison to Minneapolis for the first time since Lydia's baptism. We're excited to see them! The following weekend will bring Robin to LaCrosse for a Mancation. Good things ahead!

Monday, October 22, 2012

On the Move--Again

We are moving. Again. Today, my coworker told me, "You're always moving!" Yes. Yes, I am. Last July we packed up in Austin and headed north to stay with my parents for two months. Then in September we moved into a temporary apartment due to a lease snafoo. Last October, we moved into the two bedroom apartment where we have lived for the past year. We quickly decided this was NOT where we wanted to reside for more than one year, and we were thrilled to find the an adorable duplex in the East Harriet neighborhood that was for rent. It has three bedrooms, a fireplace, and it is in a location that works a little better for us. It also has a basement for storage, a small yard, and a washer and dryer that belongs JUST TO US! Ah, luxury...

Despite our excitement, Lydia was NOT thrilled about the idea of packing her things up. When Robin told her we were moving, she wailed. Yesterday while riding in the car, she told us, "Moving is hard for kids. It's hard for us to understand." Right on, Lyds. I think she'll acclimate quickly, but her anxiety was yet another reminder that she's getting older and sees the world through her own little lens.

I'll document a we make the spot our own, but for now, I am proud that at 10:15 the night before the movers come, we are ready to go! This is totally a personal record.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Top Ten Summer Moments - 2012

It makes me sad that the past year has gone undocumented on this blog, and as much as I'd love to say I'll go back, I know the odds of that are slim. As time allows, I'll fill in, but mostly, I'm hoping to move forward and keep blogging. Considering I've posted more in the past week than in the past six months, I'm going to give myself a pat on the back.

And with that, the Top Ten Summer Moments of 2012, in no particular order!

1.) Meeting Cousin Gloria, the beautiful baby of my cousin Becky and her husband Danny!

2.) Our trip to Boston and Maine. Getting to know the city of Boston, including a game at Fenway, Boston Commons, and the infamous Duckboat Tour!

 The trip included our "quaint" stay in Deer Isle, Maine to celebrate the wedding of Robin's cousin Daniel and his lovely wife Beth. This hostel was so unique, it might warrant its own backpost.

 3.) Lydia's first PRIDE parade! I have waited her whole life to take Lyds to a Minneapolis Pride. We strolled through Loring Park and visited Gallery Co afterwards.

 4.) Cabin time! We especially loved introducing Minnesota cabin life to Texas visitors and dear friends Jenny and Nathan (not pictured--he hates the camera).

 5.) Lydia's first Battle Lake Turtle Race. She wasn't so happy with her turtle's performance. It seems once he hit the shade, he got pretty comfy and wouldn't move. She was upset he didn't get to finish.

 6.) Playtime at home. As a working mom, this is a treat.
 7.) Celebrating (7!) years of marriage by eating handfuls of wild blueberries found in a field in Maine.
 8.) Getting to know the Minneapolis food scene. Yay, Farmers' Markets!
 9.) Taking advantage of the parks and lakes here. Lyds loves the wading pool!

 10.) Meeting Fousin Harrison, the adorable son of our friends-pretty-much-family, Mike and Britt. I was proud because I succeeded in getting him to sleep on me.