Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Born on the 4th of July!

We happily welcomed another baby BOY to the world!  Griffin Charles was born on 7/4/2014.
8 pounds, 14 ounces
22.5 inches long

We're so blessed to have this big boy in our family!  We're all settling in and adjusting to life as a family of 4.  Big brother Bates loves him and is doing pretty well with the whole transition.

Another post about the 20-hour labor coming soon!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Has NOT Sprung

LB used to tell me April was one of the hardest months of the year living in Chicago because of the weather.  Basically, it's April, so you feel like it should be warm (since, you know, Spring), but it's actually not warm yet.  Sometimes it's still really cold.  And sometimes it snows.

But when I heard this as a Memphian, I thought to myself, "well, at least you have seasons, even if they happen at slightly different times of year than you would expect."  Because Memphis doesn't have "Spring" like you want it to be.  "Spring" days are often in the 80s (sometimes high 80s with tons of humidity), which is lovely compared to the middle of Summer when it feels like 150 outside, but can be pretty hot.  Also, Spring can be a terrible precursor of what's to come.  If it's March and highs are already in the 70s & 80s, what is it going to look like in July?

So here I am now, back in a place with legitimate seasons and today seems to be starting a new trend with the weather (at least according to noaa.gov's 5-day forecast) where highs are in the 50s.  And I'm partially elated, of course, because this means we can get outside more - but I also can't help but wish for just slightly higher temps.  Which makes me wonder: What is my idea of "perfect," seasonally-appropriate weather?

In Memphis it was always too hot.  Now this winter in St. Louis has been way, waaaaaaay too cold.  Will it ever feel "just right?"  Because unlike Chicago Summers, St. Louis ones get really hot and humid - maybe they will feel less so because we're coming from Memphis?  But either way, Summer here is still really hot.  Maybe Fall is the magical season here?  When it's actually cool enough to call itself Fall, but isn't yet the terrible, keep-you-inside cold?

I'm also curious when things will start to get green here.  With Memphis' mild winter and often-early Spring, a lot of Spring plants got messed up.  They would start blooming in March and then there would be a cold snap for a couple of days and everything would die.  (Poor cherry blossoms in our front yard were 9x out of 10 ruined with a March or April freeze.)  But here in St. Louis right now?  Absolutely no sign of green or buds or flowers anywhere.  We have no idea what our little town will look like with greenery because it's been barren since we've been here.

April showers bring May flowers...is this true?  Will we not see a green landscape until May?  I just don't remember because it's been so long since I've lived here.  I remember coming home some Easters in college when it was too cold to wear Easter dresses - so maybe we're looking at the 50s for the next month?

I think this first year or so will be the biggest adjustment - then we'll be used to the way the seasons fall.  But for right now - I'm seriously itching for some warmer temps.  But not necessarily Memphis warm...

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fetal Friday? (19 Weeks)

Oh what the heck - how about the return of Fetal Friday for a few weeks of this pregnancy!

Right now I'm at 19 Weeks.

Most people have probably heard that one's first pregnancy is very different from any subsequent pregnancies - and in my personal experience, this is quite true!  I don't mean to downplay this one at all - because of course, we are PUMPED about a new baby - but just in terms of thinking about the pregnancy, it is very low on my list of daily priorities.  (Whereas when I was pregnant with Bates, all I did was think about it and analyze it and fixate on everything.)

So with that to say, I feel great!  I am definitely in that golden zone where I'm past the 1st trimester yucky-ness, but not physically big enough to have the discomfort of a huge baby pushing on my organs.  One big difference in this pregnancy is my sleep.  I slept awesome when I was pregnant the first time, but not so much this time around.  (It's more like my normal sleep patterns, which aren't awesome.)

I've been feeling the baby move for a few weeks now, which is a lot sooner than last time, but since I knew what I was looking for when it came to movement, it was easy to recognize.  (I was shocked when I looked back on my 19 week post last time and saw that I hadn't felt the baby yet!  This one has been going crazy for a few weeks now!)

It's also no joke that you start showing a lot sooner with pregnancies after your first.  I started wearing my maternity clothes pretty early with this one (because...stretch pants jeans...um, why not?), but as of a week or so ago, I've definitely looked really pregnant.  I'll snap some pictures at some point and post them.

I had some crazy food aversions (pretty much all food) in the 1st tri, but again, everything is back to normal now in the 2nd.  This is the most boring pregnancy update ever!  Basically, I feel normal except that I have a little person kicking me around.  (Actually, I have a little person kicking me from the inside AND outside all the time.)

We do our 20-week ultrasound next week (where we will NOT find out the sex), but I'm somewhat anxious to make sure everything is alright and healthy with this new babe.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Toes Can Tell The Story

Six months ago, this was a beautiful, fresh pedicure:

Bates and I spent a week at my mom's house in July and she watched him one day so I could go to the nail salon.  I usually get my toes done about once a month during sandal season, but this past summer I didn't.

I looked at my pitiful toes the other day and thought how much this pink polish has seen in the past six months....

A couple days after I got the pedicure, Jonathan and I were at a Cardinal's game where we met the lawyers who asked if he was looking for a job.

A couple months after that, he was offered a job with those lawyers and he accepted.

We worked hard and fast to get our house ready to go on the market.

In just four days, we had two offers on the table, one above asking price.

On that same day, we found out another human would join our family (around 4th of July)!
Jonathan then moved to St. Louis (to my mom's house) while Bates and I stayed and got the house packed for moving.  I was a "single parent," which is hard enough as is, but was intensified by some 1st trimester grossness of pregnancy.

We were homeless for a week, living at my in-law's and then my mom's.

Moving trucks took all our possessions to St. Louis and we began this new chapter.

We lived through a 10-inch snowfall and days with 1 degree as the high.

My pink nail polish has been with me through it all!  Maybe just for the sake of a complete circle, I will let the pink grow out entirely before I put a new color on.  

But on the other hand, my feet look nasty, so I might go ahead and close the pink chapter and open a new one.  

Although, maybe I should stay in the pink family because it has definitely brought me luck over the past 6 months...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

On The Other Side

I'm happy to say that we made it!  To St. Louis, of course - but also, generally, we made it through the last month and a half.

To briefly recap, Jonathan started his job in St. Louis the 2nd Monday of November, so Bates and I had almost 3 weeks alone in Memphis without him.  Not sure if I have any single parent readers - or maybe some of you have spouses who travel a lot? - either way, my hat goes off to you!  It was not easy being alone with the baby boy from ~6am - 8pm every day.  But it wasn't awful, of course.  And we had lots of visits with friends and lots of help from my in-laws.  So while it was a long couple-ish weeks, we're on the other side, not suffering PTSD.

One of the more stressful aspects of those weeks was getting our house packed.  Before Jonathan left, it was probably 75% packed, which was huge.  But the last 25% was quite difficult because it was a lot of stuff that gets used daily/weekly, for the most part.  I survived, though!  I was up super late the night before the movers came (Nov. 25th), but when they got there, it was mostly packed (and what wasn't packed was easily taken care of by the 7-man team that loaded the vans).

So we moved out of our house and were homeless for a week.  Bates and I went to my in-law's for the week of Thanksgiving and Jonathan joined us on Wednesday night.  We had a great week with his sister and her family!  Bates loves to play with his big cousins (and I loved having tons of other people around to keep him entertained).  It really was a blessed week with good times, good food, and lots of fun.

We headed up to my mom's the Sunday after Thanksgiving and moved into our new house on Tuesday.  It was rather stressful finding a house to rent here, actually.  And in fact, the one we moved into was unseen by me until the day before the movers came.  But I'm really happy with where we ended up.  I don't think I'd want to own this house, but I'm really happy to rent it.

Some things I like about the house:
1) The little town we live in (Webster Groves) - it's super cute and quaint and has so many places to discover!

2) THREE bathrooms!  Going from 1.5 to 3 is a huge upgrade!

3) A "master suite."  This is something I never thought was important (maybe because we didn't have one in Memphis?) - but now that we do, it's actually nice to have some room to breath in the bedroom and a roomy en suite bathroom.

4) A dedicated "play room."  It's up in the finished attic and while Bates won't go up there by himself to play, it's still nice to have less toy clutter in our living spaces.

5) Gas stove and double oven!  I'm definitely still getting used to cooking with gas, but I like it so far.

6) A carport!  Who knew a carport would warrant an exclamation point, but going from no covered parking in Memphis to this feels like a huge upgrade (especially since St. Louis has had an unusually snowy December).  It's also been nice to go out and warm the car before we go somewhere.  Except when Bates locked me out of the house this morning while I was turning the car on to warm.  Parenting fail.

7) A huge deck (which we obv haven't used yet), but should be nice in warmer weather.  And along the same lines, a big yard to play in!

There are some negatives to the house, too, of course.  But like I said, for a rental, it's great.  One solid negative is that Bates has been waking up every morning super early (like, one morning at 4:50am).  There has to be something about the house that is causing this, if not just change in general, but we have to get to the bottom of it!  He wakes up tired and is barely keeping his eyes open by noon.  I wonder if it's the temperature in his room, so we're going to try a space heater in there to see if that affects anything.  After that, I've got nothing.

One general negative to moving in December (which I absolutely anticipated) is the difficulty of meeting people during the month.  The weather is so cold (like, really, really, unbearably cold) that Bates and I can't play outside.  And most mommy & me classes and playgroups are closing down for Christmas and re-starting again in January.  So we've been a little stir crazy a couple of the super cold days.  But we're going to sign up for some stuff starting in January, so once we get through the holidays, hopefully we'll be on our way to meeting new people and making new friends.

Jonathan is enjoying his job!  We had his office Christmas party (a black tie affair at the Magic House) last Saturday, which was an interesting display of "why didn't your wife tell you it's not ok to get so drunk at a work party" by some of his co-workers.  But also pretty fun, as parties with that caveat tend to be.  And since my mom took Bates for an overnight babysit that night, Jonathan and I got to try a cute brunch place in Soulard the next morning.

We haven't attended church here yet.  (Well, Jonathan tried one before Bates and I moved up, but he wasn't blown away.)  But like so many aspects of living in a "big" city (bigger than Memphis, that is), I'm feeling overwhelmed by all the choices!  We loved our church so much in Memphis and loved so many of the things it offered that it's going to be hard to find something here that lives up to our expectations.

I also feel really overwhelmed by all the restaurant choices here.  Literally, this city is really big and there are restaurants in every little neighborhood in town!  So many choices!  And I think if we really try to get out there and try a lot of them, we're going to gain a ton of weight and spend loads of money, so I'm not sure how that will go down.  But I'm excited to eat some good stuff!

This post is getting too long, so I'll end by saying last weekend we had to go buy me one of those huge, long puffy winter coats.  I've never understood why someone would wear a coat like that since it isn't all that flattering or stylish.  Then I moved to a place where the mornings have been 15 degrees, feels like 1 and I understood.  So long, puffy, black trash bag it is!  Thank you, Burlington Coat Factory!

I hope you all are doing well and aren't too stressed by the holiday season.  Jonathan doesn't have any vacation time yet, so Bates and I will probably hang out with my mom a lot.  But the move has done a lot to take away the usual holiday stress I feel, which has been nice.  Stay warm and Merry Christmas if I don't pop in here before!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thoughts On A Move

Even though we had discussed the possibility of moving to St. Louis, in my mind, we weren't brave enough to actually do it.  That is, leave this city that we love - Jonathan's parents, our friends, our awesome church community - to start all over again.

Most of our couple friends in Memphis went to school with Jonathan (and are therefore older than me), which means there isn't much transience in the group.  Just about everyone is settled in "for the long haul," living in their grown-up houses with kids in school and jobs permanently locked into place.  And I have to say, I had a good vision of how our future here would look.  I could see the people with whom our kids (and us!) would grow up, envision the schools our kids might attend, think about the neighborhoods in which we might buy our "grown-up" house.

But instead, we are throwing away that vision and replacing it with a big question mark.  We have no idea who our friends will be or who our kids' friends will be or where our kids will go to school or where we'll live or where we'll go to church.  On a lesser level than that, we don't even know the way around the new part of town we'll live in (about 25 minutes away from where I grew up) - I don't know where a grocery store is or a pediatrician or a vet or a Target or even what the main road is that travels through the town.  And if you can't imagine it yourself - let me tell you, it's really scary!

I keep telling myself that it will be fine.  We'll make friends (at some point), we'll learn our way around, we'll find a new church, we'll find new doctors, etc.  But part of me doesn't want to do that because I'm perfectly content with the way things are in Memphis.

Another thing that is hard to wrap my mind around is the fact that this is permanent.  We aren't just casually uprooting our whole lives to then come back in a year or two.  This is the real thing.  And the real thing is a big, fat question mark - awesome!

There's a certain level of adventure, of course, which adds some excitement to the scary.  And I'm elated to be able to send Bates to public school.  I'm also elated to live in an area with less of a crime rate than where we live in Memphis (ie, hopefully there won't be a "Cyber Report" from the police of crimes committed within a mile of my house that gets sent out every single day [literally]).

I know there's some saying that true growth can't actually happen until you step out of your comfort zone, so I'm looking forward to that.  I think we can grow as a family, and Jonathan and I can both grow individually as we navigate this new life.  So there is a lot of good with the bad - the move is, in a very true sense of the word, bittersweet.

Any prayers and/or positive thoughts would be gladly accepted as we close this chapter in Memphis and open a new one in "the north."  I think I'm still in a little bit of shock, ha.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Meet Me In St. Louie

So there was that time when I didn't blog for months...not even a small peep to let you know I'm alive.  So actually, if you are here reading this right now, thanks for not giving up on me!  And I'm sorry I've been absent, blah blah blah, life is busy and hectic and this isn't news to anyone.

Side note: Jonathan jokes with me every morning because he says he wakes up and checks to see what's going on with Queen Ketchup (even though, most likely, he would see me typing a lot on my computer if I actually did post).

Anyway.  We have big, exciting news coming from our house.  We're moving to St. Louis!

You might remember this post from not that long ago when we had discussed if St. Louis would be a good (maybe better?) city to raise our family than Memphis.  Well, as I mentioned at the end, I felt like we would end up wherever we are supposed to be, and I have to say, God has made it incredibly apparent (like LOUD & CLEAR), St. Louis is that place right now.

Jonathan accepted a job at a firm after we met some of the lawyers in a box at a Cardinal's game.  (Literally, I met the lawyers in line for beer, discussed what kind of law they practice, mentioned my husband does the same, and they said, "he isn't looking for a job, is he?"  About two months after that, after he'd interviewed, he was offered a job.)

We then worked really hard to get our house ready to sell, incredibly nervous about the state of the market and the strong need we had to sell the house in a reasonable amount of time.  And after 4 days on the market and a bidding war, we got a really great offer.  (I'd call that a "reasonable" amount of time, right?)  We're currently looking for a house to rent in St. Louis, but I have to say, I feel like God is going to provide that, as well, so it isn't stressing me out that much.

This is where we are right now - in a crazy and unexpected place.  I have so many thoughts on the whole move and leaving Memphis thing, but I might go ahead and do that in a separate post.  I can't believe we are leaving the land of the Delta blues - but we'll definitely be back a lot, as my in-laws (who are really sad, you can imagine) will still be here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Oh The Reading

So when I took a month+ off blogging, one of the reasons was all the reading I was doing during Bates' naps and at night after he went to bed.  You all know how I love a good dystopia novel, so when I found this list on BuzzFeed, I immediately went to our library's e-database to see which ones I could check out.

I ended up reading 3 young adult dystopia series.

First up:  The Legend Series by Marie Lu
There are 2 books out right now (Legend and Prodigy; and a third, Champion, due out in October)

This was my favorite series out of these three and I would recommend it (although I did feel sort of duped when I learned the third one wasn't out yet).  The main characters live in a military-run state, which I found fascinating because I totally thought of North Korea while reading it; there is a ton of propaganda and negativity about other parts of the World, which has to be what it's like in NoKo.

But anyway, these are fun books.  They're written in 2 different perspectives.  I think one of my favorite parts of a dystopia is seeing the "perfect" government and how the citizens live in it, and there was a lot of that in this series.

Series Two: The Maze Runner by James Dashner
There are four books in this one: The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, and the prequel, The Kill Order

Ok, I did not really like this series.  And I don't recommend it.  Why did I read four dang books then?  Who knows.  I guess I wanted to see what happened at the end?  But it wasn't really that satisfying, which left me even more dissatisfied.

These books feel more like a weird mystery than a "dystopia."  And honestly, there are parts I would describe as a "young adult horror" genre.  Definitely not my cup of tea.

I will say that they were fast paced and intriguing at parts (and only about 300-ish pages), so at least you can fly through them.  But my overall recommendation?  Don't waste your time.

And finally, the Matched Series by Ally Condi
Three Books: Matched, Crossed, and Reached

I was probably most excited about this series.  A perfect society where everything about your life is statistically calculated, including who your spouse will be.  So stuff like what you eat, where you live, your job, etc., are decided by the Society through brain data.

The first book was really fun.  It was all about the main character, Cassia, when she is "matched" (ie, given her future spouse) and then the crazy stuff that goes down following that.

The other two books: blah.  In fact, by the end of the third one, I was dying to be done.  There was no big, awesome climax at the end.  In fact, I sort of just skimmed along trying to finish.  One of the main issues I had while reading was that I couldn't really see what was so bad about the Society.  I mean, I guess on one hand it sucks not having the option to make your own choices, but on the other hand, if something (or someone, in the case of your spouse) is calculated 99.9% to be a perfect fit for you, what's so bad about that?

I can't say I really recommend these books, either.

And then after all these kid books, I read an adult book!  I'm sure you've all heard the hype about J.K. Rowling's book that she published under a different name.  Well, I read it.

The Cuckoo's Calling by "Robert Galbraith"

This was really fun and I recommend it.  It was a classic WhoDunIt mystery that was really engaging.  It's about a private eye asked to re-examine the alleged suicide of a supermodel.  And from the way it ended, I imagine there will be other books with the private eye on the case.

So that's that.  Lots of reading.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Well Hello There!

Wow.  It's been more than a month since I've blogged!  I've had a blank post open for awhile, but just haven't had the inspiration to get something down.  I've actually sort of fallen off the blog bandwagon, generally.  Instead of checking all my "regulars" everyday, I find myself checking every couple days.

Part of it is that I don't get that much "me time" each day.  There are Bates' naps, which give me 2-3 hours, and then from around 7:30-10 at night.  I think I might do a day-in-the-life post soon, so those of you who aren't stay at home moms can see what it is we actually do all day.

But in the effort to catch everyone up to date on my life, here are some highlights from the last month+:

1.  Bates and I spent a week in St. Louis (Sunday - Sunday) and Jonathan flew up on Thursday to meet us.  I was going to blog a lot while I was there, but I have that weird fear of letting the digital world know I'm out of my house (ie, ROB ME), so I didn't.  It was a great trip, though.  My mom is a teacher so she was off work the whole time.  We did lots of St. Louis-y things: the zoo, Purina Farms (twice), the brewery tour, the Butterfly House, a Cardinals game, etc.  I loved that we were able to go up for so long.

2.  I've been reading a ton.  Like, I read three different young adult dystopia series (as in, 10 books), in addition to a couple others.  In fact, during Bates' naps that's all I've been doing.  I'll do some book reviews (everyone's favorite!!) when I have a second.

3.  Amanda came to visit!  She did a one-day trip in town for a funeral.  Sadly she didn't get to bring baby Paige.  But she did get to meet and play with Bates, who made fast friends with her.

4.  We've been loving the weather.  I think it's been nice in a lot of parts of the country, but seriously, Memphis has had the best weather summer since I've lived here.  Today, for example: high of 80, low of 55, and almost no humidity.  Bates loves to be outside (hot or not), so the nice weather has been such a blessing.

5.  We've been no-carbing.  Jonathan and I decided for the month of August that we'd give up carbs, which includes alcohol.  We both wanted to lose a little weight, and I know that I, personally, wanted to stop my unhealthy snacking during the day.  I also wanted to give my body a break from the dark, heavy beers we love to drink Thursday-Saturday nights.  Breakfast for me has been an egg-white/feta omelet; lunch has been a salad; and dinner has been fish and veggies, for the most part.  Lots of water, cheese, and nut butters for snacks.

6.  And figs.  So, I love figs - not sure if I've ever shared that on the blog.  They are one of my favorite things in the world.  Well, Bates and I were on a walk a couple weeks ago and I noticed this huge fig tree a few blocks away had some ripe ones.  This tree is huge and it hangs over into the street.  It's packed with figs - like hundreds...  So I took some.  And then the next day, I took some more.  And whenever my stash runs out, I pick more.  And I guess in theory this is "stealing," but like I said, the tree is huge.  And also, no one else is picking them, as far as I can tell.  Is that awful?  I just love figs so much!  I will plant a fig tree in my next house.

7.  On our walk last week, Hank was attacked by another dog!  We were approaching a house that had tall hedges and a gate.  Because of the hedges, I couldn't see if the gate was open or closed, but a huge dog was sitting in the driveway, so I just assumed the gate was open and the owner was standing right there.  Not the case.  When we got close enough to see, I realized the gate was closed.  So basically it was a huge, unchained, ownerless dog staring us down.  Hank went up to him and the dog started attacking him.  Like, pinned him down, was biting and growling.  I screamed and tried to yank Hank's leash, which didn't work, so then I started kicking the dog.  It was like kicking a brick house, though - he must have been 150 pounds.  I finally let go of Hank's leash, thinking he could maybe fight back if I wasn't holding it and I pushed the stroller out of the way.  Thankfully the dog relented a little and Hank ran away and we were able to clear out of the area.  A car stopped to see if we were ok and she pointed to the house where the dog lives.  The owners go to our church, so Jonathan called them that night.  Apparently they were having work done on their house, so the gate was open and the dog got out.  They were really apologetic, etc., but the event was still terrifying!  Hank wasn't hurt (none of the bites broke the skin) and he hasn't been any more weird than normal, so I'm hoping he won't have bad memories of it.  Poor doggie.

I think those are all the highlights of the past month.  Hopefully you'll hear from me again before it's another month and a half!

Now if you'll excuse me, some figs are calling my name.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Great Summer Reads

A couple more book reviews - both of which I really enjoyed!  And two books that made (and would make for you) fun Summer reads.

1) Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

Her first book, Commencement, came out a few years ago and I really enjoyed it, as well.  This one (similar to Commencement, actually), follows four women's lives and each chapter is told in a different one's 1st-person voice.  The women in this book are a grandmother, her daughter, her daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter.  I just loved it.  It's about their past, their current lives, and the ways their lives intertwine with each other.  It all sort of centers on the family vacation house in Maine and their time there in the past and in the present.

It reads super quick and is mostly about Summer (when they're in Maine) - so it feels appropo right now.

2) The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Yes, Stephanie Meyer is the woman who wrote the Twilight books.  (Whatev, you know you loved them too.)  They say this is her first book for adults, although I might argue it could be a book for teens, as well.  But the main characters are adults, so I guess that's why they classified it that way.  Anyway - it's a dystopia (my fave!) about an alien species that has taken over Earth.  When they come in, they inject themselves (the "souls") into human bodies and live through the human, thus eliminating the human.  Only - they don't completely eliminate the human spirit every time. (Dun dun dun!)

I liked this book a lot maybe even more than I really care to admit.  At its core, it's a love story.  But one of the things I liked most is that I honestly didn't know: a) how it was going to end or b) how I wanted it to end.  It's a love story, so you would think the reader just wants boy to end up with girl at the end, but it's more complicated than that.

It's unpredictable and has some suspenseful moments.  And a charming love story(ies).  When I finished, I felt a connection to the book, like I didn't want it to end.  I might or might not have read the ending a couple times.  Make sure if you do read it, your copy of the book has the afterword from Stephanie Meyer where she wrote an additional chapter to aid the people who adapted the book for film.

Both good summer reads - both highly recommended!