Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cindy Lou Who

Okay. I didn't mean to sound so Grinchy yesterday! I really do love the Christmas season. I love thinking of the perfect gift to get someone, making cookies, looking at the Christmas lights, and I really can't wait until Gemma is older and I can see her face light up at all of those things, too.  I guess I was feeling a little like Cindy Lou Who yesterday.  I just want to find and remember the true meaning of Christmas, and I suppose I've just had to try a little harder to find the Christmas cheer this year.

I'm just finishing up sending out the last of our Christmas cards and I am in love with how they turned out. (I was feeling a little guilty that you can't see the babe's face very well, but I've since come to terms with it.) We took the photos ourselves. Took the legs off of the couch in our basement (it was my grandma's), carried into our backyard, set up the tripod, and proceeded to take about 300 photos.  We learned pretty quickly that its difficult to get a dog and a baby to look at the camera, especially when there's no one behind it!  We ordered this card from Pear Tree Greetings, and I think the whole thing came together beautifully.

Here are a few fun outtakes from our little backyard session:
Can you spot Harper? 

Squirrel! Squirrel! Squirrel! (I also forgot to take Gemma's nuk out of her mouth.)

Wow! Jeff is REALLY happy.  Harper looks like a pouting teenager.
And now for one of my favorites of Gemma.  I was really tempted to make this our Christmas card, but we put it on an ornament for the grandparents instead.  The hat was given to G by her auntie, Sophie.
This is the raw image. Jeff did a bit of editing before we ordered it. :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do, do, do, do, do, do, do! It's Christmas!

Is anyone else having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year?  Maybe it's all the RAIN we're getting here in Minnesota. Maybe it's the disdain I feel for the even earlier start of Black Friday. (Clearly, I am not a Black Friday shopper. I am a mostly online shopper.) Maybe it's the fact that I've been to the mall more than I should during December. (Something I rarely do.) I don't know what my deal is, but I'm not feeling especially festive this year...even as I'm wrapping up sending the last of our Christmas cards today.

Being that this is Gemma's first Christmas, I have a lot of fears of her not knowing the real reason for the season.  I see people getting caught up in the gifts and the commercialization of it all--people who really know better--and it worries me.  Even though this is Gemma's first Christmas and we want it to be special, she really is too young to remember anything or to understand.  Therefore, we've decided to just wrap up a few things we planned on buying her anyway and letting her open them as her Christmas gifts. Mostly for the reason that she loves paper.

I came across this awesome post by Britt from the blog Gus and Lula, and I think it's a tradition I'd like to start for our family next year.  Four gifts. One want, one need, something to wear, something to read.  I don't know that we'll ban Santa Claus from our home. We haven't really talked about it. My hunch is that we'll still incorporate him, but not really put much emphasis on him.  Anyway, Britt's post is bringing me joy today and hope for our future.  And, so is this song. It's a new favorite this year.  Here's to getting in the spirit!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gemma's 6 months old!

Holy moly! Where did the time go?  I haven't written about all of the fun things Gemma is doing.  She was 6 months old last week, but we had her 6 month appointment today.  I was surprised to learn that she has two more teeth just barely peeking out on the bottom!  I didn't really pay much attention to the bottom since I already knew she had two and knew that the next ones to come are usually the top. (She is also getting 4 up there, but they are not through yet.) Gemma had a big growth spurt at her 4 month appointment and was in the 90th percentile for height.  She has since tapered off, which the doctor says is normal.

Here are her stats:
weight: 16 pounds 8 oz. (62%)
height: 26 inches (61%)
head: 16.25 inches (19%)


And here are the fun things she's up to:

-blowing raspberries
-starting to get her top teeth
-sitting up all on her own
-not crawling yet, but scoots backward and pushes up on all fours
-eating solids here and there. We need to be more consistent, but I'm not big into pushing solids. She's eaten everything like a champ so far! We've done squash, carrots, pears, rice cereal, and bananas.  I think she may have had a reaction to the pears, though. Poor girl got a rash!
-loves her jumperoo and exersaucer
-loves paper or anything that crinkles
-loves touch and feel books
-we moved her into her convertible carseat because she outgrew the infant seat lengthwise.
-loves Harper and tries to "pet" her much to Harper's dismay.
-talks (ie screams) constantly. (Unless there are new people around.)
-loves to watch me cook and bake
-loves the songs "Pat a Cake" and "If You're Happy and You Know It"
-is now wearing 6-12 or 6-9 month clothing, mostly because she is too long for 3-6.
-swats at everything. Don't let her fool you! You will think she's being all sweet and touching your face gently, but you'll end up with a scratch or a smack in the face! :) Stinker!
-still waking up twice a night. Usually at 2 and 5. (Yes, I count 5 as night!) Although, on her 6 month birthday she slept through the night, which was a godsend for me because I was up the entire night with food poisoning. (I've never had it before and I would gladly go through natural childbirth again rather than have it again.) Some friends have suggested not feeding her and letting her cry, but I don't have the heart to do it. I'm not at my breaking point yet! :)

Gemma in her Christmas dress reject.  I really liked this one, but found one that looked better on her complexion!

Gemma today after her shots at the doctor.  She recovered pretty quickly!

I can't believe it has been about three months since my maternity leave technically ended, and I have not regretted my decision to stay at home for a moment. I don't think I've ever been happier. (Not to say that there are not challenging days!)  I feel so blessed to be able to stay home with Gemma.

I'm looking forward to watching her grow, change, and witness all of the new things she'll be doing in the next months.  Walking, talking, etc.  We're taking a baby sign class through ECFE starting in January, so it'll be fun to see if she picks up on that!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Confessions

For lack of having anything better to write about, I thought I'd help some of you get to know me better by confessing some of my secrets.

1. I'm not very good at keeping secrets about myself. Hence, this list. (I am good at keeping secrets for others though! Friends, don't quit telling me them!)

2. I love being surprised. Yet, I can't help but snoop. I usually know all of my Christmas presents before it comes time to open them. Sometimes its by accident. Sometimes not. I know, I know. I'm a child.

3. If my husband is not home for an evening, my dinner will sometimes consist of terrible foods such as graham crackers and frosting. Good thing he's usually home for dinner or I'd be a lot heavier!

4. I normally can't stand Mariah Carey, but I love her Christmas album. You really should check out the Relient K Christmas album though.  It's one of my favorites even though its not traditional at all.

5. I sometimes wear sweats for pajamas so I don't have to get dressed the next day.

6. Our dog, Harper, sleeps in our bed more than our baby does.  We always said we wouldn't let her, but...it happens! She's so sweet. She always has to have her head touching my leg at night.  I don't mind too much. She's my little heater.  We may have to upgrade to a king size bed if Gemma starts coming into our room when she's older.

7. We only have basic cable. We're going on our second year without it now and we don't miss it much at all. Jeff doesn't watch much TV at all and I found from looking at my DVR'ed shows that almost all of them were on the basic channels.  We also don't let our baby watch TV at all, so we watch even less TV these days on.  (We don't usually even have it on when she's awake.) We can always watch things online or go to our friends' houses if there is something we really need to see. (Hasn't happened yet.)

8. I'm a big picture sort of person.  It's not that I don't notice the details or acknowledge the need for them. I just want someone else to do them. This drives Jeff crazy because if I start a project, I just want it to be done. I don't actually want to do it. So, sometimes, it sits half finished for weeks.  (Um, 30 before 30 list anyone?)

9. I'm the youngest of five kids but I often feel like a middle child.  (There are three of us living now.)  My older sister and brother don't really get along. Well, I shouldn't say get along. They just are very different and don't really have much contact with each other.  They do get along when they see each other once a year, and I know they love each other very much. But, I many times find myself defending one to the other when they talk disapprovingly of each other. I don't know when I became the peacemaker...Kind of a bummer, but it doesn't really happen that often.

10. I'm more like my mother than I'd like to admit.  Not that my mom isn't a great lady, but I just never thought this day would come.  I definitely have my dad's disgusting, inappropriate sense of humor though!

Okay, I think I've confessed enough for the day. Now it's someone else's turn! Go!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Photo Friday


I got my hair cut! I lopped off about 7 inches or so.  I don't intend to keep it short, but I just couldn't stand to be losing so much anymore. (Lovely post-pregnancy hormones.)  I know I'll still keep losing the same amount, but at least I'll find short pieces all over the place instead of long ones!


I had to share this cute one of Gemma in her snowsuit.  She looks like a little pink marshmallow.  She'll be needing a new one soon along with upgrading to her convertible car seat.  She's only about an inch away from outgrowing the infant one.  (Not sure how we got a tall baby!)


This is a newer thing Gemma has been doing.  She's all about sticking her tongue out. Constantly. I love that little weirdo.

Loved this verse.  I was getting a heat massage (or something weird in a time capsule sort of thing) at Body Beautiful the other day and as I was waiting, I read some daily verses. This date is my hubby's birthday.  I thought it was a pretty fitting reminder for him, so I snapped it with my phone and sent it to him. :)

video



This isn't a photo, but I wanted to share it anyway. :) Gemma has been using this jumperoo for a while now and loves it.  We borrowed it from our friends and are so glad we did!  (Along with a lot of other bigger toys that I said I never wanted! wink wink.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Next Year I will Make Cheesecake

Today is the day my oldest brother, Matt, was born. My parents were so young---my mom was 20 and my dad was 23. Being the firstborn, there are a lot of stories of Matt's young childhood.  My dad likes to tell a little ditty of the day he was born. Dad told Mom Matt looked like a monkey. Mom cried.

Matt could walk at 8 months and could recite every nursery rhyme under the sun by the time he was a year old. His first word was "cocky." (My dad is a little mischievous.)  Matt was fast. Matt was athletic. Matt was popular. Homecoming king, in fact. I was in first grade and probably 6 years old that year.  All of the high school girls liked me (because of Matt, I'm sure).  They gave me those knotted thread bracelets (only to be worn on your left wrist, mind you).  I sat next to those girls during coronation. One asked me who I wanted to win, and I said I didn't care. (Of course I did!)  When Matt won, I jumped into his arms to hug him in the receiving line.  That embrace made the newspaper.

Matt was always my favorite sibling.  We rarely fought. Probably because we were so far apart in age.  Even when he was mad at me, like the time I told on him for piercing his ear (ha!), he didn't hold a grudge for long.   He was a sweet talker and I begrudgingly did things for him I really didn't want to do.  I just couldn't say no to him.

Matt gave me the most beautiful little niece and goddaughter, Kaitlin. She is one of the lasting reminders we have of him since he died in a car accident the day after my high school graduation.  Kaitlin was just shy of her third birthday.  And, even though she doesn't remember much of him, I try to remind her of how much Matt loved her.  He was one of the most devoted dads I have ever seen.

Sometimes I'm sad about losing my oldest brother. I'm sad he didn't see me graduate from college, get married, have a baby of my own. I wonder what he'd be doing now. What he'd look like. But, mostly I just miss him. Miss confiding in him.  I am, however, grateful. Grateful that I had 18 years with him. Grateful that we still have Kaitlin in our lives. Grateful that we were raised in a Christian family and, therefore, grateful that I will be with Matt again one day.

And, can I just add that I have the strongest mother on earth?  You see, I always only knew how it felt to lose a brother. And, now that I have a child of my own who has only been here five and a half months, I can't even bear to think of losing her.  Gemma and I baked some sweets and brought them to my mom at work today. We were celebrating Matt's life.  Mom was reminiscing a little and reminded me that Matt always requested cheesecake for his birthday. I can't believe I forgot that. It's my favorite dessert, too. Next year and probably every year after that, I will make cheesecake.

P.S. In no way am I trying to paint Matt as an angel on earth.   He had his fair share of faults, as we all do.  One of my favorite memories is of him outrunning the cops on his friend's motorcycle. He ditched the motorcycle and ran into our house.  My parents probably made a poor decision and told the cops they hadn't seen Matt since he had left earlier that night.  Bad kid, bad parenting. ha!  Anyway, I don't want to talk about his bad traits.  I just want to remember the good.  For today, anyway.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I always thought...

.....I wanted my children to inherit my blue eyes. (I knew this wouldn't be likely when I got married, considering my husband is 100% Chinese.)  But, I find myself gazing into Gemma's brown almond-shaped eyes and thinking they are the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen.

.....I wanted an important job where I would have authority and decision-making power. I now have that, but it's a completely different job than I ever expected. And, it certainly doesn't come with a high paying salary. (It does come with huge perks and is more rewarding than I ever expected.)

.....I would move far away from my hometown to a big city like Chicago.  I never did that, and while it makes me a little sad that I probably will never move out of Minnesota, I'm thankful to be so close to my parents and my in-laws. Knowing that my kids will grow up having a close relationship with both sets of grandparents makes me happier than the city life could. (I guess there's always Minneapolis?!)

Today, I'm grateful for being totally wrong about so many things in my life and knowing that He has bigger and better plans for my life than I could even imagine.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 Before 30 Update


I realize now how crazy I was to make some of these goals. I clearly didn't realize how much having a baby changes your life. But, one of my main goals for the goals (ha!), was to ensure that I didn't lose my sense of self when I became a mom. I, of course, have goals for motherhood and for my baby, but that's not what this list is about. :)

Now, before we get to it. I have to say that I'm honestly not sure I will keep this list or not. I don't like a lot of the goals because they are not specific. I'm not sure why I did that--it's one of my pet peeves! "Become a better blocker, setter, and hitter in volleyball." How the heck am I going to measure that?! Man, I must've really had pregnancy brain when I wrote these goals. ha! That's what I'm blaming anyway. And, some of the things I just don't think I plain want to do anymore. Dye my hair blonde. Meh. I don't think so.

1.      Run half marathon  (yeah!)
2.      Finish 90 days of P90X or complete a round of Insanity (I haven't decided which yet)
3.      Learn to knit
4.      Learn to sew well enough to hem pants
5.      Become a better blocker, hitter and setter in volleyball
6.      Buy a piano and start playing more
7.      Learn to give myself a proper manicure
8.      Find a fish recipe I can stand to eat regularly (Still liking the Thai Coconut Curry Tilapia!)
9.      Read 6 non-fiction/business related books
10.  Learn and master Adobe Photoshop
11.  Ride in a hot air balloon (This one may not get done. Does a helicopter ride count?)
12.  Take a weekend trip alone with my hubby
13.  Take up crafting/painting/drawing again
14.  Finish decorating all rooms in upstairs of home
15.  Have family photos taken
16.  Read the entire Bible
17.  Learn to make angel food cake from scratch
18.  Prepare, plant, and maintain a fruitful vegetable and herb garden (I only kind of did this. My mom actually planted the garden for me as I had just had a baby.  We harvested a lot of green beans, rosemary, and basil.)
19.  Do our taxes myself
20.  Decide once and for all which church our family will attend and be members of
21.  Build wooden planters for our house
22.  Re-paint our front door the perfect shade of yellow (I found the color! Just need to do it/hire someone to get it painted!)
23.  Figure out landscaping for our backyard (I had a landscaper come and give us estimates. We just need to have it done in the spring now. $$!)
24.  Find an organization where I can volunteer on a regular basis
25.  Dye my hair blonde
26.  Make Bolo Bau from scratch
27.  Learn basic, conversational Mandarin 
28.  Update my marketing portfolio (Did this when I officially quit my job!)
29.  Learn how to use my hot rollers
30.  Research my family history on my dad’s side

So clearly I am not one of those people who accomplishes things when they publicly put them out there. Lesson learned. (Insert my blushing face here.) At least I got a few things accomplished that I may not have had I not made this list at all. I'm going with that. Someone hold me and tell me its okay. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween 2011

Gemma's first Halloween was pretty uneventful.  I knew we would just stay home and hand out candy since she is too young to eat candy and it would most likely be to cold to take her around the neighborhood anyway.

Even though we weren't planning to go out trick or treating, I wanted Gemma be in costume when we answered the door for our trick or treaters.  I originally had intended to make her costume out of a long-sleeved onesie I had dyed. (I was going for mustard yellow, but it turned out bright yellow instead.) I was going to hand stitch some black fabric of some sort into stripes, put some black leggings on her, add some wings we had on hand, and call her a bumble bee.

Enter my sister and her ebay shopping. She sent me a link to the cutest baby Halloween costume. A koi fish.  My father-in-law loves koi ponds, so I couldn't resist. (He and Jeff even bought about 100 gold fish a few summers ago and put them in the pond behind our house to see if they would survive. We saw some pretty big buggers out there this fall!!)  I decided to put in the minimum bid on the outfit and figured if I won, great, and if I didn't, we would have a bumblebee! (Might I add that Jeff was "disgusted" to find that I had bid completely wrong because I didn't wait until the last minute.)  Well, I won the auction. Guess I showed him!

We don't get many trick or treaters since we live in a newish, small development, but we had a great time anyway.  Our new neighbors and friends, Sarah and Adelyn, came trick or treating and Gemma and I decided to walk around to a few houses with them, too. Next year, we'll probably go around the entire neighborhood with them!
It was a pretty nice day! Harper was a pumpkin for about 10 minutes. Her costume from 2 years ago doesn't quite fit anymore!

Handing out candy put this baby right to sleep!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Half Marathon Completed!

One of my goals on my 30 before 30 list was to complete a half marathon.  I knew if I didn't run in the Mankato Marathon on October 22, I probably wouldn't be able to complete that goal before I turn 30 in March.  So, I began training at the beginning of August, and man, it was a little rough!  The furthest I had ever run was a 10k, so it was pretty crazy to me that about midway in, my "short" runs were 5 miles.

One of the benefits of my hubby working from home while I stay at home, is that I could go out for my shorter runs when the baby was asleep either for her morning nap or her afternoon nap.  It mostly worked out; however, there were a couple of times when I'd get home and Jeff would say, "She woke up as soon as you left and didn't stop crying the entire time!" But, he was so supportive and would give it a try the next time with no hesitation.

I've always used the Nike+ ipod device when training for my 10k runs, but this time, I didn't start using it until about mid-September.  I didn't want to get too caught up (and thence, discouraged) in my times, especially at the beginning. Plus, I knew that it can be difficult to get it calibrated EXACTLY.  So, I tried not to be too hard on myself when I discovered I was running only about 11 minute miles on my long runs (the 8+ milers).  I told myself "Hey. I just had a baby not that long ago! Just run so that you can finish!" I'm pretty sure my body is still moving back into place as I would have a sore hip after many of my long runs. I was starting to feel like an 80-year-old woman.

So, the day of the race, I was super nervous. I had one main goal and a sub-goal. :)  My main goal was to finish the run without walking, and my sub-goal was to run 10 minute miles.  I knew the sub-goal would be kind of hard to accomplish since I hadn't been running that during my training. But, I held out a little hope that my adrenaline would carry me a little faster.

It was super cold the morning of the race (maybe in high 40s?), and there were so many people there.  They all seemed like they were running with someone, so I felt a little out of place.  Jeff and Gemma dropped me off, and I lined up with the 9:55 pacer, only to see one of my friends from book club!  We decided to run together, but agreed that if either one of us need to drop behind or move ahead, we would just do what we needed to do.  I was so thankful to have her!

The run was AWESOME.  The weather was perfect for a run. The course was gorgeous. The "fans" were fabulous!  I was SO grateful to see friendly faces in Christy, Angie, and Katie. (Not to mention Jeff, Gemma and my mom!) And, it turns out my Nike+ipod device hadn't been calibrated very well at all! I had most likely been running 10 minute miles and better all throughout my training. I ended up finishing the race in 2 hours and 7 minutes, which was a pace of 9:43.  I'm pretty proud of myself, but honestly, a little disappointed because at the end, it felt just a little too easy.  Maybe I'll run another one some day and shoot for under 2 hours, but right now, my body needs a break! :)

Mile 12ish.

Finishers medal

Family photo time!

The running was a little exhausting for Gemma!
So, I can cross off another thing on my goal list. (One of the few, I'm afraid.) I'll post an update soon on the things I have accomplished on my list.  Maybe that will give me some motivation to get a few more things done in the meantime!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My latest addiction

If we're friends in real life, you already know that I'm addicted to Pinterest.  It's a site where you have pin boards to virtually pin your ideas that you find online. I have found so many great ideas for decorating, dressing Gemma, and for baking and cooking among other things.I have pinned so many things that I love but will probably never make or do, but I'm okay with that. Even if it inspires me to do or make a few things, I am happy.

I recently made the yummiest chocolate chip cookies I found on Pinterest (and, subsequently, gave some to the neighbors to make up for my bad doggie, Harper's behavior). I rarely bake. It's not because I don't like sweets. It's quite the opposite. It's that I have no self-control. These cookies definitely proved that point once again. My mom says if I bake more often, it won't seem like such a treat and I won't eat as much. Do you think this is a theory I should test? Hmmmm.

Anyway. Here is the recipe.  You can follow all of my boards on pinterest here.


The BEST Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 c. plus 2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbs. butter, melted, then cooled till warm
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
1 c. - 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave just until it melts, don't scorch it! Add sugars, vanilla, and salt to butter mixture. Add egg and egg yolk, blend. Add flour and baking soda, mix until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Scoop tablespoon sized cookies onto an ungreased, light colored baking sheet. Cook for 14 minutes, or until edges are lightly golden...do not over bake.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

August

August was a pretty busy month. (Aren't they all?!) So,  I guess I left off with Gemma's baptism.

Twins Game
The following week, as a member of the Bethany Lutheran College Alumni Board, I helped host at a reception prior to the Twins' game in Minneapolis.  This was the first time I had left Gemma for more than a couple of hours. So my trusty pump came with me.  Luckily, our reception was in the downtown Wells Fargo building and I had a nice curtained room for nursing mothers to use. The reception was pretty well attended and I even won a pretty sweet Bethany sweatshirt.

I met up with a few friends at the game and we spent most of the time walking around, checking out the different views. Target Field is quite the site! I don't follow baseball, but I enjoyed my visit anyway.  We ended up losing in the ninth inning, which was a little disappointing. Hey, even if I don't follow baseball, I still like the home team to pull off a win! I had a great time catching up with my college friends, too. It's unbelievable how time flies and lives change!

Evan
Two days after the Twins game, my good friend (and Gemma's godmother) Katie, had her second child. Evan is such a cute little baby. He has a dark complexion like his mama, but looks mostly like his dad. He makes the funniest little "horsey" noises in his sleep and is just a sweetie.  I'm really enjoying having some adult company a couple of times during the week now that Katie is on maternity leave. She lives about five blocks away and we sometimes meet up to take our babies and dogs for a walk.  We've also been meeting for coffee about once a week, which is usually much needed! I'll miss our time together when she goes back to work in about three weeks.

Gemma's first road trip/family reunion/ cousin's wedding
The end of August brought Gemma's first road trip.  We headed up to the Superior, Wisconsin area for a family reunion on my mom's side of the family.  We do this every year since my mom has such a large family (She had 14 kids in her family, giving us more than 30 first cousins. Add in cousin spouses and kids and you get total chaos for a weekend!)  We have always stayed here and usually go the weekend prior to the weekend we went this year.  My mom, the main organizer, picked that specific weekend because it fell closest to the date my (now deceased) grandparents were married.  Anyway, we changed the weekend to a week later this time because my cousin was getting married about 45 minutes away.

Gemma's first road trip. Can you spot her?! She's pretty excited.
The drive to the retreat center is about four hours.  Jeff took half a day off work so we could get up there by dinner time and enjoy some family time before we needed to head to bed.  I was a little nervous for the drive with Gemma, but she was a star! She slept so long that I got nervous, and we decided to stop for some water and woke her up to feed her. (I didn't want to get to a place on the road where she'd wake up and we wouldn't be able to feed her right away.)

We arrived right after most people had eaten, but everyone was eager to take Gemma off of our hands so that Jeff and I could have dinner.  Most of my aunts and uncles had not yet met her, and I think she might be the new favorite. :)  My uncle, "Paco," even told me that she is his new buddy for T-wolves games. :( (Meaning she is my replacement!)  The mosquitos were AWFUL and as much as we tried to shield Gemma from them and cover her up, she didn't come away unscathed.  My aunt gave Gemma a little tumble (let's not talk about it), which wore her out quite a bit, so we put her to bed and enjoyed a bonfire the rest of the evening.

Saturday was a whirlwind.  My little family had to leave for the wedding early because my cousin had asked me to play piano for the ceremony.  My two nieces wanted to join us, so we had a car full. Those two girls made the drive fun!  The ceremony was beautiful and we couldn't be happier for my cousin, Shaila.  We headed out to Barker's Island for the reception, and the scenery was absolutely gorgeous.  The dinner and dance were both lovely, and Gemma adored all of the attention she received. An added bonus to the wonderful time we had was that my "favorite Uncle Paco" purchased a helicopter ride for my niece, Kaitlin, my cousin, Tarina, and me.  It was a short, but awesome ride.  We headed back to the retreat center and I managed to spot a coyote on the way back.  Again, such beautiful scenery "up north!"
My nieces, Gemma and me before the wedding.

The wedding reception right on the marina. Gorgeous!

The beautiful bride!

Our ride!

Gorgeous views over Lake Superior.


Sunday morning we enjoyed a big, family breakfast. Again, chaos, but a lot of fun!  Jeff and I were even able to get out on the kayaks for a little bit while my mom watched Gemma on the dock and took in a little bit of sun. (No sunburn this time, though! Gemma wore her hat.) A great end to a great weekend.



My Sister Visits!
My older (and only) sister lives near Detroit with her pastor husband and three young boys.  We usually only see them about twice a year because it is difficult for her husband to get time away from his work.  The drive is long (about 12 hours) and the flights are expensive (usually $300+ per person), so we usually only go to see them once a year and they come to visit us in MN once a year.  I was so happy I could spend the entire four and a half days with them this time! And, man, did we pack it full!

The first day we just hung out at my mom's house. They all met Gemma for the first time, which was so fun. The boys were all really good with her, and the youngest, Milo (age 2), really loved her. He was always asking to hold "baby Gemma."  Ahh. Her boys are so sweet and adorable. We grilled and had a picnic outside for dinner and Jeff was able to join us then.

Milo loving on Gemma at the Yellow Mushroom.

The next day my sister's family, my mom, and Gemma and I, headed to Minnepoa to see the falls.  I hadn't been there in years, so I didn't remember that the falls area was not the most stroller friendly place. Duh. We managed though and hung back in a few places so the boys could explore.  After that we picked up a pizza and headed to Sibley Park.  It was super hot (90+ degrees with a lot of humidity), but we had fun anyway.


The falls were kind of small because we didn't get much rain this summer.

The boys exploring.

Friday, Gemma and I decided to take a bit of a break and stayed home. :) We met up with my sister's family, my parents, my brother and his oldest son at one of my sister's favorite local restaurants, the Yellow Mushroom.  They have the best pizza!

On Saturday morning, we headed to mom's house for a pool party.  The weather was pretty overcast, but the kids had a great time. My little niece, Malanie, hung onto me pretty much the whole time in the pool. I taught her how to play "Motor Boat," and we did that a few times in between trying to hit her brothers with  noodles, balls, etc.  Gemma hung out with Grandpa Paul on the side of the pool and was quite content watching the kids play.

Having a blast at the pool!


Grandpa Paul and Gemma hanging out poolside.

We met up again on Sunday for church and had lunch with the family before my sister headed out. The trip was so short, but we had so much fun.  Jeff, Gemma and I will catch up with the Nelsons again in early February when we meet up with them for vacation in Florida! We can't wait!

One last photo after church before the Nelsons head back to Michigan.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I'm Back!

Not that I really went anywhere. But, I've finally got access to all of my pictures.  I haven't blogged because who likes posts without pictures? Not this lady! Okay, they're all right--but a blog without pictures for two months would not be fun.  I'll try to do my best to remember the last two months in my next posts.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Baptism

Gemma was baptized on Sunday, and we couldn't have asked for a more perfect day.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, which was important as she was baptized at an outdoor service.  Each year, my home church has a Mission Festival.  The services are held in a shady grove not far from the church and a missions preacher comes and gives the message.  Members of the congregation who are musically inclined play instruments in a band for the hymns and our choir sings.  There is a potluck lunch  in between services and a question and answer period so that we can learn more about the countries and experiences of the missionary.

Gemma was baptized at the beginning of the first service.  She didn't fuss at all and even smiled at our pastor right after he baptized her "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."  My brother, Jesse, is a godfather and my friends Katie and Eric are godparents.  Katie ended up not making it to the service because she had been up all night the previous night because of false labor.  We missed her, but that mama needed her rest!

Gemma is lucky she was so good during the actual baptism, because right after, Jeff's mom was holding her and she pooped directly onto her baptism blanket, dress, AND shoes.  Man!  :)  At least we will have a funny memory of the day!

Here are a couple of photos of probably the most important day in my little girl's life. A lot of our photos turned out kind of dark because of all of the shade.  I may be able to post more once I get through the hundreds and hundreds Jeff's dad took. :)
The godfathers

My parents, Gemma, Jeff and I

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Farewell to You and Farewell to Me

Last week, I met up with a couple of co-workers who are leaving our place of employment for bigger and better things.  They are both going to grad school--one in Texas and the other in California.  (Both great places to visit in the long Minnesota winter, no?)  

Over drinks and appetizers, we reminisced about our work together.  I'm really going to miss these girls.  Kristine is my "go to" girl for fashion.  We both love to clothes shop and score great deals.  Katie was my employee, and I enjoyed getting to mentor her a bit.  Hopefully I taught her something!

So, as I say farewell to these two ladies, I am also saying farewell to working outside of the home.  I gave my notice last week.  I am going to be a stay-at-home mama for as long as it makes sense for our family financially and emotionally.  I'm looking forward to a new path and it's my dream job so far.  Jeff works from home, which may pose some unique challenges to our situation, but we'll make it work!  
Kristine says she doesn't want kids, but she sure looks like a natural to me!

Katie and I

Kristine and Katie---onto their next adventure

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gemma Two Months

Gemma had her two month appointment this past Wednesday (8/3/2011).  I had been dreading this appointment since we set it up a month prior.  It was my first time witnessing her getting shots. :(  She got three in her chubby, little thighs and she took one orally.  To my surprise, she only screamed for about 15 seconds.  And an even greater surprise, I didn't cry at all! (I think I was a little prepared because my 4 year-old niece accidentally stepped on Gemma a few days earlier, so I heard just how hard my little G can cry.)

Gemma is growing up so fast. Here are some of things she's been doing lately:
-smiling a ton!
-holding her head up.
-blowing bubbles.
-loves to watch ceiling fans.
-is a total chatterbox!
-almost turning over.
-sleeping a little bit longer between feedings--4 hours or so.
Gemma is 22.5" long (57%), 10 lbs. 4 oz. (36%), and her noggin is 15" (34%)
We are enjoying being parents so much and just adore our little girl.  I even said to Jeff the other day that we should maybe just have one child because I'm not sure we can make another that will even compare to her! haha.  I know that's not really true.  It's just a testament to how enamored we are with Gemma.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Catching Up

My, oh my! Has it really been a month since I last posted? I can't believe how quickly time is going!  Summer always seems to fly though, while winter drags on, doesn't it?

We've been having a great summer and are loving being parents. Here are a few things we've been up to the last month or so.

-Gemma got her first sunburn. It was horrible on me, but she took it like a champ!  I swear she was covered up and kept in the shade while at Jeff's volleyball tournament, but apparently there were a few minutes she managed to burn. :(

-Gemma turned 1 month old.
Gemma is 21" long and weighs 8 pounds 2 oz.


-We visited our friends, Matt and Katie, who had a little boy, Gavin, a month and a day after Gemma was born.
Katie, Gemma, Gavin, and I


-We had a birthday celebration for my dad and my nephew, Thomas, on the 4th of July. 
Thomas LOVES reptiles.  Here's his latest catch.

-My niece, Kaitlin, came and stayed with us for about a week. We were on the go pretty much the entire time she was here. Shopping, a college tour (!), coffee, volleyball, and a couple of walks were the things that kept us busy. Oh, and of course we made pot stickers! Our favorite. We even managed to save a few so that she could bring some home.
I can't believe how pretty she is! And growing up way too fast!
It's hard to see here, but she's visiting my alma mater, Bethany Lutheran College! Thanks to Sarah for the tour!

-I started back on my organ rotation.  Church starts a half hour earlier in the summer.  Man, is it hard to get going that early in the morning and get a baby ready to go, too.  Gemma loves it,though!

-Grandma Lorraine and Grandma Linna both babysat for a few hours. (On different occasions.)

-Harper learned a new trick.  She stands up and won't sit back down until you tell her she can.  It's pretty amazing how long she can hold her pose!
Ugh. She looks pretty mangy.  She got a nice summer buzz shortly after this photo was taken.
I'm making it a goal of mine to get a little bit better at blogging.  Jeff is moving all of our pictures to a shared drive in the house, so I don't have to wait until he is off of his computer to access all of our photos.  Here's to good intentions! :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fabulous family

I don't know if I've mentioned this on my blog or not, but I have some pretty fantastic in-laws.  Jeff has an older sister and a younger brother and we all get on just great.  His parents are pretty wonderful, too.  None of us live in the same city, but we try to get together as much as our schedules will allow.  (With the exception of Jeff's sister, as she lives in AZ.)

Gemma is going to grow up with two cousins very close in age to her.  Jeff's brother's son is about 6 months older and Jeff's sister's daughter is about 6 weeks older than Gemma.  (I need to ask them if its okay to use their names on the blog yet. :) )  

A couple of weeks ago, we all got together at our house to take some family photos.  It's hard to get three babies and a dog to cooperate for a photo.  (Not to mention we had three cameras on tripods aimed at us.  We were told which direction to smile in first, next, last; however, the cameras had ideas of their own!)

Not quite read.

Oh. I thought we were done!

This is about as good as it's going to get.  Not all looking at the same camera, but thankfully, Jeff's dad got some better shots on his camera.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

2 weeks

Gemma turned 2 weeks old last Sunday and we had her 2 week well baby check-up appointment on Monday. It went well, but I certainly have some things to learn about taking a baby places!  I had fed her a "snack" before we left hoping that would get us through the appointment.  Not so.  The doctor was running late as usual and they gave me a bunch of paperwork to fill out while I waited. Gemma must've been pretty hungry because she wailed and I've never heard her do that before!  So, I covered up with a receiving blanket and started to feed her. Then, she promptly (and loudly!) filled her pants.  About a minute later the nurse called her name.  Oi!  The nurse graciously gave us a couple of minutes to finish up. I'm not sure how I can exactly avoid this in the future, but I'm prepared for it to happen again.

Gemma gained almost a pound  and grew an inch since we brought her home!

Her stats are:

Weight: 6 lbs 15 oz. (31%)
Length: 20.5 inches (85%)
Head: 13 3/4 inches (55%)

And here are a few new photos of her.  She wasn't quite 2 weeks old in these, but probably about a week and a half.

Daddy trying to get Gemma to nerd it up with him!

Wide awake!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

31

Longest post ever.  This is your warning. :)

The number of hours I was in labor.  Yes, 31.  What the heck?  I think my body was trying to break all sorts of records with this pregnancy.  First, I got to be in the 1% of women who get the PUPPPs rash, and then I have 31 hours of labor.  I read somewhere that the average first labor is 17 hours.

On Saturday morning I was determined to get things going.  Jeff and I took Harper on a brisk 3 mile walk.  We ran into my doctor who lives about 5 blocks from us.  She was packing up her car to go to Des Moines for the weekend.  She told me she'd be back by noon on Sunday, so if I went into to labor make sure the nurses called her.

Well, my walk must've worked because I started having contractions later on that day. I was taking a nap with my first baby, Harper, when I woke up to contractions at about 2:30.  I wasn't getting too excited since I'd had a couple of contractions the week before and it turned out to be nothing.  Lo and behold, these contractions stuck.  They were about 10 minutes apart.  My goal was to stay at home as long as possible.  So, I did a few loads of laundry and cleaned up the house.  Jeff and I went out to dinner.  (We actually ended up running into my cousin and I think I did a pretty good job of hiding my pain mid-conversation when I'd have a contraction.)  We took Harper on a walk over to my friend, Katie's house.  Katie was sure I'd have the baby that night as my contractions were about 5 minutes apart at the time. (HA!)

Finally, at about 11:30 pm, we decided to head to the hospital. My contractions were 3-4 minutes apart.  We called our doula and headed to the emergency room.  We got checked in and I got checked out. I was shocked when the nurse told me I was only 2 cm dialated.  I got the slushies, walked the halls, and sat on the exercise ball.  The contractions were still going strong and probably about 2-3 minutes apart.  Finally, at 8:30 am Sunday morning, the nurse asked me if I wanted my water broken.  I hesitated, but she highly recommended it.  Dr. Benson was called and he came and broke my water at about 9 am.  (The nurse said it doesn't hurt to have your water broken, but she was mistaken.  Dr. Benson gave me 6 good pokes and it DOES hurt!)

After my water was broken, my contractions were extremely intense.  They were coming about a minute and a half apart and each contraction lasted 50 seconds.  They were so strong, I started dry heaving through them.  This went on for about 3 hours until I asked to be checked again.  Surely, I was going through transition labor and would be at least a 6 or a 7.  Not so.  I was only 4 cm, MAYBE a 5 said the nurse.  I immediately started crying.  I could not make it through another 21 hours of labor.  I requested an epidural and then cried some more.  I was so disappointed that I was giving up and not going to have an all-natural labor.  My doula said she agreed with my decision and thought that I requested the epidural at the right time.

The epidural was scary, but at the same time I was so relieved to not have to be in pain anymore. I think I even slept for 10 minutes here and there.  Eventually the nurses told me that my contractions were not strong enough, so they were going to give me some pitocin to get things moving more quickly.  (What?! Are you kidding me?  Those contractions could not have gotten any stronger in my opinion.)  At that point, I really didn't care.  I wasn't going to feel anything.  Give me whatever you want.

At 5 p.m. I was 9 cm dialated and when they checked me, they found that my dear little baby had decided to turn sunny side up.  Could I get on my hands and knees on the bed and use the exercise ball to try to rotate the baby?  Sure.  Why not?  Gah!!  Just when I thought I was almost done.  When you can't feel anything below your waist and you've already labored naturally for 21 hours, the simplest thing like moving your hips in a circular motion seems like a big deal.  I did as I was asked and was checked an hour later.  I had moved the baby!  But not far enough...I should try to move the baby again.  I said fine, but that I needed a break because I was tired.  They checked me again at 7 pm and the baby had moved on its own.  I was dialated to a 9-10!

The nurses called my doctor and got me prepped to start pushing.  Holy crap. I could feel when I was going to have a contraction, so the pushing went pretty well.  I pushed a few times and was doing really well.  I looked at Jeff and asked him what we were going to name our little boy.  We still had not decided on a boy name and were sure it was a boy.  Jeff had said that after watching me go through everything, that I could just name him.  To which I replied, wouldn't you just be shocked if it were a girl?  After only 45 minutes of pushing, we had our little baby girl!  I think we laughed in disbelief when the doctor said "it's a girl!"  Gemma Lorraine was born on 5/29 at 8:14 pm.

Gemma was quiet when she was born.  The nurses had to make her cry, but she was completely fine. (She's still not a big crier.)  She was extremely alert and just stared at me the whole time during our kangaroo care, and she even latched on right away to nurse and gulped like a champ.  I'm glad she knew what to do because I sure didn't!

Gemma is the sweetest little baby ever and we can't imagine our lives without her now.  Jeff says she looks like an Asian version of me.  I think she does have my nose, but I'm not sure about the rest.  Only time will tell I suppose!  She was definitely worth the 31 hours of labor and the 21 hours of pain.  She still might be an only child, though. :)  Ask me in a year.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gemma Lorraine Lin

Gemma Lorraine Lin arrived on Sunday, May 29 at 8:14 pm.  She weighed 6 lbs. 4 oz. and measured 19.5 inches long. 

Our little angel. She was very alert when she was born.

Our mischieveous little girl

Harper is adjusting well. She loves her new little sister/


I'll try to get better at blogging, but I'm still adjusting to my new sleep schedule, breastfeeding, and keeping up with the house! Not to mention that our days are still filled with lots of fun visitors. :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

+2

I am now dialated to 1.5 cm. Boo.  Dr. said the baby has definitely dropped, though, and I am more anterior now.  Still 50% effaced.  My doctor actually seemed to be happy with the progress.  She stripped my membranes and I'm hoping that gets things going!  My doctor is going to be gone Saturday and Sunday, but I don't really care at this point if she is around to deliver the baby.  They really just get there to deliver the baby anyway, right?  I also have a birth plan that we'll be bringing to the hospital, so as long as the on-call doctor can read, I figure I should be fine. (I'm optimistic still!)

I keep telling people other than the sheer hell that is PUPPPs, I wouldn't care if I were pregnant for another 2 weeks. (I know that my doctor would never let that happen, but I'm just sayin'.)  I don't have any swelling, I'm not uncomfortable, etc. 

Speaking of PUPPPs, the Grandpa's Pine Tar soap has been a lifesaver.  I started using it on Wednesday and it has brought me a lot of relief.  Now, it doesn't completely take the itch away, but it has made the itching much more tolerable.  I even quit using my prescription cream.  I wasn't too crazy about using a steroid cream , even though they say its safe.  The soap does smell like campfire and I have to shower at least three times a day, but its completely worth it.  I've even been able to sleep through the night without wanting to itch my skin off!

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!  Keep your fingers crossed that we have baby news to report soon!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

40 weeks...

and I'm really just praying for a May baby at this point! I had an appointment on Monday afternoon and I made a bit of progress. I'm at 1 cm and 40-50% effaced, but still pretty high.  Nothing to get TOO excited about, but its something!  My doctor was pretty shocked to see how bad my PUPPPs has gotten, so she sent me to the lab to test my liver to make sure I don't have Cholestasis, which can be dangerous.  Thankfully, my results came back with a glowing report!  Just a severe case of PUPPPs. 

My doctor is willing to induce me if the rash gets to be too unbearable, and some days I think I'm going to cave in. I've been reading a lot of message boards about people who have gotten it and the home remedies they're trying.  I keep hearing about Grandpa's Pine Tar soap, so I'm heading to the co-op after work to pick some up.  I should have tried it a long time ago, but I thought the prescription cream I got would have worked better.  I heard it smells really gross--like campfire or burning garbage--but I really don't care at this point.  I've never been so excited to smell like crap!

Ice packs have also been helping a little bit.  After I woke up at 5 this morning in serious discomfort, I stuck an ice pack down my pajama pants and slept like a baby! (Yes, the rash has now spread to my arse and crack. Not fun!) My husband is such a lucky man. :)

If I don't have a baby by the end of the work week, I'm seriously considering starting my maternity leave next Tuesday.  I'm honestly not getting a whole lot done at work anyway because 1) I have a lot of my stuff wrapped up or handed off because I thought I would have already had my baby by now, and 2) I can't focus on much besides my darn itching.  Nothing that requires any sort of serious thought, anyway.

"Come on, baby!"  This phrase makes me giggle a little because my dad says that's what my mom kept saying when she was in labor with me. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

39 weeks 5 days

No picture this week.  We forgot to take one, and now I'm pretty much 40 weeks, so I figure its pointless. 

I got pretty excited on Friday night because I had two hard contractions that were 10 minutes apart.  So, I decided to try to get some sleep since it was 10 p.m. and I didn't want to be completely exhausted when I went into active labor.  I didn't end up waking up (at least not due to anymore contractions). Boo.  Baby is playing tricks on me! 

I'm trying all of the "natural" inducers.  Walking, bouncing on my exercise ball, spicy food--my favorite Mrs. Renfro's jalapeno salsa--, sex, acupressure foot rub, pedicure, etc.. Nothing is seeming to work.  I did have Braxton Hicks contractions that I could feel all weekend. (I haven't felt any at all throughout my pregnancy.) 

Last week was a stressful one.  (It's a very long story, but involved a non-stress test and a biophysical.)  Everything with the baby is looking good.  Estimated weight is between 5 lbs and 11 oz and 6 lbs 10 oz.  Since I had the biophysical, I got to see my baby's face!  "He" looks just like Jeff, and is super adorable. The baby scored 8 out of 8 on its "tests."  So, I said at least the baby gets one thing from me--its brains! :)

Also, my PUPPP rash has decided to spread to my entire body, with the exception of my face.  It is the most unbearable thing I have ever dealt with in my life.  It wasn't that bad the first week I had it, but the place it originally started is becoming more flared and the fact that it spread doesn't help matters either!

I'm really getting to the point where I want this baby here now! I really don't want to be induced due to the increased chance for a c-section, but I also want to experience everything naturally.  I know my body knows what its supposed to do. Now, if it could only do it on my timetable!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fish Recipe #3

So, I'm still plugging away at trying to make myself like fish.  I think I have a winner on my hands with this one!  I even brought the leftovers with me to work.  That's saying something, my friends!  It didn't taste fishy at all and I loved the sauce.  Even though I really like this recipe, I'm still going to try out some more.  Who knows?  I might become a fish lover after all!

Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce

from Cooking Light

Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cups hot cooked basmati rice (I used brown rice)
  • 4 lime wedges
Preparation
  • Preheat broiler.
  • Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add pepper and onions; cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.
  • Brush fish with 1/2 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce, rice, and lime wedges.