Friday, November 27, 2015

Abel's Birth Story

Like I mentioned in my pregnancy update at 35 weeks, Abel was in a breech position, and hadn't budged by 37 weeks, so my doctor proposed a External Cephalic Version to try to turn him around. 

I happened to take one last pregnancy photo while getting ready on Tuesday morning.


At the hospital, my doctor did the version, which was technically successful - He did shift into a head-down position - But afterwards I started having painless but regular contractions, and every time, Abel's heart rate would drop. My doctor thought the umbilical cord had gotten tangled up somewhere. After several hours of being monitored with no improvement, and one particularly long contraction that made everyone panic a little, I headed into surgery.

Probably the worst part was getting prepped for the C-section. It was less than 30 minutes between when I headed to the OR and when Abel was born, but it seemed like longer. After I had the spinal block I felt like I was lying there completely helpless for ages, but it was probably only 2 minutes before Jonathan came in, and then another 10 minutes before Abel was born. When I first heard him cry I immediately started crying too because I was so happy and relieved.

Jonathan brought him over to see me for a minute but then they went off to the nursery together [along with my parents who had driven Jonathan over to the hospital] while I was stitched up and spent a little time in recovery. We reunited in my room after about an hour and I was able to properly meet and hold and nurse my son for the first time!

We came home at noonish on Thursday and since then have just been mooching around the house with the kiddos! So far I think Abel looks a LOT like Swede did when she was a newborn! [Especially when they wear the same clothes.]

Who is who???

It was obviously not the way I had expected/hoped Abel's birth would go, but I'm beyond grateful that he's healthy and safe.

PS: For the story behind Abel's name, see my answer to question "F" in the A to Z Quiz!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 [+ Exciting news!]

This was certainly not the post I had planned for today, but I can't think of anything I'm more thankful for than the safe arrival of a healthy baby boy!

Please welcome Abel Hamilton!

He arrived [via emergency C section, I'll share the details next week] at 2:14 pm on November 24th, weighing 6 lbs 9 oz and measuring 18 & 3/4 inches.

I am feeling so blessed, so grateful, so absolutely filled with love! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Five Favorites - November 2015

Every time I write these posts I get the "My Favorite Things" song from The Sound of Music stuck in my head for days!

1) One of my old friends from when I lived in Florida sent me this quilt that she made for Baby #2. I love it so much! Foxes are my favorite. Practically everything I've bought for Swede lately involves either a fox or a penguin. Most recently for Swede: This Cosy Quilted Duffle Jacket from Boden, in blue with the fox print lining.

The fox wearing glasses is my favorite.

2) I've been searching for the perfect winter boots for the last couple months. [And way overthinking my decision, by the way.] But I finally decided on the Minx Fire Tall Omni-Heat Waterproof Boots from Columbia. In black, of course, although I really do like the red. They are WARM to -25 degrees, and will work equally well with skinny jeans around town and snowshoes on the trail. They are really comfortable and lightweight - Not clunky at all like snow boots can be sometimes.

3) I've been growing out my hair for the past couple years, but the longer it is, the less that I like it, so last week I went back to my classic bob. I feel so much more like myself with this haircut! I also really didn't like how my hair would get caught on hoodies, scarves, etc. I see people with long hair wearing scarves and looking cute all the time, but it just didn't work for me.

Before and After

4) I am so excited to eat ALL THE FOOD on Thursday. One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is browsing through recipes to decide on the exact perfect menu. This is what we've finally decided on:
 - Spicy Molten Blue Cheese Dip
 - Turkey [My mom's doing this... Thank goodness! I'm not ready for the responsibility.]
 - Apple & Sausage Stuffing/Dressing from The Joy of Cooking
 - Mashed Potato Casserole
 - Green Bean Casserole
 - Crock-Pot Cream Cheese Corn
 - Flaky Dinner Rolls [This recipe is from Cooking Light but I use more butter than it calls for. I think it's safe to say they aren't very light... But they sure are delicious.]

5) I'm one of those nerds who must have a paper planner, so I'm super excited that my 2016 Erin Condren Life Planner arrived last week! This is my third year using this planner. It's so colorful and fun, and BIG - Plenty of room to keep track of everything. I've already gone through to add birthdays and other special occasions.

This pineapple design reminds me of my grandma. :-)

Do you like your hair better long or short? Do you like having a paper planner? What are you loving this month? [PS: I hope you appreciate my restraint in leaving off anything Christmas-related from this month's list... I'm saving them up for December!]

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Weekend [Nov 21-22, 2015]

Hey Friends, Did you have a nice weekend?

Around here lately... Weekends have been super low-key in the best possible way. Saturday mornings are especially nice. I love being able to start the day in a really leisurely manner. Coffee. Breakfast. Playtime with Swede. No big deal if everyone's in pajamas until 10 am.

The last couple weeks during Swede's naps I've given myself permission, at least one of the days, to put aside the to-do list and just read with a cup of tea. And, this weekend, a pumpkin cheesecake bar! [Pretty sure THIS this is same recipe that I have.]  I am cherishing these last days of [relative] calm before Baby #2 arrives. That makes it sound like I'm not excited to meet him! Which is absolutely not the case. But the impending chaos is a little daunting.

Jonathan and I dropped off Swede at his parents house on Saturday afternoon and went out for a late lunch/early dinner date at Steamworks. We split the spinach-artichoke dip and I satisfied my craving for a cheesesteak with "The Purgatory" - JalapeƱo Giardiniera, Mushrooms, Pepper Jack, and Steak on a Hoagie roll.

Sunday wasn't quite as perfect. It should come as no surprise to me that two-year-olds, like everyone else, have good days and bad days. We went to church in the morning and then had fun helping Jonathan hang Christmas lights on the porch, but Swede woke up cranky from her nap and stayed that way most of the rest of the day.

For dinner I made Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream White Sauce. [Thanks for this one, Katie!] I froze half the recipe for after Baby #2 arrives. I have now have two freezer meals ready... Which is better than nothing! [Jonathan and I joke that "Better than nothing" is our family motto.]

One last photo for the road: Gumball and "baby Gumball" <-- One of Swede's birthday presents. She loves having a Gumball she can hug since the real Gumball isn't too interested.

This week I'm looking forward to: Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Happy Birthday Swede!!!

My darling girl is 2 years old today! We had a low key birthday party with my parents, my brother, and Jonathan's parents. I made Funfetti Cupcakes from How Sweet It Is, plus a cheese/salami/olive platter.

I think she liked the cupcakes.

At age 2, Swede's favorite things to do: She likes to play with Legos. She LOVES her baby doll and her stuffed animal friends - Lately she's been into pretending to change diapers and put them to bed. We read lots of books together. She likes puzzles, and trucks, and helping out in the kitchen - We bake together and the first thing she does every morning is help Jonathan put away all the dishes. She likes exploring outside and collecting pine cones, rocks, and dry leaves. When we go to the park all she really cares about is swinging, swinging, swinging, and has to try every single swing.

Swede & Friends

Her real name is Ingrid. We call her Swede because a) She is named after Ingrid Bergman who was Swedish, and b) One of my favorite literary characters of all time is an eight-year-old girl named Swede from Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. Her middle name, Katherine, is my mom's name. [Hi Mom! Love you!]

Favorite foods: I'd say her two very favorite foods are cheese and blueberry cake donuts. Her typical/favorite meals consist of:
For breakfast - Oatmeal with blueberries & yogurt, or with pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, & yogurt. Pancakes. Scrambled eggs with cheese. Banana with peanut butter.
For lunch/dinner - Grilled cheese. Macaroni & cheese. Pizza. Refried beans with cheese, avocado, and sour cream.
Snacks: Apples. Yogurt with blueberries/raspberries/strawberries. Goldfish crackers.

 Sweet Swede the Baker
She has zero interest in TV, which I think is a blessing, but sometimes I wouldn't mind a little break. She likes to sing and has some pretty killer dance moves. She recently learned how to jump off the ground with both feet at the same time. She is always talking these days. Every day there are new words, and she is starting to say 2-3 word sentences. I'm pretty sure she is left-handed.

Bedtime routine: Bath time is fun, if you don't mind getting wet! She's very good at having her teeth brushed, but getting into her pajamas and sleep sack can be a struggle. Then we read stories together which I love. She insists that I kiss all her bedtime friends goodnight when I tuck her in. She's still in her crib but we're planning the transition to a toddler bed sooner than later. She sleeps from about 7 pm to 6:30 am and takes a 1-2 hour nap in the afternoon.

 Birthdays are no joking matter.

She is such a sweet, funny, all-around wonderful kid. She brings joy [and frustration, but mostly joy] into my heart every single day.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Weekend [Nov 14-15, 2015]

This weekend two years ago Jonathan and I were eagerly awaiting Swede's arrival. We went to an Avalanche hockey game on Saturday night and on Sunday I started having contractions while at Crate & Barrel spending the last of a gift card on fancy holiday chocolate. We headed to the hospital soon after.

This weekend was more low key.


A nice morning - Pancakes for breakfast, Playtime with Swede and her new Lego Duplo "Big Farm" set. It's an early birthday present, to hopefully minimize overwhelming chaos on the actual day.

Then I headed to the Spaaah Shop for a festive pedicure. This color is called "All I Want for Christmas."

During nap time I did laundry and read. I finished up Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos and started All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews.

We had planned to go out to dinner but when we showed up at the restaurant it was closed for a remodel. Nothing else sounded good so we ended up back at home eating leftovers (Jonathan), scrambled eggs (Swede), and cereal (me). Boo.


Donuts for breakfast in consolation for the dinner disappointment the night before! Then more playtime with Swede before and after church. 

During nap time I walked Gumball, chatted on the phone with my friend Megan [who gave me the real deal on life with two kids], and made Chicken Spaghetti from the Pioneer Woman. This time I made the full recipe and froze half for once Baby #2 arrives.

After dinner and bathtime/bedtime with Swede, I watched Brooklyn 99 with Jonathan, ate too many Snickerdoodle cookies, read, and went to bed early. I've been struggling with a low-grade cold this past week and need to be recovered for a busy week ahead!

I hope you had a nice weekend! Is anything fun happening this week?

Friday, November 13, 2015

This week in FOOD

Happy Friday! What was your favorite meal [or dessert, or snack] this week?

Here's what we had:

Monday - Harvest Pizza [pesto, butternut squash, and goat cheese] from How Sweet It Is, except without bacon and I used a jar of basil pesto instead of making the sage pesto.

Tuesday - I had an egg salad sandwich with Swede before I went to book club, snacked on Smart Food Popcorn and a Kind bar when I got home, and woke up starving at 2 am for a bowl of cereal.

Wednesday - Crock-Pot Chicken and Dumplings. After browsing some recipes online I added an onion, a few carrots and potatoes, four chicken breasts, salt, pepper, and thyme to the Crock-Pot, covered with chicken broth, and cooked for 6 hours. Then I shredded the chicken, added a 1/4 cup of corn starch mixed with 1 cup of milk, and cooked for another hour. Then I topped with dumplings (per The Joy of Cooking) and cooked for another twenty minutes. It turned out great! Definitely my favorite meal this week and a will be a staple this winter.

Thursday - Aidells Spicy Mango & Jalopeno Sausage, a box of Lundberg Garlic Primavera Risotto, and roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Friday - We're going to get takeout from Thai Kitchen. My go-to is Pad Thai with tofu and veggies.

I didn't have anything special for breakfast/lunch except on Thursday after I dropped Swede off at preschool I picked up pastries from my favorite local bakery. I almost always get a ham & cheese croissant.

I hope you have some fun plans for the weekend. What I'm looking forward to most is getting a pedicure tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thoughts on being pregnant - 35 weeks

How is it possible that there will be a new baby in the house in approximately 5 weeks!?!? I feel like I've been pregnant forever but at the same time I can't believe it's almost over. Despite all my complaining about the various frustrations of pregnancy, it's a little bittersweet to know this is the end. What I'll miss most is feeling the baby kick and move around. And being able to eat all the food. Although at least that perk does continue while nursing!

I'm feeling a little anxious about how much I haven't done to get ready. We have designated the three-day weekend after Thanksgiving for reorganizing the house and getting Baby #2's room set up. That is two weeks before my due date, so hopefully he's not too early! My prediction is December 8th.

My doctor confirmed at my last appointment that Baby #2 is currently in a breech position. She said there is still time for him to move head down on his own [Fingers crossed!] but that if not by my next appointment at 36w4d we will have "a whole discussion about options."

Some comparison photos for fun from when I was pregnant with Swede! From left to right: at 34 weeks, at my baby shower at 35 weeks [Oh, That CAKE!], and on the day I went into labor at 39w2d. I think I'm a little bigger than with Swede but not much. Per my doctor I have a long torso [which I knew because I'm always buying shirts in tall sizes even though I'm not especially tall] so there's plenty of room for the babies to grow up and down.

Question: How essential is it that I get presents for Swede and Baby #2 to give to each other? Will their relationship be ruined forever if I don't? This seems like a recent tradition. I'm pretty sure my brother didn't give me a present when I was born. Does it really help or is it just a catchy marketing gimmick? It probably won't matter for Baby #2 but if it makes the transition better for Swede then I'm on board. Thoughts???

I think that's about all I have to say for now... I feel really blessed to have had a healthy and relatively comfortable pregnancy so far. I'm so excited to meet our little boy!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Weekend [Nov 7-8, 2015]

Hey Friends! Did you have a nice weekend? Is it winter there yet? We had the first snow of the winter here last Wednesday. It's melted off quickly and we had a sunny weekend, but it is definitely coming!

On Saturday we started the day with breakfast at Kennebec Cafe. I had my heart set on getting bacon AND sausage... Mission accomplished! Also, this English muffin was SO good. Each side was about an inch thick with plenty of butter, and the raspberry jam... Yum.

Check out Swede's new hairdo! I couldn't stand her hair always being in her eyes, not to mention the mullet, for a day longer! We'd been trying hair clips and ponytails with limited success. So I gave her a trim on Thursday night. It's certainly not the world's best haircut. The bangs especially... Are a little uneven. But it's so nice to be able to see her face! I think she looks so adorable and so grown up. [Please don't tell me if you disagree.]

During nap time on Saturday I made Spiced Pear Cake from Dine and Dish. This might be my favorite dessert that doesn't involve chocolate! I made this as Swede's birthday cake last year. It's so delicious! I took photos, but they don't do it justice. The one in the recipe link above are much better!

On Sunday morning we mooched around the house with Swede before and after church. Swede took a long nap and all I did was read with a cup of my favorite holiday tea! It was so relaxing. [Book of the Week = The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos.]

When Swede woke up, we went downtown with my mom to buy a Christmas present for Jonathan. I have been obsessed with getting everything organized for Christmas well in advance. I think that's where I'm channelling my "nesting" instincts since I'm not going to really get everything organized for Baby #2 until the end of November.

That's all! Upcoming this week: A rescheduled book club meeting on The Martian, and stay tuned for my thoughts on this pregnancy at 35 weeks! [<--Which can mostly be summarized as, Eeeek!]

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Reading Roundup - Sept/Oct 2015

So, I started out doing a "Book of the Week" section in my weekend recap posts. Then I decided I'd do a seasonal "Reading Roundup" of everything I read for three months at a time. So I started this post and added to it every time I finished a book, and by mid-October it started to feel overwhelmingly long. I couldn't imagine anyone getting through my thoughts on more than 10 books at a time. What do you think I should I do? Book of the Week? Monthly Recap? Bi-Monthly Recap? Seasonal Recap? Stop talking about books altogether? Any thoughts/opinions on the matter would be appreciated!

1) The Rocks by Peter Nichols: 4/5 stars. This is the story of two intertwined families on the island of Mallorca. The interesting part is that the story is told backwards. It was a little strange - The characters you meet as grown-ups in one chapter are teenagers in the next chapter, and toddlers in the next, and then not even born - but interesting and well-written.

2) Circling the Sun by Paula McLain: 3/5 stars. This is a novel about Beryl Markham. She grew up in Kenya in the early 1900s, where her father trained and bred racehorses. She became a trainer herself, and then become a pilot in the 1930s and was the first person to fly across the Atlantic east to west. Very Amelia Earhart, except no one has ever heard of her. I didn't love the book though. The hard part about writing books about real people is that real life doesn't follow traditional plot lines. I felt like the book just meandered around with Beryl without an actual narrative arc.

3) A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan: 4/5 stars. I really liked this book. The main character seemed really REAL to me, navigating the everyday life struggles of being a working mom, a wife, dealing with a sick parent, etc. It wasn't action packed but I appreciated commiserating with the modern day, #firstworldproblems that she faces because they feel and are familiar to me.

4) Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos: 4/5 stars. I really liked this book but gave it 4 stars [or maybe 4.5] instead of 5 because there are some elements that didn't ring quite true to me. I hope this doesn't spoil it for anyone but the Deus Ex Machina of an accidental death is a little too tidy. I really liked the main character's voice, and all the references to my favorite classic movies were fun.

5) The Martian by Andy Weir: 3/5 stars. It was good but not great. I would really like to see the movie though. It's not often the case but I think the movie will be better than the book. The main character is very likable, and the tension is high until the very end, but it was very scientific. I had to give myself permission to not understand every single detail.

6) Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont. 2/5 stars. I did not like this book at all. I only finished it because it was a quick read and I hadn't picked up anything new from the library. It's about a family living in New York dealing with the fallout from the husband/father having an affair. I just didn't like any of the characters. It reminded me so much of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum, which I also didn't like. The husband/father in both books is an experimental artist, which seems like an odd coincidence. Maybe I'm just done reading books about people having affairs. It's depressing.

7) Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos: 5/5 stars. This might be my favorite book from 2015. It's a sequel to Love Walked In and I liked it even better. It toggles back and forth between 3 main characters. Cornelia, from Love Walked In, her "perfect" new neighbor Piper [who I loved, because she really captures the perfect-on-the-outside-but-struggling-within personality], and a super-smart 13-year-old boy named Dev.

8) After You by Jojo Moyes: 3.5/5 stars. I liked it better than Me Before You, which I know not many people will say. I don't feel like I can talk about the plot much without giving things away. Suffice to say that Louisa's life is not all sunshine and roses after Will's death, but I liked the new characters introduced, and the scene is set for a third installment which I hope is in progress!

9) Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid: 2/5 stars. This book was so silly. It alternates chapters back and forth to tell two different outcomes based on if the main character had chosen this or that at one point. It felt like a conversation you have your freshman year of college that you think is SO deep. Is anything meant to be? Do you believe in fate, or destiny, or parallel universes? Also, the characters were so one-dimensional. The main character's thing is that she loves cinnamon rolls, and wears her hair in a high bun, and those two characteristics were mentioned so often... It drove me crazy! Enough with the cinnamon rolls already! We get it!

10) Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner: 3/5 stars. I've read various books by Jennifer Weiner over the years and I usually like them but rarely love them. This book was the same. It tells the story of Andy and Rachel, who meet when they are 8 years old in a hospital in Florida, and whose lives intersect again and again over the next 30 years. I'm having trouble pinpointing exactly why I didn't like it more. Maybe I prefer books with a continuous plot line? I had trouble connecting to the characters. We change so much between age 8 and 35 that it was like reading about different people.

Side note: How often in real life do you think women get accidentally pregnant and decide to have the baby without telling the father? Seems like it happens pretty often in literature, including in 3 of the 10 books listed above!

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree/disagree with my rating? What are you reading and loving now? What should I read next?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Weekend

Ok, Friends, I have a confession to make. The title of this post is technically true... It was Halloween Weekend. But I didn't really "do" Halloween this year. I don't think Swede is quite old enough to understand what's going on, and she doesn't eat candy yet, so... My apologies for the lack of cute-toddler-in-costume photos below! I'm so impressed by all the creative costumes that I saw this weekend both in real life and on the Internets, but... I blame pregnancy - The thought of coming up with my own idea made me tired! [Side note: Don't think I have some militant anti-candy stance! Swede has had her fair share of ice cream, cookies, and donuts, but I figure we'll delay the inevitable candy-pocalypse as long as we can.]

Here's what this weekend looks like instead! On Saturday I made this Blueberry Buckle Coffeecake from King Arthur Flour for breakfast. It was delicious.

We did go to a Halloween festival in the morning but it was pretty disappointing. The main reason I wanted to go was for the advertised petting zoo, which was not there after all. Arg! Swede wasn't interested in any of the other activities - Bouncy House, Face-Painting, Trick-or-Treating - and the line for the Balloon Animals was too long. Oh well.. Can't win 'em all.

During nap time I finally tackled Step 1 from the Countdown to Baby #2 To-Do List: I organized all Swede's old clothes! All the newborn clothes are ready, and I have a box with 3 month clothes and a box with 6 month-and-larger clothes ready to go when needed.

Baby #2's newborn wardrobe!

We had a a nice day on Sunday. I was worried that the end of Daylight Savings Time would be a struggle for Swede but she handled it really well. As for me, I think it's so much easier to get up at 6:30 am when there's already some daylight than at 7 am when it's still pitch black.

We went to church in the morning and then played at home until nap time. I gave Swede one of her old newborn outfits for her baby doll Mabel and it was a big hit.

Please note Swede is also wearing my shoes. :-)

It's hard to remember when Swede was so little! But here's the proof:

While Swede napped I took Gumball for a hike around the neighborhood and then read. Book of the Week = Still Life by Louise Penny, which I really like so far. It's the first installment of a mystery series set in Quebec featuring a detective named Armand Gamache.

We ran some errands in the afternoon and had dinner with Jonathan's parents, who gave us all their leftover Halloween candy, which I have already OD'd on. What's your favorite Halloween candy? I'd say the Reece's pumpkins, which I think have a better peanut butter to chocolate ratio than normal Reece's, but I'm also partial to Tootsie Rolls and Smarties.

Here's one last photo from the shoot that we did with Jonathan's parents a couple weeks ago. We didn't get hardly any good photos because Swede was really grumpy that day. This one pretty much captures the essence of the day.

Happy November! Good things happening this month = Thanksgiving, obviously, and Swede's birthday on the 18th!