Baby W Update: 29 Weeks

Hi all! I suppose it’s time for a little baby update. It has been a bit. Today we had another doctor’s appointment (I’m 28 weeks 5 days to be exact). Last time I updated, the doctor had requested another sonogram to get a better picture of the heart. We did that today and my mom got to come along to see baby on the big screen! Our doctor nonchalantly said “the heart looks fine”. So I’m assuming that is good :). He didn’t think anything looked odd on the first one so I think we’re in the clear on that. Other things from the sonogram – he is still a boy (as if there was any doubt), we got to see his profile which is pretty darn cute, and he weighs 3.3lbs.

Other things – we’ve learned registering for baby stuff when you’ve never had a baby is REALLY overwhelming and complicated! Fortunately, I’ve utilized the advice of some smart, newer moms and am getting it all put together nicely. Phew. Andy put together our crib last week. It looks great!! I’m excited to get the nursery all ready. He’ll be out of town the end of June and beginning of July for camps so I don’t want to wait until the last minute!

For now, I’m tired – we walked around Tanganyika (it’s a zoo for those of you that are out of town!) for a couple hours today, cooked dinner, and then took another long walk in the neighborhood with the dog. I’m SPENT.

Here are some pics:

Easter Sunday 2012:

Andy & the crib:

Hanging out at my parents for my grandpa’s 86th birthday:

Andy and I today at Tanganyika:

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Baby Boy W Update: 24 weeks 5 days

Just getting in a quick update before heading to girl’s night dinner (yay!). We’re now over halfway to the arrival of our little boy! I had to remind Andy today that it’s forty weeks total so really we have a little under 16 left. Seems like a lot and a little at the same time.

We had an appointment today. Just a quick one, nothing fancy thankfully. Next time I get to do the glucose test (ew) and they want to do another sonogram. This scared me REALLY BAD. Although you wouldn’t have known it, I was pretty chill. Our doctor assured me multiple times that nothing was wrong and nothing looked bad. The lady who did the sonogram the first time saw what she thought was a decent picture of the heart but the doctor who saw it wants a clearer picture. During the first sonogram, we saw all four chambers of the heart, all the inflow and outflow stuff (hey, I’m not a cardiologist) and when our doctor looked at it that day he gave us a great report. But I do remember she had a hard time getting a GOOD clear picture of it. So unfortunately, we get to do that again. Prayers that I don’t stress would be appreciated. I do feel confident that our doctor is being honest and would be open and up front if he thought there was a chance of something bad.

Besides all that, my blood pressure, weight, etc etc all looks great. I’m measuring normally. I also got a great 45 minute cardio workout in this morning and I can still touch my toes :). Andy and I have bets on when that will become impossible.

After our appointment we went out and got Noodles & Co. I’ve been wanting Mac & Cheese for ages so I was mega stoked to go there!

Truffle Mac from Noodles & Co, SO GOOD:

New picture after my workout today, front and side (just a couple days short of 25 weeks):

Here I am right now :):

Thanks to everyone for following along!

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Eating Crow, a life lesson in progress

I stick my foot in my mouth a lot. So much so that you’d think I like the taste of feet. I don’t. However, I’m not afraid to eat crow. How’s that for some visual imagery to start us off?

Here’s the deal. It’s a shocker, so brace yourself: I’m still figuring stuff out. In a world of black and whites I’m ALWAYS gray. Should abortion be a legal choice? I don’t know! It seems bad but it also seems bad to take away people’s choices. That’s an example of what I mean. Some people find it so easy to ignore individual circumstances and make a blanket black and white statement. I’ve never been that way and I don’t know if I ever will be.

Because of this, I sometimes make stupid choices (another shocker, I know). Because we live in such a socially connected world, the ability to share my opinion, stance, frustration, etc., is constantly in my face. Nine times out of ten, I don’t bite. But that tenth time when you catch me on the wrong day or the wrong person has made me angry, I take the bait.

This presents a particularly sticky situation considering I’m a “minister’s wife”. I’ve always known I’m a poor choice for a worship leader’s wife. I don’t sing (well), I’m more introverted than extroverted, my past is less than pristine, and sometimes I’m just cranky in a room full of people. This isn’t ideal. But Andy swears my supermodel good looks didn’t sway him into a mistake :). I believe him. One thing I AM, though, is honest. I’m real. If you ask me how my day is and it is not great, I might just tell you that it is not great in more colorful language (my apologies).

But being honest about my feelings in the moment isn’t usually an issue. It’s the moments that I just can’t seem to bite my tongue. If you didn’t notice, we’re in an election year, so that is a particularly terrible trait to possess at this time. I have older friends who I look up to and respect who have publicly complained about how stupid it is to get into politics (or any sort of controversy) on social media. Those comments have shamed me and I honestly agree. But it’s that tenth time…the time I take the bait.

So I’ve decided not to beat myself up about it. So I made a mistake and made a petty comment about a basketball game. So I replied to your inflammatory remarks about our President (who deserves respect as the leader of our country, mind you). So I let words fly that the current “Christian” films (and music!!) of this day are lame and embarrassing. One thing I know for sure, one black and white truth I’m actually sure of, is that it doesn’t make you better than me. Because you held your tongue in a certain instance doesn’t mean I don’t remember when you flew off the handle in another. Kudos to you for having poise in one area of your life. When you have EVERY aspect of your life mastered with grace and perfection, let me know.

So here’s to my fellow feet eaters. Life is tricky and sometimes the very best, most admirable trait to have is the ability to eat some humble pie and admit fault. Knowing that you’re better than no one, not a single person in the world, will help you navigate the ups and downs with grace and dexterity. Apologize for your blunder, forgive yourself, and move forward with a little more life experience under your belt. Cheers!

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The Hunger Games movie and Why I’m Weird

I think I’m ready for my favorite books to stop being made into movies. It always seems like such a good idea but inevitably ends up a disappointment. Andy and I went to the midnight premiere of “The Hunger Games” and it was just a mess. It’s a young adult book so I definitely expected the audience to be young. However, based on the reactions (very LOUD reactions I might add) of the crowd, the point of the book went way over their heads. Kids were “oooooohing” over romance, cheering when people were killed, and laughing when the intended effect was NOT humor. It’s a book about children killing other children and at no point does Katniss express feelings of victory or gloat when she’s forced to kill. It is a somber book and the mood is only lifted by the resilience and perseverance of the main character. Kat Murphy, from MSN movie reviews, sums it up perfectly – “This is a movie about bad things that does not wish to see, or show, those bad things. […] Aiming for a PG-13 rating, to ensure access for kid fans, meant whitewashing how dark a tale this really is, full of grinding poverty and starvation in the Districts and the brutal, meaningless death of hapless children staged as entertainment.”

I don’t think ALL young readers missed the point of the book. I’m assuming it has to do with how you approach the book in the first place. I read it a couple years back before anybody other than big time “readers” had heard of it. So I didn’t go into it thinking, “oh this is the next Twilight” or the next big cinematic masterpiece. I approached it as a book that I heard was good. Many breaths were wasted telling friends and family how great it was and how they should read it (some of my family members did read it before the hype set in). I distinctly remember finishing book one very late at night, walking halfway down the stairs so Andy could see me from the living room, sitting down, and sighing while clutching the book to my chest. Of course he thought I was psychotic but the BOOK is that good. The movie? It’s not THAT good. The book isn’t long by any means. It’s probably the length of the first few Harry Potters. But there is so much detail and so much character building that simply cannot translate to film. So it ends up being played out as a kind of watered down “Cliff’s Notes” version on screen.

Whatever happened to just….books? Can we not enjoy a book without demanding to see it on screen? Are our minds so tiny that we can’t imagine a story, love it, and carry it with us? One of my favorite books of the past couple of years (Divergent by Veronica Roth) was recently picked up for a screenplay by Summit Entertainment (yes, the driving force behind Twilight). I told my sister in law, who also LOVED the book, that I sincerely hope the project gets canned before they even get to casting. It’s such a wonderful story and the characters are so amazing that I don’t really want to see their faces splashed on shirts at Hot Topic. I don’t want the integrity of the story ruined by hordes of people who only read books based on the fact that they will soon be a movie. One of my favorite books, “Looking for Alaksa” by John Green had a movie in the works for a while and it fortunately DID get scrapped. Please, if I ever live in a world where kids are squealing as Pudge and Alaska lean in for a kiss on screen, just knock me out.

It is sad that we live in a world where someone can’t pick up a book and read it without being told it is “legitimate” because it has a movie in the works. I’ve always loved to read. I read at an early age and never lost steam until it became “totally lame” to read books. Those were honestly, no joke, my worst years when I made the worst decisions of my life. I’ve read around 40 books in the past two and a half years (that’s a conservative estimate based on my GoodReads profile). Now, I’m not saying people need to read that much (although I bet my sister in law Tessia SLAYS that number!!). It’s just that we’ve totally lost the love of reading in our society. In my senior year of college, a classmate MADE FUN OF ME for reading our textbook. This was in a 400 level or higher class. This was a class IN OUR MAJOR that was a prerequisite to getting your degree and pursuing a masters. This girl that made fun of me went on to get her masters degree and may be working with your children. And she laughed at me for reading. I’m not sure why, but that really stuck with me.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the attitude I see when it comes to books/movies. People want things fast and easy. Why would they read a book when they could see a movie? I’ve seen countless commenters on Facebook talking about not caring to finish the book or even read it at all before seeing the movie. Side note: if you can’t finish the Hunger Games series you might check into remedial learning to brush up on some skills because it is intended for 11-13 year olds (based on Scholastic’s website). The climate and stigma around reading is sad…but fortunately I do have a kid on the way. I vow to encourage him to read any and all books. We’ll read together and have lots of books to choose from. We’ll talk about them and learn from them. That’s how it should be. Nobody should be labeled a nerd for reading. They should be labeled smart. Or better yet “not an idiot” :).

Here are two reviews that sum up my feelings about the movie:

http://movies.msn.com/movies/movie-critic-reviews/the-hunger-games/

http://laineygossip.com/Articles/Details/23015/The-Hunger-Games-movie-review

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Baby W Gender Reveal: An Heir to the Throne

Today was the day Andy and I found out the gender of our baby! I was majorly nervous and Andy was cool as a cucumber (figures). Besides figuring out if we’d have a son or a daughter, we’d also see if there was anything major wrong with the progress so far. For some reason, even though I’m young and healthy I was just worried. I just needed to know! My lovely friend and hair dresser of about 20 years, Greta, got to enjoy my nerves while doing my hair before our appointment so I’m appreciative for all of the wisdom she bestowed on me :).

Anyways, after drinking a bunch of water and watching the President’s press conference (he is funny, by the way, I really like that dude!) we headed off to the doctor. Fortunately, I got in within ten minutes because, well…I had just drank a ton of water and couldn’t visit the ladies room. Our sonographer’s name was Gloria (Andy’s mom’s name) which was a good sign! Glorias are always nice. We got to see all of the major parts – head, brain (incredibly intelligent already, I’m sure), two arms, two legs, two feet, one heart with four chambers, two kidneys, etc.

Unfortunately, the baby was all scrunched up and holding both legs tightly together. At one point, Gloria thought she saw what might be a “boy part” but, um, that’s not very encouraging. So I got up and moved around and laid back down. Andy was just chilling through all this, by the way. Not a whole lot he could do. But anyways, after I laid back down we DEFINITELY saw some parts:

So, yes, it definitely is a boy. In my family so far, we have TONS of boys, so there will be plenty of ladies with boy advice for us! I’m thrilled to be able to raise a boy. They’re silly, fun, slightly more drama free (I suppose that depends on the boy), and they like dirt. We are honored to be blessed with one :).

Besides the gender, we also found out that I am measuring “perfect” for 20 weeks and my due date didn’t change at all based on the size. I have been very relaxed in some areas for these 20 weeks. I haven’t been psychotic about all those weird things that have an .00005% chance of harming a baby. Did you know it is recommended that you microwave your lunch meat? GROSS. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” made me TERRIFIED after two pages. According to that book you should basically stay inside your house and bathe in hand sanitizer every five minutes for fear of contamination. So instead of freaking out, I just decided to follow my instincts, take my vitamins, and drink plenty of water. Although today I did ask my doctor if I’ve been “too relaxed” on some things and he laughed at me. The resident with him said there is no such thing as too relaxed. He also said that I’m not “too small” for 20 weeks even though I feel like I have a tiny bump compared to many of my friends at 20 weeks. Actually, he said that my size was “perfect” so I’ll keep THAT doctor around. Andy said he was “speaking my language”. Ha.

Here’s Andy at our celebratory Il Vicino lunch:

We also went and bought our first gender specific clothing which was fun. I have to say I don’t love ALL boys clothes but you can find some good stuff out there :):

So today was a good day. We got good news and have more to plan for and all is well. And then Andy bought me some flowers when he ran to store, so that is good too ;).

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First Baby W Update: 19.5 weeks

Hi all. Most of you will be directed here from my Facebook page to bask in the wonder that is pregnant Jessica. Andy and I found out on November 15th, 2011 that we are expecting. It was both unexpected and expected. Expected because of course it is always a possibility and unexpected because you are never really prepared! I will say that I may have taken a little longer than normal to adjust to the idea. It’s a lot to take in! Andy has endured the idea of the impending change in our lives much more gracefully :). I’ve never been a baby person and can count on one finger how many diapers I’ve changed. Many girls dream of motherhood and growing a big belly in their fairy tale princess life plan. The idea has never been that magical to me (although, yes, it is!). But the idea of being a mother and having the opportunity to love and shape a life IS very appealing to me. Also, Andy is an amazing person and I can’t even imagine how great of a father he’ll be. THAT is exciting. Some days, when I’m not feeling great and fearing the giant change, I think of how glad I am to be able to make Andy a dad and that makes me feel better. We waited quite a while to tell everyone (OK, Facebook) the news because we just wanted to enjoy it as a family and get used to the news.

Anyways, as far as how the pregnancy has gone so far I don’t have any complaints! Of course I have had my fair share of unpleasantness (I’ll spare you the details, you’re welcome) but I’m pretty much through that now. At almost 20 weeks, I feel like my belly is WAY smaller than many of my friends who have posted pictures. I have friends who were bigger than me at 16 weeks (and with their first child, not second) but I suppose everyone is just different and I should be thankful that I haven’t had to buy a lot of new clothes :). We had a sonogram at our first visit and there is only one in there. A while later we got to hear the heartbeat. My mom went with me on that appointment because Andy was out of town but through the magic of all that is iPhone, he got to hear it in Texas. In TWO DAYS, we’ll find out the gender of our baby. That is exciting and nerve-wracking because it will seem even more REAL. However, it will be nice to stop calling it “it” :). Here’s some drama for you: Andy’s last name DIES WITH HIM if we don’t produce a boy at some point. So it would be nice to have a boy but it would also be nice to have a girl. Basically we don’t care as long as it is healthy!

I’ll shut up now and leave you with photos because, really, that is the important part!

Here’s Andy and I about a week after we found out. We were lucky enough to have had a trip scheduled to visit Andy’s parents so we got to tell them in person. This is their first grandchild so I think they were shocked and excited. It’s my parents sixth grandchild so they were THRILLED but used to the feeling :).

Here I am at 17 weeks on Valentine’s Day (after a big Bella Luna dinner and a movie). As you can see I’m rocking a mysterious double bump and I don’t think it’s from my pants. Strange.

 And here’s the most recent photo I have – 19 weeks. This was after a workout and things seem to be forming into a nice round shape thankfully :).

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Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

This is a book that has been on my radar for a while. Number one, the cover is absolutely beautiful and if I’m honest that always helps. The premise seemed rather unique. I read a lot of YA books but I am pretty discriminating when it comes to my choices. Some books seem obvious but this seemed intriguing. Overall, it appeared promising. If it is any indication, I read all 464 pages in 2 days.

(Had to showcase the beautiful cover)

Mara Dyer is a high school junior who suffers a terrible accident and loses her memory of the event as well as her best friend, boyfriend, and boyfriend’s sister. Upon awaking, she is thrust into the painful experience of mourning a best friend without understanding the circumstances that took her. All of this is understandably distressing on Mara who begins to experience hallucinations from post traumatic stress disorder. In an effort to remove her from triggering situations, Mara’s family relocates to Miami, FL. She is enrolled in a private school along with her older brother Daniel.

It soon becomes obvious that the unsettling visions that plagued Mara at home have followed her to Miami. In fact, they’ve begun taking on a life of their own and even seem to be causing real life events. In the midst of this situation, she meets the school’s resident bad boy, an English transplant named Noah, who goes through private school girls like it’s nobody’s business. His illustrious reputation is off-putting to Mara but through a series of events, she finds herself inextricably linked to him.

Noah is not exactly who he appears to be. Yes, he is self-assured and a standout in any crowd but some of the stories of his colorful past may be just that: stories. I enjoyed getting to know his backstory and seeing his uncharacteristically chivalrous side. If author Michelle Hodkin’s desire was for the reader to fall in love with his character, her mission was accomplished. Mara’s visions are also more than they appear. Something is causing events to happen but the impetus behind all of it is a mystery. I definitely did not see the ending of the book coming. It was surprising and entirely unexpected (read: AWESOME). Joining Mara, Noah, and her family on this journey is quite the experience. At times creepy (or maybe terrifying), the story involves a giant range of emotions: confusion, rage, jealousy, sadness, new love, and fear.

This is Hodkin’s first novel and I’m impressed. I have to say the only thing that downright enraged me was that I had NO IDEA this book was to have a sequel. I’m sure that is intentional because you never want to know that maybe some things will be left untied. But now I have to wait ages to read the sequel and that is rough (poor me ;)). In all, the characters were very well written. They were flawed and could be frustrating but lovably nonetheless. The plot was maddeningly mysterious. Like I said, the ending was a shocker.

I will now impatiently await the next adventures of Miss Mara Dyer!

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Book Review: The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner

I finished the final book (The Death Cure) in this trilogy last week. Instead of ruining it for everyone and spoiling the story, I’ll just leave you with a quick rundown of the characters, the situation, and what makes this series so great.

The Maze Runner trilogy is a little out of the box for me. I say that because it is equally appealing (at least I think) to dudes AND chicks. The protagonist is a teenager named Thomas. We meet him when he wakes up in darkness with no recollection of who he really is, where he came from, or what is happening. Thomas’ character begins as a blank slate. This is excellent as a reader because you have no back story to work into who he is. He doesn’t know who he is and therefore is left to redefine that through his current situation and actions. It puts a fresh spin on character development.

He shows up in a large outdoor space where there are many other boys (probably ages 10 – 18) who experienced the same wiped memory situation upon arrival. Here is what they do know: the “Glade”, as they call their home, has four walls with four openings. Beyond those four openings is a large maze. At night, this maze fills with deadly creatures called Grievers. Fortunately the four openings close every evening at the same time (at least until they stop..).

They’ve been sending Gladers out to run the maze daily to try and find an exit but have been unsuccessful. Things get turned upside down when the first girl is delivered into the Glade. She and Thomas have an odd connection but no recollection of knowing each other previously. Don’t worry fellas, there isn’t much romance. These kids are trying to escape an enormous prison and regularly encounter giant blob monsters with spinning blades and claws for hands. That leaves little time for longing glances or long walks through sparkly meadows.

The maze and Thomas & Co’s troubles there are only part of the first book. As you may have figured out, somebody is putting these kids in the maze and it is obvious they are being watched. But with just fleeting glances of the past, it is hard to figure out what the purpose is. The trilogy unfolds in an entirely unexpected manner. You can’t even begin to guess what is around the corner. Here are a few glimpses of what you WILL encounter: zombies (ok, not zombies per se, but crazy diseased people nonetheless), giant blobs of molten metal that affix to heads and decapitate their victims (?!??!), the post apocalyptic city of Denver, mind control, deadly lightning storms, characters that might be good but might be evil, and so on. By the end of all the madness, a mystery will have been solved and believe me, you’ll be glad to have some major questions resolved.

Intriguing, mind bending, and fast-paced, The Maze Runner trilogy is a must read. I’d compare it to the book version of LOST. All three are out now so there will be no infuriating cliffhangers or long waits!

  • Re-readability: 3 out of 5 (I probably wouldn’t just because it is a plot driven book. Then again, it may be cool to pick up a few years down the road and catch details I missed)
  • Character development: 4 out of 5
  • Pacing: 5 out of 5 (5 being fast and 1 being slowww)
  • Unpredictability: 5 out of 5
  • Overall enjoyment factor: 4.5 out of 5
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Currently CANNOT stop listening to…

Monsters of Fok – “Temazcal”

Coincidentally, my husband fixed my car stereo last night (HANDY HUSBAND FTW) so I can now resume jam sessions in my car. Car time just got a big dose of awesome.

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Recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup

I got a hankering for some soup last night. We are finally getting a bit of fall weather here in Wichita (barely). Not chili cold, just tortilla soup cold. There’s a difference.

So I stopped by the store and got the stuff to make this recipe from Eat Better America. I like to use their recipes because they attempt to “healthify” them. I kind of tweaked their recipe to our tastes (Andy isn’t much of a spicy fan) so I put green chiles in instead of jalapenos.

Ingredients:

  • Rotisserie chicken
  • Vegetable oil
  • 32oz container of reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 small white onion (chopped)
  • Minced garlic
  • 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes (you can get fire roasted if you like but I used plain)
  • 1 small can of green chiles
  • 6 corn tortillas (6″)
  • Avocados (for topping)
  • Your choice of shredded cheese (I used colby jack)
  • Reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 lime for squeezing on top (believe me, you want to do this!)

From start to finish this took me 45 minutes tops. Here was the process for the whole soup:

Preheat oven to 450 (for later). Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a pot (I use a big dutch oven) on medium high. Let this heat up and then add chopped onions. Let these cook for about two minutes (stirring frequently) and then add green chiles (or chopped jalapeños if you would like) and garlic (the garlic amount is your preference; for me – lots). It’ll look like this:

Stir frequently while these cook together for a few minutes. Then add chicken broth and tomatoes. Stir and cover for 15 minutes.

Next you’ll make the tortilla strips. This is optional as I’m sure you can just use corn tortilla chips. Brush both sides of the six corn tortillas with vegetable oil. Then cut them into 1/4″ strips. I was lazy and probably did 1/2″ strips (cut me some slack, I could have bought a bag of chips…). Spread them out on a cookie sheet and place in oven. They should crisp up in about 6-10 minutes. Mine were more like six. Here they are after:

Next you’ll carve up your bird. You can also do this at the beginning. It doesn’t necessarily matter. Also, you can buy chicken breasts, cook them, then shred them. However, rotisserie chickens are cheap and typically cooked really well which just makes it easy. I get as much meat as I can off the chicken and then shred it. (Side note: Carving up a rotisserie chicken is my least favorite thing in the kitchen…I feel like a murderer. The arms and legs are intact. *cringe* So if I’m feeling especially squeamish I ask Andy to do this part). ANYWAYS, then add the shredded chicken to the pot:

As you let this all heat together, prepare your toppings. I cut my lime into quarters, diced up the avocado (my favorite), and then squeezed a little lime on the avocado:

Once your chicken is all heated through you are ready to serve. Put some tortilla strips on the bottom of a bowl, add soup, and garnish with avocado, cheese, more tortilla strips, and sour cream (plus a squeeze of lime). Save some lime slices for a couple Coronas and you have yourself an entirely unauthentic fiesta.

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