Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sneak Peak

On Saturday afternoon my wonderful friend Sadie took us out for a photo shoot to document this important time in our lives.  While I am not particularly fond of pictures of me as of lately, I knew I would regret not having these photographs.  Now seeing a few of the final products, I am so happy we did this!  They are beautiful!
We have just a few in hand, and I cannot wait to see the rest.  It bums me out a bit to think of how few pictures I have of our pregnancy.  I only trust talented photographers to snap my photo these days, so it is just these and the ones Whitney took when we found out it's a girl.  It's truly not even the lack of photos that makes me sad, but my decreased self-esteem.  It is no secret I have struggled in the past.  I feel that by now I should be past it.  Not only am I leading an organization that teaches girls self-esteem and healthy lifestyles, but I am going to have my own little girl that I hope to instill these valuable lessons in.  So yes, my thighs are a little chubbier, my arms a bit bigger, and my boobs are definitely way too huge!  But I really wish I could see the miracle through this bit of extra weight.  I want to value my body for the life it is growing inside of me and for the hard work it has been through in the last 9 months.  So no more fearing what the camera will reveal. 
Since Sadie was coming down to do the photos, I asked her to meet me at the house so we could also get a few great snapshots of the nursery.  I can't wait to show more, but here's just a little taste:
Sadie is so wonderfully talented and has recently launched her photography business.  I would highly recommend her if you are looking for someone to do your family portraits or senior pictures, or just about anything!  She is also a super talented painter.  When we returned from Africa we commissioned her to do a piece for us to commemorate our experience.  You can see it here.  

Can't wait to see more!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monday Night Fail = Tuesday Morning Win

Have you ever seen your iPhone floating in a toilet?  Well, if not, count your lucky stars! That is exactly where mine landed last night.  To make matters worse, I didn't even realize it until nearly an hour had passed.  When I went searching for my phone and found it at the bottom of Melisa's toilet I nearly passed out in shock.  You would think a person would realize immediately when their phone fell, no, not this girl. 

So we quickly dropped it in a bag of rice and I headed home with my tail between my legs, wishing things would just go my way for once.  These days it feels that if it's not one thing, then it's another.  It must be the curse of my final weeks of pregnancy.

Once home, I collapsed in heap on the couch wishing the day away.  To make matters even worse, when I switched on my guilty pleasure (Gossip Girl) it was a repeat.  We will just call Monday night one big fat fail. 

...until...Alex realized I was eligible for an upgrade and we dashed over to Verizon this morning where the not-so-nice sales person handed over my brand new iPhone 4 for the amazing steal of $0!  Thank you iPhone 5 for coming out at such an opportune time to allow the 4 to go on permanent sale.  For the Tuesday win we also combined our two phone accounts to save us nearly $70 a month!  Why did we not think of this sooner? (Thanks Brandy for the nudge!)

One more win on a Tuesday morning: Alex took the day off so we could go to our doctor's appointment this morning.  We heard the beautiful heartbeat of our little girl and were in and out in a hurry.  While it can sometimes be monotonous to visit the doctor every single week, it is also really fun to get to go with Alex and hear our baby girl's heartbeat. 

With all the craziness of the morning out of the way, I am finally sitting down to tackle some work for the day.  Have a great Tuesday friends!

Monday, October 29, 2012


And somehow we have made it to Sunday night once again.  Alex is at Live School, and I am home alone watching football (why?) But did anyone see that Panthers v. Bears game this afternoon.  I wanted to shut it off half a dozen times, but I am so thankful I stuck it out to the finish! Go Bears!

The rest of our weekend was just as much fun.  Friday night we were quite the busy bees.  Starting with a stop at Melisa's for a quick catch up, followed by dinner and a meeting with some church friends, and ending finally with the football game at Lake Norman High School.
We have two high schools in our small town, and they have a long-standing rivalry.  It was fun to watch Lake Norman beat Mooresville (although we didn't stick around long enough to enjoy the nail-biting overtime win!)

Saturday morning Alex ran the Pumpkin Run 8k.
This race is an annual tradition for us, although this year I cheered from the sidelines rather than run.  True to form, Alex placed in his age group once again and walked away with a shiny new medal!
It was really sad not to be able to run.  I love being a spectator and cheerleader at races, but not ones that I typically run.  Next weekend I will be cheering him on during the Rock N' Read 5k, another race I love to run every year.  It was hard to be cheerful but I was excited when Alex set a new PR, even if it was without me!
Following the Pumpkin Run, we got all "dolled up" and headed to Charlotte for maternity photos.  (More on that later in the week!)  And then much later we enjoyed a bonfire with friends.
A long, but very fun day! And I knocked another item off of my Fall Bucket List.
Things on the list we may not get to: Renaissance Festival and maybe the weekend in the mountains.  Otherwise, we are making excellent progress.

Well Sunday was like most other Sundays around here: church and football.  One big exception this weekend was no grocery shopping.  We are living off the pantry until payday!

And now Monday is upon us and time to start another week.  How was your weekend?

Friday, October 26, 2012


Typically I wake up on Fridays and can hardly wait to write another blog post.  It is always so exciting to hit another major milestone in pregnancy, and this one is huge.  But today I woke up not so anxious and excited.  My mood was actually quite foul, and being pregnant was the last thing I wanted to think about!

It was a rough night of sleep last night.  It has been for several weeks now, but last night was particularly bad.  Every hour on the hour from 11pm until 3am I was up needing to pee (and there were the three times I went even before I fell asleep at 11).  After 3am I couldn't get back to sleep until sometime after 4am.  From there I made it until 7:40am without getting out of bed, but by then the terrible night had already wrecked my morning. 

As if all the tossing and turning weren't bad enough, I also suffered terribly from heartburn last night.  Which made me drink even more water, which made me have to pee even more!  The heartburn has found its way into my day as well so I've been chugging Almond Milk and popping Papaya enzymes to try to relieve the burn. 

Basically, today is one big rant about how much being pregnant stinks.  I had big plans today about posting my exciting 37-week milestone and assuring everyone that while I'm considered full-term, I could patiently wait another 3, or 4, or maybe even 5 weeks for this baby.  However, this morning I woke up thinking, "Get this child out of me! I'M DONE!"

Of course, that isn't my choice, and I'm not ready to give up my birth plans to schedule a pre-term C-section just to end the misery, but I am afraid I am now the anxious pregnant woman I was scared to become.  Even last night, my pregnant sister and I joked about how we wouldn't become those women.  We knew we signed up for 40+ weeks and we were going to keep our cool.  Well, I was going to keep my cool, until this morning. 

I would really like for this sleep pattern to change really soon!  I would desperately love to not suffer from acid-reflux anymore.  I know this is all very temporary.  Just like morning sickness, in a few short weeks I will be staring into the beautiful eyes of my baby girl and I will hardly remember what it felt like to be pregnant at all.  I know I must practice patience here.  I know I must practice tolerance.  It just isn't very easy. 

So with that off my chest...WOO-HOO! We're 37 weeks!  Like I mentioned, this makes us "full-term" meaning the baby could survive outside the womb if she chose to come now.  This also means we are safe to deliver at the birth center.  Had I gone into labor previously, we would have had to deliver in a hospital, so I am thankful that we will have the birth that we chose.  So now let the count down continue, but I'm changing it slightly:

37 weeks down- 5 to go! (Or any day now!) Bring on the patience!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


It's that time of year when all we can think of is pumpkin and everything coming out of our kitchens is spiked with pumpkin or pumpkin spice.  Am I right?  Somehow despite our careful budgeting, I always leave the grocery store with a can of pumpkin, even if it isn't on the list.  Here are some of my favorite ways to use pumpkin:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

This may be the very best way to use a can of pumpkin.  It's my favorite anyhow.  If you recall, making cinnamon rolls is on my Fall Bucket List so these will be baking in my kitchen very soon!

Pumpkin Smoothie
A smoothie may be an unexpected place to find pumpkin, but I promise you it is delicious!  A great way to squeeze in some veggies in the morning!

Pumpkin Scones
This is the perfect treat to go with a hot cup of decaf coffee in the mid-morning! Bake a batch and invite a friend over.  I promise they will love you forever!

Pumpkin Fettuccini
So often we make pumpkin sweet, but it works so well in a savory dinner too!  This meal is warm and comforting for a cold Autumn evening.

Pumpkin Banana Overnight Oats
I have too many favorite ways to use pumpkin, but this one tops the list.  Right now I love breakfast that I don't have to think about in the morning.  This one is already made for you.  That is if you can leave it alone in the fridge overnight without eating it for dessert first!

Pumpkin Spice Donuts
Mini donuts are so much fun!  And these pumpkin spice ones donut not disappoint!  I love these for breakfast, snack or dessert!

There are so many more ways to use pumpkin, and these are just some of my favorites.  Do a quick pumpkin search on my recipe page and you'll find nearly 30 ways to use pumpkin, both savory and sweet.  Enjoy the fall and enjoy your pumpkin!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Last Grocery Post

Are you ready?  We are finally near the end of the month, and definitely at the end of our budget.  This month definitely wasn't as easy as September.  It posed many challenges.  But I am happy to announce that our budget made it through the month.  Or at least it almost did :)

While planning our menu for this last week of October I had to get creative.  We really needed to use what we had on hand.  That included the leftover half can of coconut milk and half butternut squash from one of our meals last week.  Here is what I came up with:

As you can see from our meal plan, we have one small issue this week, or well next week.  The end of the month isn't until Wednesday.  How do we make this type of budget work for months that aren't exactly 4 weeks (since most months actually are not)?  We may survive on rice and frozen veggies for several days until we get paid!

Here's the list:
As always, you can find recipes for most of our meals on my Pinterest Page.  Your grocery list may look much different depending on what ingredients you already have on hand.  I forgot to put Greek yogurt on the list but we did pick that up at the store.  The only item we couldn't get on the list was Nutritional Yeast.  I'll have to swing out to another store tomorrow to purchase it, but it is so cheap so we won't even count it.

Other notes from this week:
  1. I baked bread for lunches and snacks
  2. We will be eating veggies from the freezer and leftover salad greens from last week
  3. I baked oatmeal squares for breakfasts, and will probably bake apple muffins later in the week too.
So this week's grand total: $62.18.  If you recall, that puts a bit over budget for this month.  I blame the dish soap we needed to buy this week.  Luckily we were gifted a Wal-Mart gift card at one of our baby showers and we squeaked by this week by using a little over $10 from the card.  Monthly Grand Total: $311!

Of course we still need to worry about Monday-Wednesday next week, but for such a busy month I think we did really well.  Considering we hosted a dinner party for nearly 20 friends this month and I also blew almost $50 from our grocery budget on impulse buys at Earthfare one week, again, I think we did awesome!

As much as I enjoy strategically mapping out our meals and groceries for the week, I think I am done writing about it.  Much to your dismay, I'm sure.  I hope that I was able to share a few good tips, and maybe even some motivation for others.  Ultimately I have created a resource that I can return to time and again to remind myself that I can successfully budget $300 a month for groceries while eating healthy and well.  The days of expensive grocery trips are behind us! 

Check out our past Grocery Budget Posts
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Faith Outloud

My faith is of the silent kind.  It doesn't express itself out loud.  My actual prayer life and walk with God is quite all in my head.  I say silent prayers.  I am so hesitant to speak my prayers.  More than that, when I do, I don't feel like I'm actually praying.  It is just so much more real in my head.  I think this is a real lack of faith on my part.  And it has been brought to my attention repeatedly over the last week.

It started with a morning devotion from James McDonald titled "Turn It Up".  He used this scripture to make his point:

"To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. 2Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary."— Psalm 28:1-2

The devotion also references the book by Bill Gothard entitled The Power of Crying Out.  In this book the author brings to light the many times in scripture we are called to "cry out to the Lord" and "lift our voices."

Now of course I can cry out to God while praying in my head and I can lift up my voice in a loud but silent prayer, but I just knew this isn't what God was saying in these scriptures.  James MacDonald points out "The Scripture does not tell us to think our prayers, or to whisper our prayers, or to even speak our prayers—but we are to call out! And if there's something lacking in our prayers, it may be the fervency that accompanies volume."

I felt convicted.  While I pray regularly now, my prayer life doesn't feel passionate.  Perhaps volume really is what is lacking.  That night as I lay awake in bed I couldn't get the thought from my head.  I felt the Holy Spirit lead me to pray out loud but I became self- conscious.  Alex was asleep beside me and I didn't want him to hear me.  I began to whisper a prayer and Alex turned.  I immediately quieted but felt so uncomfortable.  I knew I should say a prayer out loud.  So I tried again and Alex flipped over.

"What?" he said.

"Nothing!" I immediately exclaimed, embarrassed that he heard me.

"Oh," he said, "I thought I was talking in my sleep."

I wanted to joke, "No, silly, that was just me trying to pray and doing a really bad job of it!"  But I was silent.  And then I quietly asked the Holy Spirit to not be quiet in my life.  I am always afraid that when I don't follow the guidance I am given, that it will be that much more difficult to hear it later.  If I squelch the spirit now, when I can hear loud and clear, then will it be as loud and clear next time?  How much harder will I have to listen to hear?

I will confess, this year has seen a prayer regression.  Alex and I used to pray out loud together before every meal.  Years ago we used to even pray out loud together before bed.   This year I have shied away from all of these rituals, chiding them as just meaningless routines.  So all spoken prayers have ceased in our house and while Alex and I have very strong individual prayer lives, our joint prayer life is neglected.

Sunday morning I was made aware of my lacking prayer life once again.  As Doug spoke in church about the will of God, he made the point that it is important to pray with other Christians.  He went on to strongly encourage couples to pray together.  It wasn't just an encouragement but an urging.  I know how strong prayer can be in marriage.  But it is so difficult for me to pray out loud.  I feel embarrassed when I do which inhibits my ability to really speak to God, so I shy away from out loud prayers, even with Alex.  But doesn't everything become easier with practice.  I know the only way to get around my inhibitions is to just suck it up and do it.

I'm scared.  I'm nervous.  It seems like such a silly thing to be afraid of: to just say a prayer out loud.  To just pray with Alex.  But it is so hard for me to do.  I want my faith to be real and tangible.  Not just in my head, but all around me.  Feeling comfortable talking to God in a spoken or "cried out" prayer will help to strengthen my faith.  I just need to give it some practice and I'm sure it won't be as difficult as I am making it!

*Praise* So I typed this post out on Sunday evening.  And when Alex got home from class I proceeded to express how unexcited I was about the week to come, that I was feeling really blah, feeling like I could be spiraling down into a little depressive bout.  I didn't want it to happen, and he asked me how we can head it off.  I shook my head unsure and he asked me if we could pray together.  Suddenly I had no choice but to step out of my comfort zone and just do it.  We prayed together, out loud, taking turns, praying for all sorts of things.  It was so intimate and meaningful and real.  We didn't set a commitment to continue this practice.  I don't want to make it into a simple routine thing that we just do to check off a list.  I want it to always feel like it did on Sunday night.  The point is, we did it and it was awesome! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Carolina Balloon Fest

You have seen this list at least half a dozen times now.  Well I am happy and proud to say we scratched another item off.  This weekend we attended the Carolina Balloon Fest at the Statesville Airport.
We linked up with my in-laws for a wonderful fall evening.
We met up in Troutman and took the shuttle to the airport, arriving just in time to see the balloons take off.
I took a million photos.  I just couldn't help myself.  Hot air balloons are so majestic.  I just love their whimsy.  It never ceases to amaze me that these actually exist.  It just seems so surreal!
I've never been up in one before, but now I am absolutely dying to.  I am sure I will be scared beyond my wits.  I am not a huge fan of heights.  I can handle flying.  I don't mind roller coasters.  But this may just trigger something in me.  I really don't like ferris wheels and I imagine this would be a similar if not worse feeling.  All the same, it would be pretty amazing to experience!
As we arrived we parked our chairs in a fun location.  Right in front of the stage and with amazing views of all the balloons.
There was just so much to see all around us!  As we enjoyed the balloon show, we also listened to some pretty funky music.  I never managed to snap a photo of the band, but they were so entertaining!  Full of energy and spunk!
After watching the balloons take off for sometime, I finally turned around to see this view:
Behind us the balloons floated off into the distance for a fun competition.  Later they would return for a night time glow.  While we waited we indulged in delicious fair food.
Alex and I started with a round of Butterfly Fries.  Soon after we also enjoyed Roasted Corn and a Bloomin' Onion.  Definitely not my healthiest dinner ever.  But certainly delicious!

It got cold quick once the sun began to set and we bundled up in blankets waiting for the Balloon Glow. 
In the meantime, they began to set up some of the fun shaped balloons including these two above.
And then we enjoyed these views!  Stunning!
Shortly after they began the glow, we headed up to find a shuttle to take us home.  Unfortunately the shuttle system didn't work leaving as well as it worked arriving.  We proceeded to wait for two hours in line before catching a bus to take us back to our cars.  It could have been terrible.  It was cold and my back was sore from standing for so long.  Even the balloons were down and gone before we were.  But we tried our best to remain positive and finally made it on the bus and to our car, and finally, finally made it home.  

We had such a wonderful evening, I enjoyed being outside in the beautiful Autumn air, and we learned our lesson: pay the extra $2 admission and ditch the shuttle!  I can't wait to bring Eleanor to see the balloons next year!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The upside of pregnancy

I've had a fabulous time complaining about all my pregnancy symptoms for the last 8 months to anyone who would listen.  But I would be amiss if I left out the few good things I have experienced with this pregnancy.  I certainly have my share of grievances, but I will look back over this year of my life with a fondness for what I have experienced.

1. Radiant Skin.  I know they always tell pregnant women they "glow" and for the most part I think they are lying, but it is certainly true that I have had the clearest skin ever during my pregnancy.  I haven't had a single zit in the last 36 weeks and in many ways I do feel like I'm glowing (even if my face is a little puffier than usual!)

2.  Intimacy in Marriage.  And I'm not just talking about it in the sexual sense.  No, I really feel like Alex and I have grown so much closer in the last year.  There is just something about knowing you created this life together that brings a deeper love and connectedness.

3.  Trying meat again.  Seriously.  I always wondered what would make me want to eat meat again, and pregnancy is the answer.  I don't think I will continue to eat meat forever.  I really don't enjoy it that much.  But I really did like tasting all sorts of new flavors again.

4.  My already growing relationship with Eleanor.  Truthfully I am scared to death to be a mom.  When I found out I was pregnant I was positively terrified.  And when I found out it was going to be a girl, I was fully beside myself in fear.  The anxiety would keep me up at night and I constantly worried about whether I could possibly be the best mother for this little girl.  While the future is still so full of the unknown, I have really given this worry to God, asking Him to show me how to be a great mom.  Ultimately, I know that if I can be the best version of me, it will be the best possible mom for my daughter.  So instead of fearing the future, I use my energy to think of all the ways God has called me to be a great mother and so I shape my mind around what will happen, instead of what could happen.  I know I will make mistakes as a mom, just as I make mistakes as a wife and a child of God.  But through forgiveness and grace I will be the best mommy to my little girl!  And I promise her that every single day.

5.  The belly dances.  I could complain all day long about her incessant kicks and punches, but the truth is, I wouldn't change it for the world.  It is a constant reminder that she is there and with me all the time.  Constant company!  I miss her when I can't feel her! 

Well it's no top 10 list (like the reasons I hate being pregnant) but it's a start in the way of positivity.  I suppose the best part will be having Eleanor here and being a mom, but I wouldn't know that yet!

Happy 36 weeks!  4 more to go!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Once upon a time I joined a sorority.  I'm not sure it was called initiation, but that is what we went through to join.  I remember being blind folded and sitting in dark rooms, and not too much more.  I remember it being a really fun and exciting experience and feeling anxious to be "in the know."

Well there is a new club I am about to join, motherhood.  And birth will be my initiation.  While comparing these two rituals seems absurd, in many ways my excitement is the same.  I can recall parts of joining a sorority to be uncomfortable.  Meeting new people, being a pledge, stepping outside my comfort zone. 

I know birth will be very uncomfortable as well.  Feeling contractions for the first time and then for many more times after; the transition and feeling like I will never be able to do this.  And finally, the actual birth of my daughter.  Yup, sounds pretty uncomfortable.

Despite the fear of the unknown and pain, I am so anxious and excited to experience child birth.  I am excited to be "in the know."  To join a new club, to be a mother.

On Sunday evening my friend Julie invited me and a few other experienced mommas over.  After hearing my birth plans on the blog she was excited to share her own wonderful experiences with me.  So we invited a couple others to join our conversation and had a pow-wow.

To some, sharing such personal experiences may seem odd.  However, since becoming pregnant I have been so interested in hearing birth stories and am lucky to have such amazing friends who are just as eager to share.  When we met I got to hear all the beautiful and yes, even gory, details about child birth.  All of the births were unique in their own way.  Each of them had different experiences, even from one child to the next.  The really amazing part of talking with them, is they all remember child birth with fondness and a since of pride, not the usual pain and suffering that is preached in our culture.  I was encouraged and inspired by them.

We agreed that after Eleanor makes her appearance that we will reunite so I can share my story.  And we would even invite another friend who is pregnant to share with her.  I think this is such a wonderful idea.  I would encourage all other women to be as open with their experience.  It really is such an amazing time to be able to share in others' stories.  I hope I can encourage and inspire someone, someday as much as they encouraged me!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Grocery Budget 201

Another week, another grocery trip.

Last week I received a comment on our budget post that stated "Your tip for grocery budgeting is to shop at Wal-Mart? uh, cool."

I was a little confused by this comment.  Was this person being sarcastic, or were they just simply stating this comment?  Alex mentioned it to me, and I told him I was choosing to ignore it because I felt like they were trying to be hurtful.  Of course shopping at Wal-Mart is one of our budgeting tips, but I thought I was giving so much more information than just that.

So on Sunday we embarked on our shopping trip with our meal plan, grocery list and price-matches in hand.  Once again we headed to Wal-Mart to tackle the task.  Within just a few minutes of beginning our shopping trip, I looked at Alex and proclaimed, "Well, yes, I think shopping at Wal-Mart is my #1 budgeting tip!"  Almost every one of our price matches were actually cheaper at Wal-Mart.  The prices are just simply so much less!

I have explained the price-matching technique before but basically we check out the sale ads for all the other grocery stores in town.  We mark down items that are on sale on our grocery list (HT stands for Harris Teeter; FL stands for Food Lion.)  Wal-Mart will match any competitor's sale ads, so as we shop we mark which items are price-matches.  Out of all of our price-matches this week, the only ones we used were the ketchup, spaghetti and pears!  Everything else was already cheaper.

So yes, Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, my tip for grocery budgeting is to shop at Wal-Mart.  We can argue all sorts of things about Wal-Mart, but when saving a dollar is important, it is the place to go.

But for the record, here are a few other tips:
  1. Stick to your list. Today Alex and I put back 3 items that were impulse buys when we realized we were over budget.
  2. Plan your meals for the week.
  3. Do not purchase expensive processed and convenience foods.  You can make so many things yourself, like bread, oatmeal, and fries.  Stick to whole foods.
  4. Eat vegetarian.  While I am not always vegetarian these days, at home it is the only way we cook.  I don't know how much meat costs, but I guarantee it's more expensive than a $2 container of tofu or $1 can of beans.
  5. Eat leftovers.  So many people dislike leftovers, but I love them.  It is one less meal I have to prepare!
Ok, with that said, here is this week's meal plan:
We went super simple with meals this week.  We know that we are on a short budget for the rest of the month so we wanted to make the most of each meal.  I commented that our dinners are not very veggie heavy so we will be utilizing those frozen veggies we stocked up on two weeks ago.  

Here is this week's grocery list:
Like I mentioned above, we didn't use all of our price-matches.  Pretty much all of the produce was cheaper at Wal-Mart than the sale prices at other stores.  We wound up ditching the TP and eggs this week.  

Our weekly total was more than I expected.  The list looked small, but many of the items were pretty expensive, like quinoa.  All the same, we came in right under $50 at $47.67.  Add that to our monthly total and we have spent: $229.  We also spent an additional $20 on Saturday for the Chili Cook.  We purchased beer and a few last minute items like jalapenos and candy corn.  That puts us at a monthly total of: $249, leaving us just $51 for our groceries next week.  It's tight.  But we are determined. 

Check out my Pinterest board for most of this week's recipes!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

8 months! {Rock and Read giveaway}

And just like that we have reached another major milestone! Yup, today is October 16th, and we know what that means!
I vowed early on to not become overly anxious toward the end of this pregnancy.  I don't want to become 2 weeks overdue and obsessively complaining about "getting this baby out!" In fact, I changed my own due date just to keep myself sane.  Yes, if you are confused why October 16th makes me 8 months pregnant, it's because you believe my due date really is Thanksgiving.  Turns out, it actually is November 16th.  Thanksgiving is my own fabrication to make me think that I have longer to go than I really do.  However, my mental games aren't working on me.  As we near the tail end of this pregnancy, I am definitely becoming anxious.  I am already talking about being "full term" in just a week and a half.  Full term is considered 37 weeks and while I would be excited to have baby girl here anytime soon, I know that a healthy baby is best baked until at least 40 weeks!

So we wait.  And we prepare.  And we wait.  Eight months down, one to go!  If you could go back to 8 months pregnant with your very first bebe, what would you do differently?  What would you change?  How would you embrace the last month before you became a permanent mother?

Of course I have my Fall Bucket List.  And we have our Baby To-Do List.  All things to keep us busy for the next 30+ days.  I am getting plenty of sleep (as much as you can when you wake 4 times a night to pee!) and catching up on tons of work.  I enjoy napping during the day, long walks by myself and running to the store whenever I feel like it.  Alex and I are enjoying plenty of time together, and plenty of time out with friends.  So I believe I am taking full advantage of having two free hands at all times.  But is there anything I'm forgetting?

To help celebrate this huge milestone I have the privilege of giving away an entry into the upcoming Rock and Read 5k on November 3rd.  I, unfortunately, will not be running this year.  But I had the opportunity to run it last year with my best friend Shannon and a few of my blog buddies.
 Here are some 5k highlights:
  • Music at every mile of the race including live jazz at the finish line.  We have a performance from the Teen All Stars band from the Jazz Arts Initiative.
  • A festival atmosphere at the finish line including all kinds of great food and oh yeah mimosas.
  • Dri-fit t-shirts which will be some tremendous electric color TBD.
  • Rufus from the Bobcats and Chubby from the Checkers.
  • All proceeds benefit book collections for the library.
I'm sorry, did you catch that part about mimosas?  Yup, they got them!

So all you have to do is leave a comment here on the blog.  It can be about anything!  I will pick one winner by Friday, October 19th.  Good luck!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chili Cookoff

Well we did it! We checked off another item on our Fall Bucket List.
I imagine there will be a few on this list that we will not accomplish.  That is ok, because we were able to check off the item that was certainly the most fun!
On Saturday Alex and I hosted a Chili Cookoff for all our friends.  With over 5 different types of chili to taste; delicious sides like cornbread, fries, fritos and hot dogs; toppings of cheese, sour cream, cilantro and even peanut butter; and finally Black Bean Brownies and Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispy Treats for dessert, it was a culinary delight!
I had such a wonderful time putting together this party and we were so excited to have so many friends over to celebrate.

Set-up was quick and easy.  The rice krispy treats were made in advance and the chili cooked in the crock pot all day.  We grilled up some hot dogs and baked the fries, and the rest was up to our friends.
I, of course, made our favorite Spicy Pumpkin Chili.  I made a few adjustments, but that is pretty much the norm when anyone makes chili.  For this recipe I recommend adding a pumpkin beer and diced sweet potato.  I also roasted a few jalapenos and added to the pot. 
We had a wide variety of chili, from White Bean and Turkey to Chipotle Chocolate Chili.  My absolute favorite dish of the night wasn't even a chili however, but Jenna's amazing cornbread.  My cornbread just never turns out as great!
It was a gorgeous evening so we set up outside.  The sun is strong in the back yard but it was beautiful.  Soon enough, our tent was filled with chili-eating friends!
(Side note: Go Cardinals...just scored in Game 1 of the NLCS! ...and again!)

Despite enjoying 3 bowls of chili, I saved plenty of room for dessert!
These Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispy Treats are amazing!  And Brandy brought Black Bean Brownies that are so moist and delicious, you'd never know they were made with beans!

I also enjoyed my fair share of my absolute favorite treat, Candy Corn!
By 8pm, everyone had had their fill and many of our friends were heading out.  We're either all getting old, or this is just good practice for when our little one is here and has a bed time.  Either way, within another hour Alex and I had the house cleaned up and were ready for bed.  We can pretend all we want for the next month that we are still young and fun (and we still are) but parenthood is surely on its way!

(2 more runs for the Cards!)

I know life is about to change so much.  But I also know that I will continue to host dinners and parties because that is just how I have fun.  I enjoy so much having friends over, and cooking for and feeding them.  While I know that life will be different, I hope that it will not change who I essentially am!

Now I am off to watch the Cardinals game because I am just much too distracted to continue to write!  Good night friends!

Friday, October 12, 2012

35, 35, 35!

35 down, 5 to go!

When friends ask me how I'm feeling these days, I just smile wide and exclaim how great I am!  Sure there are many nights that I toss and turn in bed, evenings when I just can't get comfortable on the couch, days when my hips are so sore and mornings that make me not want to get out of bed!  Yes, all that exists.  However, just 3 months ago I was the sickest I have ever been in my entire life, and for a really long time.  Anything is great compared to that!

Last night at dinner I was reminded just how terrible it could be.  A good friend of mine is newly pregnant and experiencing all the same early pregnancy symptoms I felt.  I had little encouragement for her.  I know just how bad it can be.  And telling a woman that it will only be a few more weeks really just doesn't help.  I handed over all my anti-nausea tricks in hopes that it may work for her, and I pray for her, and that's about all I can do. 

But it makes me so grateful for where I am today.  I am no longer sick.  The heartburn sucks, but I can function each and every day.  I can get out of bed, eat breakfast, do my job, clean my house, do laundry, etc.  Those small tasks were once giant hurdles in my day.  So today I am grateful that I can do all these things! 

Nevertheless, I am beginning to see why so many mommas-to-be begin a gentle eviction plan as the weeks continue.  I am beginning to feel more uncomfortable.  Putting on socks and shoes is increasingly difficult, painfully so. 

At this stage we could deliver (ideally) in 2 weeks or 8 weeks.  It is such a large span of time that it is hard to settle down.  I have always stuck 41 weeks in my head just to keep me sane, and I am still convinced that I will not deliver until after Thanksgiving.  But with full-term looming closer and closer, I can't help but be anxious about her arrival.  If she decided to make her entrance in October I would not be disappointed at all.  It would be a little difficult with work, but I am ok with an October birthday!

So, finally it is Friday, and with one more week down, we are one more closer to her arrival, whenever that will be.  It is so exciting to think that she will be here with us soon.  And as odd as it is to imagine life with Eleanor, I know shortly after she arrives I will be commenting how I can remember life without her.  So for that reason, I bound forward, excited for these last few weeks with just Alex and excited for lots of time with friends.