Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chalkboard: A How To

I've had quite a few people ask me questions about my weekly chalkboard posts.
So, I've decided to answer a few of those questions.
Before I get started, let me address a few things:
I was in no way shape or form the originator, but I have no problem giving credit where it is due. I got the idea from Little Baby Garvin a couple of years ago. It's since become this huge pregnancy phenomenon in the blogging community.
I've read that some think it's overdone. My response with that, and many other unsolicited advice or opinions you get being a mother, I.don't.care. what you think. When I look back at my pregnancy photos in 30 years, I'm not going to think about how everyone and their mom used the chalkboard idea. I'm going to cherish my photos.
Now that we've addressed those topics, let me answer some questions I've received.
How did I make the chalkboard?
With Ellie I went the whole 9 yards. I bought a fancy frame and paint from Michael's. I painted the trim white and the glass with a few layers of chalkboard paint. It worked great for a few weeks, then I'd have to repaint the glass. This went on my entire pregnancy and it was such a pain. Although I do love those photos and they can be found, here.
This time around, I got a little smarter. Isn't that what second pregnancies are for? ;) I bought an already made chalkboard for $10 at Michael's and loaded the trim with gold glitter to make it look a bit fancier. It's really not as nice looking as my first board, but it's bigger and SO much easier to work with each week. Plus, I'll NEVER have to paint it! SOLD.
What kind of materials do I use each week?
Last time I stuck with good ol' Crayola chalk. This time I do about half my work in Crayola chalk and the other half with these chalkboard markers. The markers are really great for handwriting, but not for drawing and coloring.
How do I come up with ideas?
With Ellie I liked including the fruit size and various details of what would go on that week. This time, I'm trying to be more simple. I don't want to do the exact same thing and with some things in life, I've learned that less is more.
Do I use a computer program?
Nope. Everything is 100% freehand drawing/writing.
Though I suppose I do get the facts I post from various internet resources.
How do I come up with my handwriting ideas?
I think it just takes practice. I usually practice writing on a piece of paper first. It honestly doesn't look that great when I first put the words onto paper. I add to it - making thicker lines, adding designs, doodling all over the words if you will. I erase until I come up with a rough sketch of what I like. I usually spend no more than 5 minutes or so working on a sketch.
I will say that my teaching background has helped me in this department. I'm use to using all sorts of fonts creating projects and teaching resources. So, I'm sure some of my ideas technically stem from things I've seen/used over the years.
How long does it take?
Each board, depending on how much wording and (hardly) detailed the picture is will depend on the time commitment. I'd say it takes me on average 20 minutes to do the actual board.
I'd be happy to answer any other questions you may have, but I think I've addressed the ones I'm asked most often. Feel free to leave a comment if you have more. :)



Saturday, August 23, 2014

24 weeks | Baby 2.0

What's new?
Peanut has reached viability week!
Though we want her to stay put much longer (though it's okay if you want to come a tiny bit early, Baby Girl, like two weeks would be great), this is a big milestone and we're glad to have reached it. :)
She weighs about 1 1/3 pounds.
Her brain is quickly developing.
Her skin is becoming more pink and opaque, rather than translucent, looking more and more like a real baby (as opposed to fake, right?).
She's still tiny, but as we can all see below, she's (and by she, I mean I am) working on packing on the lbs.

How far along? 24 weeks
Baby's size? an ear of corn - about 12 inches in length
Total weight gain: 17 pounds, lovely.

Maternity clothes? Yep, most of the time. Though I'm still able to rock the bella band or hair tie trick with most of my shorts/jeans.

Sleep: I officially can't sleep with out my pregnancy pillow and getting comfortable is becoming difficult.

Best moments this past week: Last night JP and I had a date night sans our toddler baby. We went to Flemming's and while it may have just been dinner, alone time is never something we take for granted these days. :)
Miss Anything? Nope.

Movement: All.day.long.
Anything making you queasy or sick: Not consistently, though I was all of a sudden grossed out by all meat at dinner last night. I was the girl that ordered a salad at a steakhouse (though, let's be honest, I wouldn't have ordered a steak anyway!). With chipotle cheddar mac and cheese. Followed by chocolate lava cake (I don't even like chocolate!). Pregnant, much?

Labor Signs: Technically, no. I had a day or two with a ton of BH contractions this week though.
Gender: Girl! And I *think* we've decided on a name. :)

Symptoms: Nothing has changed. Basically, gaining weight and being uncomfortable in certain situations and/or times of day. This belly is starting to get in the way of things!
Belly Button in or out? We've reached past the halfway mark, though it hasn't completely popped yet.

Wedding rings on or off? on

Happy or Moody most of the time: Very happy most of the time, though today being our sweet second baby's edd anniversary has been a bit emotional.

Looking forward to: Dinner with one of my bff's tonight and CHICAGO on Thursday!!

24 weeks

Please vote for us, friends!! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

The M Word

The M word.

The word many fear to utter, yet is more common than most think.

The word many women have experienced, yet few dare to mention.

The word many know exist, yet doubt it will happen to them.


25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
When including loss before a positive pregnancy test, it is said that 40% of pregnancies result in a miscarriage.
That's one in four known pregnancies. ONE in FOUR! 
About 75% of miscarriages take place during the first trimester.
There are over 4 million confirmed pregnancies each year and nearly 1 MILLION result in the loss of a pregnancy.
It is also said that most women with at least 2-3 children have probably had a miscarriage somewhere along the line.

The statistics are shocking. They're heartbreaking. They're real.

Having become very familiar with the blogging world and building friendships through social media, I've become very familiar, all too familiar, with the horrible reality and statistics that the ugly M word has brought to light. I've had friends that have lost their babies, both early and later in pregnancy. It has broken my heart every single time. However, I've never known what to say. How can you? A women just lost a child that was supposed to be hers. A child she was supposed to hold in her arms. A child that was (hopefully) conceived in love. A child that she already loved so deeply. A child that was a part of her. A child that was supposed to be a daughter - a son - a sibling.

I've never known what to say because I've never been there.

But the reality is, things have changed. I am now one of these women. One of the women that knows firsthand how common miscarriage is. Yet, never expected to be here.

Now, here I am. Grieving. Crying. Confused. Sad. 

Here I am, recovering and still healing from what was hands down the hardest part of my life. I miscarried our baby. We found out on December 11, 2013 that I was pregnant. We were thrilled. We felt lucky. It was very easy for us to conceive Ellie and again with this baby. Yet, little did we know what was to come. I immediately felt a couple symptoms (starving and overly exhausted all.day.long), but they went away after a week or two. I was worried, yet remained optimistic, hoping (praying -- practically begging and pleading that) I was one of those women that just didn't get any symptoms. Yet, secretly wishing - hoping - praying I'd get morning sickness. Something, anything! to let me know everything was okay. 

We went to our first appointment at what would have been 6 weeks 2 days, yet I was only measuring about 6 weeks and my OB couldn't find the heartbeat. However, we were able to see the yolk sak and fetal pole, all beginning stages of a pregnancy. He said not to be alarmed, that this is common at 6 weeks. Those of you that know me, know that I couldn't NOT be alarmed. I was worried. Terrified. We scheduled a follow up for 8 weeks. I left hesitant, sad, and knowing something wasn't right. The next week inched on by, slower than slow. I finally called and had them squeeze me in sooner. We went back on January 9th at what should have been 7 weeks 5 days. Sure enough, I knew immediately upon seeing the ultrasound screen.
There still wasn't a heartbeat.

Cue the floodgates. 
We were given several options since this was considered a missed miscarriage. I could wait for things to happen naturally, although who knew how long that would take. I could take a pill to push the process along, but I've heard nothing but horror stories with this method. The final option was surgery. We went ahead and scheduled my surgery for that next day. I struggled. We struggled. What else were we supposed to do?

We were heartbroken. We spent that night cuddled up, soaking up every ounce of Ellie that we could. We'd sit in silence for a while, then the tears would return. We'd talk about it some more. Over analyzing, sad, yet trying to remain optimistic that we'd be oh so fortunate to get another positive pregnancy test later down the line. That night and the next day were by far the two worst days of my life. I've never cried so hard. I've never been so consumed with a single thought. It was horrible.

January 10th will forever be etched in my brain as the worst day of my life.

That being said, I couldn't have asked for a better support system. Although just as equally distraught, JP was my rock through the whole experience. We told very few people about the pregnancy, waiting to hear the heartbeat to tell more distant family and friends. However, those that did know (our parents and a couple of our closest friends) were beyond amazing. They were so incredibly understanding and supportive. The calls, the messages, flowers, gifts, and more were more than we could have asked for. So not only did we have each other, we had the people that are closest to us there with us. They were affected too.

I've gone back and forth on whether or not I wanted to share this post. In fact, when originally written just a few weeks after the fact, I wasn't sure it would ever be shared. It was more of a coping mechanism at the time. That being said, I sat down several times, stared at a blank screen, wrote far too much, then deleted every single word.

Am I ready to share this news with the world? Am I ready to face the comments and questions that could potentially arise? Am I ready to be more vulnerable than I've ever been? Probably not.

But with the support of my husband, I've decided to share our story.

Because the reality is, miscarriage is real. It happens to real women. It happens to women that you'd least expect it to. Healthy women. Young women. Women already with children. Women without. I think there is a poorly portrayed view in our society in which some believe a woman that's gone through miscarriage must have made a mistake. She wasn't healthy. She did something wrong. Something was wrong with her body. She should have been able to prevent it. But the reality is, that is not true. When a miscarriage happens this early in a pregnancy, there isn't anything you can do to prevent it. You didn't do anything wrong. My OB said it's due to a genetic abnormality in either the sperm or the egg. It's hard not to blame ourselves, which is why I think society jumps to the same conclusion. However, that just isn't the case.

I'll be honest, I still have to remind myself of this. Daily.

Deciding to be open about my miscarriage is part of the healing process for me. Not that I want it to be table talk and on everyone's plate for discussion over their morning coffee, I just want to feel comfortable in the reality that I have faced. I don't want to feel ashamed or have to hide and grieve in silence. I need support. What would have been my due date, August 23, is now only 5 days away and all of my emotions have come flooding back. It's tough. I need my friends and family to understand. I don't want to spend hours talking about it, but it's a part of me now. Talking about it, to some extent, is an outlet. I realized that I was struggling more when attempting to bottle this up inside of me. I've lost a piece of my heart and I'll never be able to forget our little angel baby.
So, here I am, sharing my story.

I want people to know.
While he/she may not be here on Earth, I don't want to forget.

I wish more women were comfortable and didn't feel the need to grieve alone. I wish they didn't feel the need to hide in secret. It's nothing to be ashamed of.

This is real. It happens to real women. It happened to me.

I'm now about 23.5 weeks pregnant and while that's a wonderful feeling and we are SO incredibly grateful for this peanut, we still think about our baby that we lost. Some days are harder than others, but just because we're once again pregnant, doesn't mean the grieving is over.

I'm still sad. Still grieving.
But I want other women to have hope.

We are so exited for this third little miracle on her way.
Another little one to love and kiss and snuggle. WE ARE THANKFUL.

For those that have also experienced miscarriage, know that you are NOT alone. I know it's a sensitive subject, but it's not one that you need to be ashamed of or hide from the world. Be grateful for the time you had and remember that you now have a little angel babe watching down over you.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

23 weeks | Baby 2.0

What's new?
Baby girl can sense movement well enough to feel me dancing, with Ellie - all.day.long.
She weighs more than a pound.
The loud noises (aka barking!) she hears now *hopefully* won't phase her outside the womb.
Her lungs are preparing to learn how to breathe.

How far along? 23 weeks
Baby's size? grapefruit - over 11 inches in length, because apparently grapefruits of this size truly do exist.
Total weight gain: 15 pounds, lovely.

Maternity clothes? Yep, most of the time. Though I'm still able to rock the bella band or hair tie trick with most of my shorts/jeans.

Sleep: It's still going well, though I usually pee 2-3 times a night.

Best moments this past week: We had a great little family date night at the Quarter - Zinburger (uh-mazing!!!) for dinner, the splash pad, and froyo, yo!
Miss Anything? I know quite a few people that are in Vegas this weekend and I'm uber jealous. I definitely don't miss "the scene" and haven't in years, but there's just something about sin city that gets this mama all giddy inside! So, I definitely miss Vegas even though we were just there in March. It will be quite a while before we head back again! Sad day.

Movement: Tons! Baby girl is crazy, folks!
Anything making you queasy or sick: Nope! In fact, I'm currently drooling over the Mexican food I'm about to eat at dinner with my girlfriends!

Labor Signs: Technically, no. Very few BH contractions come and go.
Gender: Girl!

Symptoms: Nothing has changed. Basically, gaining weight and peeing, both like they're going out of style!
Belly Button in or out? It's still halfway out.

Wedding rings on or off? on

Happy or Moody most of the time: Very happy!

Looking forward to: My next OB appointment on Tuesday.

23 weeks




Sunday, August 10, 2014

22 weeks | Baby 2.0

What's new?
Baby girl can hear outside noises.
Her face is fully formed.
She should be (let's plead, hope, pray!!!) sleeping in regular cycles 12-14 hours a day.
Baby girl should weigh about a pound.
Though her eyes have been formed, they haven't reached baby blue status.... yet.  ;)

How far along? 22 weeks (as of yesterday)
Baby's size? a spaghetti squash - 11 inches
Total weight gain: 14 pounds, lovely.

Maternity clothes? Yep, most of the time. Though I'm still able to rock the bella band or hair tie trick with most of my shorts/jeans.

Sleep: It's still going well, though I usually pee 2-3 times a night.

Best moments this past week: Getting a lot done around the house - organizing, decluttering, donating, painting baby's nursery - may not be great for the normal person, but for my type-A pregnant self, it felt amazing! We've had a great little family weekend as well. :)
Miss Anything? Non-pregnancy related, but I missed teaching this week. It hit home with all the kiddos going back to school on Monday. Though come October I know I'd be singing an entirely different tune!

Movement: Tons, mostly when I'm laying down and occasionally when I'm sitting.
Anything making you queasy or sick: Not really.

Labor Signs: Technically, no. Very few BH contractions come and go.
Gender: Girl! I think we're officially down to two names; getting closer!

Symptoms: Not a whole lot other than packing on the lbs and peeing like it's going out of style.
Belly Button in or out? It's still halfway out.

Wedding rings on or off? on

Happy or Moody most of the time: Honestly, I've been super emotional and hormonal. Oh, the joys of pregnancy!

Looking forward to: Chicago! I know it's still 2.5 weeks away, but I'm getting really excited!

22 weeks
the board was JP's idea, as if you couldn't tell already :)
You know the deal.. THANKS!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ellie | 18 months

Disclaimer: This post is long. I'm making up for lost time, y'all! :)

My (occasionally not so sweet) princess is 18 months.
--as of July 25th that is--
That's a YEAR AND A HALF folks.
Seriously, how did that happen? It still seems like yesterday almost that I was holding her in my arms for the very first time. Time really does fly bye and it's such a bittersweet feeling.
I always planned on continuing with the monthly posts after Ellie turned a year, but each month kept on escaping by at lightning speed. I regret not putting more effort into those updates now though. Perhaps I'll try to do one every 2-3 months from here on out.
So, what has Miss Eliana Grace been up to?
At her 18 month appointment this week she weighed in at 27 pounds (93%) and is 34.5 inches long  (98%) and she's wearing 18mo-24mo clothing depending on the brand or clothing item. She has 11 teeth, I think, as it's very difficult to look in her mouth.
Ellie typically wakes up between 7-8am, though sometimes we're lucky enough to see her beautiful face at 6am on the dot. :) She's definitely down to one nap a day, usually going down around 1 and sleeping for 2-3 hours. Then she's back up until about 8/8:30.
We've been using baby sign language since Ellie was around 8 or 9 months. We don't use it for everything, but she pretty much signs all the things we've taught her -- please, more, water, thank you, milk, all done, eat. Some she willingly does on her own all the time, others only after we've done it. Water is the big one. She points to her water when she wants it. We ask her if she wants water while simultaneously signing water, please. Then she'll do it too. Homegirl has a mind of her own!
Ellie pretty much understands almost everything we say to her. She'll follow most things we tell her to do (or not to do), knows where all her body parts are, etc. She says a bunch of words, but goes through phases of when she wants to say them. She says mama, dada, da (dog), tanks (thank you), nie-nie (night-night), cheeeeese (cheese), skees (keys), soos (shoes), fissss (fish), no (NO!), hiiiii (hi), ha/huh (hat) and I think she might be saying mus (mouse, as in Mickey Mouse; fantastic). She makes tons of animal sounds too -- grrr (for a bear AND lion), neiiiigh that sounds more like a chuckle (horse), mooo (cow), ufff (dog), sssss (snake), aoooo (elephant). She's obsessed with cats and birds, but can't quite get either sound down just yet.
Little miss thing loves to be the center.of.attention. She loves when all eyes are on her all the time. She also tends to think the world revolves around her. She's officially in the terrible two tantrum phase which has been fun, of course. I just started reading Love and Logic and we're working on implementing these strategies in terms of discipline.

When she's not being her feisty little self, she's such a sweetheart. Total cuddle bug and loves to offer kisses. Says hi to everyone and everything when we're out in public, but is still shy when people come up to her. While she loves to be the center of attention, she's a total observer. She's really funny and laughs at herself all the time. She's in a teasing phase where she acts like she's going to give you (or the dogs) something, then takes it back last second and hysterically laughs at herself like it's the funniest thing in the world.
It is no secret that Ellie is a picky baby. When we started BLW her around 6-8 months, things were great! She'd eat almost everything we gave her. Then, ironically, the more things we introduced to her, the more she started realizing how much better food there was other than fruits and veggies. The result? The pickiest baby EVER. Fortunately, she's slowly coming out of that phase and has started eating more things. There use to be a list of no more than 10 things she'd eat. We're making progress though!
Breakfast usually consists of waffles, toast, pancakes, eggs, oatmeal, or cereal with some sort of fruit and cottage cheese or yogurt. Her fruit diet use to only consist of bananas, but now she'll eat strawberries, grapes, peaches, and blueberries as well.
Lunch is often leftovers from the night before, grilled cheese, ham/cheese or PB&J sandwich, mac & cheese, chicken quesadilla, chicken nuggets, hot/corn dogs, fish sticks, you know, real healthy stuff. I always include a fruit or veggie - a fruit listed above or sweet potatoes and occasionally another veggie hidden in something else (broccoli bites, spinach hidden in whatever else I made her). Veggies are still a HUGE struggle.
For dinner we usually try to give her whatever we're eating. If we know it's something she won't eat, then we'll give her something listed in the lunch section. She pretty much loves all chicken/fish dishes I make, but things like salad or things with too much sauce, she's not a fan. She doesn't like sauces or any conidments other than ketchup, whose kid is this? Not mine.
As for snacks, anything cracker like, fruit, yogurt or cottage cheese, nutrigrain bars, string cheese, apple sauce pouches, peanut butter filled pretzels, raisins, goldfish, veggie sticks, etc.

She refuses to drink milk ever since we cut bottles at 17 months, though our pedi isn't at all worried with the other dairy she eats. Not to mention, she's clearly not underfed. We also dropped the pacifiers around 15-16 months.
playing hide and seek
reading books
pushing her babies around in her stroller (and usually into the dogs)
chasing the dogs and playing tug-o-war with Lily
feeding the dogs
going through the cabinets and lining up all the cans or Tupperware bowls
walking up and down the stairs
going for walks
playing outside, especially in water or with the hose
Mickey Mouse and Little Einsteins
coloring and painting, though neither lasts more than 5 minutes
sitting on the potty and making the ssss sound, but not actually going
helping with things - watering the pants, carrying bags, "fixing" things, putting things away, putting clothes in washer/dryer, taking things in and out of the dishwasher, etc.

getting her diaper changed
unfamiliar people trying to hold her
guys with lots of facial hair
being told no and not getting her way

I really tried to narrow the pictures down here and technically, I did.
Though I still know it's a ton.
Vacations excluded; I'll make separate posts on those. :)
 | teaching Ellie 'bout the Mullan car business |

| cuuuuute |

| Valentine's Day 2014 |

| sisterly love - plus a double chin shot :)) |

| ready to play with the big kids already |

| Phoenix Zoo - February 2014 |

| JP's best Ellie chipmunk expression |

| Ellie's first spring training game - March 2014 |

| St. Patrick's Day 2014 - Daddy's lucky charm |

| the park next door is clearly a big hit in this family |


| the REAL Ellie |

| Daddy rides! |

| the bed head this girl gets is unreal, y'all! |

| Easter 2014 |

| Railroad Park |

| Mother's Day 2014 |

| Nana's Surprise 50th |


| she loves Oreos; definitely daddy's girl |

| Fourth of July 2014 |

| this girl -- 18 months going on 18 |

My love for my sweet girl is never ending and just when I think I couldn't possibly love her more, I fall more in love with her the next day. She truly is my little mini best friend and I'm SO incredibly thankful that she is ours. While she has a mind of her own that drives me crazy from time to time, she truly is the most precious gift full of love and sweetness. I look forward to many more milestones with my beautiful Eliana Grace.
I will never take so long to post pictures again.
Going through 6 months of pictures is not a walk in the park, people.