Saturday, December 31, 2011


One huge benefit of blogging is that you are able to look back at what you've done (or haven't done) in the past year. As I sat down to write 2012's resolutions, I took a look back at what I decided I should work on during 2011. If you don't want to read the whole post, here's a quick list along with a recap of how I did:

2011 Resolutions
1. Simplify. This year I sent a TON of stuff to Goodwill, the recycling plant, and landfill. We still have a ways to go as far as purging our home of stuff, but I think I'll call this a success. In addition, I stepped down from a couple of leadership positions in order to make time for more important endeavors.

2. Get back to basics. I didn't do too badly with this one either, although I still have a ways to go. By working on simplifying, I was in turn able to return to what is important. I don't think I'll ever pray enough, so that will always be on my list. As far as time with people who matter, that definitely happened this year. Between family vacations, impromptu dinners and phone conversations there are definitely relationships in my life that are stronger now than they were a year ago.

3. Cultivate the fruits of the Spirit. Of all the failures on this list, I feel the worst about this one. I won't elaborate, but I will carry this resolution over to 2012.

4. Focus on frugality. We made some cuts this year. Getting rid of cable was a big one, paying off the car and consistently saving also helped. With Clark on the way this will continue to be a priority though.

5. Document life. I did ok on this one, but not nearly what I wanted to do. Regular blogging helps, but maybe I should start wearing my camera wherever I go.

6. Authentic living. This one is hard to judge. I think there are many ways in the past year that I have begun to live out what I believe, but I know that there are relationships that have fallen by the wayside and priorities they get bumped that need to be focused on during 2012.

All that being said...
Here are my 2012 Resolutions:
1. Continue seeking simplicity.
2. Focus on family and authentic friendships.
3. Cultivate the fruits of the Spirit.
4. Choose frugality.
5. Work toward an organic, homemade lifestyle.
6. Make documenting life a priority.
7. Nurture creativity.
8. Complete at least 12 upcycling/DIY/refurbishing projects.
9. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
10. Cook and bake more of our food.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

21 Weeks & a Post-Christmas Update

Oh, my! I can't believe it's been 12 days since my last post. So much has happened in the past few weeks. I'll try to avoid my long-winded ramblings and give a quick, bulleted update! 

Diaper bag: Thanks to my dear friend, Chrisanne, and her lovely daughter, Tenley, for going with me to retrieve my coveted Timi & Leslie bag! I got quite the deal on my trendy yet functional accessory. While Charlie retails at $160, I was able to score the designer bag for a mere $94! I did end up getting in the mustard color, and after seeing the black and light brown colors in person at another store, I'm happy I did!

Cleaning: As usual with breaks, I think I'm going to accomplish much more than I do. With our crazy holiday schedule, the new cleaning routine hasn't completely come to fruition. I'm not abandoning the plan though! I should have a better update for you after I get back to school. (Ugh. School.)

Christmas: It was a wonderfully odd Christmas for the Hoyle/Samples clan. There were many changes instituted this year, and on top of it all, there was no snow. All of that added up to wonderful time with family (especially because my nephew, Finn, celebrated his first Christmas), but when it was all over, I was left feeling like Christmas had yet to arrive. I'm hopeful that next year the excitement of Clark's first Christmas will bring the magic back.

Clark: Perhaps the most exciting news is that I reached the halfway point in my pregnancy. It's odd because there are days that I still feel newly pregnant and others seem like I've been pregnant forever! Either way, I'm so grateful that everything is progressing just as it is supposed to. At our last midwife appointment a few weeks ago I was measuring right at 18 weeks, had perfect weight, and other stats. Thank you, Lord! 

In other baby news, I was delightfully surprised the morning after Christmas when Clark kicked me for the first time! I've felt him moving for several weeks now but no real kicks. It was the best present I got all year! With that said, here's a belly shot for you. (I've got to say that I'm getting to that "I feel super gross" portion of my pregnancy, so I'm not sure how many of these shots will be posted from here on out.) Oh, I almost forgot! We put the crib together yesterday, so you get to see that too!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A name for our boy.

I'm quickly learning that parents have the best of intentions. Sometimes these remain just that, intentions. For example, after announcing to our families the fact that we were expecting, I continued, almost in the same breath, to say "We'll announce the name when the baby gets here." My mother-in-law's response, "You're not going to choose something weird, are you?" In fact, that was the reason I wanted to wait. I knew that it was possible that our name would be viewed as "weird".  And truthfully, I didn't want to deal with it. Also, I had gone into naming situations before being sure and then changed my mind. (Before I adopted Bentley, I was dead set on the name Toby. Even when he came with that as his name I changed it; he never looked like a Toby to me.) What if we announced a name and the baby didn't look like the name?

As we got closer to the gender determination ultrasound, things began to change. We whittled our list down to four names, two for a boy and two for a girl. A week before we went for the ultrasound we had a serious talk about the names. For a boy, there was a clear choice. In fact, I told Michael, "If it's a boy, I can't imagine naming him anything other than ___." He agreed. I felt a tad guilty because there was no definitive choice for a girl, but I decided we would cross that bridge if we got to it. On December 2, 2011 we got the amazing news that our child would be our son. And even better we knew his name!

When we called our families with the news, we also confirmed his name (we had told only family the four possiblities earlier in the week--remember how I said I had the best of intentions?). I thought family would be the only ones to know until the little guy's arrival, but one day after work last week, Michael changed that too. "I told so-and-so at work the name." I was more surprised than mad. I thought we were keeping things under wraps, but apparently not. So, with that said, I didn't want So-and-so to know and not those of you who have been a part of my life/our lives for so long. Thus this post.

Our son's name is...**Drumroll **

Clark Wiley

Michael and I had a hard time agreeing on names. When it came to Clark though, there was no contest; we loved  it! It didn't hurt that it was Superman's alter-ego's name! You know how we love Clark Kent! In fact, although Michael doesn't want our son to be named "after" the mild-mannered reporter, I'm just fine saying that the Kansas farm boy is his name sake. How could a parent wish for a better example? Clark Kent was honest, respectful, polite, noble, humble, wise, intelligent, and kind. He put others before himself and worked tirelessly to make the world a better place. Regardless of whether or not he's named after America's superhero or just because we think Clark is a strong, solid name, I'm confident he'll grow to embody those traits and make us proud of him.

Wiley is much more straightforward. Michael's maternal grandfather's name was Wiley. Michael never got to meet Grandpa Wiley, but he grew up hearing stores about how much they looked like one another and how similar their personalities are. It's nice to think that Grandpa Wiley Berry's legacy of quiet strength and integrity can continue with our son.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

In lust.

I'll admit it. I'm in lust. No, not with a super hunky A-lister or even a sexy pair of new sky-high black pumps. My current obsession? A diaper bag. Ah, how life has changed. I never thought I'd fawn over, wish for, and hunt down a...diaper bag. 

So which bag has captured my hyper-hormonal heart? Why the Timi and Leslie Charlie II, of course! What? You don't know what I'm talking about? You don't lust over diaper bags? It's ok,  I didn't either. Wait until you're preggo. My guess is that you'll join me. Here's a snapshot of my love.
Well, hello beautiful accessories!

Isn't it BEAUTIFUL?! Notice that it doesn't, not for one little second, look a thing like a diaper bag? I'm DYING to get my hands on this beauty. For that reason, my ever dedicated to fashion best friend Chrisanne is going to trek out to the suburbs with me tomorrow night and try to snag one of my very own. (The boutique where we had our gender determination ultrasound is hosting a Midnight Maddness sale and all their merchandise is 40% off from 6-10 tomorrow night!) I'll be sure and let you know how it goes, but for the mean time, keep your fingers crossed that we don't make the trip for nothing! 
See? Jessica Alba loves the bag too!
When Michael & I were at the boutique last they only had the bag in the mustard color. If that's the only color they have, should I still nab one?
For 40% off, I just might!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Although I'm incredibly type A in many ways, I am NOT by nature a neat freak. Since being with Michael (my loving, but incredibly OCD husband) I've gotten much better at putting things away and keeping up with cleaning, but I am still far from having the spotlessly organized house that I want. Thus, when I found out I was expecting, I looked most forward to nesting out of all the symptoms of pregnancy. (Ok, if you know me, you know I was really looking forward to bigger boobs, but that has yet to happen--they lie about the boob thing; not everyone gets huge boobs!)

This leads me to my favorite new blog post from The Fun, Cheap or Free Queen. I've tried to implement a schedule like this in the past, but I think my version was much too intricate to be functional. This schedule fits on less than a page and is SIMPLE! My plan is to put it into place starting next week when I'm on Christmas Break (no, it's not vacation because I do not get paid for this time).

In addition to the schedule, I'll be cleaing the house with 100% natural homemade products. With the baby coming, I'm trying to get rid of as many chemicals as possible. I'll be sure to let you know how Operation Clean House works out with the new schedule and eco-friendly products!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Antsy & Conflicted

For a variety of reasons, Michael and I have been tossing around the idea of picking up and moving--truly moving, like out of state--for a little over a year now. We've lived in the Midwest our entire lives, but recently, things in this part of the country are looking a little grim. At least forty-eight weeks out of the year I understand why our region often referred to as "the armpit of America". There's little I love about this area. In fact, since I know you love countdowns, I'll give you the...

Top 5 Reasons Michael & I Stay in NWI
5. The seasons- There have been times I've tried to talk Michael into moving out west and settling down in Phoenix. Some of my family is there, and I adore the dry heat and mountains. However, one of the reasons we stay put is because we both love the changing of the seasons. I can't imagine life without new flowers, falling leaves, and SNOW!

4. Chicago- One of the things I love most about where we live is being so close to Chicago. As a kid we could be in Chicago faster than we could be to the local Wal-Mart. The proximity to the city caused me to fall in love with the Windy City at a very young age. What would life be like if we didn't get to make our annual trip to the Walnut Room or venture out with our Lo to Sox and Bulls games?

3. Our jobs- There's little to say about this. Neither of us are in our "dream" job, but for the time being, they're secure and stable. The prospect of the unknown is a tad terrifying.

2. Our friends- We love our friends here. While I know that Michael and I would find friends wherever we went, there would be a hole if we didn't get to see these NWI people.

1. Our family- This one is the clincher. I think we could manage to uproot ourselves if not for our families. We're both so blessed to have amazing families! With our Lo on the way, having everyone nearby is going to be such a blessing. Between family parties, impromptu dinners, and attending our nieces' and nephews' many school and sporting events, life would feel a tad empty if we didn't have them.

What's the point of the post? this countdown? Well, our list is slowly being dismantled.

5. The seasons-There was no real spring this year. We went from winter to summer sometime in early June. It's December 12 and we've had hardly any snow! It's supposed to be 50 degrees on Thursday. So much for seasons.

4. Chicago- We love you, but truthfully, Chi-town, we could visit, right? Plus, now that we're an hour plus away, we don't make it downtown very often anyway.

3. Our jobs- We're both ready to be done and honestly, the prospect of an adventure is kind of nice right now.

2. Our friends- As we have all moved to different parts of the area, it's harder to see everyone on a regular basis. We love them, but also know that because they love us, they'd want us to search out new opportunities if that's what we felt called to.

1. Our family- This is our true hang-up. Mine in particular. I grew up far away from my mother's family. My dad's family has never been especially close, and to make matters worse, my brother, sister and I were the only kids on that side anyway. Now that Lo has a cousin so close to his age and the same gender in Finn, the idea of taking him away from that breaks my heart. I also know that leaving would kill both sets of our parents and probably our siblings. 

So that's where we're at. Antsy and conflicted. Tired of this place, but not sure if it's time to move on. Regardless, there are a lot of decisions to be made in the next year or so. In the mean time, I'll be doing a lot of praying for guidance and courage. If you do that sort of thing, feel free to send some prayers our way. We'd love some clarity.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yes, we're cloth diapering.

Before you read on, please know that this post is in no way meant to sound preachy or critical of disposable diaper using parents. Would my child die if I used disposables? Of course not. Do I think that parents who use disposables are incompetent or bad parents? Definitely not. I'm slowly learning that we all make choices about what is most important to us. For Michael and me, cloth diapering is important.  I'm also learning that sometimes people do what is easiest in order to survive; I get that too.  

I wanted to write about our decision mostly because so many people ask about and are surprised by our choice. My guess is that because the cloth diapering revolution is rather new, few people know about why and how people do it. If nothing else, I hope this post answers some of your questions and leaves you asking some too. :)

Top Ten Reasons We're Cloth Diapering

#10--Cloth diapers are CRAZY cute! 
This is the most superficial reason, thus it is number 10. If all the other reasons didn't exist, I still might have gone this route just for the adorable factor. 

#9--Cloth diapers have more padding.
There's more cushioning for our little one as he takes toddles and topples while exploring the world. 

#8--You can't beat the convenience.
We won't have any midnight runs to Walgreen's because we're out of diapers!

#7--Potty training is easier.
When it is time to get our buddy out of diapers, he's more likely to train faster since he'll know that he's wet. (Chemicals in disposables/Pull Ups keep the baby dry, so he's less likely to realize that he's had an accident.)

#6--Being a leader is much more fun than being a follower. 
All I mean by this is that I'm not about to do anything as a parent simply because "everybody else does." I get that most Americans use disposables. Most Americans don't vote either. In fact, there are A LOT of things that most Americans do that I you'll never catch me doing.

#5--Cloth diapers are more reliable.
When tested against disposables, cloth diapers are more likely to contain leaks and blowouts! Less mess? Count me in!

#4--These aren't your grandma's cloth diapers!
When I tell people we're going to cloth diaper, after the shock and awe face has subsided, one of the first questions they ask is, "Like with pins?" No, people. There are no pins involved. A majority of our "stash" consists of pocket diapers (they go on like disposables) that are VERY user friendly. Here's a little diagram:

#3--I want our great-great-great-great grandchildren to live in a clean world. 
The average child will go through as many as 8,000 diapers before being potty trained. These diapers end up in landfills (accounting for 3.5 million TONS of poop and plastic going into our ground) that are not created for human excrement. This waste ends up in our groundwater and can cause a variety of problems. (Disposable diaper packages instruct users to dispose of feces in the toilet...when was the last time that happened?!)

#2--It's cheaper. (If Michael were writing this post, it would probably be his number 1!)
So far, we've spent about $300 on cloth diapers. By the time our stash is complete, we may  have spent $500--TOTAL. These diapers will not only be used for our first little guy, but can also be used for any children who join our family after him. If we were using disposables, we'd be spending a minimum of $800--A YEAR! (Yes, we'll be doing more laundry, but a couple extra loads a week won't even touch the money we'll be saving!)

#1--It's healthier for our baby. 
I've done TONS and TONS of research on this, and here's what it boils down to: disposables have crazy chemicals that I do not want on my child. In extreme cases, children have sustained chemical burns from these toxic elements. I know that I will sleep a little easier at night knowing that our little guy's bum is resting comfortably against soft cotton sans chemicals. In addition, the fact that we are having a little guy makes me want to cloth diaper even more; there have been studies connecting the use of disposable diapers on boys to lower sperm count as adults. I'd like grandchildren some day. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I love this...

Michael and I were recapping our days yesterday and talking about how certain changes in our work situations would impact our lives once our little guy gets here. For the third year in a row, Michael will be forced to take 19 furlough days. While the loss of that income won't break us, it's frustrating. However, my ever-optimistic husband talked about how it will be nice to have an extra day at home with the baby and me during the last half of the year. All this conversation lead to dreaming about the future of our little family and the person our son will be.

As excited as I am to meet this miracle, I have to admit that part of me will be sad to no longer be pregnant. I'm sure once I get to the incredibly uncomfortable end of the pregnancy, I'll be grateful for the relief, but right now I'm relishing the alone time with my child.

I don't want to give the impression that there haven't been unpleasant or frustrating aspects of being pregnant. The constant nausea of the first trimester and the lack of enjoyment I get out of food right now are no fun. And I'm quite certain that once I start getting bigger and looking more pregnant the stretching and changing of my body will be depressing, but even with all of those irritations, I LOVE being pregnant!

I love the fact that everyday is bring your child to work day for me. I love knowing that he's safe and sound because he's with me. I love these first "flutters" of movement, and I L-O-V-E my sweet little man's profile in his sonogram pictures. Right now, I even love that my bump is starting to tell the story of our family.

I'm sure experiencing all of these pregnancy "firsts" with our future children will be exciting as well, but I wonder how much I'll get to enjoy and cherish them while chasing after another child. For that reason, I'm relishing all of these moments as they come and trying to document the excitement, wonder and anticipation that this child has already brought to our lives.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Waiting, guessing, and finding out.

Before we were even considering starting a family Michael and I knew that we would want to find out the gender of our child before he or she arrived. We're planners by nature, and the prospect of 40+ weeks not knowing if the new addition would be a boy or a girl was too much for either of us to handle.

Since we found out we were expecting, I've had this "boy" feeling. I second guessed it several times, mostly because I questioned the validity of mother's intuition. Could I really know before I knew? 

For fun (and at the prompting of my sisters) I checked out The Bump's Chinese Gender Chart. The ancient tradition told us our Lo would be a...BOY!

Out of pure curiosity and excitement, I bought an IntelliGender test on October 23. The gist of the test is that the first day's urine mixed with the crystal concoction indicates the gender of your child. It's supposed to be 80% accurate. The "scientific" test told us our Lo would be a...BOY!

It was hard to put much stock in either of these tests (even if they did agree), so we scheduled our gender determination ultrasound at a lovely place called The Belly Factory. (Thanks for the recommendation, Chrisanne, they were as wonderful as you said they were!) The tried and true ultrasound said our Lo would be a...BOY!

Three out of three isn't bad! While we would have been ecstatic to have a little girl, there's a part of me that feels so good knowing that I knew our Lo was a boy. It restores my faith in this mother's intuition I'm supposed to have (while also making me feel better that many of the "gender neutral" clothes/diapers we have right now are really more boy than I wanted to admit at the time). To say that we're thrilled to welcome this sweet little boy into our lives is the greatest understatement of all time! Get ready world, another Samples man is on his way!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A spirit of thankfulness...

I thought I would do way more posting about the day to day, week to week life of being pregnant, but I can only blog so many times about being exhausted or feeling queasy before I'm certain I would lose the small readership I have. Also, I never want the reporting of my symptoms to come across as whiny. The last thing I want to do is complain (to anyone other than Mike) about this pregnancy because I am so thankful for it.

The season I am currently at in my life brings with it many babies and friends who have or are having babies. I've had friends who complained through their entire pregnancies and others who, despite their opptomistic attitude lost babies. What I have learned from both extremes is that during this time in my life, in my child's life, all I can do is live with a spirit of thankfulness.

I'm thankful that a million things went right to result in this pregnancy. And although there are times that I'm sick, tired and uncomfortable, I'm always thankful that there are now two hearts beating fiercely inside me. While there have been a handful of times that a beer (or two) would have hit the spot, I've never, not once, wished I was not longer pregnant just so I could have the occasional cocktail. Pregnancy has brought about a new gratitude in me that I never realized I was living without. 

It makes sense then that this Thanksgiving was especially important to me. In fact, I wonder if I truly understood and appreciated Thanksgiving for the first time ever this year. It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day frustrations of work, relationship drama, and unavoidable mishaps that we forget all we have to be thankful for. I for one am grateful that this child is already helping me to slow down and appreciate this life that God has given me...given us. I can't wait to see what other lessons Lo will teach me once he/she is here!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Keep your hands to yourself.

As a child, I was told repeatedly to "Keep your hands to yourself." Usually, the direction came from my mother and was in regards to me touching my little brother. As an adult, my mother's voice still rings in my head when I remind my high school students to refrain from touching their classmates. While I have often thought the need to remind seniors of a kindergarten adage is rather ridiculous, I was more shocked that the timeless phrase nearly fell out of my mouth this morning during an interaction with a colleague.

I was warned that being pregnant would essentially remove people's ability to determine appropriate personal space, but I never dreamed that the inappropriate comments/behavior would start as early as 15 weeks! While talking to another teacher (someone I consider a dear friend) in the hallway this morning. another colleague (not a teacher, but an aide) butted into joined our conversation. She immediately called me "Mama" (I am NOT your mama, so please, do not call me that. Betty will work just fine) and proceeded to rub my bump (which still looks more like an extra 10 pounds rather than a baby). I was astonished...livid...speechless.

Here's the thing, I get it. I like rubbing baby bumps just as much as the next lady, but I think it's time that we remember boundaries or at least good manners. So, please, ask before you rub or keep your hands to yourself.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Room to breathe.

Recently, life has felt a little...tight. Between managing the most intense workload I've ever had as a teacher, navigating the new waters of pregnancy, trying to maintain relationships, and feeling guilty when I suck at any of the previous endeavors, my day to day has become rather restricting. This weekend, however, Michael and I went away for the weekend with three of our favorite people and got to breathe. It was glorious

Friday evening Randy, Becky, Finn, Michael and I headed for a couple of days in South Haven, Michigan. It turned into a weekend full of food, shopping, laughing, drinking (for the boys), and wonderful memories. We're hoping that this will turn into an annual trip. If so, next year our Lo will join us. And if we plan it far enough in advance, maybe Courtney will be able to come too!

Even though I took my camera and our Flip, I took no pictures, thus, you're seeing the weekend through Becky's eyes (some of the best eyes to look at anything). 

Our view from the balcony.
The boys on the way to the lighthouse.
Uncle Mike & Aunt Betty love you, Finn!
Becky, Finn, & Randy--Perfect family picture!
"Vroooom!" Finn loves his cars.
The other boys loved their "pimp chalices". 
Checking out the iPad and the fun Crayola coloring app.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

To Make You Feel My Love

One of my favorite love songs has always been Garth Brooks' "To Make You Feel My Love". The idea of someone desperate to show his love for me was so appealing in my teens and early twenties.

A lot has changed since then, and I was given a new perspective on this song yesterday while watching the season finale of one of my favorite shows. It showed a montage of a new family in the hospital right after delivery as Adele's version of the song played in the background, and I lost it. Through quiet sobs, I decided this would be the song. The song I will play for our unborn child once Lo can hear (only a month away!). The song I will sing to my infant to remind him or her that my greatest goal will always be that no matter where any of my children are in this life, I will always do anything in my power to let them know they are loved.

When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I would offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love

When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

I know you haven't made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I've known it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong

I'd go hungry, I'd go blind for you
I'd go crawling down the aisle for you
There ain't nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love

The storms are raging on a rolling sea
Down the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
But you ain't seen nothing like me yet

There ain't nothing that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
Make you happy, make your dreams come true
To make you feel my love

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

1st trimester down...2 to go!

It's shocking that I'm starting the second trimester of this pregnancy already! I suppose one benefit of waiting so long to make the announcement Internet official is the fact that it seems closer than ever.

My first trimester was full of ups and downs, sick mornings and nights, moments of elation and freaking out. I have to assume that is all pretty typical. Fortunately, most of what I remember from this first twelve weeks is good. While I doubt I'll ever forget that spot on Cline Avenue where Michael had to pull over so I could puke, I have to believe that I will more vividly remember seeing our child for the first time on an ultrasound and the rapid swoosh of Lo's heartbeat last Thursday. The sweet, wonderful memories so easily eclipse the gross moments, that it's obvious how women do this more than once. (Although at the height of nasuea during Week 6, I was guilty of telling Michael this would be our only child, I recant that threat...until labor at least.)

It could be psychosymatic, but yesterday (the first day of my second trimester) I actually felt normal-ish. I did housework, was able to eat a (fairly) normal dinner, and stayed up until 9 pm! All in all not too shabby for this preggo. Finally, I weighed myself and was happy to find that I only gained 5 lbs. during my first trimester (although I feel a good 10-15 lbs. heavier)! Michael was able to take a picture, so for all of you who have requested belly shots, here ya' go!

Beginning of Week 13

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Little Lo Nursery--The Transformation

One of the (few) perks of being a teacher is having a Fall Break. I was approaching this break with much anticipation for many reasons. 1. Grades were due on Wednesday which meant that I could spend the weekend not grading, but more importantly, not feeling guilty about not grading, 2. Our second midwife appointment was scheduled for Thursday, and 3. Michael's parents were going to help us transform our guest room into Lo's nursery! 

I knew that I wanted to have this nursery painted and ready to decorate before the truly cold weather came (which in Northwest Indiana could be anytime between mid-September and Thanksgiving--I have vivid memories of Trick-or-Treating in wet, flying snow as a sixth grade hippie.), so we scheduled our project almost as soon as we found out I was pregnant. 

On my first trip to Buy Buy Baby with Randy, Becky, and Finn, I found the bedding I wanted for Lo. Since I take after my father and have the innate ability to gravitate to the most expensive item in a store (Lo, I pray that you have good taste, but I'd be fine if you didn't inherit this attribute), I decided on a pattern I could see working for a boy or girl from Dwell Studio. Michael loved it too, so it was decided. (Although my taste is often expensive, I'm rather thrifty, so we're not buying the nearly $400 crib set, but instead buying a couple of the fitted sheets in the print and possible the shower curtain so that I can make it into curtains. We wouldn't use the bumper or blanket anyway, and if I need a crib skirt once the crib is here, I'll make or buy one.)

We decided to go bright (a true change in our house since nearly all the rooms in our house are varying shades of brown or tan), fresh and clean. I've always loved the split wall look that's achieved with chair rails and/or wainscoting, so that's the direction we went. The rest of this story can be told in pictures. Here you go!
Michael's mom (Mono) ready to get started!
Chalk line up, ready to paint!
Michael pouring our apple green paint! 
This may be the second time Michael's ever painted. He already loves this baby so much! :)
Now for the white!
Almost done!
Michael & his dad (Poppy) finishing up the chair rail.
The finished room!
A room for our Lo!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Yesterday we (yes, we; Michael's so involved with this pregnancy and it's such a blessing) went to our 2nd midwife appointment. I really didn't know what to expect. (In the midst of finishing grades for the 1st nine weeks, I failed to call Becky to get an idea of what would be in store for me.) I was pleasantly surprised when we were almost immediately called back. Just as before I was asked to "Wait for the scale to go to zero" before stepping on the scale (eek!) after the nurse recorded my wait, I headed to the restroom to leave my sample while Michael headed to room #3. 

Shortly after I joined Michael, the nurse came and took my blood pressure. After she finished, we waited all of thirty seconds for our wonderful midwife. (Seriously, we've seen her twice and I already love her!) She took a look at my weight and blood pressure and said that everything looked "Perfect!" I was especially happy about this because I've been terrified of gaining more than 35 pounds this pregnancy, and in the past couple of years I've had sporadically high blood pressure. Thus, hearing that everything is on track and "perfect" make my day!

The appointment only got better though. Sherry grabbed her Doppler and had me expose my ever growing belly. Within a matter of seconds she found what she was looking for...our baby's heartbeat! It was amazing and so fast and, just like my weight and blood pressure, perfect! I've heard women talk about hearing their baby's heartbeat for the first time, but nothing really prepares you for the experience. At this point in my pregnancy I don't feel  pregnant. I feel fat and sick, so sometimes I forget that there's actually this little being inside me. It's odd because I think about Lo almost all the time, but there are times that he/she just doesn't feel real. Hearing that heartbeat however, made it all real. This baby, my love for Michael, his love for me, our love for this baby, the family that we're starting, and the miracle that God has allowed us to be a part of. 

A letter to Lo

My dear, sweet, little one,

Much of my day is spent thinking about you and who you will become. I wonder what you will do with this life that God has given you, given us. Once I found out I was pregnant, I had a new understanding and appreciation for the concept of "praying without ceasing". As much as I think of you, I know that most of this "thinking" is actually praying because the truth is I don't know what I'm doing. And honestly, I don't know if I'll ever feel like your father and I know what we're doing when it comes to being parents. I assume that there will be a lot of faking it. 

My mom used to tell me that even before your Uncle Randy, Aunt Courtney and I were born she would pray for our future spouses. At the time I thought she was a little nuts (I was 16 or 17--you'll think I'm crazy when you're that age too), now I pray for whoever you marry. (You'll be happy I did one day. I'm grateful everyday for your grandmother's prayers because I truly believed they helped bring your father and me together.) 

I pray that one day you'll know Christ and trust Him. It would be an honor if you came to that decision because you see the relationships your father and I have with Christ, but I will be the first to admit that sometimes faith is hard and just like a marriage, it can take work. There will be times that you don't understand God. You'll feel abandoned and boxed in. Following Christ doesn't always feel good, but in the end it's one of the only decisions you can look back on and be proud of and feel comforted by. I pray that you won't get caught up in the religion of Christianity, but instead that you'll love Jesus and love others the way he told us to. 

Well, hello, Week 10!

Yesterday marked the beginning of Week 10 of this exciting first pregnancy, and I couldn't be more thrilled. There's something about being in the double digits that is so reassuring and triumphant! Most of my concerns of miscarriage have vanished, and I am more and more excited and confident to meet our Lo.

Symptoms are still less than fun, but they're more bearable. I'm still getting/feeling sick most nights. Yesterday I came home, made a grilled cheese sandwich, ate it and thought, "Wow! That was wonderful! Certainly I should have another." So I did. While I felt gross afterward, at least I had something in my stomach for the rest of the night because after 5 p.m. the thought of food made me want know. In fact, I made Michael the shepherd's pie that was in the fridge (my contribution to our food co-op this week), but didn't touch it. (Fortunately, it made a delightful lunch today!)

10 Weeks is also a big deal because we are half way to finding out what our Lo is! When people ask us, "What do you want?" our standard answer is, "Healthy." And that's 100% true. I'd be lying if I didn't say that when I've imagined our family there was always a boy leading the pack, but I've spent much of the past two months fantasizing about a boy OR a girl. So much so that, once we find out the gender, I know a little part of me will be sad either way (the only way to avoid this would be to have a set of boy-girl twins--not happening). If we have a boy, I'll box up those dreams I have for a little girl and put them away until our next child is on the way. The same will be true if a lady is set to make her arrival in May. Either way, we can't wait to know who this Lo is and make him/her an even bigger part of our lives!

Finally, belly shots will be coming soon. My father so sensitively announced last Saturday, "You're showing!" to which I wanted to cry. (Mostly because I feel fat and because I'm trying to keep Lo on the DL for a few more weeks.) He's somewhat correct. If you know I'm pregnant, I'm showing. If you don't know, I've been eating way too many donuts! :)

8 Weeks down...

Yesterday Little One (here by known as Lo) and I began our ninth week together! It's still somewhat unbelievable that s/he will be with us in 31 short weeks, but Lo obviously takes after Mommy and Daddy because s/he is definitely making its presence known! While I've actually felt better for the past couple of weeks (Remember week six? I had TERRIBLE "morning" sickness all day long!), I still don't feel like my old self. (Something that my closest mommy friends say to get used to.) I pretty much eat all the time so I don't get sick. This is hard for me since I have spent most of my adult trying to NOT eat all the time. Thank God for baby carrots and Goldfish crackers!

Even though I haven't felt that great, I'm happy to know that Lo is getting everything s/he needs. Upon completion of week eight, Lo is now the size of a grape, has all of the necessary parts for life outside of mom (in minature form, of course), and has started to move around. Nine weeks ago, s/he didn't even exist! The miracle of babies never ceases to amaze me.

Michael and I have been talking a lot about what we think Lo will be. There are days that I'm convinced our little one is a boy, and then I wake up feeling like she's a girl. The next eight weeks or so until we find out is going to be slightly torturous. We don't care what you are, Lo, but we'd love to find out as soon as possible. We've got to figure a name out for you, baby!

Week 6

Even before I was pregnant friends told me that I would be DEAD tired for my first trimester, but "almost like a light switch" I'd have energy on the first day of Week 13. However, no one warned me that "morning sickness" would start almost as predictably on the first day of my sixth week. Fortunately, Michael has been wonderful. I can't imagine how odd it is for husbands in the beginning of the pregnancy. Before the first ultrasound, before the first heartbeat, the only proof that they have a baby exists is a hormonal, nauseous, exhausted wife.

I'm not really complaining about this nausea, I mean, it's by no means pleasant, but some people have offered that it is a wonderful indication that our baby is thriving. That's what I'm going with.  On the advice of my chiropractor, I started taking ginger root capsules with my meals. While this magic root did not bring complete relief, it definitely helped take the edge off of my morning sickness. Spending most of the weekend (including my birthday) on the couch was also some of the best medicine ever!  Here's hoping Week 7 is kinder to me.


When Michael and I began talking about when we would try to start our family, my initial goal was to have a March baby. Ideally, we would have a St. Paddy's Day baby (being predominately Irish on my mother's side, I thought it would be sweet and make my late Aunt Georgia incredibly happy!). The timing would allow me to begin maternity leave right around Spring Break...perfect! Until I realized that we would be on a family vacation during the "perfect" time for conception...awkward. No matter, an April baby would be ideal, I decided. Except, timing didn't work out in July either. When my monthly reminder that I was not pregnant appeared in early August, I remembered words of wisdom from my sweet (yet annoyingly-almost-always-right) friend, Sarah. "Once you want a baby, you'll be overjoyed whenever it happens." Again...she was (annoyingly) right.

The interesting thing is that as soon as I found out I was pregnant and due around May 8, all I've been able to talk about is how "perfect the timing is"! I'm not sure why I'm surprised by this. Over and over in my life, God has proven that His timing is always perfect. I reminded myself of this at the height of my frustration of starting our family. I remember I said to Michael, "I know God knows who are children are. I just need to relax and be patient because I'm going to love them whenever they get here."

New timing has come into play recently. My corporation is talking about RIFfing (Reduction In Force), i.e. FIRING, even more of us next year than they did this year. All of this along with the fact that teachers are easily the most unappreciated, undervalued, and underpaid professionals in this country has me once again looking to God for timing. I'm to the point that I don't really believe teaching is what I'm supposed to do anymore, but I don't know where I'm supposed to go. I believe our child is coming at the perfect time in our lives, and I'm praying that God will open doors (or windows, or heck, maybe even a large air duct) so that I can once again love my job and take care of my baby.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Family...the friends you choose.

I've spent much of my adult life throwing around the cliche "Friends are the family you choose." To say that I've been blessed with wonderful friends is an understatement. (I was the girl who was heartbroken to whittle my bridal party down to seven bridesmaids and two usherettes; close friends got the ax and I hated it.) While my friends are wonderful and I consider so many of them family, recently I've been reminded that just as friends are the family you choose, family can be the friends you choose. 

Recently we've been spending a lot of time with my siblings. You already know that Becky was one of my best friends in high school, so when she married my brother it was rather perfect. Even better is that Michael and Randy have grown to really like each other. Becky and I often talk about how similar the guys are, and I couldn't be happier about it; both of them are wonderful men. 

When we're lucky enough to have Courtney home, the six of us (Courtney, Randy, Becky, Finn, Michael and I) get together for dinner, drinks and laughter. If you had told me ten years ago (hell, if you had told me two years ago) that my siblings would be some of my favorite people and best friends in the world, I probably wouldn't have believed you. I'm grateful everyday though, that somewhere in between childhood and adulthood I grew to not just love my brother and sister, but grew to like them. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Baby Birthday

I turned 29 on Septemeber 17. It was a wonderful day (despite my constant morning sickness)! I woke up to my gifts from Michael: a beautiful glass bead for my Pandora bracelet and the sweetest baby clothes I've ever seen! That sweet man went by himself to BabiesRUs to get "I love Mommy" outfits and our child's first Sox gear. Obviously, I cried.  (Somehow the Pandora didn't get photographed.)

I spent the remainder of the day on the couch waiting for my family to come over. Courtney made the three-hour trek home from school for the occassion which was a gift in itself. Mom brought everything we needed for dinner and dessert. Becky and Randy brought Finn (these days, that's all I really want them to bring anyway!).

Birthday gifts from the family followed the baby theme as well. Courtney gave Michael and me individual gifts, but also a Notre Dame jersey onesie for our future Irish football fan and an AU shirt. 

Mom and Dad got me the cutest maternity shirts, a BeBand, and my favorite organic oatmeal and cookies (things I can actually stomach these days). 

Becky and Randy put together a Pregnancy Survival Kit that included: saltines, 7Up, toxic-free nailpolish, belly lotion, foot cream, chick flicks, the most recent issue of Fit Pregnancy, a scented candle, and adorable onesies for our little one!

Monday, September 5, 2011


This weekend we got to tell (almost all of) our family about this perfect baby who's on its way! I went back and forth about how we'd reveal our big news. Initially I was going to buy frames for everyone, but with a severe shortage of chic grandparent and cousin frames, I decided to go a different route. I picked up bright white newborn onesies and iron on ink jet paper. A half hour on PhotoShop and I had designs for all the immediate family in our little one's life!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Michael & Me & Baby makes Three


We won't be announcing our exciting news to the world anytime soon, but I want to blog about this pregnancy from the beginning. I'll publish these posts after the announcement is official.

Finding Out
I have been fooled before by this body of mine. In fact, I thought I was pregnant for part of June and July. For that reason, I didn't want to be too hopeful when I felt a new kind of "twinge" or cramp in my lower abdomen on Sunday. And, when my usually early signs of my period were absent, I reminded myself that it could be psyhcosymatic. However, when my period was a no-show on it's scheduled day (August 30), I HAD to test this morning (at 4:40 a.m. because I was too excited to sleep)! (I'll be honest and say I'd already tested TWICE earlier in the week.)

That obnoxious control line practically appeared when I opened the test! I thought I'd be disappointed for yet another month, but this time the second pink line started to appear. Trying to be productive and let the test develop completely, I jumped in the shower. When I got out, there was no denying a second line. Pregnant!

I spent the next half hour or so getting ready for work and deciding how to tell Michael. When I had dreamed of telling him before there were elaborate schemes involved. When it came down to it, though, I woke him up to tell him before I left for work. His reaction was much like mine-elation mixed with disbelief. This is real. We're going to be parents. We'll be a family of three (five if you count our furry children) in May!

I feel so blessed and priveledged that I get to carry this child. I've been praying for him or her to come to us for so long, and now my prayers are that I do everything in my power to protect this little being inside me and that God protect us both.

Little baby of mine (we'll work on a nickname for you ;), know that you have always been wanted. Your father and I wanted you so badly and are so blessed to have you on your way. Of all the things I've wanted in my life, being a mother has outweighed all goals and dreams. You are loved even now that you are only the size of a poppyseed. Stay safe and warm in there and starting now and for the rest of your life, let me know if you need something. I love you.

(Ultrasound is from our first midwife appointment on 9.29.11!)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Everyone is fighting a harder battle...

I was going to write this long post about how I have a love-hate relationship with the 2011-2012 school year. I was going to tell you that I love (most of) my kids and am actually pretty excited about my classes. I was going to tell you that colleagues are my biggest complaint so far. I was going to tell you that once again I need focus (shocking). 

All of those things are true, of course. And perhaps writing about them would be therapeutic, but the older I get, the more I try to observe the famous quote, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." And recently, I'm overwhelmed by the battles those I love are fighting. 

My brother and sister-in-law are new parents and are bravely navigating the treacherous waters of both of them working outside the home. Loving them as much as we do has made watching them go through these trials heartbreaking. Knowing that when we have children we will most likely endure the same circumstances makes it terrifying. I'm so proud of them both, but also feel so helpless when it comes to the whole situation because there's truly nothing I can do to fix it/make it better. 

So, I was going to tell you about how overwhelmed I was. I was going to write about how the beginning of the school year is exciting, but also sucks the life out of me. I was going to say that I feel like a failure because after six years, you'd think I'd have the answers. I was going to complain. But instead, I'll realize that people I love are truly overwhelmed. Instead, I will understand that my sister-in-law has the life sucked out of her every morning that she leaves my precious nephew at daycare. Instead, I will realize that what I told my brother is true. Often we are our toughest critics and are the only ones who see the failure. 

Becky and Randy are fighting the good fight, and the fact that they are makes it easier for me to do the same. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meal Plan for 8.14-8.20

At the beginning of the year, I started out with grand ideas that I would be able to: teach full time, pour my heart into starting a new business, cook dinner every night, save money, and run two blogs (not to mention be devoted to a strong marriage and maintain meaningful relationships). While many of these things happened (insert shameless plug for Signature, Ink. here), running two blogs, cooking every night, and saving money, haven't done so well. Thus, I'm just doing THIS blog, and to stay committed to cooking every night (or at least planning our meals), I'm updating you with our weekly menu. Hopefully it will save us money along the way!

8.14 Sunday--Jack Daniel's Chicken sandwiches (one of the pre-made dinners I'm okay with because it's seriously awesome!)

8.15 Monday--Italian beef (Thank you, CrockPot! Leftovers frozen for next time we have Italian beef.)

8.16 Tuesday--Shrimp linguine (1st day back to school. Crazy!

8.17 Wednesday--Chicken patties w/ Mac & Cheese (Michael's current favorite. Who needs kids when your husband eats like one?!)

8.18 Thursday--Stuffed peppers

8.19 Leftovers--Fridays will always be leftover night. We cannot eat all this food the night it's 

8.20 Homemade Pizza

Keep me accountable--all three of you who read this on a regular basis! :)