Friday, December 15, 2017

TGIF!

Oh man I am so happy that it's Friday today. This has felt like the longest week for some reason!

The high of my week was getting together with 2 friends during the week. One was the friend that sang at our wedding. I hadn't seen her since the wedding, which is crazy. She is so excited that I am pregnant as she knows how much I have wanted to be a mom so there was a lot of pregnancy and baby talk! I also got together with another friend the following night for a happy hour. It was great to catch up with her as I hadn't really sat down and talked with her since early October!

The low of my week was my glucose screen yesterday. I failed the test big time and was scheduled to come in for the 3 hour test on Monday. Then my genius sister alerted me to the fact that I failed because I am on prednisone which increases your blood sugars. When I called my OB office to mention this, the nurse told me to go off prednisone for a week - which is just not possible with my frequent flares (I had 2 more this week). So after calls to my rheumatologist and a call to a friend that is an OB, I learned that I never should have taken the glucose screen in the first place and should have just been referred to an endocrinologist. I'm just so fed up with all these doctor appointments and trying to coordinate my care between specialists. I love my OB so I am telling myself that human error is the reason she didn't think to have me skip the glucose screen due to my prednisone use. But seriously - March 7th (baby's due date) can't come soon enough. I'm soooo over having RA while being pregnant and all the complications that have resulted.

Recipes I made were *crickets.*  I did not cook this week as I had a lot of leftover lasagna from the cookie decorating party I hosted on Sunday. But tonight I am going to make this salsa verde chicken bake which sounds really good! I'll serve it with some rice.

The best money I spent was on these probiotics that a friend recommended. Pregnancy really messes with the digestive system so I am hoping that these help in that department (sorry, probably TMI!).

My plans this weekend include making dinner tonight and then playing cards with another couple. Tomorrow I am going to a cloth diaper 101 class, church, and then we'll play games with another couple after dinner. We are clearly all about cards and games with other couples! Sunday is going to be a much-needed shouldless day!! If my flare in my hand clears up, I am planning to finish a blanket I've been working on for quite awhile while watching some Christmas movies!

What was the high of your week? What was the best money you spent this week?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Currently: December

Well here we are in the final month of the year! Here's what's currently going on in my life as we close out 2017!

Reading: We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. I've heard great things about this WWII novel that focuses on a Polish family. At the beginning the book, the author shares a shocking statistic:  90% of Poland's 3 million Jews perished during WWII. How awful is that? Think of all the potential future generations that were wiped out by the Holocaust. 

Loving:  feeling the baby move, which was what I was loving last month as well. I felt the baby have hiccups for the first time this past week which was a neat thing to feel! I've gotten to know the baby's movement patterns. He or she is most active in the evening, especially when I am going to bed. We might have a night owl on our hands when he or she is born!

Feeling: pretty tired and still having lots of issues with my RA. Lately I've been getting what I refer to as 'microflares.' Before I would get a flare (which means swelling and pain in a joint) and it would last for 2-3 days and then I'd get another one about a week later. But recently I have been getting flares that last about 1-2 days but come more frequently. For example, last week I got 3 different flares - one in metatarsal joints of my left foot, one in my right hand and one in my right wrist. I saw my doctor last week and she's upping my dose of steroids for awhile to see if we can end this cycle of flares. I'm crossing my fingers and praying that I get a break as I've had weekly flares since early October!

Thinking: about how excited I am to go back on a RA injection medication once the baby is born. I honestly kind of hated giving myself weekly injection before I got pregnant but now I am yearning to get back on a good drug! Luckily there is one that is safe for breastfeeding so I will start that asap after the baby is born. Like maybe at the hospital. Ha. 

Anticipating: my baby shower in mid-January. My mom and sisters are hosting it. This will be my only baby shower so they invited family and friends. I got the invitation last week and it is so darn cute! I can't wait to see all the details they come up with! I love that they asked guests to bring a book instead of a card!

Watching: holiday movies! I watched the 4 Hallmark movies that my friend Erin sent me, which were so cheesy and good! Now I want to watch some of my other holiday favorites such as The Holiday, Love Actually and You've Got Mail. I know You've Got Mail isn't a traditional holiday movie but I love to watch it this time of year. Plus a portion of the movie takes place during Christmas so it's "kind of" Christmasy.

Grateful: that we will see both sides of our families around the holidays. We'll spend Christmas with Phil's mom and then we will head to my parents' lake home for NYE weekend. My dad turns 70 on the 28th of December. My dad does not like attention so we will celebrate this milestone birthday by eating out as a family on NYE. 

Working: on moving things around in the guest room to make room for a few baby items. I got rid of 1 of the 2 bookshelves in that room to make room for the changing table (which we need to assemble soon!). We'll shift things around a bit more to make room for a glider as well. That's about all we plan to put in the guest/baby room, though. The baby and I will share a closet and a hamper (my closet is in the guest room since I have waaaay more clothes than Phil and they wouldn't all fit in the closet in his bedroom). 

Listening: to lots of podcasts as usual. I'm starting to shift towards more pregnancy/parenting podcasts these days in preparation for the baby's arrival. I started to listen to The Mom Hour recently and I am really enjoying it!

Wishing: for a break from flares - even 2 weeks would be great!

What are you loving, watching and grateful for?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Bullet Journaling for Unartistic People

I had heard about the bullet journal awhile ago but was hesitant to give it a shot as it seemed like it was for artsy/artistic people. That is so not me. I can't draw and my handwriting is so far from pretty. But after seeing multiple posts on Instagram, I decided to give it a try. I've been meaning to do a post about bullet journaling and Monday seems like the perfect day of the week to talk about planners!

First things first, paper planners are not for everyone, but they are for me. I'm so analog when it comes to managing my schedule. I do use my Outlook calendar at work for daytime appointments and appointments that require me to leave early so that no one books meetings during those times. But in general, I prefer to write everything - from social plans to appointments to do lists - in a paper planner. Some people are more on board with going digital but that just doesn't work for me! I can see the benefit of going digital if you are married and your husband is on board with using a digital planner but Phil isn't. So I stick with what works best for me.

Previously, I bought an Erin Condren Life Planner every year but I found the free-form approach to bullet journal appealing. I started using my bullet journal in June and it definitely took me several months to get a feel for it and figure out what layouts worked best for me. But after bullet journaling for over 5 months, I have a system worked out!

Here is a summary of the layouts or spreads that I use to plan each month/week:

Monthly Layout #1


This layout is pretty straight-forward. I list out all of the days of the month with a letter next to each day indicating the day of the week. I then draw lines to mark off weeks. This layout has made it easy for me to tell when I am starting to over-plan my weeks. In general, I've gotten better at limiting myself to 3 social plans/week but that rule got thrown out the window in early December since it's such a busy time of year with holiday social events and such.

I used to create these monthly layouts as I approached the end of a month but in 2018, I have the monthly layouts in one section so that I have somewhere to write down plans I am making in the future. This alleviates the need to use something that is referred to as a 'future log'. A future log, pictured below, is a place to write down future commitments. Then when you created a monthly layout, you'd add those commitments to the monthly layout and check them out. This did not work for me as I needed a clearer way to see what I had planned in the future to avoid over-planning and double booking.



Monthly Layout #2 

In addition to the first monthly layout, I also have a 2nd monthly layout that summarizes birthdays/anniversaries/etc, appointments and social events, books I want to read that month and to dos. It's a little bit redundant to write out the appointments and social events since they are in the other monthly layout but I like having them in both layouts - at least for now. The nice thing about bullet journals is that you can always adjust your layouts as you figure out what works for you! I usually create this second monthly layout 1-2 weeks before the month begins, so it's a good way to refresh my memory about what the month to come holds. The birthday/anniversary list isn't always complete as I often rely on Facebook to remind me about birthdays!

Weekly Layout


I use my weekly layout to keep track of meal plans and to dos. When I was working out, I would also write out my workout plans on this page that is obviously not happening these days thanks to my RA. I start a weekly layout about 3 days before the week starts. The to do list is kind of a running list of things I need to do/places I need to be and then I transfer those to dos to specific days when I start my daily layouts.

 Daily To-Dos

Last, but not least, is my daily to dos. Sometimes I don't write out the week all at once so I have room for growing to do lists. I transfer to dos from the weekly layout to the appropriate day and then add other to dos that come up during the week. I check this every day so that I don't forget any to dos. Sometimes I will shift a to do to another day and will use an arrow to indicate that it got moved. I can be forgetful so it's so helpful to have one place to check to make sure I'm not missing anything that I should be doing.

Miscellaneous Pages

The pages above are the ones that recur every month or week. But I use my bullet journal for other things like keeping notes from doctor's appointments. My bullet journal is small and fits in my purse so I always have it on me. It was really helpful to have one place to keep all of my notes related to changes I needed to make to my RA drug protocol once I became pregnant. Yes, the doctor put those notes online in MyChart or I could have called if I had questions but it was nice to be able to reference notes from my doctor's appointment. I also used my bullet journal to make notes on all of the daycares we toured. That way I didn't have to trust myself to remember all the details and didn't have to reference the materials the daycare centers handed out.

Recommendations

I've been really happy with my Leuchtturm1917 Journal and the Pilot Juice 0.5mm Gel Ink Ballpoint Pens. I think it works best to use a fine-pointed pen in a journal like mine as you kind of need to write fairly small so a fine-tipped pen makes it more legible.   

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So there you have it! That's probably more than you ever wanted to know about bullet journals! Let me know if you have any questions. Are you an analog or digital person when it comes to planning? Or do you not need any sort of planner (I can't wrap my mind around how that is possible, though!!) Have you tried or would you try bullet journaling?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Girls Gone Mild in St. Louis

Girls gone mild seems like the appropriate way to describe my weekend visit to see my friend Nora in St. Louis! Or really, that phrase has been fitting for me for a long time, even before pregnancy, as I'm all about low key celebrations. As I have mentioned before, I went to visit Nora to celebrate her being in remission and having her last chemo treatment behind her! Nora and her husband were excellent hosts. I had the best time and came back really refreshed. Here's how we filled the weekend.

I flew out on Friday afternoon and treated myself to a decaf latte at the airport.


When I got on/off the flight, I had to ask someone to get my bag in and out of the overhead bin as I had a flare in my shoulder so couldn't raise my right arm above my head. Pregnancy + RA is teaching me how to ask for help, which is not easy for an independent person like me.

Nora and her husband picked me up at the airport and took me back to their house so I could get settled into the guest room. After chatting for awhile, we headed out to dinner at a restaurant in their neighborhood which had a great gluten free menu! After dinner, we chatted for awhile and then I headed to bed early as I was pretty tired!

On Saturday morning, I slept in and then we lazed around the house that morning before heading to our first stop of the day:  The Novel Neighbor. This is a book store that has been mentioned several times on my favorite bookish podcast, What Should I Read Next hosted by Anne Bogel. In fact, earlier that week, Holland, the owner of The Novel Neighbor, was a guest on the podcast (episode 107). She talked about bookish gifts for the holidays which made me especially excited to see her store in person!

Nora and I in front of the store
The book store was even more adorable that I had imagined and I was able to meet the owner. They have a special "Modern Mrs. Darcy/What Should I Read Next" area with books/items that Anne Bogel recommends.


I also could not resist buying this onesie for Baby S. This is the first outfit I've bought for the baby and it seems fitting that it's book-related.


I also picked up some book darts, a book for the baby (I'm trying to build of a collection of "Good night" books), a book for myself (I couldn't resist a Christmas book set in Paris!) and a St. Louis tree ornament (not pictured).


After that, we headed back to Nora's. She warmed up some white chicken chili for lunch and I ate about a half a bag of tortilla chips. Whoops. Then she turned on the live action version of Beauty and the Beast. It was really good but between pregnancy exhaustion and a full belly, I fell asleep during it.  Whoops. While I was watching the movie napping, Nora whipped up some gooey butter cookies, which is a treat that St. Louis is known for. I enjoyed a couple of cookies, which were delicious!


That evening, Nora's dad picked us up and we headed out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant which was so good! After dinner, we stopped at Ted Drewes for some custard. Ted Drewes is a famous custard place in St. Louis. I've been wanting to go for so long but on my other trips we either didn't have time or it was closed! I'm glad that I finally got to try it. I was also surprised how cheap it was! We got 3 sundaes and the total bill was around $10!

After that, we checked out some Christmas lights. This area of St. Louis is known for their Christmas lights. I've never seen anything like it! We looked at lights along 3 different streets and I was blown away.


Things kind of took a turn for the worse on our way home, though. I started to feel nauseated but *thought* I could make it home before getting sick. I was wrong. :( Nora and her dad were incredibly sweet but I was absolutely mortified - and disgusted with myself. I'm not sure what caused me to get sick - maybe too much food? Since then sweets have not appealed to me so maybe that is a new aversion that I'm developing. I'm just glad it wasn't the stomach flu as Nora's immune system was so compromised since she had chemo the week of my visit. I would have felt extra horrible if I had gotten her sick!

Luckily I was feeling better on Sunday morning so we caught a 10:30 showing of Wonder before heading to the airport. I read Wonder last year and it was one of my favorite books. The movie adaptation was excellent. As far as I can remember, it stayed very true to the book and the acting was wonderful. Even though this is a middle-grade novel, I think it's something everyone should read!

After that we headed to the airport. It was a wonderful trip and I am glad I got a chance to have lots of girl time with Nora before Baby S. arrives.

Phil picked me up at the airport and I was back home by 5:30. Oscar seemed happy to have me home - probably because that means the heating blanket was back out in use!


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Podcasts and Books of November

Happy December, everyone! I'm struggling to believe that it's the final month of the year! I know that is such a cliche statement to make, but I'm just stunned by how fast each successive year goes!

I've decided to skinny up these monthly recaps even further and am leaving out the 'looks' portion of the recap because, to be honest, I'm not too excited about how I look these days and I tend to wear the same things over and over and over again, so there aren't a lot of 'new' looks to share. ;) Someday I'll be back to sharing workouts and looks as part of my monthly recap, though!

Podcasts:

Chatty Sisters Podcast - This is one of those podcasts where I will stop in the middle of a podcast and click over to this when a new episode drops! I know Kelly and Caroline, but even if you don't know them, you will enjoy this show. It's 2 sisters talking about a wide variety of topics from family traditions to goals to Myers-Briggs personality types.

From the Front Porch - This is a podcast hosted by the owner of a bookstore in Thomasville, GA and one of her employees. I started listening to this podcast when the owner was on What Should I Read Next, another 'must listen' bookish podcast. They talk about all things bookish. The most recent episode was about children's books, which is of particular interest to me now that I'm starting to build a library for Baby S.

Books:




November was a huge month of reading for me as I read 10 books! I had a lot of flares in November, which forced me to take it easy. And my favorite thing to do when I am taking it easy is read. My favorite book of the month was Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I can see why Amazon chose this as the best fiction book of 2017 as it was excellent! Ng's first book, "Everything I Never Told You" was also selected as the best fiction book by Amazon in the year it was published. So Ng is on quite a roll with her first 2 books!

Essentialism by Greg McKeown - 2 stars - This book, which is about simplifying your life, just didn't work for me.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng - 5 stars - This is excellent! Ng has this amazing ability to tell you what is going to happen at the end of the book on the very first page. The ending matters, but what's most interesting is what drives her characters to make the decisions they make.

The Course of Love by Alain de Botton - 3 stars - This is a thought provoking fiction read about the trials and tribulations marriage.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave - 2 stars - This is one of those books that I considered abandoning early on as I wasn't connecting with it, but it's gotten great reviews from others so I soldiered on. In hindsight, I should have abandoned it.

The Banks of Certain Rivers - 3 stars - This is an interesting book about a high school teacher that gets accused of physically assaulting a male student. The assault was captured on video but is the video showing what actually happened?

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin - 3 stars - I loved Zevin's last book, "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" so I was excited to check this book out. It was pretty good but didn't live up to my standards. It's about a young woman who has an affair with a U.S. Senator and then moves away to start over due to the scandal.

It's Okay to Laugh by Nora McInerny Purmort - 4 stars - This was a re-read for me and I think I enjoyed it even more the second time through because after listening to the author's podcast for the last year+, I could "hear" her voice. It's her memoir about dealing with the loss of her father and husband and a miscarriage, all in the span of about 6-8 weeks.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid - 2 stars - I really wanted to like this book as it's an immigrant story, which is a genre I tend to love. But the detached writing style of the book did not work for me. This has been critically acclaimed and has made several 'best of 2017' book lists, but it just didn't resonate with me.

Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker - 3 stars - This is a re-telling of Jane Eyre from Mr. Rochester's perspective. It was interesting to read an imagined back story on how he came to marry 'the woman upstairs'.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Pregnancy Update: 26 Weeks

Happy Friday! I'm back with another pregnancy update.

Baby size: the baby is a size of a scallion this week (lengthwise, obviously) or the size of an eggplant from a weight perspective. The baby is 14" long and weighs about 2 pounds. My bump has definitely grown over the last several weeks!

24 weeks

25 weeks
26 weeks - also my least flattering picture I've taken! :P 

Symptoms/RA management: Eh. My RA is still very active. I'm continuing to get about a flare a week. Some last longer than others. I am going to try acupuncture this month to see if it gives me any relief. I figure it can't hurt!

Other than my RA/feeling really tired, I started to have some rib pain last week which I attribute to everything shifting up as my uterus expands to accommodate our growing baby. It seems early to feel rib pain as my bump isn't that big but I guess everything is shifting up and putting pressure on my ribs.

The only other issue I'm having is that my complexion is AWFUL. I've always struggled with hormonal acne and it's just terrible right now with all the hormones pumping through my body. In the past, it has helped to remove dairy from my diet but I don't really want to do that as the baby needs calcium or it will leech it from my bones. I could take calcium supplements but I feel it's better to get my calcium naturally versus a supplement. So I guess I will just have to put up with bad skin. I am reminding myself that I notice it more than others. I switched to a new line of Arbonne products for acne-prone skins, so hopefully that will help!

Recent/upcoming appointments: I had a prenatal appointment yesterday with our OB. My appointment went well. The baby's heartbeat was strong at 158 bpm. My belly is measuring a week behind but the doctor wasn't concerned since it's such an approximation. My next appointment is the screening for gestational diabetes (GD) in mid-December. I'm kind of paranoid that I will fail the screen and find out I have GD because it seems like my mom probably had it with us since 3 of her 5 babies were over 9 pounds and they broke the collar bone of my little sister during her delivery (broad shoulders and heavy babies can be a sign that the mom had GD). Plus my older sister had GD with all 3 of her babies. We'll see what the test shows, though! If I have GD, it's not that big of a deal. It's just another thing to monitor.

Sleep: My sleep has been ok. Some nights are better than others. I have to switch from side to side during the night because if I lay on one side for too long, my hip and shoulder start to hurt. I'm still getting up 2-3 times a night to go to the bathroom, too. Naps on the weekend have been so helpful, though!

Cravings and favorite foods: I don't have any real cravings. I find that I am VERY thirsty for water sometimes. My favorite snack these days is dried mango. I can't get enough of it. Unfortunately it's not a cheap snack as the brand I prefer (peeled snacks) is almost $4 for a bag with 2 servings (which is sometimes just one serving for me - ha).

Recent baby prep/decisions/purchases: We purchased this combination dresser/changing table from Target on Cyber Monday when they had a 15% off deal.


Eventually we will purchase the matching crib. I think I've mentioned before that we are not going to order the crib until we find a house and move in. I'm really hoping we can move by early summer (I've lost all hope of finding a house before the baby is born). We are hoping to get by with a halo bassinet and pack-n-play until we move. We are just trying to avoid assembling a crib, taking it apart and then assembling it again when we move. This of course means that I won't get the experience of decorating/setting up a nursery before the baby is born but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter all that much to me. It would be such a waste of time and money to decorate a nursery when we know we won't be in the house much longer. We're just too practical for that!

Our next purchase will be the glider. I'm going to shop for one with my mother-in-law next Friday. We're also going to buy a less-expensive glider off of Amazon to have upstairs in the nursery/guest room so that we will have somewhere to rock the baby at night (our 1915 home has super steep steps so I won't want to walk down those with a baby at night!). The other glider will go in our living room where I imagine we'll spend most of the time with the baby (the only rooms upstairs are our bedrooms/full bath so we don't 'hang out' up there).

Mood: The pregnancy hormones have REALLY set in over the last couple of weeks and I've had some long crying spells over insignificant things. I'm usually not very emotional, so it's been an adjustment for Phil to see me having these crying spells. I told Phil that I wish there was a virtual reality game that would let men 'step in to the mind' of a pregnant woman and see how it feels to lose control of your body and your emotions! I know it comes with the territory but I don't enjoy being extra emotional.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Shouldless Days of '17: November

I made last Sunday a shouldless day. I wasn't sure if I was going to fit one into November as it's been a busy month, but I am glad I was able to sneak one in! Here is how I spent it!

As usual, I was up before Phil. I had oatmeal with raisin and bananas and pumpkin spice tea for breakfast.


It was laundry day so I went through the diapers I bought on sale during Thanksgiving week and figured out which ones I needed to prep. Some cloth diapers require that you wash them 6-8 times so I figured out which ones I needed to add to our laundry. We aren't going to use cloth diapers until the baby fits into one size diapers (around 10 pounds) but I wanted to get the prep work done well ahead of when the baby arrives.


We had plans to decorate our tree that day so I made a special brunch, as is our tradition. I made this easy egg bake with pork sausage from our meat share. While it baked, I read and kitty kept my lap warm.


Then it was time to eat! I forgot to take a picture before we dug in (we were both really hungry and ended up eating 5 pieces between the 2 of us!!).


We lounged around after brunch and got a kick out watching our little sun-seeker catch some rays.


Then it was time to decorate the tree! We decorated a fake, pre-lit tree. We pretty much always had fake trees when we were growing up so it's what I am used to.


It didn't take long for Oscar to start poking around. She did pretty well with the tree last year so hopefully she does well this year, too. We just keep the ornaments off the lower branches.


After that, Phil headed to the gym and I laid down to read and nap. I'm still feeling really exhausted and need naps on the weekends. Oscar warmed my feet and kept me company and we both eventually fell asleep.


Phil likes to keep our house pretty cool (63 degrees!) so I pretty much always have a heated blanket on my lap. Oscar is a big fan, too.


She continued to poke around the tree but so far she hasn't broken any ornaments. She just can't resist something shiny that she can bat around with her paws.


For dinner, we enjoyed Thanksgiving weekend leftovers while watching 60 minutes.

It was quite the lazy day but it was just what I needed after several busy days. It was nice to have Phil around for a shouldless day as he's usually at his mom's on my shouldless days! And Oscar really seemed to love having us around all day, too.

I am going to enjoy these shouldless days while I can as I know they won't be possible once baby Segner arrives!

Have you had any relaxing days recently?