Monday, August 31, 2015

From the weekend

This weekend was an emotional one for no other reason than hormones.  As my due date nears, I'm finishing up budgeting for and making a list of the last few things we need to buy, we're rearranging Ella's room, and planning out a play area for her, and organizing our lives as much as possible so everyone can be content come late November.  But when pregnant, simple tasks, for some reason can't just be simple tasks.  You're emotional and achy, so somewhere along the way tears start flowing.  And that's what happened this weekend.  One minute I was looking at the best glider I could get for the least amount of money and the next I was weeping over the possibility of having another 23 hours of back labor.  One minute I was reading Ella a story and the next I was weeping over the idea of saying goodbye to her and our family of three when we go to the hospital.  The good thing though about those prego hormones is they are at most times fleeting, so I was able to enjoy and soak up the weekend with my family.

Tim was in Seattle all day Saturday to meet up with some guys who were in town from work, so that left Ella and me at home for a ladies day.  She ended up taking a record long nap and going to bed early, so I did some serious relaxing and movie watching.

Sunday was all about hanging with my man and little girl.  We started off the day at our favorite coffee shop where Ella met some little friends.  This coffee shop has a kiddie area that happened to be full of kiddos Sunday morning.  Ella inched her way over, and they started sharing the toys and playing with Ella.  It was the sweetest.

The weather was stormy nearly all weekend, and it was beautiful.  Won't be long 'til I break out those Fall candles!


Beautiful stormy weather!
The baby bump is getting bigger!  

Gorgeous shot my hubby took going into Seattle.
Infamous gum wall.
Honey vanilla almond milk latte.  My love.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday, Friday

Sometimes writing a Friday post is a fun and easy recap 'cause I can say things like, "we went to the beach!", and "we went to Portland!", and "I made the best doughnuts of my life!"  And at the end of other weeks, I can only say things like, "I took a two hour long glucose test which resulted in a headache that would not leave me", and "I bought a Belly Bandit Thighs Disguise."  Though I'm pretty excited over the fact that I don't have gestational diabetes, and I finally found some good maternity shape wear, I know these minor, everyday details of life are so not interesting.  So I'll leave you with a few things I came across online this week that, in my opinion, were interesting.

Enjoy!

TSwift has a Smelly Cat moment.

Schooner Kids: A new children's lifestyle site launched this week.  Can't wait to read a couple of the must-read suggestions for moms!  (P.S. Bringing Up Bebe is excellent.)

The best kind of blast from the past.  An old Oprah interview with the cast of Friends. Need I say more?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A life I never knew I wanted

Let's throw it back to the year 2005.  When my blonde hair was a product of a bad dye job and an on-sale box of Clairol Brilliant Blonde from Rite Aid.  When I sported graphic tees of bands from places like Incognito and Hot Topic - it wasn't a coincidence that those bands were the favorites of guys I was interested in.  I went to school because I had to, attempted to skip detention, and my only true interest was that of Steve Madden clogs.  I said things like "I'm never going to have kids".  And I didn't believe in God.

I guess I was in some ways the textbook version of a rebel - someone who fought often with her parents, said things like "shit" and thought I was cool, and cheated on tests.

But, shockingly, I still had a plan, as much of a plan as a 15-year-old who didn't really have it together could have.  I was going to go to college, major in Journalism, and become a reporter as the greats Walters, Jennings and Brokaw inspired me to do.  I was going to travel - get away from the Godforsaken bubble that was my little hometown - and get married in my 30s, you know after I had lived a little.

I turned 16, then 17.  I went through my Frankie-Says-Relax-tee-shirt-wearing phase (though I had no idea what it meant), got mixed up with guys I shouldn't have, and learned all I needed to know from Friends and Seventeen Magazine.

Somewhere along the way, I grew up a little.  Maybe it's because I ran into some people who became mentors and helped me to see what true fulfillment and responsibility really was.  Maybe it's because I just grew up a little faster than expected for a teen through a combination of good life experience and lack there of.  I picked a state to move to, a college to attend, and packed up, bidding farewell to whatever had been.  My ultimate dream of becoming a journalist remained, my level of determination increased, my work ethic improved, but the angst-y, lost, bad-mouthed teen did not (thank God).

And while going down my own little path, I met a guy.  A guy who was unlike most I had met or dated.  He was driven, he had passion, he knew what he wanted and was willing to work hard.  He was funny, in sometimes an inappropriate way, which my inner rebellious teen appreciated.  He taught me a little something about forming my own path, going against the grain, and challenging myself.  And soon my once steadfast stance on the strict no-kids policy started to fade.  My reasons for once not wanting a family no longer mattered.  

And now here I sit, living out my ultimate anti-dream with all my previous plans having faded into nothing. And I couldn't be more thankful.  My opinion of people getting married and having kids before the age of 30 now seems both hypocritical and ludicrous.  The God I once didn't believe in had other plans in mind, bigger and better plans as the cliché goes.  I got a taste of a newsroom and ultimately decided that life wasn't for me.  My love for Steve Madden clogs has stayed with me over the years. My hair is once again blonde, though never again out of a box.

Making PB&Js is a part of my daily routine and words like "nesting" are in my vocabulary.   I know what it's like to have birthed a child and have experienced the pure joy that comes with your baby's first laugh.  Sometimes date nights with my husband aren't as fancy as others, and I step on one too many legos throughout the week.  My love for writing has only increased and Faith is something I no longer shrug off but cling to.

10 years later, I can't help but be most thankful for detours, speed bumps, and traffic jams.  They're what led me to discovering and uncovering the path to my truest and most fulfilling dream.



Monday, August 24, 2015

From the weekend


I have nothing to say about this weekend except due to the unhealthy air quality and overall lack of energy, we barely exited our front door.  My mind is an anxious one today, so I'm having a hard time conjuring up a fluid post that makes sense and has all its commas in their perfect place.  So I'll leave you with this picture of a hazy Sunday sunset.

Here's to going into the rest of this week a little more clear-eyed.

Friday, August 21, 2015

27 week update


Is it time for some real talk?  When you're nearing the third trimester, I feel like that's all you can really do.  I'm at the point where I'm trying to be extra grateful for the feeling-good days and trying to find the bright side of the not-so-good days.  My hips hurt, my legs hurt, my feet hurt.  My stomach is going through another intense stretching phase as the baby gets bigger.  Getting dressed hurts.  I haven't been too emotional so far during this pregnancy, but lately I'm short-tempered and kind of just want to sit down and cry over nothing.  The other day, I had a very real moment of telling Tim I'm not sure how I'm going to last three more months.  These last few weeks have probably been the hardest of the entire pregnancy, but thankfully everything is normal.  All these uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms are to be expected as the third trimester begins.

What am I most nervous for?  As I enter the final stretch, a couple things have popped up on my radar.  One being breastfeeding.  I had such a hard time with Ella.  And the fact that those challenges significantly contributed to my postpartum depression and anxiety makes me even scared to tread in those waters again. I've thought a lot about it and talked with Tim about it, and I'm still unsure.  One thing is for sure, this time around I'll be confident in whatever decision we make, and I won't let others' opinions negatively affect how I feel about whatever decision we come to.

Something else I've been thinking about a lot lately is splitting my attention between the new little guy and Ella.  This has come up on my radar because lately I haven't been able to be as active and playful with Ella as I'd like to be.  And it breaks my heart.  It's made me nervous about having another little one around.

What am I most excited for?  Our ultrasound on Monday.  It's an appointment to make sure some things are moving along as they should be, so that part is a little nerve wracking, but I'm excited to see our little guy on the big screen!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A day in Seaside

Earlier this week, we packed up and headed to Seaside, Oregon with my many in-laws that are in town.  I had been counting down the days until I could have a new (meaning outside of SoCal) beach experience.  It was hot, it was busy, but it was beautiful.  Ella completely fell in love with the sand and water, and couldn't get enough playtime with her cousins.

I realized I love the beach but not when 6 months pregnant.  Figuring out how to comfortably sit on a blanket, stay hydrated for two, and scoping out the nearest bathroom wasn't my ultimate definition of a good time, so I didn't last long before I recommended we find the nearest and and best ice cream joint.  And out we ventured.  It was at Zinger's Homemade Ice Cream that we cooled off and had some of the best ice cream we've tasted.  The Black Cherry was to-die!  (And that's coming from a Michigander.)  

We walked around the city, met up with our family, went to a salt water taffy shop that had over 170 flavors, and closed out the day with a trip on the carousal for the kiddos.

Oregon and Washington have so much to offer, I'm grateful and happy we've been getting out and making the most out of our new home.
































Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I feel my best when

I've previously talked about depression during pregnancy here on the blog.  Since I hit a low during my pregnant and postpartum phases with my first, I had to take measures to ensure I had it under control during this pregnancy.  Originally, this meant therapy and prescriptions, but I'm happy and relieved to say that with work on my part, I haven't needed to resort to either of those options during this pregnancy.  (I'd like to note, I've made use of both options in the past, and they helped tremendously when I needed them.)

To be perfectly honest, I think our move is in large part to thank for my dwindling depression (and anxiety).  Tim's work hours aren't nearly as insane which has taken pressure off me.  The city isn't nearly as chaotic, family is close by, and we're able to spend more time as a family even if that means a simple outing to the park.  Since having Ella, these are the things I've learned I need to raise a family as happily as I can.

That being said, I still have bad days.  I've noticed and incorporated things into my day to ensure I feel the best I can.  If I'm feeling off, or down, or I'm in a couple-day-funk, I ask myself if I've been slacking in any of these areas.


Walking.  Portland has been crazy hot this Summer.  Seriously.  Heat advisories comin' out the wazoo. So it's been a bit of a challenge to get out every day for a walk.  But lately I've made a point to get up early and take Ella out for a 30 minute stroll.  If I fail to rise and shine with the sun, we make a point to go out after dinner for a family walk.  Even it's around the block to the mailbox, getting outside and getting my body moving is key in lifting my mood.

Cleaning.  With Tim working from home and making most meals from scratch, the sink loads up fast, and it's easy (at least for me) to let it go throughout the day.  I feel my best when the dishes are done, the counters are wiped, and the floor is swept.  So if I'm feeling particularly down, I'll make a point to clean the kitchen.

Reading.  Something I've really cherished since I made the switch to at-home mom life is my reading time.  When I had a strict 9-5 working schedule, I found myself wanting to do nothing except lounge over some Netflix at the end of the day.  Since my schedule is now entirely different, I can put Ella down for a nap and pick up a book for a half hour.  It's a calming and rejuvenating part of the day, especially if my mood is suffering.

Writing.  Blogging has been a part of my daily routine for over a year now, so when I don't take some time out of the day to tend to that part of me, I feel off.  Sitting down to write is what refreshes and drives me, so making sure I get some writing time in is key to keep my mood uplifted.

Staying connected.  Tim working from home is a huge blessing, but one that needs to be kept in check.  When working from home it's easy to have work and home lives overlap.  On those off days, I reflect on what the day and week has been like.  If it's been particularly chaotic, I make sure to suggest we go out for an afternoon pick-me-up and take some time to reset.  This always lifts my mood.

Having a plan.  Sometimes external things are to blame for depression and anxiety - finances, relationships, family difficulties, etc.  For me, finances can be a real trigger.  (With both anxiety and depression it's important to recognize your triggers.)  Recently, Tim and I sat down and talked about what our life will look like in five years if we keep up our current budgeting habits and lifestyle.  It put our lives into perspective, made the hard work seem more than worth it, and gave me focus and huge relief.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bakin' with baby


I want to raise my kids with an appreciation for food - good food, fresh food, food prepared from scratch.  I know, especially during the age of convenience, that this will take a lot of time, patience, and effort.  But making the investment is important to me, and early at that.

So earlier this week, I took to the kitchen with little Ella and attempted to make two dozen chocolate chip cookies.  Needless to say it was a mess.  By the time we were done, there was sugar everywhere, she was in nothing but a diaper, and my top half was covered in the brown sugar, egg mixture.  But all of that didn't matter, because she loved it.  She's a little young to really be of assistance or to understand what exactly is going on, but the beauty in that was she didn't need to be of great assistance, and she understood just enough to have fun and learn a little.  She loved stirring the various mixtures, and feeling all kinds of different textures.

By the time we were ready to put them in the oven, I questioned whether or not they would turn out due to the grand amounts of flour and sugar that, with Ella's help, escaped the bowl.  But all turned out well.  She loved watching the cookies bake in the oven and getting to taste the fruits of our labor.

I had zero expectations when I whipped out the recipe.  I was ready for her to maybe lose interest or for the bowl of batter to fall to the floor, but our baking venture turned into 24 delicious warm chocolate chip cookies, huge smiles, and dessert for days -- a win all around.

I'm sure life will get busier, especially when our little guy arrives, and I'm sure we'll resort to frozen chicken nuggets on more occasions than we'll like to admit.  But it's these moments that I'll always try incorporate into my kids' lives.

Because let's be honest, it's really warm chocolate chip cookies and these memories that make a house a home.




Monday, August 17, 2015

From the weekend

I have three pictures from this weekend.  That's because the past few days have been part whirlwind, part blur.  (Good blurs and whirlwinds, though.)

On Saturday, Tim's parents and grandparents arrived from out of town for a big family dinner.  We had a house full of people, massive amounts of spaghetti and garlic bread, and we chatted and caught up.  I hadn't seen Tim's grandparents (and some of his siblings that are in town) since our wedding.
And it's been over a year since I've seen my in-laws.  It has been greatly refreshing to be around loved ones.

The day was made all the sweeter by having a conversation with Tim's Grandpa about the Upper Peninsula of MI and the "yooper" crowd.  Tim's grandparents headed back north and his parents stayed to visit with everyone for a few days.

On Sunday, we kept it chill.  Morning Mass, a long nap, and a family pizza dinner.

As for the rest of the week?  Some family is going tomorrow and some is staying.  We're enjoying everyone's company while they are here.  Currently on my mind?  The beach trip planned for tomorrow.  I'm freaking stoked.


The centerpiece for our dinner on Saturday.


Bonding time with Grandma and Grandpa!



Friday, August 14, 2015

Donut town


One of the things I've missed most ever since I had to go gluten-free is doughnuts.  They're one of my favorite breakfast treats and hold so much nostalgia as I used to go out with my Grandpa and pick up a dozen on the weekends.

There isn't much to offer in the gluten-free doughnut market.  They're either overpriced, sub par, or both often leaving me questioning where have all the good gluten-free pasties gone?

I'm always looking to improve my gluten-free baking game, so I took to my kitchen in efforts to make some good, these-taste-like-they-have-gluten-in-them doughnuts.  I was originally inspired by the gigantic container of rainbow sprinkles I had just bought, and I got to it.

What you'll need: 

Makes 6 doughnuts

1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
6 tablespoons coconut milk
Gallon size Ziploc bag
Scissors

Chocolate glaze: 

4 ounces chocolate chips (vegan if you want to keep the recipe vegan)
1/4 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup confectioners sugar

Topping: 

Bowl of sprinkles!

To do: 

Lightly grease your doughnut pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients, then combine with dry ingredients.

Add batter into gallon size Ziploc bag, and cut off a small piece of the corner.  Add batter to doughnut pan, and bake for 13-15 minutes.

For the glaze:

In a small saucepan heat coconut milk until it simmers.  Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until completely smooth.  Whisk in confectioner's sugar.  Dip each cooled doughnut into the warm chocolate topping, then into the bowl of sprinkles.

Let cool and enjoy! 

Notes:

  • The original recipe can be found here.  I use this recipe as a base for a chocolate doughnut.
  • The original recipe calls for xanthan gum, but I wanted to test if I could get away without it. Xanthan gum tends to be expensive and I can't go through a whole bag before it goes bad.  The doughnuts turned out great without it!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Preggie

I've talked a lot about my pregnancy and postpartum experience with my first pregnancy.  It wasn't the easiest pregnancy.  Being away from family or anyone who could relate resulted in feelings of isolation.  When I had my daughter, all of what I had dealt with over the past 9 months combined with changing hormones put me in a battle with postpartum depression and anxiety.

I can't really tell you what that whole experience was like.  I was so excited to have my girl, but so wanted to be around my closest loved ones to share the experience and hated that I couldn't make that happen.  I began to resent our current living situation and found myself longing for "home" in a way I hadn't since my freshmen year of college.  All that guilt and joy and happiness and sadness made that year one of the biggest and hardest emotional roller coasters of my life.

So why am I talking about all this?  Because when I was going through all that, I didn't know where to look or who to confide in.  I felt like those who hadn't gone through a similar experience wouldn't understand, because I was pregnant and I "should be happy", right?  I'd occasionally Google in hopes of finding support or encouragement, but I was consistently surprised by the "you're pregnant, so be happy" attitude.

All this to say, having a supportive and encouraging community during your pregnant and postpartum months is a huge deal, I'd say even vital.  (It takes a village, right?)  So when I found out about this new pregnancy app that puts such a focus on strong community for expecting moms, I thought of it as a game changer.


It's called Preggie and it's a space where moms, future moms, and women trying to conceive can chat, exchange advice, stories, and recipes, and encourage one another.

When I first took a look around the app, I saw posts from women ranging from "hey there's an extra 20% off baby clearance at Target 'til this Sunday!" (score) to "how long should I breastfeed?" to one from a moderator informing the community that a Preggie mom lost her baby hours after he was born and to please send support and love.  People offered thanks, support, encouragement, and condolences.  The community is a tight-knit sort of community.


With an open community comes conflict every now and then.  When dealing with social media and varying opinions, negativity is inevitable.  One of the strongest aspects of the app is their moderation. There is live moderation to ensure the community stays respectful and to tend to any problems that do arise.

You're able to find other moms in your area which presents the opportunity for meet-ups and play dates and building friendships.  You're able to share toddler-friendly recipes or cravings for that matter.  But most importantly, you're able to login knowing you're not alone in the wonderfully challenging life of motherhood.

Even though this pregnancy is different than my last, I'm sure happy to have a place where I can go to talk with other moms.

You're able to download the app here: http://go.onelink.me/2923115958?pid=katelochner

This post was sponsored by Preggie.