Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Christmas / New Year Card 2012

Note to Self

Next year, everyone is getting gift cards.  I can't deal with the stress of getting gifts wrong anymore.  Especially when we spent so much on people and we have no income now to pay for it.

That is all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas and Uncertain Times

It's Christmas evening...

Today was a wonderful day despite my pain and the insanely cold weather :-)

Dec 13th (yes, the day after 12/12/12)  Gage lost his job.   I'm honestly not sure if they could have picked a worse time to lay him off.

Now we have all of the uncertainties going into the new year...

How are we going to make enough to pay for our new mortgage?

How on earth are we going to pay for insurance or pay for the birth of this baby in Feb (up to $15,000)?

Is Gage going to find a job that suits him or just another job to pay the bills that may or may not work out (like 2 out of the last 3 jobs)?

On the other hand... it has been a blessing having him home every day.

I'm no longer able to walk like a normal person... sometimes I can't walk at all.  Just getting to the bathroom (every 5 minutes) is a challenge.  Therefore I can't do laundry, dishes, or just about anything that involves any walking.  Gage has been able to take over a lot of the normal household chores and keeping Zoe entertained while I am stuck on the couch.

Now on top of the pain from walking/sitting/standing... I now am dealing with all the normal things that come with the 3rd trimester, including incredibly sore ribs and an aching back.   I'm constantly wondering if I'm having contractions or just painful braxton hicks contractions, or just really bad round ligament pain that comes and goes for an hour or two at a time.  Stomach aches, feeling faint just about every morning until around noonish, and incredible fatigue are a few other trials I'm trying to deal with.

I'm 31 weeks today.  Just 9 more super incredibly long weeks to go until I reach my due date! ;-)

We're hoping and praying that Gage can find a job before then.   Until then... we just have to wait and see how it all works out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Top 12 Moments of 2012 (On 12/12/12!)

Shaina's Top 12 of 2012

1. By far the most memorable moment of this year for me was seeing the positive pregnancy test on June 29, 2012.  I actually put off taking the test 9 days... I was in tears while taking the test because I "knew" that it would be another negative.  After 3 years of hoping for another baby and 2 years of trying... I had pretty much given up on having anymore children.  I saw the positive and I just about fainted.  Happiness doesn't even begin to describe what I felt!! I truly believe it is because Zoe started praying for a little sibling that same month.

2. Buying our first home!  I never in my life thought I'd own a house before 30.  In CA most people just don't buy homes until they are in their 40's...  That has been one of the biggest blessings that has come out of moving to South Dakota :)  Affordable housing!  We have a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom  house with a potential 4th bedroom and another room that could be an office, a good sized laundry room, and a very nice finished basement!

3. Amanda and Charles' Wedding on October 6, 2012!  Amanda and I have been friends since 1991 (21 years!).  I met Charles in college and introduced the two of them in 2005 (Oct 12th of that year to be exact haha).  Their wedding in Escondido, CA was absolutely beautiful.  I was a brides-matron, Gage was a groomsman, and Zoe was the flower girl!

4.  Showing Gage and Zoe where I used to live in Danville, KY almost 7 years to the day after my Mom passed away.  The trip itself was tough for me because I was in my first trimester and feeling VERY sick the whole time but it was still amazing to get the chance to drive by my old house, show them my old high school, go to visit some old friends, and show them the nursing home where my Mom passed away.  They were also able to meet a few of my family members that they hadn't met before - my Mom's Aunt Jane (my Grandma's brother Stanley's wife) and her Aunt Nancy (my Grandma's sister).   During that trip we also were able to visit with our friends Ryan and Kacey in St. Louis, MO!  We love St. Louis... we even talked about moving there.  Maybe someday we will :)

5. Buying our Camry!  We had a small 2 door car for the first 5 years of our marriage. We finally bought a 4 door last year but then found out in the summertime that it had no air conditioner.  It wasn't broken, it just didn't have one! I didn't even know they made cars without them anymore.   We couldn't have survived our trip to St. Louis in a car with no air conditioner so... we traded that Chevy Aveo for a 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid!  We made it from St. Louis, MO to Sioux City, IA on ONE TANK OF GAS!  It's awesome.  Unfortunately thanks to that trip we took right after we got the car I now can't STAND the smell of it (one of the many joys of pregnancy).  I hope that I can learn to tolerate it someday...  but for now whenever I get in the car I feel a little sick.

We put down about 1/3 of the cost with savings, paid $4,000 with the money we got for the Aveo, so we were left with about $7,000 left.   For the first time ever we now have a car payment, but it's actually not bad! Only $135/month.  Our plan is to sell our 2005 Hyundai Accent to get more money to put towards paying off the Camry.  Hopefully that'll be paid off by the end of next year!

6. My Two Ultrasounds - I LOVE ultrasounds :) Even if they are uncomfortable.  I was able to get an earlier ultrasound this time around so that was amazing getting a chance to see the baby at around 12 weeks. Then at 21 weeks I had the ultrasound where we found out the gender - a GIRL :)  That was such an amazing moment!  We've decided on the name Avery Rose (and we do have a backup boy name just in case the Ultrasound techs were wrong..haha) I'm hoping she's born 4 days early on the 22nd of Feb - that would have been my Great Grandma Rose's 100th Birthday!  Wouldn't that be awesome?  :) haha.

7. Spending time at the beach :)  I've really missed the beach since I've lived here in SD... we were able to go out to CA twice this year so it was nice to be able to spend time relaxing at the beach.  Going to Konos and Pacific Bean at Pacific Beach and going to Oceanside Harbor and to the Pier a couple times was so nice!  Going to the Oceanside beach is always a major highlight of my year.

8.  Watching my beautiful daughter Zoe be a 4 year old.  4 is a very fun year and a very challenging year as well! She definitely has a mind of her own now.  She's had so much fun as a 4 year old though and it's been so fun to watch her learn and experience so much this year.  She got to spend a total of 4 weeks in California visiting friends, family, and the beach! She enjoyed the Missouri/Kentucky trip. She had a lot of firsts this year, including her first time bowling (just a few days ago).  I tried to make it as fun and eventful as possible... considering that she'll be starting Kindergarten next year and this was her last school-free year for a while ;)

9. The Hunger Games!  I read all three books in about 3-4 days and from then on I counted down the days for the movie to be released! I even followed all the fan sites...haha. I LOVED these books and can't wait for next Thanksgiving when Catching Fire will be in theaters!

10. Furthering my photography business - I finally have a website, a brand look, the right software, a nice pro lens... now I just need the pro camera and a couple more lenses before I can start working on my in-home studio! I don't know if the studio will happen until 2014, but in 2013 I'll at least get the camera and get a little more equipment.  It's a long process getting this business going on your own (without taking out a loan first) but I know it will pay off in the end!

11.  Gage playing drums at the Orpheum Theater here in Sioux Falls with Rachelle Hope! That was his last show with the band and it was probably their best show up until that point.  His work schedule got to be pretty crazy for a little while back in Sept so he wasn't able to really keep up with practices so he's no longer playing with them.  It was a good 2 years though and playing the show at the Orpheum was definitely a highlight and a good ending to a fun little chapter in his life :-)

12. Reading Harry Potter Series!  I finally read them!! This is a little strange for this type of list but I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of these books and I had wanted to read them for years. It took me about a week and a half to get through all 7 books. I then went online and purchased the 8 Film Collection and watched all of those!  I'm so glad I was able to finally get back into reading fictional stories again this year. For the last several years I've been focusing solely on non-fiction books.  I'm so glad to be *excited* about reading fiction again!

Ok watching the Olympics this year was fun too...but that would make this a Top 13 list and that just won't do! ;)


Friday, December 7, 2012

Third Trimester {28 Weeks, 5 Days}

  • Right now baby girl is now about 2.5 lbs and about 15 inches in length.  About the size of a butternut squash (says one of the apps on my phone).   I'm currently at 28 weeks and 5 days (the photo above was from 21 weeks and 1 day).  
  • Baby kicks a LOT now but both Zoe and Gage have yet to really see her move much.  She seems to be awake most of the time between 11pm and 2am.   
  • We DO have a name picked out but I'm waiting until she's born to really announce the name.  I've told several people and even posted it online in a few places (Pinterest...Facebook...) but no big announcements just in case "she" turns out to be a "he".   That happened to a friend of mine recently! They were expecting a girl and they had a boy instead.  I will say though, that the name begins with an A. 
  • Since this pregnancy has caused quite a bit of pelvic pain, most of my days recently have been spent sitting on my brand new couches with my laptop.  Thankfully I have my website Shaina's Deals that I can work on to keep myself busy.  Most of our unpacking in the new house will have to wait until baby is here.
  • One of my goals over the next several weeks is to get the girls room done.  Zoe and baby girl A will be sharing a room in our new house :)  We still need to get the crib up and get the baby's clothes washed and put away, get a diaper changing area ready, wash the bouncy seat and the baby swing, and get the bassinet all ready for when baby arrives!

My Doctor Doesn't Know Who I Am

Beware.... this post is a rant.  ;)

A lot has happened in the last couple months.   We went to CA for my best friends' wedding, we bought and moved into our first home, and in the meantime my pain from this pregnancy increased more and more to the point where I had to basically put myself on "bed rest".

My doctor doesn't even know my name.   I have gone to her for 5 years and she still has no clue who I am every time I am in there.  I tell her about my pain (and also about my near-fainting spells!) every time I'm in there and she hands me the same pamphlet on *back pain* (which is so NOT the problem) every time. I didn't think I would care so much with my second pregnancy but I should have switch Doctors in the beginning.  I was thinking that since this was my second pregnancy I wasn't going to have as many questions and I wasn't really going to need much advice from my Dr this time around so I didn't think it was all that important. Unfortunately I was wrong... there are different problems with this pregnancy than with my previous one (and I know, every pregnancy is different).  It is very frustrating to be in this much pain and not have a Doctor that cares or even shows any indication of knowing what is wrong.

Exercises don't help the pelvic pain (in fact several of them make it worse), I can only walk for about 20 minutes before the pain becomes too much to bare, and trying to do any sort of maneuvering to stand up from sitting or laying down is nearly impossible.  I can't lift my legs on my own so getting dressed is one of the worst parts of my day.   I know there is nothing the Dr can do other than send me to a physical therapist (which would be a waste of time and money) but I want a Dr that at least knows me and knows what is causing the problem.

I know what the problem is but it would be good to hear it from her to show me that she actually knows something.

I'll be switching to a midwife as soon as possible.  I really hope that things get better from here on out.

Until this baby is born I will be sitting on the couch every day.  In the mornings I can usually walk around for a little longer than 20 minutes so I try to get as much cleaning/housework done during that time as possible  Laundry is totally out though... that is all up to Gage now.   I can fold clothes.  That's about it.

Just three more months! It sounds like an eternity but I know that February will come... eventually.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A California Wedding :-)

On Sept 28th Gage, Zoe, and I flew out here to San Diego (really to Escondido), CA.   The first week was devoted to relaxing and preparing for my best friend's Wedding on the 6th!  Gage was a groomsmen, I was a bridesmatron,  and Zoe was the flower girl! Everything went as planned. It was a BEAUTIFUL wedding! Honestly it was one of the best Weddings I've been to.   These two waited 7 years for their first kiss.   And I thought one year was bad (me and Gage married one year after we met and shared our first kiss on our Wedding day as well). 

My best friend and her daughter!

A rare shot of me with my daughter! (And baby, hehe)

The gorgeous bride!

Best friends for 21 years so far!!

Bride and Groom!  I feel like a match maker this week... I introduced these two 7 years ago!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Finally feeling baby kicks!

Last night I was laying down on the couch and I felt (and Gage actually saw) the baby kick several times in a row.  There have been several times  over the past couple weeks where I thought I was feeling a random kick here or at least flutters but I wasn't 100% sure.  Last night was the first night I really felt the baby move and knew it was for sure the baby.


Just about 3 weeks until we find out the gender.  Can't wait!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Garage sale is over! Time to pack!

You won't believe how much of a relief it is to finally be done with this garage sale.  It was worth it... total we made about $100.   I purchased some items from my friends who were also selling things. It just so happens that I was planning on purchasing a baby swing and an electric breast pump  before the baby is born and between the two I expected it would cost me around $150-$200.   Thanks to a couple of my friends, the total for the swing and the breast pump was $30!  We also purchased a friend's Columbia jacket for Gage since he needed a new one - $15! Good deal :)  The rest of the money leftover will go to pay for food while we're in California.

We still have a lot of stuff that needs to be taken to good will.  I'm going to wait a few days to do that in case I find more things to donate.  I already found several things in Zoe's room tonight.   We are almost FINISHED with packing her room! It took about 2 hours and that was mainly because I was sorting clothes deciding which ones to keep, which ones fit her and we want to keep out, which ones fit and we want to pack, which ones to donate.   I think tomorrow's task will be our bedroom... that will be quite a bit more work.   The kitchen is mostly packed and both of the upstairs storage closets are empty.  We're making good progress.  Our California trip is quickly approaching so I'm trying to do as much packing as possible in the next few days.  I think I'll devote a few days this week to packing to move and then the last couple days to packing for our trip.

On a totally different note. I've had Taylor Swift's new song stuck in my head all week and today I was informed of this little gem!! hehe.


Love it!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I won't go crazy, I won't go crazy, I won't.... :)

Planning and actually having a yard/garage sale is a lot of work in itself no matter what else is going on in your life.  Turn that sale into a moving sale and it's even more work because there is even  more stuff you're selling.  Add to that all the work that goes into packing to MOVE at the same time AND planning for a long trip to California that includes a Wedding that the entire family is in....  all while 4 months pregnant?  Yeah, I'm quickly reaching my breaking point.

The worst part? I can't even ask for much help because most of it is stuff that I have to do pretty much on my own.  Thankfully I have people here helping me by lifting and moving boxes around since that is yet another thing I can't do right now.

I honestly don't know if I've ever had this much piled on my plate at once.   This is just nuts.

Of course, along with being pregnant comes increased forgetfulness. You can imagine how helpful that has been during this whole process.  I've also been very clumsy the last couple weeks.

I'm also finding that I am verrrrry easily offended while I'm pregnant.  I think it would really help if people could hold back their criticism of my life, my belongings, and my personality until at least AFTER the move, preferably a few months after the baby is born.   Or never? You know, whatever... ;)

And for the record, the reason there is so much to pack is not because I'm a hoarder.  I almost NEVER buy anything.  I buy clothes, groceries, and household items as we need them and that is all.  The reason I have so many things is because I inherited ALL of my Mom's belongings 7 years ago as well and nearly a quarter of my Great-Grandmother's belongings 2 years ago.  I'd say 90% of my belongings were either inherited or given to me.  I'm not about to start throwing away my mom's handmade crafts, her recipes, or Babicka's paintings and kitchen containers so until I go, the stuff stays with me.  That's just the way it is.  That is all I have left of the two most important women in my life. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

We got it!

We got our first house! I will post pictures and more details after the closing date  (Oct 12th).  Until then I have MUCH planning to do.

I'll be having a garage/moving sale on the 21st and 22nd.  Normally a garage sale would be too much work but we are going to be moving so we have a lot more than usual that we want to get rid of.   It's going to take some careful planning ahead of time to make sure it goes smoothly and hopefully everything gets sold!

I'm also preparing for our super long trip to California in two weeks.   Gage will be there for part of the time but Zoe and I will be there for a total of 19 days.  Thanks to my Master Packing Lists, I am pretty sure I know everything that I will pack and *how* we will pack them so thankfully that is all out of the way.  Now I just need to make plans for while we're out there... The first week is devoted mostly to Wedding related things, then I'll have 9 days to visit with friends and family!  It's a good thing because I don't know when I'll be able to get back out there.  I'm hoping it will be next summer when baby #2 is a few months old but we'll see.  Next Fall we plan to go to Disney World so it may be difficult to swing trips to both but that really depends on how many photo shoots I can do next year.

Speaking of baby #2, we have one month left until we find out the gender!  Seems like such a long time but I know with the trip coming up it'll go by pretty fast.  We have a girl name picked out but we're still sruggling with the boy name. I hope a name just sticks out to us soon! I'd love to know the name before we find out the gender. I'm at 16 weeks now! The baby is the size of an avocado (4.57 inches).

Zoe on the other hand is growing like a weed.  I'm not entirely sure how tall she is right now but she is beginning to be too tall for her 4T pants.  The 5T pants are way too big though so we'll just have to work with what we have.   She's growing up way too fast.  I can't believe she will be 5 in March.  FIVE years old!

Well now I'm of to make a list of everything to sell at the garage sale. Hoping I can get rid of a lot of stuff!!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

I *think* we found a house!

This week I spent several days looking online at hundreds of houses in Sioux Falls.  I finally narrowed it down to about 11 that we may be interested in.  My number one house on that list is the house we looked at today.

Oh. my. wow.

It is even better than I thought! Usually the pictures make a house look better than it actually looks but in this case it actually looked better than the pictures.

And it is near the middle of our price range which is perfect.

It has many of the things we were looking for in a home.  The ONLY downside is that it is on a street that is near an elementary school several blocks away, so in the mornings and afternoons there will be some traffic. That and the dishwasher is on the opposite side of the kitchen as the sink...haha!

We've never bought a home before so the whole process is new to us, but we are excited.  I really hope we are able to get this house.  Because of first time home buyers rules there are some things the house needs to "pass" and that is what makes me nervous.   There are a lot of benefits to being a first time home buyer in South Dakota, so we really can't afford to not use those benefits.

We'll see!


Friday, August 31, 2012

10 Uncommon Reasons to Buy Gift Cards

First off let me start by saying that if you are looking for a gift for a close family member or a close friend, gift cards are definitely not the way to go, unless you're throwing one in with your actual tangible gift ;-)  Your friends and family deserve personal gifts chosen specifically for them.  Gift cards are not always going to be your best option, but there are many ways in which buying a gift card can be an excellent idea! Here are 10 of my favorite reasons to buy gift cards.
  1. Discounts - Around the Holiday season many companies will offer discounts on gift certificates and gift cards.  If a company you shop at regularly is doing this, I recommend purchasing the gift cards for yourself (and/or your family).  Reason for this is because it is an easy way to get a discount on a place you know you are already going to be shopping at.  This only works well if it is a place you go very often! I don't recommend it for the place you shop at 4-5 times a year.  In my case last year it was our favorite bagel shop, they offered 20% off their gift cards.  We go there 2 times per month, so we bought enough for the year and it ended up saving us about $30.  One time I got a free sub sandwich for buying a Subway gift card.  I knew I was going to eventually go to Subway again....multiple times over the next year, so essentially I just gave them $20 in advance and got a free sub!
  2. A Gift for Everyone - Gift cards make for excellent gifts for the person who wasn't expecting any gift at all. A friend that is going away to college soon could really use an Amazon gift card for books or dorm essentials.  A friend that has been sick for a while would be so excited to receive just a simple $5 Starbucks gift card in her Get Well card!  
  3. Reciprocating Gifts: Let's face it, gift cards are the best gift for the person you don't know very well.  Every once in a while you are surprised with a gift from a neighbor or acquaintance you don't know too well.  Then you're left feeling bummed because you don't have anything for them! Keeping gift cards on hand can be a very simple way to reciprocate that gift!
  4. Budgeting:  In a way this is similar to the envelope system. If you are someone who easily overspends at a certain store, buy a gift card with the amount you intend to spend.  It helps to leave your credit card at home too that way you can't spend over your set amount.
  5. Experiences:  Many families don't have the money to go to the movies often, go out to a fancy dinner, get professional portraits taken, or to go to even go to the local water park or the Zoo.  Buying gift cards / gift certificates that offer an experience can often times be more meaningful than even a tangible gift!
  6. For the Non-Shopper: They are a wonderful gift for the person who never shops for themselves.  I'm talking about the person who will wear the same pair of shoes for 5 years before buying another pair. Buy your friend a gift card and set up a shopping date to go with her to make sure she buys herself some new shoes! 
  7. Practical Gifts:  We often times associate gift cards with frivolous shopping, but you can buy practical gift cards for your friends as well. For the sister who just bought a house, a gift card to Lowes or Home Depot would be extremely useful!  Back when we were a one part-time income family I was SO thankful to receive gift cards for gas and groceries! 
  8. Client Gifts - If you're a business owner of any kind, gift cards can be an excellent gift to show your appreciation for your top clients! You could also purchase gift cards as incentives for special giveaways you're hosting.
  9. Help Local Businesses - It is always SO beneficial to your city to buy locally. If your favorite local stores offer gift cards or gift certificates, this is one way you can help spread the news about their store!   For a new Mom-to-be you could get a certificate to the local maternity store or a gift card to let your friend know about the new boutique you found downtown.
  10. Giving to Families in Need -  There are always ways to donate gift cards for groceries and household items to people in need, whether it be through your church, a local ministry, or a charity.  
Some of the best gift cards to have on hand that are the most versatile are for Target, Starbucks, Amazon, or popular restaurants.

House Hunting

What I'm Looking For in a House:
  • 3 bedrooms on the same floor.
  • 2 bathrooms (or at least 1 and a 1/2)
  • A fenced backyard, preferably a tall fence (since we have a little ninja dog that can jump over most fences).
  • An updated bright kitchen with a dishwasher or at least an area for me to add one... :-) 
  • Storage space / closet space - where we are right now has very little space for storage.
  • As much light as possible in the house.  Our current house is very dark...and I've never liked that.  I've noticed I really dislike houses with a lot of dark wood. 
  • A separate dining room area because the table I inherited from Babicka is super long and will not fit in most kitchens.
  • Area for me to potentially build a small portrait studio (preferably near a large window or a walkout sliding door for natural light). 

Bonus Things: (These are things I'd love to have but are not absolutely necessary)

  • Fireplace
  • Gas Stove
  • A pantry!
  • A walk out door from the basement.
  • Main floor laundry (rare, I know, but I would love that!)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pregnancy Update - 1st Belly Pic & Reaching the 2nd Trimester

It isn't the greatest photo of all time...but it's a belly pic.  I figured I had to do one now because last time I started doing photos at only 7 weeks.   When I took this pic I was at 13 weeks and 5 days!

If I compare this photo with ones from my last pregnancy.  I'd say I look to be about18 weeks along.  That is how different this is! I seriously thought I might be having twins before my ultrasound last week.   My low back/pelvic pain and the sharp shooting sciatica pains have already started, making it difficult to walk at times and nearly impossible to bend down to pick something up.

As for the hasn't gone away entirely.  It definitely is better than it was but I have many times throughout the day where I am gagging like crazy.  

I have to keep reminding myself that there IS a purpose for all of this though.  Pregnancy may be very challenging but it is all worth it in the end.  In February of next year I'll get to meet my new little boy or girl! I can't wait! :-)

Tuesday (the 28th) marked the first day of my 2nd trimester!  Today I am 14 weeks, 2 days.  I'm hoping that at least the nausea goes away soon.  I know there are many other challenges to come though.

Fall has Unofficially Arrived!

This year we decided to go to the Apple Orchard BEFORE all the apples were gone :-)  The apple orchard opened last week so we went on Sunday after church.  Usually this is a fall activity for us so I have decided that fall has arrived, even though we're still suffering from 100 degree days.  I seriously can not wait for Fall! It is my favorite season :-)  I've been drooling over all the wonderful fall crafts, foods, and decorations I keep seeing all over Pinterest.  It's such a beautiful season!

We've gone to the apple orchard I believe 4 out of the 6 years we've been here.  It's become a fun tradition for our family.  We pick apples and I always try and make sure I get some apple slices in caramel from the store.  Yum!

In addition to picking apples, Z enjoyed her first pony ride! She insists it was her second but no one has any memory of her being on a pony ever so... I say it's her first.

Now if only it would cool down... I never though I'd be hoping for cold weather here in South Dakota!  At least it isn't humid.

Now to figure out what to do with all of these apples!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Baby's #2's First Pictures!

Today I had a genetic screening that included an ultrasound! Not only was it my first time seeing the baby but my first time hearing the heartbeat! Gage was able to come with me to the screening part. It was so exciting to finally SEE and hear proof that I'm pregnant. Of course I knew I was pregnant from the at home tests and my 2 months of nausea and my growing belly but it makes it so much more *real* when you can actually see the baby or at least hear its heartbeat.

Everything appears to be normal and my due date is still Feb 26th!

Here is our precious new little one!

The genetic screening also included blood work... which I was able to combine with my regular appointment blood work which meant that they took 7 vials of blood.  I thought FOR SURE that I was going to at least feel faint.  I've never had an experience that involved giving blood that didn't result in me nearly falling over.  Nothing happened though! I felt totally fine.   Yay!!

We plan to find out the gender but that won't happen for two more months.  With Zoe I had my ultrasound at 18 weeks for some reason... and usually they wait until you're at 20 weeks.  I'm 2.5 weeks behind my last pregnancy schedule when I had Zoe and with her we had the ultrasound on Oct 19, 2007.  This time my ultrasound is scheduled for Oct 17, 2013.  Almost 5 years to the day!  Crazy!

October will be a fun month!  California for more than two weeks (including my best friend's Wedding and my sister's birthday), finding out the gender of the baby, and a possible trip to Tulsa, OK for Halloween / Jessie's 5th birthday party.  We'll see how I'm feeling then... if I'm still feeling sick then there is no way I can sit in a car for 10 hours (one way) and then 10 hours back...

I'm so glad that the first appointment is over with.  Altogether I spent 3 hours at the hospital today.  Future appointments will be much shorter.

Time to go fetch Zoe from our neighbor's house and go pick up Gage from work!


Speaking of free stuff....

I recently discovered that I had $90 in store credit for!  $90!! Apparently I had more than that at one point but they had been deducting credit with each month that passed by that I didn't shop on there (it had been probably 6-8 months).

I got all of this stuff and I still have $17 in credit left! Sweeeeet!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

On the Road and Pregnant

On that day that I found out I was expecting I took Zoe to the mall to find her a "sister" shirt.  While we were there she decided she wanted to get her ears pierced so she did.  :)  Unfortunately a week later one of them was accidentally ripped out so now she only has one earring.  I'm still trying to convince her to get the ear re-pierced but I think it may take a couple years.

We went on a long road trip the week I started to get sick from the pregnancy so of course now my mind associates the smell of the car with the nausea feeling.  The smell of the car actually makes me gag.  It is by far the worst aversion I have this time around!   I have to put up with it if I ever want to go anywhere though.  The great thing about this car is it is nearly twice the size of our old car and it gets way better gas mileage.  We drove from St. Louis, MO to Sioux City, IA on one tank of gas!

My house in KY

Our trip was to St. Joseph, MO on the night of July 3rd, then on the 4th we drove to St. Louis, MO.  We visited with Ryan and his wife Kacey for a while, we visited with our friends Brady and Jessi as well.  After a couple days there we drove to Kentucky.  We stayed with my Mom's Aunt Jane in Frankfort, KY.  We visited Danville, KY on the 7th.   It had been exactly 7 years since I was there.   I showed Gage and Zoe where I used to live with my Mom, where my Mom lived after I moved out,  where my Mom was when she passed away, where Gabby and I went to high school, etc.  We visited with some old friends in Danville, went out to eat at a new Pizza place downtown.

During this KY trip Gage and Zoe were also able to meet my Mom's Aunt Nancy.  Uncle Stanley and Uncle Tommy are both suffering from Alzheimers and are in separate nursing homes.  We weren't able to visit them... they wouldn't know who I am at this point anyway.  :(

Zoe looking at my Mom's last home. 

With friends at a new Pizza place in Danville

Overall it was a good trip but I felt so sick the whole time it was very hard for me to enjoy it.  I'm surprised my sickness started so early! I was only about 7 weeks at the time.  Now I'm at 12 weeks and still sick and SHOWING already! I should post a belly pic soon.  Hopefully the sickness ends in the next week or two.  I really hope that it does.  I would really like to ENJOY being pregnant even if it's only for a little while.

We just announced the pregnancy on Facebook on Aug 15th.  We did it by posting this photo done by my friend Ashley Kelly :-)

2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid = Our New Car!

We got a new car! We got a new car!  One with an air conditioner!  And power locks! And power windows! And it's automatic! And it has 4 doors! And no key!  Just a little sensor that needs to stay in our pocket or purse. We can't even accidentally lock our "key" in the car because a little alarm goes off to stop us from doing that. 

...and of course the first music we listen to in the new car had to be Hanson's "Shout It Out".

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rachelle Hope's New Music Video for "Bring You Glory"

Rachelle was the first person I met in Sioux Falls, SD over 5.5 years ago.  It turns out we were both newlyweds (married 6 days apart)  and we both had been bound for the same little Bible college in CA before meeting our husbands which ended up changing our plans.  What a strange coincidence right?

Now she has her own band (formed in 2010) which includes my husband Gage as her drummer, and our little girls are best friends :-)

The band recorded an album and they just finished making first music video! I love how it turned out.  Great work by Perceptive Video Productions!

On June 8th Rachelle and the band will have their big CD release concert at the Orpheum Theater Center here in Sioux Falls.  The show is FREE so if you live in the area, please come!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Awana Awards, Cubbies, Dandelions, and a Crazy Lady

Zoe is in the dead center of this photo. The one with the giant pink flower on her head of course,

Zoe was thrilled to receive her very first award last night; a tiny Cubbie bear to wear on her vest next year for completing her very first Awana book!  Last night was one of those full circle moments for me.  I remember Awana Awards Ceremonies from when I was a kid.  Seeing all the kids line up to receive their awards took me back my childhood for a little while.  I am looking forward to watching my little Zoe go through the program!  She is glad she has one more year of Cubbies because they "get snacks.  Sparkies don't get any snacks." ;-)

We celebrated her achievement by going to Milky Way afterward.  Let me just say that I am never going to get a chocolate malt from anywhere but Milky Way from now on. YUM!

This morning we went to Bagel Boy with my mother in law.  This is becoming a weekly routine! Since bagels are very high in calories I usually just skip lunch on these days and replace it with a small snack.    This morning would have been just perfect had a crazy (really, insane) woman not decided to try and hit our car. Not once, but twice. Thankfully I hit the pedal fast enough to get out of her way otherwise she would have ran right into Zoe. I don't know what was going on in that woman's head.

There have only been a handful of times in my life where I have been so terrified that I had to actually stop what I was doing and break out into tears.  Yep. That happened this morning.  Uncontrollable shaking and crying.  Another full circle moment here.  When I was 4 (same age as Zoe) and there was an accident that involved the side of the car I was sitting in.  I remember my mom was absolutely hysterical.  I really had no idea what had happened so I couldn't understand her reaction, but oh my goodness... I understand it now!  Thankfully we weren't actually hit.  All is fine. Nothing to worry about now.  That is one experience I hope to never deal with again though.

I got home, still in tears... so angry from what happened that I took one look at our lawn, full of dandelions, and I decided the best thing for me to do to get my frustration out was to attack those dandelions.  I may not have actually killed the roots yet but I at least stopped the darn things from spreading for a couple days. Now Gage will be able to put down even more weed & feed (for a 3rd time) and maybe we will succeed. Maybe.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First 4 Months of 2012 - Tackling Fitness & Reading

It has been nearly a year since I wrote this blog post about the importance of writing and the many benefits of it and I still haven't managed to get it back into the habit. Has it really been a year? You see, this is what happens when I don't set goals for myself!  I have been fairly good about keeping up with my goals lately so I can tell you now that I have set a goal to write on here at least once a week for one month.  Hopefully this will get me back in the habit!

Blogging is a habit I hope never goes away entirely.  I love looking back on old blogs and hearing about what my life was like at that point in time.  This year will be a fun year to look back on.  I'm trying many new things and actually achieving my goals this year!

January 1st often marks the beginning of several short lived resolutions. That is usually the case for me. This year was different though.  I didn't make any resolutions.  I only made one goal for myself just for the day to try and eat less than 1400 calories on Jan 1st.  I I tried it the next day. I think originally (at this point) in my mind I thought, "Well maybe I can go a week with 1500 or less."  This turned into weeks, and now...months.  Sure there are days when I go over my limit but I think that is a good thing.

On Feb 25th I finally read and finished a fictional book! I proceeded to read the next two sequels just as quickly as the first. The Hunger Games Trilogy changed my mind about fiction.  For years I had no interest in reading fictional stories.  None. In fact since I left High School I don't think I have read any fiction. I honestly saw most fiction as a waste of time (which, a lot of it probably is.)  The Hunger Games kind of fell into my lap... literally. It was almost an accident. I began reading a "free sample" that was mysteriously updated to my phone automatically one night. No idea how or why it ended up on my phone.  I read through the first 4 chapters and found that I needed to know the rest of the story so... I bought the trilogy and read through all of them in 4 days. Yes, 4 days!

I loved the books so much that I read through the series 3 times before the movie came out.  Saw the movie twice, then decided that since the next movie isn't going to be out until Thanksgiving of NEXT year (2013), I figured it was time to move on from the story for a while ;-)  I had always wanted to read the Harry Potter books so I borrowed the books from my brother in law and started reading book on on April 1st.  I finished book 7 on April 15th.   Two and a half weeks of Harry Potter!  Wow, what a story! I loved every book.  I bought the collection of DVDs (for half price of course) and watched all 8 movies. No wonder why I was always so confused when I saw the movies. The story in the films really doesn't make much sense. Especially the end.  I remember leaving the theater after seeing that last movie and I was so confused! I'm so glad I know the entire story now.  It makes me enjoy the movies so much more.

Sometime in the middle of March I realized I wasn't really losing any weight even though I was watching my calories closer than I had in the past 4 years.  I decided to try to do the Couch to 5K again (something I attempted about 5 months ago when we got our treadmill.)  I had only been using the treadmill once every couple weeks for a while there... so now it was time to try to do some "damage" and really work on getting the lbs off!  I am going to be in a WEDDING in October after all.  I didn't really ever stick to the Couch to 5K plan but I did find myself doing 5K within a couple weeks of regularly using the treadmill.  Now I do at least 5K (A little over 3 miles) every time I am on the treadmill.  One day I only did 2 miles but I did it in 27 minutes which resulted in a shin splint...not good. Still hurting from that. haha!

I've lost a grand total of.... 2 lbs!!  Seriously.  Watching my diet for 4 months, exercising regularly for nearly 2 months... what else is it going to take to lose weight?  Now I've cut out every beverage other than water.  No juice, milk, sodas, COFFEE, carbonated water, etc.   I am on day 5 and going nuts. I do feel better though, now that the headaches have stopped. ;-) I'm also trying to drink 8 cups of water a day.  Haven't managed that yet... I hate drinking water.  Most days I get to 6 cups though.... good enough for now.

My goal is to lose 15 lbs by October.   At this rate I might not make it but at least I can say I tried.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Freezing Cooked Ground Beef

For the past year or so I have been cooking large batches of ground beef and freezing them in individual meal-sized bags.  Buying in bulk saves money and since I have recently discovered that rinsing your ground beef can remove the fat content by up to 50%, so I no longer need to spend the extra money to buy the super lean beef.

Cooking, rinsing & draining, and sorting the meat takes about an hour, depending on the amount that I'm cooking.   What I like most about this is I don't need to constantly thaw, cook, rinse, and drain little 1-2 lb batches of meat whenever we need ground beef for a meal.  All I do now is take one of the bags out of the freezer, thaw it in the fridge for about 5 hrs (or in a bowl of cold water for 45 minutes) and it's ready to be added to whatever recipe I'm making that evening.

All you need:

6 lbs or more of regular ground beef

A strainer

Ziploc Freezer Bags - I'm hoping to find a cheaper and "greener" way to save our meat.  We simply don't have enough room in our little freezer to use freezer safe containers for all of that ground meat.  If you have any suggestions please let me know!  If you have room in your freezer I suggest Ball's Freezer Jars or any freezer safe glass containers. Just make sure you fill them up as much as possible to avoid any freezer burn.

I usually write on the bag what the meat can be used for.  I portion bags based on what recipe I'll use them in - more meat for tacos or less meat for chili.

More on rinsing ground beef:

Reducing the Fat Content of Regular Ground Beef by Rinsing and Draining

Taste of Home's Dietitian

It works for me!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What is Natural Living?

What is natural living?

In my opinion, it is not "going green". While I am not against being careful to not harm the environment God has created, I do not believe the earth is in any sort of crisis environmentally. I believe the world was created to last just as long as God intended it to. No more or less time will pass that wasn't planned from the beginning.

Living a natural life is about nutrition and overall health improvement. It is to provide my family with the best possible quality of life. It is part of being wise and looking out for my household.

Finding Joy in the Winter Months

For our family, this time of year is full of two things: celebrations and a slightly overwhelming sense of cabin fever. Both Gage and I cel...