Saturday, August 28, 2010

Seven Springs Photos, Take II

I received more photos... and although I am not posting them all, I took most of them that weren't already duplicates and pasted them here as a little reunion recap. :)

Ray and Samantha playing ladderball. I'd just like to say that I also beat Ray in ladderball.
Samantha and Helena-- That's Helena's very cool headband that Sam is sporting.
The Wilson Clan
The lovely shower hostesses (Aunt Helen and Aunt Ceil) along with Luke and Ray.
Another Wilson shot. Baby W has a very loving aunt. :)
Brother and Sister shots
After dinner chats along the staircase... (Sam, Michelle, Brandy, Ceil, Helen, Jan)
Playing Uncle Dutch's enormous Sequence board. Ray and I got our butts kicked! Dutch is not allowed to be the "lucky red" chips ever again...
More sister love...
G&P with all of their kids): Helen, Jan, Dutch, Kay, Ceil
The husbands with their fathers: Steve, Ray, Luke, Dutch
Dads and Dads-to-be photoshoot
Moms and Moms-to-be photoshoot. We're missing a few moms in this picture!
Great weekend... nice to look back on photos and bring back the memories! Until next year...

Friday, August 27, 2010


*I will preface this post by explaining that this is my blog and I choose to use it as I please. Today, I choose to complain about unfit parents. There are just some people out there that are not worthy of having their own children. I said it. It's my blog. Oh, and this is my 100th post. Yay?!

Every week, I check a few websites to check in on Baby W's development. I just love knowing what is going on while he is hanging out in my belly. I find it to be an absolute miracle and honor that I can care for a child inside of my body before he is able to sustain life on his own. That's how amazing God is, really.

Anyhow, back to that website. At the bottom of the page, there is a discussion board of women who are pregnant within that exact week. Since I am 24 weeks, I checked the 24-week page/discussion board yesterday and have been irked ever since. I refuse to comment because it will do little to solve the problem. But, since it's been on my mind so much since I read their comments, I had to find an outlet. Hence, the blog post. Also, I refuse to converse with women who cannot seem to formulate grammatically correct sentences or use spell-check. Maybe I am a snob, but that's me. I like grammar and spelling. These things make me happy.

I read the top layer of posts first, of people being apologetic, empathetic, and sympathetic to one woman, Lily.

Finally, I get to Lily's post that caused all this nonsense:

Hey ladies! How is everyone doing? Good I hope! I got a question for u ladies,am I the only one that is still smoking? I feel like the lowest thing on earth cuz I do it,and anyone that seems to see me or find out I do put me down soooo bad! And I really do feel like crap! I tried everything to stop honestly and It would just make me mad at the world knowing I can't have a cigg,I cut down A LOT from how much I used to smoke before,I can say I smoke about 5-6 cigg a day,I know its not an excuse or making anything better but its better then smoking a pack and a half a day! I just feel so depressed and hate myself lately cuz now I'm big and everyone can tell I'm prego and they give me dirty looks or tell me I'm killing my baby or I'm a bad mom,I swear I cry everytime when sumone says stuff like that to me! I just don't know what to do anymore,thank GOD my baby looks healthy and everything seems ok so far I'm so grateful for that,but all this negativity everyone I'm surrounded with is extremely depressing!! And I feel like no one cares for me anymore cuz of my habit! Sorry for posting such a long post ladies! U ladies always seem to make me feel good and confident! Belly rubs to all XoXo

And then you ask yourself, why is this woman allowed to procreate? Some people just shouldn't. Even worse, if you want to read the comments from others in regard to her rant, here are a few:

lily - I'm not officially in week 24 til tomorrow, but I wanted to say that I still drink my big cup of coffee every morning and an occasional caffeinated soda. We all have our things we could do better or differently that would be healthier for our babies, but sometimes it's easier said than done. I commend you for trying to cut back and making an effort. Plus, the fact that you feel badly for smoking shows that you do love your little one! If you really do want to quit, I will tell you coming from someone that has quit smoking, the only way to quit is not to cut back, but to just toss the cigs and QUIT. You will be a miserable b**** for a couple of weeks, but it DOES GET BETTER, I promise! Hang in there and keep giving it your best effort, mama!

Uh, how can she commend her for cutting back? Unacceptable.

Lily-two of my friends are prego too and they both least you have cut back they don't seem to have or feel guilty for smoking. My mom smoked too with both my brothers and your not alone...

Great. Tell her everything is okay because others have also made the same mistake. Tell her she isn't alone. Garbage.

Lilly I used to smoke but when I was pg with my first just the smell made me sick. So I can thank him for helping momma quit! lol He is 6 now. Have you tried talking to your doc. I have a cousin that had the same prob and her ob actually gave her something to help. Not sure exactly what it was but Its worth a shot asking your doc. BTW kudos on cutting back and trying. good luck

Kudos to you on cutting back and trying? Really? You thought that was the end of it... oh no.

I cut back on smoking but I didn't quit tristan is soo low he hurts my pelvic bones my doc said get a belly band anyone know where to get a cheap one?

First, the grammar. Woah! That is a prime example of a run-on sentence. Ick. Yet another terrible parent.

I quit smoking the minute I found out I was preggers, and haven't smoked since. Here's the problem, tho. I only smoke when I drink. I'm not drinking now either. I'm scared that when I am able to have drinks again, I'll have the urge to smoke and I'll have to quit all over again! I had a half a beer the other day and the thought went through my head that ' a cigarette would be nice' but of course I didn't smoke. What's gonna stop me when I'm not preggo anymore? Hopefully I can get through it!

Classy group of folks, aren't they? Now, I understand that these discussion boards are there for people to remain anonymous and discuss the latest happenings in their pregnancy with others who are enduring the same types of experiences. I get it. But why must the caliber of people be so terribly shameful? I sure hope these children they are bearing will turn out well enough to make healthy choices for themselves, but with parents like that...

Maybe I'm just being hormonal-- but I don't think so. Pregnant or not, this bothers me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Baby Update: Week 24

24 weeks = 6 months pregnant! This child has had no shortage of movement this week. He's quite the active one. Here's my 6-month picture. And the comparisons:
Month 1, Month 2, Month 3, Month 4, Month 5, Month 5.5 ...and this would be the Month 6.
Yesterday morning, I had this lovely beverage to consume for breakfast. I was told that I could eat nothing past 10 p.m. the prior evening and nothing in the morning until I was tested for gestational diabetes. They recommended drinking with a straw or over ice (but obviously cold). I thought it was weird that they sent me home with this a month ago (at my last appt.) and that they trusted I would drink it! Of course I did, but I just felt they would prefer have me drink it in their office. At 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, I sat down to drink. I was nervous because I had heard horror stories about how disgusting the sugary liquid would taste. Honestly, though, it tasted like a non-carbonated Sprite! I was not struggling to finish it and I had no desire to become sick. It was perfectly fine.
When I went into the OB's office to have my finger pricked and blood drawn, they immediately cleared me of GD. At the same time, they are testing your iron levels. Being a bit nervous about this since Anemia runs in my family and it is not rare to become Anemic while pregnant, I braced for the worst. It also doesn't help the cause that I'm a vegetarian! It turns out that my iron was at 12.2, which is above the requirement of 12. She also told me the average pregnant women is at a 12. Awesome! I weighed in 3 lbs more than my 5-month appointment, the heartbeat was great, and the measurements were great according to the doctor. Something awkward... a women went in for her GD test right before me and apparently failed. They sent her back in the waiting room with a bunch of paperwork and then I went in. After I passed, the nurse told me not to smile too wide as I walked back into the waiting room because the lady before me had failed. How terrible to disclose that to me, a complete stranger!

How far along?: 24w2d
How big is Baby?: Baby W is over a foot and almost 1.5 pounds! The fruit chart labels him a papaya (again, anyone ever seen a foot-long papaya?), but I refuse to believe their measurements.
Maternity clothes?: Yes. Pre-pregnancy shirts are still used frequently, though. T-shirts are becoming more uncomfortable as they hug my belly. I sometimes forget I'm pregnant-- like last night when I attempted to zip up a hoodie sweatshirt (could fall be finally relieving us from this incredible heat in the Midwest?) and realized that I couldn't because my belly was too far out. Haha.
Sleep?: I sleep quite well on my left and right sides. I haven't had any of those terrible leg cramps at all this week! Although... I've read from other pregnant women that it doesn't necessarily mean they're gone.
Best moment of the week?: Watching my husband wear the empty Baby Bjorn around the house last night in preparation for our little guy. And then I attempted to put it on and snap it closed (though I did manage) and realized... oh yeah... that belly just may be in the way! {Baby Bjorn Active purchased off Craigslist last night for $25! I still want the Ergo, but the price is a bit much for now and they don't offer the cover for the winter like the BBA does--I registered for one of those. Maybe we'll switch to the Ergo in the summer of 2011.} On that note, we also visited Once Upon a Child (favorite baby consignment store!) and bought this (exact) awesome JJ Cole Urban Infant carseat cover for $12! It retails for $40 and we bought it-- no joke-- in practically new condition. If you wrapped it in plastic and stuck it on a shelf, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Though we registered for the stroller cover since it's freezing during Chicago winters, we won't really need it until winter of 2011/2012. So, that's no rush. Once Upon a Child was also selling those for $18, but I wanted the Urban style and I didn't see them. I'll be on the lookout.  :)
Movements?: Nonstop! Of course until others want to feel and then he seems to nap during that time. Ray finally was able to see Baby W kick as he looked at my belly. It's wild!
Food cravings?: Not really...
Aversions?: Not really...
What I miss?: I miss riding a bike. I wish we had them here. I am still able, but we just don't own them yet. I'm still attempting to jog at this point and plan to go for a jog later this afternoon. I don't overdo it, but I have to enjoy this amazing outdoor weather while I can. Soon I will want nothing to do with anything outside.
What I'm looking forward to?: A fun night at Pei Wei (just opened on Tuesday in Chicago) and seeing Million Dollar Quartet at the Apollo Theater in Chicago. A friend of mine {who also blogs} was able to score us a couple VIP tickets! We have a fun weekend in store and my parents are coming into town in 8 days!!!
Anything else?: Baby W can now hear quite a bit from inside the womb and his cute little face is pretty much fully developed.
This week in history: We're in the midst of a major egg recall across the country from some salmonella-contaminated eggs. Schools in our area are back in session as of yesterday. It's fun to see the school bus drive by, but a little sad I'm not impacting those kiddos. I'll be subbing until the baby is born.

What's going on this week (with us)?: So much fun. I mentioned quite a bit above, but we're just getting things figured out around the house and spending time with friends. We have plans to hang a couple items in Baby W's room this weekend and we tentatively scheduled our massive bedroom wallpaper strip and paint (UGH!) for the month of October. It's that big of a project that we have set aside an entire month! It would be nice to have it done before the baby arrives. We're also thinking about getting insulation quotes so we can be prepared for the winter. Our attic (and possibly basement) could use some more insulation so we're not paying ridiculous amounts for energy loss during the winter months. Any advice on that?  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fun & Family in Seven Springs, PA

This past weekend we took a road trip to Seven Springs. Every year Ray's family goes to this ski resort and have been doing so ever since Ray and all of his cousins were little. They rent a big cabin and usually separate boys and girls in rooms with bunkbeds. For some reason, bunkbeds were out this year and separate rooms were in! Since we moved within driving distance (8.5 hours away), we wanted to make the drive. We love road trips, so this was just another chance for us to explore-- and me to add another state, Ohio, to my list!

We arrived--to the surprise of everyone but my sister-in-law Samantha--at about 11p.m. at night as opposed to the next morning like they expected. We made excellent time and managed to arrive before bedtime. After catching up for a bit, it was off to our awesome room (we had our own bathroom!) for the night. In the morning, Ray went for a nice jog/hike with Samantha and I stayed back to catch up with Gramie, Papa, and all the others. Most everyone went for hikes during this morning time. We had an excellent lunch (my mother in law is always so accommodating and manages to find things I love to eat whenever we're around) and then they threw us a co-baby shower. Ray's cousin, Luke, and his wife, Liz, are also pregnant and due within a day of us-- with a boy! It was so nice seeing them and catching up on all things baby while we were there, too. They live in upstate NY, so we rarely see them. Since we're all now within driving distance to Seven Springs with children the same age, all of that just might change.

The shower was put on by these lovely ladies... all of Ray's aunts. They are all so different in their interests but so amazing and incredibly giving. They planned all the fun! Left to right: Aunt Jan, Aunt Ceil, Aunt Helen. Here they are explaining a game where the two dads-to-be had to place a paper plate on their heads and draw the other's baby. Great fun. I plan to use that if I ever plan a baby shower in the future.
Here we have Papa, Liz, and Luke-- and baby, of course.
...and on the other side we sat with Gramie.
This is the incredible table of delicious lemonade and an AWESOME roasted almond cake. It was so good that I had two pieces!
Let the games begin!
Ray & Luke battling it out...
A bit out of order, but Ceil is explaining the plate game process.
More festivities included a baby-themed word scramble and a onesie decoration. We now have 3 personalized onesies from family members. Left: Sam & Uncle Dutch; Right: Kay & Steve
Left: On Ceil's latest vacation to Canada (she travels the world on her summers), she purchased these fun hats for our little ones. Not pictured are the adorable finger puppets she also included in our gifts! Right: This gorgeous cradle was given to us by Ray's parents for Baby W's infancy sleeping in our room. While we won't be co-sleeping, we will be having him in our room/office area (it's enormous) for a few reasons... it's freezing in Chicago in the winter and because it will be easier for us to get used to being parents. Kay & Steve found the cradle at an antique shop a friend of Kay's tipped them off about and another woman from church whom has known Ray his entire life sewed the cradle padding cover. The bear is a gift that Gramie & Papa gave Ray, Luke, and Scott (all cousins born within a couple months of one another) when they were all young. It's nostalgic and now we have it passed on to our son. So many wonderful gifts for our little one. We feel blessed and I know Baby W will feel so loved when we show up next year to introduce the little one everyone was showering!
In an attempt to catch a photo with Liz, my pregnant twin who was also married into the family... we managed to catch a blurry one with us standing next to one another. Bummer. So, we took two more. One of which I am blocked and the other in which she is blocked. Ha. What a balance.
Sorry Liz... I blocked you in this one!
Before leaving, we also managed to get in a few fun games. Ray's Uncle Dutch is always bringing fun games with him. One was an oversized Sequence board. We have the board at our house, but not quite the same size. He also brought ladderball and another game I'd never played (clearly because I'm terrible-- but Ray's mom and Aunt Helen were AWESOME!) called Kan Jam. They were all tons of fun.  

After leaving Seven Springs for our 8.5 hour trek back to Chicago, we stopped off at Aunt Ceil's house in Pittsburgh (what a lovely place!!!) to pick out a piece of her art. Ceil is an art teacher and clay sculptor and all of her pieces have so much meaning and detail. She had been offering us a piece of her artwork since before we married two years ago... and since we had a car this time around, we stopped off to take her up on the offer! It was so thoughtful and we now have a nice piece in our sitting room.

Our drive home was just fine. The road is basically a solid 400 miles from IL > IN > OH > PA. We are already looking forward to next year with our 9-month old! If only that almond cake would reappear... but not to worry-- there are always tons of desserts because Ray's family knows how to eat great food that is never void of sugar or chocolate. That made for one happy pregnant girl. :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Baby Update: Week 23

We're getting there... and it's always enjoyable when your maternity clothes are starting to fit snugly! Ugh! But alas... at least the baby is getting all he needs (and probably a few more bowls of ice cream than he needs).

Here's the moose. This is one of those situations where our child will never appreciate the cuteness factor as much as we do. Sigh.

How far along?: 23w1d
How big is Baby?: Baby W is now about a foot long and weighing in at a pound!
Maternity clothes?: Yes-- and like I said before, some of them are tight. Boo!
Sleep?: Yes, and the leg cramps have subsided for the last 3 nights. Knock on wood.
Best moment of the week?: Watching my belly move from the outside! I see nothing obvious at this point, just movements and pushes. The most uncomfortable moment of the week came on Monday when Baby W decided to scrape something inside my belly. It felt as though he took a spoon and rubbed my organs. Ouch.
Movements?: A ton! He's been quite active the last couple of days. He was a mover this morning and my husband told him that he should be sleeping and not waking up so early-- and that when he is out of the womb, these rules apply. Haha.
Food cravings?: Like I said, how about everything?
Aversions?: Exercise? Haha. I did go for a 3 mile jog at 23 weeks, so I'm proud. Was it the slowest jog ever? Absolutely.
What I miss?: I miss all of my clothes. Being limited to 4 pairs of shorts, a few dresses, and a few pairs of pants is never fun.
What I'm looking forward to?: We're looking forward to our road trip this weekend to see family in Seven Springs, PA!
Anything else?: Apparently I could be noticing some Braxton Hicks contractions coming soon. I haven't yet. Baby W's skin transparency is changing to pigment. This is also when I start to pack on the pounds, from what I've been reading.
This week in history: Schools are beginning to open from summer break in the US, Rob Blagojevich was convicted on one count and could face up to 5 years in prison.

What's going on this week (with us)?: We had had our German friend and visitor in town, Sascha. We took him to a Cubs game in Wrigleyville on Monday evening and he had his first Chicago dog. Our weekend was wonderful and I already posted plenty of photos on our fun from that. We're headed to PA this weekend and we're really excited to see everyone!

On Why I Love Craigslist

I'm not endorsed by them, but I sure should be. I use Craigslist all the time and love it. Let me also preface this by saying that I don't agree with buying everything used. Examples include: anything related to bedding or my bare skin. It's just wrong.

In the past, I've purchased a desk, couches, tables, chairs, and all kinds of furniture. I've even sold my fair share and given away free items via this website. While I have heard of the scary news articles out there about the Craigslist killer and whatnot, I don't listen to it one bit-- because crazies are everywhere. It just so happens that this particular crazy person chose to use Craigslist to fulfill his evil desires.

Moving along... here are some of the items I've purchased for Baby W on Craigslist and their retail prices:

Graco "Catalina" Swing - $30 (retail price $90) It was basically brand new and the owner said her infant was not a fan of swings, so she didn't want it around her house any longer. I don't know if Baby W will want a swing, but I figured that if he doesn't, we're only out $30 and I wouldn't feel frustrated having to donate to someone who could use it. She originally asked for $35, but I only had $30 in cash, so I was able to get another $5 knocked off.
Boppy Pillow + Sweet Pea Slipcover - $10 (retail: $36) I must admit that although I saw this on Craigslist, I purchased this one at a consignment store and was amazed by the condition. It looks absolutely brand new!
Diaper Genie II Elite- $10 (retail: $30) While I'm still not convinced these disposal containers are worth it, I figured I'd give it a try at 1/3 of the cost. I bought one dispenser, but I plan to use trash bags in the future since I learned from the eHow website how to "fake" the system. We'll see. Some people love these and some hate them. I'll be the judge with my $10 gamble.
My favorite purchase: Solid Wood Rocking Chair - $20!!! I've posted this before, but I'm so proud of it (and that photo was blurry) that I had to post again. I purchased it from a college-aged girl who either was selling her family's items against their will, or they just had no idea what the real price should've been. While I wouldn't expect to pay a ton, it is real wood and retails for $130 at Babies r' Us. There are others that retail for hundreds of dollars.
Bumbo chair - $15 (retail: $40) This is another item I'm sure I don't need, but they seem pretty fun! It allows the baby to sit upright in the chair because it provides back support. I bought this from a grandma who kept this at her house for when her granddaughters came to visit.
Baby Trend Expedition Jogger: $40 (retail: $120). It's not the best jogger, but it's a start. If we prefer another later on, we'll buy it. This one is practically brand new with the little rubber pieces still attached to each wheel. Illinois only allows us about 6 months of outdoor jogging, anyway-- so this should be suitable. If not, it's a $40 gamble I was willing to take.
So for a grand total of $125, I purchased nearly-new items for a retail value of $321! I saved over 60%! That's not including the tax or shipping costs I would've spent in purchasing the items brand new.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hosting in the New Casa

This weekend was a busy one! On Saturday, two events were taking place concurrently-- a friend and colleague of Ray's from Germany came into town for business. We were entertaining for the weekend. As Ray was picking Sascha up from the airport after his 1.5 hours spent in the immigration line (ugh!), I was hosting a baby shower for someone we met a few months ago at church, Julie. She's due next month with a surprise baby and about 16 women came to celebrate the new little one. Thanks to House Party, I was sent a prize package of goods to throw a Sauza tequila "girl's night out" party. It was a girl's party... but not quite night when we had the function. Here are the cocktails getting mixed together... if only I could've taken part in the actual drinking: 1 can tequila (um, yeah, woah), 1 light beer, 1 can limeade, 1 can water. Stir and drink. I heard they were massively strong, so for the second batch it was a bit weaker.
Here are some new friends. Left to right (Jessie, Alli, Liz, Kim).
Julie is in the center (I'm sure the belly gave that one away)!
Here are the key lime cupcakes I made. Though I cheated a bit and used lemon cake mix, I added quite a few ingredients (including orange juice!) and made the frosting myself. It was so incredibly cream-cheesy and delicious. I bought some new Wilton pipings at Target for about $7 and was able to make the swirl I've been eyeing all over the internet lately. They turned out quite well.
Here's the brie I replicated from my days at Kincaid's. Because I knew the ingredients so well, I was able to figure it all out... with the help of my friend Tes who provided me the tip of freezing the brie before coating/baking so it keeps form. It turned out incredible. The balsamic reduction was even a success and I didn't burn it! Here's the recipe:

Plain brie cheese wedge, frozen
Panko bread crumbs
Olive oil or an egg to hold the coating
Balsamic vinegar
Crushed nuts (I used cashews, though macadamia nuts, peanuts, pistachios... all good options)

1. Prepare breading: crush nuts and mix with panko crumbs-- use mostly bread crumbs. Pour this mixture onto plate or in a sprayed metal pie tin.
2. Coat frozen brie with egg wash or olive oil
3. Cover with as much panko/nut mixture as possible on all sides. Pile more on top when all sides are coated.
4. Line sprayed pie tin with some panko crumbs, place brie in center, and pour a bit more crumbs and nut mixture on top.
5. Bake at 350 degrees until it begins to "puff" and ooze slightly at the end. Place in broiler to brown a bit for a few minutes.
6. While baking, drizzle honey onto a plate and create balsamic reduction (boil 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar on stove, stirring constantly, until it turns into a glaze) and drizzle onto plate.
7. Once brie is ready, place onto plate and add more nuts if desired. Serve with warm bread, crackers, sliced apples, or whatever sounds good!
After the successful shower, I headed out to dinner with Ray & Sascha. We tried Ted's Montana by recommendation from our friend Derrick and it was great! Then we dropped Sascha off at the Hilton and headed home...

... this came next: When balloons are left at my house, two things happen: my husband experiments with the density of helium and oxygen (a little geeky) and then becomes silly by trying on his new hat. I love him.
Fast forward to the next day-- we wanted to give Sascha the experience of a typical Sunday afternoon in the US, so we took him to Costco, the outlets, Chipotle (though Mexican food isn't popular in Germany, Sascha seemed to enjoy his burrito quite well and even commented that he plans to get the spiciest salsa next time!), and dinner with another colleague and his wife. Between lunch and dinner, the guys played THREE games of Settlers of Catan. Sometimes they used the German rules and sometimes the American rules. It was great fun to watch this competition. This game has become a new obsession between Ray and some friends here in IL. It being a German board game, Ray and Sascha were both familiar and had a great time.
Good weekend and we're extending it to tonight! We're heading to Wrigley Field tonight for hot dogs and Cubs v. Padres baseball. Since the Cubs don't have a fighting chance (let's be honest) and I'm from California, I'll be sporting a Cubs shirt but rooting for the Padres.