Wednesday, September 25, 2013

35 weeks--entering the home stretch

Some thoughts about this pregnancy, as I approach the last month:

Time to start my oh-so-favorite 1 week appointments and progress checks and stuff like that.  We are getting close!  I think I've convinced myself that I could go a few days overdue again and it wouldn't be too big of a deal.  There's some really fun things right around Elsie's due date that I'd like to attend, and the only way I will be able to attend them is if I am still pregnant.  Besides, having a November baby wouldn't be so bad.  So now, we are working on getting everything ready.  I want to devote a little time each day to just meditating and practicing breathing and basically just planning for the delivery.  I tend to get so caught up in making sure the house is spotless and the clothes are clean and the freezer is packed with food that I forget the whole focus here: I am having a baby!  Also, I noticed that I'm having a strong bout of nesting urges, and they're not satisfied with getting a couple of projects done.  So, I might as well do a bit of work, and then try to self-center and prepare mentally for baby instead of just finding busy work. 

At my Dr. appointment today I found out I haven't gained any weight the last few weeks, keeping my total around 13 pounds.  Just like Katie, Elsie is quite shy of the monitor and prefers to kick it or roll away from it rather than let anyone hear her heartbeat.  Consequently, it was surprisingly difficult to find her heartbeat today.  She was performing some amazing acrobatics last night, so I'm glad she's still head down.  I think she might be sideways or even posterior, though.  I'm not too worried about it.  Everything else looks good and right on target. 

Being 35 weeks pregnant sure messes with everything, though.  I go to the bathroom around once an hour, I can't run for the life of me--even to get out of the pouring, chilly rain, my back aches and I have headaches and charlie horses on a daily basis, I still have congestion that is really annoying, and I totally rely on my daily afternoon nap for some small dose of sanity.  I wake up each morning with a head full of worries and a list of odd items that I feel cannot wait another possible second, so I start on my projects and lose energy after about half an hour.  Then I look at my list again and realize most of it is ridiculous and I spend the rest of the day trying not to feel like a failure.  Cody is such a help in this part, since he reminds me of the important things, and is always so sweet and generous to point out what I do accomplish and help me with the rest.  For example, I've been freaking out that we don't have the things we need to bring home a baby.  Today he helped me get to the store and buy diapers, wipes, and some new onesies.  He reminded me that we do NOT need ten boxes of diapers, plus a year's supply of toilet paper, food, shampoo, and clothes for the rest of the kids.  Then he complimented me on being super prepared already, thanks to the canning and food storage and couponing I've been doing the past few months.  See?  I love that man. 

I love my family.  I love my kids.  I love my life and am excited to have Elsie join us.  I know the next few weeks are going to be hard work, but we can do it!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Some happy things

This week has been very busy for us.  Today I'm 34 weeks along, and although I've tried really hard to not overdo anything, it's also very difficult for me to sit and watch Cody work hard on the basement and even have people come help him and not do anything myself.  Consequently, I've been having Braxton-Hicks contractions all week.  In a way it's kind of exciting because my body is finally giving a "normal" response to being pregnant and this far along.  But then I remember that contractions this early in the pregnancy is probably not a good thing, and I should probably quit trying to help in the basement.  Blah.  What an up and down roller coaster this is!  I'm stuck between my feeble body and my very self-conscious and frustrated brain, and I hate feeling so useless.  OK.  Enough grumping.  I'd better post some really cute things to get my mind off the grouchies.

The other day, the kids started singing songs to Elsie.  It was so cute, I had Cody take a video.  They are so excited for their new baby sister! 


And also a few days ago, Katie somehow had grabbed Cody's phone and was taking pictures while I was buckling her into her carseat.  This is pretty much the only belly shot I have.  It's not half bad, actually!  Good photography skills, Katie-Bubble!
 Truly, the basement is coming along phenomenally well.  We've had so much help; I am beyond grateful.  My parents, my cousin, and some friends have all come by to help more than once and I'm still surprised we didn't scare them away.  :)  Cody has been working almost non-stop on it.  I made him take a few hours off last night so we could go on a date--our first date in over a month.  He has been SO busy and it felt great to just sit down and talk for a while.  But mostly it has been go-go-go, and there's plenty of progress to show for it. 

Cody has now completed the framing on the exterior walls except for around a few windows, and is starting the interior walls today so he can put his office back together.  Pretty exciting!  I need to take more pictures! :)

I also accidentally made 6 loaves of zucchini bread yesterday.  It wasn't really on accident... I just misread the recipe and grated 6 cups of zucchini when I only needed 2, and so I ended up making a triple batch when I wasn't intending to make a triple batch.  Pregnancy brain strikes again!  But at least this time the benefit was that I made breakfast and some to share at Relief Society, plus several more loaves for the freezer which means fast and easy meals in the next few months.  Not a bad mistake to make, I suppose. 

OK.  Just thinking about all these great things going on in my life has helped me feel better.  I hope you are all well.  Life really is great. I'll be talking at you again very soon!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Preschool for Anna, finally!

Annalisa has been SO ready to start preschool for SO long.  It's finally here!  Because she missed the cutoff by 2 weeks, she will actually start preschool after her 5th birthday.  Yesterday we got to go check out her classroom and today she is attending her first full day. 

Katie's pretty disappointed she doesn't get to go back to this awesome place, but she'll get her turn.  Today is Annalisa's turn, and it is high time. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Starting the basement

Here we go, on our next wild home improvement project.  This is the BIG one: the basement. 

Last week, we designed, measured, re-measured, calculated, and finally ordered the wood.  We didn't really like the suggested basement layout because there was a lot... I mean, a LOT of long, pointless hallways.  I don't like hallways much, but Cody despises them and he drew and re-drew the lines until we could eliminate as much hallway as humanly possible.  Here's what we came up with:

Please don't make fun of my MS Paint rendition of our basement. :)  The black walls are exterior, around foundation that has already been insulated.  We are framing them out of 2x3's instead of 2x4's.  The blue walls are interior, which will be framed with all 2x4's.  Everything is getting standard 2x4 top plate and pressure treated 2x4 bottom plate, which will have concrete nails into the basement floor below.  Brown is single doors, light blue is double closet doors.  Oh, and just in case you were wondering, this is NOT drawn to scale. Some things may change still.  But anyway... after designing this and then going through the basement with a measuring tape and measuring over and over, we determined how many of each type of board we would need and ordered it.  Most of it was delivered, the rest Cody picked up with the van.  We started cleaning everything out last Friday.  Today, we finished cleaning (for the most part) and Cody started building the walls.  My friend Symony came by to help us this morning and took these fun pictures.  The captions are also hers.

Cody ready to start framing!
Here goes the first nail...
Huh, did that work?
Let's try this again...
Yeah! It worked!
We're pretty excited.  This is a big undertaking and we're going to take it one step at a time: Framing first, then electrical, then HVAC and rough plumbing, then sheetrock, and finally trim, paint, flooring, doors, and... well, everything.  It'll get done eventually.  In the meantime, I should go take some pictures of my own. :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

33 weeks down, 7 to go

Good gravy.  Just 7 weeks left?  Yeah, I suppose that feels about right.

I've now gained 11 pounds this pregnancy, which is as much as I gained total during Katie's pregnancy.  While that's still pretty low and I'm happy with it, I was silently hoping to match the weight gain from last time.  Oh well, no biggie.  My pregnancy with Katie was marked with nausea and stress that lasted from start to finish, so I'm glad this one is much healthier.  Besides, Katie was a tad on the small side and I'll feel better about inducing a week early if I know Elsie is a bit bigger. 

Which leads me to the next thought... I've been starting to look at delivery and what I want to see happen.  I have about a 2% chance (just my opinion, not any scientific fact) of going into labor spontaneously, so I've been looking at the calendar and trying to decide when to go for an induction.  My doctor said he's willing to go up to a week early (39 gestational weeks), but Cody wants me to wait a week over again... not sure why... but anyway.  Since my due date is on Halloween Day, I'm trying to think through what will be best in the future.  Would you rather have your birthday a few days before Halloween and run the risk of always getting Halloween-themed gifts, or a few days after and run the risk of having a partied-out mom who makes you fruit salad for a birthday cake because she's so sick of candy?  I think it's becoming clear which way I'm leaning, but I'd really like opinions.  Mostly so I can get some more comments. ;)

The weather finally cooled off this week, and I'm so happy.  We even got some rain, which is desperately needed.  I've hardly been able to sleep at night because it is too hot, so when it gets chilly at night I love it.  I'm getting really excited for Elsie to come and am trying to prep and plan everything I possibly can now.  The Christmas shopping is almost done, our freezer and pantries are full of food (as you know from my food storage post), I've arranged a carpool to get Annalisa to preschool--hooray!, and even arranged 2 back-up plans just in case I go into labor.  My back aches and I have charlie horses in my right leg--always my right.  I still run my neti-pot and humidifier almost every day to maintain the sinus headaches and congestion.  One sad thing, another pair of my maternity pants ripped yesterday, bringing me down to just one pair of jeans and some old sweats that fit me, and some dresses and skirts.  The dresses are cotton jersey and super comfy, so I'll probably wear those more often and not buy more maternity clothes for this pregnancy.  I hope I can hold out until I can wear normal sizes again!  But by far the most important news is that Elsie is doing great and I feel pregnant, but not horrible.  No swelling, good blood pressure, good heartbeat and growth, and she's head down and ready to go.  7 more weeks!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Happy Birthday Anna Banana

My girlie girl is 5 years old today!  We've been celebrating for a few days already with her friend birthday party and going out to dinner with Grandma and Grandpa, so today was just a cap on all those great parties.  We opened some gifts, played with toys, and after Lee got home from school I took the kids to the movie theater by special Annalisa request.  We'll have more dessert tonight after a bath and jammies. 

Anna is such a special girl and we love having her as part of our family.  She's always willing to help out and is the best at picking up the house of any kid in the family.  She loves art and singing songs and pretend play.  She has lots of best friends and loves getting to play with them whenever she gets the chance.  Her language skills are quite refined and she is learning to write her letters well.  She can't wait for preschool to start next week.  She has promised us that now that she is five she will no longer be scared of flu shots or the plastic skeletons in the Halloween aisle of the grocery store.  Happy birthday to our big girl, Annalisa!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Food Storage

I haven't been putting up individual blog posts about each of my canning and food storage adventures, so I might as well talk about them now, right?  Having the garden has been such a huge blessing this year.  We have loved the fresh produce and watching things grow--which I'm sure is obvious to you readers out there.  I've particularly loved the help it gives me in deciding what to make for dinner.  But we planned the garden this year with food storage in mind; since we haven't grown a garden in so many years, our stock has been greatly diminished.  We've been completely out of home bottled goods for months (no applesauce, no peaches, no beans, 4 bottles of tomatoes, a couple jars of relish, and that's about it) and patiently storing our empty jars, waiting for this season.  Now that it is here, it has been so fun to fill those jars and put them away on the shelves!

The first thing to store from our garden was the rhubarb back in the spring.  Our rhubarb isn't quite big enough to store much, just a few bags for the freezer and most of it went into fresh preparations like rhubarb tapioca pudding, which I couldn't get enough of thanks to Elsie.  Next up was the spinach.  I blanched and froze about 6 bags full.  Then peas, which despite planting what we thought would end up "just a taste" ended up being enough to shell a couple of times, and we got about 3 bags full.  Peas are one I never intended to grow to store, and I never intend to again. :)  But they sure are tasty!

We waited a while before the next big harvest: green beans.  I got 30 pints in about 3 weeks from them, during the most productive time frame; the rest have been gobbled up one meal at a time.  At last it was time for the tomatoes.  I've got 2 varieties of tomatoes in the garden and they all came on at the same time, so we went from famine to feast literally overnight.  My mom helped me bottle the tomatoes from both of our gardens and we got 35 quarts of whole tomatoes and 24 pints of spaghetti sauce to share.  I kept all the spaghetti sauce (that wasn't her first or last batch of spaghetti sauce) and 21 quarts of the whole tomatoes.  That was just the beginning of tomato season, though.  I also roasted a bunch of my very prolific cherry tomatoes and made soup, enough to freeze 4 half-gallon meal sizes; and then later I used some more tomatoes to make a wildly delicious batch of salsa, 12 pints of which are now in storage.

Meanwhile, I've had a very healthy basil harvest.  Basil keeps growing back as long as I keep it trimmed, so a couple times this summer I've had to give it a good haircut.  The first time I got 7 pint-sized batches of basil pesto for the freezer; the second time I made 16 more batches before being so sick of making pesto that I gave the last huge bag full of basil to my mom.  I shared the 16 batches with my friend who helped me strip all the stems of their leaves, so now I have about 15 meals worth of basil pesto in my freezer.

See all that basil up in the right hand corner?  That's AFTER the most recent cutting.
The zucchini hasn't been bottled, but I've been getting a bunch of that too and have been finding great ways to store it.  I've made zucchini bread--most of which has been eaten immediately, but 3 loaves found their way to the freezer.  I also made zucchini casserole fillings and put a couple of those in the freezer.  They'll be fantastic meals when baby Elsie comes.  I dug up my onions and am in the process of curing them so that I can hang them in my basement all winter long.  We planted 2 bundles of onions last spring and they are huge and healthy and will be delicious.  I still have carrots, sunflowers, squashes, and the fall crop of lettuce and spinach growing, and lots more tomatoes coming.  Now that it is September, the days are noticeably shorter and the tomatoes aren't ripening quite as quickly.  I might get enough for another batch of salsa before the frost... green tomato salsa for sure. LOL.

That's it (at least, that's what I can remember) for the garden.  I bought some strawberries on mega sale for strawberry freezer jam; we bought raspberries also on mega sale that we froze--though our raspberry canes have been producing, it hasn't been very much in this their first year.  A sweet family that lives really close to us had a mostly-picked apricot tree that they let my sister Sara and I come and strip.  We got half of a 5 gallon bucket of free apricots, and both she and I had enough to make apricot jam.  And that brings me up to this weekend, when my mom and dad, Sara and her husband Eric, and I bottled peaches (Cody was on kid duty).  We are fortunate enough to live relatively close to some very amazing peach groves, and so this time of year the peaches are ripe and not horribly expensive.  My mom bought 6 half-bushel boxes and we bottled them all.  We got about 90 quarts.  We're sharing with my siblings that live in California as well, so I get to keep 32 gorgeous quarts of peaches.

Still on the food storage docket is applesauce (which will be another big production), and like I previously mentioned, perhaps another batch of salsa.  I'll also have squashes and carrots to store, and Cody wants to try roasting sunflower seeds.  I'm sure I'll have some more zucchini too and one more harvest of basil before the frost comes.  Also, we had another case lot sale recently... man, I love those!... so I was able to replenish my supply of canned and boxed goods.  My freezers are both jam-packed, and the cold storage room's shelves are rapidly filling up.  It is such a great feeling!  I feel like I could take a month off of shopping after Elsie comes, except for maybe milk and some bananas, and just eat from our food storage and it would be wonderful.  I think I'm finally understanding why my mom was always so happy on canning days.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Anna's birthday party

 I'm surrounded by a bunch of cute little girls and boys watching Tangled (mostly girls) and thought I'd take just a second to post some pictures.  We're having Annalisa's 5th birthday party right now and it is a blast!  We started off with decorating our own cupcakes with a wide variety of sprinkles, candies, and frostings.

 Then we opened gifts and played a game, and now it is time for popcorn and a movie, since it's a PJ "slumber party" (we will all be going home at 8:30, but are just hanging out in our PJ's tonight).  Lots of fun! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Adios, August!

I'm so happy August is over!  The heat of the summer is really starting to bother me.  It has been abnormally hot and dry this year, with less than a quarter inch of very scattered rain since May and 53 days over 95 degrees (there's still a few more on the forecast too).  Thank goodness for our wonderful garden and air conditioning that have made the summer far more enjoyable!  But now I'm ready for September and Fall.  My mom and I bottled tomatoes from my garden, I've bottled green beans as well; I've made basil pesto, frozen spinach and peas, dug my onions, frozen zucchini casseroles and zucchini bread and roasted cherry tomato soup, and am ready for it to start cooling off and the days to start getting shorter.  Since I'm (clearly) not a fan of summertime, here's some pictures from the last month to remind me of all the things I do like about August.  You'll notice most of them have to do with tomatoes and food.

Peace out, August.  Happy September!