Day #1 in California

After what seemed like an eternal day of traveling, McKenzie and I are finally in California visiting Grandpa Jeff (my stepdad). She was an amazing little traveler, but she was queasy on the plane…she threw up on the 2nd flight then fell fast asleep. I’m so happy I always carry a car sickness bag with me at all times! I highly recommend it for any parents…it’s saved me from cleaning up vomit in cars or planes on more than one occasion (the joys of parenting!).

Anyway, on our first full day yesterday, we took Dexter the dog on a long walk, and McKenzie stopped to enjoy all the flowers. She loves flowers. Then we ate a delicious breakfast at The Original Pancake House, after which I napped. Later in the day we went to Strand Beach in Dana Point, 10 minutes from Jeff’s house. The vistas are beautiful & McKenzie wanted desperately to play in the sand…she did & she loved it! It was a great start to our visit, and today we’ll be boating on the ocean on Jeff’s boat. Hopefully we’ll see some dolphins, seals, & whales!

Part of me is always a little sad when we visit, with the realization that we won’t be living here anytime soon (which was our plan before the Army). It’s just so beautiful: weather, scenery, everything. I would have loved for McKenzie to grow up here.

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17 Weeks

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How far along are you? 17 weeks now! Time is still flying, I can’t believe I’m 2.5 weeks away from half-way.
How big is the baby? According to my BabyCenter App, it’s about the size of a turnip.
Weight Gain? 6 lbs. nothing new
Maternity clothes? Yoga pants & sweatshirts?
Stretch marks? A tiny one on my inner thigh. Blast.
Sleep: My itching is horrible at night, so my sleep leaves much to be desired…hopefully the meds kick in soon. =/
Best moment this week? It’s been a rough week (as mentioned in my last post). Maybe hearing Jon’s voice? We’re flying to Cali today, so that’ll be nice. A break from this dreary rain. And I guess finding out I’ll get to see Baby Boy weekly via ultrasound & we’ll meet him early? In about 20 weeks…
Movement? Here & there, nothing consistent yet.
Food cravings? Water? Apparently the Cholestasis of Pregnancy can cause loss of appetite…I think I have that aspect as well. I guess I’ve been wanting Bite Size Tostitos (my fave) covered in Sharp Cheddar. MMmmmm…
Food aversions? Not so much, just not very hungry.
Labor signs? Nope.
Gender? BOY! BOY! BOY!
Symptoms? Itchy, itchy, itchy…still not feeling/looking very pregnant. I honestly thought I’d be bigger by now, since it’s baby #2.
Belly button in or out? In. With McKenzie it just went flat…it was never an “outie.”
Wedding rings on or off? On.
Happy or moody? Moody…not the best week. McKenzie had a wonderful tantrum last night, and the dogs are a handful sometimes. Urgh.
What I miss: Jon, Jon, Jon…I should get to talk to him Sunday. He left a month ago tomorrow. Blah.
What I am looking forward to: Sunshine & the ocean. My step-dad (Grandpa Jeff) lives 10 minutes from this slice of heaven (and that is a camera-phone pic):Laguna Beach

A whole week?

Wow, I usually don’t go a whole week without posting. I guess I’ve been “busy.” My sister and niece visited last week during her spring break, and this week we reciprocated with a visit to their new house in Minnesota! Their closing/loan underwriting process was quite a hassle, so I know she’s relieved it’s over. The house is lovely, it’s a great “forever home!” I can’t wait to own a house someday, a condo is just not the same. To be able to simply let the dogs out a door will be heavenly…

Anyway, I got them this wicked-cool decorative tripod clock as a housewarming gift. At least I know Jesse likes it…men are not prone to rejoice over home decor, I suppose.

tripodclockBut we’re home now, and it’s McKenzie’s spring break. I think I’m going to enroll her in K5 for the fall here in Madison, just in case we don’t have a “post” with the Army yet. The local elementary school has a Spanish dual-immersion program I’m considering, BUT I know it’s only beneficial long-term if they complete the programs, so I’m not sure it makes sense if we’ll be moving. That said, I speak Spanish so it might be cool even if it’s for a little while.

And I haven’t heard from Jon. I guess we’re going to be pen pals the next few months. =( And I don’t know when we’ll see him again. But McKenzie and I are settling into a routine, though. I got her a Shutterfly photo book with only photos of her & her Daddy. She loved it and sat down with it right away. It was really cute, I’m so happy she likes it.

In the Bebe department, I had my first visit with my actual doctor last week, and I really like her. She was super approachable, friendly, and great with McKenzie (which is important to me because she’ll probably be coming with me a lot). And is it bad that I like her because she’s young? But I do. I don’t want my doc to be an out-of-touch old fart. No offense to them. Anywho, the baby’s heartbeat was 145 and everything looks good. And we get to find out the sex in 1 week! As in, in 1 week I will know if it’s a boy or girl. Woot! Any guesses? Come on…

And because pregnancy can make any lady feel gross & icky, here is a picture I like of myself. Yes, it is a year old. And yes, I really like this hat & scarf. Oh, and I’ve been having pretty awesome risqué dreams lately. This lady ain’t complainin’. Totally forgot about that part. ;)mewglasses

Back from Mexico

We got back from Mexico on Saturday and we had a great time! It had a bumpy start when my luggage was left in the US for an extra day, so I went 1 day wearing the same clothes…and we basically lost a day because the sunscreen was in my bags. *sigh* Thankfully though, my parents always told me to pack a swimsuit & other essentials in my carry on. Smart people. The first night we ventured into town and splurged on some lobster…one word: amazing. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Also, I think I mentioned in a previous post that it was adults-only, topless-optional. I was brave & went topless. Oh yes, I did! I was shocked myself, but let me tell you: when you’re literally the only one in sight with your top on, you feel like a prude. So I figured, “Fuck it, at least I won’t have tan lines.” It was glorious, and unusually freeing. I definitely loved the care-free, relaxed environment. The motto was, “Nobody knows you, nobody gives a shit.” Nice.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe food also was excellent, the staff was wonderful, and the drinks were amazing. Cancun was nice because we were able to venture out into town & we weren’t stranded on the resort. Unfortunately, the last 2 days were rainy & chilly, and was very glad to have my jacket! Otherwise, we enjoyed fun in the sun and I read the book “The Poisonwood Bible,” which was very good. Definitely not something I would usually read for enjoyment, but great nonetheless. I usually love James Rollins, Clive Cussler, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child…my “adventure” books as I call them.

We had our own little adventure and Jon moved one of the beds onto the balcony. It was fun. We didn’t leave it out there, but it was cool just chillin out there. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As you can tell, I didn’t bring my “nice” camera with me on the trip because it’s heavy & bulky, but I found some old gems that I never uploaded from when McKenzie was 3 from our point-and-shoot…crazy what a difference a year makes!  Such a sweetie. McKenzie had a lot of fun with her Nina (grandma) while we were gone, and it was great to be able to FaceTime with her every day. It’s funny: when you have kids it’s just as fun coming home to see your kiddos! A bonus to parenting, for sure.IMG_0002 IMG_0011 IMG_0018 IMG_0037 IMG_0038OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Annnnnnnnnnnnd I’m definitely missing that “chilly” 65˚F in Mexico…it’s 5˚F here in Wisconsin with a windchill below zero! Yuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

Mexico & more.

Only 1 week until we go to Mexico! Woo! I’m so excited. We’ve never been to Cancun, so this will feel completely new. Any suggestions for places to visit?cancun

Also, I’m incredibly excited for my sister & her husband: they are buying their first home! Their offer was accepted over 4 competing offers. I’m so happy they’ll have a place to call their own. And I’m living vicariously through her, since we won’t be able to buy a home for awhile; in fact, I just read this article on USAA about why military families shouldn’t buy homes. *sigh* Anyhow, here’s a pic of their new home, provided all goes well until closing! I figure I’ll have a lot of free-time on my hands with Jon gone training, so maybe I’ll help them move & organize. It’s so nice! 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, office, fireplace, and it’s on 1/2 acre…plenty of room for gardening & kids to play!jessicashouse

On that note, any creative housewarming gift ideas?

‘Tis the Season to be…Jolly?

Alrighty, I haven’t posted any “life updates” lately, so here’s what’s been going on with me:

  1. I’m super stoked that my tutorial “Elf on the Shelf” Mod in 6-easy Steps has gone viral on Pinterest. I had almost 1000 views here yesterday alone! That’s wayyy exciting for me. So I’ve been thinking of ways to keep that going. Suggestions welcome. ;)

    Add wire, velcro, and magnets to make your Elf more pose-able.

    Add wire, velcro, and magnets to make your Elf more pose-able.

  2. My amazing hubbs is graduating from UW-Madison next weekend! ((GO BADGERS, WOO!!)) We’re obviously excited. Then in March he will become active duty in the Army, and re-training will commence. Who knows where we’ll be in a year?! It’s both exciting, and somewhat stressful. It will be strange, since the Army is very different from the Marines in some ways, but I’m sure the lifestyle is similar overall. Details on this decision here, since I don’t really want to hear any more “How could you let him do that?!” questions.
  3. Since he will be active duty again, thought we could use some “alone time” before things get crazy, so I booked us a vacation to Cancun in January. We’re going to an adults-only all-inclusive for a whole week for some much-needed relaxation. I hope adult-only doesn’t translate to “swingers” because that would be really awkward. Haha. That said, I’m super excited! We’ve always stayed in the Riviera Maya, so I’ve never been to Cancun before. If anyone knows of fun stuff to do there, please share!cancun
  4. We decorated our tree! I have a particular affinity for real trees, specifically Frasier Firs. I think it’s because of the smell…it reminds me of my happy childhood Christmases, which makes sense because smell is the strongest sense linked to memory, so they say. We played Christmas music, and McKenzie had a blast helping us this year. She LOVES Christmastime, which is fun to see. IMG_7131
  5. We are having a family Christmas celebration here on the 15th, because my family will be in town for Jon’s graduation…which translates to: I have to clean the house and wrap all the gifts that are being mailed here. *sigh* I am mostly excited for the meal, which is going to be Beef Wellington (at the request of over 5 people). It’s amazing. If you are not a family of vegetarians, it is a must. Oh. My. Goodness. It’s a labor intensive recipe, but easy and delicious. And I don’t dare modify that recipe either…why mess with perfection?TU0602_Beef-Wellington_lg
  6. Cali’s tail has been a PAIN. IN. THE. ASS. Seriously. (If you are not up-to-date with story, click here for details.) The bandaging is practically impossible to keep on, due to her frantic tail-wagging whenever we come home. And then she gets nervous, because she thinks it will hurt and shakes for like 5 minutes. Poor girl. I’ve been trying to keep her cone-head off whenever we’re home, though. She gets her stitches out next Thursday (hopefully), but she has another appointment Monday for some more professional re-bandaging.
  7. I have been running 1 mile a day. This is HUGE for me. Granted, it takes me 10 or 11 minutes, but I run the whole way. Yay me! Gotta get in slightly better shape for this upcoming vacay. ;) I would love to get into running again. I LOVE running when I am into it, but it’s the “getting into it” that’s difficult. It’s so hard. [Insert whiny voice here.] But it’s worth it, right? *sigh*

So that’s pretty much what’s been going on with me. How is your December so far? Do you find the holidays stressful, magical, or a little bit of both?

Getting an early start on the holidays…

Today I decided to get an early start on the Holidays and ordered our Christmas Cards! I used Shutterfly and I love how they turned out. I think they look like artwork! And you all know how I love a deal, so I used 2 coupon codes: 40% off holiday cards (code: holiday) and free shipping on orders of over $30 (code: ship30)…my order of 50 cards went from $97 to $57. Score!

Also, this past weekend Nina (grandma) came to visit. ((“Nina” used to be called “Nana,” but when McKenzie was a wee toddler she couldn’t pronounce Nana, so she’s been Nina ever since.)) Anyhow, we had a girl’s morning and went to the farmer’s market together with McKenzie, while daddy stayed homeand did homework. McKenzie had a ton of fun climbing a tree on the Capitol Square, and Nina got some delicious, local whipped honey. Yummmmm. And as you can see, they maintain the grass very well there…it’s so green. =)

At the last farmer’s market of the year with Momma & Nina.

Later that day, after Nina left, we made the 2 hour drive up to Wausau to visit Jon’s cousin and his family. I just love to see McKenzie play with her cousins, and frankly it’s fun to get just out of the house and chat with other adults.

I also love visiting their house simply because they have such a lovely home. It makes me SO excited to buy a house someday. I love that we own our condo, but I can’t wait to have my own home and yard. It will be so nice when I can just let the dogs out the back door! *sigh* Someday. So tell me you guys: is home-ownership everything it’s cracked up to be?

Girl’s Night Out & A Birthday Weekend

The past several days have been so fun! On Thursday, I had a “Girl’s Night” with my friend Anna. We had a delicious Italian dinner and then went to the comedy club! It was a blast…and long overdue. I LOVE the comedy club. It was really fun, although I’ve seen better comedians. He was funny, but a bit of a misogynist…I mean, I can enjoy a vagina joke here and there, but seriously, his entire routine was about vaginas. (Actually, I lie, there was one joke about an uncircumsized penis looking like a snuffaluffagus. Classy.) It was entertaining, but it’s just got old after like 10 minutes. But we still had fun (in part, thanks to the 2 drink minimum)! Ha.

Then, on Friday we made the 5 hour drive to Minneapolis to visit my sister (Jessica) & her family for my niece (Abbey’s) 4th birthday party! She and McKenzie are exactly 2 months apart. We went to the Mall of America for dinner and McKenzie and Abbey went on a carousel ride. Then on Saturday we went to Abbey’s Halloween-themed dance class…McKenzie dressed up like a princess, and Abbey was a fairy. They danced and frolicked. It was so much fun to watch. *Mental note: Get McKenzie into classes of some kind.*

On Saturday afternoon we went to Jessica’s in-laws for Abbey’s party. There was an obscene amount of presents. And an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen (yum!). McKenzie got some “un-birthday” gifts. That was always a tradition in our house when I was little…because once I cried when I didn’t get any presents on my sister’s birthday. It’s like the song from Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland,” get it?…”A very merry un-birthday to you!” Anyhow, McKenzie got a walking/barking puppy, dress-up clothes, a puzzle, and a painted glass project. Fun! She loves the puppy a lot. She named it Snowball, since it’s all white.

Then on Sunday we went to their cabin. It’s always so fun! They wanted a photo session there, to which I happily obliged…although, Dan was not a willing participant (*cough, cough*), so it’s not my best work. Haha. Buuuut, I love that my sister always poses for me! She’s such a good model, and helps me get my portrait practice! I told her that when she publishes her first book, I get to take the photo for the back cover. =) Other than that, McKenzie and Abbey played in the leaves, and our dog (Logan) followed us around on the ATV. Then we drove back to Madison. Long day, but a very fun trip! I always love to watch McKenzie and Abbey play together.

Find beauty in the ordinary.

All too often we forget to take the time to slow down and enjoy the simple things. “Busy” has become an accomplishment, rather than something to avoid. We’re working so feverishly toward our goals that time flies by, and a year passes in the blink of an eye. We get lost in the monotony of the day-to-day routine, and we forget to slow down and actually enjoy the present (myself included).

This is one of the many reasons why I love photography. One instant, frozen in time. I usually prefer portraits, but I think these photos are particularly beautiful (I took them January 2012 on a trip to California). I love the feel, the texture, and the color. These objects are so ordinary that the beauty lies in their simplicity.

Row boat in Dana Point, CA harbor.

A backyard orange tree.

A wet dock.

Moss in the backyard.

There’s no place like home…

Oh man, there’s nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed. McKenzie and I had a great trip to California…but there were definitely ups and downs, and I’m pretty relieved to be home. We had a lot of fun seeing seals and dolphins on Grandpa Jeff’s boat, and she had a wonderful birthday. Boy, did she get spoiled! New Barbies, a new toy phone, dolls, some new clothes, and even a Disney princess suitcase…traveling home would’ve been impossible without it!

So a little recap of the trip is in order: Since Grandpa Jeff was working on her birthday (and had no food in his house), we went to the Cheesecake Factory in Mission Viejo, CA for lunch. The servers came and sang “Happy Birthday” to her, and she got a mini birthday sundae…she thought it was pretty cool to be the center of attention! And she loved it…so of course I did too. ;)

On her birthday evening, some local Cali friends came over. McKenzie had a blast playing with Sadie and Sophia (4 and 9-years-old, respectively). They played Barbies and had tons of fun. And I  just didn’t have time to make my famous Dirt Cake…darn it! She loves it every year and it’s so much fun for kids. I figure I’ll make it for my birthday this Saturday and we can have a combined mini-celebration together so her Daddy can watch her blow out candles too. I was so sad he wasn’t with us on her birthday this year. =(

Anyhow, while we feasted on some Domino’s Brooklyn Style Pizzas, Grandpa Jeff was the hero and ran to pick up a last-minute cake. He got the most delicious Caravel ice cream cake, and it was perfect. She got her second chorus of “Happy Birthday” for the day, and shortly after, we called it a night.birthdaycakecollagecrop

Now, Grandpa Jeff always spoils us and takes us to yummy restaurants, and this trip was no exception. We had delicious dinners every night, and we walked to watch the sun set over Dana Point Harbor. It was stunning view from up on the cliffs. I didn’t happen to snap a picture, but while we were there McKenzie was being quite a little goofball, so I was certainly able to snap a few of that…look at that attitude!nightcutiecollagecrop

Anyhow, our flights home were uneventful, and I had 3 separate people tell me that McKenzie is a “great traveler.” So I suppose that’s good for me! Haha. But seriously, it was a really long day, and it was great to come home and see Jon. We missed him oodles. And I took a looooong nap in my own bed while McKenzie showed Daddy all the new goodies from her birthday.

And her amazing Daddy had one more birthday surprise for her, too…she walked into her bedroom to find this beautiful flower arrangement. She’s been asking for “fake flowers” for months, and I think Jon did a pretty darn good job making his first flower arrangement all by himself! It’s perfect on her bookshelf…and I’m so glad to be home. ♥