So I’m switching hosts.

Due to the aforementioned blog makeover, I need to switch hosts. This might affect how you follow my blog, so please be sure follow me there! My web address will stay exactly the same, “www.lifesolovely.com”, but the “follow” button just might not work for your reader here on WordPress. =/ Bloglovin.com is a separate website that works just like the WordPress Reader, so I’ve been using that for awhile and highly recommend it. I find it actually updates faster with new posts! Or you can just follow Life So Lovely’s Facebook page, that makes it easy too! Just a head’s up in case I disappear from your Reader. =)LSL_construction

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Home again, home again.

I’m still recovering from our horrific travel day home from California on Wednesday/Thursday…a snowstorm in Denver turned our 6 hour travel day (4 hours of airtime) into 18 hours. We finally got into Milwaukee at 3am. It would be horrible for anyone, but I was particularly exhausted being almost 5 months pregnant, and traveling with a 4 year old. And I am not one to invoke “pregnancy status” as an excuse for anything. McKenzie was such a trooper though, so that was definitely a plus.

As a silver lining in the whole mess, I discovered the USO. What a lifesaver! I always thought it was for active duty servicemen only…I had no clue it was for dependents too. Well, it was amazing. Free pizza, snacks, juice, water, internet, huge comfy recliners, big screen TV’s, phone chargers to borrow, and a play area for kids. The volunteers were the most awesome people ever…so kind & helpful. And after traveling 10 hours already, with 8 to go, I was on the verge of tears, and the USO was a little slice of heaven. No joke. Throughout the whole thing, McKenzie was an absolute ANGEL. No whining, crying, or tantrums. Angel status, for sure.

In California, now that was another story. She had a tantrum like 2x/day. Her sleep was all messed up from the time change, and let’s just say Jeff didn’t have a lot of food in the house…a perfect recipe for tantrums galore. Oh, you won’t escort me to the bathroom? 30 minute tantrum. Oh, did you say I need a nap? Spastic, exorcist tantrum. Moments like those, I could use a “tag” from Jon. =( I am happy to report, though, that her behavior is back to normal & she is currently spending her 2nd night in her big girl bed.

Overall, it was great to see Jeff, but I’m very happy to be home, and I won’t be traveling (voluntarily) for awhile. I had all these plans to stay busy, but I may have been overly ambitious. This itching is out of control (and much worse at night), so I haven’t been sleeping well, and then I’m exhausted during the day. I had a doctor’s appointment today and they said I could take Benadryl to knock me out. I really hate to take anything unnecessary, but I’m desperate for a good night’s sleep. Maybe I’ll pick some up tomorrow.

I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but it has seriously been a rough couple days. As an attempt to stay positive, here are some random things I’ve been happy about lately:

1) Baby Boy is a lot more active. Nothing super-consistent, but the movement is more frequent, for sure. It’s the coolest feeling. Something you never forget.
2) I brought my wicked-awesome stroller back from Cali, which Jeff had picked up for me off of Craigslist…and as a super-bonus, he refused to let me pay him back. Baby B’s gift. Sweet.
3) I got tons of adorable baby clothes from my favorite resale shop when we were in California…onesies for 99¢! I went a little crazy. Maybe I’ll share my spoils in a different post.
4) I got to talk to Jon for 15 minutes last Saturday. It was heaven! I miss him like woah.
5) I came home to a letter from him! He liked the pictures for the baby’s announcement of boy/girl. =)
6) We get to go visit him next month & he gets a 48 hour leave. It’s gonna be super expensive, but I really don’t care at this point.
7) At the airport in Orange County, a little old lady said to me, “That daughter of yours is going to be a knockout…and she has quite the little booty.” It was SO funny…particularly because she was little & old. But Jon might have cried if he heard someone say that…lol. Poor Daddy.
8) I’m reading a new book by my favorite author, James Rollins. Love him. When I read for pleasure, I enjoy action thriller books, and he is my fave. I love reading.
9) I loved watching McKenzie play in the surf at the beach on our trip. She had so much fun. She would play chicken with the waves, and she delighted in throwing sand into the water. Here’s a photo-dump from my phone…our last beach day, in Laguna Beach, 10 minutes from Grandpa Jeff’s house. Have a good weekend everyone, I will be relaxing at home.

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So, now I’m high-risk.

itchytummyAs I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been really, really itchy lately. Well, for weeks actually. It is TERRIBLE. Like, wakes-me-up-in-the-night-type terrible. I even mentioned it at my 9 & 14 week appointments. “It’s just hormones,” they said. “It’s your skin stretching,” they said. “Itching is a 3rd trimester thing,” they said.

Well, I self-diagnosed weeks ago with ICP (Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy), characterized by severe, wide-spread itching without a rash. Basically, your liver doesn’t process the bile-acids properly, which makes your histamines go crazy (hence, the itching). And I’ve always had an asymptomatic liver disease (since birth), so it made sense. It fit my symptoms perfectly. I even called the after-hours nurse line because I was freaked-out. When I spoke with the nurses at my doc’s office the next day, they were unconcerned. “It’s just hormones,” they said. “It’s your skin stretching,” they said. “It’s too early, it’s a 3rd trimester thing,” they said.

But guess what showed up in my labs, after demanding that they test me for it?! ICP. Yeah, I f***ing knew it. Moral of the story? Always, always listen to your body. It normally shows up in the 3rd trimester. At 17 weeks, I’m nearly half that. My doctor told me she was “shocked,” and that in the other cases she’s dealt with, none of the other women had it before 35 weeks. Lucky me.

This diagnosis officially makes me high-risk, but it should disappear within days of giving birth. It’s a “complication.” It doesn’t affect the development of the baby, cognitively or physically, but mothers with ICP have a much higher risk of stillbirth (for reasons still unknown) and babies are more to have respiratory distress after birth…which is exactly the thing a pregnant momma doesn’t want to hear. =( To minimize the risk to the baby, I will have weekly ultrasounds starting at 24 weeks (viability) until my 32nd week, when I’ll start having Fetal Non-Stress Tests (NST’s) 2x a week. Because of the increased risk of stillbirth, doctors induce between the 37th-38th week of pregnancy. That means we’ll have another late-August baby…I’ll literally be pregnant an entire month less than McKenzie (who was super, duper late). Maybe Jon will actually get to be there if it’s planned?

I comfort myself with the knowledge that, if delivered before 38 weeks, the risk of stillbirth is less than 1%, which is the same as normal pregnancy. My silver lining is that I get to have more ultrasounds (did I jinx myself with that last post?), and we get to meet *him* sooner.

I’m trying to stay calm. It’s still scary. And I’m still itchy. But hopefully the medication I’m taking 2x/day will have these wicked bile-acids under control soon.

And this makes me miss my husband that much more, I SO wish he was here right now. Thankfully, I got to speak with him briefly yesterday to tell him what’s going on…and he hadn’t gotten my letter yet, so I told him it’s a boy. Another silver lining? I’m trying to stay positive, it could always be much worse. =)

A Great Week, In Sum

Time is going really fast lately, and I think that’s great! I miss Jon SO much and it can’t go fast enough. I’ve been staying really busy, and I have wonderful friends who take the time to come visit me & hang out. It’s pretty great. Here is the last week in sum:

Monday: In the morning I ran errands and then in the afternoon McKenzie and I had our little photo sesh with the baby shoes to announce the sex of the bebe. She’s such a good sport, it took all of 10 minutes…but then I locked us out of the building. A kindly neighbor let us in, but I need to make a *mental note to get spare keys and give them to Madison friends.* I spent the rest of the afternoon editing the photos & letting McKenzie play. BigCollageTuesday: This was McKenzie’s first day back at school from Spring Break, and THE BIG DAY to find out the sex of the baby! The appointment wasn’t until 4:30, so I cleaned house and did TONS of laundry (long overdue) to keep myself busy. While McKenzie was at school I took a long, glorious nap. I have been EXHAUSTED lately…the kind of tired that makes your eyelids feel like anvils on a thread. If you’ve been preggo, you know what I mean. When 4:30 FINALLY rolled around, we went to the appointment at Baby’s Debut here in Madison. Some people have asked McKenzie’s reaction to finding out she’s going to have a little brother…and honestly, her initial response was “EWWW! A penis!” Oh my gosh, it was hilarious. But she enjoyed seeing the baby too, and of course I love it. I would have an ultrasound every day if I could. This is my favorite pic, I think he looks so peaceful like he’s sleeping. And the technologist said everything looks great, so that’s always nice to hear. 10 fingers, 10 toes, healthy heart. At night, I wrote Jon a nice, long letter to mail off on Wednesday.wpid-KUEHL-BABY-BOY-16-WEEKS_18.JPG

Wednesday: Oh geez, I went and got my military ID at the local reserve office first thing in the morning. The photo is HORRENDOUS. I think the lady made me look like a troll on purpose. Blah. She was not friendly. And it’s so embarrassing, I’ll have to use it all the time! Urgh. I was not pleased. Anyway, I’d also had all the photos of Baby Boy printed at Walgreens, so I sent off a letter to Jon telling him the news. I’d contemplated calling the unit and asking if they could tell him, but I think a personal with photos is a little more romantical. Ya know? Then, around lunchtime my good friend Stephanie came into town for a sleepover. She’s a music teacher at an elementary school, and she brought a ukelele for McKenzie to play with. She is a rockstar with McKenzie! They sang and danced SO much, so of course McKenzie was head-over-heels! Many adorable moments ensued, including this “You Are My Sunshine” duet. *melt* We went to the mall after McKenzie was done with school. then had a lovely evening, complete with pizza & a Disney movie marathon.

Thursday: Since we’d had a sleepover, we got some delicious breakfast at Monty’s Blue Plate Diner. The food was amazing, as always. Then Stephanie had to go home, and I took McKenzie to school…after which I had another long, glorious nap. Did I mention that the weather has been GORGEOUS? I’ve been walking the dogs to school when I drop-off/pick-up McKenzie and taking the long way back home. It adds up to 2.5 miles per day (1.25 round-trip, one way). Go me, that’s more than I’ve gotten in awhile. How sad. Darn Wisco winters. =/ I’m going to make a point of walking whenever the weather’s nice.

Friday: McKenzie has ballet Friday mornings, then after I quickly stopped into the doctor’s office. I’ve been having the most horrible itching…like widespread, horrible itching. Like, so bad it wakes me up. They were concerned it was early pre-eclampsia, but my blood pressure was fine, so they did some labs to test for something else that’s a little more scary. I should hear back about that tomorrow. After the short doc visit, our long-lost neighbor came to visit with her 2-year-old. What a handsome little guy! We got to chat while the kiddos played, and even took the dogs/kiddos to a nearby playground to get some energy out. She gave me a great idea for a future blog: balancing dogs & kids. It’s pretty rough some days, especially being alone lately. I feel so guilty sometimes, like I’m a terrible dog owner. =( Sooo, more to come on that another day.

Saturday: We finally got McKenzie a big girl bed! She was definitely outgrowing her toddler one, and she LOVES it. I had been looking for one for awhile, and finally settled on this one…and I’m SO pleased. It’s solid wood, very sturdy, and it was on sale for $189 when I bought it. Compared to some “standard” white twin bed frames I was looking at it was a steal! Plus, it’s a space saver, and she loves using the ladder. But I spent the ENTIRE day putting it together by myself and rearranging her room (although I’m not satisfied with the layout yet). The bed took 2 hours, but it was extremely easy. We don’t have the mattress yet, but I ordered the special 6″ bunk-bed mattress, so she’ll still have ample railing space still to prevent any rolling accidents, as per suggestions in the reviews. I do love that it’s not too high for her (chest height), so I’m not too worried about her falling. I would’ve loved a bed like this when I was a kid! I think I might put up a tension rod & some curtains underneath to make the “fort” even cooler.

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Sunday (today): We had a lazy morning…McKenzie slept in until 9! It was amazing. Around 1, we headed over to a 1st birthday party for my BFF’s identical twin boys! It was so cute, and her decor was awesome. It’s been so fun to watch them grow up the past year! And of course, McKenzie had fun playing with all the balloons. And there was pulled pork…the same to-die-for pulled pork recipe that I’ve posted. Yummm. Then McKenzie and I went to run some errands: a quick trip to the grocery store, and a successful trip to Michael’s (craft store)… To elaborate, I have been eying these adorable Easter Baskets at Pottery Barn Kids for the past 2 months, but I absolutely could not justify spending $30-$50 on an Easter basket…no matter how cute, even if it’ll be used every year. Anyway, at Michael’s all the Easter stuff was on clearance for 70% off, and I managed to score this Easter basket for a grand total of $5.60 (originally $16.99). I was pleased! It might not be *as* cute, but I think I can trick it out a bit. Either way, it’s definitely a cute upgrade. =)basketAll-in-all it was a great week. Finding out we’re having a BOY was definitely the highlight though. I look at those little ultrasound pictures every day. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe I’m even pregnant since I’m not that big yet! Soon enough. I’m sure I’ll be eating those words in a month. Lol. Today I am officially 17 weeks, but here is my 16 week photo since I forgot to post it last week. And no, I am not angry (as some FB commenters noted)…that is my straight face. Yes, I have an angry-looking straight face. Thanks for noticing. Haha. 16weeks.words

This week, we’re looking forward to going to visit Grandpa Jeff for a week in California. There is sure to be lots of yummy food, boat-riding, and dolphin-watching! Have a great week everyone. =)

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

First Trimester Screen

We had the First Trimester Screen ultrasound today…everything was great!  The odds of Down Syndrome or Trisomy (18 or 13) are 1/10,000. So far, it’s healthy. *sigh of relief* And we got to see “it” again, so that was awesome. We were able to get a 4D ultrasound, and I know it still looks alien, but it’s cool nevertheless!

The heart rate was 176, and the baby was bouncing all around (even though I couldn’t feel it). But they refused to guess the sex…so I’m pretty bummed. =( I really wanted to know before my hubbs left! BUT I scheduled a private ultrasound to determine the sex of the baby…they guarantee accuracy at 16 weeks! April 2nd is the big day! =)

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a birthday.

Today is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 56. And yesterday was his Deathiversary. Yes, he died the day before his birthday…30 minutes before, actually. This first week of March is usually a rough week. Lots of memories.

My dad was first diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 1999, when I was 13 years old. It’s a death sentence. First he lost his speech (bulbar form), then he couldn’t walk, and by the end he was on a feeding tube completely dependent on care. It’s a truly horrific disease.

He entered Hospice in February of 2003…I don’t think I fully understood what that meant at the time. We missed a lot of school that month. We’d go and read to him, and I’d paint his toenails, and we’d watch TV together. I guess we just tried to surround him with love, while trying to maintain some sense of normalcy. I just can’t believe it’s been 10 years, even though it does feel like a lifetime ago. I was 16.

He was a great storyteller. He was a former Navy Seal (Frog Man), and a great lawyer (asbestos litigator). He loved the Green Bay Packers, and sports in general. He would read to us every night before bed, even when we were older…the books grew with us. He had a sense of humor. He loved going to movies (one of his favorites was The Fifth Element). He was my biggest fan at my soccer games. And he would play four-square with me in the driveway. He was a great dad.

We went on vacations to Mexico or Jamaica at least twice a year, and I am lucky to have amazing memories of both my parents. For that I am very grateful. But I just can’t help but feel cheated. I lost both my parents by the time I was 24.

Anyway, I was going through a bunch of pictures, and I found these gems. I loved reminiscing, even though it made me bawl like a baby (hubbs can vouch). These darn pregnancy hormones are getting the best of me today. Sheesh.

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Me & my dad, circa 2000.

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Mom, me, Dad, and my sister. Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica.

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Isn’t this epic? Awesome 70’s photo. I think it was his senior picture.

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Me as a newborn. September 1986.

You spent $1,000 on a…WHAT?!?

Yes, it’s true. As I alluded to in this post, we got a 2012 Bugaboo Cameleon! (Pictured below is the color scheme we got.) If you don’t know anything about these strollers, it’s probably because they start at $979 brand new. Which is insane. I mean, who spends that much on a stroller?! That’s a lot of dough. It’s pretty sweet though…just look at it. But you know who turned me on to it? My momma. Bugaboo

You see, before McKenzie was born, my mom practically begged to buy us this stroller. She thought it was super cool. Awesome even. But I vehemently opposed the purchase of a $1,000 stroller.  I was like, “Geez Mom…for that price, would you please just buy the entire bedroom set AND a cheaper stroller/car-seat set?” But at the time, I wasn’t personally aware of the awesomeness that is the Bugaboo Cam. Until now.

When we found out about Baby #2, I started thinking about strollers immediately, so of course my mind drifted to the Bugaboo, which my mom had liked so much. I did TONS of research. Read hundreds of reviews. Etc. And I came to the same conclusion: it’s pretty awesome. It has a sweet bassinet (w/ a foam mattress!). It’s car-seat compatible. It can be forward or rear-facing. It has 6 different positions. Adjustable suspension (no kidding!). Heavy-duty foam tires. A reversible, height-adjustable handlebar. On top of all that, it’s relatively compact, and everything is machine washable…and according to the legends, you can push this bad-boy with one hand, no problem.

McKenzie will be 5 by the time the baby is born…which, I’ve decided, is a little old to be using a stroller…don’t you think? So I quickly ruled out double strollers. ((As a hilarious side-note, check out www.toobigforstroller.com for photographic evidence of this phenomena, if you could use a laugh.)) BUT, that said, if I’m going on a long, work-out-style walk, it might be too far for her little legs. Enter: the Bugaboo’s roller-board! I had never heard of these…but it folds up or detaches easily when not in-use…the perfect solution to my problem! I can still use a single stroller, but my kindergartener can ride along if she’s tired. Brilliant.

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Anyway, so I decided to go ahead with my Mom-inspired purchase, but I was still completely opposed to paying full-price. No freakin’ way am I dropping $1,000 on a stroller. So I began obsessively checking Craigslist and eBay. Unfortunately, not a lot of people in Madison, WI (or even Milwaukee) use Bugaboo strollers. And on eBay, they were pretty beat-up. Then, I had a genius idea: my step-dad lives in Orange County, California…so I searched the Craigslist there, and there were pages of Bugaboo listings. Score!

I kept my eye on them, and found a 2012 stroller, listed for $450 with car seat adapter + other accessories included. My lovely step-dad swooped over and scooped it up at my request…and after some bargaining, the final price was $375!  It’s still a lot for a stroller (I know), but we didn’t spend $1,000 on it. We managed to get a *mint* condition Bugaboo Cam for almost 65% off. I’m stoked, and I can’t wait to push Baby #2 around in it! And the best part is: I know my momma would approve. ;)

“Masking Tape Racetrack” & Some Other Things

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McKenzie doesn’t have school (4K) on Mondays, and I can never figure out what to do during the day. The Children’s Museum is closed on Mondays. It’s snowy and crappy outside. What do I DO? Urgh. I’ve been taking her to the mall (across the street) to play on the kiddie playground inside. It feels so…trashy. Anyway, I remembered seeing this idea on Pinterest (don’t know where), and decided to give it a shot. The “Masking Tape Racetrack” was a hit! Hours of entertainment with her MatchBox cars. Tomorrow we’re going to build a town with her wooden blocks and set up some train tracks nearby. She can entertain herself with imagination play for hours. =) *Note: I used regular masking tape & a black Sharpie marker…I triple checked and it did NOT bleed through. And it’s super easy to peel off!*

6 Other Things in My Day:

  1. A moment of nervousness: We had Part I of our “First Trimester Screen” for Baby #2 this morning. Just some blood-work and informational stuff. It made me nervous though. Just thinking something could be wrong with the baby. Ya know? When I was pregnant with McKenzie, one of the blood tests came back showing a higher risk for Down Syndrome (her odds were 1/180…which was very high for being age 21 at the time). We opted not to have the CVS or Amniocentesis done with her, but I was nervous the whole time. The first thing I asked when she was born was, “Is she okay?” Of course, she was fine. But if one of the tests is flagged this time around, I might opt for the CVS or Amnio simply to have the peace of mind. Hopefully it’s a non-issue.
  2. A moment of disappointment: At the aforementioned appointment, they dashed my hopes of finding out the sex at the ultrasound on March 7th. BOO! I hear there’s a private ultrasound center that will do it for like $65, so maybe it’s worth it? I know it’s still early, but I really want to know before Jon leaves (if we can). Did anyone have accurate results early? =/
  3. A moment of hilariousness: Today we saw a homeless man walking down the road while we were driving by our local grocery store, and McKenzie said, “Look Momma, I think it’s a ZOMBIE!” Oh. My. God. I laughed SO HARD! [[She was dead serious though…so we had a long talk about homelessness, mental health, and addiction. And yes, I really did that with my 4-year-old (with age-appropriate dialogue, of course). I firmly believe honesty is the best policy, and sheltering her will only make her naïve. It was an excellent “teachable moment” and I don’t think it’s ever to early to start reinforcing the dangers of drugs and alcohol. She’s gonna be a realist!]]
  4. A moment of elation: Vincenzo is GONE! Hellz-to-the-YEAH! I confirmed with property management that his sister removed him from the premises on Saturday. It’s so much quieter already. And his name is gone from the mailbox and everything! Woo! It made me a little giddy. ;)
  5. An update:  Cali’s tail is completely healed! The tip is growing hair, and it almost looks normal again…even though half is shaved. (That’s what she said! Haha.) Anyhow, it doesn’t look too weird either…I guess her tail was super-long, because two inches is barely noticeable. =)
  6. A future post: I know it’s long overdue, but my next post will be about my awesome new stroller, although I don’t physically have it in my possession yet. And don’t worry, I didn’t pay full price…not even close. I’ll let ya know how I pulled that off, too. ;) And I’ll explain my emotionally-motivated rationale for choosing this particular stroller in the first place (other than the fact it’s the Rolls Royce of strollers). Have a great week, everyone!