Alright y’all, I’m going through husband withdrawals.

Since Jon’s been gone, I’ve spoken to him for a total of probably 20 minutes and gotten 2 letters (it’s been a month and a half!). I’m going crazy! I’ve certainly been spoiled having him around the past 6 years while we were both in school. I miss him TONS. I certainly didn’t think it would be easy, but we didn’t know we were looking at 6 months of training…we thought it would be 4. And now, since Baby Boy needs to be born early, I’m thinking Jon won’t be able to be there for his birth (but we don’t know for sure)…but it seriously sucks you guys.  =(

On a happy note, in this post, I mentioned that we get to see him next month for a 48 hour leave at Fort Benning. I’m so excited! Thanks to some advice from Liz @ TheLambentLife I got some insider scoop on the Columbus area, so we’re all booked up for flights & hotel. On the downside it ended up being $1200 for airfare/hotel/car. OUCH. (And yes, I scoured the internet for the best deal.) But it’ll be totally worth it to have some time with him. McKenzie misses her daddy a ton.IMG_4079

So yesterday, I watched the documentary “The Business of Being Born” per the suggestion of another military wife, so now I’m looking into getting a Doula & considering a natural birth (aside from the induction)…maybe? My epidural with McKenzie was heavenly. I slept during labor. Anyhow, there’s a program called Operation Special Delivery, for military wives: Doulas volunteer their time to wives who don’t have support nearby, or whose husbands will likely not be there for the births. I haven’t heard back yet, but I think it would be great to have another supporter/advocate there with me.

And since I realized that I have very, very few photos of me & McKenzie, here are a couple from last spring. I’m ever the photographer! I think it’s a curse. We were at Olbrich Gardens here in Madison. It’s so beautiful there!

In other photography news, I did have a super fun newborn session on Monday…we got some beautiful photos! I think our Baby Boy might end up being one of the most photographed babies ever. ;) And man, he is really starting to amp-up his movements! Greatest feeling ever. =)

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19 Weeks

19 weeks.words

Urgh, I’m sorry all my posts have been mostly pregnancy related…but alas, it has consumed my life lately. I can’t believe I’m 19 weeks already! I promise I’ll have a blog featuring my new stroller, and some goodies I picked up in Cali on our trip soon. Here we go again:

How far along are you? 19 weeks…I’m officially half-way, since I need to deliver by 38 weeks. Only like 4 months to go! That’s crazy.

How big is the baby? According to my BabyCenter App, it’s about the size of an heirloom tomato.

Weight Gain? I’m up 7lbs. I’m pretty pleased with that, I think I was at 15 by now with McKenzie.

Maternity clothes? Yoga pants & sweatshirts are my uniform of choice.

Stretch marks? A tiny one on my inner thigh. And my boobies, which are leaking now. Oh joy.

Sleep: My itching is much worse at night, so my doc suggested Benadryl…not for the itching, but to knock me out. Worked like a charm last night! I slept like a man. =)

Best moment this week? We booked  trip to visit Jon next month! I’m so excited. It was EXPENSIVE for a 48 hour trip, but I don’t even care. Oh well.

Movement? He’s getting stronger & more consistent every day. =) I love that feeling. He’s tumbling around right now.

Food cravings? Bite Size Tostitos (my fave) covered in Sharp Cheddar. And also scallops (this recipe is easy and delicious…I use sea scallops. It’s one of the safest pregnancy seafoods).  Weird.

Food aversions? Nope.

Labor signs? Nope.

Gender? BOY!

Symptoms? Not as itchy, thank goodness. Nothing to speak of. Gotta love 2nd trimester. =)

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? Pretty happy. A little overwhelmed with cleaning up the house post-vacay.

What I miss: Not a whole lot, pre-pregnancy wise. Maybe my body obviously…I’m in that awkward stage where it’s not clear if I’m fat or pregnant. Haha.

What I am looking forward to: Seeing Jon next month, obviously. But we also have the 20 week anatomy ultrasound next Wednesday (May 1st), so I’m excited to see Baby Boy again.

Happy Spring.

We saw our first robins the other day, so hopefully spring is around the corner. It was finally 40°-50°F the past couple days. Nina (paternal grandma), came to Madison to watch McKenzie so I could have some girl time and go shopping for Easter goodies for the basket. I managed to find some great non-candy items, as well as some yummy treats she’s been eying at the store.easterbasket2012So this morning McKenzie woke up and discovered that the Easter Bunny had filled plastic eggs and hid them all over the house…and hid her basket in the shower! Silly Bunny. She totally did the “overjoyed face,” complete with wide-eyes and palms to her cheeks. We had a great morning! Happy Spring everyone. =)easter 2012

So, I’m Officially an Active Duty Army Wife.

How am I doing? I’ve been asked that a lot lately. And I’m actually a lot more sad than I thought I’d be, which was a surprise. Maybe it’s my pregnancy hormones. But I’ve been an active duty wife before (USMC), so I didn’t think it would be that bad. We’ve been together through 2 combat deployments, but I guess I’ve gotten used to having him around the past 6 years. On top of that, it appears we’re looking at 23 weeks of training. 23 weeks training = 23 weeks apart…that’s nearly 6 months, which I was not anticipating (at least not immediately). Oh well, I know how that goes.ByeDaddyByeDaddy2

He was so sweet the day he left. He went to the bank to get a Power of Attorney for me, and made a surprise visit to Target. He came home and surprised McKenzie with Cheer Bear (the pink Care Bear) to comfort her when she gets sad, and me with a body pillow (majorly awesome in his absence). It was so amazingly sweet that it made me cry. Again with these hormones.CheerBear

And it’s been a little hard on McKenzie. It’s only been two days, but she really misses her daddy…in fact, I’ve brought Eddie back for a visit or two to cheer her up. And that’s the part that kills me: I am totally fine/composed until McKenzie starts crying. She’s been pretty great, but we’ve had 3 sad moments so far. Cheer Bear helps her, for sure. =) And I let her bring it to school.

We had a really great time spending time together these last few weeks, though. On Friday we went bowling and had a great dinner out. It was really fun, and I highly recommend bowling for young ones! But only do one round…McKenzie was definitely “over it” after the first game.bowlingBut we’re trying to stay busy. There are a bunch of things I’m looking forward to in the next month, including:

  • A trip to Minnesota to visit my sister and see her new house!
  • My first official doctor’s visit…with a doctor.
  • Getting my hair done.
  • A week-long trip to visit Grandpa Jeff in Laguna, CA (and to get the new stroller!).
  • Sleepover & Girl’s Disney movie night with McKenzie and my friend, Stephanie.
  • FINDING OUT THE SEX OF BABY #2 April 2!

Any guesses?!

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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12 Weeks

Since I’m 12 weeks now, I think I’ll start doing this little survey every couple weeks. For reference, here is my 9 week post. Frankly, I can’t believe I’m 12 weeks already!

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12 weeks, Baby #2

How far along are you? 12 weeks…seems like a milestone! I’m definitely bigger, but I still don’t think that the “bump” looks visibly pregnant. Maybe just like I enjoy beer a little too much. ;)
How big is the baby? According to my BabyCenter App, it’s about the size of a lime. 3 inches, ½ ounce.
Weight Gain? 5lbs, same as McKenzie the first trimester.
Maternity clothes? A mixture. Since I’m getting bigger sooner with Baby #2, I’ve already bought a couple things: 1 pair of skinny jeans from Motherhood, and 2 long tunic shirts from there, as well. I figure if I can wear them til September, it’s worth the money to be comfortable. I’m mainly wearing yoga pants/sweatshirts around the house, and leggings with the tunic tops when I venture out.
Stretch marks? No not yet, but I have a feeling I’ll get them. With McKenzie I got them on my hips & inner thighs…but nothing on my stomach, thank goodness. Hopefully it stays that way. My friend who had twins recommended BioOil to me (she said she went through 2 bottles her entire pregnancy), so I’ve been using it every night before bed.
Sleep: Could be better. I wake up to pee at least 2 times, then I have a hard time falling back asleep. Blah. Warm milk helps with that.
Best moment this week? Spending quality time with McKenzie & Jon before he leaves. We’re also pretty close to having names picked out! Which was important to me to have done before Jon leaves. They’re not set in stone, but we like them both a LOT.  [[Hint: for a girl it would start with an “E,” for a boy it would be a “B”…neither are conventional, and both are surnames, but easy to say & spell with good nickname possibilities (meets all our criteria!). Just like McKenzie.]] Guess away!
Movement? None yet, but I hear you can feel it as early as 12 weeks with Baby #2.
Food cravings? Belgian waffles. Orecchiette pasta & calamari from Lombardino’s (best Italian food in Madison, hands down). Cheerio’s with fresh strawberries. Chocolate milk.
Food aversions? Steak or meat of any kind. *gag* When my hubbs makes it for himself, I need to leave the room.
Labor signs? Nope. Stay in there & grow, wee one.
Gender? Too early to tell. =(
Symptoms? Intense food aversions, and I’m moody. I’m also extremely “backed up.” It’s awful. Warm water with honey helps a little, but I’m pretty uncomfortable. If anyone has other suggestions, I’m all ears. =/
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? Depends on who I’m talking to. ;) I’m definitely “set off” more easily, and more likely to speak my mind when I’m peeved.
What I miss: Wine night with our friends. =(
What I am looking forward to: Thursday is the 2nd part of our First Trimester Screen, so we get to see the baby again via ultrasound. I bet it’ll be a lot bigger this time! We will also get the results of the blood-work taken by the genetic counselor, so hopefully all’s well with that. And I’m debating a private ultrasound to determine sex at an earlier date…apparently, they guarantee an accurate result at 16 weeks, and it’s relatively reasonable ($65). I just want to know so badly! And perhaps have a bit of control over something. Oh, and I can’t wait to watch the Walking Dead this week. Yep.

Raising Children: The Power of Positive

I have a confession: we rarely say “no” to McKenzie. Now, that’s not to say we let her do whatever she wants…that would not fly. BUT according to one UCLA study, the average 1-year-old hears “no” more than 400 times a day. That’s a lot! And that really stuck with me. So for us, instead of focusing on what she can’t do, we focus on what is acceptable behavior. We make a concerted effort to be positive, and I think it’s made a huge difference in her life! She has a very positive attitude, and now that she’s more independent she needs less direction. And isn’t that our goal as parents? To raise happy, self-directed children?

FBHeaderSunsetNow, of course kids need tough guidance here and there (especially where their safety is concerned), but it can easily be achieved without saying “no.” When she was younger, we’d simply say, “We don’t do that, let’s do this instead…” (redirect) but now that she’s older we’ll ask, “Do we do that? Is that acceptable behavior?…Why not?” And she answers us every time.

Another example is, “We don’t do that, because we could get really hurt if we play with the stove. It doesn’t feel good to be hurt, does it?” Yes, we actually say that…sometimes harshly. We are still firm, but instead of yelling “No, no, no,” she understands why. ((Adding the “because” also does an excellent job staving off the “why?” stage…because you’ve already answered the question.))Positive-Thinking1

Other times, when she asks for candy, a toy, or something else, instead of saying “no,” we’ll reply, “Oh, of course you can have it! After your nap/After lunch/After you clean your room/Tomorrow after school/etc.” Sometimes she fusses, but she responds very differently than she would to a flat-out “no.” And any ensuing argument is quickly remedied by, “Well would you like ______ after school, or not? We don’t reward this kind of behavior.” By responding to her requests in a positive way, she knows that she will eventually get what she wants, which in turn teaches her the importance of delayed gratification (for a fascinating Stanford Study on children, linking delayed gratification and future life success read this Wiki article).

And you may have noticed we really focus on her behavior. It makes me sad when I hear a parent say, “You’re a bad boy,” or “You’re a naughty girl.” To a degree, children internalize those words, so I think it’s really important for parents to emphasize that it’s the behavior & actions that are “bad” or unacceptable, and that doesn’t make the child “bad.” After all, every child misbehaves. Now, of course there’s something to be said about “Nature & Nurture”…obviously each individual has predispositions. BUT, I firmly believe that the way we interact with McKenzie influences her behavior in a positive way. It’s simple to change small words we use with our children to create a more positive environment.

I have an obsession with seat belts.

Maybe it started when I was little…my dad would routinely say, “You will die if you do not wear your seat belt.” (Well, that’s an attorney for ya…he also told us we couldn’t have a tree house because it was a “liability.” And in case you’re wondering, my first sentence was: “Daddy, will you buy me an irrevocable trust.” Truth.) So perhaps that’s the origin of my obsession? I don’t know. All I know is this: McKenzie must ALWAYS be buckled in properly. Always. And I always wear my seat belt.

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Why would I do anything to jeopardize the life of this precious little girl? (The chest clip here is even a little low for my taste…I’d move it up an inch.)

I absolutely CRINGE when people post “cute” photos on Facebook of their children in their carseats sleeping and their 5-point harness is buckled wrong. Oh. My. God. CRINGE. All I can think is, “Seriously?!?! Do you want your child to die?!” Now, perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic…but am I?

According to the CDC’s Child Passenger Safety Fact Sheet, “Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States.” Furthermore, “Child restraint systems are often used incorrectly. One study found that 72% of 3,500 observed car and booster seats were misused in a way that could be expected to increase a child’s risk of injury during a crash.” To translate: nearly 3 out of 4 children are not buckled in properly.

So maybe I’m not overreacting? Parents.com made a list of 8 Common Carseat Mistakes to Avoid. My biggest pet peeves are: #3 Infant turned forward-facing too soon (American Association of Pediatrics recommends 2 years! Better a broken leg than a broken neck.) and #5 Using the retainer clip incorrectly (“The retainer clip should be at armpit level, resting across your child’s breastbone. The clip assures that the harness straps are in the right place. When the retainer clip is in the wrong place, the straps can easily slip off a child’s shoulders, and the child is at risk of being ejected from her seat in a crash.”)

Two more facts for ya: The safest spot in the car is the center seat in the back (next is the rear-passenger seat), and children are not supposed to wear coats in their carseats (although I have been known to break this rule, I’m not perfect).

Sometimes McKenzie says that the clip is choking her…but I know it’s not. I’d rather have her be safe & uncomfortable than the alternative. And she gets over it quickly.

Sorry for the lecture. But not really. Keep your kiddos safe. Proof I practice what I preach:

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Big News!!!

For those of you who haven’t already seen via Facebook…we’re expecting baby #2! I’m 7 weeks 4 days, so it’s still very early…but we had an ultrasound today and everything looked perfect, with a steady heartbeat of 167. It made it so real to see it, especially for Jon, but for me too. We’re all very excited! In the pic below, the little bean floating in the black area is the baby. The top of the little bean is the head, and the white spot is the eye. It’s measuring perfectly, so they confirmed my due date of September 15th, 2013.7wks4days

And McKenzie is over-the-moon…she is so excited to be a big sister! Every morning she asks, “Is the baby snoring?” It’s adorable. She will be 5 by the time the baby is born, so I think I’ll have a pretty awesome little helper. I’m so glad we waited longer before having a 2nd, the timing is really great for us. =)

IMG_1120bwWe had already told our families, but to make the pregnancy “public” (aka: a Facebook post), I had this photo-shoot with McKenzie in her new “Big Sister” shirt. Her bedroom walls are purple, so it worked out nicely! I like how they turned out. =) I was excited to find a cute shirt, because sometimes I think the shirts like that are a little too “kiddie” looking.

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As for me, I’m feeling pretty well for the most part, just super tired. And most foods sound gross…I haven’t gotten sick, but I’m definitely queasy. I’ll wait too long to eat (until I’m overly hungry), and then nothing sounds good and my empty stomach is upset. I’ll usually just end up having a few crackers. And one night I had wicked heartburn, which I never had with McKenzie. Nothing too terrible though, it could be worse.

For those of you who are curious: yes, we plan on finding out the sex of the baby (I’m too impatient not to know!). To be honest, I’m sorta hoping for a boy because I think one of each would be pretty awesome…but hey, if it’s a girl we can reuse all McKenzie’s stuff so that would be awesome too. Either way, we were so excited to see the little heartbeat today, and we can’t wait to meet “it”!

So tell me, y’all, are 2 kiddos a lot crazier than 1? Were your 2nd pregnancies different than the first?

a senseless act of violence & 3 small ways you can help

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I don’t know exactly what to say, but I feel like saying nothing would be a disservice to all the victims and families in Connecticut.

It’s in our nature to want to fix things or solve a problem, but I don’t think this tragedy should be used as an opportunity to proselytize or further an agenda. It should not be politicized. It should not be blamed on mental illness or gun control. Fingers should not be pointed. There is no understanding a tragedy of this magnitude. There is no reason. It is senseless. It is horrific. And it makes me sick.

Having a daughter in kindergarten, I can’t help but identify with the parents of the Sandy Hook children. I read this article today, and I started bawling like a baby. Every parent grieves for those parents. Those beautiful little children. No more bedtime stories. Christmas gifts that will never be opened. A gigantic hole in the heart of every family involved, and the country as a whole.

I found myself thinking that surely there is something I can do to help those affected by this horrible tragedy, however small. So I compiled this list of  three small ways YOU can help:

  1. Donate to the Victim’s Relief Fund or United Way of Western Connecticut. Proceeds will directly assist the victim’s families in the form of counseling for survivors, funeral expenses, and the establishment of a scholarship fund supporting the students of Sandy Hook Elementary.
  2. Write a card. You or your children can write a card and send it to the school: Sandy Hook Elementary School, 12 Dickenson Drive, Newtown, CT   06482. This is a way to help your children contribute as well, even young children. I also found this list of 10 Tips for Parents for helping your children deal with the tragedy.
  3. Sign this petition. I was sickened to learn that the Westboro Baptist Church plans on picketing vigils & funerals of the Sandy Hook Elementary victims, the same group that routinely pickets the funerals of US service members killed-in-action. Please take a moment and sign the petition to have them legally recognized as a Hate Group by the US Government. Share and pass it on.