Travel Often

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

Love Deeply, but Laugh Along the Way

"Happiness is only real when shared." - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

View Marriage as an Adventure

"Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage." ~Finnish Proverb

Fuel your body with GOOD (It's the only one you get)

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. - Arabian Proverb

Open your Soul to Motherhood

A Grand Adventure is About to Begin - Winnie the Pooh

A New Kind of Love is Born

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Breastfeeding Preparation Class Complete - Month 7

Parenting Class Two Out of Four Complete

week 29

Breastfeeding Prep
Everyone has their own reasons for breastfeeding or not (and I respect this) - this post isn't about how awesome breastfeeding is and to make people feel bad - sometimes moms don't get the option or their breasts aren't working right. For me, the main reason I want to do it is for the health of our baby. I was a breastfed baby and I think of myself as one healthy person - blame it on the milk (I think I was breastfed till I was 2) or maybe it's my current healthy choices and the lifestyle I live now... who knows! And it seems so convenient...and cheaper.

I took Breastfeeding Preparation at St. Francis this past Friday (for three hours) and I can't tell you how helpful it was. Life sure has already changed from going out to Happy Hours on a Friday night to taking classes on how to breastfeed. To me, it's crazy all the different stages of life we go through. Blink and I'll be a grandparent before I know it!

I have been warned by those who have been through breastfeeding that it isn't as easy as it may seem. It's painful and tiring and my boobs are going to hurt like nothing I ever imagined. But the ones who survived all have said, I just need to get through the first month...I must fight through the pain because it will get better. So I'm going to try and remember that.

I didn't know what to expect so I thought I'd bring in My Brestfriend and the Boppy like one of those crazy moms. The teacher kind of laughed at me. I didn't really need them but the teacher did end up showing us how to use them, so that was nice.
All the breast pumps out there!

The class consisted of a nice Power Point presentation (even showed the different kinds of poops baby will have), a few videos, us working with a doll and holding "our babies" in all four different feeding positions, burping them and switching breasts, some items we'll want to buy to help with nipple soreness and asking questions. A few brave dads showed and I'm sure they enjoyed the constant viewage of all the different nipples and breasts in the videos. I could only imagine Karl's laughter in my ear the entire time. He's not used to seeing big cannons!

Things I learned from class:
  • How tiny the newborn stomach really is on day one (think almond).
  • The whole "let down" business. I seriously can't believe how amazing our bodies are. Makes me want to take even better care of mine. We put our bodies through so much.  I mean, my body is going to know I delivered a baby. The minute our baby is set on my chest for that skin-to-skin contact my breasts are going to know. Well...hopefully in an hour's time. And that's when baby is going to get the best milk.
  • All the feeding cues (remember...never really held a lot of babies here...didn't know there'd be cues).
  • There will be 8 to 12 feeds a day....phew!
  • Babies feed mostly between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. (say what? OK...I'm not an idiot. Knew this was coming.)
  • For the first week, Karl should help out with nighttime feedings...encouragement and changing diapers. I'm going to need a cheerleader and someone to bring me water! Must keep hydrated.
  • Speaking of diapers, they should always be dry when baby feeds (more comfortable).
  • All the different reliefs out there I can try for engorgement.
  • The different kinds of breast pumps out there (wow...we are really lucky to have electric!!)
  • Wait about 3-4 weeks before we give baby a bottle. Karl will have to feed and I need to be out of the room (or house) cuz baby will smell me. This will prepare baby to take the bottle of breast milk when I go back to work. Just can't do it too early, otherwise baby won't take to my breasts as well anymore. Babies have to work harder at sucking for milk at the breast.
  • At 12 weeks and when I start going back to work, baby will usually take a 3-ounce feeding each time he/she eats. I just want to know how many times this will be in a day? Are we still talking 8 to 12 feedings a day?
  • Buy a bunch of maternity tank tops that flap down (easy to wear these in the hospital under the gown that will have slits in it).
  • Baby should be breastfed for up to a year.

Most shocked about:
  • Baby should sleep in the same room as mom and dad after birth for awhile if mom is breastfeeding. Just not sure how long is awhile? And in a crib? Or in one of those bouncy chairs? I need to do more research on this.
  • Delay use of pacifier for about 4-weeks (once latch-on and milk is well established).

Most excited about:
  • I have the contact information of the lactation consultant at St. Francis now. The hospital is only 5 minutes away from home, and I will be going in the minute I feel lighting bolts shooting through my boobs because I want to make this work and I want to limit any cracked, raw nipples!
  • This crazy bond I'm going to feel with baby. Still can't wrap my mind around this or comprehend.
  • Going to lose weight pretty fast if I continue to breastfeed. YAY! I get to eat an extra 500 calories a day for this.

Most worried about:
  • My breasts not functioning correctly.
  • The pain.
  • Getting up every hour or two to feed. Sounds exhausting. Teacher said the schedule baby is on now inside my belly is what he/she will stick with when he/she is born. I feel movement around 10ish...sometimes around 3:00 a.m. too. Yikes. I'm reading a book dedicated to breastfeeding so I can keep all the information fresh since there is still 11 weeks to go!

Visitation issues:
This was addressed quite strongly. The teacher suggested only allowing the grandparents and immediate family into our room on that first day. Otherwise, baby will miss feedings and momma is going to get real tired entertaining everyone and then will have to stay up all night long feeding a very hungry baby. Only to get more visitors the next day... And the cycle continues. Depends on how comfortable I am letting my boobs hang out in front of everyone. However, she did remind us that we're going to be on an insane high for about two or three days and will CRASH big time. Kind of like our wedding...I remember sleeping for 18 hours straight on our honeymoon. And I can't imagine that bringing a baby home is anything like going on a restful honeymoon.  

Any breastfeeding advice out there that I need to know about?

Homemade Pizza

Turn your pizza into something healthy!

Homemade Pizzas
serves how many you make
recipes found head. I just load up on vegetables!

There really isn't any set ingredients for the pizzas I show below.

Whole wheat crust
Yummy pasta sauce
Pizza cheese
And a ton of veggies, anything from...
Red, green, orange, yellow bell peppers
Italian sausage
black olives
banana peppers
artichokes, etc

Have fun with them!

Karl's reaction: "This is top notch pizza here, babe. Yummmmmmm!!!!"

My take: I love making our own pizza because I feel like it's not as salty and it's fresh!! Cheap too!

Tuscan Soup with Potatoes, Kale and Bacon

Think Olive Garden's Soup

Tuscan Soup with Potatoes, Kale and Bacon
serves a bunch
recipe found on Snacking In the Kitchen Blog
Tastes like that soup from Olive Garden (just not as buttery)

*Beware: no set ingredients...measure at your heart's content

1. In a large soup pot saute diced onion and chopped garlic.

2. Add sausage (I used a spicy sausage variety, but you should feel free to use the kind you like). Saute sausage and onions until tender. Sprinkle red pepper flakes.

3. Add thinly sliced potatoes (Leave the skin on - gives you more nutrients!).

4. Add 4 cups of chicken stock. Have your own homemade chicken stock? Great! Use it. Otherwise use low-sodium, low-fat chicken stock.

5. Bring the soup to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender.

6. Time for white and green! Add chopped kale (this stuff is SO good for you), about 4 cups and a few cups of milk. If you are feeling extravagant, you could add some half and half for richness, but honestly, you don't need it. The soup turns out really creamy and rich as is. Be careful not to boil the milk. Gently heat the soup to wilt kale.

7. Time for one ingredient - crumbled pepper bacon.  The gal who came up with the recipe used 4 slices. It really adds a nice kick and texture to the soup. Ladle up and enjoy!

Karl's reaction: He hasn't tried it yet! He was out fishing.

My take: This is excellent. Yes, instead of bacon bits I should have used REAL bacon. Seems milky, but still really good.

Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomato Orzo

Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomato Orzo
serves 4
recipe found in Eating
Kind of looks fancy, doesn't it?

8 ounces orzo, preferably whole-wheat
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, (not oil-packed), divided
1 plum tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled
3 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram, divided
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed (1-1 1/4 pounds)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1/2 cup finely shredded Romano cheese, divided

1. Cook orzo in a large saucepan of boiling water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse.

2. Meanwhile, place 1 cup water, 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, plum tomato, garlic, 2 teaspoons marjoram, vinegar and 2 teaspoons oil in a blender. Blend until just a few chunks remain.

3. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent burning, until golden outside and no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; tent with foil to keep warm.

4. Pour the tomato sauce into the pan and bring to a boil. Measure out 1/2 cup sauce to a small bowl. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes to the pan along with the orzo, artichoke hearts and 6 tablespoons cheese. Cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide among 4 plates.

5. Slice the chicken. Top each portion of pasta with sliced chicken, 2 tablespoons of the reserved tomato sauce and a sprinkling of the remaining cheese and marjoram.

Karl's reaction: "It's okay..."

My take: I really think it tastes better the second day as weird as that sounds. Karl even texted me when he was at work that the food tasted better to him. Unless he was being nice...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Welcome to the Third Trimester - Month 7

28 weeks

Making it to the Third Trimester...
and all those thoughts that come with it

By this week, your baby weighs two and a quarter pounds (like a Chinese cabbage) and measures 14.8 inches from the top of her head to her heels. She can open and close her eyes, which now sport lashes. This movement is more of a reflexive blink than a deliberate opening and closing, but it won't be long before she's batting those beauties at you.  (
Me in the bathroom at work - 28 weeks!

We made it!  Seven whole months and 28 weeks down, now entering the third trimester. Meaning, there are only 12 more weeks to go...3 more months!

How do I feel?
I actually feel great! I have my moments where I get painful, mind-blowing Charlie Horses at night in my calves. Or if I eat too much sugar (like two Jolly Rancher suckers back to back), I get tired and sluggish. And I do feel the heaviness of my body. But I still feel pretty happy and excited...that is until I let other people, their problems and opinions step in. More on that later. But I am proud to say I haven't cried once this entire pregnancy (okay, I bawled at the movie UP...but that's kind of normal for gets me every time when the old man opens the journal his late wife put together!). No tears shed here otherwise. I haven't bitten Karl's head off either... As of yet! Maybe that's to come third tri?

I'm still working out. I'll do 25 minutes on the stair stepper. I would normally go at level 11 or 12, but I'm around a level 6 right now so my heart rate isn't off the charts and I'm not passing out. Then the next day, I'll do strength training. I'll take a day or two off and then add another day of cardio...maybe the elliptical. Then another day of strength training and then I'll walk on the treadmill, but make it nice and hilly. For my butt's sake!

I've still been eating really great. I'm still taking my four vitamins a day, but I now take my Omega-3 Fish Oil in the morning and at night. This is the big trimester for brain development. Creating a little genius inside me. I mean, we all know Karl's going to think this baby has his "genius smarts" but really...we'll know the real reason. Shhh.

I really don't have any mad cravings. Since oranges practically burnt a hole in my stomach, I've been gravitating toward blueberries right now. Every now and then I get a craving for ice cream, and I satisfy it so I don't have to eat an entire carton, like I did in my twenties after a guy would dump me. And Karl's been wonderful - he ran to DQ for me once to get an Oreo mint blizzard. Yum!

Thoughts thus far
I had a blog post started of all the cray-cray thoughts going on in my head, but they kind of went away after I had a nice talk with my mom. First of all, I feel like I'm extremely lucky to have the mom I have (for a second I thought all moms were alike...I couldn't be more wrong. I really have a good one.) and I must say, I'm already starting to look at her differently now that I'm in the beginning stages of this motherhood stuff. For one, she listens to me. And I mean...REALLY listens to me. That's a great quality in itself. Secondly, she offers up great advice. She doesn't scare me or make me feel like I'm inadequate or crazy. And she doesn't go into detail about what she did 30 some years ago and how bad they had it back in the day...blah, blah, blah. After someone comes to me and freaks me out, I email her or text her and I get, "Oh jeesh. Don't worry about it. You're going to be great. And dad and I are always there for you."

Simple as that. That's all I need to hear.

I think the reason I get so scared is a lot of the people I talk to seem to assume that all pregnancies are alike, and like to think I'm like every pregnant person out there. I'll have a baby and life will be over, sleep is no longer an option, my life will get flipped upside down...and for some reason they don't think I've taken any of this into consideration. I get these lines a lot...

"You won't be able to do that anymore, you know..."


"Have you really thought about that? Because I've heard it's impossible to breastfeed and work."

Oh really?

Hey, maybe all that above will happen. Maybe it won't. But I wouldn't have gotten pregnant if I wasn't up for the challenge. I just wish people would let my story unfold first before putting in their two sense and comparing me to their sister or best friend or aunt or mom or self. I know what could happen, but I just don't know if that's going to be my story. So I say, let me be...pregnant! Let me enjoy this miracle going on inside me. And know I do welcome good, positive advice!!

Test for Gestational Diabetes - Month 7

week 28

Passing the Gestational Diabetes Test

I was warned I'd be drinking the grossest sugary drink of my life, and I'd have two gross options to chose from: orange or fruit punch. I prepared myself for nasty, but the drink really wasn't as bad as everyone made it sound. I swear some people just love making new moms squirm.

I had five minutes to drink the orange sugar drink down

The nurse in the lab filled up my cup and told me I had five minutes to drink it all. After gulping down the goodness, I had an hour to go up to my appointment and come back down. I could use the bathroom, drink water, but I could not eat for an hour. I was fine with that because I made sure I ate a healthy breakfast beforehand.

The orange drink wasn't as sweet as I thought it would be. People told me it would taste like a bad McDonald's orange soda. I really didn't think it was bad - there just wasn't any carbonation. And it had a more syrupy texture to it than the McDonald's orange drink, kind of like cough syrup. Karl even smelled it and said he didn't think it was so bad.
The orange drink that really wasn't so bad

We made it up to the doctors and as I was sitting in the waiting room, the drink started to slosh around in my stomach a bit. That didn't feel so great, but I knew it would pass. To me, a Mello Yello tastes stronger and more sugary than what I just swallowed.

We were called in. I was up a few pounds. Sigh. I'm officially 22 pounds heavier. But baby's heartbeat sounded great and the doctor again cheered me on and said to continue working out. I told him my concerns about waking up on my back (I guess blood doesn't flow as well to baby or mom if you lay on your back and books keep warning me to sleep on my side). He asked how I felt when I'd wake up on my back. My response: Great! So he told me to keep doing it. Huge relief. And so, I slept like a baby last night.

Karl and I made it downstairs with one second left on the clock. Phew. Two vials of blood were taken from my left arm. I was told I'd have my results on Monday. And by last night our doctor already emailed me my results cuz he's that awesome! I passed! YAY!

Glucose O'Sullivan Screen

My results = 80
Normal = 40-139 mg/dL

OB HemoglobinMy results = 12.7gm/dL
Reference RangesGestational Hemoglobin level measured in gm/dL
First Trimester (Week 12) 11.0-13.4
Second Trimester (Week 20) 10.5-12.7
Third Trimester (Week 32) 11.0-13.2
From MMWR 1989;38(22):400-4

Up next: Breastfeeding class at St. Francis and me at 28 weeks!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book News and Writing Update - Not Giving Up!

Where do I go from here?

I started my writing journey almost two years ago. That seems forever ago, but at the same time it feels like yesterday. February 2010, I saw an ad for a writing class in a Shakopee Community Ed book that came in the mail. After some pondering, I decided to sign up. Writing a book was my dream after all and the chance to make it a reality was staring at me in the face. Hello. Time to get real. It doesn't get any easier than this. I'm glad I signed up and took the class. I learned a lot about the writing process, met some great people and realized that YES, I'd have to write an entire book if I ever wanted to get published.
Me typing away!

I had a lot of work ahead of me.

But I never realized how much work.

For nine month I worked on writing and more writing and more writing. I cancelled plans with friends, I spent 14-16 hours most every Saturday and Sunday for weeks at a time staring at my laptop and writing. I'd get up early. I'd race home from work. I'd take days off from work just so I could write. Finally, (and I mean finally) my first draft was done. 360-plus pages of awesomeness. Or so I thought.

Then I joined a critique group. Since starting the crit group, some gals have come and gone, but I'm ever grateful for each of them. Best decision ever. I thought they'd all love my book. The first three chapters came back with red all over them. My manuscript got slaughtered. "Goodness gracious," I thought, "my writing wasn't strong enough. I'm doomed." A nice little reality check if you ask me.

Still, that didn't stop me. I learned all I could about showing versus telling and shortening words and my poor use of different tenses and taking out the unnecessary parts that stalled the story.

Each time, each revision, my book would get strong and stronger. I was growing as a writer and it felt awesome. So then I thought I was ready to send off my full manuscript to agents, especially after a friend called me in a panic saying someone in REAL life had planned her wedding and didn't have a groom and was looking for one. Sounded too much like my book. I was scared she'd get a book deal and felt it was then or never. (I look back now and cringe at this...why, oh, why did I do that? My book was so not ready yet.) He said I had to get my manuscript out as fast as I could. Huge mistake. But I queried and started getting requests.

I was pretty excited and surprised.

Then the rejections came in.

But - yes, there's a but - I was lucky. I'd get personal emails from agents letting me know what I could do to make my story better. And I took each piece of information and added that to my manuscript. Some even asked to read the manuscript again. For the next nine months I queried, revised and was rejected. I never gave up. I was open to changing my manuscript and did just that.

Then I got pregnant. Life sort of changed and shifted and I didn't have the energy or desire to revise and query as much anymore. I think I was depressed a little - blame it on the hormones. I could barely get up the courage to walk into work, let alone think of words to make my book better. Yet, several agents still had my manuscript in their hands. And as baby was growing inside me, I'd hear back. Some suggested I contact other agents since there was possibility in my writing and storyline. But still nothing. I busied myself with baby stuff and kept my fingers crossed one of the agents would say "yes".

As of this week, the final one said "no" and there are no more queries out or no agents out there with my manuscript in hand waiting for review. For a couple hours after hearing that "no", I felt like all hope was lost. That I had given my dream my best shot and the final answer was "no". God was trying to tell me I'd never be a writer. I'd never get to hold my book in my hands. I wasn't good enough for this crazy dream of mine. This is why I was pregnant right now. I'd eventually become a mom, like the ones who were in my writing class, who gave up on their dreams to raise their babies and I wouldn't be able to come back to my dream until the kids were out of the house...20 plus years later. **gulp** 

Then I remembered who I am as a person. I looked at the quote at my desk, "There is no failure except in no longer trying." And remembered I'm not like everyone else. I'm my own person and I have control of the choices I make. I'm determined. I'm focused. I have ambition like nobody I know. I know that voice telling me and pushing me to keep going is for real. I'm not crazy (well...okay, a little). I have passion and am committed to making this dream a reality. When I set out to do something, I do it. And I'm not giving up! No way. I love my story too much.

I feel like the timing is simply off right now. And one day down the road, the timing - my timing - will be on because I'm not giving up. For one, I never stopped believing and searching for true love and boy when the timing was right, I sure found it. If I settled for less in the past or gave up, I'd be miserable with myself right now! But I held out and look where that got me? To amazing.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep making my manuscript stronger until it's irresistible to the right agent. You know what that means? Time to get back to work, dust off all that negativity and self doubt and do my thang. Time to shine.

I collected all the feedback from agents and realized there was a commonality between all of their comments and suggestions. Yes, the publishing industry is quite subjective and my book is a little too "chick-lit" right now. Yes, I love chick-lit, but that doesn't matter because not a whole lot of others do. As in the people who buy books. I now get where they are going. Right now the popular genres are either Women's Fiction (which is a bit more dramatic and emotional) or Contemporary Romance (more love, passion, fun, flirty) and I needed to choose one. The way my manuscript stands now, well, it's not really in any popular category. Who's going to want to take it on, knowing it won't go far?

So I looked at my bookshelf last night. Tons of chick-lit books stared back at me...most from 2002-2004, when that stuff was a bit more popular. I thought of one of my critique partner's sympathetic emails to me, suggesting I turn my book into a sweet romance. She said that she wanted to get to know my main male character better. The bug was planted and I couldn't shake it. Since chick-lit wasn't an option, what else would be a great choice for me? What genre was I crazy about?

Ummm...that's a no brainer. ROMANCE. Romance is everywhere in me and my life. And I mean everywhere. Not only in my bookshelf but in my personal journals, all my writing, in my choices of DVDs and music on my IPOD (I mean, who else works out to Canon in D?), and the way I think and live. I love romance. Period.

And a new idea was birthed!

My new goal: To revise my manuscript to be more contemporary romance and see where that leads me. No time limit either. No rush. No pressure. Just me, my laptop, my thoughts and loads of romance...and the love of writing.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Goes in a Diaper Bag and Car - Month 7

week 28

Enter: Diaper Bag

Thanks to all the frequent emails I get from several mother-to-be websites (and yes, I subscribed to another magazine....this time Fit Pregnancy), I decided to start putting together a list of all the goods we'll need in our diaper bag and make sure Karl and I have stocked cars just in case any blowouts happen. Trying to get this all done when I have the energy and time!

Items filling the diaper bag:
Changing pad
Cloth diaper or receiving blanket
Change of clothes
Extra socks
Plastic garbage bag
Zipper bags (couple of big ones and small ones for the bottle's nipple)
Bottle of water (for clean ups)
Diaper cream
Antibacterial gel
Medicine (acetaminophen and anti-gas drops)
Nursing pads (my Hooter Hider)
Pacifier (with clip)
Baby toys
A book or two
Snacks for mom and dad
Extra shirt for me
A bib or two
Travel tissues

Stocking Both our Cars

Items in both our cars:
Car seat base
Travel diaper wipes
Extra diapers
An extra pair of clothes
Bottle of water (for clean ups)
Plastic bag for trash
Granola bar (for us...stop those hunger pains)
First aid kit (and a little remedies survival kit too)
Antibacterial gel
Travel tissues
Extra shirt and pants (you never know what'll be leaking these days...right?)

Am I missing anything?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Three Great Pregnancy Books - Month 7

What to read while pregnant?

Currently I'm reading about seven different pregnancy books, a romance novel (sorry, I need some steamy romance in my life) and a Christian-type of book. And so far I have three faves out of the seven pregnancy books.

Here's the secret I've learned up to this point in my pregnancy. Nobody can really prepare you for pregnancy or what's about to happen. Nobody. No person. No book. No video. Etc. Every 'body' is different and handles pregnancy in its own way. Kind of like how we're all our own person. And with that said, humor is a good thing when the unknown is lurking around every corner. Trust me. Fear can do some cray-cray things to a pregnant lady.
Hilarious, honest book for pregnant ladies

Jenny McCarthy did a good job of cracking me up in Belly Laughs. My friend Katie (due less than two weeks before me) sent me a text and asked me if I read it. I said "no" and she mailed it to me. I thought that was pretty awesome in itself. I read it on our flight to Vegas and was done that night. It's a quick read, and it's hilarious. Let's just say Jenny is very open and doesn't hold back...on anything! I highly recommend this book to add some humor to your pregnancy. Laughing is a good thing.

Second book that has helped me a ton has been Heading Home With Your Newborn. Funny, but Amazon was the one who recommended this book to me. Remember, I'm the one who rarely holds babies...if at all. I don't think I've ever changed a diaper in my life. I never heard of swaddling and bumbos and boppies. I'm sooo clueless (and part of the reason I think I'm so scared). But this book really covered everything from breastfeeding to sleepless nights and figuring out if your baby is too hot or cold to helping make life easier. Let's just say I feel a little more prepared and have something to go back to when I'm struggling!

Third book, Your Pregnancy Week by Week, was given to me by my BFF She-Dawg. I really do read it "week by week" and love knowing what's going on with my body and baby for the week. It's fun and very accurate. I just like it because each week is short and sweet and to the point.

There is one other book that I just started that a work friend recommended about breastfeeding. The Complete Book of Breastfeeding. I'm only a few chapters in but it's full of great information, and I think by taking a breastfeeding class this weekend will help keep the information fresh as I read chapter after chapter.

Moms - Were there any books you read during your pregnancy that you enjoyed?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Car Seat Safety Class for Baby - Month 7

Parenting Class One out of Four Complete!

week 28

Car Seat Safety at St. Francis Hospital in Shakopee
I would've never imagined myself taking a class like this. But, the statistics are alarming. Over 83 percent of parents install the car seat wrong (which would totally be me) and car accidents are the leading cause of children's death.
Practicing on a little doll

Those numbers had my attention, even though most people giggled when we told them we were going. "You are definitely first time parents." I know, but this stuff is interesting to me!

The class was offered through the hospital we'll be delivering at and I think was around $30 for the both of us. We later found out most everyone else in our class were able to get FREE car seats because they were on Minnesota Medical Assistance and only needed to complete the class and fill out a form. Jeesh! Kind of nice if you ask me.

It was up to us if we wanted to bring in our car seat and car manual. We did. Super happy we were gifted the Chicco KeyFit 30 from our first shower (thanks Mattie Sue...and mom!!!). It's totally awesome. I did some major research on car seats and am totally satisfied with the KeyFit so far. Way easy to install!

The 2-hour class (which really only lasted an hour and 20 minutes) was taught by a nurse and mother of two (who is also married to a volunteer firefighter who has seen way too many horrible accidents due to incorrect car seat installation so she's mega passionate about this stuff). Though we didn't get to install the car seat into our own car, we had to practice getting a doll in the seat correctly (too many times the straps aren't tight enough) and then tied and locked both the car seat base into an actual seat of a car and then again without the base (for the purpose of grandpa and grandma watching baby for a weekend and not having a base installed in their car).

We watched a 20 minute video on the different types of car seats and stages. Very scary to see a bunch of infants and small children dummies in crash tests and how horrible these accidents can be even if the car is going 30 miles per hour...all because the car seat wasn't installed properly or there are toys hanging from the handlebar or the bar is over the child's face and not tucked behind the car seat.

We left turning our recall card in that came with our car seat (just in case Chicco has any recalls and now they have us on file) and received a packet of information. Really happy we took this class.

Most surprised about:
  • You can get free car seats through some insurance providers.
  • Car seat must be rear facing up to two years of age.
  • Absolutely NO toys on or in the car seat...or no loose objects in the car - they will go flying!
  • Kids can't sit up front until they are 13.
  • Kids have to be in booster seats until age 12.
  • Once the car seat is past 6 years old, break it and then dump/recycle it.
  • NEVER EVER buy a used car seat. You never know where it's been or what kind of accident it's been in. Even minor.
  • Insurance companies will reimburse you if you do get in a very minor car accident for a NEW car seat. Otherwise, if you get in another accident with the same car seat, NOT GOOD. Nobody will be willing to take blame. Just you.
Anyone else have good suggestions for awesome car seats after baby grows out of the infant one? they seem quite expensive!!

Up next: My crazy and scary thoughts on being pregnant. My favorite pregnancy books so far. Gestational Diabetes testing (going in on Friday). And breastfeeding class.

Pasta with Chickpeas and Garlic Sauce

One of Karl's Favorites! Score!!!

Pasta with Chickpeas and Garlic Sauce
serves 4
recipe found on My

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups uncooked medium seashell pasta (about 6 ounces)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (I used basil instead of parsley)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (beware - this is like $9.00)
I also added Italian sausage for extra protein

1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add crushed garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add salt, pepper, chickpeas, and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

2. While garlic mixture simmers, cook pasta in boiling water 9 minutes, omitting salt and fat; drain well.

3. Place chickpea mixture in a food processor, and process until smooth. Combine chickpea mixture, pasta, tomatoes, minced garlic, fresh parsley, and lemon juice; toss well. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

Karl's reaction: "This is for sure another top three. Yum, babe. I need more."

My take: I liked using chickpeas because it looked like I was using a bad cream sauce and tasted like it too, but I knew it was healthier! I will be making this again. Very easy. And I liked the basil because it added a lot more flavor.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Being Pregnant and Going to a Concert, Vegas and a Magic Show - Month 7

27 weeks

This week, your baby weighs almost 2 pounds (like a head of cauliflower) and is about 14 1/2 inches long with her legs extended. She's sleeping and waking at regular intervals, opening and closing her eyes, and perhaps even sucking her fingers. With more brain tissue developing, your baby's brain is very active now. While her lungs are still immature, they would be capable of functioning — with a lot of medical help — if she were born now. Chalk up any tiny rhythmic movements you may be feeling to a case of baby hiccups, which may be common from now on. Each episode usually lasts only a few moments, and they don't bother her, so just relax and enjoy the tickle.
My family in Vegas (at Bellagio)

Who would have thought I'd being having so much fun at seven months pregnant? Not me!! I thought I'd be miserable and unable to move. So far, this had been pretty fun besides the feeling tired part (but I really don't mind getting sleep - it feels good). Oh, and I don't like the pants getting tighter! Hate that.

Brad singing Then! Felt like our first dance all over again!

So I barely go to concerts when I'm not pregnant but I won tickets to see Brad Paisley in concert at the Xcel Energy Center via Twitter. All I had to do was tweet my favorite Brad Paisley song. Of course it's Then, since it's our first dance. And low and behold, I had won us a pair of tickets. Score!

Off to the show Karl and I went. Scotty McCreery was first and The Band Perry was next. Karl and I didn't show until 9:00 p.m. considering we were leaving for Vegas to celebrate my younger brother's 30th birthday the next day at 6 a.m. We had a very early morning ahead of us and were already tuckered out so we didn't want to be out for too long. Lucky for us both Scotty and The Band Perry played with Brad during his show, so we were able to see all of them perform too. Yay! The concert was great and not too loud. I was worried I'd blow Baby Koester's ears out. He/she was pretty chill during the entire show.

Side note: I will say I do know why Taylor Swift was Entertainer of the Year though. Her show blows Brad out of the water. Okay, so maybe I do go to more concerts than I thought... 

We stayed until 10:30. We knew we'd be getting up at 4:30 a.m. but were a bit excited to meet my family in Vegas. We maybe got four hours of sleep. And anyone who is pregnant knows you NEED more than four hours of sleep to function. I tried to pretend I wasn't tired and I will say the only way to travel is with my older brother Mike. We always get the best seats on the plane, covered parking at the Park N Fly, Sky Club access... Jeesh. Let's just say it was nice.
Even though it wasn't 60 out, we still hit up the pool for Vitamin D!

Vegas was fun but I will be honest. It was hard being pregnant. I wanted to drink. I wanted to stay up late and gamble with everyone. I wanted to do more. But I was exhausted most of the time, and all that smoke in the Casinos is nasty. I was scared the baby would be breathing it all in. So I'd climb into our wonderful fluffy King Size bed and grab a book. I finished Jenny McCarthy's Belly Laughs - totally LOVED it. She even tweeted me back in response after I told her how I thought her book rocked! And I finished another one of my other baby books. More to come on those in another blog post.
Yeah, Jenny McCarthy and I go back to MTV's Singled Out! Ha!

Not going to lie, I had my moments where I'd freak out while in Vegas - the selfish Christie would start to come out. I wondered a lot how life would change once Baby K was born. Would I get to do any of the fun stuff again? Would Karl be the one getting to experience all the fun while I took care of baby and kept my body healthy for baby? But then the more I thought of it, I realized I was the one who woke up refreshed (not hungover or tired) and I was still able to have fun and remember things. And with baby we'll have new different kinds of fun adventures.

But it's still scary because it's the land of the unknown. I don't know how things are going to change. I can worry myself about them, but I think like everything else in life everything will turn out just fine. I don't know if we'll be able to travel like we have been. More signs point to no, but I'm constantly reminding myself to take one day at a time. Nobody can predict the future. Things change all the time! And my life so far has been quite the ride. Why stop now?

My brothers and Karl (and dad) playing Craps for four hours!!!

All in all, we had fun. And I mean lots of fun. Karl has been to Vegas five times and he said this was by far his favorite out of all the times he went and that makes me super happy. I love how he's able to fit right in.

This time we stayed at Mandalay Bay

We stayed at Mandalay Bay (ate brunch there three times...shhhh), hung out by the pool, won $209 at Wheel of Fortune (what up Vanna!!), saw the fountains at Bellagio, walked all the way to Battista's Hole in the Wall Italian Restaurant starting from Mandalay Bay (that's behind the Flamingo....holy stairs), took the Deuce to Fremont Street and also saw Criss Angel in action.

Places we ate in Vegas:
The Bayside Buffet at Mandalay Bay
Red, White and Blue at Mandalay Bay
Ri Ru Irish Pub at Mandalay Bay
Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay (this was really good!)
Battisa's Hole in the Wall

Karl, Kid Rock, my brother Mark and TuPac...he lives!

And with all that commotion and travel and noise, Baby Koester seemed to survive! Criss Angel was probably the loudest out of all the places I've been these past seven months and there was no crazy kicking or anything in response!

But I do think he/she was wondering what was going on today as I sat at work because there's been lots of kicking. Probably wants me to move some more or something. Or else he/she is missing all the bells and whistles of those slot machines. Ha!

Up next: Why am I freaking myself out so much? And the results of our two-hour Car Seat Safety Class. Good baby books.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Orange-Beef Stir Fry

Wok and Roll

Orange-Beef Stir Fry
serves 5
recipe found in Fitness Magazine, January 2012
Lots of flavor in this dish!

1/2 lb top round steak
1/2 cup beef broth
2 T soy sauce
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
2 T lime juice
1 T sesame oil
1 T minced garlic
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 T cornstarch
Nonstick cooking spray
1 T canola oil
3 small bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 small Vidalia or red onion
1 cup broccoli florets
3 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Place steak in freezer until firm but not frozen, about 20 mins. Cut against grain into thin slices.

2. In a large cowl, whisk together beef broth, soy sauce, orange juice concentrate, lime juice, sesame oil, garlic and ginger. Stir in cornstarch until no lumps remain. Set aside.

3. Coat a wok or large skillet with cooking spray. Add oil and warm over medium heat. Add peppers, onion and broccoli; cook and stir 4-5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften. Increase heat to high and add steak. Cook and stir 3-4 minutes, until meat begins to brown.

4. Reduce heat to low and add broth mixture. Cook 2-3 minutes more, until sauce thickens and steak is no longer pink.

5. Garnish with scallions and serve.

Karl's reaction: "Wow. I like this a lot. Lots of good flavor in here. Real good job babe."

My take: I think this is awesome. I usually suck at making Chinese and this tasted really great! Loved the fresh veggies. I piled them on to make more food.

Orange-Dijon Salmon with Almond-and-Herb Couscous

Get those Omega-3s

Orange-Dijon Salmon with Almond-and-Herb Couscous
serves 4
recipe found in Fitness Magazine, January 2012
Refreshing salmon recipe!

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
1 1/4 pounds salmon, cut into four equal portions
3/4 cup couscous
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup fresh chives, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard and orange marmalade. Place the salmon, skin side down, in a baking dish and spread the mustard-marmalade mixture evenly over the top of each piece; cook 12 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small pot, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil; remove from heat. Stir in the couscous, cover and let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and mix in the almonds, chives, parsley, mint, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and black pepper. Serve topped with salmon.

Karl's reaction - "I like this babe. It has a good taste to it. Good hearty portion."

My take - I liked this. It was easy to make and tasted great. I like making salmon different ways so this was cool!

Toasted Angel Hair with Sausage and Peppers

A Pampered Chef Recipe

Toasted Angel Hair with Sausage and Peppers
serves 4
recipe found in 29 Minutes to Dinner - From Everyday to Gourmet (The Pampered Chef)
Karl says this dish is in his top three

1 lb bulk hot Italian sausage
2 medium red bell peppers
1 lb uncooked angel hair pasta
3 garlic cloves, pressed
5 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup fresh basil, divided
1 oz Parmesan cheese

1. Place sausage into (12-in) skillet. Cook over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking into crumbles. Remove sausage from skillet and set aside.

2. As sausage cooks, slice off tops and bottoms of bell peppers, remove and discard seeds and stems. Finely chop tops and bottoms. Remove and discard seeds and ribs from sides of peppers, slice into thin julienne strips.

3. Add pasta to skillet and toast 8-10 minutes, stirring after each 2-minute interval. Press garlic over pasta and add broth, all of the peppers and cooked sausage. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer vigorously 5-6 minutes or until pasta is tender.

4. As pasta simmers, chop basil, reserving half for garnish. When pasta is tender, remove from heat and stir in remaining basil.

5. To serve, divide pasta mixture among serving bowls, grate cheese over pasta. Garnish with reserved basil.

Karl's reaction: "Just taking one bite I already know I'm going to love this. Okay, this is officially my top three favorite meals you've ever made. Delectable."

My take: This was rather good. I never toasted noodles like that, but it gives it a real nice flavor! Very tasty!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Baby Shower Number One - Month 7

Feeling rather lucky these days

26 weeks

The network of nerves in your baby's ears is better developed and more sensitive than before. He may now be able to hear both your voice and your partner's as you chat with each other. He's inhaling and exhaling small amounts of amniotic fluid, which is essential for the development of his lungs. These so-called breathing movements are also good practice for when he's born and takes that first gulp of air. And he's continuing to put on baby fat. He now weighs about a pound and two-thirds and measures 14 inches (an English hothouse cucumber) from head to heel. If you're having a boy, his testicles are beginning to descend into his scrotum — a trip that will take two to three days. (

Hometown - Roscoe, Illinois
Karl and I drove to Roscoe this past Friday night for Baby Koester's shower. We were so thankful both of our jobs let us leave early from work so we didn't have to roll in after 11 p.m. It's hard for me to stay up past 9:30. Plus, that five-hour drive is killer. But I always love going home. I seriously have the best parents ever. Karl and I were kicking each other that we didn't take Monday off so we could stay longer.
Roscoe Baby Shower Invites made by Grandma Cindy and me!

We wanted to send out invites that looked like the nursery! Can't forget the super cute envelopes either.
These invites were from Target

Saturday, we all woke up early to get everything ready for the shower. We headed over to Hilander to get the super cute cake.
Cake was super delicious - chocolate and vanilla with raspberry filling
I'm not a cake person, but this was good!

Then we headed over to Jessica's Restaurant to set up the room. There aren't too many restaurants in Roscoe. Jessica's is a place my mom, brothers and I always went to for breakfast with the neighbor ladies during the summer. (Swedish pancakes with loganberries...ummm, yes please!).
The weather was actually 40-some degrees (and in January!)

We had all the guests fill out a calendar of when they think Baby Koester will arrive into this lovely world. The one who guesses the date and sex, will get a special gift in the mail! Do you have any guesses? For some reason everyone stuck with April. No March dates or May.... (thank goodness!)
We're going to hang the calendar in the nursery!
When will Baby Koester be born? Hmmm... April 16 is the due date!

Karl was so sweet and stayed the entire time! Three full hours. What a trooper. He learned lots about breast feeding and labor, blowouts, and all sorts of cool stuff. But, he was pretty excited about his new book, Dude, You're Gonna Be A Dad! He especially liked the sperm on the front cover. Not sure why he looks a bit toasty in this picture - I promise there was no alcohol!

Karl's excited to dive right into his new book!

I wasn't the only one pregnant at my shower either! There were three others who have babies on the way. Rachel (far left) is Karl's step cousin and due with her third in early March. She-Dawg is due February 17 with baby Catelyn. I'm due April 16, and Allison is due with her son Drew in early May!! Everyone was glowing and looking amazing!
All the pregnant ladies!

There was one little show stopper. Little Miss Brighton McGrath. I can you not love her hair and those beautiful eyes!? She's so precious, like her mom, Jaymie!!!
Little Brighton McGrath being held by Mrs. Denbow

Speaking of moms...mine did one heck of a job putting the entire shower together, with the help of my dad of course and her pal Cathy down the street! I need to think of something I can do to say thanks in return. (Knowing my mom, she'll probably say..."move back to Roscoe!")
Me and my mom. She's the BEST ever!!!!!!

We started off getting beads and anyone who said "cute" had their beads stolen from them! Whoever had the most beads won a prize. Then we had these really cute animal name card holders. Whoever had a star at the bottom of theirs won a prize! I don't know why I didn't get a picture of them.
Shower room at Jessica's

All my second moms and grandmas growing up! And my real mom!
My family - aunts, cousin and best friends!!!!
The girls of Whitewater and more!! I have the bestest friends!!!
Best group of girls EVER!!!!!! Laura, Bright, Jaymie and me! Friends for life!

Then we ordered off a menu my mom picked out and put together. Soon we were opening gifts and the guests were playing Baby Shower Bingo.

Woweee! Feeling the love and also feeling rather spoiled. We'd asked everyone to bring their favorite children's book for Baby Koester, to build the library. Boy...did we get a lot of awesome books. Jeesh! Karl and I love to have our own library hour before we go to bed, and we're hoping Baby K will carry on the tradition...maybe not until a little later though.  My favorite thing as a child was having story hour. I loved love loved when my mom read to us.

We also received a lot of beautiful handmade items. Man, people are talented. Where do they learn this stuff? My gpa and gma couldn't make it since they got the stomach flu (booo!!!), but my grandpa wanted to make sure I got these booties "he" worked feverishly on. You see, my grandpa doesn't you know where I'm getting at. Anyway, my grandma did SUCH a cute job!
Great Grandma's little booties in Green Bay Packer colors... Not sure about that being a Bears fan!
A sweet little giraffe made by Sally Miller - a friend of my parents

All in all the shower was a success. I feel so stinken lucky to have such wonderful friends and family. It's the best feeling knowing I have a ton of great people I can lean on - people who will be honest with me and will make me feel good about myself no matter what I'm doing, right or wrong!
So excited to see my friend Heather! I hadn't seen her since her wedding 5+ years ago!

Sunday morning Karl and my dad packed up our car to the brim with all the gifts before we all went on a walk together. Karl was so sweet and unpacked the car when we got home and moved everything upstairs to the nursery.
And this is just shower #1!! Where is all this stuff going to go??

I don't know if it's the amazing (but strange) warm weather for January, the sun shining, feeling more and more like myself or the life growing inside me, but I just feel happy. And I want this feeling to stay forever!!!! Life is so good right now.

Thank you all who celebrated with us this past weekend and those who have offered up so much support and encouragement. I need it and love it! Thank you!

My calendar saying for today: Friends warm you with their presence, trust you with their secrets, and remember you in their prayers.

Coming next: Attending a Brad Paisley Concert and Celebrating in Vegas...7 months pregnant.