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.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Doctor Visit at 37 Weeks - 9 Months

37 Weeks

Your baby is now considered full term, even though your due date is still three weeks away. If you go into labor now, his lungs will likely be mature enough to fully adjust to life outside the womb. He weighs 6 1/3 pounds and measures a bit over 19 inches, head to heel (like a stalk of Swiss chard). Many babies have a full head of hair at birth, with locks from 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches long. (

37 weeks and counting!

Karl and I returned from our 37th week check up today. Happy to report, all is well. Blood pressure remains around 96/54 to about 106/56. I tested negative for Strep B. Yay. Very minimal swelling in my legs and hands. Weight gain is still up. I'm getting close to Jessica Simpson's weight gain. Yikes. Thank God I'm tall. Oh, and our baby's head has dropped since last week. I had everything checked and the doctor noticed a change in the baby's placement (as in dropping lower), but our baby is still snuggled in me pretty tight. My belly is measuring about 35 centimeters at 37 weeks, which the doctor said is great.

In our baby pool I said I'd be going into labor on April 6, which would be next week. That just seems nuts to me right now. No way. Me, becoming a mom in a week?? Say what? I've decided I want to change that. Our doctor is going on vacation next week. My brother Mike is going on a mission trip to Peru through Easter. My sister-in-law Kelly is going to Colorado. And my parents will be finally getting back to Illinois from Arizona. Soooo...the timing wouldn't be the most ideal if baby decides to show up next week. But when baby is ready, baby will be ready. Again, trying to keep that open mind!

Changes in the past couple of weeks... Lots of pain going on in my bladder area since last Saturday. I went on a walk and soaked up the wonderful sun and fresh air, but when I got back, I felt like I pulled every muscle in my groin and the pain kept getting worse, moving on to other areas. And it hasn't quite gone away since. Just feeling lots of stretching going on.

Lots and lots and lots of trips to the bathroom. Like, every hour on the hour. The past three nights I haven't had the best sleep, but I still have a ton of energy. I'm plowing through tons of projects at work just to make sure I have everything in order and done before I have to leave at a moment's notice. And the house is pretty clean.  Except for all these gnats all of a sudden. How does one get rid of them?

Those nasty leg and foot cramps are back. It never fails. I work out at the gym hardcore and that very night the leg cramps come on with a vengeance. I did get an amazing deep tissue massage at a new place in Shakopee last week and the massage lady told me to drink 4-6 ounces of milk right before bed. I did, and the cramps actually went away. I think she might be on to something!

Also, during the day I have been feeling a lot more tightening going on, almost like it's that time of month, but nothing too painful. Enough to notice though. Body must be getting ready.

We scheduled our next three doctor appointments. That's it - just three more until the big day...if that. I can't believe this!!!! I have a ton of emotions flooding me on a daily basis. Sometimes I feel like I'm in denial. Not sure what that's about. And I keep having dreams of a baby boy...

Enlightened Egg Salad Pita

Delicious Egg Salad Sandwich

Enlightened Egg Salad Pita
serves 4
recipe found in Shape, January 2012
Really easy to make and so tasty!

6 large eggs
2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1⁄4 teaspoon curry powder
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
4 whole-wheat pitas
4 lightly packed cups baby greens
1⁄2 large English cucumber, thinly sliced

1. Place eggs in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water by 1 inch, and bring to a boil over high. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit for 11 minutes. transfer eggs to a large bowl of ice water and let cool for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, combine yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, curry powder, and salt in a medium bowl; season with pepper. Stir in the onion, celery, and chives.

3. Peel the eggs; discard 2 of the yolks. Coarsely chop whites and remaining yolks and combine with yogurt mixture in the bowl. (Mixture can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated.)

4. Slice the top third off the pitas and discard (or save for snacking). Stuff each pita with a quarter of the greens and the cucumber slices. Spoon a quarter of the egg salad into each and serve immediately.

Karl's reaction: "Kind of cucumbery, yet fresh."

My take: Wasn't sure if Karl would notice the curry (since he hates curry) but he didn't! Score! I added some yellow mustard for more flavor.

Tuna and Olive Pasta Salad

Quickest dinner ever!

Tuna and Olive Pasta Salad
serves 4
recipe found in Health, April 2012
A delicious tuna dinner

  • 8 ounces (1/2 box) whole-wheat penne pasta
  • 1/4 cup store-bought pesto
  • 1 (6-ounce) can oil-packed tuna, drained
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • I added grape tomatoes

  • 1. Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water; reserve 1/4 cup pasta water. Drain pasta, run under cold water, and return to pot.

    2. In a bowl, whisk together pesto and 2 tablespoons reserved pasta water; toss with pasta, tuna, olives, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in pot. Chill, if desired; serve.

    Karl's reaction: "I like this a lot!"

    My take: I liked how fast this was to make. Tasty too!

    Sunday, March 25, 2012

    Nursery is Complete - Month 9

    week 37

    The Nursery is Done!

    Karl and I are so excited to have the nursery done. We totally love it. Sure, things got moved around some from what we had first thought to fit the crib, but the room is still really cool to us. I walked upstairs the other day and saw Karl sitting in the new glider looking around the nursery. He just smiled at me. I didn't really need to ask what he was thinking because I could tell by the look on his face.
    Baby Koester's nursery is complete...just need him/her in it:)

    Life is about to change majorly for us, but in a really good way. And before we know it, there's going to be an actual body filling the room. I can't quite wrap my mind around it all yet. Sometimes I wake up forgetting I'm pregnant and then soon realize I'm just a few short weeks away from having a baby. The house now is so quiet and soon it's going to be filled with shrieks and crying spells.
    I'll be changing our little baby over here... a lot...

    And sometimes I'll go for a walk and see all the little kids running around in the neighborhood and get really excited to play with our baby soon. How fun to go on walks and just enjoy being a little family. Or I think about family get-togethers and how fun they'll be. Our baby is going to be so loved by so many people.
    So excited to read all these books to our little bundle of joy

    Yes, a huge part of me is still scared because I don't know what to expect and I know change is coming. Change is always scary. But I can't say there was a change that happened I didn't grow from or look back on and think, that totally ruined my life. It just takes time to adjust and I need to remember to give time....time. Because this baby is going to such a great addition - I know it!

    Chicken and Lemon-Broccoli Alfredo

    Quick chicken recipe with flavor

    Chicken and Lemon-Broccoli Alfredo
    serves 4
    recipe found in Better Homes and Garden
    Tasty chicken!

    4 small skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

    Salt and pepper
    8 ounces mushrooms, halved
    1 tablespoon olive or cooking oil
    1 lemon
    3 cups fresh broccoli florets
    1 10 ounce container refrigerated light Alfredo pasta sauce
    I also added in zucchini

    1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In large skillet brown chicken and mushrooms 4 minutes in hot oil, turning chicken halfway through.

    2. Meanwhile, shred 2 teaspoons lemon peel; set aside. Slice lemon. Add broccoli and lemon slices to skillet. Cover; cook 8 minutes or until chicken is done (170 degrees).

    3. Place chicken and vegetables on plates. Add Alfredo sauce to skillet; heat through. Serve with chicken. Add lemon peel and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

    Karl's reaction: "Ohhh, this is good. What's in this? I like the alfredo sauce a lot."

    My take: Too easy not to make again! Very good! 

    Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

    Perfect recipe for St. Patty's Day (or a Sunday dinner)

    Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
    serves 8
    recipe found on All
    Awesome dinner!

    4 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick pieces
    10 baby red potatoes, quartered
    1 onion, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
    4 cups water (I used 2 cups of water and 2 cups of beef broth)
    1 (4 pound) corned beef brisket with spice packet
    6 ounces beer
    chopped up garlic
    1/2 head cabbage, coarsely chopped (I put this in for only 20 minutes at the end!

    1. Place the carrots, potatoes, and onion into the bottom of a slow cooker, pour in the water, and place the brisket on top of the vegetables. Pour the beer over the brisket. Sprinkle on the spices from the packet, cover, and set the cooker on High. (I did 6 hours on high and that was good enough!)

    2. Cook the brisket for about 8 hours. An hour before serving, stir in the cabbage and cook for 1 more hour.               
    Cooking it up in the crock pot

    Karl's reaction: "Could have used more carrots but the corn beef IS AWESOME. Okay...and maybe add some mushrooms."

    My take: Holy tasty. A little on the salty side for me, but really good. The meat was incredibly tender.

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    My Husband, The Super Star - Karl Koester

    My husband, Karl Koester in Shakopee Valley News

    I've always admired my husband's career choice of becoming a prosthetic practitioner. I thought it was pretty cool. I first met him when he was an analytical chemist and could tell he was in the wrong profession. He needed to be around people - making them laugh - and using his hands more building things, versus being buried in a back room, staring at a bunch of bunsen burners and test tubes to see if certain soil samples were OK for businesses to build on.
    My sweetheart, Karl, makes front page news!! What a stud!

    We started dating while working together (trying hard to keep it under wraps as much as we could but I don't think our faces could hide it) and soon Karl was off to California for six whole months making his dreams come true. He first finished four years of undergrad at the University of Minnesota with a Biology degree and then went on to Century College to get the technical side of building artificial legs and arms under his belt for a year and a half. He then decided he wanted to be a full-on practitioner and needed to head out to a bigger, more specific college for that.

    Being apart was hard, but any weekend and every chance I could get, I was off flying to see him. Really I just couldn't wait to eat at Soup Plantation (just kidding)!!! California wasn't a bad place to visit in the winter and we sure had a blast during the weekends.

    I knew Karl would become successful in this profession - I had no doubts. I knew he'd draw people in with his contagious laugh and lovable personality. And I knew he was smart enough to draw the attention of someone in the Twin Cities in the prosthetic field because of his background and his desire to make this dream become a reality.

    I get home last night and what do I see? My adorable husband on the front page of the Shakopee Valley News!!! That's twice he's made front page news in the past year. And I married him! Wow. I'm one lucky girl and just had to brag! After all, I'm his biggest fan:) Gooo Karl!

    Here's the full article in the Shakopee Valley News!

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    Nine Month Update - Month 9

    36 weeks

    Your baby is gaining about an ounce a day. She now weighs almost 6 pounds (like a crenshaw melon) and is more than 18 1/2 inches long. She's shedding most of the downy hair that covered her body, as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that protected her skin during her nine-month amniotic bath. Next week, your baby will be considered full-term. Most likely she's in a head-down position, but if she isn't, your practitioner may suggest scheduling an external cephalic version, where she'll try to turn your baby by manipulating her from the outside of your belly. (

    I feel like time is going at a warp speed, so I thought I'd take a moment and write all that's been going with me, my body and other stuff - since baby could come at anytime. However, we really want to get through this week without any issues because once 37 weeks hits then baby will be considered a full-term baby! Yay!

    What's happening?

    Nursery is done
    This was so fun to do! I'm going to put up a separate post on this with lots of pictures but the nursery is finally done. Clothes, toys and blankets have all been washed in Dreft. Everything has been set up (seriously how many cardboard boxes can we fit in our recycling bin) and is in place and ready to go. We are ready for you Baby Koester!!
    Fun little nursery

    Life insurance
    Karl and I looked into getting more life insurance as most soon-to-be new parents would do, which means we had to get all those fun blood tests (again). Karl's came back with elevated cholesterol and mine came back with elevated bilirubin. I thought only babies got that (jaundice). So of course I ran to the mirror. I wasn't seeing any orange coloring in my skin or eyes. So I'm not sure what that's about. Glad we have our doctor appointment tomorrow and I can ask if I should be worried. I'm not drinking alcohol so I don't know how my liver could be overworked...

    The leg cramps keep getting crazier and more intense
    I picked up a bottle of cal/mag from the gym hoping this would help with the leg cramps I've been getting in the middle of the night. I've been on them for about a week and have been taking them in the morning and at night. They did help when I wasn't pregnant and playing sand volleyball - the foot cramps stopped. Well, last night I had another round of brutal, throw-me-to-the-ground charlie horses, but this time in BOTH shins. Yowsers! They were so bad and painful I couldn't even get my brain to tell my feet to move. And it's hard to maneuver around with a big ol' belly and a bladder ready to burst, so I crawled to the sink and drank three glasses of water. I don't know why I did that. I think it's because I couldn't stretch or move and I thought water would help me think? To my surprise in a matter of minutes, my cramps just disappeared. It was the weirdest thing. So to me that means I'm dehydrated. Nuts since I've been drinking close to 90 ounces of water a day. However, I work out and sweat... and have a baby inside me.

    Tailbone pain
    Holy ouch! I'm sure it's the weight gain and sitting all day at work, but man does my tailbone HURT! I need to replace my chair with a fitness ball. Just a few more weeks... I can do this!

    Pregnancy Pics
    We had our friends Sam and Shannon come over and take some belly pics on Sunday. I'm excited to see how these turn out.

    Celebrating Karl's bday
    Friday was Karl's birthday and we went on a little fun date to Woolley's at Embassy Suites (where our wedding was). The food is always fantastic and they're always so good to us! Karl even got his own cake! It was fun just the two of us hanging out and enjoying a night out together. We don't do this very often. We honestly don't go to movies or get all crazy downtown. We just love staying in and being with each other. We had his parents and sister over on Sunday for burgers and they checked out the nursery. Then we walked across the street to try out the new yogurt bar, Cherry Berry. I can see this being verrrry dangerous for me.

    Baby Movements
    I was lying down in bed and looked down at my stomach as Karl was coming up the stairs. "Come quick!" I yelled.

    He immediately raced up and looked down at my stomach. "Oh my God! It's like an alien is inside you."
    Not the best picture but baby will shift his/her entire body from right to left

    The baby had completely shifted to the right side of my stomach and we could see the entire outline of the baby's back and rump. He/she looked so tiny! The left side of my stomach was flat like I used to remember. From that point on, the baby has been shifting his/her entire body from the right to the left and I've been trying to capture it the best I can.

    We just can't get over how we can feel this baby's feet and elbow move across my entire stomach. It's the craziest thing. Karl keeps trying to grab at his/her feet!

    Weekly doctor appointments
    Now is the time we'll be really bonding with our doctor. Good thing we like him so much. Our appointments have moved from every other week to every week! Tomorrow I'll get swiped with a swab for Group B Streptococcus and the doctor is going to see if I'm dilated at all. I'm thinking I won't be. I thought I'd go early, but now I'm starting to think I'm either going to be on time or be late. Or maybe that's just my brain not being ready to accept I'm going to be a mom. I'm sure Jessica Simpson and I will have babies who share birthdays and we'll become BFFs or something. It'll be awesome.

    Ready to go
    I've feverishly been writing lists of things I need to get done before baby arrives, not just at home but at work. I'm sure my boss thinks I'm crazy. I just like to be prepared and don't want to leave anyone hanging. I honestly can say, I think we're almost ready. Like I even have made up return address labels (with ultrasound pics of baby Koester) and labels for the baby announcement cards and set up an email template so Karl can notify everyone that baby has arrived! All that's left is to get both car seat bases installed in our cars correctly. I was going to do that and take it into the police station by work just to make sure I did it right. Sure, there are little things that still need to be done, but nothing that I'm too worried about.

    Pregnancy is an adventure
    Kind of getting sick of hearing all these stories about how painful and dreadful labor is. Or how I have no clue what the definition of sleep deprived is. Some guy told me last night that I can talk to him about that when I go two weeks with getting four hours total of sleep. On my drive into work this morning I decided I'm done worrying. I'm done freaking myself out or being fearful of everything. Karl and I are going into this together (wouldn't want to go in it with anyone else) - and I want to make the best of it. I want to be able to laugh about it, and enjoy even the hard parts. This is only going to happen ONCE. Me, Karl and baby. Not saying we're only having one kid, but we're going to only experience this first time stuff once. Why not make the best of it and enjoy the ride? I'm sure we'll have some great stories come out of the experience. And thank God for this blog because it's going to help me get through it all!

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Another Baby Book Highly Recommended - Month 9

    35 weeks
    Your baby doesn't have much room to maneuver now that he's over 18 inches long and tips the scales at 5 1/4 pounds (pick up a honeydew). Because it's so snug in your womb, he isn't likely to be doing somersaults anymore, but the number of times he kicks should remain about the same. His kidneys are fully developed now, and his liver can process some waste products. Most of his basic physical development is now complete – he'll spend the next few weeks putting on weight. (

    I just purchased another book on Amazon - they are getting rich off of me these past nine months. I've heard so many great things about The Happiest Baby on the Block and figured I might as well dive in. There's a DVD for the book too, but I thought I'll just stick to the book because then I can always go back. And I can read at my own pace.

    One of my greatest fears is having a baby who will cry a lot and keep us up at all hours of the night. The author of The Happiest Baby studied a bunch of tribes in Africa and saw how quickly they could calm a crying baby and decided to research this for many years. And then wrote a book.

    He came up with the 5 S's System:

    Swaddling: Tight swaddling provides the continuous touching and support your baby is used to experiencing within the womb.

    Side/stomach position: The infant is placed on their left side to assist in digestion, or on their stomach to provide reassuring support. “But never use the stomach position for putting your baby to sleep,” cautions Karp. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is linked to stomach-down sleep positions. When a baby is in a stomach down position do not leave them even for a moment.

    Shushing sounds: These imitate the continual whooshing sound made by the blood flowing through arteries near the womb.

    Swinging: Newborns are used to the swinging motions within their mother’s womb, so entering the gravity driven world of the outside is like a sailor adapting to land after nine months at sea. “It’s disorienting and unnatural,” says Karp. Rocking, car rides, and other swinging movements all can help. Thank God someone amazing bought me the Fisher Price Rock and Play Swing!!! :)

    Sucking: “Sucking has its effects deep within the nervous system,” notes Karp, “and triggers the calming reflex and releases natural chemicals within the brain.”

    I'll let you know if these work:) For now, I'll just continue to pray that everything goes well and read as much as I can.

    Sunday, March 11, 2012

    A Month to Go - Childbirth Preparation Class - Month 9

    week 35

    Holy cats!! Let the countdown begin. Karl's birthday is this week and we said once we hit that, we'd have ONE whole month left. That's like four weeks until Baby Koester's arrival. YIKES!!!
    I'm just starting to feel the baby drop!

    My belly is for sure getting bigger (as you can see). I noticed the heaviness last night too. It's much harder to move around, but I am thankful I do get to move around. I still feel good. Karl and I have enjoyed feeling Baby Koester's feet and butt move along my stomach. We try to reach and grab them. It's the craziest feeling ever on the inside and from the outside feeling in!

    Friday night and Saturday (all day...and yes, on a 65 degree day)  Karl and I took a Childbirth preparation (Weekend Express) class at St. Francis. I'm really glad we took this class. Yes, we had to watch some more videos (yes, I cried again - I can't help it...all that work and then poof, baby is out. Such a miracle beyond words.). It was nice to see three different stories of women - all who were "planners" and not one baby plan worked out the way they had hoped. It reminded me to keep an open mind through this whole adventure and know that I can't predict anything. Every birthing story is different but I did pick up a lot of tools that will help me.

    What I loved about the class was a pediatrician was brought in to share a lot of insight into those first two years of childhood. It was nice to ask questions and have him provide us with a ton of info. Like I wanted to know just in case we have a boy, how to care for our peanut's little "peanut" once it's circumcised. And Karl had questions about temperatures and when to bring baby in. And we learned all about day care snot'll be continuous for two years. Nice.

    The second thing I loved was a Speech Language Pathologist came in (feeling really lucky right now that my sister-in-law is one) and talked about the importance of Tummy Time. Seems with all the toys out there these days, parents are more willing to lie their kids down and leave them on their backs all hours of the day, which creates muscle and skull issues and lots of development issues. It was crazy to see the difference between a child who received no tummy time and one who did from the time they were born to 6 months. Their heads were even shaped differently! We for sure will be doing lots of tummy time.

    We also were able to tour the birthing center, which we both loved! I can't believe I'm going to be staying in a hospital...overnight too. Maybe longer. I don't really know what that's like, but the rooms look somewhat comfortable. We met a couple in our class who are expecting twins on the same day we are...and also have our doctor! Guess we'll be fighting for attention if we both are on schedule.
    Karl checking out the room

    We also had to watch a video on Shaken Baby Syndrome which broke my heart into a million pieces. I couldn't help but think of my BFF whose son was shaken at 6 months. The man in the video lost his son because of it, and I kept thinking over and over and over, My BFF is so lucky her son survived. But it still SUCKS. Why, oh, why did this have to happen?????

    All and all I'm feeling a little more prepared with things and can't believe baby's arrival is almost here! Don't forget to place your guesses for Baby Koester's gender and when he/she will arrive into this world on Baby Hunch! No password needed!

    Tex-Mex Chicken Enchiladas

    Tex-Mex Chicken Enchiladas
    serves 4 to 6
    recipe found on
    These were delicious!

    3 cups chopped cooked chicken
    2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with peppers
    1/2 cup sour cream 
    1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
    1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    8 (8-inch) flour tortillas 
    Vegetable cooking spray 
    1 (8-ounce) container sour cream 
    1 (8-ounce) bottle green taco sauce
    Toppings: diced tomato, chopped avocado, chopped green onions, sliced ripe olives, chopped cilantro

    Stir together first 5 ingredients. Spoon chicken mixture evenly over each tortilla, and roll up. Arrange in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Coat tortillas with vegetable cooking spray.

    Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.

    Stir together sour cream and taco sauce. Spoon over hot enchiladas, and sprinkle with toppings.

    Karl's reaction: "These are good! I'd order these off a fresco menu at a restaurant!"

    My take: Loved these. Mad that I made them with fat free sour cream, but those labels can be deceiving sometimes! Still tasted good. Will make again.

    Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken

    Quick and easy!

    Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken
    serves 4
    recipe found on Six Sisters' Stuff blog
    I had to add veggies to it!

    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thighs would be fine too)
    Salt and pepper
    1 cup honey
    1/2 cup soy sauce
    1/2 cup diced onion
    1/4 cup ketchup
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil (could also use olive oil or canola oil)
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional - doesn't really add heat, just adds more flavor)
    4 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 6 Tablespoons water
    Sesame seeds

    Season both sides of chicken with lightly with salt and pepper, put into crock pot. In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours, or just until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from crock pot, leave sauce. Dissolve 4 teaspoons of cornstarch in 6 tablespoons of water and pour into crock pot. Stir to combine with sauce. Replace lid and cook sauce on high for ten more minutes or until slightly thickened. Cut chicken into bite size pieces, then return to pot and toss with sauce before serving. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice or noodles.

    *You can also sprinkle more red pepper flakes on top if you want more heat.

    Karl's reaction: "This is really good! I'm going to get me some more of this!"

    My take: I'm glad I added veggies because I can see this being too salty with just chicken. It was nice to have crunchy veggies in there.

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Have NO FEAR, Coping with Labor - Entering Month 9

    34 weeks

    Karl and I took our first labor and delivery class yesterday from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. at St. Francis. The class was called "Coping with Labor". There were about eight other couples in class with us (and a platter of really good chocolate chip cookies). There was one other gal who was due the week before us, otherwise, I was basically the next in line.

    April 16. That seems so close, doesn't it? Gulp!

    We went around and introduced ourselves and shared some thoughts.
    My best!

    My thoughts: "Hello everyone! Well, Karl and I have never changed diapers. We're not around babies or children. We don't know what we're doing. What to expect. So thought this would be fun."

    In response there were some nervous giggles and looks from some people, the look of...."ummm - what were you thinking?"

    No bigs, right? I can learn. There are tons of things I didn't know how to do and am now pretty good at them. But then I realized I was asking myself this same question a lot after the class. What was I thinking???

    One major piece I took away was HAVE NO FEAR! Fear causes the most problems. Your body tenses and baby doesn't want to move and the pain begins. And it's a cycle. I just need to stay focused and calm the best I can, and baby shouldn't have any troubles. Problem was, FEAR was ALL I felt when I left the class. LOTS of FEAR. Can I do this? Will the pain be unbearable? Will I have to spend days feeling that pain?? Will I have the back labor? Will baby take his/her sweet time?? My plan of having the baby while working out on the stair stepper quickly went out the window.

    The tips and pointers the teacher shared with us were good. We learned breathing techniques. What to do when a contraction comes on. She showed the husbands what they need to do to support and encourage us (I liked this part a lot). Let me just say, I'm so glad I have Karl. For real. He makes me laugh when I need him to!! She also suggested some items to bring with us to the hospital - ipod, heating pad, two really cold Coke cans (good for the back) and a water jug. And I must ask for "the bean" if I do get an epidural. Will do!

    This was all good stuff. Then we got down on our mats and practiced some stretches. We learned some great ones, especially good ones if I'm suffering from bad back labor. And there were things Karl was shown that he could do to help the process a long, like pushing my hips and tailbone. I'm really thinking about sitting on a fitness ball at work from now on to help turn the baby in the right position, so I can eliminate any chance of back labor. That just looks really painful!

    The scary part was watching the video of an actual birth. From 6:00 a.m. to 7:07 p.m. a video camera followed around a couple going through a drug-free birth. Man, that woman was in a LOT of pain throughout the entire day. Karl kept saying, "Why wouldn't you get an epidural, lady???"

    And then, they showed the head coming through and tears just started falling down my cheeks. I don't know where they came from. I couldn't stop them. I just couldn't believe what this woman went through - all the pain. She also demonstrated different ways to cope with her labor pains. She sat on an exercise ball. She relaxed in a bathtub. Her husband massaged her. There were tons of different things she did to help her get through it all. And if I choose an epidural, you can't do many of these. But an epidural sure sounds good to me.

    The video scared me. Just because I saw how painful birth really was. But once that baby came Truly amazing.

    They did interview a couple of moms in the video. One of them said an ankle sprain was way worse on her because at least with her contractions and labor, she knew there was an end point and she focused on that. I thought, OK...I can do this. I've sprained both ankles at least a dozen times playing volleyball. And yes, sprains are very painful and suck. If I can get through those, I can get through this. Right?

    This morning I'm starting to give myself more credit and have started to relax a bit. Every one has a different story. Yes, the woman in the video was in super great shape and clearly worked out and took care of herself, but she still isn't me. And she did it. Millions of women do this all the time. I'll be able to do it and I'm sure I'll forget all about the pain once our baby is placed on my chest.

    All I know is there is so much more than science behind all of this. Life is so incredible.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Pregnancy Nesting - Month 8

    34 weeks

    Your baby now weighs about 4 3/4 pounds (like your average cantaloupe) and is almost 18 inches long. Her fat layers – which she'll need to regulate her body temperature once she's born – are filling her out, making her rounder. Her skin is also smoother than ever. Her central nervous system is maturing and her lungs are continuing to mature as well. If you've been nervous about preterm labor, you'll be happy to know that babies born between 34 and 37 weeks who have no other health problems generally do fine. They may need a short stay in the neonatal nursery and may have a few short-term health issues, but in the long run, they usually do as well as full-term babies. (
    Me at 34 weeks!
    I have heard a lot about the "nesting" stage kicking in while pregnant. My "nesting" stage kicked in around week 14 or so, but it keeps majorly. I keep creating lists and lists of things I want to get done before baby comes. It's pretty nuts. During my work lunch breaks I'm racing to the store to pick up a few things here and there. But at the same time, I keep getting sick! So I don't know if my body is trying to tell me to STOP and SLOW DOWN or if this is pretty common for most pregnant women? I'm kind of on this mission to get everything crossed off my lists. Like even remodel our master bedroom. Yeah, I know. How? When? I don't know either...

    I caught two back-to-back colds this past August (that's when I kind of knew something was up with me since that happens about never). Then I get the flu in December. Then I get the stomach flu in February. And now, I have a bad bad cold again. What gives?? I have never gotten sick so often than I have in the past eight months. I absolutely hate it. I hear a woman's immune system goes down when she becomes pregnant because the body doesn't want to fight off the baby - which can be viewed as something foreign. So it adjusts accordingly. Oh man, I just can't wait to get healthy again. And for good!!!

    Karl worked feverishly on setting up the crib in the nursery, so it feels good to have that up! But we need to find homes for all the stuffed animals and blankets. And I didn't want to just ignore the crib bumpers (they are viewed as a hazard now these days) so I put one of them on the outside. Ha. It's fun to walk by the crib though and look in knowing a baby is going to be in there. Soon. Our baby. So crazy.
    The crib...very full of stuff right now...
    The closet full of clothes 0 - 9 months right now.

    Then I spent a couple weekends washing all the baby's clothes, sheets, blankets in Dreft. Yum, that stuff smells good - expensive, yes, but yum! The nursery now smells like baby to me when I walk in. I love that!!

    Because of one of our showers, we were able to buy the crib, mattress and glider. We have some REAL generous awesome friends. Jeesh. We were so excited. And so we get the glider shipped to us and what do you know? There is no hardware to put it together!! So it's been sitting in the kitchen. We just heard back from Canada last night that they will ship the missing hardware. Hopefully this weekend we can get that together and the nursery will be complete!

    In the meantime, we decided we needed to clear all the picture frames and clutter in the family room and kitchen so we went to Slumberland and bought a bunch of furniture to solve that problem. Things are really starting to come together around the Koester town home!

    We're most worried about space though. Where is everything going to go? We have no idea. I have three more garbage bags full of things we're going to donate. How much purging can one couple do? Right now we have two strollers set up in our family room because there is no room in the garage. And we have a mattress and bed frame in the "man-cave" because my brother's roommates haven't moved out, and have also added all the old furniture that was in the family room down there. All the baby stuff we've gotten from the showers is in the guest bedroom, which needs to be cleaned out because my parents will be coming soon to help with baby and need a place to sleep.

    Good thing there are five to six more weeks, right? We're going to need it!

    This week and weekend, Thursday through Saturday, Karl and I are taking two more classes from St. Francis. Coping with Labor and Childbirth Preparation. I am excited about these classes because I feel like I'm kind of clueless. I guess that's what makes things fun! I just hope I start to feel better so I can focus!

    We had our 34-week appointment yesterday. I'm measuring right on schedule and the baby's head is down and my ligaments are stretching and softening too! Our next appointment in two weeks will be to test for Strep B (GBS) - they take a swab "down there" and he'll check to see if I'm dilated at all. That'll be just crazy because there'll only be 3-4 weeks left! Yowsers!

    And last but not least. Everyone told me that the last trimester will be the slowest, but I'm going to disagree. It has been the fastest for me, for both of us actually. Yes, we're excited to meet the little one but we're also extremely busy and I think that's helping pass the time a lot. We don't have a whole lot of time to think (maybe this is where some insomnia is now coming from). There is so much to do and so many places to be, we look at each other and can't believe another weekend has come and gone. It's pretty nuts. And I'm OK with all of this. No need to rush anything:)

    Sunday, March 4, 2012

    Baby Shower #4 - Month 8

    34 weeks

    Baby Shower with my Minnesota Besties

    I have some really amazing friends and I was able to celebrate with a lot of them yesterday. I keep thinking about how I moved to Minnesota ten years ago and I really didn't know a lot of people at all. But somehow I was able to make and meet such wonderful people...all because I made a big decision (all on my own), totally stepped out of my comfort zone and took a huge leap of faith. Really great things came from that choice to move to Minnesota. I feel so fortunate and blessed.
    Connie, me, Hoover and Kimbra

    My friends Kimbra and Angela wanted to throw me a baby shower, and boy...did they throw a pretty awesome shower. I felt like all the decorations needed to be in a magazine or something. They did such a great job putting the whole thing together!
    The room set up all cute!

    The shower was held at Transfiguration Lutheran Church - my church! And each table had a different centerpiece and pictures of both me and Karl when we were babies. Plus there were a bunch of envelopes on the table too with some dates on them.

    This was for everyone to write some words of wisdom to us as we wait for baby! I can't WAIT to open these on the days it says we can!!! Some are specific to Karl and some are specific to me!!!

    Kimbra is an AMAZING baker and she whipped up the COOLEST cake ever. I have NO idea how she got the pink and blue on the inside of the cake, but all I know is it was GOOD. And she made these awesome cake pops that were to die for! Seriously, I could've eaten all of them!
    I love the little wooden blocks! Christie's Baby Shower!! Awwww!
    How adorable is this cake??? Yes, it was as good as it looks!

    I'm in LOVE with these cake pops. They had chocolate fudge something in them.
    Kimbra cutting up the cake! Yummmy!

    Kimbra and Hoover introduced themselves and had everyone say their name, how they knew me and a favorite childhood memory! That was fun to hear some of the stories. was time for games!!! The first one was the poopy diaper game. Kimbra and Hoover smashed different chocolate bars in the diapers and we had to smell them and guess which candy. That was pretty fun! He, he! Looks delicious!
    Poopy diaper game!

    The next game Kimbra and Hoover brought out their gift, which was a basket loaded with items both Karl and I will need for baby. We had to guess how much each item cost and the total bill. I think it ended up being around $48! Baby is going to be expensive!!!

    Soon I was opening gifts. Jeesh. There were so many cool ones!! Feeling really lucky and blessed these days!

    As I was opening gifts, Karl came (he was cutting up deer meat)! And afterwards we had some time to talk to everyone. I wish there could have been more one-on-one time, but there's always so much commotion going on! I really do have the coolest friends. They're so down to earth and fun and REAL!!! Love that.
    Baby "bumpin" with Amy Fuhry!! Due within weeks of each other!
    the TINKS and Kim. Yes, they are playing volleyball with my belly! HA!
    I can't believe I once coached these fabulous young ladies! They are all going places!!

    What a super fun day! After, I went to dinner with Connie, Hoover and Kimbra and it felt so good to catch up on life and have some girl times. Girlfriends are forever! I couldn't have asked for a greater group of friends.

    Huge thanks to Hoover and Kimbra for making me feel so special and for throwing such a great shower!!! Love you ladies!!!

    Just five more weeks to go!!!

    Parmesan-Crusted Fish

    One of Karl's Top Three Faves!

    Parmesan-Crusted Fish
    serves 4
    recipe found in Better Homes and Gardens March 2008
    A very healthy, tasty meal! YUM! Will be making this again!

    4 skinless cod fillets (1-1/2 lb.)
    1/3 cup panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs
    1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
    1 10 ounce julienned carrots (3 cups)
    1 tablespoon butter
    3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    Mixed fresh salad greens

    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Rinse and pat dry fish; place on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. In small bowl stir together crumbs and cheese; sprinkle on fish. Bake, uncovered, 4 to 6 minutes for each 1/2-inch thickness of fish, until crumbs are golden and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

    2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet bring 1/2 cup water to boiling; add carrots. Reduce heat. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover; cook 2 minutes more. Add butter and ginger; toss. Serve fish and carrots with greens. Makes 4 servings.

    Karl's reaction: "Whoa! This is top three fo' sho babe. Fo sho! It's so good. Was it hard to make? Can you make it again?"

    My take: This was VERY easy to make and yes, turned out rather delicious. I will be making this again. A very healthy fish recipe! YAY!

    Beef 'n' Asparagus Pasta

    Healthy pasta!

    Beef 'n' Asparagus Pasta
    serves 4
    recipe found in Light and Tasty Magazine April/May 2006
    Lots of veggies in this dish!

  • 3 cups uncooked bow tie pasta

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 3/4 cup reduced-sodium beef broth, divided

  • 1 beef top sirloin steak (1 pound), cut into 2-inch strips

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 4 green onions, chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

  • 1 large tomato, diced

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 cup dry red wine or additional reduced-sodium beef broth

  • 2 tablespoons sliced ripe olives, drained

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup broth until smooth; set aside.

    Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet or wok, stir-fry beef in oil for 1 minute or until meat is no longer pink. Add the asparagus, onions and garlic; stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, tomato, basil and oregano; stir-fry 2 minutes longer or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

    Add the wine, olives, salt, pepper and remaining broth. Stir cornstarch mixture and gradually stir into skillet. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Drain pasta; serve with beef mixture.

    Karl's reaction: "It's kind of just okay. Seems like it needs something?? Maybe more salt?"

    My take: I liked it, but yes, felt like it needed something else. I could taste the oregano and I'm not sure if I needed fresh basil in this dish to liven in up a little more? Super easy to make though and healthy!

    Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

    Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Lasagna
    serves 6
    recipe found on Six Sisters' Stuff blog (amazing blog!!!)

    You're going to love this if you love Buffalo Chicken!

    uncooked traditional lasagna noodles
    4 cooked chicken breast halves
    1 jar of prepared pasta sauce (26 oz)
    1 cup buffalo wing sauce (we used Frank's sauce- it is so good!)
    3 green bell peppers, chopped (you could also use red, yellow, or orange peppers if you want)
    tub of ricotta cheese (15 oz)
    2 cups shredded cheese (mozzarella and cheddar blend)
    1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles
    1/4 cup of water (add at very end)

    In a large bowl, combine cooked and chopped chicken breast, pasta sauce, and 1 cup of buffalo wing sauce.

    Ladle a big spoonful of the sauce into the bottom of your slow cooker. Cover with a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (you will have to break them to get a proper fit).

    Add a smear of ricotta cheese to the top of the noodles. Add a layer of chopped bell pepper. Sprinkle on a handful of shredded cheese.

    Repeat layers until you run out of ingredients.

    Add the bleu cheese crumbles. Put the 1/4 cup of water into your empty pasta sauce jar and shake. Pour the liquid over the top of the entire lasagna.

    Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours, or on high for 2.5-3 hours (if you go any longer than that, the pasta will start to turn mushy). When cooking time is complete, unplug and take off the lid of the crock. Let sit for 20 minutes before serving so that it is easier to scoop out. :)

    Karl's reaction: "I can taste the buffalo sauce. Hmmmm...this might just be a bit to spicy for me."

    My take: Salty with lots of cheese. Probably not the most healthiest but easy to prepare and make and it definitely fed my craving for boneless buffalo wings! 

    Minestrone with Turkey Meatballs and Escarole

    A one-pot wonder dish!

    Minestrone with Turkey Meatballs and Escarole
    serves 4
    recipe found in Fitness Magazine online
    A little too many noodles but still really tasty and healthy!

    2 teaspoons olive oil
    2 carrots, sliced
    1/4 cup diced red onion
    2 garlic cloves, chopped
    Pinch plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon tomato paste
    Pinch chile pepper flakes
    1 small head escarole, cored and chopped
    4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
    2 cups water
    3/4 cup whole-wheat elbow pasta
    12 precooked frozen turkey meatballs
    1/2 cup canned navy beans
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan

    1. Warm the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the carrots, onion, garlic and pinch of salt. Saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and chile flakes; stir 1 minute. Mix in the escarole.

    2. Add the chicken stock and water to the pot; bring to a boil. Add the pasta and simmer 5 minutes. Add the meatballs and beans and simmer 8 minutes or until meatballs are heated through. Mix in the lemon juice, black pepper and remaining salt. Ladle into bowls; top with the Parmesan before serving.

    Karl's reaction: "Wow, there are a lot of noodles in here! This isn't bad. I like it a lot. Has a little bite but I like it."

    My take: Considering I put 3 cups of noodles in versus 3/4 cups (pregnancy brain) this still turned out really good. I'd make this again, especially since it was so easy to make!

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    Guess the Baby's Gender and Birthday - Month 8

    week 33
    Christie and Karl's March Madness Baby Pool!

    Think you might know when Baby Koester will be born? Will Baby K be a boy or girl? Place your bets guesses here!

    Baby Hunch - Guess when Baby K will enter the world!

    Good luck! May the best guess win:) No password needed. There might just be a prize too!!!