27 Week Pregnancy Update

Friday, March 24, 2017

I am now in the third trimester of my pregnancy and am so excited to meet our baby. One of my favorite things about this later stage is feeling the baby's constant movement. He twists and kicks and flails around practically nonstop, and I enjoy the reminder of his presence. It feels like this wonderful secret between me and him, the fact that he is letting me know he is there but no one but the two of us knows it. Pregnancy is really a fleeting time and I'm trying to soak up the experience of him on the inside before I meet him on the outside.

While I could go on about the good parts, there have also been some less-than-pleasant realities lately, such as:

-I've had four nosebleeds so far. The first time it happened this go-around (it happened once my previous pregnancy) I was very thrilled with the drama of it all. Anything bleeding feels very important! But now I'm so tired of them and am praying I don't get any more.

-My tailbone is always easily irritated when I'm pregnant. Going to church and sitting on hard metal chairs for multiple hours pretty much does me in. I'll sometimes end up standing (in heels) in the back of the room because it is easier than trying to make myself comfortable on those death traps. This week at the library, I opted to sit on the floor because it felt better than the tiny wooden stools that seem to pierce straight through my tailbone.

-I've already grown out of a maternity shirt. How? Why? I still have three months to go and since it won't be winter like my last pregnancy, when I could wear a coat every time I went outside, I actually need to look decent right up to the end!

-This one is not pregnancy related, but our apartment building is going through some construction that makes many aspects of my life miserable. We knew about the construction when we signed our lease and we're getting a break on rent for it, but I didn't fully understand what the construction would mean. I wish someone had held my hand and gently said, "Workers will be jackhammering along your front door and on your patio, always during your son's nap time, which will cause him to wake up and ruin your own nap and the only bit of respite you get during the day." Maybe then I would have been more prepared.

Overall, this pregnancy has been so much more of a trial than I anticipated. My hormones have not treated me kindly and there have been so many times I've wished for it to be over. Now that it's finally getting closer to the end, I'm trying to remember the good parts about being pregnant (especially sleep) and take all the hardships in stride. Obviously, this is easier said than done but that's okay! I'm a work in progress.

Seven Healthy Recipes I Love

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This pregnancy I am committed to being healthier than I was last time and so far I've been feeling fairly successful at it. I'm eating a lot more vegetables and have been consciously seeking out healthier meal options.

Here are seven healthy recipes that I love and have made multiple times. Of course, I'm not a nutritionist, so I don't know exactly how healthy these are, but in general I look for recipes with lots of vegetables and without anything too fatty.

1. Chicken Sausage and Roasted Veggie Sheet Pan Dinner from Our Best Bites
This recipe is so easy and so good. You just chop up the sausage, sweet potato, and Brussel sprouts and then roast them in the oven. I've never used the pomegranate seeds, which I imagine would taste delicious, but it's been so good without them that it's definitely not a necessity.

2. Honey Lime Tilapia from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Tilapia is such an easy thing to cook and I've found a few recipes with it that I really enjoy. My favorite is this honey lime tilapia. It has to marinate beforehand, but if I start it around lunchtime then dinner time is so easy- under twenty minutes until it's ready!

3. The Best Chicken Fajitas from Iowa Girl Eats
I've posted about these before, but they really are the best homemade fajitas I've had. There is no marinating, plenty of vegetables, and everything tastes amazing. I'll usually make a bit of homemade guacamole to go along with it and it is heavenly.

4. Sesame Chicken Stir-Fry from Kraft Foods
Just a fun, easy stir-fry. I love the flavor the pineapple gives (I buy canned) and this is simple and filling. It's actually on the menu for this week and I'm looking forward to it!

5. P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps from Damn Delicious
This meal is a wonderful treat for me. I only get ground chicken from Walmart, and I only go to Walmart about once every two months, so whenever I go I motivate myself with the knowledge that we get to eat chicken lettuce wraps. They are SO good and it's easy to change the spiciness level since Brock and I need everything to be super mild.

6. Roasted Sweet Potato Chicken Quinoa Salad from Our Best Bites
Big salads are some of my favorite things to make for dinner. This one has everything- quinoa, chicken, sweet potatoes, avocados, red onion, and feta cheese. I love it every time I make it and it's great to have an excuse to buy bacon dressing.

7. Broccoli Quinoa Casserole from Damn Delicious
This casserole is easy and loaded with cheese and broccoli. I love being able to dump everything in a pan and then have time to clean the kitchen while it cooks. It always tastes amazing and gives plenty of leftovers, which is a definite plus.

Honorable Mentions:
1. No-Bake Healthy Granola Bites from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
I made these religiously before I got pregnant. I would eat the batch in about 4 days and then immediately have to make more because I loved them so much. I never used the rice krispies and would add in slivered almonds when I  had them on hand. For some reason, they just haven't sounded good to me since I've been pregnant but I wish they did, if that makes sense.

2. Roasted Broccoli from The Amateur Gourmet
Hands down, this is my favorite way to eat broccoli. I've never liked steamed broccoli so I thought I just didn't like broccoli, but then I tried it this way and I was hooked. Since I found out I was slightly anemic this pregnancy, I've been trying to eat broccoli at least once a week and this recipe is always the one I use.

How Brock Has Changed Me

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sao Paolo, Brazil in 2014—a place I probably wouldn't have visited if it weren't for Brock

I am always interested in hearing people tell me how their significant other has changed them. For example, a friend told me that she wasn't interested in music before she married her husband and now, because of his interests, music is a big part of her life. The fact that your small of everyday things can change because of the spouse you've chosen is so intriguing.

Being married to Brock has affected me in a million ways, from where we've lived to our children's names. Here are a few of my favorite ways that he has changed me.

Everything animals
A few months ago, Brock, James, and I drove an hour and fifteen minutes to attend the North American Reptile Breeders Conference (NARBC, for those in the know). We spent hours looking at all the animals and debating if we should get a crested gecko or red-footed tortoise (spoiler: we didn't get either). All day, I kept thinking that I was there because of Brock. It was something I never would have done on my own but after being married for a few years, I now enjoy those types of activities.

Brock's love of animals is why our first (and so far, only) pet was an orange corn snake we named Susan. It's the reason why there are terrariums in our Amazon wishlist and why I can name way more dog breeds than before. It's why we've gone to zoos in five states and why we've watched multi-part documentaries on Netflix called "Life of Mammals" and "Life of Birds." It's a small thing, but learning to appreciate animals through Brock has enriched my life.

At the zoo with 2 week old James

Being on time

I'm now on time more than I used to be. Brock is effortlessly early to everything, but I am definitely not. Before I was married, it was normal for me to be about 2 minutes late to everything (maybe that's positive thinking; it probably was more than that). I would take only the exact amount of time I needed to get ready, without any buffer, so if I had to run back and grab my wallet or if I missed all the lights during my commute, I would be a few minutes late. It always slightly annoyed me but not enough to do anything about it.

But Brock's habit has rubbed off on me and now I'm much better about being on time—even with a kid in tow! I'm still not perfect at it but I haven't been late to a single doctor's appointment this pregnancy, nor have I been late to the weekly music class James and I attend. Being on time makes me feel more put-together and overall like a competent adult.

The area where I have changed the most because of Brock, and the one I like the most, is in how neat and clean I am now. Growing up, I was NEVER neat and I think I went years without making my bed.

It never bothered me enough to make the effort to keep things clean, but Brock has different philosophies about neatness. He is very neat and tidy. On days off he'll clean the entire apartment, and back in law school, he would relax after taking finals by organizing our living room closet. I can't even type that out without smiling because of how adorable he is.

Before we were married, I used to leave my book lying around wherever I finished reading, and every morning I would try a bunch of clothes on and then just drop them on the floor of my closet. In general, I didn't think to put things away. There was an adjustment period where I learned that leaving things out really bothers Brock and I saw how happy he was when things were put away.

Surprisingly, I discovered that keeping things clean to make Brock happy was a huge motivation for me. I really wanted him to feel loved and comfortable, so I made a huge effort to reform my previous messy habits. And it's worked! I tidy without much thought these days and have discovered that I actually feel more relaxed and calm when things are picked up. Living in a tidy home has been an unexpected joy and I definitely owe it to Brock.

What are some ways your significant other has changed you? I was thinking about what Brock would say to this question and one that instantly came to mind was sleep habits. He goes to sleep so much earlier now than he used to because of my need for an early bedtime.

3 Beautiful Books about Grief

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Lately I have been thinking about grief and loss. It's not for any particular reason but I've been contemplating what it means to mourn and how that process can shape people's lives. Questions keep coming to me about how people deal with loss, and how dealing with it makes them alternately stronger and weaker.

Here are three fantastic books that all touch on the subject of grief in different ways. Thought-provoking and relatable, I found them to be illuminating on emotions that are rarely talked about but widely experienced.

1. Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
The word that always comes to my mind when I think about this book is 'beautiful'. Hannah is reflecting back on her life and the formative events she experienced, many of which came through losing people close to her. There are profound statements about loss and love and how the two are intertwined. This is a book that I cannot wait to read again.

2. The Magical Year of Thinking by Joan Didion
 To me, this is Didion's most poignant book. She describes her husband's sudden death and how it completely upended her life. Her descriptions of grief and how she coped are worded in the most heart-rending way possible, and certain passages have stuck with me ever since I read it.

3. Epilogue by Anne Roiphe
Roiphe's memoir is also about the grief she suffers after the death of her husband, but her writing focuses more on her struggles to forge her own life after being married for 39 years. She covers attempting to date again, the feeling of burdening her children, her desire to change and yet keep everything the same. It's a thoughtful description of a difficult time.

What's In a Name?

Monday, February 13, 2017

I'm at a stage in my life where I'm often thinking about names, whether for my own baby or during discussions with pregnant friends. Reading The Name Therapist by Duana Taha felt perfectly timed.

The Name Therapist isn't a baby name book, it's more about how our names affect us and how Duana's name influenced her growing up. One of her main points was that almost everyone has strong opinions on their own names and can describe how that name does or does not fit who they are. She believes that in many ways a name can help shape a person. If a name is offbeat, chances are the kid will be too. This got me thinking how I feel about my own name and it also made me reflect on my "rules" for naming babies.

Overall, I like my name. As a kid, I always assumed that when I grew up I would go by Kimberly, because Kimmie seemed like a little kid name. But as I got older there never seemed a good time to break away from it. I could never imagine not being Kimmie, so when I went to college I just abandoned the idea of casting off my nickname and embraced it.

But sometimes it is hard having a nickname. In middle school and early high school I had some social anxiety (although I would not have called it that at the time) and roll call on the first day of school always made me so nervous. I hated having to say (in front of everyone!) "I go by Kimmie" and then needing to spell it out because everyone tends to spell my name Kimmy, which is annoying in its own  right.

Now, as an adult, it feels weird to put Kimmie on a resume, but then it also feels weird to go in for interviews and have people say Kimberly. When people call me that it's as though they don't really know me, and sometimes it's strange that Kimberly is my "real" name. It's an interesting dynamic that I probably think about too much.

From my own name hang-ups I have developed a few rules when it comes to naming our children. As you could probably guess, I don't want to call our kids by a nickname. It's possible that going by a nickname wouldn't bother our children at all, but for my sanity I would just prefer to call them by the name on their birth certificate.

Another rule is that I don't want to repeat initials. I have the same initials as my dad and my older sister, and for some reason I disliked that I wasn't able to put my initials on something and have it clearly symbolize me. So names starting with B, J, and K are pretty much out.

I also have a "no names that end in L" rule since Brock's last name starts with an L. I worry that if our child's name ends in an L the names will kind of run together. Like if we went with Paul or Samuel, would that sound weird?

We also don't want to go with anything too trendy (although I have never heard anyone say, "Yes, I want to name my child the top name of the year", so we're not unique in that). Anytime we talk about names I itch to look it up on Baby Name Voyager, because it shows how popular names have been. I do hope that we haven't destined James to be "James L." all his school life since the name James was fairly popular the year he was born, but oh well! We love it.

With all my weird rules it's been nice to come to a name consensus for our baby boy. I'm hoping to keep it secret until the baby comes, but Brock is fine telling people, so we'll see what happens. In case you were wondering, The Name Therapist author agrees with me; she thinks that when you are naming a baby you shouldn't subject yourselves to outside opinions and just come up with a name that you love.

What are some of your thoughts on names? This is a subject I could discuss endlessly.

Figuring Out My Love Language

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I recently finished The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, which is about how each of us has a primary way ("love language") of giving and receiving love. The five love languages are acts of service, gifts, quality time, physical touch, and words of affirmation. You can take the quiz on Chapman's website here to find your language.

I referenced them to Brock often enough that he was shocked to find out I hadn't actually read it myself. Once I did read it, I realized that figuring out how to get more of my love language has boosted my happiness.

As a side note, I listened to this book on audio and I recommend it in that format. Chapman read it himself and he has a great North Carolina accent that really adds to the writing.

The book emphasizes how learning your spouse's love language can improve your marriage because you will know how to show your love and appreciation in the way they treasure most. While I understand that angle, in my own life I saw that figuring out my love language has made both Brock and me happier.

It took me awhile to figure out my own love language. None of them stood out to me until a few months ago. Brock works a lot at night (not complaining because at least he's home before 6 most days) and one night I realized I hadn't really felt connected to him in a few days. I stopped to analyze what I felt would help me feel close to him. It came to me that all I wanted was to sit and talk with him, with no distractions.

And then- duh!- that is quality time! One of the primary "dialects," as Chapman says. For me to feel loved, I need to have quality time with Brock where we sit together and have great conversations. I never felt drawn to quality time because I misunderstood the concept. I thought it was about going on dates to the orchestra or going rock-climbing together, neither of which seem necessary for me to feel loved in my marriage.

Once I learned that, it's actually been easier for me to feel loved by Brock because I have no problem expressing what I need. I'll just say, "Do you have 20 minutes tonight where we can talk?" and since he's always willing, I've been so much happier. I've made it more of a priority on the weekends and any nights when Brock finishes work up earlier to get that time together, and I've benefited by feeling a new closeness. It's absolutely wonderful.

What's Saving My Life Right Now

Thursday, February 2, 2017

It always lifts my spirits to think about what things are making my life better right now. February isn't a tough month in southern California weather-wise, but there is never a bad time to think about good things in life, right? So here are the things that are saving my life.

1. Looking at ultrasound pictures of our little baby BOY!
We went to our 20-week ultrasound today and had it confirmed by our tech that we are having another little boy! At my 12-week ultrasound they were pretty sure it was a boy, so we've been banking on that ever since, but it has been so good to know for sure. Now we can settle on a name and pull out all our tiny baby boy clothes from last time.

This smile is brought to you by Snoogle

2. Snoogle Body Pillow
I never used any type of pregnancy pillow during my last pregnancy and I had major regret about it the six weeks before I had James. But by that point I figured it was too late to bother so I just dealt with it. But this time around I knew I was not going to let myself suffer, so when I got an Amazon gift card for Christmas I bought this wonderful pillow and my sleep has improved dramatically.

3. Vaseline
For some unexplainable reason, my lips decided to go completely crazy on me about a month ago. They peeled, cracked, got little sores, and caused me a lot of pain. I put on tons of chapstick, coconut oil, an essential oil blend I've used in the past and nothing worked. Then I saw my huge container of Vaseline and decided to try it. My lips are healed!! I still have to put the Vaseline on about every 2 hours or they start to crack again, but they feel so much better than before.

4. Pampers Size 5
I feel like a bad mom for this one. For about two months James had been wetting through his nighttime diaper almost every night. It was annoying but since he fits size 4 I figured what could you do? I am such a weird rule-follower that I didn't want to put him in size 5 since he's not 27 lbs yet (I know how crazy that sounds). But I had finally had enough of him being soaked and with size 5 the problem is solved! I'm just kicking myself for not doing it a long time ago.

5. Grocery store carryout
Last week was the first time I've done this (and I did it again this week) and I couldn't stop marveling over how much simpler it made my life. The person carrying out my groceries put them all in the trunk and took the cart back before I even finished buckling James in his carseat! I am total convert and don't think I'll skip it again (as long as I have a child with me).

6. Wearing a watch
I got a watch for Christmas and I realized I love knowing the time. It's such a small thing, but I've noticed I get a little annoyed when I don't know exactly what time it is and I hate digging in my purse for my phone. The wristwatch is such a great invention and having one improve my quality of life.

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