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What I Read in October

Books, books and more books!  October wasn't a great month for adding books to my 'read' list, but I at least got a couple done!  I'm pretty sure October was the busiest month I've had over the past year, so the fact that I was able to successfully start & finish any books makes me very proud!

Leaving Rollingstone: A Memoir by Kevin Fenton

Leaving Rollingstone

This was one of those books that I probably never would have read if I hadn't met my husband and moved to a small town - even though it is a memoir set in Minnesota, I don't think it would have caught my eye.  During one of our trips to the mall, though, Jake saw it and thought his dad would enjoy it.  After dad read it, Jake brought it home and I picked it up one afternoon.  It was a fairly quick read and I definitely enjoyed it!

Leaving Rollingstone is Kevin Fenton's memoir of his childhood on a Minnesota farm and the changes that happened to him and his family after they had to leave.  Now, being married into a farming family, I have a greater appreciation for just how important "the home place" can be to a person's identity.  I truly believe it's a deeper feeling than one might have for the house they grow up in.  I didn't grow up on a farm so I can't even begin to explain why I have this opinion, but I truly do.  Leaving Rollingstone did nothing but re-iterate these feelings for me.

Leaving Rollingstone isn't a typical book I read, and I'm not sure that it is for everyone. It got a bit dry in places and I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if it weren't for my new farming family. However, if you enjoy reading memoirs, learning about Minnesota, farming and/or growing up during the 70s and 80s, I definitely think this would be right up your alley!

Rating: 3.5/5

The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey

The Oleander Sisters

The Oleander Sisters was a book chosen for me to read by my book club - and I'm glad it was!  We had already read The Sweetest Hallelujah by the same author and almost everyone loved it - we didn't realize when the book was first chosen that we had previously read a book by this author, but no one complained!

The Oleander Sisters is the story of two sisters, their family, community and how life changes when a new husband is introduced to the mix.  The book kept me interested and kept me flipping the page - which is definitely a good thing!  With being so close to the baby's arrival I have been finding it more and more difficult to concentrate on reading; this book keep me tuned in throughout the whole thing.

I enjoyed her writing, but at times it did seem to get a bit long-winded. Overall, I'd rate this book a 4/5!

What have you been reading?  Any suggestions for me to try??


Week 39 Bump Update

Well I made it - here we are at 39 weeks with no baby so far!  (I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he or she decides to make an appearance soon - but something tells me I'll be having a December baby.)  Hey, a girl can dream, right?  Patience has never been my strong suit and to know that we are this close to meeting Baby K has me excited, nervous, anxious and everything in between!

This past week has been one of waiting - I haven't wanted to make too many plans in case we'd have to cancel them to get to the hospital, and to be quite honest I've been pretty tired and sore so hanging out at home when I'm not at work has been more attractive to me anyway.

In the beginning of the week I had my next ob appointment.  Nothing too exciting to report there - no more progress, so he sent me on my way until this week unless I went into labor first.  Since the appointment is later today, I'm guessing I will make it there :)  It is crazy to think that if I stay pregnant until next week's appointment I'll officially be over-due!  I know it doesn't mean much in terms of how long my pregnancy will go, but I came into the world 2 days past my due date and Jake came in a whopping TEN days late!  As long as baby and I are healthy I'm not interested in getting induced just because of my impatience, so we could definitely make it to ten days over - but I'm hoping he or she decides to meet us before then!

When I wasn't at work this week I tried to do two things: rest and finish things up around the house.  I'm happy to report that I feel pretty darn comfortable with where everything stands in the house now - it's just waiting to have a new resident!!  I never got hit by the big 'nesting' bug that so many people talk about (though maybe that's still to come?!) but it is nice to have most of my projects done and the house cleaned!

One of the projects I finished was my last five burp cloths.  I had purchased a set of 5 cloth diapers and some more flannel fabric a couple months ago but never got around to actually cutting the fabric out and sewing them together; this week I accomplished that!  We now have a bunch in the living room and a bunch in the nursery just waiting to get spit up on ;)

I have been feeling pretty good lately - my late-pregnancy bout of morning sickness went away (and I'm so glad!) and I haven't been nearly as tired as I was a couple weeks ago.  My walking has definitely slowed down a bit, and I've been finding it a bit more difficult to get out of bed but nothing too crazy to report!  Baby still seems to enjoy doing pirouettes now that he or she is head down (to not get into too much detail I'll just say this: ouch!)

I feel like I say this every week, but I'm going to say it again.  I wonder how many bump updates I have left??

For now, here I am as of 39 weeks!


Week 38 Bump Update

As I sit here and write this blog post to update for my 38th week of pregnancy, there is Christmas music playing in the background (too early? not for me!) and it just hit me - this will be the very first Christmas Jake and I will have a little one at home with us.  Last year at this time if you had asked me whether we'd have a child for Christmas 2014 I would have answered with a big ole' NO!  I might've seen us expecting a little one - but I definitely wouldn't have thought we'd have already had our first son or daughter. 

What a difference a year makes!  I couldn't be more excited to meet him or her; we're getting so close to my due date!  I have no idea what to expect but I can't wait to learn - time's getting short now!

This past week was great!  It was relaxing, not incredibly busy and I feel so much more comfortable with the state of affairs at our house that baby could come at any time and I think we're as prepared as we need to be!  The week before was awesome, but with two concerts and everything else going on it was pretty darn exhausting, too.  To have a week that didn't require nearly as much driving was great!

The nursery is, for the most part, complete.  The decorations we have for the walls haven't been put up yet, but besides that (which really isn't at all important in the short-run) it's ready for baby to move in.  Whenever I walk by that room I just can't help but smile - I can't wait until there's a little one living in there.  

Physically I have been doing well, though I can tell my body is starting to get a bit worn out.  It's been more uncomfortable to sleep (I daydream about sleeping on my back and stomach.  Seriously.) and my waddle has definitely become more pronounced!  I have luckily avoided any of the kicks to the ribs that so many women complain about, but I do have one pain that I'm ready to be rid of.  Let's just put it this way - when baby is head down and changes positions, this often changes the amount of pressure down where the head is - and it hurts like the dickens!  (In case you're curious, dickens is a euphemism for the devil.  I had no idea where this expression came from so I just got done googling it - there's my one thing I learned today!)

At my last appointment my doctor checked me and I was 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced; within the week I got to 3 cm and 90% effaced.  Now I know that I could really walk around for another 4 weeks at this point, but it is nice to know that my body is starting to get ready for the baby to arrive!  When will that be?  Only time will tell!

For now, I can tell you this: these baby bump pictures won't be happening for too many more weeks.  Pretty soon I'll be taking baby pictures - and those sound MUCH cuter than baby bump pictures!  Until the baby comes, though, I'm stuck with the bump updates - here I am as of 38 weeks!

I must admit - I am a bit surprised that my wedding ring still fits me at this point in the pregnancy; I assumed I'd be so swollen that they'd be sitting on my bedroom shelf instead of on my finger.  I'm glad that didn't happen!


Week 37 Bump Update

Week 37!!!  Each week when I write these, I wonder how many more times I will have a bump update - pretty soon there will be a baby to post about (and I absolutely cannot wait for that day!)  But for now I must be content with seeing the weeks go by as baby continues to grow!

This past week has been, in one word, awesome!  For the past couple months whenever people have asked when I think the baby will be arriving, I've said "as long as he or she stays put until November 7th, I'm happy!"  Of course if he or she made an early, healthy arrival I still would've been happy, but selfishly I was hoping for November 6th or later.  Why?  I'll get there in a second :)

On Saturday night Jake and I hosted his mom, niece and nephew and sister for dinner.  It was a semi-last-minute type of thing but it was a lot of fun!  Jake grilled burgers (from a steer born & raised on his farm - proud wife right here!) and we had some other fixings to go along with it.  Nothing earth-shattering or exciting, but tasty all the same.

Sunday I met up with my parents in St Paul and we had a parent/Ashley date - dinner at a hotel followed by seeing James Taylor in concert.  My dad has been a fan of James Taylor for longer than I can even remember but had never seen him in concert; when I saw he was coming I made my dad set the evening aside so I could bring him as an early Christmas present.  The three of us stayed at the hotel that night so I didn't have to drive the hour home in the dark and I got up in the morning and went in to work.  It was so much fun and a really relaxing evening out!  The baby did get a bit of a workout, though.  I could feel him or her jumping around the whole time!

Monday afternoon was supposed to be my first weekly OB appointment, but my doctor had to deliver a baby so I re-scheduled for Tuesday.  That was perfectly fine by me because I know if my baby is coming in the middle of his work day he'll be there for me, too!  On Tuesday I told the doctor that Jake and I have a feeling we will have a December baby (with a due date of November 29th it's not too crazy to think I'll go two days over).  After he checked me, though, he let us know that he wouldn't put his money on a December delivery.  At 2cm dilated and 80% effaced my body is already getting prepped for this baby to come!  Now of course nothing is for sure and I could stay like this and still end up going two weeks over, but he is guessing that probably won't happen.  Time will tell!!

Then Thursday happened.  Thursday was November 6th (the one I mentioned earlier in the post).  The Thursday I was waiting for and hoping baby would stay in for.  On Thursday I got to see one of my all-time favorite artists in concert - Garth Brooks!!!  For as long as I can remember my sister an I have talked about wanting to see Garth; a couple months ago he announced he'd be playing in Minneapolis (this quickly turned into ELEVEN shows!!!).  We (along with my cousin & grandma) got tickets to the opening show and it was absolutely everything I thought it might be - high-energy and just all-around incredible.  I spent most of the concert on my feet screaming and singing my lungs out.  I'm so grateful I got to go!  

The rest of the week was a bit more low-key and I was perfectly okay with that.  After all that excitement I think baby and I both needed a bit of a break.  People have been asking if I've been feeling any contractions yet and I can honestly say that I have no idea.  I haven't felt any timeable or consistent things that I would say are contractions, but it's entirely possible that some of the twinges and semi-painful moments I have are actually contractions and I just don't know what they feel like.  Hopefully when the time comes I'll know it and won't have to second-guess myself!  Who knows...maybe that time will be this week?  I'm still placing my bets on a December baby, though it's much more tentative than it used to be.  Time will tell!

For now, here I am as of 37 weeks!

When I took this picture and looked at it, I couldn't help but think that my belly looks different than it did last week.  Of course it's a bit bigger but the whole shape and position is different!  I've posted a comparison shot below.  What do you think?  Is this what they mean when they talk about 'dropping'?


Week 36 Bump Update

Oops!  Once again, I failed to make a weekly post - so this 36 week update is what I should have posted last week, and tomorrow I'll be doing my week 36 bump update!  (I have to say, doing it like this makes the weeks seem to FLY by!)

Last week I officially hit my 36th week of this pregnancy and I'm having a bit of difficulty believing it.  To think that there are only 4 weeks left until my due date (though I am completely aware of the fact that my due date really, in the long run, doesn't mean a whole lot about when this baby will actually arrive).  Still, it's fun to think about how close we're getting to meeting Baby K!

I had a pretty good week - some good things, some not so great but all-in-all it ended up being a pretty darn decent week.

Saturday I made a fairly large purchase - a Nikon D3300 DSLR camera.  I feel like 95% of the pictures I take are on my iPhone (the only exception being my weekly bump pictures which are taken on the camera I borrowed from my mom a looooong time ago and haven't yet returned).  Once little one arrives, though, I want to have high-quality pictures that he or she can have forever; not pictures that I snapped on my phone and emailed to myself.  Now the only thing left to do is to figure out how to work it ;)  I'm pretty sure this is what they mean when they say there is a steep learning curve - I am a total newbie!  I borrowed a couple books from the library and I've been trying to experiment with it in my free time - wish me luck that I can figure it out!

On Saturday I also went to a painting class with my sister, friend, mom and grandma - it was a blast!  It was one of those events where they teach you to paint a specific paining, but ultimately you can design it any way you'd like and just run with it.  We were painting a tree-type of thing with colorful swirls and dots surrounding it.  Mine turned out a bit Seuss-esque, but it will go perfectly in the nursery!  

I headed home Sunday morning and started in on doing more laundry than I have ever done in my life.  I hadn't washed any of Baby K's clothing/blankets/burp cloths/etc, so I tackled that project and got them done!  I'd be lying if I said I felt great at the end of the day - I was absolutely exhausted and my feet were killing me after walking up and down the stairs so many times, but it felt SO great to have them washed, dried, folded and put away!

I'm pretty sure I over-did it a bit, though - when I woke up on Monday I was once again greeted by my old friend morning sickness.  I think I might have pushed myself a bit too much over the weekend and I definitely paid the price for it!  I had to call in late for work so I could get back to feeling like myself, but once I did I felt great for the rest of the week!

Fast forward to one of my favorite days at work every year - Halloween!  It's not necessarily my favorite because of the holiday; it's my favorite because I can normally think of a costume that lets me get away with wearing jeans ;)  I thought about not getting dressed up at all this year but I quickly changed my mind once I realized that I might never have a noticeable baby bump on Halloween again - I wanted to take advantage of it!  So here I am - Ashley the snowlady!  I got up early on Halloween, cut out some felt circles & a cloth nose, hot glued them to a shirt I normally wear to workout, tied a scarf around me and called it good - my belly was definitely on full display that day at work but I thought it was pretty cute!

Here I am in my 'official' 36 week baby bump photo - definitely not as cute as Ashley the snowman!

Normally I'd sign off for a week - this time I'm just signing off until tomorrow when I'll update with week 37!


Dear Little One

Dear Little One,

I'd call you by your name, but right now I don't know what that is, so Little One will have to do.  (I might have written Dear Baby, but your uncle Anthony hates it when people say 'baby' instead of 'the baby', so Little One it is.  Just a random fact that you might be interested in learning someday!)

Exactly one month from today is your due date; I don't know when exactly we will get to meet you, but I wanted to mark this moment with a letter to you, so you can someday get a little glimpse of your mom (and dad) before you were here.

I've known you were coming since March, but it blows me away to think of all the things I don't know about you.  I don't know your name, your birthday, your gender or who you look like.  I will know these things soon enough, but for now you are a mystery.  The very best type of mystery, but a mystery all the same.
Your dad and I do have some guesses about these things.

Even though you are due on November 29th, we have a feeling you might end up a December baby (though your grandpa Dale is really hoping you two share a birthday).

We both think you are a boy, but we're putting off knowing for sure until we meet you.  No matter what you end up being, in our eyes you will be perfect.  (In case you're wondering, your great-grandma Ronsberg is convinced you're a girl and the rest of my side agrees with her.  Your dad's side mostly thinks you're a boy!  Nicholas isn't sure either way, but according to him your name will be Cousin Yo-Yo.  Nolan sides with great-grandma on you being a girl and he loves you to the end of the earth and back again - whenever I see him he runs up, gives you kisses, rubs and says "there's a baby in there!"  Nicholas loves you just as much, and keeps asking when I'll let you out so you all can play.  I can't wait for the days when all of you get to play together; if I snap a million pictures, please just know it's because you're all precious to me and I want to remember every moment I get with you.)

Another thing your dad and I know?  We know that no matter when you're born, what your name is or who you look most like, you are the most incredible blessing in our lives.  Along with knowing that, there are several things we wish for you.

- We wish for you you a happy life.  A life that has more happiness than sadness and more joy than sorrow.  We hope you learn to find the good things that can come from every bad, and we hope you are able to keep joy with you even when it is difficult to do so.  We hope you can laugh at yourself and love yourself, find amusement in small things and never be too 'mature' to find humor in everyday life.

- We wish for you a life of passion.  Your dad and I each love different things, but it's not so much what you love that is important as why and how you love those things.  Your dad is passionate about farming, John Deere, Pepsi and working hard.  I am passionate about travel, reading, health & fitness and crafting.  Maybe you'll share some of these passions, and maybe you won't.  We hope you find healthy, fulfilling and energizing passions.  When you do (as I'm sure you will), your dad and I intend to be your biggest cheerleaders.

- We wish for you a sense of adventure, a good work ethic and a whole lot of determination.  There is always something new to be learned, explored or created.  We hope you have a lifetime of learning ahead of you and that you don't take for granted the opportunities you have in front of you.  If you want to do something, I have faith that you can accomplish it.  But, as an early warning, know that it might take a leap of faith, a lot of hard work and a bit of stubbornness.  Your grandpa Arv always told us kids that he'd go a mile to help us reach our goals if we're willing to go an inch.  We had to go that inch before he'd go the mile, though.  To this I say: ditto.

- We wish for you a heart of faith and a love for God.  You are a blessing to us and so many others; we hope you will know how blessed you are to be a child of such a loving and incredible God.  When you have problems, joys, anger or peace, share them with Him - He is your absolute best friend and won't let you down (we also wish you patience, as He might not deliver in a way you want or expect.)

I could go on for a year and a half about all the things we wish for you, but seeing as how you're due in just a month, I don't really have that much time to spare).  Your dad and I absolutely cannot wait to meet you and spend a lifetime getting to know you, help you and love you.

Forever and always,

We love you!


Week 35 Bump Update

Here we are at week 35 in this pregnancy - it's starting to get down to the wire!  At only 5 weeks left until my due date, I look around at all the work we have left to do and I wonder how it will ever get done.  Then I remind myself that all the work will never be done - there will always be more I'd like to do and that's life!  For now, I can rest easy knowing that if this little one decided to make an early entrance, he or she would have a house to come home to, the love of their family, clothing, diapers and two parents who will be there to take care of him or her.  And really, what else does a little one need?

Week 35 Baby Bump

This past week has been so much fun and also very busy!  On Saturday I woke up at my parents', met a friend for coffee (though if I'm being honest, neither of us actually had coffee.  I had hot apple cider, he had tea.  But saying coffee is much easier than explaining it.  Which I guess I just did anyway.  Oh well!)  When I got back to my parents' it was time for my second baby shower!

The weekend before was a shower for Jake's side of the family; this shower was thrown by my sister and friend for our side of the family and elaborate circle of friends-turned-family.  It was great to be able to see people I haven't seen for several months (and, in some cases, even longer!).  The shower was fall-themed and it was adorable!  There were pumpkins, scarecrows, comfort foods of fall and even a hay bale :)  This baby, Jake and I were incredibly spoiled with all the gifts and love we were given and it was just an awesome day.  I got to round out the day by hanging out with the family for the rest of the evening, and on Sunday I made my way back home!

Monday afternoon was my next check-up at the ob and everything seems to be in order so that was great!  My blood pressure has been consistently low (not too low, though) throughout this pregnancy, but before each appointment I always get a bit of nervousness - will today be the day it shoots up??  So far I have been in the clear, though, so that's great!  I have one more appointment scheduled for two weeks after that appointment and then we move on to weekly appointments (crazy!!!)

The rest of the week was pretty low-key, but I was perfectly fine with that!  Jake and I did sneak out on Tuesday evening for a movie date to see The Equalizer with Denzel Washington.  It was a great movie - high suspense, action and a good storyline as well!  We ended up in a bit of a mini-debate over who we'd rather have backing us in a scary situation: Liam Neeson or Denzel.  I'm a HUGE fan of Liam Neeson's, so of course I went with him.  Jake chose Denzel - so between the two of them we should be covered in case anything crazy happens!

Liam Neeson and Denzel Washington

I'll be completely honest here and say that Wednesday and Thursday night saw me in bed by 8:45.  This is much earlier than I'm used to, but for whatever reason I was just so much more exhausted than I have been.  In a couple weeks my nights will be determined by an infant rather than myself, so I let myself enjoy the luxury of going to bed whenever I felt like it - and it was great!  I'm beyond excited to meet this little one, but I'm going to enjoy these last couple weeks I have without having an infant to take care of - because pretty soon that will be my number one focus!

I almost forgot to include my emotional meltdown of the week (yep, I'm a crier.  I have no shame in admitting it).  Before Jake left for work one day, he was watching the documentary Blackfish on Netflix.  Blackfish is about a whale named Tilikum who has killed 2 (or possibly 3) of its trainers.  The latest fatality was at Sea World, where Tilikum still performs.  The documentary explored the world of whales in captivity and the impact it has.  I only caught the tail end of the show, but Jake explained an earlier part of it to me: a man told a story about years ago, when people were first tracking and collecting whales to be put in captivity.  They came upon a pod of whales and got the smallest one separated from the rest of the group - this is the one they would be capturing.  While the smallest was being taken, the rest of the pod was stationed around, watching as one of their own were stolen (if there were a whale version of Liam Neeson, he'd be on the case - and the thieves would have some explaining to do!)  The thought of a whale family wanting to save their young and not being able to do so put me completely over the edge - one more time I found myself bawling over an animal!  First cows, then a mouse and now a whale - what'll be next?!

Here I am as of 35 weeks: I wonder if my belly profile will change much over the next month??

35 week baby bump

Until next time,


Week 34 Bump Update

34 weeks - 6 weeks until due date - this is nuts!  Each week seems to go more quickly than the last and I am sure I'll be completely blown away when it is actually time to meet the little Mr or Ms.  The other day I was talking to my mom and I essentially said that same thing - that I can't wait to meet the baby but that at the same time just the thought of meeting my child seems a million years away.  She responded by saying, "and once you've met them you won't be able to imagine life before they were here."  I can believe this is true but I can't wait to experience it for myself.  Not that I'm hoping for an early arrival - I'm hoping both baby and I stay healthy and he or she can keep cooking as long as needed!

34 week baby bump

While the baby has been hanging out creating little thunderstorms in my belly, I kept myself busy this past week.

On Saturday Jake's sisters threw a Harry Potter-themed baby shower it and was so much fun!  We are all big fans of Harry Potter so it was an absolutely perfect celebration!  The house was decorated with owls, Hogwarts insignias and the buffet was covered with Harry Potter-related goodies (including Butter Beer!)  I had a great time with his family and my mom and sister and the baby was absolutely spoiled!  Jake's grandma made a nursery rhymes quilt for the baby and I might have had a bit of a an emotional moment (tears, tears and a couple more tears!) but I'm just going to chalk it up to being pregnant.  I still have my baby blankets, and just to get such a beautiful blanket and know that our baby will have it for the rest of his or her life is incredible.  Like I said, this baby was absolutely spoiled!

I got to spend more time with my mom on Sunday and that was awesome!  She, my dad and my grandma came down to deliver a chest freezer and to help me have a freezer-meal cooking day.  Jake and I had gone shopping on Saturday night for all the needed groceries, and let's just say I have never bought that much frozen chicken in my life!  We seriously spent ALL day Sunday on our feet and I was definitely sore by the end of it, but I was so glad to have thought ahead and make the meals.  Our freezer is now jam-packed with about 27 meals ready to thaw and throw in the oven or crock pot; I definitely think it will come in handy for after the baby comes home.  The trick will be to not start making them in the next six weeks out of laziness... wish me luck!

Monday was a bit nerve-racking for me; when I went home for lunch I was paying close attention to feel movements and I wasn't getting much.  I talked to Jake, and although he assured me everything was probably fine, he also said that I should call the OB just to calm myself down.  They told me to lie down, drink juice and call them back after a half hour or so - and not to go back to work until I did so.  That in and of itself was kind of scary!  Once the half hour was up, though, I still hadn't felt the baby move much and they had me go into the office to get a nonstress test done.  All they had to do was strap a monitor on my belly to monitor the baby's heartbeat and also one towards the top of my belly to monitor contractions.  Luckily, everything looked good and I was able to go home.  I think the little one knew I was getting nervous because everyday since my stomach has been rockin' and rollin!  I think after all that cooking on Sunday the baby just needed a bit of a break :) 

On Friday I headed up to my parents' house for the weekend of fun - starting with a dinner / play date with my mom, sister and grandma on Friday night.  I got a chicken stir-fry which was so tasty and then we saw Dirty Dancing at the Orpheum in Minneapolis.  It was a great girls' night - even if the play wasn't exactly the best thing I've ever seen.  There's something about Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle that just can't be replaced!  

The rest of the weekend was great as well, but that'll be updated with my next bump date next week!

For now, here I am at 34 weeks:

Besides my scare on Monday, everything has been going well.  One morning when getting ready for work, though, Jake asked me how I was doing and I broke down because I was just so tired.  He told me it's about time I introduce regular naps into my daily schedule so I've been doing my best to do that.  Some people love naps but I have just never been one who can handle napping.  Clearly this whole being pregnant thing has sapped my energy a bit, though, so I'm glad Jake gave me the push I needed to start taking them (there's just so many other things I could be doing a nap seemed like a waste of time before!)  I can definitely tell a difference between my moods on days when I nap vs. days when I skip the nap, though, so I think it's a good idea I keep up with them.  Heck, in a month or so this baby will dictate when I can sleep so I guess I might as well take advantage of the time I have now, right?

On that note - I think it's time for a nap :)

Here's a little comparison shot between 20 weeks ago and now.  That bump definitely has grown!


What I Read in September

Book Reviews

You'll soon see that September was not a very solid month of reading for me!  I'm not sure what happened, but the one book I did read just seemed to drag.  Luckily I'm already ahead of this pace for October!  Who knows what November and the following months will look like once this baby has arrived - but for now I'm glad I'm able to get a bit of reading in!

The Secret Papers of Madame Olivetti - Annie Vanderbilt

The Secret Papers of Madame Olivetti Review

This is a book that had been sitting on my bookshelves for years - seriously, years.  My sister had passed it on to me, and between reading book club books, borrowing books from other people and buying new books it just never made its way to the top of the pile.  It finally did!!

I enjoyed the book, but I also didn't enjoy the book.  It was in the middle of love and dislike, but I have to say that the last 40 pages or so were my favorite.  (No, not because they signaled the book was over!)  The last pages wrapped everything up and I ended up liking the main character much more than I had throughout the book.

Lily is a widowed woman who was traveled to France by herself and is living in her deceased husband's family home (lovingly called La Pierre Rouge or 'The Red Stone').  She has secluded herself here to write her memoirs on her old Olivetti typewriter.  As she works through both the process of writing and of living, we learn her life story and meet the people who have shaped her into who she is today.

The story itself is a good one - if you're a fan of Under the Tuscan Sun, this story would likely be right up your alley as well.  The part that got difficult for me, though, was the writing.  It seemed like every sentenced was loaded with metaphors, similes, flowery language and this made what could have been a very enjoyable easy read into a much more time-intensive story to read.  Some degree of this writing can make for a lovely setting, but for my own taste it was used a bit too heavy-handedly in this book.  

I would rate this a 2.5 mainly because of the writing style.

Have you read it before?  What did you think?


Week 33 Bump Update

I may sound like a broken record, but I can't believe another week has already passed!  I can still remember hitting week 20 so clearly - to now be 13 weeks past that is incredible!  To be perfectly honest, though, I don't feel much closer to baby coming than I did at week 20.  I'm not the most patient person around, I admit it :)  

33 week baby bump

Logically I know that the next few weeks will fly by so I'm just focusing on enjoying this time left in being pregnant.  Every kick feels like a tiny miracle happening inside me and although Jake and I want to have more kids, nothing is guaranteed so I'm going to let myself enjoy this time while still looking forward to meeting our little one!

This past week was great in so many ways!  My stomach seemed to have a mini Tasmanian Devil inside it most days - I could seriously just look at any given time and see baby rolling, punching and squirming around.  Some of these movements are starting to bring some minor twinges of pain, which I'm not the world's biggest fan of, but I'll just call them the beginning of preparation for labor and delivery - that will definitely be much more painful!  The reward at the end will definitely be worth all the pain though :) 

Jake and I finally go the nursery put back in order!  The walls are painted, the outlet covers have been re-attached, the closet organizer is back up and the furniture has moved out of the middle of the room.  Baby's clothes are hanging in the closest right now and I love taking any excuse I can find to take a peek in the room - it's finally starting to feel like a baby's room!  There is definitely still laundry to be done, things to be put away and things to be purchased, but for now we're trucking right along and I love it!

Another thing that's trucking right along?  My baby bump!

Here I am as of 33 weeks!

week 33 baby bump

Some other updates from the week:

- I had my next ob appointment on Monday and everything looked great!  Baby's heartbeat was going strong - just another 2 weeks until my next appointment!
- I scheduled maternity photos for Jake and I and we took those this week.  I got a couple sneak peek pictures and I love them!  I can't wait to get the entire disc so I can see all the pictures!  Jake and I are both pretty bad about remembering to take any pictures together at all, so I wanted to make sure we documented this phase of our lives and marriage - and we definitely did that!  In a couple months our family pictures will be growing in size and cuteness factor, but for now it's great to have some that are just the two of us (with a rounded belly showing what's to come!)

My week 34 check in will have many more exciting things to share - I can't wait!!


32 Week Bumpdate!

Just eight weeks left until baby’s due date – I can hardly believe it!  Jake and I have talked about baby being born a couple times lately and we both have the feeling that we will be celebrating a December birthday.  With my due date being November 29th this definitely isn’t outside the realm of possibility – but time alone will tell! 
32 Week Baby Bump

On Saturday we attended an all-day Labor and Delivery / hospital tour at the hospital where I will be delivering and it was definitely informative.  We hadn’t even really thought about going to one, but after some rave reviews (and a bit of persuasion) from our friends who have been there, done that at the hospital we decided to sign up for one.  I’m definitely glad we did that!  Both Jake and I feel more comfortable going into the home stretch of this pregnancy and getting prepped for labor and delivery.  I’m beyond excited to meet the newest member of our family and I know that the next couple months will absolutely FLY by!
More painting progress was made on the nursery but it’s still not completed.  Seeing progress in there makes me smile, even if it is just a little at a time.  If all goes according to plan we still have quite a bit of time before the nursery will have an inhabitant so I’m not stressing about it at this point.  Jake will get it done – he always does!
Anywho – here I am as of 32 weeks!
32 week baby bump

To be quite honest, I’m a bit bored with the category listing that I have been doing throughout pregnancy.  So I’m doing to change it up a bit for the last weeks!
-          Baby has been practicing kung-fu and it still makes me smile!  I’m pretty sure I will miss this after baby gets here – but of course I’ll be happy to have little one in my arms J

-          I’ve had some twinges of pain on either side of my stomach which I definitely haven’t enjoyed. These mainly come if I’m rolling over in sleep and then wake me up; my ob said they are simply round ligament pains and something to try to get used to for the next few weeks.

-          Jake and I have talked about what to bring to the hospital and are getting that list together now so we have less to worry about later.  Top of my list?  My iPod.  The birthing suites have an iPod hookup and if there is one thing that can help me calm down, it’s music.  I’ll be putting that to the ultimate test soon!

-          In the labor & delivery class the instructor emphasized that the main goal is to find something besides pain to focus on during contractions.  I wonder if it would be helpful or just strange to play a disc of Harry Potter being read aloud?  I have them all on my iPod and could see it being something relaxing to concentrate on – so we might be trying that out!

-          For the last 15 years or so my sister and I have dreamt about seeing Garth Brooks in concert.  Well it’s finally happening!  He’ll be in Minnesota during the middle of November and we have tickets to the November 6th show.  I’ve been giving baby mini pep talks to stay in until at least after the show.  The concert is 23 days before my due date so I think I should be good – fingers crossed! 
Just a few days until 33 weeks – this is getting crazy close!!


Week 31 Bump Update

Holy buckets this is CRAZY!!! I am now in the single digits for weeks until my due date - only 9 left to go, folks!  Obviously I am completely aware that baby could come before then or after then, but either way the countdown is getting much smaller!  (As I type this little one is kicking up a storm - I think he or she knows who the topic of my typing is!)

31 week baby bump

The progress of the nursery has stalled for the time being, but Jake had an incredibly hectic work schedule over past week (he worked 7/8 nights with each shift being 12 hours long - yep that's a lot!) I don't hold it against him for a minute!  I think his plan is to get the painting and furniture assembly done in the next couple weeks so it will all be done by the time of my first baby shower on October 11th - then whatever baby is blessed with I'll be able to wash and put away!  The thought of the nursery being put together and holding baby's belongings just makes me smile :)   I can't wait until nursery holds baby, too!

With our intention being to cloth diaper once Nugget is out of newborn sizes, I started preparing for that this past week.  I had previously purchased some BumGenius Elemental All-in-One diapers, and the care instructions specify to pre-wash them at least 6 times before baby is in them so they are fully absorbent.  So I started on that project!  I've been using Charlie's Soap Laundry Powder after reading several reviews that recommended it - I'll let you know how we like it after baby is here!

bum genius elemental

Last weekend I spent Saturday exploring different events and sales in the area and it was a lot of fun with a couple great friends!  Jake and I decided to not decorate the nursery in a farm/John Deere/cow or Harry Potter/Paris theme because all of these things pretty much run rampant in our house - we wanted to do something that was special for baby.  (Really, if I'm being honest, I decided these things and Jake went along with me - he would've been okay with anything I chose!)  While shopping I found a couple things that will be used in baby's room - I'll share pictures once they're up!

For the time being, I'll share a different picture: a baby bump!  Here I am at 31 weeks:

I'm feeling HUGE lately!

Weight: I have no idea, though I continue to feel huge!  
Sickness: Sickness has stayed away and I had energy this week - it was lovely!

Cravings: Nothing!

Food Aversions: Nope!

Clothing fittings: I feel like lately I'm realizing how much I should have gone shopping after losing the 65 pounds before getting pregnant.  All my shirts from pre-pregnancy are still fitting me well (and, honestly, some are fitting me better than they were before) and with such a large belly this is proof positive that I was wearing over-sized clothes before!  I think this mama-to-be may treat herself to a mini shopping splurge once I've lost the majority of baby weight! 

Sleep: I have still been able to sleep well so I am definitely happy about that!  I had a couple early nights last week because I was pretty tuckered out, but I suppose that comes with the territory :) 

Movement: Nugget keeps kicking and it makes me smile every time!  

Emotions:  I might have had one mini breakdown this past week, but I can't remember what it was about or if it was in a dream.  So I'll call it a half win! 

Workouts: Every day I get more and more excited to get back to my workouts and to try out the new programs Beachbody has been mentioning!  Although I continue to workout, I haven't stuck to one complete program and I'm pumped to get back into it! 


Blog Design?

I have no problem in admitting when I've failed.  Some people see failure as a monster to be avoided, and I like to think that I have a different point of view on failure.  To fail at something means you have tried.  It means you care and it means you would like to succeed.  Failure is defined by the success you'd like to have in any certain endeavor - if the success means little to you, the failure will likely not even be a blip on your radar.  But if you want to succeed and you want to do better, that failure may very well seem to be the size of a mountain standing in your way.  Well, I will admit that I have failed more times than I can count!

One of the large areas of failure for me has been this blog.  I love the blog and I love the process of writing what is on my mind.  I enjoy reading other's blogs and just the entire blogging community.  But it hasn't always been easy to show up here five days a week (or even three over the last several months!)  After finding out we were expecting a new family member and struggling through the morning sickness for the first four months or so, my blog was more often than not completely ignored.  I hardly had the energy to shower, let alone devote time to writing out what I was thinking - even though I know that I enjoy it and I love being able to look back and relive these memories.

So, although I have spent a lot of time failing, I'm done with that!  This blog is important to me and I am ready to re-commit myself to it.  I am going to share all the things that are important to me: my workouts, Beachbody, reading, baby updates and just snippets of my day-to-day life.  Because somewhere in the mix of all these things that I love is a recipe for me living the happiest and best life I can - and isn't that what we all want at the end of the day??

Blog Design

The title of this post is Blog Design? and up until this point I haven't mentioned any little thing about blog design.  Well here it is!  I've always done my own thing with my blog design - I've tweaked a little bit here or there but it's never really come out looking like I wanted it to (and it takes me forever and a day just to get one button the correct size!)  So, in a word, it has been frustrating!  I am going to get a whole new blog design done but I just don't know where to start!  I know I've stumbled across blog designers before but of course I didn't keep track of them - so I'm looking for some help!

Does anyone know of a blog designer they would recommend?  If so, could you pass their info on to me!  If you could either comment below or email me their website/blog/etsy page at, I would greatly appreciate it!  I'm SO excited to get started on this re-boot of!


P90 is Here!

So I titled this post "P90 is Here!" but there's a good chance you don't know what P90 is or why you should care that it has arrived.  I would love to tell you all about it!

P90 is the brand-new program by Beachbody trainer Tony Horton.  While you may not realize that you have heard of Tony Horton, there is a very good chance that you have heard of at least one of his programs.  The most well-known of these programs is undoubtedly P90x - and if the first thought that comes to you is "that program looked HARD" - you'd be right!  P90x was created for people who wanted an intense workout and was best for people who were in good shape to begin with.  

But P90 is flipping the script and making P90x approachable for ANYONE!  Seriously - anyone!  It is the perfect stepping stone or starting block for fitness - you don't have to already be a world-class athlete - you could currently spend most nights binge watching Netflix and you'd still be able to ROCK this program!  (If you do currently spend most nights watching Netflix, I promise I'm not being mean - I have watched my fair share myself!)

Who exactly could benefit from P90?

Now THAT is an excellent question - and the answer?  Once again, anyone!  P90 will be incredible for people who are just starting their health & fitness journeys, people with a large amount of weight to lose or people who simply aren't wanting to jump into a more intense program.  I don't want to stress the easy accessibility of it, though, and make it seem like it can't help someone further along in their fitness journey - because it absolutely can!  Are you already a tried-and-true Tony Horton fan?  This would be a great next step!  Or if you just would like to maintain what you already have worked so far to achieve - this can do that!  So, in all reality, this program will be perfect for people from all different backgrounds and fitness levels because Tony wanted to create something that anyone could do and anyone could benefit from!

What's the program like?

P90 is a complete 90-day at-home fitness program.  Now that the weather is getting chilly and most of us will be busy prepping for the holidays, it is a great idea to have a quick workout you can do at home - and this is all of those things.  The workouts vary from 25 to 45 minutes long, and you are literally told which one to do each day to get the best results - so there is no guess work and no crazy high expectations that you're already a fitness expert.

This is not a program that will have you taxing your joints and ending up in more pain than when you started - it's a cardio program and includes a built-in modifier so you always have an option of the lower or higher intensity workout.  This makes it easy to start with and also easy to grow with - you won't get bored!

Tony doesn't focus just on the fitness and leave you to decide your meals by yourself though - no, he helps you in every way!  There is a nutrition guide included with the program so you can not only get the best workout, you can learn to fuel your body in the best way so you start seeing results from the beginning and continue seeing them throughout the whole program!

What next?

Are you thinking this sounds like a great idea but you're not sure how to get started?  Are you nervous about committing to a program and not seeing it through to the end?  Do you want results but you're not sure you can get them?

That is where I come in!  As your coach it is my job AND my privilege to help you get the results you want - I have changed my life and health and I want to make sure you do the same!  If you are ready to make a change I am here to support you 100% and make sure you get those results!

On October 13th I will be starting a brand new online support & accountability group - and you can be a part of it!  P90 + support & accountability + you = RESULTS!  This group will be run through Facebook and I will start each day with a tip, motivation, a new recipe, a mini challenge or something to think about - you will wake up to motivation and that will help carry you through the day!

When I was younger (and, really, to this day) my dad would tell me - if you go an inch to reach a goal, I will go a mile to help you - but you have to go that inch.  That is exactly how I feel now with my challengers!  I love helping people achieve their goals and change their lives and I will do anything I can to make your goals become reality - but you have to just be willing to commit!

To join a challenge group you just have to purchase a challenge pack through me as your coach - I will then add you to the group and we will go those miles together!

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Week 30 Bump Update

Two weeks in a row I have been able to stay on top of updating - I call that a WIN!  I feel like I say this every single week, but it blows my mind that I have hit week 30 and only have ten weeks left until my due date.  Each week seems to go by quicker than the last, but at the same time it feels like ten weeks is still a lifetime away.  I am getting anxious to officially meet nugget - but of course want him or her to stay in for a while longer.  It's a mess of emotions, I tell ya!

30 week baby bump

It feels like a long time coming, but I can FINALLY report that we have actually started to make some headway on the nursery!  On Sunday Jake and I cleaned out the extra stuff that had accumulated in the nursery, moved the full length mirror and my dresser from there into our bedroom (actually, Jake did the heavy lifting.  I watched!)  and we took all the electrical/cable/phone covers off the wall and dismantled the wire shelving in the closet.  Jake did the closet while I tackled the covers.  As simple as that might sound, it was truthfully a project in and of itself.  This house has a TON of electrical outlets - way more than is necessary, but it is nice to always have a place to plug in!  I got on a bit of a roll apparently, because after Jake had started painting (I removed myself for this part and watched the Vikings game) he asked my why I removed the outlet covers from the ones on the ceiling... oops!  The upstairs of our house has slanted ceilings that follow the roof line, so it's common to have outlets on the ceiling - and I guess I just forgot about the fact that Jake wouldn't be painting it!  I was just being thorough, I guess :)  

The progress made in the nursery was the most exciting baby-related news of the week, but I'm okay with that!  It is such a relief to know that we have at least started it - I was starting to get anxious!  Now that we've made some headway it's just a matter of time before the nursery is done and little one is here to enjoy it (though I fully realize that he or she couldn't care less what their room looks like in the beginning).  Either way, I'll be happy with the room and maybe that's the most important thing at this point :) 

The bump just keeps growing - here it is as of week 30!

Weight: I still haven't replaced the batter, so I have no idea!  Monday I have another ob appointment, though, so I'll be able to see the difference over the last two weeks then. Without even knowing my weight, though, I just feel big.  I don't think I have gained an inappropriate amount of weight, and I think it has pretty much settled around my belly (and a bit in my face), so I'm not saying this in a "ohmygoodness I feel fat" type of way.  I just feel big!  It's more difficult to move around and even flipping from side to side in bed is getting frustratingly difficult.  It will all be worth it though!
Sickness: No sickness and I am glad for that!  The fatigue that I had been feeling has mercifully lessened and so I'm feeling much more like a human and less like a robot.  
Cravings: Nothing!
Food Aversions: Nope!

Clothing fittings: The maxi dresses and my maternity pants are still my go-to pieces of clothing and I am perfectly happy with that!  

Sleep: The pregnancy pillow has been incredible - I couldn't be happier that we made the decision to splurge on it.  I sleep with it every night and it is the best sleep I could hope for!  I still get up two to three times a night but it doesn't really even bother me any more - I'm used to it after this many months.  I have noticed that it's getting a bit trickier to roll over and get out of bed but I'm making it work :) 
Movement: Baby has been SUPER active this week and I am perfectly happy with that!  It seems like Nugget will participate in a two minute boxing match (that feels more like a rolling match lol) and then take a break for a little while - just to start back up again later.  I haven't had the painful punches or kicks that so many people mention, so for now I'm just enjoying knowing that little one is practicing for Insanity or TurboJam in there :)  
Emotions:  Another week without a breakdown - I feel like super mama!
Workouts: The workouts made a reappearance!  With the fatigue of the past couple weeks finally easing up I got back into the workout zone and loved it!  A little bit of Les Mills Combat was exactly what the doctor ordered!  I am, however, SO looking forward to getting back into the swing of things with my workouts!  Beachbody just announced a new program called Insanity Max: 30.  It's by Shaun T and it's bound to be incredible - I can't wait to be able to get started with it!

Next week I'll be down to the single digits for number of weeks left - crazy!!!