This Time it’s Different

I never put much stock in those words, “this time it’s different.” Pregnancy is pregnancy, right? Not so, but for many more reasons.

1. I’m 4 years older. I thought being a healthy individual would be enough, but my doctor and Mother Nature remind me that there are more aches and pains as we age. You learn to deal with it, or whine a little as necessary.

2. You carry the baby lower. I thought this was a falsehood, but no I am already panicking as I pull out my slightly too-short-to-look-cute maternity pants, because let’s face it, my regular ones aren’t meant for this um… girth.

3. Cravings differ. Yes, I still have an aversion to alcohol and coffee, just like last time. But I am not craving juicy fruits, my “queasy” stage lasted a two weeks longer (AWESOME). I would be mid meal and I would have to walk away. This is not as familiar as I expected.

4. We’ll get there. The baby’s room is still very much a “storage” space from when we moved (8 years ago) and from our recent master bedroom repaint (the guest bed is a perfect space for pictures and random clothing). I feel like I have all the time in the world to get organized to tackle the closet of Moving Shame (8-year-old box fort anyone?) It has a domino effect, can’t do much with the baby’s room until we clear the shelving downstairs to move books and tchotckies. Can’t do much with those items until we get frames and hang things up on the walls. Can’t get to that part of the living room until we get the toys downstairs into the new “creepy” playroom (I hate this idea). Can’t start the playroom “repaint/remodel” until we undo the “storage” it has become.

5. I know what is at stake. Last time my pregnancy was very much an abstract concept. A little sea monkey was developing and using my various innards as a springboard of fun. I wasn’t attached to the idea of motherhood. The ultrasound was an abstract experience (is that my uterus we are exploring?) I had lost my dad only 2 months prior so much of my pregnancy was shrouded in grief. I was afraid to expect a baby in the end since I could lose it just like I had lost my dad. Yes, I never thought past the pregnancy. So, Motherhood and all it entails, came as a loud, jarring alarm clock. This time, I know there is a tiny person growing, I know he or she is nudging around and reminding me to eat well and keep us healthy and safe. It’s depending on me for this. That’s a huge difference. I am its home, its safe keeper, its nutritionist and its story reader (thank Henry for his vast interest in books at night.)

It’s simple that huge.

I have a feeling that this Thursday afternoon I will cry like a baby when I see the little shape wiggling on the screen during the ultrasound, while Henry meets him or her for the first time. He will likely ask many questions over and over again, and it will be a special moment to share with him. He will likely bring up the experience for many months to come.

So if anyone asks me, is the next pregnancy different? I can answer with certainty that it is.

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Setting Goals & Hopes for 2015

I started writing the title of this post as “Setting Goals & Expectations for 2015,” but I quickly realized that will not be accurate. Now that we formally announced baby #2 being on its way this July I realize that expectations are the first thing to shift and change. With it comes a new set of challenges and adjustments we’ll all need to make, not just me, but Adam and Henry as well. For some reason I think the pets will be okay.

So instead of setting high expectations and then disappointing myself daily I am going to shift those to goals and expectations to goals and hopes. Largely inspired by my Evil Twin, and fellow blogger Jacqui, you really need to read “Dear self (a letter for 2015).”

Therefore, without further delay, here are my goals/hopes for this year.

1. Begin to workout again. I am no longer looking to be in the top five of my work’s daily mile challenge; I just need to be healthy and gain some muscle tone again.  Once the weather thaws  Maya and I can pick up where we left off with our walks. But I cannot turn into a plump marshmallow this winter. Now that the constant queasy feeling will be subsiding soon I am looking to start something new, prenatal yoga. Here is the one I’ll try.

2. Find time for me. I know what happens, it happens to me from time to time. I get so wrapped up in routine I forget to take time to rest and relax, to sit still and read or work on art projects. The results end up being a miserable me. The one that snaps at people and feels annoyed while awake. I don’t like her, and neither do you.100_6624

So I will try the following:

Read 10 books in 2015. That doesn’t sound like much BUT, Goodreads sadly informed me that I only read six in 2014. That’s embarrassing, I have a bookworm son, why don’t I practice the same? What happens if I don’t make my goal of 10? Nothing, it’s a goal but I will not let it eat away at me if I end up with less books read. They are still books read and that in itself is an accomplishment.

Be artsy. I pin ideas on Pinterest all the time. I whisper “I can make that” so many times at art fairs. So why don’t I do something about it? I know this one is harder than picking up a book, so I won’t set a quantitative goal, but I will do my best to carve out some “artsy” time this year, even post baby. Nothing big, nothing complicated, but definitely rewarding (a few canvases for the baby’s room and a big city canvas for Henry’s big boy room, those are my hopes.)

3. Eat healthier. I typically do a descent job eating healthy, but first trimester is a bitch. I have to think ahead about what I can eat, will it still sound good after work? Once I cook it, will it still smell good to me? When I eat it, will I be able to finish it? This time around things are more unpredictable. What is a craving one day becomes a horrid experience the next. I am worse than a toddler. Once the queasy feeling subsides in the next week or so, I can start to focus on flavors and seasoning as well as variety.

Courtesy of Red Tricycle.

Courtesy of Red Tricycle.

4. Leave the house. Yeah this will be a huge post-baby challenge for me. When Henry was a newborn I became so worried about leaving the house I became afraid of him crying in public. So much angst, I started to stay home too much during my maternity leave. Those days I don’t want to relive. Thankfully there is Henry now, the little kid who likes to go places and do things. Thankfully this will get us out of the house, whether to the park, Children’s museum, or the library. Don’t worry we’ll get it figured out even with a newborn in tow.

5. Stop stressing myself out. I am an only child and thereby I must set goals that are too complicated to complete, or too far out of reach and then I make myself feel badly about it. Well this year I am going to step back and think twice about my goals and hopes for the year. I am free to adjust them as necessary and as long as I find balance between restful things, creative things and things I need to do I think I’ll be a happier me.

Here is to a new and exciting year.

 

 

We May Now Celebrate the Holidays

So many people decorate their houses for Christmas even before the Thanksgiving turkey is even cold. But we are of the firm belief that Christmas should be celebrated in December, after the Thanksgiving holiday, after elastic pants and extensive Black Friday discounts are experienced.

The main reason to wait to celebrate the Christmas season is my Dad’s birthday, which he celebrated on November 30. After that I felt we had wrapped up fall and could stare winter square in the face.

Therefore it is our pleasure to celebrate his special day today. Three years ago we started a tradition of picking out the most fragrant winter wreath to decorate his space. The whole family trudges out, some years in rain, other years in heavy snow. Today we are remembering my Dad with weather in the mid 50s. We love our Mitten State.

We are remembering him for the adventurer he was.
The story teller.
The world traveler.
The navigator.

But most importantly, the dziadek he would have been.
The wonderful dad he was.The amazing husband he was.

We remember his hilarious stories and adventures, we remember him for the kind-hearted, at times mischievous, person he was and will remain in our hearts.

Sto lat, Tatus!

Happy Birthday, DAD!

Thanksgiving Feast Steeped in Tradition

Okay, I will be honest with you. I didn’t always celebrate Thanksgiving. And before you “clutch the pearls” “gasp in surprise” and question my very existence, I’ll explain… I wasn’t born here. I joined the ranks of the U.S. population back in 1987. And the first Thanksgiving for these European Pilgrims was pretty magical.

Mr. Michael (our next-door neighbor/grandfather figure) ordered a feast from our local Kroger store. It’s the first time I saw a real roasted turkey with all the fixings. I marveled at the size of this bird (chickens were the largest fowl I had encountered thus far.) It was also the first time I tried pumpkin pie – which I didn’t like. It’s an acquired taste, still. In small doses it’s fine, if you give me a hefty portion I’d eat mostly the whipped cream (most pie is really a pilaf for the toppings, right?) Anyway, bring on the apple, then I am a happy girl.

This post isn’t just about the fuzzy wuzzy feeling of yesterday, it’s about how our family adopted this holiday (along with Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day along with a slew of holidays that don’t earn me time off from work.) My Dad found a recipe in a U.S. newspaper that instructed the roasting expert to water the bird with a mixture of  orange juice, olive oil and crushed garlic, and so started a tradition. We’ve since enhanced the recipe with slivers of garlic under the bird’s skin and rosemary in the roaster to increase aroma. Here is a similar recipe for you to try – I would omit the broth and use more oil and wine ;).1479358_10152157777083949_2118968788_n

383978_2247805439429_599695108_nWe’ve also experimented with side dishes, corn, carrots, twice-baked potato, and sour cream mashed potato. We also add Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese), we’ve adopted the green bean casserole and even tried it with cauliflower, we’ve baked cream cheese stuffed mushrooms similar to this recipe (yep my mouth is watering now,) and we’ve always left enough room in our bellies for desserts, which we’ve varied through the years, pumpkin cheese cake, pumpkin pie with orange juice base, applesauce apple pie (some sort of concoction of my own, but you can try this similar recipe and don’t forget some allspice, cinnamon and nut meg,) and so many more.

My mom "thawing" the bird. A violent experience.

It’s a happy time that I recall very fondly and one where I can take my family’s traditions (especially those of my Dad) and share them with Henry as well as the other guests who are always welcome at our family Thanksgiving table.

Wishing you a festive Thanksgiving celebrated with loved ones and full bellies.

The Saturday Morning Walk

I’ve talked about my Saturday morning walks with Maya before,  the ones where you stumble over an unexpected Pow Wow or witness a regatta. At this point in the year it’s cold enough that events are less likely so I feel more comfortable rolling out of bed and heading out.

This morning was no different,  but it was amazing.

Only the sound of my shoes beating on the pavement and Maya’s nails clicking along side me.  Our breath creating puffs as we pushed forward. That is when we came across some of nature’s finest work at sun rise.  It made the early morning timeframe and low temps worth it.

Riverside Park

 

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Please Frequent Your Local Farmer’s Market

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Image courtesy of the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market website.

Mother Nature has finally released the winter death grip on the state of Michigan (watch me jinx us.) Last night while walking the dog I realized how ridiculously green the lawns and buds on trees were, how everything looked soft and glowed with life. This of course is before the heat of summer will regulate things back to yellow/brown (we’ll deal with that in due course.)

Right now we relish warmer weather, cool breezes and a rebirth of Michigan. This is also one of my favorite seasons, spring you ask? Nay, Farmer’s Market season. Living in Grand Rapids has spoiled my family and I with great restaurants, many of which have a bold claim of farm to plate fresh. I love this concept and I love how the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market makes this happen.

The Farmer’s Market provides some very important contributions to our community. The following I wish to share with you.

1. This magical veggie/fruit/plant/dairy/meat-filled oasis is right in the heart of the city. I don’t have to drive all over West Michigan to get my local fresh foods, I need only to pack up my canvas bags (oh how earthy!), my mini man and the stroller to get to my foodie haven.

2. I can actually talk to the people who raise the farm animals, create the cheeses, tend to the land & plant our food. I can ask them questions regarding what they use to keep away pests, how I can use my food in a new recipe, what the best times are to plant the flowers I buy, or even what the difference is between the lemon basil versus the spicy basil plants I am considering.

3. It’s also a unique blend of humanity. If you did nothing else at the Farmer’s Market but sit and people-watch for an hour (while sipping your eco-friendly locally roasted coffee), you’d have spent your time well. Few places can bring along so many different individuals so many unique folks from different walks of life. All congregating in the same space, buying the same foods that they will take back to their respective homes.

4. The Farmer’s Market is a great place for families. I can keep the mini man entertained here for a long time. There is so much to explore for kids of all ages. Babies love seeing all the colors and life moving around them. Toddlers, like mini man, love asking questions about the different plants and veggies they are seeing. Meanwhile older kids can learn about how the foods for sale are planted, harvested and then prepped for us.

5. It’s a tradition. I’ve been going to the Farmer’s Market for almost 10 years now, hardly a lifetime, but it’s part of my spring/summer/fall tradition. I love looking forward to my trip. Hoping I will find something to inspire a new meal or help me create the perfect herb garden.

Another fabulous image from the Fulton Street Farmer's Market Website.

Another fabulous image from the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market Website.

6. The food! There are some foods I only enjoy during Farmer’s Market season. The best example is the veggie foccacia from the bread lady down in Kalamazoo. Without fail, her family is at the Farmer’s Market each week selling delicious breads and pizza crusts. Each time I am there I make sure to pick up some goodies from her stand. I know it’s fresh-made and we hardly wait longer than afternoon to bake some bread to enjoy.

Above all else, I love the Farmer’s Market because I know my food is grown with care, I know it’s fresh, I know it’s delicious and it rivals the prices at the supermarket.

So join your community at your local Farmer’s Market and enjoy some fresh foods as part of your diet and some cultural exposure to the folks you call neighbors.

 

Enjoying the Rest of Our March of Dimes Season

Keeping people’s attention is a fleeting thing. What starts of as lots of enthusiasm can dwindle over time. That is why we generally don’t extend our inner-office March of Dimes fundraising beyond 2 months. This post is dedicated to the remaining efforts in the 2014 season.

Shameless plug #1

Shameless plug #1

Stop being loud. Start saving babies – We had a very successful silent auction in the office, folks were generous both in donations as well as bids. We had 22 entries and raised an incredible $1,031! Here is our link to the MOD silent auction page. Don’t you wish you bid? I love this event because it does a solid job fundraising but it’s also fun to see what percolate in a co-worker’s mind to donate a decorative sheep pie plate, or paint a purple bird painting,

Shameless plug #2

Shameless plug #2

or donate a hummus cooking class, play guitar? GREAT! We have a class for that. The other is seeing just how many alcohol baskets one small office can procure. Impressively there were four. Yes, we like to drink, yes, we like to bid. End of story.

see my t-shirt, see how it's grand?

see my t-shirt, see how it’s grand?

March for Babies. This is one of my favorite times of year, the spring weather has arrived, families and friends join together for a walk to celebrate our babies and honor the little spirits that are no longer with us. This year was sunny, but bitterly cold. It reminded my that Mother Nature wasn’t done with us. Hundreds of families trekked the 5K with gloves, winter hats and warm coats. Though we had adorable ddm/MOD t-shirts on, they were buried deep underneath our coats. Long story short, I made this walk memorable by needing assistance from the Caledonia fire department when my hands turned purple. Two minutes assessing my numb fingers I was issued real firefighter gloves, in a size XL. I proudly waved those huge mitts as if they were a foam hand at a baseball game. VIVA March for Babies, VIVA Caledonia fire department! Kudos to ddm for raising $1,796 online!

Waiting with baited breath.

Waiting with baited breath.

Bowling for Babies! (Please do not use babies to bowl.) This was a new event for us, would people come on a Sunday? Would we be able to peel them away from family obligations, out-of-town games, sleeping on their couches? For the most part yes. Lots of co-workers and their loved ones joined. Two solid hours of bowling, pizza and refreshments, we squeezed in a 50/50 raffle, and the big cake reveal. Nothing could have been better. Well except my BLUE team didn’t win.

WHAT?!?!?!?

WHAT?!?!?!?

PURPLE dominated (they did so with additional online and & daily mile donation success.) Damn you PURPLE team. Mark, my boss, provided us with the most honest reaction to unveiling that he didn’t lead winners, he led runner ups. At least we clocked in $585 for the event, overall.

In summary this year ended on a high note, we beat our total amount raised from 2013 by almost $1,000. We encouraged the participation of all the new co-workers we collected since last year, we tried a new event and people actually came. A MOD SQUADDER cannot complain. We raised $5,426.78 – that ain’t half bad. Check out how we performed by event.