Thursday, July 11, 2019

When In: Fredericksburg, TX

Greetings faithful blog readers,

Brendan and I took our first child-free weekend since Willa was born to celebrate our anniversary, and we had a wonderful weekend in Fredericksburg. I originally picked the destination because it wasn't too far from my parents' house (I knew I'd feel a bit nervous, and I didn't want to be too far from Willa for our first trip away) and because it's a winery and brewery haven (yep, I booked this trip before I was pregnant). Despite wine being a no-go, the hill country still had lots to offer, so I wanted to share a few of our recommendations.

I got my hair done Friday, and then we drove to Stonewall, TX (about 20 minutes from Fredericksburg) and checked into our gorgeous B&B (Rose Hill Manor). We loved this place. We stayed in one of the herb cottages and couldn't get enough of the view. Though it was hot during the day, we savored reading on our porch in the mornings, and if I were to go back, I'd time dinner reservations so we could be back for sunset because I'm sure they'd be spectacular. Hummingbirds flocked to the plants near our door, the main house has ice tea and snacks available all day, the breakfast was delicious and filling (think smoothies, yogurt, french toast, omelets), and everything was so comfortable. We also liked being "away from it all" outside of Fredericksburg.

They had champagne waiting for us (apparently, I'd ordered that too...but Brendan took one for the team and managed to drink it over the weekend!). We follow the anniversary gift list (it's fun!) and both gifted each other fine chocolates for our "candy anniversary," so we did what any newly freed parents should: eat chocolate and take a nap! My chocolates are from Chocolaterie Tessa in Austin and Brendan's are from Chocolate El Rey in Stonewall. Highly recommend both!

We had dinner reservations at Otto's German Bistro, and it was the best meal of the trip. I had to make a few calls to get reservations, but I'm glad I did because the waitlist was long long when we arrived. The watermelon salad, foie gras, and cheesecake were amazing, and they did a great job making a mocktail for me too. The mains are HUGE just FYI, but everything we ate was good.

Saturday morning, we ate on the porch at our beautiful B&B, read on our own porch, and then headed into town to do some shopping. On our way there, we stopped at Wildseed Farms and enjoyed the butterflies and the wildflowers and even bought some seeds to take home.

I'm not really a "shopping person," and I found the shopping in Fredericksburg to be pricey and not really my style, but I still had fun walking main street, sipping my frozen lemonade from Tubby's ice house, and finding a swaddle for baby boy and a Christmas ornament for our tree. Brendan stopped for beer at one of the beer gardens on main st., and I enjoyed a pretzel. On the way home, we stopped at Grape Creek Vineyards, so Brendan could do a wine tasting. He says that the wine was fantastic, and there's a sparkling wine vineyard next door (which would've been right up my alley), but I'd encourage readers to pick a day other than Saturday to visit. It was crazy, and you couldn't sit for your tasting, so it wasn't the most relaxing experience.

We relaxed back at the B&B before eating dinner at the Cabernet Grill. I really enjoyed the chilled peach soup, tomato and olive salad, and my flounder.

Sunday, we did a driving tour of the LBJ State Ranch and National Park. We stopped to see bison with their baby calves and the longhorns, and it was a pretty drive. I wish we'd had time to do a tour of the "Texas White House" but maybe next time.

On the way back into Austin, we stopped at the Jester King Brewery, and I'm pretty sure Brendan was in heaven. He bought some of their fancy "Spon" beer to take home, and I made him promise to save one bottle for when I'm not pregnant.

We had a fabulous weekend, and Willa did great with Lelie and Pops (reportedly sleeping 12 hours both nights for them). We were so happy to reunite with her, and we all made it back to Midland a little after 9PM Sunday and reunited with Lola and Zoe (we have a great it DOES take a village!). It was a quick trip to Austin, but we're so glad we could see friends and family and take Willa to the neighborhood 4th of July parade I grew up going to.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend and these Fredericksburg recommendations. We'll definitely go back one day (though we would probably try for the fall when it's a bit cooler and go when I can have all. the. wine!)


Monday, July 8, 2019

Baby Boy: Pregnancy Story & First Trimester Recap

Greetings faithful blog readers,

Thanks for all your support and well wishes for our family. It means the world to us! I definitely plan to recap my pregnancy this go around too because I find it's a great way to keep people updated. My blogging time is severely limited these days, but I'll try not to make pregnancy the sole focus of the blog.

If you've been reading for awhile, you know the long story behind our first pregnancy (well, really our second pregnancy, but our first baby). Getting pregnant with Willa took almost a year start to finish and involved a missed miscarriage that I talked openly about in that post. I wanted to start this post by saying our experience this time was totally different. I remember what it's like to want to be pregnant and be looking at negative tests month after month. If you're on that journey, I'm sending all the positive wishes I can for you and also advise that you skip this post if you don't think it will be an uplifting experience. 

0 or 2
Brendan and I played a game at our wedding shower where we were individually asked a bunch of questions, and guests had to guess which answers belonged to each of us. One of the questions was how many children we wanted. We both answered "0 or 2" (I wrote a bit about making the decision to parent in the post linked above). As soon as we had Willa, I constantly found myself referring to our "kids," even though we only had one kid. We both grew up with a sibling and really hoped to have two kids. At the same time, I feared pregnancy might not come easily and braced myself for another wait or even adjusting our plan if it didn't happen a second time for us.

Ideally, we decided we wanted our kids close in age because we thought it'd be fun for them and hard at first for us but then convenient since they could play together and we'd spend less time confined to home base (pretty hard to travel with super little ones!). Birth control wasn't even something we had to think about until Willa's first birthday (I was still nursing Willa 2X a day at that point, and my period took a full year to return). By the time I got my period back, it seemed pointless to worry about birth control because we were planning to actively start trying in June (with the idea of pregnancy possibly taking a year or more). Our plan was to avoid the fertile window for a couple of months, but life had other plans. I didn't chart or use OPKs (ovulation predictor kits), but I was pretty sure I ovulated earlier than usual. I still didn't think this would result in a pregnancy because we'd had perfect timing before with no pregnancy, and I'd been really sick and ended up in the minor emergency around the time I thought I'd ovulated. I actually regretted not actively trying a bit after the fact because I thought if we made it into another year of trying, I might look back and wish we'd tried earlier.

Finding Out 
I took a cheap pregnancy test left over from trying for baby #1 the morning of my expected period just in case, and I was shocked that it was positive. My mom was in town because Willa had been sick the past week, and I needed to find a way to get Brendan alone so I could tell him. After trying (unsuccessfully) to get my mom to take Willa for a walk in her stroller, I said Brendan and I were going to pick up breakfast tacos and drove him to our mailbox around the corner instead. He thought I wanted the mail and jumped out to get it. I really was just trying to find a place to park so I could show him the test! I was so nervous and said, "Hey, I know this isn't exactly what we were planning on..." Brendan was so happy! I was so happy! And we were both so surprised. We talked for a good ten minutes before we realized we should probably actually pick up breakfast so my mom didn't wonder what was up. We were gone for a good hour and were an absolute wreck at the restaurant (like running into people and losing our order number and just completely out of it). I already had an appointment scheduled with my OB for Tuesday to discuss going back on Metformin in preparation to conceive again, so I just kept my appointment and did the blood draw to check my HCG levels. My doctor wasn't nearly as surprised as I was; I guess he has seen many similar situations.

4 Weeks 
Baby Size: A poppy seed

Day of positive test (technically 3 weeks, 6 days

My first pregnancy symptoms were extreme fatigue and tender breasts. It's hard to know if the fatigue was also caused by having a one year old and being in the last week of classes, but I napped for nearly three hours one day, and it was like I couldn't get up even if I wanted to level of tired!

5 Weeks 
Baby Size: Sesame Seed 

HCG level comes back way more than doubled, so that's a great sign. In addition to last week's symptoms I feel a little queasy and have to pee all the time, plus I'm constipated. Brendan says all my symptoms are the exact same. Luckily the peeing all the time symptom disappears pretty quickly. Can't same the same for the others!

6 Weeks 
Baby Size: A Sweet Pea

We get to have our first ultrasound! Baby measures 6 weeks, 1 day with a heartbeat of 113 bpm. It's a relief but by no means quells my anxiety. I try to distract myself with teaching my online class and writing, but I still have a lot of anxiety. I think that's normal but especially when you've had a loss, it's just very difficult to relax in early pregnancy. My nausea kicks in this week, and Brendan makes a trip to Walgreens to get the sea bands, jolly ranchers, and ginger gum (the things that worked last time). Unfortunately, we soon realize there's going to be less throwing up and feeling temporary relief this time and more all day nausea, and that is not a good combination for getting anything accomplished.

Mother's Day/6 Weeks 

7 Weeks
Baby Size: A Blueberry 

This is the week I fully embrace that this is our last pregnancy! (After having Willa, I was temporarily like "maybe we should have 3!") I'm really sick. I need to eat frequently but almost nothing is appealing. To give you an idea, my dinner is saltine crackers, a cheese stick, and sprite. We have another ultrasound and the baby is measuring 7 weeks, 2 days (right on track) with a heartbeat of 143bpm. Official due date is set: January 6, 2020. Brendan and I like the excitement of the 2019 or 2020 baby (I was only 3 days early with Willa though and have a feeling this little one will be born in January, but you never know). I talk to my doctor about the severe all day nausea, and he calls in a prescription. At first, I'm hesitant to take it (I try to avoid taking anything during pregnancy), but after throwing up so much that the blood vessels around my eye burst, I finally try it, and it helps a lot. We get a visit from Amanda and Matt, and they are the first to know the news. Fun fact: in my last pregnancy, I threw up on their rug, so I'm sure they're happy I'm in my own house this time!

Week 8 
Baby Size: A Kidney Bean

I'm still working out (barre and yoga) but needing to take it at my own pace. Brendan is amazing and gets up with Willa in the mornings, changes her dirty diapers, does everything involving smells around the house (which honestly is a lot of things: food prep, trash, cat litter, etc) and overall is an amazing husband. I try to rest as much as possible and eat frequently, which both help with avoiding nausea.

Week 9
Baby Size: A Grape

I have my only gender prediction dream and dream I'm carrying a boy, but, I had the same dream last time, so the dream doesn't convince me as much (last time I was 95% sure I was carrying a boy, but I was wrong). Food aversions, extremely sensitive to smells, nausea, eating bland food all the time, and totally tired are my symptoms. Plus, I definitely worry about everything: if I can handle two under two, how Willa will be affected, if having a baby during flu season is going to be okay, if Willa will get the baby sick, if my capacity to love will expand. Likely, my personality combined with all the hormones is to blame. I have to remind myself every situation will have its advantages and disadvantages and that we'll make it all work somehow. I think as women, we have a lot of prescribed ideas about how we "should" feel about pregnancy. Of course, I'm grateful, but there are a lot of other feelings going on too.

Week 10
Baby Size: A Kumquat 

We do the blood draw for our genetic testing on Monday and actually get the results back on Friday! I was not expecting that, so I didn't take the time to do all the old wives tales for sex prediction, but in hindsight a few are:
Chinese Gender Prediction: Boy
Heartrate: Girl
Morning Sickness: Girl
Clumsy: Boy
Moody: Girl
Mayan Predictor: Girl
Gut Feeling: No idea! I think after having a girl, it's easier to picture that. Plus, last time I predicted boy and was totally wrong.

The nurse calls while I'm in Willa's daycare picking her up, and we call them back from the car. They tell us all the testing came back normal (huge relief) and ask if we want to know the sex. Of course! The nurse tells us we're having a BOY this time. We truly would be happy either way, though everyone we've told is very excited about the one boy/one girl family (we both grew up in girl/boy families too), and my friends with both a boy and a girl tell me it's different, so I'm interested to experience that! We don't have a lot of gender neutral clothes, but we know a few people with boys that are willing to supply us with hand me downs, which is a big plus. There isn't much time for the news to sink in: we need to get back to our house because my parents are waiting for us. We've put Willa in a "best sister ever" onesie and are all ready for our big reveal on my Dad's birthday. My parents play with Willa for a good ten minutes before reading her shirt though, and then my dad says "it's just a hand me down shirt, huh?" Needless to say, we really surprised them this time! We Facetime Brendan's parents and sister on Father's Day and put Willa back in her "Best Sister Ever" onesie. There are lots of happy tears and everyone is so excited!

My only pic this week: promise the cake is not on fire, it's just that the AC was on! 

Week 11
Baby Size: A Lime 

The week starts off with a doctor's appointment in which the nurse can't find the baby's heartbeat right away. She tells us this is very common, not to worry, and that she'll get the doctor and if he can't find it, we'll do an ultrasound. If you are a person that likes OB appointments, I'm seriously envious. Everything ends up being fine as the doctor finds the heartbeat within a minute, but the minutes waiting on the doctor felt like an hour. Even Brendan, who is way calmer than me, was nervous. I definitely start feeling better this week nausea wise, which is good because it's the week Willa starts walking everywhere and keeping up with her is a lot! If I look tired here, it's because I was!

Week 12
Baby Size: A Plum 

We start off the week with a recreational ultrasound at school. Baby boy is moving around in there, but I can't feel a thing. It's really reassuring to see him measuring exactly 12 weeks and developing right along. The week ends celebrating my 33rd birthday. Brendan makes me a key lime pie which definitely makes up for the fact that I can't have champagne.

There's so much debate on when the first trimester ends (week 12 or week 13), but my doctor considers 12 the end, so we'll go with that. I'll check in again with a weeks 13-16 update in a few weeks.

In the meantime, I'd like to ask for your continued well wishes, prayers, and good thoughts for a healthy pregnancy, birth, and baby. Thank you for thinking of us and thanks for being along for the ride faithful readers! We can't wait to meet our baby!

Friday, July 5, 2019

6 Years & the 6 of Us

Greetings faithful blog readers, 

Years ago, in a graduate class, the question was posed "was your wedding day really the best day of your life?" I wasn't married yet, but I knew what I hoped my answer would be one day. 

I hoped I would find someone I could have no doubts about marrying, and even more than that, I hoped that years later, when I looked back on our wedding day, I would remember it as one of the best days of my life because I knew that that would mean that I'd married the right person and that I was still very much in love. 

And my answer to that question six years in faithful blog readers? 

Yes, yes, yes. A million times yes. 

We've grown so much together in the past six years, and I'm proud of the people and family (Lola and Zoe included!) we've become. 

We'll soon have one more person to love with all our hearts. We're expecting a son, due January 6th, 2020. It looks like six is a lucky number for us this year <3. 

I'll be posting soon with details about our second pregnancy and a first trimester recap. For now, please send all the love, good thoughts, and prayers you can. 

The SIX of us 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

June Updates + Donate Your Birthday (Angry Tias and Abuelas of RGV)

Greetings faithful blog readers,

June has been a busy and fast month over here. We've been enjoying the beautiful summer sunsets, Saturday morning farmer's markets, and air conditioning!

There's plenty of fun to be had, even when it's hot. We've been playing at the library (they have a Clifford exhibit until Sept. 7th), with Willa's water table, and at the playground when we get a cool (80s) day. 

We also enjoyed a weekend visit from Lelie and Pops to celebrate my Dad's birthday and Father's Day (and Brendan and I got a date night out of the deal too!) 

We've had a productive month and are definitely relaxing some too. 

The other reason I wanted to check in today is to talk about my pick for Donate Your Birthday--Angry Tias and Abuelas of Rio Grande Valley. I cannot even express the sadness I feel about the situation at the border, and especially that negligent treatment is happening in my own state. The inhumane conditions for people seeking asylum and innocent children is unconscionable. I looked for a local organization and remembered Nayelly, a woman that attended the McNeese MFA program, helped start Angry Tias and Abuelas of the Rio Grande Valley, an organization of women working directly with migrants to provide food, transportation, hygiene supplies, water, blankets, and resources. The amazing thing about this organization is that it is 100% volunteer based so there are zero operational costs. Normally, the idea of Donate Your Birthday is to give your age in dollars, but since the need is so great right now and this is a humanitarian crisis that is literally close to home, I gave $100. Honestly, I cannot even do justice writing about the work this group does, so please take a listen to this podcast episode (#39) if you have time (these women have made REAL change--they have families and jobs and still manage to make a difference, and it's so inspiring) and donate here if you are able. I love the concept of Donate Your Birthday, and this is my 9th year participating! I also gift donations to other people for their birthdays, and it's an awesome way to celebrate another year. 

I'll check in soon with updates from today and our anniversary celebrations later this week. Happy weekend everyone! 


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

All Things May

Greetings faithful blog readers,

It's been a long time since I've checked in, mostly due to end of the semester mayhem (get it mayhem?), but rest assured, we're all good over here.

As of two and a half weeks ago, the 2018-19 school year was complete, and Brendan and I left Willa with her first non-family babysitter to celebrate the start of summer and a friend's birthday (Willa slept the whole time, and we learned the hard way that recovering from a party is truly hard when you cannot sleep in!).

Truly, making it through our first school year as parents felt like a major accomplishment. Having a child changes everything and the work/life balance is no exception. I definitely was concerned about how I'd get everything done and be a mom, but I found I worked more evenings and weekend hours to be able to spend afternoons with Willa. I also found I had less time for myself in general and have to really prioritize things that are important (working out, writing), which means cutting back (almost completely) on recreation/downtime (Netflix, reading, resting, and blogging too, sadly). Now that summer is here, I am trying to work some "me time" back into my schedule, though that will be easier once my three week interim class is finished this week. I'm really proud of both Brendan and I. I feel like we are still thriving, despite having so much on our plates. Brendan even finished out the school year by winning the Jerry Mills Professional Development Award, which will help with fall conference funding. Plus, we both wrote letters of recommendation for students that won scholarships, and our Sigma Kappa Delta president won a national scholarship and was able to attend the national convention to receive her award.

Willa is still in the infant room at school, but she has changed so much (check out her first day of school for comparison)! Since there's no option to discontinue with childcare in the summers, Willa will still be attending "school" (which also keeps her in the routine), and we will be using the time to write and tackle necessary household projects. Currently, we are also both teaching online interim courses. 

I had a fabulous Mother's Day with Willa and Brendan. We picked up my favorite (sushi bowls!) and had a relaxing day at home. 

Two weekends ago, we were able to catch my cousin Colton's baseball game (Willa's first baseball game!), see him bat excellently, and see his undefeated(!) team advance to the semi finals. They have since won the semifinals and will be playing in the finals at the end of this week. If you love baseball or just want to cheer for Colton, you can listen to the games here (next one is Thursday at 6PM, and you can bet we will be listening!) Go hawks! 

This past weekend also included cousins! Amanda and Matt drove in from Austin on Saturday, and we had an amazing visit. Highlights included double the playmates for Willa (pretty sure she was in heaven), enjoying the spring opening of our patio, playing so many games (I'm still on a high from my Ticket to Ride win), visiting the beer garden, and checking out the opening weekend of our community pool. 

Plus, I took advantage of Amanda's visit to work on perfecting my mimi's waffle making skills, and Willa was a big fan of her first taste of the good old Austin waffles (she couldn't get enough!). 

All in all, we've loved our May days so far, and I'm sad to see them coming to an end because we've also had gorgeous weather (highs in the 80s and lots of rain, unlike last May which was 110 everyday). 

Here's to the start of a much needed summer break! We hope to fill it with family time, productivity, and great memories. What are you and yours excited about this summer? Tell us in the comments. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Backyard Beautiful

Greetings faithful blog readers,

Spring has sprung in our backyard, and as promised, I owed you a post on our progress.

If you've been reading this blog for a few years, you know that I once referred to landscaping the yard as "a weekend project." I think I was serious. Brendan has spent the last four years showing me just how wrong that statement was. Our yard is a never-ending project, and one that Brendan takes on the majority of the work for. I'll get out and weed and plant some, but mostly, Brendan is our landscaping man. We put in everything by ourselves (except the trees), and to appreciate the progress, please start by looking at our first backyard building posts here and here to see what we started with (seriously just dirt). Keep in mind our goals (drought resistant plants that require little water and plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies) and our challenges (we live in a is literally 112 here all summer, and we don't want to use pesticides). If you have any questions about specific plants, please comment, and I'll make sure to get answers from Brendan.

Without further delay:

This grass is called "legacy buffalo" and we put it in plug by plug (using a drill!) three years ago. It comes in really green, stays green, almost never has to be mowed (maybe 3X a summer), and gets watered 2X a week or less in the summer.

Remember our little herb garden? Does anyone need oregano or rosemary or mint? The herb garden is a bit out of control (probably my fault, but I was a little busy last spring).

The other bed will look fuller as spring turns into summer.

My favorite part of spring is seeing all our flowers bloom: soon we'll have hummingbirds and butterflies.

If you want an ocotillo, learn from our mistake: you need to hardly ever water it, or it will die come winter. 

Here are some good photos showing the side-yard pre-grass. Last spring, my dad and Brendan put in grass plugs just weeks before Willa was born. The fruits of their labor:

And in the front yard, the drift roses are in full bloom (note: this was after pruning them!) 

All in all, I'm very proud of Brendan. I look back at where we started, and I can't believe how far we've come. He's built us a yard that we really enjoy in the summers, and one that is pretty to look at too. I can't wait to get our patio set up and start enjoying dinners and cribbage on the porch once summer is here in one more week. Plus, I'm excited to set up Willa's baby pool and water table in the grass. 

Happy Spring, dear readers. I hope to check in more frequently once school is out. 
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