Wednesday, April 27, 2016

landscaping part 2

So Mom came over on Monday and we spent HOURS digging out the stuff that had been there. We only worked on the section under the bay window. Spreading plants with deep roots like lily of the valley, violets, and something else I can't remember the name of. We transplanted some violets to bare shady areas around the back of the house; mom says its nice to have stuff like that bordering the house because you can mow right up to it and its easy. It definitely looks nicer than bare spots too!
This was after we dug everything up and rototilled it. I don't have a picture of the before, but imagine weedy plants everywhere like you see over to the right of the bay window. We left that one hosta plant.
Then another trip to Lowes.
This is what $140 worth of stuff looks like. A lot of money for not much area! We got 2 spirea plants in the back flanking the bay window, the hosta was there and we moved another 2 over from another area in the yard with the variegated one in the middle, planted a clump of phlox towards the left (and planted them in a big bucket so they won't spread too much), and then two clumps of geraniums on the right. We laid down that plastic sheeting so weeds can't grow through and then covered it with mulch.
The rocks are just stuff we found in the garden and haven't gotten rid of yet. There is a railroad tie border lining the landscaping that we will keep, for now at least.
So yeah, another part done! Everything looks so small now but will eventually be a little more appropriate sized for the space. The last section is super long like 20 feet, so that will take forever to clear. And then the plants I want aren't available in the nurseries yet so will take a little break until then.
Moving into the backyard, I had ordered some solar lights and Doug strung them up on the shepard's hooks he placed on the two outer corners of the deck.
They are actually quite bright and pretty! So we still need a couple hanging plants, and to re-do chipped spots on the deck, and hang the lattice around the bottom part and the back deck will be done!

Monday, April 25, 2016

15 weeks and other goings on

Saturday was 15 weeks. Our baby is now the size of an orange! The belly rubbing from other people has begun, which is very odd since I still don't think my stomach looks much different at all.
Saturday Doug and I went to a baby fair at the hospital. It was a couple hours well spent. Doug learned how to swaddle and change a diaper
He was joking that the little black baby didn't look like him, but he was surprisingly tender and you could tell he was paying close attention. He also learned how to save a choking baby and we sat in on a little class about labor techniques and making homemade baby food. There was free food and vendors there too. I bought a sweet little crocheted hat from some girl with a table. I was thinking usually when my friends have babies I'm the one that makes stuff for them, so maybe its up to me to make homemade stuff for my little one. It's odd though, for whatever reason I just don't feel like it!! I am planning on making a mobile but I bought the little felt animals, and I'm telling Doug "am I so lazy I can't make my own animals for my own baby??" but I just didn't want to. Sorry baby.
We had entered our names for a door prize and we actually won something! A very gender specific prize actually, seems thoughtless of the prize makers, but whatever, some good stuff in there.
Saturday night we had some of Doug's friends over for a bonfire. It was a pretty fun night. Today I spent the morning cleaning my floors where people tracked in their sticky marshmallow shoes, but oh well. I got a new vacuum for cleaning bare floors and it makes my life easier. Although truth be told, I hate washing floors, and I only do it like once a year. Too gross? Anyone else out there?
Sunday we tried another church that was really good. But the music was SO LOUD, I went in the hall until it was over and while I was there another lady came out with her hands over her ears. But the preaching was so good and relevant so we will probably be back, with earplugs in tow. Sunday I was feeling pretty bad and even had Doug pull over on the way home, no puke, but close. Seems unfair that the nausea comes now. You had your chance in the first trimester!! So spent some time on the couch before going to our friend's son's 1st bday party.
Which was fun and nice to see friends. Today is a sunny morning and I'm waiting for mom to come over and help me again with my front yard landscaping. I am looking forward to things looking a bit nicer. Although how gorgeous is this tree?!?
Doug keeps talking about maybe us moving next year, but unless it's to my dream lake house I really don't want to. More and more I'm liking our house and our little updates are making it much homier. Plus I love our quiet street which I think will be great for kids and already is pretty nice for September kitty. I'm getting ready to prep for my garden and last night Doug and I sat out and made a fire in the backyard and it was really nice. So yeah, unless it's a huge step up this house will do nicely for a few more years.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Spring landscaping!

So last spring I just let whatever was planted in our garden come up, but I didn't really end up liking how it looked. Some stuff was pretty, but not really overall anything that great looking. So this year things are changing!
Of course I can't find my 'before' picture, but in front of our deck we had 3 huge overgrown burning bushes that are quite beautiful in the fall, but otherwise are just too big from the road. No curb appeal! So mom came over the other day and we trimmed them all down. Then yesterday was the real work day. Mom and Dad came and we all worked outside all day ripping them out.
After digging around the root ball with a shovel we were able to pull them out with the shrub-grabber and the Jeep.
Finally we got all 3 out.
We also had this other unknown tree on the corner of the lot. It's an ok little tree but I really want the spot to be used for one of those snowball vibernum trees that I love. So out it came! When mom was here 3 days ago it was fine, but yesterday on the gorgeous spring day that it was, it was absolutely covered in bees!
We actually saw it at Lowes and found it was a Valley Rose Piernis, which is supposed to be a small shrub! But like everything else in our yard, it was unkempt and overgrown.
The whole gang went to Lowes and picked out some boxwoods and lattice work for going around the deck. Dad and Doug worked on installing the lattice while mom and I planted shasta daisies, zinnias, and ranuculus next to Doug's kayak rack fencing in the backyard.
Then we planted the boxwoods and grass seed in front of the area that never grew any grass in the shade of the huge bushes.
Doug bought me some mulch today and one area is done!
Those bushes look teeny now, but are moderate-fast growers and eventually will be 4 feet wide and around 4 feet high. I'm pleased.
I still have to plan the layout for the rest of the landscaping along the house and then wait for the plants I want to be in the nurseries. But I am excited!
I can't believe how much work it took though for such a small 4 x 14 foot area. All 4 of us worked probably 8+ hours. Mom and Dad work so hard. I don't feel like I work as hard as they do at half their age!! And since they are working for us for free we usually get lunch, but mom even brought dinner in the crockpot and then bought us a rake! Geez, we are really blessed.

Friday, April 8, 2016

1 + 1 =3

Doug and I are expecting a baby!
We are very excited for little baby VT to join us on or around October 15th, and you lucky blog readers are finding out a few days before FB friends :) altho a lot of people already know since I am not a good secret keeper.
I will be 13 weeks tomorrow, and yet it seems like just yesterday I first saw that positive test. Many times I thought I'd never make it to this point, and yet still so far to go! Pregnancy has definitely been an area of developing and deepening trust with God for me, and it has been good.
When I was trying to get pregnant I loved reading about other people's journeys, so I am going to share mine too. This post will prob be TMI, so just scroll to the bottom (or skip) if you don't like this stuff.
It seemed like it took us forever. But it was really *just* 11 cycles. I can't remember exactly, but it was about 6 months after marriage we decided to start "trying" so I went and got a check-up and made sure things were good to go. I had been charting my periods for about 2 years and so we had already been using natural family planning/fertility awareness method to avoid getting pregnant so we just started using that time to try to achieve pregnancy.
I was already super nervous about being 34 and remembering sitting in a biology lecture years ago and the professor saying egg quality starts to decline at 27. I think I was exactly 27 and was no where near marriage and thinking "oh great". So yeah, but I also knew that my mom got pregnant with me at 34 after 3 months and went on to have 2 more healthy babies so there was that hope.
Anyway, about 6 months went by of negative tests/periods. I was feeling ok at that point still. But we decided to go back to the doctor to see about tests. Since I was close to 35 and they say 6 months trying at 35 is 'infertile' they could run some tests. First we got Doug's sperm tested. It came back with flying colors, there were millions of them and they looked pretty good with good tails/heads, etc. Yay! Then I got my blood tested. It looked like my levels were in normal limits for estradiol and luteinizing hormone. The next set of tests became a little more invasive. Next I had a cycle day 12 ultrasound where they look to see if your ovary looks like it's making an egg. And it looked like mine was. They also measure the thickness of your uterine lining. I always worried about not having a thick lining since I have light periods, but it was 6mm (supposed to be +8mm) but I usually ovulated closer to day 15 vs 'the norm' day 12, so my doctor said it grows 1mm per day and so would be thick enough by ovulation. Anyway, very interesting stuff and looked like so far so good. The last test I did I think another month or so after that was get a HSG. For that test they inject a dye into your uterus and then take a picture of it to see if it shoots through your fallopian tubes and out the ends into the abdomen. That way they can see if there are any blockages, cysts, and generally 'clear out the tubes'. I had read women have an increased chance of pregnancy from that test alone and hey, covered by insurance, so we went for it. That test was not painful really, but uncomfortable.
There's my mighty fine looking uterus, with patent tubes. So that was November. (I never knew Fallopian tubes were so tiny and wiry!) and you can see the dye squirting out into the abdomen. Pretty cool.
December went by, January, and by then I was starting to get sad. I would always think maybe this month and then my period would come and I would cry. February was Jill's wedding and the day or so before I took a test and it was negative. That one hit me the hardest yet and I just went back to bed with Doug and cried for like an hour while he hugged me. So then Jill's wedding. I expected my period but never got it, and I think Monday I took another test and saw the faintest little line!
The first person I told was my friend Kim who was pregnant and we'd been talking about our journeys TTC the whole time.
I wanted to wait till Valentine's day to come up with a special way to tell Doug. But a few days before I woke up with really bad cramping. I woke Doug up and said "Doug, I'm pregnant but I think I'm having a miscarriage." I feel so bad about this now. I guess early cramping isn't that unusual, but I didn't know! Poor Doug. He said he was happy for a second and then really sad! :( But I didn't even have a drop of blood and the cramping stopped and the pregnancy pee tests kept getting darker. (I didn't know you had to see if they kept getting darker)
There is something not that great about finding out early you are pregnant. The chances of miscarriage are really high in the beginning, so it just seems like it takes forever to see if baby will stick around or not. I came across this website that calculated the odds and I slowly watched my odds go from around 23% and now it's steady at about 2%. But really even when I felt relieved watching it go down I had to actively remind myself that this baby's life is in God's control. Not the control of a website or odds. And I had to just keep trusting that God knew best. I still have to do that, and probably every mom feels like that every day! And it does feel like a huge blessing to be pregnant at all. Not everyone gets this chance.
So yeah, 11 cycles, just 1 month short of what they call 'infertility' for women who are under 35. I'm not sure if anything I did helped or not, I was reading posts like this one, I read Making Babies, and the Fertility Awareness book, and Kind Mama by Alicia Silverstone, and trying to make healthy lifestyle and food choices, we used a TTC fertility lube that's supposed to keep sperm alive, and then I took a whole host of vitamins and supplements
I felt kind of nervous taking supplements, Vitex, Maca, Red Clover are supposed to support women's cycles- but my hormones were normal, so was I going to mess them up? But I think I started taking them around cycle 9 so who knows. I guess I figured by body already had 8 months to do it itself already ;) Some of the other ones were to support kidney and liver functions and all that is supposed to help too.
I had read that babies want a warm uterus so I went to bed every night with a hot pack on my stomach. Which felt awesome and cozy anyway since it was winter.
The only thing I regret doing was I had went to lunch with a friend and she told me she had several miscarriages trying to get pregnant and some doctor in Chicago thought her body's immune was killing her husband's sperm so they put some of his blood injected into her skin.
And yes, I did that. DIY style.
Which I instantly regretted as I was injecting myself because I realized our scenarios were totally different. She had already had multiple miscarriages, I had never even been pregnant. What if injecting Doug's blood I was preparing my immune system to attack it?! Anyway, I can see now how desperate I had really become. And I guess it didn't matter anyway, because the next month we were pregnant.
We went in for the first doctor appointment at 8 weeks and they meet you, take blood and listen for a heartbeat. I thought I had a different estimated due date based on my charted ovulation, so they ended up doing an ultrasound that day! Which we did not expect. Doug had come with me because I knew if there wasn't going to be a heartbeat I'd need him there. So they zoomed in on my uterus and there was our little one right there! You could see the heart beating like little flashes of light and see tiny arm buds.
I guess I am just so pessimistic, I really thought they'd zoom in and see an empty uterus. It was beyond a pleasant surprise. We didn't cry, but it was really joyful and exciting. That black spot is baby's brain, and that other white circle thing is a yolk sac that feeds baby. But by now it is gone and I would have grown the placenta. (How cool your body not only grows a baby but also an entirely new organ!) It really is a miracle.
I'm sure baby looks really different even just 4 weeks later. Now he/she has real arms and legs and fingers and toes that are already not webbed anymore. And little ears and eyelids. Amazing. Every week Doug and I sit together and watch the "what to expect" update on our baby's progress. We didn't know at 12 weeks everything has already been developed/grown and just takes the rest of the pregnancy to mature. WOW! So crazy. My baby is fully formed and I'm not even hardly showing. What a miracle. We won't see baby again until 20wks, but every time I go I hear the heartbeat. Going strong at 165-170 (which old wives would say is a girl, we shall soon find out).
So here I am.
I feel so lucky and blessed and thankful. And so so sorry for the many women who are still out there hoping and trying for their families.
I do feel some guilt about that. For example, I really want to share with my Bible study group about this blessing, but at the same time I know this other woman is in the throes of IVF testing. It's so hard. I can't relate. I never had to do that, and never had a miscarriage, and I am so thankful for that, but also feel so bad for those women. But I also think it's good and important to celebrate how good God has been to me, I don't want to not share that, it just feels harder than I thought.
For anyone hoping and trying, I hope your time comes soon. My friend had sent me this verse and I found it to be helpful: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4.
Ok. Better wrap this post up.
So almost out of the first trimester.
Total weight gain: -2 lbs pre-pregnancy. I'm guessing that will change all too soon. I do feel bustier, but mostly my stomach looks the same or like I ate a big sandwich.
Gestational age: 12 weeks 6 days
Baby items purchased: one crib, and some maternity clothes that were on clearance altho still in all my regular clothes
Nausea: ....feeling guilty again... but not really any. What I would call stomachaches, and there was one evening where I had to sit completely motionless for like hours or I may have thrown up, but that's about it.
Cravings: still fruit and carbs and cheese in any form. I also want things I can't have, turkey lunchmeat (which I almost never want) and hot dogs (who am I?!?). Doug is pretty strict too and won't let me have any :( he got that not-your-father's-root beer too and drank a whole pack without even giving me one little sip. Cruel.
Avoidances: not really wanting chocolate (crazy right!?!) and not eating too healthy in general (sorry baby). I am still taking vitamins and exercising and drinking lots of water though!
Sleep: I get tired at 9:30 on the dot and have been sleeping 8-9 hours a night with at least one pee wake up. And still relishing sleeping on my stomach.
Names: Doug and I will not be sharing the name! So don't ask! We will be finding out the gender soon because I had some maternal blood test done. So that's exciting. Even so we both have one boy's name we like each, and we don't agree on girl's names at all. I will share Doug's girls names because they aren't happening: Destiny and Candy... um... no
Trips planned: we booked our flight to Germany! Still have to iron out the details, but we will be driving from Amsterdam, through Germany visiting my old host family from my high-school exchange student days, and flying out of Salzburg, Austria. We are excited. I think I'll be 18 wks around that time. Which I'm reading most people still feel pretty good.
It's fun to think and plan for our little addition. One evening Doug and I went to Buy, Buy Baby to look at baby stuff and think about registering. He is such a fun guy.
I'm so excited to see him as a dad. He's going to be amazing.
and finally some belly pics. I probably won't always be showing skin, but doesn't look like much is happening yet:
the day of the positive test:
8 weeks:
and 12 wks:
We were waiting until we got the latest test results back to make the FB announcement, and were trying for a good picture. I wanted to do the one lined up with everyone's feet but September kept ruining our picture and wouldn't stay in her spot!
So last week when it was sunny we had our friend Thor take a couple shots. Now I notice 2 blades of grass are covering part of the frame, but I guess you can't complain when someone is taking your picture for free. I think it turned out really cute anyway
Anyway, we are very thankful to have made it this far, and continue to pray over the life of this little one God is creating in my womb for us even right at this very minute. Thank you God!

Monday, April 4, 2016

weekend update (updated)

Worker bee Doug slaved away in our attic this weekend.
We woke up Saturday morning to see we'd left the garage open all night long. Whoops! Good thing our expensive insulation and everything else was still there! Thank you God for a nice quiet street and safe neighborhood.
Liz came over in the morning, I had given her a massage coupon for Christmas and she cashed it in, so that was kind of fun. Don't do that too much anymore. Gee, I'm really struggling to think of what else I did... I did work on my paper.... hmmm... it was cold, snowy and nasty so I'm pretty sure I just hibernated inside. For dinner Doug and I tried this Chinese take out place close to our house. Which led to the most disappointing meal of 2016. I ordered the Veggie Szechuan which turned out to be 3/4 bamboo shoots, 1/6 mushrooms and a measly bit of other veggies like peppers and broccoli and the sauce wasn't even good. $9 and straight to the trash can. What a waste. So then I was super pouty and mad. Last time ever going there and last time ordering from a place without asking first for every ingredient to be listed.
Sunday I worked a super busy shift and even ended up staying till 8pm. Exhausting. Doug had driven me and when he picked me up we went to this new Mediterranean street food restaurant. That was much better.
I got the mini bowl with falafel, kale-boulleh, hummus, wheat berries, and garlic paste.
Doug got the power bowl with tandoori chicken, basmati rice, garlic paste and some kind of salad.
Super good. The guy behind the counter was really friendly and encouraging us to try their many other sauce flavors, and they give little sample cups, but we both are suckers for the garlic paste, even though the breath stays with you like 24 hours!
Today I'm 'recovering'. I'd like to see my friend Kim's new baby, and I've got to do more work on the paper. Our washing machine is leaking again and so I've been looking online and researching. It seems like they are all using this HE function where it senses the load size and adjusts the water level? But then the reviews are saying many people don't like that so they try to trick their machines and end up using the max water level anyway? And then they have to have special detergent and a special way to load? Geez, I just want to turn a knob and put my clothes in there and have them come out clean. Is that too much to hope for? I think I'm smart enough to decide which low/medium/high level of water to choose, I can see how much I'm putting in there. I don't understand why these engineer people can't leave something that works alone. Anyway, if anyone loves their washer, let me know.
So we may have some extra time on this ol' washer yet. I did another load yesterday and what may have appeared as a leak, could also possibly be overspray from this incredibly lint-filled washer hose lint trap thingy that made the water spray over the side of the drain tub and onto the floor. I reached in to adjust it and got a face and shirt full of dirty water. Which was disgusting. But possibly good news on extending, yet again, the life of our washer.
Wow our laundry makes a lot of lint!
So we shall see....
And I leave you with a picture of our little attack kitty. (I need new window screens I know!)
she was enjoying the sunny window, don't we all!

Friday, April 1, 2016

fun Friday

I should clarify that this has been a relaxed and fancy free Friday for Anne. I slept in, I exercised, I went to the movies with Liz. We saw Allegiant, the last in the Divergent book series, which made me remember I never even read the last book! It was ok, turns out they split it into part 1 and 2. I hate when they do that. Anyway. Then we went out for lunch to Chipotle and I did some grocery shopping.
Meanwhile, Doug woke up at like 6 am and has been hard at work on our attic insulating project. An electrician came out to check out our attic (the wiring is fine, yay!) and then he and his Dad went to Menard's to pick up our Jeep and his dad's van full of insulation. And he's been working on it ever since.
my worker bee!
Meanwhile I should be working on my paper for my online class, I just don't want to.
I found this home renovation show Unlivable online and I'm hooked! In the past 2 days I've watched almost every episode. Oh man I wish someone could do that for me. Not this house because this one is nicer now, but if/when we move. That would be amazing.
Anyway. I should probably force myself to work on my paper. Well, maybe after I plant my tomato seeds :)