Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I'm done landscaping!!

Previous landscaping posts here: in front of the deck, in front of the bay window, and along the 2 bedroom windows. So last week mom and I made one last plants trip to Lowes and Bordines and got 2 Annabelle hydrangeas, 2 butterfly bushes, 2 more geraniums, a peony, and a Kentucky blue hydrangea. And of course more compost and mulch.
laid out the black fabric to prevent weeds
jungle kitty
On my next day off I laid all the mulch down. Even that was exhausting! But it's done!!
and I got a couple hanging petunia baskets for my shepherd's hooks on the back deck
aaahh, this one's tipping for some reason!
The other side of the house, the side that needs new siding, is lined with peonies and right in the middle this crazy overgrown rhododendron. I really wanted to rip it out earlier this spring but mom made me wait till it had blossomed.
and now I'm not sure I want to lose it, it's so pretty! But so pretty for 1 week out of the year and ugly the rest. I was reading about them and it said you can cut them back pretty severely in the winter if they are overgrown and shapeless, and then the next year they send out new shoots and in a few years will look nice again, so maybe I'll try it. Can't hurt!
As far as outdoors goes I'm done planting. My garden is planted too. We need to finish the lattice around the decks, hang our shutters, get new siding on that North wall, and finish the firepit and then we'll be totally done. But it looks so much nicer already. Doug even said a neighbor came by to compliment it :) job well done!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

19 weeks!

19 weeks and counting!
The "belly":
I can feel my uterus especially when I'm laying on my back. They say baby is the size of a mango now, 9 ounces!
More excitingly we had our anatomy ultrasound last week! My parents were out of town so we brought Doug's parents. I had never even thought to bring anyone besides Doug, but the slip said "please don't bring more than 2 guests". And so I decided to bring a guest! So we brought his mom and his dad just came to wait in the waiting room and go out for lunch afterwards, but they let him in too. How nice!
It was so exciting to see baby!!
He grew from this (at 8 wks):
to this:
Oh my gosh I'm in love with his sweet little profile.
And yes, it's a boy!
Doug and I actually have known for awhile now. Since I will be 35 at delivery, my insurance offered some kind of testing at 12wks where they could tell from my blood. They tested for genetic abnormalities and could also find out the gender.
After I got the test done I had real second thoughts. I read later about how they designed this test to be done so early so if something was wrong with baby, the mom could abort and no one would ever know she was pregnant :( and that there had been instances of false positives and at least 3 cases of women aborting perfectly healthy babies. I cried when I read that. But by then I had already had the test by then and had to wait 10 days for the results. Doug and I would not have done anything differently if our baby had any issues, but I definitely wanted to know and prepare my heart if that was the baby that God had for me. And I'd be lying if I said knowing the gender early wasn't a bonus for the test!
The day we got the results, the nurse called me to say everything looked healthy. Then she asked if I wanted to know the gender. I said I did, but asked her to leave it in a voicemail so Doug and I could find out together.
After Doug got home from work we went to baby Gap and picked out 2 hats (I wanted to find a cute bring-home outfit, but everything was too springy for our fall baby, and $25 for a onesie?? I couldn't do it!) So we picked out a pink and blue hat. We had the cashier listen to the voicemail and gave her the cash first while we waited in another part of the store. Then we immediately went out to dinner and taped ourselves while we opened the bag. I wish I knew how to upload video, alas, anyway, blue hat!! Doug was so excited.
I was too actually. I had wanted a girl for years, but after taking to long to get pregnant I was at a point where I just wanted to finally see the 2 lines!! And Doug had been praying for 'our son' for weeks by then, mostly as a joke I think, but sure enough it was a boy. So I was excited too.
the blue hat
We have told most of our friends and family already. I keep wanting to do a pinterest-y gender reveal picture on FB but I just don't have the bump for it yet! So I keep waiting.
A couple weeks ago Doug had some of his friends over and we decided to do an impromtu gender reveal party of low-key sorts. We got pink and blue leis and had people wear what color they thought, we had a BBQ and bonfire, and later in the evening we cut a cake.
People started screaming as soon as Doug lifted the knife after his first cut because the blue frosting was on the knife. It was pretty fun to celebrate that a little.
Otherwise pregnancy is going pretty smooth. I actually threw up for the first time at 18 weeks (nu-uh nausea, you had your chance first trimester!!) but I think it may have been related to jet lag and some weird indian hot pocket thing I ate on the plane. Feeling pretty normal now.
Weeks: 19.5
Pounds gained: 3? I'm still in my normal clothes, but feel worn out a bit easier now. Not needing 9-10 hours sleep anymore, back to 7-8. I do involuntarily make a little grunt when bending down, but otherwise feeling pretty normal.
Baby names: Still not telling, but I think we agree on a middle name. We both have a first name we like and so might just wait till we meet him to decide.
Cravings: nothing crazy, probably still fruit. I read you are supposed to gain 10lbs by 20 weeks, I don't think I'll gain 7 more pounds in the next few days, but I'm pretty certain I'll be on track pretty soon. Come on, no one wants to gain weight, but I do want my baby to be healthy and weight gain is important for him. I'm just eating when hungry and trying to make healthy choices for the most part.
Gifts received: a girl from my Bible study dropped off some swaddling blankets she had made, that was nice. And Liz brought me a bag of salvation army clothes, yeah! I can't remember if I said this already but another girl from Bible study gave me a huge box of clothes from her twins, my baby is all set until at least 6 months! People are very generous.
Baby items purchased: we picked up the Chicco keyfit stroller caddy on CL for $40, score! (new is $100) My sister-in-law loves hers so I'm sure it will get us through the first 6 months. After that we'll probably just find something else on craigslist, I can't believe some of the prices on this stuff! We also bought him this sweet little mushroom bank from Austria. In the castle we toured they had 'tradesmen' like old timey blacksmiths and woodcarvers making stuff and we picked it out. I actually hate mushrooms, but seem to like them for decor. We are planning a woodland themed nursery and it will be a cute little accessory.
That's about it! That's the last ultrasound, so won't see him again until October! Thanking God for a healthy baby and almost halfway there :)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Landscaping and garden prep (part 1)

Oh my gosh, my parents are workhorses! Mom and Dad came over yesterday to help me get my garden boxes ready. I had ordered topsoil to fill the boxes and the man came over to deliver it.
2 cubic yards may not look like a lot, but I assure you, it was hard work. That was 2 TONS of soil.
So I went off to a doctor's appointment while my parent's started working. Dad enlarged my garden plot so that it was long and wide enough to hold my new garden boxes, and roto-tilled the soil.
the area before
ready for the planters!
Meanwhile there was this last area in front of the house that was filled with wildly growing violets, lily of the valley, sedum, and some other invasive spreading plant. Mom got to work and instead of just clearing the area into the yard waste bin, she transplanted ALL the violets so that I would have something pretty surrounding my back deck.
kind of hard to see because it was sunny/shady, just imagine plants growing wildly a muck
halfway through mom's removal and transplanting
...we were all pretty tired!
so pretty! I think they will do really well. They make such a nice border. We still need to put up the lattice around the back deck, but it is a huge improvement already.
The whole area is cleared! And ready for new landscaping.
Meanwhile while mom was doing all that work, Dad and I were busy loading up wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow and eventually we moved all 2 tons into the new planter boxes.
oh my gosh it was at least like 20 wheelbarrows each planter box. Exhausting!
finally done! So I've got a little walkway in between that I'm going to put some mulch down, and Doug will put up the fence again to keep away Mr. Groundhog.
Mom is coming over on Monday and I think we will be able to get the garden planted, and finish the landscaping in the front. It will be so nice to have the basics done, and then of course keeping up with weeding/maintenance, but it looks better already! I'm really blessed to have such hard working generous helpers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Our European whirlwind

Doug and I went off for 10 days to the Netherlands, Germany and Austria and just got back yesterday. It was a whirlwind trip of visiting people, driving through the 3 countries, and doing touristy things. But we had a great time.
The first place we visited was Amsterdam, we walked the city and went to the Anne Frank house.
Our first hotel had chocolate croissants, mmmmm
I celebrated my first "mother's" day while on vacation and Doug had gotten me these cards. He calls me a mother, but I really don't feel like one yet.
It was really thoughtful and sweet.
We visited Keukenhof which is a large area they grow tulips.
On our way to Germany we went on a search for the city in the Netherlands that Doug's last name is from. And we finally found it! So that was cool.
The next place was Wurselen, Germany to visit my old host-parents from my exchange student days. They hung this American flag in the window to welcome us, awwww
After 18 years I was worried they could be old and possibly sick or something, but no they were still in great shape and looked liked they hadn't even aged.
They took us around Aachen to show Doug the city
We climbed this tall tower, and at the top you can see Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium
Our next stop was Hamburg, Germany where we met up with Doug's friend Tracy (living in Germany for several months for her husband's job) and then my old host-brother Malte who lived with my family in the US
The next day was the longest driving stretch down to Reutlingen, Germany where my host-sister Yvonne lives with her husband Martin. I loved having her for my big-sister when I was an exchange student, it was really nice to catch up even though it was just over dinner.
Our last German stop was Munchen. It was a dreary rainy day and we ate pretzels and explored the Englisher Gartens and saw the Glockenspiel, but not our favorite city.
Our next destination was Salzburg, Austria. We toured Salzburg on the way past the city to our hotel in the Alps. We walked around the city, saw the real Villa Trapp where the Sound of Music Von Trapp family lived and then went to our hotel.
The next day we went to Eisreisenwelt which is the biggest ice cave in the world. It was a lot of walking and stairs in a freezing ice cave but it was really cool. No pictures allowed, so here's an internet download. This was Doug's top thing from our trip.
and my pics
The second half of the day we went to Hallstatt, Austria to see the oldest salt mine
This tour was super commercialized and we didn't like it as much, but the sun came out as we were done with the tour so that was nice. Pretty city
Our last day in Austria we went to Castle Hohlenwerfen, which disappointingly turned out to be a castle that was mostly used as a jail. But one really cool thing was they had this falcon demonstration where they would send the birds out and they'd all fly back. The bigger birds sometimes took their sweet time returning. We were laughing because they had an American bald eagle and it fly right off and was gone like 10 minutes. I'm an American, I do what I want!
In the afternoon we headed down to Grossglockner High Alpine Road which is the highest surfaced mountain pass in Austria and was supposed to be really beautiful. We knew it was a last ditch effort since it was had been raining and was supposed to be possibly sunny, but also possibly rain. We had to pay a toll of 35 euros and pretty soon into our drive all we could see was snow.
Luckily at some point we turned a bend and the sun was out and it was gorgeous
can't really tell, but I'm pointing to Grossglockner mountain
They next morning we got up early and flew out. 3 movies and one nap later we landed, one long hour in customs where I randomly recognized our customs agent and small talked our way back into the US (not that there was any concern), and my parents picked us up and we are back home!