Tuesday, September 29, 2015

4 Things I Learned in September

I'm joining Emily Freeman in sharing what I learned this month.  Some things are serious, some helpful, and some are simply fun.

Here's my list, in no particular order:

1) I learned more than I wanted to know about choroid plexus cysts. At our routine 20 week ultrasound, they found a choroid plexus cyst on our baby's brain.  These cysts occur in 1 to 2 percent of babies and are the result of a little bubble of spinal fluid being pinched off as the choroid plexus forms. The cysts are not a concern in themselves and almost always goes away on their own.  They are not considered  brain abnormalities.  The concern is that choroid plexus cysts are a soft marker for Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards' Syndrome, a genetic condition that causes severe birth defects.

I was scheduled for a more detailed ultrasound with a specialist, but I had to wait nine days. I was nervous going into the appointment, but I was also graced with a marvelous peace.  One of the signs of a Trisomy 18 baby is clenched hands, but this was the first image we saw on the ultrasound screen. 

Both the tech and the doctor did a detailed examination of the baby from head to toe (via ultrasound), and not only were there no defects but the cyst had already dissolved!

2) This was the month I discovered chia seeds. Chia seeds are high in protein, fiber, and omega-3, all things my pregnant body needs.  They have a mild, almost non-existent taste so they are easy to add to the recipes I already make.  I'm enjoying them mostly for breakfast.  Combined with oatmeal or quinoa, they keep me full most of the morning.  I've discovered a few new recipes, too:

3) There is an easier way to stir natural peanut butter. Why had I never realized that keeping the jar upside down until ready to break the seal and stir makes things 10 times easier?! The oil settles near the top, which is actually the bottom. Right before opening, flip it right side up.  The oil takes time to rise to the surface so in the meantime, get stirring.  It is so much less messy!

4) I really do have a lot of shoes.  Brian has been telling me that for years and maybe it's not a lot compared to some women, but when I counted, I have 13 pairs for fall. The good news is that Maddie, my 11-year-old, is only about half a shoe size smaller so we are starting to share shoes.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The {Almost} Easiest Pizza Sauce... Ever

I say almost because opening a can or jar of pizza sauce is always the easiest, but if you want a delicious sauce where you can pronounce all the ingredients and you don't want to spend extra time in the kitchen, this is the sauce for you!  It's easy enough that my kids can throw it together while I'm rolling out the pizza dough.  

It's a versatile sauce, too.  We use it for all variety of pizzas-- personal pizzas, family-size pizzas, Naan pizzas, French bread pizzas, etc.-- and also in stromboli, with meatballs, or as a dipping sauce for bread sticks.

The {Almost} Easiest Pizza Sauce

1 clove of garlic (or 1 t. minced garlic)
1 T olive oil
1 15 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

Saute garlic in olive oil until fragrant and lightly browned.  Scrape garlic into blender or food processor. (Or skip this step all together and put garlic and olive oil directly in blender.)

Add a can of fire-roasted tomatoes on top of the garlic.  Puree until smooth. 


Saturday, September 26, 2015

All the Things

We completed our eighth week of school yesterday.  We've been plugging away at this school year for almost two months and it feels as though we have a semi-routine going. 

And then this week happened.  And our extra-curriculars realized that school was back in session, too.

We had a field trip on Wednesday.

Gym class started on Thursday.  This is Alaine's first year to participate.  She picked out a pink water bottle with hearts and laid out her favorite outfit the night before. 

She wasn't the only one that was excited, though.  I'm not sure what they enjoy more: the activities or seeing their friends.  (I could venture a guess.)

Friday was the first day of Book Club for this year.  While Maddie was snacking on homemade treats, drinking tea, and discussing Around the World in 80 Days with her friends, the rest of us picked up what we needed from Walmart...

...and stopped for a late afternoon treat.

With book work every morning and then activities taking us out of the house three afternoons in a row, I need a few minutes this weekend to get my house back in order.  The laundry is clean but not folded, and clutter, papers, and Legos are threatening a take-over.

The forecasted rain is altering some of our weekend plans and since that is keeping us closer to home, I plan to try a new recipe today that requires slow roasting in the oven all afternoon.  I'm also making a new fall dessert recipe to take to Sunday lunch at my parents' house.  The smells and tastes of this weekend are promising!

I'm going to savor it all before we beginning another whirlwind week.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pregnancy Update {22 Weeks}

I've passed the halfway point in the this pregnancy.  With other pregnancies, I remember a sense of panic setting in at 20 weeks, thinking about how much time I had left.  It's different this time. I am determined to enjoy each day that I'm able.  Plus, I've got older kids to keep me busy.  Keeping up with their school and activities doesn't leave me a lot of time for counting down the days.

How far along? 
about 22 weeks


Before the big 20 week ultrasound, I asked for gender guesses on my Facebook page. All seven of us at our house were thinking girl and many of you guessed girl, too.  This is the photo we sent out to some of our family and friends after we found out for sure. 

There was no hesitating or wondering.  The tech said, "Let's see if Baby will cooperate...oh, it's a girl!" 

With all of us leaning toward girl, I had almost convinced myself it had to be a boy.  We had come to an easy consensus on a boy name, too.  We are having a much tougher time agreeing on a girls' name.

The ultrasound photo below holds very special meaning, but I'll get to that in another post.

Maternity clothes? 
It's fun to be creative with what I'm wearing.  My belly is not overwhelmingly big (yet) so I'm working with a mixed closet of maternity clothes and stretchy "normal" clothes.  


Brian and the kids gave me a body pillow for my birthday.  It's not the kind designed specifically for pregnancy.  It's just the long, flexible kind you can find at Walmart or Target, specifically during back-to-college season.  It is so helpful when finding a comfortable sleeping position.  I can lay my head on it, put it between my knees, and push it under my belly for support...all at the same tine.

I feel excellent right now (aside from a head cold I'm battling this week).  I am reveling in the ease of the second trimester.


I started feeling her move around 16 weeks.  By 18 weeks, Brian and the kids could feel her move, too, if they were patient.  Now you can see my belly move from the outside!  

Food cravings:

Still loving my fruits and veggies.  I ate apples with peanut butter for awhile and most recently I've been on an orange kick.  On Monday, I cooked a huge pot of minestrone soup for dinner.  Everyone ate a bowl, though some people only barely choked down the kaleThat's fine with me because now I get leftovers for lunch all week. I'm also looking forward to baking the sweet potatoes I bought at the grocery store.  

My only guilty craving is steak burritoes (or steak burrito bowls) from Chipotle, and I can't even feel too guilty about that.  Quite by accident, I was able to indulge by Chipotle craving twice last week! 
Anything making you queasy or sick?
Morning sickness is long in the past so the only things that make me sick are getting too hungry or getting too full.  It's a delicate balance! 

What I miss:    
I miss the option of staying up late.  I rarely did it, but at least I couldNow I turn into a pumpkin after 10 o'clock at night.

Belly button in or out? 
Out, and trying not to feel self-conscious when it shows through my clothing.
Wedding rings on or off?

On, and they are still a little loose.  I hope they stay that way! 


I've lost my lap! Our cat, Tigger, doesn't mind, though.  He likes to hug my belly.  

I still run about four miles a day, six days a week. I'm so much slower than I used to be, but Brian reminds me that at least I'm out there doing it at all.  I have a 5K race this weekend and my goal is to have fun, not set any speed records.

Not yet.  I expect the Braxton Hicks to start soon.  I think I started feeling them around five or six months when I was pregnant with Alaine. 

Labor signs:  
No, and I hope it stays that way for months to come.

Birth plans:
The midwife practice has grown since my last pregnancy.  When Alaine was born, there were two midwives.  Now there are five!  It's unfortunate that I don't get to know each one as well as I would like, but it's wonderful because there is guaranteed to be a midwife on call when I go into labor. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

8th Grade

It would be an understatement if I said that our home is under a load of hormones.  Between my pregnant mood swings and two (yes, two) kids experiencing the growth pangs of adolescence...tears, sighs, angst, and ravenous appetites are a daily battle.  It is not unusual for a writing assignment or a simple question to end with someone spontaneously bursting into tears or peacefully seeking time alone. 

There are many happy moments, too, like the fact that Gavin has hit his stride in school this year.  He is in eighth grade, his last year before the scary thing thing called high school.  (It's not really scary, but counting hours and keeping track of credits is intimidating!) At the beginning of the school year, we talked a lot about independence and how he needed to be responsible for his daily and weekly schedule.  He needed to remember what was required each day.  That responsibility gave him the privilege of flexibility.  If he wanted to work ahead or rearrange his workload, it was his choice as long as he completed a full week of assignments.  

Those who know Gavin well, know that he is a bit, shall we say, scatterbrained.  More accurately, he is in his own world.  He is a deep thinker and often tunes out the conversations and happenings around him.  We often participate in family discussions over dinner that he has no recollection of the next day.  He remembers facts well, especially if those facts have significance to something he loves.  Names, however, or places, details, and times come in at the bottom of his priority list.  Requiring him to take charge of his own school work seemed like a stretch.  

This year he is taking Algebra 1.  His math curriculum is self-taught, but I decided to experiment with giving him the answer key, too.  After completing the day's lesson and problems, he checks his own work and then goes back through to fix what was incorrect.  It's not simply a matter of erasing one answer and replacing it with another.  He has to do the work to understand why it was wrong in the first place.  Though he does well in math, he does not enjoy it.  Last year that meant that he saved it for the end of the day when his brain was already frazzled.  This year, with our new system, he has chosen to tackle math first.  When he reaches a concept that he just cannot grasp on his own, I let him know that I am there for tutoring and questions, but this new system of independence is working well and growing his maturity.  

For months, I thought I knew what he would be studying for eighth grade science.  All I needed to do was order the book.  About three weeks before school started, we were having a conversation in the car and Gavin was telling me everything he knew about sharks. I quickly reworked our plans so that instead he could devote his year to learning about aquatic animals this school year.  He is working through the science book independently, with plenty of discussion on the side. He has created an accompanying notebook with all of his sketches, photographs, notes, and science experiment sheets.  This notebook is very important to him and he takes pride in keeping it just-so.

We're expecting the new baby in four months. With  all the joy will also come disruptions, uncertainty, and schedule changes, but now I know that next year when high school, Gavin is ready to take it all in stride.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What Will It Be?

If you haven't liked  my Facebook page yet, now might be the time.  Tonight we are having a discussion about my big ultrasound tomorrow.

Will it be a boy?  Or maybe a girl?

Join the conversation here.

And check back there tomorrow evening for the announcement.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Garden Beauties

Ben enjoying a fresh peach
I love fresh veggies in the summer, but I have such a black thumb that I've never had a garden.  I guess I could say I've made an attempt.  In our days of apartment living, I tried container gardening but I never reaped a harvest.  

With summer winding down, a gardener on our road set up a produce stand with his surplus.  On Saturdays he sold his wares and on Sundays, he gave the leftovers away for free.  Several weeks on the way to church, we stopped and filled bags with tomatoes and squash and peppers and cucumbers and peaches!  

Vegetables literally covered our kitchen counter. We ate our fill of raw veggies and loaded our salads with them.  I'm craving vegetables with this pregnancy  (a wonderful craving to have!) and my 6-year-old, Ben, will chose veggies over sweets for a snack, but even so, we could not eat it all. I turned to the internet for ideas of how to use our vegetables in other ways.  

(Recipes are from around the web; photos are mine.)

For breakfast, I made roasted peaches.


For lunch another day, I tried this stuffed pepper recipe and there were leftovers for the next day, too. 

I made several batches of cucumbers in vinegar.  I used less sugar than what is called for because we like the tang.

I made chunky tomato sauce, but instead of pasta, I mixed it with quinoa.

I brought squash casserole to a family dinner.

For dessert, we enjoyed  peach crisp.  It was just as good leftover with a splash of milk poured over the top. 

September has arrived.  It is still in the 90s around here, but a few cooler mornings are whispering that fall is around the corner.   Any recipes I shouldn't miss before summer produce is gone for the year?

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