36 Week Update :: Beached Whale Mode

Happy March!

It’s officially THE MONTH OF BABY. Yes, the time is fast approaching. I have told Sean several times in the past few days that yes, any day could be The Day now. He looks at me wide eyed and turns on a video game or a Youtube video on building computers submerged in oil. I get it. I have had a hard time facing reality these days as well. I can’t even handle the fact that I finished the original Gilmore Girls series and am now watching Year in the Life.

I’ve hit full-on crazy mode.

With just a couple weeks to go, I have been equal parts wanting to clean like a crazy person and also lie down on the couch for extended periods of time and think about everything I need to do.

I have not finished cutting out fabric for his quilt. Instead, I started knitting a completely separate baby blanket. I’m about 1/3 done with it. I will finish it before we are discharged from the hospital.

I decided my bedroom looks like a dumping zone so I started a new Pinterest board to redecorate and further avoid reality.

I should be focusing on actual house cleaning, like dishes and laundry and making sure the bathrooms aren’t disgusting, and instead I have been staring at things that need to be cleaned, and then going and doing something else.

Rolling out of bed three times a night to pee is an Olympic sporting event.

I’m officially feeling huge. Physically, I have only gained a couple pounds (thanks, Gestational Diabetes), but my back aches, every move I make is accompanied with a grunt or groan, and I’m walking like That Pregnant Lady with the waddle while holding her back with one hand and rubbing her belly with the other.

All joking aside, I had a lovely maternity photo session last week where I felt beautiful and like a goddess who can do anything because I’m creating life and what is more big and amazing than that?!

Photography by Megan at Perspectives Photography.

32 Week Update :: Gestational Diabetes, Sleep Deprivation and Hating Pants

This is going to be a fun one.

The title makes it sound like I’m miserable, huh? The truth is, I am not. I have been hustling into this new year, making changes for my businesses, planning, learning, and when I can manage it, taking power naps so I am not run ragged.

But yo, this pregnancy has been tough. I will not complain. I am grateful, I am blessed, I am mostly healthy and doing well. But I am also really tired. And sore. And feeling pressure “down there” and walking like an old lady on a bad hip.

I’m ready for March, friends. So ready to meet this little guy and call him by his name. We kept Lily’s name a secret, which was much easier because at home we could still talk about her and use her name. Now we have a walking 4 year old parrot who will tell eeeeeeeeveryone her brother’s name if she knows. So she has been coming up with her own names and telling people weekly that he’ll be called:

Prince James, Eugene, Eric, Harold, Sam, Max, Junior, and Flop. Basically, whatever show, movie or book she has recently enjoyed, you can be sure the male character is her baby brother’s name.

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Gestational Diabetes

A month ago, I was officially diagnosed, and it has been eye opening, to say the least. I have completely adjusted my diet to a mostly Paleo set of meals and snacks, I’m walking 20-30 minutes a day, and checking my blood sugars four times a day.

Everyone keeps saying it’ll be ok and that once the baby is here, it’ll go away, but I am trying to keep the mindset that this is actually a really good lifestyle change for me. I realized very quickly how much garbage I ate daily without a thought. Eating veggies, fruits and protein dense foods? Not a bad change to make.

It hasn’t been difficult finding good things to eat, and my energy has been better since the holidays. I’m not as weary and sore as I was, and I don’t feel as hefty as I was feeling around Christmas. I still have a big bump, but don’t feel as large and bulky, if that makes sense. I feel like I actually have some semblance of a figure. Crazy, right?

All in all, this will be a good change for our family and I hope to keep it up. We are both predisposed to diabetic complications, so now is the time to get our butts in gear and take care of ourselves the way we should!

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep happens in small chunks, sprinkled with weird dreams and hobbling to the bathroom twice a night. I am thanking my lucky stars that Lily is a fantastic sleeper and will sleep a solid 12 hours. My biggest struggle right now is making myself go to bed, since Sean is now working nights. I don’t like going to bed alone, but for the next year, this will be our routine, so I better get used to it!

I got one of those giant pregnancy pillows and used it for about a week. It was kind of comfortable, but kind of not. They’re weird. And it took up so much room in our tiny bed. I can make do with a throw pillow between my knees or tucked under my belly. I don’t need a giant croissant pillow pushing Sean and I to the edges.

Hating Pants

The subtitle here is “Disliking Winter Pregnancy” but hating pants sounded more truthful. I loved being pregnant in the summer with Lil. I could throw on a maxi dress or skirt, flip flops, and be done. And comfortable. Currently, I’m rotating between 3 pairs of leggings and one pair of jeans, attempting to layer my tops to be cold inside, hot inside, cold outside, and overdressed outside to resemble the little brother in A Christmas Story who can’t put his arms down.

Call me stubborn, but I’m not buying a giant winter coat to cover my belly button for the next 7 weeks, so I’m trying to make due, and praying we don’t get a ton of snow and ice. As I type this it’s snowing out. Blah!

But Shannon – you work from home! At least you don’t need to buy a new corporate maternity wardrobe! YES. Thank goodness for that. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I really can’t complain. But, I still miss maxi dresses and flip flops.

32 Weeks – 7 Weeks to Go

I made a to-do list of things I want/need to accomplish before Baby Boy appears, and, um, I need to get my butt in gear! I have been so otherwise occupied by Lily and getting work done that this poor kiddo hasn’t gotten a fraction of the pregnancy attention that I gave Lil. But I have been enjoying the thumps and alien movements, rubbing and poking my belly, wondering who this little person will be. He is super active and I can’t wait to hold him in my arms and smell his skin and dream about who he’ll grow into. And I really can’t wait to see if he’s a mini-Lily/Sean or a mini-me!

TO DO:

  • Pack a hospital bag – for me, for baby, for Sean. Knowing it’s a c-section, we’ll be prepared for a longer stay. I have had a couple contractions that are reminding me to get this done this week.
  • Install the infant carseat – first I need to deep clean the back seat of Cheerios and fruit snacks.
  • Donate the piles of Lily’s old clothes – this one hurts. I loved so many of her clothes!
  • Research and make some freezer meals – Any InstantPot users out there with good recs?
  • Wash and put away baby clothes, bottles, cloth diapers
  • Make his quilt
  • Hang up art over crib
  • Clean out and vacuum the car
  • Give the house a good top to bottom deep clean
  • Attempt some maternity self portraits
  • Find and purchase a baby book for him – check out Ruby Love books on Etsy
  • Figure out if I’m forgetting anything big

That’s all for now! The days are going quickly. It went from feeling SO far away to feeling like it’ll be any day now. I do feel like we’re in a good place of readiness, but pray he stays put as long as he should. The best I can hope for is a healthy baby carried to term!

Till next time!

Gestational Diabetes-Friendly Meals and Snacks

“You failed the 3-hour glucose test, so you are now diagnosed with gestational diabetes. You will need to meet with a nutritionist and get set up to take your blood sugars four times a day.”

I dreaded this diagnosis. It felt like being sentenced to a miserable prison for the final 2 months of my pregnancy. I wanted to be able to eat ice cream and a really satisfying cheeseburger and french fries, without a worry in the world. I was worried about having to deal with even more food restrictions in our already gluten free home. And I really didn’t want to prick my finger 4 times a day. Someone else needs to draw vials of blood from my arm? No problem. I need to do the needle? Nooooooo I don’t wanna!

Here’s the bright side: I’ve been following a pretty strict diet the past couples weeks and am feeling healthier than I have in a long time, and now I see it as a blessing in disguise. I am making good, healthy food choices not just for myself but also for the baby. And although I see a picture of a donut and my insides start screaming to just eat one, it is just not worth the feeling of dizziness and lethargy that will come with it, not to mention an awful blood sugar reading.

If you’ve followed my various blogs over the years, you know that we’re a gluten free family. Sean was diagnosed with Celiac almost 10 years ago, so food restrictions are not new to us. But I have also had the ability to eat non-gluten free foods as I wish. And now, living with food restrictions, I finally have an understanding of how he has felt for so long. I wander the grocery aisles seeing food after food after food that are simply not an option for me. I look at a restaurant menu and it suddenly feels like there is nothing I can eat without worry or adjustment.

The good news is, it is science and numbers based, so it’s not too much of a guessing game as to how to figure out of something is off limits or not. You have to read your labels, check carbohydrates, analyze portion sizes, and then decide if you can eat it. Some lower carb foods are fine in a small amount paired with a good portion of protein and veggies. In many cases, I just cannot eat something, which is why I have come up with a list of meal and snack ideas to work from over the next few weeks to keep things simple and clear. I thought I would share them here in case you are in search of diabetes friendly foods for yourself or a loved one. These are also, simply put, healthy meal ideas for anyone.

The biggest adjustment for me has been portions, and understanding that I can have a small portion of things that I love, but it must be a small portion paired with other healthier choices. More often than not, it’s easier to just avoid it altogether. And eat a salad.

Hey, 31 week baby belly...

Hey, 31 week baby belly…

I would also invite you to add your favorite healthy meals and snacks in the comments. I am pretty good with eating mostly the same foods day to day, but I do get the yearning to mix it up and try something new every now and then.

Breakfast

  • egg whites (scrambled) with cheddar cheese and veggies (I like the Trader Joe’s frozen peppers and onions), side of turkey sausage
  • plain greek yogurt – I mix in a little vanilla extract and cinnamon, or peanut butter powder, berries
  • plain oatmeal, add in blueberries and cinnamon
  • small apple, sliced, with peanut butter
  • egg white omelette with veggies, turkey bacon, 1 small english muffin
  • low-carb toast (my mother-in-law found a gluten free cinnamon raisin swirl that is fairly low carb compared to most breads) with peanut butter
  • cottage cheese and a small apple/bowl of fruit
  • egg cups with chopped veggies, topped with melted cheddar cheese
  • avocado with baked egg

Breakfast habits to break: cereal every day, giant piles of pancakes, Dunkin Donuts drive-thru, large muffins and bagels, sugary coffee drinks, not eating breakfast at all.

Lunch

  • dinner leftovers
  • salad with lots of veggies, topped with grilled chicken
  • salad with lots of veggies, small cup of cottage cheese on the side
  • celery sticks with peanut butter, cup of plain greek yogurt
  • veggie sticks with hummus, small portion of multigrain crackers
  • half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, side of sliced veggies
  • homemade chicken soup (no rice or noodles)

Lunch habits to break: sandwich with chips every day, any fast food, forgetting to eat or eating too late into the afternoon.

Dinner

  • Homemade chicken soup with brown rice or no rice, side salad
  • Homemade pizza (1 slice) with large salad topped with grilled chicken
  • taco lettuce wraps, topped with cheddar, avocado and diced tomatoes
  • Baked chicken with roasted veggies
  • Bunless turkey burger with cheese, lettuce and tomato
  • Spiraled veggie pasta with chicken sausages, peppers and onions, marinara sauce
  • Spaghetti squash buffalo chicken casserole
  • Large salad topped with grilled chicken, veggies, hardboiled egg and crumbled bacon

Snacks

  • cottage cheese
  • greek yogurt
  • veggies (bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, celery) with ranch
  • small apple with peanut butter
  • celery and peanut butter
  • one slice of peanut butter toast

You’ll notice a recurring theme is lots of veggies, lean protein, some dairy, and limited bread/pasta/potato. This is not a bad way to live. It’s how we should be eating, but somewhere along the line we got consumed by Sugar and Processed Food USA. We stopped thinking about the food we put in our bodies and more and more went for options that taste satisfying and comforting and sweet and fatty in the moment, but do next to nothing for our health.

Now I do not claim to be a health nut. But that doesn’t mean I can’t care. And the past couple weeks has been a huge wakeup call to me and my health. HUGE. And I wish I cared more over the past few years instead of losing myself in day after day of garbage eating (not literal garbage, hopefully that goes without saying).

Do you struggle with food? Are you settled into a good, healthy routine? What are some healthy meals and snacks you enjoy? What keeps you motivated? 

How Music Heals and We Need a Little Hygge Right Now

I’ll start by saying that this is not a sponsored post. Remember the days when bloggers just raved about things they liked/loved/obsessed over, solely because they liked/loved/obsessed over it?

I’m about to do that.

You see, yesterday, an album was released. No, not a cd, not a hot track. An album consisting of eight musical tracks, when listened in succession, can heal and uplift a broken heart. Can give your soul a hug. Can lift you out of a fog and make you smile and cry happy tears.

I have tried so hard as an adult to be that person who waits until after Thanksgiving to allow Christmas to explode into my every day life. I turn a blind eye to the shelves in the stores. I ignore the twitch to start moving furniture and decor around to prepare for the bins of stuff I keep in storage to deck my halls.

But this week has been different.

This week, I’ve had a hard time laughing or smiling. I’ve had a hard time allowing myself to enjoy simple things, because little things seem insignificant compared to the deeply upsetting and horrific things happening in our country.

So yesterday, I made a decision to do something to take care of myself. I lit a warm, delicious smelling candle on my desk. I put on my cozy warm slippers and wrapped a blanket that my grandmother knitted for me around my legs. I hung a couple pictures of Sean and Lily on my bulletin board next to my desk, and I sat down to work. I made myself a fresh cup of hazelnut creme coffee.

And here’s the important part: I went to iTunes, dropped 7.99 on Leslie Odom Jr.’s new album, Simply Christmas, pressed play, and let the warmth and coziness of my little office nook and music wrap me up in a hug full of hygge.

Huh? Hygge? What’s that?

Hygge (pronounced ‘hooga’), essentially means a feeling of coziness. The Danish practice ‘hygge’ by creating an atmosphere of comfort, warmth and love amid an otherwise chilly, bleak season. Hygge is good for the mind, body and soul and typically entails surrounding oneself with the warmth of candlelight and cozy blankets, good food, and the love of friends and family in the home. There are things that you can do to help practice hygge, but the important thing to remember is that hygge is a feeling. It’s peace, and goodness. It’s nostalgia of childhood.

It’s happiness.

(More info on hygge here and here.)

So why is a new Christmas album so important? I needed some comfort, and for me, music heals my soul. It helps me feel less broken. And this album? It is comfort, healing, soulful music that let’s me sit and listen and feel all the feels, including happiness.

I imagine what it must’ve been like to be of the generation to hear Nat King Cole sing for the first time. The smoothness of his voice, the ease at which he sung a melody or phrase, so beautifully, so simply, so elegant and classic. It moves you. It embeds itself into your heart.

Photo Credit: Susan Stripling

Photo Credit: Susan Stripling

The same can be said for Simply Christmas. Familiar songs you know all the words to, with a smooth jazz style, with LOJ’s vocalizations, brings a feeling of warmth a comfort. It’s not just one or two tracks. It’s listening to the album from start to finish that unleashes good feelings.

Whether you’re an avid Hamilton fan or have never heard of Leslie Odom Jr, now is the time. If you buy one thing for yourself this season, treat yo’self to some musical chicken noodle soup for the soul.

As Dumbledore said, “Ah, music, a magic beyond all we do here!”

Simply Christmas will be in regular rotation for me this season and probably for the rest of my life. Here’s the track list:

  1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  2. First Noel
  3. My Favorite Things
  4. I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  5. The Christmas Song
  6. Merry Christmas Darling
  7. Winter Song
  8. Ave Maria

My personal favorite? Winter Song. I didn’t expect to feel so moved, but by the time I reached the 7th track, my heart was ready to emerge from my chest, get a bear hug from this melody, and be safely tucked back into my chest as a lump slowly rose in my throat.

To my husband, I’m sorry, Christmas come early this year. And it’s not a bad thing.

To Mr. Odom Jr, thank you for this beautiful gift and sharing your talent with the world. If you make another holiday album (is next year too soon?), please consider River, Silent Night, Oh Holy Night, Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy (duet with Chris Jackson?), and White Christmas.

So if that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will, but if you come to my home this holiday season, you’ll likely be listening to this album. I’ll give you cocoa and a warm blanket and we’ll soak up some happiness together.

Happy hygge.

Our Kids Will Be All Right Because We Will Make It So

Four years ago. Just remember, time flies...

Four years ago. Just remember, time flies…

I’m trying to piece my thoughts together this evening. Bear with me.

I’ve shed so many tears in the past 24 hours. I tried to distract myself last night by working on some editing, but my heart and gut knew as the returns were coming in. I broke down several times. Sean, God bless him, just held me and let me feel everything I was feeling. I went to Lil’s room around midnight to take her to the bathroom, and I just held her sleepy body on my shoulder, listening to her peaceful breath. I went to bed, tossed and turned all night and woke up with a raging headache. I puked, but that’s likely more to blame on pregnancy than anything else.

My range of emotions today have run the gamut of defeated to sad to scared to angry to frustrated to empowered and now resilient. I am sitting here feeling stronger than yesterday, because I refuse to let a person take away my spirit. I refuse to let the reality of our country’s current state diminish the fires that have been stoked in my heart and soul.

We spoke with Lily today. We sat on the floor of her room while she played and in the simplest terms, we told her that the girl didn’t win. We told her that we are sad, but in this world, we don’t always get what we want. And we keep trying, even when we’re sad or frustrated, we do our best to be good, kind, open-hearted people moving forward. She said she wanted to be president someday, to be strong and powerful and smart, and I vow I’ll do everything I can for all of my days to encourage her to embrace her own strength and power and brains, not just as a girl but as a human being.

THE KIDS ARE ALWAYS WATCHING, LISTENING AND LEARNING

Since having Lily, I’ve come to realize that we severely underestimate the capacity our children have to love and to learn. I am by no means saying we have a wonder child (maybe we do?), but I am constantly floored at the way she thinks things through, the questions she asks, and how openly she cares for others. So how do we foster this? How do we teach our children well? By teaching and leading by example how to…

BE KIND

Encourage kindness at all times. Reach out to the person who sits or plays alone, or hangs back in the corner, or may seem a bit socially awkward. Say hello and greet people with a smile. There is always room for more kindness in the world.

HAVE EMPATHY

Look at situations from a different angle. Think and talk through reasons why someone else may be sad or upset or having a difficult time at school or work. The world is not black and white and neither are its people. Stretch your mind and heart to reach an understanding towards others.

HAVE COMPASSION

Show concern for others. Reach out a helping hand. Understand that many struggle daily with various challenges and injustices, and knowing they have support can mean a world of difference.

BE EDUCATED

Research what concerns you or interests you. Do not decide on anything at face value. Do not do your research through social media clickbait and major news networks. Check multiple sources. Ask questions. Answer questions. Encourage your children to ask questions and assure them that you will be as helpful as possible in helping them understand.

CONVERSE AMICABLY

Seek out those with different viewpoints and discuss your opposing views. Open your mind to seeing their side and why they believe what they do. Nothing is ever solved when you refuse to see what the other side is fighting for.

EMBRACE YOUR POWER

As a person in this world, you have power. Through your words, your actions, your reactions, and how you choose to conduct yourself in private and public. We all have power and with that we all have responsibility (credit: Spiderman). Power is not a dirty word. How you choose to use your power will undoubtedly affect your family, relationships, friendships, community and greater world. Please use it for good and work to build up those around you.

STAND WITH CONVICTION

If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for? Examine your beliefs. Search your soul. Decide to stand up for what you believe in and don’t hold back. The world needs your voice. Your children need your voice. The oppressed need your voice. The lonely need your voice. The scared and helpless need your voice. I have often remained quiet, trying to keep the peace and avoid conflict, and it has made me feel like I cannot use my voice, even when I feel so strongly about something.

When Sean took this picture yesterday after I voted, I had high hopes that I would be able to look back and talk to Lily about how that was the day that we made history electing the first female president, someone who worked her entire adult life trying to make a difference for women, children, the sick and many more. But that will not be the story. Rome was not built in a day, and America still has a lot of work to do. There are cracks in the foundation and in the glass ceiling. There are leaks and instability. We are far from being a perfect union, and even when a woman is elected president, there will still be more to do, new challenges, and new lessons.

My vow today is to be a better helper. To give support where it is needed. To fight for what I believe to be right and good. To lead my children by example and teach them as best I can to be kind and strong and compassionate and empathetic and not let the bumps and bruises that come along with life keep them down.

Over the past week or so, I have been reading stories from women across the country and the world of being assaulted, insulted, abused, and silenced. At some point in their lives, they were made to feel small, insignificant, unimportant or ashamed.

I’ve read stories about parents, grandparents and great-grandparents taking steps, moving across oceans, working multiple jobs and doing everything they can to give their kids a better life. That this election meant so much with the memory of those who have gone before us, with legacies of hard work, compassion and love of family.

We are allowed to grieve. This hurts. There are several stages of grief and we are feeling all of them.

But we will keep moving forward, with our heads up and hearts open.

This morning, it was rainy and gloomy. How fitting. I took Lily to the trampoline park to burn off some energy, and as we were leaving to come home, I pointed out to her that you could see the sun glowing behind the rain clouds.

“How does the sun do that, mama?”

“It keeps burning, Lil. Even when it’s raining, the sun is burning brightly. And when the rain clouds go away, the sun will still be there. It’s always shining, even when it’s hard to see.”

Keep shining. Sending peace and love to you, wherever you are.