9.24.2014

Second pregnancy hurdles and finding grace.

^Baby at 14 weeks-I'm just over 16 now^

It has been a while since my last post but I am finally getting back on my "writing" feet again. Part of me is not even sure where I should start.

This pregnancy has really thrown us for a loop so far. The best word that I can use to describe things so far is rough.  I had morning sickness during my pregnancy with Asa but that experience did not prepare me for what I've been dealing with this time around. My midwife told me that I probably have/had hyperemesis this time around (which basically just means that you throw up A LOT). There has been a lot of throwing up at gas stations and the grocery store parking lot. The time of day never seems to matter, what I had eaten beforehand (or didn't) did not seem to matter either. It is safe to say that the first trimester and even some of these early second trimester weeks have been spent in survival mode. I don't share this because I am hoping you will feel bad for me (but if you want to... go ahead, because it was horrible) BUT I do think it is important to share that pregnancy isn't always sunshine and butterflies- even though my first one certainly felt that way.

Another hurdle that I didn't anticipate was how the sickness and exhaustion would impact my emotional well-being. It is physically exhausting to be literally sick, but to tell you the truth, I have felt even more emotionally exhausted (thank you hormones). You can only lay on your bathroom floor for so long before your mind starts weighing you down. I have been trying to keep my mind focused on the blessing of this pregnancy, but even that felt impossible to focus on some days. One of the most helpful reminders has been the excitement of other people- family, friends, and my husband. Seeing their joy and anticipation has truly been the hook that grounds me and reminds me that this part of the process is fleeting...even if I were to deal with sickness the entire time.

I also came to a point the other day where I realized that I had been trying to do this mental part on my own. During the worst of my sickness, I have struggled to pray and struggled to connect with God. I kept telling myself that "I" could do this. You know what? That couldn't me further from the truth. I quickly found out that I do a really poor job of dealing with these things when I do it on my own. I have finally started to let God into my worst moments. It doesn't make those moments go away, but I have experienced an overwhelming feeling of compassion, one that tells me that I am not suffering alone, and it has lifted my spirit despite my physical state. I am so thankful for that.

In addition to letting God in, I have been trying to have more grace with myself. I was surprised at how frustrated I had gotten with myself while being ill. In all honestly, it has felt like my body was betraying me by getting sick so often. It just didn't make sense that I could have such an easy, enjoyable pregnancy the first time around and then have a totally different experience this time. Through talks with friends, my midwife, and reading ridiculous articles online, I have realized that having vastly different experiences isn't that uncommon. In fact, I am learning more and more that the range of "normal" during pregnancy is absurd. I am also learning that it is okay to be honest that this pregnancy hasn't been a walk in the park and that I do not need to feel ashamed of that. I am giving my body the grace that it needs when I am ill.. I am now letting go of the expectations that this pregnancy needs to or will be like my previous one. It doesn't always come easy but once I remember to ease up, it does feel like a huge weight has been lifted.

The last thing I will share tonight is that I believe I am finally started to turn a corner in terms of how I am feeling (PRAISE GOD!). The last two days have been some of the best so far and I haven't thrown up in almost a week. I have noticed a few of the worst symptoms lessening but I think I have been too afraid to start getting excited about feeling better in case things worsened again. But here I am at 16 weeks, deciding that it okay to rejoice in the good days, and feel a little sad on the bad days. It is okay that this pregnancy hasn't been "perfect" so far and it is okay that I am struggling through parts of it. At the end of the day, isn't that what grace is all about?

And while I have you here, how about you? Did you find that your second (or third, etc) pregnancy was very different from your first? Or has your first pregnancy surprised you in unexpected ways?

I'd love to hear any thoughts and wisdom from your own personal experiences, too. :)

9.03.2014

A new addition to our family.

See that family of three right there? I am overjoyed to share that we will be adding another family member this coming March! In fact, the due date is on March 8, which is actually my dad's birthday. Now of course, most babies don't come on their due dates, but it is still fun to think about, eh?

We had been trying for a while for this baby (or at least what is considered a while for us), so I pretty much freaked out when I saw a faint "yes" line. I ended up calling Josh at work and told him he needed to come home because I needed to talk to him. Luckily, he was able to come home for lunch. although I am pretty sure he was worried that I had burned down the house or some other disaster. When he got home, Asa handed him a note that had a picture of a Mama and a baby plus a ton of scribbles...a collaborative piece of art if you will, and it was such a joy to watch him open it. Just to top off the day, it was also his birthday (the note also said happy birthday)! What a gift we could all share together- this new baby we had been praying for.

7.18.2014

Crumble-top blueberry muffins that are completely delicious.

I am a baker. I have yet to figure out if it is because I like eating the batter or the finished product more but either way...I like to bake! It can be very therapeutic with all of the measuring, stirring, and direction following that it entails. It's interesting because I haven't always felt this way about baking, but over the last few years it has become like a friend. A good friend in the way that a recipe is always the same, can be depended on, and can be enjoyed. The smells that come out of the oven as the most recent item is baking, that warm gooey bite when you just can't wait for it to cool off. The feelings that those things stir up in me are  of the nostalgic sort.

Similar to baking feeling like a good friend, I think that a good recipe can do the exact same thing. I've shared a few of my favorite recipes here already (here's my favorite recipe for pumpkin muffins) but I have yet to share a recipe for blueberry muffins. That was mainly because I had yet to find one worthy of bragging about. Luckily, I stumbled across the recipe a few weeks back. It is a keeper. These muffins are so full of flavor that you almost sigh when you take your first bite. They are sweet but not overwhelmingly so, and they are delicious with a cold glass of milk. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Ingredients (Makes 8 large muffins)
Muffins
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use whole wheat white flour)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
Crumb Topping
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed and softened
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Method
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease muffin pan or line with muffin liners.
  • Muffins: mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking power. Then add wet ingredients- vegetable oil, egg, and milk. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups to the top with batter.
  • Crumb Topping: Mix together sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon with a fork and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in a preheated oven. I started checking to see if they were done around 18 minutes because I didn't want to burn the bottoms at all but I believe my oven took about 20 minutes for these.
This recipe originates from allrecipes.com and can be found here!

7.16.2014

Can we talk about wallpaper for a second?

I am absolutely sure that my mom is going to get a good laugh out of this post. While growing up, it seems like wallpaper found its way into almost every room in our home. Don't get me wrong, it was completely fabulous wallpaper and totally on trend for the time being....but we still gave her a hard time about it. Then something happened. I realized that I was partially wrong and that some wallpaper can be utterly amazing. So, I must say, Mom....you're wallpaper days weren't that bad. Sorry for giving you heck about it! :)

Onward. Wallpaper has been on my mind a lot lately. In a 'I just really need to get my hands on some awesome wallpaper now' kind of way. It can literally transform a room. Basically, it is kind of intoxicating (but in a non-alcoholic fashion of course).

I've been daydreaming of exactly how to use this in our home and am trying to really think it through because it is a pretty large commitment. First, nice wallpaper isn't cheap, and second, wallpaper is not as simple to undo as paint. Read: commitment. I have determined that for now, the guest room seems like the best candidate. It's a room that will hopefully stay a guest room for a while (we can just cram future children into the same room-right? It'll be good for them). I gets a lot of natural light which makes me think that it can handle a big statement. Also, the wall that I am thinking of to hang the wallpaper on has a large window on it which means I will probably only have to purchase one roll. So far, so good.

Since this is still in daydream mode, here are a few rooms that have inspired this new found love of mine:
Eclectic Bedroom by Brooklyn Photographers Rikki Snyder
^Also, click on the image to go to the original source and see more lovely pictures!^

and here are a few of the wallpaper swatches that have caught my eye:
Wallpaper
Sources: Top (L-R): 1 2 3 | Bottom (L-R): 1 2 3

The rooms just come alive with energy and interest, don't they? I think that since the room I am hoping to add wallpaper to is a bedroom, I am really drawn to organic patterns- especially when color is used well within it. I tend to prefer floral pattern the most, but it will have to be just the right one in order to get my husband on board. He's not the biggest fan of floral but that's okay. We all have our preferences!

So, what is your verdict? Are you as enamored with wallpaper as I seem to be?
Mom- thoughts? ;)

7.14.2014

South Haven is for dreamers.

We spent the day in South Haven, MI, last Friday and I just can't help but share the pictures of our day. The weather was perfect, maybe in the high seventies with just a slight breeze, the water wasn't too cold, and the sand wasn't too hot on our feet. Well, except for my mom's feet...she has baby feet ;). Asa had the time of his life digging in the sand, ride around in his inner tube, splashing, smashing sand castles, and being with some of the people he loves most. 

We started our day at South Beach and ate a picnic lunch right next to the water. Sure, it was a little sandy, but what's a little added crunch? Ha. My brother, Kyle,  his wife, Andrea, and my niece, Lydia, were also there to enjoy the day in addition to my parents. The kids got very sandy, the parents got a little sun-burned but overall, it was one of those days that you dream about. How did we get so lucky that beaches like this are just an hour away from our house?

After a few hours at the beach, we took a walk down the pier where we checked out the lighthouse and even got to witness a real pirate ship! Asa was very impressed with it. The rest of the family sans us was in the area for a wedding so luckily we had hotel rooms to head back to in order to freshen up. Once we were all tidied up, we grabbed some dinner at a flat-bread restaurant. It was delicious to say the least! On our way out we also snagged some Hudsonville Ice Cream. Did you know there is an actual flavor of ice cream that has chocolate buckeyes IN IT? It's worth every bite.

I couldn't help but think as we drove home that this was a day well spent. This was one of those days where we really relaxed as a family. A day where all of the external stresses melted away and we could soak up the simple joys of sun and family. I'm so thankful for that time together!

Here's a sneak peek into our day (and by sneak peek, I mean a TON of pictures):


Also, if you'd like to see some of the other Michigan beaches we have visited in the past, check these out:

Here's to beautiful beaches in the good ol' state of Michigan!

7.10.2014

A few (more) changes in the entryway!

Remember our entryway from a few months back? Well, I've switched things up a bit in the quest of making it just right. While it isn't exactly there yet, we've made some progress!  Here is where we left off last time:
      
Over all this space is a big improvement from when we first purchased the house, but I was still feeling like it needed/needs a bit more attention. The wall hooks were constantly disheveled and the shoe area was always overflowing....not exactly what I wanted for this space. Especially when we have a closet three feet away. So...I swapped out the crates for an industrial cart that had previously hung out in the living room.
Taking down the wall hooks was a bit more work. Since I didn't take them down when I initially painted the room, there was an unpainted area beneath each one. There were also four gaping holes in the plaster...bleh. It took a few layers of spackle to get the holes flush with the wall, then some light sanding, and finally two coats of paint. Eventually, the wall looked as seamless as it was going to get!
Once that wall was touched up, I started scrounging around the house for something to hang on the wall. I ended up taking one of the prints from the living room and transferring it to this space. I think it helps the flow between the two rooms since they are right next to each other and when you are looking into the entryway from the living room, they line up (see grainy iPhone photo below). I also found a set of curtains at Home Goods on clearance for $12 and hung one up in the entryway and the other in the landing on the stairs. They watch really well! I need to hem the sheers still but whose looking at that anyway?
See what I mean by flow? I think it works nicely :). The little basket on the cart holds Asa's shoes, but I don't think this is going to be a long term solution. Ideally, I am hoping to find a cabinet to put here, either second hand, or maybe move the one in there from the dining room once we find a larger hutch to replace that (more on all of that later). For now, it works though. And it was all free because I just snagged everything from other places in the house. Shopping in home is the best way to find good deals ;).
This blasted closet is throwing me for a loop. From the pictures you can see that it is rather narrow but is also very deep. Someone explain to me why this was decided on as a good idea when our home was built? Right now we have just about every coat we own for all seasons stored in here. This has been nice, but isn't completely necessary because we can also put them in the winter tubs in the basement. I've been dreaming of maybe taking out the second hanging room and put in some shelves. Honestly, I think this would be a better use of space. Then we can have baskets for hats and gloves, shoes, extra toys, and all the other random stuff you keep in a closet. Also, this room needs a fresh coat of paint but somehow I am not finding the motivation to paint the closet yet....I hope it comes soon.

The floor bugs me a bit in this space, not because of its coloring but because of some of the small stains on it. I can sweep this room everyday and it will still look like it needs a good sweeping! I'm not sure how to remedy this- maybe some kind of cleaner or by buffing it? I will have to do some digging and find out what our options are. 

There are a few things left to do in this space, but overall here is where we are at with the to-do list:
The Entryway To-Do (Phase 1):
  • Take down those curtains and put up something simple, clean, and fresh.
  • Change wall color to Comfort Gray by Sherwin Williams.
  • Figure out a way to update the coat racks on the walls- for sure get rid of the brass.
  • Give a fresh coat of white paint to all the trim and wainscoting.
  • Do something….anything with that tile wall until we have the funds to change it in a more permanent way.
  • Add a hanging pendant light fixture like this.
  • Find a rug that neutralizes that crazy floor a bit.
  • Hang some art work.
  • Paint the front door a bold color like this or this.
  • Paint the inside of the closet white and add organized storage for shoes, hats, gloves, etc
(Phase 2)
  • Rip out that weird tile wall and match the plaster/wainscoting that is already there.
  • Possibly change the flooring to match whatever we upgrade the living room floor to one day. I crossed out that guy because I've decided that I like the floor!
We've spent just under $50 in this room so far which includes the new paint color (also used in the stairwell and upstairs hall-see that here), the curtain rod, and the curtains! While there is always more to do, I think that this room will probably just sit for now as we slowly tackle other rooms. Still, it is good to be in a place where I am okay with letting it sit, too! 

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