2015: A Year in Review

Good-bye 2015. Hello 2016!

Remember me? I used to blog. I used to share my thoughts with you whether you wanted to read about them or not. And then, 2015 happened. I think I blogged three times over the course of 365 days. Seriously. I’m not going to make excuses, but baby, MBA, life. I’m going to pick back up and do the best I can in 2016. To start us off, let me do a quick recap in an every so trendy way #2015bestnine.

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It was a year of firsts and a year of celebrating. To highlight a few that were featured in our #2015bestnine…

March 10 – Piper James was born.
April 24 – I turned 30!
August 18 – Turned in my final project to complete my MBA.
October 1 – Celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary.
November 26 – Hosted our first Thanksgiving.
December 25 – Celebrated Piper’s first Christmas.

As you reflect on 2015 I hope you choose to dwell on the highlights and accomplishments, no matter how great or small. Feel free to share some of them with me!

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Welcome!

I think it is time to break my blogging silence. I was just reading my last post and it was on my due date. Ten…yes TEN days after I wrote that post we finally met our baby girl. Today she is a fast growing, good sleeping (don’t hate me for it!), beautiful two month old.

The adjustment the past two months have kept me from blogging, but I have so many ideas to write about in my head that I hope I can get them out there soon. We are developing a somewhat predictable routine but between housework, homework, and catching the occasional nap and shower, it has been hard to sit down and just write. Especially since I tend to be long-winded and need a little more time to flush out some thoughts.

I want to keep this one short so I don’t end up going in 400 different directions and just say, Welcome! Welcome to the world my beautiful baby girl, Piper!

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Happy “Due” Date

Well, we have been talking about March 1st since June 24, the evening I found out I was pregnant. We’ve been prepping and planning for this date. Lately I’ve been working more than 40 hours each week to help prepare my teammates, I have worked to stay ahead on homework assignments, and of course have been organizing and making room for all of the baby stuff in our home. Everyone tells you the likelihood of your first baby being late is high; however, there is so much focus on “when are you due” that it is hard to wrap your head around going past that date.

Luckily I’ve had a pretty decent pregnancy. I don’t think I am overly uncomfortable, just as comfortable as one can be with a full-term baby still cooking away inside. I am still working and walking on the treadmill but have found that with every move, especially if any core engagement is involved, I am a lot more vocal. Sorry to those around me, it is probably annoying to hear me grunt so often.

But overall, I am thankful that my blood pressure thus far has stayed in a normal range, my canckles and overall swelling appear to be of no concern, and the baby still moves around plenty and jams herself into my ribs if she feels the need for a real good stretch. Each uncomfortable movement is a reminder that she is doing well in there.

I don’t want this post to be a woe is me since tomorrow I will officially be “overdue” (although, I know with each date they provide it is simply a guess and a benchmark) so I thought I’d share some of my favorite things that have helped me enjoy the final trimester of my pregnancy.

1. Our Treadmill – Since a Minnesota winter typically involves plenty of cold air and ice-covered walkways, all of my walking has taken place inside. Luckily we have a treadmill so it hasn’t been too hard to still get a walk in 3-5 days per week. Not only has this helped with my energy, but it has also helped me somewhat manage my pregnancy weight gain. Hate treadmills? Plug in a Friends DVD and the time flies!

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2. Tums – Lets be real. If you know me at all you know that you can count of me to have some Tums nearby. However, since going gluten-free I have relied on them less and less each day. That was until I learned about pregnancy heartburn. Pregnancy heartburn is not like normal heartburn. It can sneak up on you without notice or cause and travel all the way up your esophagus in about .5 seconds. It is actually kind of impressive. For me Tums have been enough to manage it. Thank goodness.

3. Friends and Family – We have been showered with a lot of love over the past three months. Lots of gifts, well wishes and support from all of those around us who already love Baby B. We can’t wait to introduce her to everyone.

4. Starbucks – I know, I know. Probably not the best source of nutrients for growing a human but sometimes a girl just needs to start her day with a decaf latte. Especially if it gives her the kick in the rear that is needed to focus through a working day and homework at night. So Starbucks, thank you for existing.

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5. Prenatal Yoga – Justin signed me up for a 5-week prenatal yoga series as part of my Christmas present. Unfortunately it ended two weeks ago but showing up every Sunday was the best thing I could have done for myself during my pregnancy. I only wish I would have started sooner instead of waiting until the final stretch. Ps. Yoga is hard in general. Yoga while pregnant is even harder. Ufdah.

And without being too mushy, I have to mention that without my husband none of this would have been possible. Haha, obviously. But he has been patient and supportive and has even helped me with my compression socks a time or two. And why those aren’t on my top 5 list is beyond me. They are my favorite things ever right now, right behind the husband. 🙂

With all that said, I am going to throw on my compression socks and hit the treadmill. Until my next post, I will leave you with this picture from this morning because I think it is funny.

My feet are still down there.

My feet are still down there.

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Certified to Parent

Yesterday Justin and I spent all day in the classroom. The teacher shared a story with us about her almost eight year old daughter and trying to explain the test you take in order to receive your driver’s license. The little girl was intrigued and then wanted to know what type of test her Mom’s students have to take at the end of her class. Well, her Mom teaches prenatal parenting classes, and crazy enough, there is no test at the end.

We attended an express, all-in-one day, preparing for childbirth class. We took the class through Amma Parenting and had a great registered nurse, Meggin, as our instructor. Amma was recommended by our provider and they also contract with the hospital we plan to deliver at. After looking at their course offerings and realizing we really don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to more classes since I am still in grad school and Justin is wrapping up his thesis we decided to do the all-in-one.

The all-in-one is more high level, touches on a lot of things, but doesn’t go into great detail about everything. I found this to be just fine for what we were looking for, and Justin was happy with it as well. The first half focused on labor and delivery and the second half was about nursing and newborn care. The only thing I question now is whether or not we should look into a labor and delivery class that teaches more coping mechanisms since after watching the labor and deliver video I was like, “Hells no.” And if I am being honest, the video wasn’t even that bad and was only 12 minutes long so I probably need to buck up here pretty quick.

I thought our instructor did a great job keeping things light and exciting as I am sure most couples looked confused and terrified at different times during the class. She also did not push any opinions or objectives on us. She did share personal stories from her births when asked and what she has seen as a long time labor and delivery nurse but always stressed that there is a pattern to labor but not one is the same.

I know Justin said he is feeling a lot more confident especially now that he has some ideas of what he can do to support me through labor and learned more about new-born care. I am not so sure my confidence is any higher yet but I am more informed about what we have gotten ourselves into. Haha. Just kidding. Sort of.

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Proof that we are certified to parent!

I also thought I’d take this opportunity to briefly share some other resources we have taken advantage of throughout the pregnancy as well.

Bump Club and Beyond – Twin Cities
Justin and I have attended two paid Bump Club events together and I have attended one free one by myself. The paid ones can be expensive depending on what type of tickets you buy. For instance, the first one we attended, Gearapalooza, cost $130 total for us both to attend. Our ticket included a Beco Carrier retailing about $130 and a swag bag worth $150. I also won a Baby K’Tan which retails about $50. The second one we attended was for expectant parents that was a dinner and presentation all about sleep! Such an important topic. We paid about $160 total for us both to attend. Our tickets included a Motorola Video Monitor retailing about $200, another swag bag, and I ended up winning a Skip Hop Duo Baby Bag retailing about $60. The information was awesome as well!

The free ones are about an hour-long, held at a Target in Minnetonka and also offer great information. I went to a car seat basics one and learned more about car seat safety…which is always important since I think about 80% of people are using them incorrectly! :/ I didn’t win anything but they do offer 10% off in baby for that night so it is well worth the trip for the education and the discount.

This is almost all Bump Club swag.

This is almost all Bump Club swag.

Everything that is included in the gift bags is legit, useful stuff too. It isn’t just a bag full of samples and brochures. Totally worth it in my opinion!

Sacred Pregnancy Retreat
I also attended a Sacred Pregnancy Retreat in November hosted by Moon River Wellness. I didn’t learn about how to care for a baby or survive childbirth, but it was an awesome opportunity to connect with myself & baby, as well as other pregnant mamas. It was a day retreat with three other woman, and we did multiple activities and rituals to help us connect and understand that being pregnant can and should be a sacred journey. I really enjoyed it and left feeling a little less anxious about the process. I still think about it today now that I am in my final trimester, and when fear starts to creep in I light the candle we made and spray the essential oils we mixed and just reconnect with myself. I would highly recommend you look into this if/when you are pregnant…and it is not just for first time Moms!

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I’d love to hear if you found any resources particularly helpful during your pregnancy. Comment below!

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Twenty Fifteen

Happy New Year!!!

That is all…

Just kidding. It is 2015!!! I love the start of a new year. It is full of hope and possibilities. Last night we were in bed by 10:30pm but an unknown neighbor decided to light up the sky shortly after midnight which kept me up and freaked out Selby. I wished Justin and Selby a happy new year and luckily we were fast asleep again.

When I woke up groggy this morning I continued to think about what the new year means for our family. It will probably bring the most change we have ever experienced. More change than the New Year’s Eve I accepted Justin’s marriage proposal and saw him off to Iraq for a year a month and a half later. More change than the first year in our house, the first year of marriage and the first years of our new jobs. This year, we will be welcoming our first child and frankly, that is kind of scary but also very exciting.

We have roughly two months to go (January & February), and I still don’t feel ready, but at least Justin and I have gone through our own struggles and have always come out stronger on the other side. I have no doubt parenting will be the same.

I like to make resolutions and set goals for the year, but I have been struggling to put them into words. And then I opened up my tea packet this morning and saw, “Feel great, act great and approve of yourself.” I think this put my feelings into words so perfectly.

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FEEL GREAT… I do not want to focus on “losing baby weight” in 2015. Of course, I do want to lose the baby weight, but I want so much more than that. I want to start off my life as a mother with a positive body image for myself in hopes that my daughter will develop a positive one for herself. I hear that is tough in the dreaded fourth trimester, but I am determined to feel great in my mind and my body in 2015. This will also include a more concentrated effort to limit my sugar intake, move more, and of course take time to slow down when I/We need it.

ACT GREAT… In 2015 I want to be more compassionate, understanding and patient. I especially want to be this towards my husband since I am sure we will be tried and tried again in 2015. I also want to spend more time with family and feel less stressed about it and just enjoy more. (School doesn’t end until October so I know this will be especially tough.) And I just want to be more gracious, thoughtful and mindful in all that I do.

APPROVE OF YOURSELF… In order to accomplish the other two I need to make sure I approve of myself. When things don’t go as planned I need to be ok with that, re-evaluate and move on. I need to accept that this new year will bring many challenges but will bring more moments of happiness and joy. And frankly, I probably won’t know what I am doing for most of the year but that is ok. I have a good support system, and I am sure we can handle anything that comes our way…like a baby who enjoys independent sleep. 😉

If you are setting your own resolutions, goals or intentions for 2015, I’d love to hear them! Hopefully I can keep up with blogging in 2015 as well so feel free to click the follow button so you don’t miss any of the 2015 shenanigans that I am sure will ensue!

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The End of 2014

Oh my goodness – 2014 is just about over and 2015 is about to begin. I love the start of a new year since it feels like a fresh clean slate. Although that really isn’t true because life just keeps going, it still provides a great opportunity to reflect on the last year and perhaps make some goals for the new one.

I’ve been battling a fabulous cold that arrived on Christmas Eve, but finally got a decent night of sleep last night. I decided to head out of the house this morning and be productive while Justin was at work. I ended up heading to Walgreens to restock on cough drops and kleenex, dropped off another five bags of items at Good Will (I’m in full on nesting mode), and then headed to brunch…alone.

I’ve been interested in trying The Buttered Tin for awhile now, but the wait is typically really long. I tried one time with some girl friends only to find another place to eat due to the wait. I decided to try my luck this morning, especially since I really didn’t have anywhere to be and hoped to finally cross it off my 3o Before 30. And. I. Did!

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The set up in the restaurant is a little different. You order your food at the counter and then wait until a table opens up. Once a table becomes available they seat you and put your food order in. In my mostly gone man voice, I order The Buttered Tin Hash and a cup of green tea. Then, I waited. From the moment I arrived to the moment I was seated I probably waited less than 30 minutes.

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I ended up being seated at a “community style” table since I was a lone diner. It felt kind of nice since finding time to dine at a restaurant alone is probably going to be a little more difficult in the future. I waited less than 10 minutes and my food arrived.The food looked amazing just as I suspected. I tried to take my time but it went down pretty quick and baby was excited about the spicy red aioli sauce. Mmm. All and all, I am super glad I went and enjoyed my alone dining experience.

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Blurry since I had to sneak this photo so I wouldn’t be judged by others at my table. 🙂

After The Buttered Tin I figured I should swing by Cupcake on Snelling and Selby. It only made sense that I track down some gluten free cupcakes to enjoy for dessert on New Year’s Eve, but I also wanted to spend a little more time in St. Paul. I ❤ St. Paul! I left with the Aretha Franklin and the Carol Brady for Justin and I to split. Yumm. I can’t wait.

I write this now in Kowalski’s after enjoying a latte (no flavor, doing my best to cut out extra sugar…oh wait, the cupcakes).The internet is barely working so I assume this post will go through later, but I am going to pick up some lobster to make for Justin and I to bring in the new year as a family of three (don’t forget Selby people) since soon we will be a family of four! Oh, and we will also probably reminisce about our engagement night as well. Has it already been six years?

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French Silk Pie

I’ve been burning through projects lately but none of them having anything to do with my 3o Before 30 list. The baby prep has really started to take over and she wasn’t even on the 3o Before 30! Thanksgiving presented the perfect opportunity for me to complete #16 – Bake a Pie From Scratch.

I decided to wait until my family’s Thanksgiving which is celebrated the Saturday after. I haven’t subjected my in-laws to my random baking experiments yet. I am sure they would be more than willing, but I know I will get very honest feedback from my parents, brothers, and sibling-in-laws.

With that said, I set out to make a gluten-free pie from scratch yesterday and settled on a French Silk Pie. I have never been a huge pie person, mainly because I am not a fan of the crust or baked fruit, so I figured as long as the filling turned out it should taste decent, right?

I did my research, and by research I mean I pinned a few recipes for gluten-free pie crust and then Googled French Silk Pie in the grocery store on a whim to make sure I had all the necessary ingredients. Then I just went for it and here is how it turned out.

I followed this recipe and this recipe for the crust. I used the Namaste All Purpose Gluten Free Flour, a stick of butter, five tablespoons of ice water and a small spoonful of sugar.

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Butter, Flour, and Sugar

 

I mixed everything by hand which made quite the mess, but I don’t think it would work very well otherwise. Especially since you are using cold butter. Most of the recipes I checked out recommended that I refrigerate the crust for at least an hour and many did it overnight. I didn’t have the overnight option (hello, procrastinator) so I refrigerated for just over an hour. Most recipes also recommended you take it out for about 10-15 minutes before rolling.

 

 

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Roll Out!

The rolling out was a little difficult and required a little more effort since the dough wanted to fall apart. I rolled it out more than once and then re-balled with my hands to make it feel like a more consistent product. Eventually, I made it look semi normal.

 

 

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Not Very Professional

I sprayed my glass pie pan with coconut oil just to ensure the crust didn’t bake directly to the pan. I wasn’t sure if I should have but did anyway. I also didn’t have a pie weight or any other fancy pie baking tools many of the recipes called for. I just rolled the crust on a counter top full of gluten-free flour.

Once it was baking at 350 degrees I watched it closely. I first set my timer for 10 minutes and then an additional 10 minutes. Once it appeared to be done (it wasn’t very golden brown but when I poked with a tooth pick it seemed done) I took it out and let it cool. Then I started the pie filling.

Following a Taste of Home recipe things came together quite well. Heating up the eggs and sugar turned out to be a longer process than expected, especially since I became nervous that it actually reached the recommended 160 degrees. Luckily I do have some  food thermometers and was able to confirm that it did reach 160, but I also don’t know if it exceeded it and was overdone. It probably was, but I get nervous about foodborne illnesses. 😉

In the end, it actually looked like French Silk Pie filling. I had Justin test it and he said the filling tasted great!

Ready to Refrigerate

Ready to Refrigerate

 

I put it in the fridge until we were ready to go to my parents and then left it outside (yay for MN becoming an outdoor fridge/freezer) until we were ready to eat it. I topped with Cool Whip and shaved some frozen Dove Chocolates over the top before serving.

Ready to Eat

Ready to Eat

Everyone who consumed it said it tasted great. I totally agreed with them too. Even my picky little brother who is also gluten-free liked it! And I think I saw my husband having one of the few leftover pieces for breakfast this morning!

If you are interested in trying a pie from scratch for the first time I would highly recommend you start here. Most of the ingredients I already had and it really didn’t take that much time to make but be sure to plan a little ahead. It will help. 🙂

Did anyone else try some fun recipes for the first time for Thanksgiving?

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