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July 31, 2015

9 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

Although I called myself taking good notes during the time I was pregnant with A and B, I look back now and wish I’d written down so much more. 

I'm taking a trip down Memory Lane today to record some tidbits about what I did to support a healthy pregnancy.  (I’m no doctor, mind you!  This is what worked for me…and if this might spur some inspiration for someone else, all the better.)

1)      Eat often.  I was incredibly lucky not to have “morning sickness”, but that didn’t mean my stomach felt peachy all the time.  I cite the trick to my success as twofold – finding the foods that worked for me, and eating them often.

Cold cereal in the mornings did the trick to get me going.  Frosted Mini Wheats were my friend…to the point that I traveled with a box of them if I ever was away from home.  For lunch, I most often ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat (with two glasses of milk).  And I should have bought stock in cheese and almonds.  That was my failsafe snack a couple of times a day.  I felt like as long as I could keep something in my system, I could keep from feeling too nauseated.

Between breakfast and lunch, I ate 2-3 bananas a day, too.  I think that kept the leg cramps at bay.

2)      Drink a lot.  My doctor recommended I drink Gatorade when I first got pregnant.  Now I can’t remember the exact reason for that recommendation, but that quickly became my morning ritual.  I couldn’t have coffee…but I looked forward to kick starting my day with some Gatorade.

Outside of my Gatorade routine, I drank WATER…lots and lots and lots of water.  I remember reading that the uterus is a muscle.  It’s important to keep it hydrated, just like the muscles throughout your body.  I credit all the water I drank with me carrying my girls as long as I did (to 34 weeks).

3)      Get a pregnancy pillow.  I was always a tummy sleeper, and I was so afraid (before I got HUGE) that I would roll over onto my stomach while I slept.  I bought the most awesome pregnancy pillow, one that went between my legs and I was able to snuggle into.  It made a huge difference in my comfort at night.  (And I am still hanging onto it for sentimental reasons!)

4)      Embrace your body.  It’s a common joke that husbands “accidentally” tell their pregnant wives they’re “big”…pregnant wife gets mad…husband is never allowed to forget it.  “Being big” was the last thing I worried about…I loved my pregnant self!  I was so in awe of my body and the amazing things it was doing…so incredibly proud to see my babies growing and prospering, as evidenced by my growing belly.  And I had such a fun time buying maternity clothes! 

5)      And on a related note, take pictures and make notes!  This is one regret I have, that I don’t have that many pictures of my adorably HUGE pregnant belly.  One day you’ll want to remember what you looked like at 6 months along, how big you were at 8 or 9 months.  I’m not sure I would want to see pictures of my swollen feet…but maybe I should have taken a picture or two, just in case.

6)      Listen to your body.  YOU are the only one who knows how you feel.  YOU are charged with being your own advocate…and therefore the advocate for your baby/ies.  Another regret I have (although I remind myself it’s a moot point…I have two healthy kiddos now) is that I put too much stock into “mind over matter”.  I thought I could will myself into making it to my 37-week due date.  I was wrong.  I can’t help but wonder if I’d listened to my body more…if I’d not dismissed the contractions I now realize I’d been having pretty regularly…if I could have carried the girls longer.  I’ll never know that (and again, I remind myself it’s a moot point…otherwise I’d drive myself crazy thinking about it).  This experience has taught me to listen to my body, though.  It’s a lot smarter than I sometimes give it credit for. 

7)      If you have questions, call your doctor.  I’ve come to realize that what I’m afraid may be a silly question, has likely been asked hundreds of times.  There’s no such thing as a “silly” question.  If you have something on your mind, call your doctor!  It’s better to be safe than sorry, and better to ease your mind than to sit and worry.  (And it’s good practice for all the “silly” questions you’ll have for your pediatrician!)

8)      Connect with those around you.  My husband was by my side my entire pregnancy.  He went to every doctor visit, every shopping trip for baby stuffs, and lifted everything down to a gallon of milk.  I had some amazing friends (mom friends and not) who cheered me along in such an awesome way.  They were so happy for our impending bundles.  Being surrounded by such a great support system just amplified my joy.

9)   SAVOR THE ANTICIPATION!  Pregnancy was truly the most amazing time in my life.  Hubby and I were elated at becoming parents.  There were so many new things happening, every day.  We couldn’t wait for our girls to be born…we would sit and dream and imagine what it might be like.  I’ve never wanted anything so badly…and having months of anticipation was nothing short of awesome.

I am very fortunate not to have taken any medications during my pregnancy.  (I remember when I got to the hospital, the nurse was taking down my history.  "You didn't take anything???  I'm talking aspirin and TUMS, even???"  She was incredulous.  I was able to power through, and I'm very thankful.)

Zofran, a drug that has been used to subdue morning sickness, and has recently been reported to have terrible side effects.  Again, I'm no doctor, and I'm not going to weigh in on the topic, other than to say...what would perhaps be my 10th tip...research, research, research.  Know your options and weigh the risks with whatever you do.

Thanks for joining me on this little trip down Memory Lane!  It's bittersweet...I'm so thankful for who my girls are today...but I kinda miss the journey that got them here!

Taken at my work shower...I was about 7 months along.  Sniff, sniff!!!

July 29, 2015

Bama's Best

So we made our quick down-and-back trip to Alabama this weekend.  It was short, but definitely sweet.

I have some great pictures, and I'm so thankful I took a few minutes to jot down some great quotes.  Being in the car for 10 hours over two days will do that for ya!

Some of the funnier moments came as the girls were reading signs.  I sometimes forget THEY CAN READ, and it strikes me as so funny, some of the things they come up with...

Baby A read, "Left shoulder closed."  "But Mommy, I need both my shoulders!"

And then, she read an advertisement, "Skydive Today!"  She immediately protested, "I don't want to skydive today!"  And then, "What's skydiving?"  Hahahaha!!!

We were getting a little antsy during the last few minutes of the drive on Saturday, so I started to quiz the girls on some math problems...

To B, "What's 25 x 3?"  "75!" she immediately answered.

And then, to A, "What's 6 x 5?"  She paused for just a second.  "Well, that's 12 x 2 + 6."  And then, "30!"  I really thought she'd memorized that multiplication fact...or at least that she'd count by 5's.  Her algebra amazed me!

When we got to Granddaddy's on Saturday afternoon, we decided to brave the heat and head to Noccalula Falls Park.

(Looking at the pictures, I realize now that Granddaddy and the girls had a tropical theme going on.  Hee hee!)

The beginning of our adventure...waiting on the train!

Our beloved train!
Petting a baby goat...sweet!!!
And we were so lucky to witness some of nature's magic.  When we first got to the petting zoo area, we saw a goat that was VERY pregnant.  We went inside to check out the bunnies and birds...and when we came out, there was a crowd gathered around to watch the baby being born!!!

We missed that particular action, but we did get to see the mommy goat cleaning up her baby...the baby's first steps...and the baby's first drink!  It was so sweet to see the girls cheering the baby goat on.

Late July in Alabama was probably not the most comfortable of days to be traipsing around the park, but we enjoyed it.  This crew was looking a little more exhausted by the end of the afternoon, though.  I love this picture of everyone, waiting on the train to come pick us up.

We came back to Granddaddy's and go cleaned up to go out to eat.  Unfortunately, though, I don't have any pictures from our gorgeous dinner.  We sat on the deck at the Fish Market and had a super-yummy supper.  I did capture a quote, though, as the server set down in front of A the crab cake dish I'd ordered for the girls to share.  B immediately reminded her sissy, "Half of that is mine!"  HA!!!

Sunday morning, we enjoyed breakfast out, and then some play time outside.  I didn't take a ton of pictures, but I did capture this beauty.  B was very serious about her technique (no doubt what she learned during basketball camp this summer).

Shooting some hoops!  (And enjoying time on the swing, of course.)

A short but fun trip...some great memories made!!!

July 25, 2015

Thankful for Their Reaction

We’ve had a change in plans for the weekend.  We’d been planning a trip to a state park in Tennessee.  We were going to stay in a hotel…eat ice cream…swim in the pool…and then hike this awesome park that has a gorgeous waterfall.  The girls were all excited about it, and so were we.

But over the last few days our babysitter options for this coming week, when Daddy has three all-day meetings, narrowed.  And then they disappeared.

We talked about a couple of different options, and then Thursday night, we made a last-minute call to Sweet Home Alabama.  I asked GG if she could come help us for the week, and of course she was thrilled.  Friday morning I called Dad, and he was excited to know we’d be coming down, too.

I was a little nervous to tell the girls, worried that they’d be upset that our waterfall adventure would have to be postponed.  (This is actually the second postponement, the first being earlier in the summer due to weather.)

Before breakfast on Friday morning, I told the girls we had some thing we needed to talk about.  “You know Mommy and Daddy have been working to figure out a babysitting option for next week, right?  And you know that Miss Jennifer and Miss Jenny are not available?  Well...” I asked them, drawing it out and piquing their interest, “who would actually be the very best babysitter in the whole wide world???” 

The girls’ eyes lit up as they tried to think.  “She doesn’t live in this town,” I added.

GG!!!!!!!” they exclaimed in unison.  They were so excited to know she was coming to hang out with them for the week.

So…that means that instead of going to the waterfall, we’ll be going to Alabama.”

YAY!!!!!!!”  They didn’t miss a beat.  “Do we get to see Granddaddy???” they asked immediately.

When I told them yes, they lit up even more.  And then Baby A added, “Wow!!!  We got to see him last month, too!!!

For these many things, I am thankful.  I am thankful for family who’s willing to come up on such short notice, and who will take care of the girls better than anyone.  And I am thankful for the girls’ excitement…their understanding that waterfalls can wait…and their joy at seeing GG and Granddaddy.

Taken in late February.  L-O-V-E.

July 18, 2015

Swim Lessons (and Daddy)

I signed the girls up for swim lessons again this year, again with Ms. J.  We just love her, and the girls have learned so much.  It’s hard to believe this is our THIRD summer with her!

I was a little hesitant (and a little heartbroken), knowing that Daddy would be taking them instead of me.  This has been part of our summer routine for quite a while now, and I would be so sad to miss it.  And…I wasn’t sure how much Hubby would *love* the application of sunscreen, the navigating of wet bathing suits, and the piles of wet laundry.

I left work early to accompany Daddy and the girls to their first lesson.  It was so wonderful to see Ms. J, and to see the girls take right back to the water!  I talked Hubby through what I was doing with sunscreen and changing out of suits after the lesson.  He didn’t seem thrilled, exactly, but he was compliant.  [It helps that the girls can shower themselves at home.  At least that's one load off from years' past.]

I got to go to the girls’ fifth lesson, last Saturday, and I was pretty impressed to see their progress!  They were doing so well!  (And I was pretty impressed, too, with how well Hubby was doing!)

Baby A, mid- back stroke.
Baby B, coming to the side.

High five for Ms. J!

It’s been a great set of 10 lessons.  The girls have progressed further than ever before, and they’re really enjoying themselves, exuding confidence in the water.

What’s been equally as great for me is to see all this through J’s eyes.  He’s been excited to report to me each afternoon how the lesson went…not just an obligatory update in front of the girls, but oftentimes something that he comes back to after they’ve gone to bed.

B had an incredible lesson,” he told me last night.  “She just glides through the water.  She never looks the least bit in distress.  Ms. J says she’s a natural.”

And of A, he mused, “She’s so fast!  Ms. J had to jump out of her way a couple of times!  And you wouldn’t believe the big smile she has on her face the whole lesson.”

Actually…I would believe it…but I’m so glad he’s seeing it, too.

July 15, 2015

My Traveling Sidekick

When it was time to get GG home a couple of weeks ago, we had to change our plans a little bit.  Instead of meeting my uncle about 1 hour and 15 minutes away, we agreed to take her closer to home...about a 2 hour and 15 minute drive for us.

It's not really possible for all five of us (our family + GG) to fit comfortably in our car [as this mama has to wedge in the backseat between the car seats...and she does not do very well with that], I was planning that the girls and I would drive GG down.

That morning, though, Baby B asked to stay home with Daddy.  "It's Father's Day!" she rationalized.  "I want to be with Daddy!"  He couldn't resist that logic, and Baby A agreed to go with me.  We made our way down without incident, had lunch with GG and my uncle, and then A and I headed back north.

It was the most amazing trip!  We only listened to music for maybe 15 minutes...we TALKED the whole time!  My A was incredibly inquisitive.  Yes, I challenged her with math problems, but in turn she made me THINK!

I wish I'd had a video camera to record her musings, but I did jot down a few when we got home...

We were passing Miss C's exit on the interstate, and I reminded A that she drives that far every day to work, about 45 minutes.  A said, "45 minutes each way!  Wow!  That's 90 minutes!"  She said this so matter-of-factly, without any hesitation, it definitely caught me by surprise.

I quizzed A off and on.  "How many seconds are in 4 minutes?" I asked her.  It took her a few seconds to work through it, but she answered correctly, "240!"

And as we were heading back home, A looked at the clock.  "It's 1:30 now, and we left at 9:00.  We've been gone 4 1/2 hours!"  (I swear I know some adults who can't do "clock math" that proficiently!)

Baby A was all about the Titanic for some reason.  What was it made of?  Did it just break in half?  What happened to the people on the ship?  How did they call for help without a phone?  Are the people still on the bottom of the ocean?  Were there sharks?  How long does it take for bones to decay?  Why don't they bring everything up from the bottom of the ocean?  You'd need a submarine to go down there.

And on...and on...and on.  I did my best to answer her questions...wowza!

Modes of Transportation
My girl has been fascinated by wagons since we started reading the Little House on the Prairie series.  She's been dating most things in her mind with the question, "Was this when there were wagons?  Or cars?"  All the way back to Biblical times, she wants to know.

And then there was conversation about they work, how fast they can go.


When we got to Nashville, we stopped at Whole Foods to pick up a few things, and then we made our way to Starbucks for a quick snack.  My A remembered exactly what we bought the last time we made that trip...several months ago...including where we parked.

As a special treat, I got her one of the mini frappucinos, strawberries and cream.  She was super excited...and I couldn't resist snapping a picture of my BIG KID enjoying her BIG KID treat.  She only had about half of it, though.  "It's too sweet, like icing," she told me.  Reason #1,569,312 I love this kid.  I thought that was so mature of her!

This baby girl was a HOOT!  She was a great traveling sidekick, for sure!

July 12, 2015

So Thankful for This Grainy Photo

I don't take many pictures on my iPhone, and I was way behind on looking through the few that I did take.  I made a point this weekend to download the keepers...and I'm so glad I did.

I love every.single.thing about this picture...the goofy look on my face...the girls piled on my lap...the big, genuine snaggle-tooth smiles on their faces...and the memory of this fun occasion.

Hubby had to stay after school unexpectedly, so I left work to pick up the girls.  My boss was kind enough to tell me to take the rest of the afternoon off, and boy, did I enjoy it.

I surprised the girls by picking them up, and we voted to go to Spencer's coffee shop downtown -- what once was a regular stop for us, now turned a very rare treat.  The girls shared a smoothie, and I got a coffee.

We were giddy in love with unexpected gift of togetherness...bliss!!!

A selfie queen, I am not.  (I think my arms must be too short or something...HA!)  And the latest and greatest cell phone, I do not have.  I will treasure this grainy photo, though...a reminder of a crystal clear memory with my baby girls.

July 11, 2015

Baby Acrobatics, Then and Now

When the girls were tiny, I used to "fly" them on my legs all the time.  They loved it!

Baby A, about 7 months old.

Baby B, about 6 1/2 months old.
We still do this, although not as frequently (whew!), and not with quite as much levity (for obvious reasons).

It dawned on me on the girls' half birthday last weekend that we should recreate some pictures.

Baby A, 6 1/2 years old.

Baby B, 6 1/2 years old.

I'm cracking up now, looking at these comparisons.  How funny that A is wearing pink, and B, green.

I love playing with my baby girls, and I hope we can continue to "fly" for a long, long time!

July 10, 2015

Capturing Memories: Alabama and GG

(This post is a bit belated, but I didn’t want to forget some of the sweet things from a couple of weeks ago.)

GG came to visit in late June.  It was a visit much anticipated by all of us.  We were so glad to have her here!

The girls and I went down to Alabama, our second trip just the three of us.  Our first stop was Aunt Alison’s house.  It’s always such a treat to sit back, relax, and catch up.  (Well, that’s what Alison and I did while the girlies played!)

That afternoon, we headed to Granddaddy’s house.  We had the most awesome dinner at The Fish Market.  I didn’t realize the scenery was going to be so picturesque, or I would have taken my camera.  We sat right on the river.  We enjoyed some fun live music, and the girls enjoyed watching the boats come in for supper.  Oh, and the food was delicious!

The next day, the girls and I went to visit our newest baby cousin, Z.  She is precious!!!  The girls were enamored with her…once they got a taste of holding her, they didn’t want to stop!

We had another fun afternoon at Granddaddy’s house.  Although it was HOT, we got in a lot of outside play time.  Granddaddy surprised the girls with these planes…

…and we all got to admire Granddaddy’s new car.  WOW!!!  He took us for a very short ride around the block.  (I was incredibly nervous, since the girls didn’t have car seats, but we literally didn’t see another car at 6pm on Sunday evening.)  The girls thought it was AWESOME to ride with the top down!!!

The next day, GG, Uncle Tommy, and Aunt Janet came to Granddaddy’s for an early lunch.  We enjoyed a short visit, and then we loaded up and brought GG back home with us.  I didn’t get to enjoy as much time with GG as I would have liked…I was at work my usual schedule…but the girls and GG (and Daddy) had a great time together.  Here are a few of the highlights…

·         GG and the cats.  GG met Miki and Alex for the first time.  She loved them!  And Miki, in particular, liked her.  He was quite taken with her hair, combing his little paw through it every chance he got.  He obviously got some kind of kick from this, and GG definitely did!

·         “Helping” GG.  GG took it upon herself to make sure the girls’ beds were made every day.  B was glad to supervise.  (Sigh.)  GG told me that B was directing her how to put the blanket.  GG cracked me up when she recounted it.  “I’ve got it, B,” GG told her.  HA!  And how cute it was to hear A caution GG, “Careful!” as she went up the stairs.

·         Giggles.  I called home on Monday to check on everyone.  Hubby answered the phone, to an ongoing chorus of giggles in the background.

·         Mastery.  While GG was here, B mastered the hula hoop!  She’s been able to do it for a year or so, but something clicked, and she’s got it now without a doubt.

·         Kudos.  On Thursday, the ‘fam picked me up from work and we all went to lunch.  I asked around the table how everyone liked their food.  “This is good, Mommy.  Amazing, actually.  Fantastic,” A said.

·         Fun.  On Friday night, Hubby needed to cut the grass, and I didn’t have much planned in the way of supper.  Since it was just us girls, I decided to spring something different on everyone.  We had a “picnic” in the den…PB&J sandwiches on towels while we listened to GG’s favorite singer, Willie Nelson, on CD.  It’s obvious that it doesn’t take much to impress the girlies.  “This is the best night ever,” A told me.

What a GREAT week!  One I don't want to forget, for sure!!!

July 6, 2015

Happy HALF Birthday, A&B!!!

We celebrated the girls' HALF birthday's so hard to believe they are 6 1/2...halfway to SEVEN.  Wowza.

I love this fun little tradition so much!  Especially since the girls' {full} birthday is so close to the holidays, it's really nice to relax and spend a fun day of celebration together, just enjoying the time.

We kicked off the day with homemade pancakes and blueberry syrup.  The girls can pack that away!  And then they settled in for some reading.

We read to them, and they read to us.  Such a sweet pleasure!  I'm working with the girls to use more inflection when they read.  Baby B does a pretty rousing rendition most times, but A has some work to do.  (She has a tendency to read too fast if she's not careful.)  It's too funny to listen to them sometimes!!!

Mid-morning, we loaded up for Mammoth Cave National Park.  We've hiked around there a few times, and I'd been wanting to take the girls on a cave tour.  I finally felt like they were old enough, and this made for a really special treat.

Waiting on the tour to start...I love their apprehension and how they snuggled next to each other!!!

The steep entrance to the cave!

The most decent picture I got inside the cave...I propped on a railing to steady myself, but the shutter was open FOREVER.

A few pics after the tour...B decided to be silly!

Sweet BIG girls!

I made Hubby stop the car to take this.  He wasn't thrilled.  HA!

We enjoyed an abbreviated quiet time when we got home, and then the girls anxiously watched me ice their cake.  (They got samples along the way, of course!)

I made one of their favorite suppers -- shrimp scampi -- and then it was Cake Time.

We sang "Happy Half Birthday" first to A, and then to B.  B cracked me up by singing, "Happy Half Birthday TO MYSELF" with lots of emphasis.  Hahaha!

Shyly looking to the side.  :)

Make a wish!
Smiling big!

She's an expert candle-blower-outer.

After supper, I told the girls to take a quick shower.  They did, and I happened to catch them finishing up.  Baby A didn't see me watching...until I CRACKED UP to see her absentmindedly dancing as she dried herself off.  And I laughed more to see B tiptoeing to turn off the shower, trying {REALLY HARD} not to get her hair wet.  It was the perfect end to the evening.

Happy HALF Birthday to my sweet baby girls!!!

July 5, 2015

Independently Clean

I feel like I *should* say this is bittersweet, and in the longer term, I am sure it will be.  Now, though, it just feels AWESOME!!!

Over the last couple of weeks, the girls have learned to shower themselves.  I feel a little bit guilty that I didn’t encourage this earlier.  I think the girls were probably ready (and I remember bathing myself when I was about their age).  It’s just been so easy to plunk them both in the tub, or for the three of us to hop into the big walk-in shower.

It was just before the girls went to basketball camp that I thought I’d better bite the bullet.  They’d need to get cleaned up after camp, and I wouldn’t be home.  I got them both in the shower.  I stood in the door and coached them through, going through the motions on myself.

The girls seemed to get a kick out of it, and they did a good job!

A few days later, I coached them through washing their own hair.  I still fear they won’t get all the soap out…but truthfully, I fear that when I wash their hair, too.

It’s such a load off to know they can take a quick shower when they need to.  And it’s a lot less pressure for me to rush home from work to wash their hair so it has as much time to air-dry as possible before bed.

Independently clean.  I like this part of my BABIES growing up!