Feb 4, 2017

So We Made a Baby - Gory Birth Details

We like birth stories, right?

I'll get right to it.  I complained pretty openly about the induction, so that part won't come as a surprise to anyone, but just in case you're curious and have no idea what's involved, I'll provide all the gory details!  (TMI warning, right here, right now.)

So, my last doctor's appointment was right after hitting 39 weeks.  As predicted, they wanted to do an induction even though my blood pressure numbers had gone down somewhat and I still didn't have preeclampsia.  After accepting it and being able to schedule a day, rather than being rushed off immediately to be induced, I was feeling much calmer about it and spent the day of the induction doing laundry and tidying the house.

Ryan and I even made a point to get my "final meal" (which happened to be cheesesteaks, which I had been craving and were delicious) and sit around for a little bit before driving in at 9pm.  They had told us to expect to be in the hospital overnight with the "foley bulb" while my cervix was dilated to 3cm before they'd start pitocin at 4-6am in the morning.  So we planned to have him go home, catch some sleep and then my mom and Ryan would be in in the morning when the action started.

Pah!  Silly us.  You can't plan labor things.

I was dilated a bit more than I had been (2cm vs 1cm) so Ryan decided to spend the night just in case things progressed more rapidly than expected.  And they did!

The foley bulb (which is like a balloon that they insert past your cervix and puts pressure on it to force it to open) came out after only 1-1.5 hours (details are already getting fuzzy) and they decided to start pitocin immediately!

Oh, but I'm forgetting the exciting part.  When they put the foley bulb in, it broke my water.  So we assumed the little balloon thing had popped because liquid started dribbling out.  But it didn't stop and it was absolutely ridiculous because it was rushing out through the tubes they'd inserted and absolutely soaking the bed and making a huge mess.

We had no idea what to do, so Ryan alternately tried to get a nurse back in the room and position a bedpan under me to minimize the mess, while I laughed hysterically because it felt like the 7 seas were pouring out of my body.  Every time we thought it had stopped, I'd move or laugh and it would start up again.

At this point, I started to dread the whole procedure because I thought I was going to be soaking wet for 12-24 hours.  But eventually it did stop and they dried me up (mostly) and got me some disposable hospital underwear to contain the mess.

So then - the pitocin (the drug that starts contractions), which is the part of the induction I was dreading because it meant I'd be attached to an IV the whole time.  In addition to that, I had a baby heart monitor, so getting off the bed and going to the bathroom was an ordeal, since we had to unplug things, and keep cords straight, and drag the IV pole over to the bathroom.  But it was worth it, I thought, to maintain some freedom of movement.

Contractions took a while to start up, so Ryan napped while I tried to relax (napping was obviously not happening) and after 3 or 4 hours got to the point where I had to breathe through them and I couldn't focus on anything anymore.  Ryan held my hand and tried to get me to try out stuff with the birthing ball or moving around, but eventually I just wanted to curl up in a ball and I could tell I was breathing too fast because I was getting light-headed.  We called in the cavalry (my mom) but when they told me I was only 4cm dilated, I cracked and asked for the drugs.

I think I spend maybe 15 minutes feeling guilty and the next several hours being absolutely relieved that I didn't have to do it anymore.  I even napped!

Note on the epidural: it doesn't feel great going in, but it's way better than contractions!  They started me lying on my left side and then tried to get me to shift periodically, whether to spread the drug evenly or just keep things moving for labor, I'm not 100% sure.  But I could definitely tell that whichever side was down would receive more of it, because that area would become more numb and I refused to lie flat, because I could feel it in my face and that freaked me out.  So for the most part my lower half was numb and my upper half was normal (which was good, because arms are important when your legs aren't working).

After all that fun stuff, we had another scary (for me, probably not for the nurses) bit where baby's heartbeat dropped, so they backed off on the pitocin.  This meant contractions slowed waaaay down, and I started to be afraid we'd need a c-section.  But eventually baby recovered, we re-started pitocin, and then waited for them to pick back up.

It was progressing at the expected pace (nurses said to expect 1cm per hour and that we had maybe 5 or 6 more hours to go) and then the nurse had me put a "peanut ball" (like a yoga ball, but peanut shaped) between my legs to try to help get things going.  Pretty shortly after that, I started to feel the contractions again.  This was impressive, as my left leg was almost completely dead (the rest of my lower half I still had control over, just no sensation, but my left leg would not move on its own).

We told the nurse and she asked if I wanted more of the drug.  I was leaning towards yes (because 5 more hours?  That's too many hours of hurting), but she checked my cervix first and then said, "Oh!  Baby's ready!"

We startled to full alertness, not expecting this so suddenly or soon, woke Ryan up and then waited for the nurses to decide if we should start pushing without the doctor.  The doctor eventually showed up (probably 5 minutes later but it felt like forever), got me positioned correctly (one person holds each leg up in the air), and told me how to push, and then we started!

Note: epidural - you can push and, in my case, I could still feel it.  It was just much, much milder than it might have been had I actually succeeded in going natural.  Pushing - you're not supposed to use your legs, which is hard because you instinctively want to use your strongest muscles.

So I pulled back on my legs, tried really hard to relax them at the same time as straining with those other muscles that I don't have a good name for.  They told us we were doing a great job and to expect maybe an hour to an hour and a half of pushing.

We got him out in 30 minutes!

More TMI here, but I think it really helped when I figured out which muscles to use.  Because at first it really does feel like pooping (full disclosure, I pooped a bit.  I was so exhausted I didn't even care), but then I started trying to use the kegel muscles and that's when everyone started getting excited and saying, "We can see his head!"  "Keep going!"

It still felt like an eternity, but there was something exciting about the end.  Ryan and my mom were counting along with the nurses (they want you to take a big breath, hold it and push for 10 seconds, and then take another breath and start over until the contraction ends) and it was kind of like that feeling of finishing a race.  A race you haven't trained properly for and are wheezing and staggering and not sure if you're going to make it but you see the finish line.

The last couple pushes burned (yup, tearing - it happens), and then I felt the weirdest squiggly sensation as that round, hard shape I'd been trying to push out turned into a bunch of waving limbs and cords and squishy stuff.  I told Ryan it was like birthing spaghetti.

I looked down and saw the squally, cone-headed, purple little alien baby we'd been working so hard to get out and felt all kinds of weird emotions.  "That's him!"  "Thank god that's over."  "He looks like an alien!"

Ryan says he got choked up and perhaps I did, too.  My brain wasn't the clearest at the point.  They wiped the baby off and plopped him on my chest and we stared in awe at this little thing we had made.

After that there was some stitching, lots of baby weighing (8lb 6oz), measuring (22in), cord cutting (which Ryan did and was gross), and crying.  I can't even imagine how confusing it must to be to be a newborn and be feeling so many physical sensations all at the same time.

The hospital stay kind of sucked, because while we learned a ton from the people there and it was good time to adjust to things like, "How do I hold this tiny, little fragile thing???" it also meant getting woken up at least every 1-2 hours, if not by the baby, then by the nurses doing stuff.  We got no sleep until we got home.

Now we're a week in and we're starting to get more comfortable with handling the baby and figuring out what he needs when he cries (Ryan is a master of soothing - I cheat and just give him a breast) and how to minimize nipple pain (3 days of scabs and blisters - it was bad).

He's awesome, and perfect, and beautiful and even when I'm crying late at night because I'm exhausted and he's fussing, I'm still totally in love with this little being.  Ryan is also awesome, and I'm incredibly grateful to have chosen a partner who wants to be involved and take on a fair share of caring for an infant.

Here's a snapshot of the first week.

Heart = melting.

I have a couple of other things I want to talk about, namely all the shyeet that's going on with our wise and beloved dictator, and the struggle between wanting to curl up with my baby and ignore the world vs still wanting to do my part for the resistance!  Also work.  I did a very teeny, miniscule amount and it feels good, but the idea of going back to my previous workload feels so overwhelming.  I was unprepared for how long it takes to breastfeed.

But that will have to wait for another day.  In the meantime, keep at it friends!  I'm so proud of so many of you for staying active and vocal and taking part in the Women's Movement, and various protests.  Make history.

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Jan 23, 2017

39 Weeks - a Final Pregnancy Update

I was originally planning this post for my due date, but it's looking more likely than not that we won't make it that long, thanks to some elevated blood pressure and OB paranoia about preeclampsia.  I'm mildly frustrated by this as I've got no symptoms other than high blood pressure and, frankly, my blood pressure is never that good unless I'm mid-training regimen or something.  So I'm not excited about being induced, since it basically means my body isn't actually ready for labor, we have to do a whole bunch of extra BS to open my cervix, and I'll be in the hospital much longer, since I have to be there the whole time instead of just after active labor starts.

BUT I won't mind the end of the various discomforts that come along with an almost-9-months-pregnant body.  And Ryan and I have kind of made a game of it, daydreaming about all the things I'll be able to do so very soon, which I will now share with you...

Things I'm Looking Forward to About Not Being Pregnant Anymore!!!

1. Sushi

I bet a lot of people would have put alcohol for their #1, but I've been 13 months without drinking and I have no intention of going back.  Sushi, on the other hand, was the request I made of Ryan for my first meal after the baby is born.  We have big plans.  Sushi mountain plans.

2. Stomach Sleeping

I am so sick of sleeping on my sides and needing a pillow to keep my hips from aching!  Not to mention switching sides every couple of hours because something has started to hurt, and the pain in my tendons (I guess?) that crops up randomly when I try to roll over.

3. The End of Acid Reflux

For the last 2 months, the heartburn has been intense.  Even after starting a Zantac regimen (one in the morning, one at night), I still sometimes wake up coughing on stomach acid.  Cannot wait for the pressure to ease up on my stomach and let the acid stay down where it belongs!

4. Being Able to Do Stairs Again

Obviously I can still "do" stairs.  But I get winded going up just one flight!  This was never a problem before and I'm sincerely hoping this is a side effect of pressure on my lungs and/or the extra weight, not a new level of out-of-shape-ness.

5. Normal Pants

As amazingly comfortable as my maternity leggings are, the pants I acquired for use in the real world leave something to be desired.  Things like pockets, and staying up on their own.  I realize I won't necessarily be able to wear them immediately after giving birth, but it's something I intend to start working towards as soon as my body is healthy enough to exercise.

6. My Previous Metabolism

This is more of a hope than a sure bet, but I went from the ability to eat whatever I want and gain maybe 1 pound per week to eating that same amount and gaining 5 in a week.  I know you should expect extra weight gain during pregnancy (duh) but I was definitely taken aback at the dramatic increase.  Fingers crossed that's not a permanent change!

7. Flexibility

Being able to reach things on the ground by bending over instead of squatting!  Putting shoes on without sitting down!  Regular yoga and pilates videos!  Spinal twists!  So much bending.  You don't even know.

8. No More Food Monitoring

It'll be nice to not have to worry (as much) about what I'm allowed to eat during pregnancy.  I've messed up a couple times too, intentionally and unintentionally, and not having that guilt or worry will be awesome.  Plus other people questioning my choices.  It was infrequent, but I had a few, "Are you allowed to have ___?" and "The Internet says ___."  Of course, I also had, "Mudslides don't really have alcohol in them..." so maybe that's just people being people.

9. The End of Biweekly Doctor Visits

I realize these will probably be replaced by pediatric visits BUT I will enjoy having the baby weighed much more than having my own weight and blood pressure analyzed every two weeks.  If I never hear, "You know... you don't need to gain more weight." again, it'll be too soon.

10. Getting Comfortable at My Desk

The belly keeps me further away from the monitor, and I tend to hunch just out of habit to get my face into the proximity to the screen to which it is accustomed.  Then either my back hurts or baby starts squirming because it's getting squished and I try to slump or sit up straight and then my ribs hurt.  (Apparently all your ligaments loosen up, not just the ones that, you know, are involved with birthing.)  Once my sides start hurting, they won't stop until I can go lay down for an hour or two, which isn't always possible.  Basically discomfort/mild pain has become a way of life.

And now I suppose, to be fair, I'll also add a list of things I liked about being pregnant.  Not that I'll miss them necessarily, but it certainly wasn't all bad.

Things I Enjoyed About Pregnancy

1. The Naps

In my last trimester, I napped better than I ever have before.  I've never been able to sleep with background noises (like my coworkers playing ping pong) but I somehow acquired that skill and spent many restful lunch hours on the couch in our office.

2. My Weekly Animal Updates

It was so cool to watch Reptar's progress from a tiny little "dot snail" all the way to recognizable mammals!  And, just generally, learning all about how pregnancy works, how the fetus is developing, what to expect and so on.  Thought I suppose we'll have plenty more of that with learning how to raise a child!

3. Baby Movements

Particularly when Ryan was around.  Sometimes we'd both have a hand on my belly and we'd laugh because the kicking felt so unnecessarily violent.  My mental picture was always of the baby having the most pointless temper tantrum in its little uterine cage.

4. Having an Excuse for Things

Why am I so tired?  Why I am I upset right now?  Why do I want olives so badly???  It was very easy to shrug everything off as a pregnancy symptom.  And, especially with emotions, that was very nice.  I tend to get in the trap of feeling guilt or concern for my emotions when they're illogical and doing the whole dramatic, "Why do I feel this way???"  Being pregnant made it so much easier to just shrug them off and not worry about it, which in turn made it easier to get past them.

5. Planning and Daydreaming About the Future

I know that future is basically here, but we all know that sometimes our daydreams are more fun than real life.  Real life is smelly and sticky and exhausting and it's easy to get caught up in that instead of what matters.

6. Other People's Enthusiasm

People were so nice.  Whether it was just acknowledging the fact, "Hey, you're pregnant!" or wanting to talk and compare experiences or just general vicarious excitement for our impending life change, I greatly appreciated the time other people took to be considerate or show interest in our lives.

7. "You Only Gained Weight in Your Belly"

Thank you, thank you, thank you, every single one of you who said this.  You have no idea how much better that made me feel after the biweekly reminder from the doctors that my weight gain was higher than it needed to be.  I mean, I know they have my best interests in mind, but I'm not stupid and I didn't just forget that fact every other week.

Is there anything left I haven't complained about?  Let's see: stretch marks, pelvic pain, and overbearing advice and comments.  Done.

And I was lucky!  I never had (or noticed) a stranger side-eyeing me for buying coffee or whatever other random thing they might disapprove of.  No one touched my belly except people who I don't mind having physical contact with.  No braxton-hicks (edit: super mild towards the end), minimal spotting/alarming symptoms, and for the most part the baby kicking was just entertaining rather than actually painful.

Obviously it's all worth it for the end result, but I'm not one to wallow in sentiment so I'll sum it up for you pragmatically.  Pregnancy is weird, mostly uncomfortable, sometimes painful, and occasionally cool.

The phrase "miracle of life" makes me laugh because the image that phrase evokes to me is pretty much the complete opposite of what it's been like so far.  Yes, it is sometimes mind-blowing to think about how our bodies work and what we can create, but the word "miracle" just doesn't conjure up images of aching ribs and sleepless, heartburn-filled nights.  And I don't imagine labor is going to feel any more miraculous or sacred.  For me, at least.

What do you think?  Have you been pregnant and did you like it?  Or if not, are you planning on ever being pregnant and what do think it'll be like?

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Jan 10, 2017

Books and Fluff

Last month I was all, "Isn't it Show Us Your Books day YET???" and this month I almost forgot about it.  Time, you wily minx.

I had to check Goodreads to see what I'd been up to and then I was mildly appalled.  You see... I did a bad thing and reactivated my Kindle Unlimited account.  And then I downloaded fluff book after fluff after fluff.  Have I ever claimed not to have a guilty pleasure?  I lied.  This is it right here.

♥♥♥♥♥ - Loved!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (paper)

I mentioned this already in my summary of the year, but it's just a great book.  I don't normally like fiction, and especially not WWII stories, but this captivated me and then gave me all kinds of emotions.  Super well written with great characters and a balance between horror and hope.

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews (ebook)

I should have used this for my "favorite author" category in Erin's challenge but it wasn't out at the time we were picking books.  I love this series almost as much as Andrews' other one about Kate Daniels.  Alien worlds, shapeshifting inns, and powers we don't fully understand.  Ahhhh...  This one I loved as much as the first (the 2nd wasn't quite at that level) and I think part of it was that as the series continues, the cast fleshes out and we get to know more characters and their interactions are more interesting.  This one also introduced some additional plot lines so the books won't be as one-and-done in the future as the first couple.

♥♥♥♥ - Liked

The Princess Companion by Melanie Cellier (ebook)

There are tons and tons of Cinderella retellings, so I thought I'd try out some of the other fairytales and this one was fun.  It's the Princess and the Pea and I liked it, but it was fairly predictable and the characters weren't anything exceptional.  I gave it a 4 because it's exactly the kind of fluff book I enjoy but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it based on that.

Sleeping Beauty by K.M. Shea (ebook)

As K.M. Shea is one of my go-tos for Kindle Unlimited, this is hardly surprising.  Another cute story, although her fairytale series is getting a bit formulaic (this princess is NOT like a normal princess!), but I still enjoy them.

Cinders: The Untold Story of Cinderella by Finley Aaron (ebook)

This was surprisingly good!  Less predictable than most fairytale retellings and the characters felt more substantial and unique to me.  Plus I really enjoyed that the main POV is the fairy godmother.  4 stars for enjoyment AND for writing.

The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doue (ebook)

Adaptation of the 12 Dancing Princesses and another one that I thought was both well-written and personally enjoyable.  In this one I liked the dynamic between the sisters a lot (although the romance bothered me - I'm so sick of the "but what if he doesn't really feel the same way" and the whole conflict centering around people's inability to talk to each other) and I liked how they had to come up with workarounds to solve a problem they couldn't speak about.

The Midsummer Captives by Lea Doue (ebook)

And then I got all excited because I realized the author was going to write more adaptations for the other sisters from the first book!  This one had fewer characters, so lost some of the fun of the first, but it was a more original story and I still quite liked it.  Will be following this author in the future.

Declutter Your Mind by S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport (ebook)

I did squeeze in one self help book in the midst of all the mindlessness!  This was quite good for being a Kindle Unlimited book.  I'm actually surprised it's available there.  Very practical advice and much more succinct than most self help books (I've told a few people that I think most self help books could chop the last several chapters and be better for it, but this one doesn't have that problem).  I'm actually following up with some of the exercises they provide - primarily setting "core values" and using that to base my future goals on.

♥♥♥ - Ambivalent-ed

Twice Upon a Time by Aya Ling (ebook)

I figured while I'm bingeing on KU, I have to check in with my 2nd favorite fairytale author, Aya Ling!  While I enjoyed revisiting a couple of characters that I'd enjoyed before, this story felt less rich and complex than the first (I felt like nothing really happened) and then the ending disappointed me.  The author's writing a 3rd book about these same characters and it had better end the way I want or words will be said!!!

Once Upon a Happy Endings (ebook)

I did not realize going in that this was a collection of short stories.  It actually included a couple of my KU favorites (K.M. Shea and Aya Ling) but I didn't feel like they did well in short story format.  And, I'll be honest, I rarely like short stories.  Some were good, most were mediocre, and a couple were bad.  The most unexpected was the Wizard of Oz version - it's surprisingly dark and so much death!  Dorothy's a gun slinger and there's racism and rape and all kinds of crazy stuff.  I'm still shocked that story made it into a collection where the rest were light-hearted fluff stories.

The Spinner and the Slipper (ebook)

So this had an interesting premise - to combine Cinderella and Rumplestiltskin but in places it just felt like the characters did things that made no sense and the only purpose was to mash the stories together.  There was also some interesting stuff about the faerie realm, but in the end it kind of fell flat for me.  Cute story, but nothing special.

♥♥ - Mildly Disliked


 - Did Not Finish or Wanted to Burn in a Fire


I'm working on finishing up What to Expect When You're Expecting now that the end is finally nigh.  (Although there's a big chunk devoted to postpartum stuff but I figure I won't necessarily have the time/energy to read that when I'm experiencing it so I'll just do it now.)  Also trying to get through The Feminine Mystique but I'm struggling.  Either lack of motivation or the fact that it feels like an awful lot of words to not convey a whole lot of information.  I haven't even added it to my "currently reading" because I don't have faith that I'll actually finish it.

Challenge Updates

Jenn Self Book Challenge

Giving myself Declutter Your Mind for "mindset" and The Nightingale for "recommendation from someone who doesn't read your genre" (technically not recommended by word of mouth but someone bought it for me, so close enough) for a total of 75 points out of 175.

Erin 6.0

Nothing so far!  But it's only the 10th and the challenge is young...  (EDIT: I finally started Stiff last night, so when I get through that I'll have at least one book down.)

What have you been reading?  Have you read anything from my list and what did you think?

Linking up with Steph and Jana
Life According to Steph

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Jan 5, 2017

They See Me Readin'

They hatin.'  (Tryin to catch me reading dirty...)

Stole this idea from Erin, who stole it from Emma!  Because who doesn't love pie charts?  (Pie charts made at meta-chart.com, if anyone else wants to play.)

How I Roll/Read/Do Book Stuff

I have read 100 books this year!!!  Which is 22 more than last year and double my goal (I shouldn't even bother to set goals, because I clearly have no idea what I'm going to do each year).  It's kind of fun to watch the numbers skyrocket ever since I started reading new books again and tracking it in Goodreads.

While the number of books increased, my page count increased even more, which means I read a few clunkers this year (cough Patrick Rothfuss).


This surprised me.  Here I was, patting myself on the back for reading sci-fi and I have read precisely one science fiction book this year.  I actually did this earlier this year before deciding to save the post for the end of the year so I'm not shocked anymore that YA is the leading category.  I have tried to buff up the other categories since then, which is the only reason that self help and nonfiction together are about equal to YA AND my nonfiction reads weren't entirely celebrity memoirs.  Whatever - you like what you like.


Kind of like Erin said, I feel bad giving books 2 or 1 star ratings, and I rarely do it.  I even went back to some of my old ratings and deleted them, because it wasn't fair to rate a book on how much I hated it in high school or as a kid.  (After all, Dune was a 2 star book when I was 12, but it's 4 stars now.)

5 Most Read Authors of 2016

I posted about my all-time most read authors before, but it was interesting to see how my habits have shifted over time.  Definitely more YA now, but also a lot more female authors and more kickass female protagonists.  So I'm not totally ashamed of that.

Bests and Mosts

I wish I had done this at the end of 2015, because I had some great reads last year (and maybe a little less fluff).  This year I burned out in the self help arena a couple times and had some trouble getting myself going on serious material again after overindulging with silly fantasy/fairy tale retellings.  Oh well.  I don't think your brain can rot from too much YA, can it?

What did your reading habits look like this year?  Do you try to branch out into different genres or are you happy sticking to your favorite?

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Jan 3, 2017

Happiness Project Month 5: Mindset

Whew!  December was... well pretty representative of the rest of the year, actually.  Ups and downs.  Had a fantastic holiday with my sisters and mom, but I'll admit I'm glad for a break from the chaos and...

Month 4 Update: Get Shit Done

Success!!!  About half of this was completed after Christmas rather than before, but it's done and I'm glad.  Out of my brain.

To Do

  1. House - Got this done right off the bat!
  2. Sort Photos - Damn close! I admit, I cheated and skipped a couple of my ginormous trip folders (500+ photos of the Grand Canyon? What was I thinking???) but I got through everything else and was able to pick out photos for scrapbooking.
  3. Get Photos Printed - By the skin of my teeth - sent this off to be printed at 8pm on the 30th.
  4. Baby Book and Scrapbook - Baby book is caught up minus the couple of pictures that should arrive this week.  The scrapbook is also awaiting photos, but I have secured Ryan's promise to help me, which should make it go a lot faster and I decided how I want to do it (print predesigned "title pages" with the year and a highlight picture and then tape photos in for the rest).  I think I want to make this an annual chore, because if I do it more often than that, I'll go overboard.  The end of the year is the best time to pick through all the highlights.
  5. Finish Digital Marketing Book - Check! Thanks goodness because it was long.
  6. Make Specific Business Goals - Check! Been utilizing my planning app and also the business group on Facebook that has a planning post every Monday.
  7. Business "Packages" - Check!!! I'm really excited about this because it makes so much sense. The majority of my new clients need a logo. In addition to that they'll want either a website or print stuff (business cards, etc). So I made 3 branding packages for them based on digital services, physical business, or someone who wants to seek out clients both ways.

In Conclusion

It does feel better, just like I thought.  Of course, messy closet just replaced itself with "messy baby room" BUT we're having the house deep-cleaned in just a few days and a baby party on the 7th, so that'll be good pressure to get everything presentable and put away.

Month 5 aka Final Month: Mindset

I am soooo ready to relax and try to just be calm for a bit.  I talked about this a little bit with my focus word for 2017 (grounded) so I'm glad my last happiness project month ties in with that so well.  So this month is all about calming down, and finishing up whatever prep we need to do for R-day.


  1. I am calm - I am able to handle conflict and chaos without losing my temper.
  2. I am flexible - I do not need to be in control of every situation and can adapt when needed.
  3. I am prepared - I do not need to know everything ahead of time - the research I've done is and will be enough until experience helps fill in the gaps.


  1. Read parenting books (finally finish What to Expect!!!)
  2. Meditate 3x a week
  3. Give myself permission to slow down and enjoy any and all downtime that comes our way!

To Do

  1. Finish online childbirth class
  2. Discuss family values with Ryan
  3. Tell my clients I'm taking February off for baby stuff (I'm agonizing over this, but several people have told me I'll be much happier if I just take the month instead of trying to get back to work in 2 weeks or so)

And that's it!  Honestly, even just writing this feels a lot like taking a deep breath, so I see this month going a lot more smoothly than the last couple.

Do you have any mindset goals or things you'd like to get prepared for?  Is the new year looking more or less busy for you?

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Jan 1, 2017

Predictions from the Old Year and a Focus for 2017

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

And onto business... I made quite a few predictions last year and now it's finally time to see what came true!

Las year I said that by now I will have...

1. Optimized the crap out of our new home

True!  From gorgeous walk in closets, to purchasing just the right amount of furniture and no extra, and seriously reassessing bathroom and basement storage, I'm quite pleased with how the house is looking.

2. But lost a few of the "let's buy new things!" battles with Ryan and/or Roommate.

Uhhhh, actually I think I'm the one who went overboard.  But I recovered from my mistakes and was good about getting rid of stuff that didn't end up working as well as my vision.

3. Been posting way too many pictures of my new baby or puppy.

Check and check!  We got Toast back in February, Reptar is on the way in 1 short month, and I'm sure everyone has heard about as much as they'd care to on either of those topics.  :P

4. Been the proud owner of a business that actually supports me!

I knew this was optimistic when I wrote it.  I DID have income every month, though some were better than others.  I think it ranged from $200 to $1,400, with an average somewhere around $600/month.  For a first year of freelancing, I'm not too upset about it.  We'll see what 2017 holds.

5. Gotten bored with my hair and try out a perm, despite everyone's frantic attempts to stop me.

Newp.  I might have tried to do this, but after getting pregnant it wasn't going to happen.  My mom has told us a few times how her hair used to be sleek and straight until she had kids, so I just wanted to see if anything naturally happened without messing with it.  Plus... extra chemicals and such.  Not necessary.

6. Mastered DIY hygiene products.

Bahahahaha!  Just no.  I tried out a few things and discovered that other than coconut oil for my legs and for swishing, I really don't like DIY hygiene.  Jojoba oil is just too heavy for hair, and the face moisturizer made me break out.

7. Been brainstorming the next international adventure with my sisters.

Nope, although we did kind of spur-of-the-moment decide to go see the eclipse in Grand Teton's National Park next summer.  Mostly because Sister3 saw the opportunity and secured us a B&B, which takes care of about half the planning that usually goes into a trip.

2/7  Did I mention I'm really bad at this?

And for 2017...

I tried to make predictions and you know what?  I don't care.  I've lost interest.  I suppose that's ok.  A new year, a new outlook.

Last year I ended up picking a focus word several months into the year.  It was healing.  While this year has been a pretty bumpy one (and I realize I'm hardly the only one to feel this way), I think it's also been a good one for myself and Ryan.  We've learned to get through some of the more serious issues that come up in a relationship, tested the "for better or worse" clause in our marriage vows and maybe a little of the "in sickness and in health" one, too.  We've grown, as people and as a couple, and (I sincerely hope) are getting our shit straight in time for this baby to arrive.

So I guess what I hope for more than anything else in 2017 is to feel settled.  I know we can weather storms and that bad times are an inevitability, but I want to get better at remembering that in the middle of the chaos and I want to be better at reminding myself that the bad times don't last forever.  I also want to settle into more of a routine, without letting every little negative thing throw us off.  So here it is.  The word for 2017...


I want us to be grounded, as a couple, as a family, and as individuals.  I want to keep pursuing my business and personal interests, but I think those things can only flourish if they're built on a strong foundation.  We're putting down roots, but I think the work we put into strengthening them will end up being the most important thing we do in the next year.

I do have some things I'd like to try to do in the next year, but "resolutions" is a little strong.  Things I sort of want to do at this particular moment?  Too weak?  Whatever, here's my current image of the ideal 2017.
  1. Build up my business - find 3 new clients from networking and develop strategies to generate more consistent income
  2. Get back to 5k-ing!  I don't want to set any lofty fitness goals, but I do want to get back into jogging and I definitely want to be a stroller mom.
  3. Be a little kinder.  To myself, to Ryan, to everyone really.  Make more time for people and tell my family how important they are to me.  It's not really something someone can hear too much of and sometimes we forget how easily we can lose the people we care about.
  4. Cook more.  Meal planning, my old nemesis.  I'm coming after you again.
  5. Spend less.  Self explanatory.

Making predictions for the new year or resolutions or neither?  Do you do focus words?

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Dec 13, 2016

"Books serve to show a man...

...that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all."

-Abraham Lincoln (supposedly)

I've never really been into numbering my posts and some months I have trouble thinking of titles so I google "quotes about books" and this one made me laugh so I thought I'd share.  :P

As for the books, after burning myself out pretty hard with self help last month (and keeping up with the news lately) I really needed some fluff.  And then after the werewolves, steampunk, and fantasy, I finally managed to get back into more diverse genres.

♥♥♥♥♥ - Loved!

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (audio)

I didn't even know who Shonda Rhimes was, so I had no expectations going in.  Awesome story and you can tell she's a writer because her words just flow.  So poetic and pretty, in addition to being an incredibly inspiring read.  In addition to loving her journey as she learns to say "yes" and let new opportunities in, I thought she had a ton of great insights into feminism, race, and the balance between weight loss and self love.  (Side note: she reads the audiobook and her voice sounds nice and gives the story a very personal feel so I recommend listening if you like audio at all.)

The Best Damn Marketing Checklist, Period! by Stoney deGeyter (kindle)

5 star for pure usefulness, not for being a fun read or anything.  If you're not a web designer, you can just skip over this, but if you are, TONS of good information for improving your website and ranking higher in searches.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee (paper)

Such a good story!  This is written by a North Korean defector and it's fascinating to see how the regime maintains power, how they indoctrinate people from an early age, and how much effort it takes for citizens to change their mindsets even after deciding to leave the country.  I also know very little about Asian societies, so it was very educational.  Example: I figured once you got out of the country, you'd be good, but since very few other neighboring countries want illegal immigrants, it's just about as dangerous after leaving as it is to stay.  I was absolutely blown away by how resourceful and courageous the author was.  Highly recommend to everyone, both for a good story and to learn more about the other side of the world (assuming most of the people reading this are in the US).

♥♥♥♥ - Liked

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen (paper)

I was slow to get into this but once I got my mind into romance mode it was a lot of fun.  Steampunk, mystery, vampires and shapeshifters, all good stuff.  Minor pet peeve: all the mechanical issues could be solved by fixing the "cogs."  Not terribly convincing that the characters know what they're talking about.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer (kindle)

I didn't realize this had come out until I was browsing Amazon in search of something light-hearted (tee hee).  Sooo good.  I don't know that I loved it quite on the Lunar Chronicles level, but it was a great story with a very unique twist on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.  A little dark and incredibly creative.

Soulless and the rest of the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger (kindle)

I laughed my ass off for the first five pages of the first book.  I was prepared to declare this the best book series of all time, but unfortunately the rest couldn't quite keep up with that promising beginning.  Still very, very good.  The humor was right up my alley and, like Clockwork Beast, I loved the steampunk world.  These felt like they had a little more substance to them as well (hence reading the entire series), and the only, teeny, tiny little thing that bothered me was a description of someone's pregnancy, because, like the "cogs" from the other book, it was fairly inaccurate.  I don't know why this bothers me in a world with vampires, werewolves, and automatons, but I really just want my authors to know their shit and you are not feeling any babies "sloshing around" a couple months in.  Additional note: the first book has a couple of raunchy scenes, but the rest are pretty tame - I'm not sure why there's such a disparity but I thought it was fine with or without them.

Scandalous Women by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon (paper)

Very interesting read!  Basically mini biographies, each lady got 5-10 pages about her exploits and I really liked that it wasn't a one-sided depiction.  The author is very frank about their flaws, as well as their virtues and all are fascinating.  Although I was definitely more intrigued by the women I didn't happen to learn about in school (sorry Cleopatra and Anne Boleyn).  New favorite: Eleanor of Aquitaine (mother to King Richard and Prince John - often caricatured in Robin Hood stories), who not only freed Richard from captivity when already in her 60s but remained politically active and influential all the way up until her death.  Basically, she was a badass in her youth and didn't let age prevent her from continuing on that way.

These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner (paper)

I said in my Goodreads review that this was bittersweet and it really was.  Far more realistic than your average pioneer adventure story, and, at times, a lot harder to read because you just want good things for these people and life was harsh back then.  It makes me feel like a huge woose for some of the things I whine about.  I did feel some disconnect from the author near the beginning but as she matures and improves her writing, that feeling went away and I was wholly engrossed in her life, even the minutia.

♥♥♥ - Ambivalent-ed

Self-Inflicted Wounds by Aisha Tyler (audio)

I had no strong desire to read this - I just needed something to entertain my brain during certain work tasks and this fit the bill.  Not particularly exciting and no real takeaways, just an occasionally amusing read.

♥♥ - Mildly Disliked


 - Did Not Finish or Wanted to Burn in a Fire

Rising Strong by Brene Brown (audio)

NOT a "want to burn in a fire" book.  That would be way too harsh.  But yeah, I was 40 minutes in on the audiobook and I still had no interest in what she was talking about so I gave up.  I felt like she spent a ton of time telling us what she was going to talk about without actually starting it.  I know she's all about anecdotal evidence, but I had yet to hear any anecdotes, so I gave up.  If anyone feels strongly that this was a mistake, let me know and I'll give it another go!

The Superior Wife Syndrome by Carin Rubenstein (paper)

Sooo... I feel like the concept for this was good.  I don't think the author is alone in noticing that there's a large chunk of women who have made strides towards equality in the workforce, but continue to shoulder most of the burden of child-rearing and housework despite being wage-earners.  But the way she phrased and explained things was weird (like using the phrase "superior" to mean basically a sucky, unbalanced marriage with "nonsuperior" wives being the ones who are happier and have better marriages) and her explanations dragged on and on and on.  Way more detail and far more examples than necessary for the most basic concepts.  I got about halfway through before I started skimming, trying to find parts that were relevant to me (since I am nowhere near a "superior" wife - Ryan and I split things pretty damn evenly thus far in our relationship and equality is important to both of us) but even when I did, I just didn't agree with the way she wrote about them, so I gave up.  I honestly feel like you'd be better off reading Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, which has actual tips for better communication and fixing pretty much exactly the problem she's describing, without all the extensive analysis of how the problem came to be in the first place.

Reading The Nightingale and waiting impatiently for January so I can start Erin book challenge 6.0!  Oh, and I have The Feminine Mystique from the library, so that might end up being an airplane book next week because it's almost 600 pages.

Challenge Updates

Jenn Self Book Challenge

I'm going to count Year of Yes as a "mindset" book, in addition to Best Damn Marketing for "career," and Scandalous Women for a genre I don't normally read and give myself 45 points out of 175 (since I apparently mathed this out weird when I made my challenge).

What have you been reading?  Have you read anything from my list and what did you think?

Linking up with Steph and Jana
Life According to Steph

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