Thursday, January 29, 2015

Introducing Piper Grace

Our daughter, Piper Grace, was born on January 21, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. Piper weighed 9 lbs. 6 oz. and she was 21.5 inches long at birth. She has a full head of hair, and she absolutely stole our hearts with her first cries.




We are all doing so well! We are truly blessed with a healthy, beautiful, wise daughter.




I plan on sharing Piper's birth story with you all, just as soon as I can set this pretty girl down long enough for me to type it all out. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Our Birth Plan

At my 40 week prenatal appointment, my doctor encouraged that we schedule an induction sooner than later because our baby girl is already nearing 9 lbs. and her head is in the 95th percentile. My due date has come and passed, so we are being induced tomorrow, January 21st.

At my appointment, I was 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I had a hard time sleeping last night and I'm sure tonight will be much of the same.

My husband and I will be waking up at 4 a.m. as I am scheduled to be induced at 6 a.m.




Oh, how I am going to miss feeling this little girl wiggle her toes inside me. I can feel her hiccups right now, and they absolutely melt my heart! While I can't wait to meet her tomorrow, I will definitely miss this special time we had together, just the two of us.

If you're looking for any updates in the coming days, they will most likely be on my Instagram or Facebook accounts. Thanks for sharing in this journey with me. The best is yet to come!

Monday, January 19, 2015

40 Weeks

It's BABY WEEK! We made it. Week 40.

I have my 40 week prenatal appointment today. At my last appointment, the doctor said that if baby wasn't here by the time of this appointment, we would start talking about scheduling an induction date. I'm not sure if he'll let us wait a week, or if he'll want to schedule the induction this week. Either way, I am so close to being able to finally hold my baby girl! I can't stop smiling!

First Trimester

Our Announcement
The Positive Test
Weeks 4-8
12 Week Ultrasound
Weeks 9-13

Second Trimester

Weeks 14-18
20 Week Ultrasound
Gender Reveal
Diaper Party
22 week Bump Photos
Niagara Falls Babymoon
Weeks 19-23
Weeks 24-27

Third Trimester
27 Week Maternity Photos
My First Baby Shower
My Second Baby Shower
Weeks 28-31
My Third Baby Shower
35 Week Sonogram
Weeks 32-35
Nursery Tour and Name Reveal
Weeks 36-39

Above is a summary of my pregnancy and below is a letter to my daughter.




Dear Piper,

I am 40 weeks pregnant and I can feel you wiggling your little feet inside as I write to you. I want you to know that I have truly loved you since the moment I found out I was pregnant. At that moment, an overwhelming feeling of joy and worry consumed me. I wanted you so badly, I prayed for you, and my prayers were being answered. This was a moment I will never forget. The first thing that I did after finding out that I was pregnant with you, was pray. Almost immediately, I felt a sense of calm that everything was going to be alright; you were going to be alright.

Appointment after appointment, you showed me the grace of God. You were perfect, little girl. You were perfect beyond my wildest dreams. You met every milestone, and you passed every test. Even while in the womb, you made us feel proud, you made us laugh, and you made us feel a love like no other. I can only imagine the impact you will make in our lives, once you finally arrive and we can hold you in our arms.

Your dad and I love you so much, and we can't wait to meet you; the true love of our life.

With a love like no other,
Mom

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Third Trimester: Weeks 36 - 39

I can't believe it's time to share the last of my weekly pregnancy updates with you.

This has truly been an amazing, love-filled journey. From the very moment I found out I was pregnant, I began falling in love. I am so blessed to have 40 weeks of special memories. Memories with my husband, and memories with my baby girl, as we fell so in love with her.

The love we feel can't be explained. God is good, and I am so thankful!




For previous weekly updates, you can click through the links below:

Weeks 4-8
Weeks 9-13
Weeks 14-18
Weeks 19-23
Weeks 24-27
Weeks 28-31
Weeks 32-35

Week 36:
Christmas week! What a special Christmas this was, to be so pregnant, and to be around all of our family. I am thankful to have had a good amount of energy. I felt great!






Week 37:
Finally "full term" and feeling so thankful! When I went to my 37 week prenatal appointment, I was sent to the hospital to be monitored and tested. I was having contractions and was 1/2 cm dilated. Everything was fine with the baby, and we were allowed to go home. While I was a little worried before we found out that all was well, I believe it was a nice "test run", making me feel a little more prepared for the real thing.




Week 38:
I feel like baby girl is getting really big! Heartburn is at an intensity I have not known before. I had a second hospital trip this week, due to me being clumsy. I hit my stomach and the doctor sent me in to have baby monitored. It was a quick trip, she was perfect, as usual. The anticipation of baby's arrival is growing so rapidly! This was my last week of work, and my sweet husband was so happy for me. He made this transition so special and full of support.







Week 39:
A very relaxing week at home! Spent a lot of time studying the bible and praying for my baby girl. We had our 39 week appointment and got to meet (my favorite) doctor for the first time. He really studied my chart and told me that my due date is actually January 20th. No doctor has looked so fully into this for me before, so we have heard a few different due dates during my pregnancy. All within a few days apart.






We got a sonogram done, and the tech said that she is weighing about 9 lbs. The doctor said that we will start talking about induction at the next appointment. The next appointment is tomorrow! We are very excited!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Homemade Granola Bars {Remixed}

Yesterday, I got my bake on and remixed a recipe from my archive for Homemade Granola Bars.




I basically followed the same recipe, only I had the brilliant idea to make this delicious granola in muffin tins. This is my new favorite way to make granola because it's perfectly portioned and there's no mess in trying to cut the bars. Just grab and go!




I love the taste of homemade granola. It really has ruined me because prepackage granola bars just can never live up. I love knowing what is going into my food and the quality is just so much better.




Homemade Granola Bars {Remixed}

Ingredients:

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit (I used dried cranberries)
1/4 cup mini Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips - optional

Directions:

Butter your muffin pan and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, chocolate chips, and stir to combine. Spoon mixture out into the prepared muffin pan and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the muffin tins. Place in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Serve once cooled or save in an airtight container for up to a week.

Friday, January 16, 2015

My Big Belly

Just to give you an idea of just how big this baby is getting...


~ 39 weeks pregnant
~ 39 weeks pregnant

~ 12 weeks pregnant


At 12 weeks pregnant, I remember feeling a little yucky because I was "so bloated".

Nowadays my belly is a force to be reckoned with. I kind of love my big bump. I have been going back and forth between wanting her to come out so I can hold her and wanting her to stay in so I can savor these last days with her so close to me. Pregnancy is an amazing roller coaster ride, I tell ya.

Today, I have decided she can stay in there for a little while longer. At least until our furnace gets fixed. Our furnace stopped working this morning and I have to wait for my husband to get home before we know how bad it really is.

The great news is that my husband fixes heating and air conditioning for a living. Let's just hope it's a problem that can be fixed! Our furnace is pretty old, so this is something we knew could happen at any time. We just weren't expecting it to happen when my due date is only 4 days away.

Silver lining: we have a fireplace that will warm up the house just fine (once my husband gets home to light to pilot light).

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Baby is Due in 5 Days

BABY GIRL IS DUE IN 5 DAYS! Can you believe it?

I sure hope that she decides to come on her own. If she isn't here by Monday's prenatal appointment, we are going to have to talk about scheduling an induction. I have mixed feelings about this. I really want her to come when she is ready, however; she is getting so big and I am starting to wonder if she is ready and my body just isn't. 

I have been praying on this, and I know her arrival is already secured by God. I just have to be patient and keep an open mind. I'll do whatever needs done to get her here safe and sound.

Yesterday was a pretty great day. I did my daily Bible study, got ready for the day, and visited my grandparents. My grandma made me some lunch. I started having some braxton hicks contractions which I think made her excited! I went home to rest after that.

Once my husband got home from work, he finished a quick home project and then we were off to my mom's house for my little brother's 5th Birthday Party!




He got some tools from my grandparents and with them he tried to get the baby out so she could join in the party (and have some cake). Unfortunately, this did not work. However, she still got to enjoy the cake, and it was good!




What's your guess for baby's arrival date?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

39 Week Sonogram Photos

Yesterday I had my 39 week appointment and sonogram. My appointment went well! I loved the doctor that I met with and I am going to see him for my 40 week appointment, too.

It turns out that I am not "officially" dilated yet and baby girl is still pretty high. She also weighs about 9 lbs. according to the sonogram tech, but I am choosing to ignore that measurement for my own sanity right now. The doctor said that I am due on January 20th. My next appointment is on the 19th, and if she hasn't come by then, we will look at scheduling an induction date after my due date.

Overall, baby girl is doing great! She loves to suck on her thumb. It took a while for the sono tech to get a good picture of her face because her hands were in the way, but the tech was able to get a few.




Our girl has such a little personality; I feel like I already know her all too well.

I can tell you that she is a wiggle worm. She is very active (and has been during every sonogram since our 12 week appointment when she was bouncing and doing flips).

She seems to be very fussy about getting comfortable, but once she is comfortable, she is out.




She gets the hiccups almost every morning around 4 a.m. If the hiccups last too long, she'll start to get a little fussy about it and kick around.

She likes to stretch out after she eats. I have learned to keep my meals a little smaller because not too long after, she'll be stretching out and crowding my stomach.




She also likes to hear me sing. I can almost always get her to dance when I sing "You are my Sunshine". I've been singing that song to her since about 27 weeks. I most often sing it to her in the shower and on car rides. It makes me smile when she reacts to it.

She also loves to hear her daddy's voice! Sometimes she'll go crazy when he first starts talking to me. She loves him! She also loves to listen to him play his guitar.




After my appointment, my husband and I went out for dinner as our final date before baby comes. We couldn't stop looking at the sonogram pictures and talking about how beautiful she is. We love this little girl! I can't wait to kiss those chubby cheeks sometime within the next week (hopefully)!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

She Reads Truth

Yesterday was my first "work day" at home and let me tell you, Monday has never been so great!

One of my New Year Resolutions is to read the Bible more and to maybe even start a routine study. I began working on that resolution yesterday morning.


Baby Bump and I studying Genesis and John.

I have a great app on my phone called "She Reads Truth". They have study plans already mapped out for you. You can even read the Bible straight from your phone, however; I love to open my Bible and really dig in. I like to take notes because it helps me to digest what I've read, as well. Right now, I am studying with the plan "Bible in a Year".




I feel like it could be easy to get cabin fever, being at home this time of year. So, I made a little to-do list for myself yesterday and it helped to keep me busy when I would get restless.

Monday's to-do:

Bible Study
Make homemade pizza dough
Do the dishes
Call regarding benefits

I spent a lot of the day resting, as well. My body is really feeling great from sleeping in and taking a nap during the day. Giving myself this time at home before baby comes was the best idea, ever. I am really enjoying this "calm before the storm". And when I say storm, I mean the 24/7 on-call job of being a stay-at-home mother. Oh, what a beautiful storm it will be!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Freezer Meals: My Postpartum Stash

Now that I'm 39 weeks along in my pregnancy, many people have asked me if I have begun "nesting". To answer that question, I think that I have been nesting in my own way, and for quite some time now. How, you ask? Well, it has to do with food, of course.

Since about the beginning of December, with the help of my sweet husband, I have been making meals to store in our deep freezer for us to enjoy postpartum. I have a few different kinds of meals stored away, and below are the links to each recipe I have used.














This is my first week at home since leaving my job to become a stay at home mom. Right now, it just feels like I am on vacation. I think it will take a while before I feel like I'm really not going back. 

As for my excitement this week, I have a chiropractor appointment this afternoon. Tomorrow I have a prenatal appointment and sonogram. My husband and I are planning on going out to dinner after that appointment, as a final date before baby comes. The rest of the week is open! I may make another meal this week to add to my postpartum freezer stash. If so, I'll be sure to let you know.

What's your excitement for the week?
Do you have a homemade freezer meal stash of your own?
What is your favorite meal to make in bulk and freeze?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Freezer Meal: Hearty Lasagna

Lately I have been craving lasagna with thick cut vegetables, meat and ooey gooey melted cheeses. Doesn't that sound good? My husband thought that sounded good, as well. Before we knew it, my husband and I were in the grocery store, gathering up a bunch of random ingredients, and back home throwing this hearty lasagna together!

We threw together this lasagna so fast, that we didn't pay too close of attention to the amounts of ingredients we were throwing in there, but don't worry, I think I can remember enough to give you the gist of it all.




Hearty Lasagna

Ingredients:

3/4 lb. ground sausage
3/4 lb. ground turkey
9 lasagna noodles
1 small zucchini
1 tomato
1/2 red onion
10 fresh whole mushrooms
28 oz. pasta sauce, any kind
16 oz. cottage cheese
1 pint ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
8 oz. shredded mozzarella



Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Give all vegetables a thick chop. Set aside.

Combine meat in a skillet and brown over medium heat. Season meat as you wish (we like to use a bit of garlic salt and pepper). Drain, add pasta sauce, set aside.

Boil noodles according to package (or make your own like we did). Set aside.

Combine ricotta, cottage cheese, parmesan and 1 egg. Set aside.

Spoon a tiny bit of the pasta sauce in the bottom of the pan to start. Then begin layering! Layer noodles, meat and sauce mixture, vegetables, cheese mixture and so on. Top with shredded mozzarella and bake for about 30 minutes.




We made one lasagna for us to enjoy, and another one to go in the freezer for postpartum. I'll be updating you will a full list of the meals we have made for postpartum, soon! It's been so much fun making these meals, and I know we are going to be thanking ourselves for this, later.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My Last Day at Work

Yesterday was my last day at work. I can honestly say that it still doesn't seem real. I was more excited that it was a Friday than the fact that it was my "last day". Friday is something I can relate to. I wonder if Friday's are still as exciting for stay at home moms? I'll get back to you on that after baby Piper arrives.




Whenever I got home from work yesterday, my husband surprised me with the sweetest card, flowers and some of my favorite chocolate! He's a good man, and I am a lucky girl.




Now that I'm home, just waiting for baby, I am planning on reading a couple of the last baby books I have to go through. I also want to spend some time reading the Bible as I pray that Piper arrives when she is ready; safe and sound.

If she waits the week, I may even get some kitchen cupboards reorganized. Don't worry, rest is going to be plenty this week, as well! These are going to be my last days just caring for myself, after all!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Eating Healthy on a Budget: Sandwiches

In keeping with the theme from yesterday's post, today, I am going to focus on another classic cheap and easy go-to for lunch (or dinner).




To avoid eating the same thing all the time, I have begun to make a list of some healthy, cheap meals that we all can make {and eat} over and over again, without getting bored.

If you missed yesterday's post on "Eating Healthy While on a Budget" with Salads, you can check it out by clicking here.

Below is a formula to help spark some new ideas when it comes to making sandwiches!

Sandwiches



STEP 1Pick the "stuffing"

Classic Deli Meats and Cheese
- Turkey and American
- Lean Ham and Swiss
- Turkey Bacon and Provolone, etc., etc., etc.

Egg Salad (three ways)
- Classic Egg Salad
- Egg Salad with Avocado
- Egg Salad with Cucumbers

Classic Chicken Salad (with options)
- Add Grapes
- Add Craisins or Raisins
- Add Apples

STEP 2Pick the bread

Classic Sandwich Bread:
- Italian
- Whole Wheat
- Rye, etc., etc., etc.

Wraps:
- White
- Whole Wheat
- Spinach, etc., etc., etc.

Specialty Bread:
- Caibatta
- French
- Sourdough, etc., etc., etc.

STEP 3: Add a vegetable

Greens:
- Romaine
- Kale
- Spinach, etc.,

Bell Peppers
Red Onions
Tomatoes
Olives
Pickles
Cucumbers




This list is only the tip of the iceberg (lettuce) when it comes to making different sandwich combinations. Don't be scared; branch out! Stick within your budget and enjoy what you're eating. A simple recipe for reaching your goals!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Eating Healthy on a Budget: Salads

As you know, I have decided to leave my job to stay at home with my baby girl (who could arrive at anytime now)! Needless to say, this upcoming year, our household is going to be on a budget!

Let's face it; eating healthy and on a budget can sometimes be, well, boring! In order to keep myself from getting into the rut of eating the same thing all the time, I have begun to make a list of some healthy, cheap meals that we all can make {and eat} over and over again, without getting bored.

A tip, I've come to realize, is to take the basics and switch them up!




Today, I'm going to focus on a dish that can be made in so many different variations, it has my head spinning!

Salads




STEP 1Pick the "greens"

Lettuce:
- Iceberg
- Romaine
- Butterhead
- Spinach, etc.

STEP 2Pick the "add-ins"

Protein:
- Chicken
- Steak
- Shrimp
- Deli Meats
- Eggs
- Nuts, etc.

Fruits and Vegetables:
- Bell Peppers
- Onions
- Tomatoes
- Olives
- Cucumbers
- Peas
- Radish
- Carrots
- Celery
- Avocado
- Artichokes
- Berries
- Apples
- Oranges
- Grapes, etc.

Cheese:
- Feta
- Provolone
- Mozzarella
- Swiss
- Blue Cheese
- Cheddar
- Parmesan
- Goat Cheese, etc.

STEP 3Pick the "dressing"

- Oil and Vinegar
- Ranch
- Italian
- French
- Balsamic, etc.




There are so many more options out there, but this list should be a good one to refer back to when I feel like I'm starting to get into a rut with salads.




What is your favorite kind of salad?
- I really love a good strawberry salad with feta cheese and raspberry vinaigrette dressing!