The Two Ns.

Names and nurseries.

After a post-ultrasound celebratory brunch at Cracker Barrel (yeah, we're redneck like that), Cody went off to work and I went straight to Target to scout out their baby name books. I left with The Complete Book of Baby Names: The Most Names (100,001+), Most Unique Names, Most Idea-Generating Lists (600+) and the Most Help to Find the Perfect Name and went straight to work reading through all the lists, names and definitions, and have come up with a list of… eight names. And I'm all the way through the letter "O" right now. If there are 100,001+ names in this book, half of which are girl names, and I am more than halfway through the alphabet and have only come up with eight names… either the book stinks or I am incredulously picky.

The funny thing is, as I flipped through the pages while lying in bed the other night while Cody was trying to drift off to sleep (not something that was going to happen with a wife full of name ideas at his side), one name in particular popped randomly into my head, one that fit perfectly with the middle name we both like, and I asked him what he thought of it. His response: "I thought of that name earlier too. I like it."

Oh really?

"Like, this same name? Randomly popped into your head? Because I'm not even in the right section of this book to come across it right now. I just thought of it out of nowhere. And you did too? What do you think that means? Is it a SIGN from GOD? IS THIS OUR DAUGHTER'S NAME?!!!"

"Perhaps. Weird, I know. I like it. Going to sleep now…"

So the same name randomly pops into both of our heads and we both like it? What are the odds? Of course I wanted to analyze this at midnight the night before a maddeningly early morning for my husband, but I decided to spare him and turned out the light after a few extra minutes of searching. There were some cute names I made note of, but the whole time, that one name kept ringing in my head.

And no, it's not on our preliminary name list. I think the only way we would revert back to that is if I give birth, and a boy pops out.

And no, we're not telling you the name. For now, anyway.

Second on my list: the nursery. My whole life, I always vowed that if I was having a girl, I would NEVER be The Pink Mom. Pink is dumb! Pink is so cliche! Pink is for sissies! Pink Moms are SO ANNOYING!

Well, guess what. I am now The Pink Mom I swore I'd never be.

I am having visions of ever-so-pale pink walls, white lace, bird decorations (kinda trendy but I dig it), fresh flowers in mason jars, splashes of green and yellow, crocheted blankets, fluffy pillows… I know, I'm already getting completely ridiculous. As much as I wanted to be the mom who would do something different when it comes to her children's decor, I am a total sucker for pink. Not just any pink, though: it has to be pale pink. Bright colors have to be done just so in order for me to consider going there. My parents painted my room Pepto-Bismol pink when I was a kid, and looking back now, I'm not sure how my head didn't spontaneously combust. But I'm sure that it was a good idea at the time, given that it was the early 80s, and so many things were acceptable in the 80s that should simply never be mentioned EVER AGAIN.

I'm currently scouting the blogosphere for nursery ideas and would love to hear your favorites. So far I'm a big fan of Making It Lovely, The Lovely Little Things, and Craftynest. They aren't nursery/baby specific but have some great ideas. I love to be creative, and get some really great ideas in my head, but sometimes putting the ideas to paper or into existence requires some tactile inspiration that I have to see in order to fully realize my own visions. Shoot me some of your favorites and I will get this show on the road!

And finally, I can hardly stand another second of living without my new sewing machine, courtesy of Amma. I want to have craft days with my mom and grandma with all three of our sewing machines zipping along, making some of the cutest little girlie items ever for the fourth generation in the room. Oh, and perhaps a fancy new camera with which to document our adventures and finds- one of these days, anyway. For now, my ghetto Canon Elph with the broken, taped on battery case cover will have to suffice.

Baby-friendly cars.

After a crazy cash-for-clunkers weekend, Cody and I are now the proud owners of two very child-friendly, four-door sedans. Up to this point I was driving an Explorer with 150,000+ miles on it, a car in which I felt relatively unsafe because of the potential of the engine overheating, or the wheels flying off or tires popping and rolling me straight to my demise, and Cody was rocking the two-door Civic with a manual transmission and about 108,000 miles on it. Needless to say, with a bun in the oven, we were overdue for an overhaul in the auto department.

I found out that I was pregnant on May 13, a day that will live in infamy on the timeline of our lives, no doubt. Already financially frustrated because we just dropped more than $1600 on my car to repair the ball joints and get the radiator replaced, among other things, we also found out that the heads on the engine were warped, which in a nutshell means that if the engine overheats again, the car would be considered totaled. With summer fast approaching and a bleak prediction from our mechanic, this spazztastic news sent us into a bit of a panic. The last thing we wanted was a car payment, but on the flip side, we weren't going to get much out of my car in that condition, and we didn't have a few thousand extra dollars sitting around to spare.

Then the news came. Come January, we are going to have another mouth to feed, another body to clothe, and a two-door Civic to cart it around in. Well then.

Fast forward two days to May 15. While trying to decide how we were going to break the news to family and friends, we were processing through the shock and discouragement we faced as we started crunching numbers. As with most things related to our bank account, nothing was adding up. I was a hormonal mess, and then I got a phone call from my mom with some news about her mom, my Amma. I had decided not to tell my parents until we could tell them in person, so it took a lot for me to hold my tongue during this particular phone call. It was full of wonderful news, and a blessing so timely I could do nothing but thank God for providing the way only He can: perfectly. My Amma was planning to move here in the spring, and when she moved here, she was going to give me her car. I cried at the news, no doubt leaving my mom wondering, but all I could say is that she had no idea how timely this whole situation was. NO IDEA.

Well, plans changed a little and Amma moved here last weekend. She is in an independent living center with a great one-bedroom apartment, all the bells and whistles, surrounded by a sea of potential new friends, and only a few miles from my parents. With no plans to drive in her new city, she immediately passed down the keys to her car to me: a 2003 Buick Regal, with amazing upgrades, and less than 17,000 miles on it. It's gorgeous. I couldn't believe it.

At that point, we became the proud owners of three cars. We had no idea what to do with the Explorer- I mean, sell it, sure, but where would we keep it? Who's gonna want it? Does this mean I have to wash it?

Enter testament number two to just how amazing my family is. Seriously, I can only hope and pray that I have the means to be as supportive and generous as they have been with me when I needed it most. The cash-for-clunkers program was going on, and my dad, knowing that I was sitting on this SUV for who knew how long, started musing about his interest in a few different cars. He made several phone calls to several dealerships to find out who would be willing to work out the best deal with him, and we ended up at one in particular with a plan to not only turn in my Explorer for the C4C program, but also trade in Cody's Civic for a new car for my mom. The total of the trade-in value of our two cars would have equalled the trade-in value of my mom's car alone, so it was a win-win for all of us. Then, at the last minute, my brother came by to test drive Cody's car, and being the car junky that he is, he couldn't resist the zippy little stick-shift with the phenomenal gas mileage. In the end, my mom got a beautiful new car, Cody inherited her 2004 Altima with only 51,000 miles on it, and we kept the Civic in the family, in very good hands.

We are SO BLESSED. Thank you, Amma, Mom, Dad, and Greg. There are so many reasons we are where we are today, and you have played an enormous role in all of it.

I must admit, however, that I was very sad to see my Explorer go. When you've had a car for 11 years, and it's treated you well during that time, and it really is an otherwise good ride, it's hard when you have to let it go to anything other than a good owner who would take care of it. I had a lot of memories and good times with it and I will miss driving an SUV- even if the gas mileage sucked! When we left the dealership, they had written "C4C" all over the windows, and it was on its way to be sent to the crusher- literally. They had no use for it. RIP, Explorer!

All in all… I will never doubt God's provision, ever again. We have some scary times ahead of us, no doubt, but somehow, I think He'll carry us through just fine.

Drumroll please…

"Since the day they got married
He'd been praying for a little baby boy
Someone he could take fishing
Throw the football and be his pride and joy
He could already see him holding that trophy
Taking his team to state
But when the nurse came in with a little pink blanket
All those big dreams changed

And now, he's wrapped around her finger
She's the center of his whole world
And his heart belongs to that sweet little, beautiful, wonderful, perfect
All-American girl."

All-American Girl, Carrie Underwood

Today was the biggest day yet in our journey toward parenthood. This morning, at our ultrasound at 9:30, we learned that Baby is a GIRL! I cannot begin to explain the change this news has made in my heart as we anticipate the arrival of our little one. Seeing her little face for the first time, hearing the ultrasound technician say that she appears healthy and growing at the right pace, pointing out her brain and her organs and her tiny little hands and feet and watching her kick her legs was the most awe-inspiring, breathtaking thing I've ever seen. Perhaps it was the pregnancy hormones kicking into gear (OK, I fully intend to blame it on that), but I was such a happy, weepy mess the whole time as I took in the life that's taking shape in my belly. I was changed forever, through and through.

I had a feeling for a while now that our baby is a girl, although my pregnancy didn't start out that way. For much of the first trimester I was pretty intent on the idea that we were having a boy. There was no rhyme or reason to this whatsoever, it was just my thought process at the time. But as things progressed, I started gravitating toward female names, the color pink, and the idea of making adorable, frilly things for a darling, imaginative daughter, and a life of watching her grow and learn new things every day, and the idea stuck like glue. I actually began to think that if I learned we were expecting a boy, there would be a little twinge of disappointment. I always scolded myself for thinking such ridiculous thoughts, since the most important thing would be having a healthy child, and loving him or her no matter what kind of news comes out of that ultrasound.

And then, when I woke up this morning, my mind was flooded with thoughts of a life with a girl, and life with a boy, and the realization that I had absolutely no preference of one over the over. I was completely at peace with the possibility of either outcome, and when the ultrasound technician said, "Oh! There it is… are you guys ready?" I was totally unbiased, and completely ready for whatever she had to say. And when the news came that we are having a girl, I squealed with delight and cried very happy tears, and knew with all my heart that I would have felt exactly the same way had she said, "It's a boy!"

Without a doubt, a switch was flipped, and my life was changed forever. I was flooded with such a sense of connectedness and love and bliss that I couldn't stop smiling all day. We are one step closer to knowing this person- our daughter!- and raising her to be the best version of herself. Cody and I do not want a spoiled princess, and have all the intentions in the world to keep her from becoming one. I have all kinds of ideas and hopes and dreams for who she will become, but the truth is, I have no control over that- only influence. She already is who she is, and all we can do is our best to raise her in a home full of love, joy, and encouragement; to set positive examples of what it is to be a woman, and how a man should take care of his family, and set the standard for the men that will inevitably enter her life someday; to keep her healthy; to point her toward the God that Cody and I know and love and pray that she finds Him too. She is our little gift, our little girl, and nothing could have prepared me for the joy that I have found in getting to be her mom.

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Preggatinis

I was watching Better Arizona this morning and they did a segment on "cocktails" for pregnant moms that looked simply fabulous! The author of the recipe book Preggatinis, pseudonym "Liquid Muse," showed viewers how to make a couple of different recipes, including the Berry Berry Basil Mojito, which I am so excited to try I can hardly stand it! Here's the video from the show, and the recipe:

1 T strawberries
Healthy pinch of basil
2 t sugar
Juice of half a lime
Fre alcohol-removed white zinfandel

In a tall glass, mix strawberries, basil, and sugar, and mash together until you see the juice of the strawberries begin to dilute the sugar. Squeeze in lime juice. Fill cup with ice, and top off with the white zin.

LOVING this idea. I had a chat with my BFF today about baby shower themes, which we will get more serious about once we know whether we're having a boy or a girl, but I'm sure that Preggatinis of some form or another will be part of the fun!

Holy heartburn!

I woke up a couple of nights ago around 12:30 feeling as if I would spontaneously combust at any moment. I tried in vain to ignore the awful sensation, but I had to get up to pee anyway, so I got up and took care of business, and felt such enormous pressure in my entire torso that I worried I would simply burst. Being that I have never experienced heartburn until I became pregnant, I never knew how bad it could be. And whoa Nellie, that was a horrendous experience.

Heartburn Lesson #1: Don't scarf down a humongous meal, under any
circumstances. Earlier that night, I made salmon cakes, wild rice and green beans for
dinner, and we were pressed for time to get to our friends' house by
7:00. It was a huge meal and we ate fast. I don't care if the world is ending and you have to
evacuate immediately, JUST TAKE YOUR TIME. You don't have to tell me
this is why I had the worst case of heartburn in the history of the
human race accompanied by a balloon-like sensation in my boobs and
tummy. TRUST ME, I KNOW. 

I was fortunate in that it didn't last long and I was able to fall back asleep. I know that it's important to sleep propped up when hit with a blazing inferno in your chest, but what other remedies are out there to alleviate the symptoms? My doctor recommended cider vinegar tablets and those didn't do a whole lot to help the situation. She wasn't a fan of Tums. I'm all for natural remedies but I couldn't imagine dealing with that kind of pain and sheer discomfort on a regular basis. I've read all kinds of good articles, like this one on BabyCenter, but I'd like to hear from moms who have dealt with this and found relief in one form or another. Ready… set… GO!

On another note, last night Baby was flipping around in the tummy, the most movement I have felt so far, and Cody even felt a little twitch when he put his hand on my belly! It was the most exciting moment of my pregnancy so far… anything that makes my husband feel more connected to the process is the best thing I could ask for. Four days until we find out what we're having!

One week out

We are a whopping one week out from two major things: the halfway point of our pregnancy, and finding out whether we will have a pink or a blue nursery! I cannot tell you how excited I am to find out what the little occupant in my belly is so we can start seriously thinking about names. I have only briefly looked at name books and Web sites, and while I've found some interesting ones, I have not found anything that I am absolutely crazy about. I also find it hard to believe that we are pretty much halfway through this whole process- and I must admit that I have all but forgotten about how awful I felt that first trimester. However, the past day or two I have been visited by the nausea elves, as if to say, NOT SO FAST! We are here to remind you about your all-time favorite part of pregnancy! In case I forgot. Which I did, until then.

In the meantime, my belly is getting huge. For some reason, this revelation of mine just never gets old, and every day I look in the mirror and say to Cody, "My belly is so BIG…" To which he replies, "Yes, dear. You're pregnant." Every day, we share this exchange, without fail, like it's some sort of new discovery on my part, and PLEASE BEHOLD THE AMAZING GROWING MIDSECTION, HUSBAND O' MINE. I wear the belly loud and proud, but at the same time I can't help but wonder if strangers on the street look at me and wonder, is she pregnant, or did she just have a GIGANTIC lunch? So I am now that girl who walks around with her hand on her belly constantly, as if that is somehow going to help confirm my pregnant state to those wondering about my status. Yes, I do realize that this could just as easily be viewed as me suffering from a stomach ache because I ate too much for lunch.

On a side note, I'm sitting in the living room, and Cody and both the dogs are napping on the couch. Hanalei is yelping in her sleep. TOO CUTE NOT TO SHARE.

In other pressing news, I think I felt baby kicking around in the belly a couple of days ago. I had to shut off the volume on the TV, lay perfectly still, and put my hand on it in order to positively identify the source of the twitchy sensation, but based on what I've heard it resembles, I think that was it. In fact, since I'm sitting here pretty quietly, full from a big meal, I feel little pokes and prods right now. Anyway, the other night, as we sat there trying to figure out if that was indeed Baby kicking and not just gas or my stomach muscles spazzing out due to THE SUDDEN GROWTH SPURT, Cody decided that he would say things directly into my belly, like "Helloooooo?!!" and "RAHRAHRAHRAH!" The next day we got our weekly BabyCenter email and found out that Baby can hear things that happen outside of the womb.

So we won't be yelling random sounds into the belly anymore. We will, however, attach headphones to the bump every now and then with classical music and other genius-inducing harmonies emanating into his (or her!) precious little ears.

Settling in…

…to this whole pregnancy thing. The nausea has passed for the most part, I have lots of energy and have gone on a cleaning spree (downstairs at least), and my appetite has returned to normal, although I don't feel like I'm eating all that much more than I usually did pre-pregnancy. However, there are some things that I enjoy eating IMMENSELY, much more than I usually did.

First off, tomatoes. I want them ALL THE TIME. In every form. I went to Costco the other day and left with a gallon of salsa and a giant bag of sun-dried tomatoes, and was thisclose to leaving with three enormous jars of pasta sauce. I held myself back from that purchase because I'm getting back into cooking and love making my own sauce concoctions on-the-fly. The next day, I went to Fry's and got a bag full of roma tomatoes because my favorite snack is cottage cheese with paprika and sliced tomatoes with sea salt. I also occasionally munch on a handful of sun-dried tomatoes, and I add them to pretty much every recipe I possibly can.

Second craving: pickles. Could that possibly be any more cliche? (While I do crave a lot of dairy, ice cream isn't high on that list. Anymore.) On the previously mentioned trip to Costco, I seriously considered buying a gallon jar of Famous Dave's Signature Spicy Pickles. A gallon. I picked them up and put them down twice, stared at them longingly, and then asked myself, What excuse could I possibly come up with when Cody comes home to a jar of pickles so big it doesn't even fit in our pantry? I had nothing, so I reluctantly walked away from that impulse buy. I purchased a much more reasonably sized jar of sweet and spicy pickles at the grocery store the next day, and let me just say that these are the best pickles I've ever had in my liiiiiiife.

Third: Lay on the spice; I will roundhouse kick heartburn in the face if it tries to come between me and my Sriracha! I'm a big fan of all things spicy now, but it's even better when it's the hot/sweet combo (funny… I like my men that way too). I have a recipe for spicy sweet popcorn that involves chile powder and brown sugar that I am anxious to try, most likely when we wrap up our Flight of the Conchords season two marathon, and I'll probably keep eating it through the Big Love season three marathon that will start if we ever get the DVD.

The last notable craving consists of things I used to eat during my childhood. I've had hankerings for Instant Breakfast, Nestle's Quik, and spaghetti with ranch dressing, to name a few. Totally loving the memories these things bring back- the simpler times of my life that I've all but forgotten about.

Yesterday, Cody and I went walking at the mall and ventured into a maternity store for the first time. In the span of a week, my tummy has popped, and Baby Alley has finally started to make his or her appearance, at the sure cost of pants that fit. While I'm not a huge fan of the elastic waistband jean look, I do believe that it's time to seek out and invest in a couple of Bella Bands. If it allows me to wear the jeans I already have, bring it on! Plus, my dear friend in California said she would send out some maternity wear that she doesn't plan to use again. I love me some hand-me-downs from my fashionista friends.

In the meantime, here are a few favorites from our shoot with Session Nine Photography:

Alley 44

Alley 52

Alley 54 GOOD LORD! There's a WHAT in there?!?!

Alley 58

Alley 2

Alley 6_2
Oh, my. How I adore my husband.