Monday, June 17, 2013

The Home Stretch...

Well...again it has been awhile since my last post, but I figured we are getting closer to the due date for Baby Bennett, and I should probably write while I have the chance.  They say no news is good news.  I am counting on that.
This picture is actually from about 31 weeks so I am actually a month further along than this now... 
The last few months has been packed full of fun times, such as a long weekend back in Colorado with our best friends, celebrating the pending arrival of this little one.  It was so good to see all of our friends that we miss SO much from Colorado. We were also pleasantly surprised that two of my oldest friends surprised me and flew in from the west coast!  It was truly a wonderful weekend and it made us miss everyone that much more! My best friend Laurie hosted a shower where we got to mingle with friends and eat good food.  It was low key and the guys partook in several frosty beverages on a beautiful, sunny Colorado day.
Steph, me, Laurie, and Abby in Colorado! 

Abby and Leslie 
I was also honored when my mother-in-law hosted me a baby shower here in Muscatine with some local family and friends.  We had a delicious quiche, fruit salad, and scones at a local coffee house that overlooks the Mississippi River!  We played games, including a game which entailed guests estimating how big around I was with a streamer. It is amazing how people over-estimate, but there were a couple of close guesses! It was a wonderful morning, and I am very grateful for everyone that was able to be there. 

Leslie, Jen, and Erin after the shower
Now Sam and I are in the home stretch with about five weeks to go to the estimated due date.  Luckily I am finished with work since the school year ended, and I have been forcing myself to complete one "major" project per day, usually consisting of mundane household chores such as the adventure cleaning out the refrigerator yesterday, scrubbing the walls and baseboards, or organizing the nursery.  I am getting there step-by-step (in between lots of breaks) all-the-while entertaining two almost-one-year-old puppies.  Sam has been very good about putting together all the baby gadgets!
Sam and the stroller!
Although I am uncomfortable at times, I feel like I have been pretty lucky in my pregnancy.  I don't really mind being pregnant for the most part.  I would say that night time is the hardest part to get-through , as several of my discomforts seem to manifest during the wee hours of the morning.  One of my biggest issues has been carpel tunnel of pregnancy, which has resorted to me wearing wrist braces at least at night to avoid numbness and nerve pain in my hands due to swelling.  It has gradually gotten worse, but at least I have learned to tolerate it now that I have the correct braces.  Other than that, I would say acid reflux has been the second-biggest culprit to my sleepless nights, but something somewhat within my control. Everyone says that these sleepless nights are good practice for when the baby arrives, and although I wish I was getting more sleep, I think I agree.

Our hospital includes a 3D ultrasound, but unfortunately not much came out of it, as the baby was somewhat uncooperative.  First her knee was in front of her face, and then a knee.  She (?) wouldn't allow us a nice shot to verify the gender and then completely turned around.  Is this a sign of things to come? However, we got a few nice profile shots.

My belly continues to grow as this baby girl gets bigger and it is just now about where to "put" my belly in bed or holding it up when I waddle through the store. All of my appointments have been routine and everything seems to be going well.  She definitely moves now, and I am fascinated by the distorted shape my belly takes on as I feel her wriggling around inside. Yesterday I even think she had the hiccups!  I am 35 weeks tomorrow, which means only 35 more days (or so) until we get to meet this little one!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Showered with Love

So last weekend I drove back to Ohio for my first baby shower.  At 21 weeks, it was a bit earlier than usual, but the hope was that I wouldn't be driving 8 hours one way much longer in my pregnancy (which means I eventually have to drive 8 hours back...), plus it was my spring break so I did not have to hurry to Ohio and back in two days time.  Both of my sisters along with my mom hosted the shower, and it was wonderful!
Auntie Julie and Jill!
The shower was attended by family and friends from Ohio. 

Centerpieces- Baby's breath with sliced lemons
The theme they chose was children's literature.  Not only did everyone bring a book with their gift, but the treats even corresponded to different children's books!  It was very creative! A friend, Kristen, commented that this was "The coolest baby shower she had ever been to", and I think I would have to agree, but I may be somewhat biased.

We had a lovely brunch.  We could order one item off of the menu. I had the frittata and orange juice (big surprise), but several others enjoyed a bloody Mary or a mimosa.
Menus created by my awesome brother-in-law,  Brian Dipert. 
Two of my childhood friends were able to attend.  Lisa is also expecting and due a few weeks before me.
Lisa, me, and Colleen 
We played a couple games- one where we had to estimate the cost of raising a child for the first year.  As a tie-breaker, there were a few trivia questions such as 1) What significant day did we discover that we were expecting? (Sam's birthday) 2) Name three other celebrities also due this summer (Kim Kardashian, Kate Middleton, Fergie, Jessica Simpson...) 3) What fruit has Leslie been craving during her pregnancy? (oranges)

In addition, there was a fun sheet where people could write down their gender guesses. There was also a really cute wall hanging where guests could add their fingerprint and sign their names as leaves on the tree.
Gender guesses and favors

Fingerprint Tree Wall-Hanging
A week and a half earlier, Sam and I found out we are expecting a baby girl, but no one in my family knew that quite yet.  So we decided to have a reveal cake.  A reveal cake is a dessert that looks gender neutral on the outside, but has a layer of either pink or blue icing that shows once you cut the cake.  Everyone was very surprised and there were even a few tears from Grandma and Grandpa McDonald! Julie and Jill were sure it was a boy... SURPRISE!

It's a girl!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Milestone

This last month has been an exciting one and this pregnancy is definitely beginning to feel more real. In the beginning of March we had our anatomy scan at 19 weeks and 1 day along.  This may be too much information for some, but as some may know, they require you to drink 32 ounces of water before you go in for an ultrasound.  I never knew that consuming that much liquid could actually be excruciatingly painful.  I hobbled into the hospital like an old woman, my kidneys and lower back angry at this liquid invasion.  As soon as I sat down and she started the ultrasound, she immediately told me to go to the bathroom. It was obvious on the screen that poor baby Bennett was smashed against the uterine wall by my enormous bladder.  I was happy to do so.

Ten minutes later- when I was done peeing- Sam showed up and the official scan begun.  It was very quiet in that dark room as we awaited any information at all as about our little one. The tech was able to tell us very little except the estimated weight of the baby, as well as the gender.  However, I found it amusing that they actually made us sign a waiver saying that we wouldn't sue them if they got it wrong. The baby moved about and swam around, making the poor tech's job challenging, but it was all very interesting to see. We later found out that everything looks perfect and measured exactly as it should.

They told us the gender very last- a GIRL!  I was surprised and giddy all at the same time.  "Really?" is all I could muster.  I was so surprised, I was convinced from the very beginning that this creature growing inside me was surely a boy.  However, we are thrilled!  Baby Girl Bennett is expected to arrive right on time on July 23, 2012!
The "gender" pic...  really?  I'll take their word for it. 

Baby Girl Bennett!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Big News for the Bennett's!

"The Thinker" at 11 weeks 4 days
This has to be a recent record- two blog posts in one day!  I guess that happens when one is holed up at home with a nasty bug.  I have managed to get caught up on a few things too.  Needless to say, I have neglected several things- including this blog- for the last few months due to absolute exhaustion.  Although many of you now know, Sam and I found out in November that we are expecting Baby Bennett!

We discovered our big news on November 14, 2012- Sam's 33rd birthday!  Although I knew since early that morning, I wanted to surprise Sam later that evening.  I treated him to a Chinese dinner (which is not one of my favorite things), watched him drink a beer or two, and then went home to open gifts.  Sam was showered with the usual kitchen gadgets and was highly involved in a project involving a meat grinder attachment and the Kitchen Aid Mixer when I fetched him a dark, frothy beer in a brand new pint glass.  Sam collects pint glasses, but he didn't think to look what was engraved on this one. To give him credit, it wasn't that obvious due to the dark beer in the glass.  I stood in the kitchen doorway sweating, my stomach doing jumping-jacks, wondering when he would notice the life-changing message etched on the glass. Well, he didn't.  After several minutes, I nervously stammered, "So you didn't really look at your last birthday gift."  I pointed to the glass as he was casually taking a swig. The glass read "Daddy's Sippy Cup".  He read it, paused, and then asked "Are you pregnant?!"  A minute later a sheepish grin crept across his face.

I am currently 14 weeks and according to all my fancy apps, I have a baby the size of a peach nesting and growing inside me. Ever since that day we have been adjusting to this new idea of becoming parents, learning the ins and outs, and preparing for who knows what.  We are definitely being schooled in the "world of baby"  including dizzying choices of car seat/carriers, cloth vs. disposable, copious amounts of prenatal vitamins, being permanently congested, the reality of limited maternity leave, and adjusting to the overnight growth (literally) of baby bumps.

This will be an interesting ride!  We are excited, but obviously nervous as well.  It is fun to celebrate with family and friends, as this is the first grandchild on both the McDonald and Bennett sides and we have several friends who are also expecting.

Please wish us luck in this next adventure. We take tips.

A Best Friend Named Bailey

Bailey camping in MN 2012
Well... it has been a really long time since my last blog post.  However, that doesn't mean that there has not been much to report on.  Our lives have been quite packed full of interesting events over the past few months- both good and bad.  Perhaps I was procrastinating writing the post because I did not want to admit that it had truly happened.  But alas, our Bailey deserves a blog post of his own.
Picture Perfect! 
Car trip to Ohio
As many of you know, Bailey our nine year old (almost ten) golden retriever was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer a mere week and a half after unexpectedly losing our 6 year-old puppy, Kona, last July. He was rushed in for immediate surgery and they removed a very large tumor in his spleen, but at the time, it looked hopeful since the cancer had not visibly spread to his liver or other organs.  After the surgery, Bailey was like a spring chicken!  He was back to his old frisbee-loving self.  Our hopes were high.  The vet explained to us the six month test:  If the cancer came back in the next six months, it would be bad news. If it did not show within six months, it probably never would. Well, in December we noticed some gradual changes in Bailey and realized something was wrong.  The cancer was back just shy of the six month mark.  We were crushed. We painfully had to put our best friend to sleep on January 7, 2013.
As we reminisced about Bailey, there were many smiles and fond memories.  We adopted Bailey from the Longmont Humane Society only a year and a half into our relationship.  When we first brought him home, we thought there was something very wrong, as he had not pooped in over a week  Just when we began to really worry, we realized that we were just watching too intently, and well, he was...bashful.
Bailey with his soul-mate, Daisy
He made us a family. He showed us what it was to live.  He loved life.  He loved to play.  He loved to love. He loved to hike, swim, play ball at the dog park, and in more recent years, LOVED his frisbee. He would often whine to play multiple times a day, even when he did not feel well.  He went with us on MANY camping trips where he had reign of the campground, exploring and running through the Colorado mountains, a true free-spirit. He accompanied us on many daily walks.  He loved to run around, chase the squirrels (and deer), but always stayed close by- loyal as ever. He tried to rule the roost by chasing all the birds and squirrels from his yard. We joke that he was a well-traveled dog, as he made several trips to and from Colorado and Iowa and then this past June, I took Bailey with me for a week vacation in Ohio where we spent each day romping in the Cleveland Metroparks and running through the waterfalls of Olmsted Falls.  He was truly in his element!
What a good big brother... 
When our friends and family think of Bailey, however, I think many would remember just how loving he was.  He would constantly nudge you for a stroke and wanted to be the center of attention.  He was a very loved pet, companion, and family member who lived a very full, eventful life.  We will miss him more than we can often express. We miss you, Bailey and will love you always.  You continue to complete us.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Focus on Fur babies!

So it has been a crazy month- ok a crazy summer- but within the past month I traveled to Oregon and back, co-taught a week-long Smartboard class with Marsha, threw together my Pinterest-crazed classroom, started a new school year with 50 new fifth graders, went camping in Minnesota, and adopted a new puppy.  Are we crazy?  Yes we are.

You already heard about Portland, and if not- click here.  I hope to write a post soon about Smartboard stuff  and the start of the school year, but for now, let's focus on fun.  Last weekend we drove up to Sakatah Lake State Park in Minnesota to camp with friends and family.  We had a great time!  It has been so long since we had gone camping!  We took Bailey of course, who was able to reunite with his first love and soul sister, Daisy.
Camping with Sam, Josh, Jolleen, Erin and the Howk Family!
Bailey and Daisy- 8/12
As some of you know, we were saddened to find out that Bailey's removed tumor was considered cancerous. :( We will have to wait it out to see if the cancer returns, but until then we are choosing to think positive and focus on the future! He has recovered from his surgery and is back to running the trails every night, playing with his cousins Spike and Sanchi almost everyday, and is getting regular dose of being a ridiculously spoiled and pampered dog.  Can you tell? 
Bailey's camping throne
After our camping trip we had an unexpected turn of events, and her name is Ginger!  An opportunity fell into our laps and we fell in love with this little lady!  We welcomed her with open arms into our family, although it was much sooner than I thought we would be ready to welcome another pet into our lives after our loss this summer. But I am happy she is here, and I am in love.
All tuckered out... 
Pretty girl!
Bailey just looks thrilled. 

Welcome Ginger!!!

Portland or Bust!

Multonomah Falls, Portland, OR
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to travel out west to Portland, Oregon.  I was out there once as a kid to visit my mom's brother and family, but I have been long overdue for a visit.  Just last year, my friends Steph and Chris moved to Portland from LA and this beautiful Pacific Northwest location was the perfect backdrop for our annual Miami friends college reunion.

Coming off an exhausting two week trip from Italy and coming home to loads of bad news- our dog Kona passed away and then three days later found out our other dog, Bailey, had emergency surgery to removed a burst spleen, which we found out was cancer. On top of all of that, a new school year was rapidly approaching in a week, and I felt like my classroom still needed a complete makeover. Although this trip was planned for months, I was guilt-ridden as to whether or not I should leave my family during such a tumultuous time.  After some emotional days and nights, Sam convinced me that it was ok to leave, visit friends and family, and take time to have some much-needed fun with my best friends.

I departed for Portland on a Tuesday and spent two days with my Uncle Dave- my mom's brother- Aunt Kathy and my cousin Katie. We had a great time!  We ventured out on a road trip through the beautiful wooded area of Portland, visiting Multnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge, and crossing the river into Washington for a lovely lunch by the river.

The Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls
On the second day, we ate the awesome McMenamin's Kennedy School!  If you are in Portland, go here.  It is the coolest place- an old turn-of-the-century school- remodeled to serve as an entertainment venue- a hotel which includes a great restaurant with an outdoor courtyard, a movie theater, several bars, and more.  It is a very unique place with hallways sporadically decorated with local artwork.

Hallways of the Kennedy School 
We then met a group downtown for the Portland Underground tour, which was very interesting since I really knew nothing about the history, old buildings, and the underground tunnels beneath this progressive city!
Uncle Dave and Aunt Kathy on the Portland Underground Tour! 

After our downtown tour, I met my girlfriends just in time for another epic Miami Reunion! A group of about 8 ladies (and don't forget our Miami men!), some of my closest friends are from my college days.  We are quite a crew!  Sometimes I wonder what forces of nature brought us all together in that "hidden corridor" of Symmes Hall of Miami University.  We all are very different individuals, but compliment each other so well.  We are like pieces of a puzzle that fit together so perfectly.  Sometimes I think they know me better than I know me.  Now, 15 years after we met as strangers, most of us have stayed very close and connected despite the fact that we live all over the country.  There are friends of this group who reside in Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, LA, San Francisco, and Oregon. When we get together- hopefully once per year- it is just like old times.  It feels like home.
All of my girls at the Box Social, Portland, OR (and Chris too!) 
As we gathered at Chris and Steph's new house, we geared up for a weekend full of fun outdoor adventures- just my style!  The first day we were there we hit Cascade Brewing Company where I tried my very first sour beer.  Awesome.  I was amazed that there was actually a type of beer I had not tried.  Sour, fruity, and good.
Sour Beer! 
We also took an easy hike through a park where we had a distant view of the local volcanoes from the top- Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, and Mt. St. Helen's were all visible from the top of the trail!  Here are some pics from our hike...

Eli looking HOT. 
Karen, Betsy, Steph, Abby, and Eli
Karen, Laurie, and Betsy
Steph and Eli
What a view! 

We even enjoy the ride over...
Later that night we had a great time on the Brew Cycle!  These are popping up in many cities, but this was my first experience and it was quite a good time!  It is basically a giant cycle, steered by a sober employee, while we pedal to three local microbreweries.  Steph had even prepared a songlist featuring the songs from our old-school college days!  We were able to connect our ipod to their speaker system and jam out as we pedaled down the streets of Portland.  So much fun! Two of the microbreweries we stopped at included Lucky Labrador and Bridgeport Brewing.
Our limo for the night!
Steph and Bets
Laurie on The Brew Cycle
Karen, Steph, and I at Lucky Labrador 
A Portland shout out to Iowa... 
Abby and Betsy at Bridgeport Brewing
Up to no good... 
We even had some hula hooping fun on the streets of Portland! 

The following day we walked to Pine State Biscuits for breakfast.  Unique and awesome.  Get there early. I had this delicious andouille sausage corn dog with spicy mustard.  Hell yeah!  That is what I call a breakfast!
Andouille heaven...
Then we headed to the Sandy River with tubes in tow to float down the river! Our cooler even had its own tube.  Priorities, y'all.
Seven hot bitches... 
Some other great places we dined were The Jade Teahouse, Pok Pok Noi, as well as The Box Social for a cocktail, and Salt and Straw featured huge portions of unique ice cream flavors.  All were very good!
Delicious meal at The Jade Teahouse
Abby and I at the Box Social 
Overall, it was a wonderfully fun weekend with great family and friends, and I was so glad I went. I miss my girlfriends so much.  

Then it was back to reality...