Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Daily Struggle

So I happened to watch O.prah yesterday and the episode was all about weight loss and the fact that it is a constant struggle. They showed many of the Biggest Loser contestants and talked about their fight to maintain healthy weights. I loved the point that they made that being healthy requires a conscious daily choice. I have found this to be true. For the past eight weeks I have been trying to make healthier choices and I feel like I have been successful. For incentive, I joined a weight loss competition with some friends and their family members. For motivation, I committed to specific weight loss goals. For a challenge, I decided to forgo cakes, cookies, sweets, etc. during the entire eight weeks. For my health, I decided to exercise at least five times a week and to vary between aerobic and strength training activities. For Abigail, I kept track of the food I ate using Weight Watchers points to make sure that I was eating enough. It is amazing how much you get to eat while you are nursing.
The competition ended on Wednesday and I feel very satisfied. I exceeded my weight loss goals, managed to avoid treats (except for a few rare and bite size exceptions), and exercised regularly. I feel enthused and great! It is amazing what your body will do for you if you take good care of it. To top it off, I won the competition and ended up becoming the biggest loser. I didn't join the competition to win, but I am proud of myself for my hard work and dedication.
Thanks to Benjamin for supporting me and always encouraging me to exercise. Thanks for not eating sweets in front of me too often.
Thanks to friends and family who provided healthy options while we visited and who weren't offended when I turned down sweets.
Thanks to Jessica for walking with me all over Iowa City.
Thanks to Abigail for loving me no matter what I do and for enjoying long stroller rides.
Thanks to Tawnya for her example and her encouragement.
Thanks to all of you who noticed that I have been losing weight without me telling you.
I'm usually pretty private about weight loss, I can't believe I am even posting this, so no full body shots. The following pictures are what you get. :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Abby's First Road Trip

We love to travel and visit new places, as well as visit friends and family. Since Abigail is approaching her six month mark we decided to let her in on the action. We left the Monday after finals week at the university and headed south to St. Louis, MI. We stopped in Hannibal and learned all about Mark Twain and the town that loves him. Did you know that 'mark twain' is a phrase that he learned during his steamboat days? It means two fathoms which was the depth necessary for a steamboat to safely proceed full speed ahead. Abigail wasn't too impressed with the museums and preferred sitting out in the grass. I posted a video of her playing in the Hannibal grass with a water bottle a couple days ago, you should watch it. If you already have, then watch it again. I've watched it several times just today.

We then spent the week in St. Louis visiting with some good friends. They have two beautiful daughters, one who is only a week younger than Abigail. I loved seeing how similar they are in the way that they acted. We played games, talked, and enjoyed staying there. They were the perfect hosts and took good care of us. They even put up with the fact the Abigail got sick, followed by me, and then by Ben.

We saw the Zoo (FREE-who's ever heard of a free zoo?), the Botanical gardens (free for residents and their guests on Wednesday mornings), a sculpture park, the Ulysses S. Grant Historical Site (also free, imagine that), the Gateway Arch (free because we didn't ride up to the top), and the Capital building. Ben also visited the History museum and the Science museum while I was sick resting. He even took Abigail for the afternoon.

We tried some of the Missouri fare including Imo's pizza, Blueberry Hill burgers, and toasted ravioli (breaded ravioli fried). Yum!

On Friday we headed off towards my cousin's house in Champaign, IL. We made sure to stop in the dinky little town that the map noted contained the largest ketchup bottle (really just a water tower painted to look like a ketchup bottle). Ben was super excited to see it even though it was difficult to find, unadvertised, and seemingly overlooked and under appreciated by the community as a whole.

The map also indicated that we could visit the "Lincoln cabins." We arrived there at 4:45 p.m. after driving off the beaten path for twenty minutes only to find out that they close down at 5:00 p.m. Even more disappointing was the realization that these cabins belonged to Abraham Lincoln's father and that the famous president never resided within those walls. However, what we were able to see in the five minutes left after the tour guide told us all the details about his grandchildren and their lives was really cool. Maybe we'll go back someday when we have more time.

Congrats to you, reader, if you have made it this far. I hope that you find it interesting. If not, that is okay as well. I am a horrible journal writer, but I love blogging. So this will have to count as my journal for this trip. Keep reading, there's more. :) I promise that pictures are coming.

We arrived at Shelly's in the afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed a relaxing weekend meeting her new babies and reacquainting ourselves with her beautiful girls. We also were privileged to have another cousin, Janene, make the trip down to visit us as well. We enjoyed watching movies, trying out WiiFit, jumping on the trampoline, playing "Pass"and "Farkle," reading books, eating yummy food prepared by various chefs, holding and feeding babies, talking, and just relaxing.
Abigail was a great traveler most of the time and Ben even braved feeding her rice cereal in the car. Good job Ben. On the whole, despite the runny noses, the fatigue, and the coughs, we had an enjoyable trip. We'll have to do it again soon. Maybe we'll drive to Utah.

In this photo, I am holding Brooklyn and Janene is holding Bradford.

Here are the three babies all trying to eat their toes.

Abs loved to eat dad's hair and was smiling like crazy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It finally happened!

Just thought I'd let everyone in on the good news. We received our car insurance renewal in the mail the other day and I finally have a perfectly spotless driving record, according to both the state of Iowa and State Farm insurance. I haven't had a clean driving record since I first got my driver's license. My first speeding ticket came within the first few months of having my license, and there were several other speeding tickets and accidents that followed, about once a year or so. Now in 2009 it's been three long years since the last blemish on the record and thus all the tickets and accidents are no longer factored into my car insurance rates. It's great. I've been restored to good standing at long last. Finally being 26 helps a lot with the insurance rates, too.

Two Reasons to Smile

1: She sits up and smiles at the same time.

2: I finally caught her rolling over on tape. Watch out world!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

You Might Not Believe It, but It's True.

Do you remember the tree? Yeah, the one that got struck by lightning and met its match with a chainshaw? Well we've (mostly Katie) been bothered by the stump in the ground ever since. So last Saturday we (mostly Katie) decided to dig it out. Ben was skeptical (so was Katie but she didn't mention it) but pitched in anyway. I learned how to do it by watching a Youtube video. We first dug the trench and then hacked away at the roots. Abs was great and spent a lot of the time hanging out by us in the exersaucer. Our kind neighbors across the street saw us (they probably felt bad for us as well as skeptical) and brought over saws and shovels to make the job easier. And. . .
WE DID IT! We, two lilly white handed computer nerds, successfully removed a pine tree stump from our yard. Next step: plant grass. YEA! Pics of a frontal view of the house with grass will be forthcoming.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Spit Up

Doesn't she look proud of herself???

Friday, May 15, 2009

Five Months Old

For Abigail's five month birthday, May 9th, we celebrated by taking her to Tulip Time in Pella, Iowa. This small community celebrates their Dutch heritage with a city festival known as tulip time. The weather was beautiful and we couldn't have picked a more perfect day. Thanks to our friends for the ride there and back. We also met up with some other friends in Pella and it was great to see them and their families. We spent the day wandering through gardens, trying out the Dutch pastries, nursing babies, waiting in line at the lunch vendors, watching the parade, and just wandering through the picturesque town. We managed to keep Abs out of the sun, but mom and dad were crispy by the end of the day and are still peeling. Ugh. Enjoy the photos of the tulips and the baby! The first picture was taken by Jessica of Mommy Creations, she's the same person who took my maternity pictures and she does a great job.

Things that Abigail can do now that she is five months old:

She can sit up, especially out in the grass where she can balance herself by pulling grass.
Her two bottom teeth broke through on Sunday.
She babbles like crazy. She talks away when in the stroller on walks.
She's not too keen on rolling (although she has gone both ways in the past) and hasn't rolled in over a week.
She loves to stand in the Exersaucer.
She started sleeping through the night again now that her teeth came in. YAY!!!!
She loves to grab her feet and can pull her socks off and into her mouth.
She sucks on anything and everything that she can find.
She learned to pull the bracelets off her wrist and tried to put them in our mouth. Aaaah!
She eats rice cereal and oatmeal like a champ and can't seem to get enough.
She is very expressive and opinionated already.
She loves to blow raspberries.
She likes to stand up on her legs while holding on to someones finger.
She loves to swing in the baby swings at the park. (see picture below on previous post)
She laughs and giggles and smiles all the time, especially for her daddy.
She still needs to be swaddled and pacified in order to sleep.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Sun

I love spring! I love the beautiful weather, the green trees and grass. The beautiful buds and the associated smells. I especially love the sun. It somehow is able to lift my spirits and bring joy to my life. The long dreary winter is over and the sun is shining. The sun provides life to all on this planet and death would result without it. The flowers and plants grow towards the sun, eager to soak up its rays.

Yet sometimes the clouds return, harrumph, and they block the sun's rays. On these dreary days I find myself feeling sadder and my energy level drops. The sun gives me strength and energy. I seem to have a seasonal disorder of some sort.

As I was pondering on this phenomenon this week, I was reminded of Jesus Christ. He is the source of light and truth. He brings happiness to our lives and lights our minds with peace and joy. He is the creator of the beautiful Earth as well as its Savior. Sometimes I let distractions and sin block His rays and it is during those times that I feel gloomy and sad. I am so grateful for prayer, scripture study, and obedience which all help me to break up the "clouds" and to let the light of Christ shine more fully into my life. He is not only 'the Son,' he is also 'the sun' that gives light to our lives.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy mother's day to all women everywhere. I am so grateful for women and the influence that they have had in my life. Being a mother has really helped me learn to appreciate the wonderful sacrifices that are made in rearing one's own children and in helping other women with their children. I know that I am who I am due to the great women that have surrounded me all of my life. Thanks to all of you. I hope that I can be as good of a mother to all those around me and especially to Abigail.

Thank you grandma for making the most PERFECT outfit for Abs. She looks so adorable in it. I took a lot of pictures, but they just don't do it justice. Thanks. Oh, and she thinks it's tasty.


My husband is perfect. He truly is perfect for me and I love what a wonderful man he is. Thanks for being so sweet. I woke up this morning and for mother's day found out that Ben has been keeping a journal since August of reasons why he loves me. It has been so fun to read through these and to be reminded of all the fun times that we have had. I love you too Ben!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Abigail's First Election...

This is Abigail showing up for her first election this last Tuesday. It was for a vote on a local sales tax increase to pay for flood recovery.

Doesn't she look excited to do be doing her civic duty!? (At this age, her civic duty consists of merely observing as the democratic process takes place.) Her daddy is very proud of her for her participation in what is sure to be one of many such experiences throughout her life...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ten Things that I Learned While Traveling Alone With an Infant

March 2009: Trip to Utah, four flights and then some.

Number 10Flying part A: In order to successfully get through security, one has to take off their shoes, search through their diaper bag and locate all liquids and place them in a small Ziploc bag, detach the car seat from the stroller and move the handle all the way back, fold up the stroller and lift it and the car seat onto the belt, put diaper bag onto belt, push everything down the pike, all while holding a BABY and the boarding passes and ID. Be warned that there will be myriads of people (somewhat impatient) behind you in line watching you as you perform this juggling act. Amazingly, they all let you struggle alone. Then you have to walk through the detector and proceed to put everything back together. It definitely requires a supermom. (In order to avoid this problem on the way back I checked the car seat and the stroller and carried the baby in a ring sling. Things went much more smoothly. . .except for when they patted me down.)

Number 9
Flying part B: Experts recommend that you nurse your baby as the plane ascends and descends. HA! You try nursing a baby in seats that barely accommodate a regular sized person. Imagine your elbows trying not to jab the embarrassed man seated next to you and the busy stewardesses as they barrel the drink cart down the aisle all while trying to soothe a screaming baby (and not spray milk all over everything). Just imagine that scenario through four ascents plus four more descents.

Number 8Flying part C: Everyone extols the ‘children under two fly free’ policy. I can now see why it is free. Most human beings couldn’t be paid to sit in an airplane for several hours with a baby on their lap. You can’t rest, you can’t relax, you can’t even move. You are so worried that the baby might cry, be fussy, fall off the seat, vomit on your neighbor, bonk their head, etc. Most people try to sleep or read in order pass the time quickly while flying. That won’t happen when your hands are busy with the infant. Mine was even good and slept for short periods on all four flights. Even with this great luck, I didn’t dare move to even take a sip of water or read the book that I had brought with me for fear that she would wake. My arms were aching by the end, but better me uncomfortable than her screaming.

Number 7
Flying part D: Using a public bathroom with an infant can be tricky in all circumstances. What do you do with the baby? You can’t set her on the floor. Ewww. You can’t leave her with a stranger. Yikes. Do you hold her in your hands or what about the ring sling? Do you just hold it and hope you’ll last? That might work for those of you who have never delivered an infant, but for most postpartum moms holding it that long isn’t an option. Some airports have a family restroom that comes equipped with a baby carrier seat, but I couldn’t find one and the straps on the changing table were broken. Nothing is ever simple.

Number 6Your airplane troubles are forgotten as you (or mostly your child) are received into the loving arms of your child’s devoted fan club. They shower you with special treatment because you brought the object of their affection to within arms reach. Take advantage of the special treats (purple skittles), the dinners out, the homemade frozen yogurt, muddy buddies, funeral potatoes, roast, pizza, tacos, etc. Hopefully these things will help you cope with the realization that you are only important now as the mother of the baby and that the baby is the center of attention.

Number 5Although the ‘fans’ seem devoted to the precious bundle and they seem willing to do anything to make her smile. . .be prepared to have that baby fly (no pun intended) back into your arms as soon as there is any sign that their diaper needs changing. The grandmothers say that they have taken their turn when you were a kid and the nonparents politely decline the offer. But don’t be too sad, at least you get to see and interact with your baby for a few seconds before she is whisked away to be held until the next time she has needs.

Number 4
Vacationing is fun and all, but there is never enough time to do everything that you want to do and to see everyone that you want to see. This is especially true if you are trying to plan around your little one’s naps and feeding schedule. It would be ideal if everyone would just come to you, but somehow they seem to have jobs and responsibilities. Ugh. Sorry if you were one of the ones I didn’t see, maybe you should’ve just dropped everything and come running.

Number 3
WARNING: Babies that are held constantly for two weeks while on vacation will continue to want to be held upon arriving home.

Number 2
If the baby ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. . .except maybe the grandmothers who feel a little vindicated that you are going through the same things that they went through with you. You’ve heard the phrase “I hope you have a child just like you,” now they’re glad the prophecy came true. No really, if the baby misses a nap or her schedule is thrown off, then your sleep will be affected likewise.

Number 1
Vacationing with a baby is no longer a vacation. It’s hard work but totally worth it. . .I think.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Just for Comparison...

Katie as a baby:

Ben as a baby:

Abigail (currently a baby):

Notice any family resemblance?

More Baby Pictures

Here are some more pictures of Abigail. We went for a walk this afternoon. She really enjoys being carried around in the baby carrier (see the last photo). We tried to get her to smile for the camera. The only successful strategy was blowing into her ear (first picture). Enjoy!

Beautiful Iowa City

With apologies to all our Rocky Mountain friends, I think the Midwest sure is beautiful, especially in the spring. All the trees are blossoming in Iowa City and it's about 65 degrees. Perfect! The first picture is the street we live on (behind the red tree on the right). The others are trails and streets close to our home.