Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ho, Ho, Ho & Happy New Year!

I’ve been having a glimpse into what maternity leave might be like, as I’ve been away from work since the day before Christmas Eve. Granted, I’m much more able to get things done now than I will be once the baby comes, but that doesn’t mean I do a whole lot – some cleaning, some sewing, some shopping, some baby prep...The time at home has been nice, but it’s gone by quickly, probably since we weren’t really even at home until a couple days ago. Just enough time to put the crib together!!

The celebrating kicked off on the 23rd, which was Diana’s 5th birthday. After presents, dinner, and yummy cupcakes, we headed straight to Elysian.

The rest of the Byrons made their way to the lake house the next day, making for a full and fun Christmas Eve. The day got off to a good start when Santa stopped by, before continuing on his way to China!

Next up on the Christmas Eve agenda was a re-enactment of the Nativity Story. In order to play the part she so wanted for her school performance (the Star!), Diana figured out that it pays to also be the director. In the end, Jena was given the role of the Star, Diana and the other girls were angels, Baxter was the little lamb, Danny was Baby Jesus, and the boys were the Wise Guys...I mean Wise Men.

I always miss “home” at Christmastime, especially the lovely services my Dad puts together. This year I missed them all even more, despite having seen most of the family just a few weeks earlier, for two reasons:

1 - All of my family made it to NC for Christmas...and I still haven't heard any stories!
2 - It was a balmy 70 degrees in NC, while Patrick and I tried to find the warmest clothes possible to survive our lovely 3-degree night!

The next couple days were mostly spent lounging about. Spud and I got to enjoy some quality rest time, in between his increasingly active awake moments. This kiddo is getting big and strong! I still can’t tell exactly which body part is poking about, but I certainly enjoy watching him (and my belly) shake!

The Christmas week ended with an extended Byron get-together. After lunch and the circle of gifts, we ended the night at a St. Paul Irish Pub - good music, good company, and good games!

Last night was New Year’s Eve and also our 4th wedding anniversary. Time is certainly flying by! I must admit, though, I’m very excited for 2009…If it’s anything like this year, we’re in for some fun times!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's Christmas Time in the City

I am now 100% in the Christmas spirit, for 3 reasons:

1 - Our (fresh) Christmas tree is up and decorated. And I think it’s just beautiful. (And yes, I put Christmas music on while I was decorating it. I can't help myself!!)

2: My first Christmas party of the season was last night. Actually, it was the second Christmas party of the season, but I missed the first because I was home with fevers. Now I have a huge platter of shrimp cocktail in the freezer, and I’m not sure when it’ll get eaten. I also had an entire carrot cake, but that somehow disappeared...

3 - I'm totally and completely done with my Christmas shopping! Yep, that's right - almost 2 weeks to go, and I'm all done. This is mostly due to the fact that I spent the majority of last week working from home, since I came down with the flu. (It's really not fair, especially since I had my first flu shot ever about a month ago.) While the obvious benefits were nice - not showering til 2 pm, working in my pajamas on the couch, etc., the secondary benefit was the chance to complete my gift shopping during my "lunch breaks". The stores are actually quite manageable on a mid-week early afternoon...I just had to make sure to get in and out before I felt faint and/or sick...some of those stores are WARM! Oh yeah - the other slight disadvantage to shopping under pleasant conditions: some of those sales are just sooo it wrong to buy myself (and Spud) a few presents while I'm out there?? I sure hope not!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanksgiving in North Carolina

Thanksgiving was again spent with my side of the family this year. But unlike last year (the entire family spent a week together in Orlando...I love the sun!!), none of the older kids made the trip with us. Instead, we got to spend lots of time with the youngest half of the family - including Leah (who was on break from App State). It's great to see that not a whole lot changes between visits - if you don't count the fact that Ty grew about 6 inches and Leah picked up a new hair style.

Patrick and I flew into North Carolina on Thanksgiving Day - which meant I got to watch the always-corny (but never-missed) Macy's Day Parade before we left. In addition to my immediate family, my Aunt Dale and her family and my grandma were also there. Sadly, my grandma came down with pneumonia the day after we arrived and since Patrick (rightfully so) banned me from entering the hospital, I didn't get to see her as much as I had hoped.

Thanksgiving dinner, howeverm was yummy, as always - and I took full advantage of the miniature-sized baby in my belly to have seconds (or maybe thirds...) of everything!

My dad's side of the family was also in NC, staying at my aunt's lovely lake home. All of us girls headed up there on Friday for an afternoon of eating and gift opening.

#1 highlight: strawberry jello pretzel dish

#2 highlight: adorable baby gifts!

Patrick and I returned home with 2 new extra large suitcases full of baby gifts and clothes (thank you EVERYONE - I'm overwhelmed by your generosity and thoughtfulness!), an acute need for closet organizers and hangers for the baby room, and a larger baby belly than when we left!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Music and Machines!

Last week, Patrick got a new toy...Rock Band 2! While in real life he has less-than-average musical ability, his intense love and appreciation for music, combined with his above-average interest in video games (hey, it pays the bills!), makes this a virtual hit. He's currently plunking on the guitar, which I must say is a much better option (for all of us) than the microphone. I never knew he had such a wide vocal range: 3 octaves at least! (Unfortunately, I don't think most songs demand that kind of range...!)

Speaking of music, I realized recently how much music Spud is exposed to already. I listen to music constantly at work, every time I’m in the car, and some evenings before Patrick gets home and turns the TV on. Now that all 5 of his senses are developed, I hope he appreciates the musical environment he’s being brought up in.

All 5 senses you ask? Yep – my pregnancy update email informed me that my little potato can now hear Patrick laugh (and really, who couldn’t?), feel me nudge him while I’m lying in bed just to make sure he’s still real (and because I love watching my belly dance!), taste variances in the amniotic fluid (which my diet can apparently impact), smell whatever it is he might be smelling in there, and see light and dark. When I read that last part, I worried that I might end up with a baby with eyesight like a mole, since I always wear at least 2 layers of clothes – so now I walk around randomly flashing my belly to the light as often as possible, so Spud can actually get an idea of what light looks like before he’s jarringly made aware of it.

Then on Saturday, we headed to New Richland, MN for Patrick's grandfather's farm auction. After almost 80 years of farm work, George has finally decided to retire. (Although we all know he hung onto at least one tractor and a few other pieces of equipment....just in case!) The day was truly a unique and special event. Nearly 500 people attended (someone from Alaska even called in to bid!), dressed warmly in coveralls and work coats. The auctioneer was straight out of a movie - I was actually surprised at how much I understood him.

Besides being a memorable cultural experience, the auction brought together nearly all of the extended Byron family. After the auction wrapped up, we spent the next several hours together in the emptied-out machine shed reconnecting with distant relatives, eating, drinking, and sharing stories. Of course, I mostly ate...but who can expect me to resist all those yummy treats?!?! Spud clearly loves the sweets.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's Winter!

Snow came to our neck of the woods last week. And ever since it's been freezing. I guess winter really is coming here this year. I always forget how cold it gets. In the fall I think...winter's not so bad. I can wear big sweaters and have fires and drink hot chocolate...and then winter actually comes and I end up sitting in my house in the dark (seriously - the sun sets at 5 pm!) and shiver. Thank heavens for electric heating pads! (Don't worry - I don't bake Spud. I just put it in my bed before I get in and can be sufficiently warm all on my own.) Thank heavens also for new, energy efficient heaters. Because, as Patrick keeps reminding me, this baby probably won't be as tolerant of the cool temps as he and I. Don't worry baby - I'll keep things as warm as you need it!!

Speaking of Baby...we’ve made quite a good amount of progress recently. We visited Patrick’s mom in Des Moines a few weeks ago, where we not only got some fun things for the baby (crib sheets and blankets!), but also added to my meager maternity wardrobe. I tried on basically every item in the store, while Patrick stared confusedly at the pants with the stretchy panels and Wendy kept reminding me…you’re going to get a LOT bigger, don’t you want to try a bigger size?

Then the following weekend, my sister-in-law Jena and I spent an entire day together looking at adorable baby stores, picking out fabric, and painting the nursery. Actually, that last part was pretty much ALL Jena, since I have great artistic vision (if I don’t say so myself) but none of the patience needed to actually achieve that vision. Luckily for me (and Spud), Jena not only has the artistic eye, but the skill and patience to match. Thanks Jena!!

Once the paint dried, Patrick and I started moving in the furniture. We still need to order the crib (which will go underneath the window on the circle wall), update some lights, maybe install a ceiling fan, add some drapes, hang some art on the wall (I'm having a terrible time deciding what to put in there!), and find a storage space for our cable modem and wires. But other than that, I'm feeling really good about it!

One last bit of pregnancy progress became apparent when Jena and I were having dinner at a pizza restaurant in uptown. I ordered a root beer with dinner, which was served in a plain brown bottle (with no label). Jena informed me that the lady at the table next to us kept looking at my belly, looking at the bottle, and whispering to her husband while casting evil glances our way. I wasn’t bothered in the least – in fact I was kind of excited. So…that means I look pregnant?!?!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pregnancy - In 2 Lists

I'm now about 22 weeks pregnant - pregnant enough that I've come up with quite a list of things that I LOVE about being pregnant. (And, of course, a bit of a list of things that aren't so much fun...) Read on:

Things I Love:
  • Feeling Baby Spud move. It doesn't happen too often yet, but he had the hiccups last week, which made up for all the days when I don't feel him at all. And he especially seems to like his daddy, as he moves a ton anytime Patrick puts his hand on my belly.
  • Milkshakes. Strawberry. Yum!
  • Baby things. As much as I try not to (for the sake of my bank account), I can't help but love looking at baby things. Strollers, furniture, blankets, clothes, toys - everything!
  • Soft baby blankets. Already mentioned above, I know, but worth calling out again for just how impossibly soft those blankets are!
  • Stretchy waist maternity pants. Not exactly the most flattering thing ever, but they sure do feel good on my belly. Especially after a late-night milkshake...or 2!
  • 25+ names on the baby list. Since we crossed "Patrick" off the name list, there aren't any that Patrick and I feel strongly enough about to disagree on. Of course, we also don't feel strongly enough about any to narrow the list down at all, but that can be done later. Right?
  • Baby bump belts at maternity stores. It's so much fun to tie the bump on top of my current 5-month bump and imagine just how big I'll be in a couple more months! I could be frighteningly huge!
  • 4 more months. I'm looking forward to the remainder of the pregnancy - getting bigger, setting up the nursery, teaching Patrick to change a diaper...Thank God we still have months to go!

Things I don't so much Love:

  • Registry lists. Walk into a Babies R Us and mention you're starting to work on a baby registry and you'll be given a checklist with 100 items on it. 100 items that you must get in order to be a good mother. Right.
  • Maternity clothing options. Why must there be so few affordable options that are cute, stylish, and normal??
  • Anxiety. Every single day I worry that something might go wrong with the pregnancy. I live for my doctor's appointment each month when I can hear the sound of the heartbeat and be assured and re-assured that everything is going perfectly.
  • Pregnancy skin. Dry and prone to break-outs. Every book I read reassures me that it'll go away again once the baby is born. But in the meantime, I'm trying every single bottle of skincare cleanser, lotion, etc. that I can get my hands on. I'm so not used to this!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Halfway There!

Well...I'm now 20 weeks pregnant. The halfway point. Which means I've got only 20 more weeks to go. And still so much to do. I finished cleaning out the baby room today. Actually, I finished starting to clean out the baby room. Next comes the fun part - decorating! My goal is to have the room mostly finished by Christmas. That seems doable, no? I guess it's only doable if I actually start filling the room. Soon....

I went back last week for the second round of anatomy scans. Baby Spud cooperated perfectly, showing his pretty spinal cord and skull the entire time. The technician tried to take another cute baby face picture for me to share with you all, but Spud was adamant in performing his job (as I made sure to remind him all week: just show the nice lady your back, baby, please?).
I've started wearing some of the maternity pants my mom gave me a few weeks ago. They're definitely comfortable (especially after the super-sized steak dinner I had with work last week...with mashed potatoes and vegetables and banana cream pie!), but it seems like I still have a bit of growing to do, as they have a tendency to slip down every time I walk.

My next doctor's appointment is next week and I'm hoping he tells me that Baby is exactly the perfect size, in spite of everyone's reaction of "Are you sure you're pregnant? You don't look pregnant…” Even the ultrasound technician didn't seem convinced until the images popped up on the screen. Time to grow, Spud (just not too big...or we'll have some major issues in about 4 months!)

On a fun note, I went to my first rugby game this past weekend. It was a beautiful fall day - Sunny and 70s! In October! In Minnesota! However, after watching the game - and seeing 2 players go to the hospital with ugly dislocations - I vowed that the sidelines is the closest Spud will ever get to this game.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Baby's First Wedding!

This past weekend we traveled to Huntington, Indiana for Brian Niec's wedding. We got to meet up with many of our college friends, who all live so far away it's just not fair! Especially because they're fun.

Although I was very excited to see old friends, I was also a little nervous going into the weekend, for 2 reasons:

1. We drove. The whole way. Turns out Huntington, Indiana is about 11 hours from my house. Add in the time spent stopping to see relatives and friends in Chicago and you come up with a grand total of nearly 24 hours in a car, in just 3 days. Together. Just the 2 of us. Luckily, I can report that we still actually like each other. But no baby names yet - sorry! (We did, however, cross one name off the list: Patrick Francis Jr. One down, so many more to go...)

2. It was my first sober wedding in many many years.

But all of us - Patrick, Baby Spud, and I - had a great time.

As it turns out, there are several great things about being pregnant at a wedding, despite the fact that I can't drink my favorite beverage of all times - Champagne! I got to indulge in 2 (okay 3) pieces of yummy carrot cake! And no one even gave me a second look. I also got more compliments on how great I look than I ever have in my life. And - best of all - I got to be the person who remembered all the funny parts of the reception. Did you know that watching your drunk friends dance can entertain you for hours? (Especially since they all have the same dance moves as they showed off at college parties 5 years ago!)

It was a lovely wedding and we're glad we made the trip. Even baby got some dancing in! Let's hope he has better moves than his daddy.

Before heading to Indiana, we stopped in Chicago on Friday. We stopped at my cousin's house for a few hours and got to visit with several members of my extended family, including my Grandma! Also there - all 4 of my cousin's daughters. Patrick seemed to be a little overwhelmed for the first 15 minutes, then breathed a huge sigh of relief when he remembered...thank God, we're having a boy!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My How You've Grown!

Last Thursday was my 18-week ultrasound - the anatomy scan. I had one ultrasound early in my first trimester in order to date the pregnancy (it turned out I was 9 weeks along). Having that first ultrasound felt like a big step, but seeing the picture of my baby made me think...mmm, gummy bears. Don't you see the resemblance? (Head on the right, curled up legs / feet at the left.)

Today, however, I can confirm that I am indeed having a baby with flesh and bones. (And not a turtle, as I had feared...).

Isn't that beautiful? Yet how is it possible that this entire baby fits into my belly?

I swear I can feel each belly growth spurt, however minor it may look to everyone else. I know it doesn't look like much in the picture, but to me the growth is amazing! (My jeans are just starting to get tight. Maybe it's just because I'm indulging in my daily cravings for hot chocolate, but in any case, the maternity pants my mom sent me last week will very soon be put to use...)

Anyway, back to the exciting news - Thursday's ultrasound. It was absolutely amazing for both Patrick and me to see the little baby to come to life in front of our eyes - and so reassuring to see that it had all the necessary parts, in all the right places.

Speaking of necessary parts, we were able to confidently (VERY confidently!) confirm that we are having a BOY! We also got to see that this baby is, in fact, a Byron, as it wouldn't sit still for the first 30 minutes, then comfortably lodged itself into the deepest corner and wouldn't budge, meaning I'll have to come back in a week to get the brain anatomy and spinal cord images. Patrick is entirely to blame for that behavior.
But that's okay. I still love him anyway.

Monday, September 29, 2008

18 Weeks Today!

Today I'm officially 18 weeks pregnant. Oh god.

That means that in 2 weeks I'll be half done with this pregnancy (God- willing!!). And while I've definitely put my time in online looking at all the pretty baby things and reading all the happy baby stories, I'm still not actually convinced that I myself will - in just 22 weeks...oh God! - have one of my own.

Here's hoping Patrick is taking care of all the details. (hahahaha)

I'll be posting pictures later this week - I know you can't wait!

In the meantime, I've taken up crocheting again. I've found that it happily distracts me from eating entire bags of Oreos at one sitting. Plus, it'll give me something warm to wrap the little potato in come March. Did I mention that's in 22 weeks? Or that right now it's actually the size of a baked potato? In reality, 22 weeks is plenty of time. This blanket I'm working on will cover my entire bed by then!

One last thought for you think that those annoying people realize that they're annoying too? I was watching E! Fashion Police critique the of the Emmys and some of the "experts" were so incredibly hard to listen to that I wondered...maybe that's what they're going for? Maybe they actually get annoyed by themselves sometimes too, but remind themselves, hey, annoying is who I am and what I do. I have to talk like this because if I don't no one will know I'm worth listening to. Whatever. It appears to work for them, as they're on TV weighing in on the fashions of the rich and famous. And getting paid to do so. I'm just jealous.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Introducing...My Little Potato

Hi everyone,
Per a friend's suggestion, I will be keeping this blog to keep you all updated as to the progress of my pregnancy - my little potato!

Hopefully it will also help me keep track of all the big "milestones" I'm expected to remember years from, the first time I feel the baby move, my favorite cravings, and how big I am at any given moment. Since long-term memory has never been one of my strong points (right Karyn?!) and even worse now that I can actually blame my forgetfulness on "pregnancy brain," this is probably the best possible solution.

Since the ultrasound is this week, I figure now's as good a time as any to get started. Please feel free to let me know how I can improve the site (this is my first time blogging about ANYTHING!)

As this is my first pregnancy, I'm obviously thrilled and excited by every little detail. But, I also realize how tedious and boring most of those details must be for the rest of you. So, I'll do my best to not turn this into one of those horribly annoying "brag book"-type opportunities. It'll just be my way of keeping all of my geographically diverse friends and family in the loop.