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State Park

There is a pretty awesome state park just a mile or so from our house. We’ve already been three times, and I’m planning on having Eleanor’s first birthday party at one of the smaller parks near there. Nathan tested out his new Kelty carrier with Eleanor. She loves it! And we set out on a short 3 mile hike on Thursday. It was grey and cloudy at the start of the day and then the clouds parted. Beautiful sun rays poured through the tall pine trees, and then we found the river. We spotted over 20 turtles! This park also has quite a few camp sites including primitive camping. We hope to go sometime in March or April.

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Expecting…!

Our little family is growing once again. We are expecting baby number 2 in early September! We are happy, nervous, and excited!

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The Balance

Some days when I get home from work Eleanor is only content near, on, around, under, over or in my arms. Some days when I get home from work all I want to do is go to bed. It’s tough finding a balance. Today was one of those days. She is darn cute, though.

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Christmas!

I hope your Christmas was merry and bright. I decided to push past this monster cold and back ache to thoroughly enjoy mine! It made my entire day seeing Eleanor’s face light up when I put her down in front of the tree. She knew something special was going on. She looked back at me and then reached for the Raggedy Ann doll that Santa brought her!

It was a nice, relaxing day full of Santa surprises. But best of all it was spent with my new little family.

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Top Baby Blogs

My favorite girl.

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It’s amazing what this little, big community can do in such a short time. In just the past few months I have met so many mothers and amazing women who have been such a blessing to me as I began my journey in to motherhood. Seriously! I know I’ve said it before, but it is so comforting to know so many other people are going through the same things I am – and I definitely wouldn’t have had that connection without Top Baby Blogs!

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Memorial Day Weekend

Our visit from the lovely Miss Candyce was wonderful!

Memorial Day Weekend

She pretty much rocks as much as her tangerine hair does (if not more)! It was the first on-the-go weekend we’ve had with Eleanor and while I was a bit nervous at first I think our little babe enjoyed herself. Saturday we just hung out at our house, made homemade pizzas and garden salads and drank wine. It was fun to just catch up! Sunday it rained like crazy! We had plans to go to brunch and I was starving so the rain was not going to keep me away. We finally had brunch at Birchwood Kitchen (I’ve only ever had lunch there). It definitely lived up to the hype.

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend

Metropolis Coffee = yum + GBLT (what’s that you say? Oh just an open faced BLT with Gravlax Salmon!)

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend

Candyce works for a really cool little cafe in St. Pete, Florida, and so of course we had to take her to all our favorites here. Plus do a bit more cooking of our own. The rain did not let up Sunday so we decided to have a bakeoff! I don’t have the pictures of that yet, but it was delicious. On Monday all our favorite thrift stores were 1/2 off so we headed out on a spree! We hit up three or four and came away with some awesome goodies. I got 4 dresses for a total of $5! I am hoping to alter a few soon (take off some sleeves, raise a hem line). We also met this guy.

Memorial Day Weekend

Then off we went to Wicker Park but not before picking up Sultans.

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend

Did I mention it was 90 degrees that day? Eleanor’s face says it all.
I actually went to bed at 7 pm that night! We had plans to go to the concert in Millenium Park but El and I had had enough of the heat.

Tuesday we were at it again! We hit up the Sears Tower to visit Nathan, Millenium Park, the Art Institute, and Anthropologie! Like I mentioned I haven’t had a lot of day excursions with Eleanor so I haven’t really had to nurse her in public at all (okay once). This weekend I became a pro. I was super nervous about it in the beginning but by the end of Tuesday I feel a bit more confident. I don’t have a proper cover just random receiving blankets but for the most part they do the trick as long as Eleanor isn’t completely under them. It’s too hot for that. So this weekend she got her milk on in the Sears Tower, outside of the Art Institute, in the Art Institute, in a couple cafes and the park! Dang girl likes to eat! This photo is definitely going in her baby book!

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Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend

And, we even had time to take a family photo!

Family Portrait

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Mary Mary Quite Contrary

We’ve tried to soak up as much outdoor time as possible the past few days. Eleanor is starting to love it especially when the sun isn’t in her eyes! I keep joking with the neighbors that last year the garden took one day to put in and this year it has taken 10 weeks! But it has been so much more fun this year, too. We have been out in the garden more which has created a lot of neighborhood buzz, and I think we are already showing Eleanor how much the outdoors mean to us as individuals and as a family.

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We have so much growing in the garden right now!
Peas, radishes, boxwood basil, purple basil, regular ole basil, dill, peppermint, lettuce, cucumbers, swiss chard, tomatoes (cherry, big boy and roma), green, red and lilac peppers, carrots, beets, yellow squash, butternut squash, zucchini, and green beans! We just have to get corn seedlings sometime in the next two weeks and put those in and we will be set – oh and I need to desperately plant the potatoes! It might seem odd that we have so many cool and hot weather plants going at the same time, but since we started 10 weeks ago a lot of our plants are growing in succession. Last night I made one of our first meals with our radishes – Stir fried chicken with lime, chile, and radish. And, it was delicious!

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Pea sprouts

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Nathan dug up along the fence line this weekend between our house and our neighbors to plant more peas and cucumbers. Our neighbor is this funny little man from Puerto Rico who fixes bicycles, raises pigeons, plays the cowbell, and seriously speaks to dogs! He is always asking about the baby and giving us gardening gloves! I have about ten new pair of gardening gloves now. So we thought we would return the favor with as many fresh cucumbers he would like to have!

I put Eleanor in the Baby Bjorn facing forward for the first time yesterday, and we enjoyed a nice walk through all of our community gardens. One of the many great things about living in Chicago and Humboldt Park is the numerous community gardens. I love strolling through them to see what everyone else has growing. One had the biggest lilac bush (shhh I snapped a few off to put in a vase at home).

Nathan also set up the garden table out front for me to enjoy during the morning sun. This weekend I squeezed some reading and coffee time in, and it was lovely (even the pigeons think so).

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Today Eleanor and I have a date with two other mama’s and their babies! I’m super excited, and need to go get dressed. It’s barely 50 degrees out and raining, so I suspect we will be in doors for this one.

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Confession

I have a confession.
I’ve been hanging on to it kind of tightly. I don’t know why.

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I miss being pregnant.
I figured I would. But not so suddenly.
Probably the same way I will miss my baby when she is running around the yard gabbing about the birds and the trees.

It was truly an amazing experience.
I feel lucky.

Birth Story Part 1

Since I tend to be long winded at times, and I wanted to remember as much as possible my birth story is rather lengthy. I’ve separated in to two parts for ease of digestion.
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It’s been four weeks since we met Eleanor, since I became a mother, Nathan a father, and all of us a family. I’ve been thinking about our birth story, and wondering how I can put an experience so magnificent and transformative into words. It is nearly impossible. The emotion that rolls through my body as I think about bringing our baby girl in to the world is so pure and lives with me every moment of the day. I’m going to try my best to remember it here.

Friday morning I woke up at 3 am, and I could not go back to sleep. I sat in the living room for a bit rubbing my belly, my baby and wondering if I would ever meet this little girl who had made my body home for 9 months. I was already 9 days overdue, and had our second nonstress test scheduled later that day. I wanted more than anything to meet our baby, but I also wanted to trust that my body would be able to bring her to us as nature intended. I remember as our due date drew near that I began to worry more and more about the possibility of our labor and delivery being augmented. I cried at least every other day with the fear that she would never come. In my head I was sure I would be pregnant forever. Nathan always assured me to not worry until we needed to, but that’s like telling a dog not to eat a bone. I worry – often and unnecessarily. I was more tired of worrying about not having the natural birth we wanted than I was of being pregnant, and I knew this was dangerous.

I stayed up until about 6 am that morning just thinking, tossing, turning, and wondering if it were possible for her to come before our noon appointment at the midwife clinic. I somehow finally fell back to sleep repeating positively, “I will have our baby today. I will have our baby today.”

Nathan and I then woke up somewhere around 10 am, and started to get ready. We made plans to leave a little early so we could grab some sugar! Baby girl was asleep during our last nonstress test and we wanted to avoid this. As I was putting on my clothes that day I started to cry. Nathan got up from his chair to hug me, and I just looked him in the eyes and said, “I’m so tired.” I just melted in his arms for a minute trying to calm myself down. And, we headed out to pick up a snickers and a Hawaiin Punch, and made our way downtown.

Once we were in the office Amy our midwife who performed the last nonstress test walked by. “I so thought you would have gone in to labor!” she said. “Me, too.” I replied with a smile. We had tried everything – membranes stripped, raspberry tea, evening primrose oil, pineapple (I ate two), sex! But baby girl had other ideas, and she was not ready. We were called in to our room, and my blood pressure and protein levels were all fine. Amy did things a little different this time, and performed an internal exam first. I had remained at the same place for the past two days – 3 cm and 100% effaced. She stripped my membranes again – intensely, I might add, to the point that it drew tears to my eyes. I remember her apologizing for hurting me, and I said, “It’s okay. It’s not the first time I’ve cried today.” Then she brought in the ultrasound machine. At our last appointment the machine was pointed towards me so I could see everything, but this time I couldn’t see anything. I tried to strain my head to take a glance but it was impossible at my angle. And, Amy was really quiet.

She says, “It looks like you need to have a baby today. These levels are low.” And, I remember a wave of fear and anxiety wash over me. I felt frozen. She went to get the technician to confirm, and laying down, my belly exposed and cold with gel I just stared at Nathan. Frozen. The tech came in, and together they threw a couple of numbers around. And, Amy said again, “Yeah the levels are down from Wednesday, looks like you need to go to the hospital to be induced!” Her tone was so upsetting to me because it seemed so removed from the moment. Instead of realizing that I had wanted a natural birth, that I had tears in my eyes, that I had said nothing up to this point and delivering the message a little softer for example “I know this isn’t what you had planned but it’s for the best …etc. etc. etc.” she just threw exclamations of induction out at every corner. I wanted to scream and yell. But I couldn’t. All I could do was cry.
I didn’t understand.
What do these levels mean?
Nathan asked her a lot of questions about the baby’s health, about amniotic fluids, about induction. I don’t know how he did it – reacted with such ease and calmness as I panicked inside. But he did. She seemed agitated by it; her voice even raised at one point. We weren’t combatting the issue at all, but we wanted to know why and how this was happening. And, I think that is fair. Finally she explained that any amniotic fluid levels below a 5 were low and could put the baby at risk. We had two pockets that were at a 4, and two other pockets that were at a 7. In my head I wondered if it was the baby’s position in my belly. Could I get her to scoot over a little to the right to even out the pockets? I finally mustered up the energy to ask if I could be taken off the pitocin drip at any point if my body took over. Her response is that doesn’t happen so basically no. She kept referring to a number. “Well if the number needs to decrease then we can do that.” What number? I don’t know what you are talking about. I thought it my head.

We were told to go straight to the hospital.
No. My eyes screamed no, and Nathan knew.
I asked, “Can’t we go home and get our things?”
“No, you can go to the hospital and your husband can pick up your things.”
“No, I want to go home and get our things, calm down, and figure out what to do with our pets.”
Nathan confirmed it.
She says, “Well we need to check the baby’s heart beat, and if it’s not what I want to see you have to go to the hospital now.”
So I was hooked up to the heart monitor. I drank my Hawaiin Punch in no time, and tried to stop crying. Stop crying I told myself. You are going to have a baby today. You are exhausting yourself already. Stop crying.
Thankfully baby girl was happy as can be, and her heart rate was perfect. Amy came back in, “It’s against my recommendations but you can go home to get your things. Just don’t take hours.”

I remember at some point Nathan saying that he thought I was crying so much because I was finally hit with the reality that sometime in the next day we would have a child. I denied it at the time, but looking back I can see this being the case somewhat. I had imagined the moment of realizing you were going to have a child in your arms as something completely different than this sterile doctor’s office with elevator music playing in the back ground.

We left the office, and made a few phone calls on our way home. It was about 1:30 pm. I knew I had to eat something because I wouldn’t be able to while at the hospital. I had a bagel with cream cheese and some grapes. Nathan took a shower, called his work to confirm his maternity leave, and we started gathering our bags. We were both quiet, methodically working together without saying a word. And, then we caught each other in the dining room in an embrace. We both had tears in our eyes. We were about to do this. The time had come.