Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

I hope you all had a very joyous holiday. I know I did!

Thankfully my mom was able to fly in for the weekend. It was very nice to see her after 4 months.
We spent the weekend laying around, eating and shopping.

It was a year where everyone got thoughtful and surprising gifts and we were all pretty pleased.
My pretty mamma in her new Christmas hat for those cold Northeastern winters! And gettin' lovin' from her puppy dogs

Everyone visiting on Christmas day

The pups got lots of loving

Ernie likes to watch TV sometimes. It's so cute.

The table all set

The spread: Ham, turkey, mac n cheese, dressing, squash, corn, potatoes, brie en croute, cheese bread, salad, gravy, pecan pie, oreo balls, turtle bars, fruit

Some of my haul: houndstooth scarf, purse, Sperrys

Beautiful headband from hubby, boots
 It was a very special Christmas for John and I. He got me many thoughtful things, including getting my car detailed! I can't wait- my car is way overdue for a deep clean.

Monday mom and I braved the stores to pickup some half-off Christmas decorations in preparation for next year. It's always fun unpacking them next year to discover all the new things, since I tend to forget what all we bought.

All in all it was a very relaxing and special times- just how Christmas should be!

Christmas Night 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

So this is not at all Christmas-y but it's been on my mind. Talkin' bout birthin' bebbies.

Ok let me start by saying I have no personal experience in this area...yet. But then again, many OB/GYNs don't have any personal experience in it either, and they are still trusted and respected.

So hear me out (if you want)...

FYI many of you may think this is coming out of left field, but one of my "hidden talents" is that I took the course to become a doula, but never finished my certification. I only attended one birth and three are required. I was in nursing school at the time and pretty busy, and I'm terrible at marketing, so I just let it go. But I've been fascinated with pregnancy and birth practically my whole life. My high school research paper was on Midwifery. I entered nursing school with the intention of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife (but decided the time commitment and crazy schedule and great responsibility was too much). I did a research paper for my bachelor's on Kangaroo Care in the NICU. About half of my nursing career was working with mothers and babies, although in pre-delivery and recovery, not labor and delivery. Anyway, let's just say I do have more than an average knowledge.

I'm certainly at the age where a lot of my friends are having children. And I mean A LOT! Or so it feels. And I've been silently (mostly) troubled by how some of their births have turned out. By births in America in general really. And no, I do not know all the details of every situation. But I am informed on statistics and reports of the INSANE C-section rate in our country and the complete breakdown of natural birth. It's really sad to me that women are not more informed about birth. I can understand that most of us think what our doctors tell is what is best. And I think most of them are doing what they think is best. I think the problem is that they themselves have been misinformed in their training, and they are all worried about being sued. And rightfully so in this highly litigious society we dwell in.

But let me tell you, just because you are told a c-section is the safest route, does not mean it is not without risks. Lest we forget, it is major abdominal surgery. Yes, it is more controlled (if planned and not done emergently) than natural birth and much more predictable. That alone is enough to make some women choose it. But, is that how birth is really meant to be? Are we really meant to circumvent the natural process in this area? Birth is not a sickness. It is not a disease that needs treatment.

I wish that more women could trust in the ability of their own bodies to function as God intended. I am more than aware there are circumstances where natural birth would truly be unsafe. Such as a placenta covering the cervix, an active STD, a congenital defect that could be traumatized during birth, multiples (although natural birth with twins can be safe), a severely pre-term infant, need for emergent delivery to save the life of baby or mother. But most of the c-sections in my circle have not been for these reasons. They've been more like:
"I'm overdue, the baby is too big, the baby is breech (who tries for a version anymore these days?), I was not dilating, I had a c-section before."
Or in medical terms "Post dates, Cephalo-Pelvic Disproportion (CPD), breech, failure to progress, repeat C/S."

Let me tell you that for each of these reasons there's a plethora of research on why they do not necessarily require a c-section. Unfortunately in our "fast-food" society, we want what we want and we want it now! Doctors should inform their patients that a "due date" is actually an EDD (estimated delivery date). Your baby is not aware they should arrive within a certain 24-hr period. Most midwives agree that going 2 weeks past your due date, as long as your checkups are good, is perfectly acceptable.

On CPD- research has shown that all measurements and markers used to determine head circumference to pelvic outlet size are grossly inaccurate. This is because our bodies stretch, conform and move in ways we never thought possible when giving birth! Ladies, if you've been told your baby is likely "too big", especially if it's your first, please, at least try! I've seen and heard of very tiny women successfully giving birth to very large babies.

On breech- Most women have a c-section for this and it most cases that is perfectly acceptable. However, if you and your doctor are willing and your pregnancy is healthy- they can actually attempt to "turn" the baby from the outside, called a version. This is usually done in the hospital and labor may be induced directly after to ensure the baby doesn't turn back before it can be born.

On failure to progress- many times it is not a failure rather than an impatience. TV births (which I love to watch) make us think that birth happens in 2 hours and pushing lasts 5 minutes. This is SO not the case for most women, especially if it's your first baby! But hospitals often have time limits for births, especially if your water has broken. Especially if your doctor is missing his golf game. Especially if he/she would rather deliver you at 3pm then 3am. Oops, did I just say that? I know not all doctors think this way, but I've heard reports of those who surely do.
And let's face it, birth is hard! No woman wants to think that laboring for 24 hours or more could be normal! But I urge you to trust in the time-honored process. To at least give your body and your baby the chance!

Repeat C/S- Did you know that now even the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now agrees that vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is safe for women with one or even two previous c-sections with a low horizontal scar? See here. The reason for most surgeons doing a repeat c-section was the risk of uterine rupture, a life threatening emergency situation. The risk of this is between 0.5-0.9%. Well, that's about the same risk rate of life-threatening complications for mother or baby in a c-section.

Ok so I understand that I probably sound like some birth-Nazi. But what I really want is for women to inform themselves. To make an educated decision beyond "My doctor said". To explore options. To renew their faith in the ability of our bodies to function as God designed.

And let me tell you that personally, I am considering a home birth, when the day comes. The problem is getting insurance to pay for it, and deciding if the very minor risk of  major complications (should my pregnancy be healthy) is a reason to be in the hospital for birth.

There's probably more to come on this later, but I realize I've made this post insanely long as it is.

I welcome your comments and questions. Even disagreements :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend Update 12-17-11

Hi Everyone-

I breathlessly write you from my couch after 3 grueling rounds of Kinect Adventures- River Run and whatever that coordination jumpin' on the tracks thing that is. Whew! It takes a lot of energy, and the pics, not so pretty! I've ordered Dance Central 2 and am very excited to tackle that one next! John will also be toning up and slimming down with UFC Personal Trainer.

Thanks dad for our new toy!!!! Christmas a little early...

The only pic I can share. Meet my Avatar. Can you believe this is the "fattest" Kinect will let you choose? The skinniest is refugee thin!
So to back it up, here's what we did this weekend-

Friday afternoon we drove to my dad's to participate in the annual Christmas reunion he and his siblings have. So I caught up with all the aunts, uncles and cuz's :) Unfortunately I took my point and shoot so I did not get many good photos. In fact the ones I took at the party were so awful I'll spare my family the humiliation. But I did get one of my immediate fam on dad's side:
Sis and BF, Dad and Gena, Me and John

Dad and his two girls. I promise he isn't homicidal. Lol.
Then Saturday we did what we always do when we visit the Kun-tree. We enjoyed target shooting.
Takin' aim

Checkin' the score

We finally shot the tree down

That's right ladies- I'm a pert decent aim, so's you best be watchin' yerselves. Lol.

Then that evening we went to a local celebrity attraction. AKA "Messenger's Christmas Land"
A pretty house on our walk to the "big daddy" display

The big daddy

Their wall of retired deco included ET!

It really was ice!

Me n "M"

Hubs and I

Then Sunday after church we ate some delicious speckled trout, complete with homemade fries and hushpuppies. Taaaaasty!

As soon as we got home we ran out to buy our Xbox 360 and Kinect!

On a side note, I intended to write this post at lunch today, but just as I was wrapping up work for lunch time John called to say that Eby had dug out of the yard while he was gone and he's been looking for her for 45min without success. I immediately shut everything down and hopped in the car. I was so worried, since she did not have on her collar and we are not far from a fairly busy road. I was already trying to call the Animal Shelter with her description in case she turned up. Thankfully about 15 min later John called to say he found her. He was walking down the street calling her when our neighbor 2 doors down came out to say they had her. Her little girls found her in their yard. She'd come over and knocked while John was still out. I was so glad!
Later when I got home from work and was talking to John about it, he confessed that he'd already taken a look on the Shelter website to see if any fitting replacements were there, because he did not know how he was going to make it right if she was gone. I told him I would not want another dog right away. He said that I would have been surprised on Christmas then! :)
When I found out she was missing I prayed that we'd find her, and if we didn't that someone else would take her in and be good to her. I'd even sacrifice being her owner if it meant she was safe and unharmed. Thankfully I did not have to!
From now on they will have the collars on if left out in the house alone when we are gone. They usually don't wear them ever since the freak near-choking Ernie suffered last summer when his fabric collar got caught in Eby's teeth. And with as rough as this quartet is, they won't be wearing them until George and Graycie get leather ones too.

Thankfully all is well now!

And as our Christmas bonus we are getting Dec. 23rd off from work! Just found out today! That's great because I am feeling very Christmas-y and not much work-y. Lol.
I'm scheduled to make eight dishes for Christmas! Nothing too hard though. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Weekend Update 12-10-11

Hi everyone and happy Monday :)

John and I had a great weekend. Thursday night we went downtown to our city's annual outdoor Christmas concert. I did not think we were going because my work was supposed to have their party that night, but it fell apart. The concert has a bagpipe band (which we missed, sadly) a quartet and a jazz soloist.
To be honest, this year was one of the most boring years ever. Last year they had an orchestra and the music was much more enjoyable. This year the lead singer of the quartet was sub-par, and so we left early. It was just not enjoyable to hear her sing. But I did manage to burn my tongue on hot chocolate. No fun.

But I said it was a great weekend right?!?!
Friday night we went to a Christmas production at a very large church in town. My husband had never visited there and he was shocked at how big it was. It really is large, with a tall tall stage. I can't imagine their utility bills. 
Anyway, their choir is like 5 times the size of our congregation. Lol. But most of the music was lovely, with the exception of a pregnant white lady trying to sing a funky black lady song. That was pretty bad.

Saturday we did get some yard sales in. We got a water purifier that we hope will bring in about 20 times what we paid for it. Score! I also got a great deal at a charity yard sale: a barely used "Santa's Treats" Yankee candle, a dog jacket, a nice Snuggie, a crochet throw (for the dogs) and a nice queen electric blanket, all for only $10!
Then a had a bridesmaid's meeting for my friend who is getting married. It was good to get some details hashed out.
I spent the rest of the afternoon getting ready for our Christmas party. It ended up being smaller and more relaxed than I planned for. It was really just close friends. Several people who said they were coming, didn't. But we had a good time watching UFC (and freaking out when a guy got his arm broken!) and eating and talking.
D, S (married) and her sis M. D&S just told me they're preggo!!!!

All the dogs with their Christmas collars

"Graycie Girl" and her new haircut

Ernie the prairie dog

D&S love Graycie. They want her. But they finally just got their own dog today. One day after finding out about the soon to be little person!

Eby getting attention from all the guests

George trying to lick everyone

Graycie visiting 'round

A loved Ms Eby

Sibs horsing around

Out ugly Christmas sweaters. No one else wore one!

The many faces of George

Ernie's mug shots
Sunday after having a quick lunch I laid down on the couch to finally watch "The Help". Now that it's on DVD I could use our ClearPlay to filter out any cursing and sexuality. It was very good and I found it touching and inspirational. But, I'm not sure I found it as life-changing as others did by their rave reviews. It was really really good though. It was also really nice to enjoy it while cuddling under the new electric blanket :)

We finished off the weekend with evening church and then another rented movie (a sci-fi action flick). All in all, it was a good 60 hours :)

Did you do anything to celebrate Christmas this weekend?


As I'm nearing the end of my "Quote a day" desk calendar, I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you:

"When I buy cookies I eat just four and throw the rest away. But first I spray them with Raid so I won't dig them out of the garbage later. Be careful though, because Raid doesn't really taste that bad."
- Janette Barber

"The easiest way for your children to learn about money is for you not to have any."
- Katharine Whitehorn

"Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them."
-Ann Landers

"Were women meant to do everything- work and have babies?"
-Candice Bergen

Maybe they'll inspire you too!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Weekend Update 12-03-11

I hope everyone is in the full swing of Christmas celebrations!

We have not been to anything specifically Christmas yet, but are hosting a party this coming weekend for our Sunday School class. And I hope to attend at least one Cantata or something. Need to check the "Weekender".

This past Friday we were able to enjoy a nice nap after I got off work. For some reason we were both feeling tired. So I put off the errands. And we snoozed. We awoke and got busy. John braved the roof and hung our outside lights. So happy that is done!
Then we were able to go to a friend's house and enjoy a bonfire along with hot dogs, chili and smores. Such fun.

Saturday morning we were out yard saling. Well actually, John went to an auction and I left him there for yard sales. Not a very successful morning for either of us.
That afternoon we attended a housewarming party with lots of yummy food and that evening we had some friends over to watch a free UFC match. What I actually did was craft in the middle of the floor while they watched. Lol.

Sunday was a nice day at church followed by a yummy lunch and yet another nap. Oh how I love naps. But I never want to get up from them.
Sunday I just piddled. Got some small things down. Watched Iron Chef All-stars.

This week is filled with work and preparation for the Christmas party. Of course I want everything to look "just so". I will drive myself to insanity to do it. Lol.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Whites!

Merry Christmas!
May your homes be filled at this time of year and every year with the light and life of Christ's love, the reason for Christmas.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 and Christmas Preview

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

We had a nice and relaxing time. I tried out several new recipes, and here they are to share with you!
Creamy Pumpkin Trifle
Mini Pumpkin Pies
Southern Cornbread Stuffing
Skinny Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Easy Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

We also got almost all of our Christmas decorating done. Just need to put up lights outside.

John and I cut our own tree for the first time. Neither of us had done this before. But after a trip to Lowe's that ended in apathy due to the trees already looking a little dry and the height we wanted being so pricey, we decided to give it a try. The tree farm has been in our city for years, I'd just never been. But when we researched and found out ALL trees are $30, regardless of size, we were curious. So we got there right when they opened. We looked at lots and lots of trees. I was disappointed because the only large full trees were Sand Pines. I've always preferred firs or spruces. I thought a pine would be scrubby and prickly.

Well after much debate, we hacked one down. When we got it home it was about 8 inches too tall for our ceiling! But after a little trimming it fits great and looks great. I'm actually really pleased with it. It has a nice green color. So green it almost looks fake. The long needles are surprisingly soft and once we got it setup, it has not dropped many needles at all. This may be an annual tradition for us!
It was about 9-10 feet tall!

All gussied up

Feathers in the tree! I was so excited to use all the new ornaments I bought on post-Christmas sales last year!

"Our First Christmas" ornament

And here's what I've done around the house so far:

I've already starting getting my Christmas cards out too! I'm on the ball this year!

I have one to share with all of you, but I'm holding off til it's actually December! Lol

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I hope you all have a blessed holiday filled with the ones you love (be they family or friends!) and a grateful heart.

I know I'll be enjoying some much needed or at least very much wanted R&R. I have a few "projects" planned, but one of them is cooking, so I guess it does not really count. I'm contributing four dishes to our feast this year.

My mom continues to be out of town for work. But, her work is fairly close to NYC. Close enough that for Thanksgiving she is taking the train into NYC for the day and going to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! How fun! I've never been to NYC and neither has she.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekend Update 11-19-11

Hi all!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend! I had a fairly busy but productive one. And just as I sit down to write this post, I realize I don't have much of anything in the way of photos. I don't have my phone and I can't get my Picasa account to do uploads right now. Boo!

I do have this one though!
Aren't these so cute! I've not been posting each week's yard sale finds. But I got the boots for $3! Then I got the flats for $7 at a thrift store. A little pricey for thrift if you ask me (they're just cheap-o Charlotte Russe) but I liked them so much I gave in. Too bad the right one is rubbing my heel :( Gonna have to buy some pads.

Anyway, Friday when I got home it was a whirlwind of activity. The carpet cleaners had arrived and we were unprepared! They were extremely pleasant about it though. They did not mind 4 dogs losing the minds at the sight of visitors and big machines. I also had a friend arrive in the midst of it all. She was just picking up something then ended up staying for awhile. We were scouting out bridesmaids dresses online for her upcoming nuptials! John went to an auction and I stayed behind. I ended up cleaning and intermittently paying attention to Say Yes to the Dress :)
When John got home around nine we ate dinner .

Saturday we only were out YSLing for about 2 hours when it started to rain. So we headed home. I was exceptionally cranky about rising early that day, so I took a nap for my own good and everyone else's. The rest of the day was a blur of activity. I painted the inside of our new backdoor, cleaned more, did laundry, went grocery shopping, put up the indoor Christmas decor (still have tree and outside light to go) and got busy in the kitchen doing prep for Sunday lunch. I did not go to bed til about 1:30 am.

Sunday I had a wonderful time at church. Then my friend and her fiance who is in town visiting came over for lunch. I laid out all my hard work and goodies and we enjoyed a feast!
Then we went out and I did my best to get some engagement photos for them. I had a great time practicing. I wish I could share but first I have to share with the couple! Soon though.
We ended the night by having dinner at a friend's house. After I ate I passed out on their couch. That's the result of staying up til 1:30 am the night before!
I did "make up" a really tasty desert we brought to dinner:
Use skinny taste's recipe for Pumpkin Pie Dip (1/2 batch!), make a spice cake according to mix directions, and 1 tub Cool Whip (I used "Free"). Crumble cake and layer all ingredients. I was a trifle of sorts and a very good way for me to use up all that leftover tip! I sprinkled some Splenda brown sugar mix on the top too. Very tasty!

Hope you are all looking forward to Thanksgiving! I know I am!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Weekend Update 11-12-11

After 5 glorious days in the wilderness, without phone service, I am back to reality.

John is always glad to get back into a routine and work, but I maintain my stance that I could live on eternal vacation and be perfectly happy.

I didn't take many photos of our trip, but suffice it to say a lot of time was spent doing nothing. And that does not make for interesting photography subject matter. But it does make for a relaxing time.

Every day went like this: Wake up, eat breakfast, lounge around, maybe take a walk, help in the kitchen a little, read, take a nap, converse with friends, shower, eat dinner, have church service, eat more food, talk more and get ready for bed. Only two exceptions to this- one day we all played softball (or stick ball in this case) and one night we built a bonfire to gather round.

We also spent all five days in a tent. Most people sissied out and brought campers or RV's. But not us! We are too poor for that! Lol. We surprisingly fared well even in 28 degree lows where we would awake to frost/ice on our tent. When you've got 2 sleeping bags and two heavy blankets, each other for snuggling and one of you (me) gets increasingly hotter the longer you sleep, you can make it just fine. The only tough part was that even with our egg crates, the ground was pretty solid. The last 2 nights we borrowed a foam pad and that made things much much more enjoyable.
The dirt road leading into camp

Our little postage-stamp sized tent. Our queen air mattress doesn't fit in it!
One thing we did more than enough of was eat. Oh my word, the amount and types of food that was prepared! It was like eating in Paula Deen's kitchen for 5 days. Unfortunately I gained 3 pounds :( We are back to healthy eating this week for sure! A 5 day butter/grease/sugar fest tasted good, but it does not feel good. Just some of the food- lasagna, meatballs, spaghetti, nachos with homemade chips, homemade corn muffins and sourdough bread, fried chicken, macaroni, scalloped potatoes, collards, coleslaw, potato salad, brisket, pulled pork, homemade rolls, corn, peas and beans, rice, queso, black beans and of course daily breakfast of grits, eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, cereal and sometimes oatmeal. Then the desserts, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, smores with homemade graham crackers and marshmallows, cheesecake, German chocolate cake, carrot cake, chocolate cake with buttercream, vanilla pudding, key lime trifle, homemade doughnuts, store bought donuts, and lots of leftover Halloween candy. It was RIDICULOUS! All very tasty, and I think I need their grit recipe, but so so fattening!

Anyway, it's sad I'm such a fatty that I devoted a large paragraph to food. Moving on.

We also had church service each night. Despite the rock hard pews and frigid temps, God met us each time. I am so surprised at where God has led us to. I never thought I would get anything from singing hymns a Capella or just with a piano, listening to "screaming" preaching or listening to anyone who wanted to share get up a sing a song, talented or not. BUT- I am truly learning that God moves because of the heart and intent of his people, no matter the location, music or attire. I have felt His presence in my little white church worshiping to a beautiful gospel trio just as much as I did singing the latest Jesus Culture or Hillsong music with a full band in a large sanctuary. And I so much enjoy getting to know my Pastor so well and feeling comfortable around him.

If you think about it, pray for me. Pray that I would be content with my place and pace in life right now. I have so much to be thankful for. But there is one goal I've wanted my whole life and I've yet to attain it. In camp our Pastor encouraged us to begin believing God for something, really asking for and praying for it. So that's what I'm gonna do. But I'm so impatient. It can't be done without His help and blessing, so I'm going to have to wait on His time for sure. But I pray it will be soon!

A few photos:
Mr K, our Pastor and John gathered around the wood-burning stove. Which they bought this year praise God!

I just love railroad tracks for some reason

The "young folks" took a walk in the woods