Friday, October 26, 2012

The Importance of Sibs

As I watch our two boys play together more and more frequently (and yes, sometimes fight), I realize how very important sibling relationships are. I love seeing how the boys connect and respond to each other even at such young ages.

Aiden is constantly copying everything Asher does, trying to be just like his big brother; Asher steps in a lot of times when Aiden's about to get scolded for something and says, "He's sorry, Mommy. He didn't mean to." It's one of my favorite things about having multiple children.

I grew up in a big family. I'm the second oldest of 6 - I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers, and I absolutely love family get-togethers. My favorite thing is when everyone is at my parents' house - and with five (going on six) grandkids plus significant others, it's definitely a full house!

As we've gotten older, we've definitely become closer as siblings - there comes a time when age really doesn't matter any more. I'm 10 years older than my youngest brother, and while he'll always seem young to me (he's the baby!), I can still hold the same conversations with him as I do with any of the others. I couldn't imagine not having any one of them around. I suppose that's really what prompted me to write this post.

I've watched friends/acquaintances/news stories of people who have loved ones in the army, and I've told my husband for literally years, that while I would be incredibly proud, I'm so glad that neither him nor any of my family is in the military. The added death risk terrifies me. I know it's not a rational thought because any one of us could die at any time, but the thought of them being in a war-zone, or something similar, makes me horribly nervous.

Well, my oldest younger brother, Jon, recently joined the army and leaves for basic training very soon; that's followed by training in his specified area, and then he'll go on tour somewhere. While I'm nervous, and sad that we won't be able to see him very often, I couldn't be more proud of his decision (but I won't lie and say I never tried to talk him out of it . . .). When he talks about being in the army, it's easy to see it's the right thing for him. And remembering him growing up, it's really not surprising that he chose this path. He once told my husband that he knows it's what he wants because when people ask him what he's doing and he tells them he's in the army, he can't help but smile. That's a reassuring feeling for all of us, I think.

No one in our family has ever been too far from home - my family lives the farthest away, and it's a little under three hours! It'll definitely be an adjustment for all of us, but I thank God for all those years we had to strengthen our sibling relationships.

I've always felt a special bond with Jon because I think we're pretty similar - we love reading, are kind of nerdy about it, and neither of us really outgoing. I'll miss him.

This song reminded me of how Jon might be feeling (that's he was "called" to do this), and also how my parents and the rest of the family are feeling about this new adventure. (It's far from perfect, but I hope you don't mind.) I've included the lyrics underneath because sometimes it's hard to hear over the piano . . . Just one of the flaws. With all my crazy pregnancy-emotions going on, I'm just glad I got through it without breaking down in tears! :)

It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word

And then that word grew louder and louder
Til it was a battle cry
I'll come back
When you call me
No need to say goodbye

Just because everything's changing
Doesn't mean it's never
Been this way before
All you can do is try to know
Who your friends are
As you head off to the war

Pick a star on the dark horizon
And follow the light
You'll come back
When it's over
No need to say good bye
You'll come back
When it's over
No need to say good bye

Now we're back to the beginning
It's just a feeling and no one knows yet
But just because they can't feel it too
Doesn't mean that you have to forget

Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
Til they're before your eyes
You'll come back
When they call you
No need to say good bye

You'll come back
When they call you
No need to say good bye

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Pregnancy "Must-Haves"

Well, I'm 26 weeks as of today - 3rd trimester!!! I find that impossible to believe. Some days I look down and I can't remember what it's like not to have a belly sticking out in front of me. Other days it's like, "Hey, when'd that happen?"

I can't really complain because everything's gone really smoothly so far. I've been really tired the past couple of weeks - tired, as in I could easily take a nap every day and happily be in bed by 10 p.m. . . . or earlier. I've also been getting annoyed with how I look. It goes this way for me with every pregnancy. Some days I think I look pretty cute, while other days I think I look like a gigantic whale. Lately it's been mostly "whale days." Oh well, it's part of my process I guess! And like I said, I really can't complain because both baby and I have been very healthy so far.

I've been wanting to put together a list of what I feel like I need to get through pregnancy, and while I'm sure I'm forgetting things (blame it on pregnancy brain) I think this mostly covers it:

* Sweatpants - I'm talking over-sized, soft, comfy sweatpants I can slip into without worrying that they won't fit anymore
* Black yoga pants - these aren't maternity, but they're stretchy enough that it doesn't matter; I can wear a sweater with them and still look decent enough to go out (yeah right, like I've been going "out")
* At least one cotton maternity top I can put on that can be casual if I want, or dressed up for work/church (I can use some of my regular tops throughout pregnancy, but maternity ones are longer and usually more flattering in the later months)
* Cardigans - I don't buy maternity cardigans because I don't button them so it doesn't really matter
* Maternity jeans - I can still get by using a hair tie with some of my jeans, but with maternity jeans I don't have to worry about the zipper coming down!
* Sweatshirts - you knew it was coming - I usually go for Dusty's because they're big and oh-so-soft
* Cute flats - if the rest of me can't look cute, at least my feet will!
* Chocolate - I haven't been craving it as much with this pregnancy, but when I do we better have some on hand or I'm making a special trip to the store just for that . . . which is dangerous because then I tend to overdo it when I'm there
* Water bottle - I usually get pretty thirsty and I like to have it on hand
* Apples and carrots/cauliflower with veggie dip (Dusty's grandma has the best home-made dill dip recipe, and using light mayo and light sour cream makes me not feel bad eating it with my veggies)
* Books - okay, I always need books, but when I'm having down days, I need my old stand-bys to sink into (i.e. I just started re-reading the Harry Potter series)
* A heating pad for my lower back when it starts to get sore

Things I would not buy again:
* A belly band - I bought one when I was pregnant with Asher so I could stay in my regular jeans longer and it did nothing. It wasn't nearly tight enough and it was one-size-fits-all. Maybe they've modified them since then, though
* Mid-belly maternity pants - I bought a pair that were a super good deal for this pregnancy and I hate them. Most uncomfortable thing I have ever put on.

I haven't bought a pregnancy pillow or any special sleeping stuff because I don't usually have much trouble sleeping, but some women swear by them!

As I said, I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but that's a pretty good start.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Peanut Butter Snickers Bars

Sometimes I have a great idea for a recipe and am so excited to make it that I don't check the ingredients I have on hand first. Sometimes it's a disaster. Other times, it turns into a scrumptious treat that becomes a family favorite! The latter is what happened with this recipe, thankfully.

I had a craving for those little peanut butter cookies that have a Snickers hidden on the inside, but didn't feel like going through the work of rolling each individual ball. So, I went to my go-to, all-time-favorite, Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. I thought I would just chop up the fun-size Snickers I "knew" we had on hand and stir them into the batter . . . Well, as it turned out there were only 4 left! (I have no idea how that happened - it's like we have an uncontrollable, chocolate-craving, pregnant lady in our house or something.) Clearly 4 measly little pieces would not be enough for an entire pan of bars.

I got to thinking - what else did I have on hand? Milk chocolate chips? Check. Peanuts? Check. Caramel bits? Check. Sounded like Snickers to me! I stirred those into the cookie dough, spread it in the pan, topped it with what Snickers I did have and let it bake. Ooo-la-la - chewy, crunchy, deliciousness. Sometimes the best recipes come out of the blue!
*If you don't have those additional ingredients, you can certainly follow my original plan and just stir chopped Snickers into the dough.

Peanut Butter Snickers Bars
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. (2 sticks) softened butter
1 c. light brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 c. peanut butter (we had creamy on hand, so that's what I used)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
3/4 c. peanuts, chopped
1 c. caramel bits
1 1/2 c. milk chocolate chips
4 (or more) fun-size Snickers, chopped
1/4 c. chocolate chips (for drizzling, if desired)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside.
2. Beat butter with sugars until creamy - 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl.
3. Add peanut butter, vanilla, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat again.
4. Stir in flour until almost combined.
5. Add peanuts, caramel bits, and chocolate chips, and mix until just combined.
6. Spread evenly in pan and sprinkle with chopped Snickers. Bake 25-28 minutes, or until light golden brown on top.
7. Melt 1/4 c. chocolate chips and use a fork, spoon, or plastic baggie to drizzle over the top of the bars. Allow to cool before cutting.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Pregnancy Fitness

I don't claim to be a fitness expert, nor do I see myself as even remotely close to being one. I just like to stay active. Yes, chasing two little boys around is active, but it's not the "I-feel-all-sweaty-and-gross-but-I-actually-accomplished-something" feeling I get after doing an actual workout.

I'm trying to keep up my workout routine while I'm pregnant, and so far it's been going well. Although, the last couple weeks I've been a little more tired than usual (chalk that up to kiddos with colds/ear infections, and going back to work) so I may have been slacking a little bit.

But, the bottom line is that I feel better during the day if I can get in a little exercise in the morning. You definitely need to pick the time that works best for you. I tend to have the most energy in the morning, so I choose that time to work out. If I skip it and tell myself I'll do it during the boys' naps, or after Dusty gets home . . . Well, odds are good that it doesn't happen that day.

I don't really have a workout "routine" per se, but I regularly use these two videos:
Walk Away the Pounds Express Walk Strong & Super Challenge with Bonus Stretchie
Walk Away the Pounds
Complete Total Body Transformation System-zumba Fitness

These are both workouts I did before I was pregnant, so we'll see how long I'm able to keep doing Zumba. I find I have to modify some of the moves, but at least it's fun  . . . and entertaining for anyone who happens to be watching! The nice thing about Zumba is that it includes a 20-minute workout, and also a 20-minute ab routine that's all standing up. Perfect!

Walk Away the Pounds is nice because the "Walk Strong" workout is 2 miles, but also does strength training, while the "Super Challenge" is 4 miles, and you can choose if you want to stop after 1, 2, 3, or 4 miles. Also, I used this after Aiden was born and had gotten a little older - I put him in the Baby Bjorn and walked with him in it. He loved it and often fell asleep, and the extra 10-20 pounds didn't hurt the goal of getting my body back after baby!

Anyway, the point is that I work out to help me stay positive. Weight gain is inevitable during pregnancy, and it can get depressing even though you know it's healthy for you and baby. I try to workout 5 times a week, but if that doesn't happen I try to do a minimum of 3 days. Taking the boys for a walk in the double stroller is an excellent workout, too - that extra 75-100 pounds of boys and stroller weight makes me feel like I've really worked hard . . . not to mention the added weight of the baby bump. :)

Bottom line: do what feels right for you. If you didn't work out before getting pregnant, try a walking video - it's a great workout (although it can get kind of boring if you're by yourself). Feelin' peppy? Try Zumba, or something along those lines, but above all listen to your body. Pregnancy is not the time to start working out hard-core (you don't want any pulled/strained muscles to add to your pregnancy uncomfortable-ness). But, staying active can keep your spirits lifted, help manage baby-weight gain, and build stamina for labor and delivery.

It's also nice to just do something for myself, that makes me feel good. I also think it helps me avoid the "pregnancy waddle." :) I have yet to experience it with any of my pregnancies, and hope to avoid it with this one, too.

I try not to let it get me down when I don't have the energy or can't fit in a workout - I just tell myself that at least I'm making an effort, and that's good, right?

**Again, not a fitness expert, so make sure you check with your doctor before you start any crazy exercising!**