Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Between cleaning and running errands for tonight's Rocking New Year's Eve Party, I managed to put together a little video of our year in pictures. I don't have pictures of everything, but when I look through the pictures that I do have I realize what a wonderful year it's been for the Fasciottos! I'm totally ripping off Heather Armstrong's idea from and listing the highlights of our year for you here:

1. We had a week off of school for the January Ice Storm!
2. We found the new Cupcake Shoppe (well, Sylvain found it, I just went along for the ride!)
3. Jordan and Sylvain built a garden and a patio in our backyard.
4. We had a killer Derby Party with races galore.
5. I gave up blogging and Facebook for forty days during lent.
6. We went to France.
7. My nephew, Charlie, was born.
8. We watched two of our favorite couples get married.
9. We hosted cousins from France.
10. Sylvain turned 30.
11. We made a baby!

I'm sure there are plenty of milestones I'm forgetting, and I KNOW I forgot some big pictures in the video (like the birthday bash...darn it!) so forgive me if you were looking for one in particular that was left out. All in all, 2009 has been a fantastic and joyous year. We are so blessed to be where we are, surrounded by the people we love!

Happy New Year, everyone! Here's to all the things to come, big and small, in 2010!

Oh my goodness! It's totally NOT 7 minutes long, only about 3.5! For some reason there's a lot of dead time at the end. It's my second attempt at Movie Maker - sorry!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Santa Came to Town...

and he left a ton of STUFF!! We had a wonderful Christmas and spent some much needed time with family. Here are some highlights:

On Christmas Eve we went to my Grandma Neltner's house after mass. This is where all of the extended family crams into one room and watches the wrapping paper EXPLODE all over the place! Above is a picture of my cousin's son, Nolan, who is just the cutest thing ever. This is what happens to his face when you say, "Hey Nolan, SMILE!" I think that little vest, tie, and rolled-sleeve ensemble makes him look like a very young, very hip, Justin Timberlake.

Here is Sylvain opening his first gift from Grandma. I love the look on my Mom's face. She's all, "You totally married this goofball. Way to go." On the left is my cousin, Tyler, who wanted nothing but board games for Christmas and I believe the last thing on his list to Santa was "Whatever You Think Is Best." Adorable.

After the Christmas explosion at Grandma's, we spent the night at Mom's and headed out to Dad's on Christmas Day. Here are Dad and Sally opening their gifts from Jordan. His wrapping job was quite unique - brown paper bags with handmade painting ALL over them! Sally got a wooden bowl and Dad got a book about motorcycles. Well done, Jordo, well done. Wait a minute, you see that giant box at Dad's feet that says "JOHN" on it? Yeah, that was for our 19 year old brother, who is, I admit, hard to shop for. I got him a sweater. It's always safe to go with a sweater, right? Jordan was a bit more ambitious and got him...

a sword.
Now, as far as I know, John is not the type of person who would normally say, "Hey, I really want a SWORD for Christmas." But apparently, the gift was a hit. John loved it, although I'm not too sure what he's going to do with it. The brothers took turns playing with it and stabbing empty boxes for quite some time that evening.
Between presents and dinner, we played a game called "Left, Right, Center," that involved passing a pile of nickels around and rolling a set of dice until someone wins them all. Guess who won them all? Sylvain. Almost every hand, almost every time. And then he didn't shut up about it all night long. I wanted to take his stupid bag of nickles and beat him over the head with it, but I wouldn't do such a thing on Christmas.
We had a lovely dinner at Dad's house and then headed back to Mom's for dessert, presents with my siblings on her side of the family, and our yearly round of games, games and more fun games. This was the first year in a long time that we didn't play Charades. Instead we played "Mad Gab," which was really fun and would make a great classroom game, then we played "Catch Phrase," a classic favorite. The food, the company, and the games were delightful and I'm pretty sure everyone went to bed with visions of sugarplums (or cheesecake) dancing in their heads.
I didn't get many good pictures of Christmas at Mom's house. I think I was tired of snapping photos by that point, but here's a good one of my nephew Charlie, all decked out for the holidays!
Don't you wish Santa would leave that cute little gift under your tree? How precious!
We came home yesterday with our bags of goodies (my favorite presents being a pink, fluffy robe and a pillow that was probably assembled in heaven) and settled back into our own house and our own routine...only to leave yesterday evening to have dinner with Sylvain's Mom up in Indiana. It was nice to visit with her and Mike, and we enjoyed a nice, quiet evening at their house.
Today we're cleaning up, getting organized and preparing for our next big trip this week to the exotic and exciting HARRODSBURG, KY! We're staying at the Beaumont Inn for two big nights to celebrate our third anniversary. The last one for "just the two of us" before our little mistletoe arrives. I'll post all about it when we get back!
Here's to hoping you and your family had a pleasant and enjoyable Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Baby Room Phase Two: Complete!

Well, the boy worked ALL DAY LONG on our baby furniture and I have to say, he did a great job! We've had two giant boxes sitting in that room for months and now that the "stuff" is starting to pile up in the corners of the room, it's nice to have drawers to put things in! Here he is putting the dresser together. Look at all his tools lined up in a organized!

And here is our dresser which will also serve as a changing table. Right now I'm using it as a "Quick! Hide all the crap!" holder. It serves that purpose quite well!

And here is our lovely, lovely crib! It converts to a toddler bed and then to a double bed, so it better last us a good, long time. I think it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen!
Our next phase is curtains and wall hangings! Aunt Dar is making some adorable brown with pink polka dot curtains and we have lots of prints and photos picked out for the walls. I hope the vision in my head looks good in real life. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Am One Lucky Mama!

Meredith, Me, and Laura
Over the weekend, these two dear friends from my old school threw the most beautiful baby shower a girl could ask for! This was such a special day for many reasons. First of all, I got to see all of my old friends again and I realized how much I really miss them. Second, there was once a time where I was so afraid of pregnancy that I almost took off work while Laura was pregnant with her first child for fear that her water breaking might flood my classroom, so these ladies know that I've come a long way! Finally (the most exciting news), Meredith and Laura are ALSO pregnant, although they are both on their second trip to baby land while I'm only on my first. We're all due within a couple months of each other - I'm due in April, Meredith in May, and Laura in June! Can't you just imagine all of the neurotic phone calls we'll be making to each other? Okay, I might be the only one making phone calls because when this little girl is screaming her head off or I accidentally drop her on the floor, I'm going to have to call somebody and they've both been there before. Just because we live in three different cities does not mean we can't commiserate together over baby woes. I can't wait!

Mom's Gift
I got some wonderful, wonderful presents at the shower, including our car seat, our bumper for the crib, the monitors, a mirror for the car seat, our fabulous diaper bag, a nursing pillow, and some adorable nightgowns for the sweetest girl. However, when I opened my Mom's gift, I almost lost it. She is so thoughtful about shower gifts and I'm so glad Meredith and Laura invited her. She wrote a little poem about the mattress for the crib, which was ordered and on its way to our house. Then I dug beneath the tissue paper in the bag to find my own old yellow doll baby from when I was a wee little tot! As soon as I saw the top of her yarn-haired head I squealed, "Oh my God! Where did you find this?!" And she got all choked up and said, "Do you remember her? I didn't think you'd remember her!" I showed it to everyone who oohed and aahed and asked what her name was, but neither of us could remember. I just remember carrying her around everywhere, as is evidenced by the countless stains and overall rattiness that only a well-loved dolly can have. Then Mom gave me a framed picture of me as a baby, which I will most certainly NOT post here, but will tell you that it features the baldest of all bald baby girls in the world. Now let's all say a prayer that this child is born with hair. I was not a cute baby. People thought I had cancer. Seriously, I hope my kid has hair. They make baby wigs nowadays, don't they? Because bonnets are totally out.

Meredith, Me, Lori, Debbie, Tabitha, and Laura
Like I said before, it was so nice to see all of my old friends from my first school. Every teacher you talk to will tell you that their first school is like home and it has a special place in their heart. That is certainly true, but I think my experience with these ladies was more than just a case of "first school = home." Yes, they taught me how to be a good teacher and they supported me and coached me through my first four years. But somehow, between the planning periods and the staff meetings and the portfolio scoring trainings, we all became very close friends. I saw two of them have babies and one have a grand baby! I saw one of them send a kid off to college and welcomed one as "the new teacher" in the group. I cannot put into words how special they are to me and how grateful I am for the love and support they've given to me over the years. When I found out I was pregnant, a little part of me was sad that I wouldn't be at that school with the people who know me best. The shower was such a thoughtful way for all of us to get together again and I feel truly blessed to have such great friends.

The Cake!
Now, one of my favorite Mommy Bloggers, Heather Armstrong, wrote about food when she was pregnant. She said that all food tasted so amazingly good to a pregnant woman that it should be considered a sin. Then she went on to describe how, when pregnant, one does not eat food, but rather one makes out with food. I thought the comparison was hilarious, and now I know that it is completely true. So, if you'll excuse me, I have to go make out with this leftover piece of cake.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I've Locked Myself in My House and I'm Not Coming Out!

Oh my goodness, gracious! Today was our last day of school before the winter break and I have to tell you, I couldn't have needed it more. This was a wrecking ball of a week. Lots of busyness* and hubub and jibber jabber going on at school and at home. I won't go into all the boring details, but let's just say that it's Friday night, and this is the first chance I've had to sit down and unwind all week. It's raining outside, so I rented a movie and already locked the front door, because even though I should go shopping or wrap presents or send Christmas cards, I'm planting my prengant butt on that amazing couch downstairs and I'm not MOVING! Do you hear me?! I'M NOT MOVING ALL NIGHT LONG!!

Ahhh. I feel better already.

I brought home all kinds of work to do over the break; namely grading, planning, and the dreaded National Board portfolio work I have to do. There's a lot on my plate, but I'm not touching any of it tonight. I might just put it all off until Monday. I might just spend all weekend sitting on the couch and staring at the Christmas tree while the colored lights and shiny ornaments carry me away into La La Land. That sounds like a nice place to be.

*Yes, busyness is a word. It's not business, but busyness - the quality or condition of being busy. I looked it up. So there.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rachael's Birth Story

I met Rachael for the first time many years ago, when she was dating her husband Carl, who lived with us in the dorms at UK. She came around quite often and none of us were surprised when they got married after he graduated. Her birth story is pretty amazing, and I'm so glad I get to post it today - her two year "Cancerversary!" I was especially touched by how supportive her family was during this rough time for her, and how positive she was able to stay during what must have been some agonizing months. As I get ready to post this story, I'm starting to get a little overwhelmed at the blessings this project has brought to me. I know that when I'm in the delivery room, no matter what happens, I'll be able to draw upon the strength and knowledge of all of these amazing women. Rachael, you are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your story.

At 28 weeks pregnant, I felt very blessed. I was pregnant with a sweet baby boy named Evan and I felt great. Pregnancy had been easy. I had no morning sickness, no stretch marks, was not moody, and was still sleeping well each night. Life was pretty much perfect.

While at one of my regular visit with my obstetrician, I decided to ask about a lump I felt in my breast. I was pretty certain that it was pregnancy related, but thought I would have her check it, just in case. My doctor examined me and knew right away that it was not pregnancy related. She was not too worried, though. She explained that it was probably a cyst. Just to be sure, she scheduled an appointment for me to have an ultrasound of my breast a few days later. Since she was not very worried, I was not either. I was certain that I would go have the ultrasound, be told that everything was fine, and be sent on my merry way.
The next week, on December 7th, Carl accompanied me to the diagnostic center for my ultrasound. (It was the first of several appointments for the day and I was ready to get it over with and move on to the fun appointments, like my ultrasound of Evan.) I was called back shortly after we arrived. I was taken to a small, dark room while an ultrasound technician performed my ultrasound. She finished her work and said she would be back shortly.

When the technician entered the room a few minutes later, she asked me how far along I was in my pregnancy. I thought it was an odd question, but answered that I was 29 weeks along and she left the room again. As I sat alone in the room, I started to worry. I sensed that something was not right. When the technician returned again, she explained that the doctor wanted to speak with me about the results of the ultrasound. At this point I really started to get scared. She left the room again and returned shortly with a doctor. The doctor introduced herself and said that she was really worried about what she saw on the ultrasound pictures. She said that although we would need further tests, she was certain that I had breast cancer.
My head immediately began swirling with questions. Was I going to die? If so, how long did I have? What would happen to Evan? How would this affect him? How would Carl raise Evan without me? As I continued to process the awful news, I started to cry. I asked for the technician to go get Carl. I knew I needed him right away.

Carl came in the room and he held me tight. The doctor explained the results of the ultrasound to Carl. The rest of the appointment becomes blurry to me at this point. I vaguely remember more ultrasounds, mammograms, and a biopsy.

Once we left the diagnostic center, we visited my obstetrician, who is partners with Carl’s dad. Together we all talked about the next steps. We would get the biopsy results on Monday, December 10th. Since the biopsy was certain to confirm a cancer diagnosis, Carl’s dad and my doctor arranged for me to meet with a surgeon on Monday afternoon.

Early on Monday morning, my doctor called with the results of the biopsy. I had breast cancer. That afternoon I met with my surgeon to discuss what we needed to do next. Of course, I was very worried about Evan. Thankfully, Carl’s dad had done a lot of research over the weekend and was able to help us and my surgeon make a decision about surgery that would take out my cancer and that would be safe for Evan. I would undergo a lumpectomy that Thursday, December 13th.

When Thursday arrived, I felt that I was in very good hands. Not only was I confident that my surgeon would be able to remove the cancer, but I knew that Evan I and were in good hands. My obstetrician would be in surgery to help monitor me, and Evan had a nurse that would monitor him.

After the surgery I woke up and asked how Evan was doing. I was told that he was fine and that he was still being monitored. As I laid in recovery, Carl came and told me that the cancer had been removed and that only a couple of cells were found in my sentinel lymph nodes. The rest of the lymph nodes were removed and would be biopsied, but it was not likely that the cancer had spread. What a relief!

The next few weeks were tough. Recovering from surgery was hard, especially since I was pregnant. I was in a lot of pain and to top it all off, I developed morning sickness. The holidays helped keep us in good spirits though, as well as a lot of support from family and close friends.

After Christmas, Carl and I met with my oncologist, who had been working with my obstetrician. She explained that I would need six chemotherapy treatments in the coming months. Afterward, I would need radiation treatment. It was important to start chemotherapy soon, but it was safer to wait until I had delivered Evan. Evan would need to be delivered as soon as it was safe to do so.

Carl and I spoke with my obstetrician again and got advice from Carl’s dad. Evan would be delivered at 36 weeks gestation by c-section. We were told that I would be given steroid shots to help Evan’s lung development and that by 36 weeks, he would likely be fine. Once Evan was born, I would begin chemotherapy almost immediately to make sure that my cancer was completely gone.

We spent the next few weeks getting everything ready for Evan’s arrival. I was well enough to help and I was very excited to get everything prepared for Evan. I couldn’t wait to meet my son!
On January 25th, Carl and I arrived at the hospital for my c-section. I was so excited! I couldn’t wait to hold Evan and to see what he looked like. To be truthful, I was not worried about the c-section. I had been through so much in the past weeks that I felt I could get through ANYTHING at that point.

After being at the hospital for a couple of hours, it was time for my c-section. I was prepped and soon I was lying on the surgery table. Carl joined me and the surgery began. It didn’t take too long before we were told that Evan was about to make his debut. We knew he was there when we heard a tiny cry. We were both overcome with such joy that we began crying too. Evan was held up for us to see. Carl and I were ecstatic to see our son. He was perfect.

Carl joined the doctors and nurses that took care of Evan on the other side of the room. He would bring the camera to me and show me pictures of Evan and tell me how he was doing. Before long, Carl was allowed to hold Evan. He brought him over to me and I was able to kiss him and snuggle with him for a few minutes. Evan was then taken away to be monitored in the nursery.

After my c-section was over, I was moved to the recovery room. I felt pretty good and was anxious to get to my hospital room and see Evan. One of the neonatologists came in and explained to me and Carl that Evan was having trouble breathing and was going to need to go to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (N. I. C. U.). We had been told this was a small possibility, but I was devastated. I felt horrible, knowing that he was born early so that I could begin cancer treatment and that now he was suffering due to his early delivery date.
After a couple of hours, I was wheeled to see Evan in the N. I. C. U. I was not allowed to hold him, but I was allowed to place my hand on him. As I watched him struggle to breathe, I felt so sorry for him. I wished I could scoop him up and magically make him all better. I felt helpless.

Over the next few days I recovered easily from my c-section. I took pain medication, but I was up walking on my own the same night I had the surgery. I spent lots of time with visitors. Sadly, Evan was still in the N. I. C. U. I could take one person back at a time to see him, but no one could hold him. Still, it was still nice to show off our little boy.

Before I left the hospital, I was allowed to hold Evan. I was thrilled! He was covered with wires and tubes and was extremely swollen, but I thought he was perfect. While I was happy to hear that I was being discharged, I was sad to leave Evan at the hospital. Everyone knows that you are supposed to leave the hospital with your baby, but we would not get a chance to do that until over a week after I was discharged.

The day we got the call to pick up Evan was one of the best days of my life. Carl and I went directly to the hospital where we eagerly gathered Evan. We were so excited to bring our little boy home!

Here's the happy family. Doesn't Mom look beautiful? And even though he's wearing a mask, you can just feel the joy in Daddy's eyes!

Poor little guy, all hooked up and helpless. Oh, this picture breaks my heart! He's the cutest thing I ever did see!

And this one's my favorite! He's practically perfect in every way, and even with no hair that girl still looks beautiful! Look at that smile...what a trooper! Rachael, you are amazing! Congratulations on your beautiful family and Happy Cancerversary!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Laura's Birth Story

Laura Roessler Rousseau is another friend from long ago. I found her on Facebook a few months ago, and was led to her blog, A Little Miracle. I was shocked to find out that she was expecting her second child and that baby Claire had Spina Bifida. There were all sorts of complications related to her birth, the least of which being that the family had to relocate from Canada all the way to Cincinnati (where Laura is originally from and where her family still lives) just because the doctors at Children's Hopsital are the greatest in the land! Since her story is on her blog, I'll copy my favorite parts, but before I do, I want everyone to know that I think Laura is one of the most inspirational women I know. Her fortitude, strength, and FAITH are astounding! Just read a few entries of her blog and you'll see for yourself!
[Katie] took Paul and I back to the prepping room and started everything. As we were walking back, I couldn’t help but think how weird it was that in a couple of hours my baby would be out of my stomach, without any work on my part. The whole “Scheduled birth” is such a foreign concept! Ha, Katie had someone else put the IVs in because she didn’t want me to hate her after all of these years! The prepping time took about an hour. Katie kept me calm by telling me funny family stories. While we were sitting there, I started having contractions, and I could feel them in my back. I still wonder if the amnio was what caused them. They eventually wheeled me into the operating room.
The whole atmosphere of the surgery room just seemed so peaceful and prayerful. It seemed almost that God hand picked each person who was present for the birth. Everything was as perfect as it could be.
Once they were ready to pull her out, they lowered the curtain so I could see her little body emerge from my belly. The cord was around her neck, and her head, I thought, looked a little blue, but a couple seconds later she cried. I knew then that she was fine. We were all surprised when we saw that her lesion was completely covered in skin! YAY! She even scored a 9 on her APGAR test! Fr. Nick, the hospital’s chaplain, was there for the birth, and baptized our baby soon after she was born...The nurses took pictures and video taped the whole thing, and even prayed along with us when she was baptized. At the end of the baptism, there was a loud “Amen”. It was awesome!
After about an hour Katie wheeled me down to the NICU to see and hold Claire before she was transferred over to Children’s hospital. She was beautiful, but it was so sad to see her little arm poked with an IV. I couldn’t help but think about how cozy and safe she was inside of me, only to be pulled out and poked as soon as she entered the world. At the same time, I was Ok with everything that was happening. When thinking about this moment in the weeks prior, I pictured myself crying when they took her away. I don’t know if it was all of the prayers that everyone had been offering, or if the mental preparation helped at all, but I was totally calm and at peace. It was just something that had to be done, and I was ok with it.

Claire is doing much better than expected and you can read up on her status on Laura's blog. The sweet little girl is scheduled to have surgery TODAY at 9:15, so I thought this would be a good day to post my own little tribute/prayer for a safe and successful surgery. Now take a look at the cutest pictures you ever did see!

Oh, she is just SO SWEET!

And here she is with sister Eva and Daddy! This one gives me goosebumps. Precious!

Christmas Tree!

I finally got a new camera last week and I LOVE it! I'm so over the Kodak cameras I've been using - they take crappy pictures, especially with a flash. But my new Canon Elph is faaaantastic! Here are some pics of our Christmas tree, which still needs a few finishing touches - the hubs won't call it a "Christmas Tree" until it has candy canes on it. Right now it's just the "Decorative Pine" in our front window.

Now, here's where the great camera comes in. Every year I try to take a picture of these particular ornaments - my baby booties and my first Christmas ornament. And every year the pictures don't turn out because of the flash - it's either too bright and you can't see the ornaments, or it's off and the picture is blurry. But here you can see them both! No one remembers who made the booties for me when I was a baby - mom swears that Grandma made them, but Grandma insists that it wasn't her. So the mystery goes unsolved! The First Christmas ornament was a gift from my Godmother, Cindy, who passed away in 2000 with Lou Gehrig's Disease, so this ornament is quite special. I like to put them both way up top where everyone can see them!

My favorite part of the tree this year is certainly my new tree topper! I made it myself! The battle rages on between me and my mother as far at tree toppers are concerned. She has always insisted that big, giant, red bows belong on the tops of Christmas trees and I have always vied for a star. She always used to say, "Someday, when you have your own tree, you can put anything you want on top!" And now I do. For the last few years I've really enjoyed putting a star on top, but this year I wanted a bigger, better star - one that lights up or something. So off to Garden Ridge went I. I wandered up and down every giant aisle of Christmas decorations - one could seriously get lost in that place - and there were NO stars to be found. Can you believe that? But alas! I DID find this beautiful red bird and I promptly purchased it (for 50% off, no less) and carried the darling thing home. Now she sits atop my tree with the beaded twig thingies that I almost used as wedding centerpieces. See! There's a purpose for everything, isn't there? I know she doesn't look like much when you stand back and see the sad tree under her (we need some ribbons or something, oh yes, and candy canes) but I can fix that next year. For now, you just have to "ooh and ahh" over the bird, okay? Just look at the bird (NOT the ugly curtains either, people - keep your eyes on THE BIRD)!

Now isn't she purty??
Merry Christmas, everyone! And if you're working on a birth story, get it to me soon! I need more to fill up all my *free* time (he he...that means procrastination station). Get 'em in!

Monday, December 7, 2009

22 Weeks

I've said it before: I'm not interested in documenting how fat I get, but I'm starting to get to the point where I actually look pregnant instead of fat, so belly pictures aren't quite as scary...still a little scary, but better. You can see what I'm talking about when I complain about maternity clothes - I thought these jeans were awesome until we took this picture - I do NOT have a square butt!
Anyway, here we are, me and baby girl, at 22 weeks. She's starting to move around more and she gives me a little kick here and there. Early Saturday morning (I'd say around 3:00 or so) she was moving like crazy while Sylvain AND the cat were snoring in bed. My entire family was keeping me up....great.
Now that I have a *new* camera, I'll post some Christmas pics soon. I'll be getting back to the birth stories this week as well, if everyone who has promised to write one really comes through!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mood Swings

I'd like to interrupt these beautiful birth stories to bring you....MY RAGING HORMONES! When people ask me how I'm feeling these days, the answer is always a cheerful, "Great! I feel great!" Which is totally true. Compared to other pregnancies, mine has been a breeze so far. No sickness or ickyness, no physical problems whatsoever. But in the last two days, the emotional side effects of pregnancy have reared their ugly heads, all fifteen of them, from my own body.

I've always prided myself on my uncanny ability to cry at the drop of a hat for no good or rational reason - this is nothing new. I'm an emotional person to begin with, so I thought this pregnancy stuff would be just like regular times for me. For the most part, it is just like regular times, but now I go from happy to sad to sentimental to angry to exuberant to scared to silly all within a matter of fifteen minutes. And it's driving my husband crazy - especially today. Since we've spent all day together, he's the only person who gets to catch the brunt of my hormonal surges, poor thing.

One minute I'm close to tears because I have the greatest husband in the world. If it weren't for him I wouldn't have this beautiful baby girl growing inside of me, or a beautiful Christmas tree in my living room, or any food on the table (he's the cook around here), or anyone to cuddle with when it's cold outside....blah blah blah cry cry cry. Then, within the next TWO MINUTES, I'm close to tears again because I hate my husband and he's the meanest person on the planet. Why does he treat me this way? Why would he say things so mean and hurtful and terrible like, "Are you hormonal or something?" He must hate my guts. Our baby is doomed, our marriage is doomed...blah blah blah cry cry cry some more.

I wouldn't even admit to having these mood swings if it didn't take three other people to point out that I sound "hormonal." To me, I sound perfectly rational and sane while the rest of the world spins around me in a crazy mess. Then, when things slow down and I have a chance to reflect on the day, I realize - I've almost cried TEN TIMES today for TEN COMPLETELY DIFFERENT REASONS! That's not normal. I must be....hormonal. Ugh.

I think a lot of this comes from lack of sleep, which I will do my best to fix tonight. With a good night's sleep and a whole Sunday at home with nothing too pressing or urgent to do, I might be able to balance myself out a little bit. Ooh, and lots of tea. Tea's good for that right? Hopefully tomorrow the crazy lady inside of me won't be around. Hopefully.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Elizabeth's Birth Story

Elizabeth was my first roommate in college. Had it not been for her, I would not have survived those first few cruicial months of being away from home! Her birth story is very different, and it's the first one I'm allowed to post here that is NOT on another blog, so it's wonderfully long and detailed! She and her husband lived in Italy at the time of Jonathan's birth. European labor and delivery is a bit different than American hospital births. The most amazing part of her story - she birthed naturally! Somehow she managed to get through labor without an epidural, even though she did have an induction - VERY hard to do! Enjoy her story:

Getting pregnant was the easy part...I knew right away because my boobs hurt so bad. So, I took a pregnancy test 4 days early and could barely make out a blue plus. I waited 3 days and took the test again and the blue line was clearly visible. At first I thought, "Yea! I'm pregnant!" Then when reality set in I thought, "What the hell have we done?"

I knew my due date should be October 7...and was verified by our first ultrasound at 7.5 weeks. As luck would have it my friend Terra was due 8 days before me. It was wonderful having someone to share all the ups and downs of pregnancy with. It seemed easier knowing she was going through the same things I was. However, when she started getting a cute little belly around 3 and a half months and I was still flat as a pancake I wasn't too pleased. When we would go shopping everyone would start asking her about the baby etc....I would get nothing. No belly appeared until I was 5.5 months pregnant and still wearing my regular clothes. I learned to love my low-rise curvy Gap jeans, the stretch was just right for baby all the way through the 8th month.

38 weeks was the most depressing of the entire pregnancy. I started applying butter balm, lotion, baby oil, cocoa butter and pure olive oil to my tummy throughout my pregnancy with complete dedication in hopes of not getting stretchmarks. Then the dreaded night my dimly lit room as I was getting ready for bed I caught a glimpse of my belly in the mirror, and there it was! So far I had been dealing quite well with the popping and cracking pelvis, waddling, enormous breasts, and a strange fixation for toast and chocolate pudding. From that moment I couldn't wait to get that baby out of me.

39 weeks had come and gone - dilated 1 cm effaced 25%. Nothing changed at 40 weeks and Dr. F told me I needed to come in for a stress test to make sure the baby was doing ok. Of course I started to worry, this was not part of my birthplan...I read horrible things in the Bradley book about the stress tests and how they would try to convince the parents induction was the only way to go and I wasn't sure I could make it through an induction. Stress Test Day came. Baby was fine, but we scheduled the induction for Tuesday October 16th (1 week later)....This gave me time! I was sure the baby would come by then.

October 13th - I went to the bathroom and this horrendously icky things came out of me. I screamed for my mother and she told me what it was - the mucus plug....ewwww! So, still only having braxton hicks contractions, we all decided to make the trek to church (which was 75 miles away in Vicenza, but in the same place as the hospital.) After praying for the baby to hurry up and get here before Tuesday I again had to pee, and wouldn't you know, more of the plug decided to come! Oh, the wonderful things your body will do. I told my mom, and Dustin made the decision to get a hotel room because I didn't want to drive all the way home only to have to drive all the way back to deliver the baby and have the slight chance of getting stuck on the AutoStrada in Labor and deliver a baby in BFE Italy!

October 15 - So far I had had no contractions. Nothing worked to make this baby come...walking, light jogging, jumping, squatting, sex, nipple stimulation...nothing. I was tired but too nervous to sleep. Finally I made myself lay down at 1am.

October 16 - 5am, I woke up every hour on the hour hoping I would feel a pinch or a pull maybe even a slight tug. I got up and took my last shower and even shaved my legs. God forbid I have hairy legs during delivery! Knowing that this was my last day of being pregnant I decided to indulge in donut holes and a coffee for breakfast! A great start to the day!

6am - walked into the birthing center and was told I was not allowed to eat, and if I had wanted to eat I should have done it prior to walking through the door. "SHIT" Just my luck...I still ate a couple donut holes though.

7am. IV was started. Blood was drawn. All the wonderful questions were answered. I told the nurse I really wanted to have natural childbirth but was not totally opposed to IV Pain Meds. But, an epidural was entirely out of the question and I did not want to be pressured into one. I told her I didn't want it to be suggested to me either.

7:30 I was at a whopping 2 cm and 75% effaced! Dr. Frost put a pill in my cervix (Cytotec) and I put on Harry Potter & the Scorcer's Stone and relaxed. It wasn't anything new, felt like my tummy was getting hard; no pain whatsoever. Mom was asleep in the rocker and Dustin was trying to not look nervous. Throughout the morning I was left alone to relax and watch the movie, no pain at all.

By 10:30 things had started to heat up. My contractions were getting stronger and I was doing a great job of just relaxing through them. I think by then we had put Chamber of Secrets on...I was starting to tune things out.

10:50 Dr. F breaks my water with a device that looks like a giant-sized crochet hook. This was the most disgusting feeling ever. Warm gushing nastyness. Then a contraction. Holy Shit. I got scared and started to cry. I had so much self doubt at that moment. How was I going to do this? How could I handle this for an extended period of time? Then the Dr. saw me in tears and told the nurse to wait a few minutes to start the Pitocin. Mom and Dustin started to rub my legs and feet with oil and I started to relax and concentrate.

11:10 - a very short 20 minutes later Pitocin was started. The contractions were strong, there was no warning, they just hit me full force and kept the intensity for the entire contraction. Distraction was a good thing. Mom decided to get Dustin lunch and Dustin was doing a great job. I was so glad I made him practice the Bradley was worth it.

11:30- I was sick of just laying in bed so we got the birthing ball out. Keep in mind that with every contraction amniotic fluid was still gushing out of me...not my best moments. The ball worked great, I rolled my hips around and leaned on the bed while getting back rubs. I felt like this was bearable. I had gotten in the mind frame of labor. Contraction to Contraction. Breath to Breath.

12:30 - 4 cm 80% effaced - Labor was working at a very slow rate. The pain was getting worse, I had to do something different. Nurse suggested the shower! Oh, the warm water was wonderful. For the next hour and a half I swayed, sat, kneeled and relaxed in the shower. For some reason the water eased the pain in my belly. Both Dustin and the nurse ended up soaking wet but it was worth it. Then at 2:00 my contractions intensified. I wasn't sure I could stand up much longer. I felt like I was getting weaker and weaker with each one. Drying off and walking back to the bed were the hardest 10 minutes of my life it felt like.

2pm -I was 5 cm. Dustin had spoken to Dr. F and had been told and "estimated" time of delivery. He asked me if I wanted to know, I said,"No, please don't tell me. It will make me doubt myself and I want to do this without drugs." Once in bed the nurse told me laboring on all fours was a good position and allowed the baby to get off my back. I was willing to do anything to make it feel better. The next contraction was like a slap in the face. My body was screaming in agony, then I got hit with a piggy back contraction. 2 full force contractions back to back with no break. I could no longer kneel, and I got into the Bradley Position. Dustin was rubbing my back. Mom was rubbing my legs. The nurse was doing hip squeezes and knee presses. I started to moan with each contraction. I couldn't help it. I was trying desperately to relax. Instead of a slap in the face I felt as if my body were being steam rolled. (Looking back, this was my transition into the last stage of labor).

3:15 - The room has been kept dark, everyone is quiet except for me. The steam rolling wave has continually hit my body. Nothing is helping. I'm not sure if I can go on this way. I ask the nurse about the effects on any medicine she could give me and would it really do anything for me. Would it hurt the baby? My mom (which also read the Bradley Book and Lamaze Book) asked me to wait just a little longer. She said," You're doing great Lizzy. You can do this."

3:50 - I tell the nurse "I need to push." I did it. My entire body convulsed, I curled into a ball on my left side. Pushing made the pain go away! It was relief. The nurse checked me. I was ready. She said,"Page Dr. F"

3:55 - Dr. comes through the door and asks if he has time to change. "NO" I kept pushing. By the time the Dr. put on his gown Jonathan was crowning. I had only pushed a few times. Then I screamed in pain,"he's hurting me!" Mom said,"I can see his head." Dustin took one look and almost passed out. Dustin would spend the next 5 min. with his head buried in my pillow while holding my hand.

4:04 - Jonathan is born. 8 pounds 4 ounces 21.5 inches long

And here they are - one, big happy family! Doesn't she look GREAT?! That little peanut of a man in her arms looks so content and happy, doesn't he?
Elizabeth is currently studying to be an OB nurse.
Thank you so much for sharing your story!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Madonna's Birth Story - 2 Years Ago Today!

I met Madonna last year when I started teaching at my new school. She taught third grade down at the other end of the hallway, and we quickly became friends. She was very good at helping me get through all the "new teacher" wonkies, as I came close to tears while she was in my room more than once. She was a supportive and caring listener, which means, of course, she's an amazing mother! She, like Katie, is also an avid blogger, so I won't copy her whole story here, just my favorite parts. You can read her entry over at Just Us Three. Enjoy!

At 6:00 p.m. we called the hospital to see if they had room for us, they told us to come in at 7:00 p.m. or so. But before we went, Kevin made my favorite dinner--Stuffed Steak Ole. Um! I didn't eat much, but I knew I would not get to have it again anytime soon because of all the peppers and onions. (Hmm, thanks for this tip - I'll certainly enjoy a good meal before I go anywhere near the hospital!)

We got to our room around 7:30 p.m. Our nurse Tracy checked me and found that I was 1 to 2 cm dilated and that my cervix was 90% effaced. Actual progress, shocking! So they held off of giving me anything to encourage more contractions. Around 4:00 a.m., after a long night of restlessness (contractions aren't fun), a doctor came to do the epidural. Can I just give you one piece of advice, get the epidural! After that, the only way I could tell I was having a contraction was from the pressure.


Kevin was the first to hold him. Ethan did some crying when they were checking him out and cleaning him up, but once they wrapped him up and handed him to Kevin he was completely quiet. Kevin said he did a lot of looking around, mostly looking right at his daddy. Once the doctor was done with me I got to hold our son in my arms for the first time. He seemed so content.


Kevin and I are just so excited to meet this little guy we've been talking to for months in my belly. It's still pretty surreal. It really hasn't sunk in that this newborn is our son. We're just anxious to get him home and begin our new lives as parents.

Ethan was born on December 3rd, 2007 - so HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LITTLE BUDDY!
I think this picture is just the sweetest! I know he's sleeping, but I want to scrunch his little face and make high-pitched googley noises!
Thanks, Madonna! Enjoy your time at home with your little one. We miss you!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Katie's Birth Story

Well, the first birth story I received was from a dear long-lost friend - Katie Glenn! Who now goes by "Kate Zuerner;" because she's so sophisticated and grown up and married to Joe Zuerner. But to me, she's just Katie Glenn - my brother's "girlfriend" when they were four years old. She's one of, I think a BILLION kids, and her mom, Pam, is the sweetest thing on the planet, therefore Katie and her BILLION brothers and sisters are also the sweetest thinglets on the planet. Okay, so she really has three sisters and a brother, but still, as a pregnant woman, I feel like her mother might as well have had a billion kids, because that's a lot of work! Anyway, Katie is a labor and delivery nurse, so she gets to see birth stories every day! Somehow, she still finds it interesting enough to share her own amazing story with me, and with the rest of the Internet world. Here is a link to her post about the birth of her beautiful daughter, Annie. You can read it for yourself, but I've copied my favorite parts to include on my own bloggy blog, so here you go!

4:30 [am] Pulled over by B. Police for speeding on the Avenue!! :o) Joe was a little upset however I simply told him not to worry he would not get a ticket. When we told the police man I was in labor he offered a squad to which I laughed and told him that I was an L&D nurse and I had everything under control just let me leave!!!! He wanted to know what hospital we were headed to and when we told him he said that his wife worked at ... in the ER and if we were lying he would know!!!! First of all sir, why would we lie about going 35 in a 25 at 4:30 am? And if your wife knows I am at the hospital and tells you about it I will sue her for violating HIPAA!


6:00 [am] In my room getting the terrible, horrible, worst thing in the entire world...Epidural!!! I would hate them except they make life so much easier. I would not EVER go natural because something tells me that if I didn't like the 5 min Epi process that I wouldn't do well with the 8 hour labor process. However, I freaked out during my Epi. I cried like a baby, I hated the feeling of it! However, it took away the whatever.


11:00 [am] 10 cm 100% effaced and time to start pushing. Now being a L&D nurse I know how this first time pushing can go, I have done it with many of my patients, anywhere from 10 min to 3 hours long, most often at least an hour. I was very nervous about this, I had no idea how I was going to push for 3 hours!! However with my first push my moms face lit up and Joe mentioned something about seeing the head! I couldn't believe how blessed I was, this was not going to take long at all!


I can't believe how blessed I am to have had such an easy labor and so far on day 4 things are going fairly well. When things are hard (breastfeeding) I just have to look at my little girl and I am so in love with her that it is all worth it.

Here's the pic of adorable Annie that I ripped off of her blog, isn't she precious?!

Thanks, Katie, for such a great story! Your positive attitude and confidence are certainly inspiring to a first-timer like me!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Calling All Moms! I Want Your Stories!

Like all good ideas, this one hit me in the middle of the night. Sylvain and I have started our child birth classes and I've been reading lots of books about labor, delivery and recovery. Last night I was thinking about all the Moms I know, and how it would be nice to sit down with all of you and hear your birth stories. Since I don't have that much room in my house or time to go visit all of you, I've decided to put out the "all call" on the internet for your stories instead!

So here's the deal:
- Email me your stories at pocket879 at hotmail dot com OR if you have your stories in a blog post, just send me the link.
- If you have more than one kid, you can send me more than one story OR you can combine them, I don't mind.
- Let me know somewhere in your email if I have permission to post your story on my blog. My number one goal is to learn as much as I can about your experiences, my number two goal is to share what I learn with the online world. So, if you don't want me to publish your story, don't let it stop you from sending it! I still want to read it!! If you do want your story published, leave out any identifying factors like locations, hospital names, and names of doctors and nurses.

Don't hold back, ladies! I want the WHOLE story - the good, the bad, and the ugly!

If you don't know where to start with your story, here are some questions to consider:
1. When and how did you know you were in labor?
2. What was your husband/partner/coach's reaction? What role did this person play in the process of labor and delivery?
3. How long were you in labor? When did you decide to go to the hospital? When did your doctor get there?
4. Did you have any medication or interventions during labor and delivery? This list includes, but is not limited to: pitocin, epidural, episiotomy, forceps, vaccuum. What were the effects of these medications or interventions on you and on the baby, if any?
5. Who was with you in the delivery room? What was their reaction?
6. Were there any surprises for you on that day? Did anything happen that you felt unprepared for?
7. Describe the moment when you first saw your little one - Did the baby cry? Did you cry? Were the baby's eyes open? Did you get to hold the baby right away?
8. If you nursed your baby, how did that go?
9. How long did you stay in the hospital and how long was your recovery?

I'm really excited about this little project. I'm particularly interested in hearing the stories of the Neltner women on my mom's side of the family, since I appear to take after my mom as far as this pregnancy is concerned. I'm also interested in getting a good sampling of stories from mothers of all ages, young and old! If you're not a mother, pass this idea on to one that you know - most of us know at least ONE mom, right? If nothing else, these stories should be written down for prosperity's sake!

Have fun and happy story telling!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Online Shopping

Oh, how I love the online shopping these days! Free shipping! Discounts galore! I just finished all of Sylvain's presents in about five minutes. I do NOT love shopping in stores like most women do, especially the women in my family. I can shop out in the real world for about two hours MAX before I putter out and die like a flickering Christmas light. My mother has the shopping stamina of an elephant during the dry season. She can bounce from store to store to store at 5 AM like it's nobody's business, but me? I just didn't get that gene.

So, I do my shopping online and I LOVE it. I can sit here in my PJ's, browsing the wares of the world while listening to my own music and eating popcorn. I can click-clickety-click my way to gifts for everyone in the family, and as long as I do it this week, they'll be on my doorstep by Christmas. Ahh, it feels so good!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Happy Shopping!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Griping About Maternity Clothes

Okay, okay, I forgot to blog yesterday, but I had a good excuse...I was sitting on my Mom's couch all day. Actually, Mom and I went shopping and I went out to visit with my Dad and Sally and we had dinner with my siblings get the idea. It was another busy holiday day. I didn't even realize I had skipped a day of blogging until I sat down to write tonight. Alas, I'm not very good at this "every day" thing, so get over it!

Anyway, now that all the running and visiting and turkey-eating are over, I can finally think about more important things. Like what in the world I'm going to wear for the next four to five months. My belly is the way. My jeans and belly band can get the job done for a while and they are still pretty comfy, but I have very few work clothes that I actually fit into and can wear comfortably - including the maternity clothes I bought way back when I was only 10 weeks pregnant. Buying maternity clothes is HARD, especially when it's your first time. I have no idea what size I'll be, everything makes me look fat or frumpy, and, most importantly, I can't find anything comfortable. I'm glad I'm pregnant in the winter time, but this would be a lot easier if I could just wear cute skirts, tank tops, and flip flops.

I'm convinced that maternity pants were created by the devil...or a man. They were definitely made by someone who has clearly never been pregnant before. Almost all of them have this GIANT stretchy panel in front which looks deceivingly comfortable, until you try to wear them for a whole day and realize that you're spending 98% of your time hiking them up to where they're supposed to be on your waist because that stupid panel isn't getting the job done. I thought this would go away as I got bigger, but I noticed something as I was sitting in the doctor's waiting room last week. I even pointed it out to Sylvain. I noticed that every woman who got up from the chairs when her name was called stood there for a few seconds before moving forward to hike up her pants! ALL of them, even the really big ones! They stood up, grabbed their pants at the waist and gave it the old heave-ho tug before walking back to the exam rooms. I thought, "Hey! It's not just me! It's not my size, either! It's the STUPID panel pants!"

I did find one really good pair of jeans at Target last week that do NOT have the panel, but actually have the regular button and zipper in the front. They have elastic on the sides, which is very nice. They stay where they are supposed to stay, for the most part, and I wore them all weekend. They're not nearly as comfortable as my old trusty pre-pregnancy jeans, but I'm hoping that's just because they are new and I have to break them in. I've also taken to wearing my black yoga pants to work with long, cute sweaters or shirts and I pulled it off without anyone really noticing - and fourth graders notice everything! I think I've given up on the panel pants, especially for work. I'll just spend every weekend between now and April trying on skirts and dresses and praying for a fat-girl fashion miracle.

Update: Gap Maternity has pants with different "levels" of panels! I bought a pair of "semi demi panel hip slung pants" online this morning. I also found a really cute black dress for sale. If they work out, I'm hitting the Gap outlet during Christmas break!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Extra Thankful

Well, today I'm just...THANKFUL! What a wonderful holiday. Today we get to spend time with our loved ones and celebrate all that we have with good food and good company! However, today is not JUST Thanksgiving in our's Sylvain's 30th Birthday! Yes, we already had his party, and yes, it was amazing. But today is the day that he woke up as a 30 year old. So in addition to being thankful for everything we have today, I'm extra super duper thankful for my amazing husband.

I'm sitting on Mom's couch watching the Macy's Parade. The year Sylvain and I started dating, we went to New York with my family for Thanksgiving and had such a wonderful time at the parade. I remember when we got our pictures back, and I looked at one of me and my boyfriend on the streets of New York, with giant smiles of our faces. I looked at my own face and thought, "Wow. I look really happy. I should marry this person." So I did. And I'm glad! I've been smiling that way ever since.

Happy Birthday, Honey! I Love You!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I drove up to Mom's house by myself tonight. She needed help cooking and Sylvain and Jordan are coming up together tomorrow. Usually I complain about having to drive by myself, but I was looking forward to it tonight. I know the holidays are filled with lots of running around and visiting with family, so I wanted some alone time to mentally prepare for the big rush. I turned my iPod on shuffle and sang my way all the way up North - and I loved every second of it.

So tonight, I'm thankful for my music! My Christmas tunes, my lullabies, my Taylor Swift and Old Crow and Bonnie Tyler. I always sing in the car, especially when I'm by myself, but these days I feel like I'm actually singing TO someone, and I got really excited when I thought about the day that my daughter and I will be able sing together in the car. I hope she recognizes some of these songs when she's out here in the real world, and I really hope she's ready to make some music.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I know that there are plenty of people out there who think that teachers have the easiest job in the world - babysit some kids for a few hours a day, a few months a year. And, even though I'm a staunch advocate for year-round schooling, I will never complain about the time off. However, I think there are a lot of people who underestimate exactly how hard teachers work. Correction: exactly how hard GOOD teachers work. There is a big difference between a regular teacher and a GOOD teacher. I'd like to consider myself a good one.

With that being said, tonight I am thankful for the rest that comes with the holidays. This is the time of year where I start to panic in the classroom. It's no longer the beginning of the year and it's no longer acceptable that my kids DON'T KNOW ANYTHING! I start to realize, right around November, exactly how much they really don't know and I start to hyperventilate at the realization that it's MY JOB to teach them what they need to know. Yipes! Why did I sign up for this?? It's a huge job, and in many cases, it's damn near impossible.

So, when I got home tonight, I dropped my bags of grading and lesson plans at the door, plopped down on the couch and said, "Ahhhhh......" The grading a lesson plans can wait while I recharge and think about what in the world I'm going to do with these kids for the rest of the year. I can worry about all of that on Sunday night. For now, it's sleeping in and eating lots!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fourth Graders

I'm just hopping on here for a few minutes tonight to express my thanks for my students and my job. I know I complain about it pretty often, and I've had days where I wanted to go work at WalMart instead of set foot in that god-forsaken classroom, but when all is said and done, I can truly say that I love my job, and I love my kids!

I've written about their silly antics and funny quips before, and I wish I had a new one to add tonight, but I don't. All I can say is that 9 year olds are the most amazingly clever and astute people on the planet. Sure, they have a lot to learn, but the things they come up with and the discussions they have never cease to amaze me. No day is exactly like the one before it, and no child is exactly like the one next to it. The ups and downs are monumental, but the smiles on their faces at the end of the day make it all worth it.

I love fourth graders!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Today I'm thankful for good, long, lazy Sundays - even though today wasn't lazy at all! We've been so busy for the last couple of days and things have been so fast-paced and exciting around here, that we really needed today to just unwind and get things done around the house. We slept in super late this morning. Thanks to a rocking Shellac show last night, this pregnant mama stayed out with the punk rock crowd until 1:00 AM! Am I the coolest person you know or what?

After we woke up, we puttered about for a while until it was time for me to finally get my National Board work started - again. I've been stuck on a couple of questions for one of my portfolio entries, so today was the day I had to force myself to sit down and answer them, whether I liked it or not, and I did not. Sylvain made the greatest lunch of all-time: homemade Shepherd's Pie! We enjoyed a nice, quiet lunch together, then I got back to work.

We tried to walk to the library to get some books we need for our Bradley class, but they were closed, so instead we just took a delightful walk around the neighborhood. Then I went to my National Board meeting only to find out that my mentor forgot about it, so I got to leave early and come straight back home! Hooray.

All in all, it's been such a nice, relaxing Sunday, even though we've both been doing lots of work. I know these days are numbered and soon there will be a tiny person controlling our every move, so I'm so thankful that we were able to spend this time together! I'm really looking forward to going home for Thanksgiving, too. We have lots of wonderful family to visit and lots of fabulous food to eat! Hooray for the Holidays!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Well, I just can't stop looking at our ultrasound pictures and I've already shoved them in everyone's face, so if you're planning to be around me in the next couple days (umm...make that four months), get ready to slap a smile on your face and tell me how cute she is. While I was lying in bed this morning, I felt her moving around and decided that she deserves another day on the blog. This might be cheating as far as NaBloPoMo is concerned, but I don't care. I've never been so thankful for something in my life! So, if you're reading this today, I'd like to direct you to the post below. If you've already read it - then just take a look at those beautiful pictures and go "Awwww, isn't she the sweetest?" and get all teary-eyed (okay, the teary eyes might just be for me). If you haven't read it - WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! Get to it!

Friday, November 20, 2009

I'm Thankful for Our Baby Girl!

Here she is, world! In all of her girly glory - well, not ALL of it. I do have a scandalous "up the skirt" picture which will stay in our album. No need to start flashing people this early. Here are the modest pictures of her head, face, arms and tummy. I can already tell she's going to look like her daddy!

Profile of her face with her hand up by her mouth.

Here she is looking straight at you with her hand up like she's waving! Say "hi" to the baby!
The pics got a little blurrier when we scanned them :( but I still think they're pretty darn good!
The ultrasound visit was INCREDIBLE! I drank a little bit of Coke right before I went and that girl was moving and shaking all over the place! Sylvain and I held hands and watched for a good half an hour. Neither of us cried or got super sentimental, we were both too stunned and awe-struck. We saw her heart, her kidneys, her stomach, her SPINE, it was crazy! Everything was right where it should be and everything is in perfect working order, as far as we could tell. She weighs 13 oz and is still due on April 9th. Hooray for a healthy baby girl!!

After we left the doctor's office, we went out to lunch and then to Target to look for something cute and girly to buy. I got the cutest set of baby booties that look like little Mary Janes and a pair of striped leggings that were so cute I almost ate them up right there in the store! Then, I did what I swore I would never, ever do... I changed all of the bedding on our registry from neutral to downright, no-questions-asked GIRL stuff! I couldn't help it! I knew this would happen if we found out before it was born! I just couldn't resist the pink, green and brown polka dot bumper with the pink and white striped dust ruffle! I had to have it - no, SHE had to have it! What kind of mother would I BE?!

Oh, it feels so good to know. Now we can call her a "she" instead of an "it!" Now I can feel her move and talk about her growth and what kinds of things we'll do with her when she gets here! We have a pronoun and I love it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I've been following Heather Armstrong's story over at for over a year now. She is kind of my hero of the internet world. Not only is her blog wonderful and her writing hilarious, she participates in the greatest invention of the digital age: Momversation! Each week or so, I get a new "episode" of Momversation from her website, but you can go to to get them all. It's just a bunch of internet moms sharing ideas and philosophies and questions and stories about their lives. They talk about It All, including all the raunchy things you'd never talk to your own Mom about, so it's nice to know there are people who will go there. Heather, you're my favorite and I'm thankful for you, your website, and Momversation!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Operation Baby Room: Phase One...Complete!

Tonight I am so thankful that all of the painting and chair-railing is done in the baby room! Now we can move on to more important (and fun) things, like curtains and furniture. Here are some pics...

Working hard on the finishing touches, jamming to my Christmas tunes.

Aren't those stripes the cutest?! (Ignore the ugly curtains)

And how 'bout those corners, eh? Not too shabby!

This is exactly what I had in mind when I said "stripes and a chair rail" and I LOVE it! Really it wasn't that hard at all, just time-consuming. We painted the room green back in July. Recently, I measured the one foot stripes and marked them with chalk, then Mom came down to help me tape them up and slap on the paint. Here's my trick for making really straight, defined edges - use a level when you put up your tape and then take a wallpaper scraper and run it over the tape so it is DOWN good and tight, that way the lighter paint won't seep through to the darker color. After Mom rolled the white paint on, we took up the tape right away so that none of it dried to the tape, which was a huge problem when I did the baseboards over the summer. As for the chair rail, we bought it pre-primed from Lowe's and Sylvain cut it with his HANDSAW! He's so hard core. The angles worked out perfectly and we even got to take back an extra strip or two that we thought we'd need if we made any mistakes. We used wood glue and a level to get it up straight, then he nailed them into the wall, I covered the nail holes with wood putty, and put on the last coat of white paint! Voila! A lovely baby room for a lovely, lovely baby!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I would like to interrupt these sappy-people-fun-fests to bring you a much more important item for which I am very thankful:
My wonderful parents have blessed me with many things...but good skin was not one of them. I have always had problems with acne for as long as I can remember and in the last few years my skin has become red and blotchy and wrinkly and gross. Pregnancy makes all of these things TEN TIMES WORSE! I realized the other day, as I was slathering on my Aveeno Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15, that putting on moisturizer has NEVER felt this good. After I get out of the shower, when my face is all crazy red and almost cracked from dryness, I put TWO LAYERS of this stuff on, and...oh my's like a glass of wine for my face. I literally stand in front of the mirror and go "Ahhhhhhh, oohhhhh, ahhhhh, yeahhhhh, ahhhhhh...."
Sylvain has equally bad skin, but he has found that keeping a beard helps with the acne and dryness problems, especially in the winter time. I keep trying to convince him that he should try moisturizer, but he's way to manly for that, so whatever. I do know this - between our skin issues and our allergies - our kid will have to live in a bubble. We've already looked into it.
So, today I am thankful for moisturizer (and the four hundred other Aveeno products I use every day). In fact, I can't wait until tomorrow morning when I get to put more on!

Monday, November 16, 2009


How many days until Thanksgiving? Well, it's not enough days to count the blessings we have in all of our wonderful friends! Sylvain and I have been so lucky to have known many of the same people for such a long time. In fact, we kind of knew each other before we really knew each other because we hung out with the same crowd at UK. Now, we have our Lex buddies, our hometown buddies, and our NKY buddies to summon up on any given Friday or Saturday night. The memories made in Lexington since we started dating are fun-filled and sweet - lots of drinking, game playing, downtowning, karaeokeing, cooking, cupcaking and the like. Now that we live in L, our new friends (which are partially made up of old friends from Lex who have since moved here as well) have introduced us to many new places, new music and new food that we adore. I also can't forget to mention my work friends, both new and old. There's something about teaching with other ladies that bonds you together for life, especially when you share your first years of teaching together! Then, of course, there's my old standby buddies in NKY - my old friends from high school whom I think about often and miss when I'm lonely.

Where would any of us be without a good friend? In the gutter, that's where!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


What with a large "blended" family, it turns out that I have four sets of Grandparents! Since it's Sunday night and it's been a long weekend, I will list for you my favorite thing about each set, thus fufilling the "thanksgiving" portion of the blog in time to snuggle in bed and watch a movie before I go to sleep. Here goes:

Grandma Neltner: My mom's mom. She's a country granny through and through. She lives in a beautiful little house on top of a hill with the best Kentucky view you've ever seen. She makes a mean Christmas Ham and I love to sit on the porch with her in the summer time and talk to her about....everything. Boy does she love to talk! My grandpa Louis died long before I was born, but the family he left behind is the lovingest, laughingest, merriest family in the world.

Nana: My dad's mom. Nana is a very faithful, patient and quiet person. I love to visit with her on Sunday afternoons, sit in her living room, and hear about all her life stories. She loves to hear about my life stories, too, and she's full of great advice. She's the one who constantly reminds me to stop worrying (I get that from my Mom's side of the family). She has never worried about a thing in her entire life because she knows that God will take care of it. And he does. Pop passed away when I was in college and we all miss him terribly. He was a hard worker and a great Grandpa. Recently, on the family camping trip, we all reminisced about his insanely powerful, dish-rattling, earth-shattering, sneezes. Seriously, he could knock your house over.

Grandma and Grandpa Stine: My stepmom's parents. They are the sweetest couple you've ever met. Grandma is soft spoken and has never said a bad word about anybody. She thinks that anything her grandchildren create is masterpiece. Grandpa loves scotch, golf and having a good laugh with the family. They're always fun to be around.

Granny and Grandpa Eiben: My stepdad's parents. Unfortunately, both of Jay's parents have passed away, and we miss them terribly, too. Grandpa flew a bomber in WWII, ate at Skyline Chili every day, and constantly complained about things that everyone insisted would make his life easier. He took care of Granny when she was in a wheelchair and he loved to tell or hear a good joke. Granny was a huge Cincinnati Reds fan and she loved her grandkids with all her heart.

These are the people who came before me and the people who created my world. I don't think any grandchild can ever find exactly the right words to say thank you to their Grandparents. When I think about all of the miraculous things that had to happen in order for these people to meet, fall in love, and create new lives in this world, I get goosebumps. My Nana hopped on a train to Texas just to marry Papa while he was in the Army! How cool is that? Their blood is my blood and their character built my character. I love them with all my heart.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Rest of the Siblings

And now for the brother and sister on Mom's side of the family! Matt and Jenny...

Matt and Jenny are Jay's kids and we've known each other for a very long time. When Mom and Jay started dating, Matt, Jenny, Jordan and I would pretend to be brothers and sisters and we would BEG our parents to get married. It only took them seven years to finally listen to us, and by then, we were all in middle or high school. We moved in together and formed lots of happy memories on W. Drive.

Christmases were particularly eventful at the Eiben house. Jenny and I used to drag our blankets and pillows into Matt and Jordan's room on Christmas Eve so we could all wake up at the same time and get downstairs for presents. One year we all woke up in the middle of the night to hear Mom and Jay banging around in the basement trying to put the Pop-A-Shot and Ping-Pong table together. We laughed about it all night long and tried to pretend like we didn't know what they were up to the next morning. We still get together every Christmas, despite our multiple family events on both sides, and we see each other as often as we can throughout the year.

Matt and Jenny hold a special place in my heart. And now their side of the family has grown to include two more sweet additions: Matt's wife Jen, and their precious, adorable, cuddly cutie-pie son....CHARLIE!! He was born on July 3rd and I do say he's the luckiest little boy on the planet. Jen is an amazing sister-in-law and mother, and I'm so glad she's going through all of this newborn stuff before I do. I plan to use her as a resource for...well, the rest of our lives, pretty much! Here they are in all their cuteness:

That's the end of my immediate family, for which I give many thanks! I have one more post about my incredible grandparents and then I'll get to the fun stuff.

Friday, November 13, 2009

And Now for Jordo...

...okay, I bet you're all thinking, "How many people does she have in her family and when will she start blogging about more important things?" Well, the answers are A LOT and VERY SOON. I'm dying to tell you all about how thankful I am for moisturizer this time of year, but it wouldn't be fair to the million or so people left in my family. So with, that I now give you another brother for which I am very thankful....

There he is in front, and for some reason I really look like my Mom in this picture, then there's Evan behind me and John in the back. All three brothers in a row...aren't they cute?
So Jordan is the only actual "full blooded brother" I have, although that hasn't ever really counted for much. Like I said in my last post, a brother's a brother and I have lots of them (more to come, actually, can you believe it?). Jordan and I are only 18 months apart, so we've always been...together. No matter which parent's house I was going to when we were growing up, I at least always had Jordan there with me. As kids, we were polar opposites - he was always doing crazy, adventurous feats (which usually ended in stitches) and I was always freaking out and playing it safe, with a fair amount of bossing him around thrown in the mix. He's a brilliant song writer and singer, and if you haven't been to Louisville to hear Supertruck...well then, you're really missing out! What I love most about Jordo is his sense of humor. No one makes me or the rest of the family laugh as hard as he does. He really knows how to live life and love it, which I admire. Time spent with him is sure to be a good time.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sally and "The Boys"

One more chunk of the family to be thankful for: my stepmom and brothers (okay, technically they're "half" brothers, but if I spent all my time calling them "half" brothers instead of "brothers," it would be way too confusing, so they're just BROTHERS, got it?)

It's been such a wonderful experience having these three lovelies in my life! Sally has always been a steady rock and a sympathetic ear for me, and we like to sit at the kitchen table long after dinner and dessert, talking about the world and how much better everything would be if people just listened to US! And in high school, she was always the one who could calmly explain why I was in trouble and exactly what I needed to do to make things right. I certainly wouldn't be who I am today without her.

As for "the boys," (although they're certainly not boys anymore), they are two of the best brothers a big sister could ask for! I love that we're so far apart in age, because I feel like I helped them grow up, and I love that they have an "adult" in their life they can talk to, just like I had their Mom growing up. John just started his first year of college and Evan is loving his History classes in high school. They both tower over me now, but I remember when they were small enough for me to clasp their shoulders and pull them to my waist to give them a big giant hug! They're very kind, thoughtful, and adventurous, especially when it comes to dirtbikes and motocross. (Did I spell that right? I'm not even sure that's what you call it. I didn't get the mechanical engineering genes in our family.) All I know is that there is always a pack of motorized two-wheeled vehicles on every camping trip we go on, and I'M certainly not the one riding them! I could watch them ride those things all day!

I am so grateful they are a part of our family and I can't wait to watch them turn into UNCLES in a few short months. This kid won't know what hit 'em!

John, pictured with his lovely girlfriend, Maggie.

Evan, pictured with....a large woman's shoe.
And, look what I found!

A picture of my Dad! I told you he was good lookin'!

"Where's a picture of Sally?" You ask. For some crazy reason I cannot FIND ONE. I'll be taking lots of pictures of her this holiday season. Until then, here's a picture of someone I always thought she resembled (in looks, not necessarily character, although Sally is quite spunky)!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Dad!

Okay, I'm a terrible blogger. First of all, I should have posted this last night. Second of all, I have no good pictures of my Dad or Sally! I have one picture of Dad from a camping trip and it's saved on a CD that will not open on my stupid half-broken computer, and I have one good picture of the two of them that was saved on MySpace years ago and I can't find it anywhere. Grr. Anyway, even though you can't see them, just trust me - they're good lookin'!

When I was six years old, I thought every Dad built their own house and knew how to live in the woods. I thought every Dad had a basement full of machines that you could take apart and put back together. I thought every Dad built giant bonfires and made gasoline patterns in the front yard to light it. I thought every Dad had two canoes strapped together with a grill welded to the front to make hamburgers and hot dogs on the river. I thought every Dad ate dinner with robot-machine sound effects and wrestled with his kids on the carpet. I thought every Dad took his kids hiking in the woods and could name every tree in Kentucky, or took his kids fishing and could name every fish in Kentucky, too. I thought every Dad drove a big red truck and I thought every kid got excited to see it drive down the street.

But I was wrong. That's just my Dad!
Next post: Sally, John and Evan. And I'll do my best to dig out some pics!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Mother

My thankful thoughts today turn toward Mrs. Joyce Ann Eiben, and her fabulous husband Jay.
I'm truly at a loss for words when it comes to talking about my mom. She's a very faithful, hard-working, compassionate person and she has set the bar quite high for motherhood! Every choice she makes and every breath she breathes is for the good of her kids and I don't tell her "thank you" enough. She and Jay have been a monumental help to Sylvain and me, especially now that we have our own house. She is always planning our next painting party or shopping day or weekend together. Without her, I'd have an empty house and no clothes. Thank goodness she's around!

My favorite thing about my mom is her constant effort to hold on to traditions. She's always trying to "pass on" something, whether it be a necklace or a quilt or a recipe. Holidays are a big deal and she gets such joy out of gathering everyone together around good food and fun games. A trip to Mom's house is sure to provide nourishment for the body AND the soul and I always leave there feeling a little more centered than when I arrived.

In fact, I changed my mind about my favorite thing. My favorite thing about my mom is that she succeeded in creating a "home." I've written about this before. All through college and the rest of my adult life, Mom's house was always "home." It's where I used to go to do my laundry and shop in her pantry. Where I could show up any time, day or night, and know there was a room for me and a place to hide. And it seems that she always knew what I needed. "Want some banana nut bread?" "Wanna go shopping?" "Wanna go to church tomorrow?" "Wanna go see Grandma?" Visiting her really keeps me grounded.

And don't even get me started on that husband of hers! I don't know where we'd be without Jay around. I remember when he and Matt and Jenny showed up at our door so many years ago. "Who is this guy?" I thought. Turns out he was the perfect person, and they were the perfect family for us. I don't have to worry about Mom being alone, I don't have to worry about who will help us cut down the tree in the back yard, I don't have to worry about who will watch our baby when we go on our Anniversary trips. Mom and Jay are just always....there.

And I'm so thankful!