Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Big Things!

Welp, it's time to come clean.

John and I have some big things on the horizon.

And no, I'm not talking about our baby due in May. While that certainly is a big thing, there are actually a handful of other big things possibly headed our way in the next few months.

First, John finally got offered an interview for that job he applied to back in September. And he went on that interview. And it went well. It was actually a 3-day long interview that included him being interviewed 14 times by 14 different physicians and giving a 1-hour talk on a topic of his choice. Eek! Talk about high stress! But I have every confidence that he nailed it.


And so now we wait to hear back from them.

Once we hear back, we have to decide... what comes next? Do we pick up and move to east Tennessee? Do we move right away or wait until after baby is born? Do we rent once we get there or look into buying a house? Do we even want him to take this job?!?

Lot's of up in the air details, folks. It's been crazy around here.

And in addition to that crazy, I've got my own crazy going on.

I've been accepted to attend a Creighton Model FertilityCare practitioner training in January outside of Nashville, and I'm pretty sure I'll be going. Eek!!

I've always been interested in becoming a practitioner, especially since Creighton and NaPro have done so many wonderful things for me, I've just never found the right time and I never thought there'd be a training close to Memphis. But then Sew posted about attending a training nearby and my interest was instantly piqued!

At first, I thought it was a long shot, especially with baby being due halfway through the 11-month training, and with training cost being kinda high, AND with the real possibility of us moving to another part of Tennessee (with no Creighton or NaPro presence) in the next few months. But the more I prayed and thought about it, the more I felt called. And so I applied. And now I'm going.

Which ALSO means that I'll probably be phasing myself out of my youth ministry job here real soon. Yikes!

So, a new job for me, possibly a new job for John, possibly a big move here soon, AND a baby on the way.

BIG THINGS, I tell ya!

Please pray for us as we continue to discern our next steps.

And if you know of anyone looking to learn the Creighton Model, consider sending them my way. After my training, that is. :)


Thursday, December 11, 2014

How We Told

I've been meaning to write about this for some time now, mostly just so I don't forget these special early pregnancy memories. As it is, I'm having to rack my brain quite a bit to draw out all the details. Let's see how this goes.

I should preface by saying we didn't do anything creative at all to announce our pregnancy. We were too excited. We just wanted to call and tell the everyone! And so we did. Sorry if that makes this post a little boring.

I should also mention that neither of our families live in town, so maybe that's why we lacked creativity in our announcement. All of it had to be done over the phone or FaceTime, so we were pretty limited by that. At least that's what my non-creative side wants me to believe.

The first person I told, aside from John of course, was my sister.

Actually, that's a lie. The first FIRST person I told, aside from John, was Emily over at Mama Holi. I was nearly going crazy waiting for my husband to get home from work and just needed to reach out to someone who understood pregnancy and infertility and the whirlwind of emotion when you finally get a positive test. So I emailed her and support ensued. It was just what I needed.

Then John got home, I took 2 more pregnancy tests just to be sure, and we spent the rest of that evening in shock and total elation.

Later that night, when we finally went to bed, I couldn't fall asleep for nothing. There was just too much excitement running through my brain. And when I finally did fall asleep, it didn't last for long. I was wide awake at the tip top of the morning, about to burst if I didn't tell anyone our news. So that's when I decided to tell our first loved one: my sister. I knew she'd be awake, so she was the perfect place to start. I called her and immediately just blurted out, "I'm pregnant!" Excitement ensued. We chatted for a while and then I told her to keep it hush hush since we weren't sure how long we'd wait to tell the rest of family and friends.

That didn't last long. We decided that we wanted to share the news with our families and close friends as soon as possible, so that this little life could be celebrated and prayed for immediately.

When we called my parents, they were out at a restaurant and couldn't FaceTime. I considered offering to call them back once they get home, but John thought they would suspect something was up. So I just went ahead and blurted it out and my poor mom cried in the middle of the restaurant. Ha! It was beautiful. This'll be grandbaby #3 for them, so they're pros when it comes to being Memere and Poppa. But that didn't stop them from being oh-so-excited!

We did get to FaceTime John's parents, as they were home when we called, and after sharing our news the first thing my mother-in-law said was, "Is this an adoption thing?" Ha! Since we had been homestudy approved for a while, they knew that an adoption could happen at any time for us, so I think she thought, "We're pregnant!" meant that we were matched with a birthmom or something like that. It took some explaining, but quickly she came to understand that we were literally pregnant. :) And then they proceeded to be thrilled for us. Actually, I've never seen my father-in-law so giddy! It was adorbs. This'll be the first grandbaby for them, so definitely a cause for major celebration.

Over the next few weeks, we told all our siblings and close friends, and of course they were all thrilled. Again, it was mostly phone calls and us saying "we're pregnant!" and then lots of happiness, so they're not all worth detailing.

BUT! I do need to mention my sister-in-law's reaction, because it was probably the best of all.

We FaceTimed her and her husband and after dropping the bomb, her response, no exaggeration, was "SHUT THE F*** UP!" followed soon by, "NO F***ING WAY!" You stay classy, Auntie Kathleen. :P

Announcing a pregnancy is almost always met with SO MUCH JOY. But announcing a pregnancy after 2 years of infertility? ... That's cause for some serious expletives.

Let's just say we LOVED every moment of shocking the crap outta everyone.

Oh, and in case you're wondering... NO, we haven't put it on facebook yet. As far as I'm concerned, all the important folks know about Baby Schweitz by now, so no need to blast the news in faceland yet. But when we do, I'll be sure to use my creative side to make up for all the non-creative announcements we made in real life.  Perhaps something like this?


I kid, I kid. We're way classier than that. But it probably made you giggle, am I right?

Also... NO, I haven't told my coworkers yet. Call me crazy, but this is just a case of me not wanting tons of attention from work people. I'm getting to the point where hiding under baggy shirts isn't as easy now, so I imagine the cat'll be out of the bag within the next week or so. But up until now, I've enjoyed keeping this joyful little secret all to myself at work.

And there you have it. All the details of how we told our loved ones about Baby Schweitz. It may not have been the most creative or interesting approach, but it was honestly perfect to us.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

20 Gifts I Love to Give (or Get!)



It's that time of year again! Time to light the Advent wreath, sip hot cocoa, and drive yourself nuts trying to pick out the perfect gifts for your loved ones.

For some reason this year, John and I had our act together and (mostly) finished Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. Pretty cool, right? Feels nice to be me right now. But that didn't come without a bit of work on our part. We sat and thought and thought and sat and browsed the internet and got annoyed with how long the process was taking, just like the rest of ya. Except this year we started gift brainstorming and shopping in October. OCTOBER, I tell ya. CRAZY, right??

But actually, who am I kidding? I LOVE giving gifts!! I love the thrill of finding that perfect, thoughtful gift for my special someones. And the joy and love they receive simply by opening our gifts and realizing we were thinking of them. Sure, it can be frustrating when you're stuck on that one relative who's nearly impossible to buy for, but overall, gift shopping and gift giving are two of my favorite things ever.

And I like to think I'm pretty good at it. (Not bragging, of course.)

So, for your shopping and giving pleasure, I give you some of my all-time favorite gifts to give (and receive!) with pictures and descriptions and links, oh my! Hope it's useful!

(Psst - If you're related to me and know you'll be getting a gift from us this year, you definitely want to skip the rest of this post. Spoilers ahead. Don't say I didn't warn you in all italics.)


--1--


This blanket is my favorite blanket of all time. True story, I own two of them and I'm giving two of them to loved ones this Christmas. Sure, it's a fair bit more expensive than your average fleece throw, but it's extra soft, very high quality fleece and all the patterns and colors are super cute.

Super saver tip - when Vera Bradley retires colors, they'll usually put all items in that color/pattern on a 30% discount. It's the best way to grab this item at a steal of a price. 


--2--
Subscription boxes


You all know I'm the Stitch Fix queen, but did you know I'm actually just an overall subscription box queen? And I think they make fantastic gifts.

This year, some of my loved ones will be getting a 6-month subscription to the Cravery, a bakery that delivers out-of-this-world tasty cookies straight to your mouth door once a month. And another loved one will be getting 3 months of Birchbox, a box full of girly girl stuff (make-up, perfume samples, etc.) or manly man stuff (socks and colognes, etc.), depending on which gender you're buying for, of course.

If neither of these sound appealing, do some research on other subscription boxes. Seriously, there are a zillion options out there: wine of the month, bacon boxes, craft boxes, kids' toys boxes, and so on. A box to suit everyone on your list! And oh what fun it is to look forward to receiving a gift subscription box full of surprises in the mail even after Christmas is over. A great gift indeed!


--3--
A new hobby 


Similar to subscription boxes, how about signing up a loved one for an online class that could turn into a new hobby? I found some great ones for sewing, crocheting, and calligraphy. Actually, the calligraphy class I linked to is the one I took online several months ago! And just like subscription boxes, I bet there are a zillion others out there too. Happy hobbying!


--4--
Games for little ones


Alright, so we all probably played Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, and Kerplunk as youngsters, so this gift suggestion likely isn't all that inspiring. But, the main point I'm trying to make here is get games for young kids, not clothes or toys that have simple functions (light up, make noise, annoy parents) or more clothes. Games are interactive and keep the kiddo you're buying for smart as a whip! My niece loved getting Candyland from us when she was three, so you can definitely start 'em young. Get gaming!


--5--
Games for adults


And just like our favorite little kiddos' brains, our adult brains need some game time too. Two of my favorites are Pandemic and Bohnanza, and they're both great as two player games, so you don't have to have a crowd around to dive in. Pandemic is a cooperative game, so you play together instead of against each other, to rid the world of fast-spreading diseases. And Bohnanza is just a wild wheeling-and-dealing, extremely interactive game that involves silly puns and bean farming. Oh, and there's also always Cards Against Humanity for your more crass relatives. Or folks looking for lots of inappropriate humor. It's ridiculously, so inappropriately hilarious. Don't say I didn't warn you.


--6-- 
Cookbooks


For your loved ones who love the kitchen, how about some awesome cookbooks? If you've got a friend who loves low-cal, low-fat yummies, checkout the Skinnytaste Cookbook. Or if your friend is more into decadent stuff (bring on the butter!), the Joy the Baker Cookbook is probably more her speed. For Sriracha lovers, there's the Sriracha Cookbook, which John and I own and enjoy very much. And for your friends who love science and cooking, I definitely have to recommend The Science of Good Cooking by Cook's Illustrated. That one explains how to cook any and everything to perfection and why certain cooking methods are better than others. Geeky.


--7--


Every family has a chocolate lover, right? I know it might seem like kind of a lame present, but these boxes of chocolate are 1.) so very tasty and 2.) pretty expensive. So it's a yummy splurge item, or basically, an item people don't typically buy for themselves but probably totally secretly want. And that, my friends, is what I think makes it a great gift. 


--8--


You don't know what bad spices can do to a meal until you've cooked with really good spices. My parents have been using Penzey's spices for years (like probably 25 years +), and a few years back, they filled our cupboards with these gourmet spices as a Christmas gift. We'll never go back to cheap grocery store spices ever again. 

Penzey's sells great gift sets like the one you see above, but you could also just pick out a bunch of your favorites or a bunch of the standards (oregano, sea salt, vanilla extract, cumin, etc.) and make a set of your own. And all at very affordable prices. 

We really like their chili powder, adobo chili pepper, sandwich sprinkle, and sunny paris seasoning (for fish), in case you were looking for suggestions. :)


--9--


What's that? You say your friends would rather grow their herbs and spices? Well, alright! Instead of Penzey's spices, buy them one of these... an Aerogarden! This is their smallest, most affordable design, which can grow up to three different plants at a time. But of course, there are larger, more expensive Aerogardens too. I just think it's a super neat toy and who doesn't love to have fresh herbs growing in their home all year long? 


--10--


For your friends who love tea, spoil them this season with some tasty tea from Teavana! You really can't go wrong with any of the flavors, but we highly recommend the Cocoa Caramel Sea Salt, Zingiber Ginger Coconut, Youthberry, White Chocolate Peppermint, and Blackberry Mojito. Two ounces (the minimum purchase for each type of tea) is plenty to make lots of cups of one flavor, so mix and match a bunch for a full-on tea crazy experience. Or buy just two ounces to keep it affordable. It's up to you, gift giver!

Teavana also has lots of fun gadgets and gizmos for tea-making. Like this tea-maker that strains super easily. However, we do not, I repeat, DO NOT recommend buying any of their tea gift sets. From what I can tell, they save their worst teas for the sets. Ick! 


--11--


This lip goop is the perfect stocking stuffer. It goes on thick and stays on forever, leaving lips super moist and happy. Great especially for the winter time. I've never met a better lip gloss. 


--12--


Don't let the name throw you off. This palette of eye shadow is pure wonderful. So if you have any make-up fans in the fam, keep this gift in mind. The shadows are high quality and the colors are so perfectly standard and neutral, you can create tons of lovely looks. Also, there are two other versions of the Naked palette, one with more flashy colors and one with more rosy shades, so if you really want to shake it up, take a look at those too! 



--13--


These earrings are my jam. I actually have two pair: one in mint and another pair in clear blue. I wear them every stinkin' day and they always make me feel glamorous. If your friend has her ears pierced, buy these for her. She'll love you for it. 


--14--


So, I don't own these pajamas, and actually, I don't own many sets of fancy pajamas, so maybe that's why I think these'd make a great gift... because I want them for myself but I'm not willing to splurge on them. But again, just like the See's chocolate, isn't that what makes a great gift? Items you wouldn't buy for yourself but totally want? Anyway, these come in lots of different colors and they just look so dang comfy. Totally a spoil-the-heck-outta-your-loved-one item. 


--15--


Another good item for spoiling. LL Bean makes these suuuuuper comfy slippers for both men and women. And plus, they've got a wicked good name. :) New England, REPRESENT! 


--16--


This was the gift I never knew I wanted and now can't live without. John bought these for me last year and can I just say... what a world of difference they make! Not having to take off your finger-warming gloves to use your touch screen in the cold? YES PLEASE! They have tons of versions out there, not just leather, so find a pair that fits your budget and start giving away to all your favorite smart-phone-using loved ones. They'll love you for it.


--17--


These headbands. Swoon! Available for adults and children (including newborn babies... I DIE!!). But if you want 'em for Christmas, you better order now. It's not a large company (as in, I think there are only 5 or so women sewing up a headband storm behind the scenes), so order soon to make sure they arrive before Santa's supposed to. 


--18--


For your book-loving buddies, this service is fantastic! Once a month, they can download one book-on-tape and listen at their leisure. John and I had this subscription for a short while and we loved how affordable it was compared to buying books-on-tape via Amazon or other books-on-tape services. So if you have friends who like to read and who also spend a lot of time in a car or workout and listen to headphones, this is a great way of merging their desire to read with their likely lack of available reading time.

Oh, and in case you're looking for a suggestion for a clever and comical science fiction time travel novel, check out To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. Genius. And a great book-on-tape!


--19--


Luxury for your hands. It's another one of those I-won't-buy-it-for-myself-because-it's-a-splurge-but-I'd-adore-it-if-you-gave-it-to-me items. I especially love the original scent (click on the white dot). And I especially especially love that it's made in St. Louis and made of (almost) all natural stuff. Luxury, folks. 


--20--


And finally, if you're a DIYer, like I very occasionally am, check out this great tutorial for a homemade yarn wreath. Very affordable, easy to follow, and the results are something to be proud of! Why, yes, I made that yarn wreath pictured above, thanks for wondering!


And that's a WRAP.

(Get it, get it? 'Cause you have to WRAP your presents?)

So now, dear friends, it's your turn! Can you recommend your favorite gifts to give (or receive)? I'd LOVE to hear your suggestions. Especially since the start of the 2015 shopping-for-Christmas season is now less than a year away. Don't think about it. :P


None of the above links are affiliate links, and using them to purchase will not gain me any moolah, aside from the Stitch Fix link, which will earn me $25 in credit toward my next Fix if you use it. All links are solely meant to help you get your Christmas shopping on. :) Happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's a...


BABY!


SURPRISE!!! We're not finding out the gender! CRAZY, right?

Reactions to this news have ranged from...

"It just seems so silly to wait! Why would you not want to know?"

to

"But how will I know what color to buy?"
(Ahem, pretty sure any baby can wear any color... just sayin'.)

to

"That's the way to do it! Best surprise of your life!"

So yeah, it seems like opinions are wildly split on this one. But John and I both agreed, years before pregnancy was even an option, that we were up for the surprise.

And when people say sassy things to us like, "I couldn't do that. How could anyone ever do that?" I've got two canned responses...

1.) It's what my mother did with all four of her pregnancies. It just seems normal to me. :)

and

2.) I guess we don't mind being patient on this one.

After all, we waited 2 years just to get pregnant, so this little practice in patience seems easy to me. Plus, I read somewhere that not finding out the gender beforehand can actually help during labor by giving you an exciting goal to push toward. (Literally and figuratively, of course).

"I'm only pushing because I want to find out if it's a boy or a girl, gosh darn it!!" Sounds about right.

PLUS, most of the baby stuff we get will likely be in neutral colors, so totally reusable when (hopefully) baby siblings come along. We're frugal like that.

And also, it's really just exciting and kinda magical not knowing. People guess all the time, which is a fun game! Most people actually say GIRL, while the Chinese gender charts (which I looked at for a good laugh) say BOY, so who really knows?

All I know is that we're excited to be having a BABY, no matter the gender. So a surprise it shall be!

Though, I can't resist. Would you like to take a guess? ...


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pregnancy After Infertility

Infertility changes everything.

In the two years we suffered, my body failing cycle after cycle after cycle, I watched my whole world change around me.

The way I interacted with others.

My relationship with God.

What I spent most of my time daydreaming about.

What I spent most of my time talking about.

What I spent most of my time crying about.

The amount of time I spent in a doctor's office.

The number of medications I took.

My willingness to undergo a diagnostic surgery.

My marriage.

What I ate.

My feelings toward baby showers and pregnancy announcements and big bellies and the diaper aisle at the grocery store.

Who I befriended.

My plans for our married life.

All of this changed instantly. Along with about 500 other things.

Infertility takes normal, happy-go-lucky life and turns it on its head, with barely anytime to breath between.

Thoughts go from, "We're going to be parents in 9 months!" to "I'm not sure we'll ever be parents" in a matter of 6 unsuccessful cycles.

What a sad, lonely, tumultuous time.

While there were still many fruits during our 2 years of infertility -- growing closer to God, trusting in His will more than my own, strengthening our marriage, and so on -- it was still very raw, real, and painful. And not at all what we had expected and planned.

So it should come as no surprise that infertility has colored this pregnancy too.

While we're over-the-moon excited, feeling blessed beyond belief, and so thrilled to have our dreams finally coming true, I can't shake the feeling that our time spent with infertility has changed the way I'm experiencing this pregnancy.

But actually, I think it's for the better.

While I don't love that I'm still absolutely afraid every single day, even now at 15 weeks, that we will lose our sweet baby, even though statistics say there's only a 0.5% chance at this point (I feel as if these fears wouldn't have been so strong if we had gotten pregnant right away, as we would have been living in a "la la la, life's so perfect, life's so easy" kind of world)...

And while I don't love that being pregnant means I've "crossed over" and unintentionally left all my amazing IF friends behind, still suffering, and in addition, that I may be causing more of their pain...

Now that I can look back and reflect on all we've been through, I do love many of the lessons that my 2 years as an infertile taught me...

Our infertility has helped me realize just how much of a blessing this baby, and any baby, is.

Our infertility also makes all my crazy pregnancy symptoms feel like a dream. Puking and migraines and low energy? BRING IT ON! I love it. These symptoms are nothin' compared to what life without them was like.

Our infertility will help us welcome any of our possible future pregnancies with only joy and excitement, (probably) even "oops" babies.

Our infertility has shown me just how precious human life is and, as a result, acts such as IVF and abortion hurt me to my core more now than ever before.

Our infertility gave us a completely different perspective on suffering, and now when John and I encounter suffering of any kind in the future, we will try to approach it in a much more spiritual way, more trusting of God's will.

Our infertility helped me realize that being "open to life" can take on so many different forms, so long as we're "open to God's will." I will never again look at a family of 2 and assume that's the way they want it, or that their lack of children means a lack of fruit.

Our infertility has also helped me be more compassionate toward everyone, especially those still in waiting. I will never forget our suffering. Even though it's not part of our day-to-day anymore at this point, it's still very much a part of us, and therefore a big part of how I'll interact with others.

And finally, our infertility has helped me to try to put others first more often. I know that now my blog (and life!) has shifted gears a bit, many of you may have to look away from certain posts or on certain days or maybe even forever. Trust me, I know what a bump pic or a post about baby gear can do to a suffering heart. If you're hurting, please know that even though it seems I've moved on, a big part of me worries a bit whenever I hit publish on a pregnancy post. My thoughts and prayers are with you always.

(Side note -- If I ever write or say or do something insensitive (I'm aware, I'm not perfect :P), please please please let me know. This blog will probably look a bit different from here on out, but it is never my intention to hurt anyone.)

Whew! Infertility sure has taught me a lot!

And who knows... maybe I would have figured this all out even if pregnancy did come easily. I obviously can't say for sure because I never lived that fertile-myrtile life.

Also, it's worth pointing out that I'm most certainly not trying to say that couples who do get pregnant right away have no clue. I'm very happy to acknowledge that there are folks out there WAY smarter than me. If you already knew all this stuff, you rock!

I just know that infertility has changed me. And I'm ok with that.

Because, while it was hard to see all this while we were still struggling, hindsight sure is powerful. I've been changed for the better. And life will never be the same.

Praise God!

Stay tuned for my next installment, coming your way approximately 6 months from now, in which I discuss Parenting After Infertility. It'll sure be somethin'!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Little Happies -- One Last Link-Up, At Least for Now

Hi, friends!


After much thought and 37 Little Happies link-ups (dangggg, that's a lot of happy!), I've decided to put Little Happies to rest, at least for a while now.

While I love love love this link-up and love love LOVE reading about all the happy things going on in all of your lives every week, AND while I still think it's mega important to take out time to reflect on all the little joys in life, actually sitting down to type the posts has become a chore. Womp womp.

So, for now, we break.

BUT, I promise... Little Happies is not gone forever. I'll definitely write more LH posts in the future every once in a while, and include a link-up for anyone else who wants to join in, but it won't be a regular Monday thing anymore.

Also, PLEASE don't hesitate to write your own Little Happies posts whenever the mood strikes, even if I haven't created a link-up. We don't need a link-up to post about all the happies in our lives, right? :)

So yeah, I'll still be reflectifying on all the little joys in my life, and thanking God for each and every one of them, I just won't be posting them here for a while. In the meantime, if you're devastated at missing out on my weekly happies, you could follow me on Instagram and catch many of my happies there. Just sayin'. No joke, about 1/2 of my LH pictures come from my Instagram anyway. Catch me @stephschweitz if you're interested.

Until next time!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Stephanie's Recipes: Butternut Squash Quesadillas

The quesadilla.


One of God's culinary gifts to man. 

Cheesy, crunchy, flavorful. This south-of-the-border treat never gets old. Even this picky, food-averse pregnant lady is happy with a quesa-yummy in her tummy. Especially this quesadilla. Especially this time of year. 

Did you know that butternut squash is made for quesadillas? Yeah, didn't think so. It's not the first thing that comes to mind when you think quesa-stuffing. BUT, I promise you, it was made for this. 

I originally stumbled upon this recipe in a cookbook that my brother, Matt, and cousin, Sarah, put together a few years ago. Over the course of a month, they went to different family members' houses and had them make a few of their favorite family recipes. They took pictures and put all the recipes together in a cookbook, appropriately named Everything I Learned About Cooking, I Learned From My Family. This quesa-recipe comes from my Aunt Lorie and Uncle Rusty. And gosh darn, they know how to make a tasty quesadilla! 

But you won't trust me 'til you try it. So, go ahead. Throw this easy peasy, super autumn-y recipe together and then tell me what you think. Actually, don't bother. I already know you're gonna love it!



Butternut Squash Quesadillas

Ingredients
1 medium sized butternut squash
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cheddar or monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 package of taco seasoning
5 scallions, sliced
4-6 large wheat or white flour tortillas

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. While the oven preheats, peel and dice butternut squash into 1/2 inch cubes. Put squash on oiled, rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender when pierced with fork. 

While squash is cooling, mix black beans, cheese, taco seasoning, and scallions in a large mixing bowl. Once squash is cool, add to the mix. Stir until well combined.

Put about a cup of the butternut squash mixture on half of a tortilla, as seen below. 


Fold empty half of tortilla over filled half to create the quesadilla, then cook quesadilla over medium heat in a non-stick pan. Flip quesadilla after about 2 minutes of cooking and then cook for an addition 2 minutes. Quesadilla should be heated through at this point, but more cook time and flipping can be added if necessary. 

Repeat cooking process for remaining tortillas and butternut squash mix.

Cut quesadillas into four slices (we like using a pizza cutter for this), serve, and enjoy.

Pro tip: Top quesadillas with Frank's Hot Sauce for ultimate enjoyment!

Serves 4-6. 


Monday, November 3, 2014

Little Happies -- Holidays, Henna, Hot Peppers (and a Little Bit of Fashion Too)

Hello, friends! And welcome back to Little Happies, the link-up in which we share all the little joys of life.


This week's Happies are brought to you by a modge podge of happy!

--one--


Pediatricians dress up as Mario characters and win the hearts of all their patients. 

(That's what the headlines would read if this one went viral.)

Above you see my husband and his team of residents dressed up for Halloween. Pretty awesome if I do say so myself. And he said rounds took foreverrrrr because all their patients and patients' families wanted group pics with all of them. How adorable!

But seriously, my husband's Wario mustache cracks me up most of all. 


--two--


Remember how I mentioned that Pumpkin Patch fundraiser a few weeks ago?

Well, PRAISE GOD, it's finally done! That means my hours will be shorter again, I won't have to work every stinkin' day of the week, AND I've got a successful fundraiser behind me. The teens raised lots of moolah for our youth group summer mission trip, so I'm super pumped about that. It makes it all worth it. But oof, that was a lonnnng month of work!

Here's what makes this one a Little Happy. We cleaned up the patch and moved out all the extra pumpkins this past weekend. I had a handful of teens show up to help and thank goodness for them! They made the work very easy on me. We also found ways to make the work fun, including moving the pumpkins into a giant pile by bowling them across the grass. And though there aren't goalies in bowling, we also had a teen goalie-ing and blocking the pumpkins / direction poorly bowled pumpkins into the pile. It made me smile. :)

--three--


Henna!

Once a year, Memphis has an India Fest that we just have to go to. All the food, the dancing, artwork, and shops... it's always a fun time. I also splurge a little every year and get a henna tattoo. The artist draws on your skin with a thick lavender-scented paste which dries within 30 minutes. After 6 hours, you remove the dried paste and what remains is a really beautifully designed tattoo that lasts about 2 weeks. I'm definitely not a permanent tattoo kinda gal, so this is perfect for me. Plus, they're always so pretty! I can't help but stare at my hand all the time until it fades. 


--four--


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Ok, so I know I'm mega-early on this one, but I decided to have a Thanksgiving feast at youth group last night and the teens loved it. Look at all the tasty food! I was in charge of the turkey, so obviously that meant calling up the nearest BBQ joint and ordering several pounds of sliced, smoked turkey. To be honest, I'm not usually a big fan of Thanksgiving turkey, but this smoked turkey was amazing. And easy. Win-win!

The reason for the early celebration was so that I could chat with the teens about making the whole month of November a month of giving thanks. We created little Thanksgiving bags so they could remember to write one thing they're thankful for each day, place it in the bag, and then hopefully include it in their prayers before bed. It's easy to remember to ask for things in prayer, not as easy to remember to thank, especially at that age. So, hopefully the bags will encourage them to offer prayers of thanksgiving more often. 

But if not, at least the food was good. :P


--five--



Stitch Fix part 8.

Eek! I can't believe I'm on my 8th fix! 

This time around, they sent me a maternity dress, cowl neck seater, maternity leggings, blue blouse, and heavy cardigan. 

The dress was cute, but already super tight around the chest and hips, so I figured it wasn't a good idea for a woman who's about to get BIGGER all around. Also, you might think that's a baby bump you see, but it's just the stripes on the dress and the ruching of the material that give the illusion of a bump. Still no bump here. 

The oversized cowl neck sweater was almost a keeper, but at the last second (seriously, minutes before sealing the bag of clothes to be sent back) I noticed the bottom of the sweater had an uneven hemline. Can you see it in the pic? Right in the middle of the sweater, the two panels don't match up. Perhaps it's part of the design, but it really bugged me as soon as I noticed it. Sayonara sweater!

The maternity leggings are AWESOME. Super high quality material and plenty of room for a big belly. Kept.

The blue blouse is hard to make out in the pic, but it had ruffles and a criss-cross tie up the front, plus cuffed sleeves, so it totally looked like a pirate shirt. Bummer, because it definitely had potential.

And finally, the heavy cardigan. It was way too big and bulky. Plus, John said it looked like the color puke. 

And that was that! I kept the leggings and am very happy with that decision. :) Also, overall I reeeeally liked this fix. The only thing stopping me from buying more was that things didn't quite fit right. Oh, and that one item had the asymmetric hemline. But I definitely think they have my style figured out now. Wahoo! Next one arrives in mid-December.


--six--


These musicians impress me so much. You've gotta watch all the way to the end though. Now that's dedication!


And that's all for this week, folks! Hope you have a happy one. Catch ya next time. :)



Monday, October 27, 2014

Little Happies -- Candy & Costume

Hey there, friends! And welcome back to Little Happies, the happiest little link-up on the internet. Let's all take a second to share some of the small joyful things going on in our lives, shall we? :)



--one--


These candies!

Two of my all-time favorites. And I've been craving them hard lately, so hard in fact that I dreamed about them! 

I was having trouble finding them at the local grocery store, so I kinda shrugged it off and pushed past the craving, but when I finally spotted them at a more fancy grocery store in the bulk bins, I just HAD to purchase. And eat and eat and eat. Yum! 

They're fruit shaped, though. So it's healthy. :P

What are your favorite candies? 


--two--

My last minute Halloween costume!

Can you guess who I am?

The mockingjay pin, the bow and arrow, the sideways braid...

Why, clearly I'm KATNISS EVERDEEN! 

Which, btw, is a super cheap and easy costume to throw together at the last second. Wear a black shirt, dark pants or jeans, boots, print out a mockingjay pin, throw a funky braid into your hair, and buy a $10 bow and arrow set at Target.

Voila! 

We attended a youth group Halloween party last night and let me just tell you, the teen gals loved my costume. I seriously felt famous for like 2 seconds. "OMGosh! You're Katniss! SO COOL!" It was silly/fun.

What are you wearing for Halloween?




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

First Trimester Symptoms (Just Documentin')

Well, well, well. Would you looky here.

The end of my first trimester is fast approaching and I'm just like... WHAT?!

Seriously, it's still wild every day to think that I'm pregnant. I think, this can't be my real life! Pinch me, I'm dreaming!

But then I run to the toilet and puke all over it and then it's like... no pinch required.

I kid, I kid, mostly. But, I'd like to take a second to just sit right here and document some of my symptoms. The good, the bad, and the just plain weird.

I should preface by saying that I love every stinking one of them, even the bad ones, because they're a reminder of the beautiful little life growing inside me and this major blessing we've been given. So I promise, no complaining going on here. Just good ol' fashioned documentation so that I can look back 10 years from now and be like, oh... that's what that was like!

So, the good.

Being sleepy and lazy. It's weird to call it good, but I've mostly enjoyed how incredibly tired I've been these past several weeks. I'm thinking the progesterone I'm naturally making + the progesterone supplements I'm taking = double extra sleepiness. But perhaps it's just normal pregnancy sleepiness. Anyway, while it makes wanting to go into work each day a challenge, it also means I get to be sooooo lazzzzzy when I'm not at work, and growing another human gets to be my excuse every time (and a good excuse at that!). I spend most of my hours at home on the couch watching my fave shows on Hulu or Netflix, and letting my husband do all the cooking and cleaning. He's a saint, folks. Seriously, what a joy it's been to sit back and take a break from the busyness of real life. Tiredness kinda rules!

And the bad.

Well, there have been a bunch of these. But like I said before, I still love every one of them.

Constant mild nausea. It really hasn't been that bad. As in, I've been able to completely function like normal with it. It just makes the next symptom a little worse...

Food aversions. Because of the mild nausea, most foods are not appealing anymore. It's like a game trying to figure out what I want to eat at any point in time. And usually once I figure out what I want and then eat it, I never want it ever again. A few exceptions to this: PB&Js, cheese and mustard sandwiches with pickles, Carnation instant breakfast (chocolate only, please), and apples and oranges. I could eat any of those pretty much any day.

Puking. Yep, the baby's made me puke, the little rascal. I think I've only puked a total of 6 times, and every time it's over, I actually feel SO HAPPY because I feel like it's baby saying, "I'm growing healthy in here, Mom!" So again, it's a totally welcomed bad symptom. And so far it's only happened when I'm at home, thank goodness!

Constipation. SO BLOCKED UP. Milk of magnesia has become my BFF.

Migraines. I've only had a few, but they throw me off my game. And headaches here and there too.

Pimples. Since when did I go back to my middle school years? My face is a pimply mess, my back is a pimply mess. I think I have more pimples than freckles now. What ever happened to that pregnancy glow?

Lower back pain. Especially by the end of the night. I'm worried about this one because if I'm feeling it kinda rough now, what's it gonna feel like when I'm actually carrying a little bowling ball around on the front?

And the downright weird.

Nipple tenderness. This one is perhaps an over share, but MAN, they're sensitive! And that's all I'll say about that.

Linea nigra. That brown line that runs from the bottom of your belly button to your pubic bone. Whoa! This one just came outta nowhere starting a few days ago.

Overheating. This was actually my first symptom! The night before we got the positive test, John noticed that I was as hot as a furnace. And that's not referring to my good looks. I waaaayyyy overheat, at night especially.

Hairy stomach. So weird. Maybe I'm just making it up, but I swear my stomach hairs are a little longer and a little darker than normal.

Oh, and symptoms I was expecting that never showed...

Frequent urination. Nope, peeing like normal.

Weight gain. Nope, more like weight loss. Oops. But my doc says it's ok, and hopefully now that the nausea and food aversions are starting to subside, I'll get my appetite back and a few pounds will jump back on.

Tender breasts. Nope, normal breasts. Aside from the nipps, that is. TMI. (Also, why did I just say "nipps"?)

A baby bump. Still my normal size. Actually, from what I've read, the bump usually doesn't appear until somewhere around weeks 14 through 20, especially for pregnancy #1. So, it may be a while still 'til I'm sportin' a bump.

Alright, well that's all I can think of right now.

And just in case you're curious... I'm a little over 11 weeks today! We had an appointment with our new (much closer) NaPro doc yesterday and got to see the little wiggle worm through ultrasound. The babe even did a somersault while we were peaking in. It was so surreal! I'm not joking, through almost the whole experience it just felt like I was looking at someone else's ultrasound. Even with all the symptoms I just listed, it still doesn't feel real! How can that cute little baby be growing in ME? I'm not sure I'll believe it 'til baby is actually in my arms. Which is a long way away, so maybe I better start figuring out another way to convince myself that THIS IS HAPPENING.

While it's feeling more real as each day passes, I'm still scared out of my mind that we're going to lose our little one. But, I'm gonna stay positive here and keep repeating what I guess I just coined as my new stay-positive phrase: This is happening. This is happening. This is happening.

Holy crap, this is happening!!!!

And I couldn't be more scared/nervous/anxious/shocked/happy/joyful/thankful/excited!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Little Happies -- Even More Pumpkins

Why, hello! And welcome back to Little Happies, the link-up full of all the things that are small and joyful in our lives.


Just like last week, I've just got one pumpkin-related Happy for you today.

--one--


You may recall from last October that I run a pumpkin patch as a fundraiser with my youth group every year. We spend the whole month trying to sell over a thousand pumpkins. It's always a successful fundraiser, though tons of work. So that's what I've been super busy with lately. 

The Little Happy related to all this happened earlier last week. I was walking around the patch to check out the pumpkins, making sure there weren't any rotten ones hiding about, when I discovered that several of my pumpkins had tried to make a run for it! When I closed the patch the night before, all those pumpkins were safely nestled on a pallet. When I arrived the next morning, about 20 of them were hanging out on the grass!! And all over the patch! I still have no idea how they did it... Perhaps a very strong squirrel was playing a trick on me? Maybe some neighborhood kids? Or maybe it was the Great Pumpkin? 

The world may never know.

:)


Have a happy week, friends!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Little Happies -- Carving Pumpkins

Hey, friends! Welcome back to the Little Happies link-up, in which we all share our small happy moments and things from the week past.


This week, I've got one Little Happy brought to you by a fun night with friends.


--one--

One night last week, John and I were just sitting around with no plans in sight. So on a whim we texted some friends who are kinda stuck in their house these days (they just had a baby) and asked if they'd be up for some pumpkin carving and cider sippin' later that evening. I offered to bring all the supplies and they excitedly said YES PLEASE! 

3 pumpkins, 2 carving kits, 6 bottles of hard cider, 2 jugs of virgin cider, 1 apple pie, and 1 big carton of vanilla ice cream. . . sounds like fall, doesn't it? 


We made our way over to our friends' place with all our supplies and just had a fantastic evening celebrating the turn of the season. They even lit their outdoor chimney for us!

Also, I was shocked to find out that the wife of the couple had never carved a pumpkin before!! What?! Crazy!! By the end of the night, she loved communal pumpkin carving so much that she asked if we could make a tradition of it every year. :)


We all agreed that our favorite moment of the night was lighting these bad boys after all our hard work. 


And then we posed with our pumpkin. We've learned over the years that carving a pumpkin, especially one that size, is best done as a team. When my arms would get tired, John would take over, and vice versa. Plus, I was able to convince him to do all the gut scooping while I did all the seed sorting. I think I got the easier job. :)


Hope you're all having a lovely fall, friends. Have you carved any pumpkins yet? 



Monday, October 6, 2014

Little Happies -- Fashion Show, Watching Movies, Eating Junk, and a Dog Fail

Why, helllloooooo! And welcome back to Little Happies, the most cheerful internet link-up in which we share all the small joyful things going on in our days. Would you care to join us? :)

Let's dive right in...
--one--


I got another Stitch Fix! 

Striped dress, maxi skirt, floral blouse, teal dress, and gold collar necklace.

And I kept . . .

The teal dress!!! I know it doesn't look that great in the pic, but trust me when I say it's awesome. The draping in the front is a lot of fun and it looks great with a pair of boots. Plus, it gives me plenty of room for the belly to expand, whereas the other pieces I really liked (the striped dress and maxi skirt) didn't. And that floral blouse. My husband really disliked it and I thought it was a bit baggy, so bye bye! Oh, and the necklace. It was so hard to part with, but in the end it didn't seem worth it for $36. 

Also, another reason I didn't keep the striped dress: I found one similar at Target for $12 the day before I sent the Fix back. And actually, it fit even better that the Stitch Fix one! Winning. 

Btw, the day I found out I was pregnant, I noticed Stitch Fix now has an "I'm pregnant" checkbox on their style profile, so I'm going to try that out for the next few months and hope they can accommodate my expanding waistline. We shall see!


--two--

source

Excuse my language, but . . . 

Harry Freaking Potter!!

Once a year, right around J.K. Rowling's and Harry Potter's birthday (July 31st, duh!), John and I start a Harry Potter movie marathon. It's taken us a while to get through them all this time around, but we're on the last movie now and it's just been so fun hanging out with some of my favorite characters again. Watching them grow from movie to movie is adorbs. And now that we're watching all of them for like the 10th time since they first came out, it's given us a chance to really appreciate some of the smaller details, like the gorgeous, eerie music and the beautiful cinematography of each scene. 

Fun fact: The last movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, came out the night before our wedding. While I really wanted to see it after our rehearsal, John thought this plan was (obviously) crazy, so we held off a few days and enjoyed it during our honeymoon in Aruba. Good times.

Who else out there is a HP fan? 


--three--


Ok, don't judge, but in my early post-college years, I was a bit of a freezer meal junkie. 

I know, I know, I know. . . so gross. But, it was cheap and easy and some of the meals were dang tasty. As time went on, I figured out how to follow a recipe and quickly learned that fresh cooked meals are way yummier than the ones hanging out in the freezer aisle of Kroger. So freezer meals were done-so from then on.

That is, until I started growing another human. 

Me and food are in a weird relationship right now. I definitely don't like most foods at most times and mild nausea is a pretty normal thing these days. Plus, I'm lazy/tired as can be and don't want to spend even 30 minutes in the kitchen putting together a meal that I probably won't even want to eat once I'm done. SO, freezer meals have made an appearance in our kitchen once again. (So sorry, John.)

My past addiction taught me that Smart Ones breakfast quesadillas are where it's at. So, it was the first freezer meal I looked for. You can imagine my immense sadness when they were no where to be found at Kroger. Wahhhhhhhhh. And then you can imagine my immense joy when I found them at Target a few days later. I'm not going to admit how many I've eaten since then, but they've hit the spot lately and for that I'm grateful.  

--four--


Ok, call me immature, but this made me laugh a lot. 

Annnnnnd that's a wrap!


Have a lovely week, friends! <3



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