Monday, December 31, 2012

See ya 2012 - Hello 2013!

I'm not one to be thankful for the last year being over. Really, it's just another day? Typically I even work on New Year's Eve because otherwise I'll just be in bed around the Midnight time. This year I'm working the 10-8 shift so I'll be home to ring in the new year. What will I probably do? Fall asleep on the couch :)

Well maybe we'll set off some fireworks. My mom and step-dad picked some up in Wyoming this summer and since we can't just set off fireworks whenever we want to, we kept them hidden and maybe we'll so them tonight. Depends on how cold it is.

So I usually don't make "New Years Resolutions." Instead I make "goals" to accomplish. And looking back through my files, I didn't do one for 2012. Granted, I was pregnant and that eliminates all "lose weight" goals and we were saving for maternity leave so there goes the "get out of debt goals.

So now I present my 5 simple 2014 goals....

Goals for 2013

1. Organize our house from top to bottom - We've been in this house for 7 years. I have boxes of stuff from moving in that I haven't even touched. I want to purge stuff we don't use and organize the stuff we do use. I want to de-clutter our lives and live more simply. I'm also participating in this...

Ask Anna

Winning prizes would be cool, but the areas she's starting with are some things that I really need to focus on. So I'll be updating with before/after shots on the blog to show you the areas I'm cleaning. This week it's an office area and where I don't have an office, I do have a corner in the basement with my filing cabinet and office supplies. That's getting gutted and redone. Old bills getting shredded, stuff put into better boxes, etc. I also have a box of CDs that I need to go through and purge. Seriously, do people buy CDs anymore? I have a few that I'll keep but most I'm going to sell to Hastings for credit. Then we can get the girls some books (hello next Christmas's "Something to Read" gift!!)

Bur I figure I can go through our entire house in a year. That should be plenty of time, right?

2. Focus on our Debt Snowball and staying on track financially. We will pay off my car this year. That's based on minimum car payments alone! But we have some extra money from this December and we've been sticking to our budget really well the last few months, which usually means we have some extra money at the end of the month. It also means no vacations, no movies, no eating out, etc. But you know what, in a few years we're going to not owe anyone any money. That will feel GREAT!  We're waiting to see what happens with our taxes before using that extra money on the car. We have this bad habit of owing taxes. Last two years we didn't but the 3-4 years before that we did. Ugh. It's frustrating. So we'll see. 

So this year we'll pay off my car and then I'd like to pay off all the hospital bills for Bethany too. Paying minimum on that would take us 2 years. Once the car is paid off, we'll snowball the debt onto the hospital bills which will be an extra payment and a half every month. 

If we can pay that off this year too (which could happen depends on tax returns and our willingness to stick to a budget) then the next debt is our line of credit. This is totally our "stupid tax". We opened a line of credit through Wells Fargo about 4 years ago. We wanted to finish our yard and we needed to install a sprinkler system and seed. If we would have just saved money for a year we probably could have done it with cash the next summer, but we were impatient. So we opened this line of credit because we didn't have enough equity for a Home Equity Loan (and I'm so thankful we didn't do that). The positive thing about that was we moved a balance from a credit card with a 25% interest rate to the line of credit at 15% interest. So in the long run we'll save some money but still....hind sight is 20/20, right? This is the debt with the highest interest rate so some say we should work on paying it off first, but I'd rather snowball the other payments onto it when we get there. And we will.

3. SWAGBUCKS! I proved to my husband this past Christmas that I can do a lot with Swagbucks. And with MyPoints and ExpoTV. I ended up with about $250 in Amazon giftcards because of online marketing/rewards that I do. My goal is to double that this year and completely pay for Christmas next year (we used about $100 in cash for clothes) and be able to get each other gifts too. I'm going to try and max out my rewards each month. Yes it does take time, but I think it's worth it. And I wasn't freaking out in December because we suddenly had to pay for Christmas (after having to pay for 2 birthdays for kid #1 & #2). But really, most of those gift cards were earned from August until the end of the year, so I think that's possible.

Kind of going back to #2, we're also being smart with our budget this year and taking out money each month to pay for our vehicle registrations. We were smart (ahem, no) and purchased cars in November & December so now their plate registration is due then. So by setting aside a little extra money each month for those, we won't be hating life in December.

4. Lose 40 lbs. Bethany is 5 months old. I can't keep using a new baby as an excuse for still having the baby weight. I can use the fact that I'm nursing as an excuse, but not that good of one. I need to make better food choices and we need to stick to our meal planning each month. We usually do pretty good. My problem is the gelato at work (cause it's sooooo good) and my other meals at work (usually fried, greasy foods). And late at night. I need to stop eating after 8:00. No matter what. We'll see how this goes.

5. Ok I know I had a #5 when I started this post earlier, but now it's 10:44 at night and I've had a helluva day and I'm ready for bed. So maybe I'll think of it later.

Other things I'll do this year:
Potty train Mercy
Nurse BB until she's 1 year old. Almost half way there!!
Do a cross-stitch for BB's birth (ya I know it was last year)
NOT have another baby.

Wish me luck!!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours. 

I love this photo of Grace. She's so grown up!

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Impala

Purchased 2008
Refinanced 2009 so we could buy a truck. d'oh.

Payments left : 9!!!
Payments I'm making in January: 1 monthly + 4 additional!

Therefore we should have the Impala paid off before June of 2013! And since January is a 5 week pay period for Mike, there should be about an extra payment or 2 in January if we stick to our budget. We do have dentist appointments and I need contacts badly, so we'll see. But we'll own my car in less than 6 months.

Debt Snowball update:
Since starting our snowball in February 2011 we have paid off $14,000 in debt. DAMN! It was actually closer to $17k, but we did have a baby in there and we didn't budget for that baby cause we had to save for my unpaid maternity leave. But I'd do that all over again in a heartbeat. If we follow this course of action, we should be completely out of debt (other than the house) in about 2 years. I think if we actually stick to our budget (and don't add any more children for a bit), we can make that closer to a year and a half. Feels great!

Baby Jupiter

Baby B!

Bethany is adorable right? Which just makes her gas even cuter. Ha ha. She is the gassiest baby yet. So Mike's taken to calling her Jupiter since she's a giant ball of gas. She's really only about 12 lbs or so and at 4.5 months old that's like 17th percentile so I guess she's not giant per se, but you get the point. The best part is, she laughs and smiles when she's letting em rip. What a silly baby.

P.S. She's also rolling over and teething. Hooray for the rolling over. Boo on the teething. I'm still nursing so that teething thing sucks. Trust me.

The Hunger Games

I love to read. And I appreciate good literature. And I have 3 kids and work 50 hours a week so my reading time is very limited. Usually I like a good horror novel, or a mystery. Or some fantasy. One of my favorite authors is Stephen King. I'm not sure why I didn't know about The Hunger Games until all three books were out and the movie was almost here. I didn't even know the story line behind the books. So I finally read them all and here's what I think.

Yes, it was a good book. But have you read The Lottery by Shirley Jackson or The Running Man by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King)? The entire time I was reading The Hunger Games, these two books were playing themselves out in my head. I even got a little Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card in it. I asked people if they had read any of those books and barely anyone had. But everyone couldn't stop raving about The Hunger Games. I'll repeat it, it IS a good book. I was hooked and wanted to see how it ended.

Then I heard about the movie.

I thought a lot about the movie and whether or not I wanted to see it. I read some blogs, participated in some online forums and talked to friends.

In the end, I decided not to watch it. Here's my logic. Granted, most films made from movies suck. Set aside The Lord of the Rings trilogy... (which leads me off topic to THIS idiot. Seriously people, think before writing!) Anyway...back on topic. The Lord of the Rings was beautifully made into 3 movies that (other than the ended of the 3rd) captured audiences and really made it feel like you were in Middle Earth without straying from the book too much. But other movies made from books lack many of the small important details that make the books worth reading.

I don't decide not to watch a movie because it was one a book. But I couldn't bring myself to watch it based on this reason a lot. In the novel, the reader loathes The Capital because they are oppressive, evil and corrupt. They force people to live in poverty so they can have lush parties and comfortable lifestyles. And to top it off, to remind people why they are in poverty, they hold The Hunger Games where they pit children against each other for sport. For their own entertainment. And they all watch it on screen so everyone can see children killing each other.

So how are we any better than The Capital when we go to a movie where children are killing children on screen for our own entertainment. Isn't that exactly what we hate in the books? So I will never watch The Hunger Games. I enjoyed the novel, it does have a good underlying theme, but I don't have to watch children killing each other to be entertained.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I married the right man...

Today we took a different way home from church. As we were going along one of the back roads, we both noticed a girl in a Jeep broken down at a stop sign. And both of us of said "we need to help her" at about the same time. Mike flipped around and pulled over and got out to see what he could do to help. I watched all this from the car...

Mike is talking to the girl (about 20 yrs old) and 2 other cars pull up followed by a police car. Of course in Cache Valley, there's a cop driving by since they're everywhere. I see him talk to the cop and a guy from one of the other cars who had gotten out to help. Then they pushed the Jeep through the intersection and off to the side of the road. Then the cop left. Other random guy gets behind the wheel of the Jeep and Mike starts pushing the Jeep up the road (and I mean up cause it was on a hill). They're going to "pop the clutch". They get the vehicle running and send the girl on her way. Mike comes back to the car and we head home.

The thing that makes this awesome: girl's car had died and so had her cell so she was stuck in an intersection and scared. Mike said she was close to tears. When cop pulled up, Mike asked if he know how to pop the clutch and the cop said no and just to get the car out of the road. Then left saying "You guys got this". Nice.
Other guy that stopped to help said cop was tailing him and probably was going to pull him over so helping out this girl got him out of a ticket (probably for a license plate light or something) and he got to do a good deed for the day. But as I watched my husband help this girl I realized a few things.

1). I love Mike with my entire heart.
2). He's a protector and I feel so safe with him. I know that he's always going to be there for me and I know that he'll help someone else if they're in trouble.
3) My kids have an amazing father and he's teaching them how to be great human beings. I'm so blessed for that.

I married the right man. He's my best friend, my companion, my partner in life and I can't imagine living this crazy life that we live without him.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Stella Artois! That fancy beer!

I was chatting up with the cashier at Smith's Marketplace a few weeks ago when I was purchasing stuff for the Private Selections BzzCampaign. He was interest in Bzz Agent and asked if we ever had beer campaigns.  I laughed and was like "Dude, we're in Utah... no free booze." And then to my surprise I was accepted into the Stella Artois BzzCampaign later that week! Crazy!! No free beer of course but I did get this awesome chalice to drink the beer out of. And a pamphlet about the 9 step pouring ritual. I had this whole post written up so you could better understand Utah liquor laws and you can go check it out here. No need to weigh down this review with all that stuff. So onto my review...

An important thing you should know: I hate beer. I mean, I hate-HATE it. I have tried it many times and many times I think it just tastes like beer. And I don't like it. I wish I did cause it's cheaper than the distilled spirits, but oh well. And I work for a micro-brewery so I need to know about beer. I can tell you the difference between ales and lagers. I can tell you how it's made and I can describe it fairly well, but I'm not going to lie. It really tastes bad to me. So when I got into this campaign, I knew the perfect person to review this brew: my husband. He like-LIKEs beer, so it was a match made in heaven.

Now for authenticity's sake, I did try it. And it tastes like beer. But I could tell that it was hoppy and I knew it was a lager (meaning it's a bottom fermenting beer that is brewed at colder temps for a longer time, like 3-4 weeks). And I knew it was Belgian. And I knew that everyone mispronounces the name (not the Stella part). It's Are-twaa. I didn't know that it was initially brewed as a seasonal beer or that there's a 9 step pouring ritual to enjoy this beer. Let me take you through it!

After our chalice arrived in the mail (and you need a chalice to drink this beer so you can better appreciate the odors and taste of the beer that in enhanced by the shape and style of the chalice) I needed to head to the liquor store for some beer. So with infant in arms (classy, I know) I headed over to pick up a 6 pack. Our liquor store lets you buy individual bottles, but since my hubby likes some beer, I picked up a 6 pack. Each bottle was $1.99 and then there's tax on top. The GM was my cashier and I told her about how excited I was to get a chalice in the mail from BzzAgent. She knows my husband and is anxious to hear what he thinks about it.

Got home and took some photos so show you what Stella looks like incase you have never heard of it.

Right next to our chilled chalice. Notice the stem of the glass. That makes it so your hands don't warm the beer. Pretty smart. So on to this 9-step poring ritual. I think it works better if you were pouring it from a draft system but in Utah you can't have high point beer on tap so bottles it is!

1. First things first - make sure it's chilled. Should be between 36 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit. No one wants a warm beer. 

2. The Purification - make sure that class is clean, clean, clean! Wanna know how to tell if your glass isn't clean? The bubbles will cling to the sides of the glass after you have poured it. No bubbles? Clean glass.

Here's me pouring water of the freshly cleaned glass

3. The Unveiling - opening that bottle of beer. Hearing the "cshh" as the gas escapes.

4. The Alchemy Begins - pouring a beer is a science. You can't just pour straight into the glass or you'll produce too much foam. You can't pour too slow or too fast. Truthfully, it's easier for me to pour from a tap. It took us 3 beers to get a head on the beer. My husband didn't complain about that :)

They key is holding the glass at a 45 degree angle and then tilting it straight up as you near the end of the pour to create the head of the beer.

5. The Crown - not a bad pour if I say so myself. Creating the head of the beer helps release the different flavors of the beer.

6. The Beheading - Time to get rid of that unsightly glob of foam at the top of the beer. What better thing to use than a knife :)

7. The Judgement - Making sure there's the right amount of head. Ideal is about an inch. I got this a little large, but it's close enough. 

8. The Cleansing - You should rinse the bottle of the glass so people aren't holding onto a beer covered glass. I didn't get a pic of this, but I did it :)

9. The Bestowal - Presenting the Stella in all it's glory.

There's my small pictorial guide to the proper way to pour a Stella Artois. Will we do it again with those steps? Probably not. And my husband's review of the glass? He liked that using the stem to hold the beer made it so his beer didn't lose the chill as quickly, but he didn't really notice a difference in taste. I think he really just wants me to get another 6 pack so he can try again :)

If you check out this site you can watch Stella's video for their pouring ritual. They're pouring it from a draft system, which makes some of these steps a lot easier. You can also get your own glass! Then (if you don't live in Utah) the next time you head out to a bar, ask them to pour you a Stella the right way....and in the right glass!

I'm a BzzAgent!
While I didn't get the beer free,
 I did get the glass free for me to try and review.

Buying Beer in good ol' Utah

I did the math today and I've been in Utah for over 15 years now. Ugh. And now that means I have to claim it at my home cause I've lived here longer than I've lived anywhere else. Utah is one of those states that people don't know much about. Sure, we have Mormons and mountains and snow. And we have some awesome liquor laws. Ok we probably don't have the worst liquor laws but we have some doozies. One of those laws says that any beer that is over 3.2% alcohol by weight must be sold at a state run liquor store. Another law says no free alcohol, so when I saw that BzzAgent was doing a campaign for Stella Artois and I was invited, I was shocked! I didn't get free beer (illegal in Utah, remember) but instead I got a nifty chalice to drink Stella in. I'm going to talk about that in another post.  I want to do a little background on Utah alcohol laws and "Utah Beer" before I get there.

People think our beer is really, really watered down. I just want to say, it's not. Practically everywhere else in the USA measures the amount of alcohol in their beer by volume. Utah decided to be different and measure our beer by weight. So let's go back to high school math so I can tell you have 3.2% abw (alcohol by weight) beer = 4% abv (alcohol by volume). Why we measure it this way, I don't know. But people come to Utah thinking that our beer is weak. If you take a Budweiser in Utah and compare it to a Budweiser from where else (like Idaho cause we're like 20 minutes away from there) it's a 1% difference. Bud up there is 5% abv. So 12 oz of Idaho beer = 14 oz of Utah beer. Not that big of a deal, right? Try explaining that to people, ha ha!

Anyway, there is a point to this rant. Because Stella Artois has an alcohol content of 5.2% abv you can't walk into your neighborhood grocery store or convenience store and pick one up. They can only be purchased at a state run liquor store. The downside to that is the Liquor Store, as we affectionately call it, is only open Monday thru Saturday from 11 am to 10 pm. Closed Sundays. Closed holidays. So you need to plan in advance for this! And their beer is never, ever on sale. Other beers that we can only get at the liquor store: Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Mickeys, Pacifico, New Castle and all "flavored malt beverages" like Mike's Hard Lemonade.

Ok, ok I'm a little obsessive with this, right? Well I do teach a class required by every server or bartender in Utah who serves alcohol. And one of the biggest things I talk about is abv vs. abw beer. I defend our beer a lot because it does have more alcohol in it than people think. And I love to argue with people about Bud Light because it's the same everywhere (4.2% abv).

So I have this post, mostly because in my review of Stella I'm going to link back to this post instead of including it in my review. There is an upside to our liquor laws. Call me crazy, I know. But our deaths related to alcohol motor vehicle incidents have gone down a lot. And really, isn't that the point of laws prohibiting or limiting the amount of alcohol people can consume? To keep them safe? No one is saying you can't get trashed at home, but if you go out and drink in a restaurant or a bar, you cannot get drunk. Sorry!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bethany's Birth Story

Bethany's Birth Story

We got pregnant with baby number 3 in November 2011. I remember taking the pregnancy test and then reading a magazine on my bed while I waited for the results. Mike came upstairs and asked me what the results were and I honestly hadn't even been thinking about it. He went into the bathroom and I heard “Oh man”. I thought he was just being a smart-ass so I went in there ready to smack him when I saw the “pregnant” on the test. Wow. We were about to become parents of 3.

Pregnancy was pretty easy. Not really any morning sickness. Slow weight gain. Lots of baby movement. Lots of heartburn. I ate tums every day and guzzled milk out of the jug. I knew I wanted to have a different birthing experience than the last one and since Mercy's was so quick, I decided I wanted to try a natural birth. My friend Nicole had 2 of her kids naturally and after talking to her and doing some research online, I found a HypnoBirthing instructor and signed Mike and myself up for classes.

It was a 5 week course, one night a week for 3 hours. We got a book, a CD with the “Rainbow Relaxation” and a binder that had some scripts to help us get into a relaxed state. Taking the classes encouraged me to stick with it and I listened to the Rainbow Relaxation every night to fall asleep. I don't know what the script said after 5 minutes because I was always asleep. I was told this was ok, that I was still getting the benefits of the script even if I was asleep. I found music at the library and burned it onto my computer and Mike's old iPod. I was “ready” to have a baby naturally.

My original due date was August 3, 2012. We had 2 possible dates of conception, and I guess the 4 days in between but I was positive that my charting was accurate and we were going to have a baby on the 3rd. When we went in for the first appointment, Dr. Kirkman said baby was measuring about a week bigger to they changed my due date to July 30th. In my heart, I knew the baby was coming in August.

When we went for the 20 week ultrasound the tech asked us what our guesses were. Mike said “It's a girl” and he was right. We were going to have THREE GIRLS! Mike claims I owe him a new gun. Originally we had planned on naming our baby Justice so we'd have Grace, Mercy and Justice. A few weeks after we found out it was a girl, Mike said he didn't like that name. He didn't want to be trapped in a theme with our kid's names. So we spend the day thinking of new names. He like Imogen. I liked Adelaide. Grace like Rockface and Post Office. That night at Palm Sunday Mass, during the reading, the mentioned the town of Bethany. I pointed it out to Mike and he looked at me and nodded. We had picked our baby's name.

The rest of the pregnancy went fine. I was working as a manager at Beehive Grill and got busted a few times hauling kegs around. I didn't slow down, just like I didn't with the other pregnancies. I had Braxton Hicks contractions basically the whole time, but nothing that worried me. My last day of work was July 21st. My boss was afraid I'd go early, so I used up my vacation time so I could rest and nest the week before I was due. This time around I didn't try to induce myself at all. I did mow the lawn a few times, but that didn't do anything.

I was positive my water was going to break at home. I kept waiting and waiting. On the 30th I stuck around the house with the girls waiting for signs of labor, but I barely had any contractions. I had my next appointment on the 31st with Dr. Blackett. Dr. Kirkman was out of town (AGAIN!) and if the baby came that week then I was told either Norda or Blackett would deliver. She looked over our birth plan and approved it (it was already signed by Dr. Kirkman so I'm glad we had a second approval). At that appointment I was dilated to 3 cm and 90% effaced. She asked if I wanted my membranes stripped but I declined and decided to wait it out. My next appointment was on Monday with Kirkman if baby hadn't come sooner.

At home I lounged around. Had a few mild contractions but nothing too worrysome. Around 5:30 I started having some painful contractions. I didn't remember contractions hurting like that. I laid on the couch and would breathe through them (about 20-30 min apart). Mike asked if he should take the girls to Jamie's but I was certain the baby wasn't coming until Friday so I said no. Then he went to the store for dinner for the kids. Around 7:00 I asked him to start writing down the times of my contractions so we could have a better judgement. They were about 15-20 min apart. I had some bloody show which I figured was from being checked earlier that day. I went upstairs to listen to my relaxation stuff and relax in a warm bath. It helped a little. Contractions were staying about 10-20 min apart.

At 10:00 I told Mike I thought he should take the girls to Jamie's. That way we weren't taking them in the middle of the night if something happened and if nothing happened then they would have fun with a sleepover. I got back in the bath while he took them. When he got back, I wandered around the living room, rocking out the contractions while leaning over the couch. My water hadn't broken yet so I didn't think I was in actual labor. Mike asked if I wanted to go upstairs and do some scripts and relax. We went through a few and it was around 11:30. My contractions has slowed to every 20 min so I suggested we just get some sleep and see what happens. He downloaded an app on his phone and would press the start button every time I told him. I fell asleep between each contraction but they were staying pretty steady at 15-20 minutes.

At 1:00 I got up to pee and had a contraction. Then 5 minutes later another one. I went downstairs to rock it out on the couch again and had another one. The 5 minutes in between lasted for about 30 minutes before I yelled up to Mike that it was time to go. We grabbed the stuff and headed into hospital. I only had 1 or 2 contractions in the car and I didn't even swear :)

Got to the hospital and to our room around 1:45. I explained I didn't want to be hooked up to monitors or an IV and they were ok with that. I got a hep-lock (IV Port with no IV) incase of an emergency and changed into my gown. They took a base monitor of my contractions and baby's heartbeat. Laying on the bed while being monitored sucked. The contractions were extremely intense and not being able to move made it worse. When they were done, they checked me (4 cm) and let me move around. The birthing ball was great. I do remember telling myself I couldn't do it. I was going to wuss out.

The nurse left us alone for about 45 minutes and I listened to my iPod and rocked on the ball. When she came back, I got hooked up to monitor again and I was checked again and at a 5.

When I got back on the ball, Mike read a script and did light touch massage on my back. This was the most relaxed I had been. The contractions were do-able and I felt like I had more control over this. Then I had to get back on the monitor. That interruption made it hard to get back in the zone and I elected to stay on the monitor for a bit. The next contraction she checked me again and I was at 7 cm. Contractions were steady between 10-15 minutes apart. It was a little before 4:00 am. I broke down and started crying. I didn't know how I was going to make it and I told Mike I needed drugs. I know he was disappointed in me but the pain was the most intense thing I had ever been through. Those who say kidney stones are worse than birth (and I used to say that) are wrong. I'd rather have 15 kidney stones than a contraction.

The nurse came back and I told her I wanted an epidural. She called the doctor. While I waited, she gave me fentinal for some immediate relief. It helped a little. The doc gave me the epidural while I was laying down on my side, in the fetal position. Both previous epidurals were done while I was sitting up and hunched over. I started feeling slight numbness on my legs. The next contraction came and the nurse broke my water (didn't happen at home, go figure). It had meconium in it which meant no baby to chest. They'd have to suction her and check her vitals. I was sad, but wanted to make sure she was healthy. Next contraction still hurt. I hit the button for more drugs. Next contraction came and it still hurt. Doc came back in and gave me more drugs. Something wasn't right. My legs weren't as numb as they had been with the previous deliveries. Basically I got an epidural for nothing since it didn't work. When she came back in to check on me, she had called the doc. It wasn't Norda. It was Dr. Fowers. This scared me since he had delivered Grace and I felt like we got pressured into things because we didn't know the options. I was also nervous about getting an episiotomy since he gave me one with Grace without asking me. I'd rather tear naturally than be cut. He came in with the nurse and when I had the next contraction, it didn't stop hurting. The baby had dropped and was crowning. I was ready to push. Well, my body was. I wasn't numb enough and scared out of my mind.

I remember the most intense pressure and pain I had ever had in my life. They told me to grab my legs and push, but I guess I grabbed Mike and was freaking out. I screamed “Get this baby out of me!” My nurse told me to breathe and Mike told me to breathe. When I finally did, and pushed, the baby came right away. One push and she was there at 4:59 am. The relief I felt at that moment was incredible. I can only imagine how amazing it would have been to have Bethany put right to my chest but they had to suction her and clean her. Her umbilical cord was also tied in a knot. Thankfully it was a loose knot and probably happened during the drop into the birth canal or late in the 3rd trimester. The doctor was in my way of seeing the baby, and I guess I said “Give me my baby” at some point. I had so much adrenaline coursing through me, I was shaking. I had to wait about 15 minutes to hold her. It was the longest 15 minutes of my life.

I was expecting a 10 lb baby but she surprised us and was only 5 lbs 15 oz and 19” long. Such a tiny thing! Thankfully the meconium got cleaned out and she was perfectly healthy. From the point of “intense” contractions until delivery was about 12 hours. I only spent 4 of those laboring in the hospital. Not the birth plan we had envisioned, but I couldn't have asked for a healthier or more perfect baby. Bethany Lynn arrived August 1st, 2012 (I was right...she came in August!) She is definitely my baby.

USU Mini Cheer Camp

A few of my hosts are cheerleaders at USU and they hosted a mini cheer camp a few weeks ago. I was going to have Grace do one last year but the timing was off, so I was excited that she'd be able to go this year.


She's such a ham anyways, but she had a blast. The routine was cute and she even saw some girls that go to school with her so she had some friends. The performed at halftime at a USU basketball game and I thought she'd be nervous but she was so excited.

Here's a few shots of the practice:

Bethany and I just hung out:

Participation was only $15 and it included a ticket to the game for her, plus a T-shirt and the 3 hour mini camp. Not too bad for a morning of fun. They colored and had cookies for a snack. And then they played some games. Lastly the cheerleaders and Aggiettes performed for the kids before they practiced their routines. Here's some shots during the dress rehearsal:

And my camera does have a video option but it only got about 30 seconds. Here's a little bit of the routine:

So we were indecisive about which kids to take with us to the game, if any. I figured the baby would be easy because I could Moby her but Mercy's being...well 2. I was going to have someone watch her, but then never really set anything up and then I figured in a worse case scenario we'd just walk around the upper walk until halftime was over and then go. 

We get to the stadium and it's raining. We get inside and we're soaked. I take Grace to where she's supposed to meet. Thankfully I knew cheerleaders or I probably wouldn't have done this. I know we're in Cache Valley and it's pretty safe, but there are still some creepers out there. But I knew the girls would watch out for her. I met Mike back at our seats which were on the other side of the stadium. The parent section was pretty empty and luckily no one sat near us so Mercy got her own seat even though she didn't have a ticket. Bethany wasn't really feeling the Moby so I just held her. 

Mercy loved clapping along and she was even semi-doing the Scottsman. It was cute.

I snuck a granola bar in for her. Not sure if that was allowed but oh well. Bethany was fairly good. I did get up and change and feed her cause there was no way I'd be able to figure out how to nurse her discretely in the stands. Those seats are packed in there.

Halftime started and I wish we would have known they were performing to the students. So Grace was super far away and we didn't have good visual. But thankfully, at the mini camp one of the mom's told me to put a bright colored flower or bow in Grace's hair so she'd be easy to spot. We did! Can you see her? Her flower was bright pink :)

In the end, she had a blast. When the kids laid down and kicked their feet, the crowd let out the biggest "awww". I have video on my facebook page. It's from far away, but you get the point right?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Green Mountain Fair Trade Coffee

BzzAgent sure knows how to treat a mom right. Free coffee samples? Yes please! Tell everyone how awesome Green Mountain Coffee is? Sure thing. Let people know about Fair Trade? Ummmm. Huh?

This campaign is for Green Mountain Coffee. I had heard of them, but never tried them before and was excited to try it out. This campaign is also about Fair Trade which I had heard of but never really looked into. When I think "Fair Trade" I think hippies and granola and greenies and not me. So I decided to do some research (while drinking my free coffee samples, of course. More on that later).

So Fair Trade is pretty basic: Make sure the workers are paid a "fair" price for their products to help their sustainability. So no buying things from sweatshops in China and stuff. It helps producers in developing countries have better trading conditions. This is pretty awesome. This also means it's pretty pricey. I wish I could give you a cost for a bag of Green Mountain coffee, but SMP only had "k-cups" and alas, I'm still without a Keurig. I don't shop much anywhere else, so not sure where else in the valley you could find some. I love the idea, but for a family of 5 on a tight budget, I'm not sure if I could justify paying more for coffee. We're not really coffee snobs per say, we just like name brand stuff that's on sale (think Folgers, Maxwell House, Yuban usually). But..... there are some way awesome things about the Fair Trade movement and it's affect on coffee. In order to be qualified as Fair Trade coffee, the commodities must stick to strict sustainable agro-ecological practices, which in English means less chemical fertilization, ways to protect the forests and ways to prevent erosion. That's pretty cool. So not just anyone can claim to be "Fair Trade" because they have decent wages. Also, this means that FT coffee is more often than not organic.

So let's talk Green Mountain Fair trade. You MUST check them out. Here's a link to their Facebook page so start there. Then check out this video of Grace Porter. Love her name (ok so I'm biased) and the video is pretty interesting too. Helps you learn more about Fair Trade. And her music is pretty awesome too. There's also this video of Michael Franti. And on November 13th Green Mountain is going to replay his concert on thier FB page so tune in!!

Ok let's talk coffee.

I'm not going to lie, we drank this coffee up fast. So fast in fact that I didn't get a chance to get some pics. And I gave Mike's dad a sample pack to take home and try. I was going to buy some more but like I said before, Smith's only had k-cups. Then I happened to get another free sample in the mail! I forgot that I signed up for one a few weeks ago. Win! So time for a photo-op.

Mercy was smelling it. She's like her mom and likes to smell coffee :)
And apparently she thinks she can read. Checking out the back and all about the Fair Trade and Organic-ness of it.

So I brewed a pot (aka 8 cups). DELICIOUS. I'm not a coffee snob, but this is some good coffee. I had tried it before and didn't really notice a difference from what we usually buy, but this time I put less sugar and cream in it so I could really taste the coffee. 
My favorite coffee cup. Gotta love the floating head so you know how full to fill the cup. 
Mercy needed another smell. She wanted to sip it and if I thought she wouldn't like it, I'd let her. However, all my luck I'll have a 2 year old addicted to coffee and I don't need that!

Anyway, the coffee is great, but probably pricey so who knows if we'll buy it and like I said before....only k-cups. Man, I need a Keurig. BzzAgent should have a campaign for those :)

I get free samples to try and share because I'm a BzzAgent. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Another Progresso Recipe Starters Review

EDITS: Ok so I should also mention that I'm a BzzAgent which means I get stuff for free to try it out and review it. 

We had to try another can of Recipe Starters! This time I searched Progresso's website and found this recipe. Seemed easy and something that my whole family would enjoy.

It called for a can of Creamy Parmesan Basil, chicken, cheese filled ravioli, half and half and bacon. Mmmm, bacon.

I changed it up a little by using fresh chicken and cutting it up into chunks. I also used a 25 oz bag of ravioli instead of just 9 oz. And I made fresh bacon for the top cause it's so much better than any other bacon.

I got the chicken cooking and put the ravioli in a pot of boiling water to help defrost the ravioli. I also cheated and cooked my bacon in the fridge  microwave. Wow sleep deprivation is really hitting me hard. Don't tell my husband cause I'm not sure what he'd think about that.

Out of all the Recipe Starters we have tried, this one is my favorite. It's like an alfredo sauce. It was pretty runny in the can so you'd want to thicken it up. The recipe called for half and half to help thicken it. Since I discovered how much better my coffee tastes with half and half instead of milk, we usually have plenty of half and half on hand. 

The smell once the sauce was poured into the hot skillet was amazing. It was full of fragrant basil and sharp parmesan. My mouth was watering just waiting for dinner. 

This meal took me less than 30 minutes to make, which was bad for Mike cause he had just called his dad 5 minutes before it was finished. The girls waited patiently for him to finish up so we could say the blessing before our meal. 

Grace was a little grumpy today. 

Everyone loved it! Next time I'd add some broccoli to get some veggies in, but this is definitely something we'll make again and Progresso Recipe Starters make for a quick, easy meal!

And I have to post just one more of the kiddos :)