Friday, January 30

Time to Go!

We are doing this. I was scheduled to be induced at 6:30am this morning, but a set of twins decided to make their appearance today and so we were pushed back until about 9:30. We are heading out to the hospital right this moment (the rest of this post was already pre-written;).

Today is most likely (and hopefully--or I'm in big trouble!) the last day of my 2nd pregnancy.

Sometime in the next several hours (or few--let's hope!) we will finally be able to hold our long-awaited little son in our arms. I can't really believe it, but mostly I can't wait! I am indescribably excited for Dalin (and myself) to meet our first boy in person and for Tenley to meet her brother! It's going to be the best.

I am not as nervous as I was the first time but I am so hoping that things will be a little easier and faster this time around. I'll do my best to keep you updated, but then again I might be a little preoccupied so you'll have to forgive me;)

Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 29

My Mom is Here!

Hooray! My mom flew in to Salt Lake last night and actually arrived half an hour early which was a surprise considering the snow situation in New Hampshire and the fact that her layover was in Chicago--possibly my least favorite airport (though least efficient would have to go to Orlando...).

It was so good to see her but I feel like I've been really calm about it because her being here means that I'm having a baby tomorrow. And that means I should feel nervous or something, but right now, I just feel like it isn't happening. It's so different than with Tenley (so far) where Dalin and I were going stir crazy with anticipation. It is just hard to believe that we will have two kids tomorrow. I don't know, it's weird.

I'm not even feeling as excited as I was earlier in the week/month because I think if I let myself get too excited then my emotions will be just a step away from hitting "nervous" and I don't want to go there.

But I will admit that yesterday, I kept thinking it would be today. I was having some cramping/contraction-like things and lots of pelvis pressure/lower back pressure but they were all over the place. They would be regular for a while, then I would sit or stand or lay down and they would continue in a different pattern. So I'm thinking they are probably Braxton Hicks, which I didn't have with Tenley so they're kind of new to me. But they stink--like what's the point of cramping if they aren't leading to a baby is what I want to know... They are driving me crazy today. But they're still not painful or regular enough for me to call Dalin at work just yet. Somehow it's only 12:30 though so I guess there is time for things to change.

As far as the induction goes, the hospital is supposed to call me today and have me schedule it for tomorrow morning. It's weird how they wait so last would it really be that big a deal to plan for an induction and then cancel it if I went into labor a day or two beforehand? Apparently yes, because they haven't called. Maybe it will feel more real when we have set a time (which will probably be like 6am by the way...they only have early or late options).

But today has been great so far. The apartment was pretty clean to begin with thanks to my overactive nesting instincts or whatever, but my mom helped me conquer three giant loads of laundry (even though we had to pay in tons of quarters because my student ID card (which usually gives us a big discount) is in the car with Dalin--darn it) and I feel so much better having that huge load (literally) out of our room and put away.

We spent part of the morning going through the new clothes for baby boy and 18 month clothes for Tenley (though she is mostly in 12 month clothes still...she even fits in 9 month stuff). We also had fun looking at Dalin's birthday gifts which I can't wait to give him one week from today when he turns 25! :)

I guess my short list of things to try and get done today includes:

  • Call the hospital if they don't call me first
  • Wash the dishes (there are like five, but I'm too lazy to do them right now)
  • Tidy up Tenley's room a little more
  • Sort through the "get rid of" pile of stuff that has formed over the last couple of weeks (sort into donate or sell piles)
  • Write up Tenley's typical nighttime schedule for my mom
  • Go through the random piles that accumulate on the kitchen table and the shelf in our room and toss stuff/put it away
  • Make a shopping list for my mom (or find the one I started weeks ago...)
  • Try to nap
  • Shower...eventually
  • Spend some last alone time with Tenley
  • Work on my last essay for class (if I'm feeling ambitious...)

It's so nice to have my mom here. I am a little worried I'll come to rely on her too much over the next three weeks and then it will be disastrous (for me) when she leaves, but I'm sure it will be okay. Everything will all work out.

Please let me know if you have any last-minute "to do" items for me to accomplish today or advice/comforting words for tomorrow! I'm just praying and praying that my labor is truly easier the second time around (as I've heard from so many moms!)

Lots of love!

Monday, January 26

Which Belly is Bigger?

Remember this photo? My wonderful friend and photographer, Samantha Rizzo took this photo a year and a half ago (how has it even been that long!?) when I was pregnant with Tenley. In fact, she took this photo on my due date, which was August 5th. Unfortunately, our cute little stinker didn't join us for another week (and that was only because we forced her out at 41 weeks--thank goodness we did though because she barely came out as it was--my doctor was about ready to give me a c-section but thankfully the forceps worked just in time!).

In comparison, this time we're forcing our little guy out a week before his due date (this Friday if you haven't heard!!!), but I'm pretty sure it's a good move considering I weighed 136 lbs at my biggest with Tenley (my starting weight was around 103) and I currently weigh 134.5 lbs with a starting weight of 96. So I've actually gained more this time and I feel as though the weight is definitely more concentrated in my belly (which would explain the new stretch marks that are making their way past my belly button). 

Being pregnant with Tenley during the summer meant I stored a lot of water weight. Especially during the last month, I remember feeling like my face, arms, and thighs were huge and my legs and feet were super swollen. This time, my feet don't appear swollen at all to me (one pro of being pregnant in the winter!). But I remember after Tenley was born when the crazy swelling finally went down, I couldn't stop looking at my feet and commenting on how small they looked. They kind of looked bony or anorexic after being blown up like balloons for so long! It was weird. Even though I haven't swollen up the same way, I still think this boy is going to be pretty big--even though he's coming two weeks before his sister did--because all the weight seems to be wholly directed to my belly. As you can see here: 

Anyway, I am seriously counting down the moments until he is coming out. I just have to stay entertained from Tuesday to Thursday. Meanwhile, I'm working on taking lots of naps and enjoying the last moments I'll have alone with Tenley. I'm also continuing to try and prepare her for the arrival of her brother (even though we've talked about it for months) and hopefully get her excited to have a real life baby (instead of the baby dolls she carries around) in our home. 

I'm also kind of expecting my water to break at any moment (which is stupid because it breaks for like 10% of women before getting to the hospital supposedly) because the pressure on my pelvis is so intense at times. I'm simultaneously trying to satisfy my cravings to hold a newborn by looking through the photos posted by the FIVE ladies who have all given birth to sons in the last two weeks! It's definitely boy season. It's so exciting!

Apart from that, I'm just trying to stay relaxed and distracted. I'm telling myself not to stress that my mom's flight (which she had already switched in an attempt to avoid the nor'easter hitting New Hampshire and other states right now) might be delayed to Thursday or even Friday, and trying to forget that we need milk and paper towels, and that we have at least two large loads of laundry to do. It'll all work out. It just might not all get done until February;)

Well, I'd better go to bed. Hopefully I'll be going into labor any minute here and will be able to surprise you tomorrow but let's not get too excited about that. It's a fat chance;)

I'd still appreciate any thoughts or prayers you can send my way though:)

Have a lovely night! 

Sunday, January 25

The End In Sight

Only four more days of carrying this baby around inside me (and maybe less, but let's be honest...four days it is;). It's weird to know that. I know I missed small moments of Tenley being inside me when she was a newborn, but right now I just am getting so anxious to have my body back. The extra weight is very hard on me and my weakling back and legs. They just aren't used to it. I am not too worried about losing the baby weight--it came off fairly fast thanks to breastfeeding (I did virtually no exercise after having Tenley...I'm way too lazy for that, so it probably took a little longer than it otherwise would have. Since it was winter during that time I didn't care too much though).

I just want to be able to reach things on the top shelf without having my giant belly set me back several inches (plus I'm already short so it's hard all around)! I want to be able to walk in a store without my feet throbbing after half an hour. I want to see how crazy my stretch marks get (since they got worse for me after I had Tenley) once my belly is gone. (Speaking of stretch marks--they have appeared all over my belly-button area. I had almost none there with Tenley and definitely not before delivery. I do have fewer on my hips and butt than before, but darn it, my belly got hit big time).

But that's the complaining part of my rant--I just do not enjoy being this size. But the good things are coming, too! Like snuggling and smelling and kissing a new baby! Just seeing his face is going to be so wonderful. And I'm kind of excited to start breastfeeding again (yeah, I'm crazy) because I love that bond it creates between mom and baby, and I miss those quiet, tender moments that come with it. (Of course, who knows how quiet they'll actually be with a toddler around...)

Plus I like knowing that nursing helps to shrink me back to my normal size. And it's so much easier (and by this, I mainly mean more convenient) than having to make a bottle or spoon-feed a baby. The bad news is there is the potential for soreness since I haven't breastfed for like 7-8 months. Also, I just learned that the more children you have, the greater the cramps when you first start to breastfeed as it helps shrink your uterus back to size more efficiently. Darn. But it's worth it. Hopefully I'll be singing the same tune next week...I guess we'll see! Also, if you're a second-time mom like I am, I am not sure I recommend googling breastfeeding cramps second baby...everything I read made me feel sick to my stomach with anxiety about it. I will have to let you know how they go for me. Supposedly they last about two weeks tops! Yikes.

Anyway, four days until my sweet little boy gets here. We are between two names right now and I guess it will just come down to what he looks like because we really want to use both names. Luckily though we will at least know what our next boy and girl will be named after this guy's born!

Please, please, please if you have any suggestions/advice/whatever about the postpartum cramping that comes with breastfeeding subsequent children, share it all! My pain tolerance is really low so I might just be taking lots of tylenol (and by lots I mean body responds to really low doses) to cope! 

Also, wish me luck! I am excited about being induced, but it's always scary with all of the unknowns! Any and all prayers this Friday will be so appreciated:)

P.S. Here is my 38 weeks picture, which all of my Facebook/Instagram friends have probably seen.

Saturday, January 17

Full Term: Pregnancy #2

Well I am full-term as of yesterday. (By the majority of the medical world's standards anyway;).

37 weeks.

I'm feeling excited, huge, anxious, and tired just thinking about the physical exertion required to give birth. I'm also feeling nervous, but mostly about whether or not my delivery will be easier and how I am going to take care of two tiny kids on my own once my mom leaves. But we'll cross that bridge later.

At the doctor's office yesterday I learned I am 2.5cm dilated and 30% effaced. Sadly, I know that means very little (since I was at 3+cm and 90% effaced with Tenley for over a week without so much as a contraction) but since this is our second baby, who knows.

I do know that I am not going to get my hopes up. My doctor is planning on inducing me in 2 - 2.5 weeks and if I happen to go into labor before then, yay! But I really don't think that'll happen.

So in the meantime, I am still filling my days with things to do. I loved the suggestions I received on ways to keep busy (like by getting a manicure or pedicure--I really want to do that) and would love more still if you have any to offer!

I was reading this blog post about loving the post-delivery hospital stay and I have to say I completely agree. I loved staying at the hospital when I had Tenley. At Orem Community (which is a tiny hospital), the rooms are spacious and they give dad a good-sized bed (the couch flattens) with plenty of pillows and blankets. It kind of felt like we were in a hotel room. You also deliver right in your room which I loved--I didn't have to get shuffled around from place to place.

Even better, I loved the nurses I had--each one was so kind and helpful and they are always at your beck and call, offering water, ice, food, and more. They changed all of Tenley's diapers at the hospital and would have taken her to the nursery if I hadn't decided to keep her right next to me in the room (which turned out fine because she slept like an angel from the start). They helped me with breastfeeding (which was almost easy once they provided me with a nipple shield) and I got tons of free baby stuff throughout the days I was there.

I loved that I didn't have to worry about anything except relaxing and enjoying my newborn. They let me (and encouraged me) to take several warm baths, changed my bedsheets constantly (which helped me feel refreshed), brought me extra pillows and plenty of ice (mostly for sitting on;), and meals came at regular intervals (I was surprisingly not hungry for the first couple of days, but I nibbled at what they brought). It was the best, and I remember not wanting to leave--so much so that I asked my doctor whether I qualified for an extra night (I didn't, darn it). It was a little scary to leave the safety and order of the hospital with all those trained nurses nearby should anything go wrong. Going home meant the real world, and I wasn't sure I was ready for that!

This time, I am not as concerned about what could go wrong as much as I am looking forward to not having to take care of any trivial things for two full days after delivery. As someone else stated, I'm looking forward to my hospital stay almost as much as I anticipate our son's arrival! I think it's all about the hospital you're at and the service you receive there. Fortunately I got lucky with our first.

I am definitely wondering about how my labor will compare to Tenley's. Hers lasted 13 hours plus 4 hours of pushing. Honestly, I'd take 24 hours of labor and ten minutes of pushing over 4 hours. That was just ridiculous, but supposedly (hopefully!) it gets easier the second time around so we will see!

I am also wondering about recovery time (I felt pretty great after two weeks with Tenley) which is often shorter with subsequent pregnancies.

Last, and most of all, I am wondering what our little son will be like. Will he be as calm a newborn as Tenley, or will I learn what it means to be up all hours of the night trying to soothe a little one? Will he be as great at nursing as Tenley was, or will it be harder this time? Will he look like Tenley and Dalin, or will he have more me in him?

These are the main questions I've been asking myself lately. I am trying not to be overly excited/emotional or anything because I don't want to be disappointed when he doesn't come until I'm induced or if he is a tougher newborn than his sister was. Deep inside though I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised on both accounts;)

When do you think this little guy is coming? And do you think he will be as big as Tenley who was 8lbs 3 oz (even though we're likely forcing him out two weeks before she came) or smaller?*

*Note that I weighed 136 lbs at my heaviest with my appointment yesterday I weighed 134.5 lbs. But I'm not sure what that means since babies usually gain about a half a pound a week in the end.

P.S. My bff Sarah came over for a little while today and we took these pics of Tenley haha. So cute. 

Wednesday, January 14

Tenley's Nighttime Routine (Another Update for Toddler Parents)

I have a 17 month old who is very soon to become a big sister. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that but I couldn't be more excited for the little Gunnell family to become a foursome! (In reality, I already can't wait for us to become a group of seven+ but I think I can be patient...mostly because I'm pretty done being pregnant right now--well, my body is anyway).

Tenley is doing well with her nighttime routine considering how frequently it was interrupted during the holidays. Our current routine seems to be working which is exactly what I was hoping for even though it's about to get disrupted when her little roommate arrives;)

Our nightly routine goes something like this:

-We read family scriptures (unless we did it earlier in the day--it depends on Dalin's work schedule)
-We do family prayer (sometimes over the phone if we have to)
-Tenley and I brush her teeth (possibly my least favorite part of the routine because it's a battle 95% of the time)
-She kisses dad goodnight with a loud "mwaaah!"
-We go to her room and I put the child gate up in her doorway
-On the way in, I turn on the DeepCalm app on my phone (it's free!) and we listen to Sea of Tranquility, or Silent Night, or Morning in the Forest all night long because it makes all of us sleep better (seriously, download's so relaxing!)
-We put her in pajamas if she isn't in them already (or if she isn't in a shirt that works for bedtime)
-We sit down on her bed and read two verses out of her mini copy of The Book of Mormon for her "personal" scripture study (she actually loves doing this--she loves to turn the pages of her tiny Book of Mormon and goes to fetch it before I even have to ask her to;)
-We sometimes read a fun bedtime book depending on how tired mom is
-We turn out the lights and I shine a flashlight on the glow stars on her wall to make them bright
-We fold arms and say a little personal prayer together, which always ends with a loud "'men!" from Tenley
-I tickle her back for a few minutes, kiss her, tell her I love her, and let her know that I'm going to leave and ask her to say "goodnight" and "bye" to me to acknowledge that she understands I'm leaving

Then she usually will cry or whimper "mama" a few times when I leave, but I just say, "It's okay, Tenley, mama's right here" and she goes right to bed. It's great. During the night, Tenley will often wake up around 5:30am and come to the gate in her doorway (which is just a few feet away from my side of the bed) and I just tell her to go back to bed.

Sometimes she won't go by herself and I have to walk her back to her bed, but I only do that if I don't want to hear her yelling "mama" five thousand times in the middle of the night. (It's cute to think about her wanting mama later on but at the time it's really annoying because she can be very loud). Anyway, Tenley will usually sleep in until somewhere between 6:30 and 8:30am, then she gets up again and I fetch her a pre-made bottle of whole milk from the fridge and she drinks it snuggled between Dalin and I in our bed. If she comes in around 6:30, we make her go back to sleep (sometimes with us) until its like 8:30 or 9am when we all get up.

So that's the routine currently. We are hoping we can get her to stop waking up in the early morning hours and crying (mainly because it will probably affect her brother's sleep) but we've been too exhausted to tackle that issue lately.

In other nighttime news, I get up at least twice a night to pee (which is frustrating and I can't wait for that to be over). Also, going to bed has been pretty uncomfortable lately (despite my amazing maternity pillow which I could NOT sleep without) because of this stupid acid reflux I've been experiencing. I had it a little toward the end with Tenley, too, and this time it started about a week ago. I take a few Tums and it helps sometimes, but my belly is just so huge that it is pushing the acid up my esophagus anyway and it's really been bothering me the last few days.

But I truly shouldn't complain because I'm so close to being done and overall it's been a breeze compared to some of my friends' pregnancies. I'm happy though and even happier that I have about 3 weeks or less left! Hooray!

Any suggestions (apart from Tums and sitting/sleeping upright) for acid reflux? I hate it!!!!
Or, maybe any suggestions for getting Tenley to stop waking up in the night? (Our doctor encouraged us to let her cry it out which we did in the past, but now she's much louder and her doorway is literally two feet away from where I sleep so it's pretty hard to ignore her crying for a full hour in the middle of the night).

I love hearing from you! I always get some great advice:)

Sunday, January 11

Happy List for Sunday

Five things caused me to feel extra happy today:

One. Knowing that in about 3 weeks (or less than 4 certainly) our little boy will be here for us to enjoy! I can't wait to meet him and love him and snuggle him. I know that Tenley is going to be the sweetest, most helpful sister--she already adores babies and particularly the one in my belly:) Whenever he gives me a particularly painful kick causing me utter "ow!" she runs over and hugs my belly and kisses it with a loud and exaggerated "mwah!" then she looks up at me to make sure I'm okay. She is the most darling little love.

Two. Watching Downton Abbey this evening. I'm so happy it's back! I wish all TV shows were done as well as Masterpiece Classics. I still haven't really gotten over the deaths of Matthew and especially Sybil, but I still love the show. If only I could make Dalin love it as much as he loves football;)

Three. Witnessing as Tenley's personality grows and develops--especially recently. She is a little comedian and quite the actress. I feel like such a bad mom when I--unintentionally of course--laugh at her naughty behavior but it's just hilarious to me that so little and young a person could learn certain facial expressions (and when to use them) so accurately.

Tenley has an extra vibrant personality at home--not that she doesn't around other people--she loves other people, especially when they give her attention--but she can be slow to reveal her personality right away in new situations. Like in nursery: she stands silently in the doorway for the first ten minutes looking at everyone like hey what am I doing here before she suddenly starts to play and interact. I've especially loved seeing her learn so many things recently, including several new words such as "up please" to get picked up, "bib," "piece" if I ask her if she wants a piece of something, and random phrases that she copies from Dalin and me like "ow" and "oops" and "shoes." I am thankful that her personality is so outgoing and friendly. She will go to anyone (if she doesn't go to a person on a particular day, it's only because she's in a bad mood and probably just wants mom) and she says "hello" to people randomly at restaurants and stores, which everyone loves. They're always surprised when Tenley starts yelling "hi! hi!" at them.

I'm also amazed at how smart she is for being 17 months old (tomorrow). During the sacrament portion at Church today, which we usually have to take in the hallway because of one wiggly member of our family, Tenley saw the bread trays being passed a mile away and started asking for "mo'? mo'?" in what seemed like a very loud voice for such a quiet meeting. But it was so funny to us because she's mostly only taken the sacrament in the hallway while playing and so we were surprised that she even recognized what the trays meant. Anyway, that's just one example, but she really makes me so happy to be her mom.

Four. The weather today wasn't exactly summery--the temperature hung around 40 degrees all day, but compared with some of the cold we've experienced lately it felt wonderful outside! Plus, the snow melting in large amounts, revealing the wet grass underneath made me feel like spring was already on it's way! Sadly, spring doesn't officially begin until March 20th, but I can still pretend.

Five. Making it to Church on time! Our new time is 8am and Relief Society is first and because I'm a teacher, I couldn't just arrive at my leisure. Even better, I loved the lesson on the first great commandment, which is to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. When we love Him first, everything in our lives can then fall into place. Loving Him first will also help us to be able to properly love our spouses, children, and others. Really it's a complete win for anyone that makes loving God their first priority.

Well, I'm kind of exhausted and this post turned into a lot of rambling from me, but I hope your Sabbath day was a peaceful, happy one. And if it was, what made you happy today?

Wednesday, January 7

Baby #2: The Countdown

I am a terribly impatient person. I am always thinking about and planning for the future. It's not that I'm not satisfied with my life now at all--it's just that there are always fun and exciting things to look forward to and I know that life is going to get progressively better and I sometimes dwell too much on that.

But nothing tests one's patience like being in your final month of pregnancy. It's hard for everyone at this stage but I could drive myself crazy if I didn't find some ways to use my waiting time productively. 

And since I know SO many lovely girls who are also pregnant right now (and quite a few due in just the next two months!) I thought I would share my ideas and hopefully inspire them, too. We all just have to hang in there. It feels like the wait will be endless, but a little while from now we'll be looking back and saying, "Wow, time flew!" and "I'm so glad I got so much accomplished before the baby arrived!" So without further ado, here is my busy list for the next month:
  1. Priority #1: Finish my online English class (which means writing just one essay and taking the final)
  2. Start (and get as far as possible!) my next online class. Maybe I'll take a fun one as a reward for how horrendous this last one has been for me. 
  3. Find a few more gifts and plan for Dalin's 25th birthday in less than a month!
  4. Plan out gifts for Valentine's day! (for Dalin, Tenley, (baby boy), and maybe a few others)
  5. Put together some little notes/treats for my delivery nurses and doctor
  6. Purge. We have so much stuff. I have so much stuff. Way more than I actually wear or use on a regular basis. I'm going to continue to (it's been an ongoing process) gather up the stuff we haven't used in a long time or that we've never used (sadly, there's a lot of that) and sell or give those things away. It would be so nice to clear up some space around here for the baby. 
  7. Stay on top of organization around here. I wish I could say that should be easy but Tenley likes to make messes so it's actually pretty much impossible. 
  8. Finally rent Maleficent and/or Austenland like I have been meaning to FOREVER! 
  9. Do some painting. Because it makes me happy and I feel like I've accomplished something after. 
  10. Try at least two new (easy and healthy) recipes that I will feel up to making in the weeks following our baby's birth. 
  11. Prepare for my mom's arrival on January 27th! I can't wait! She hasn't been out here in forever and it's always such a relief to have her around--she always does so much for us when she's here! Hello to consistently clean laundry and regular meals:)
  12. Stock up on diapers and wipes for little guy. Besides the double stroller Dalin got me for Christmas (which I love and am so psyched about!!), pretty much all we've needed for this guy are some boy clothes, diapers, and wipes. We got a lot of gender neutral stuff (intentionally) the first time so thankfully we haven't had to spend a ton of money. 
  13. Eat 6 dates a day (and take my prenatal--blah, I've been bad at that). At first I thought dates were disgusting, but they've grown on me. I read a study that suggests it helps increase natural induction by the due date and reduces recovery time among other benefits. I kind of am skeptical of anything that claims to truly induce labor (because I tried almost everything last time and I didn't even get a contraction until I was induced at 41 weeks) and tend to think that everyone who has had some random measure work for them was probably just going to go into labor that night or the next day anyway, but this seems simple enough that it wouldn't require too much effort to do daily for the next few weeks. If you're interested, here is where I read about the was a small study so who knows how accurate it will prove to be, but dates are healthy so why not.
  14. Get my hospital bag packed (which will take two seconds now that I know how little you actually need so I'm not too concerned about this one). 
  15. Go on a few more last-minute dates with just Dalin before we have two kids to fill up our lives (though it'll be a happy thing to fill our lives with;). 
  16. Continue good habits for 2015--get 9 hours of sleep (including naps if I ever take any), drink a water bottle (or more) a day, read scriptures and pray daily as a family and privately. We've been on a roll this year so far. I am seriously considering painting a sign that says "It has been ___ days since the last time we missed a prayer or scripture." 
Do you have any other ideas to help keep me busy over the next four weeks?? I'd love any!


Tuesday, January 6

Our 24-Hour Emergency Bag: The Basics

I have wanted to put together an emergency kit (as well as establish some food storage) for a long time. LDS Church leaders have encouraged all members “to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings." Because I have witnessed the words of our wise Church leaders prove to be true multiple times, I trust them on this and believe in the importance of acting on their advice. 

I am pretty sure we are supposed to be striving to establish emergency kits that will last at least 72 hours, but because I just made a spur of the moment decision to put together a kit today with only items we already own (nesting and moving on the brain--plus I had no car), ours is more of a 24, maybe 48-hour variety. But it also contains most of our camping supplies which will be convenient for when we eventually go. 

Anyway, first I grabbed my old backpack that had been sitting in the back of a closet. 

Next, I gathered up our camping supplies (besides our sleeping pads and tent) and a few random items. I have insect repellent (obviously more of a camping thing but who knows), our binoculars, a poncho, some rubber gloves, a mess kit, a matchbox and candle (in the baby food jar--there's a better pic in a minute), some duck tape, chapstick, lotion, a pen and pencil, a mini first-aid kit, a working flashlight, and a pocket knife. 

I also added some unopened peanut butter, black beans, and tuna (which I hate, but in an emergency I'd totally eat it) as well as an extra pair of socks for me and Dalin. 

In the baby food jar, I stuck a little tea-light candle (the only type of candle we own) and a box of matches. Maybe someday I'll raid the laundry room for lint to add to the jar to use as a fire starter in an emergency.

The backpack has two water bottle-sized pockets, one on each side, so I stuck a bottle in each. 

Inside the backpack is a little pouch at the back for a laptop. I used it to store one of our large, but fairly thin and less-used blankets. 

Here is what the front pocket looks like with everything inside. 

Let's face it, this isn't much and if this were Walking Dead, we'd be in big trouble (though according to one of those stupid Facebook quizzes Dalin and I would last about 6 months so that's somewhat comforting). But it's a start, and for us, it's better than what we had before. 

Obviously, I have a few things in mind to add to this bag, including: 

a roll of toilet paper
tin foil
a couple of plastic bags (of various sizes)
more food (canned, nonperishable items)
water purifying tablets (or something similar)
copies of our IDs and important documents
a small radio, compass, or watch
space blankets
extra contact lenses, cases, and solution for Dalin and me (we both have terrible eyes and wouldn't last an hour without contacts)
A copy of The Book of Mormon (because you never know)

I think though, if an emergency did come up and I had time to grab this bag and the kids, I'd also take two seconds and grab some of these items from our apartment and a change of clothes for each of us. I think it would be worth the risk because otherwise we wouldn't be surviving very long anyway. 

(In case you can't tell, I've watched a few too many episodes of The Walking Dead and though it wouldn't have to be that extreme of a situation for us to use this kit, it definitely gets you thinking about worst-case scenarios). 

Now just for fun, here are the five personal things I would grab (besides my family members) for myself if I knew we were never returning to our apartment:
  1. My journal. I've written in a journal since I was 13 and it would be one of the only sentimental things I think I would take with me. Unfortunately, it would be impractical to take the other 30-something I've already filled. All those years...wasted.
  2. My scriptures. I think we'd need something to read and comfort us if we were to experience the trial of having to leave our home. Plus, if nothing else, I would want my family to be spiritually strong in such circumstances--particularly if there was a chance we could die. 
  3. My digital camera and charger if there was electricity. I would want to be able to see photos of my family members. If I wouldn't be able to charge it, I would grab one of our photo albums.
  4. My phone and charger--but only if I knew I would be able to use it to contact my far-away family members. If there was no electricity then I wouldn't bother. I'd take my little army knife (which I use all the time) instead. 
  5. I'm torn between saying a pillow and our emergency savings (assuming food and toilet paper were going to be available to us already). Obviously if things were going to go back to the way they were I'd want our savings, but if the world was forever changed, then forget it--I'm taking my pillow. And if it wasn't so inconvenient to carry, I'd specifically take my new full-body maternity pillow which Dalin bought me for Christmas. I could sleep anywhere with that thing.
What personal items would you take (besides family) in an emergency if you knew you were not returning home?
What other emergency items do you think I really need to add to our kit?

Thanks for reading! I hope this got you thinking about your own emergency prep or that it entertained you if nothing else;)

A Brief(ish) Painting Tutorial

I have a few friends and blog readers who have requested that I do a painting tutorial of some sort. Dalin also encouraged me to make one, suggesting I do kind of an art blog. I would love to be able to make my painting/crafting a regular part of this blog, but I am not sure that this is the year for that. Still, I don't want to leave those of you who are wanting painting tips hanging. 

Hence, I am going to put together a brief tutorial for tonight that I will hopefully be able to build off of later and maybe do a more in-depth step-by-step post at some point in the future if you guys would like that (so let me know! Because otherwise I have to assume most of you aren't interested!). 

Also, I am by no means an art teacher. I am just telling you what I do and what I have learned from taking various art classes in high school. I also have painting in my blood (my great uncles or something--Frank French and Daniel Chester French were both fairly famous artists) so I already had an advantage. Nevertheless, this does not mean you should not even try! I honestly believe that anyone can paint well if they take my basic advice offered below and of course, practice. (It's like Ratatouille--anyone can be a chef an artist!)

1.  Have a Photo or Image for Reference
So to start, I thought I'd explain that painting is a zillion times easier when you have a photo for reference. I always use a picture or painting when I start. When I don't, the painting never turns out the way I want it to. I would show you an example of this, except I already painted over the last painting I did from my head because I hated it. Below I will show you three paintings I've done in the last month, starting with the reference photos that I used (aka, I did not paint the first three images below myself--I found them on Pinterest when browsing for painting/gift ideas for Christmas).

Reference Photo
"Season of Light" by Barrie VanOsdell
Reference Photo
By Ovanes Berberian

Reference Photo
"English Lake" by Roland Lee
2.  Prep Your Canvas if Necessary
So once you have chosen an image, you have a few options. You can just start painting, which is what I do because I've had a lot of practice, or you can very lightly pencil in the main details/ outlines directly onto the canvas. I say lightly because if you use the pencil too heavily, the pencil dust will mix with your paint on the canvas and create smudges. If you have never painted before or have trouble drawing freehand, my suggestion to you would be printing out the image you want to do and gridding it. If you do this, you will also (again lightly) grid your canvas using the same scale. Then you can use each square as a reference for what color and detail you are painting within each individual square. (I'm not sure how well I explained that, so let me know if you need clarification). 

3.  Start with the Background and Move to the Foreground
I think any painter or artist will give you this advice. Many a painter has learned the hard way by starting on the focal point (a tree, for example) and then having to suffer the madness of filling in and adequately blending the background against this. It is a huge pain and can be really frustrating, especially if you are new to painting. So remember, *start with the background*! If the background is a sky, a mountain, a blur of trees, and water (like the first painting below), start with those basic parts. Just *put paint on the canvas*. It is scary at first, because you might worry about messing up, but really, the first layer is almost impossible to mess up. My next piece of advice would be to *paint what you see, not what you know*. This is a hard for some people to grasp at first. You know the sky is usually light blue, but is it light blue in the picture? Is it more white or more blue? Is it pinkish or purple-toned? Very rarely is the sky just plain light blue. Look at the actual colors of the picture and forget what your brain tells you they should be. 

In elementary school, they basically teach you to draw a tree that has a brown trunk and green leaves like so:
But real tree trunks are usually gray with various shades of brown, black, and white mixed in. Real foliage is not just one big green clump, but thousands of individual leaves of various shades of greens and yellows like the one below. So again, paint what you see, not what you know. 

4.  Create a Very Rough Draft of the Main Colors and Shapes in the Painting
Just *get the colors and shapes of things down on the canvas*. It can be hard to allow yourself to do this freely, but it will help you big time in the long run. It also makes it much easier to finalize your painting later on. Since it's supposed to be a rough draft, I usually rush through this part. I simply see that there is a lot of orange (for example) on one area of the picture and I mix up a similar orange and paint that shape on the canvas. Note that if your image has trees, you will want to at least do a basic outline of each major tree trunk and branches and also add a few blobs of color for the foliage. It doesn't have to be perfect, but you will be so grateful later on if you don't have to go through one tree at a time adding every single detail. Once all of the main colors and shapes are on the canvas, I know I can move on to the final step, which is fine-tuning the image.

I neglected to take a full "before" shot of the first painting I did, but you can get the gist somewhat from this image of a corner of the canvas. Compare these images to the final thing and you will see what I mean about these being rough drafts.

5.  Fill in the Details
This is by far the most time-consuming part (as it should be) but it's my favorite because it is exciting when you begin to see your painting come together. Sometimes I am all over the place when I am adding details, but generally, I am doing as many objects of one color at a time as I can so I don't have to clean my brush three thousand times. In the painting below I did all of the tree trunks and branches in the same stretch, and then I did all of the orange leaves in the entire painting, and then all of the yellow leaves. This saved me the time of doing all the different colors of one tree and instead creating a basic image that grew clearer and clearer the more details (aka splotches of color) I added. 

When adding details, really *pay attention to the shadows and highlights* you see. It may not make sense to you that a tree would appear to have a white highlight, but if that's how it looks on the image, that's what you should do. It can feel scary to add a color or shade that your brain is telling you does not make sense in that location, but trust your eyes and you will be much happier with the results. I know that rocks aren't blue, but I saw a lot of blue in the image of the rocks and so that is what I did. Paying attention to the colors you see is very important. 

And that brings us to another piece of advice--if you don't already have some knowledge of color theory, it might be to your advantage to look it up. Basically, if you understand the primary colors (red, yellow, blue),  the secondary colors (orange, green, purple), and color mixing, you're off to a good start.

I think though that it's also important to be aware of what complementary colors are. Essentially, they are the colors opposite one another on a color wheel, and by using them near one another, the colors will actually be accentuated more. Red, for instance, really makes green pop when the colors are near each other. When blended, the two create what I would describe as a more muted color, which in many cases, means more realistic. In the painting just above of the English lake for example, I added a little bit of red to my green paint to mute the green tones which were overpowering and "unrealistic." If you do two equal amounts of two complementary colors and over-mix your paint, you usually end up with some shade of brown.

Which reminds me--*mix your colors gently*! You might think you have way too much yellow in your green, but in real life, (or at least in art life) things are rarely one tone or color. Usually objects are a blend of many shades and colors, so you will actually find your objects look more realistic if you do not mix your paint too well. By the way, I used acrylic paint in the three paintings above which is a water-based paint (unfortunately, it still does stain clothing if you don't rinse it really well asap) and dries fairly quickly. I like acrylics because they are very cheap (like $1.00 or less per color and I only buy the primary colors plus black and white) and it easy to fix mistakes because you can paint over them. I have very little experience with oil paints yet (mainly because they cost $$$) but I am told they are very fun because the colors are more vibrant, the paint has more texture (which painters always want to create), and it dries more slowly. 

Basically, when I did each of these paintings, I did them in two days (with quite a few hours given on each day). On day one, I choose my picture, then just cover the canvas in paint. I don't want to see any white spots on the canvas. I do a very basic background and then I add in the vague shapes and colors seen in the picture. On day two, I already have a good foundation, I just need to make some fine-tuned alterations and add details. 

Painting is really fun and meditative for many people, me included. It should not be stressful!--even if you think you don't know how to paint or if you feel like yours is not turning out quite the way you had hoped, don't let that stress you out! Recognize that you will have your own style of painting, and you might not be as good at one type as another person. Look for your style and embrace it when you find it! You will find your paintings are much more satisfactory when you do this.

I listen to music while I paint (I get too distracted by TV or movies and it ends up taking hours longer) and even with numerous interruptions from my one-year old, I still find it soothing (but I definitely try to save painting for when she is in bed or dad is home to distract her a little). Some people need peace and quiet when they paint and that's fine, too. Whatever works for you--just figure out your style and get excited about it! Monet, Da Vinci, and Picasso are nothing alike and they're all very famous.

Oh, one more thing!--Don't forget to sign or initial your painting! Try to do it in a small, discreet place. Traditionally, I believe, artists sign in the bottom right corner, but I kind of sign whichever corner is most convenient. Other artists hide their signature somewhere in the painting. It can even be just on the side or back of the canvas, it's up to you. I also date my paintings--at least the year--on the back so I have some idea of when I did them. 

Please, if you have any questions for me, do not hesitate to ask! Also I'd love to know if you would be interested in more posts about painting/painting tips/crafts, etc. I try to write what interests me but I do care about my audience. I don't want anyone to be bored to death, so help a sister out and give me some tips!

Happy painting!

Sunday, January 4

Mushy Post About Dalin 10315

Sorry to get all mushy on you (as you know I sometimes do), but I really just have to share how much I love my husband, Dalin. He puts up with so much crap from me (namely my whining and complaining about lots of silly little things mostly) and is so patient. He is the complete opposite of me in that regard--while I become easily frustrated, he has the ability to remain calm almost no matter the situation. (I've literally seen/heard him get "really" mad one time (it wasn't even at me) which was when he thought his expensive golf clubs had been stolen).

Like any great husband, Dalin is especially wonderful when he knows I am in need. Like now during the last few weeks of pregnancy. My body is just small and weak and since I seem to make fairly big babies (Tenley was 8lbs 3oz and nobody could believe she came out of me), I just ache terribly with the additional weight. My back, feet, and stomach seem to suffer especially. At my 34ish week appointment I weighed 128lbs. With Tenley, my highest weight was 136lbs so as you can imagine, I'm feeling very close to my limit at this point. I am uncomfortable and tired, my back is sore from being pulled forward by my massive baby bump, and chasing a young toddler who doesn't fully grasp the concept of "No" or of listening is just hard and exhausting. Much more so than the first time around. I am therefore incredibly thankful for how helpful Dalin has been to me in these past few weeks in particular.

One thing I've noticed is that the longer we have been together, the less frequent (and less stupid) our arguments have become. I have also started to feel almost a sense of balance in our marriage that I am not sure was fully present until recently. We now know each other so well and have matured in several ways over the years together (and I am certain we will continue to do so in the infinity to come). Now there is what I would describe as a deeper understanding between us. Our love is more sincere and sweet than it ever was. Our friendship and our sense of companionship has increased to a point that is so very different from when we were first married. We are still as playful as ever and our joking and laughs with one another have not ceased, but our mutual respect for each other's desires and goals has increased. It is so true what they say about husbands and wives becoming more and more like each other (and it makes sense, especially when you're around each other almost 24/7). I just truly feel like when it's the two of us, we bring out the best in each other.

Anyway, here are some great things about Dalin that I just love:

  1. He helps around the house. Sometimes I feel like I am asking too much of Dalin when he already works full time and attends school full time, but he doesn't complain (maybe he groans jokingly when I first ask him, but that's merely his attempt to be funny;). He also definitely has gotten better at helping without me having to ask him. From taking out the trash, to carrying the laundry out to the laundry building, to changing Tenley's diapers, and picking up the after-dinner mess I usually leave behind, he is so great and I appreciate him doing those things more than he knows.
  2. He thinks of clever and creative gifts. Dalin is really good at finding gifts that I will love which (though I think I'm pretty easy to shop for because I like almost anything) is impressive considering I rarely ask for anything or give him ideas of what I want. He comes up with fun, special gifts that he knows I'll treasure. He also knows how much I love experiences, like when he surprised me with a night at a hotel for Mother's Day last year (he even packed my bag:). I love that about him. It's obvious that a lot of thought goes into those things and that honestly and truly means more to me than the gift itself. 
  3. He listens to me and supports me when I have an idea. When I tell Dalin that I want to be better at scripture-reading, or tell him that I don't think we should watch a certain show, or when I tell him that I'd like him to do something a little bit more often, he listens. He tells me he will try to do better and supports me. It makes communicating with him so much easier and I am so thankful we established that early in our marriage. 
  4. He is a very patient and caring dad to Tenley. Like I mentioned before, Dalin is a very patient and calm person. It takes a lot for him to get mad. When he's upset, he is much more rational than I am. I have a short fuse and get worked up with little effort. Dalin never gets mad at Tenley...if she is misbehaving, he handles it much better than I usually do. He is a really good example to me of the kind of parent I want to be. 
  5. He is very wise and intelligent. Dalin is really smart and retains information much better than I do. People will sometimes think he is taciturn or shy because he does not always say a lot but that is because he doesn't just talk to talk (unlike me, you can't really get me to stop talking). He only speaks up when he has something to add to the conversation. He rarely puts his foot in his mouth (ha, also unlike me...) and people value his opinion because he gives it after much consideration. I love this about him because he helps me to be more cautious when I speak. He forces me to be more aware of what I am saying and helps me to get my point across more clearly. I really appreciate this quality in him. 
  6. He helps me to see myself more positively. I can be really negative about myself. For example, I get frustrated when I am having a bad hair day or whatever but Dalin always makes me feel pretty and valued. He makes me feel just as pretty without makeup as he does when I have obviously spent a good amount of time getting ready. He never makes me feel jealous of other women because he is completely loyal to me and never does or says anything that makes me feel like I'm being compared. My heart is full of love toward him for that loyalty. 
You can tell I'm a really lucky wife, right? Oh, I just love Dalin so much and am so happy to be his wife. I am so thankful for the wonderful friend that he is to me and for how much joy he brings our family. I hope I can become more like him in many aspects. 

What are the qualities you really love in your husband (or would love in a future one)?

I always find I am much happier when I focus on the good in my spouse and pay him those compliments so he is aware that I noticed them. 

Hope you have started your New Year off on the right foot! Happy 2015:)