and then it was done

How different will things really be next week? Not much, really, but the end of a year still feels like a changing over. I felt really good leaving work today, for the last time until after the New Year dawns, a hardy dose of contentment for having finished off the year well. In my last day I killed it productivity-wise, was able to give my boss good news, and left myself in a great place to start off 2015. (I also finished a book I'd been lingering over for probably a month, not bad but not a page turner, and that was nice too.)

This year was a big one for me and my family. The surrogacy has obviously been a huge part of that year; a humungously huge part. But there was also our trip to Disney and two trips to Cape Cod. We started house hunting. I got a new title (a promotion of sorts) at work. Delving into what I wanted my life and consumption to look like with my Nothing New project.

Next year is looking pretty big too. It will certainly start with a bang (you know... labor), and I hope it only goes up from there! There are certainly big changes in store. A new house (fingers crossed!), "big kid school" for Gwen, some more trips. I look forward to getting my yoga game back, exploring how Nothing New can fit into my life for the long haul, and hopefully at least one more tattoo (what? I've got to be me!).

As for this actual last day of 2014? Well, I'll be spending it home with my much higher energy then me almost 5 year old. I'll do my best to keep her entertained. Trav will get home, we'll eat dinner, get Gwen to bed, pop a bottle of sparkling apple juice, then probably heading to bed ourselves well before midnight.  :-)   But honestly, there are many worse ways to ring in a New Year.

I hope you spend the last moments of your 2014 exactly as you hope.
See you in 2015!


Christmas Eve and Day

Christmas came so quickly this year, and passed just as fast. Here I am already back to work after 5 days off, and counting down to the New Year!

It was a really great holiday. Christmas Eve we went to visit one of Pappy's old Boy Scout Troop members. Larry Joel has been a part of Trav's life as long as he can remember. LJ spent every Christmas at Willy's, and it was really hard for him when Pappy moved away and then when he passed. We go to visit him before Christmas to try to keep that connection.

It was a great start to our holiday break. After that we headed home to meet my parent's, who came down to our place this year. We enjoyed an appetizer lunch, then watched some Christmas movies and just relaxed. We had our big meal that night, since we were all together and my parents needed to head out Christmas afternoon (my mom had to work Friday). Ham, mac and cheese, a potato casserole, peas, and corn.

That night we put out some milk and cookies for Santa, some carrots for the reindeer, and a great note that Gwen dictated and wrote (with help for the spelling).

I can't believe my girl is writing her own Christmas notes now!

Santa came, and it was a very full tree.

Gwen slept until around 7, came to bed to snuggle with us for a little, but couldn't contain herself for too long. We headed downstairs, grabbing out stockings along the way (we hang them from our staircase banister). Gwen was so excited to see that the cookies and carrots were gone, and that there were presents from Santa under the tree.

We let her tuck in, while people got drinks, and Trav started the cinnamon rolls.

It was a great day overall. Gwen was a little overwhelmed by the end of it, but seemed to love everything.

Her big gifts were a batman cave from Trav's parents, a policeman outfit from my parents, a pirate ship from Santa, as well as a Hulk figurine. (I was still struggling a little with just how much she was getting... but she's happily cleaning out old things to make room for her new stuff; and dang, she was just so happy/grateful/excited for everything!)

She was playing with them all together, which was cute. We got her more boring things, like boots and new PJs, but she seemed happy even with them.

Pirate ship docked at the Batman cave, with
the Hulk standing by in case anyone needs some muscle.

Trav got some new work clothes, snow pants, a gift certificate for a zoo membership (which we are all excited to use!), and I got him new hiking boots (his bit the big one after our last camping trip).

I mostly got money for the yoga festival I'm going to this summer, and Trav got me some yoga clothes to help me make it through said festival. I also got tons of super soft socks, which I love.

We got my mom a book she wanted, my dad some soaps he wanted, and jointly got them a gift certificate to one of their favorite restaurants.

After that we turned on A Christmas Story, Nonnie helped Gwen play her new board games, and we relaxed until lunch time; after which my parents got ready to head home.

The rest of the day Gwen pretty much entertained herself figuring out all of the things her new toys could do. And that was actually much of the rest of our weekend! She loves her new items and will play independently with them for hours (though Trav and I have both taken our turns playing pirates and batman stop the bad guys).

Otherwise I did some cooking to use up our extra ham (ham, chicken, and corn chowder one day; a chicken cordon bleu casserole the other day; both yum!). There was a Harry Potter marathon on over the weekend too, so we watched a Harry Potter movie each day; and made sure to take Daisy on some walks to enjoy the 50-60* weather we were having (what?!), and to help Gwen run off some extra energy! She definitely was ready to go back to school today, since happy as she was with her new toys, Trav and I are no replacement for a room full of 4-5 year olds!

Especially since this is happening now:

37 weeks and starting to feel it! I was so happy for the extra rest this weekend, and for the days off I'll have this week. The parents arrive a week from Wednesday, and once they are here, I'm ready for him to come!

In the meantime, I have plenty of work to get done before the New Year, so off I go! Hope your holidays were wonderful!


more Christmas stuff, but of the much more edible variety

Happy Winter Solstice!
I love that from here on out the days will slowly, but surely, start to get longer and longer again. I love too, that this Solstice weekend fell on one that was so full of holiday prep. 

Friday night I was pretty beat, but considering Saturday was the cookie exchange at Ro's place, I knew I had to get some stuff done. I had actually, finally, put together my hot chocolate squares (using this recipe) on Thursday night (not hard at all, just took a bit of time to chop all the chocolate), so I had to take care of cutting, skewering, and bagging those up to before I could pass them out to friends and family (and our postman, and garbage men, who are all the sweetest). I did that while Gwen was getting ready for bed.

After actually putting her to bed, it was back downstairs to bake my cookies. I made Gooey Peanut Butter Cookies, and despite my tired crankiness ("I don't wannnnnt tooo..."), I forgot how damn easy and delicious these cookies are! So I had them all done (a double batch, three cookie sheets worth), in about a half hour. Then I got to eat a few fresh cookies while watching a movie with Trav.

Saturday was the actual exchange, and it was a lot of fun. Got to bring home some great cookies, and spend some fun time with friends.

Sunday we had no official plans, but between Trav cleaning, us both working on laundry, me doing the final grocery shopping for the big week ahead, and Gwen and I working on Trav's special present, it was a busy day. I think we are finally completely ready for Wednesday and Thursday though!

I also turned 36 weeks yesterday, which just feels huge. I'm officially "allowed" to go into labor now (aka they won't stop it if it happens on its own), and am going to the doc weekly.

Only a two day work week this week, then its time for holidays! I'm really getting excited! Hope you're all feeling the holiday spirit.


6 days - giving and not getting caught up in the material

Christmas is 6 days away. 6! We're ready. The decorations are out, cards sent, the gifts are bought and wrapped, music being played, I have some cookies in the freezer, and more coming this weekend, the meals are decided on, and plans have been made. Yet it still surprises me and freaks me out a little that it is so damn soon. How did it arrive so quickly, and with it the New Year just a week later?!

I love Christmas. It is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I love the big special meal, the extra time off of work and the time spent with family. I love picking the perfect gift for family. And yes, I do love opening a pretty package on Christmas morning, wondering what's inside.

As much as I have moved away from gifts and buying and consuming this year, it is still just so ingrained. I think we did pretty well for ourselves this year. I asked mostly for an experience gift, tickets to Wanderlust (in VT), which I have been dying to go to for ages. As well as the lodging to go with. And yes, some yoga clothes to make it through the experience clothed! Trav asked for, amongst other things, a gift card/tickets to see movies and for an activity he/we could do with Gwen. For Gwen most of the presents from us are ones she will enjoy, but which have a practical edge: boots to get her through the rest of the winter, more fleecy PJs, since she's outgrown more of her PJs then I anticipated a month or so ago.

Still when I looked at those precious few packages under the tree, with even fewer frivolities, I had a pang of guilt about it. Which is silly. Especially now that we've added packages from Trav's parents and his brother and SIL. That tree is looking MUCH fuller (and much more toy laden). And that doesn't even include the gifts my parents and brother will bring with them, nor a few special, much requested gifts from Santa.

We spend a lot of time emphasizing to Gwen the other aspects of the Christmas season, and what is really important. Family, generosity, giving back, and appreciating. But even with all my work on not consuming this year, and changing my mindset, its amazing how ingrained it really is. I'm still working in these moments to walk the walk, and talk the talk; which I will continue to work on until it becomes second nature and I don't even have to think about it anymore.

I don't think I could ever do a completely "nothing new" Christmas, but I'm going to keep working on getting closer. In the meantime, I'm going to stop with the guilt and just appreciate how blessed Gwen is (and we all are) by our friends and family.


little big milestones

Wearing her new robe, from Miss Tally.
This past weekend was full of good stuff: movies with a coworker/friend on Friday night (Mockingjay - loved it!), cookie baking (sugar, peanut butter blossoms, chocolate covered cherry cookies, and coconut thumbprints) and Christmas gift exchanging with Ro, Pat, and the girls on Sunday (pretty new tumblers! pj pants! super hero clothes! movie tickets! - they know us so well). All of that was so wonderful, and I have not a picture of any of it, since I was so busy enjoying.

But right now I want to talk about Saturday. Again, no pictures... but I have to commemorate one of Gwen's little big milestones. My girl got her first hair trim, and she was so brave! It was her choice, and she wanted to do it to make brushing easier and keep her hair healthier, but "I love my long hair Mama, I don't want it short!" So we only took off about an inch to even it out and get rid of the slightly broken ends.

She was nervous. Despite reassurances that it was easy and fast, and having seen me get my hair done, I think she was afraid it would hurt. On the way up Gwen told me, quite seriously, that she would get her hair trimmed today, but that was it, "one time only." Cindy is amazing though, and had her brushed, trimmed, and out of the chair in about 6 minutes! Gwen was amazed at how easy it was and told me that she would get her hair trimmed anytime.  :-)   I told her that she didn't need to go everytime Mama went, but that she could definitely do it on a semi-regular (every few months) basis. She agreed, "I'll get my hair trimmed anytime you say I need to."

Oh my brave, sweet girl.

I wish I had taken pictures, but I did save a cut lock for saving in a baby book.

So at 4 years, 10 months, my baby girl finally got her first hair cut. My baby girl's baby hair!
Check that one off the list.


nearing the end: a surrogacy update

I'm 34 weeks now. I cannot even believe how quickly this pregnancy is going. Maybe because for me its as much about the journey as the result, or because I'm chasing around a 4 year old, or because this time of year always seems to run at turbo speed! No matter the reason, it blows my mind to know I only have a month or a little more to go.

I had a prenatal appointment today. At 34 weeks I've gained 21 lbs, putting me at 140. My BP is great, my belly is measuring spot on, and everything is going well. The little one is head down (good boy!), and will hopefully stay that way at this point.

I'm still actively doing yoga and I'm sure that is helping with my sleep and with keeping me feeling generally good. I noticed that when I missed 2 weeks because of work/life craziness, that I felt infinitely more pregnant and uncomfortable then I had prior (or then I do now, thankfully). So I'm going to keep this up as long as possible!

Gwen continues to enjoy feeling the baby move and loves my big belly. We read the surrogacy book sometimes before bed.

I've scheduled all my appointments for the rest of the pregnancy. I go back in 2 weeks, then every week after that until I deliver. The parents and I are working out final details for labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period. So many things to consider, so very different then if it were my own. But we're getting everything ironed out.

And I guess that's where we stand at 8 months!


cold weather warm ups: santa and sesame place

Monday again, and only a bit over 2 weeks until Christmas! We finally broke out the Christmas decorations this weekend, and while we're not done with them, we at least have a very good start.

This weekend was cold, but we managed to have fun. Saturday i joined Trav and Gwen for their monthly Home Depot project since it was a special one for the holidays.

She sat on his lap twice and was so excited to tell him what she wanted.  :-) 
We watched White Christmas that afternoon, and Gwen loves it as much as I do!

Sunday we used a groupon to head to Sesame Place for their Very Furry Christmas. After some initial fears, Gwen was just as daring with the rides as last time. The rollercoaster was her favorite, and any ride that spun was spent yelling "faster Daddy, faster!!"

She absolutely loved seeing the characters too, and was much braver about saying Hi to them and giving them hugs this time.

It was definitely cold, but we had a great time anyway, and weren't really bothered by the weather too much until the sun went down. It was nice to spend some extended time outside, since that definitely falls off with the cold weather.

We grabbed a pizza on the way home and got our tired girl in bed a little early.

Now we're on to another busy week!


and then it got busy again

I forgot about the part after our big event, when we have to catch up on everything that got pushed aside while we were preparing for said big event. A process which is interrupted by 2.5 days off for Thanksgiving (definitely not complaining!!). I think I am just about there now, caught up, and moving into the things that will need to be done to close out the year and things that we want to do in the coming year.

In the evenings I've been taking care of Christmas present wrapping (99% done!), Holiday card stuffing, and for the love of all that is good and holy, some relaxing! Something is bound to be neglected, and yeah, its this lovely little corner of the internet.

Still, lets play catch up, for posterity sake.

The day before Thanksgiving we got out for a half day, which was lovely, and I used that time well to get myself a massage. My tired body was so grateful, and frankly, I would have paid the money just to have the opportunity to lay on my stomach and back for 70 minutes (special pregnancy pillow and a table that props up)!! Such a treat. I want 100 more.

My brother and his fiance arrived that night, and Thursday we all headed up to my parent's. I have exactly one picture I took on Thanksgiving and that is of the Cranberry Salsa my mom had out for us when we arrived. It was divine and I want to make bowls and bowls of it.

It was a really great Thanksgiving. So much good food. Lots of fun hanging out with the family. And satisfying watching the Eagles tromp the Cowboys.  :-)

I love Thanksgiving so.
And now we are on the countdown to my next favorite holiday... Christmas! 22 days and counting.

The rest of the weekend was spent as a family doing... well random bits here and there, but mostly lots of taking it easy. Trips to the grocery store and BJs. Loads of laundry. A long, chilly walk:

Followed by hot chocolate to warm up:

Some movies, some cleaning, some cooking, and some dress up:

All in all, very good. Though I think we were all ready for a bit of routine come Monday. Even Gwen, for all her "I don't want to go back to school" whines, was the most cooperative Monday morning that we've seen in a while.

I was definitely ready for more routine, and the chance to get back to yoga. Weeks of crazy schedules had led me to miss so many classes, and for the first time this week I'm feeling every single bit of my 7.5 months pregnant. But I'm getting back to it, and making it a priority since being active has kept me feeling so good this whole time. My 33.5 weeks bump is all dressed up and ready to go to yoga tonight:

The next few weeks are bound to be busy still, but I'm looking forward to it all, and happy that I'm finally catching up.

How was your Thanksgiving? Are you ready for the holidays?