Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I am so pleased to report, that I really don't have anything to report! Praise God! My appointments on Monday went very well. Amniotic fluid is at 13.8cm! Blood pressure is 128/72! Weston is as active and strong as ever! (I told Steve that we just may have a field goal kicker on our hands - those kicks are really starting to hurt!)

The days are dwindling down... tomorrow I will be 35 weeks, with only 2 more weeks to go. Yesterday, it kinda sunk in... WE'RE GOING TO MEET THIS LITTLE BOY IN 2 WEEKS!!! How can that be? The end of this bed rest stuff is in sight! Instead of admiring ultrasound pictures, I'll get to admire his precious face IN PERSON! I can't wait to hear him CRY (although, I'm sure that will get old fast - especially in the wee hours of the morning!) I'm only going to be pregnant for 2 MORE WEEKS!!! No more heartburn - no more food cravings at 3am - no more maternity clothes - no more kicks in the stomach! Even with all the excitement of this journey coming to an end, I was surprised yesterday when I also felt disappointed that my pregnancy was coming to an end. With Steve being a little older... and this pregnancy more complicated than Amaya's... there's no doubt about it... this will be the last little baby....

When Dr. Harms put me on bed rest... it honestly felt like a death sentence. But God has used this time for me to FOCUS on HIM... to TRUST HIM... to LISTEN to HIM... my prayer life has tremendously changed... and I find myself praying all the time... little prayers here and there... thanking God for every blessing, no matter how small and insignificant. And I've been blessed to have the time to reflect on the meaning of Christmas... this time of quiet - I may never get again... so I'm trying to cherish every moment - the good and the bad and rely on God for strength.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Remaining Stable

I've been so busy laying on my left side, taking multiple trips to the bathroom, reading books, watching a little TV, taking naps, and on Pinterest, I completely forgot about updating our blog on my appointments this week. I just got an e-mail today from a friend (who isn't on Facebook and doesn't get my updates) asking about whether little Wes was born, so I figured I'd better add "Updating the Blog" to my VERY BUSY schedule! (Can you sense my sarcasm there?!?)

Monday's appointment went well for the most part. Mom came with me to offer support especially with my amniotic fluid being so low the previous week, I was more anxious about this appointment. Both my mom and I were shocked to learn that my fluid levels had increased from 6.5cm on Thursday to 12cm!! What an answer to prayer! The sonographer also did a growth measurement and Weston now weights 4lbs 11oz! (Amaya was 5lbs 10oz when she was born, so we can handle little babies!) My blood pressure was still 140/98, so Dr. Harms decided to bump up the dosage on my blood pressure medication in the morning with hopes that my diastolic number would come down a little more. Overall, it was a good appointment, but Dr. Harms said that my case intrigues him and that I still make him a nervous. But, the best news of all - I asked him if I could go to Amaya's Christmas Program at church that evening and he said, "YES!" (More on her program later...)

Thursday's appointment I was originally scheduled to meet with one of the midwives because Dr. Harm's schedule was full. Mom and Dad took Amaya to Lydia's program at school, so I was by myself, but I wasn't quite as anxious about this appointment. My fluid levels remained stable at 11.7cm!! Another answer to prayer!! My blood pressure was 130/86!! Yet another answer to prayer! They were going to check another urine sample and as I went out in the hall, Dr. Harms saw me and said, "Jan, you're not on my calendar." I explained that his calendar was full and that I was planning on seeing a midwife. He told me, "No. I need to see you today." YAY!! There's just something about Dr. Harms that makes me relax and I am so thankful for him and his expertise. And since my numbers looked so good, I didn't have to do a urine sample. It's was a very short consultation because everything looked so good. And this was the very first time that Dr. Harms had any hope that we just might make it to 37 weeks. There's a little bit of wiggle room with the dose of my blood pressure medication, but he's a little hesitant to increase it anymore. So, for now... we press on... most likely I'll have a urine sample and blood work done next week just to make sure that nothing is brewing. Despite all my numbers within normal limits, there's still a chance that I could develop preeclampsia.

I have much more peace this week. Knowing that Wes is nearly 5 pounds and that I've hit all the critical weeks, I can relax a little. If he was born today, he may still need to be in the NICU, but with each day that passes the chances are getting greater and greater that he just may need a few days in the special care nursery and even better yet, come home with us. Five weeks of bed rest done... only 3 more to go!

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I received the best phone call last evening from the OB I saw on Thursday. She called with the results of my blood work and 24 hour urine collection!! Drum roll, please.... it was all NORMAL! PRAISE GOD!! I meet with Dr. Harms tomorrow after my ultrasound and we'll see what he's going to do with me. I'm hoping and praying that my amniotic fluid index is is the acceptable range and that my blood pressure cooperates. My mom is planning on going to the appointment with me for support and to calm my nerves.

Today I'm 33 weeks and 4 days... and my goal is 37 weeks (January 2nd)! I'm just so, so close... But, with that being said, I'm trying to mentally and physically prepare myself for Dr. Harms to say "let's cash in our chips," "we're done," or "let's have a baby today."

So... I started packing my hospital bag today... I have to add a few more things, but I've got my list all set to go. My dear friend, Jen was so thoughtful and bought me a "BIRTH DAY" bag a couple weeks ago filled with all sorts of goodies to help make labor a little more enjoyable... a journal, a CD of relaxing music, chocolate, NERDS for Steve, chapstick, lotion, tic tacs, slipper socks, tea, and coffee. She's the best! And my old college roommate and friend, Meredith (who completely understands the challenges of bed rest having experienced it herself), sent me a few essential things to help the whole nursing process along. So, I've got those things in my bag ready to go too.

The nursery hasn't been started, but little Wes will be spending a couple of months with us in the bassinet in our bedroom, so that's okay if he's here and it's not quite done. All of his clothes are washed and put away and we've got diapers, wipes, and all my nursing supplies ready - so if he made his appearance early, we can make it work.

I also got "most" of my Christmas shopping done - just stocking stuffer gifts left - and all of the wrapping is done. We're not going to be doing Christmas cards this year - it will be a birth announcement instead! Steve and Amaya picked out a gorgeous Premium Frasier Fir tree yesterday -  our house smells incredible and the tree is very, very full! They plan to work on decorating it later this afternoon while I lay on the couch and "observe." It is truly going to be a test of my willpower to resist the temptation to help decorate... but it will be beautiful when they get it done. Plus, we got our first snowfall last night - not as much as I would like - but it's gorgeous nevertheless. So, it's beginning to feel like Christmas after all.

While we're preparing for the birth of our SON (it's still hasn't quite sunk in)... I've been thinking a lot about Mary and how she prepared for the birth of her SON... what it must have felt like for a virgin to be carrying the SAVIOR! With each kick and flutter... she was reminded that she was Jesus' mother! Unreal... As much as I feel anxious and uncertain, I can't even begin to imagine what was going through Mary's mind and heart at the time... but somehow, I see her as having much more peace... And that's what I hope to have these next few days and weeks... I hope to have peace...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Down in the Dumps

Yesterday was a "down in the dumps," "woe is me" kinda day. I haven't been sleeping the greatest - call it pregnancy insomnia or too much on my mind - but whatever it is, I'm up for several hours in the middle of the night and can't fall back asleep. And with my 8-10 trips to the bathroom and 1-2 trips to the kitchen for a snack, sleep just doesn't happen like it used to. So starting the day off being exhausted really didn't help my mood.

While I'm thankful that my parents have been caring for Amaya so much during the week to allow me time to rest, I miss her TERRIBLY!! So, yesterday... I had things all planned out that we'd watch a couple of episodes of "19 Kids and Counting" snuggled in bed on my phone and then I had some winter craft projects planned. Do you realize how difficult it is to be able cut and glue things while laying down?!? Very frustrating, but our project turned out wonderful and I cherished the time I was able to spend with her while still following Dr. Harms orders.

One of my co-workers had stopped by Wednesday evening to bring a meal, visit, and deliver some Christmas cookies since I won't be able to bake this season... And she also brought a special project for me to work on. One of our nurses is retiring the beginning of January, and I was asked to address the invitations for her retirement party. I really enjoyed doing something different and feeling productive.. but I couldn't help but think about my dear friends at work and all that I was missing.

After I finished addressing the envelopes, Amaya and I had a "picnic" in our bed for lunch. She ended up having a meltdown because she wanted another bagel, but we didn't have anymore left. She stomped out of our bedroom and slammed her bedroom door. My heart just broke... poor girl... She's been so flexible, so sweet, so understanding, and so obedient... and on any other day, we would have just gone to the store to get some more. But with a mama on bed rest... there's just not much I could do to console her. Fortunately, Steve called at just the right time and was able to reason with her. I just felt so bad for her and so utterly helpless. I mean, for goodness sakes, it's just a bagel... but it just made me realize how difficult this must be for her when she doesn't quite understand.  It's been challenging to keep things "normal" for her, but we're trying.

Dad came to pick me up for my appointment in the afternoon. I was only having an ultrasound to check my amniotic fluid and a consultation with an OB. Steve needed to do a site visit at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center where one of his staff works, so he was able to swing by and go to my appointment with me. Unfortunately, my amniotic fluid dropped to 6.5cm - it was 7.1cm on Monday. I'm still in the acceptable range, but needless to say, I was discouraged. But little Wes was practicing his breathing great and we think he had another case of the hiccups! :-) My blood pressure was 130/100 - the diastolic was a little higher than we would have liked, but it's still stable. Since I was meeting with a different OB, she wanted to err on the side of caution and have me do a repeat 24 hour urine to check for protein and get blood work for all the "preeclampsia labs" (liver function, kidney function, etc.) What I appreciated most about this OB, is that she was very encouraging and told me I was doing a good job. It's EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I'm very frustrated that despite resting and drinking fluids, that I didn't have better numbers... but I was told, it's pretty much out of my control. She also said that there's a big difference between a 28 week old baby and a 33 week old baby and the fact that I've been able to go this long was something we should be celebrating. Once again, I'm reminded to celebrate each day that little Wes can grow. My next appointment is on Monday morning - we'll see what Dr. Harms wants to do with us then.

Today's a new day... I'm trying to keep my spirits up... my sister sent me an encouraging e-mail yesterday, so I'm reading that over and over today and my mother-in-law called to check up on me and shared some encouraging words. Yesterday was so difficult trying to push those negative thoughts aside, so today I read through the book of James a couple times - it's one of my favorite books of the Bible. It's a gentle reminder that God is continuing to shape me, mature my faith, and that everything will work together for the good - It's just that there are some days I just need to whine and complain every so often. :-)  Thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement - we feel very loved!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Low Amniotic Fluid

I always have mixed feelings on appointment days. Seventy five percent of me is nervous and anxious and the other twenty five percent of me is excited to get out of the house and interact with people!

Monday's appointment began with a urine collection (still negative for protein!) and then off to my non stress test. I didn't have anyone with me, because I was feeling pretty good - my fingers weren't swollen, I hadn't been having any headaches, but I did get on the scale and had gained 2 pounds since Wednesday, so there was a little bit of uncertainty whether my blood pressure would be down.

BUT... NO WORRIES! My highest blood pressure reading was 110/58!!!! What a relief and answer to prayer! Weston wasn't cooperating during the test very well, so the nurse buzzed him a little in the tush to get him excited and then his heart rate accelerated beautifully after that. This appointment was going GREAT!! And I got a little cocky and posted on Facebook how wonderful things went! The ultrasound portion - hmm... the sonographer said that everything looked good, but when I met with the OB (Dr. Harms was booked solid and couldn't squeeze me in), she said my amniotic fluid had dropped since Wednesday from about 13cm now down to 7.1cm. When I have the ultrasound done, they measure all the fluid in the four quadrants of the uterus and that's how they come up with the numbers.  And technically, according to the OB I saw - things STILL continue to look good and everyone is healthy... it's just that I'm not quite out of the danger zone (and may never be until this little guy is born). Anything below 5cm, and it's delivery time! Yikes!!!

Hmmm... I was so concerned about my blood pressure, but now I have to worry about my amniotic fluid? I thought things were going so well....

Here's what Dr. Harms has to say about low amniotic fluid off the Mayo Clinic website:

"Amniotic fluid provides a cushion that protects the baby and allows room for growth, movement, and development. It also keeps the umbilical cord from being compressed between the baby and the uterine wall. In addition, the amount of amniotic fluid reflects the baby's urine output - which is an important measurement of a baby's well being."

And what's even more frustrating is that there's not a whole lot I can do. She recommended that I hydrate, hydrate, hydrate and eat plenty of fresh fruit. I'm not sure what the fresh fruit has anything to do with it, but from the limited searching I've done on the internet, it sounds like rest and hydration MAY help.

So what made my fluid levels drop? Most likely, just the high blood pressure... even though I'm on a medication and it's been regulating my blood pressure well... the medication masks other symptoms... So while my blood pressure is terrific, there are still other things could be brewing that may cause me and little Weston harm. But, that's why I'm going in twice a week - continuing with close observation and it's a huge relief to be cared for at the Mayo Clinic.

The OB wanted me to meet with the OB anesthesiologist to evaluate me, discuss options, and prepare me for the worst case scenario. I was massively impressed with the anesthesiologist and he didn't mind my endless questions. I'd rather be prepared for the worst and pray for the best.

Regardless of what happens, I have more reassurance that God is in control and I have more peace of mind. I could literally drive myself crazy thinking through every scenario, but at the end... regardless of what happens... God will never leave me or forsake me.

With all that being said... you can continue to pray for my blood pressure to remain low and my amniotic fluid to GO HIGH! :-)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Still Pregnant

On Wednesday, I hit the critical 32 week mark which is a HUGE sigh of relief and answer to prayer! My blood pressure behaved itself during my appointment... 122/74 - 141/80... so we know the blood pressure medication is working. Weston is doing great - it took the nurse about an hour during the non stress test to get enough accelerations of his heartbeat, but Dr. Harms reassured us that he's looking good. My fluid levels look good and Weston is head down already, so we didn't get to see his little face. And I'm not spilling any protein in my urine so everything (for now) is going great...

I asked if my blood pressure remained stable if he would consider letting me go back to work... I got a big old NEGATIVE on that one. I guess last week scared him enough that he just wants me to continue on bed rest and be a couch potato. I've been on bed rest for 3 weeks already - I can certainly handle 5 more, right?!?

Dr. Harms still wants me coming in twice a week for the non stress test, ultrasounds, and urine collections despite being on a blood pressure medication. He doesn't want the medication to mask any other symptoms, so he wants to keep close tabs on the two of us. I was hoping to go down to once a week visits only because the appointments are between 2-3 hours depending on how Weston behaves and I get pretty tired... But, if this is what it takes to keep him growing and developing than we're all for it!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday

Christmas shopping is done... for the most part... just have to get a few little stocking stuffers for Miss Amaya and Steve-O and wrap everything... but it's done. What else am I supposed to do on bed rest? Several clicks of the mouse, a 20 minute phone call with a very pleasant customer service representative, a few e-mails back and forth and ta-da! Everything arrives on the doorstep in 3-5 business days. It's a little anti-climatic

On the one hand, it's wonderful to be able to sit at the computer in my robe, drinking coffee and shop away with Christmas music on Pandora... but on the other hand, I really do enjoy getting out in the hustle bustle of the crowds... but on the other, other hand... I don't miss being out in the freezing cold!

Happy Cyber Monday - there are some good deals out there!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hospital Visit

After a great appointment last Friday, I was hoping and praying that this would be the new trend and that both Weston and I would sail through our appointment on Tuesday. I invited my mother-in-law, Ruth Ann to the appointment because I thought it would be awesome for her to see her grandson and all his cuteness on the ultrasound. And God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that I needed her with me and that I needed my parents to be available at home.

Since Weston was a little stinker on Friday, I assumed he would behave the same on Tuesday. Surprisingly enough, he cooperated and stayed put, but his heart rate wasn't accelerating as much with activity. He was such a show off on Friday that they bumped up his requirements - now he needed to get his heart rate up 15 beats above his baseline for 15 seconds and we needed him to do this at least 2-3 times in a 20-40 minute period of time. The nurse was phenomenal and even tried a little Chris Brown music to jazz him up a little, but even LMAFO's "Party Rockin' in the House Tonight" just barely squeaked out 10 beats above his baseline for 10 seconds. He was still quite active and passed the non stress test just fine, but he just didn't perform as well as on Friday. And neither did my blood pressure... The nurse checked it several times and it was alarming... it was such a blur... but it was well over what I had ever anticipated... Ruth Ann's memory is probably better than mine, but I thought one reading was 166/122? And I think the lowest was maybe 147/110? Anyway, regards of the numbers... it was TOO HIGH! Grrr.... Now what?

We then headed over to check the amount of amniotic fluid via ultrasound. The sonographer was again wonderful and Ruth Ann got to see our little guy's profile, hands, and cute little toes. I love seeing this precious gift from God! My fluid levels were just fine and in fact rose just a smidgen from Friday which means that he's getting all the nutrition he needs.

The nurses collected a urine sample to check for protein (an indicator of preeclampsia) and fortunately, that continues to remain negative. A different nurse checked my blood pressure manually, and it was still in the 150s/100s. These appointments generally make me nervous only because I feel like a ticking time bomb... at any point, Dr. Harms could say, "Let's just cash in our chips."

When we had first talked about pregnancy induced hypertension two weeks ago, he was reluctant to start me on any type of blood pressure medication because the high blood pressure is a result of the pregnancy - and the only cure is delivery. Another concern is that if they did put me on medication - my blood pressure would most likely be around my baseline, but might mask some other symptoms of preeclampsia resulting in even further complications. I do recall him saying that he didn't like anything getting around 160/110 and that if Weston's health or my health was at risk, we'd need to change things up. So when Dr. Harms visited with us he said Weston looked healthy, but my health was at risk... and when words like "stroke" "seizures" and "organ failure" came out of his mouth, we knew that I was not about to "Pass Go and Collect 200 dollars." I was getting sent to "Jail." There would be no opportunity for me to run home and grab some toiletries - they were whisking me away immediately.

Little Amaya was on my mind because she was spending time with her cousins visiting from Colorado for Thanksgiving and knowing that I'd be stuck in a hospital bed for who knows how long, I was concerned about where she was going to go, who would pick her up, care for her, etc. So having my parents (who know her routines, etc.) at home was a huge answer to prayer. I didn't need to worry about her after all... and this little girl is so resilient and flexible - she's an absolute blessing. And having Ruth Ann with me to support, encourage, cry, and laugh with me was a tremendous gift.

They wheeled me over to triage just down the hall and got Weston hooked up on the monitor and got a few blood pressure readings - still high of course. I met with a mid-wife and the team agreed that I should be observed for at least 24 hours and that I would be admitted over to Labor and Delivery. LABOR AND DELIVERY?!?!? I'M NOT READY TO HAVE THIS GUY!!! The only reason I was being admitted there instead of the antepartum unit was because they were going to give me a medication to reduce my blood pressure through an IV and I needed to be on a cardiac monitor and Weston needed to be monitored closely as well during the administration. Plus, if my blood pressure didn't respond... or if I had any indications of severe preeclampsia... I would be set to deliver if need be.

My nurse was incredible - very attentive and CALM. Guess that's what you want from a Labor and Delivery nurse, huh? Anyway, she got me started on another 24 hour urine collection, had anesthesia get an IV in, blood work taken (OUCH!), seizure pads on my bed, hooked up to the cardiac monitor, and hooked little Weston to his monitor and gave me my first (and ONLY - PRAISE GOD) dose of IV Labetalol to try to bring my blood pressure down. My blood pressure was checked every 15 minutes for an hour or two - I even have the bruises to prove it - and then once it was stabilized (around 130s/80s) it was only checked every hour. Steve and Ruth Ann had a little lunch and we watched the movie "Finding Nemo." I met with about 10 different doctors - from Labor and Delivery, anesthesia, and high risk OB. Basically, it was a waiting game - wait to see if my blood pressure would stabilize with just one dose of Labetalol and then transition me to oral medication - wait for my blood results (platelets, liver function, and kidney function) - wait for the results of my 24 hour urine... I was also on the agenda to receive a steroid injection in the tush to help little Weston's lungs mature faster so that if he were born in the next 1-2 weeks, he'd have a better chance of breathing better.

Around dinner time, they gave me my first dose of ORAL Labetalol with hopes that this would continue to stabilize my blood pressure over night and I could continue taking it at home. My blood pressure really plummeted to 105/57. The nurse hooked Weston back up to make sure he was tolerating the decrease in the blood pressure, and he was very happy with not a care in the world. This little man is AMAZING! Nothing has really phased him yet and I hope that's going to be the trend!

They transitioned me over to the antepartum unit around 8pm since both Weston and I were stabilized and not requiring any more monitoring. My blood pressure would continue to be checked, but not nearly at the intense level as it was in Labor and Delivery. And I still enjoyed my nurses over there - in fact my overnight nurse was the mom of a colleague I used to work with in Dermatology - but the amount and level of care I received in antepartum was much, much different.

Amaya slept over at my parents and Steve kept me company in the hospital. We didn't sleep the greatest - maybe got about 3-4 hours of interrupted sleep. The steroid injection made me feel pretty wired and hyper so it was difficult to get much rest.

Wednesday morning, Steve went home to shower and eat breakfast and run a few errands before I was scheduled for my ultrasound. My blood pressure remained in the 130s/80s overnight and into the morning - still not at baseline, but at least out of the danger zone. Then the nursing assistant came to take me down for the ultrasound. Unfortunately, Steve wasn't back yet, but he managed to find me to see most of the ultrasound. They measured the amniotic fluid and that was continuing to look good. She checked out his heart, lungs, abdomen, head, feet, hands, and his "special parts." - Still a BOY! (Not that there was ever a question, but it's still reassuring!) The sonographer working with us was in training and was having a difficult time trying to get Weston to practice his breathing. She jiggled him and shook him, but he was just being stubborn. Her preceptor came in and eventually got a couple of snapshots of him breathing, but this kiddo was very close to flunking the test. She passed him because she got the results she needed - it just took a little longer than normal. The great news is that he is growing and weighs 3 pounds, 15oz (nearly 4 pounds!) He's on the chunkier end of the scale, so that was a HUGE relief!! He is our strong boy!

The remainder of the day was uneventful... my 24 hour urine collection wrapped up at noon... and all I was waiting for was one more steroid injection in the tush... a prescription for Labetalol... and dismissal! I always forget that it takes forever to get dismissed... we ended up leaving a little after 4pm. But, I was glad it took a little longer because the results of my urine came back and it was NORMAL! No PREECLAMPSIA!

So... the plan is... take my blood pressure pill twice a day... rest, rest, rest... monitor myself for any signs of preeclampsia... see Dr. Harms on Wednesday for another non stress test, ultrasound, and consultation. I will be 32 weeks on Wednesday and that was the first goal Dr. Harms told me to strive for - get to 32 weeks! So, hopefully nothing exciting happens in the next few days.

Thank you for all your prayers, encouragement, support - we feel very loved. We have so much to be thankful for. I miss all of you so much and it gets lonely during the day, so I appreciate the e-mails, texts, cards, and phone calls.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Our little guy passed his tests on Friday with flying colors and even better - I passed too!!! We started off with a non stress test, and Weston was a TROUBLEMAKER! The non stress test measures his activity and heart rate for 20 minutes to make sure he's getting enough oxygen and in order to get accurate results, this guy needs to stay put so the nurse can monitor him. Weston was very active and REFUSED to lay still making it nearly impossible for the nurse to track his heartbeat. And it didn't help that he had a major case of the hiccups! Every time he hiccupped, he moved! After two nurses chased him for nearly an hour, they had enough "footage" of his heartbeat and activity levels and said he was VERY HEALTHY!!! The nurses also monitor my blood pressure during the non stress test and the first reading was 126/74. I asked the nurse if she was sure the reading was accurate... and IT WAS! They did a total of four blood pressure checks and the lowest reading was 115/70 and the highest was 129/76! HUGE ANSWER TO PRAYER!!!

Then I had my ultrasound and it was perfect. They are monitoring the level of amniotic fluid because it can be an indicator that Weston isn't getting enough nutrition and fluid.
The fluid levels had actually increased from my appointment on Tuesday - so everything is right on track and he is getting everything he needs to grow and develop.

I met with a different OB for my consultation and he reviewed all my bloodwork, urine tests, non stress test, and ultrasound and Weston and I both got a great bill of health! So, I continue on bedrest and twice weekly appointments. My next appointment is on Tuesday and I hope that everything continues to remain stable. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for our family!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bed Rest and Other Updates

I apologize for not getting updates out sooner, but this time I have a REALLY good excuse. No, we're not busy... I'm on bed rest!! God certainly threw me a curve ball with this little bundle of joy. Up until this point, my pregnancy had been relatively boring - although with the exception of some eye issues and shingles - but little Weston was doing great! Fortunately, he is still doing wonderful, but mama's blood pressure is still high.

My mom went with me to meet with Dr. Harms after my episode in OB Triage. I am so GRATEFUL that my mom has been able to go to these appointments with me to support me and ask questions that I haven't thought about. And while I was expecting him to tell me to take it easy and potentially cut back my hours at work, he pulled me off work completely and on bed rest for the majority of the day. Needless to say, it was quite a shock. Plus, I now have a standing date with him twice a week to monitor little Weston and my blood pressure. Don't get me wrong, I love Dr. Harms, but I really don't want to be seeing him that often.

After being on bed rest for about a week, the shock and the seriousness have settled in. Bed rest sounds glamorous and like an extended vacation... but it's not all it's cracked up to be. I absolutely love my job, my co-workers, and my patients and to be apart from them is very difficult. And it's very discouraging because I've been working on a major project for a good part of the year and was planning on presenting it in front of the entire Mayo Nursing Council at the end of November. My other team members will have to pick up the slack, but I'm disappointed not to see it to the end.

I've also needed to put Dave Ramsey leadership on hold, Choir, church, volunteering in the church office, volunteering at preschool, play dates, meeting with friends, and helping out our dear friend Nancy with transportation to her medical appointments (On a positive note - her tumors are shrinking - PRAISE GOD!) And with the holidays coming up, it's easy to focus on the things I'll be missing... our tradition of going to Festival of Trees, Black Friday shopping, Christmas concerts, decorating our tree, shopping for Christmas presents, playing in the snow, BAKING... oye... Just thinking about the confinement of being in bed can make a person go crazy...

BUT! Dropping everything - saying no - learning to ask for help - this bed rest stuff has ended up being a BLESSING! Perhaps I was too busy... doing too much... relying too much on my own strength... not focusing on the important things... Since being on bed rest, I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from my family, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and church family. It's hard accepting help... but since I can't do much of anything... that burden falls on Steve. And my dear husband, has been AMAZING and has done everything around here - laundry, cleaning, preparing meals, dishes, grocery shopping, taking Amaya shopping for boots, etc.... And he's done this without a complaint. I know that by accepting a meal or two - it's one less thing off his plate... one less thing for him to worry about... And so, a wonderful neighbor-friend-church member (all rolled into one amazing person!!) has been organizing meals for us until the end of December! What a tremendous blessing! And Amaya is getting the love and attention she needs from lots of family too! But most importantly, I'm getting the rest that Weston and I both need. We have so much to be thankful for and what an appropriate time to experience that thankfulness around Thanksgiving.

What I'm most thankful for is the precious time spent with God. I can read and study my Bible without any interruptions. I can get through a long prayer list without any distractions. (So send me an e-mail if I can be praying for you!) Plus, I get precious time with Weston. With each little kick or flutter, he reminds me that right now - for this short period of time - that HE'S my PRIORITY. And this little boy has absolutely captured my heart. I would sacrifice everything for my family and Weston is no different... I may be missing out on activities, but it's all worth giving up in a heartbeat for this sweet little boy to be healthy.

On to updates! My appointment yesterday included a non stress test to measure Weston's movements and to make sure his heart rate was accelerating with movement and returning to baseline with rest. He performed beautiful for the nurse and after 20 minutes of monitoring - she said, "He's very active!" I already knew that WITHOUT the monitor! :-) During the non stress test, the nurse also monitored my blood pressure... I'm still running in the 150s/90-100 range... very disappointing, but there's not a whole lot more I can do about that. Then we were off for a very quick ultrasound to measure the amount of amniotic fluid - and it was perfect! Yay! And a much added bonus, my mom got to see little Weston's beautiful profile and "Gustafson nose". Like I said before, this little charmer has captured my heart already! I had more urine collected - still negative for protein (if it was positive for protein - it's a sign of preeclampsia). After all my tests, we had a consultation with Dr. Harms. He was very pleased that Weston was HEALTHY (PRAISE GOD!) but disappointed my blood pressure hadn't really budged. The good news is that as long as Weston's health and my health aren't at risk, we can continue with the plan and remain on bedrest with twice weekly non stress tests and ultrasounds until I reach 37 weeks and then it's delivery time! That's right... no January 23rd baby... he's most likely going to be a New Year's baby if we can hold out that long. Since I'm only 30 weeks along... he has a lot more growing and developing to do. Survival rate is good if he had to be delivered now- but a long ICU stay would be unavoidable. So, for now... I praise God for each additional day of bed rest and rejoice with every one of Weston's kicks! Next appointment is on Friday afternoon.

Thank you for the prayers, support, encouragement for our sweet little boy!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

OB Triage Visit

Yesterday, we had a little bit of excitement (and not the good kind). I woke up with a headache - I get headaches a lot so this was nothing really out of the ordinary - but this time my headache didn't go away with Tylenol. It was a busy morning at work - which is also nothing out of the ordinary - but I still wasn't feeling very good. I took more Tylenol in the afternoon, and right before I left work, I had one of my co-workers check my blood pressure.... 152/98! My norm is 110-120/70-80.

Dad picked me up from work, I texted Steve, and off we went to spend our Friday night at Methodist Hospital in the OB Triage Unit. My initial blood pressure was 155/104, but after several hours it did get back down to 126/80. The nurse had my hooked up to monitor to check out little Weston - and he was doing just fine - Praise God!! They took some bloodwork and a urine sample - everything came back normal. Today I'm doing a 24 hour urine collection for them to process and see if there is any protein in the urine. Basically, they are checking to see if I have preeclampsia, but with normal lab results this far, it's unlikely at this point.

We left a little after 4 hours of monitoring... there was an emergency C-section just shortly after I came in... and those little babes come first... but Steve and I got a little alone time and had dinner and watched a movie. What an awesome date night! (NOT!) Anyway, most likely, I have pregnancy induced hypertension that will go away when little Weston is born, but the jury is still out until I meet with Dr. Harms on Wednesday. (I had high blood pressure towards the end of my pregnancy with Amaya, and was induced at 38 weeks - but I'm only 28 weeks now! Weston has a lot longer to cook!) The OB residents I saw were just fine, but we left with a lot of questions - what caused my blood pressure to spike? what can I do to keep it down? when do I need to come in - every time I have a headache unrelieved with Tylenol? what does this mean for the rest of my pregnancy? Grr... We hope to have more answers on Wednesday... until then... I'm resting, drinking lots of fluids, and trying to keep my stress level low...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


When Amaya was just a few days old, Steve and I bundled her up for her very first outing to Wal-Mart. I was going stir crazy in the house, and even though it was very cold, windy, and snowing, I needed to get out! We bought a few groceries and the check out lady reprimanded me for bringing a newborn baby out in the cold, yet still oohed and ahhed over our precious little girl. Once I told her I was going crazy inside, she completely understood. Ever since then, on our weekly grocery trips, we always check out with her - our Nancy.

It's amazing how God brings people into your life. You may not know the reason or the purpose. But I honestly believe that God brought Nancy into our lives for a reason. For nearly 5 years, she has watched Amaya grow, spoil her tremendously with Christmas and birthday gifts, supported us through many surgeries, hospitalizations, and now my pregnancy. Nancy is much more than just our check out lady, she's become a part of our family.

About a month ago on a regular grocery run, Nancy pulled me aside and told me that she was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. For the last several weeks, she's had multiple appointments at the clinic to evaluate the extent of the disease. Unfortunately, she has the most aggressive form of lung cancer and it's most common among smokers. There is a 3x3cm mass in her right lung and one smaller mass in her left and surgery is not an option, nor will it ever be. However, we can be thankful that the cancer hasn't spread. She met with her oncologist today and the prognosis isn't good - she has about 15-20 months and that includes treatment with chemotherapy and radiation. If she chose not to treat the cancer, her oncologist said that he would be surprised if she made it through Christmas. Our Nancy is very stubborn and very determined and today she told me, "I've got a little baby boy that I have to meet in January, so I'm going to fight with all I've got!" Her first chemotherapy treatment was today and she said it went okay, but within a few short weeks, she'll lose all her hair. She and her daughter, Angie, were going wig shopping this afternoon and it wouldn't surprise me if our blond Nancy decided to be a redhead! :-)

My heart aches for both Nancy and Angie and I ask for your prayers for the two of them. They know that we go to church regularly and they've asked me to pray for them, but I honestly can't say that I know where either of them stand with Jesus. Angie's son attended our church's summer camp and had a blast, so I know he's been exposed to Christianity... but as far as Nancy and Angie go... who knows? I have to believe that God placed them in our lives for some purpose... whether it's merely to support them and walk with them through cancer, or lead them to Christ... I just don't know. I'm scared for them... Angie is only 41 and I can't imagine what she must be thinking and feeling to have less than 2 years with her mom... I just can't imagine... and I can't imagine what Nancy must be going through knowing that her time here on earth is limited...

Here's how you can be praying boldly for Nancy and Angie:

1) Nancy - prayers for ultimate healing - I'm asking for a miracle here - that she would be able to tolerate the chemo and radiation without difficulty. Prayers that she would maintain her fighting spirit. Prayers for her finances - she's already been behind on mortgage payments - so the medical bills are going to be overwhelming for her. Allow others to take care of her. Come to know Christ as her Savior.

2) Angie - prayers for STRENGTH as she helps her mom (she's already very weary and needing rest) - to be able to get the time off from work (she also works at Wal-Mart) to take her mom to appointments. Allow others to take care of her. Come to know Christ as her Savior.

3) Steve, Jan, and Amaya - that we may support and encouragement their family in whatever way we can (physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually) and that we may walk boldly in our faith and share the hope and love with Christ with them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dave Ramsey Madness

We're kicking it into high gear in budgeting, paying down debt, and saving - especially since we're one of the small group leader's for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University held at our church. Leading has been a tremendous blessing to both Steve and myself. What I appreciate most about Steve is his willingness to serve, but also I get to see a lot of his counseling skills in action. He has a way of facilitating the discussion without taking over the entire class.

This year, we're trying things a little different and just within the last six weeks, we've noticed a tremendous difference. After creating our budget, we knock off 10% right away for our tithe. I'm not 100% convinced to sign up for automatic withdrawal from our checking account at this time, because I want to experience the "feelings" of writing out a check and putting it in the offering plate. Last year, when we did FPU, it was much too easy to give God the "leftovers" of our budget which wasn't very much. I hope that one day we'll be able to give above and beyond to our church, missions, and anyone who needs a little help. But for now... it's a start!

Most of our budget categories and bills are automatically withdrawn from our checking account, but for those things like our "blow money" (the money that Steve and I have to spend on whatever with no questions asked), family entertainment money, gifts, clothes, and groceries, I decided to go ALL CASH! It's very scary and I definitely "FEEL" the pain of watching our money dwindle down. However, I must say, it's been one of the best changes we've made. I'm more cautious about what I spend our money on and I budget a little better when we go to the grocery store. I've never been a fan of the envelope system, but now after nearly a month of using it, I'm sold! Once the money is gone - it's gone - and we haven't starved yet! :-)

When we found out we were expecting a little boy, Steve and my mom helped me do a big garage sale to get rid of a lot of Amaya's things that Weston wouldn't be able to use. We don't really have a lot of wiggle room in our budget to decorate his room, buy clothes, and buy diapers... so we've been using the money that we made from the garage sale to purchase some of these things. I brought a bunch of stuff to kid's thrift stores, and was able to get a little money, but then I discovered a couple of sites on Facebook to buy and sell things in Rochester. At first, I just bought a few things from people just to get a feel for how things work. Then I tried selling a few things with very little expectations. A month later... I've sold over 135 dollars worth of leftover garage sale things, clothes Amaya has very recently grown out of, and stuff around the house that we just don't need. The only downside of selling and meeting people on facebook is that I'm running all over and praying that someone doesn't "no show." Fortunately, I've had great success and everybody comes and most everyone is either early or on time. One of Dave Ramsey's mottos is, "Sell so much stuff that the kids think they are next!" I don't think we're at that point, but it's amazing how much a person accumulates. It's a little embarrassing to have so much stuff that we don't even use! It makes me want to sell everything and SIMPLIFY!! (I'll admit... there's a part of me that wants to go live with the Amish.) :-)

Monday, October 15, 2012

99 Days and Counting...

We're in the double digits - I hope! Every time I feel Weston kick, I get more and more excited to meet this little guy. I've never been a patient person, so why start now? I just want him in my arms now!

I had an appointment on Friday and Weston is right on track - weighing in at about 2 pounds, 9 inches long - about the size of an eggplant. My blood pressure is doing well this go around as well as my weight - down a pound from my pre-pregnancy weight and down 3 pounds since my appointment in August. I'm hungry all the time - craving lots of milk and apple crisp right now! And I was reassured, that as long as Weston is growing it's just fine for me to maintain my weight. 

My next appointment is in 2 weeks for the glucose tolerance test. I passed just fine with Amaya, so I'm not too concerned about it. Then I'll see my OB in another 2 weeks after that. Time seems to be going a little faster now as the appointments become closer and closer together.

My shingles have essentially resolved and the pain is nearly gone. Every so often I get a twinge of feeling uncomfortable, but nothing that requires medication. Thank you again to everyone for praying. 

Monday, October 1, 2012


It's been a very busy month... Amaya started school and AWANA... Steve started a new job at ABC as a supervisor and is co-leading Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University with me... and I started choir and had a garage sale... Steve's 98 year old Grandpa passed away... and I am recovering from shingles!

Many prayers have been lifted up for me this past week and a half, but I would certainly appreciate more - specifically for pain control. I missed two days of work due to the pain... and unfortunately the pain medication that was prescribed, didn't like my stomach so much. I'm feeling significantly better than last week, but I just wish I could get a little relief from the pain - all I'm asking is for a few hours without the nerve pain - is that too much to ask? And please, if you are over the age of 60 please get the shingles vaccine!! I wouldn't wish this pain on my worst enemy!

Little Weston is just fine... the nurse practitioner who diagnosed me made sure that the medications were safe for him and the shingles itself, won't harm him either. He's kicking away happily - we are at the 6 month mark - with only 113 days left (that is if I make it to my due date - I'm thinking of bribing my OB with some caramel brownies to make sure I don't go past my due date!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Weston Paul

For those of you who haven't heard on facebook, received an e-mail, or phone call - it's official - we are having a BOY!! It's beginning to settle in a little, although I still have the occasional thought of disbelief, but for the most part, I'm thrilled for this little boy!

I'm always impressed and in awe of the ultrasound technicians and it's amazing how they can find all the chambers of the heart, the spinal cord, etc. I'm even more in awe of God's hand in creating this little miracle! All I am is the temporary house for this baby, and God is working overtime to create each little finger, each little eyelash, each little curve of his body. It's a miracle!

All along, I suspected that I might be carrying a baby boy only because this pregnancy has been very different than when I carried Amaya. Most of my co-workers, friends, and family thought I was having a boy too, so it really shouldn't have been a surprise when the ultrasound technician announced it was a boy. Yet it did. Having another girl would have been easy - we already have everything we need - we even had several options for names, but a boy - we have nothing! Names are impossible! However,  Amaya is Daddy's little girl... so wouldn't it be wonderful to have my own little buddy?

Boys names are so tricky... we wanted something a little different, but not too different. A few years ago, we heard the name Weston, but at the time - having another baby wasn't on the radar. I remembered the name a few weeks ago, but we weren't quite sold on it yet because we wanted to hold out until we knew what we were having. Later, that day after our ultrasound, we talked about the name and both agreed that this little boy was going to be called Weston. A little better than Herbert, don't you think? The middle name was a no-brainer - my dad's name is Paul, Steve, my brother, brother-in-law, and nephew share Paul as their middle name - and our brother-in-law in Colorado name is Paul!

The last few days, I've been busy going through Amaya's clothes, dropping stuff off at Once Upon a Child, marking the rest for a garage sale this weekend, and setting aside things to give to friends. I'm shocked and a little embarrassed with how much I've accumulated! Fortunately, most everything we've purchased for her had been on sale or clearance, yet still... I have 13 bins of clothes! I'm hoping to be a little more minimalistic with Weston, but we'll see... there are some pretty cute stuff out there!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Office Angels

Growing up, I have fond memories of working beside my mom in the church office.  So when an opportunity came up at our church several months ago to be an "Office Angel"  I volunteered right away! An Office Angel helps out in the church office, stuffing envelopes, putting bulletins together, and making postcards. Amaya and I are heading over to church this afternoon and I think we're going to be making postcards. There won't be whole lot for Amaya to do since we use an industrial paper cutter, but she's still excited. Her favorite thing to do is putting the bulletins together. We have a race to see who can get the biggest stack of bulletins and she always wins!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

18 Weeks

Nothing too exciting to report this week.... the baby is now about 6 inches long, weighs about 8 ounces and about the size of a large mango. On our weekly trips to the grocery store, we've been showing Amaya how big the baby is and she's learned a lot about each different kind of fruit.

We're just so excited to find out the gender. I'm ready for Steve to start painting the room... anxious to start decorating... thrilled to go shopping... start picking out names... Glad we only have to wait a little less than a week...

Boating on Lake Pepin

One of the things on Amaya's "To Do" List for the summer, was to ride on Grandma and Grandpa Horning's new boat. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to soak up some sun, have the wind whip through our hair, and spend some time together. It was a beautiful day on Lake Pepin in Lake City - a little on the hot side - but gorgeous nevertheless.

We arrived in Lake City around lunchtime, so we enjoyed a wonderful meal at the Chickadee Cottage!

Our little movie star...



We were all massively impressed with the new boat - lots of room, comfortable, and it was a very smooth ride. And I'm always surprised at how quickly Steve and his dad can get the boat in the water - they make an awesome team!

Steve and his dad checking out all the features.

Grandma and Amaya

Enjoying her own seat in the back of the boat.

We were out in the water for about an hour... the heat was getting a little intense, so I was glad with Steve's mom suggested we turn around and head back. Steve's dad tested the boat's speed and got us back to the dock in no time. I think we hit 44 mph.... it doesn't seem very fast... but I hung on pretty tight while trying to get a few snapshots of Amaya.


 After getting back to dry land, I guzzled a couple bottles of water and we headed off to Dairy Queen for a little ice cream! A great way to end a wonderful day on the lake!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Independence Day

We packed a lot into our schedule on the 4th of July, but it was an awesome day! First, Amaya and I met my mom and cousin, Sonja at Panera for breakfast to celebrate her birthday. Panera is one of Amaya's favorite restaurants, although she wanted Mac n Cheese for breakfast! Silly girl...She settled on a gigantic cinnamon roll and while it was good - my mom's are still far superior!

After breakfast, Steve, Amaya, and I took a little road trip to Lark Toys in Wabasha. Amaya rode the carousel several times, bought a toy Volkswagen car, and had Superman ice cream!

When we got home, we headed over to Steve's grandparents house for supper along with his parents. We hadn't been over there in quite some time, so it was nice to spend some time with them. After a delicious dinner, Steve's parents had to go home and pack for their trip to Colorado. We were planning on walking down the street to Jefferson School to watch the fireworks, so we spent the remainder of the evening with Steve's grandparents. Steve and I played a couple games of pool - no contest there - Steve beat me massively. Then we helped Grandma put together a puzzle and made quite a bit of progress.

A few minutes before the fireworks began, we walked down the street and found a great spot on the boulevard to watch the fireworks. It's a great spot to get a good view and even better, we didn't have to fight any crowds. This was Amaya's first year seeing the fireworks and she was very excited! Last year, we had just started our vacation to Michigan and we watched the fireworks from our hotel window in Green Bay, WI.

 We oohed and aahed over the fireworks and I think by far, this was one of the best shows. Amaya was a little scared about the first couple of loud bangs, but quickly began oohing and aahing.


 Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Yesterday marked 17 weeks along in my pregnancy! The baby is now the size of a sweet potato - measuring 5 1/2 inches and weighs about 5 ounces. And what's even more exciting is that I started feeling the baby move!! I felt a few occasional twinges... but at night when I'm laying down... I really noticed the flips and kicks. With Amaya, she was much more active at night when I was trying to fall asleep. And later in my pregnancy with her, she'd kick so hard it would wake me up at night! So... here we go again!

I've been feeling much better and not quite as exhausted. The heartburn is still horrible... I may have to start taking some Pepcid since I'm at the maximum dose with TUMS. One of my co-workers told me to take a swig of baking soda mixed with a little bit of water, but I just couldn't do it because it tasted so bad - I'd rather have the heartburn.

My clothes are definitely at their max even though I've gained less than a pound. I've bought a few maternity clothes, but I'm very hesitant to buy too much. And with fall approaching, I'm hoping I can hang on a little more with the few summer maternity clothes I've bought. I needed to buy maternity scrubs online and I hope they come in the mail soon and I hope they work! One would think that in this medical community, that one of the scrub stores would carry maternity scrubs, but no one has them in their stores! At least I can find maternity scrubs online. With Amaya, I couldn't find them anywhere, so I bought a size bigger and Mom had to alter them a little.

Our appointment for our anatomy ultrasound is in a little less than 2 weeks. I can hardly wait to see the baby again and we hope to find out what we're having. I'd like to start planning the nursery and buy some clothes if we need to and try to figure out a name... We're up for any suggestions, so send them our way!!

Eye Issues

Since late spring, I was having quite a bit of difficulty with my eyes. My left eye was pretty irritated and my contacts were beginning to be very uncomfortable. I procrastinated making an appointment, because I knew they would tell me that I wear my contacts too much and I would need to wear my glasses until my eyes healed.  I was due to have my yearly eye exam in June, so I was finally made an appointment.

Fortunately, there was no infection - just irritated - but they were unable to do a complete exam and dilate my eyes because of Baby Gatzke. And sure enough... I received my "sentence"... NO contacts for 6 WEEKS! For anyone that knows me well... I only wear my glasses when I'm sick. I thought maybe I could get away with a week or two without contacts... NOT 6 WEEKS!

Anyway... I survived... and even managed to find some super fashionable sunglasses (NOT) to wear over my glasses because I wasn't going to fork over a hundred dollars for prescription sunglasses. I returned last week for another check-up. My eye doctor still didn't want to do a full eye exam with Baby Gatzke on board, so he gave me the clearance to go back to my contacts although with a different type of contact solution and more complicated cleaning process. But the best news - I don't have to return for 2 years! My terrible vision has reached a plateau and my prescriptions over the last 3-4 years haven't changed and unless I have more problems - I'm in the clear!

I have more appreciation for my contacts now and instead of wearing my contacts from morning until bedtime - which sometimes can be 15 hours or more - I'm taking them out as soon as I get home from work! I don't want to have to go through that again!

Steve's 40th Birthday - June 25th

Steve's 40th Birthday came and went without a whole lot of excitement... but with a lot of fun! Steve will always be a kid at heart and it's a little hard for me to believe that he's forty.


We celebrated with my parents and brother and his family with presents first and cinnamon rolls for his cake!

 Since my parents had just been out west - they found a lot of cool western books for Steve and also an antique ammunition box.


My brother Mike has quite the sense of humor and since he's experienced 40 himself, he put together a little "Survival Kit" for Steve as he enters the next decade.

A bottle of energy pills....

... wrist supports....

... soothing oatmeal bath treatment...

 ... and Chest Rub... (my thoughts exactly, Miss Amaya!)

 Steve's special request for his "birthday cake" was my mom's cinnamon rolls! I think he may have started a trend because there are several members of our family that want these instead of cake for their birthday!

Happy 40th Birthday Steve! Love you!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mystery Cave

In nearly every one of my blog posts about our day trips this summer, I've mentioned how HOT it has been - and I typically like the heat - just 80 degree heat - not high 90s! Anyway, Steve suggested that since Amaya enjoyed Niagara Cave so much, we should check out Mystery Cave in Forestville State Park. 

We took the "scenic route" to Mystery Cave because one of the major roads leading to the cave was closed forcing GPS to take us in a round-a-bout way to get there on gravel roads. I don't think I've ever been to Forestville State Park before, but I'd like to go back to either camp or hike or both!

Since Amaya is now an "experienced spelunker" she brought her own flashlight with her to "lead the tour."

We were a little disappointed because we were in a much larger tour group than we were when we visited Niagara Cave. However, this tour was led by a park ranger who was quite knowledgeable about the State Park's history and the cave.

Mystery Cave is completely handicapped and stroller accessible, so our exploring was a little less challenging than Niagara Cave. We were still impressed with the formations.



This stalagmite and stalactite are about 50 years from becoming a column... maybe we'll go back when we're in our eighties to see if they've connected.

Our picture doesn't really do this lake any justice... it's called Turquoise Lake.

Overall, we enjoyed our time... but I think the next cave we "explore" will need to be a little more rustic. 

Miniature Golfing

One of the things I have enjoyed most about this summer is our relaxed and carefree schedule. I think our family is in for a shock when fall arrives and activities start up again. It's challenging to protect our schedule from becoming so overwhelming busy, but it's a high priority for Steve and myself to build margin in our lives. 

This summer, it's been difficult to be outside with the stifling heat, but on this gorgeous day, we invited Steve's parents to go miniature golfing with us. Little did we know, this was Lowell's first time miniature golfing - and he did a great job too!

 Amaya's technique has improved since last year too. She still gets a little frustrated and "helps" the ball into the hole, when she can't hit it right in, but she's getting there.



 A meeting of the minds... discussing the best way to angle the ball...

It was a difficult hole...

 I couldn't resist getting a picture of some flowers... this girl LOVES flowers!

 And I love my in-laws too! Thanks for the wonderful evening!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Choir Audition

Earlier this summer, there was a notice in our church bulletin asking for volunteers to audition for the church choir. On a typical service, we have a worship band with 4-5 singers, piano, guitars, drums, etc. But every quarter, both Steve and myself look forward to hearing the entire choir perform!

Growing up, I was in the children's choir and youth choir, and in college, I joined the Gospel Choir. And I played the violin for 4 years, so music has been a big part of my life. I love to sing - in the car, in the shower, cleaning, wherever and whenever. The problem is... I absolutely hate singing in front of anyone - with the exception of Amaya only because she thinks I'm the best singer in the world! :-) I've missed being a part of a choir and I felt God nudging my heart to audition.

My audition was on Wednesday evening, I was absolutely, positively TERRIFIED!! We have two music leaders and I would be auditioning in front of both of them. I was warned that I would have to do a little sight reading and some rhythm skills... but somehow that just made my anxiety level rise through the roof.

When I first got there, I was shown 20 different popular worship songs and was told to pick one to sing. Really? I have to pick a song on the spot? Which one would be the best for my voice? Which one did I know the best? I couldn't decide, so they picked, "Mighty to Save." - a song that I'm very familiar with and absolutely love.

First, Becky warmed me with with various scales to get a feel for my vocal range. She said, "You're definitely a soprano." Then she played four random notes together on the piano and I had to sing back each one. This was a little more challenging because the notes were so off the wall and at this point I was sweating profusely. And then... the sight reading... grrrr... I haven't looked at a sheet of music in over 14 years... I could find middle C... but oh boy... This was definitely NOT FUN! Finally, my performance of "Mighty to Save." I pretended I was in the car and belted out my best and was able to relax somewhat. I thought the worst was over, until the other worship leader, Don, took his crack at my vocal skills (or lack thereof). Now the rhythm part! I showed him I could clap and dance and sing at the same time and he was a little surprised and laughed pretty hard. When Becky and I had talked on the phone before the audition she said, "We need to make sure you can clap on 2 and 4 and move back and forth a little while singing." So... I showed Don my stuff! He meant a different kind of rhythm - singing difficult measures with rests in the middle, etc. Oh, well... at least he got a great laugh!

Finally, the audition was over. They told me earlier that they would call me the next day to let me know if I made the cut, so I was a little disappointed I'd have to wait. But as soon as I finished with the rhythm portion, Don said, "We don't need to call you tomorrow, we both agreed that you're in." To say I was little shocked would be an understatement. I know the level of talent that's within Christ Community, I'm just so excited to be a part of it!

Guess all that singing in the shower has paid off!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Minnesota Zoo

Because we have a Minnesota Zoo membership, we try to get up to their 3-4 times a year and it seems like when we were up there in the spring, there was a lot of construction and new projects happening. We took our chances to brave a Saturday there, but with a chance of rain, the crowds weren't too bad. 

I was anxious to try out our camera and get some close up shots of the animals and flowers.

We decided to do the outdoor trails first in case it decided to pour, and the bears were our top priority. And this bear just seemed to be waiting for us to say hello!


Amaya in the "Bear's Den."

It was a lazy day for the Wild Boar.

We got so excited when we spotted the tiger - he's usually so hard to find! 

And as you can tell from this picture... it's no wonder he's difficult to find.

The Takin

These little prairie dogs always make me laugh... one minute they're there.... the next minute they are gone!

We heard that the zoo was offering Camel Rides... and shortly after the prairie dogs... there they were.

How exciting for Steve and Amaya! (I wasn't sure about riding a camel with precious cargo on board... but we did see another pregnant lady ride one... another time... maybe...)

They made a small little loop... it looked like it was a bumpy ride!

All smiles! Amaya loved it!

The zoo had a new Dinosaur exhibit that we had to check out. The clouds were looking quite gray - black and we heard thunder, but took our chances. (I was a little disappointed that the Dinosaur exhibit was an extra admission fee... but I'm glad we saw it once.)

The sound effects were very realistic, and Amaya was a little scared - what kid wouldn't be? The dinosaur exhibits were mechanical and made scary noises and even some of them spit out water!

The exhibit was located in a part of the zoo that we've never seen before, so it was fun to walk through the woods a little more. I couldn't remember all of the dinosaur names, so I took pictures of the plaque beside each exhibit.

We made it through the entire Dinosaur exhibit with just  a few little sprinkles!

We finished up the Northern trail with hopes that the rain would hold off just a wee bit longer! The next thing we saw were the Dholes - a type of dog. And the mama Dhole just had pups!

The moose was out and about, but looking a little thin, don't you think?

Just as we headed inside... it began to pour! Thank goodness we finished all the outdoor trails!

We grabbed a quick snack and then decided to go on the Monorail. Then, we did the Tropics Trail.

No zoo experience would be complete if we didn't get a picture of Amaya on the turtle.

The monkeys were showing off quite a bit... caught this little guy just hanging around...

The Tapir...

They just finished remodeling this part of the trail and it looks a lot better...

The Red Panda...

 We got some incredible pictures of the mountain lion? Cougar? Puma? We can't remember now... but regardless - amazing!




And this Candian Lynx... he was getting ready for supper!

 We closed down the zoo and went to Perkin's for supper. We ended up sitting in a booth next to one of the Twin's Announcers! Great day - exhausting, but a lot of fun!