Saturday, December 24, 2016

Ho Ho Ho from the Hospital

On Monday night, my water only 26 weeks. But I didn't know that's what happened.  I thought I was having bladder control issues. I called my midwife and was informed that it's very, very difficult to break your water that early on in a pregnancy.  So I went to bed and throughout the next day, kept feeling like I was about to pee myself. Finally at about noon, I called the midwives back, left a message and at 3:00, I got a call back, requesting that I get my butt up to the hospital ASAP.  

I had two exams, one by the resident and then another by one of my midwives.  The two agreed that I needed to be further evaluated and off I went via ambulance to Portland, where I had yet ANOTHER exam that confirmed that I had, indeed, broken my water. And because my little man has no amniotic fluid to surround him, he is at high risk and therefore, I am on bed rest, hooked 24/7 to a fetal monitor when my fluid is low and allowed off for 4 hours at a time when my fluid levels are higher. It's a full rupture, meaning that I'm going NOWHERE.

So here I sit, waiting for Little Mr. Man to decide what his plan is.  Will he come early or will he stay put for the next 8 weeks, when the doctors will deliver him via c-section (because he's transverse breech)? It's completely his call.  I have no say in the matter, I'm just his mother! 

Since I'm not allowed to leave the hospital for Christmas, we had to make Christmas come to the hospital, by decorating my room; my husband brought all the presents I needed to wrap, along with my wrapping supplies down to me; he brought me construction paper to make paper garland and the kite paper I ordered from Bella Luna to make window stars. He ran from store to store, at the last minute, to find stockings and a table cloth for our little tree that my friend sent me. He has also made many trips home to pack things up for my stay, many trips to his parents to take care of our Miss Ripley (Mr. Ted Head is enjoying being the only dog at my folks house) and many trips to get me food. My husband is my rock and I am beyond grateful to have him here. There is no way I would be this calm about what's happening without him. We have an amazing support system, too, between family and friends always checking in and offering to help out! I am utterly thankful and blessed.

The little angel atop my tree.

And right now, I'm good, other than a head cold sweeping over me. I have no pain, no contractions, no bleeding.  Little Mr. Man has a strong heartbeat and is squirming like a wiggle worm. We're just sitting tight, taking it day by day and hoping that he stays put for as long as he can.

So from my family to yours, Happy Solstice, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas! May your days leading up to the new year be blessed and bright.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Better Than Sliced...

Christmas holds so many memories for me.  I always try to focus on the good ones, the ones that made this time of the year magical, in the hopes that I can recreate that magic every year.  

My mother was amazing at making the holidays fun – she worked hard at it!  Not only did she work full time (overtime during the holidays) in a retail store during my childhood, but she still found the time and energy to make cookies, fudge, needhams, Chex mix, pies and a full turkey dinner; decorating the house from floor to ceiling; dealing with three children who tested her patience repeatedly; hosting her crazy, fun-loving family (she’s the oldest of six) on Christmas Eve and often Christmas Day…and sometimes my Dad’s family, too (a family gifted at backhanded compliments, creating stress and amplifying tense moments - in other words, the complete opposite of my mother's family). Looking back, I don’t know how she did it. My Ma was a freakin’ rock! She’s still a rock, and pretty darn awesome (I may be a bit biased😋), but thankfully, she doesn’t have to deal with most of that stress anymore. 

Our Christmases have been much more low key since my Gram passed almost 13 years ago. As the grandchildren have grown and become parents themselves, getting everyone (53 people and counting) together for Christmas is just not in the cards. For many years, it was just my folks, my sister and brother-in-law, my nephew and niece, my brother and me. We lost my brother the week before Christmas three years ago and while that first year was the absolute hardest (like walking zombie, practically in a coma hardest), my family has rallied to make Christmas fun again. And our little family has grown by three since then, with the addition of my nephew’s girlfriend, my husband and Shorty.  Next year, we’ll be adding Brendan to the mix!

While Christmas is still tinged with the heartache of losing my brother, I don’t dwell on it (simply because it doesn’t get me anywhere but depressed). Instead, I look back to all the wonderful things – the stories and laughter that my Mum’s family shared, sitting under my Gram’s kitchen table watching the old, silent, super 8 home movies while aunts and uncles narrated it in amusing ways, the mouth watering smells coming from the kitchen, either from my Ma's or Gram’s (depending on who was hosting Christmas that year)…and Gram’s bread. My Gram made the most amazing bread!  It didn’t matter if you were getting it right from the oven or a few days later, it was just superb. She always made loaves and LOAVES of bread for Thanksgiving and Christmas (when you had six kids and they all wanted bread, I guess you had to spend days making loaf upon loaf!). My most favorite thing during the holidays was to make a turkey sandwich with Gram’s bread.  To this day, that is my comfort food – the one that gives me the warm and fuzzies, and makes all right with the world. 

After Gram passed, her recipe seemed lost forever. What many of us didn’t realize was that it was tucked into one of her cookbooks that my aunt in Massachusetts had and a few years ago, was resurrected by my cousin and shared widely with the family! Despite having this recipe, and having made countless loaves of bread before, I just didn’t feel confident in my bread baking skills to try it, lest I forever tarnish the memory of Gram’s bread by making it horribly. It’s also a fairly labor intensive recipe, calling for two cakes of yeast and about ten cups of flour, with two separate hours of rise time, then another half hour once they’re in the bread pans. Well, this past weekend I sucked it up, dragged out the Kitchen Aid and went to work. Of course, pregnancy brain here forgot that the mixer couldn’t handle THAT much bread dough at once and that I should have cut the recipe in half. Despite that boo-boo, that bread came out PHENOMENAL!! 

I had one small slice off that little, round loaf...and my
darling, dearest husband ate the rest, proclaiming it to be
the best bread I've ever made!

I was in SMELLED like Gram’s bread. I slathered on butter and it TASTED like Gram’s bread. It had been 13 years since my last taste of that bread! It was like my Gram was with me in that moment; I could hear her and her Newfoundlander accent in my ear. I even teared up a bit!

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of leaving the bread unprotected and the gate into the kitchen open.  Ripley couldn’t resist the smell of Gram’s bread, either and helped herself to a large nibble! She knew she’d been bad, she was sitting by the door with her head hung.  As soon as I saw what she had done and yelled her name, she bee-lined it for her kennel.

She’s lucky she’s cute!

Ms. Rip giving Daddy hugs and kisses.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Baking away...

Despite the hustling about this past weekend, I was able to get in a little baking for homemade presents.  My house smelled of chocolate, strawberry jam, shortbread and peanut butter, as I made strawberry thumbprints with chocolate drizzle, no-bake cookies, peanut butter blossoms and chocolate caramel pretzels. And the sounds of Christmas music and movies wafted through the house. Sounds delightful, doesn't it?

Well, it was mostly delightful, though interspersed here and there was me swearing at one of the dogs who were always under foot, shooing cats away from the mixer, and the Christmas movies were Scrooged and Return of the Jedi!

What can I say, we're a family of animal loving geeks.

Today, we are being treated to a snowstorm! We're expecting 6-10 inches. And despite the driving conditions (as in several of my fellow drivers don’t know how to drive in snow, making it treacherous for the rest of us), I love that we’ll have a white Christmas. This morning, my wonderful husband cleaned off my car, started it and pulled it right up to the deck, so I wouldn’t have to walk far. I’m so thankful to have such a thoughtful and selfless partner in crime!

Monday, December 5, 2016

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

This weekend, I cut the tree to table size and the cats are THRILLED! This is Eleanor's favorite time of year, when we bring her tree in.

And while I was a little curious about what Ory would think, I needn't have been worried. She played with the lights a little, and Eleanor played with the garland, but once the tree was up, nobody really touched it (okay, so Sid touched it, but just to pat at a lightbulb and when it really didn't do anything, she got bored).

Now all four race to be the first to sit under it, to watch out their window on the backyard under their very own tree, next to their buddy, the gnome.

I had enough boughs leftover to tuck under the lights on the deck and use in the house.

I still need to finish decorating.  I was a bit lazy after getting the tree up and the lights on. Pregnancy knocks the wind out of my sails and all I can think of is napping. I can sleep 3 hours in the afternoon, then still go to bed early and sleep all night! Roughly 16 more weeks to go and hopefully this little butterball will be exiting the oven.

Monday, November 28, 2016


Happy Day Post Thanksgiving, otherwise known in my house as Week O’ Christmas Decorating! 🎅

Thanksgiving was a very quiet day in the Nielsen house. With the mega-cold having hit both me and Nick, we spent much of the past two weeks just trying to get over it. While I had pretty much kicked it out of my system, Nick was still going through the last stages, so we decided to stay home and keep our germs to ourselves. But that doesn't mean we skipped Thanksgiving! Even with just the two of us (and baby in belly), we celebrated with turkey and trimmings, whipped up by yours truly. And it was good! There was no traveling, so we didn’t get out our pajamas. The day was quiet, even the dogs were mellow; we watched the Macy's Day Parade and a couple of movies. Thanksgiving dinner was fantastic and we ate way more than we should have, then we drifted off into cozy turkey comas. 

We also realized that this was the first and probably only holiday that Nick and I will ever spend, just the two of us. With the baby on the way (and hopefully another one in the next couple of years), it’s doubtful that we will ever spend another holiday by ourselves, but I’m okay with that. The thought of having my own little family to create memories with during the holidays thrills me to no end! I can’t wait to go all out and make Christmas as magical for my children as my mother did for me. Even now, just seeing the awestruck look on Shorty’s face every year whenever she looks around the house at the decorations, confirms for me that I’m doing it right! But we typically don’t get her on Christmas morning, so we miss out on that excitement. One day soon, when we have a house large enough for everyone to come to us for the holidays, we’re hoping we’ll get to share Christmas morning with her.

We didn’t do Black Friday…we don’t ever do Black Friday. Crowds make me angry and sleeping in makes me happy, so for the sake of every shopper out there, I stayed home, kept my road rage (shopping carriage rage) to myself and rested. 

And again, the day was good! I started decorating the house, too. I got through a couple of totes…okay, only two out of ten. Yes, I’m that crazy Christmas person. Now I do know crazier Christmas people, but I love to decorate! I still have to clean off the top of the entertainment center for boughs and decorations, and the top of the roll-top desk for my abundant Christmas village. Annnnd the kitchen table, which will serve as tree central for the next month. 

With our house being so small, it’s hard to find space for a full sized tree. But we bought one anyway, with the intention of cutting the first 4 feet off the top to serve as a mini tree, then the rest will be clipped into boughs for decorating. Having it on the table will also keep it out of Ripley’s range! The cats will still get at it, but we’ll tie it off to the window frame to avoid knock overs and secure the ornaments tightly to each branch, with plastic and soft ones on the bottom half of the tree. The two older cats just like to sit under it, smell it, occasionally rub their face on the branches. Sid likes the garland. Ory is the only one that we don’t know about yet. Fingers crossed that she leaves it alone.

Memories of Christmas Past
Little Nymbus in 2007

And here he is 9 yrs and 15 lbs later

Sadie the Reindeer - I miss this baby.

Plato the Reindeer - I miss this big lug, too!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

From my family to yours, Thanksgiving wishes for a peaceful and joyous day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Kool Aid Dyeing...Oooooooooh Yeah!

After finally…FINALLY…turning the corner with this cold, I attempted something that I’ve wanted to do for about a month now.  Kool Aid dyeing!  It’s more simple than I imagined.  I read a bunch of different tutorials, to see how others were making it, then finally just said to “heck with it” and just jumped right in.

I pulled off several yards of Patons Classic Wool Yarn in Aran color (creamy white) that my Dad's cousin in British Columbia sent to me and tied it off in about four places with a small piece of the same yarn.  I soaked that in clear lukewarm water in the sink for a few minutes, while I mixed a packet each of Berry Cherry and Black Cherry into a pot with lukewarm water.  Once every thing was mixed fully, I gently laid the yarn into pot and gently pressed down with a spoon to fully immerse it, but not agitate it (didn't want it to start felting!).

I turned the heat up on the stove to just over midway and waited for it to just start to bubble.

I turned off the heat and let it cool for about an hour (I was doing something else and actually forgot about it...oops!).  The color in the pot had turned almost clear, as the yarn had absorbed it all.

I poured the water out and gently rinsed out any leftover color in the yarn in cold water.  Then let it hang off the facet to drip dry above the sink.

It lightened up considerably more than I expected and is almost a pinkish color now. Its not a horrible color, mind you, but not the color I was going for. I think next time I'll use more than two packets of mix and see if that results in a deeper color.

Oh, and note to self: don't leave yarn where a bored black lab puppy can reach it. She didn't chew it up...but she did pull it and another skein apart, so I had this lovely yarn display stretched across the living room to the kitchen door. She also chewed apart a plastic cord that was hooked to her training clicker, a bottle of cold medicine (that she thankfully didn't puncture), a bag of Funyons that was almost empty.  All of which HAD been on the coffee table.

I love this dog. I love this dog. I love this dog. She's just a puppy and this phase will pass.  I have to keep reminding myself of this!!