Caffeine

So I’ve never been much of a coffee person. At least not a habitual drinker. I partake in coffee for the sake of socialization. I’m a social drinker. I certainly enjoy a Mocha Frappachino or a cafe mocha every now and then.

That being said, I’ve never experienced much of a reaction to caffeine. Never in all my 27 years have I noticed it making me more alert or keeping me awake at night (or any time of day for that matter).

Until last night.

I suppose I miraculously discovered the magical threshold. Turns out I’d just never tried drinking enough coffee. Or enough on an empty stomach. Or enough while pregnant? There could be all kinds of contributing factors, but all I know is, after having a medium Frappe Mocha from McDonald’s (which honestly looked to me like it should have been called a large – what was that like 4 cups worth? At least 3…) around 4 pm, I could not for the life of me turn my brain off come 11, 12, 1 in the morning. I started to really worry that I was somehow starting to develop insomnia (which I’ve heard from friends can be really annoying and sometimes scary). I lay on this side, I switched to that side, I sat on the rocker, I turned on the AC, I turned off the AC, I took a break and browsed my phone for 10 minutes, then tried it all again, all to no avail. My mind was racing a thousand miles an hour. On top of that, my baby was excitedly performing a full on acrobatic routine in my belly. I started to worry that I had really messed him up… And then my worry continued on to other things…if I was really prepared for labor and delivery, if I would be strong enough, if I would have him prematurely, if something would be wrong with him, if something is wrong with me, Can I handle 3 kids? What am I gonna do? What if they all fight every night and NO ONE. EVER. sleeps?!! Luckily, as if on cue, my son woke up and came to my room and lay next to me. That was actually surprisingly comforting. Kind of snapped me out of my little panic attack. I held his hand and my anxiety dissipated. Of course I still couldn’t sleep… and just as I was finally drifting off a while later, his sister came to join us (*sigh… what else is new…), which woke me up again and got me started again on this seemingly endless cycle. I think I ended up actually falling asleep around 3 or something. Got a good 3 and a half hours in! Hooray!

All in all, a learning experience. I FINALLY get what all the fuss is about! I finally understand how powerful caffeine is and how it affects people. I’ve also resolved to NEVER do that to myself again.

Note: Before you pounce on me, I know it’s not advisable to have that much caffeine on any given day while pregnant (I repeat; I did not know this medium would be such a large medium…). Up to this point, I have strictly abided by my midwives’ recommendations of no more than 2 cups of coffee a day, and I very rarely even have that. Caffeine from chocolate? Well, that’s another story…

Other note: If you think that cup is as funny as I think it is, you can find it here.

Third and Final Pregnancy Bucket List

Soon after I found out I was pregnant again, I created a list of things I wanted to do this pregnancy that I never got around to (or never had the energy to) during my first two pregnancies. Just for fun, I thought I’d share with you the items on that list:

1. Exercise every other day (eek! I’m definitely not exercising every other day at this point, but generally twice a week which is still better than what I did with my first two. *fistpump*)

2. Gain within 25 lbs and no more (ok let’s not talk about this…)

3. Limit sugar and wheat (they cause hand eczema breakouts and other annoying pregnancy symptoms. Oh and fat. Doin pretty good on the wheat, not as good on the sugar…)

4. Take Pinterest-worthy pregnancy announcement photos (Check!)

5. Take cute gender reveal photos (Check!)

6. Do daily Scripture reading (failing badly at this one)

7. Take progression photos – same spot, same angle weekly (haven’t missed a week!)

8. SPOIL myself – for once in my life (or recent life that is), buy something cute for myself and no one else, stop by Starbucks just because, let people help me, ASK for help, etc.

(Excluded all the other good stuff every expecting mom should do like get good sleep and take prenatals)

While we’re at it, just thought I’d add a few bullets on…

Things I’ve Never Wanted as a Pregnant Woman, Ever:

1. To have strangers rub my belly

2. To have photos taken of my naked belly (at least not to be shared by any public means)

3. To have children (including my own) poke my belly like I’m the Pillsbury dough boy

4. To have people who don’t know me give me instructions on how to behave during pregnancy

5. To put earbuds on my belly so my baby can listen to music (sorry if you’re into that! Just never made any sense to me)

6. To wear a two piece swimsuit anywhere past the first trimester (ok the latest was 16 weeks but that was with my first when I didn’t show much at all yet)

7. To hear how enormous I am/how I look like I’m due any minute or to be asked if I’m absolutely sure it’s not twins (for the record, I’m gonna get bigger, guys – a LOT bigger. Trust me; I’ve seen it happen.)

8. To have artwork done on my pregnant belly (no matter how famous or talented the artist)

9. To pop Tums every 4 hours, pee every 30 minutes, groan and moan when trying to get comfortable enough to sleep, pant up and down stairs, go on a sushi fast (God I miss sushi), watch obsessively and cry as stretch marks slowly develop, be exhausted by 4 pm, etc etc…

Sigh. Pregnant life.


Hanging in there at 32 weeks! So close and yet so far…

‘Bama!

Ok, it’s getting really bad how I’m posting things so far after they happen… Blame my at home business, blame overlapping toddler rearing and pregnancy… I dunno AGH! My blogging seems to go in waves of productivity and non-productivity…

So two weeks ago now, we took a little family trip to visit my older sister in law’s family in Auburn, Alabama. Beautiful state, but a bit too hot for me if I’m honest. Their April felt like what I’m used to back here in NY/NJ in June/Julyish. I’m pretty sure I literally got sunburned after only an hour or so every time I stepped outside (without sunscreen). Back in NY/NJ, I rarely wear sunscreen anywhere but my face unless I’m going to the beach. Not sure if this change is related to the difference in the ozone layer or what, but just something I noticed.

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Here’s baby girl, Aunt J, and I strolling to the community gym and pool in the apartment complex.

Besides being hot, though, Alabama is beautiful. I love any place that’s green and treeful (The Diane Dictionary: entry #412). Driving around and seeing farms and cows again was really nice. It brought me back to my North Carolina road tripping days.

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Swimming! Well, standing. I don’t know how to swim anyway. I just kind of putter around clumsily, gasping for air the whole time. #25weekspregnant

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One of my daughter’s favorite things to do is to feed me. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing…

We didn’t plan anything extravagant while we were away. Spent a lot of time just relaxing. Besides working out and hanging out at the pool, we lounged around the house playing video games, cards, and Monopoly, watching tv, baking pies. My sister in law J and brother in law Y worked hard on planning my dream gender reveal photo shoot. Love you, guys!

We did take a little drive down to Destin, Florida. Played on the beach, checked out some local eateries (I recommend Donut Hole and Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House!), rented a boat (Thanks, Dockside Watersports & Parasailing!). Silver Dunes Condominiums was lovely. The rooms were clean and well kept and having the beach literally a 2 minute walking distance from us was pretty perfect.

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3 1/2 hour drive. The kids did really well (playing, singing, using their gadgets, eating, sleeping) for about 3 hours…before all hell broke loose. I won’t post any pictures of that. 

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View from our condo

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Lookin out over the water

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My children seem to endlessly have dirty feet 

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Making our way to the beach

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Y and her doting older cousin

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Look at that crystal clear water!

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Cleanest, purest white sand I’ve ever seen

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Best buds. So glad they could be reunited. Just noticed that photobomb in the back. Who is that, Appa?

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BAM! Look at dat bellay!

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Splish splashing with the daddies

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So glad my husband thinks family vacations are important. They’re the only things he’ll really take time off for.

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My little angel. Hard to believe she’s not going to be the baby anymore soon!

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She’ll always be a daddy’s girl, though. She goes running to him instead of me a lot these days. Pretty adorable.

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T writing his name in the sand. What a studious boy trying to get in some practice while on vacation!

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Obligatory legs on the beach photo. Ignore my wonky toes

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I like shadow photos

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Wanna go back

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Boating!

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Me gazing adoringly at my daughter despite her quirkiness. Is she eating that mouse?? ALSO, Floridians are so friendly! Three people in the span of 10 minutes told me they loved my shirt/thought it was hilarious (“I grow people. What’s your super power?”). NY/NJans are not nearly as quick to speak to strangers let alone compliment them.

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Couple photo! Yay! This is probably 2 seconds before he collapsed from my monstrous weight on him.

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Back at the room. Whose idea was it to bring s’mores?! OMGGGGGGG 

We headed back to Auburn after a refreshing beachy weekend. Back in ‘Bama, we tried to use up the rest of our time as wisely as we could (time always goes too fast!!) despite being pretty exhausted already.

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Had to visit the Waffle House!

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Ice cream from Bruster’s Real Ice Cream! Free cones for shorties! They have a chart shaped like a giant ice cream cone that measures about 3 1/2 feet tall and if you’re shorter than that, you get a free mini cone! Too cute! 5 stars just for that.

I think this is about the point my phone ran out of memory to be honest. Always happens! One of my biggest dilemmas since becoming a mom.

Hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse into our lazy little getaway. Tell me about some of your favorite places to relax!

It’s a…

Hubby, myself, and our kiddos just got back from a little family vacay in Alabama! During our stay we also took a drive down to Florida and back to get our beach on in Destin. Shout out to Silver Dunes Condominums- beautiful facility right smack dab next to the water, so we could walk out there anytime we wanted. (Will post some more vacation photos in the next entry)

I find myself looking for little things to anticipate. I live off of things to look forward to. This was one example. My older sister in law’s family (including T’s best friend- his cousin S) moved to Alabama in the beginning of March and we’ve been missing them ever since and planning this little trip for some time. We were so blessed to have brother in law Y and sister in law J be able to travel out and meet us too! It was a mini family reunion! Y and J were gracious enough to help me carry out one of the things on my bucket list for this pregnancy. We are pretty sure this is our last and so I decided I needed to do some of the things I had wanted to do but never got a chance to during my other pregnancies. One thing was cute gender reveal photos! We kept it really simple and just did the balloons in a box idea that’s everywhere. Set up right outside of the house and had our two amateur photographers click away for about 10 minutes total. That’s about all we could manage! I gotta say photoshoots with kids have proved to be one of the most challenging activities I’ve endured as a parent. I don’t know if my kids happen to be squirmier than most or what, but if we continue to push and prod and bark “Sit down!” and “Smile!” and “Look here!” past the 10 minute mark, one or two meltdowns are almost certainly on the horizon. H has two children as well, so put the four of them all together…well, we ended up with a lot of tears.

Here are two of my faves (before things broke down):

 

With each of my pregnancies, I had a gut feeling what the sex would be. Mostly an instinctual thing, but I also had a few dreams. Side topic – does anyone else have really weird dreams when they’re pregnant? Like their baby popping out of their belly like in the Alien movie? Crazy hormones…

So, anyway, I did think it was a boy, but it was still really cool to hand the sealed envelope over to my brother in law and have my guess confirmed in the form of helium balloons!

Three months to go. I already feel enormous. But I shall make it through! I always do…

Keepin it Real

I haven’t written in three weeks. Today, I need it. I need the angry, pulsating blur of frustration, fatigue, and exasperation to dissipate and trickle out of my fingertips in the form of words on this page.

If any of you were wondering what it’s like being pregnant with two other kiddos under 5 running around, in a word, it’s exhausting. Some days are really f*cking hard. Today was one of those days. I’m empty. I’m at the end of my rope. I have used up every last reserve of energy. Between making meals, sweeping floors, washing dishes, attempting to knock a few calls off my call list and changing diapers, attempting to toilet train (haven’t gone all in yet; must get serious soon), putting baby girl in car, picking up older brother from daycare… (This reminds me – people have said to me in passing “Don’t run“, “Don’t pick her up“….Seriously? How is that possible? Do you actually expect me to go through my whole pregnancy without running or picking anyone up? Don’t see that happening… I mean I understand the good intention and I appreciate the concern, but it’s simply unrealistic.)

I don’t know what I did wrong today. I don’t know if I ate something weird, if I didn’t drink enough water, if I didn’t sleep enough, if I slept too much, if I didn’t read enough Scripture, if I didn’t pray enough, if my brain is too wired or on overdrive from trying to do too many things at once or simply from too many screens for one day… Some of you are probably thinking, “Ummm hormones? It’s not rocket science…” I’ll admit, you may be right. Except that this has happened before; many, many times when I wasn’t pregnant. I think every parent has these days. I think it comes with the territory.

Around dinner time, I had a full on screaming match with T after he started flipping out because I said he couldn’t have chocolate after he ate his meal. He had already had one this morning (and quite a lot over the last 3 days, so I had to put a stop to it before it became a habit). Totally stooped to his level, totally did all the things the parenting experts say not to do. I “lost my cool”. Supernanny would be so disappointed.

And I was doing so well…

I never told you about the instance when my mother in law told me I shouldn’t scream at my son so much, did I? This was about two months ago I suppose. I went into a mini depression because she was basically validating what I already knew was true, what I already felt impossibly guilty about. After I got over the initial shock, I kicked myself into gear and finished reading that Supernanny book I borrowed a month prior and had only read the first chapter of. She actually has some really helpful, basic, straight forward advice. She’s really big on praise and says it leaves 10 times as much of an impression as disciplining does, which was encouraging because I’ve always made a point to put a lot of emphasis on praise. We had already been using a sticker chart and it had definitely helped (I give him a sticker when he follows directions and acts properly and take one away if he does something really unacceptable. At first, it was 6 stickers to a prize; we recently increased to 8). What I have been meaning to incorporate is Supernanny’s version of Time Out which she calls the “Naughty Step”. Basically, you give two warnings – two chances for the child to correct his/her behavior (have to talk them through it and be very specific about what you are expecting) – and then the third time they repeat/continue the misbehavior, you take them to the “Naughty Step” or chair or corner of the room or wherever you decide for it to be. So, we made our list of House Rules (kept it simple – no hurting others, sit at the table when eating, clean up toys after playing). We didn’t write a No Screaming at the Top of Your Lungs til You’re Red in the Face and Throwing Laundry at Omma rule, but we should have. I gave him the two warnings. I told him he had to sit down and be quiet and stop disrespecting me, and he continued, so I screeched, “THAT’S IT! TIME OUT!” What I did wrong was that I got all heated and I grabbed him by the arm and dragged him to the next room (Supernanny notes the time out spot shouldn’t be a bedroom, but in the heat of the moment, I thought taking him into a different room would get my point across better.) Poor baby. It makes me sad thinking about it. Where was my patience? I don’t know. I just don’t know.

I know this devastated feeling won’t last. This too shall pass. The good news is that tomorrow, I have a chance to start anew and to do better. I’ve come to expect all these highs and lows. This is real life. This is not a movie scripted to make everything fall into place; where everything works itself out and resolves itself neatly by the close of the day.

When things get crazy, when our minds are a mess and we are on our last legs, we just need to stop. Stop everything (even if we have to wait til after the kids go to bed, which most likely as parents, we do). Whenever we finally, finally have the chance, take a minute. A minute to take a few deep breaths, to meditate, to do yoga, to pray, to take a hot shower, to belt out a few songs on our favorite singing app (My singers, look up Smule in the app store! You won’t regret it!), to call a friend, to blog. Strand by strand, we can gather ourselves back together, pick up the pieces of ourselves that were tossed every which way in the tornado that was today. We can adoringly, quietly watch our little angels (I only call them angels when they’re asleep….) and rest assured that there’s no shortage of love in our hearts.

Tomorrow is a new day.

A Poem

I decided to revisit my fifth grade gifted and talented class days and try my hand at poetry again. I call this “Sketch of a Typical Morning in the J Household”. Just a rough draft, nothing serious. I’m not liking the way WordPress adds a whole giant space every time I go to the next line, but whatryagonnado…

[Dreaming]

Hubby and I walking through Central Park

What is that ruffling sound?

Zzzzzzzz

Is hubby crinkling a plastic bag?

Zzzzz

Tap tap click clack

Is that a train approaching?

[Roll over]

[Yawn]

*Giggle

That doesn’t sound like hubby

Heavy weight on my body

Something squishing my cheeks together

[beautiful dream fading]

*Giggle

That’s not hubby.

Eyes flutter, open halfway

I look to my right. It’s Y.

Up at 6:30

the usual.

Busy as a bee arranging blocks in a line and shuffling papers

Better get up before she gets to the fridge

She always does.

Come on, Diane, you can do it

Up, up, up!

….

Outta bed sleepy head!

….

Where’s mom with that annoying Time to Get Up song when you need her?

Ughhhhh

Why do I NEVER feel like I had enough sleep…

Oh I know. Probably because each child generally wakes up at least twice…so I really DON’T get enough sleep…

And now I’m pregnant….

Woe is me… Ok enough of the pity party

[Finally extracts self out of bed as slowly as humanly possible]

Let’s see the mess she’s caused so far

Ok, not too bad, only three toy baskets overturned.

At least all the food is still in the fridge. Let’s count our blessings

“Y, let’s go into the other room for a few minutes until big brother wakes up” (maybe mommy can even steal another few winks…)

10 minutes later (or 15? Who can tell)

*Footsteps

That’ll be him!

“Morning, darling”

*big hug

Time to start the day

Any legit poets out there, I’m open to constructive criticism, but be gentle please! I’m rusty after…17 years 😉

Good Ol’ New York

Ah, New York. I’ve gotten used to people saying thank you when I hold the door for them (leave it to Jersey). Not the case here! Things to do, places to go, people! Ok, I’m exaggerating. It was one woman. And oh, look, that guy said thank you. He must have read my mind.

I just got off the bus and walked through Port Authority. Meeting up with a friend in Times Square today! Yay! Grown up time!

I just now realized how slow I’ve gotten accustomed to walking. When I used to work in Manhattan, every morning, I was on a mission. Get up, get out, on and off the bus, and book it to my office. There’s just too many people in Times Square. I can’t deal. Gotta get through.

All right, here it comes. I’m picking up the pace. Gotta keep up. Seriously, everyone walks so fast! At least the natives. I did feel like a tourist of some sort rambling my way through leisurely a minute ago. Get in the zone, Diane! You’re still a New Yorker! 

Anyway, now I’m sitting around twiddling my thumbs at Villa, waiting for my friend. We ordered something online together through my Atomy business (learn more on my About page) and I’m delivering her hand creams personally! Also, I’m craving New York pizza. Thank God I can eat wheat again (more on that later).

Oh God. Oh God. They’re playing Call Me, Maybe. I think I’m going to be sick. I think I have to leave. Ahhhh pins and needles. Breathe. Breathe. It’s just a song. It will be over in 3 minutes. Ugh, the horrible part is that eventually you start singing along anyway 🙄.

Ok, this pregster needs to eat! P.S. Whoever loves me the most, please buy me this shirt:

Mom’s Jingles

I come from a musical family. Simple, home grown kind of musical, nothing professional. Mom also grew up surrounded by music. She, her three siblings, and her parents all have beautiful singing voices. My parents and I used to sing a lot during road trips to pass the time: lots of Sound of Music, John Denver, My Fair Lady, and church hymns. Three family favorites were Getting to Know You, High Hopes, and Today

Mommy had song coming out of her pores. Sometimes I felt like she thought in music. She used to make up little jingles and sing them throughout the day. Here are a few I remember (of course it would be more interesting if you could hear the melody. Maybe one day I’ll record them):

Joomi Joomi koko bop Joomi Joomi bop…

Let’s go, let’s go, let’s, really go! Let’s go, let’s go, let’s, really go! (this one was more like a chant)

It’s time to get up, its time to get up, its time to get up this mooorning! (I think she thought she was easing the blow of getting me up by singing a happy little tune, but this used to drive me crazy! ☺️)

Focus, focus, and no hocus pocus, hey! Focus, focus… (I think she got this from her high school cheerleading squad or something)

I burst into song a lot, too. Singing makes me feel alive. And I’ve totally been making up my own funny jingles as I stroll along this path of raising my silly little snickerdoodles.

Miss your pretty voice, Mama! I feel you when I sing. I love that I exude song like you did. I’m just like you! 😊


Blueridge Mountains. Taken during one of our trips to North Carolina. (We used to love Country Roads too!)

February 9th, 8:15 pm

Every once in a while, I still think to myself, “Hey, I should call mom; she always wants someone to call her.”

I remember she felt lonely a lot. She used to tell me she had “empty nest syndrome” (I’m still not convinced this is a thing). She wanted me to call her every day if I could, but she accepted my intention to “do my best to call every 2-3 days”. Even if we talked for 10 minutes, she was grateful. And if I said “I have to go so-and-so”, signing off real quick, she was completely understanding. I should have talked longer. 

I miss her voice. I miss her “Ok, darling, thanks for calling”s. I hope I remember her voice forever. I wonder if there comes a time when you can’t really recall on your own and you have to go back to your collection of videos. 

I have a million videos on Facebook (that’s my default dumping ground for ALL photos and videos- I set most to private, but I’m sure it’s not the most “private” option out there, so I need to make it a point to switch over). If I scroll down far enough, I get to the ones of mom. Reading T a book with him on her lap, following him around in the garage area at church, together at the doctor’s office, playing guitar on the stairwell, staring awkwardly and smiling into the camera when I zoomed in on her. She was a smiler. Though the smiles finally started to fade as she got weaker. 

I want to hold her hand again. I want to lean on her and feel her arm around me again. 

I can’t think of a conclusion to this. There doesn’t seem to be any resolution or lesson learned or grand finale to this train of thought. Just ongoing feelings. (Why am I such an emotional being?!) That’s the funny thing about writing. It usually comes in neat, organized parts that fit in nice, little packages and feel complete and resolved and settled. Life is nothing like that (at least not my life ha!).

And with that, I will simply end awkwardly and abruptly.

Toodles!

My Philosophy: When you have nothing else to write about, write about Chocolate

Being the sugary goodness connoseuir that I am, I think it’s only fair that I share some of my infinite wisdom with my beloved readers. The fourteen (hard as I tried, I couldn’t narrow it down to ten) best (not surprisingly mostly all chocolate) desserts on the planet:

1. Pecan pie and apple pie by my aunt C (homemade ALWAYS makes the top of the list!)



2. Chocolate chip cookies by my uncle J – top secret recipe (wondering what I have to do to get it out of him!)


3. Tiramisu by my sister in law H


4. Manner Original Neapolitan Wafers (to DIE for Viennese hazelnut chocolate cookies which if you haven’t tried, you absolutely MUST. I think they may actually warrant a trip to Europe, however, you can also find them for a hiked up price on Amazon or an international food market someplace)


5. Coldstone Founder’s Favorite (this founder clearly knows what’s good). Sweet cream ice cream chock full of pecans, brownie bits, chocolate syrup, and caramel syrup. My mouth is watering talking about it… 


6. Ferrero rochers (I mean I hate to be so predictable but I think we can all agree)


7. Glutino gluten free chocolate covered pretzels (where my gluten free folk at?)


8. Godiva everything (practically)


9. Lindt Lindor “Irresistibly Smooth” dark chocolate truffles (though nearly ALL the flavors I’ve tried are pretty darn irresistible!)


10. Those big variety boxes of “specialty”  European chocolate cookies that I’ve seen anywhere from BJs to my local Chinese supermarket 


11. Pepperidge Farm Geneva Dinstinctive cookies (ooh, not just any cookies, distinctive cookies)


12. Entenmann’s rich frosted doughnuts (you may recall). Oh great, they spell them “donuts”. *facepalm


13. Nutella (something about hazelnut with chocolate! Those Europeans know what they’re doing!)


So I first found this image, and then I found this one:


and I thought Thaaat’s more like it 😉 (Found this pic at divyakumar.com – pretty hilarious blog by the way)

14. Riesen chocolates


And that, my friends, concludes my list of all time best (mostly chocolate) sweet tooth satiators! Hope you enjoyed! Comment below if you think I left out something really crucial!