Tuesday, July 31, 2012

DIY: Homemade Tub Cleaner/Mold Remover

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but before yesterday, my bathtub/shower unit was gross. Like super gross. Don't get me wrong, I cleaned it every week with the rest of my house, but apparently I hadn't found a cleaner that would reeeeeally remove all the soap grime, mold remnants and all around grossness. Thanks Pinterest for another "duh, why didn't I think of that" moment and home remedy. All you need are the two products no household pantry should every be without: distilled white vinegar and baking soda.

Fill up an empty spray bottle with vinegar. Don't dilute! Spray down your tub/shower and wait a few minutes so it has time to work it's magic. Meanwhile, go find a good and sturdy scrub brush or two and a box of baking soda. Probably should wear a mask too... the vinegar is a bit potent. Sprinkle pour the baking soda in the tub and start scrubbing. Don't be stingy when it comes to the baking soda... or the vinegar for that matter. Both are super cheap and work wonders together.

Keep scrubbing.

Some more.

Rinse everything down when you think you've got it all done. Realize you don't. Repeat process.

Cleaning my entire tub/shower unit took me almost an hour and a half. So this is not a super quick 5 minute process. I am super excited this worked though! I was getting to the point that I was considering purchasing a whole new unit because I was afraid to take a bath. Plus I didn't want to put my future babes in a dirty tub. A $3.78 baking soda/vinegar fix trumps a $500+ purchase any day!


Making progress...


I also had another Pinterest epiphany and am hoping this will prevent me from frequent heaving duty scrubbings. Fill one of those dish scrubber things that hold soap in the handle with a 50/50 mixture of distilled white vinegar and Dawn dish soap. I hung mine off my shower caddy and supposedly if you use it to give your shower a lick and a promise every few times you're in there, you won't need to do anymore/as many heavy duty cleanings.

Go forth, be clean.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

In search of a daycare (checklist)

Over the last few months, I've been on the hunt for a daycare for Baby Arch. Until yesterday, most of them have made me contemplate playing the lottery until I win and can become a rich stay-at-home-mom. But alas, that's not in the cards. I interviewed with a woman who runs a daycare out of her home and was extremely pleased with what I saw and her rules/philosophies. Big thanks to my sister for asking her co-workers if they had any daycare recommendations!

Anyways, before I began my search, I was scouring the mommy blogs for what questions I should ask, red flags to be aware of and anything else I would need to know to make a good decision. I've gone through 5 daycare (in-home and facility) interviews so far and this compiled list has covered the bases for me. So I thought I'd share. Hopefully it helps!
  • Daycare facility
  • Contact name
  • Daily and/or weekly rate?
  • Workplace discount?
  • Flexible part-time days?
  • Pickup/drop off fee if late?
  • What happens on snow days?
  • Included amenities/provisions
  • Separate infant/sleeping room?
  • Open door policy for parents?
  • State/first-aid/CPR certified?
  • Still pay if child isn't there (sick/vacation)?
  • Sickness during the day?
  • Sickness/lice outbreak?
  • Emergency protocol
  • Daily reports/updates?
  • Cloth diapers allowed?
  • Safety policy/entrance security?
  • Car seats left behind?
  • Webcam?
  • Can other relatives pick up?
  • Availability/waiting list?
  • Registration fees?
  • Additional notes
Here's a link to Michigan's daycare brochure that also includes a checklist of things to keep in mind.

Also, check online for any violations a daycare may have. Just ask Google; should come right up. I was a bit shocked/discouraged when I read up on some in-home care violations. Some are so tedious, I blew them off... but others included hitting children, letting them wander the neighborhood, you know, super awesome stuff like that that scares the pants off expecting parents. Good luck in your search!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Our 12th, err... 2nd anniversary

Husband and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary last week Tuesday (July 17th). Feels kinda weird saying that it's only our 2nd considering we've been together for almost 12 years. Happy anniversary Clay and I can't wait for all the new adventures in the upcoming year(s)!

Clayton and I

On Tuesday, we didn't do much. Had a nice dinner together at home and had a lazy evening. Decided to celebrate on Friday with a fantastic evening in downtown Saugatuck. Had a great dinner at The Butler out on the patio (try the Santa Fe Chicken... nom). The weather was absolutely perfect, the view overlooked the channel and a live band started playing about halfway through our dinner. On the long walk back to our car, stopped and had ice cream (of course) which was equally as delicious.

Dinner at The Butler in Saugatuck, MI

Since the 2nd anniversary is represented by a cotton gift, Clayton bought me this super awesome giraffe robe! My transformation is complete! Can't wait until there's a baby to snuggle with in it... not just an oversized belly.


Side note: Mama Z and I went out and finished up the baby registry on Wednesday. Woot! Both baby showers have been scheduled for mid/late August and I'm super excited. Saturday, Clay and I taped off the walls in the nursery and yesterday, Mom and I finished up all the painting. It looks absolutely wonderful and is turning out exactly how we wanted it. Sorry, no pictures until the final reveal.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blue Lake Community Church website redesign

I was given the great opportunity to redesign Blue Lake Community Church's website over the last few months and it's finally up and running. This was a fun project having very few limitations and Pastor Pycraft has been great to work with (sorry, no dreaded client horror stories here.) I'll be responsible for keeping the website updated weekly with new bulletins, YouTube videos of the sermons, calendar events, etc. Thank you Kevin and BLCC for the opportunity to work with you!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ultrasound finding: Choroid Plexus Cyst

Today was my belated 20-week OB appointment where we went over Friday's ultrasound images. As I mentioned in my last post, Lil Arch is measuring right on schedule except for some really long legs. Baby is weighing in at 380g (13.4 oz)... as heavy as a bag of chocolate chips. Even though the lil one got a pretty good bill of health, we were informed that a Choroid Plexus Cyst was spotted in the brain.

Uhhh, talk about a major freak out as she's explaining the cyst and all the scariness that could go with it using only the biggest terms possible. Thank God Clay was there to hop on his phone and start deciphering what she just told us. For family and friends who are curious, I'll save you the trip to Wikipedia:

What is a choroid plexus cyst?
The choroid plexus is the area of the brain that makes fluid to protect the brain and spinal cord; this area does not involve thinking or personality. When a tiny bubble of fluid is pinched off as the choroid plexus forms, a cyst is created. This occurs in 1-2% of babies during the 16-24th week of development. Thankfully, choroid plexus cysts are NOT harmful to the baby and they nearly always go away by the third trimester.

When choroid plexus cysts (CPCs) are found during an ultrasound, the tech will carefully scrutinize every organ and body part to look for other abnormalities, such as a deformed heart, head, hands, feet or stunted growth of the baby. If no other abnormalities are found, the diagnosis is called an "isolated CPC."

Baby Arch has an isolated CPC... as far as we know.

CPCs have become associated with a severe genetic disease called Trisomy 18. The vast majority of fetuses with isolated CPCs are completely normal, but when CPCs are seen, the chance of Trisomy 18 goes up (the risk is 1 in 300.) Fetuses with Trisomy 18 have an extra copy of chromosome 18, and frequently, are stillborn. Survivors beyond infancy are rare. Survivors have severe mental retardation and a variety of other problems including abnormalities of almost any organ system such as the heart, brain and kidneys. Fetuses with Trisomy 18 have choroid plexus cysts about a third of the time. Therefore, when a cyst is detected, there's concern it could be linked with the disease.

What's next?
The next step for us and Baby Arch is to have a Level II ultrasound which is scheduled for August 8. There's a chance that by then, the cyst will have gone away on its own. I've also read that a normal alpha fetoprotein (AFP) test further reduces the likelihood of Trisomy 18. However, I have no idea what that test is and haven't discussed anything further than an ultrasound with my OB. If the cyst is still there during the ultrasound, an amniocentesis can be performed to verify if there's an extra chromosome 18. I am, however, extremely against having an amnio due to the miscarriage rate of 1 in 250. Most experts, on the topic of CPCs, suggest not getting an amnio because they wind up losing more normal pregnancies... than you will find Trisomy 18 babies.

An unsuccessful second ultrasound can also bring on the "wait and see" game. Generally, doctors will track the progress of the fetus through several follow up ultrasound exams. Most CPCs will resolve on their own by the sixth month of pregnancy, and a definitive exam of the baby's health can be made after the birth.

Baby Arch - 20 weeks

Phew. It's such a weird feeling to go from the relief that you can see four moving limbs and a wiggly baby on the ultrasound to hearing that there's a problem. Even though the chances of the CPC not resolving on its own are so very small, it's emotionally draining to sit here and think about it. My heart goes out to mothers and families who find out much worse things. So yeah, for the next three weeks, I will attempt to fail at keeping my mind off of it. If everyone could throw out an extra lil prayer for the long-legged goober, we'd appreciate it. XOXO

7/24 update: Thankfully my sister works at the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and has an unlimited supply of doctors and specialists at her disposal. The day after we found out about the CPC, she spoke to a pediatric neurosurgeon at work. She said he was immediately a little frustrated that doctors even have to tell patients about CPCs at all. He said the odds of them going away by the end of the pregnancy are so great that it causes "a lot of worrying over nothing." HA! Obviously he's not a pregnant woman. My OB said most go away by week 24 and the neurosurgeon said probably not until week 36. So I guess I'm going to prepare myself that it still may be there at my next ultrasound... and that I shouldn't be any more alarmed.

Friday, July 13, 2012

20 weeks

How far along:
20 weeks

Total weight gain/loss:
Roughly 15 lbs. Damn you Oreos for at least half that weight gain.

Had our big 20 week ultrasound this morning! Very exciting... other than the fact that I was pretty sure I was going to wet my pants this morning. Drink 32 oz. of water and not pee for 3 hours?! I can't even do that when I'm NOT pregnant. I was contemplating a pair of Depends this morning, but thankfully I got through the ultrasound accident free.

Lil Arch was surprisingly VERY active! Apparently my placenta is on top of the uterus which is the reason behind why I can't feel any movement yet. Go figure. (Side note: being pregnant makes me really regret not taking an anatomy class in school.) Anyways, the little one also had hiccups and had its face smashed into the side of my uterus which made things a little difficult when it came to getting a profile shot. Oh well, lots of really creepy, yet really awesome, full face shots.

Most hilarious moment of the day... the ultrasound technician confirmed that all the measurements put Lil Arch right at the 20 week and 4 day mark. EXCEPT for the legs. They measured at almost 22 weeks. No way! My baby?! Long legs?! Future volleyball/basketball player in the making.


Maternity clothes:
I can still fit into my pants, but since my belts said the hell with you around week 10, I've resorted to loose fitting skirts since then. Skirts are the most awesome pregnancy outfits ever, just sayin'. I went out and purchased a few pairs of maternity capris, a skirt and a couple tops, but that's about it. More of just in case clothes.

Stretch marks:
None yet. My cocoa butter with shea and I are BFFs. Luckily though, stretch marks don't appear to be too hereditary in my family… thank God.

Jumpy legs, burning feet and sore joints making sleeping a pretty rough time of day. I try to make sure I'm good and tired before crawling into bed so I can just pass out. Waking up the last couple weeks have been rough. My hips, lower back and butt are killing me and the pain tends to last most of the day.

Best moment last week:
Last week we started on our nursery! Mama Z came over two days in a row to help me paint. Well, she painted all the walls and ceiling while I scooted around on my butt painting trim. Unfortunately, we won't get to painting the stripes for another week and a half yet. Our dressers and crib also came in last week so hopefully tomorrow we can go pick those up and the glider should be here shortly. I can't wait for the whole room to come together!

Around week 16, I THINK I felt the "flutter" everyone had told me about. Can't be sure, but that was my first weird feeling in my stomach. For the last week and a half, there have been a few times I may or may not have felt something. Nothing substantial yet where I've been like "oh wow there's a baby in there!" Apparently it's because my placenta is on top of my uterus. Don't know what that means, but that's what I've been told.

Food cravings:
I've always loved my Oreos, but pregnancy has made my self-control go from scarce to non existent. I've also loved my Mac 'N Cheese the last couple weeks. Nom.

Don't know, don't care.

Labor signs:
Too early.

Belly button in/out: 
Still in innie. Thank God. The second it becomes an outie or a flatie, I may freak out. Not a fan of weird belly buttons.

Walking around like an old lady. Good Lord. My back hurts, my butt hurts, my joints ache… I may as well be 90 years old. So now the epic battle between "man, I gotta pee" and "uh, can't walk" begins…

Mood swings:
EVERYTHING makes me cry. And I have an even lower bull shit tolerance. Beware ya'll.

What I miss:
Being useful. Twenty five pound weight limit, please. I'm really tired of standing around waiting for someone a little less useless to come by and give me a hand lifting or carry things. Sorry husband and co-workers for making you do such simple tasks for me.

One of the things I never thought would make the "things I miss" list is drinking. No, I'm not a big drinker by any means, but especially being out by the pool in the summer with family, I'd absolutely love a nice cold girly drink. Mama Z has been super awesome at keeping our freezers stocked with virgin slushes and daiquiris. High five!

What I'm looking forward to:
Well, obviously the end of November, but also to really feel the baby move! Go ahead, kick me in the ribs… I welcome it. I can't wait to really feel it move and even more so to the point where Clay can feel the movement too.

I also can't wait to start officially nesting. The big nursery projects (painting, carpet and furniture) are underway. Once they're all in, I can begin my favorite part… organizing! Yay! (Side note: a huge thank you to Brenda Martin for making closet clothes organizers for Lil Arch! Love them!)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Seasoned Roasted Potato recipe

Thank you Pinterest for another lovely recipe! I have to give mad kudos to Iowa Girl Eats for this delicious way to prepare a baked potato... especially since I'm not a huge potato person. I'm also stealing her picture because apparently I can't multi-task in the kitchen and mine ended up a little burnt golden brown.

Photo courtesy Iowa Girl Eats

Pierce potatoes with a fork and microwave for 6-7 minutes, flipping every couple minutes, until soft all the way through.

Cut potatoes in half, then into squares but only down to the skin.

Season with butter, Parmesan and Lawry's seasoning.

Place in oven on an aluminum foil-lined pan and broil (on low) for 10-15 minutes.

Friday, July 6, 2012

19 weeks

Independence Day marked the beginning of week 19 for Baby Arch and I. Things are still going very well. Other than the exhaustion early on, I have no complaints about this easy pregnancy. Knock on wood. The only inconvenience has been learning how to deal with this horrible back pain. Yes, my spine is still crashing into my butt... hopefully that subsides in the near future. I'm becoming a pro at the pregnant lady lean.

19 weeks - the size of a mango

Other than my usual Oreo bingeing, I have had wicked Mac 'N Cheese cravings lately. Nom. Hell also froze over last week. I, Andrea, hater of all things girly, traded in my jeans on two separate casual days for skirts. I feel like I'm going against some unwritten casual day law. How shameful. But my belts don't fit and my jeans need a belt or else there's butt crack catastrophe. You're welcome co-workers.

I'm currently belly button ring-less for the first time in 8 years. That lil bump in my shirt that I lovingly referred to as my turkey timer is no more. I feel so lost without it.

The nursery transformation began yesterday! Mama Z has been here the last two days helping me get the room painted white. Well, she painted about 95% of it while I scooted my ass around the room painting trim. Painting has come to halt for the next couple weeks as we're waiting for the paint to cure before we tape and paint the stripes. Our crib, two dressers and glider have all already been ordered, so they'll be here soon. After painting is complete, we'll get our new carpet installed and then nesting can officially begin. :)  Right now our spare room just has a giant heap of baby stuff taking over. This OCD mama cannot wait to start getting everything organized in the nursery.

Miss Zora can't wait for the baby either!

Mama Z, the best mama ever! And Peanut, our lazy quality supervisor.

Other than that, not much else going on. Our big 20 week ultrasound is one week from today so stay tuned for pics of Lil Arch! Don't hold your breath for a gender reveal as we're not planning on finding out. I'm especially excited since this will be the husband's first baby appointment and I haven't had an ultrasound since my 8th week. Yay!
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