Welcome to the 2nd Trimester!

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Woo hoo!! So happy to finally say that I am 14 weeks along, and in my second trimester. What a HUGE relief. Even though I have felt pretty good about things recently, it is still a nice feeling, and I know that Nick feels the same way.

This week was super fun, because Nick and I got to go to the North Carolina State Fair on Saturday. I have never been before, and we had a blast! My favorite part was the animals, especially because there were so many babies!! The little calves and piglets were so attached to their mamas, it made me teary-eyed (probably because I’m hormonal). My second favorite part was the food. Holy crap! Such deep-fried goodness! I think nugget liked the roasted corn on the cob the best. Here is a picture of me indulging in a deep-fried Oreo and a fancy balloon hat ūüôā

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Another interesting thing that happened at the fair had to do with a random man walking up to me, and telling me that he thought my sticker was funny. (Backstory: I had grabbed a “Future Democrat” sticker at the Democrats for NC table and stuck it on my baby bump). I laughed and told him I thought it was clever, and he asked if we knew if we were having a boy or a girl. We said no, and that we were keeping it a surprise, and he said that 7 or his 8 children had been surprises and it was incredible every single time. He also said that he and his wife were “made to” get an ultrasound the one time they knew what they were having – and then asked me where I was having the baby. I told him we were going to the Birthing Center in Chapel Hill, and he had already started nodding his head before I finished. It was like he could “smell” the natural birthing route on me, haha! He told me that all of his children had been born there and that his daughter ran the place – I happen to know who she is now! We had a great conversation and it was a wonderful, reassuring, experience that reminded me exactly why I chose to go to the birthing center in the first place.

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Here is the picture of me with my sticker — but PLEASE do not be fooled by the size of my baby bump… my stomach was so full and bloated with fair food, haha!

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33.33% Complete!

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Well, we are 13 weeks in to this crazy thing called pregnancy… and so far, it’s been pretty good! The newest development on the symptom front is headaches. Which, are not that bad… but still not that great, you know? Especially because I would like to not take any medications while growing a healthy nugget!!! Otherwise, no real complaints! We got to see the nugget this week for our chromosomal abnormalities screening, and he/she was bouncing around like a jellyfish!

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This is nugget at 12 weeks, 5 days old – and the arms, legs, face, and head are all there! The nose and mouth were pretty crazy to see. Throughout the duration of the ultrasound, we saw him/her wave arms, legs, and head… as well as a close up on the mouth, which looked open (crazy, right?!). His/her heart rate was a healthy 157 and the fluids, size, measurements, and overall appearance were all normal and pointed towards healthy, happy baby! I can’t express through words what a gratifying feeling that is… for the doctor to come in and say “everything is looking great, we will see you in 7 weeks” – it is such a relief and reason to rejoice.

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On Saturday, Nick and I got to make a trip to Pilot Mountain, NC for a fall hike on a sunny day. We had a fantastic time, and got to see a few beautiful autumn-leaf colors. It is actually really special for us to make these trips and bring nugget along on our adventures, because it will be, and already is, very important to us to instill a love for the earth and to share our passion for nature with our children. We know nugget will thank us one day ūüėČ

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The other thing nugget will thank us for, is making him/her a Carolina Panthers fan long before he/she was born. We love Sunday football (especially when the sun is shining) and Nick even got to treat himself to a new local brewery… while I treated myself to some non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated, ginger beer! Now all we need is a Panthers win…

This week, we are going to make some real “moves” on the nursery. We have already moved some of the furniture out of the office, taken the pictures/paintings/diplomas off the walls, and then moved some of nugget’s furniture in. I am eager to pick a “theme” and get some paint on the walls… but I think a trip to Ikea has to happen first. Until next week!

Pilot Mountain State Park + Small Batch Brewery

Firstly, I’m writing this post a week and a half after the fact. For purposes of documentation and consistency, I’m dating this post on the day I’m writing about, as I have done in the past in will do in the future. Just wanted to be clear on that -now onto Pilot Mountain!

Sarah and I have both driven past Pilot Mountain on dozens of occasions and have known it to be one of the pillars of the North Carolina State Park system. But, amazingly, neither of us had ever been. For that reason, as we start out on our journey of visiting all of North Carolina’s state parks, we wanted Pilot Mountain to be one of the firsts. A beautiful October weekend seemed like the perfect time to give it a try.

Our initial plan was actually to stay a night at the campground. The day before, we made the decision nix that as the forecast was predicting overnight temperatures below freezing. As it turns out, this wouldn’t be the only change of plans that the day would bring us. When we arrived a Pilot Mountain State Park, we weren’t able to park at the campground like we had hoped (due to large crowds and no more parking spaces according to the ranger), and instead had to park along the road outside the park gates. I pulled up the park map from newly download NC State Parks App (this would prove to be a mistake), and saw that there was a trail right by where we parked that should lead us to the campground where we would begin the 2.5 mile hike to the top of the mountain.

We started the hike, and after a mile or so I got a little weary that we didn’t seem to be anywhere near the campground. I pulled out the GPS and could see exactly where we were, but there didn’t appear to be any trail on the map even though the trail was clearly marked in front of us. I gently broke the news to Sarah that I knew exactly where we were, but wasn’t exactly sure where we were going, though I assumed this trail would eventually lead us to the top in a couple¬†of miles.

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As you can see from Sarah in the picture above at this point we charged ahead.¬†The trail was beautiful and we were feeling great. A mile or so later, a couple passed us and we chatted with them. They let us know that we were on the newly redone Mountain Trail – a trail that encircled the entire mountain before ending back at the campground 4.5 miles later. They weren’t sure, but they assumed it ran into Ledge Spring Trail, which would take you to the top, but would also add a couple more miles to the trip. I did the calculation in my head and realized it was probably going to be at least 6 miles to the top, and at least another 2.5 to get back down.

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The picture above was taken not long after this revelation. Sarah was starting to get a little testy, but I told her if we could make it to the top, that we could hitchhike on the way back down.

So we charged on…

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When we passed the same couple again coming back down the mountain, I knew what they were going to say before they spoke. There wasn’t a way to get to the top, the trail just circled around to the campground, around the mountain. At this point, it was actually somewhat welcome news. We had the genius idea of finishing the hike around the entire mountain, and then driving to the top! At the very end of the hike, we stopped in the park office where they did have freshly printed maps of the new trail locations. When it comes to maps, paper is better.

As it turns out, though the hike was longer than we intended, and we didn’t hike to the top, it was actually a very nice hike. The trail was not crowded at all, unlike the main trail to the top¬†which we saw packed with people.
The fall colors were beautiful – both the leaves on the ground and in
the trees. It wIMG_3251as also just a wonderfully cool day to go for a long hike. Once we drove to the top, it was late enough in the afternoon that the crowds had shrank some, and we didn’t even have to wait to park (we were told the wait earlier in the date IMG_3259was over half an hour). The views at the top were phenomenal and we were so happy we had finally reached our ultimate destination. The sky was completely clear. We could make out all kinds of landmarks ¬†– in addition to Fancy Gap, Hanging Rock, Kings Mountain, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro we even were able to see some¬†buildings in the far distance which had to be Durham.

The trail map of what we hiked is below. For anyone passing through, not looking to hike, but with a half hour to spare, I highly recommend driving to the top. You won’t regret it! Or if you have a couple hours, hiking from the campground to the top would be a nice 4-5 mile out. Alternatively, you could actually do the hike we did and take the Grindstone Trail (you pick it up just outside the campground) to the top, so you would really do the entire park, and it would probably be around 9 miles. Sarah and I will definitely be back to this park, not just to witness the views at the top, but there is another¬†section of the park along the Yadkin River that we want to see.

IMG_3270   Hike Info:

  • MapMyFitness Link
  • Starting Point: Entrance to Pilot Mountain State Park Office (1792 Pilot Knob Park Road,¬†Pinnacle,¬†NC¬†27043)
  • End Point: Same
  • Length: 6.5¬†Miles
  • Approximate Hiking Time: 2 hours,¬†15¬†minutes

On our way home from Pilot Mountain, exhausted from the hike, we decided to check out a new brewery. I’m thinking this whole hiking and brewery combo might become a bit of a theme… The brewery we selected is called Small Batch, and it is in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem. It’s philosophy, as the name suggests, is making small batch beers, focusing on experimentation, rather than focusing on creating staple beers.

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I got a flight. They also were able to provide (pregnant) Sarah with a ginger beer, IMG_3260which she very much enjoyed. Easily my favorite was the Mr. Lemon Man IPA, and the Cucumber Basil Saison was good too РI think I would have enjoyed it even more were it Spring. A little research led me to discovering that the Mr. Lemon Man IPA used to be called Limonhead, and it is a rare beer that they do make over and over again. We also had some very delicious food. Particularly, the pumpkin bread pudding! Overall, we both really enjoyed the atmosphere of this place and the friendliness of the staff. If you find yourself in Winston-Salem and have already done the foothills thing Рthis is a great place to catch a game, sample some beer, or grab a bite to eat!

Brewery Info: Small Batch Brewery (241 West 5th Street Winston-Salem, NC 27101)

  • Number of Beers: 8¬†taps, beers continually rotating
  • Favorites:¬†Mr. Lemonhead IPA
  • Prices:¬†The Flight was $8 which I thought was a little high for only 4 beers.¬†Most pints are $5.
  • Food: Gourmet Bar Food

12 Weeks… And It’s My Turn!

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This was the week the long-awaited doppler arrived (albeit a day late), beginning our A.D. (after doppler) pregnancy journey. Before I get into that though, I did want to share a few thoughts about what the last couple months have been like. I’ll admit, when Sarah’s pregnancy first came to light, I was in a bit of shock. I was curious and excited, sure, but more terrified than anything.¬†So many “how” questions circled through my mind. How will we sleep? How will this effect our relationship? How will I handle watching Sarah in pain while giving birth? (I refused to watch birth videos with her for the first several weeks) How will we find the time to get everything done? And most importantly…. HOW WILL WE AFFORD IT?

The first ultrasound is where it really started to sink in for me that this was happening, though not even that we are having a baby, but the fact that Sarah’s body is going through a transformative process. While the “how” questions still circled through my head, I tried not to obsess over them and¬†just started focusing all of my attention on Sarah. This pregnancy is about her, not me. I am doing my best to remember that and do all I can to make it as positive an experience for her that it can be. When she is joyous (which is most of the time), I share in that joy and embolden those thoughts. On the occasions where she is moody, anxious or fearful, I have tried¬†to be¬†calm,¬†patient¬†and¬†understanding (though, admittedly, I am still¬†working on this part). I have also tried to do little things I know she enjoys – cooking meals she is craving (or even going out to eat when we have plenty of food at home), buying lots of seltzer & juice (not to mention a doppler) and most importantly, rubbing her every night.

In focusing on Sarah, I’ve seen how happy she is, how true to herself she is (which can sometime mean being outwardly anxious and worried, which is ok!), how grateful she is for all the support she has received from friends and family, and how appreciative of me she is.¬†I don’t know when exactly it happened, I think it was probably gradual, but over the last couple of weeks, by concentrating on Sarah and her needs, the “how” worries and fears have slipped into the background. I can’t say they’ve disappeared, but my excitement and gratitude has grown to a such a level that it dulls the worry. I (and we) are so very lucky for so many things, beyond just having each other and this pregnancy, but at this moment its never felt so clear, and I am enjoying letting it soak in.

That brings me to the doppler. To me it seemed both unnecessary and a potential cause of undue stress, so I wasn’t really excited about the purchase. I mostly kept that to myself though¬†–¬†her body, her choice. My fears were almost confirmed when on Sarah’s first try she was unable to locate the heartbeat. I could see the disappointment and worry on her face. While watching some YouTube videos on the matter, we heard it works best on a full stomach. Sarah downed some food and we tried again. This time, about 5 minutes in, I first heard Sarah gasp and her face light up. I then leaned in and heard the unmistakable beat of the little nug’s heart, just as Sarah had. I have to say, getting the doppler¬†was¬†definitely worth it, firstly, just to see Sarah’s expression of joy. Secondly, hearing the heartbeat was magical.¬†It is still is hard for me to really make sense of the fact that there is a human growing in her, and that we will have to care for that human. But in hearing the heart, I couldn’t help but feel an intense connection, not just with Sarah, but with the little nug his or herself, and in that moment the realness sets in.

You can see a video of Sarah using the Doppler here!

HBP Brown Ale

I had two goals with this beer. The first being to make a beer a nice beer for Fall. The second was I wanted to use peppers; specifically, some hot banana peppers I had growing in the¬†garden. I decided to do a brown (though a little on the lighter side given the Pilsner Extract) to give it a fall feel, used plenty of hops per usual, and added in the hot peppers at the same time as the yeast. We’ll see how it goes!

Recipe:

  • Steeping Grains
    • Brown Malt – .75Lbs
    • Caramel 40L – .50Lbs
    • 2 Row Pale – .25Lbs
    • Roasted Barley – .25Lbs
  • ¬†Extract
    • Breiss Pilsner Light Extract – 6.6lbs
  • Hops
    • Cascade (6o min) – 2 ounces
    • Cascade (20 min) – 2 ounces
    • AU Stella (5 min) – 2 ounces
    • AU Stella (1 min) – 1 ounce
  • Other Ingredients
    • Whirfloc Tablet (5 min)
    • 6 Hot Banana Peppers, mostly deseeded (Pitched with Yeast)
    • Safale US-05 Yeast
    • 1/2 Cup Table Sugar (for priming)

9/30/15: Brew Date IMG_3162Thoughts:

I am pretty worried about this beer. Firstly, I really wasn’t sure how many peppers to use. I used 6, because I want it to have the pepper flavor, but I took most of the seeds out, because I don’t want the heat to overwhelm the beer. Hopefully this works, but there is a chance the pepper taste won’t come through at all, or even worse, it’ll just be too hot to drink. I also used over 7 ounces of hops so this thing is going to be really hoppy. I think that is great, but just hoping the hops work well with the brown grains (and the Pilsner Extract), as well as the peppers. Other areas of concern are the hops I used called “AU Stella”, which I’ve never used before. I decide to risk it because¬†they had similar acidity to Simcoe (what I had planned to use), and they were majorly on sale. I also realized while brewing that I don’t have any corn sugar left. After consulting other brewing blogs, I think I am just going to keep the risks going here and try using table sugar for the first time as a primer.

10/14/15: Bottling Day Thoughts:

Based on the FG, looks like this beer is only 4.6% ABV. Seems rather low. Taste wasn’t bad though, so optimistic it might turn out alright.

12/18/15: Final Thoughts:

I’ve drank many of these beers trying to decide what I think of it, and I think I’ve decided its rather good. All of the things that I was worried about ended up not being a real issue. The pepper amount was perfect – noticeable, but not overbearing. The table sugar worked just fine. It’s very drinkable and has a flavor that is unlike any other beer I’ve had. The hops do drown out the malts quite a lot, so there really isn’t much “Brown” character to the beer. Not a complaint, but didn’t really turn out like I had originally envisioned. I think if I could do it over, I would have gone less on hops and heavier on the brown malt. While I do enjoy the beer, I don’t see a compelling reason to make this again. I do really enjoy the peppery aspect of the beer though, and definitely try to do that again in the future. Maybe something a little lighter so the pepper can shine through even more.

The cat is out of the bag!

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I am 11 weeks today, and decided that I couldn’t wait any longer to share the news with the world (that and one of my students pretty much outed me on Thursday when he said **in front of the whole class** that I looked pregnant)!!

To be honest, I have felt a little nervous/anxious about when to share the news, and how to tell people. Women are taught that it is a good idea to wait until you are 12-14 weeks before sharing your pregnancy news, largely because the chances of miscarriage decrease greatly after that milestone. However, my reasons for sharing the news are completely my own, and with the love and support that I have from my incredible husband, I wanted to share them with you all here:

Firstly, I have never considered myself a serious “pro-life”, “life starts from conception”, “the baby’s heart beats at six weeks” kind of fanatic. I have always supported women’s rights to make their own decisions about their own bodies and that is that. My opinion on that will not change.

But one day, this crazy little thing happened, where I became a mother. I did not become a mother because I saw the baby on an ultrasound screen. I did not become a mother because I heard the baby’s heartbeat. I did not become a mother because I felt any physical differences in my body. I did not become a mother because I made it to the end of my first trimester without any problems…. I became a mother because I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. You can’t explain the overwhelming feelings of love and joy that you have for the little gummy bear inside your womb until it happens to you. And when it does, you won’t want to wait until “it is an appropriate time” to tell the world. You will want to shout it out from the mountain tops. How can I possibly expect for my friends and family to love and support me and my baby and my husband if they don’t know about it? And how can I possibly pretend like this is not the most important thing that has happened to me in my life up to this point? Well, I decided not to. I am pregnant, today. I am a mother, today. And I will continue to love this baby more with each new second that we are given together, and I couldn’t have kept that fact from the world for one minute longer.

The other reason that I felt compelled to share this news today is because I, as of right now, am one of the lucky ones. I know so many women who have had difficulties with pregnancies of their own, and so many women who would give anything to conceive a child at this very moment. I know women who have never had the joy of taking a positive pregnancy test, and women who never got to hear their nugget’s heartbeat for the first time. I know women who grew their sweet, precious babies for 25 weeks before losing them, and I know women who gave birth to their angels after 40 weeks, without ever watching them take a breath in this world. When I say that I know them… I am not talking about “stories” that I’ve heard. I know them personally. Because I know these women personally, and because they have shared their stories of triumph and sorrow,¬†I have the strength and courage to share my news.

Today, it is good news. Tomorrow, things could change. Anything could happen. This is how the world works. But, I have been working on a few things in my life recently, most of which have to do with telling the truth about how I feel and what is going on inside my head and body. This has made me, and continues to make me a healthier, happier person, and has done amazing things for me and my relationship with Nick. I am here today, with an open heart, open arms, and an open mind. Whatever is meant to be, will be. I know that I want to be a good mommy and for now, that means eating yummy healthy things and taking good care of my body. It also means being true to myself and what I think is the best for me. Sharing my news has brought me so much joy and satisfaction, and no matter what happens, I wouldn’t trade this feeling of elation for anything.

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(our social media announcement which included our “first babies”)