Week 22

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Week 22 | an update

How far along: 22 weeks

Best moment this week: Seeing friends and family over the weekend for Okoboji Winter Games.

Worst moment this week: Not really baby related, but the negative degree weather isn't really helping my mood.

Things I miss: Participating in late-night outings involving drinking establishments. OK...truth...I don't really miss this that much. I do however miss feeling like I could participate (without awkward looks) and have fun without the drinks. Honestly, I'd take intelligent conversation and a dinner party ANY DAY of the week over yelling-to-be-heard bar-hopping.

Maternity clothes: Yep. Above outfit is from Target for anyone wondering. I'm terrible about keeping white shirts white, so we'll see how long this one lasts!

Sleep: Pretty good this week!

Movement: Baby W's movement is becoming more noticeable, but still not too consistent. I've noticed that bikes and elliptical machines at the gym create LOTS of movement. A little worried this is because I'm annoying/squishing/or making the baby uncomfortable with the movement, and considering just sticking to the treadmill where this hasn't been a concern.

Food Cravings: Brats & Sauerkraut. Maybe this is just due to the lack of being able to grill in the middle of the winter. I've also been enjoying grapes and pineapple along with the occasional breakfast pastry. Yum. Yum.

Food Aversions: Nothing to report here!

Queasy or sick: I'm just waiting to catch a cold. T has been sick all week, and I feel confident it's only a matter of time...

Belly button in or out: Flat.

Rings on or off: On.

Looking forward to: OB checkup tomorrow to see how Baby W is growing - updates next week! My sister-in-law H's baby shower this Saturday for Baby Nielsen. Hoping to get some good ideas of things that Baby W might need, or would be nice to have.

Oh Darling...Let's be Adventurers

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ahoy matees! T & I interrupted this bitter cold winter last week to sneak off on a little babymoon getaway. I've got to say, 80+ degree temps for the past week were wonderful and oooh so relaxing. Ahhh...to see the sun on a regular basis. The ease of a swimsuit, sundress and sandals as my everyday attire. Perfection.

Royal Caribbean | Adventure of the Seas

After taking to the seas on a Celebrity cruise last February, T was hooked. He absolutely can't resist  a temporary escape to life on the ocean, the waves rocking gently, and the opportunity to analyze the evening sky while watching islands fade in and out of the night. This time around, after hearing some raving reviews, we decided to jump ship, if you will, and try out the Royal Caribbean cruise line. This is our week in a nutshell:

After arriving in San Juan, Puerto Rico last Sunday afternoon, we made our way to the cruise port to get all checked in. This was a surprisingly easy a quick process considering the size of our ship...3840 passengers!! The first day of our trip was spent at sea en route to Bridgetown, Barbados, the most southern stop on our itinerary for the week. We enjoyed exploring around and learning all of the fun things to do onboard...mini-golf, rock-climbing, ice skating, basketball court, theater shows, pools, shopping, coffee shop, comedians, musicians, many many bars, and lots of sun loungers...the list goes on.

The first formal night on our cruise. We had two formal nights throughout our trip, and both enjoyed getting all dolled up to go to dinner and a show.

Snorkeling. Sea turtles. Shipwrecks. Oh my! Our excursion in Barbados was just the thing to ease into adventures for the week. After a short catamaran sail with Silver Moon Charters (booked directly through our cruise, and easily one of the largest and nicest catamarans we've ever been on - plenty of tables and benches, clean, friendly crew, etc), we arrived at our first snorkeling spot to swim with sea turtles.

It was very cool to see them in their natural habitat swimming around with us like old pals. The second stop was a 'shipwreck' snorkel. A.K.A. an old tugboat that was purposely sunk about 10 years ago after it became too outdated to maintain. Although it wasn't what I expected when booking the excursion, it was still interesting to see a sunken ship up close.

We had fun, and it was just the right amount of snorkeling for me (I'm not a snorkeling lover). If you are looking to see a lot of the coast, or coral reefs, this is not the excursion for you. The ocean floor at these stops was without any coral, and it was entirely about the shipwreck and turtles. Interesting, but not a typical snorkel.

The official 20 week bump picture. Baby W got to go for a snorkel!

Coastal cruise to the Pitons. After our snorkeling adventure on Barbados, I was looking forward to a non-swimming excursion, and the number one thing on our list to do was to see the Pitons.

The Pitons are two volcanic plugs that are a World Heritage Site in St. Lucia. We booked a coastal catamaran cruise with Sea Spray Cruises aka Tango Party Cruise (also directly through our cruise), and away we went.

St. Lucia is truly a beautiful and lush tropical island that is referred to as the 'Helen of the West Indies' because it switched so often between French and British control. It has been an independent country since 1979, but still remains part of the British Commonwealth, or Commonwealth of Nations. In the immediate area of Castries, near our cruise port, we noticed a significant amount of poverty. If you plan to visit, this is an island you'll want to be sure you are staying in a resort area.

The Pitons were almost a two hour boat ride from Castries, so we got to enjoy the scenery of the island along the way. Due to the volcanic history of the island, there are not too many beaches, and those that we did see were not the super white powdery sand so often associated with Caribbean islands. Some of the beaches on the north side of the island (the Pitons are on the southwest side) supposedly have white sand.

As you can see, it was a pretty windy day! This made for a relatively rough catamaran ride to the Pitons, so we were happy to get back on solid ground at the end of our excursion.

Champagne Lobster Catamaran Cruise. Are you noticing a trend here? We might have got carried away with the catamaran cruises. We did, however, enjoy each one, and think they are a great way to see an island.

In Antigua, yet another member of the British Commonwealth - independent since 1981, we knew we wanted to see some beaches. Our tour in Antigua was on the Mystic II, operated by Tropical Adventures (also booked through our cruise). The locals tout Antigua as having 365 beaches, or one for every day of the year. Based on the coastline, there was certainly no lack of sandy spots! 

We made two beach stops, one at Deep Bay, and the other at Turner's Beach. After enjoying an amazing grilled lobster lunch (one of our best meals all week!), we hit the beach for a swim in the beautiful blue waters.

T was immediately ready to scrap the rest of our itinerary after seeing what Antigua had to offer. It's definitely an island we would consider revisiting on a non-cruise vacation sometime in the future.

A beach bump picture for you all. 20 weeks and halfway there! T thinks Baby W is going to be jealous when we reminisce about all the awesome places we visited on the babymoon.

By day six of our vacation, T & I were ready for some relaxation without a planned excursion. The past few days had been somewhat exhausting, so we took advantage by sleeping in a little longer than usual, then headed out to the taxi stand to find a good beach. I will tell you that St. Maarten is definitely the most 'touristy' island we visited. The day we were there, there were a total of FIVE cruise ships in port. Trendy? Perhaps. The shopping near port was very nice, and is a well organized area.

After researching some before our trip, we knew we wanted to check out Orient Beach on the French side of the island. St. Maarten is an island split in half between France and the Netherlands Antilles. The French side is known for it's international cuisine and upscale shopping in Marigot, while the Dutch side is where all of the cruises dock at. After about a 30min cab ride ($14 each way), we were at Orient Bay, a large stretch of sand with TONS of beach loungers, restaurants and bars.

We got dropped off at Kakao restaurant/bar, a great spot near the middle of the beach, and rented a couple of loungers with an umbrella for $20. A warning: a portion of Orient Bay is a nude beach (this side of the island is French after all), so if you are planning a visit with kids, this is not the beach to visit. T & I have officially checked 'visit a nude beach' off our list! If you want to feel better about your body, I'd recommend a trip here! That being said, there is a divide between the two sides of the beach, and while a few choose to venture across the border, it is mostly separated out.

St. Croix. What can I say? This was the stop T & I were least excited about visiting as we had previously been here last spring on a different cruise. There are not too many excursions available on St. Croix, and virtually no shopping at the port. They haven't quite figured it out yet. Since we had already done the main excursion, Buck Island Snorkeling, on our last visit, we decided to take it easy and head to a beach.

We ended up going to 'Sandcastle Beach', so named for the hotel that is situated on it, about a 10 minute cab ride from the port. We rented a beach chair and umbrella for $20 and spent the last day of our vacation enjoying the ocean view and swimming. The beach here was not nearly as nice as Antigua or St. Maarten, but as an alternative to the $100 beach excursion offered through our cruise, for about $30 we couldn't have fared any better. There was a nice bar area where I enjoyed the most delicious non-alcoholic mango colada, and T made friends with the bartender after several return visits throughout the afternoon. All in all, going into the day with no idea of what to do, we left feeling satisfied with our last beach afternoon of the trip.

Back onboard, T decided to indulge in a beer bucket all to himself to top off the trip.


On our departure day, we had a little extra time, so we decided to visit Old San Juan to pass some time. It quickly became evident that this would take more time than usual due to the Festival of San Sebastian - I have never seen traffic so ridiculous! 

While we didn't have time to do much (not to mention it was a super warm 86 degrees and I wasn't feeling the need to cover all of Old San Juan by foot), we did enjoy some serious people watching while waiting to have coffee and breakfast at one of our favs, Caficultura. I highly recommend a visit if you find yourself in Old San Juan. Gourmet coffee has never tasted so good.

While waiting, T & I came to the realization that for the last three years, we have found ourselves traveling to Puerto Rico, and walking the streets of Old San Juan. Is this a sign? Is there a particular reason we find ourselves consistently draw to a certain little island paradise in the Caribbean otherwise known as Puerto Rico? I don't have an answer to that, but I can confidently leave knowing it'll only be a matter of time until we venture back for a return visit. Until next time...

Pictures from the rest of the trip: CLICK HERE 

What is your favorite Caribbean island to vacation on?

Week 21

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Week 21 | an update

How far along: 21 weeks! Just a smidge over halfway.

Best moment this week: Babymoon getaway to the Southern Caribbean!

Worst moment this week: Coming back from the Southern Caribbean to find that there was no improvement in the temps at home. Back to negative degree weather. Yuck.

Things I miss: Tropical vacation drinks. Our cruise thankfully had many non-alcoholic options to choose from, and I enjoyed several frozen pina coladas that helped me to stay cool. One that was particularly yummy made using mangos. I told T he needs to beef up his 'mocktails' now that we are home.

Maternity clothes: Yes. T even let me indulge a little and I got a few super cute items, including this dress from GAP, right before heading out on our cruise.

Sleep: Surprisingly well last week on our cruise. The rocking was very peaceful. It may have helped that our 'cruise' bed was two twin beds pushed together, so it didn't sink down in the middle like our bed at home. Ideal for snuggling? No. Ideal for sleeping? Yes.

Movement: Yes finally! I didn't notice too much movement while we were on our cruise...probably because there were so many other things to focus on, but now that we are back home, Baby W has been very active. I've particularly noticed this mid-morning, and around 6:30-8:30pm.

Food Cravings: Still craving fruit and sweets. I think I'd eat pineapple every day if it wasn't such a pain to cut up. I swiped some of T's pineapple Greek yogurt (which he wasn't very happy about since every time I buy him Greek yogurt to try, someone else ends up eating it), but it was delicious, and I will probably have to get some more just for me. Disclaimer: I don't even really like yogurt, but this pineapple version was just too yummy to resist. 

Food Aversions: Nothing in particular that stood out from this past week.

Queasy or sick: I was worried about the rocking of the ocean on our cruise last week, and left town well stocked with motion-sickness meds. I did not however have to use any of them surprisingly. The day we were in St. Lucia, our catamaran tour got pretty rough with some serious waves, so I did get pretty uncomfortable then, but felt much better after spending some time on solid ground.

Rings on or off: On for now.

Belly button in or out: Right in the middle. Flat.

Looking forward to: Okoboji Winter Games this coming weekend! Can't wait to hang out with friends and family.

Big Things Ahead...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Introducing Baby W!

WEEK 19 | an update

How far along: 19 weeks. T & I had to be very sneaky in order to keep this big surprise secret until we were comfortable sharing our exciting news.

Best moments so far: Since we're almost halfway there, I've got quite a few 'bests' to share:

Sharing the news that our little family would be growing with T waaaaaay back in late September. It was a wonderful end to an incredibly stressful month after finally closing on our new home.

First OB appointment and hearing baby's heartbeat at 13 weeks (Thanksgiving week). 160 beats per min! Baby W's heartbeat has changed and slowed down at subsequent appointments, so it's not been consistently high.

Researching, buying, and assembling our stroller (BOB Revolution SE) and carseat (Britax B-Safe Infant Carseat). I probably read almost a thousand reviews, and am very happy with the final decisions on this front. It has been the only baby purchase we've made so far, and we can't wait to use it this summer. Putting together the stroller was T's first 'baby' related job, and he did an excellent job helping.

Sharing the news with our families at Christmas. We wrapped up a baby book with a note that said: 'Please read this to me in June (or May if I come early) Love, Baby Witt'. My younger brother T and his wife H were particularly excited as they are expecting a little boy in March. Can't wait to meet Baby W's first cousin!

First ultrasound and finally getting a look at Baby W - today! Soooo exciting!

Things I Miss: Where do I begin? Wine, cold-meat (No Jimmy Johns, salami, deli-meat sandwiches, chicken salad, etc...the list goes on), blue cheese and brie.

Maternity clothes: I'm still able to wear some of my winter sweaters and stretchy pants, but most of the wardrobe has shifted at this point to maternity clothes. A growing bump not only means that most of my jeans no longer work, but also my tops are getting to be too short.

Sleep: I don't sleep as well as I used to. I haven't had to get up to use the restroom in the middle of the night (yet!), so that's not a problem, but I just seem to have a hard time getting comfortable. I've been considering getting a maternity pillow to help sleep, but I'm not sure our queen sized bed has enough room for it!

Movement: I've started to feel a couple of flutters every now and then, but nothing consistent yet.

Food Cravings: Fruit, Veggies, Chocolate, Fresh-Squeezed OJ, Sierra Mist/Sprite (I gave up diet pop and any drinks with aspartame), Pink Lemonade.

Food Aversions: During the first trimester, I wasn't a big fan of mushrooms and onions. I also wasn't too into the sometimes overpowering smells of BBQ food. As you may have noticed, I haven't posted as many recipes in the last several months...hard to motivate oneself to cook when feeling queasy :( During the second trimester, I haven't been as crazy about meat. I'm usually not a big meat eater anyways, but the idea of a meal without a salad or some serious sides is just not very appealing.

Symptoms: During the first trimester, going too long between meals or snacks did not help me in the queasy department. Also, sometimes I would get too hot (randomly for no reason) and feel lightheaded and dizzy. T's driving takes a toll on me when he isn't using cruise control, or doesn't slow down/speed up at a slow pace instead of quick stop or quick take-off. I told him I was going to put something that bangs around in his backseat for practice so that if it moves, he knows he is going too fast. Now that I'm in the second trimester, the queasiness has gone away, but I find myself out of breath more often, and I've been having more difficulty sleeping.

Gender Prediction: T & I got to find out Baby W's gender today at our first ultrasound (Yeeeaaaa!) But for the rest of you, don't hold your breath, we aren't planning to share this little secret, and you'll have to wait until Baby W arrives!

Rings on or off: On, but my fingers are starting to get a little swollen, so not sure I'll be able to keep them on for the entire pregnancy.

Belly button in or out: In for now. It looks kind of flattened as my tummy makes room for baby W.

Looking forward to: Babymoon in the Southern Caribbean on a cruise next week! With this ridiculous cold weather, a warm-weather getaway can't come soon enough!

Randoms: We had our first look at Baby W this morning!! Woohoo! It was soooo exciting to finally get a look at our very first little. Lucky for you, I was able to snag a few ultrasound photos to share.

This was our first look at Baby W. Kind of creepy if you ask me. You can see the eye sockets and mouth staring right back at you. Today, Baby W was head down feet up, all stretched out.

When we saw this shot, my comment was...take a look at the muscles in those legs!! It would seem that I am in for some serious kicking in the very near future!!

While we didn't get to count all of the fingers and toes to know they were all there, we did get a couple of pretty good views of one foot and one hand.

DETAILS: As of today, baby W is measuring at .65 lbs (a little bigger than an average sized grapefruit), ranks in the 48% for size, and according to the ultrasound, has a due date of May 31. NOTE: This is slightly earlier than our previously established date of June 3, so we will keep an eye on this later with our family physician when we start doing fundal height measurements (measurement from pubic bone to the top of the uterus) at our regular OB appointments after the 20th week. As we get further along, I'll continue to post updates on all things baby including bump pictures for those of you wanting to keep in the loop who don't live close. That's all for now! Hope you have a fabulous day!

Slow Cooker Sweet Garlic Chicken

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy Friday! Hope you all had a fabulous New Year's Eve and New Years Day. T & I hosted a small dinner party on NYE rather than trying to get a last minute reservation and having to go outside to brave the chilly northwest Iowa elements. On the menu were several delicious morsels that will likely be repeated at some point so that I can have a chance to blog about them rather than just stress about having everything ready at the appropriate time (hurray for double ovens!). All in all, the night was a success. T got a chance to bust out his new copper Moscow Mule mugs, we enjoyed the many one-liners of the classic Back to the Future, and had our first overnight guests in the new casa.

Truth. Speaking of the elements outside of late, T & I are seriously over the cold negative degree weather. What better than a warm slow cooker recipe to make the house smell delicious all day? This Asian-inspired slow cooker recipe for sweet garlic chicken is absolutely yummy, and super easy to throw together.

Step One: Gather the ingredients. Disregard the chicken broth here...thought I was going to use it and didn't :)

Step Two: Place the chicken in a lined slow cooker, then mix up the sauce in a small bowl.

Step Three: Pour the sauce over the chicken, and set slow cooker to low for 6-8 hours, or high for 4 hours.

Step Four: When the chicken is done cooking, remove to a heated plate and tent with foil. Pour the remaining liquid into a saucepan over high heat, and bring to a boil. Boil until sauce has reduced to a glaze. It will continue to thicken after removing from the heat.

Serve chicken over brown or white rice with a generous serving of glaze. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes to balance out the sweet with some spice. I would also recommend serving with steamed snap peas or broccoli as a side. Yum. Yum.

Recipe adapted from Pass the Recipe

SLOW COOKER SWEET GARLIC CHICKEN | Yield: 6 servings | Total Time: 4-6 hrs


4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 C packed brown sugar
2/3 C apple cider vinegar
1/4 C lemon-lime soda
4 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp water
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Brown or white rice, to serve


Line slow cooker with a liner. Place chicken (frozen, thawed or fresh) inside slow cooker. In a medium sized bowl, mix together brown sugar, vinegar, soda, garlic, soy sauce and pepper. Pour over chicken. Cook on low 6-8 hours, or high for 4 hours.

Remove chicken from slow cooker to a warm plate, and tent with foil. Pour remaining sauce into a medium saucepan over high heat. Whisk together corn starch and water in a small bowl, pour into the saucepan, and mix well to combine and help thicken. Bring sauce to a boil, stirring frequently, until it starts to thicken into a glaze. Remove from heat and let sit for a couple of minutes. Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

Serve chicken over brown or white rice, spoon the delicious glaze over the top, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes to add a little spice to the sweetness of the sauce. I would also recommend steamed snap peas or broccoli as a side.

Do you have any favorite slow cooker recipes?

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