Lucky Number Seven


Posted on Mar 19, 2014 in Family

In general, Craig and I are pretty rotten at celebrating holidays, anniversaries, and birthday. It’s not that we don’t see the value in those days (we do!). But we both really try to celebrate the everyday awesomeness of life, instead of pumping all of our effort into those certain dates on the calendar. Honestly, it’s a nice way to go through life and a marriage.

That being said, it can be nice to get out of our comfort zone every now and again and actually so something special for a special event. Like when we went on a nice beach vacation for our fifth anniversary. And, like I mentioned on Monday, our seventh anniversary was this week—and we took the opportunity to hit up a new-to-us local tapas restaurant.

me and babyface anniversary

I know that going out to dinner isn’t really a special thing for a lot of folks, but it’s something we very, very rarely do (like, uh, I literally can’t remember the last time we went out to eat before Monday night), so it’s a super special treat for us! Because we rarely go out to eat, we’re super picky about the places we do chose to spend our time and money. And after lots of research, we landed on spending our anniversary dinner at Habana Blues.


If you think it’s strange that a Cuban tapas restaurant is located in Southern Indiana, you should come hang out here—we’re more than just cornfields! We have such a great selection of awesome cultural restaurants. And in particular, this area (Downtown New Albany) is super hip and amazing. It’s an old downtown, right next to the Ohio river, that has had a renaissance over the past decade or so. It’s now full of incredible little shops, a wide variety of restaurants, a few wineries, a brewery, and one of the better open-air farmer’s markets in the area.

Anyway, Habana Blues came highly recommended, and we figured since it was St. Patrick’s Day, we probably would have our pick of the place since most folks would be hitting up the Irish bars and restaurants in the area, and we were right! We started off with drinks, I ended up with a virgin cucumber mojito, which was insanely delicious. I have to recreate this one at home!

me drink

We started perusing the menu and were crazy overwhelmed by all the choices. I love tapas-style dining (and tend to order tapas-style from the appetizer menu even when a restaurant isn’t a tapas restaurant) because I hate having to make the decision to stick with one thing. That’s one of the issues of never going out to eat! When I do, I want to try it all.


We ended up landing on five dishes. And man, it was so tough to narrow it down to that. We started off with a caprese salad and some fresh guacamole with plantain chips. The caprese salad seems random at a Cuban place, but the dressing wasn’t your typical balsamic drizzle, it was a balsamic reduction that had a bit of spice and some latin flavor to it. Delicious! I just wish tomatoes were in season, I’m sure it would have been a million times better in July with some Indiana heirlooms.

guacamole and caprese

Next up, we had Ropa Vieja de PolloIt was slow-cooked, shredded seasoned chicken atop of beans, rice and skillet sweet potatoes. This reminded me a little bit of cajun food, it was insanely good! And it was served with two grilled plantains, which added a really incredible sweetness to the dish.

Ropa Vieja de pollo

We also got two veggie empanadas. The empanadas were awesome, but the dipping sauce was absolutely killer. It was some sort of spicy, strawberry sour cream-y concoction, that I ended up dipping pretty much everything in.


The last of our tapas were two pulled pork tacos. Craig said these were the absolute best tacos he’d ever had. The pork was slow-cooked and absolutely fell apart. And there was a sweet, avocado-lime salsa on top which was a really nice balance to the heaviness of the pork. They were darn good.


And, of course, it wouldn’t be a proper celebration without some dessert! Craig and I both have a “thing” for key lime pie, and the second we heard they make theirs in house, we knew we were gonna be all over that. I’ve rarely met a key lime pie I didn’t like, but this one was particularly spectacular—it was like a combination of key lime pie and key lime cheesecake. YUM.

key lime pie

We also got a chocolate tres leches, which was good, but we should have known that compared to our shared love of key lime pie, it didn’t have a chance.

chocolate tres leches cake

We left dinner absolutely stuffed full. And totally happy. It was a great way to celebrate seven years!

Do you go all out for birthdays, holidays and anniversaries? Or are you a bit more reserved with your celebrations?

pregnancy update: starting the third trimester


Posted on Mar 7, 2014 in Family

me pregnant

The “experts” out there disagree with exactly when the third trimester starts, so I’m just going to go off the math—two-thirds of a 40 week pregnancy is 26.666 weeks and considering today I’m at 26 weeks, 5 days—I’m calling it! Welcome to the third trimester, kids.

I am so happy to be in my third trimester. It hasn’t been a secret that pregnancy hasn’t been fun for me, and I’m thrilled that I’m closing in on the end. Yay! Yippee! Woohoo! I know a lot of people consider the third trimester to be absolutely miserable, and I’m sure it will be no different for me, but it feels a lot more manageable considering the short time frame. In a little over 90 days, this season of my life will be over (and a whole other, crazy adventure begins).

The Nursery

We haven’t really gotten anywhere since my last update with the nursery. We, unfortunately, had a much bigger tax bill than expected so a lot of our nursery budget is getting rerouted to paying Uncle Sam, which means we’re doing a lot more reworking of pieces we have and using hand-me-downs than we had originally planned. Such is life. That’s alright, I don’t think Baby J will mind!


We have a lot of big DIY projects that we need to really get-to-gettin’ on in there. I was desperately hoping that second trimester burst of energy everyone talks about would kick in, but it never came. So I just gotta deal with it and get to work. My biggest project over the next few weeks is sewing curtains. We ordered some blackout liner and beautiful fabric to make curtains to cover up the floor-to-ceiling windows in the room—because I can make nice blackout curtains for so much cheaper myself than buying them.

curtain fabric

Craig is in charge of furniture painting. Since we’re using a lot of hand-me-down pieces and pieces thieved from other rooms in the house, we need to do some painting and reworking to make it all work together. Right now, we have a red dresser, a light blue changing table, a black crib and a wood rocking chair in there. It’s a bit crazypants, but we’ll make it work with a few coats of paint.

Honestly, we’re not too stressed about getting the nursery “done” before Baby J shows up. She’ll be sleeping in our bedroom for the first few months in a bassinet, and then we’ll (hopefully) transition her into her room, so we’ve still got a while. Although it would be nice to have the room at least set up as a place to stash all of the accoutrements that come along with a kid.

Buying for Baby

We made the decision early on that we weren’t going to do a lot of buying for baby (especially before our shower in April). What we don’t get at the shower, we’ll be thrifting and finding on consignment. Of course though, it can be seriously hard to deny buying some (keyword: some) of the adorable clothes and toys out there. We’ve picked up a few cute things here and there.

baby clothes

We also bought our carseat! After days and days and days of research, we found our perfect carseat and managed to find it on mega sale, too. So instead of waiting for someone to (maybe) buy it for us at our shower and shelling out a ton more money, we just bit the bullet and bought it ourselves while on sale. I also found the diaper bag we wanted on clearance during all my carseat research, so I threw that in the cart, too. I need stuff to stop going on sale or there’s not going to be anything left on our registry!

One of the biggest baby purchases for us is going to be a new-to-us car! We’ve been a one-car family since we were married seven years ago (minus a year where we had a second car that we barely used). It’s worked for us as a child-less couple. But we both agreed that we’d feel a lot more comfortable having a second, reliable mode of transportation with Baby J around. Craig works about 35 minutes away from the house, and we live in a rural area sans public transportation, so at the very least, one car would probably be a logistical nightmare for everyday stuff (going to doctor, etc.) and at the worst, could be a disaster in an emergency situation.

snowy road woods

Also, after this horrific winter, we made the executive decision that we have to own a four-wheel-drive vehicle to live where we live. Our car is great. And it does great in snow and ice—in the city—but not so much on our very hilly, very curvy, rarely plowed country road. Craig has literally had to call off work for entire weeks at a time this winter because he can’t drive down our country road (even though the highway it connects to is completely clear and dry). Now, we just gotta find the right car before baby gets here! And every time I think about buying a car before baby, I think about this This American Life episode (the third act) where the woman is in labor while she goes to the car dealership to buy a car. I hope we find our car before I’m in active labor.

How I’m Doing

I’m still dealing with morning sickness, although nothing even close to what it was like a few weeks ago (it’s been an entire two weeks since I threw up—yay!). At my last midwife appointment, she told me I was one of the lucky 1% of pregnant ladies who deals with morning sickness throughout the entire pregnancy. I feel special! Although, I would prefer to feel special for some other reason than my consistent queasiness. She also warned me that a lot of women who struggle with morning sickness see a strong resurgence in their third trimester because of all the pressure on the stomach. I guess the benefits of morning sickness never really going away is that when it comes back toward the end, I’m used to it.

Health wise, my midwives are thrilled. My blood pressure is good, I’m gaining weight at a normal clip, and other than my consistent discomfort, I’m doing well. And so is the baby! She’s growing well, has a great heartbeat and is measuring right on schedule. And she’s kicking and dancing a storm up in my belly.

I have my glucose screening next week—which I am not looking forward to. I’ve pretty much figured out how to keep my morning sickness at bay, and part of that is eating as soon as I wake up and not drinking any liquids until my breakfast digests. Drinking anything (water, milk, juice, coffee) before I eat in the morning is an automatic ticket to hugging the toilet, and considering I’m not allowed to eat 12 hours before my screening, and the screening involves downing a cup of sugary drink first thing in the morning (and then hopefully keeping it down for an hour so they can draw blood)—I am not looking forward to it.

Eating wise, I’m doing a lot better than I have been. My appetite is normalizing a bit, and I’m bringing back in some healthier eats. This week, I upgraded from white bread to multigrain bread! Victory! I’ve even eaten real dinners (as in, not cereal) a few times in the past few weeks. I don’t expect I’ll be eating kale salads anytime soon, but I’m thrilled that my diet is trending a bit more normal lately.

mac and cheese

My biggest issue, far and away, now (and has been since my last update) is my Symphsis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). As promised by my midwives, it continues to get worse the larger I get. In my last update, I was saying that some days I feel mostly fine, and some days I can’t walk. Now, I just have a baseline amount of pain that doesn’t go away. It’s hard to explain what it feels like. It’s not only pain, but it’s also an incredibly uncomfortable feeling like your legs aren’t connected. It feels almost like, every time you take a step, someone is attached to your leg, trying to pull it out of your hip socket and another person is standing in front of you kicking you in your pubic bone with a steel-toed boot. Pleasant, right?

I have found that a minimal (very minimal) amount of light (very light) activity helps me manage the pain. I have to be very careful not to overdo it, or the pain is can’t-get-out-of-bed bad, but getting up and doing some slow walking for 5-10 minutes every now and again helps seems to keep my joints from getting stiff. I also have to keep my walking to flatter surfaces—stairs, hills and anything that requires me to be on one foot is extremely painful.

me jeans feet keens

I never thought I’d say this, but I miss exercise. Or at least, I miss the idea of exercise. I miss feeling healthy and feeling strong. I miss feeling like I could trust my body to take me anywhere and do (almost) anything. It is so crazy to me that I was healthy and strong enough to do a 40-mile charity walk only a few years ago, and now, I’m barely able to walk a city block without being in pain.  I think that’s the biggest emotional challenge I’m struggling with. Honestly, I feel a lot like I did before I started to get healthy. I just feel…yucky. And I’m trying to do the things I know help make me feel unyucky (eating healthier, drinking water, moving more), but there is only so much I can do in my condition. It’s frustrating to want to feel good and there not being much you can do about it. I much preferred when I had the power to make myself feel better.

I know this sounds all really depressing, but I’m actually in very good spirits. Spring is around the corner, I have a healthy baby in my belly, my husband is incredibly good to me—life is good!


Yup. We’ve got one. It’s the same one I mentioned in my last update. We love it! Although, we’ve made the decision not to share it with folks until Baby J is here.

j nursery

And, you guys may hate me for it, but we’re leaning toward not sharing her name at all online. The online presence of your child is a very personal decision, and it’s something Craig and I have been talking about since we found out I was pregnant. Obviously, we have no way of knowing how we’ll feel about it once our awesome daughter is here, but our plan right now is to really limit her online profile.

Craig and I are both fine with our lives being out there for everyone to consume online, but I feel like part of my job as a parent is to protect my daughter long enough so she can make that decision for herself. Chances are, she’ll be all over the interwebs like the kids are now-a-days, but if she happens to want to be a more private person, we want her to have that as an option. I’m not saying you’ll never see a picture of Baby J or hear any stories about her, but I wouldn’t expect the same level of detail about her day-to-day life as you get about mine. This isn’t a commentary on how anyone else makes this decision about their children—it’s a totally personal, and we’ve figured out what we think will be best for us and our family.

This all being said, Baby J might show up, and we won’t be able to resist posting a million photos of her amazingness to every social media account we own. And considering Craig and I both have family living thousands of miles away, we might have to come up with a more private way (ha! privacy on the internet—like that exists) way of sharing photos and stories of Baby J with far-away family (locked down Facebook accounts? a private blog? old-fashioned letters and prints?).

Birth Classes

We have a busy weekend ahead of us. Not only are we headed to a baby fair and tour at our birth center, but we also start our birth classes this weekend! There are a ton of options for how you want to go about learning about birth, at the suggestion of our midwives, we decided on a middle-of-the-road series of classes. It’s a six-week series that will teach us about all kinds of birth options—natural, medicated, and everything in between. It was very important to me to not be in a natural-only or a medicated-only birth class. I’m not ruling out any of my birthing options, and I want to know as much as I can about all the options. I’ve never done this before, and I have no idea how I’ll react to childbirth. So my only idea of a “perfect” birth is one where Baby J comes out healthy. That’s it. And I think pretending that I have control over the process to get there is setting myself up for disappointment. So I figure the best way to get myself prepared for birth is to be educated about all the different directions it could go, instead of getting my heart set on one way or another.

Alright, I think that brings you up to date! I’m gonna go sew some curtains. Have an awesome weekend!

Anyone doing anything fun this weekend?

pregnancy update: halfway there!


Posted on Jan 27, 2014 in Family

It’s been about a month since I spilled the beans and let you guys know that Craig and I are expecting a little Johnston come June. I figured it was about time I owed you guys another update on my pregnancy so far. I’m actually over the halfway hump (as of today, I’m 21 weeks, 1 day—20 weeks is the halfway point), and it feels nice to be on the downhill slope toward meeting our baby girl.

Yup, that’s right! We had our big anatomy ultrasound last week, and it took about 30 minutes of poking and prodding to get Baby J to flash us the goods, but she finally did and we’re thrilled that we’re having a little baby girl. It’s funny, from day one, Craig and I have both been picturing a little boy, but the two nights right before I had the ultrasound, I had two dreams that we were having a girl. So basically, we went into the ultrasound room with no clue what we might see. We (obviously) would have been thrilled either way, but it’s nice to be able to put a pronoun onto baby discussions now. Saying “she” and “her” definitely makes the whole having a baby thing feel more real and makes us feel more connected to her.

Plus, we got the awesome news that Baby J is rockin’ it inside my belly. She’s strong, healthy and is apparently kicking up a storm (although, I’ve yet to feel anything—or maybe I have and just didn’t realize it).


P.S. That’s not how you spell my name. I stopped correcting people sometime around the 3rd grade.

Just because we know we’re having a daughter, we don’t really plan on over-gendering any of our purchases or decorating decisions. We’d like our daughter to feel okay being a pink-loving, princess-obsessed, Easy Bake Oven kind of girl. Or a sports-playing, dirt-loving, tomboy. Or none of those things. Or all of those things. Or whatever combination of interests makes her happy. I’ve never been your stereotypical girly-girl, and Craig has never been your stereotypical manly-man, so it only makes sense to us that we’d want the same kind of freedom for our child to discover her identity as folks gave us to discover ours—and I think that can start as early as in utero.

To us, staying gender-neutral doesn’t mean avoiding things that are stereotypically gendered—it doesn’t mean we’re skipping pinks or blues or won’t deeply appreciate gifts of ruffled dresses and toy trucks—it just means were trying to keep a balance. Keep the flaps of the box open so she can figure out her own identity.


So with that in mind, we’ve officially kicked off work on the nursery! And by “we” I mean “my amazing, hardworking husband,” because I’ve been extremely limited in my mobility (more on that later). Our house has two back bedrooms on the main floor, one is the master, and the other right next to it was our office.


But it’s becoming baby-central! Craig pulled out all the furniture, removed the popcorn ceiling (a mess that I stayed far, far away from), switched out all the outlets (something we want to do all over the house), and painted the walls, ceiling and trim (which I helped with a bit, thanks to no-VOC paint and a mask). And now we have an awesomely, bright seafoam/teal color that we’re kinda obsessed with (it’s Pantone’s Beach Glass color-matched in Olympic Icon zero-VOC paint). You know that I’ve never been afraid of obnoxiously bright colors, and this room is going to be no exception. Bring on the obnoxiousness!


Now that all that work is done, it’s time for the seriously fun part—decorating! Craig and I have been on the same page with almost everything baby related and the nursery design has been the same way. We have most aspects of the room figured out, and thanks to being the youngest in both of our families, we have a lot of hand-me-downs to repurpose and reuse in the room. In fact, I think the only new piece of furniture we’re going to spring for is a crib and maybe a daybed or loveseat to make the room even cozier. We’re even using the same rocker that my Mama used with me (we’re going to refinish it, make some comfy cushions and get an ottoman)! I love that kind of history, and if it doesn’t end up being comfy enough, we can always spring for a more plush chair or glider once baby arrives.

Of course, because I’m Photoshop-obsessed, I made us a little moodboard to help guide us along our design.


We’re hoping that this room can be a room that can grow with our daughter—so it’s not going to be overtly baby-ish. Plus, it’s on the main floor of the house (in fact, you can see right in the room when you come in the main door to the house), so we wanted it to flow with the rest of our eclectic, bright style. I know a lot of parents say they barely used a nursery (and who knows, that might end up being the case for us), but I think the ritual of designing and working on one is an important step for us emotionally. Plus, it’ll nice to have at least one room in the house that is “finished”.

If you want to keep up with the day-to-day goings-on of the nursery design, Craig is posting it step-by-step over on The Broken Plow.


Craig and I have been having the baby name discussion since way back when we were dating long-distance and would spend all day talking on the phone with each other. We would throw around future baby names for hours! So once we found out we were having a little girl, the name discussion went pretty quickly. We had four names that were in the running, and we went through and really dissected each of them, and only one met all of our criteria (quirky, but still respectable, not common, has meaning, easy to spell, has a wide-variety of nicknames so she can decide what to go by—something I’ve always enjoyed about my Cass/Cassie/Casandra nameset). We’d settled on the name by the evening after the ultrasound!

Even though we’ve picked a name, we’re both in love with it, and are 99.9% sure it’s “the one”, we’re going to keep it to ourselves—at least for now. It’s not a common name (don’t worry, it isn’t full of apostrophes, doesn’t have a crazy weird spelling, and isn’t some made up word), but it’s absolutely perfect for us and the personality of our family. We totally expect to get some “Oh, really?” looks when we announce it. So we’re just basking in our joint love of the name, before we hear from the peanut gallery.

How I’m Feeling

Okay, now that we got all the fun, exciting stuff out-of-the-way, how about we bring this party down a few notches? Pregnancy and I still aren’t on the best terms. I still am fighting almost-daily morning sickness—although, not nearly with the severity and frequency as it was a few weeks back—but it’s still there, hovering around a dark corner, just waiting to surprise me with a sudden trip to hug the toilet. I’ve just accepted that I’m going to be one of those women who is throwing up until the day she gives birth (oh, please, please don’t let me be one of those few women who still deals with morning sickness postpartum). It’s not pleasant, but it’s my new normal.

Other than the morning sickness, I’m still dealing with all the other classic first trimester yuckies that everyone says I should have been rid of months ago—hormonal migraines, sinus issues, dysgeusia, chronic fatigue, food aversions—but just with the morning sickness, they’re not nearly as strong or frequent as before (so thankful for that). I’m eating somewhat normally again, although dinner is almost always a bowl of cereal and some yogurt. I can’t wait until the day that food is actually enjoyable again, and not just something I have to partake in to keep baby healthy.


But the biggest issue in my pregnant-life is something called Symphsis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). When you’re pregnant, the hormone relaxin (good name) is released to help loosen up all the joints and ligaments in your body to help you expand while the baby is growing and help your pelvis and hips let the baby come out come delivery time. Sounds like good stuff, right? And it is, except when relaxin gets a little overzealous and it causes issues—one of them being SPD. Basically, all the ligaments in my pelvis got too loosey-goosey and my joints are now spread too far apart, which means nothing is really lining up correctly, and it hurts like a mother.

A lot of women have sore pelvis and hips joints during pregnancy, but SPD is like a can’t walk, have to have your husband put your socks on for you, cry when you get out of bed in the morning kind of pain. It’s really not fun. And according to my midwives, other than modified bed rest, pelvic support, some chiropractic work, and the occasional pain-killer, there isn’t much that can be done to alleviate the problem once it arises. And it just gets worse and worse as the baby gets bigger and bigger (some women are even walking on crutches or using wheelchairs by their delivery date).

Dealing with this has absolutely been the biggest change in my life since getting pregnant. I’m not supposed to go up and down stairs (hard to do when you have a three-floor house). I’m not supposed to be on my feet for more than a few minutes (hard to do when you develop recipes for living). It’s really hard for me to get dressed by myself (hard to do when you, you know, wear clothes). It’s taken some serious adjustment and some amazing help from my incredible husband. He’s moved the TV into our bedroom, moved the office down into our living room, run down to the basement a million times to grab me things, done every speck of cooking and cleaning while I lay in bed and watch Gilmore Girls—I’m a lucky girl.

bedroom tv

I think the hardest thing to get used to with this new issue is that fact that some days, I just can’t do what I want to do (which is probably a damn good parenting lesson to learn now). My capacity for everything has diminished a ton—I just can’t work the hours I could pre-pregnancy, I can’t run errands all day, I can’t take my dog on a long walk—no matter how much I want to mentally and emotionally. It’s no longer about what my brain wants to do, but what my body can do. And that’s a crazy feeling to get used to for an able-bodied person.

SPD also, unfortunately, means that the vast majority of exercise is off the docket for me. There are some stretches and strengthening exercises that I can do, but they certainly aren’t a sweaty, heart-pounding workout. For the most part, exercising tends to exacerbate the issue (and any exercise where my body weight is on one foot for any period of time—running, yoga, stair-climbing, hiking etc. is totally off-limits). I was really hoping to be one of those #fitpregnancy women that I see all over Twitter and Instagram, but it just isn’t in the cards for me. Man, that first trip to the gym postpartum is going to be a bitch.

feet couch puppyface

Awesomely enough, I’m still in pretty good spirits even though I’ve had a rough go of it. I’m thrilled to be over halfway done and getting crazy excited to meet my daughter. Plus, mostly it seems fruitless to do a lot of complaining about a rough pregnancy. It is what it is, and there is nothing anyone can do about it to make me feel better, so complaining does nothing but spread negativity all around (which ain’t my thing). And I know there are millions of women out there who would take a pregnancy 10 times as rough as mine just to have a chance to have a healthy pregnancy, so I’m trying to keep perspective and stay grateful through this whole puketastic, painful experience.

Plus, having a rough pregnancy has made it to where I’m not dreading labor at all (labor=the end of pregnancy, so labor=good). Although I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune when I’m in the hospital going through the most painful experience of my life. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Other Random Updates

I’m officially up seven pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, which is a totally reasonable amount of weight to gain by this point. I’m pretty jazzed about finally gaining some weight. It’s a good sign because it means I’m actually eating (and things are staying down mostly).  Now that I’m pretty much glued to the couch and the bed, I’m sure I’ll continue to pack on the pounds. I’m not really stressing about weight at all. I’m eating as well as I can and moving as much as I can, and what happens, happens. FYI: Baby J is 12 ounces of that seven pounds—which is something we learned at our ultrasound.

The belly hasn’t changed a whole lot from a month ago. I think I’m probably just going to hover looking like this for a while, and then turn planet-sized in my third trimester. I’m wondering when people will start asking me if I’m carrying twins?

me pregnancy

After lots of recommendations to shop there, I have purchased a ton from the Old Navy maternity line. I usually am not the biggest Old Navy fan, but man, their maternity line is pretty boss. I also splurged a bit, because I’ve realized that I will  be able to wear almost everything after Baby J is here. One of the benefits of being a plus-sized woman—maternity clothes fit well even when you aren’t pregnant—belly room is always a good thing. I also tried to stock up on some non-maternity items that will continue to work through pregnancy. In fact, many of the shirts in the Old Navy plus-size line are actually styled exactly like maternity shirts (longer, ruching along the side to accommodate a belly—like these), so I stocked up on some of those. And these fold-over skirts are one of the things I love from Old Navy, and I’m thinking they’re stretchy enough to accommodate a big belly (they fit great now, with room to spare), plus the fold-over can be unfolded to act like a panel. And I can wear them with leggings and boots now or flip-flops come spring (if spring ever comes).


Craig and I started working on our registry—holy cow, there is so much stuff out there for babies! We’re mostly just registering for the basics, plus some fun additions. But you could easily register for $300,000 worth of things if you asked for one of everything people say is a “must have”. I’ve obviously never done this parenting thing before, but I imagine what’s a “must have” for one parent isn’t necessarily for another. And there’s no way to know until baby comes and you’re in the thick of it. So we’re keeping the list light-ish for now and we’ll adjust as we go. After all, just as long as baby has a place to sleep, a clean bum, cozy clothes, a full belly and lots of love, that’s enough to make it through the first few months (although, admittedly not nearly as fun as binge-buying all the adorable clothes, toys and baby accessories that are out there).

baby stuff

We have started doing some buying for baby! Mostly we’re just picking up a sleeper here or a onesie there when we see something we like (mostly when we see organic clothing on sale—we’d love to go mostly organic, but holy expensive, Batman!). But, we’re going to hold out to do major buying until after our shower in the spring. I did order some fabric to make the blackout curtains for the nursery (because I refuse to pay $150+ for curtains that I can make myself for a fraction of that cost—and get it in a fabric I love) and some fabric to make myself some nursing covers (because, again, I refuse to pay $30-$70 for what is basically a rectangle of fabric). We also hit up the fabric store with my Mama to pick out fabric for Baby J’s baby quilt! Mama has made a quilt for every one of her grandkids, and I’m so excited to see what she does with this one. We also ordered a few cloth diapers, just to test how they fit in the drawers of a changing table we currently have to see if we need to do any furniture modifications. Having a sticky drawer for a 3am diaper change sounds unfun.

fabric swatches

Alright, I think that brings you up to speed! I’m gonna go climb back in bed now.

Parents: what’s your one “must have” baby registry item? What thing could you not do without?

the big pregnancy update post


Posted on Jan 2, 2014 in Family

While I don’t really plan on changing a whole lot around here while I’m pregnant (still expect lots of healthy recipes, printables and general life musings), this blog has always been about what’s big in my life right now, and I figure bringing a little Johnston into the world is pretty much as big as they come (well, at least, to us). I want to share it with you guys! Plus, I think having (or at least trying to have) a healthy pregnancy is definitely a part of the moderate lifestyle I try to live and preach.

Alright, let’s talk about my pregnancy so far (and answer some question you guys had). Sorry for the length of this post, I’ve been holding in a lot of info for the past few months!

me pregnant

How far along are you? As of today, I am 17 weeks, 4 days pregnant. Which makes me due on June 8, 2014 (which just happens to be my Mama’s birthday). I was actually due later in the month, but I had an ultrasound in my first trimester and the little peanut is measuring ahead of schedule so they moved me up. I’m a June baby, and I always loved having a summer birthday (pool parties!), so I’m excited that our kid gets to have that same experience.

How’s your weight/body changed? Well, my weight has been a bit of a roller coaster. I dropped about 12 pounds during the first trimester thanks to morning sickness (which sounds extreme, but isn’t actually all that uncommon for bigger women). But I slowly got the hang of at least managing my morning sickness and keeping food down, and I quickly gained that back, and right now, I sit at two pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight. The crazy thing is, that even though I haven’t had much of a weight change (two pounds on this tall, big frame is nothing), my body is totally different. I had to move into maternity clothes back in November because I could no longer button anything and my shirts no longer stayed put over my tummy. The changing of your body starts early. My hips are widening and my tummy is growing—even without much of a weight change.

Belly pics, please! Okay, so the state of the belly is funny. I always thought that because I’m a big girl, with a big ole belly, that I wouldn’t “show” that I was pregnant until my eighth month or something, but just the opposite has happened. Because I have that big ole belly on top of a pregnant belly, it basically looks like I’m seven months pregnant even though I’m only just over four months (and yes, there is just one baby in there). It’s totally crazy, especially when you take into account that I’ve only gained two pounds.

me pregnant

There was definitely no tiny-baby-bump thing going on. I basically went from looking like my normal self to looking mega-pregnant overnight a few weeks ago. Which I’m not hating. It means people give me more space in the grocery store, people hold the door for me, and I never had any of that awkward in-between-clothes time. My regular pants just stopped fitting one day, and I moved to maternity clothes. I bought a pair of jeans, a pair of cords, a pair of leggings and a few maternity tops and I hope those will get me through until the really warm weather hits in the Spring. In related news, I may never give up maternity pants. Why don’t people wear these all the time? Especially people with round bellies. They look like regular pants, but they feel like pajamas! Maternity pants rock.

Side note: not sure why making crazy faces and pointing to my belly is my default pregnancy pose. I promise I’ll take some less ridiculous photos in the future.

How have you been feeling physically? Uh, not so hot. Name a nasty, uncomfortable symptom of pregnancy, and I have it (and still have it, even though I’m solidly in my second trimester now). All-day morning sickness—check. Lots of puking—check. Hormonal migraines—check. Sinus infections—check. Joint pain—check. Crushing fatigue—check. Food aversions—check. Insomnia—check. I’ve been told there are some women who feel great during pregnancy, and boy, I am not one of them. It feels wrong to complain about pregnancy when I know there are so many women who would love to feel what I’m feeling, but the truth is, pregnancy ain’t my favorite thing I’ve ever done. Everyone keeps telling me I should feel better any day now that I’m out of my first trimester, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

saltines gatorade

The good news? I’m told that having such wretched symptoms (especially the unrelenting morning sickness) is actually a good sign that baby is rocking it in the belly. So every time I find myself hugging the toilet, I try to think, “This is a good thing. This is a good thing. This is a good thing.”

On a related note, I am so very, very thankful to work from home. You mamas who went through rough pregnancies working full-time (or more, and taking care of kids, family, etc.) are my friggin’ heroes. I feel so fortunate that if I’m having a really bad day, and that bad day happens to be a Tuesday, I can crawl up in bed and watch a bunch of crappy daytime TV. Granted, it might mean that I have to do work when insomnia hits at 3am on Sunday, but still, having the flexibility to work around how I feel has been an absolute blessing.

How have you been feeling mentally? Remarkably calm about the whole thing. I always thought I’d be super giddy and crazy when I found out I was expecting, but it hasn’t been that way. I’m excited, don’t get me wrong, but it’s more of a secret smile kind of excited. It just feels…right. If that makes any sense. Craig has mentioned feeling the same way, too. Just feeling…complete. Honestly, this is how all the big decisions in my life have felt. I always think I’m going to be giddy, but when the time comes, it’s more like puzzle pieces slowly fitting together than some big whizz-bang emotional explosion.

What I am really, crazy excited for—I’m so looking forward to being a parent and raising a child with Craig. We both had such great childhoods, and I’m excited to be able to give that to our little guy or gal, too. I cannot wait to see how good of a Dad my husband is going to be (he’ll be amazing). I know a lot of women get excited about the pregnancy part of this process, but I’m over pregnancy and it’s symptoms. I haven’t enjoyed it, so I’m instead focusing on how amazing it’s going to be to meet our son or daughter. I’ve found myself ignoring the stack of pregnancy books I have, and instead focusing on reading as much as I can about being a parent. I know nothing will prepare you for having your first child, but educating myself about parenthood feels like a better way to spend my quickly-dwindling alone time than fretting about if I should eat brie or not (let’s not get into any pregnancy food debates, k?).

What have you been craving? Cravings are something I have yet to experience. Food in general is not on my list of favorite things right now. The closest thing I have to cravings are when I hear of a food, and I think “Oh, that actually sounds like I could eat it without throwing up.” And I usually rush to eat it, because that feeling almost always passes. I’ve been eating a lot of soups, frozen pizzas, Greek yogurt, eggs, frozen burritos, most raw veggies, cheese, oatmeal and fruit. My midwife basically told me that if I can find something that sounds edible, I should eat it. So I’ve also been partaking in the occasional bag of chips with queso, Rally’s hamburger and bowl of mac and cheese. Oh, and drinking a lot of different beverages (cranberry juice, orange juice, natural colas, sparkling waters, milk, Gatorade, chocolate milk) because I have another fun pregnancy symptom—dysgeusia—where your mouth tastes like metal all the time. Drinking things is the only thing that gives me some relief.

hansens soda coke can cola

What are your food aversions? Oh, everything, pretty much. There isn’t really a lot that sounds edible, but there are some foods that are totally blacklisted from our house because just the thought of them makes me run to the bathroom. The biggest are onions, garlic and green peppers (ugh, just typing that made me gag). Once they are cooked and hidden in a food (like soup), I’m okay, but if I can taste or smell them individually? Blech. Which makes cooking really, really hard—and is part of the reason why BTHR went dark for so many weeks back in October/November. When I cooked Thanksgiving dinner, I actually had to plug my nose with tissues so I couldn’t smell the onion and garlic that I was putting in the turkey. And there was also a nearly catastrophic grocery shopping trip where I leaned over to pick a cucumber out of the bin without realizing the garlic was directly above it. I got a big whiff and it took all my willpower and ab muscles to not have my lunch vacated all over the produce aisle. Other no-no foods: leafy greens of any sort, whole grains of any sort (give me white bread or give me death), hot dogs/sausages (you have no idea how many TV shows and movies reference hot dogs).

How have your workouts been? Mostly nonexistent. There were some seriously dark weeks during my first trimester where the entirety of my workout was rolling over in bed, but by the start of my second trimester, I finally had enough energy back to at least get on the treadmill and walk (slooowwwly) for 15 minutes at a time. I’m now up to walking (less slowly, but still snail-like) 30-40 minutes on the treadmill every now and again. And let me tell you, it wears. me. out. It’s laughable that I once was able to run a half marathon. I’ve been told by other ladies who’ve been pregnant that working out helped make their fatigue and morning sickness better, but I’ve yet to experience that. But I keep up with the walking because I know it’s good for both Mama and baby.


How did you find out/tell Craig? The typical way, I suppose. My period was a few days late, which normally wouldn’t have put up any red flags, but combined with the daily queasiness I was feeling (yes, my morning sickness started at four weeks), I figured it couldn’t hurt to take a test. I ran out to CVS, picked up a test, took it and it lit up like a Christmas tree. How’d I tell Craig? Well, he was standing right next to me when I flipped the test over. It was nice that we found out together! We hugged, both got a little teary eyed, sat back on the bed next to each other and said, “Wow.” And tried to let it sink in.

Were you trying? Oh, this question. I never know how to answer this question. Were we trying as in I was charting my cycles and had a box of three dozen pregnancy test strips just waiting in the bathroom for every morning? No. But we’d always talked about having kids when I turned 30. We both are educated adults who know how babies are made. And we weren’t doing anything to stop those babies from being made. So, yes, I suppose we were trying, but it was…uh…organic. It wasn’t a total surprise, let’s put it that way. I feel incredibly blessed that conceiving was easy for us, I know that isn’t the case for a lot of couples, and I can’t imagine the pain that comes along with that.

How’d you tell your families? It was a pretty spread out and haphazard process. We were fortunate enough to be heading up to Craig’s hometown in Canada for his brother’s wedding in early November (when I was eight weeks), and while we would have preferred to wait a little bit later in the pregnancy to spread the news, we couldn’t pass the opportunity to tell all his family in person. We had a family dinner the first night there, and Craig just announced it to everyone at the dinner table. There were lots of hugs and tears—I’m so glad we got to do it in person! It felt nice to tell a whole chunk of our family, plus my sister-in-law and her sister were both pregnant at that time too, so having some ladies to commiserate with made me feel better.

With my family, our plan was to wait until our family Christmas celebration, which would have made me right at 12 weeks, but that didn’t quite pan out. First of all, I was so sick and I see my parents so often (if you don’t know, they live 1/4 mile from us), that if we didn’t tell them what was really up, I was afraid they were going to think something was really wrong with me. Your Mom can only see you laying on the couch so many times looking miserable before she knows something is up. So we managed to hold out until Thanksgiving. We had just had an ultrasound a few days before, so a few minutes after my parents walked in the door, I just handed them an envelope with the photos and said, “Oh, I have something you should see.” all nonchalant like. It took a few seconds to register after they opened the envelope, but once it did, there were lots more hugs and tears. They are very pumped. This will be their eighth grandchild, but it’s been a while since there’s been a baby in the family, and they’ve never had one that lives so close by!


With the rest of my family (I have two sisters and a brother, plus their families), the plan was to still tell them at our family Christmas, but last-minute, that celebration ended up falling through because of all kinds of scheduling issues. It gets really hard to get 17 people in the same room! We actually didn’t get a chance to see my siblings or their families at all over the holidays. So we had to come up with plan B—I made little bird ornaments for each of them, packed them in boxes along with the picture of Craig and I holding the ultrasound (the same one from my announcement here).


And then my parents delivered them to my sister and brother on Christmas morning, and we shipped one out to my other sister (who lives in Oregon) to open. It was the best way we could figure out to where everyone would find out at roughly the same time, but still do something more meaningful than just a phone call. Plus, it makes me happy that we all have this same ornament on our trees all across the country (I made one for us and my parents, too).

Have any labor and delivery plans yet? My general life philosophy is to follow the middle path, and that isn’t changing with pregnancy. We have an amazing office of midwives and OBs that we are seeing (we will stay with the midwives if the pregnancy is low-risk and stays normal, the OBs are there for backup if something changes). And I will be giving birth in a birthing center that is connected to a major hospital. We haven’t done a ton of thinking about the birth itself, but our general philosophy is going to be that, for the most part, the body knows what it is doing, but there is nothing wrong with using medical intervention if it’s necessary. I know a lot of folks feel very strongly one way or the other about birth, but this middle path philosophy is what makes us the most comfortable. I’ve always felt like a combination of traditional and modern medicine works the best for me, so that’s probably what I’ll stick to throughout my pregnancy. To sum up the whole of my birth plan so far: have a healthy baby.

Will you find out the sex? When? Have any guesses? We have our anatomy scan at the end of this month, and if the baby cooperates, we definitely want to know. As far as guesses, pretty much from the time I flipped the test over, I’ve been picturing a baby boy (as has Craig), but I’m trying to keep my mind open in case our hunches are totally wrong. We’d be thrilled with either, but definitely surprised if it is a girl. Granted, no one has ever accused me of being clairvoyant, so it could go either way.

Have you done anything to get ready for baby? Picked out names? Started the nursery? During the first trimester, I kept saying that I would like to wait to do all of this when I got the sudden rush of energy in the second trimester that everyone kept talking about. But since I’m not sure that’s ever going to come (and since the holidays are now over), we’ve slowly started to accomplish a few things. We’ve tossed a few names around, but we’re mostly waiting to have the serious name talks until we know the sex. As far as the nursery, we know which room it’s going in, and we know a general idea of what we want it to look like (and we started looking at paint chips), but we haven’t done much beyond that. Craig did start clearing out the room this week (it was our old office) and removed the popcorn ceiling. And we’ve had some friends and family buying us goodies (toys, onesies, books!). One thing we did do to prepare: we started a college fund the day I tested positive. It’s never too early, kids.

paint chips

Okay, so I think that gets you all up-to-date on just about everything pregnancy related. Phew, that was a lot of typing! If you made it through that whole thing, you deserve a cookie.

Make sure you guys come back tomorrow because I have another crazy long post for you, but this one has absolutely nothing to do with pregnancy. It’s all about a new menu-planning series I’ve been working on! I’m super excited about it, and hope you guys like it!

Mamas and mamas-to-be: tell me about your pregnancy experience! Misery loves company.

a special new year’s wish…


Posted on Dec 31, 2013 in Family


12 Months of Date Nights: February


Posted on Mar 13, 2013 in Family

book store
I realized a couple of days ago that we are over two weeks into March, and I have yet to share with you guys what we did for February’s date night! If this is the first you’re hearing of this, let me bring you up to speed—for Christmas, I gave my husband a packet of 12 envelopes corresponding to the 12 months of the year. Inside each envelope was an already-planned, perfect-for-us date night idea for us to go on during that month. In January, we headed out and watched a basketball game at a local brewery. For February, we got our bookworm on!

date night february

This idea comes straight from the genius of about a million different folks on Pinterest—a bookstore scavenger hunt! In this month’s envelope, I packed in two extra identical cards. Printed on each one were three sets of scavenger hunt tasks for us to tackle from the bookstore shelves.

book store date

We grabbed our cards and drove out to nearest, big bookstore (which, admittedly, is not close), found a nice little table to set up shop and then went our separate ways to work on the first set.

book store date

We met back up a few minutes later and shared our findings. First charge: pick up a cookbook or a food magazine and find a recipe you’d like to try.  No surprise here, Craig came back with a cookbook called I Love Bacon!, and inside of it, he found this delicious-looking recipe for Scallops with Dried Cranberries and Bacon.


Equally unsurprising, I picked up the newest cookbook from the culinary love of my life—Nigella Lawson—and zeroed in immediately on her Meatzza. It’s a pizza. But the crust is meat. Mind. Blown.

me cookbook

Next on our scavenger list: find an idea for another date night. If you had any questions if we were perfectly matched for each other before this little experiment, they should be put to rest now, because, dude, we both ended up picking the exact same book.

hiking books

I guess we should have just bought the damn thing, but we didn’t, for some reason. We spent a good 20 minutes flipping through and reading about all the new-to-us trails in our area.

Next task: pick up a travel book for a city or country you’d like to visit. My choice was obvious. I’ve been wanting to visit Greece (and more specifically, cruise around the Greek Islands) for pretty much my entire life. I tried to look through all the travel books and find something not-as-obvious, but the beautiful photos of blue waters kept pulling me back in.

Craig, on the other hand, picked something that surprised me—a city guide for Montreal! We’ve mentioned before about taking a trip up there, but we never really talked about it seriously. It was really fun to flip through the guide and see all the cool things Montreal has to offer. It seems to me that a trip to Montreal is pretty much as close to a trip to Europe as you can get in North America. Bonus: Montreal can be reached by car, Greece, uh, can’t.

travel books

Time for set number two! We put all of our set one books back carefully, and then headed out to tackle the next three tasks. First up, head over to the children’s section and find a book we loved as a kid.

children's books

I couldn’t pick just one, so I snagged The Poky Little Puppy and a Scary Stories book. The Poky Little Puppy was something my parents read to me no less than 40,000 times in my childhood. It still makes me giggle. And the Scary Stories books were the it books in my elementary school library. I remember we’d all know when the new one came into the library, and when it was time for library class, we’d all run to the shelf to try to check it out first.

Craig picked up The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which is a book that I don’t remember from my childhood, but became very well-acquainted with once my siblings started popping out my nieces and nephews.

Next up: find a book about something you’d like to learn how to do.


I have no idea why I’m so obsessed with the idea of making my own sausage right now, but I totally am, and hence, picked up this book all about different kinds of sausages. We definitely had a few “ewwwwwwww!” moments going through this one. There are some really unappetizing-sounding sausages in the world.

Craig grabbed this idea-packed book on solar panels and all the ways we could use them to do different things around the house. We were particularly intrigued by the solar water heaters and solar ovens.

Our next task was to head over to the magazine section and pick out an article we thought the other person would like to read. I picked out a preview of the new Star Trek movie in EW for Craig, and he handed me a homesteading finances article from Mother Earth News. We ended up ordering some coffee (well, coffee for him, tea for me) and sitting down and reading through our magazines together.

coffee tea magazine bookstore

Once our coffee break was over, we headed out to do our last set! First up, we headed to the comedy section to pick out a joke or book that we thought would make the other person laugh. 

comedy books

We both ended up picking two not-entirely-politically-correct books that both had us crying with laughter. Craig brought me Crappy Children’s Art, which was so mean, but so hilarious. And I brought him Chinglish, which was a mixture of un-funny stuff and some real gems. This one makes me laugh every time.

chingrish book

Next up: go to the biography section and pick up a book about someone you admire. When I got to the biography section, I immediately saw no less that 10 people there I admired, but I tried to narrow it down so I didn’t have to get a cart to carry my selections back to the table.


I grabbed books on Michelle Obama, Anne Frank and Tina Fey. Craig brought over one of Jon Stewart’s books. He also mentioned that he tried to find Rachel Maddow’s book, but had no luck.

And thus ends this short peek into our political leanings.

Our final task was to go to the magazines and find a quiz we can take together. This was so hard! Apparently quizzes aren’t a big magazine thing anymore! I finally ended up finding a quiz in American Girl magazine (ha!), so we took the What will your friend be like in 2020? quiz.


Craig didn’t have any better luck that I did, but he did find something more fun—this guess-the-celebrity illustration section in Vanity Fair. They had spreads for 1933, 1993, and 2013. We got about 2% right for 1933, 50% for 1933 and 98% for 2013.


Overall, it was a super fun way to kill an afternoon, and other than our $5 worth of coffee and tea, it was totally free! In fact, it was going to be 100% free, because we had a Starbucks giftcard, but apparently Barnes & Noble Starbucks don’t take Starbucks giftcards. Go figure.

Craig’s already opened the March envelope, but that date night isn’t happening until the last week of the month, so you’ll have to hold out to find out what’s in store for us.

What’s your best idea for a free date night?