Monday, July 30, 2012

Healthy Living Challenge!

While I will still admit that most of my time is spent thinking about future babies and my desire to have one, the fact is that there are only a few days each month that I might actually get pregnant. Since I can't work on getting pregnant the other 27 or so days each month, I've been working on focusing my energy on doing other things to help make the most of those few precious fertile days. I want to be at my healthiest at this point in my life, so Joe and I decided to challenge each other to live extra-super healthy for the next week weeks. 

Ever since our North Carolina vacations we'd just continued with our vacation eating. Too many rich meals, and meals out, plus more drinking that usual. It was time for a change! We're already a week into our challenge, and have managed to survive so far! Here's some of the specifics we're focusing on...

Blueberry Bran Muffins

Healthy eating is a big part of this challenge. We're eating an almost vegan diet, with the exception of the occasional egg. But no cheese or meat, and we're focusing on fresh vegetables and whole grains. We really do love to eat this way most of the time, but it's easy to slip in a couple treats per day usually, and that can really add up. I'm avoiding things like the bakery samples at work, and packing fruits and veggies for my snacks.

Polenta with fresh herbs

Drinkings only good things... like lots of water. And iced tea, unsweetened flavored sparkling water, and a little bit of juice. That means no booze, for one thing. I've been back and forth on drinking a little while trying to get pregnant, and for now I've decided it's best to just take a total break from drinking alcohol. I feel better, might lose a pound or two, and we're saving money at the same time. Score! I'm also going caffeine free, which is rough but worth it. I love coffee, but I know it's easier to just skip it altogether right now, instead of going back and forth. No soda, either, but that's not a big deal since I don't ever drink it to begin with.

I'm also focusing more than usual on working out. I'm aiming for at least for days a week, plus a couple bike rides each week instead of driving or taking the train. I swam laps last week for the first time in probably 10 years... and loved it! I'm trying to limit running to 2 times per week, and adding other workouts to the mix. I love working out, almost as much as I love sleeping later in the morning, so this has been a good part of the challenge!

I'm wearing this bracelet as a reminder to keep me focused. It's opal, which is a symbol of hope. Wearing it reminds me why I'm doing this challenge, so that I know I'm doing everything in my power to have my body as strong and healthy as possible. Don't hurt that it's a cute bracelet, either :)

So that's the challenge. So far we've been successful with our eating habits even when eating out, and we've avoided booze completely. That's the biggest accomplishment, since we had multiple social occasions this weekend, and our friends all enjoy drinking when we get together. We even volunteered for a couple hours at a neighborhood festival this weekend, and turned down the offer of FREE BEER when we were finished! We're keeping strong until August 16, when we head to South Dakota to visit my family. At that point, all bets are off!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Time to Get Real

Sometimes I don't know quite what I'm doing with this blog. It's kind of an online scrapbook for me, where I record what we're up to. It's fun to look back at what we were up to a year or two ago. But the fact is that life is not all fun vacations and weekend highlights, and sometimes I get annoyed that this blog is full of happy fluff. Life isn't always sunshine and rainbows, and I think I'm finally ready to talk more about what's going on behind the scenes in our life. I know I only have about 5 people who regularly read this blog, too... so this post is more for me than for anyone. I just need to vent and talk about what's going on, and this seems like the best forum for me.

Joe and I have gotten to the point in our relationship where we're financially and emotionally ready to grow our family. We are excited about the prospect of having a child, but it turns out this is a much harder process for us than we would have imagined. We've now been trying to get pregnant since November, and it's been eight months of frustration and heartbreak. We were actually successful about three months into this process, too, and the loss of that baby around eight weeks has added so much emotion to this process.

This is such a weird time right now, because I desperately want to have a baby, but I have to continue going on with life in the meantime. I think about my desire to be pregnant constantly-- Whole Foods is crawling with pregnant women, my facebook feed is full of beautiful new babies, and I have numerous good friends who are expecting. My body will not cooperate, though, and this has left me pretty emotionally broken. I want to talk about it, but sometimes I don't know how. I have a few good friends who have been with me through this heartbreak, and they have been so good at listening, and asking, about what's going on. But I feel like I talk about wanting to be pregnant all the time to the people who know what's going on, and I hate how fixated I am on it.

It's sad how people are so afraid to talk about miscarriage. It's so hush hush, and different people respond to it different ways. Some people don't want to talk about it at all, and others want to share with everyone. I've mentioned to so many people what happened to us, and I think it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. They offer their sincere support and condolences, but then never really ask how we're doing, because it's a subject that most people feel we're not supposed to talk about. I don't blame anyone for this, and know the support is there if I need it, but it can be a really hard thing to ask for.

So if you're reading this, I guess I'm asking you to keep us in your thoughts. And also remember that everyone you know is probably hurting in some way. Sometimes we categorize grief, and feel like our hurt is not as serious as other situations. It can help to think, "Well, at least my situation isn't as bad as x, y, or z...", but really, it's ok to be hurting or angry or frustrated over your situation, no matter how minor it may seem. I've done a lot of that, thinking, "at least it was an early miscarriage, and a natural one, and I didn't lose a full term baby or a child." But the fact is I am hurting. Pushing everyday to be positive, and to think towards the future, but still hurting underneath. But I have hope, too. Hope my body will be ready to be pregnant again, and hope that someday Joe and I will be a family of more than two people. And I know when the time comes, it will be the sweetest feeling imaginable.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer Highlights: Part 1

I have so many pictures saved up on my computer, so I decided a highlights feature was the best way to get caught up. We've had a great summer so far, with plenty of socializing, wining and dining, and a few sporty endeavors. Everyone in Chicago agrees that summer is the best time of year to live in this bustling city, so we always do our best to make the most of it!

Ok, this could have happened in any season, but we bought a new couch!
It's a nice custom one, and we adore it.

This cute couple is Chelsi and Sean, and they are in the midst of renovating an
awesome house. They're doing most of  the work themselves, and it's amazing
what they've already accomplished. Oh, and they're getting married soon, too.
So they're busy!! This was at their housewarming party in June.

More from the housewarming party

We went to Blackbird for my birthday.
It was Joe's surprise to me, and it was nothing short of perfect!

We bought a bike rack for our car, and have been getting
out on our bikes a lot more.  Great exercise, AND entertainment!

Back in the spring, we went on a mini-roadtrip to Three Floyds.
Delicious food, rockin beer, and some swag for the road!

Our friend Henry was visiting for a weekend,
and a ton of beer was consumed in the course of that weekend.

Another sporty thing-- I ran my first 10k!
I ran with my friends Megan and Ellen, and it was so much fun.
We ran at a decent pace, and I'm pretty sure I'll run more 10k races in the future.

Three sweaty, but very cute, girls on the ride home.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A few more beach highlights

I have so many pictures and events that I want to post on here, but I can't go on without one more post about our beach vacation in North Carolina. No matter where I live, I was born a California girl, to parents from both coasts. I think there is a little saltwater and sand in my blood! I love the beach more each time we get away, and love to fantasize about one day living near the ocean. It's been a couple weeks since we got home, so this post is a nice way to reminisce about what a lovely vacation it was.

We spent an afternoon in Beaufort, a tiny and charming coastal town.

Historical boat recreations

There were lots of yachts in the harbor,
and we pretended we'd get one for ourselves one day.

The suuuuuper old cemetery in Beaufort

Captain Joe

Beaufort and Wilmington were full of beautiful old houses like this.

Lunch and a drink at Front Street Brewery in Wilmington.

Oysters at Dock Street Oyster Bar in Wilmington.

Crab Legs.... YUM!!

This is better than being at work.

Fresh clams for dinner!

What I would do to be back there right now...
Wrightsville Beach

I guess now it's time to start looking forward to our next adventure... three weeks until we venture west for a South Dakota family reunion!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Battleship Carolina

We spent the last two days of our North Carolina vacation in Wilmington, and didn't really have an agenda for what we planned to do. When we saw the giant Battleship Carolina across the river, we knew we had to go investigate. It's a battleship from WWII that has been carefully restored, and $12 gets you admission to explore the ins and outs of a beast of a ship.

I was worried it would be pretty cheesy, but this ended up being a really unique experience. We got to climb deep into the ship, and experienced the day to day living of soldiers (sailors?) on the ship. I learned that it must have been hot and sweaty at all times, and that there was no privacy or comfy bunks to return to at the end of a long day. It really makes you appreciate what our grandfather's generation did to protect our freedom. If you're ever in the area, it's a site I'd recommend visiting!

How would you feel about having surgery here?

Obviously, I pose in the kitchen.

Bunks stacked four high... not my ideal living situation!

The view towards the front of the ship.

Captain Joe!

I could totally handle one of these guns, right?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Escape to the Beach!

We've had a good streak going for the last year and a half-- every six months or so we've taken off for a beach vacation. This time around was North Carolina, where we met my relatives at a great beach house in the South Outer Banks. We spent four days with them on Emerald Isle, and had one of the best beach vacations in my recent memory. I love the beaches around North Carolina. They're unpretentious, and not too crowded. The seafood is fresh and the beer is cold. There are lovely dunes leading up to most of the beaches, and the water is just the right temperature for splashing around. 

Undocumented highlights of the trip include renting a boat and cruising around the sound, playing bocce on the beach, lots of splashing in the waves, and the two days at the end of the trip that we spent in Wilmington, NC. I lugged my new camera on the trip and had fun taking pictures with it, but I also learned that our old point and shoot still has a place in our home, for documenting the dirty/wet/impromptu parts of our life when the big camera isn't around. Here are a few of my favorite shots from the trip...

It was so steamy outside! This was the first night, and I had just brought my camera outside.
 It had been in the cool air conditioning all day, and was super fogged up. I like it anyway!

Taking a break to enjoy the A.C.

My uncle is a chef, so it's good to have him around!
This was from Shrimp & Grits night. SO GOOD!

Cocktails on the front porch.

My grandma is the best!
Dinner the night Joe and I cooked. Seared scallops, steamed clams, crab cakes,
 and strawberry and spinach salad. It was a perfect summer dinner, and so very beachy.

I really really really like fresh seafood.

Not a bad backyard view.

Turns out I have too many pictures to contain in one post! 
So this is part 1: Emerald Isle. 
I'll be back in a day or two with the next installment of the trip!