Avery Amelia: 4 months.

Avery will be 4 months old in just a few days! My head is definitely spinning, as I try to wrap my brain around how fast she is growing up. It is really insane how quickly they change. She went from tiny, needy newborn to...well, she's still needy, but she's very much a little person now.

This little lady has a ton of personality. She loves to laugh and smile and to get you to smile and laugh back at her. She ADORES her doggy brothers. She now enjoys tummy time and is always pushing up on her arms and acting like she wants to crawl--you can tell she really wishes she could chase after the dogs. She will be zooming around the house before we know it (and before we're ready for it, I'm sure). She is still a fairly mellow baby, though getting bigger has its trials and presents more reasons to have fussy spells. But she is a happy, smart little girl. We pretty much made the most awesome baby ever.


running: virtual races.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've decided to start running as a new hobby. I also brought up virtual races; here's a bit about them.

I had already decided to commit to running as a hobby when I stumbled by chance upon this concept of virtual races, and, specifically, the Hogwarts Running Club.

Oh my goodness. Holy Motivation, Batman! I think I found something to give me a much-needed extra push to commit to this running thing.

Basically, it's a not-for-profit group that hosts several virtual races a year; you sign up, pay the entrance fee, run the race on your own time wherever you want, and they mail you an amazing Harry Potter themed race medal, specific to the theme of that particular race. The rest of the proceeds minus the medal money goes to selected charities the club sponsors.

All photos via hogwartsrunningclub.org

So, this is definitely something I am interested in doing. But I honestly can't afford to spend the money on all of the races. But there's another awesome way to stay involved without spending: the House Cup competition.

Basically, you choose (or go to Pottermore and get sorted) your Hogwarts House, and join the Facebook common room for your House. Then, you download this app called Charity Miles, which donates money based on mileage to a variety of charities. Through the Charity Miles app, you join your House's team, and use the app to log your miles ran/walked/cycled; this keeps track and adds your miles to your house's for the House Cup competition. I'm not sure how the final tally will be determined, since the Houses don't have equal members (sorry Hufflepuff, womp, wommmmp) but the donation and competition aspects, as well as the obvious Harry Potter appeal, is enough to get me excited. And even when I'm having a rough stretch where finding time to do my solo runs is difficult, I can still log miles in the form of family walks in the evenings. I can't help but think it's a little cute that as we walk the dogs, they are, in a way, helping us raise money for the ASPCA...aww.

This all gets me very excited to add Hogwarts Running Club races to my running goals, all while participating in the House Cup competition as I train! I think I am going to set aside some birthday money to do at least one, or perhaps two, races before the year is out. A new race will be announced in less than a week, and I can't wait to find out what it is! 

Oh, and I should add...Hogwarts Running Club isn't the only virtual race organization out there. Here are a few of the other geeky-themed virtual race sites I've stumbled upon of late:

The Nerd Herd

This year's races are Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who-themed! I believe they're going to do a Time Travel event where you can participate in a previous race from earlier this year.

Virtual Nerd Runs

This year's nerdy-themed races which are still available are the Jedi Challenge (the medal is AWESOME) and a Back to the Future-themed race!


Like the Hogwarts Running Club, this one is more than just a series of races; it's more of an interactive online community for nerdy virtual run participants to connect and encourage one another. The overall challenge each year is to log enough miles to reach a destination in our Solar System; this year is Mars. In addition, individual races include themes such as Spaceballs, Independence Day (as in the movie), and E.T. Also, I am totally bummed I already missed their Klingons Against Cancer race! Because, Klingons!!

Count me in!

another new hobby: running.

As if I don't already have basically no time to do artsy or crafty stuff anymore with a baby in my life (definitely not complaining!), I've decided to add another hobby into the mix:


Yes, you heard me right. She-Who-Hates-Exercise has chosen to begin exercising for FUN.

No, I didn't sustain a head injury during the process of childbirth. I really am trying to make a go of this. See, if you know me very well, you probably know that I am uncoordinated, out of shape, and am not a big fan of physical activity. I do much better in the realm of the brain than in the realm of the body. But I need to change that, for a number of reasons. So, it dawned on me that running might be a good option to try. Here is why I'm a crazy person and have started running:

/// My health!

/// Weight loss - not my primary reason but also a nice perk. I still have baby weight I'd like to lose eventually!

/// To get in shape for the possibility of having 3 kids. We definitely want 2, and possibly 3. Since I'm not all that young and starting a smidge on the late side, I kind of feel like I need to turn the clock back on my body a little to make possibly enduring 3 pregnancies easier on me!

/// To get in shape for keeping up with a toddler in the near future!

/// To boost my self-confidence. Childbirth really gave me a confidence boost, and I find myself coming down off that now and wanting another source of confidence-boosting.

/// To have a hobby that I can make time for and don't feel guilty about because it's also for my health! I know I shouldn't feel guilty for making me-time simply because I have a baby...but that doesn't change the fact that I do. But when my me-time is also exercise to keep me healthy, it helps alleviate that inevitable guilt.

/// There's a whole hobby-culture around it, so I can use that to make exercise fun for myself. It makes it a whole lot more motivating to think I am a part of a community of runners!

/// I don't need special equipment, training, or a gym. That means it's cheap (can be free, even), and there are few good excuses for not doing it.

/// It's social! I've already got one 5K planned that I'll be running with my bestie and seeing a work friend at, and I'm keeping an eye out for another 5K to do at some point with a different work friend. Lots of people run, and like to run together!

/// I get cool shirts, occasionally medals, and other goodies! 

/// I can hold myself accountable by signing up for (and paying for!) races! I can even do that with virtual races, which are flexible when and where I finish them, but will still make me want to hold myself to putting in the miles to earn the medals.

/// There will always be room for improvement. ((Especially for me!)) And it is so motivating to see myself improve!

/// I can motivate myself by buying fun gear (shoes, clothes, trackers, etc). It's not necessary to the whole thing, but it makes it fun. And as a casual runner, I'm not above buying CHEAP gear.

/// It's kind of trendy ;) . I want to be that 30-something who runs 5Ks and drinks beer at local breweries and takes her kid to farmers markets. Pretentious? Maybe. But fun!

/// Anyone can run...even me. No experience necessary. 

/// I want to set an example for my daughter, as a mom who has a healthy relationship with exercise. It will definitely be a process for me to build that relationship, so I'm starting none too soon.

/// I don't have much time to read anymore...but I can listen to audiobooks while I run!

So far, I have had difficulty figuring out how to fit regular runs into my schedule with working full time and having a baby. But eventually I'll get into a rhythm where it fits into life. And I'm NOT good at it yet--I do an awful lot of walking between stints of running--but like I said, I can always be working on improving, and find that motivating. 

Also, as I mentioned, I've recently discovered virtual races, namely the Hogwarts Running Club, and so that is going to be a big motivator for me, too. (More on that later!) In fact, I've started my fifty-bajillionth reread of Harry Potter in audiobook format while I run to get me in the mood for it. After that, I'll move on to other audiobooks; suggestions welcome!!

So, if you run, why do you do it? What motivates you? Any tips for a newbie like me?


art: this & that.

I have been super otherwise-occupied of late and have not gotten much artwork or crafty stuff accomplished. Not that I'm too sad about that; I've had other fish to fry. Namely that cute little fish named Avery...and no, I haven't actually fried her...

Ok, off topic. Sorry. So anyway, here are a few quick bits of art I've managed to doodle up in the last 3 months.

close-up of the HP crew
Ta-da! Hopefully I will be able to get some more time in my art studio again before too long...


avery amelia's birth story.

Let me just take a second to warn you, this might get a wee bit graphic. If you don't want to hear about the nitty gritty details of childbirth, perhaps you ought to steer clear. Or go out on a limb and read on out of morbid curiosity? Whatever floats your boat...


I've been looking forward to sitting down and writing Avery's birth story out. It actually is a lot of fun for me to think back and relive the whole experience in my memory. I am still amazed and awed that I went through that, and proud that I was tough and made it through such a scary, painful, experience. I guess it helps that the end result is something so amazing! :D  So, here goes:

On the afternoon of Monday, April 6th (my mom's birthday!), I had my second weekly doctor's appointment. He checked my cervix, which was dilated 1 1/2 to 2 cm and thinned and effaced a bit more than the previous time. So, nothing that shouts shortly impending labor. However, my blood pressure was elevated, which worried him a bit, so he told me to visit the hospital that Wednesday for some screenings to make sure everything was still okay. Needless to say, that didn't happen, though I was at the hospital on Wednesday...

That evening, I was wiping a bit of my mucous plug / bloody show, which had begun happening at my first cervix check the previous week, so I didn't think much of it. We had Popeye's chicken from the drive-thru for dinner: a silly detail, but one that sticks in my mind. I guess I'll be able to tell Avery what I had for dinner before she was born! Anyway, we settled in on the couch to watch some t.v., and I began having what, after a week or more of confusing Braxton Hicks contractions of varying intensities, I felt were the real deal. I began timing said contractions; they were pretty far apart at first but were gradually getting closer. I actually still have the note on my iPhone where I was recording them...

So, at bedtime we went to bed, thinking that if this was going to be the real deal, we should try to get some sleep first. We decided that I would let Mike catch the ZZZZs he needed to be a good helper to me, and that I would not wake him up until things got more serious. So, he slept, and I wasn't able to. The contractions were getting more intense, though they were fairly inconsistent as far as timing goes. They were also very much in my BACK rather than in the front, which was a new sensation.

Finally, the contractions were bad enough that I texted my doula to let her know I thought it might be happening. I was still second-guessing myself because of all the Braxton Hicks I'd been having and how confused I was...but part of me knew it was the real thing, especially because of the fact that I was feeling it so much in my back. My doula called me up, and she wasn't as convinced, however. She advised me to take a warm bath with lavender oil, go up and down the stairs a few times taking them two at a time to help with the back labor, and try to get some more sleep. So I tried; but the bath was gross and uncomfortable and cooled off too fast, so I had to get in the shower instead, and lost all the hot water very quickly...so here I was, in labor, and taking the most uncomfortable cold shower...not pretty. I had to laugh so I wouldn't cry! The contractions were still bearable, so I went downstairs and turned Parks & Rec on on Netflix.

As Ron Swanson and Leslie Knope tried to help me through the beginning stages of my labor, things really started to amp up. I was in some SERIOUS pain in my back, and the contractions were getting closer together. I sat on my birth ball for some relief, rocking and swirling my hips, pausing Parks & Rec to breathe through my contractions which were so bad I couldn't stand to have the show on during them anymore. Finally, at about 4:00 a.m., I went and woke Mike up. It was time. We called my parents so they would come and stay with the dogs. Mike tried to call the doc's pager to no avail, and then called the doula, who suggested I eat something before we left for the hospital--all I could get down was some applesauce and fig newtons. Finally, Mike loaded us up and took us to the hospital.

I was wheeled up to triage (the staff all complimented me on my Death Star t-shirt, ha) and I was checked; I was dilated 4 cm. My contractions were pretty consistently 4-5 minutes apart at this point. Since I was positive for Group B strep, they got me admitted and got me my first dose of antibiotics. My doula came and things were rolling.

Since I was having such intense, painful back labor, my doula was worried Avery might be sunny-side up. She had me try walking the halls, doing some lunges and leg lifts to try to get baby to turn. I only made it one lap, though, before I asked to go back to the room. I just was not feeling the walking around stuff. So, in the room, she had me try a few different positions, and tried her rebozo on me for trying to turn Avery, but when I found the holy grail of positions for laboring, there was nothing they could do to convince me to try anything different: on the floor, on my hands and knees, sometimes leaning an arm on the birth ball. I guess it helped take the pressure off my back. When I had to lay on the bed to be checked, I thought I was dying. It was the floor or nothing, folks. So they got down there with me and made it work. I was in primal mama state, my brain barely aware of what was going on around me or what was being said; I just focused in on my breathing and moaning (the doula kept telling me to "sing" my baby out and to make low noises) through the pain. I threw up a few times, I guess from the pain, and so my doula had me sniffing some aromatherapy oils which kind of seemed to help a little.

I was on the floor on my hands and knees, laboring through the contractions, with my doula giving me reminders in my ear to breathe and to "sing," her and Mike taking turns putting counter pressure on my back and hips for 5 hours straight. We had a shift change of nurses and they probably thought I was nuts. I was getting the impression that the "natural" stuff wasn't seen all that much. Everyone was a little surprised that I was going sans-epidural (which, by the way, I asked for three times even though I had decided I wanted to avoid it! Mike and my doula kind of diverted me each time, not to deny my wishes but because they wanted to postpone it until she felt like baby had turned for our safety). I had a student nurse in the room for a whole shift, shadowing a senior nurse (who kind of butted heads with my doula!), and she was as sweet as can be and said she wanted to be a nurse-midwife. I vaguely noted them talking about how this would be her first time of seeing a "natural" childbirth. Everyone sort of talked like they were surprised by my avoidance of the epidural and by my insistence on laboring in this weird position. From my childbirth classes at the hospital, though, I had been given the impression that this was pretty common! I guess not as much as I thought. Everyone was very nice, and accommodating to me and my preferences. 

I am not sure, but they may have given me my second dose of antibiotics while I was laboring on the floor. I vaguely remember holding out my arm for them to hook my IV line up to my saline lock. Shortly after, they had me lay on the bed to check my cervix--which was AWFUL, to lay on my still-painful back and hips--and found I was fully dilated and it was go time. I got really scared at this point! This was the scary part I was unsure about--pushing the baby out. Exciting, but so scary!

My doctor came in, and my doula tried to make the case for me pushing in an upright position as I had put in my birth plan, but my doc talked me into laying in the classic legs-up on the bed position without much protest from me, actually. I was tired, in pain, and ready to make this easy for him to help me out. I definitely felt like he was asking, and not telling me what to do, and felt respected by my doc. I just didn't care as much anymore about some of the things I really thought I would care about when the moment arrived. So I laid there, and before the pushing began, he was about to break my water, and first reached a finger in just to check...and it burst and gushed everywhere. It was kind of crazy! Then Mike held one leg, my doula held the other, and after some coaxing (I was so scared to begin!), I started to push.

Pushing a baby out is nuts! I did it in 20 freaking minutes, though. I didn't poop on the table, but I did pee everywhere, heh. It looked like a murder scene, too. I've never seen so much blood before! But I did it. There was much screaming, a good bit of pain that is thankfully fuzzy in my mind now--that is TOTALLY a thing--and I had a big ol' episiotomy AND a second degree tear. But nbd, that's all because Avery's head was (and is) freaking HUGE. 85th percentile. Yeah. GIGANTIC. It's a wonder it came out at all. Her head looked like the xenomorph heads in Alien, it was all squished to a point. But she came out facing the right way, and I pushed her giant-ass head out with nothing but local anesthetic, which was mostly for the episiotomy and tearing. (My doctor also asked my permission before giving me the episiotomy--I had said I wanted to avoid getting one--and at that point, I could have cared less. I told him to go for it. Mike had a front-row seat and said from his view, there was just no way Avery was going to be able to come out without it. Yikes!)

They laid her on me, I cried, Mike even cried a little, and it was awesome. Avery Amelia was 6 pounds, 11.4 ounces, and 19 1/2 inches long.

I still can't believe I kicked ass and gave birth like that. I think just the very act of being brave enough and strong enough to do it AT ALL, however you do it, with whatever meds or procedures you do or don't have, is a huge thing. It's certainly a rite of passage and your survival through it, however it went, ought to give any woman a huge confidence boost. You made it through that! You are amazing! I can't say I wouldn't go for an epidural the next time around, so I certainly don't feel like it gives me any sort of superiority for having gone without. Bragging rights, maybe, but trivial ones that don't make me any tougher than anyone else!

So, there you have it. It was certainly an insane experience, and insanely painful, but one I look back on almost longingly. I must be some kind of crazy masochist because thinking about it actually makes me want to do it again. I don't feel sad about the parts that didn't go according to my wishes, which I'm thankful for--I went in knowing a lot would be ultimately out of my hands and up to chance as the events unfolded, and I'm glad I pre-let-go of any hangups on the experience itself. As my doc says, all childbirth is inherently natural, when it comes down to it! He also does Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions and makes Harry Potter jokes while you're pushing your baby out, so, yeah... XD

3 months of love & insanity. ((Avery is here!))

So, I seem to have fallen off the face of the earth here on the blog. As you may have guessed, that's because Avery Amelia arrived! I went into labor the night of my last blog post, actually...

She was born on 4/7/15 at 11:49 a.m. after about 7 hours and 20 minutes of labor in the hospital (and about 8 hours of laboring through contractions at home beforehand). She was 6 lbs, 11.4 oz. and 19.5 inches long at birth. She has Mike's dark hair and complexion! :) I will write a post on her birth story later, in case inquiring minds want to know...

It has been an amazing, exhausting, crazy, wonderful 3 months so far. I still can't believe how fast it has gone by--in the blink of an eye, it seems. Avery has grown like a weed. She is such a big girl now, both in size and in attitude! I'm back at work now, and Avery stays with her Mamaw during the day. It's tough leaving her every day, so we try to squeeze every last drop of time we have together out of our evenings and weekends now.

Suffice it to say, I haven't had much time for reading, art, crafts...you know, those other the things this blog is about. But as Avery grows, I'm working on getting the hang of balancing my time and will surely have a variety of topics to post on before too long. Until then, expect the posts to be sporadic and somewhat baby-heavy...

Well, just popping in to say hello, and that I hope to resume posting here again! See you again soon!


art: girl power & dinosaurs.

I had the chance over the last couple of days to peck away at some sketches and to make a new little piece of art for Avery's nursery! Here are a couple of things I've done:

A few more girl power pieces--

Some practice sketches of Avy and Fred the Triceratops, for possible later use in some picture books currently brewing in my brain--

And my favorite: a finished watercolor + colored pencil piece featuring Fred the Triceratops, to be framed and hung in Avery's nursery.

There's actually a silly story behind good old Fred. A few years ago, Mike and I, along with his sister Elly, went on a little mini-vacation to Washington, D.C. We were very taken with a triceratops skeleton in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The skeleton implied that this dino was, we joked, the perfect size for a pet. So we nicknamed him "Fred," and referred to him as our future / hypothetical pet throughout the trip. When Mike and I returned to D.C. for our honeymoon, we of course took photos of ourselves with our friend Fred. And here is a cute picture of him for Avery's nursery! We can't wait to take her to see him someday. I also would love to feature him as a character in picture books down the road, perhaps!

Well, that's it for now. Sketching and painting are just one of the many things I've been doing lately to try to keep my impatient mind occupied while I wait ((uncomfortably!)) for Avery to arrive!