Welcome!

Welcome to a piece of our sweet journey of life. This blog is about our family life-- my husband, my type 1 diabetic pre-schooler, my spunky toddler, and myself! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday Favorites: Pepperminty Fresh

The holidays bring about fond memories of family traditions and fun hang-outs with friends.  This time of year, I find myself "craving" certain scents and tastes moreso than at other times of the year.  I thought it would be fun to blog about some of my holiday favorites. 

This time, it's all about the peppermint!

I recently stumbled upon an amazing lip balm from Blistex.  Not only does it come in a festive tube of Christmasy green, but it has a great minty scent!  It is called Blistex Medicated Mint Balm and you can find it here

Another festive favorite is the Twisted Peppermint line from Bath and Body Works:

For Christmas several years ago, I received Twisted Peppermint lip-balm (which you can find here).  The lip-balm was tri-colored (pink, white, and red) in a swirl and was very very minty!  I loved this lip-balm and it's perfect for use during the winter! 

In college, my roommates and I discovered the Twisted Peppermint hand soap (found here ).  This soap smells soooo good!  We kept it at the kitchen sink and would purposely go wash our hands about every 10 minutes because we LOVED the scent of this soap! 

Last year for Christmas, I received a bottle of the Twisted Peppermint body lotion (found here ).  I keep this lotion on my desk at work.  It smells amazing and really does a great job of softening skin.  It's a light scent so it doesn't overwhelm or overpower.  Perfect for a workplace setting!

I also received the Twisted Peppermint candle (found here ) for Christmas.  This candle's scent fills the room with a nice aroma and I received many compliments on it.  I like to use it in the kitchen-- I place the candle on the stovetop (away from tiny fingers) and it fills my kitchen and dining room with a refreshing minty scent. 

If all of these peppermint scents make you want to eat something pepperminty, I suggest Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses, which can be found here .  They are a Christmas favorite for both Aaron and me, although this year I'll refrain from indulging due to the gestational diabetes.  But, they are the perfect pepperminty snack at Christmastime!  I highly recommend them!

I hope you've enjoyed this collection of my favorite pepperminty things! 
Check back in a few days for a Thanksgiving recap!  I cannot wait!


Much love, Reba


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pregnancy Update: Week 32


Tuesday marked 32 weeks for this pregnancy!  I am SO excited to be this close to meeting Noah!  I know that our weeks will soon be jam-packed with holiday festivities and that will make these final weeks zoom by faster than any of the previous weeks!  Thanksgiving is just a week away! And Michael will get to enjoy the Thanksgiving foods with us this year! And on Sunday, December 1st, it is Christmas Decorating Day at the Petersen home!  I look forward to watching Christmas movies and doing fun festive holiday things with Michael like looking at Christmas lights, sharing a Christmas cookie, decorating the tree, and playing outside (weather permitting).  I am excited to see how Michael reacts to Christmas decorations this year.  Last year whenever we turned on the Christmas tree lights, he would cry.  I'm hoping for a happier reaction this year!  Whenever I'm in a department store with him, I push the cart through the Christmas section so he can see the twinkly lights.  Last year, in Target, he picked out his own stocking (and by that I mean that Aaron held a brightly colored, very jingle-bell bedazzled stocking in front of him and shook it to make sound and Michael's face lit up-- so that was the stocking we bought for him.)  It's so fun to have holiday traditions to look forward to and new ones to create this year as we have a busy toddler in the mix of it all!  :) 

I know these remaining 7 weeks and 5 days (yes, I'm counting) will go by faster than I think they will.  I've started to think about random things I'd like to clean and places in the house I'd like to organize and I sometimes stop and think "wait a second, it's not time to Nest yet!" and then I remember how far along I am and think "Oh yeah, I have less than 10 weeks to go-- I suppose I could be nesting."  I've made some strides towards achieving the things on my to-do list.  One of the things I'd like to do is organize Michael's hand-me-downs for Noah.  I bought an under-the-bed storage bin from Target for a great price and I'll be able to organize the clothes according to size and see where I might need to purchase extra pieces (like more hats or long-sleeves since Noah is a winter baby).  After I'm through organizing the clothes, I can push the bin under the bed in Michael's room and have it be out of sight until I'm ready to use it.  This way, it will be readily accessible as I change out clothes for Noah as he grows. 

I will have a doctor appointment next week.  I go every two weeks now and those two weeks sure go by quickly!  I can't believe we are this far along!  Noah is still quite active and hiccups are a daily occurence.  He has grown from the size of a rutabaga (week 27) to an eggplant (week 28) to an acorn squash (week 29) to a cucumber (week 30) to a pineapple (week 31) to a regular squash-- similar to a pumpkin (week 32).  :)  He's a growing boy and reminds me daily that he'll be quite active when he gets here! 


Here is a picture of my belly.  This picture was taken yesterday. 



Michael is showing how happy he is to try new supper items like beef stew!  I mushed up the carrots and potatoes and shredded the beef into bite-size pieces and put it on his tray.  He was in hog-heaven and felt so much like a big boy!  He rarely wants to be spoon fed anymore.  He'd rather have the food put directly on his tray so he can feed himself.  This is such a help to me! 



This picture was taken on Monday about 10 minutes after he woke up from his "evening nap."  It was so nice to have him wake up so happy!


***

Recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies:
(adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/claire-robinson/flourless-peanut-butter-cookies-recipe/index.html)
Yield: 18 cookies  (when you mix up the batter, it won't look like it'll make 18 cookies, but it really ddoes if you keep the cookie size to about a tablespoon like the directions state.  These make for small cookies, but the smaller the cookie the lower the carbs).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peanut butter  (I used Jif Creamy Peanut Butter)
  • 1 cup sugar substitute (I used Splenda)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.
In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter, sugar, vanilla and egg until well combined. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture about 1 inch apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten the mounds with the tines of a fork, making a crosshatch pattern on the cookies. Sprinkle coarse salt on top of the cookies.
Bake until golden around the edges, about 10 minutes, switching the position of the sheets halfway through baking. Transfer to racks to cool.

Since the cookies are flourless, they're very tender, so let them cool awhile on the pan before moving them.

***

I hope your upcoming week is full of family time and fun traditions.  I look forward to posting a recap on how our Thanksgiving holiday goes!  Much love, Reba
 


Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Peek Into the World of a Toddler

Welcome to our busy world!  I hope the pictures that follow give you an idea of the go-go-go lifestyle that Michael lives!  He is such an active little guy!  And he's not even 2 yet!  I have a feeling that my house will look like a "toy-nado" went through it daily.  I have a feeling that it might be like this for the next several years since we'll have two little boys racing around!  The funny thing is, I do not mind at all.  I love to see the toys scattered throughout the living room, and the shoes pulled out of the cubby holes, and the couch pillows strewn about.  As I tidy up in the evenings after Michael has gone to bed, I smile and count my blessings.  To be the mother of a toddler, with another sweet boy on the way, I am extravagantly blessed.  It doesn't need to be November for me to count my blessings, but it does remind me moreso of how blessed our family is. 

Last night, Aaron and I just sat on the couch and watched Michael entertain himself by spinning in circles and running laps back and forth across the living room-- squealing with joy and bubbling over with laughter the whole time.  Occasionally, Aaron and I would look at each other and just laugh because Michael found the silliest things to laugh about.  Being the mommy of a toddler is so fun and so funny!  Here is a photo recap of Michael's activities these last few weeks:


At the church "Harvest Festival!"  Michael was Aubie.  Here he is laughing at himself.  :) 




Masquerading as Batman in his spare time.  



Being my sweet outside boy!  He LOVES to be outside!  This picture was taken by Grandma Chips as Michael played outside at her house.  Melt my heart!  He's just so cute!



This is one of Michael's new-found favorite activities:  Taking the couch pillows off the couch, throwing them on the floor, jumping on top of them, and then laying down.  :)







Like I said, this boy LOVES to be outside.  Here he is with a stick in hand, ready to go! 



This was the next day.  As you can see, it got a little colder and he had to wear a jacket.  He does an excellent job of keeping the hood up!  Once again, a stick in hand makes a very happy boy!  I LOVE his excitement and expressions!




Looking out the window at Grandma and Grampa's house. He loves to look in mirrors and out the windows.




This was on Sunday.  Daddy was at the Seahawks game, so Michael was sporting his Seahawks gear at home!  Here he is playing with a School Bus-- we love School busses since Grampa drives one and Auntie Angela drives one too!  This weekend, he started saying "bus-bus." So fun!  Such a cute little face! 

 
 
Our growing boy.  He LOVES to eat!  Dinner time always brings lots of smiles!   (PS-- I don't even mind if you see my messy countertops in the background.  It was the night before trash pick-up, and we had just received 4 boxes from Amazon.com and Target.com, and I was busy cleaning out the fridge and loading the dishwasher.  I'm expanding my motherly skills to include housework while feeding a toddler, and cooking supper!)  :) 
 
 
 
This is our sweet boy holding his "crown" (one of my head-bands).  He thinks it's the funniest thing to put it on his head and run around the living room.  
 
 
 
 
And the final picture of the post that I'll leave you with is an action shot of this busy toddler during one of his laps through the living room sporting his "crown."  :)  How could anyone not love this kid?!?  I think he's pretty fantastic.  :)
 
 
 
I hope you have enjoyed this peek into the world of Michael as a toddler.  He definitely keeps me on my toes!  Check back in a few days for a pregnancy update and a recipe to a FABULOUS flourless peanut butter cookie (low carb).  :)  Much love, Reba
 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Life (so far) as a Gestational Diabetic

Once I found out that I had gestational diabetes, I immediately started making changes to my diet.  I consulted with my mom (a nurse), my dad (someone who lowered his blood sugar through diet and exercise), my aunt (someone who has a form of diabetes), and my sister-in-law (a pharmacist).   Truth be told, I was overwhelmed, nervous, and defeated at first.  I was overwhelmed by the seemingly big changes I would have to make to my diet.  I was nervous as to the effects of gestational diabetes on my little Noah growing inside of me.  And I felt completely defeated.  Though I had heard and read time and again that it's nothing the mother does that causes gestational diabetes, I couldn't let myself believe it!  I was certain that the sweets I had consumed in the recent weeks had somehow led me to the path that I now found myself on.  (And to be honest, part of me still wonders if I could have avoided this whole situation had I been a healthier eater from the start of the pregnancy.)  After attending the gestational diabetes counseling class last week, my fears and concerns were addressed and, for the most part, put to rest. 

In the class, I was given a blood sugar monitor and was taught how to test my blood sugar.  I was given a handy chart to show at what times on which days I'm supposed to check my blood sugar levels.  Fortunately for me, I experienced a blood sugar low which meant that I had to eat a snack and test my levels again 15 minutes later.  During the follow-up testing of my blood sugar, I bent one of the lancet needles, which rendered it useless.  Then I didn't get a big enough blood drop to test with the meter-strip, and finally on my third try, I got it right and my blood sugar showed that it was on the rise (as it should be).  I consider the mistakes I made while trying to test my blood sugar to be a good thing because it allowed me to see different scenarios of what could go wrong, and how to adjust.

During the second half of the class, a nutrionist spoke about food food food.  She informed us as to how many carbs we should have at each meal.  I was instructed to eat three meals and three snacks each day.  I learned about what vegetables were starchy vegetables and had a higher carb count.  I learned about the carbs in fruits and dairy products.  I learned what portion sizes actually should look like-- and for some things it was quite a shock!  I was given a food diary and received instructions to write down everything I ate for the next week.  One week from the date of the class, I would have a follow-up appointment where the nutritionist would check the chart that I would be writing down my blood sugars, and she would compare that to my food diary to see the correlation between my food and my blood sugar.  We were informed that a healthy diet and a healthy amount of exercise can do wonders for blood sugar levels.  I made a couple trips to the grocery store during the week to stock up on healthy food choices.  I also began using my Pregnancy Fitness DVD (the Third Trimester section) every other day. 

I attended my follow-up appointment on Tuesday of this week.  It went very well.  The nutritionist was very pleased with my blood sugar levels and the amount of carbs I was consuming.  It has been extremely helpful for me to know more about food and it's role in blood sugar levels.  Although they say that gestational diabetes usually goes away once the baby is born, I think I will keep up with these healthier eating habits from here on out.  Since I have gestational diabetes, I am more at risk to get Diabetes Type II in the future.  This is something that I'd like to avoid at all costs!

I had an OB appointment right after my nutritionist appointment.  Overall, the doctor was pleased with my blood sugar levels and instructed me to keep checking them daily according to the chart's guidelines.  I will bring the charts with me to each appointment so he can monitor my blood sugar levels.  At the moment, my blood sugar levels are controlled with diet and exercise.  It's possible that I might require medication to help me control my blood sugar levels as the pregnancy progresses and the levels of insulin in my body changes.  It is my goal to be able to continue to control my blood sugar levels with just diet and exercise.  I want to avoid having to take medication to control these levels if I can help it.  We discussed several things related to the effect of gestational diabetes on the baby-- which is my biggest concern.  I want to do everything possible to ensure Noah's safety in the womb and in delivery.  I am deemed a high-risk pregnancy because of the diabetes.  At 38 weeks, I will have an ultrasound to estimate Noah's weight and shoulder width.  If Noah is estimated to be 9 pounds at that time, we will schedule a C-section as our method of delivery.  If Noah is estimated to be less than 9 pounds, then I will be permitted to go into labor on my own and attempt a vaginal delivery with the knowldge that a C-section might become necessary.   During my labor, the doctor will be closely monitoring my progress and searching for any signs of a pause in the labor-- as this would be an indication that a C-section is necessary. 

Talking with my doctor helped me work through some of the issues I've been afraid of relating to the effect of gestational diabetes on Noah.  I won't say that I have rid myself of all the nerves and anxiousness.  I am determined to stick to this diet and exercise program in order to ensure the health of my baby and to be a healthier mommy for my children.  Chasing after Michael as he runs around in true toddler form is a challenge and I can only imagine that two little boys running around together will present an even greater challenge!  It is one that I look forward to greatly, and I want to make sure I am a healthy mommy who can have healthy boys who are able to run around and play. 

At the counseling class, we were instructed to eat every 2 hours and to incorporate our three meals and three snacks daily.  Because I get up so early, I had to adjust the schedule to fit my lifestyle.  Therefore, I take the carb amount that I am allowed to have at snacktimes and split it in half in order  to eat two small snacks in between breakfast and lunch and two small snacks between lunch and dinner, and one larger snack after dinner.  This way, I'm not eating my lunch at 9:30am, and my supper at 1:30pm!  Here's a typical eating schedule for me:

4:45am-- Wake up
5:30am-- Breakfast (15-30g carbs)
7:30am-- 1st morning snack (10-15g carbs)
9:30am-- 2nd morning snack (10-15g carbs)
11:30am-- Lunch (30-45g carbs)
1:30pm-- 1st afternoon snack (10-15g carbs)
3:30pm-- 2nd afternoon snack (10-15g carbs)
5:30pm-- Dinner (30-45g carbs)
7:30pm--After dinner snack (15-30g carbs)
9:00pm-- Bedtime

This schedule has worked out quite well and the nutritionist was glad to see that I was adjusting their guidelines to fit my own personal schedule. 

I was taught in the class that carbs are the fuel for my body and my baby. So, cutting all carbs out of my diet is not the answer! That's why it's important to have carbs in my meals and my snacks. Our bodies need carbs to function properly-- I just have to be mindful of the amount of carbs needed.
My meals and snacks need to have a balance of carbs and proteins.  Sometimes it is a challenge to think of a good snack that has both carbs and protein.  For the first several days, my snacks consisted of a small apple and peanut butter or a serving of Ritz crackers and peanut butter.  I felt like I was eating peanut butter all day long!  I have been able to organize my meals and grocery shop for a variety of foods that allow me to have carbs and proteins without eating the same things all day long. 

Some of my favorite snacks have been:

  • 1/2c Pumpkin Whip (this is a dessert that tastes like pumpkin pie without the crust.  I altered the ingredients to be low carb.  A serving then equals 15g of carbs).  I pair this with string cheese.
  • Yoplait light yogurt-- in the dessert flavors of course!  (Boston Cream Pie, Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Cheesecake, Black Forest Cake, Red Velvet Cake, and Very Vanilla are my top choices).  One container has 16g of carbs and a good amount of protein. 
  • Ritz crackers with either 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter to spread on them, or paired with string cheese.
  • Small Gala apple cut into slices with either 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter to spread on the slices, or paired with string cheese (Colby Jack string cheese is particularly good with apples).
  • Graham crackers (2 full sheets) spread with cream cheese or peanut butter.  I am going to buy some Nutella at the store as an alternative topping.
  • Healthy Choice Fudge Bars.  These only have 9g of carbs per bar, so I am able to throw in another small carb choice to get my carb total to 15 for a snack.  I obviously can't bring this to work, so I indulge in one of these for my evening snack.  I found out yesterday afternoon that Michael really likes to share with me when I eat one of these!
  • Winn Dixie brand Toffee Ice Cream Bars.  These are a bit more of an indulgence.  Each bar contains 21g of carbs.  However, I am allowed to eat between 15g-30g of carbs for my snacks, so I save this for an evening snack.  It is an ice cream bar made with toffee flavored ice cream, and then dipped in chocolate and covered in toffee candy pieces.  It is delicious and Aaron likes them too!
I have learned not to "drink my carbs" as my Dad says.  That means, I've been enjoying water at work throughout the day.  I allow myself to have one can of Diet Dr. Pepper per day.  The nutritionist said that diet colas are perfectly safe during pregnancy.  This was reiterated by my sister-in-law.  I also bought some decaf tea bags and Splenda so that I could make a low-caffeine, sugar-free drink.  Sometimes, I have a cup of decaf coffee in the mornings. 

Although this has been a change for me and has taken some additional preparation to figure out appropriate meals and snacks, I know that it is a change for the better.  I feel very satisfied after eating a small snack or meal.  It really breaks up my work day quite well to know that I can have something to eat every 2 hours!  :)  I don't feel like I fall into the "early afternoon slump" anymore.  I still fall asleep on the couch around 8:30pm, but otherwise, I feel very rested and alert. 

Each day, I get more comfortable checking my own blood sugar and sticking to my low-carb diet.  I can say though that I am counting down the days until Noah's arrival!  After this bump in the road, I just want a healthy baby boy to hold!  :)  Prayers, as always, are much appreciated.  Much love, Reba

*Check back in a couple of days to find a post about the life of a toddler-- including lots of cute pictures of my little mobile boy!  :)