Date to Palmyra

We wanted to go to the temple one last time before I started nursing again. This may be our last time going to the Palmyra temple. Grandma (my mom) stayed home with Alex. Sam and I were able to go on a day date to Palmyra. It was so nice to not have to turn around and give snacks to someone in the backseat. It was amazing that we were able to go to the temple together since we usually have to take turns while one of us stays outside with Alex. It was a very relaxing day and we are grateful we had a free babysitter for the day (Thanks, Mom!).




Announcing the arrival of...


Edison Christopher Merkley!
Born March 27th, 2011 at 1:05pm
8 pounds, 14 ounces
20.5 inches


Dragon Day

Everything I know about Dragon Day I learned from Wikipedia. But here is a little history lesson of the tradition. It started in 1901 and occurs the Friday before Spring Break. The first-year architecture students build a dragon and it is paraded through the arts quad on campus. In the 1980s, the College of Engineering started having issues with the architects and in order to resolve this peacefully, they started building a phoenix each year to meet the dragon on campus.

From my point of view, the phoenix was way cooler. The dragon looked unfinished! But the hoards of people following the dragon were dressed really funny and yelling weird things so that was entertaining. Traditions like this make me laugh. Good ole Cornell.





Smarty Pants

Sam seems to be on a winning streak recently! Cornell's HR Review had an essay contest for which he wrote and submitted an essay. We were unsure about his chances to win because he didn't know exactly what they were looking for but it was worth a shot. He wrote an essay about increasing the brand equity of the human resources function. At the awards ceremony, he was presented with second place! He has always wanted to win a gigantic check! I am so proud of him!

People were asking him what he was going to buy with the $500. The first thing I did was add it into our Excel file for our budget. Sorry, Sam. He does want to get a new guitar for RockBand so we'll see if we can work that into our budget somewhere.



The end of being an only child

Yes, today is my due date. I fully expected to have the baby early. I am dilated to 1cm (probably a little generous of the doctor). I have another appointment at 41 weeks where they will do an ultrasound and check the placenta. If it is still doing its job, my doctor will let me go to 42 weeks before inducing. This week has been Sam's Spring Break. I feel like we are wasting a lot of time he could have at home with the baby, but it is really nice to have so much time to spend together. My mom is also in town. She got here one week ago.

40 weeks

Alex pointed to this picture and said, "Momma."

I feel this is a good time to talk about Alex. He is such a funny, little boy. He is almost 20 months old. Alex is totally and completely a momma's boy. I love it. I love that he wants me and wants to sit on my lap and follow me around. I love that he prefers for me to get him out of his crib in the morning and put him down at night. I love that he gives Sam a good night kiss and then reaches for me. I love that he wants me to feed him meals. I love that he brings me books and then snuggles up next to me. He is a cute little devil. I hope we can still have so much together time once baby brother comes along and steals the spotlight for a few months.

He is a very cute girl.

Carrying the purse just like Momma.

Loves all automobiles.

Pointing to the trucks on his crib bumper.

Testing out the carseat for Baby Brother.

Lining up his toys.

Skyping with Grandpa & Grandma Merkley.

Using the spoon like a champion.

Pulling out the diaper stuff and getting himself ready.

I don't think that's right...

Snuggles with Mommy.

Pregnant like Mommy.

Loves smoothies with a straw.

Entranced by the TV.

Testing out little hats.

He was going crazy about these things!

On a walk with Mommy.

He hugs stranger kids. It is really cute. He got pushed away by a little girl once and gave me the cutest pouty face. I don't know why she didn't want his hug but I took it and lots of extra ones, too!
If he thinks something is really funny, he will cover his mouth while he laughs. This one cracks me up because I don't do that so I am not sure where he got it from.
His bedtime routine has been a little rough his whole life. Sometimes he gets a bath, sometimes we brush his teeth (we need to be better), sometimes he gets to watch tv. Something he has done for the last few months is turn off all the lights in the apartment before he goes to bed. Now if we walk into his room for bed before he has turned off the lights, he will reach for them and remind us.
He loves going outside. Now that the snow is melting, it is hard to get him to go to the car or come in from the car because he is busy running in the grass.
He cannot get enough of books. He is constantly reading books and bringing us books where he will point to every picture until we name what the object is. His favorite books are a lift-the-flap book, his word book, and Machines at Work. In the lift-the-flap book, there is a scuba diver under one flap and a martian under another flap. Whenever he lifts those flaps, I yell, "The martian"/"The diver" and he will jump and rest his head on my arm, stomach or lap. Over and over. He isn't actually scared. He loves it.
He points to every car that drives around and gets so excited. It takes forever to leave the grocery store because he is busy pointing and saying, "Caw!" to every single car.
If we say, "Monkey" or he sees a monkey, he will "ooh ooh ahh ahh" and tickle himself in his armpits.
He is constantly talking. His sentences sound like words and he will look at me like he is telling me something very important. I just don't speak the language yet.
When we ask him if he wants to go outside, he runs into his room and gets his coat.
He is always pointing to his nose and saying, "Nose." He knows a lot of body parts now and will point to ours as well so we will name them for him.
He is very fair. If I get a kiss, Sam gets a kiss. Back and forth. He is very free with his kisses in the morning.

Pointing to trucks in his crib.

Answering "Yeah" to everything.

Licking the ketchup off a french fry.

He "rawrs" at lions. He recognizes them in books he has never seen them in. Even when they look very different from lions he has seen.

Sometimes he thinks we talk too loudly.

He was making the food fly like an airplane before eating it.

Alex is a walking-backward pro! He often gets going so quickly that he walks right back into a wall!

He prays but never at prayer time.

He will talk for about an hour in bed before falling asleep.

He is so easily entertained.

He is obsessed with The Cat and the Hat Knows a Lot About That. He found our Cat in the Hat book which I had never read to him before, and he started dancing and singing, "Dough, dough, dough, dough" which is how the theme song to the show starts (go, go, go, go...).

He learns new words every day. I cannot keep up with all of the things he is saying. His favorite word is "shoes." He calls all drinks (even water) "juice." When he says, "backpack," it is adorable and makes me laugh every time. He can also say "Turtle." Hilarious.

He can go down little slides by himself!


Pi Day

I am a big supporter of any holiday or excuse to make and eat pie. Especially if that pie can be pumpkin pie. Sam asked me what kind of pie I was making and then said, "Nevermind. I don't know why I even asked." I love pumpkin pie!



Tuesday Thyme: Potstickers

I love potstickers. I found a recipe for potstickers that immediately made me put the ingredients on my shopping list. I have not been a big fan of meat recently and I feel like most meals are built around meat. These vegetable potstickers did not disappoint. Sam said, "Not bad for your first time ever making potstickers." I didn't even know potstickers could be made so I am very proud of myself. They took me an hour from start to finish and that included chopping, mincing, and shredding all of the vegetables by hand.


Vegetable Pot Stickers
Source: For the Love of Cooking
makes approximately 20

2 tsp. canola oil
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 c. shitake mushrooms
1 cup of white savoy cabbage, chopped finely
1 cup of carrots, shredded
1/4 cup of chives, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
Sea salt and white pepper, to taste
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
20 round gyoza wraps
Olive oil cooking spray

1. Do all the chopping first!
2. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot add the onion and mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes; add the cabbage, carrots, chives, ginger, and garlic. Season with sea salt and white pepper, to taste and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Taste and re-season if needed.
3. Set aside to let the mixture cool down. Once the mixture has cooled, add the sesame oil and cilantro then mix well.
4. Spread out the pot sticker wraps onto wax paper then scoop a small teaspoon full of filling onto the center of each wrap. Wet the top of each pot sticker wrap with a baster brush dipped in water.
5. Fold the pot sticker to make a moon shape and pinch shut with 3 to 4 pleats along the side. Really make sure they are sealed, so the filling doesn't fall out. Repeat until all the mixture is used up.
6. Heat a large non stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium high heat. Once the pan is HOT add the pot stickers, and cook until the bottoms are browned, about 3 minutes.
7. Add 1/4 cup of water and immediately cover with a lid to steam the pot stickers. Carefully watch the pot stickers and completely evaporate the water so the bottom gets crispy again and sticks to the skillet.
8. Serve immediately with dipping sauce. Enjoy.


Off to Albany

Danielle is a good friend of mine from high school. She is currently doing Teach For America in Rhode Island. We decided we had to meet halfway before one of us moved away. We decided to meet in Albany. I had never been there before. The night before I was supposed to go, Sam was throwing up. I had never seen him throw up before so I was worried about leaving him. But he told me that I wasn't even allowed to think of canceling on Danielle. It was such a nice, relaxing day. Even the three hour drive was relaxing because I didn't have to keep turning around and giving snacks to someone.

Danielle is so adorable. I am lucky to have kept in touch with her for so long because she is an amazing person. We didn't have a hard time finding things to talk about and it was very easy-going.

I had never been snowshoeing before so Danielle humored me. I am a big fan of snowshoeing now. I was 36 weeks pregnant at this point. It was funny because the leaders of the tour were more worried about Danielle's "unsuitable" shoes than about me snowshoeing while pregnant!


We went out to lunch at a really quaint country store then we tried to go see some New York history sites but parking was insane! We ended up wandering the equally insane mall. I think the entire population of Albany was at the mall.



Baby Shower

Kristen threw an "essentials" baby shower for me, and like everything Martha Stewart Kristen does, it was perfect and beautiful and classy. I felt so honored and undeserving. It isn't really customary to have a baby shower for your second child, especially if that second child is the same sex as your first child, but so many people came and it was really fun to visit with everyone. In addition to having caring and selfless friends, they are also incredibly creative and crafty. I am so grateful for all of the love people have been showing me!






Pregnancy Letter 2.6

Dear Heartburn,

You confuse me. While I was pregnant with Alex, you didn't come to visit until the last few weeks. This time, you tormented me from early on until 30(ish) weeks. That's weird. Get your act together next time and don't come at all.



Boatyard Grill

My friend Rachel asked me if we had any plans or if we wanted to go to Boatyard Grill with them. The Boatyard is one of Ithaca's nicer restaurants and I had never been. Although I had been wanting to go, it isn't really in our budget. But Rachel had gotten lots of free coupons for burgers and fries from a Cornell basketball game. We were so excited! Kids eat free on Monday nights so Alex got his dinner for free, too! It was amazing!

They had eight free coupons but the restaurant would only take four per table so we had to split into two groups! Because we were sitting on opposite sides of the restaurant, we went over to the Dredge's for cake, ice cream, and a family home evening lesson after dinner.



I am Superwoman!

A few weeks ago (3.6.11), it snowed 15" in a day. Our car was completely buried. The piles of snow were ridiculous. Sam was gone to school and we had somewhere to go so I knew I needed to get the car out myself. The snow was up to my knees. And the plows had piled it up three feet thick right behind our car. Another lady nearby was trying to get her car out and she had tried ramping over the snow. Her car was tilted up and her wheels were spinning but she didn't want any help from me. I understand because I probably look pretty helpless being nine months pregnant.


We don't own a shovel so I had to clear it all with our window scraper and my feet. After clearing the area, I got our car out on the first attempt! I felt like Superwoman. I was so proud of myself.


I forgot to take a picture of our car before I took it out. Here is some poor soul's car still buried.



Maternity Photoshoot

My friend Kristen took some maternity pictures of me. I wanted some nice-looking pictures instead of the usual, standing against the wall, every five weeks, no makeup pictures. I think they turned out great! I am the most awkward subject ever and standing in a foot of snow made it even more awkward. I don't like being the only person in a picture. Kristen made me feel as comfortable as possible, but I still had a hard time not cracking up to calm my nerves.







Tuesday Thyme: Chocolate Bowls

Our friends invited us over for dinner and asked me to bring dessert. It was the perfect time to put extra effort into dessert since I didn't have to worry about the rest of the meal. Dinner was delicious and Alex had so much fun playing with Lucy and Jack.


I have been wanting to try these since I first saw them. I always thought they were beyond me. Luckily, these are some of the easiest things to make! And they are fun, too. Cooking with balloons is awesome! It was hard to find water balloons in the middle of the winter in Ithaca; I can't imagine why. I read a few different ways of making these and so I tried multiple ways and I will just pass along what I found to work the best. It took me about an hour from start to finish: including prep, letting the chocolate set up, and cutting the strawberries! Impressive presentation. Totally worth it. I will be making these again!


Chocolate Bowls
serves 10
Prep time: 1 hour

10 oz. dark chocolate
10 water balloons
Whatever you want to serve in the bowls

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Finely chop 5 oz. of the chocolate.
3. Blow up water balloons. Inflate to the size you want the bowls to be.
4. Place a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water (do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl).
5. Melt the chocolate until smooth.
6. Chop remaining half of chocolate.
7. Remove bowl from heat and add remaining chocolate. Stir until smooth.
8. Dip the balloon into the chocolate, rotating until covered to the height you want for the bowls.
9. Place on parchment paper. Hold upright until balloon stands on its own.
10. Place in a cool place (or refrigerator) until set.
11. Pop balloon and remove from chocolate bowl.
12. Add desired filling.
13. Drizzle with remaining melted chocolate.



Pregnancy Reflection

The baby is due in 10 days. I am getting to the point where people come up to me and tell me I look like I am about to have the baby. I think I would be whining a lot more than I am if this baby were about to come out! I am surprisingly comfortable. However, I am sick to my stomach of people telling me how big I've gotten. My self-esteem as at an all-time low. I have never weighed so much in my life. I am still loving all the little kicks from inside my belly and I am thrilled to be able to be pregnant. I just wish I had taken better care of myself over Christmas so I had not gained so much weight.

Our kitchen is always a disaster. I get spurts of energy every now and then.

At the last ultrasound (36 weeks, 5 days), they told me that the baby's weight was 6 pounds, 5 ounces. I declined having my cervix checked so I have no idea about dilation or effacement currently.

35 weeks.

-I took off my wedding rings at 35 weeks. They still fit, but when I got hot (usually while sleeping), they would spin around and hurt my hand.
-I was telling Sam that I had not felt the baby have hiccups. I happily accepted that because incessant things bother me. The next day, the baby had hiccups! I have only felt him have hiccups twice.
-On February 19th, we decided on a name! I love it and have been crafting something for his nursery.
-I made it through the whole pregnancy without slipping on the ice or falling at all! Woo hoo!
-My fingers have recently started hurting. They don't look bigger but I guess they probably are. Interpreting for the Deaf lady in our ward has become especially difficult. Ouchie.
-My stomach is frequently lopsided and we can see limb outlines. It is really cute.
-I have labor dreams every night now. This didn't happen with Alex, probably because I couldn't even imagine what labor would be like.
-Every time I roll over at night, I wake up feeling like I am going to puke.
-The baby was head down two weeks ago. Last week he was transverse. I hope he turns back!

Glucose tolerance test - 26 January 2011 (32 weeks)

 I figured I would write a few of the things I wrote about before Alex was born so I can remember this pregnancy. Right now, I don't really want to remember it, but I am sure I will want to look back at this one day. 

Work out routine:
Weeks 0-10: Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred
Weeks 11-40: Occasional walks. Mostly just chased Alex around. No real exercise program.

Most surprising symptom:
My areas of weight gain have been completely different. Last time, I gained all the weight in my love handles, butt, and stomach. This time, my face has gotten  much fatter and my belly sticks out way more.

Favorite part:
Alex vrooming his cars around on my belly. I don't know why he likes doing this so much, but I think it is adorable.

Most terrifying part:
Always feeling like something is going wrong. I hate that I am not trusting my body, or that everything will work out.

Most frequent craving:
Chips with cottage cheese and salsa. This probably has something to do with my weight gain.

Most annoying symptom:
The weight gain. How could it not be. I barely fit my maternity clothes now. I feel disgusting.

Weirdest symptom:
Frequent bathroom trips. I don't know what to do with myself! I feel like the typical pregnant woman and it bothers me. While using the bathroom at church last week, I realized that was my first time going in there since we have lived in Ithaca!

Funniest memory:
Apparently I have started grunting when I bend over. I didn't notice until one day Alex bent over to pick up a toy and he grunted, too! Sam started cracking up and said Alex got that from me! Whoops! I guess he picks up on a lot of things already!

Weight gain:
Starting weight - 130 pounds
First trimester - lost 10 pounds
Current weight - a disgusting 167 pounds

Paper chain countdown! Blue is the due date, red is a week overdue.
Nine of the 10 pregnant women in our ward!

The makeshift baby nursery. We will do more when we move to Houston.

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