Week 33

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7 weeks to go!  That can sound either so short or so long depending on my state of mind in the current moment.

Last week’s pregnancy update freaked me out with the news that the baby is currently 3.5 – 4 pounds and will double in weight by the time he is born.  WTF I already feel so big, how can this thing inside me double in size?  (How is there really even a person inside me??  Pregnancy the second time around isn’t any less weird or unbelievable to me…)

People keep telling me I don’t look “that big”, but I sure feel like it, especially by the end of the day.  Mornings I have plenty of energy and feel like I can move around like a normal person, but by late afternoon the belly feels SO heavy and tight it’s difficult to even walk around the block or do simple stuff around the house.

And at the same time we’re trying to prepare for baby, Jane seems to be growing up extra fast.  How can I even describe her?  Compared to other kids she seems very reasonable and well behaved.  She’s so funny and quirky, helpful and smart.

The other day I dumped a basket of clean laundry on the bed and she had fun jumping in it for a couple minutes, but when I came back in the room she’d separated out all her undies and made a neat pile of all her shirts.  Then she asked me to show her how to fold towels.  She knows where all her clothes go in her drawers and will put them away by herself too.

Action shot:



She will be 3 1/2 next week and just recently has started drawing detailed pictures of faces with eyebrows, ears, etc.  And arms and legs, hands and feet, but no bodies.  She drew one of me with blue hair and told me she didn’t put the earrings on because she didn’t know how to draw those.  It surprises me how fascinated I am by all of this and how proud I get looking at what she’s done.

Oh, and she also loves to sign her drawings, she can do her name all by herself.  I think she will have perfect penmanship, just like her mother:



No other big news, still just savoring our summer.  Nathan has an oral interview Friday for the Minneapolis Police Department (he passed the physical a couple weeks ago.)  That’s the only job possibility right now, there have been many other applications and rejections in the past few months, as always it seems.  Oddly enough I’m not nearly as obsessed with our financial situation as I used to be.  We’re still very frugal, but I don’t stress as much about our lack of money or lack of ability to save lots and pay off our debts.  Maybe I’ve just been really happy being pregnant and getting to stay at home.  Maybe I’ve embraced the idea of being thankful for what I have and letting go of what I can’t control…  who knows…  either way, it’s kind of nice.





This day in the life is representative of one of our leisurely weekend days.  We’re not ones to pack a lot into any weekend, but this one was especially lazy because Jane stayed at my mom’s Saturday night until Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, August 3rd

9:15 a.m.:  I get up, groggy even after having gone to bed at 11 p.m.  No matter how much sleep I get, still not a morning person.  SO nice to not be woken by Jane at 6:30 though, which she’s been doing lately with way too much frequency.  For a long time she was definitely sleeping until 7 or 7:30.

First thing I do is get a big glass of O.J. mixed with water and take my prescription iron pills + stool softener.  And begin my morning of obsessing about poop, because I’ve been feeling gross and constipated for like…  well probably only a day or two, but it really makes me cranky and I have high hopes for this morning.  Oh glamorous pregnancy!

I check my e-mail and FB, look to see if there’s any open houses nearby today (even though we are not house hunting, I love to go see what’s in our neighborhood), and also look up some recipes for fancy homemade popsicles because both Jane and I have been wanting them a lot lately.

10:00 a.m.:  Call my mom to see what time we should get Jane.  Usually I drop her off the evening before and Nathan has pick up duty about 11:30, but my mom surprises me by saying she can stay through her nap today because G-Non wants us to come swim that afternoon so we can all meet over there.  Yay extra free time!  I make some tea and go outside to read the newspaper.

View from the front porch – new this year is the raised bed way in front and the playhouse on the right, complete with kitchen and working doorbell, which the girls LOVE:


10:45:  Nathan gets up and pulls the fridge out to check if the coils need to be cleaned.  In retrospect I should’ve been happy he did this without me nagging (I’d noticed our electricity bill was higher than usual the past couple months and called the company earlier in the week and the lady said dirty fridge coils could be a huge electricity suck), but in the process he spilled my whole glass of O.J. (the only thing sitting on the counter) and it was running down over the cabinets and everything and I just imagined coming back to a big sticky mess because he “cleaned it up”, but not well enough (he claims I’m neurotic, I claim he doesn’t do things thoroughly enough…  ongoing relationship spat…)

Then he says he “lost” his vaporizer…  this pipe thing that he’s been smoking flavored stuff out of?  I don’t know, I haven’t really paid attention because he said there’s no nicotine in it and it’s harmless.  Anyway I said you didn’t lose it, I saw you using it in bed last night so it’s around somewhere.  (Another somewhat minor ongoing annoyance…  he always rushes around the house before going somewhere, dramatically saying he lost his wallet or keys… I pretty much just ignore it at this point, knowing they are not lost he just isn’t organized and will find them eventually…)  Then he implied that I might have put it somewhere which really made me mad so I started folding laundry and bitching at him about not putting away his clothes I had folded earlier in the week (which I WOULD put away for him if he had any sort of organization to his closet but I can’t stand to go in there so just try to ignore it)…  instead just throwing them on top of the hamper in a messy pile.

Offending pile and disorganized man-corner.

Offending pile and disorganized man-corner.

To which he replied something about how I take too long to fold laundry in the first place and he hates seeing baskets sitting around for days and why can’t I keep the house cleaner and I said do you have any idea how much I clean during the day?!  Do you want me to do nothing during the day and you can come home and see how it looks?

Sooo…  just an example of a stupid escalating fight, classic huh?

11:30:  He comes out to the porch to tell me a funny story about how after I was in bed last night he went in the pantry and found this package of sugary stuff crawling with ants and “screamed like a little girl and threw the whole thing in the toilet”, so he thinks he solved the problem of our “fast ants” (we’d been seeing them around the house lately but not concentrated in one spot – not normal little ants but slightly larger really FAST moving ants.  ick.)  So all the fighting is forgotten.  That is one thing I love about my husband, he is not one to hold a grudge and is usually the first to try to smooth things over.

He takes a shower, I make coffee (another attempt to get my system moving…) and continue reading the paper.  I read an article about the Root River Trail, which I’ve been wanting to bike for a couple years.  It was made along an old railroad bed in southeast MN, connecting all these cute little towns and going through bluffs along the river.  They even rent trailers for kids.  I tried to arrange a trip for us over Father’s Day this year but it didn’t work out for a variety of reasons.  I wonder when I’ll get the chance again…

11:45:  Poop, finally!  Minimal though, but at least some relief for me.  Now I can get on with my day…

12:15:  Leave on my bike to check out the open houses.  I’ve been feeling really slow and tired the past couple weeks, but they are all in a 12 block flat area so I figure I can handle it.  The other day I went for a slow 30 minute walk and was so out of breath and felt my back tightening I had to lay down as soon as I got home.  It was really hot and humid, but still, it made me feel like a wimp for only being 7 mos. pregnant.  Biking is much easier on my back.

Week 31 belly

1:45:  Home.  Ride went well, although very slow and easily out of breath.  Looked at five houses, I think that’s a record in one outing for me, there were a lot open today.  Prices are going up in our neighborhood, and every time I look it makes me so happy we got this little house.  I see houses all the time listed for $80K more than ours and this is what they have that ours doesn’t:

-A little garage, most of the time not even used to park the car because it’s used to store stuff.  Located across the back yard, so in the winter you have to shovel a path and haul kids and groceries through the snow.  We have a shed to store stuff and a driveway next to our kitchen door.

-A basement, usually cold and prone to flooding when it rains a lot.  Used for storage and laundry.  We have main floor laundry and a cellar/attic for storage.  It’s not the most convenient or a lot of storage space, but keeps us from accumulating a lot of stuff we don’t need!

-A small 3rd bedroom.  So far we’ve had no need for this and believe it’s perfectly fine for little kids to share a room (contrary to what seems to be popular belief in the suburbs!)

-Possibly some fancy updates like granite counter tops that we don’t give a sh*t about.

While I was gone Nathan did some work on his motorcycle that has been sitting in our driveway not working for 3+ years.  He finally decided to clean it up and sell it, YAY.


1:45 – 3:45:  Not quite sure where these two hours went.  I know I made a smoothie (yet another attempt to loosen my system…)  with banana, frozen watermelon, blueberries, parsley, kale, raw ginger, and protein powder.  And…  continued putzing online/reading the newspaper.  Nathan watched golf for at least some of the time.

4:00:  Get to G-Non’s, reunited with our baby girl, have a good time swimming on this hot sticky day.  My mom and sis came along too:

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Such a water baby.

Such a water baby.

6:00:  Done swimming and G-Non offered to take us to the Old Country Buffet.  Eek, definitely not the best quality, but they do have a lot more veg options than some restaurants, and hey it beats going home to make our own dinner.  Besides, nostalgia.  I used to love coming here as a kid and supposedly ate only mashed potatoes, jello, and ice cream.

8:00:  Home.  Jane sang a song in the car about “shakin’ my nuts in the sky”.  Could be perfectly innocent, but she also mentioned earlier in the day the radio station B96.  Ahem…. AUNTIE JEN!!

9:00:  Jane finally in bed after a little play time and the usual teeth/potty/books/songs routine.  She talks and sings to herself for about 20 minutes which tonight is pretty quiet and mellow, but some nights she rants and raves, yelling at imaginary people and singing at the top of her lungs like a lunatic.

9:30 – 10:30:  I work on writing this, which always takes way longer than I think it will.  Time to get ready for bed.  I hope I don’t look back on this in a few months mourning the summer and my easy life.


Week 28

Week 28How appropriate that just as I’m entering third trimester I’ve started to feel very large, stretched, tired, and cranky the past few days.  Maybe it will pass.  I hope so – 12 weeks to go!  Funny how that can sound short or so long, depending on your mood. 

I have started thinking a little bit more about preparing…  maybe taking a refresher birth class or getting a newborn care book…  there’s a nagging worry in the back of my mind that I’ll forget something important, like, that babies need to be burped. 

My mom asked me yesterday if we have a plan for what to do with Jane if I need to go to the hospital in the middle of the night.  The thought had literally never crossed my mind.  I suppose it’s getting time to snap out of my blissful 2nd trimester denial and get real about baby #2 coming…  scary!

Week 25

IMG_5193 IMG_5191

Love the look on Jane’s face in that bottom one.  What is it, anticipation, plotting against the belly?  Ha, my big white belly!  The rest of me is so tan from being out at the park midday all the time, Jane too, she tans amazingly well.

Life is so good right now and I’m really just trying to enjoy it while it lasts.  Still very comfortable as far as any pregnancy symptoms, sleeping well, and feels good to ride my bike.  Almost every day we do something fun outside with friends and I can’t believe this is my life and sometimes I even get paid for it.  We found a great part time gig watching twin nearly 3 year old girls for the summer and they are so sweet and well behaved it feels like they’ve been with us forever after only a few weeks.

Even my stomach is feeling good, despite being borderline anemic, again, and having to take prescription iron pills + stool softener.

At this point I’m not stressing much about the baby coming.  All I can do is hope there are no complications and he’s not super fussy, but otherwise it just seems so much more normal than last time – no job issues to deal with, we’ll probably do all the same things we do now, only I’ll be more tired for awhile.  People ask me if I need anything and I sort of shrug…  we got a co-sleeper and lots of clothes donations…  we can dig up stuff from storage…  buy some diapers… babies are no longer a huge unknown to me.

The only thing we don’t have is a name.  I never considered boy names the first time because I was certain it’d be a girl and had her name picked before I even met Nathan.

I can’t imagine just going through a book or list and picking something, I want it to have some sort of personal meaning.

I would love to name him after my grandpa or dad, but neither seem to work.  Our last name is Johnson and my grandpa’s name was John, and while I do sort of think John Johnson has a fun classic ring to it, there’s something too cutesy about having kids named John and Jane, or Jack and Jane (people also called my grandpa Jack when he was young, apparently a common nickname for John?).  I do really like the name Jack though.  My dad’s name was Jesse Raymond, and I wouldn’t be comfortable with him having the same name as my dad, and don’t care for the name Ray.

If nothing comes to us, I’m planning to look through my dad’s papers, he was really into doing genealogy research and even had a trip planned around it to Norway for the month after he died.  I like classic “greatest generation” era names, and am open to suggestions if you have any!

I’m continuing this series to illustrate how it wasn’t just a one week “challenge” where I bought as little as possible, rather a realistic reflection of how to regularly feed a family of 3 healthy food on a budget.

Here is the week immediately following Week 1:

Organic Kale 2.49
Bananas 2.5
Organic Parsley 1.79
Broccoli 2.49
Cucumber 0.89
Orange 0.83
Avocado 1.29
Yellow Pepper 1.25
Garlic 0.39
Organic Spinach 10 oz. 6
Organic Celery 2.99
Organic Carrots 2.49
Amaranth 2.39
Brown Rice 2.56
Pasta 1.49
Wheat Tortillas ($1 off coupon) 1.29
Red Lentils 2.6
Dried Chickpeas 1.49
Tempeh (16 oz.) 3.58
Soymilk 2.99
Cumin 2.79
Maple Syrup 4.99
Nutritional Yeast 3.12
Pizza Crust/Cheese/Tonic 6.33

Coffee 3
Protein Powder 5
Free Bread 3

Total: $72.02

So this week happened to be way under $100, but maybe it’ll even out in weeks to come.  Here’s what we ate for Week 2:


-Cucumber & Peach salad

-Salad w/tempeh & tahini dressing

Oma’s House (Memorial Day): Fruit, cookies, tabouleh, hummus & bread, rhubarb dessert, granola bars

-Bowl of cereal, crackers



-Amaranth w/kale & tahini dressing

-Banana w/pb, bowl of chex

-Pasta Salad (w/white beans, broccoli, peppers)


-Oatmeal & fruit

-Pasta Salad

-Hummus & veggies

-Lentil Soup



-Oatmeal & fruit

-Hummus & veggies

-Salad w/pasta and avocado

-Toast w/pb

-Out to eat with friends (@ Pico de Gallo, got an $8 salad)


-Apple, Toast w/pb

-Smoothie, Lentil Soup w/crackers

-Toast w/pb

-Mushroom & Pineapple Pizza



-Amaranth, Kale, Lentil Soup, Avocado

-Out:  Veggie Nachos and Beer, $30?




Oma’s House:  Salad, vegetarian sloppy joe’s, crackers, veggies, chocolates, cookie

-Toast w/pb


So that’s it.  Looking back at the week maybe we bought less groceries b/c we ate at Oma’s and restaurants a few times, which is unusual.  Also, wow, I eat more peanut butter toast and cereal as snacks than I thought!


It has been over three weeks since the second anniversary of my Dad’s death.  I wasn’t particularly emotional that day, it was one of the first nice weekends and we were out having fun with friends.

I think these flowers blooming remind me more of it than anything.  This bush is right on the side of our driveway:


Spring came ridiculously early that year.  I was out on a walk with my mom and Jane.  Just as we were entering my alley we saw a loose dog and I went to knock on some neighbors’ doors to see if I could find the owner.  When I came back my mom said “your phone was ringing”.  I checked it to see multiple voicemails and texts that said “911 call immediately”.  My heart started racing and I managed to call the number back, getting my Dad’s friend on the other end, obviously in a panic himself, who blurted out “your Dad is dead”.

The following time is a blur, his friend came quickly to my house, told us the details, drove my mom back to her house, Nathan came home.  I hugged Jane a lot and wandered around the driveway in stunned silence and clearly remember noticing the flowers had just bloomed.  Nathan also noticed and mentioned it to me later – not the sort of thing I’d usually expect from him.

This year was a lot easier than last year.  I guess it’s true what they say, you get used to the new normal.  The second set of holidays without him was much less painful, and I don’t cry every time I pull up to their house and his truck isn’t in the driveway.  The one thing that still really sets me off is if I start thinking about how much fun he would’ve had with Jane at this age.  About how he’ll never meet my little boy and what an amazing role model he would’ve been in this kid’s life.

So yeah, it gets easier, but I still miss him so much.


Summer is here all of a sudden.  Like mid 80’s, sweating, everything in full bloom, outside all the time summer last week.  It is amazing.


Pregnancy related things are good too, except I’ve started to get some soreness and tightness in my back, especially the lower right, just like last time, except a few weeks earlier. (And wow, looking at those pictures, I’m definitely bigger than I was at this point last time too.)

In other news, we’ve spent a lot of time the past couple weeks considering a move outside the city.  Public Defender positions opened up in four cities about an hour outside Minneapolis in various directions.  Previously I wouldn’t have even considered it, so it says something that this time I told Nathan to go ahead and apply.  This is the job he went to law school intending to do, and many times the positions in the metro area have been filled by attorneys with a couple years of experience – that they got in an outlying area.

Why now?  There was no specific turning point.  His job search has been going on for so long with so many disappointments, and I hate seeing him unhappy and cringe thinking about his hour long commute each way to work – for his physical and mental health as well as financial reasons.  Also, I’m really sick of being broke.

Why not now?  Well, the timing would be especially bad because this would probably happen before the end of the summer – where would I have the baby, and how would I cope with a newborn without my large support system here?  All our family is less than half hour away and I love my neighborhood community so much, I can think of a dozen people off the top of my head who I could call for last minute help with childcare or whatever I needed.

For Nathan moving wouldn’t be a big deal, he’d be excited about it.  But for me being a stay at home mom, my friends here are my day to day life and I really depend on that social interaction to keep me sane.

Another thing to consider is that it would be temporary – we would rent out our house (for hundreds more than the mortgage too!), and I could come back and stay with my mom sometimes and still see my friends.

Trying not to obsess over it, he doesn’t even have an interview yet!

Question is, how much would the offer have to be to make the move worth it?  Anything more than his current pay, just for the opportunity?  So hard to put a price on it.

Anyone ever been in this position?  Do you love where you live so much that you wouldn’t leave, or would you jump at the opportunity to try somewhere new?


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