10th Anniversary Getaway


It’s so hard to believe that it’s already been 10 years of marriage for Jesse and I! The actual date isn’t for another 12 days, but we decided to celebrate a few weeks early since he’s a teacher and school is about to start.

Given that this third pregnancy has been so rough and what we REALLY wanted was to relax and spend time together, we decided to spend two days for our anniversary getaway in Las Colinas, a cute area of Irving about 20 minutes outside of Dallas. We left the boys with my parents (SO NICE to have my parents nearby now!!!) and slowly meandered towards Irving, getting some iced coffee and fro-yo on the way.

The funny thing about Las Colinas, is that we were just down the road from where we FIRST lived when we moved to the DFW area, nine years ago! Irving will always have a special place in our hearts, and it felt deeply comfortable and nostalgic to come back here.

The view from our hotel room!!

The view from our hotel room!!

We stayed at the Omni Hotel on Lake Carolyn, near the Mandalay Canals. After an amazing Italian dinner at Trevi’s downstairs (they had gluten free pasta and bread!!!), we walked around and had a midnight swim.





The front desk had this complimentary dessert sent up to our room! I ate all the fruit, since chocolate and gluten would basically kill me ;)


The restaurant also gave us a complimentary tapioca and fruit dessert! Unfortunately, they had the number wrong ;)

The next day, we grabbed Peets coffee in the lounge and did a lot of sight-seeing around the canals, before finishing up with an amazing breakfast down the road at Le Peep. This area of Las Colinas is so adorable! I could take pictures here all day!

image image image image image image image

image image image image image image image image image image image image image image

We had a wonderful time and will always look back on this year as our favorite anniversary! We will also be traveling to Boston to see my brother in a few months, so stay tuned for anniversary date part 2!

It’s A…


Two weeks ago, we headed in for the 20 week anatomy/gender scan at my midwife/OB’s office.

Within 30 seconds, before Jesse had even realized we’d begun, there HE was! Very definitively, a boy was staring down at us. He was so wiggly and squirmy!! Hands and legs were flying EVERYWHERE  (which definitely correlates with what I’ve been feeling at all hours of the day since a Week 14!).


Our baby boy was as healthy as can be, even measuring close to a week ahead of schedule. We are still praying for a close to due date birth, however, since Jesse gets out of teaching school for Christmas break just a few days prior. An early birth would make things a bit complicated! Both of my other boys were right on time, but this one has already been such a wild card, so who knows?


Many people have asked if I am sad, since I really wanted a girl and this has already been such a tough pregnancy. Funny enough, just days prior to this ultrasound I was rotating the boys’ seasonal clothing and putting into storage all the ones that no longer fit. I suddenly became extremely sad, wondering if I would ever have another little boy to put in them! I knew that if this was a girl, I would have a hard time convincing myself to have any more (biologically, that is. We still plan on adopting).

And it’s pretty hard to wish that someone you’re meeting could be someone else. What I mean is, once I saw that little guy up on the screen, to wish him a girl seemed as ludicrous as wishing G or AJ were a girl. There HE was. Perfect. Why would I wish any different?

I do not relish the thought of an eventual 4th pregnancy, given how poorly my body seems to be handling this one. But I do hope that the rest goes smoothly. In the future, I would hope that I could get on the Zofran the second I get that positive test, and avoid the “snowball effect” of other health issues I encountered that first trimester. image

For now, I am relishing the idea of being a Boy Mom. We have so much fun together! We are a packed house, full of Legos, transformers, running around, laughter, robot noises, and teepee-book-reading. My boys bring so many joyful moments to me day in and out, and I look forward to adding another sweet boy to our mix.


Bishop Arts Brunch

A few Saturdays ago, my family and I decided to visit the cute part of Dallas known as “Bishop Arts”. We went to brunch at a neat little cafe, and then walked around and visited a few of the individually owned boutiques nearby.imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageWe had such a fun time visiting this neat part of Dallas! If you haven’t been, you really should!

We’re Having a Baby! (and why I haven’t blogged about it)

Baby Duckpack 14.5 weeksFor most of the people in my life, the fact that we’re having our third baby this upcoming December is old news. I’m already almost HALFWAY DONE, for crying out loud, and I still haven’t written about it! I think you’ll see why, however, when you read on. Also, now that the third one is on the way, I had decided to make some resolutions of my own. For long, I’ve perpended over opening a Youtube channel, to consolidate what I share on my blogs. I came across The Marketing Heaven and I think my ideas might just come to of fruition.

About a year ago in the Fall of 2015, Jesse and I started discussing the possibility of adding another child to our family. Our oldest was about to turn 5, our youngest was 3, and we finally felt that we had emotionally recovered from a few rocky experiences as foster parents.

But after discussing it for a few days, the timing just didn’t seem right. We were about to fly to South Africa for a wedding (but the morning sickness won’t be too bad this time, right?), and the baby’s due date would have to be timed for a large break from Jesse’s grad school. Teaching full-time plus taking 2-3 classes/semester in his PhD program doesn’t leave a lot of time for helping out with two rambunctious boys and a newborn! We decided to revisit the topic in the spring, which, at the time, was a very emotional decision for me. The moment we started talking about babies, I suddenly really really wanted another baby! Just talking about waiting to have more kids made me not want to wait. Why do things work like that?

But then, by the time spring hit, I was actually pretty set on not having another biological kid.

Why the change of heart?

Well, if you’ve been a follower of this blog for any length of time, you know that ever since a few of our more traumatic foster care experiences, I’ve had major auto-immune issues and spent years rebuilding my health. After bleeding ulcers, panic attacks, severe anxiety, crazy infections, going on complete elimination diets, and finally, finding a naturopathic doctor here in Dallas, I finally got a grip on everything and found a new sense of “normal”. I realized that getting pregnant would upset all of that, and I wasn’t willing to risk it all.

I started researching adoption through foster care, and found that our state, in particular, has a HUGE need for families willing to take babies straight home from the hospital. It still falls under the category of foster care, and as such, there is a lot of emotional risk involved, because many of the babies end up going back to their families after 6-12 months. But emotional risk seemed more desirable than losing all of the physical normalcy I’d finally achieved, so research it I did. I even pinpointed a few summer classes for us to take in preparation (none of our CA foster parent certification counted– we would have to start from scratch, essentially).

And then, the morning of my now-4-year-old’s birthday, I woke up feeling sick. “Oh great,” I thought. “I must have eaten gluten last night.” I also wondered if I had a tummy bug.

But I checked the calendar. Hmm. One day late.

So I threw the kids in the car to go get a “special birthday ice-cream!” for AJ’s birthday, knowing that there was a dollar store across the street. I was so sure that I wasn’t pregnant, I didn’t even want to spend more than a dollar on a test, haha!

The boys eating ice-cream, while I was freaking out about my inconclusive test.

The test was inconclusive (aka, a faint line instead of a bold one). “OH COME ONE!” I pretty much shouted in the bathroom. “Hey kids, wanna go to Target and pick out a special birthday present for AJ?

And so that’s how I wound up taking a pregnancy test in the Target bathroom, because by this point I was freaking out a little. It was a definite positive.

Being that this was the third child, I came up with a totally elaborate and creative way to surprise my husband……

Nah, just kidding. I texted him from the Target bathroom, right as he was headed in to teach a class. Poor guy, he had to sit on that for over an hour before he could call.


I was still feeling sick, so we cancelled our plans for the day and just hung out at the park. Later that night, we met my dad for dinner and told him the news. We started calling family that night and were feeling pretty ecstatic. I was surprised at how much joy I was feeling, despite the fact that I had wanted to adopt instead of having another kid.

AJ's birthday on swings

Being only 4 weeks and a day, I was also surprised that I already felt sick. With both boys, I didn’t get my first hint of morning sickness until 6 or 7 weeks, and it was usually gone by 13 or 14. Even then, I felt sick and miserable, but never actually threw up. I could already tell, however, that this was a whole different level of sick.

As the days went by, I start feeling worse and worse. We had AJ’s birthday party with just a few friends scheduled for two weekends later, when I was 5.5 weeks along, but I was feeling too sick so my dad stepped in to host and make dinner.

Little did I know that the few bites of food and sips of water I had during the party on a Saturday were the ONLY things I would be able to keep down for the next 3 days. After the party, I started vomiting non-stop, night and day. I couldn’t sleep because I was too sick. I was taking advantage of the 15 minutes of feeling “okay” after each vomit session to move to a different location, or, once, to shower because my own smell was making me throw up.

By Monday evening, we decided that it was time for me to go to the ER. I felt that this was more from sleep deprivation than anything else, honestly, because I hadn’t slept since Friday. But I also couldn’t keep down anything, including liquids, and I was not able to stand at all.

The moment the IV was put in and the Zofran hit my system, I started bawling. I cried to the nurse, “Thank you SO MUCH!” and just couldn’t stop saying how grateful I was. I realized, looking around the ER, that I was finally seeing in color again, something I hadn’t done in days.

While in the ER, they also discovered that I had a bad UTI (bladder infection), and hadn’t even realized it because I was so sick. They sent me home with antibiotics, and, strangely, Promethazine for the nausea instead of Zofran.

Turns out, the Promethazine was almost worse than the actual nausea. I was so dizzy, I had to crawl around the house on all fours. I would hold my hand up, and it was fuzzy, because I couldn’t see straight. I was so sleepy on the drug, I could only stay awake for 2 hours a day, if that. And while I slept, I would have horrible night terrors. All of this, and it didn’t even take away the nausea– just took a slight bit of edge off. I still struggled to get down more than a few bites of food every day.

After a few days, I couldn’t it anymore and I finally got in to see the midwife. They don’t usually see patients until 8-9 weeks at the latest, so being that I was only at 6 weeks, I had to convince them that I really needed an appt. The midwife was able to give me Zofran instead, which was a huge lifesaver, especially considering all of this was happening during Orthodox Holy Week, right before Pascha (Orthodox Easter).

Pascha asleep 2016

I slept with the boys on the floor for most of Easter

While Zofran made it possible to finally keep down food (yay!), I still felt sick ALL.THE.TIME. On some days, I could only manage to eat a few things for dinner, although I was trying to eat at least a bite of something every 30 minutes to keep the nausea at bay. I basically lived on eggs, fruit, salad, yogurt and rotisserie chicken for 10 weeks, since these were the only things I could manage to find an ounce of appetite for.

For Mother’s Day, I spent most of the day crying/vomiting while my family went to church. When they got home, I requested that we try to at least go to see Jungle Book (my first non-church outing in weeks!).

Mother's Day Jungle Book

7 weeks along. Before this picture, I had not showered or left the couch in 5 days.

And then at 8 weeks, I got another UTI, along with an h pylori infection (pre-ulcers), along with 20-25 canker sores in my mouth from eating too many sour Preggo Pops (OK, so I was basically eating an entire package per day). And anyone who has ever been on Zofran can also attest to the fact that it comes with extreme constipation. I was up nearly every night holding my stomach from all the pain, crying on the bathroom floor since I didn’t want to wake up Jesse. No matter how many over the counter supplements I tried, I could only manage to “go” once or twice a week, at best. The SARMS before and after images prove that only this supplement proved to be very effective.

You might ask to yourself, where were the boys during all of this? Who took care of them?

To be honest, we watched a ton of TV since all I could do was lay down (I almost passed out at a friend’s house, the ONE time I tried to go somewhere!). I couldn’t make them food, because any smells would trigger more vomiting. I couldn’t even open the fridge to get the Brita water filter, since the smell of the food was too strong. Jesse still had 2 weeks of grad school plus 4-5 weeks of teaching left, so he took “Incompletes” in his grad classes to give him more time. Every morning before he left for work, he would make food for the boys and leave it on the counter so they could grab it on their own throughout the day. He rushed home every day at 3pm so that he could change AJ’s pull-up or care for the boys.

It was definitely one of the worst things I’ve ever been through in my life. I had so many scary feelings, just wishing I had never gotten pregnant at all. I felt ZERO connection with the baby inside of me, which was completely disconcerting and disorienting since I had such strong feelings of love and attachment towards both of my boys. I was so relieved at my 8 week ultrasound, because I finally felt love when I saw the baby’s arms and legs kicking on the screen.

Baby Duckpack 11 weeks

11 weeks

At around 16 weeks, (last week) I was finally able to start weaning off the Zofran, which felt like a huge triumph. I’m now at almost 18 weeks, and while the nausea still lingers throughout the day, sometimes worse than others, I would say that I’m eating mostly “normal” amounts, and that most of the intense food aversions have died down. I am already feeling kicking too, and getting excited about the fact that this is actually happening! We even have a mini crib set up!

There are still a few worrisome things that remain. I am very tired and achy, having heart palpitations and feeling out of breath after just 5-10 minutes of standing, which we just discovered is partly due to the fact that my blood work showed I have severe anemia, probably due to HG. So I just started a supplement for that, which should help a lot.

I debated for weeks about whether or not to write about any of this, since it was such a dark 3 months. Part of me wants to pretend it never happened and wants to make sure this baby never knows. But I think it’s important for people to be honest and not hide behind perfect lives curated by social media.

So there you have it– my first trimester in a nutshell! I am hoping that the rest of the pregnancy goes smoothly, and looking forward to the prize at the end of it all! <3