Ticker Update

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I am beyond thrilled to announce that my ticker is in fighting shape. Being a devoted runner and soon-to-be second time momma, I am very reassured by this. My echocardiogram came back completely normal. My pulse was a bit high, but that's pretty normal for pregnancy. The Holter monitor caught in the 6,000 range!!!!! of PVC's, or skipped heartbeats, over the 48 hr period I wore it (3,000-something per day). However, no arrhythmia was detected.

My cardiologist said that they have patients with PVC's in the 20-30,000 range, which is when they start having some concern. On a scale of 1 to 10, my benign "problem" ranks around a 1. However, she did offer a small dose of a beta blocker that's safe for pregnancy. With her guidance though, I am not going to take them, at least not yet. I have them on standby in case the PVC's really do become bothersome. Since the meds are not really medically necessary, they're really only for my comfort, I'd rather wait this thing out and just tolerate it than medicate it.

My blood pressure this time was well back in the normal range--and actually a bit low for a preggo at 110/70. I was starting to worry that pre-eclampsia was sneaking up on me, but I think the higher readings were just because of nerves. Thank goodness. We pregnant ladies sure do worry a lot, don't we?

It's kind of neat to understand how my heart is working. I do get lightheaded once in awhile (though it's a pregnancy-related symptom, not a heart problem-related one). The nurse practitioner explained that my heart is working fast right now, and she used a sponge analogy. If you were to squeeze a sponge long and hard, you'd get more water out of it. If you squeeze it fast and incompletely, not as much water will drain. That's how the heart is working during pregnancy. It's not as efficient at getting all that extra blood where it needs to go. Hence, the lightheadedness at times and the PVC's. Beta blockers help smooth out that heartbeat, so the beats are good and hearty.

Well, I'm just so thankful that that's out of the way and I'm doing fine. It was a few emotional days being hooked up to wires and waiting for those test results. Now that I know nothing is wrong, I'm not as anxious about or attuned to all the PVC's I've been having. It has made a huge difference just knowing that I'm going to be fine.

Weekend Family Fitness

Friday, June 20, 2014

Our state park system recently offered a free weekend open house where we could partake in their many amenities at will. We chose High Cliff since it was the closest to home. We started with a long trail hike at a pretty slow walking/waddling pace. We actually chose the horse-riding trail for something different, since we've frequented the other trails many times before. Plus, we got to meet a few special visitors of the equine variety that way. Horsey kisses? Yes, please. The day was beautiful, bright and bug-less and the trail a healthy 3 miles long. The handsome fellow below was one happy camper, can you tell?

We counted butterflies, listened for cricket chirps and scoped out the wildflowers.

After our long hike, we recouped with some water and snacks and headed to the very tall viewing tower the park provides. Someone had to stay behind with the dog, and I allowed that person to be me. I left those ten flights of stairs to my guys and their non-squished lungs. 

Behind the viewing tower is a long railing bordering some steep drop-offs. There's a secret spot though that a handful of people found behind one of the fence posts. There's a stone staircase and a series of pathways through neat rock outcroppings and caves. We climbed those fence posts and took the little side trip that happened to also be pretty picturesque.

Find the steps behind the secret railing. Secret hideouts are my favorite!

What you are witnessing are my only prenatal photos so far.

One lone autumn leaf that survived the deep freeze.

Happy boys!

Our day was so perfect. We finished with dinner and more play time. You'd think Peanut would be exhausted, but he never wears out. All day of playing and hiking followed by more heavy play and he probably could've kept going. No naps, no time outs. I, on the other hand, feel like napping after simply thinking about this hike again. Haha. I'm still trying to stay as active as my body will allow me to. Sometimes that's a 6 mile bike ride, a 3 mile hike or a 2 minute stretch session. I'm just letting my body guide me and enjoying my capabilities even in my pregnant state, and I'm enjoying the relaxed nature of it all. No counting reps, no tallying up miles, no tracking calories. I'm hoping to carry some of this relaxed, carefree, exercising-but-not-trying-to, bring-the-whole-family energy into my post-natal fitness approach. I enjoy being hardcore when I'm not pregnant, but there should always be space for serendipity.

Camping Collins Style

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Since Hubster doesn't work on Mondays, we considered Memorial Day weekend the ideal time to take a little mini vacation in our new camper. That way, no one had to miss work or school but we could get out in our new mini home away from home ASAP.

We stayed close to home for various reasons, which turned out to be helpful when Hubster had to run home for a few emergency items, like a cooler since our fridge didn't work. We booked a reservation at Jellystone Park in Fremont, WI. It's not the type of camping that's real secluded and rustic. It's very open and populated, but also very family-friendly and comfortable. By comfortable, I mean there are showers, a convenience store, and many other amenities that hardcore campers would snicker at. But pregnant ladies and high maintenance husbands need those things, right?

Hey there, Boo Boo

Saturday, we headed out after Hubster got home from work, which was after 4. Peanut and I had gotten everything packed and ready to go and were beginning to run out of patience, ha! We finally got on the road and enjoyed tacos and sunset-gazing before bedtime snuck up on us.

Sunday was full of swimming, hiking, s'more making and exploring. I just love all the mixtures of smells, experiences and sounds when you're out camping. On Sunday, we also tried out the miniature golf course on-site. We even saw a hummingbird flitting around the bushes. I tried my darnedest to get a picture, but alas, the elusiveness of those birds is what makes them so hard to photograph and also what makes seeing one so special. We visited some cute shops in Weyauwega and went to a diner for dinner and an ice cream shop after. The very best part was lounging, chatting, reading and hanging out with our...um...lap dog?

Monday, we rented a pontoon boat for about an hour. It rained a little bit, but not enough to soak the skin, plus we had the canopy. Then, we rode the hay ride with all three Jellystone bears, Yogi, Boo Boo and Cindy Lou. Peanut thought that was extra special, since the previous days only had one or two of the bears. Then, we packed up and pulled out and made one last stop at one of the on-site playgrounds while Hubster took care of the septic drain.

I have had this insatiable itch to go camping that was finally pacified!!!! And lots of memories made with my three-person, soon-to-be-four-person family. We may not have many more opportunities to head out this summer what with baby coming and all, but we do have at least one long vacay planned for July. I can't wait to go again! I have such great memories of camping as a kid, always in tents, and it's so satisfying passing down this favorite pastime to my own son, and eventually my daughter too.

Do you have any favorite memories of camping as a child?

Dollar Store Camping Supplies

Friday, June 6, 2014

My mom usually buys me plants for my backyard garden for my birthday. I am pretty easy to please that way and can never think of anything else that I really want. This year, I'm taking a garden hiatus due to my baby-growing condition. Mom wanted to know what else she could do for my birthday, when it dawned on me. Camper stuff! Since we have a bathroom, kitchen and bedrooms in our camper, we pretty much have to furnish it with things that we'd have in our home, on a much smaller scale. Kitchen utensils, dish soap, sheets, etc.

The first trip she took me on was to the Dollar Store, per my request. Here's a list of things we furnished our camper with from the Dollar Store.

1. All-purpose cleaner
2. Mini cutting board
3. Scissors
4. Mini colander
5. Hand soap
6. Measuring cup
7. Mini baking sheet

8. Aluminum foil
9. Small wastebasket
10. Plastic containers for leftovers (ever gotten caught without a place for leftovers? Total bummer)
11. Tissue
12. Plastic baggies
13. All-purpose cleaning wipes

14. Fly swatters
15. Hot dog/marshmallow skewers
16. Long tongs

Then, I kept all those Dollar Tree bags and stuffed them inside the garbage can to recycle them as garbage bags. 

We hit up Shopko afterwards and got a pretty sweet deal on some basic pillows, $4.49 each. 

Last week, I found this lovely quilt and sham set at a rummage sale for $4.

My grandma had an extra usable knife set and a salt/pepper shaker set with covers at her house that fit right in the camper drawers. At work, I nabbed three beach towels, so we don't always have to bring the ones from home. We already have a stash of matches, basic utensils (can opener, spatula), playing cards and a few other things leftover from when we had the pop-up.

Still on the list:
Two twin size fitted sheets
More blankets
Dog bowls (yep, he loves camping just as much as us)
Bath towels and washcloths
Kitchen washcloths and towel
Foam mattress pad (our double fold-down table/bed is pretty scant on padding)
Pots and pans

New pretty curtains
Curtain rod and privacy curtain over our side of the camper

Thrifty and resourceful, I am happy to be called by those names. I will probably hit up Big Lots next to take care of some of some goodies for a good cost. I've been scouring rummage sales for the past two weeks for anything else we might need before I go out spending on brand new items. After we get the absolute essentials, I want to tackle some of the aesthetic elements of the camper. The standard issue upholstery and decorations are a bit....um....tacky for my taste. Maybe someday I'll actually detail and paint some of the woodwork. I'll make sure to take before and after pictures to document the overhaul if I do. I'm loving all the vintage camper makeovers I'm finding on Pinterest.

I'm so giddy about camping, I can hardly stand it!

Any other ideas where I can get a deal on these items? What else is absolutely essential for camping?

State of the Baby Address

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I haven't been saying much about my pregnancy other than making the announcement, but it's so true what they say about each pregnancy being entirely different. This one has left me with a lot more worry and has felt like an entirely different experience than the first uneventful one. From morning sickness to anxiety flare-ups to weird heart behaviors to health scares, I've been trying to navigate waters that feel completely foreign to me.

First, we had a false positive reading for Down's Syndrome which sent our world into a bit of a spin of waiting, testing, waiting some more. Everything came out "normal," but the experience was kind of excruciating and full of questions. We just wanted to know what we had to prepare for and wrap our minds around it, but admittedly there were lots of tears and doubt.

In the last month, I've developed some pretty frequent heart palpitations. I had them during my last pregnancy, but they were very different. With Peanut, they only showed up around month 8 during exercise and exertion. They were pretty infrequent. This time, they happen all day, every day, whether I'm sitting in my chair or out hiking. I, of course, reported them to my baby doctor right away.

My OB was not too worried about them. She said they were pretty common in pregnancy considering the extra blood volume a pregnant woman has in her body. She said I could either monitor it for any changes, see my general practitioner about it, or she could refer me to a cardiologist. I chose the cardiologist because I just don't want to mess around with my heart. And with my anxiety, I have a hard time with worst-case scenario thinking. I just want to be extra cautious and know for sure that everything is fine.

This past Friday, I saw the cardiologist. He told me not to worry about it, but that we were going to be extra cautious and a little more aggressive with testing since I'm pregnant. I appreciate the gesture! My blood pressure was reading pretty high that day, so I was suffering from nervous energy wondering if it was a sign of pre-eclampsia. However, my BP was back in the normal range at Monday's appointment, so I'm hoping it was just a fluke because I was nervous.

So Monday, I got fitted for my electrodes. Cool, huh? How bionic-womanlike of me. I'm wearing a Holter monitor for 48 hours to detect any abnormalities. Then on Thursday I'm scheduled for an echo-cardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart. As frightening as heart conditions sound and these tests seem (I've never had to see so many doctors in my life!), I'm trying to stay positive and take everything in stride. After all, both my OB and cardiologist said everything is likely to be benign.

Despite these "setbacks," everything is going relatively fine. I feel much better, but I still have no interest in cooking or any type of food prep and my energy wanes big time during the day. Peanut wants me to play the instant I get home from work, and it's hard to deny him that. My pleading eyes just can't convey to him the complete exhaustion I feel at the end of the day. I try to give him what I can, but many days are "lets watch a movie together" days. When I'm feeling truly energetic, I can muster a 6 mile bike ride with the family, but that's only happened once, so...

Well, there are only about 3 months left until we meet our baby girl and I'm hoping things become a whole lot more uneventful really soon. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers, would ya? I appreciate every one I can get.

My Introduction to Essential Oils

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

When I was in about 6th or 7th grade, my passion for natural alternatives, remedies and products started to emerge. I have a picture of a friend and me lying on pillows with a homemade masque on our faces and cucumbers over our eyes. I still have books like this on my shelf about natural remedies and skincare.

One thing I've always had particular interest in is essential oils. They used to be much harder to find before Doterra and other big-name brands were around. I bought a little starter pack of oils in tiny vials along with a little beeswax and glycerin to become my own little apothecary.

Today, I still harbor an interest in essential oils. Once I started doing a little looking around for the uses for some of the common ones (lavender, peppermint, lemon, etc), I started to wonder why I wasn't using them for everything!

I quickly made a purchase through Mountain Rose Herbs, based on the recommendations from this article, and got to work. I haven't even had them for a month yet, but here's what I've already been using them for:

Lemon or lavender on Peanut's cuts and scrapes
Peppermint and eucalyptus + coconut oil on Hubster's chest for congestion
Vitamin E oil + lavender rubbed onto my swollen preggo ankles
Lavender on the wrists before bed
Drops of lemon in all-purpose cleaner: 2 parts water, 1 part vinegar, drops of lemon
Epsom salts + lavender in the bath
Calming oils + breathing exercises during anti-anxiety meditation
Peppermint on a moist cotton ball for an ant repellent.
Other oils for pregnancy symptoms*

I get preggo elephant trunks

I have plans for a whole lot more too, such as natural insect repellent for camping and a muscle rub for workout recovery. I am even considering becoming a Doterra consultant. My cousin is a seller and she even graciously sent me several vials of samples. I really think being an oil seller would complement being a personal trainer in so many ways, but I may wait until post-baby to take on any more endeavors like this.

What are your experiences with essential oils? Do you think they're a cure-all or a bunch of new-agey hooey? 

*You have to be careful with essential oils as some of them are not safe to use during pregnancy. Here are a few helpful resources, but always make sure to check with your doctor first.

Doterra pregnancy oils pdf
Essential oil pregnancy guide
Fit Pregnancy on essential oils