Saturday, July 31, 2010

Noelle's First Trip to the Zoo!

You're not officially the parent of a small child until you take him/her to the zoo. Luke and I achieved that level of parenthood on Thursday when we decided on a whim to head to the Indy Zoo with Noelle. We were bored and didn't know what we could do, and the heat happened to be not as stifling that day so we decided to do it. We got her all dressed, packed all the necessities, and headed on our merry way! 

It was about a year ago that Luke and I went to the zoo as part of our anniversary celebration. We had just found out that we were having a baby, so we would stare at all the young couples with children and imagine bringing our baby to the zoo someday. It was fun to see that dream come to a reality.

I have been to the Indy Zoo many many times. However, to go there for the first time with a little one allows you to see it from a whole new perspective. I was worried that she wouldn't really take it all in, but her eyes followed the animals, people, sounds, and lights. We took her to the Oceans exhibit first, and she loved all the bright colors and fast moving fish. Her face was so adorable...I can't wait to take her back next year when she is running all over the place and squealing with joy (OK, maybe the running all over the place at a crowded zoo isn't what I am most looking forward to, but the squealing should be cute). 

We saw all the exhibits except for the desert. I had no need to see snakes and other reptiles that close to my precious baby girl. We did the dolphin show, ate ice cream, and Noelle even touched an elephant! We realized about an hour after she pet the elephant that we didn't wash her hand (glance down to see almost 5 month old with her whole fist in her mouth). Don't worry, we are monitoring her closely for any signs of illness...please don't call CPS...yet...

To cap off the day, we took her to the splash park. I didn't know this little treasure existed at the zoo! We were contemplating taking her to a water park here in Indy, but we got to do that at the zoo! Again, she will probably like it better in a year, but we still had her in her little pink swim suit, taking her through the sprinklers and letting her little feet get wet. 

All in all...a great day. Maybe one of my favorite days of being a mommy so far. We were a real stroller pushing, diaper bag toting, child shlepping family, taking in the sights at the local zoo. 

Oh..and she didn't cry all day, despite the heat, despite the lack of nap, despite the wonky feeding schedule. She is such a baby rock star.

Now...the pictures!
Looking at the fish


Ready to go see some animals!



The elephant incident



Splash Park...not too sure!



An expression Tyra Banks could be proud of...(not mine...Noelle's!)



I love Luke's expression here :-)

Changes!

Well, as you can see, I have been making some changes around here. This yellow color is my new favorite color, so that's why you see so much of it. I am also giving the blog a new name, as I hope to talk more about Noelle and share more of her sweetness. Things are still kind of under construction, so bear with me.

I've got some posts saved up, so check back often as they become available!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Random Update

I am so behind I don't know where to start...

Since I last posted, I have celebrated my 26th birthday and my 3rd wedding anniversary...I have seen the movie Inception- twice...I have eaten at some wonderful restaurants including PF Changs, Creation Cafe, Carnegie Library, BJ's Brewhouse, and Johnny Carino's. I have worked in my classroom a couple of times, visited with friends, spent time with Luke and Noelle, and most recently introduced my daughter to her great-grandparents on my side for the first time. It's been a pretty good two weeks.

It's that time of the summer where I get reflective and start thinking about how I have spent my time over the past couple of months. I also start thinking about the upcoming school year and what is going to be different and how I am going to change the world. Needless to say I am faced with a great deal of anxiety as I approach my first full school year as a working mom. I am sick with nerves as I am about to leave Noelle at a day care from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. I keep telling myself that I was a day care kid and I turned out OK. It just brings tears to my eyes to think about her not getting 100% one on one attention all day. I know this is a good thing and she will be cared for, but I just love her so much it hurts...

I have also been busy doing some photo shoots! In the past month alone I have taken 4 babies' photos! It is so much fun, and I am getting better and learning more each time. I am really trying to build a business with photography...it is truly a passion of mine!

Additionally, I just finished up uploading 1300 pictures to Snapfish from the years of 2007-2010. I haven't printed any pictures since my senior year of college, and I think it is really important to not only have digital pictures, but also the hard copies, too. There's nothing better than looking through an old photo album. I have been doing that a lot lately, and I have realized that I have changed so much over the years, and not just physically.

I have changed a lot over the past year...maybe even past few months. It's important to be open to change. Situations and circumstances will arise, but to be adaptable and flexible and willing to change...this will make it all easier and allow for you to be happy among all the madness. You only get this one life...

So, I am still here...house project is done. Well, I shall say the exterior house project is done. The interior will never be done as long as there are piles of laundry and stained carpet that is truly getting on my last nerve. Gah...always something!

Two weeks from tomorrow and I meet my new kiddos...bittersweet!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

M.I.A.

Yes, I know it's been well over 10 days since I have posted.

Yes, I know that I have millions of loyal readers just DYING to know what is going on in my life.

Yes, I know that I owe you like 15 posts to make up for it.

Yes, I know I am on summer break and I should have nothing better to do than blog.

Yes, I even know that I have been a bit emo here lately and probably should pep it up a little bit.

So, because I know all that, here's a little treat for you...

Noelle's First Real Laugh - 7.25.10
video

...don't say I never gave you anything.

And...yes...I do know my background is gone. I am figuring that one out. I leave blogging one week and look what happens!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

33% of a year...






Noelle is 4 months old now. 1/3 of a year. 33%. .33 repeating...

Can't stand it!

But I must say, this age is FUN! She can hold her head steady, so I don't have to worry about her swinging it around too much. Except for when she manages to smack you in the chin with her forehead. That hurts!

She is getting stronger, standing up as we hold her. She lays on her belly and gets her knees under her like she is going to crawl. I clap for her but say in my head, "Stop growing so fast, baby girl!"

Her eyes are still blue-gray. Her hair is still dark brown. She is losing some hair in the back but it seems to be growing on the top of her head.

She smiles all the time, but she still hasn't really laughed out loud. She giggles quietly sometimes, but I guess Luke and I will need to try harder at being funny. Not our strong suits.

Noelle weighed in at 14 lbs, 11 oz (75%) and 24.5" tall (60%) at her 4 month appointment. She is doing great. She sleeps about 7-8 hours straight, and then she will usually eat and go back to sleep for a couple more hours.

She is truly a miracle, and I can't get enough of her. After I put her to bed, I typically go back in 3-4 times just to stare at her. She woke up the other night and caught me doing it. Truthfully, I think she was creeped out. I think I would be, too!

Well, I hear her sucking on her hands...so I think nap time is over! Enjoy some of my favorite pictures as of late...

I stole an onion.

I stole an onion the other day.

I didn't mean to.

My hands were full.

I was in the self-scan lane at Meijer.

I thought I paid for everything.

I grabbed my bag and left...

...with a Vidalia dangling in its bag in my left hand.

I didn't realize it until I got home.

I quickly cooked and consumed the evidence.

I hope Meijer doesn't go under because I shorted them 75 cents.

Don't call the cops.

Please.

Cooking with Grandma






Before my grandma died, she made sure that I have her 1956 Betty Crocker cookbook. This cookbook, with its stained and tattered cover and half torn out pages, guided many baking sessions with my grandma and me when I was little. I have fond memories of watching her bake with shortening, put the fork marks in peanut butter cookies, and roll up "bumble bees" out of left over pie crust. It was with her that I learned that hamburgers can be fried in a skillet and pizza can be cut with scissors.

It meant a lot to me that I have this cookbook. I have set it in my kitchen as sort of a decoration for the past couple of years, but after talking with my dad about how much he loved grandma's butterscotch meringue pie, I decided to put it to good use. I carefully turned to the pie section, trying hard not to lose any loose pages. I love seeing her handwriting on the pages and the occasional greasy finger print. I also love seeing how old-fashioned this cookbook is....assuming that the woman of the house was to be the domestic goddess. There are weeks worth of meal ideas, tips on how to keep your man happy and full, and how to brew coffee for 40 people. My how the times have changed. Nearly everything calls for a hearty dose of lard...no margarine in sight.

Anyway, I set out to make this butterscotch meringue pie as a belated Father's Day gift for my dad. I carefully followed all of the directions, and, after using nearly all of my pots and pans as well as every measuring device I own, this was the finished product:

I think my dad was pretty surprised that I actually made the pie. It was pretty good, too. I had so much fun making it that I turned around and did a mixed berry pie with strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. This pie was pretty awesome, especially warmed up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I have plans to do a chocolatey pie next. I just love the way the crust tastes, and I don't care that I put like 1/2 a cup of shortening in it. It's what makes it amazing. I eat diet ice cream, diet cookies, diet chips, and I drink diet coke. Having a piece of full-flavor, full-fat, homemade goodness every now and then won't kill me.

I don't have oodles and oodles of warm fuzzies about that side of the family, but I do have my grandma's cookbook, which is really all I need.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Blues

Many times lately, I have told myself, "OH, gotta blog about that!" or "OH, gotta blog about this!" There's a lot going on my life, but when I stop and think about it, it all amounts to so very little. My summer has been boring, people. I know, feel sorry for the teacher who gets to stay home for two months with her darling baby girl. But, I'm telling you, I start school 4 weeks from tomorrow and I can't say I have much to show for this summer vacation...unless you are counting the MASSIVE MESS of a home makeover we have going on right now. No trips. No pools. No getaways. Not really even going out to eat at a restaurant. No frozen alcoholic drinks. No parties with friends. A few highlights, such as Amanda's wedding in Mackinac Island with the girls...and Noelle's baptism...and Noelle's first 4th of July...but other than that....I don't have many warm fuzzies about this summer, though it has been rather...warm...

But back to that home makeover. If you recall, there was a hail storm around the end of May, beginning of June in 2009. Our house was pelted by TONS of hail (I have a video http://ernstbergerfamily.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-hail.html), and as a result, we were awarded an insurance settlement for a new roof (praise the Lord because our roof was the original 25 year old roof), and then we were later awarded a settlement for brand new siding on our house. We got the roof done in October, but it took a while to get around to doing the siding. We finally picked it out and chose a high quality, insulated siding in a NEW color. Yes, no more light blue/gray house. It is a nice beige/warm tan color called Prairie. The siding went up last Friday, and now we are left with the task of repainting ALL of our trim. This doesn't sound like a lot of work until you start and realize that the more you paint, the more you have left to paint. The trim used to be a blue/gray color, and now we are making it an off-white. Luke has been working really hard, and I have been trying to help in between watching Noelle. We try to maximize her nap times as much as possible. We are painting our garage doors a dark brown color, which is a big change from the white they used to be. We have new house numbers, we are painting our mailbox post, AND we got a new atrium patio door because the old one was a piece of crap and let in all kinds of bugs. It also let in WORMS when it rained. Sick! We have made a lot of changes, but it has taken so much work, effort, money, and time. I really want it to be done, and many times I question why we didn't just pay the money for someone else to do it so we could enjoy this time together. But, we didn't, so we have to deal with it. I can't wait until it is done, but unfortunately that will probably be about the time I go back to school.

There are some important days coming up-- like....my 26th birthday on Friday :-) and our 3rd wedding anniversary next Wednesday. Also coming up is the one year anniversary of when I told Luke we were having a baby, which was July 15th of last year. Pretty cool to see what has transpired over the last 12 months.

I will get around to typing up those blog posts I have "saved" in my brain. I am also nearing my 300th post on my blog, which is pretty nuts. I should do something special for that. Or you should send me a card with money in it.

Hope your summer isn't suckin'...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I think I look great...

Yesterday, I watched Oprah. I don't usually watch her show, but I happen to catch the rerun of her most recent Jessica Simpson interview....the post Mom-Jeans-John-Mayer-Sexual-Napalm interview. I had nothing better to do, so I watched it.

I used to love Jessica Simpson when she was married to Nick Lachey and on Newlyweds. It saddened my heart when they divorced. I haven't really followed or supported her since. However, I became a fan yet again after this interview.

The premise was to discuss how the media has scrutinized her for "gaining weight." As I listened to her talk about how even in a size 4, the media called her fat (though the "mom jeans" were a little unflattering). I know how I feel when Luke alludes to us needing to get whole grain bread instead of white, or we need to add a salad to our dinner...I typically blow this out of proportion and say, "What, you think I'm fat?!" I can't imagine how I would take it if magazines printed the most unflattering pictures of me on the cover with headlines such as "PORKING UP" or "EXPLODING." All just to make money...and shamefully, I have joined in on such criticisms in the past.

We tend to forget that celebrities are real people with real feelings. All the money in the world doesn't keep your feelings from getting hurt, especially when you are a woman and being called fat. This insult stabs any woman in the heart, whether you really are fat or not.

I teared up a couple times during the interview because I saw how hurt it Jessica was, and I was really in awe of how she could just brush herself off and move on. She made a lot of good points, talking about how we live to tear others down and criticize others. I also liked how she said, "I think I look great." This is something that women are afraid to say. We are afraid we will look full of ourselves or conceited. We are afraid that someone will say under their breath, "Please...did you LOOK in the mirror?" I know that I am the first one to turn down a compliment...whether it's from my husband or a friend or my parents or a colleague. However, most of the time, compliments are what I am trying to collect when I put on a new outfit or spend extra time on my hair.

Just a week ago, I felt humiliated because a girl I don't even know criticized my hair on TV. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. But if I like my hair, why the hell should I care what she thinks?

There is such pressure on us as females to be perfect...to look perfect...to be the perfect weight. I scrutinize every crumb that goes into my mouth. I have been busting my ass at the gym. No, I am not suuuuuper happy with the size that I am, but why can't I just be satisfied that I am a healthy, young woman who had a baby 4 months ago? I might have a flabbier belly than I did when I was 16, but I also have a lot of things I didn't have when I was 16...like...a job, and a bank account with money in it, and a house, and a car that I pay for, and a husband, and a daughter. Why would I want to be 16 again anyway?

I made a pact with myself after that Oprah episode that I would only workout if it was FUN for me and I enjoyed it. I wouldn't torture myself for no reason. When it stopped being fun, I would quit. Life is too short to dread going to a gym...let alone pay good money to go do something I hate. This is why I love Zumba. I look forward to it, and I get a good workout. I also told myself that I wouldn't hate myself for eating a piece of pie that I slaved away over while following a recipe from my grandma's 1956 Betty Crocker cookbook. I should be proud that I made it and enjoy that it tastes wonderful. I shouldn't hate myself for eating it. Should I eat a piece every day for a week? Probably not.

We can all have goals to look like swimsuit models, but chances are, we are not going to achieve them. All we can do is the best we can do...and we need to love ourselves along the way. I really think we call could benefit from saying what Jessica says as we look in the mirror. "I think I look great."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Change of Plans

How does having your husband home for an entire month versus being gone in Lexington, KY, sound? I think that sounds heavenly...I will take it!

Luke had a major change of heart about not only his away rotation but also his future specialty last week, and he has decided not to go to Lexington and to change his path from urology to family medicine/sports medicine/OB...yes, he is still mildly undecided, but he assures me he doesn't have to know for SURE until later this fall. He does know that urology is not for him, and he will be focusing his efforts in other places.

I am ecstatic because this means a lot of great things for our family. This means less chance of him being relocated to another state for residency. This means more time for our family and less time in 12 hour surgeries. This means more happiness for Luke and less walking zombie Luke. This means I don't have to spend an entire month alone. This was a very big decision for Luke that he did not take lightly. We have been talking about this and talking about this and talking about this for months, if not years. I feel that God stepped in in the right moment to help make the picture clear for Luke, for that I am so grateful.

SO-- I look forward to a month of family time, lots of love, and lots of teamwork as we raise our precious daughter. Praise God!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lighter...

...7.5 lbs lighter since about the beginning of May. I know, not necessarily the world's record for fastest or best weight loss...but it's something. Only about 12 more pounds before I am back to my pre-baby weight.

Man, I could go for a donut...