8.17.2016

We're Having a Baby!



What a relief to finally tell the world about our news! I'm not one for keeping things to myself, so it was pretty difficult for me to keep quiet that we were expecting. Of course I just had to tell my mom and our families immediately, but we wanted to make sure we got through the first trimester before we spread the news. And now it's finally here! I'm 16 weeks today and am so grateful I made it to the second trimester.

Honestly, the first three months were weirder than I bargained for. I was quite emotional at the beginning, and I'm hoping those hormones have calmed down a bit. I'm generally an emotional person, so I didn't realize quite how moody I had been, but hindsight is 20/20. My teariness ended up being our big clue that we were expecting.

Greg went on a 2-week work trip to China and my family was out of town while he was gone. Usually when I know he's going to be gone for that long, I try to pack up my schedule catching up with friends or going down to Alpine. But this time, I really wanted to finish up a quilt I had been working on. So I got all the supplies out and worked on it but I would just give up so quickly. My energy reserve drained quicker that I was used to and it was frustrating. When Greg is in China, our schedule is off by 14 hours. Which means, we can only talk in the mornings or at night- typically at inconvenient times. We both end up taking turns waking early or going to bed late so we can catch up. We aren't sure if it was a combination of his hotel or our wifi, but the service was interrupted nearly every time we spoke. Our video calls wouldn't connect and even the audio was delayed. I would try to walk around my neighborhood but our Verizon signal is so weak that I couldn't even get data. We finally realized our best option was when I was at work early in the mornings and we could get stronger service. The whole ordeal was upsetting, but I just took it to another level. Every time Greg would call I would cry and cry and tell him how much I miss him. Few things are worse than being sad and crying to someone over the phone when they can't even hear you. Ha! So it would just make me cry more. And then I would get upset and say, "Let's just try talking another time." And I would sit on the couch fuming about everything (and usually hungry, because I cook less when Greg is out of town). We realized it wasn't fun catching up if I was just going to cry and complain. Ha! When I realized that I could be pregnant, I just kept blaming my behavior on my hormones. I would apologize and say, "I'm really sorry, but I must be pregnant because this is just crazy and I can't stop crying."

When he came home, I took a pregnancy test and indeed, we were expecting! I don't know what I was more happy about: welcoming a baby or having an excuse for my behavior! (Just kidding, I really am more excited about welcoming a baby. :)

After the emotions, the next big thing that hit was the sensitivity to smells. I feel like I've always been more aware of smells than Greg is, but again, this was at an extreme level. I started opening the windows a lot when either of us was cooking. And if I considered the smell remotely annoying, I wouldn't eat whatever it was. I started avoiding the kitchen in general, especially the disposal and the trash. We're pretty good at keeping those things scent-free, but I just didn't want to risk it.

Then of course came the nausea. I didn't realize how sick I was feeling until I tried looking at Pinterest and it made me sick. Scrolling through my feed with lots of food dishes was impossible. I had to avoid the app for months because just seeing pictures of food was difficult. When you're a foodie, that's a big bummer. Food is such a big part of my life and my hobbies so I felt like I was losing a portion of my personality. I stopped reading my food blogs (and haven't been able to pick them up again), I stopped cooking, and stopped posting on my food instagram account. I had to shift my usual mentality of "live to eat" and adopt more of an "eat to live" philosophy, which is obviously not in my nature so I felt pretty sad a lot of the time. I read several articles about how to survive pregnancy as a foodie. I got lots of tips on forums about things that taste good while you're feeling sick. I got really into peanut butter toast (preferably on an English muffin) with a large, cold glass of milk. I ate a lot of ramen. Not the nice ones we make with pork belly and toppings, just the chicken flavor for 10 cents at the grocery store. Lots of saltines and popcorn. I just wanted carbs all the time. The more, the merrier! We had a few unfortunate episodes with chicken, broccoli, quinoa, and brown rice. I don't know when I'll be able to face those again but I'm sure it will be awhile. I've lost a bit of weight, but I'm sure the next few months will catch up! For now, I'm sticking to more simple vegetarian type meals when I do the cooking.

Speaking of which, I haven't been cooking much at all. Poor Greg has been such a good sport. Usually we do meal planning and grocery shopping once a week, but early on, we were wasting so much food because I would think something sounded good so we'd buy a bunch of things and then I would change my mind and so he'd eat as much of it as he could but then we'd inevitably have to toss some things. I've been getting really into Wendy's sour cream and chive baked potatoes with a side salad. It makes me feel a bit better compared to all the goldfish crackers I've been consuming.

Greg has been doing all the housework and even though he is so nice about it, I always feel so guilty. He usually is our lead on the laundry, but lately he does it all. Thinks about it, changes all the loads, folds everything, and puts it all away. Lots of times I'm just watching on the couch apologizing for being lazy. I'm just shocked at how much energy it takes to grow a human! I emptied the dishwasher the other day and sent a picture to Greg because I was so proud of myself! The best part of the second trimester has been having more energy and feeling like I'm getting my personality back. I'm more excited about food and I'm getting things accomplished after work. Slowly, but surely!

After being at work all day, I've felt like I need to just come home and take a nap to be able to get through the rest of the night. Which seems to be a downward spiral. If I come home and nap and then wake up to eat something and talk to Greg before I go back to bed, then I can't sleep through the night. So I wake up and then browse on my phone for a couple hours and go back to bed for another hour or so. It's a weird cycle. I've been avoiding the naps the past few weeks in exchange for just going to bed early and that seems to be much better.

Another perk of the second trimester change has been seeing growth in my little baby bump! I've had a pooch on my belly for the past few years, so I'm kind of used to that. It initially caused me a bit of grief because it's confusing to know whether I am really showing or if that's just the usual evidence of my post-college lifestyle. I even broke down to my doctor about it the other day. I told her that I wish I had lost more weight before getting pregnant. She is the sweetest and showed me all my stats and vitals and talked about how healthy I am and how I'm doing everything just right. So that was nice to hear and it helped me to get through some of the negative body image thoughts that had been swarming in my head. Having progress in the baby bump department has been really fun though. I'm starting to feel uncomfortable in my normal clothes and even though I am in that weird stage where my clothes don't quite fit but maternity clothes seem overkill, it's a fun place to be. My sister, Melissa, brought me all her maternity clothes and it's been such a blessing. We are the same size and have the same style in clothing and I feel like it's opened up so many more options of what I can wear and given me a lot of confidence about proudly sporting the bump. The whole thing just feels so much more real now.

Speaking of, we're just really excited about welcoming a baby into our little family. I feel like I've been preparing to be a mom my whole life and as nervous as we are, we feel like we're really ready to expand our capacities for all the hard things and the good things that parenthood will bring. I love Greg so much and he's taken such good care of me these past few months. His entry in my world has brought so much joy into my life. I can't even imagine having my heart grow even more for an additional member of our family, but I'm really grateful for the opportunity. I feel so much gratitude that it didn't take us long to get pregnant and that we're even able to take this journey together.

There's so many things to take care of and arrange for baby preparation that sometimes I forget about the reality of how much our life will change and the love that we will feel for this little one. I've only had a few experiences thus far that have made me feel connected to the baby, but they've been so sweet. There was one day when I drove up to a park near my office for lunch. We hadn't gone to the grocery store for awhile, so I had a smorgasbord of odd things packed. I ate some string cheese and then started on my chips and guacamole. I couldn't handle the smells or the textures so I just set it down next to the seat and pondered about what in the world would taste good right now. Then I had to go throw everything away to get the smell out of my car. I got back to the car and said, "Hey little one, you better appreciate this because I really don't like going without my lunch." I immediately felt like I was actually talking to someone who could hear me back. It was really neat.

Another time I felt connected was when we saw the ultrasound at our first appointment. It was thrilling to have the doctor put her wand on my belly and actually have something show up on the screen. And then a few weeks ago, we listened to the heartbeat and the nurse was saying, "Ah, it won't stop moving!" And I was thinking, "Woot, woot, that's our little babe! Energizer bunny!"

First ultrasound, 8 weeks

We've had some insurance issues the past few days that we're trying to resolve. Ah the joys of health care! But assuming we can get it all sorted out, we should know the gender in the next couple weeks and then it will get even more real. Thanks everyone for being so excited about our news. We've felt so much love and support from all the people we've told and it's nice to know that we'll have a village to help us raise our little one.

8.15.2016

Domain Purchasing

Funny little story I wanted to quickly write down...

It's difficult when you are a web designer and you don't know how many websites you should have, or how many domains you should buy and then redirect to your different online spaces. I've created several portfolio websites for myself through the years, I had a personal blog that I turned into The Woolstons blog, I have an etsy shop, and I may want to have a site that's just dedicated to freelance or other random stuff to sell that isn't design work. I have some that redirect to other sites, some are connected to a CMS system and some are just hard coded and I pay hosting. The point is... it's just consistently an area of confusion in my life and I'm constantly making new decisions about my online space.

So it's fitting that my marriage and name change was something that added to the complexity. I was reviewing my domain account several months into dating Greg. I was trying to figure out which domains to renew and then I panicked and thought, "Ah, I better grab something with my possible new last name." I called my sister and asked if I was crazy. I was worried that Greg would see the confirmation email and then be super weirded out and break up with me. But I finally decided that I would take the plunge and just risk it. I didn't want to lose the URL!

So I went ahead and bought rebeccawoolston.com, gregwoolston.com (I saw his name was available and I thought- ah what the heck?!), gregandbecca.com, and thewoolstons.com. I know it's a small thing, only cost me like $40. But it felt like the most brave thing to just boldly purchase a URL and commit to a new name. I think in my head, it also committed me to Greg. I had been grappling with the marriage decision and the large weight of that for a bit. Buying these domains was like a confirmation of "Yes, of course this is what I want." It wasn't buying a ring or anything, but for me it felt like the equivalent.

Two weeks later, he proposed. And I told him about the domains. :) He didn't think I was crazy. I can't speak for him, but I'm sure he probably appreciated that I had made my decision a few weeks prior.

This week marks two years since I bought those domains and they are set to expire. We're going to keep some and let go of a few others. It's a little sad to me that I'm losing some of them because they mark an important moment in my life. But it's all good, because now I have someone who is with me in all my domains- on the web and in my life.

7.26.2016

Wildflowers at Albion Basin




   

  
       

My neighbor in Alpine, Val Goodrich, used to always tell me that I need to go see the wildflowers up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Back then I didn't even know which canyon was which and driving up there always stressed me out. But now that I am a Salt Laker and married a boy who knows worked at a ski shop at the base of the canyons and knows both Cottonwoods like the back of his hand, it's easy to go exploring! 

The past two summers we've wanted to go up and see the wildflowers but we were always too late or too early. But this year we were on top of it and made it happen! And goodness, it seemed like everyone in the valley had the same idea last night. We drove around but couldn't find a parking spot near the top, so I ate our picnic dinner in the car while Greg warned me of big bumps coming up. Ha! When we finally found a parking spot, we walked around and Greg got to eat his dinner too. You know me, my hunger rules my world! 

It was lovely up there and we loved seeing the flowers. Yet again, grateful for a beautiful place to live and such wonderful views close to our home! 

7.22.2016

Camping at Diamond Fork







   

  

  
   



Last weekend, we went camping up Spanish Fork Canyon. At the end of last summer we made a resolution to take more weekend camping adventures this year. Greg's high school friends used to do a lot of backpacking trips together but these days it's harder for them to get together. So we packed up some cars and did an overnight camp trip. Michael and Sarah did all of the cooking and it was incredible! Dutch oven BBQ chicken and cheesy potatoes with a caesar salad and corn on the cob. For dessert they made a fresh blackberry cobbler that was so legit. For breakfast they had blueberry pancakes, sausage and orange juice. Yum! Such a fun little weekend away!

I had never been to this campground but my mom has spent a lot of time at Diamond Fork. Her parents had an RV when she was growing up in Spanish Fork. So they would drive up the canyon and leave the RV there all week. I've heard about lots of fun memories and stories of their time up there. 
I never got to meet my grandma and my grandpa died shortly after I was born so I don't have any memories of either of them. But when I see an RV at a campground, I always think of them. 

On one of my visits to the restroom this weekend, I was taking the long walk back to our camp site by myself. I walked past at an elderly couple working to put together a big meal in a roasting pan outside of their RV. It sounded like they were preparing for a large family gathering later in the evening. I got a little teary as I thought about how much my grandparents would have enjoyed doing that same thing with their grandkids up Diamond Fork this weekend. And how challenging it is for my mom and our family that they had to leave this earth as soon as they did. 

I'm grateful to enjoy this beautiful state that I love and be able to have a little break from cellphone service and to-do lists, and just spend time chatting and enjoying the view. Happy weekend!

7.08.2016

The State of the Union



This morning I woke up very sad. It's been a hard week.

On Sunday, I watched a few episodes of the O.J. Simpson documentary. Monday was the 4th of July, my favorite holiday. I celebrated and felt grateful for my freedoms. Then I read about the shootings of Alton Sterling. I read a lot of comments on Facebook about Black Lives Matter and tried to put myself in the shoes of someone with a different skin color in my country. Then I shared a post on Facebook after the Ramadan attack in Baghdad about how ISIS is not just targeting Westerners, they are attacking other Muslims. And we can't just assume that all Muslims are the same.

Then I learned about the shooting of Philando Castile. Then I grappled with my thoughts about my church and LGBT policies. Then I read up about being a Libertarian and the danger of having such a rigid two-party system in the U.S. I thought a lot about Edward Snowden and Hilary Clinton and how punishments are given. Then I spent some time learning more about gun control and other countries that don't have as many shootings as we do in America. Then last night I get a text from my sister about a protest in Dallas and 11 police officers being shot.

Greg and I woke up at our normal time, 6 am. We were about to get ready for our morning walk that brings us so much joy and peace. But instead I just cried in bed. It's just a lot. And I love America but right now I feel like too many people are so caught up in pride and "I have the best solution" or "my ideas are best" that it blinds us to compromise and change.



I took the "I Side With" test about a year ago. And then I came back to it when my husband took it again and we wanted to compare our answers and see where we have different opinions. I was shocked by how many questions and solutions we differed on. Someone who is my life partner, best friend, and greatest confidant - someone who shares my values and my life; I was shocked that we could have such varied opinions on fundamental issues. 

After I took it, I reviewed my answers and tried to think about them some more. After going to dinner with a few friends who work in public education, I had new thoughts about the common core. As someone contemplating motherhood, I had new opinions about maternity leave that I might not have had a few years ago. After talking to my engineer husband about the manufacturing of hybrid cars, my opinion changed about how to tackle pollution problems.

Luckily for me, I can just change my opinion and it’s not a big deal. But in my mind, that is part of the journey and the reason we're here: learning new things and being OK to change your opinion as you acquire more information. So, I literally went back to my saved test and changed my answers in a multiple choice box. It was that simple. 

I worry about a party system or getting behind a specific candidate with such strong vigor that it becomes part of your identity. I think it's easy to get so pulled into the group think mentality. It might be difficult to step back and say "Is this really what I think? Has my opinion changed? Or do I just go along with my group or my party or my candidate because I'm a member of it?"

I feel sad for politicians because everyone gets so upset when they change their opinion. Some people say that it's a sign of weakness or that it's a manifestation of them just trying to sway a certain group of voters. But what if they truly become familiar with new information that they didn't have in the past and consider a new idea that they hadn’t thought of before. Maybe one experience with a friend who happened to be an illegal immigrant changed their mind about how they want to handle immigration. That's part of the learning process, but we don't allow politicians to have that luxury.

There's a few things that I've kind of settled on as the root problems, and really they all boil down to pride. But I think there's a few different manifestations of pride.

1. Everything is complicated.  

Life used to be a lot more simple. I woke up, went to school, played outside with my friends, ate dinner with my family and did it all again the next day. But as an adult, I have to see and experience a lot more. There's a lot more worry and there are so many more gray areas than I even thought was possible. Every issue I exam, every thing that I think is super straightforward ALWAYS ends up being complex when you actually dig into the content. When I first learned about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, I came up with quick fixes in my head. Then I went on a study abroad and lived in Jerusalem for 4 months. I learned a lot of the backstories and I met people on both sides affected by the conflict. As you can assume, my quick fixes didn't take any of that into account. And now 8 years later, I still have no idea how they are going to work it out.

I think it's tempting, especially for those of us that are religious, to view a lot of the world as good vs. evil mentality. Those are the good guys, these are the bad guys. But that sort of thinking and simplifying and stereotyping and racial profiling and sexism and judging is so detrimental. We truly have no idea how the other half lives until we've walked a mile in their shoes. Because it's not really possible to walk a mile in everyone's shoes, all we can do is listen and really hear and actually care about the experience of someone else, even when it's different than our own. Which can be hard and humbling, but worth it.

2. Compromise.

America was built upon a great compromise, series and series of compromises of the small states with the large states. But no one wants to do that anymore, it’s so extreme and there’s no moderates. None of our congressman are willing to bend on their policies, so instead nothing gets done. How can we all really think that differently on so many topics and why are too few willing to compromise? There's no one willing to meet in the middle, because that's not how you get elected. You get elected by making promises and representing a constituency. And it's not worth sacrificing your political career to meet halfway on an issue. The loud voices in the community are expecting a certain behavior and when they're not satisfied, they can ruin your life.  From a country that started on compromise, I don't understand how we got so far away from that and more importantly, how we'll ever get back to a government that can meet in the middle and get stuff done.

3. Being OK to change our minds.

It takes a lot of humility to change your mind or to put yourself low enough to reach over enemy lines and accept an alternative to the one you’ve built up in your head. I’d like to find a candidate more like that, but in our election process, that person will never win because each party will find something wrong with them- they’re too this or they’re too that. And we drill them about their past votes without considering that they were doing something part of the greater good even though it may not totally make sense to everyone else.

I guess my goal for myself and anyone within my sphere of influence... is that we try harder. That we gain a little more compassion and a little less "I'm right, you're wrong" mentality. I'd like to try harder to think less about a general issue and more about individual people with lives and experiences and goals. 

6.03.2016

Mother's Day



A quick recap of Mother's Day this year! At church we got some chocolates! Well technically I did, but I figured since I'm not a mom, Greg is just as entitled to the chocolates. 

That afternoon we headed to Alpine and made dinner for my mom, grandma, and Uncle Jerry. I made floral arrangements for all the ladies in our life, but this one for my mom turned out the best! My sister Emily bought the flowers and I arranged them for her. Then we gave our grandma some ranunculus flowers and snap dragons for Lillian! I love making floral arrangements!

The next night, we had Greg's parents over for dinner to celebrate Mother's Day. I was hoping to make dinner but I got stuck at work. I came home to Greg baking up a storm! And it was so sweet, I had to document it. With Ray's kidney trouble, he can't have salt or dairy so Greg came up with an excellent plan to have a lemon layer cake. Then he made a raspberry sauce for between the layers. Finally he rounded it all out with a dairy free lemon frosting. He finished it off by dyeing the extra frosting a lovely shade of purple (his mom's favorite) and then piping "Happy Mother's Day" on the top. 

I was so impressed! I mean, I've always known he can cook but every time he bakes, I'm always in awe. Especially when he does all the shopping too. This guy is the real deal. 




Moab: Long Canyon & Canyonlands National Park













Our last adventure in Moab was driving through Long Canyon. We missed the turn off because it was such a tiny little road right off the train tracks in the middle of nowhere. We started driving around and came across a sign that said this area is a preservation for desert long-horn sheep. So I was searching for sheep the next few hours. This was probably the most nerve-wracking of the trails we went on because we hardly saw anyone. Every trail was steep, the curves were sharp, and I was a little bit of a stress case. We ended up turning around right near the end because there was a really steep part that had huge boulders and I was too worried we would get stuck and no one would know where we were! But Greg was a good sport, listened to his wife and turned around. :)

On our way home, we drove through Canyonlands National Park. It was stunning, as expected. It was really windy so we just did a quick walk around the look out point. Greg will come back someday and take on the White Rim trail.