Monday, August 31, 2015


Today would have been my Oma's birthday. She died peacefully in her sleep nearly 10 years ago, from what, we don't know. My Opa woke up one morning and went to kiss her good-bye. He found her cheek cold, but the bed under her body still warm. It was heartbreaking.

Oma- Ursula, called Ulla for short- was born in Germany in 1939 and could remember the air raid sirens of WWII. She told me a story of her and her mother being admonished by Gestapo because she had turned on a light to use the bathroom during a raid, then never shut it off. Her father, my Opapa,  was forced to join the German army and went AWOL while in Russia, taking more than two years to work his way back to his family. They left Germany until the war was over, then returned to open a restaurant/hotel.

Oma met my South Dakota-raised Opa during his deployment with the army some twenty years later. She was a waitress in her father's restaurant and Opa and his friends came in. His friends were so rowdy that she threw the whole group out, and Opa returned the next day to apologize. That was that. They married in Germany and my mom was born at the army base hospital.  When my mom was 9 months old, they moved back to the US.  Oma and Opa had four more children- all boys!- over the next 10 years, during which time Opa was finishing medical school and his residency.

Opa finally graduated medical school and went on to enjoy a successful career as a urologist. After years of literally going through couch cushions looking for change for bread, they began to live a more comfortable life. They bought a house in Bloomington near Lake Normandale and raised my mom and her brothers there. The house remains in our family today, and will always be Oma and Opa's house to me.

Oma had a thick German accent but never taught us German. (I don't think it was too popular to be German after WWII!) She was fiercely practical. She had expensive taste in everything from clothes to chocolate but rationalized If you buy quality, you don't need as much! (How true!) She carried the plain leather version of Coach purses, which always smelled like Trident gum, and you'd be guaranteed to find a pack of it, Chapstick, a travel pack of Kleenex, and a tin of Nivea if you dumped out its contents. She loved walking through the woods, gardening, and cooking. She taught me that if your husband was on his way home, but you didn't have dinner started, throw some butter and onions in a pan to make it smell good and tell him Dinner's almost ready! when he came through the door. But most of all, she loved Jesus.

She lived the verse to whom much is given, much is required. Both Oma and Opa were very active in their church, in missions, and opened their home to many people in need. She kept a prayer journal and talked about Jesus as though she had met with him that morning. That relationship she modeled serves as a benchmark for me.

I've also inherited her love of  thick sweaters, Kraeuterbutter, and Eileen Fisher. I find myself shoving Kleenex up my sleeve, leaving just a bit poking out at my wrist, just like she used to do. During Ulla's bouts of fusiness, I'll say  ja, ja, ja while we bounce. I abide by her belief that it's not spoiling, it's nurturing! My mom looks just like her (watch the video below and you will see!).

Even though she is gone, she is very much here.

When we found out I was pregnant, the name Ursula was the front-runner for me. John took some convincing, due to a certain sea witch sharing the same name! Suffice it to say, Ursula does not make an appearance on any Top 100 Baby Names list here in the US!  I wanted Ulla to have a name that meant something, that had a legacy. Ursula means "little bear; will; determination." Oma was all of those things, and I want Ulla to carry my Oma's mantle of strength, compassion, and great faith.

For those of you that never knew her, this was the video that we played at her wake. It does such a beautiful job of capturing who she was!

Monday, August 3, 2015

last august 3rd

I found out I was pregnant a year ago today. It was Sunday. My sister Juli had just gotten into town earlier that morning, on a break after AF basic training, and was staying with us.

We went out to lunch after church and came home to hang out a while. I was reading this book and reviewing my chart for the last month. John and I had been trying for a baby since we had gotten married, and I had wanted a baby since, well, forever. I was getting frustrated and worried that I wasn't pregnant, and tired of living in two-week intervals. It's probably safe to say that I was getting a little obsessed with all things pregnancy and fertility. 

Juli asked me if I had a tampons, and John remarked how terrible it was to be trapped between a girl reading a fertility book and a girl talking about her period. Poor John! I teased him that I wouldn't be bothering him any more with anything pregnancy related (wink wink), and when I did get pregnant, he'd be the last to know.

Fast forward 15 minutes. Both Juli and John dozed off, and I was still pouring over my chart (it was the first month I had actually charted). I noticed that even though my temperatures were erratic, they were consistently higher since I thought I had ovulated, a sign of pregnancy in the charting world. Earlier in the week, Tuesday, I had taken a pregnancy test and it was negative. Now it was five days later and still no sign of my period.

I went to the bathroom to take the last pregnancy test I had. (I don't even want to think about how much I spent on them over seven months!) I forced myself to not stare at the test while it was developing and distracted myself by washing my hands. When I could stand it no longer, I looked. Two lines. TWO LINES.  I actually said Oh my gosh out loud to myself, and my hands started shaking.

I ran to the couch where Juli was sleeping and woke her up, test in hand. She looked at me, bewildered and said Who are you going to give that to?  Ha! After shaking her to wake her up more, and then convincing her that it was mine and not faked (how one would do that, I have no idea), she demanded that I take another one immediately. By this time John had woken up, but I hid the test and told him we were going to the store for a "personal errand."

We drove to the grocery store and bought the most expensive digital test we could find, and I took it in the bathroom there, both of us huddled in the handicap stall. Juli watched the test and when the word Pregnant popped up, she cried and said You're really pregnant!

Juli made me take this photo in the parking lot

When we got home, John was on the couch and I walked over to him and handed him the digital test. He paused a moment and said, Which one of you is pregnant? 

ME! I shouted, and there was a round of hugging and kissing and more crying.

And that is the story of the day our lives changed forever, in the absolute best way possible.


Friday, June 5, 2015

oh baby baby

So surprise! I did not stay pregnant forever. Our little girl, Ursula Joy, was born after a little medical prompting on Monday, April 27 at 1:15 p.m., 16 days after her due date. She's named after my late Oma (German for Grandma) and we call her Ulla for short, pronounced oo-la. The fact that she's a girl remains the biggest shock of my life.

I began working on her birth story the week we brought her home but haven't gotten back to it since. I thought it would be one of those things that would be a quick-write but I couldn't have been more wrong. So that's back-burnered and I will eventually get around to finishing it in all of its TMI glory.

What I can tell you now is that being a mom is absolutely everything I thought it would be. It's deliciously exhausting and I spend the majority of my day with her on my chest. I've heard too often that this time passes too quickly, so I'm savoring every second. To-do's can be done later. And showers? That's what dry shampoo is for. And that little peri-bottle they give you at the hospital... It does the job.

Watching my big, bearded husband- the guy that swore up and down before she was born that he'd NEVER baby talk- speak in the highest, baby-talkiest voice continues to melt my heart.  We're so in love with her.

In the event you're not on Instagram, Ulla has officially replaced Carl as my photo subject. Here are a few of my favorites over the past 6 weeks.

More soon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

41w plus 3d equals bonus pregnancy

Baby Geyen is now a full 10 days post-date. Overdue. Late. Given that most first time moms deliver roughly 8 days overdue, I'm still in the ballpark of average, but have officially entered bonus pregnancy. 

Yesterday we had a BPP (Biophysical Profile, which is a fancy ultrasound that checks on how the baby is doing) and a NST (non-stress test), both of which the baby passed with flying colors. During the ultrasound, the tech switched to 3D to try to get a picture of the bean's face and he/she is so low in my pelvis that their little face looked like it was smooshed against glass, flattened nose and all. It's adorable and annoying (hey, bladder!) all at the same time.

- Warning, cervix talk ahead -

During my physical exam, I had Dawn (my favorite midwife) check my progress. The good news: I'm 80% effaced, my cervix is super soft, and the baby is at a +1 station. The bad news: I'm not really dilated at all. In theory, this means nothing, since women can walk around at 3 centimeters for weeks, or go from 0-10 in hours, but what it meant for me yesterday was that she couldn't strip my membranes. I was hoping she could, and that it would jump start labor. No dice.

Hospital protocol is to offer an induction at 41 weeks, regardless of medical necessity. Studies have shown that induction after 41 weeks doesn't increase your chances of having a c-section, so most women choose to schedule an induction. Because I want as natural a birth as possible, with the least interventions possible, I'm choosing to wait until 42 weeks to talk about induction, which is as far as most doctors/midwives will let you go. Pitocin (aka the chemical crowbar) doesn't sound like it would be the best start to a natural birth experience.

With 42 weeks sneaking up on Saturday, I've been doing everything in my power to get this little Geyen out. Pineapple, sex, walking, acupuncture, primrose oil, squats, raspberry leaf tincture, spicy foods, lunges, nipple stimulation, bouncing on an exercise ball... If it can be found on the internet, I've done it.

Seriously, please tell me a) what you did to induce labor and b) any story you know of where a mom went into spontaneous labor when she was as overdue as me.

PS- I mentioned castor oil (my last resort) to Dawn yesterday and she advised against it. So I'm leaving that one off the table.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

40 weeks

Today is my official due date, which means very little, and is just an estimate of when the baby will come. Most first babies are notoriously late, making their appearance closer to 41 weeks, 1 day. So, for those asking Have you had that baby yet?, please click the link.


(Fantastic website link via A Cup of Jo)

Friday, March 27, 2015

things we're doing to prep for baby geyen

If you've come here looking for a hospital bag packing list or must-have nursery items, you're in the wrong place. Not that those things don't matter, because they probably do, but they just don't matter that much to us. Case in point: Our "hospital bag" currently consists solely of snacks for the nurses and John.

No, our approach to baby-prepping is more like that of someone counting down days to incarceration. Because let's face it, a baby in tow is going to change justafew things about our lives.

Our approach to baby prep looks something like this:

More eating out in adult places. This is probably one of the biggest perks to being childless with a disposable income, and one of our favorite things to do. I would assume that this will be coming to a halt after Beans' arrival. Plus, our move to Small Town, MN means we don't exactly have a restaurant on every corner. Even though the word BUDGET looms over our heads, we know that these types of special outings will be few and far between, so we're enjoying them now.

Spending more intentional time together.  John and I have unique situation going: We work together and we're a one-car family. Ergo, we're pretty much within 30 feet of each other 24/7, which after over a year of marriage, is something we probably take for granted. When Beans comes, I'll be staying home while John will continue to go to work. It will be a big adjustment to not be with each other all the time, and I'm going to miss seeing his cute beard whenever I want. For the last few weeks, we've been enjoying doing things together, from spending time with friends to running errands that I'd normally skip (coughHomeDepotcough). I keep reminding myself- and John- that these are our last days as a twosome. 

 ^ the distance from John's office to mine ^

Not buying things. Have you heard? Babies Need All of The Things. Or do they? While I wouldn't consider us minimalists by any means, when it comes to Beans, we kind of are. Or at least I am. John wants everything and thinks we can give away whatever we don't use. No thanks. My general philosophy is that we as Americans have too much stuff in general, and babies probably don't need everything we say they do.We were lucky enough to get everything we actually need (diapers, wipes, some clothes, a car seat) at a baby shower a few weeks ago. We can pick up whatever we're lacking after the first couple weeks. Which I plan to spend at home, with limited venturing out.

Praying. Because we're human, and new at this whole parenting thing. And is it too hippie to say that I'm writing scripture-based birth affirmations?

And now a Beans update: At our appointment Wednesday, I was officially 37 weeks, 4 days pregnant. During a non-stress test, it was confirmed that I am indeed having regular contractions, though I can't really feel them. This kind of thing can go on for weeks so I'm not getting too excited, but I am happy my body is doing something to prepare. It's hard not knowing whether I could go into full-fledged labor tonight or in 3+ weeks. One thing I know for sure: Beans will come when he/she is ready.

Monday, March 23, 2015

feed me: chorizo and sweet potato hash

Per Kat's suggestion to "put it on your new blog"...

It all started with our wedding.

I needed a gluten-free, egg-free brunch option. A hash seemed like the most logical (and tasty!) option when cooking for a few hundred. After a few minutes on Google, I landed on this recipe from The Bitten Word and our caterer was kind enough to make it.

It was phenomenal, and has become one of my go-to recipes. It's incredibly easy, and it only requires one skillet. Fewer dishes, FTW!

As with all recipes I "follow", I take a few liberties with ingredients, namely leaving out things I don't have readily available, and adding in things that sound good. For example, when I made it for a brunch get-together this past weekend, I left out the onions and walnuts, and subbed dried parsley. And blame it on being in the final weeks of pregnancy but I added a few shakes of red pepper flakes, just to add some heat. Can't hurt, right?

Image credits: 1