MontanaMoon – Part 1

Better late than never, right?  

Our honeymoon was, without a doubt, the best vacation of my life.  Probably because I was incredibly ecstatic to be married to Brian, and we also got to see (arguably) his favorite place in the country: Montana.  Obviously I was excited to see it, too, especially after hearing stories about it from Brian.  Some couples have to really think about where they want to go for their honeymoon, but for us, it was never really questioned.

Since the day I met Brian, I knew how much he loved the west.  Some of it is probably because he loved his job (fighting wildfire) while he was there, but he truly fell in love with Montana while living there.  After seeing it myself, it’s not hard at all to understand why.

I think a part of me will always feel guilty that I’ve pulled him away from Montana, but I know Brian was ready to “settle down” and be more stable in his life.  I’ll never forget when he told me (not long after we started dating), he just wanted to live in a place long enough to go through a bag of flour.  It was absolutely a case of perfect timing when we met, but I hope that we can continue to take trips out west every few years.  It’s such a big part of his life and world, and now I’ve fallen in love with it, too!

(P.S.  A lot of this will be boring to read through, but I want to have it written down so that I can have it in my memory forever!)


Day 1: Thursday, July 4, 2013

Where we were:  Downer’s Grove, IL (just outside of Chicago)

What we saw: Friends!  We drove up to Chicago late Wednesday evening (the 3rd), and the intention was to stay and then leave the next day for the Dakotas.  The next day we woke up excited to celebrate the 4th.  I love the 4th of July, but for some reason I’ve always struggled with what to do.  Most of my friends are married with kids, and so we can’t really do much that evening.  It worked out perfectly because Brians’ (and mine, now!) friends were all together and had the day off of work.  There was a parade through town right in front of Sarah and Russell’s house, and so we spent the day eating and drinking with everyone.  Secretly I wanted to stay and celebrate with everyone, and when I asked Brian about it, turns out he did, too!  So it couldn’t have worked out any better.  To top it off, we ended the evening with Bekkah’s homemade ice cream.  I don’t think I’d had homemade ice cream before, and….WOW.

Where we ate:  Sarah and Russell’s/AJ and Bekkah’s – BBQ food!  Also beer, bagels, Oreos, and homemade ice cream (WOW).

Where we slept:  We spent the evening of the 3rd at Sarah and Russell’s, and the 4th at AJ & Bekkah’s

Favorite thing about today:  Fun with friends, fireworks, beer, and homemade ice cream!

Things to remember for next time: Get coins for tolls 🙂


Someone got a little tired from all the festivities.

Watchin’ the parade


Ice cream baby vs. real baby


Day 2: Friday, July 5, 2013

Where we were:  Wisconsin, Minnesota (First time!), and South Dakota (First time!).  We covered over 800 miles on the road today!

What we saw: The next morning we woke up bright and early (around 5…early for us!) and got the show on the road.  And on this day we saw lots of plains….man oh man.  It was beautiful, but it is a LOT of the same thing.  And this is a coming from an Indiana girl 🙂  Southern Wisconsin reminded me a lot of Indiana, actually.  We passed through where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in South Dakota (!) and ended the day in the Badlands.

The Badlands were just as cool as everyone said they would be…indescribable.  Everyone in our country should see this!  The landscape is so varied there….it’s almost trippy.  In one of the pictures below, Brian really had to convince me to get out there.  I mean, it was pretty high up!  But like so many things already in our marriage, he managed to convince me.

Wall Drug was very cool, too.  Again, MUCH bigger than I expected it to be!  I think my favorite is all of the signs along I-90 heading out through the plains.  There are so many signs for this place, it’s unbelievable.  And knowing the history behind it all…well, that just makes it even cooler.

Where we ate: We packed some deli sandwiches and leftovers from the BBQ at AJ and Bekkah’s.  Oh, and I had my first “f’real” shake!

Where we slept:  Camped in Badlands National Park

Favorite thing about today:  Stopping at Wall Drugs and seeing the Badlands

Things to remember for next time:  The eastern (and middle…) part of South Dakota is pretty boring, but totally worth it.



That’s me out there! Shaking like a leaf.







Day 3: Saturday, July 6, 2013

Where we were:  Started the day in the Badlands and ended it in Bighorn National Forest (in Wyoming).  We covered just over 250 miles today.

What we saw: After camping in the Badlands for the night, we decided to head to Wall Drug for breakfast (and our free ice water! MANY of the signs along I-90 talk about their free ice water…this was obviously a huge deal in the 1930’s when bottled water wasn’t a “thing”).  After Wall Drug, we headed west towards Wyoming.  On our way we saw Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills.

Mount Rushmore is way cooler than I thought it would be!  We see it in movies and on TV all of the time, but it is SO much more impressive in person.  Everyone needs to see this, too!  The Black Hills also surprised me….absolutely gorgeous.  I had no idea the landscape around Mount Rushmore would be so impressive.  I kind of thought it was just – plop! – in the middle of nowhere.  Which, it kind of is, but the Black Hills in and of themselves are gorgeous.  I would definitely go back here to see more and hike/explore.

Where we ate:  Breakfast buffet at Wall Drugs –> surprisingly pricey, but pretty good.  This filled us up for awhile and we snacked during the day.  Dinner was at camp.

Where we slept:  Camped in Bighorn National Forest (Wyoming)

Favorite thing about today:  Driving through the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore

Things to remember for next time: Driving up to Bighorn Forest is a littttttle scary.  (It’s funny that I made note of this on only the 3rd day of our honeymoon – it was just a tiny taste of what was to come in Montana, where they don’t believe in guardrails, the roads sometimes can only accommodate one car, and my jokester husband was always willing to freak me out. 🙂 )


Gotta get it!



I was surprised at how high up on the mountain they are! (Other people have told me they thought the same thing….that makes me feel a bit less stupid).


Nose shot!





Bighorn National Forest (WY)


Camp site for the evening



Baby Dolan: Week 35

Week 35

(May 19 – May 25)

Weight gained: 16 pounds


  • Braxton Hicks contractions.
  • Feeling uncomfortable…but I’m thinking (hoping) it’s due to my seasonal allergies! (*Or sinus infection)…

Movement: Yep!  Still small little movements here and there.

Food Cravings:  Really not much this week, mostly due to feeling crummy.  There were 3 days I couldn’t taste my food (don’t you hate that?), so I’m just excited to enjoy food again!

Sleep:  Both Brian and I get a D- for sleep this week.  🙂

Stretch marks? Not yet!

Miss Anything?  Nope.

Fun and/or Interesting Things from the Week:  As I mentioned above, Brian and I have been battling (what we think are) seasonal allergies this week.  It started on our drive back from camping….the infamous sore throat.  (Whenever I get sick, it ALWAYS starts in my throat).  By Monday we were congested, I had a bad headache, and we just felt icky.  I feel like a major wuss because usually allergies aren’t THAT bad!  It made me feel a little bit better to read that seasonal allergies can be worse when pregnant.  Thankfully this is happening now and not closer to the due date. 🙂

Happy or moody most of the time: Pretty bleh for the first part of the week, but happy as we got closer to the weekend!  It helps that it’s Memorial Day weekend and Brian and I didn’t have much on the books (aside from a wedding Saturday night).

New Baby Items: I forgot to mention it last week, but I did manage to buy this infant insert for our Ergo!  It was only $10 from a Facebook site I’m on, and it’s in really good condition.

Looking forward to:  Being HOME!  Brian and I have had so much going on in the last 6 weeks, and really from here on out we don’t have anything “big” planned for our weekends.  I did this on purpose because, even though I think this baby will be late, you just never know…do you?  I know Brian, in particular, feels very overwhelmed with everything he has to do around the house.  I keep telling him it will all get done…and at least the baby doesn’t care if the crown molding looks perfect or the quarter round has been installed.  🙂

photo (15)


We were SO lucky to have my sister, Kelly, offer to take our pictures this week.  Brian isn’t really into having pictures taken (I think this is probably a guy thing, too?), but he knew how much I wanted them.  (Some of the last pictures before our family completely changes!)  I will treasure these pictures forever.  Kelly, thank you SO MUCH for taking these for us.  You have such a talent!


Then vs. Now

My life has changed in so many ways in the past few years, all in good ways.  Not only did I meet and marry the love of my life, I couldn’t be more excited to start our family together.

There are times, however, when I’m reminded of how differently I thought of things even 3-4 years ago.

Back then, I was obsessed with working out, running fast, and being skinny.  It all really started when I was 17, but when I was in my late 20’s, it became more of an obsession with fitness/being small.

And I’ll never have these six pack abs again, but that’s okay by me.

If you’d have asked me when those pictures were taken how I felt, I would have told you I was at my “happy weight.”  I would have said I never felt better, and felt healthier than ever!  What I wouldn’t have said, however, is how exhausting it was to maintain that weight.  To look like I did above, I had to:

  • Work out 5-6 days a week for at least 1-1.5 hours
  •  Eat healthy 90% of the time
  • Allow very little treats, cookies and cake specifically
  • Never, ever eat a cookie or dessert at a work party or function; if I did, that meant extra time in the gym the next day
  • Think constantly about my next workout or my next healthy/safe snack
  • Order ONLY salads or grilled chicken/pork at restaurants (this made decision making very easy, but going out to eat VERY BORING. I actually dreaded going out to eat for years and years – now I love it again, because I have choices!)

It was life as I knew it, so I wouldn’t have said it was difficult to maintain at the time.  At all.  Being in control in all of those areas made me feel happy on the SURFACE, but not deep down.  I found this from a (June 2009) blog post when I’d lost 15 pounds to reach the weight I was in the above pictures:

I’ve worked hard in the last 8 months to lose the 15 pounds. With the combination of eating healthy and working out, I’ve successfully lost the weight and kept it off for about 6 months. But sometimes, just sometimes, I find myself not knowing what to do next.

It sounds CRAZY, I know. I honestly have never been more happy with my body and weight than I am now, but that creepy little voice in the back of my head sometimes tells me maybe it’s not enough. Maybe I should lose more. I try really, really hard to ignore that voice – but it’s difficult as that’s what I’ve been telling myself for more than 10 years!

I sometimes wonder if those “skeletons in my closet” will ever go away completely. My thinking is about 80% more “healthy” than it ever was in the throes of my ED – but that nagging 20% hangs on and creeps up sometimes.

I read that now and realize how messed up my thinking was back then.  Thankfully I also realize 125 is a number I’ll never see on the scale again – and that is more than okay.

Admittedly it is hard when I find myself doing the “comparison game.”  I have friends who work out like it’s their job, and they look amazing!  But these friends will also openly admit to having an unhealthy obsession – just as I did a few years ago.  They are looking for that “high” just as I was, and I have to always work on reminding myself that being XXX weight will NOT mean automatic happiness.  In fact, the obsession with having a perfect body will cause more anxiety and depression in the long run.

Before I got pregnant, I wasn’t working out regularly or eating healthy – at all.  I realize I will need to focus on getting back into shape after the baby is born, as I truly feel my best when I’m working out and eating healthy.  (That’s a whole other post).  However, I have absolutely no  desire to return to the chick pictured above.  She had a rockin’ bod, but constant guilt over not working out enough or eating too much.  She felt pretty good in a bikini, but the other 99.9% of her life (you know, when we all don’t wear bathing suits) she felt sad and empty.  She might partake in eating cake at a party every few months, but she’d work out an extra hour the day after to “make up for it.”

Thankfully I have a wonderful, supportive husband who prefers me with some meat on my bones and not boney.  (Brian has always told me most guys think like this, and I’m seeing now that is very true).  I might  have to revisit this post from time or time, or remind myself of this when I’m having a “bleh” day.  This girl below definitely has more curves than 3 years ago:

But isn’t it worth it to be able to take a few days off from  working out and not feel guilty?  To get a DQ Blizzard or eat a real, cheesy burrito at a Mexican restaurant?  To have one (or two!) of the delicious homemade cookies your co-worker brought into work?

I think so.

Baby Dolan: Week 34

Week 34

(May 12 – May 18)

Weight gained: 15 pounds


  • Heartburn and a little bit of nausea and acid reflux.
  • LOTS of Braxton Hicks contractions.  The past couple of weeks they’ve increased in frequency, but this week they actually became uncomfortable – like mild cramps.  Of course this scared me a bit, since I’ve always heard they shouldn’t (or usually aren’t) uncomfortable.  Thankfully I asked the doctor on Thursday and she said it is normal.  She said what I’d already read, which is to take it easy and drink plenty of water.

Movement: Yep!  Getting a little less frequent (boo), but still regular.  It’s funny how certain days he/she will be very quiet….and then other days (like Tuesday of this week) the movements won’t stop!  Of course I love those kind of days.

Food Cravings:  Fresh fruit sounds SO GOOD right now.  I’m looking forward to the Farmer’s Market this summer and eating lots of fresh cantaloupe, strawberries, and watermelon!

Sleep:  Still no complaints here!  I’m getting up to go to the bathroom now 3-4 times a night, but usually I can fall back to sleep right away.

Stretch marks? Not yet!

Miss Anything?  Nope.

Fun and/or Interesting Things from the Week:  A surprise baby shower (see below)!  Also, the baby’s heartbeat went a couple of long stretches at a normal rate.  Up until now, it’s been about every 5th – 6th beat when the “catch” occurs.  So the long stretches of normalcy are a good sign!

We also went camping this weekend with our friends, which was a lot of fun.  I was a little nervous about how I would feel, but I actually felt great!  I peed approximately 36 times while we were there (for 2 days), but only twice during the night.  We went to Yellowwood State Forest (my first time there) and it was absolutely gorgeous.  Weather was a bit on the chilly side, but I’d MUCH rather have that when camping then hot, sticky, and humid!

Happy or moody most of the time: Very happy!

New Baby Items: Yes!  My sweet coworkers surprised me with a Baby Book Shower.  We had a meeting scheduled and when I walked into the room, everything was all set up for a party!  It was incredibly thoughtful of them.  One of my favorite things to do with my nieces, nephews, kids I’ve babysat, and my students is to read aloud to them.  I’m a firm believer in beginning at a very young age, too.  It could be a complete coincidence, but the babies I know who’ve been read to from a young age often develop a love of books themselves.  Plus, it’s just fun to read to little ones…isn’t it?


Looking forward to:  As of today, I only have 20 more work days left!!!!  I really cannot believe it.  I’m planning on taking the days I have off to work on the nursery, mainly, and to get last minute baby items we still need.  Some days I feel SO BEHIND, but then I know deep down everything will get taken care of in time.  Especially if this baby is going to be late, as I have a strong feeling that it will.  I’m looking forward to “nesting” in the weeks to come!


34 weeks




Pregnancy Thoughts

My whole life I’ve wondered what it’s like being pregnant.  By this time in my life, most of my friends have experienced pregnancy (or are right now!).  Obviously, not every symptom or feeling applies to everyone, so it’s been interesting to see how it’s been for me.

I will say, without a single doubt, I love being pregnant.

Yep, I am one of “those” women.  I try not to blabber on about it incessantly, but every day I wake up so excited to be growing this little (or big?!) person.  There are too many women in the world who struggle with miscarriage or infertility, so this is not something I take for granted at all.

In the beginning, sure, it sucked.  Being nauseated and feeling sick for 9/10 weeks is certainly no fun.  But I tell you what – I’m glad that part comes in the beginning.  It really makes you appreciate food and just feeling healthy after the sickness subsides.  Besides, being sick at least was a constant reassurance that the baby was okay.

As someone who has struggled with body image for most of my life, it’s been extremely surprising how good I feel about myself while pregnant.  I started this pregnancy at the highest weight of my life, but in a way, I think it’s been a good thing.  I’ve focused on staying as healthy as I can.  I always thought I would either be one of two types of pregnant women: the type who exercises/runs regularly, eats healthy 80% of the time, and gains exactly the recommended amount of weight; or the type of woman who says “screw it, I’m pregnant- give me all.the.sweets.” and gains 60 pounds.  (Can we say “extreme personality?”  Because that is totally me.)  Well, turns out I’m not either of those types and I’ve really been a good mix of the two.  It’s crazy, (and ask me again at 40 weeks pregnant – I’ll probably feel differently!), but I feel better about my body now than I have in years.

What’s been the most interesting to me is that I have had no struggles with anxiety or depression throughout my pregnancy.  When we first met with the nurse around 7 weeks, she “encouraged” me to go off of Zoloft.  It’s considered a Class C drug, which basically means they don’t have enough research to say if it’s okay during pregnancy or not.  I figured I would try going off, and if I felt absolutely horrible, I would consider going back on them.  But I have felt wonderful – better than I have in years!  Sure I have sad times and get anxious some days, but it is nothing like before.  And I consider it funny that, after arguably the worst winter of my lifetime, I didn’t struggle at all with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I know I have my toughest weeks ahead of me, from what “they” say.  I guess I’m writing this so that I can look back on those tough days, or those days when I’m no longer pregnant, and just remember how wonderful it all is.  If I could have 500 babies, I would (especially if I didn’t have to birth them all). 😉

I do feel blessed to have had an overall easy pregnancy, and I hope that it continues.  In the end it will most certainly be worth it, once that baby enters this world!


Baby Dolan: Week 33

Week 33

(May 5 – May 11)

Weight gained: 14 pounds


  • Still some discomfort when I breathe.
  • Hungry!!!!  I swear, some days it feels like I just can’t get full enough.
  • Heartburn.  I’ve started carrying around TUMS in my purse as I’ve needed them pretty much daily.  I love TUMS, though, so I won’t complain about that.
  • It’s definitely getting harder to bend over!  I think part of this is due to my back being tight.  My goal is to do yoga 2-3 times a week from here on out (if not more).  It’s been on the back burner for awhile, with all of the home reno things and with walking Montana after work, but I learned in our class that women who regularly do yoga during their pregnancy have easier labors overall.

Movement: This little one is as active as ever!  The doctor told me last week to expect the movements to slow down/decrease as baby gets bigger in the upcoming weeks, and I will really miss that.  The movements have really changed from little kicks to rolling from side to side.  We went to a concert this week (Nickel Creek) and baby was moving around like crazy for most of the show!  I can also pretty much tell where the head and/or butt are at all times now, which is neat.  They can’t hide from me now. 😉

Food Cravings:  Still ice cream, but I’ve had a pretty big Mexican food craving hit this week that I need to do something about.

Sleep:  Like a rock.

Stretch marks? Not yet!

Miss Anything?  Nope.

Fun and/or Interesting Things from the Week:  This week we met with my friend, Michelle, who will be watching Baby D when I go back to work this fall.  I’d already met Michelle and her husband, but I’m glad Brian was able to meet them, too.  They are just the sweetest family ever, and I am so thankful she is able to watch Baby Dolan.  It gives me such peace of mind knowing that the baby will be with someone I completely trust.  Plus, as a bonus, my nephew will be there in the mornings!

This weekend Brian and Mary came to town!  We had the best time with them…although the weekend went by much too quickly.  Sunday was Mother’s Day, and it was so special to spend that with Mary.  I’m also glad we were able to get together with my family, as they adore Brian and Mary!

Happy or moody most of the time: Very happy!

New Baby Items: Yes!  Mary and Brian brought a book for the baby with (real) animal pictures in it.  The photography is beautiful!  Hopefully this little one shares his/her love of nature with their dad. 🙂

Looking forward to:  Camping with our friends next weekend!  We really wanted to camp with our friends before the baby comes, as I think it is so important we get in our “friend time” while we can.  That’s not to say we’re going to be isolated after the baby (I think that is one of Brian’s biggest fears), but let’s be honest – I don’t think I’ll feel like doing weekend/drinking trips with a newborn….amiright?  Thankfully the forecast looks much better for next weekend than it was this past week (85 and humid – yuck!).



Dear Baby Dolan

Baby Dolan,

As I sit typing this, it’s hard to believe we only have 7 weeks left to finally meet you.  My pregnancy has both crept by slowly and flown by quickly at the same time – how is that even possible?  In those first few weeks days, I worried all the time about you.  (The first times of many that I will worry about your health and safety.)  As we’ve gotten further along, I couldn’t be happier sitting here and thinking about the person that you are and who you’ll one day become.

You see, I’ve waited my whole life to meet you.  If you asked me at any point in my life what I wanted most, I would have said, “To be a mom.”  I have wanted children for as long as I can remember, but it was hard to imagine who that child might be….until I met your dad.

(Let me take a moment to tell you about how awesome your dad is.  Not that I have to tell you – you already know it, I am sure.  Not only do you have the coolest, most bad ass dad there ever was – somehow this man is also the most caring and wonderful man in the world.  He plans to teach you so many things…whether that be doing woodwork, climbing trees, how to shoot a gun, or alllll about science {his favorite}.  You aren’t even here yet, but I can already tell he is going to be the world’s best dad.)

I often wonder just what kind of person you’ll become, as most expectant mothers do.  You wiggle around in my belly all the time, and I’m tearing up just thinking about how much I will miss that.  Are you going to be super active, like your dad?  Will you be tall like us both?  How will your sweet voice sound?  Will you be incredibly indecisive and sensitive like me, or tough and know exactly what you want like your dad?  Are you going to to be a book worm, an athlete, a caretaker, or an optimist?

From what people tell me, this parenting thing will be a little rough at times.  I hope you’ll bear with me (and your dad) as we learn the ropes.  No one does things without fault, but I can make this promise to you now and always: you are loved by so many wonderful people and with such great intensity.  (Plus, you have really cool, kick ass parents).

I can’t put into words how excited we all are to finally meet you.  I love you more than you know and cannot wait to kiss your sweet face!



 P.S. You aren’t allowed to read this until you’re old enough to know about cuss words.