Thursday, August 26, 2010

5 Years Strong

I must give Brad the full credit for this year's anniversary. I, admittedly, FORGOT!! In my defense, I was aware that it was coming up within the week and I never forget the date, I just hadn't consciously nailed down the day. During church the Sunday before our anniversary, I agreed to feed the ward missionaries on Thursday - which just so happened to be our anniversary. I realized my mistake before leaving to go home a couple hours later (because Brad asked me what I wanted to do on Thursday), but Brad caught it before me and fixed the situation without me knowing.

Then he proceeded to plan our celebrations for Thursday (including a babysitter for Connor) and kept me completely in the dark. He asked our friends Sean and Ginger to watch Connor, and they are also the people that agreed to feed the missionaries for us that night - thank you, thank you!!! After Brad got home from work, we headed toward Long Beach, stopping at a grocery store to get sparkling cider and gold fish (I was hungry and we planned to eat dinner after). He took me on a gondola ride through Long Beach Harbor because he knew I loved the one a few weeks before in Vegas. It was a romantic, hour-long boat ride at sunset (even though our gondolier didn't have a great singing voice), and it was fun to see all the ridiculously expensive houses on the water and hear all the history of the area. After our gondola ride we called Sean and Ginger to make sure Connor was doing ok, and he wasn't. He has been clingy lately. So we drove home, put Connor to bed, and made ourselves a nice pasta dinner at 9 p.m. It was a fun night.




This is the most expensive house sold on the water to date. It sold for $13.5M and - get this - it's a SUMMER HOME for the owners. That means they have another house (maybe several!!) elsewhere to live the rest of the year!! Where do people get all this money?!

This is the house that inspired Barbie's Dreamhouse.


Breathtaking.

The traditional and modern gifts associated with the 5th wedding anniversary are wood, representing strength and a solidified relationship, and silverware, representing connectedness. Both of these represent our relationship very well at this point in our marriage.

Brad and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple 5 years ago on August 5. In the last 5 years, the two of us have completed 6 years (combined) of school, lived in 5 apartments, held 7 different jobs, been on countless vacations and weekend getaways, and added one new member to our small family. We've had a lot of ups and a few downs. Because of most of our experiences together (and in spite of a few others), our relationship is stronger than it's ever been.

In these 5 short years, nothing has brought us closer together than Connor. We love him. He is a compilation of both of us and we love teaching him, playing with him, and watching him grow. He brings so much more happiness into an already happy home.

Happy 5 years to my best friend Braddy! Wood is known to be long-lasting, so here's to many more years together!

Monday, August 23, 2010

PUPPPs

One of my friends was asking about some of my pregnancy/birth stories and I sent this to her. I thought I would share to see if any of you had a similar problem with your pregnancies.

Oh boy do I have some pregnancy/birth stories to share!!! I think PUPPPs is a good place to start. No, not the cute, brown, furry kind. PUPPPs (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy) is a rash that very few women get, usually late in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, and the cause is unknown. One study has shown that male fetal DNA can be found in skin biopsies of the rash and, since 70% of women with PUPPPs give birth to boys, a new hypothesis is that male fetal DNA acts as a skin irritant. PUPPPs is also usually the worst with your first pregnancy, but usually goes away shortly after birth. However, for some unlucky few (we're talking 1 in thousands), it can last up to 1 year postpartum.

Meet one of the unlucky few.

During my pregnancy with Connor (my first pregnancy), I noticed by belly was starting to get itchy half way through my 3rd trimester. I just chalked it up to the fact that my skin was stretched more than ever (and was still in the process of stretching) and was, therefore, extremely itchy. While that may not have helped the situation any, that wasn't the real reason.

Immediately after Connor was born, within the first couple hours, my legs got so itchy I literally couldn't stand it. The bed sheets were like torture because they made my legs and feet itch so bad. I asked the nurse what was happening and she said sometimes that happens when the epidural is wearing off and that it should go away within a day or so. And it did. Until a week later.

1 week postpartum, my shins and thighs started to itch uncontrollably and were covered with pea-sized to quarter-sized, raised, welt-looking bumps. Within 3 days it had spread to my calfs and the soles of my feet and the itch was unbelievable. I've had mosquito bites, poison oak, and other similar rashes/bites, but this surpasses them all x1000 and until you've had PUPPPS you can't even imagine how itchy you can get. None of the lotions or hydro-cortisone creams I had helped at all and it was only getting worse as time went on, so I called my doctor (and the only reason I waited that long was because this began on a Friday night so I had to wait out the weekend).

I saw my OBGYN and she recommended I see a dermatologist because she didn't have any idea what the rash could be (which amazes me because she sees pregnant women all day every day!). The dermatologist also shrugged his shoulders the first time I saw him and sent me home with a stronger prescription strength hydro-cortisone cream and told me to take Benedryl for the antihistamine. Neither worked at all, and the Benedryl just made me groggy. I went back to the dermatologist several days later and he said he thought it might be PUPPPs - a very rare pregnancy rash that he's never actually seen on a patient and never heard of lasting this long after birth (this was 2 weeks postpartum). He also said there's really nothing that can be done except wait for it to go away. He prescribed some even stronger creams and lotions anyway, none of which helped in the slightest, and said it would most likely clear up in a week or so. I didn't think I could last another week as I was starting to (quite literally) scratch my skin off - I was making myself bleed.

I went home immediately and started reading about PUPPPs online and found several online posts from some women that said they had PUPPPs too. The longest any of them said they had it was 6-8 weeks until I read a comment on a post from another girl who said hers lasted 1 full year. A YEAR?!?! I was horrified. I hoped and prayed that mine would stop in a couple more weeks.

1 week, 2 weeks, 3 more weeks (so 5 weeks total) went by and there was absolutely no relief, although ice helped a little (I just left ice packs on my legs until my skin was numb of all feeling). The itching was worse than ever and trying not to scratch was IMPOSSIBLE. I was waking up several times a night because of the INSATIABLE itch. All I could do all day long was scratch and, of course, that helped it spread. Never before in my life have my legs, stomach, sides, arms, and neck itched so badly, and the worst of all were the soles of my feet and the palms of my hands. At one point (I think about 6 weeks into it) I didn't care if I bled and, in fact, I kept itching more thinking that if I could get it to hurt, it wouldn't itch anymore, or at least not as bad - that's how bad it was. I knew pain would be better than the itch, but that didn't make the itching stop either.

2 months came and went. It turned into 3, 4, 5... and here I am, 10 months later, and I'm still itching. Fortunately, it has gotten immensely better. The worst of the itching peaked around 6-8 weeks for me and, slowly, the itching subsided for longer and longer periods of time. I started only itching a few hours a day, then only a couple times per week. Now, at 10 months postpartum, I go through an itching spell about once every 2 weeks and it usually only lasts for about 30 minutes to an hour. I'll keep you posted about whether or not the itching stops at the 1 year mark...

Needless to say, pregnancy does some pretty crazy things to your body!!! Did anything like this happen to anyone else?

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's Official

So, a few posts back I posted videos of Connor taking several steps on his own, and not crawling. He doesn't know how to crawl, like most babies, so he isn't able to move over to something, pull himself up, and then let go to walk on his own. When I said I didn't count the first 2-3 steps he took on Father's Day, it is because Brad and I have had to set and balance him on his feet then let him go, and he would do a controlled fall toward the other of us, taking 2-3 steps in the process. If he had crawled, pulled himself up, and walked even 1 step before falling, I would have counted it. But he didn't. I counted his first steps (on July 9) when I did (even though we still had to set him on his feet) because the 15 steps he took that night were much more than a controlled fall. They were actually very balanced and coordinated, and he did it several times in a row. He has been getting better and better ever since.

Well, I thought he would eventually have to learn to crawl to a chair, pull himself up, and then walk to become a true, independent walker. I guess Connor is as stubborn as his mom - he proved me wrong:

video

It's official - he has skipped crawling entirely. He stood up on his own from sitting for the first time on Friday, August 6 while I was trying on clothes in a Target dressing room. Naturally when I needed him to sit still, he walked on his own. That is just like him. He still doesn't know how to crawl, so maybe he will learn when he's 2 and pretending to be a dog during playtime?? Either that or he'll be one goofy-looking dog inch-worming his way around the house.

I have the happiest boy now that he is fully and independently mobile. He grows more confident every day and is now independently walking almost everywhere. The only reason he doesn't walk everywhere we go now is because he is easily distracted and we are still working on "come here" and "follow me." However, now are starting the tantrums when we say he can't go somewhere or touch something. I thought these weren't supposed to start until they were 2?! Or, at the very least, 1! Childproofing is in full swing...

Bonk!

Connor got his first real owie while we were in Vegas. He was walking between Brad and Uncle Brandon. I was working on the laptop when Connor unexpectedly walked to me, tripped, and hit his eye on the corner of the computer. Brad and I didn't think he hit that hard until we saw a tear drop twinged with blood roll down his face. We were SO SCARED!!! But (thankfully) it turned out to just be a cut at the corner of his eye. His eye swelled up immediately and I totally thought he was gonna have a black eye. But it turned out that it looked the worst right after it happened. It actually healed fairly quickly - it was gone within 3 days. I'm glad kids are resilient.


About 12 hours later:

Then while we were in Utah for the annual Jeppson Family Vacation a couple weeks ago, we were picnicking at Bridlevail Falls when he lost his footing, scraped his cheek on the metal picnic bench and slammed his head on the concrete pad below (I heard the thud, ugh). This was taken a couple days after so the bruise on his cheek had mostly gone away.


He's also fallen in the tub and pretty much everywhere else in the house too. When he's walking and he starts to lose his balance as he gets close to an object he pulls what we call his "brace for impact" face. He's gotten several goose eggs now that he's started walking for real, and I'm sure there are many more to come. He is, after all, a boy...

Zoolander

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fantastic Article

"The Rise of a New Generation of Mormons" - This is a really great article that my mother-in-law showed me while we were in Utah last week. This is an article published in the Financial Times on July 9, 2010, written by James Crabtree from the UK. It's also worth noting that James Crabtree is NOT a Mormon.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/938ff454-8a32-11df-bd30-00144feab49a,dwp_uuid=79169f56-17f0-11df-91d2-00144feab49a,print=yes.html

With all the bad press we as Mormons have gotten recently over Prop 8, it's really nice to see that some people notice the good we do and still hold a high opinion of us.

And I really love that he gives BYU the credit it deserves. So many people think that just because it's a "church/religious school" it isn't tough. Let me tell you, it's tough. The average ACT score and GPA for admitted students is 28.2 and 3.8, respectively. And many people I have talked to (including my husband, sister, and several friends) say that BYU was much tougher than the schools they are currently attending (which include USC for a Master's Degree, and Cal. Poly Pomona - another very tough school to get into). BYU demands excellence, and high moral and ethical behavior from its students, and I think a lot of people write off BYU before looking at the stats of BYU's programs in comparison to other top schools in the country. If you care, you can check out the BYU Wikipedia page under "Rankings" a little ways down the page, or the BYU Facts Page - BYU Rankings 2008.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigham_Young_University

http://yfacts.byu.edu/viewarticle.aspx?id=181

Anyway, I love BYU (if you couldn't tell). It has prepared me for my career as an engineer and for life. But even more than BYU, I love being a Mormon. It doesn't matter what others say or think about me or my religion, I know it is true through my own study and prayer and I will continue to stand by it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Vegas, Baby!

The weekend of July 16-19 Brad, Connor, and I were able to escape for a weekend to Las Vegas. Brad's brother Brandon got a cheap hotel rate through his work ($200 total for 2 couples to stay in a 2 room suite for 1 whole week). Brandon/Bird and Jenn are from Orem, UT so it was a great place to meet in the middle. We only had enough vacation time to stay Friday thru Monday night (still a good deal for us - $100 for 4 nights of hotel), but they stayed a few extra days after we left. We had a great time gallivanting along the strip (even though it was a blazing 118 degrees some days - ick!) and, of course, eating ourselves nearly to death at several of the Vegas buffets. Las Vegas really is the city of gluttony - I think I gained 5 pounds in those 4 days...

We left Friday morning around 10:30 a.m. and arrived in Vegas around 3:30 p.m. We checked in at the Royal Resort hotel just off the strip where we met up with Bird and Jenn and relaxed for a little bit. We then headed straight for Paris and the Eifel tower. We were able to see the Bellagio fountains from the top of the Eifel tower (accompanied by Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On"), which was spectacular, and the lights and activity all along the strip is also fun to see from so high.







Saturday morning we slept in (this is vacation, after all), ate breakfast in our hotel room, and then Jenn, Connor and I went to see the Bodies Exhibit at the Luxor while the boys visited the Maserati Showroom at the Imperial Palace. They didn't allow pictures to be taken inside either exhibit, so these are the best we got. The Bodies exhibit was fascinating!! I've never learned so much about the human body in such a short time! After, we made our way to the large aquarium tank in the Silverton hotel where we watched a mermaid pet and hug the sting reys - crazy! Then we walked around the Bass Pro Shop, looked at all the hunting gear, and played with the duck calls to kill a little time until the Silverton dinner buffet at 4 p.m. This buffet was delicious (and we had 2 for 1 coupons)! Steak, prime rib, BBQ ribs, crab legs, shrimp, sushi, fried rice, salad, desserts, etc. etc. etc. We practically had to grease our sides to fit through the door and then roll ourselves back to our hotel room for the night. I don't think I've ever eaten so much, and I never plan to again - it was painful. We sat in our hotel room the rest of the night to undertake the near impossible task of digesting all that food, played with Connor, and watched a movie (Disturbia) before going to bed.




I know this picture is really blurry (all of them were because the flash didn't work with the glass), but you get an idea of how the sting reys were like her pets - they were swimming all over her! She literally bear hugged them 3 or 4 times while we were there, but I couldn't get a good picture of it.


Sunday morning we woke up a little earlier and headed to the Venetian hotel around 9:30 a.m. for a gondola ride. It was extremely romantic, and our gondolier sang beautiful songs of love in Itallian, including "Balla Notte" (This is the Night) from Lady and the Tramp during our ride along the quarter mile indoor Grand Canal. Connor was captivated at his singing, and the gondola ride, I thought, was the highlight of our trip. Our gondolier called Connor Piccolo Bambino (Little Baby) and Capitano the whole time. It was cute. We then walked around the shops at the Palazzo (connected to the Venetian) before visiting Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in the Venetian where we had fun interacting with many stars. It's crazy how they can make wax people look so real! Then we ate at the brunch buffet around 1 p.m. in Terrible's hotel and proceeded to stuff ourselves again (another 2 for 1 deal), although this buffet wasn't nearly as good as the Silverton's.





Connor was mesmerized by our gondolier's singing. This video doesn't do our gondolier's voice justice. It was beautiful, and very romantic.
video

You can also take a gondola ride outside along this beautiful canal.

The ceiling in the Venetian. Gorgeous.


In the elevator going down to see Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.


Bird and Jenn walked the red carpet with Brad and Angie.


Brad took on Shaq.

I was a Bond Girl.

Brad rode Evel's bike.

Bird gave Tiger some golfing pointers.

Connor hangin' with Snoop.

Simon and I critiqued some American Idol singers.

And Connor joined the wild wild west. (This one is for my dad - the biggest John Wayne fan of them all.)


Sunday afternoon Brad and I wanted to go to the Stratosphere to ride the rides on top, but the one we wanted to ride was closed for maintenance so we ended up walking around the gift shop instead. Bird and Jenn offered to watch Connor for us that night so Brad and I could have a date night. We all went to pick up our show tickets and eat dinner, which consisted of jalepeno cheese pretzels from New York Pretzel and Haagen Dazs Bailey's ice cream shakes - so good (we were still a little full from the buffet earlier in the day) and then Brad and I saw the Blue Man Group perform at the Venetian that night. This show definitely wasn't what we expected, but it was fun and interesting. And the music was incredible.



(This picture is from the wax museum, but this is really what they look like during the show.)


Monday morning, we went out for breakfast at Denny's on the strip (we just couldn't do another buffet) and finished off our Vegas weekend. Then we walked along the strip to M&M World (I had no idea there were so many M&M themed objects - we're talking 4 stories of M&Ms and M&M merchandise!) and then headed over to the New York, NY hotel where we walked around, shopped, and cooled off for a bit. Later, we headed to the MGM Grand to see their lions and then visited the famous Gold and Silver Pawn shop (from the Discovery channel TV show Pawn Stars). I totally didn't expect it to be so packed!! On the show it's always so empty! The last thing we did was visit the World's Largest Gift Shop across the street from our hotel - it really is the world's largest!! It's HUGE! They have everything you could ever possibly want as far as Las Vegas souvenirs go! Brad, Connor and I stopped by Panda Express for dinner before hitting the road for home.

Connor grabbed the butter on the plate right when we weren't playing close enough attention. He had fun, but the cleanup was a little messy.





Walking to NY, NY (you can see the Statue of Liberty in the background). It's not everyday you see Freddy Krueger and Buzz Lightyear chatting it up. They must have been dying in these costumes. It was a very warm 119 degrees that day!


Don't know what this guy is doing... or thinking.

We saw Rick from Pawn Stars working at the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop! It was very exciting.


I should have taken a picture of the entire gift shop from the outside. I swear it was 3 blocks long and the inside is FILLED with Las Vegas souvenirs - everything you could never want.

Connor did not want to take this picture, if you couldn't tell. He didn't want to be picked up because he just wanted to walk. This is the best we got.

Happy again.

It was a great weekend, a nice break from work, and a fun place to meet Bird and Jenn in the middle. Can't wait for next time!