Monday, August 29, 2011

Mixbook Photo Book Winner!!

And the winner of the Mixbook photo book is...



Comment #10: Adam Nelson! 

Congratulations Adam! Thanks for entering everyone! If you would like to make your own photo book or birth announcements, wedding invites, save the dates, etc. you can use the code UPMOMC20 to receive a discount of 20% off at

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mixbook Review and Giveaway!

When I was contacted by Mixbook to review their photobooks, I was really excited. I took a quick look at the website and was really impressed with it. With Mixbook, you can create your own photobooks, cards, announcements and photo calendars on the web. You create or customize the design for free using their design software and then you have the option to purchase your final product. Hubby had previously created a photobook a few years back using the Mac software, and we enjoy having it around to show people, so we were really excited for the opportunity to create a new book. I would have loved to have done a book for the baby, but he was not yet arrived. Instead, Hubby and I decided to design a book about us, using photos from our travels and various adventures.

A page from our book
When creating a photobook, it is essentially online scrapbooking. Mixbook has a whole array of templates you can choose. Then you just upload your photos and start arranging. Or, you can also use the auto mix feature and the program will arrange everything for you. I loved this option, since the templates look great. They have gorgeous backgrounds and stickers and even appropriate quotes already arranged for you. Since I am not a scrapbooker, I would have chosen this option. However, Hubby had a vision of what he wanted, and he also had a ton of fun playing with the software, so he created our whole book from scratch. Basically, he chose the photo layout for each page and then customized it all. My job was to go through after he was finished and add some quotes, stickers and other design elements to make it look purty. We were really happy with how it turned out, and it is the perfect coffee table book. The shipping was very quick, and I have to say that the  customer service has been phenomenal!

More of our book
Things I really loved about Mixbook:
  • The software is super easy to use, and it looks sharp! 
  • You have the freedom to create something from scratch or to just add your own photos to an already designed template
  • The colours on the photos turned out exactly as they were on our computer (one of the drawbacks we had with using the Mac program on our other book). 
  • The Mixbook software will tell you if your photo's resolution is too low to turn out in print, if you have margins which won't look nice once printed, etc. It's basically a goof-up protection plan. It's fabulous, and you don't find it out at the end when you've already arranged it beautifully; it tells you as soon as the photo is uploaded. 
  • The quality of the book is awesome. I was very impressed.
They also have a ton of wedding invites, save the dates, birth announcements, etc. Their birth announcements look awesome. They have a ton of great designs, and most are double sided, which I think makes them look much more high-quality than the ones with just the plain white photo paper backs. We will be ordering a bunch once we get some nice photos of the Peanut. 

Head on over to the website and check out their current promotions

They are also offering my readers a special discount of 20% off any Mixbook product!! Just enter the code UPMOMC20 at checkout! Woo hoo! 

The Giveaway!! 
**The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering! **
One lucky reader will receive one free 20 page 11x8.5 landscape hardcover photo book with free shipping! It's a great way to show off travel photos, or create a fun wedding album or a personalized baby book. 

To enter: 
Leave a comment below telling me what you would create with your Mixbook. 

For bonus entries (leave a separate comment for each entry): 

The giveaway will be open until Monday, August 29th at 5pm MST. I will choose one winner randomly from the comments posted here (using Contest is open to both Canada and the US. Woo hoo!

Please note that I received a free photobook so that I could write a review on the product. All opinions are my own, and are my honest feelings about the product. Just want to be honest! 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Top 25 Pregnancy Blogs: An Update

If you've been reading along for a while, you may remember I was nominated for the Top 25 Pregnancy Journals on Circle of Moms. Well, after all your support and votes, I am pleased to announce that I placed third! Thank you! 

The list is now up, with a little interview as well. Head on over and check it out, and you can check out some other awesome mommy blogs as well! Thanks again for all your support, dear readers!! You guys are the best. 

 Top 25 Pregnancy Journals

Monday, August 15, 2011

I am really, really dumb...

Ok, so in case I haven't mentioned it before, I gained a heck of a lot of weight when I was pregnant with the Peanut. It's hard to put an exact number on it, since I was a bit over my "normal" weight when I got pregnant (and hence ignoring the numbers on the scale in an effort to make me feel better), but if pressed I would have to say around 55 lbs or so. Which is a lot. I know that most people said it was all belly, and I am pleased that it appeared that way, but since it's my body I can definitely tell that it wasn't, in fact, all belly. I think it was just that the weight evenly distributed itself all over. How kind of it. 

In any case, all this weight came on, which meant that my wedding rings stopped fitting pretty early in my pregnancy. Again, I can't recall exactly, but it was probably before 20 weeks. At that point I stopped wearing my rings on my finger and started wearing them around my neck. So I was super pumped for after the birth, when I would get to wear my rings again.

It was immediately apparent that there was no way in hell that these rings were going back on after I gave birth. I was so swollen from all the fluids they pumped into me that I was probably bigger than before Peanut's dramatic arrival. I still looked about 6 months pregnant (which is more like a normal person's 8 months...) and my Hobbit feet were even bigger, and I only lost about 5 lbs. Which is probably the most depressing thing in the world, considering the baby weighed over 10lbs, plus all that icky, extra stuff that comes out too, like the placenta, and all that fluid. So how is it possible to weigh MORE? Sigh. 

Anyway, I started the process of checking every day if my fat little fingers had reduced in size enough to fit my rings on. Last week, after stepping on the scale, I found out that I had lost about 30 lbs. WOO HOO!! So I figured that this had to be it. This was the time. My rings would fit for sure. I even voiced this to Hubby while getting ready to try them on. 

Me: This is the magical day when my rings will finally fit! By some miracle, they will just slide on and it will be the best day ever! 

Hubby: (looking up from his book) Uh, yeah, sure. 

And guess what?! It WAS that magical day! My rings did slide right on (with a little bit  lot of effort). I rejoiced for about 30 seconds before I realized that perhaps this move was a little premature, and that my finger was turning red, and eventually started to turn blue. So then I started to panic and try and get them off. They were firmly stuck on there without a hope of ever coming off. How is it possible that they can go on, but not off?!? 

Panic was setting in, and I tried putting my hand in ice water to reduce the swelling and lubing up my finger with olive oil. Yeah, it did absolutely nothing but make my finger even bluer. Hubby got a great idea that we could Google "how to get a ring off a finger". In the meantime I was freaking out in the bathroom, thinking that we were going to have to make a trip to the hospital so they could cut off my rings, and I would feel so incredibly embarrassed and dumb the whole time. This was the scenario playing in my mind:

Nurse: Is this the result of some injury? Was it a horribly traumatic event? 

Me: Nope. I just figured I could fit my rings back on my fat fingers. 

Nurse: So, after you put the wedding ring on, and it was tight, you still thought it would be a good idea to put the engagement ring on as well? 

Me: (avoiding eye contact) uhhhh...

Nurse: That was really, really dumb. 

Hubby found a video which suggested wrapping my finger and knuckle very tightly with dental floss to help reduce the size of the finger so the ring might slide off. I tried it. It didn't seem very likely to work, but at this point I was freaking out big time. (By the way, Peanut was watching this whole scene in his bouncy chair very happily...he likes drama). Hubby came in and decided he would try to pull the ring off, since he is much stronger and can fix things. He pulled while I stuffed a towel in my mouth and screamed. The video just showed the lady gently pulling off the ring. It did not show the incredible amount of pain it causes to try and force the ring off. Hubby couldn't get it, and he was ready to admit defeat and was starting to get things ready for us to go to the hospital. The scene of embarrassment was still playing over and over in my head, and I did NOT want to subject myself to that, so I tried desperately one last time to get it off before my finger withered and died from lack of blood. MWAHAHAHAHA! Success!! The engagement ring came off, and very slowly circulation started trickling back into my poor finger. 

At this point it was obvious that there was no way I was going to be able to get off the wedding ring. My finger was about 4 times it's normal size, and it was really, really sore. Also, the wedding ring is really thin, and doesn't have a diamond prong thingy for leverage like the engagement ring. So, after confirming that it was not so tight as to cause my finger to atrophy and fall off, I just left it on. And there is sits today. 

The moral of the story: I still won! I am now wearing my wedding ring. YAY! 

Also, perhaps you should not try to shove too small rings onto too fat fingers too early. Oops...

And now a cute baby picture, for your enjoyment:

Awww...I can't believe he's almost 3 weeks old! He is still a very serious little man. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Baby

Today is my first anniversary with my amazing husband. It's hard to believe that a year ago we were getting married. In some ways it feels like forever ago, and in others it feels like just yesterday.

Our wedding was one of the best days of my life. I had an absolute blast. It was everything we hoped it would be, and more. A great party with all the nearest and dearest to us. Great music, delicious food, it was perfect.

Looking back on the 5 years since we first met, I have to say that I have never been so lucky as to meet such an amazing man. He has definitely changed my life. He has taught me about adventure and love and passion. He is my best friend in every sense of the word, and I feel so lucky and blessed to spend every single day with such a great man and companion. And now that he has given me such an amazing gift in our little son, and we are testing the waters (ok, more like thrown into the deep end) of parenthood, I feel like we have even more to learn and experience together. 

I love you so much, Adam. Thanks for a fabulous year. xoxo

(end mushiness)

All photos are courtesy of Images By Frost

Friday, August 5, 2011

Our Birth Story

This has been a post that I am not that excited to write. It's a bit sad, as I am so happy with the outcome, but it feels like the process to get to this point is maybe a little too raw. It's not so much that I am upset with how things went, more just I am tired of thinking about it perhaps. 

Anyway, here is my attempt at our birth story. I am warning you now that this is going to be a loooonnnng post. So grab a coffee if you are in for the long haul. If not, here's the short version: I had a baby. 

On Monday, July 25 at 8am we went into the hospital to begin the induction process. Peanut was now 10 days overdue according to the due date given by the early ultrasound (which was a week earlier than going by my cycle dates). In any case, the non-stress test and ultrasound they performed a few days earlier showed he was still doing well, but that he was still pretty big, so they decided to go ahead with induction. Seeing as how we hadn't really felt any signs of labour approaching, we agreed. They inserted Cervidil, at about 9am, and we were monitored for an hour to make sure we tolerated it well. We did, and they sent us home. Hubby and I went about our business and watched some TV, ate some lunch. About 1:00pm I started having contractions, however they were not the slow, spaced ones that we were told by every book and resource out there to expect. In fact, they started coming about 3 minutes apart, and eventually were about 1-2 minutes apart, sometimes even a couple back to back with no break in between. I felt like this wasn't really right, so we headed back to the hospital a little earlier than we were supposed to. 

Upon arrival and monitoring, it was determined that the contractions were a bit intense, and Peanut's heart rate wasn't really recovering as well as they hoped it would. After some hemming and hawing, they decided to remove the Cervidil, but I was not allowed to leave the hospital so they could keep an eye on us. Labour continued in this same intense fashion, and we were encouraged to get up and walk around and try and get things rolling. I felt like they were already rolling fast enough for me, but I also had a feeling that it probably wasn't doing much in terms of progressing the labour. I was right. I was checked at about midnight, and I was still not too effaced and only about 2 cms dilated. All that work and barely any progress. It was depressing. I was also exhausted, having to deal with such intense contractions with no break. I asked for some morphine and Gravol to see if I could get a little sleep since it seemed we would be there a long time. It worked, and I did get some sleep, but it also halted labour. 

Tuesday morning we were back to having very dull contractions about 10 minutes apart, and nothing was happening. We asked to see if my body would go on it's own without re-trying the Cervidil, and they let us go home for a couple of hours. I did stairs, bounced on the ball, showered, all the tricks to help labour progress, but we were still in the same boat. So we headed back to the hospital about 1pm and they tried Cervidil once again. This time it seemed to take a bit more "normally" and contractions weren't so intense right off the bat. We were in good spirits, and were even allowed to leave for dinner (we went to Tim Horton's). It was nice to have the mental break, and we were hopeful things would progress nicely. They did progress. 

Maybe around 6pm or so contractions started in earnest, and the pain I was feeling before seemed like a cake walk compared to these puppies. I slowly started descending into  the pain, and no matter what coping techniques I used, I was not able to weather them. I tried to use some nitrous oxide to get through the contractions, but all it did was make me feel sick. I was leery to try the morphine again in case it stopped the labour. My water broke and it seemed things got even more intense, but they checked me and I was only at 4 cms or so (not even to the dreaded transition yet!). Eventually around midnight I begged Hubby for the epidural. I was in the shower and I turned to him and said "I want the epidural. I want it NOW". And then, as an afterthought I threw in "and I'm NOT in the middle of a contraction right now, I am lucid!". Well, that got the message through, and they called for the doctor. Waiting that 30-45 minutes for the epidural was the longest time in my life. The pain was so bad, and I was terrified. I remember thinking that there was no way I would be able to get through the next one. Hubby said I definitely had an Exorcist moment where he was also terrified I wouldn't be able to make it through. Needless to say, everyone was relieved when the epidural finally kicked in. The poor nurses were surely sick of my wailing and carrying on. 

It was now Wednesday morning. I was able to get a bit of rest with the pain relief, and they checked me and I was almost fully dilated. We were just waiting for a little bit of the cervix on the right side to open up. We waited that out and then we got the glorious news that I was fully dilated! Yay! They kept asking if I had the urge to push, and I couldn't really say that I did. I tried little pushes anyway, trying to move things along. I was fully dilated for about 4 hours and there was no progress. Things took a turn for the worse and I started throwing up, and developed a fever. They had to give antibiotics, which meant that they might need to keep the baby in the NICU upon birth, and our hospital didn't have a NICU. The doctor told us to prepare for a transfer to the city hospital, and we were pretty disappointed. Then, the shift change happened and our doctor changed to a young OB. She came in, checked me and said "you are headed for c-section. The baby is huge and you haven't progressed at all in the last 4 hours". WHAT? No one had mentioned anything up to this point about a c-section. She told us she was arranging for an ambulance to transfer us to the other hospital, and that it was their decision, but she was positive it would be a section. We were overwhelmed with this news, but really could see no other alternative. We wanted to make sure the baby was ok. So, we loaded into the ambulance and drove back to Calgary.

Once we arrived at the hospital, things were insane. We were put in a tiny room, and then the nurses tried to get everything organized. There was so much confusion, and so many questions. There was a team of medical students, and so we ended up having to do everything at least twice: once for the doctor's and once for the students. At this point my patience was shot, and I was scared and worried, and I remember wanting to scream "everyone shut up!". The room was too small, and there were about 3 conversations going on at once, and all I wanted was for everyone to leave and just me and my husband to have a minute to talk. In any case, the doctor came in, and he was really great. He examined me, and thought that the baby's head was at a strange angle, and that my pelvis was pretty narrow. But he still wanted to try and deliver the baby, so he suggested using the vacuum. If the last attempt failed, then we would proceed with the c-section. By this point I had been fully dilated for 5 hours, and little to no progress. We felt much happier with this decision, as we wanted to try everything we could to try and deliver the baby. 

We were rushed off to the Operating Room, and it was like entering another dimension. It was really the opposite of what I had envisioned for my birth. I was strapped to the table with my arms out like an airplane, and my feet were up in these moon-boot-like stirrup thingies. The lights were bright, and I was shivering uncontrollably due to shock and the drugs. Hubby sat at my head, and we tried the vacuum. I pushed hard, even though I couldn't feel a thing. Peanut still was not coming out, and his heartrate tanked after the 3rd vacuum attempt (poor little guy...he really didn't want to come out!). So, c-section it was. 

When Finn was finally born at 1:16pm on Wednesday, July 27, it was a very surreal experience. The doctor peeked around the curtain with the baby, and said "here's your boy!" then he was whisked away to the team waiting to assess him. Hubby went to be with him, and was calling out that he was blonde and beautiful. The staff were all exclaiming how huge he was, and started taking bets on his weight. Eventually, we found out he was 10 lbs, 4 ozs. No wonder he wouldn't come out! Hubby finally brought him over to me, and I got to see him, but it wasn't until we were in recovery about 30 minutes later that I finally got to hold him and see him up close. 

In some ways I feel upset that things didn't turn out the way we had hoped. There was no skin to skin bonding as soon as he was born, no emotional release (at least for me). I was strapped to a table under bright operating lights, completely numb from the chest down being operated on and shivering uncontrollably. It was miserable. However, I am also confident that we did absolutely everything we could to try and preserve our birth preferences and the circumstances were just beyond our control. In the end, we had a healthy baby boy, and he didn't need the NICU after all. The end result was the same, it's just hard not to mourn the process a little, you know? 

In the end, we couldn't be happier with our little guy. He was worth the trouble. We are both learning how to be parents together, and we are loving getting to know our little Finn. Plus, it it quite the story. I suppose I should have been prepared for some dramatic entrance. I am not usually the type to do anything quietly. 

What a looonnnggg 3 days. But he's worth it! 


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