38 Weeks Pregnant – The Check-In for Baby Girl 2

Oh…. Alright!! I know!!!  I was much better at this the first pregnancy. But, I didn’t have an active toddler  – oh and I also didn’t feel as worn out….. and I was 2.5 years younger (Hahaha).

Well – whatever the excuse and as valid as it maybe, here is my final check-in for baby number 2.  She will be here in the next 5 days or so, as I will need to be induced.

How far along?  38 weeks

Maternity clothes:  I mean…. Yeaaa! I can’t fit in anything….. almost running out of room in the maternity clothes! Hahahahah, oh dearie me.

Stretch marks? Nothing for certain — but they will be here this time.  I was VERY LUCKY with my pregnancy with Shennie…… but I can see where things will be looking different on me after this time around.

To be frank, I have had some really tough days thinking about all that.  How my body won’t look anything like it did before babies, and certainly not like after Shennie….. It is very hard to process.  And, not even for vanity.  Just because who you’ve always seen is vastly different.  What you might have loved about your physical body may now become something different to you – or something you hated might now be something you appreciate.  I don’t know if I am even describing it properly, but it is just huge.  In ways you wouldn’t think or consider.

I imagine that is why many women struggle with the feeling that they should appreciate what their bodies can do, render, and accomplish, yet become broken and feeling like they are no longer attractive.  Everything about you is different – your body, your mind, your focus, your drive, your expectations….. but some how you and others are used to the old you…. It’s just wild, man…. WILD.

Sleep:  I remember that.  It was great stuff.  I am so uncomfortable, physically, that it is hard to sleep for long at all.  I’m up or flopping around all night.  Then the 4-6 pee breaks in the night.  The reflux that wakes you up coughing like you are dying on your own vom.  Then the toddler cries, “mommy” and crawls into bed with you….. Maybe you can catch a quick nap but…. nah.  Sleep….. I miss it.

Best moment this week:  Spending time with Shenandoah talking about her new job as big sister, watching her get more excited, having her tell me that she wants Baby Sister to be born so she can hold her, hugging and kissing my belly, seeing her wanting to help get things ready and be apart of it all… and just talking with her about everything has really been wonderful.  I know it all might blow up in a couple weeks, but ultimately I think she will be a great big sister and I appreciate the part of her personality that is so caring and intuitive.  She is interested/excited/in tune with the idea of this new part of our lives, and the fact that her little heart and brain are trying to dort it all out makes me so proud of her.

I, also, think that getting scheduled for induction was one of the best moments of the week.  I mean, I am nervous about it and there are definitely some things about inductions I am not keen on.  However, having the piece of mind that Jon will be here, we can plan for Shennie’s school and care, we will have time to sort some things out…. and knowing that I only have so many more days of current pain and issues is a bit of a load off.

Miss anything?   I miss a LOT — but I am ready to meet this baby and try to get back to walking/exercising, laying down in ANY position I choose, not grunting everytime I attempt something requiring bending or moving or existing….  We are just ready to meet this baby and have her join the family from outside of my body 🙂

Movement: Kicks, twirls, dance parties, and the Mike Tyson punches have slowed as there isn’t much room left in there for her –  but the rolls, hiccups, and occasional attempts at stretching out are still happening a lot through each day.

Food cravings:  Not really….. mostly I just eat what/when I can.  The reflux, lack of space, and overall end of pregnancy has me kinda grazing or eating just small boring things. A full meal is not appealing to me, and it wouldn’t fit in me!

Symptoms:  …… I am just overly pregnant.  That’s the symptom now folks – massively pregnant.

Belly button in or out?   I spent a long time crying, cursing, ranting, raving, crying, being grossed out, and crying about this…. but… it. is. out. I am truly devistated and terrified of this.  It is a living nightmare for me.

Wedding rings on or off? TI haven’t been able to wear them in so long that I often forget I even have any.

Happy or moody most of the time:  So, mostly, I am drained. And I believe the constant discomfort and exhaustion make me moody – but I am not thinking it is hormonal driven moody.  Just the rundown, overwhelming, lack of sleep, and such.

Looking forward to: Meeting this little girl next week!!!! What else?!



29 Week Check -In for Baby Girl 2

During my pregnancy with Shenandoah, I had a lot more time and I was feeling a little healthier….. so I had time to make a couple pregnancy check-in posts by this time.  I’m behind, but!, I shall attempt to catch up now!!

This entire pregnancy, even though I have felt rough, the baby has checked in healthy and fantastic throughout.  She looks like she will also be a long baby!  We may have 2 very tall girls on our hands!!

It’s kind of wild to think that our family of 3, which we are all just finally getting used to the flow of, will soon be four.  An entire new dynamic! So, as the dust finally settled from the first 2 years, we shall disrupt things again and see where it all falls – in JUST 8-11 WEEKS!! Whoa!

Okie Dokie – here we go with the check-in…..

How far along? 29 weeks

Maternity clothes:  At this stage with Shennie, I hadn’t  gotten many maternity clothes.  Part of that was that I didn’t show/grow the same, but also because it was NOT the hot weather months here in Charleston. Little harder to hide in the sweaters and yoga pants when you are melting and sweating in 90+ degree weather.   So, I have had to get A LOT of maternity clothes this time…. UGH!  It is costly and, quite unfortunately, you can’t do much with them once you are done.  I have had to buy more shirts and shorts, but also more undergarments than before. I, also, had to get a maternity bathing suit.  Shenandoah loves the beach, and Jon wants to enjoy the water this summer — so I had to bite the bullet and get one.

Stretch marks? Not yet – but there are SEVERAL ares under watch!! There is something odd around my belly button, which I recall thinking the same in my last pregnancy – but I’m not sure.  I am lathering up with Cocoa butter, but I understand from many pals that you might not get any the first time ……. BUT the next time there are marks all about! EGADS!

Sleep:  I had much more insomnia and restless nights with the first.  This time it isn’t as bad.  Although, in my first trimester there was a LOT of insomnia, the 2nd and 3rd trimesters haven’t shown much of it.  Just an occasional might here and there – but overall pretty well.  Perhaps it is because I am extra tired chasing a toddler about all day.  I am, however, experiencing the following at night:

  1.  Horrible leg cramps/charlie horse pains that wake me up in so much pain I usually cry out. Had the same with Shennie, but they were more severe and more frequent with that pregnancy.  This time it is intense and painful, but not as much or as often.
  2. The massive, lump in the throat, reflex and heartburn.  I have had this day and night for months and months.  It doesn’t matter what I eat or drink, it is constant.  This is WAY worse and WAY more frequent then with the first.  Oh my stars, it is TERRIBLE!
  3. The all night dance party.  Shenandoah did the same thing.  one or two nights a week, it is an all night gymnastic disco event. It isn’t endearing, as much as it is disagreeable to my innards and stomach.

Best moment this week:  I am not sure if I can think of a best moment for the week…. But overall I think the BEST moments are the ones when Shenandoah comes over to feel the baby moving and says “Baby sister is playing with me!!”, or when she give my stomach a kiss, a pat, or a hug and says “I love baby sister.” In the morning, she will often give Jon and I cuddles and kisses and she has begun to do that with the baby belly as well. Those moments are super sweet and I do love that.

Miss anything?   I have been frustrated with my limitations this time around.  I wasn’t this awkward and unable to do things at this stage last time. It is also more frustrating with an active toddler.  I miss long walks, bending over, sleeping on my stomach, and NOT WADDLING.

Movement: Kicks and twirls and jumps. Rolls and hiccups.  Very busy and moving baby!

Food cravings:  So, with Shenandoah – I was put on a protein diet and currently I am keeping a log for blood sugar and foods, because I failed the 1 hour glucose test.  I refused to take a 2 or 3 hour follow up test and chose to monitor at home.  Prior to this, I craved cereal and novelty ice cream.  So like, a bowl of ice cream or a shake grossed me out…. the very thought!  But I would love to have an ice cream sandwich or a cone or a good humor type ice cream.  In the first trimester, I was so ill and all I wanted was potatoes of any kind, plain rice or noodles…. just bland foods. I couldn’t stomach veggies or salad until I was into the second trimester.  Now I can eat pretty well – but things like eggplant, squash, and zucchini….. NO WAY!!  I used to love those but… no no no NO!

Symptoms:  Braxton Hicks for a while now, waddling, not seeing as much of my feet, palpatations….. blah!

Belly button in or out?   Thank the Lord, it is still in! But, it is just a hair’s breadth away….. it is and was my true fear in both pregnancies. I can only pray it doesnt budge for the next 2 months.

Wedding rings on or off? Those bad boys have been off for a LONG time.  I was still wearing them in the first by this time, but no… they have been off for a few months. I am not seeing much swelling, but the weight gain came on early this time. Boooo!

Happy or moody most of the time:  Hmmmm….. I am neither.  I am just exhausted.  Drained.  I fell like a robot.  I do more annoyed with things… but again I think that is again just due to being drained and exhausted.

Looking forward to: Ok….. this probably won’t sound right…. but…. I am looking forward to the baby being born and not being pregnant.  This is not a good time.  I would say, other than that, I am REALLY looking forward to our first family vacation.  in about 2 weeks, we are going away for a full week!  We have done plenty of 3 or 4 day weekend trips, or a week to Virginia to our parents…. but this is a proper vacation which Jon and I have never taken… not even a honeymoon.  We are going to Chattanooga and Nashville! I am very excited even though I will be limited in my ability to move about, eat, and drink – but the outdoors, the history, the music, and all the new sights in family friendly towns will be a treat.  I have never been to either city, so that will be nice!

Well – That’s all for now!

What’s Shennie Doing?

You know…… I realize that I started this blog to document and share the adventures we were having in Charleston. The experiences, the guests, the history, things we eat, Jon’s overseas journeys, music we saw…. all of the fun! And I captured that for a good while!

And…. You know…. I realize that it all shifted with the expansion of our family. Pregnancies, babies, and all of that changed the focus and limited some of the previous adventures – but really it was just about having the time to do it all and write about it.

Now, this has sort of taken a new role….. documenting things I want to recall down the road about feelings and experience of being pregnant. I want to write about things about my kids so I can see how things may change and compare.

I want to write about all the fun and adventures, too! They will just be different. They will be boring sometimes, or whenever (if) I have the time to actually write anything down….

There is a lot of time that I was just not present here, as a result of my father’s death, a newborn, a husband at sea….. so there is a lot I missed out on mentioning here – but I’m gonna keep trying.

Maybe in a year or so we can get back to the silly and more interesting tales….MAYBE!



I have been thinking for some time that I’d like to make note about how Shennie is and who she is now, before the new baby arrives. Things she can do, things she likes, things she says…. just where she is in life while I am in the 3rd trimester. This is totally for me, and for her. I can’t pretend this will be some great blog post to anyone else, hahaha…. but that’s ok, right?

Shenandoah turned 2 on April 22. As I type this, she is 2 years and 3 months old. Here are her stats…..

39 inches tall and weighs 36 lbs.

Shenandoah has always been affectionate, and she is even more now. Hugs, kisses, cuddles, and saying I LOVE YOU. Just a loving and sweet girl. Since she was a baby, she has always put her arm around my neck when she is sleepy, unwell, or sleeping near me – and as still does.

Shennie used to eat nearly everything we put in front of her – all veggies, fruits, meats, dairy, and grains. In the last few months, she has gradually begun to become a picky eater. This is difficult for me because i wasn’t prepared for such an abrupt change. I, also, worry if it my fault (along with her age) as I struggled with my diet for so long with this pregnancy. The thought of cooking and certain foods was too much to handle most days, so we ate very easy and bland foods. Shenandoah was eating veggies all the time (spinach, broccoli, carrots, avocados, zucchini, sweet potatoes, beans, etc etc), a variety of meat and fish – including venison! Now, she will still do well with fruits but no green veggies. All other veggies, mostly it is depending on her mood.


As is age-typical behavior, every meal is a guessing game. Things she loves and asks for seconds on one day, she will hate and cry the next. She is working on her control and independence – and meals is the main way she has be practicing this.

Practicing her independence is taking other forms as well, like picking out her own clothes, putting on her shoes, cleaning up, feeding the dogs and chickens, and similar activities. The phrase, “I do it by MYSELF!” is heard a great deal these days.


She enjoys brushing her teeth, even though I have to do it for her after her turn at it. She LOVES bath time, but ABHORS having to get her hair washed.

She can count to 12 perfectly, and has just begun to practice counting backwards from 5. She is working on the ABC’s.

She loves Peppa Pig. She loves Ben & Holly’s Kingdom. She enjoys Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Mickey Mouse cartoons, Yogi Bear, Snagglepuss, Jetsons, Sesame Street, Winnie the Pooh, Matlock, and…. I don’t know how or why but…. she enjoys watching Botched. She calls is “the Doctor Show”.

She LOVES reading books. She Loves to read to herself, and to have a book read to her.

She LOVES singing songs, nursery rhymes, and silly songs. She LOVES dancing. She loves going to shows or events where she can dance.


Shennie enjoys coloring, bubbles, playdoh, sidewalk chalk drawing, going to the Charleston Aquarium, riding her tricycle in the neighborhood, going for walks, and watching boats go by in the waterways. She love animals – and wants to see them whenever she can. Her top favorite, though, is going to the beach, collecting shells, and making sandcastles.

She LOVES other kids. She has moments of being bashful, but she is mostly outgoing and social. She loves to play with other kids and love hugging and kissing babies. Shenandoah really likes slightly older children to try to play with. I’m not sure if that is just because she is big for her size, and so she is more the size of bigger kids, or because she just prefers them…. maybe both.

She suffered a severe vaccine reaction around Easter this year, and it was the most horrible 2 weeks of my life. Even worse than my father’s passing. The worst thing ever.

She loves to laugh and is overall very happy and silly. She is very loving and affectionate. She is sweet and sensitive. She is tough and strong.


She is willful and opinionated. She has a fantastic memory for events.

Shenandoah’s vocabulary has always been above average. We have always gotten a lot of comments and compliments on her language and communication abilities. Every week, her sentences expand, her curiosity grows, and her imagination blossoms!

In getting ready for Baby Sister to arrive, she is doing pretty well so far. She enjoys hugging, patting, and kissing my belly. She says things like “Hi, Baby Sister”, “I love you, Baby Sister”, and “Good Morning, Baby Sister.” When she feels the baby move or kick, Shenandoah will get very excited and shout, “BABY SISTER IS PLAYING WITH ME!!” Shennie ALSO says things like, “Baby Sister will NOT play with my toys. They are mine! Not hers!” So… hahah we have it going well so far but the sharing issue reaches to a baby not even yet born!

We are beginning the potty training now. We had to wait until her school placed her in the 2 year old class to begin, even though we wanted to start a little earlier. She has pooped on the potty 2 times so far, and peed several times – but still in diapers daily. We are hoping to do the hard core training soon. With traveling and company coming in town, it has been hard to devote several days to being locked up with a naked kid all day.

And that is pretty much the overview of Shenandoah Joelle at present! She is a great kid, and she is VERY well behaved for her age, overall. She is so wonderful, smart, and funny! She is so, so loved.


No Two Are Alike

As I sit here, on the cusp of both the 3rd trimester and month 7 of pregnancy, typing whilst watching Matlock reruns, my mind is going through some of the differences in this pregnancy and my last.

When I was pregnant with Shenandoah, I ate very healthy.  I craved Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches and I would drink a lot of milk, but otherwise I ate plenty of veggies, fruits, proteins, and even some spicy foods.

I had only a handful of nausea moments, I was very active up until the last month – going on long walks and short jogs without any troubles or pains everyday.  I took a lot of naps, rested well, and I took a lot of epsom salt baths. While I gained weight, it was gradual and evenly distributed – and the most of it occurred at the last trimester.  I cleaned, mowed the lawn, visited friends, and felt good.

Of course, I was nervous about a lot of things.  It was my first pregnancy, and after 2 losses, so I read and re-read ingredients lists, got nervous if I didn’t feel enough movement and when I felt too much.  I read article after article, website and forums, and just tried to take in as much information as I could while making sure everything was still going well.

I did have times where I was not comfortable and I was anxious and in a bit of pain.  I want to admit that I am NOT one of the women who LOVE EVERY MOMENT of being pregnant.  I am not one of those women.   I am not going to pretend my first pregnancy was easy on me and that there was not any complaints or concerns or , BUT when compared to this one….. well, I had it very good that first round.

This time….. whoa, this time.

This time I had very serious nausea and (eek!) diarrhea – which lasted until around the 10 week mark.  I had a hard time with insomnia the first 8 weeks. I was feeling highly stressed and emotional for the first 14 weeks.  This was a result of the hormones, the illness, and trying to care for a toddler alone without any help while being so worn.

I got bloated and began to pack on weight early. Even though I didn’t eat much as a result of the nausea, anything I ate just stuck.

I craved rice, pasta, potatoes (in any form), and generally bland/basic foods. Mainly, buttered rice or noodles and potatoes was all I could stomach….

Eventually, my tastebuds evened out and I could eat fruit, meat, and veggies….. BUUUTTTT not that many veggies.  I have a real aversion to many veggies which is totally the opposite to my regular diet.

I am not that keen on spicy food but I want a LOT of cheese… queso mainly. I can’t stand eating ice cream out of a bowl – but novelty Ice creams I am all over!   I, also, really like bowls of cereal in the evenings rather than typical desserts.

I felt the baby move earlier, and more frequently than I did Shenandoah. There is a LOT more discomfort and pain in carrying this baby. I am having way more Braxton-Hicks contractions and having them way, way earlier. This baby kicks and guts me WAY more than Shennie did…. and her turning and toppling will take me out more than Shennie did.

Doctors tell me this is typical, and with this baby looking like she will be another long baby, there is nothing I can do!  Literally, I was just at a check up this past week and the Doctor told me – “… from here on out, it isn’t going to be much fun for you.  You need to take it easy. Cut back on a lot.”  Oh, bother.

Luckily, Jon just got back home from sea so he can help me while I am more limited this time. Unfortunately, I feel like I need to try to keep up and not make all the burden on him for chores and animals and the house and the toddler…… that is hard on me.








There Shall Be Another!

The Party of 3 will soon be a Party of 4.

Baby Girl Merzlak the Second is due this Autumn. Her big sister is slowly learning and talking about the new baby that will be here in about 3 months time.

As I type this, I am on the first day of 25 weeks pregnant. I’m not a pregnant gal who goes on about how wonderful it is to be pregnant. Is it amazing and a miracle? Absolutely! But do I love being pregnant? No, I most certainly do not. This pregnancy is harder than Shenandoah’s, so I am less a-glow than I was for hers. In fact, my body has just pretty much told me to go shove off.

Everything is more intense and happened way sooner than before. I am limited and uncomfortable months ahead of where I was last time.  It is way harder on me this time around.  Besides the fact I didn’t have an active toddler before, Jon also is now gone 3-4 months at a time for work… sooooo that is making everything harder.

All the same, there are still some great things about this pregnancy that I didn’t have last time.

For example, tonight as I was putting Shenandoah to bed and we were finishing up reading her bedtime book, she wanted to cuddle and talk a little before laying down. She put her head on my side and of course belly as it’s in the way all the time.

As she chatted I could feel the baby start to move. I said “Shennie! Then baby can hear you and it’s making her happy!” Shennie started saying. “Hi baby sister!” And rubbing my belly. And the baby started moving and kicking. Shennie felt several of these and just flipped! She began squealing with delight! She laughed and giggled as she rubbed my belly and said ” Baby sister is playing with me!!” She called out for her daddy, who happened to be outside and missed this, and she was just so excited.

What a great moment to witness. What a great moment for Shenandoah and baby sister to begin to bond. It was so special and fun.

Another positive is that I am not as anxious or worried about this pregnancy as I was with Shenandoah.  I mean, there is always a level of concern that pregnant mothers have about several things – but I am able to feel more confident about it because it isn’t my first.  I kinda know what to look for and have gone through the show once before.  So, that makes some things more enjoyable.

But life is more hectic, so we try our best to be present and prepare ourselves and Shennie for the big change about to come!  Goodness Gracious!

Now……. we just have to work on a name for this new little baby girl…..


The Heart Of Life

Pain throws your heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around
No, it won’t all go the way it should
But I know the heart of life is good.”
– The Heart Of Life, John Mayer –

Oh! Hello, again!

Looks like it has been nearly 2 years since I made any posts here. As noted in that last post, I had a fair reason.

Having a brand new baby and losing my father on the same day, my mother having a major fall/surgery/rehab/etc within two months following my fathers burial, dealing with the adjustment in life with a newborn, husband going off to sea and having no assistance or resource, and a late hit of postpartum which was again dealt with on my own….. well, you know… I just couldn’t write. Time, stress, sadness, adjustments, travel, and so many things left no room to sit and write.

Let’s be honest – besides not wanting to be a Debbie Downer…. I mostly figured, “Hmm…. write on the Blog…. or Sleep….” Guess whatSLEEP WON EVERY SINGLE TIME! New mom life of a baby that was NOT a good sleeper – sleep trumps most things.

In spite of the challenges, the immense heartbreak, and lack of sleep – we have actually overcome a great deal and made some wonderful memories along the way. Some fun was thrown in to the mix, too!

Such as?” you say….. Get comfy – this shall be a long post!

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Shenandoah has attended A LOT of concerts, festivals, and local music shows. Aiken Bluegrass Festival (May 2016), Dead & Company (June 2016), Watermelon Park Festival (Sept 2016), Suwanee Roots Revival (Oct 2016), Lowcountry Cajun Fest (April 2017), DelFest (May 2017), John Mayer (Aug 2017), Harvest Festival Charleston (Nov 2017) and Pour House Deck shows several times a month since she was about 4 months old (bluegrass bands, funk bands, Dead cover bands mainly). There have been some other musical fun peppered in – but those are the main highlights.

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Music loving baby! She will groove to most anything with a good beat!

We have enjoyed time out at the beach, in the parks, walks, hikes, farm fun, apple orchards, playing with friends, birthday parties, going to school, chasing (and hugging) our chickens, playing fetch and snuggling with the dogs, visiting family, weekends in NC mountains, day trip to Savannah, exploring Mayberry (Mt Airy, NC)…. just regular types of fun.

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So, what are Shenandoah’s favorite things now that she is nearly 2 years old?

The gal’s favorite characters/shows/movies are: Winnie the Pooh, Peppa Pig, Snoopy, ALF, Some Looney Tunes, Bobby’s World, and Frosty the Snowman. She is big on the “Little People” toys, her trike, farm toys, her kitchen set, and her stuffed animals – mainly the Jelly Cat ones.  Shennie loves to clean, vacuum, and wash dishes too!


Her favorite songs are: Baby Mine (Dumbo song but Alison Krauss version), Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Theme from Winnie the Pooh, Up, Down, Touch the Ground (Winnie the Pooh), Mind Over Matter (Winnie the Pooh), Camptown Races, If You’re Happy & You Know It, Theme from Peppa Pig, Frosty the Snowman, Away in a Manger, and anything with a good beat.

Shenandoah loves jumping in muddy rain puddles, coloring on sheets of paper, seeing animals and fish at zoos or aquariums, going to school to play with friends, helping up in the garden, collecting pine cones… all manner of fun kid stuff.

Shennie has had the chance to explore and be apart of so much her first 2 years on this Earth.

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She is QUITE willful and she is very intuitive. She is sweet, she is playful, she is happy, and she is silly. She is still not the best sleeper, but she has a great appetite. She has a strong temper. She loves hugs, kisses, and snuggles. She has a very large vocabulary for her age, and is counting to 10 by herself (although sometimes she forgets 4 hahah). She loves animals, music, and books.  Shenandoah is equally shy and outgoing,  She is just fantastic.

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Jon has been working very hard… working on the house especially – but also his career.

In the last 2 years, he has achieved a great deal. Besides becoming a father, he received his Chief Mate License and left the Drill Ship he had worked on for several years to go back to Deep Sea work. He has had some fun on four wheel trips and weekends with friends, spending time with Shennie, as well as his family in Virginia.

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I have been able to learn the Mandolin over the past 2 years. When my father died, he left his Mandolin to Shenandoah. However, I wanted to learn how to play it. One reason was so that when she is old enough to pick it up, I won’t be totally daft on it and can help her along. Another big reason I wanted to learn it was to simply try to do something new – just to teach an old dog a new trick. But, I mainly wanted to just sorta be close to my dad…play his instrument and hold the neck and strum the strings where his hands had been for so many years.


I picked the instrument up and tried to figure my way around it when Shenandoah was about 7 months old….. I fiddled around with it trying to apply my old and untouched knowledge from my dad teaching me guitar and my self-teaching baaic piano in my youth. I got a couple books, went to YouTube lessons, and got a grasp on my own for a while.

Then, I got to a place I felt I had good footing but needed more. Jon got me some mandolin lessons and I was able to get further in my learning! I worked on those for a couple months – but put them on pause while we made some adjustments from the holiday season, Jon coming home after being to sea for 4 months, Shennie starting a new school, and my starting some new, part-time work.  I have kept playing at home and trying to learn more – but scheduling classes hasn’t been realistic at this time  – but! I look forward to things evening out and I am able to pick up the lessons again.

So much to try to catch up on in the past two years, and there is plenty unsaid in this post but it has been so fun watching her grow and seeing her personality blossom.

… and the Heart of Life has been good …




I Could Not Write

It has been about 10 months since I have written here.  I hadn’t been able to. I wanted to. I thought about it often. My husband even asked about it.  But I couldn’t.

I, literally, could not write.

I couldn’t write for many reasons – but now I am going to try.

On April 22, 2016 our baby girl was born.
On April 22, 2016 my father died.

It was the best and worse day of my life.

She wasn’t expected to arrive on that date.  He wasn’t expected to depart on that date.

I couldn’t write because I had just had a baby. My world flipped all around and I could hardly find time to brush my teeth. So, I could not write.

I couldn’t write because instead of enjoying a first week at home with our baby and drinking in all the newborn love, we had a hectic week of trying to get to Virginia to attend my father’s funeral.

I couldn’t write because I had so many emotions…. I couldn’t sort out my thoughts.  I wanted to pour any positive into the baby.

I couldn’t write because as soon as some of this began to settle, my husband had to go back to sea and I was here alone with our new baby, our animals, our responsibilities – and all my sadness about my dad.

I couldn’t write because just a bit over a month after my father died, my mother got drunk and fell down a flight of stairs – rendering herself in a hospital for surgery, then a 3 month stay in a rehab facility for her leg, and then a few months bed-ridden at home.

I couldn’t write because I then had a ton of anger and sadness over my mother, worry and love for my brother, and still in emotions over my father — all while trying to give my best to the baby.

I couldn’t write because I had a new baby – diapers, nursing, sleeping, growing, appointments, milestones, visitors, traveling….

It took a long time to try to find my footing with this new life as a mother, and this new life without my father to be apart of this journey.

At some point, I hope to be able to write out our baby’s birth story – even including the sadness because it also brought some miracles in her birth.  But, I am not sure I am ready for that yet.

Meanwhile, our daughter, Shenandoah Joelle, is thriving. She is above expectation. And we are so glad of that.

I could write about that all day every day… if she would give me the time to do it.

Instead we play, crawl, pull up to stand, wave hello, watch the dogs play, feed the chickens, explore food, laugh from our bellies, stare at the trees as the leaves blow in the wind, dance to music, hold her when she cries, and experience everything for the first time with such happiness.

I’m going to enjoy these moments, imagine/pray that my father is right here with us, and thank him for doing all that with me when I was a baby.






35 Weeks Pregnant…. Oh My Stars!

Today week 35 has begun.  I can’t believe I have made it this far!  It took a long time, and yet it seems like it took no time at all.

We are in the Month of March – weather has been in the 70s and 80s, more sunshine days than not, flowers blooming, and pollen covering everything!

Jon left to go back to sea this past week, and when he is home again – the baby will be arriving.  It was our last time with him home where it is just him and I – A little scary!

We have gotten to see some FANTASTIC concerts this last couple weeks.  A wonderful Leon Russell show and a rocking George Thorogood show!  Baby Girl Merz has been to Dead & Company, Leon, and Thorogood  in utero….. not too shabby! That doesn’t even count the good local jazz we caught up the road from us on a few evenings out together!

The weekend before he let for work, Jon went to Suwannee Springfest and got a little festival camping in with even more good music.  He also came home with a tie dyed dress with a heart on it that he got for the baby, a gift batik dress for the baby from some friends, and a necklace from a friend and vendor for me.

While he was home this time we finished the nursery up, organized the attic, did a lot in the yard and garden, painting, and he leveled the house a bit more too.  A very productive and a very busy time home – but it was a wonderful time as well.

My father is still in and out of the ICU, and they are still trying to find out what is wrong.  It is horrible that I can’t be there to help him or do anything…. but I know I cannot drive that far, and I can’t be in these hospitals…. but…. it is hard.

Oh, enough of this rambling….  Here is our little check in:

How far along? 35 weeks starts today!

Stretch marks? Still (and VERY surprisingly) not too much happening here.  The area of suspect around the belly button have gotten to  be more noticable, and will most likely become a big mark or two – but it isn’t really something to be called a stretch mark at this point.  Even Jon agreed.

Sleep:  Oh this is a rough one.  I am not sleeping well, up a couple times a night from either being uncomfortable, the indigestion making me choke, or having to pee.  But when I do sleep – a couple hours here and there – I do sleep deeply.  Still it is interrupted and I cannot wait to sleep on my stomach again one day!

Best moment:  Hmm….well I loved the concerts, and I loved getting stuff completed with Jon – but I would say it would be the Charleston Baby Shower I had thrown by my friends Hailey and Brooke.  Getting gifts is nice, but I really mostly enjoy socializing with my friends.  Everyone is so busy and has so much going on that an excuse to get 10-20 friends together at once to laugh and share is wonderful to me.

Miss anything?   I am still having a difficult time becoming more limited in what I can do physically.  I miss doing any activity without getting winded, being in pain, or having to stop and rest my feet/legs. Putting on pants like a normal person is also something I miss.

Movement:  Kicks, punches, and all baby movement is getting less and less endearing and more and more painful.  The movements are still more intense in the late afternoons/evenings… but it is very much taking place throughout the day.   Beginning of week 33, I saw the first foot or fist or elbow punching out and moving along my stomach — and it hasn’t stopped since!  So freaky, so amazing – kinda uncomfortable. I am also beginning to feel like certain areas of my stomach are tender and bruised, although not bruised on the outside, it feels bruised from the inside.  The kicks or punches are seeming to be consistent on the left side of my stomach, a hard bump up under my right rib area feels like a butt,  and fluttering type movement in the pelvic area…. this has been pretty typical since week 33.  Doctor says she is appearing to be head down – mostly a bit pointed south west than directly south so…. hopefully she stays in this area, and does not flip around again as we go on to the end.

Food cravings:  It has been interesting!  Lately I have craved a lot of fruit – pears, apples, and grapes.  In the last several days I have been craving popsicles and melted ice….it is the crunching and the hydration I think I am craving;  I’m not sure.  I will fill a pint glass with ice amd leave it there to melt for a while, then eat the ice!  But I know it can also be a sign of anemia so I will have to ask my OB about it at the next appointment.

Symptoms: I guess the swelling, aching, and the uncomfortable/painful everything.

Belly button in or out?   You know….. I don’t know how it is happening but that thing is still in there. Still close to the surface but has not popped.  I am so glad about it – but also shocked!

Wedding rings on or off?  Off still. Swelling is really happening now.  Feet and ankles… hands…. face… it is not my favorite. Some days there isn’t too much swelling, maybe a bit in the feet if I am on my feet too much.  Then some days, I am blown up all over.  It’s weird but I guess it is just what is happening now.

Happy or moody most of the time:   I think I have been pretty happy, but I am getting to be more short tempered with the stress of my dad’s health and my constant physical discomfort.

Looking forward to:  The next few weeks passing by and having the baby (even though I am equally scared of this) …. and then having some lovely glasses of wine!

30 some days and counting now…..

31 Weeks…. and Counting Down

I have done a couple pregnancy check ins, and here is another one as we begin the final countdown.

It has been a very rough month, February.  We had to put down our sweet dog Monkey (whom I rescued when I was 24 years old, and I am 37 now), my father spent 2 separate weeks in the ICU getting diagnosed with Interstitial Lung Disease and getting a total of 8-10 units of blood total in the 2 visits…. It has been stressful for me.

Jon just returned back home from sea and we have been doing a lot of work (him, mainly, of course) on errands here at the house to prepare for spring and the baby.

And now we have about 8 weeks remaining…

Here is our little check in:

How far along? 31.5 weeks

Maternity clothes:  I still do not have many maternity clothes…. nothing has changed there. The weather is getting warmer and tank tops and yoga pants or maternity jeans are doing just fine.

Stretch marks? Not much, but that area around my belly button I have mentioned before, It is looking like a nice reddish stretch mark or two will come from that.  Lotion, drinking water…. trying to keep them away.

Sleep:  Well…. sleep is better in some ways.  When I sleep, I am in a nice deep sleep.  But I awake a lot through the night – to pee, to try to get comfy, too hot, too cold…. and the still consistent monster – HEARTBURN. Charlie Horses are still troublesome – but have cut down significantly in occurrence. I am glad of that!

Best moment this week:  To be honest…. its been a rough week. Hard to say.  It is great that Jon came home within the last few days. It was great to have my friends, Amanda and Lorri, come spend a weekend with me over Valentine’s weekend.  I enjoyed my Aunt Bonnie and Uncle David stopping by on their return to Virginia from Florida for a little bit.  The baby’s movements have become more frequent, and often painful/very uncomfortable.  I can watch my stomach moving from side to side or seeing a kick or punch, rather than just feeling it.

Miss anything?   I am having a difficult time becoming more limited in what I can do physically.  I miss doing any activity without getting winded or having to stop and rest my feet/legs.

Movement: Kicks, punches, head turns (I think that is what I am feeling) and twirls.  More and more regular movement in the day — but still busiest in the evening.

Food cravings:  I went for 2 weeks craving cereal…. Lucky Charms mainly. Honey Nut Cheerios and Raisin Nut Bran as well.

Symptoms: Simply the growth.  My stomach has grown rapidly…. and continues to do.  My face has gotten the Moon Pie swelling, the top of my abdomen under the breast area has a long area of numbness, and the feet/lower legs hurting after standing or walking for more than 10 mins at a time is a big one.

Belly button in or out?   Barely still in… Barely.  I am so grossed out.  The Turkey timer will bust any day now I can tell… and what a sad day for me that will be.

Wedding rings on or off? On still… but I had to take them off a couple times….. I think soon they will be off.  Probably the same time the belly button pops.

Happy or moody most of the time: Pretty happy, just frustrated with my limitations.

Looking forward to:  I don’t know…. I think just getting to the end of pregnancy and having the baby here.  A Charleston area shower will be coming up shortly, and I look forward to that.

That’s all for now!

When It Is Time to Say Goodbye

This is a sad day.

It is a day we have expected to come for the past 2 years…. in the last week I knew it was more in reach – but I received a call yesterday afternoon to confirm that the time is here.

For 13 years, a little black dog has been my companion and like my child. My sweet Monkey.  The Monks, Monkster.


I rescued Monkey from a terrible situation in May of 2003.  Only slightly more than 2 weeks old,  in a mailbox carrier left to die piled in with his litter mates (some were dead or dying) and needing a lot of help. I grabbed him and a brother of his. They seemed the most strong, fighting to live, and the most healthy out of the box.  The brother went on to live with my mother and brother and I kept Monkey.


Eventually, I got him into good health.  He was very smart, made friends everywhere he went, and he was always so happy. He did suffer from seizures, as a result of his tough start in life, but they didn’t become troublesome for him until he was about 2 years old and I had to begin him on phenobarbital.  He had lifelong (and sometimes terrible, horrible) seizures but he was still very active, happy, funny, and smart as could be.


Monkey loved kids, other dogs to run & chase with, he would fetch sticks, he loved hanging out near the water at the beach or on a dock, he loved going on hikes, he loved going camping, and most of all he loved to swim!  Monkey never ran away off a leash, Monkey never was aggressive with anything, Monkey was trusting, and Monkey was loyal.   Monkey also loved posing for photographs!

Monkey Collage 1

Monkey Collage 2

I saved Monkey and got a wonderful friend.  Then, Monkey saved me.

I was in a very abusive (in every meaning of the word) relationship for many years, and literally Monkey kept me alive and fighting.  During the end of the abusive relationship, my grandmother was very ill with Alzheimers and my grandfather committed suicide. It was a very difficult time in my life.

It may seem very dramatic to say that the dog kept me alive and fighting, but I assure you it is a most sincere and truthful statement.   Monkey kept me going.  He was the only creature in the world who knew for a very long time.  He was the only creature in the world I could talk to and cry with.  He was the only creature in the world who was there to love me when I was scared or alone, or when there was simply no one to call.  He was the only thing in the world that gave me a reason to get up and out of bed and live another day.  He gave me a purpose and something to protect when I couldn’t protect myself.

He and I got away from all that and went on to a much better life  –  and soon we found Jonathan.


With lifelong seizures and medications comes the knowledge that eventually the body will begin to shutdown.  Jon and I honestly thought it would have been sooner, but he has always been a fighter.  In the last couple years, however, we have seen him get more weak and struggle more with age.  He still had a little fight in him and had the light in his eyes of the younger Monkey.  But suddenly, last week the light went out.   Very suddenly, I looked into his face and didn’t see Monkey at all – just a body of him without his spirit and getting ill quickly.

We had some blood work taken and the results showed that while the seizures and the heart murmur was wearing his little body down, along with his super high liver counts and severe anemia – but the real issue is the fact that, in the words of the vet, he is in the midst of kidney failure.  There isn’t anything to be done, and there isn’t a lot of time left for him before real pain and badness begins.

This quote pops into my brain today, from AA Milne… said by Winnie the Pooh to Christopher Robin – but I think Monkey could have said it himself:

“Promise me you’ll never forget me, because if I ever thought you would, I’d never leave.”


Jonathan returns home this evening from sea, we plan to have Monkey go on to heaven on Friday evening after spending a last day as a family saying goodbye and maybe taking him for one last look out on the beach.


I know it is his time to go, but with him will go 13 years of memories and appreciation.  I will never forget his first run through the snow, summer days when he would swim for hours in a lake, how happy he was to be a big brother to Popcorn and how pissed he was when we brought Liesl home. I will never forget how much he was loved by his human friends, and how everyone thought he was still a puppy until he was about 10 years old.


I don’t know how long it will take me to stop wondering why I don’t hear his little feet tap dancing behind me as I walk through the house or when I go for a walk in the neighborhood…. but I know I will miss him so much.

I hope he knows how much he is has always been loved.  I hope he knows I always did all I could to take care of him and how very sorry I am that there isn’t anything more we can do to help him now.

Monkey Collage 3

From the great Irving Berlin, sang by our favorite Willie Nelson…. here is a song for you Monkey.
“What’ll I do with just a photograph to tell my troubles to? When I’m alone with only dreams of you…. what’ll I do?”

Monkey, I love you and I will miss your smile so much.