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.



27 Week Check In

Four weeks ago I did a little pregnancy check in, and here is another one!

I can hardly believe I only have about 12 weeks to go before the little Girl Merzlak is here… give or take a week or two – as pregnancies go!!  It seems like no time, but some days it seems like a long time to go!

How far along? 27 weeks

Maternity clothes:  I still do not have many maternity clothes, I have a hard time making that investment.  I have, since the 23 week post, gotten a couple more shirts.  I live in yoga or pj pants, unless I have to go out in public…. then it is maternity jeans or leggings until the moment i walk back in the house.  I bought some bra extenders, which help a lot!  They only cost $6 for 3, rather than $20+ per new bra…. this was a great savings!  However, unless I am out in public, I avoid wearing bras…. Comfort is paramount nowadays.  The less restrictive clothing the better.  I suppose this is made worse by being pregnant in the winter months where more clothing is required more often!

Stretch marks? Not yet….. buuuuuttt…. there are some things happening around my belly button that are suspect. 😦   I am still using cocoa butter daily; night and day to be precise.  I am also sure to drink plenty of water – of course this goes along with pregnancy, but it helps with the stretch mark prevention too.

Sleep:  Well…. some nights I get a long and good nights sound sleep.  This is mostly after 2 nights in a row of horrible broken up sleep.  The nights that I don’t sleep well are nights that include at least one (if not 2) of the following:

  1.  Horrible leg cramps/charlie horse pains that wake me up in so much pain I usually cry out and sometimes make me sweat. These are worse than any charlie horse pain I have ever had in 36 years before getting pregnant.
  2. Unable to fall asleep for hours and hours…. this is not because I am not tired, I am very tired.  Muscles in legs and arms are restless, and my body can’t get comfortable in any position.
  3. The all night dance party (which I am starting to wonder if she hasn’t invited people over to in there) of Baby Merz moving and bouncing around until all hours of the night.
  4. The massive heartburn.  Again, this compares to no heartburn, indigestion, or reflux I had ever experienced prior to pregnancy.  This is an evil of its own unique hell.

None of these things are helped if the 3 dogs get nervous or worried because they can sense my discomfort.  Bless their hearts for being in tune and worrying about me, but it just makes it all the more troublesome to comfort them and get them settled – and try to get myself settled as well.

Best moment this week:  I enjoy the regular movement… I think it helps me to know she is active and strong and healthy – even though sometimes It is very uncomfortable and sometimes it drains all my energy.  I think the best moment was the one early morning I was woken up (maybe about 4 or 5 in the morning) because she was having a case of the hiccups. Very sweet and cute…. and kinda tickled me.

Miss anything?   I still miss being able to comfortably bend forward to get something off the floor or tie my shoes or put on socks…. etc.  I miss the ability to eat raw oysters and drink mimosas.  This has been on my mind a lot lately…. probably because of all the Charleston area Oyster Roasts and Brunches going on this month.  I miss exercising.  I can no longer walk as long or as far as I could in December.  Lastly, although I love that the baby is growing and everything is doing so well, I have in the last few days begun to miss my pre-pregnancy figure.  It is awesome and terrifying to see so much change…. and wonder if you will ever be the same again.

Movement: Kicks and twirls and jumps more regularly through the day, but the evening is still the preferred busiest time for wee Baby Merz.

  • Food cravings:  I was put on a 80-90 grams of protein a day diet at about week 24…. and limit carbs like breads/pastas/etc.  This is more daunting than it may seem.  As a result of having to eat so much more meat/dairy/nuts/etc, I have been taking in more salt so my sweet tooth has increased a bit.  Specifically this week I have wanted to have more crunchy salads and red grapes.  No Idea why — again maybe as a contrast to the protein and salt…. not sure.

Symptoms: Some Braxton Hicks have begun, usually only in overdoing myself in exercising.  The veins are everywhere in my chest and stomach… My torso looks like a road map.  As this last big growth spurt in the last weeks of the 2nd trimester occurs, I find I am needing more rest or nap time during the day… not as much as the first trimester but once or twice a week I need to lay down for 30 mins or an hour.  My legs are also now hurting if I am standing on them too long…. this is brand new to the pregnancy…. oh my.

Belly button in or out?   Thank the Lord, it is still in! But, I fear the Innie Days are numbered….. I am afraid that it will pop, but I can see how close it is coming…. i fear this could be any day now.  Oh heavens… it is gross to me.

Wedding rings on or off? On still! Have not had any swelling, so far, in hands, legs, or feet.

Happy or moody most of the time: Pretty happy, just energy drained.  I had some time where I was getting into hysterical laughing fits over the slightest funny things….and I mean crying in laughter, can’t talk, for far too long over things that were just worth a smile or giggle.  As Jon said – “It is better to be laughing and happy than crying and yelling at me! I enjoy this symptom!”

Looking forward to: Hmm… not sure.  I had a great time at the Virginia Baby Shower, and we got a lot of wonderful (and useful) things!  I think I am looking forward to getting everything in order in the Baby Room, and organize the things we had been storing in that room.

That’s all for now!

23 Week Pregnancy Check-In

Just a little update and random Check-In on the pregnancy so far…. heeerrreee you goooooo

How far along? 23 weeks

Maternity clothes: I can’t squeeze this bump in normal pants, dresses, or most skirts anymore…. some maxi skirts, some leggings, and some pj/sweat pants are still doable… but even they are nearing their end I can tell.  Maternity Jeans and leggings are pretty much all I wear. I confess, I didn’t want to invest in too many maternity items but…. these last  17 weeks might render me living in a bath robe if I don’t consider some other clothes items.  Underwear and maternity bras are a must however…. something even my husband tells me I need to do this week.

Stretch marks? Not yet! Well… I don’t think so anyway.  There is one mark on my stomach – can’t tell if it is the beginning of a stretch mark or a vein…. it is in an area that’s hard to see nowadays :/

I have been using cocoa butter daily, but I need to start looking for Bio Oil or sweet almond oil.

Sleep: Pregnancy has affected my sleeping pattern since week 8.  I needed a 2 hr nap nearly everyday until about 14/15 weeks – in addition to a good night sleep.  My night sleep was pretty good, even with getting up 1-2 times to pee.

Then, there were several weeks of good, uninterrupted by the bladder sleep – and I rarely needed a nap unless I really overdid myself in physical work (yard work, exercise, etc)  or if there was a day or two of baby growth spurts.

I have slowly, in the past 3 weeks began to have trouble sleeping at night.  The baby belly really popped and it began to make finding a comfortable position a troubling thing.  It swiftly  progressed to the baby being most active at night.  Her rolling around, most strong kicks, and acrobatics seems to occur anytime after 10pm until about 1am.  This makes it hard to sleep – or stay asleep.  I, also, am suffering from pretty severe “charley horse” pains in my legs and feet.  I have woken up 2 nights this week in pain enough to holler out from a sound sleep.  I end up waking up Jon and all 3 dogs unintentionally as a result.   So, in all this poor night sleep, I have found the need to take at least a 45 minute nap during the day….but I have slept up to 2 hrs if Jon lets me.

Best moment this week:  I have been feeling kicks and movements (with complete certainty) for about 3 weeks, but in the last several days, you can begin to feel the baby movement from the outside every so often. This is good because Jon just got home from sea a few days ago, and it is great that he can now have to opportunity to feel it all too.

I think the BEST moment was just last night.  For the first time since Jon has been home, he and I (and all 3 dogs) were in the bed watching TV and snuggling up in the chilly night  when the baby kicked so hard that the tablet I had on y belly got knocked off and fell down to one side.  It was awesome to witness and it showed she was there with us.

Miss anything? I miss being able to comfortably bend forward to get something off the floor or tie my shoes or put on socks…. etc.  That ability has gone away in the last week.

Movement: Kicks and stretched throughout the day, but really has her exercise in the evening. About suppertime she gets more active, but as I mentioned the evening hours are her most active time.  She is a night owl for sure.  Takes after her folks I reckon.   It is interesting that she has made a little schedule for herself.

Food cravings: In the first trimester it was totally and completely milk and PB & J sandwiches. Nowadays it seems to change by the week.  I am sure it is solely based on what my body needs at that time.  However mango fruit and red meat are cravings this week and last week.  I crave beer a LOT…. but I can’t have that – especially as much as I crave it.  I do look forward to Jon having a beer so I can grab a taste now and then!

Anything making you queasy or sick? Nothing…. well the looks and thought of raw chicken….. I don’t know if that is uniquely pregnancy — but it sure doesn’t help.

Gender: IT’S A GIRL!!!!!!!

Symptoms: Nothing crazy – just the leg cramps and the growth spurts ligament pains.

Belly button in or out? In! But it definitely different  I am afraid that it will pop.  Groossss.

Wedding rings on or off? On!

Happy or moody most of the time: Pretty happy, but I get random grumpiness and worry… actually that is pretty normal for me I think.  I have found myself tearing up more while watching TV or something.

Looking forward to: The Virginia Baby Shower.  In a couple weekends I head to Virginia for a small shower.  It’s mostly exciting to be able to see friends and family in Virginia before I am no longer allowed to make that long car ride for the remainder of the pregnancy.  ❤

That’s all for now!

Baby on Board

Christmastime is here! Happiness and Cheer! Fun for all the the children call their favorite time of year!

Here are our dogs take on the Nativity Scene: Liesl Mary, Monkey Baby Jesus, and Popcorn Joseph.


The Autumn went by in a flash!

Firstly, we found out we were pregnant (again).  It was a worrisome time for me, at the start.  I didn’t want to have a repeat of the first 2 – but it seemed 3rd time was this charm!

The 10 week Scan of Baby Girl Merzlak:

Baby Merzlak - 10wks

This was our Halloweentime announcement:

the great merzlak

We traveled to Bryson City, NC in September and invited our friends, the O’Haires, to come along with us.  It was rainy for most of the trip, but we still were able to have nice hiking time, fun with the dogs, sight seeing, and some delicious meals.  And we got to see Elk! I was really excited about the Elk!




In November, we traveled to Virginia to spend the week before Thanksgiving with our families – because of Jon’s work travel schedule.   It was a lovely time at home – hunting, crispy leaves, chilly air, country scenes, time with friends…. but on the way there, we stopped off in Greensboro, NC to catch the Dead & Company show!


It was a great concert!  Even being pregnant, I really was able to enjoy it!  Jon found a hotel that allowed the dogs and was just a few miles away from the venue.  We had a couple friends meet up with us there and were able to enjoy it in a group.  It was a great show!  So our little baby got to attend her first unofficial Dead show, and her dad bought her first tie dye from the lot!



December arrived – I turned 37, and Jon had to leave for work.  While the house is decorated for Christmas, it is just me and the dogs here.  And the little stranger growing inside.

We had the big anatomy scan done last week, and everything looks fantastic!  Baby Girl Merzlak didn’t want to cooperate; she seems to already display that she is just like her parents – stubborn and willful.  It seemed she didn’t appreciate being disturbed while trying to sleep and was very dramatic about throwing her head back in annoyance, as well as turning away from the scan wand just before the tech could snap a photo and running/swimming away every chance she got.  Entertaining and hard on my stomach, but still great to see all her.  Her organs and bones all forming so well.

20 Wk Scan Collage

Her face, her mouth & nose, her profiles, and her long legs!

As a matter of fact, this morning was the first time i looked down at my tummy and watched her moving around – stretching and rolling about.  It was pretty wild!

We will see what the New Year will bring us!

Merry Christmas from The Merzlaks and the Baby on Board!

Baby on board
How I’ve adored
That sign on my car’s windowpane.

Bounce in my step,
Loaded with pep,
‘Cause I’m drivin’ in the carpool lane.

Call me a square,
Friend I don’t care,
‘Cause that little yellow sign can’t be ignored.

I’m telling you it’s mighty nice.
Each trip’s a trip to paradise
With my baby on board.

Summer of Exploring

What a great summer we have had!  It is not over yet, technically, but most of our Summer fun and adventures are over.  We will coast the next few weeks of Summer easily into Autumn.

In May we got some bees!  What an exploration!  We learned a lot more about bees then we ever imagined, and have a GREAT deal more to learn.  Bees are quite interesting critters.

Bee Collage 1

They did well and we got about 40 oz of Honey by late June. And, boy oh boy, does it taste wonderful!!

This summer, I took on more vendor markets & opportunities, and the etsy shop had a great increase of traffic and sales! Exploring new markets, new groups, and new products!  Jon helps out sometimes, too!

GS collage 1

We went to Lake Anna, Virginia for Adam’s 38th Birthday. We had nice time with friends and family! We played with little Mila, got some sun, ate a lot of great food…. it was very lovely.




We took a last minute trip to Western NC and had a relaxing, exploring, hiking, terrific time!

NC - 3 - Aug 2015

NC - 5 - Aug 2015

NC - 2 - Aug 2015

NC - 1 - Aug 2015


We really had a very lovely summer. Busy, but happy! We are very grateful and look forward to Autumn!

A Blight

In many ways 2015 has offered us a good first quarter.

Jon rebuilt the garden for this spring & summer and we got a boat and have taken it out a handful of times in these winter months.  We got 3 lbs of bees for our garden hive and they seem to be doing well making their home so far!  We re-homed the guinea fowl to a lovely farm with more guinea for them to partner with.

We went home to Virginia in early February and were able to see our family, baby niece, Mila, and spend time with friends – plus, Jon killed a deer to provide many meals for us.

We have enjoyed some warm days in April for bike rides, park time with the dogs, and evening walks.  Jon, his brother, and 2 friends did a “guys only” camping trip in West Virginia to do 4-wheeler trail rides.   I have been working hard on my grad course at GMU this semester, and I am then only one class away from completing the program.  Jon had his 36th birthday, and Popcorn had his 2nd birthday – Both on April 28th!  And finally, in a couple weeks, I will begin a Real Estate License class.

Many great things happened, with many on the horizon!!

There has been some difficult things as well – mainly the loss of two pregnancies.

I know many have gone through similar things, and far worse.  I am not sharing this for pity or sympathy.  I’m going to share what we experienced for a few reasons – in part to share with family & friends, because we haven’t really talked about it & in part for the someone randomly searching on the internet looking for answers on similar tribulations, as I did for many, many nights.

Finally, I am doing it for myself – to write it out for a bit of therapy and memory.  It’s been several weeks but I think its an important part of my final healing on this (hopefully).  I have kept a lot of it in, but usually if I get stuff out… I can go forward in a better place.

In early January, while Jon was at sea, I had a miscarriage at 5 weeks pregnant at work.  It was my first pregnancy, and while it was tough to go through alone – I knew it was something to “expect”.  The miscarriage itself was tangible and I was able to connect and understand what had happened in order to move forward. Although, having the actual miscarriage at my work office was a bit strange.  However, being somewhere safe with people who could help me if needed would have been far better than it occurring while I was driving or in some grocery store. I wasn’t feeling too well physically for a few days – and mentally/emotionally I was drained for a week or two.  It was not something I’d wish on anyone – even in the earliest part of pregnancy.  It took a lot out of me, plus the disappointment.  I kept thinking about those who have had miscarriages much further along, and how hard that must be.

In mid-February, we became (surprisingly) pregnant a second time.  I was nervous, but things seemed to go along very well.  I had nausea, food cravings, waking up 2 times in the night to pee, and some other very specific (hopeful) symptoms.  Once I passed the 5 week mark I had such a slight sense of relief that I was closer to not having a repeated miscarriage.  My body was changing before my eyes, and quicker than I expected.  The doctors office and my mother, the nurse, both said that it could progress in a way that seems quicker because of the prior miscarriage and the hormones.  Then on to week 7, a week before Jon was to come home from work and we would be able to have our first scan.

On Monday, March 30th, we went in for our ultrasound.  About 8 weeks along.  A few minutes into it, I unknowingly slapped my forehead with my hand.  Jon says, “Why’d you do that?!”  I acted like I didn’t have a reason – but I saw a huge and empty sac on the screen.  I was hoping there was just some other angle that would show something…. anything…..

The formerly giggly & chatty Tech quickly printed some things off, and practically ran out of the room saying, ” The doctor will be right in.”  As soon as the door closed, I said to Jon, “Something’s wrong.  There is nothing in there.”

Jon said I was just worried and nervous.  Until the doctor came in, re-did the ultrasound to be sure, then she told us, “There is no longer a baby here, I am so sorry.  Please meet me in my office once you are both ready.”

I didn’t want to.  I told Jon that I didn’t want to talk about it, I just wanted to go home.  I said that several times, I believe.  I was at least screaming it in my own head.

I was crushed and embarrassed…. and sad.  Looking at his face. I saw a bit of confusion and a bit sorrowful.  But, I could also see the wheels trying to turn in his head trying to “fix” this and find the way of making it easier on me (and himself).

He told me, calmly, that we had to go in and hear why this might have happened and what we have to do.  I kept saying no, but followed down the hall anyway.

The doctor came in and told us that I had an anembryonic gestation, or a blighted ovum.

Blight: something that spoils the appearance or completeness of a thing

A blighted ovum is a pregnancy in which as it progresses a visible embryo never develops or is reabsorbed.  The sac/placenta and all the hormones continue to act and progress as though the baby was alive and well.  There is no sign of the loss at all – like in a miscarriage. The Doctor felt that in my case, it was perhaps an issue of absorption, as though my body was treating the embryo as a virus.  We were told that had we not been scheduled for the appointment to have the ultrascan – my body would have reacted as though the pregnancy was good and progressing for as long as up to 12 or 14 weeks. That would have been another 4 to 6 weeks of nausea, body changes, soreness, reaction to smells, EVERYTHING.

That blew my mind! My body thought it was still pregnant and the hormones were still pumping and might have done for few more weeks.  Why would anyone think anything was wrong?!?  It was terrible, but a little amazing how biology works.

What was I doing the moment that made the first pregnancy fail?  What was it that kept the second embryo from growing?   Can I ever trust my body’s signals ever again?  If we ever are able to get pregnant again, will I have any hope for a positive outcome or will I just sit around not being able to trust my body or my feelings?  Do I have some kind of underlying illness or issue that doctors aren’t looking for?  Is this from the Lyme’s Disease?  Do I have some thyroid issue? Will this sort of thing keep happening?  Have I let people down with both of these losses? Should I feel as embarrassed and hurt as I do?  Do I not feel sad enough? Why would we try this again?

I was scheduled for a D&C immediately. I  was an emotional wreck from the time we left the doctor’s office until we arrived at the hospital for the surgery.  I hadn’t been that afraid, sad, and distressed since I got a phone call that my grandfather committed suicide, with my father and uncle with him – 2 days after my grandmother was put into hospital for dementia and almost dying of alcohol poisoning because she thought a bottle of vodka was water and guzzled the bottle down in mad thirst from her medication.  That may seem dramatic, but it is the truth. My mind and body had the same level of profound sadness, fear, anger, and helplessness.

So, the surgery.  Home recovering for a few days.  Body taking me on a path of all kinds of reactions and pain.  Emotions and hormones going all over.  Then just depression of thinking about the hows and whys.  I wouldn’t wish any of that on my worst enemy (which I don’t have, but still…)

It took a while to recover completely.  Might always be there lingering.  The fear of trying to or getting pregnant again is still present. I don’t know if I will get past that part of it for a while.

That’s probably all I can say about it for now.

We have a lot of positive things on the horizon – so I’ll have to keep looking toward those!