Feathered Aspen

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The Pregnant Landlords

Well, our second trimester came and went without much glory…  I may be deluding myself, but I seem to remember feeling a bit more energetic and enthusiastic with the first two pregnancies.  While my nausea did abate and I had more energy than the first trimester, I can barely count on one hand the number of times I thought about forgoing a midday nap.  And I’m still not staying up much past 9, so I feel a bit like a sleepy landmonster.

About a month ago, I started having this sharp pain right around the middle of my spine and I was feeling huge…  Luckily, the pain hasn’t reappeared (except during a long car ride or at the end of a really long day) since week 26, and though I’m waddling by the end of the day, when I look down at my belly, it feels about right for 29 weeks.  I think that’s just how it goes with each successive pregnancy – you get bigger faster, but eventually it’s all about the same.

With the anterior placenta, it took a long time to feel regular, strong movements from out little girl.  At even 17 and 18 weeks, I wasn’t sure I was feeling her every day (whereas with Lu, I felt certain I was feeling her as early as 14 weeks).  But in the past couple of weeks, the movements have been strong enough to shift my whole belly and be visible to others.  Now when I lay down or sit for a bit, I’m almost guaranteed to feel her move.  And that, my friends, is the most magical part of pregnancy.  So strange and so exciting.

This morning I noticed my linea nigra for the first time, and I’ve been seeing the mask creep onto my face the past couple of weeks.  Despite all my best efforts to eat healthy and work out regularly, I feel like I have this winter coat of extra weight everywhere on my body.  I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me, but with my third pregnancy, I also know that this is what my body does to get ready for baby and it’s not excessive and it doesn’t last forever.

The working out is going well.  We were all hit with a bout of the flu last week, so that slowed me down, but otherwise, I run as much as three consecutive miles (woohoo!), and I try to cover 4-6 miles each day running/walking.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I swim laps at the Rec Center for 40 minutes.  It really is so wonderful to be weightless and engage in a form of exercise where the bulk of my belly doesn’t slow me down much.  I can still do flip turns and I just swim at this easy pace, four strokes and a breath, the whole time, covering 35-40 laps.  I can’t say it’s terribly rigorous, but I do feel like it’s a workout.  The only thing I wish I were doing more of was strength.  I’ve had the intention of doing arms and lunges and squats, but…  Yeah.  That’s hardly happened.  Also, yoga.  But I’m thinking that might be part of my birth prep in the last 6-8 weeks.

Looking forward, it’s hard to believe that there are just 11 weeks left until our due date.  Between visitors and holidays, the majority of our weekends are already planned out, and though our to-do list isn’t enormous, I am starting to feel the urge to really get ready, emotionally as much as organizationally.

I know that organizationally, everything will get done, and if it doesn’t, that’ll be ok too.  I still remember that saying from my prenatal yoga teacher when I was expecting Lu:  “babies are born with a sandwich in their hands.”  And it’s true.  There’s not much stuff that you truly need when it comes to babies.  Something warm to dress them in, diapers, a baby carrier and a car seat…  Love.  That’s about it.  Mentally and emotionally, though.  That stuff is important.  I think taking care of your head and heart and doing a little prep there before baby comes is so important, and we haven’t had much time for that recently.

…two week intermission…

Haha!  Where was I? Oh yes.  Mental and emotional readiness.  And I think I was about to tell you that mentally and emotionally, these past few months have been a whirlwind.  Well.  Two weeks have past and not much as changed pregnancy-wise, but as we gain distance from July, August, September, and the first week of October, I am feeling a bit more mentally and emotionally grounded.  Not quite ready, but better.

July, August, and September were just nuts.  After we got back from Bryce Canyon, Joshua jumped into renovations on the basement in our second house.  We decided not to rent the upstairs during the renovations and turn the renovations into a larger single family rental, rather than the up/down rentals we had initially considered.  And even though forgoing a kitchen in the downstairs meant saving on time and money, it still took forever.  Joshua worked, and worked, and worked…  And then he worked some more.  At first, he took off two days a week to spend time with us, but by the second week of July, we knew our plans for a finish date of August 1st were way too ambitious.  So then he started taking just one day off.  And then teacher training started, and he worked M-F at school and spent most of the weekend in the basement, working.  By mid August, Joshua had worked a month straight without taking a single day off, and it was becoming clear that even a September 1st rental date was out of the question.

So he kept going.  We brought out Papa and then Grumpy.  We had a work day and bribed our friends to come over.  For a couple of weeks in October, the girls and I were over there doing as much as we could do, too.  Joshua was at the house after work during the week and all weekend.

By the time I listed the rental, it was September 23rd, and although it wasn’t completely finished, we felt assured that we could pull off the last touches by October 1st…

And then came two very, very stressful weeks.  A year and a half ago when we had listed just our two bedroom, one bath, there had been FLOODS of e-mails and voicemails with interested and motivated potential renters.  And it wasn’t cheap.  But here comes our mistake.  Rather than doing our research, we assumed that we would be able to rent a four bedroom, two bath, single family home in an up-and-coming area for quite a bit more.  It has double the square footage, a large deck, three large family spaces, and a fenced in yard.  Initially, we thought that we would be able to rent the place for 50% more than we had last year, which would make the last three months of hell…  Worth it.  We could pay for a vacation!

48 hours in, we had no responses, and with a heavy heart, I dropped the price $200.  Another 48 hours in, there was only one hopeful lead, and then that fizzled out.  With October 1 approaching fast and the thought of floating the mortgage and losing rent for another month over our heads, we dropped the price another $200.

It was the magic number.  Calls came in and we had at least 8 showings.  The impossible (renting the space by October 1) started to seem possible.  And then an application came in asking if we accepted housing vouchers.

God knows why after all of this we decided to look into housing vouchers, especially when we had two other applications with no such requests, but we decided to look into it.  We had gotten a good feeling from the person applying, and something in us just said, try it.

So with whirlwind efficiency, we filled out an RFTA (Request for Tenancy Approval) which is about 20 pages of questions about us as landlords and about the property.  Our very motivated potential tenant submitted the document to the DHA (Denver Housing Authority) the very next day, and we waited to schedule an inspection.

Although it typically takes two weeks after submitting the RFTA to get an inspection, they expedited the process (yes!  Bureaucracy that can move fast!), and we were able to get an inspection on October 4th.  The inspector walked through the home, opening each of the windows and peeking inside appliances.  When she was through, she announced that she would be back at the end of the day to see that we had installed a thumb lock on the back door, a railing on the steps downstairs, and hung our fire detectors.

And she did.  And then together, the inspector, the tenant, and Joshua signed the lease.

So it was a little bit crazy, and we were nervous the whole time that everything would fall through, but it didn’t.  It worked out.  And you know what?  I feel pretty good about the decision we made to take a risk.  It seems like every report I hear or read on Denver housing and real estate says that gentrification is a huge problem, and the rising costs of housing are pushing out families that have lived here for generations.  So it feels good to be part of the solution, rather than the problem.  We’re providing housing to good tenants who deserve to be able to live and work in the town where they grew up.  And as independent providers of Section 8 housing, we’re offering a nice, newly remodeled single family home in a mixed-income neighborhood, rather than an apartment in a building designated for public housing.  I’ve taught many students who have lived in “projects” like those, and I think most of them would agree that these were not nice or safe places to live.  It was a learning process for us, but I’m glad we had the experience.  If you’re curious and would like to learn more, here’s a link.

What else, you ask?  Well, we took a quick 7 hour drive up to the Black Hills to see our friends, the Devanes, for a weekend in between submitting the RFTA and scheduling an inspection.  So that was both wonderful and a little terrifying to still have everything in limbo.  Once we got back and managed to finally rent the house, we breathed a sigh of relief.  Or rather, I did.  Joshua returned to work and felt overwhelmed by a growing list of things to do at school, so he worked late a few nights that week to catch up.

And then that weekend – the first weekend in nearly three months that we anticipated spending time as a family together, just the four of us, we got nailed with the flu.

On Friday night, Lu puked.  By Saturday morning, I was puking.  Joshua took the girls (Lu had a quick recovery) to go have fun at the pumpkin patch, but Lily was having a resurgence of what was definitely not food poisoning and had hit her on Wednesday.  On Saturday night, Joshua began puking.  This particular bug was a lovely little two-fer.  24 hours of nausea, followed by 24 to 48 hours of feeling somewhat better, and then a little 6 resurgence.  I puked again on Monday night.  Yum.

So yeah.  I think that’s where I left you guys.  We had just emerged from the flu, and from three months of overtime, single parenting, missing Joshua, and just generally feeling like we were totally in over our heads.  And then realizing that after all of that, we are in the exact same financial position we were in last year, month to month.  Because while the basement will certainly add to the value of the property and pay off when we sell, the increase in rent just manages to balance out the increase in our mortgage we took on in the spring when we refinanced to take out money to renovate the basement…  So yeah.  No sweet little vacation bonus there (she weeps).  It sucks, and we’re sad, but I’m also feeling like, well!  It’s done!  We don’t have to do it again!  And it sucks!  But moving on!  We’ve got lives to live, dammit!  We survived on this budget last year, and we’ll do it again this year.

You see what I mean?  Not the greatest mental and emotional preparation for welcoming a new little munchkin into the family in 9 weeks. But that being said, I’m already feeling better.  Two weeks ago, I was just on the other side of everything and feeling like I was getting my bearings.  And now if you asked me how things were going, I’d say we’re doing fine.  Which reminds me of something people say about women and their ability to completely forget/gloss over massive amounts of misery and pain…  Should we talk about labor?!

Haha.  But really.  The other night, I was having some insomnia, and I was all like, oh shit.  I have to give birth in like, two months, and man.  That’s gonna hurt.  And then of course I have this internal struggle like, “no!  Don’t say it’s going to hurt!  It’s going to be fine!  If you think it’s gonna hurt, then it’s gonna hurt!”  And then I’m all like, “but it hurts!  I can’t lie!”

Ok.  I’m going to end this post here with some photos of the rental.  And then I’ll be back for updates on Lily and Lu.


Our old bedroom

Our old bedroom

The girls' old bedroom

The girls’ old bedroom

I do have new pictures of this space sans all of our stuff.  In the new photos you would see the big ass new house they built in the lot next store.  Seriously huge.  It's a side-by-side duplex three stories high that sold for half a million for each unit.

I do have new pictures of this space sans all of our stuff. In the new photos you would see the big ass new house they built in the lot next store. Seriously huge. It’s a side-by-side duplex three stories high that sold for half a million for each unit.

I'm sad to say our previous renters didn't appreciate pink nearly as much as I do and the "pink room" is now grey...

I’m sad to say our previous renters didn’t appreciate pink nearly as much as I do and the “pink room” is now grey…

img_2874 img_2877

There's the cypress mantle Sarah brought us from NOLA

There’s the cypress mantle Sarah brought us from NOLA




More kitchen love

More kitchen love

Joshua designed and bought everything from Ikea and then installed it with the help of his dad.

Joshua designed and bought everything from Ikea and then installed it with the help of his dad.

I miss that farmhouse sink!

I miss that farmhouse sink!

Gorgeous kitchen and huge island.

Gorgeous kitchen and huge island.

Upstairs bathroom

Upstairs bathroom

Front living room (back when we were living there!)

Front living room (back when we were living there!)

Back bedroom on first floor.

Back bedroom on first floor.

Stairs to the basement (now with a railing ;)

Stairs to the basement (now with a railing😉

New bathroom in basement with shower installation by Grumpy

New bathroom in basement with shower installation by Grumpy

Large family space in basement.

Large family space in basement.

Large bedroom in basement with egress window and structural supports.  All by Joshua (with help from his dad).

Large bedroom in basement with egress window and structural supports. All by Joshua (with help from his dad).

Back deck/back yard.

Back deck/back yard.

Huge back deck.  Perhaps too huge?

Huge back deck. Perhaps too huge?

And that’s a wrap.  Maybe someday Joshua will put up a post about everything he did, but I doubt it.  I think he’s too bruised from the whole experience.  He really did an amazing job.  I can’t believe everything that went into structurally reinforcing the space, electricity, framing, plumbing, drywall, floors, the deck…  And I’m sure a bunch of things I don’t remember or never really understood in the first place.  I never cease to be amazed by his DIY skillz.

And finally, a huge thanks to those of you who helped us:  Papa Tim, thank you so much for the kitchen and the help with all the windows.  I know that Joshua appreciated getting to spend quality time with you and that your expert help was a huge life-saver.  Grumpy Dave, thank you so much for helping with the back part of the house and the bathroom downstairs.  Both the company and your reliable skills are so appreciated.  Mark, Joshua’s former co-worker, put in quite a few hours tuck-pointing and doing other odds jobs, and David spent hours in the sun digging out the egress window.  Our friends, Weston, Mark, Will, and Melanie came over for a long work day and helped clean and finish the deck, and my mom spent hours cleaning the house from top to bottom.  Dan, my mom’s boyfriend, nearly broke his back working on the deck and clearing out mountains of debris from the back yard.  Thank you, thank you so much.  We couldn’t have done it all without you, and having company made it all a bit more bearable.  Compensation in the form of plane tickets, low hourly wages and pizza doesn’t seem nearly enough.  We love and appreciate you guys.

***And now, at the end of this post, I’m realizing what a weird combination of themes we have here…  Pregnancy and renovation.  Although, as my friend Chelsea said, it wouldn’t be an Andert pregnancy if there weren’t renovation involved😉

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25 weeks with baby number 3

Steamboat Springs was dreamy. Two full days of spending time with the four of us, all the gorgeous colors of fall, and even a few hours in the hot springs… We barely took any photos but stopped to snap these on the side of the road on our way out.

In some ways, this pregnancy feels like a blur, but in others, it’s in slow motion. Every day I try to lay with my hand on my belly just to feel her move, to memorize the feeling, and to start to get to know this little girl without a name. It’s a little bittersweet. Those moments are a brush with another world and something sacred. Others are spent agonizing over the sharp ache at mid-spine or feeling thankful that first trimesters are a thing of the past.


Grey morning

Lily’s photography🙂

23 weeks

Sweet sisters. The one on the left is potty trained and accident free for over a week! So impressed with her. I really can’t take any credit! 

I’ve been a bit blue this morning. Missing Joshua and feeling a bit sick and getting frustrated picking up messes and finding the patience for the whining and arguments between the two girls. It’s funny, but I have such a “girl” response to feeling blue. I look in the mirror and project all my feelings of dismay and frustration onto my appearance. This selfie was from the other morning when I was feeling the same way and tried to solve matters by doing my makeup…. I’m a weirdo, I know.

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Friday Inspo

She asked me to take this photo❤

20 wk belly

Love this photo

First day of school and such long limbs!

She’s serenading me while I’m on the toilet…

Sickly girls watching boob tube. They’re feeling a bit better here 30 minutes after Tylenol! Ha! And then it wears off, and Lily says, “mama, I thought I was better, but I’m not.”

Sickly girl nap.

Walked to a bagel breakfast this morn with Val and Twins in our pjs… Good morning!

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All about baby no 3

As you may have gathered from my last post, we’re having our third baby!  For those of you that have the RSS feed and instantly receive the blog via e-mail, it may interest you to go back and look at the captions.  I uploaded the photos through an app on my phone and then I went in and edited on the computer to add captions…  Without them you may have been wondering why I was cupping my belly!

We’re not great surprise keepers over here, so although I did not post to the blog or other social media until 20 weeks (halfway! For those of you who are less week-by-week conversant;)), most of our family and close friends knew well before.  I know that sometimes the details of baby number three aren’t met with the same enthusiasm as the blow-by-blows of baby number one, but I’m also conscious of this blog as the only baby book or family journal through which I’ve faithfully recorded milestones and family news.  And, of course, we’re just as excited over this pregnancy and the addition of a new family member as we have been each time, so with that in mind, I’ll just continue the updates!

Getting Pregnant (Too much information ;))

The gap between Lily and Lu is two years and three months, and when that window came and went with no sign of a period, we decided it might be time to wean.  I had gradually been decreasing the number of feeds with Lu, starting with night weaning in November and then dropping down to twice daily in December, but it really did take fully weaning to regain my period.  I wasn’t quite ready to wean, and it made me quite sad to do it, but I also felt like my time as a stay at home mom is limited and I’d like to get at least a year in with baby number three🙂  Lu ended up nursing 19 months, and we loved our time together (and we both still miss it!  Lu asks occasionally, the sweet girl.  Especially when she sees her little baby friends nursing).  It’s funny how different that experience was with Lily and Lu.  I nursed Lily for 21 months, regaining my period at 14 and then nursing through the whole first trimester.  I didn’t really feel ready to wean her either, but I was receiving quite a lot of advice about when I should wean before the next baby…  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll never really feel ready?  After those first two brutal months, nursing has emerged as one of the most wonderful things about this stage of parenting.  I do love it.

Finding out

Anyway.  Just like the other two girls, it didn’t take long to conceive.  I took a negative pregnancy test in March, and then I took another negative pregnancy test on April 21st, but then on April 23rd when I was cleaning the bathroom, I noticed the faintest of pink lines on the cheapie Wondfo pregnancy tests I had been using…  What?!  I immediately took another one and after five minutes, another faint line popped up.  Well, I wasn’t used to these cheapies with their faint lines and long wait times, so I piled the girls in the car and ran to Target to get a real test, which I then peeled open and took in the bathroom of Target.  And it was immediately positive.

The girls and I eagerly waited for Joshua to get home from his run, and when he did, I could barely contain my excitement showing him the tests.  Funnily enough, we both had the immediate intuition that this little one would be a boy.  I felt like I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day, just beaming and so happy.


Initially, I wanted to do things a little bit differently with this pregnancy.  For a while now, we’ve been fairly certain (Joshua is very certain; I’m fairly) that our third baby will also be our last baby.  Seeing as this was our last chance, I wanted to try a couple of things that I we hadn’t before.  I wanted to try keeping it a surprise until 13 weeks, and from the beginning, I also said I wanted to try keeping the gender a surprise until the very end.

Well.  As I said, I’m not much of a surprise keeper.  Five days after we found out, I turned thirty, and I was just bursting with my good news and feeling like it would be a fun birthday present to tell some of my family.  So I did😉  And then by six or seven weeks, I was already dying to know what the gender would be, thinking of names and bins of hand-me-downs in the attic.  So when the 20 week ultrasound rolled around, I was already a hundred percent certain that I wanted to know.  Joshua just rolled his eyes at me from the get-go, knowing me well enough that I would a) want to tell everyone and b) want to know the gender.

How everything’s been so far…

Lordy.  Though I’m just as excited to be pregnant this time around, some of the novelty – and therefore the patience – has worn off.  I’m no longer quite as zen when it comes to accepting the debilitating exhaustion and nausea that accompanies the first 13 weeks.  While this pregnancy was practically identical in terms of how I felt the first 13 weeks, there were a few differences.  The first difference was that I didn’t have to wake up at 530 am each morning and then stand in front of students, no matter how awful I was feeling.  If anything, that made things a bit easier.  But I was still absolutely worn out by midday and then again at night.  I napped almost every day with the girls (bless them for napping at the same time!), and I was asleep by 9 each night.  Like before, I was very picky when it came to food, and I felt nauseous a lot of the time.  I’m forgetting if I had any early cravings, but at the moment, I’m loving toasts with cream cheese, tomatoes, and onions, and everything veggie on the grill.  I’ve also really been wanting pho and Ethiopian.  For some reason, whenever I’m feeling nauseous it’s fruit, carbs, and sweet that goes down the easiest.  And I’ve almost completely gone off coffee.  I didn’t touch it while we were trying to conceive or during the first trimester, and I’ve had it a few times since then, but I rarely finish a cup.  I’m back to my weakling status when it comes to caffeine, and it almost always gives me a headache.  I have, however, been loving iced tea and fizzy water.

Another difference is headaches.  I’ve been getting a lot of them in the second trimester.  I’m not usually someone who gets many headaches, and while I wouldn’t say these are migraines, they contribute to me feeling tired and drained by midday.  I also think that’s why I’ve been a bit disappointed with the second trimester.  Where’s my glow?!  I’m not feeling nearly as easy-breezy as I did with the first two.

The last really unglamorous difference is chin zits.  Ew.  I’m clear at the moment, but those suckers keep popping up!  I’ve had such clear skin throughout the other pregnancies and nursing that this was a very unwelcome symptom.

My varicose veins and my swollen purple left leg is coming back.  I can’t remember when it was really full force last pregnancy, but I wouldn’t say it’s full force yet.

I feel like I started showing at around 10 weeks but it stayed about the same until 16 or 17 weeks when I started getting bigger.  Now at twenty weeks, I can still wear normal clothes (with a few exceptions) and I’m not noticeably pregnant unless I’m wearing lycra.  Haha! In which case, I definitely look pregnant🙂

I started feeling the baby move a little bit at 16 weeks.  I remember thinking that I felt Lu move at 14?!  But that can’t be right…  But maybe it is?  In our anatomy scan on Friday, we saw that I have an anterior placenta (belly side), which I’ve never had before, and sometimes that means you feel the baby move less.

The Midwives

I’ve switched my midwives this time around.  While we went to the same midwives for Lily and Lu, I loved the setting of Bierstadt’s birth at the unattached birthing center, and I’ve always wanted to try to have a water birth (which is not available with the midwives I went to before).  It’s a bit of a trek, but that’s less of a concern for me because even if this labor is half as long as my last labor, I’ll still have 8 hours🙂

The Ultrasound

I had an early ultrasound to get a due date, and per usual, I working with a five week cycle so it was later than I had expected.  January 2!

The 20 week anatomy scan was on Friday.  I love seeing the little baby up on the screen.  It occurred to me that it was a bit abstract for the girls and they might think that their newest sibling is a skeleton, but there’s just something so special about seeing the baby move and all of it’s little parts.  The tech estimated that baby was 11 oz and said that all of her organs and proportions looked wonderful.  She was already head down (like Lily and Lu were at their 20 wk scans).

We asked the tech to keep the gender a secret from us and then write it down at the end on a folded piece of paper.  She obliged, and then we gave the paper to Melanie the next day.  Neither of us looked!  We swear!

The Gender Reveal

We bought a pinata and some food for the grill, Melanie stuffed the pinata with colored confetti and treats (pink for a girl), and we had some friends and family over.  We all dressed in either pink or blue, according to our predictions.

Joshua had long since changed his mind and determined that we were having another little girl.  The two sisters have been adamant about adding to their single sex crew, and I had held onto my early intuition that we were having a little boy (although I not-so secretly wanted another girl :)).

After food, we hung the pinata.  Stacy’s family contributed to a line up of children, and all six kids took turns walloping the pinata.  I was so nervous that someone was going to get hurt, that I sort of lost track of the purpose.  When L (the oldest at 8) finally smashed open the pinata, it took me a few seconds to register the pink confetti.

When I did, I just started grinning.  I am the luckiest woman in the world to be raising girls, and I always think of that quote:  Here’s to strong women.  May we know them.  May we be them.  May we raise them.  I know there are great men in the world – my husband is one of them – but I’ve always most admired the relationships that women form, and I’m so happy to be surrounded by a pack of women!  Plus, girl names are awesome😉

So we’re having another little girl!  Three sisters!  (I’m wondering who’s the squash, the corn, and the beans ;))

We’ve not settled on a name yet, but you know me, I’m not much of a surprise keeper, so it’s likely you might hear it before the birth.