Saturday, December 31, 2011

Winter Fruit

A couple of days ago Eric and I went grocery shopping together. While he was finding pepperoni for a cavatini recipe, I was in the produce section.

I walked over to the small berry section. Of course there were $4.00 per ounce blueberries and $7.00 per pound strawberries.

And then I saw cherries.

For $3.99 a pound.

I love cherries. Fresh cherries. I don't like cherry anything else. No cherry candies or pie or cheesecake or medicine. But fresh cherries I could eat until I'm sick.

This summer cherries were $6 or $7 a pound.

Winter cherries?

I'll take it.

I ate about half of them when we got home and I'm eating the rest right now as part of my breakfast (along with hot chocolate and orange juice and a Nutrigrain bar knock-off).

Why were the cherries such a good price? Is it because I'm living in the south?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

How to Celebrate

Some celebrate with champagne. Others with cigars.

My celebratory Brie cheese is ready and waiting for me.

I'm due today.

And I'm blogging from home right now.

I'm also going to celebrate by sleeping on my back. I miss that so much.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I held off until...

...39 weeks and 2 days.

I wore sweat pants in public.

We went out for lunch to a Chinese buffet and I figured I wouldn't see anyone I knew.

Being that it was Christmas eve day, we barely saw anyone.

And thankfully no one I knew.

Because, does anyone actually look good in sweat pants?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Baby Sjaarda Update

No baby yet.

We're still at home.

Well, actually, I did a bit of shopping this afternoon. But I'm back home now.

I'm 39 weeks and 4 days.

Friday, December 23, 2011

December 22, 2001

 If you follow me on Facebook, you would have seen my comment there. Many of you replied. Thanks for that. You're an encouraging group. Yesterday was a big day for the Stel family.

Here's what I said:

How do you even write a status line about the anniversary of the saddest day of your life? I don't know, but my family and I appreciate your prayers today.

On December 22, 2001, my mom and dad and two sisters were driving home from Calgary. They had picked up my older sister from the airport to spend Christmas with us in Rocky. The drive from Calgary to Rocky is about two and a half hours.

About 10 miles from our house, a guy was leaving a Christmas party. He was 'under the influence' and didn't stop as he approached the highway. He t-boned our family's car from the driver's side. Emergency vehicles raced to the site and my mom was the first person taken to the hospital.

Her aorta has burst from the impact. She died at the hospital.

Where was I? I had just gotten home from my first semester at Dordt College about 24 hours earlier. Not liking to spend time on winter roads, I opted to stay home and visit friends while my sister was picked up from the airport.

My parents called from Red Deer, a city about 50 minutes from our home. They were running a bit late and would I please start supper? We had plans that night to go caroling with our church and then everyone would come to our house for snacks and hot chocolate.

The hour passed and they weren't home. I didn't worry yet as my family can get distracted and run late sometimes.

But then another 15 minutes passed, and another. I found myself sitting at the kitchen table, watching out the window for our car to drive up. Nothing.

Then I heard my first siren. And another. Over the next several minutes I saw one firetruck, two ambulances and three police cars race out of town, lights on, sirens blaring, in the direction of where my family should be coming from.

I got my Bible out and tried to read some Psalms.

I listened for our dog, Samba, to bark. I knew that if someone came onto our property that wasn't family, he would bark. I hoped, hoped, hoped I wouldn't hear him bark.

He barked.

The doorbell rang.

A man from my church, a known volunteer firefighter was at the door with his son. He told me to sit down. I sat on the step and he said that my family had been in an accident and that my sisters were okay. He then said I needed to come to the hospital.

When I got to the hospital with them, there was already a small crowd of church people. The news had spread and the carolers had arrived. My best friend was at a family Christmas party and she arrived soon thereafter with her parents.

My four family members were all in different rooms. I visited my younger sister first. She had several injuries (some of which still affect her today---but you would never know, to look at her). She was the one who told me that mom had died.

I can say that the feeling that came over me was more of a physical feeling than anything else. Your stomach hurts and feels empty. You're hot and cold. Your mind races.

I went into my older sister's room next. She told me that she had already asked the nurses if they were Christians and she knew that one of them wasn't. I was the one that told her that Mom had died. She said she knew it was bad, but hadn't thought that had happened. She thought that maybe Mom would have been paralyzed.

I then went to my dad's room. He was still pretty bloody. He had been hit pretty hard. I saw blood in his ears. He knew that mom had died. He repeated himself a couple of times. It was a hard conversation to have. My dad is supposed to be our family rock. He's supposed to be the strong one. And here he is, not really making sense. I got out of there after only a couple minutes.

I walked by my mom's room, but didn't go in. I couldn't handle it. I looked in, but then walked away.

I'm the fourth of five kids. I'm almost the youngest. I have very little seniority in decision making. I often am not the first to experience things (first job, graduating, missions trips, etc). This night changed that.

My dad was hurt really badly. My mom had died. My oldest sister was hurt and in a hospital room. My oldest brother was living in Chicago with his wife. My next oldest brother was at a gas station coffee shop in town, with his friend.

My dad needed to be transported to a larger hospital and the medical staff asked me which hospital he should go to.

I probably answered in about a second, but I remember thinking through the question and also the weirdness and uncomfortableness of being the one who had to make this decision.

He spent about 10 days in the hospital. My sisters spent about a day.

We waited until my dad was out of the hospital to have the funeral. We had it over two days as the burial site we chose was a couple of hours away.

If you knew my mom or if you were there that night, what do you remember?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Egg Bake Experiment aka Supper

I decided to make an egg bake for supper.

I didn't have a particular recipe in mind so I went to and put this call out on my Facebook page:
I'm just looking for a recipe that calls for eggs, cheese and hash browns (I have shredded potatoes hash browns). Anyone? Just a normal breakfast bake/casserole. Thanks.

What I made today is pretty much a mix of all the info and advice I received.

Here are the ingredients. The spices are basil, parsley and onion.
8 Eggs
Salt and pepper the eggs

 I don't like pepper and can't even taste it. Jim Gaffigan agrees as he says: "Would you like me to wave this magical wand over your food?"

It does make me sneeze though.

I add pepper because recipes always call for both salt and pepper.

Add the spices to the egg mixture.

Pour in some milk.

It's so pretty!

Meanwhile, saute some vegetables. We love mushrooms in our house.

These peppers were earmarked for DH's lunch for tomorrow. Sorry, hon. And then I forgot to chop them into smaller pieces. Whoops.

First layer. The whole bag of shredded potatoes was waaaay too much, so I put about half back into the bag.

Even after putting half of the potatoes back, I didn't think the egg mixture would be enough for the casserole.

So I added a can of cream of mushroom soup. That can only help things, right?

I added the ham. Probably about 2 cups. Thanks to my cousin Danielle for introducing me to pre-cut, pre-cooked ham, perfect for salads and casseroles.

Here's where it really starts to come together. Pour in the egg mixture.

Add the cheese. The original recipe called for 6 cups of cheese. Sounds like a heart attack. Here is about 3 cups.

Add the sauteed vegetables.

I decided to stir it all together. And then added just a bit more cheese on top. Yum!

Again with the experiment. I put it in the oven around 5:30pm at 350 and around 7pm it looked done. 
Here is the final product. It was fantastic! *enter some Rachel Ray "Mmm-mmm!" sounds. DH had seconds. I finished off with some Mint Chip ice cream. I am pregnant, after all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Christmas Tree

Last year we didn't have a Christmas tree in Vietnam, so this year, when we were packing to move to St. Louis, I made sure we packed our Christmas decorations.

We have a 7-foot tree, more mini-lights than anyone would need, 6 dozen candy canes (they get better with age!), and six ornaments.

Eric strung a few of our lights up  onto the tree (we have about a dozen more strings of lights back in the box).
Then we both put up the candy canes.
Then I ate a candy cane.
Then I very carefully organized our 6 ornaments onto the tree.

It looked good. We liked it. The white lights and the red and white candy canes was a nice look.

And then we started receiving Christmas cards and  pictures in the the mail. Our fridge only has so much space on it what with some coupons, some concert tickets, sonogram pictures and a calendar.

So, I thought I'd hang the pictures and cards on the tree.

How do you get creative with your tree?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Prego Lady Update

Today I'm 38 weeks and 4 days.
And I feel it. This 9th month is giving me a run for my money.
The baby's leg is usually up in my ribcage, which is a stinging pain.
I'm having back pain.
I'm even feeling queasy sometimes.
Heartburn rears its ugly head whenever it feels like it.

I now know why God has us pregnant for nine months. At this point pregnant ladies are ready to get the baby out, even though we know it'll hurt.

I'm looking forward to having a restful stomach (Kiki Bebe, anyone?), to not have to pee at least once an hour and to be able to sleep on my back.

And I miss Brie, cookie dough, salami and sushi.

I miss breathing while putting my socks on, or shoes on, or switching laundry.

This baby is welcome anytime.

The doctor says the same thing, except that at my 38 weeks appointment two days ago I hadn't dilated or effaced anymore than my 37 week appointment. Come on, body! Let's do this! Let's stop the Braxton Hicks and start real labour!

PS - You're all welcome to visit us in the hospital. You can call or skype us, too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Future

I saw my future today, and it looked an awful lot like the present.

I don't even have a kid yet and I have a children's song stuck in my head.

Have you ever seen a lassie, a lassie, a lassie
Have you ever seen a lassie go this way and that?
Go this way and that way?
Go this way and that way?
Have you ever seen a lassie go this way and that?

I'm not playing a children's CD or kids pandora station. I haven't even bought/received/own any children's music.

I imagine this increases 10-fold when there is children's music in the house.


I had two Christmas 'activities' planned for today. I skipped this morning's because of a lack of sleep from last night. Baby Sjaarda's gets stuck under my ribcage and it really hurts. I probably fell asleep around 12:30. Then got up at 1am and 2am to pee and 6am for the day.

7am found me at the fire station getting the carseat checked for safety. We're good to go!

7:30 found me at the grocery store, without my list, still planning to go to Christmas activity number one. As I sat in the car trying to remember what I needed, I saw several moms with their kids racing into the store, no doubt getting a Christmas party food item for school. I saw in my future.

Scratch that.

I saw my present and future. A modified shopping list, but still knowing full-well that the store is open early enough to wait until the very last minute.

Friday morning checklist

Carseat installation checked with local fire department: check.
Groceries bought and back home: check.

It's now about 8:15am.

This is what happens with Christmas and a child's due date come at the same time in the year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Karissa's Selling Techniques

An elderly man came in to buy a large print Life Application Bible. He liked the leather bound one, but wasn't so sure when he saw the price ($74.99).

I told him that it's really good quality and will last a lifetime.


I love my job. 

(He bought the Bible)

Monday, December 12, 2011


Why do I eat things that I know will give me heartburn?

Simple really. Because I need to eat.

They say to not eat before bed to avoid heartburn while you're trying to fall asleep. (That horizontal position is no match for relaxed esophagus muscles--or whatever is going on. So yesterday, I stopped eating at 8pm and brushed my teeth at 8:20pm to eliminate the temptation. I was doing a heartburn experiment. Would it really stop the heartburn from coming on?

I didn't eat... until 7:15am.

Good on ya.

Except at about 11pm last night I got really thirsty, like we pregnant ladies do, so I drank some water. Probably around 4oz or so.

And the heartburn kicked in.

Yes, even water gives me heartburn.

Pre-pregnancy I would get heartburn from eating too much of one type of food. Like crackers. Or chocolate. Or water.

In pregnancy, I just get heartburn by eating or drinking.

I've got two or three weeks (or days) of this and then I fully expect (would command if I could) that my hormones go back to pre-pregnancy normal (hear that relaxin and everyone else?) so I can control the heartburn and eat and drink and be merry.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Last Saturday night we went to a new church.

Grace Church.

We like our church but were looking for something with another type of worship style. We're not looking to change churches, just for something 'in addition to'. I had heard people mention Grace church at work, so I asked around a bit and learned it's less than 10 minutes from our apartment.

Googling the church found that it believes the same things we do (except maybe in baptism) and that they have solid teaching, good music and lots of Bible studies and programs we could participate in if we wanted to. (Still looking for volleyball, though--they have singles volleyball and while we both camped out there for a while, we're not there anymore).

So last Saturday we gathered up ourselves and drove through Missouri's December rain to Grace Church.

Karissa: Do you think that's it? (I pointed to the huge building that was fronted by three huge, lit up crosses.

Eric dropped me off at a main door and parked the car.

We had just a few minutes to look around the atrium before heading into the auditorium. It seats about 3100.

The worship was great. The teaching was solid. The pews were comfortable.

We went to the Welcome Area afterwards and after learning more about the church, headed to Grace Cafe for a free soda. Yay for being first time visitors!

At the Welcome Area, we were given some materials to learn more about Grace Church. One was a booklet with pages and pages of groups, Bible studies and service opportunities. I found one particular group, Koinonia, which is described as a Bible study for moms of young children, primarily, but anyone is welcome.

This was in the 'ongoing groups' section.

So, since they weren't just meeting for a set amount of time, I figured I could probably just join the group.

So Friday morning, about 75 minutes before the Bible study started, I e-mailed the contact person to ask if they were meeting that day and if I could come.

Four, yes, four minutes later, she e-mailed me back with open arms and her cell phone number so I could call her once at the church so she could help me locate the room. A church with an atrium and a 3100 seating auditorium is a large building. She saw me in the atrium at the same time that I saw her. It was also the moment her cell phone started ringing as I was calling her. She figured it was me since I had described myself as 9-months pregnant.

Bible study started at 9:30. Doctor's appointment was at 10:40.

Koinonia Bible study schedule:

9:30-10am - Chat, eat yummy snacks
10-10:30 - Share prayer requests and pray.
10:30-11:30 - Bible study.

I had to leave before the praying part.

But the first almost hour was good. I'll try it again next week.

Next week is their Christmas party. It's ONLY food. Yeah, I'll go back.

The ladies were welcoming and fun. 

I said yesterday that I was late for my doctor's appointment. We've timed the drive from our house to Mercy Medical Center, our hospital. It's just over 10 minutes. That's good to know. But I was late for my doctor's appointment because...

I didn't really know how far Grace was from Mercy. 

*ba dum*

Friday, December 9, 2011

37 weeks and...

...all is well.

I'm at weekly appointments now. Reminds me of my weekly chiropractor appointments. I really don't know how women who work full-time would be able to do this.

I got to the doctor's office a few minutes late (tomorrow's post will tell you what I was up to before my appt) and used the wonder of smart phone technology to spend my time as I waited for my name to be called. I read some e-mails, read some status updates,  and texted Eric that I'm waiting in the waiting room since I was a few minutes late.


I got up and got weighed. The doctor's office scale gives me about 6 extra pounds compared to the scale at our house. Meh. I'm in my third doctor's office, and therefore third doctor's office scale, so no one really knows how much weight I've gained with this pregnancy. I would say I'm at about 22 pounds.

Last week I was about 50% effaced and not dilated. This week the effacement hasn't changed and I'm just under a centimetre dilated. According to my doctor, all my Braxton Hicks are helping/starting/causing the dilation. I'm not a medical person. If you are, you can tell me how the BH relates to dilation.

I told the doctor that the baby kicks a lot and kicks down sometimes (the down kicks are uncomfortable-wow). He was pretty sure the baby was head down, but said "Let's do an ultrasound just to make sure."

I said: "Okay!"

A ten-second ultrasound confirmed that baby is indeed head down and the doctor said that what I'm feeling might be elbows.

So, we're 37 weeks and all is well.

And I saw the baby (including head and heart, which I could pick out) :) on the ultrasound! That was pretty awesome.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Working in Sales

I work in sales.
Well, I'm supposed to.

I approached a middle aged man, who looked like he had put on about 50 pounds since high school, in the music section of our store.
Karissa: Can I help you find something?
Man: Well... I have a question. I used to sing in church, but I haven't in 10 years. How do people do that these days?
Karissa: Sure. We have these CD accompaniment tracks that you can look through. They're alphabetized by song title. Otherwise you can just look up a song on this computer and we can burn the song onto a CD for you.
Man: Oh! So, it's basically the same as before, just before we used tapes.
Karissa: Right.


Man: Also, I haven't gone to church in ten years and well, my daughters haven't really either. And people have told my daughters things to believe and I want to tell them what I believe. Do you have something where I could write Bible verses and then give it to my daughters to tell them what I believe?
Karissa: Hmm. Do you mean like a journal?
Man: Not really. Just like regular paper where I could print off Bible verses.
Karissa: Hmm. So you don't want to write out the verses? You want to type them out?
Man: Yeah, but I don't want to type them out. Could I copy them from a CD or something?
Karissa: Aah! Well, if you are online, you can go to a website that has the Bible on it. It will have whatever version you're looking for. You can look up by verses if you know where it is or you can look up by a key word. For example, you could search for verses with the word forgiveness in them.
Man: Really?
Karissa: Yes! Do you have a piece of paper--just a sec, I'll get one and write it down for you.

I introduced a no-longer-church-going man to

I then showed him the audio Bibles (and he told me about James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader and the New Testament). I also explained to him that while the KJV of the Bible is OLDER than newer versions such as the NIV, the NIV is actually translated from OLDER manuscripts that were found later. I truly believe I saw relief in his eyes as he felt he could now trust an easier to read version of the Bible to be true.


He told me several times that I was very helpful and thanked me several times. He left a very happy man and plans to return.

I do work in sales.
But, I don't always make a sale.
And that's okay.

 Our store mission is: "As God works through us, we will help individuals and churches by providing biblical solutions for life."

I did that today. I gave him some resources and information that will help him and probably his daughers as well.

The store I work at is interestingly a not-for-profit based on a business model. 

It's an interesting mix-being both a business but also a not-for-profit. We "plus" sell items (like the Courageous DVD or Christmas tote bags).

After expenses, our profits fund three different charities.We also enable our customers to donate locally by offering items that they can purchase and we'll later give to charities that are down the street from us:

Christmas tote bags to a food pantry,
Stuffed animals to a children's home,
Bibles to a pregnancy care center

Stories of our colleagues praying with customers in their stores are passed through e-mail. We have a prayer box and regularly pray for those requests during our morning devotions. 

Perhaps I don't work in sales, so much as solutions.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pregnant Lady!

I'm just sitting here, reading e-mails, and watching my stomach move.
Oh baby Sjaarda, we can't wait to meet you.

Seeing the five o'clock hour... in the AM

I keep waking up 15 minutes before the alarm goes off.
It wouldn't be such a big deal, but the alarm has been going off earlier and earlier. 6:15am, 6:00am, 5:45am.
It's not even a problem though. Eric has the really early mornings at work. I don't work until 8am at the earliest.
After a song or two on the radio (alarm clock number one), our second alarm goes off (beeping alarm clock) Eric gets up and says: "You can shut the alarm off "(on these really early mornings)
If I don't have to work, I sleep for a bit. Or I get up and take a nap four hours later.

Now I understand morning naps. If you're up by 6am it makes sense to be tired by 10:30am. Especially if you have a growing, kicking, hiccuping baby inside.

Kudus and non-understanding to full-time working pregnant ladies. 

It is a new experience for me to see 5 anything on my alarm clock. Even seeing 6 something on the alarm clock has never been a regular occurrence. Although with growing baby I see all kinds of unfamiliar numbers on the alarm clock throughout the night.

I bought an article of clothing for baby Sjaarda yesterday afternoon. It's not gender neutral.

I do not know the gender of the baby.

I'll say it's getting harder and harder to not know the gender of this little kicker. I am so excited to meet him/her and get him/her some non-gender neutral clothes that I know will be correct.

This is the first item of clothing I've bought besides our Vietnam flag t-shirt and famous 'Made in Vietnam'

This logo, but on a onesie.

I was browsing a couple second hand stores (United Volunteers and Unique Thrift Shop in St. Ann) and one had two small bins of clothes, each item of clothing for only 50 cents. The item really stuck out to me and the brand name is one that people have been recommending to me as a good brand to look for at garage sales.


If it doesn't work for Baby Sjaarda I know some people who are having this gender kiddo.