About Marla

I am a young wife and mother to two busy boys. One handsome, digital marketing guru and one messy, little one! I love getting outdoors, trying new foods, and making friends. Right now, I'm navigating young motherhood while trying to balance new things and find inner peace.

Miss Gemma: A Birth Story

Well, our little miss Gemma is now about 2.5 weeks old and life is more tired, magical, and meaningful than I could have ever anticipated. Our little girl coming into our family is such a wonderful blessing.

It was Thursday, Dec. 3rd around 7 pm at Walmart, when I started to think Gemma might be coming soon. Her due date was Dec. 12th and so when I started feeling a contraction in my back, I got excited, but not too excited. I didn’t think I would actually have her early, but the back contractions felt different.

I told Sam that these contractions were different and that things might be progressing. He had me time them. The contractions kept up for about 30 minutes, but were completely irregular, even though they were stronger than any contraction I had experienced this pregnancy. It wasn’t the real deal.

We got home, put Parker to bed, and had just got settled into bed ourselves, when my first definite contraction hit. It was 11:20pm. It was really strong and I remember feeling and thinking… wow. If this isn’t real, then, that was the biggest Braxton Hicks contraction of my life. In my gut, I knew it was real. But knowing that I had false contractions at Walmart, made me hesitant to say this was the real deal.

5 minutes later. Boom. another strong one, lasting about 1 minute. Then the next contraction happened about 3 minutes after, then 2 minutes. By this point, I was trying to orient myself and start to get ready to go to the hospital. We had already texted Sam’s parents to get them to come stay with Parker.

The next half hour was comical and painful all rolled into one. I was pacing back and forth, trying to get ready for the hospital, while Sam was calling family to get things arranged. He ended up getting me ready too, because I couldn’t think straight at ALL. Good thing I had already packed my hospital bag. My contractions were getting steadily stronger though and coming every 2 minutes. We ended up having a friend in our neighborhood run over to stay with Parker, because we couldn’t wait for family any longer. I felt a big urgency to get to the hospital.

We got to the hospital around 12:05 on Dec. 4th. They got me checked into a room and started asking me this long list of questions about my medical history, the medications I take, etc… all while I’m having contractions every 2 minutes. Finally I stopped the nurse and was like, “I’m having strong contractions every 2 minutes or so, can we speed things up?”

Then she checked me. She checked me, extremely fast {I often feel like she checked me too quickly}, while I was having a contraction. Then said “you’re a 4.”

That was the most disappointing news and so critical in what happened during labor.

Before going into labor, I had decided I wanted to try going naturally. With Parker I had gotten to the hospital at a 5, and so hearing that I was a 4, while having very strong contractions was super discouraging. I was already tired and I just didn’t know if I had it in me to go naturally.

15 ish minutes later, Enter my Midwife. I told her I was having really strong contractions, but that I was really discouraged. I asked her to check me again. She said, “they just checked you. I don’t think you’ve changed much in the last 10 minutes.” Logically, I agreed with her. How could I have changed so much? In my gut, I felt differently though.

When she said she wasn’t going to check me, I decided I would get an epidural. The pain was just so much, and I had been told I was at a 4. I thought I would die, if I went all the way.

So they officially admitted me, got me in a labor & delivery room, hooked me up to everything, and ordered the epidural. Throughout all of this, I’m having painful contractions, but I’m trying to shrug it off. I’m only a 4! I can pull myself together and do this, Marla! Then they start to give me the epidural. I distinctly remember them starting to put the needle in as I started having a contraction. I told them, “I’m having a contraction!” They said, “Try to sit still!” And so I tried. But at that point, I was shaking and trying my absolute hardest to stay still. It was one of the hardest things I have done by myself to sit so still and be in so much pain.

I laid down after the epidural and started to feel it work, but at the same time, I still felt the contractions. After trying to turn me to make the epidural spread, and still feeling the contractions, my doctor said she would check me.

She checked me and then got a surprised, but business-like look on her face. She told the nurse “I feel a bulgy bag and a lip.” Then she looked at me and said “We’re gonna have a birthday party!” I was so tired at this point, that this completely confused me. I said “What?” Then she repeated what she had just said. I still didn’t understand, so I said “What am I dilated to?”

You’re a 9 1/2. 

A 9 1/2??? I had just had my epidural minutes ago. I had just convinced myself that I was at a 4, and that I had a couple hours to sleep while I slowly dilated.

Not so. She immediately called everyone in and got the room ready.

13 minutes later. Gemma was in my arms.

Gemma Jean Gale

1:58am. 8 lbs 2oz. 19.5 in long. 
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What a whirlwind. I remember that was the phrase of the night between Sam and I. It had been about 2 1/2 hours since my first contraction and now we were holding our new baby girl. I could hardly wrap my mind around it. With Parker I had hours of time to think about him coming and preparing myself that he would be there. With her, we were given quite the surprise.

I remember the relief I felt wash over me when my midwife told me I was at a 9 1/2. Everything all of a sudden made sense. The intense pain I had been feeling was actually intense pain! I wasn’t at a 4, I was practically complete. I didn’t feel so silly, like I had before. I felt like the nurses thought I was silly. There I was breathing heavily, shaking, and having such a hard time, when everyone thought I was at a 4. To hear that I was going through transition while they were trying to give me an epidural and sit still, made me feel so much better. I was hurting like crazy… and for good reason! It all made so much more sense and I felt stronger, knowing I had done more than I realized.

During the whole process, I was so grateful for Sam. While I felt like everyone else thought I was a wimp, I could see in Sam’s eyes, that he new I was more progressed than I was. He told me early on that he thought if I was progressing quickly that the contractions could be really intense. He made me feel like I was strong, even when I felt weak. He was there for me the entire time, helping with pressure points. During the labor, I felt more than ever that we were a team. He was helping me get through the pain. We were connected and I felt his support so strong. He was the only one I wanted by my side and I felt stronger whenever he was right next to me.

Now, 2 weeks later, we are still so thrilled. She is growing well and we are adjusting and trying to get some sleep. It is special to be with an infant that is so new and so pure. And it was amazing to experience, again, the moment of welcoming a new child into the world.

We love you, Gemma, and are so grateful you are in our family.

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37 Weeks. She’s getting ready!

Well, this is just a short update for those that are interested. It’s crazy how fast & slow a pregnancy can go. I feel now like the time is flying by. My sister-in-law is getting married tomorrow and it seems like each week there is something to look forward to! Last week we threw her a bridal shower and this week we are getting the food prepared and the decorations set. It is exciting and I feel grateful that I can think about her and less about how uncomfortable I feel 🙂

Today I went to the doctor and things are progressing. At 36 weeks, I was 1.5cm dilated, 50% effaced.

Today, at 37 weeks, I am dilated to a 2, 60-70% effaced, and a -1 station, meaning that she has “dropped.” Funny enough, the other day I looked at my stomach and thought, “she looks lower”… apparently I’m not going crazy. She is lower, and much lower at that. Who knows how fast things will progress though. She could sit this low until her due date.

How far along? about 37 Weeks (36 weeks & 6 days to be exact :))
Baby is: about 6 1/3 lbs and 18 1/2 inches long
Total weight gain/loss? +15 lbs- 20 lbs
Maternity clothes? Um, definitely. Sam’s clothes a lot, too.

Here are most of the pics I’ve taken from this pregnancy… to see the progression. It’s crazy. I remember at 21 weeks feeling like I had a total “bump”. Funny to think about!

PicMonkey Collage

Stretch marks? Yes, a couple around my hip bones and a couple new ones on my stomach. The ones on my hip bones are the deepest colored though.
Sleep? Sleep is difficult. I wake up a lot to re-position. But, that’s life and I guess preparation for when she comes.
Best moment this week? My brother, his wife, and his 3 month old little girl came to stay with us this last week. It was my favorite thing to see Parker react to their girl. He kept saying “She’s so cuteeee! I love her! I want to kiss her! I want to hold her!” It made me happy to see how much he loved her and I imagine he’ll be similar with our little girl.
Miss Anything? Feeling comfortable is something I miss. I get so uncomfortable sitting down for any period of time over like 5 minutes and I’m short of breath a lot.
Movement? Movement is slowing down. I actually got worried and they did a little stress test today at the doctor. She is healthy, just less wiggly than when she had more room.
Food cravings? Not really strong ones.
Anything making you queasy or sick? Not really.
Have you started to show yet? Yes. Yes, definitely.
Gender? IT’S A GIRL!
Labor Signs? Yes. I’ve been getting contractions here and there and felt the same sharp pains around my cervix, just like I did with Parker. But, nothing is consistent, so it’s definitely just helping my body get ready.
Belly Button in or out? Out. Out. Out.
Wedding rings on or off? On. Depending on what I’m eating and how hydrated I am, I’ll sometimes take it off. But, most of the time it is still on.
Happy or Moody most of the time? Hmm, it definitely depends. I’m more moody than I used to be, but I’m happy too.

Well, there ya have it. I feel like my body has started prepping sooner this time than with Parker, but who knows what that means. All I know is that this little girl will probably be here within the next 3 weeks, and I’m happy about that! Parker came on his due date, so I’m just hoping she doesn’t go past hers. 🙂

Pains fade

For the last couple weeks I’ve been very reflective. All the sights, smells, and colors of fall have taken me back to the sights, smells, memories, and colors of last fall and all we were experiencing. This is what I wrote on my blog in my post Moving. It’s a roller coaster.

Today my soul is not soaring through the clouds. Instead, it is somewhere between my knees and the ground. Our little family is currently in the midst of moving. We just recently found out we need to be out of our current house in one month and we have yet to find another place to live.

Then, in November while we were still in the middle of our moving adventure I wrote this from my post When life looks bleak:

Many of you know that mid-September and October were difficult for our family. We were told we needed to move in one month, but we were having a difficult time finding another place to live. Things kept falling through, while my anxiety started to rise through the roof.

Moving was a serious roller coaster. I remember readers commenting about how everything would work out; how there was beauty and happiness in store. But honestly, at the time I wasn’t seeing the glimmer; I wasn’t seeing the break in my stormy skies. All I saw was bleak and grey.

This really was a trying time for me. I think many can relate when I say that not knowing where you are going to live is hard. And when there is kids involved and a short time frame, it seems even more stressful. Uncertainty is not something I’m keen on or great with dealing with, and all of last fall was marked by uncertainties.

But this last month or so, I’ve been awestruck by how life has moved on and how the pain of that time period has faded so dramatically. While in the trenches of last year I hit some of my all time lows emotionally, and now I feel like my life is hitting some of it’s all-time highs. It is a testament to me of how there are truly good things to come in life. No matter how deep in the trenches we feel and how certain we are that there really is no light at the end of the tunnel–just more deep darkness–there most certainly IS. There is undoubtedly hope, happiness, and most likely, some of the best times ahead down the tunnels that appear pitch black.

Last year I felt like my holidays were all over the place. Our life was marked by packing and unpacking, only to pack and unpack again. I was lonely for friends and feeling completely unsure. This year, I’m decorating my house, preparing for our sweet girl who has lived in my heart for years, and enjoying the peace and stability of life.

Fall Collage

This year

I know many may not be in those times of certainty today. Perhaps your road is leading now to a tunnel that seems unbearable, lonely, and pitch black. But, I’m hear to tell ya, that hard times do pass. The pain of yesteryear’s do fade. To my past self, the clouds did break. There really was happiness ahead. I’m living proof to myself that the happiness is here and times do get better.

Fall Foodie Favorites: Oldies and Newsies!

Fall is just starting to pick up speed and I love when our food matches the season. For me, it makes the season that much more fun and interesting.

I thought I would share my all-time favorite fall dinners,  breakfast, breads, and desserts with you, in case you’ve been looking for some fall in your foods. Some are oldies that I found in previous falls, and some are newsies from this year. I hope you enjoy!

Fall Favorites

This newsie is White Chicken Chili Soup. It is delicious. But the simplicity of the recipe is actually why it sold me. So many White Chicken Chili Soups seem to have lots and lots of ingredients, but this one keeps it simple, while still tasting elaborate. That is a win in my book. I did make a few alterations, by mostly adding in a couple vegetables, but doing so did not make it a “vegetable chili” in any way.

Also, I did find that serving this chili over brown rice was really delicious. Not only does it make it more economical, by the spreading the chili further, it also enhanced the flavor. Here is the full recipe, with my alterations, but feel free to follow the link above and see the original. (Sidenote: I half the recipe for our little family, but here is the full recipe).

Delicious-White-Chicken-Chili-Recipe-on-lilluna.com-chili-soup

photo courtesy of Lil’ Luna.

Ingredients:

(Italics and a (*) indicate my alterations to the recipe)

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 (15.5 oz) cans Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-4 chicken breasts (approx. 2 cups shredded chicken)
  • 1 small can diced green chilies
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • *1/2 tsp. chili pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • *1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • *1 bell pepper, diced
  • *1/2-1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2-1 cup sour cream OR 2-4 oz. cream cheese (feel free to use neufchatel)
  • Optional: Shredded cheese to top
  • Optional: serve over brown rice.

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, add broth, beans, chicken, green chilis, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, chili pepper, pepper, diced onion, diced bell pepper, and corn. Simmer on low-medium heat for 20-30 minutes, or until it is heated through. (I turn up the heat to medium high and just bring it to a boil until my chicken is cooked through.)
  2. Take out chicken and shred with a fork, then add back to the pot.
  3. Right before serving, stir in sour cream. Add cheese on top if desired.

Hooray for a relatively fast, healthy, and very delicious soup!

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The next is a favorite oldie that I have on my Gale Family Recipes site–Butternut Squash Chicken Stew. I haven’t made it yet this season, but last season, I loved it! This soup packs a punch of flavor, and I love that the base of the soup is vegetables. Anyway, so much goodness going on in this stew. And isn’t it pretty?

Photo courtesy of Cookin' Canuck.

Photo courtesy of Cookin’ Canuck.

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This oldie–Golden Sweet Cornbread is a hit, always has been. As soon as my husband and I tried it, we were obsessed. I’ve tried multiple recipes that crumble like crazy, feel slightly dry in my mouth, or just lack flavor. This one trumps all. It’s moist, doesn’t crumble, and has a sweet, but not too sweet, flavor. I do make a couple alterations that improve flavor and help the cornbread stay together, so look for those alterations in the link above.

Photo courtesy of Allrecipes.com

Photo courtesy of Allrecipes.com

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Now this newsie, is a great find and I’m so thrilled to have found it. This Zucchini Bread recipe is to die for. Really. Okay, not really, but it is at least good enough to make it multiple times, crave it, and then feel comfortable taking to neighbors.

photo courtesy of Mel's Kitchen Cafe

photo courtesy of Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

I had a lot of zucchini this summer and I tried multiple recipes and this one took the cake, by far. This might not be the recipe for you, but for me I look for something delicious–not too healthy, but also not too sugary or oily. This one fit the bill for me. It also has good spices and has a good balance between feeling too heavy or light. I make no alterations to the recipe, except that I usually double it. 🙂

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Another oldie that’s on my list to make again this year is Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes & Spinach. This recipe is the epitome of health and yum getting married. Everything about it is healthy, but it also is fast and delicious. It also is vegetarian, which while I’m not a vegetarian, I love finding recipes that don’t take meat and use other sources for protein, to ensure I’m getting a wide range of nutrients. I did make two slight alterations, which you’ll see on my site. I’m looking forward to trying it again this year!

Photo courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod

Photo courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod

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This recipe breaks the mold– it’s my favorite fall breakfast! Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal is divine. Before trying baked oatmeal I was rather apprehensive. In my family, oatmeal was always a bland meal that you made if you didn’t have taste buds, or you just ignored them. But after trying this, I was changed.

Photo courtesy of Kath Eats Real Food

Photo courtesy of Kath Eats Real Food

Baked oatmeal is so versatile, yummy, and yes, healthy. I would bake up a pan of baked oatmeal, cut them into squares and then put them in tupperwares. Then, in the morning, I would either eat it cold with yogurt or milk (similar to granola) or warm it up, cut it in half, and put some butter on it. I also just snacked on it plain, because it was that flavorful. I also love that it is something you can make ahead and then enjoy throughout the week.

After eating it for a while, I came up with another flavor and it turned out to be my favorite– Baked Pumpkin Apple Oatmeal. {**This link is probably the most comprehensive recipe. So follow this link if you want to know exactly how I make it.**} I don’t have a picture of this one, but it looks exactly the same as above.

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Lastly, here are two of my favorite bread recipes. I feel like it’s nice to have a go-to homemade bread recipe and here are two options–one is whole wheat and the other white. Both are absolutely delicious and relatively fast when it comes to rising time, and ease of making–both of which are necessities for me.

The White Homemade Bread recipe is my newsie for this year. It’s delectable. If you are looking for a crowd pleaser and not concerned about your carbs, then go for the gold, or white in this case, and give it a go. I can promise it won’t go wrong. It also makes a whopping 4 (9×5) loaves!

Photo courtesy of Just Another Day in Paradise

Photo courtesy of Just Another Day in Paradise

This No-Fail Whole Wheat Bread recipe is my oldie that I want to try again this year. I seriously loved this recipe. It had the awesome full taste of whole wheat, but lacked the typical cons of wheat bread (being overly dense or dry). Also, just like the recipe above, this recipe is speedy. Mmm, just remembering this recipe is making me crave it. Really, if you have never liked whole wheat bread, but want to try a recipe, try this one. Most likely you’ll enjoy it and then feel good about all the fiber and complex carbohydrates it packs.

Whole Wheat Bread

Photo courtesy of Progressive Pioneer

Well, I think that will be it for today! I love baking and cooking so stick around if you want more recipes. Or better yet, hop over to my actual recipe blog–Gale Family Recipes–where I share our family favorites. My style is summed up like this: things that are supposed to be delicious- I try to keep delicious. But foods that can be easily made more healthy, I try to make healthier. After being on a no-sugar diet for over a year, I know how to be healthy, but also enjoy the taste of all foods, so hop on over for some healthy and some purely delicious family faves 🙂

Our First Bumpdate- 28 weeks

Well, I’ve always said “better late than never”, and I think this scenario really takes the cake. I’ve never done a bumpdate questionnaire for either Parker or our little girl, and here we are 3rd trimester through this second pregnancy and I just up and decided, why not? So, here ya go.

Funny, I always like reading the bumpdates of other’s I know, but for some reason thought if I did one for myself, people would be so bored they’d scroll through or pick their nose. Why?? I don’t know. Well, today I’m just ignoring my fear of boring people and am going out on a limb that maybe one of you, besides myself will enjoy this. So let the questions begin…

How far along? 28 weeks- 3rd trimester, baby!
Baby is: 2.25 lbs & 14.8 in. (approx)
Total weight gain/loss? +15 lbs. {sidenote: I’m actually really proud of myself for this… my 1st pregnancy I was weighing myself all the time. I was so caught up on being a certain size that I was monitoring myself all the time. This pregnancy, I’ve loosened up & it has been so much better!!! I just weighed myself this morning, but I hadn’t in a couple weeks. Anyway, hooray for focusing more on how I feel and less on stressing about weight gain. This is progress for a girl like me who has obsessed too much about being skinny, for too much of my life.} and now I move on….
Maternity clothes? Yes. Oh, and my husband’s t-shirts.Gah! Why is it so hard for me to buy t-shirts that fit me? Or just maternity clothes in general??

I haven't even been taking pictures of myself, so I snapped these, but sorry I'm wearing lazy, around the house clothes. Real life.

I haven’t even been taking pictures of myself, so I snapped these, but sorry I’m wearing lazy, around the house clothes. Real life.

Stretch marks? Not any new ones that I’ve noticed. But, I have noticed that as I get bigger, the ones from Parker’s pregnancy are deepening in color once again. But just like weight gain, I’ve been paying a lot less attention this time around, so I’m not quite sure.
Sleep? Sleep is good. I fall asleep when I turn off the light and then wake up, what feels like a second later. {Can I say weird dreams though, anyone???!} Pregnancy always makes my dreams crazy.
Best moment this week? Well this is the hardest question! I have no idea, I feel like it is all the sweet things Parker is saying to me and how much love is in his heart. He’s constantly telling us how much he loves things and how cute people are. I cannot begin to explain how blessed we feel to have him as our little boy.
Miss Anything? My pre-pregnancy clothes. I miss being able to get dressed more easily. Now I feel like I try something on and it looks weird, I try something else on–it looks weird too. And then 10 minutes later I’m settling on something that looks the least weird. {Clothing is the bane of my existence right now.}
Movement? A ton. She is one wiggly girl who seems like she can never get comfortable.
Food cravings? Not really strong ones.
Anything making you queasy or sick? Not really.
Have you started to show yet? Yes.
Gender? IT’S A GIRL!
Labor Signs? Umm not real labor, but Braxton Hicks contractions have been almost getting out of control. Two days ago, I got about 20 sets of them in the space of just 2 hours. But, oh well, apparently that can happen, and apparently drinking more water can help them not be so strong.
Belly Button in or out? Half out, but almost completely out.  It depends on if I’m breathing in or out.
Wedding rings on or off? On. It’s actually really lose right now, probably because the colder weather.
Happy or Moody most of the time? Happy!!! 🙂

Well, there it you have it. I’m feeling just really blessed right now to have some time to get ready for this little girl. I’m starting to realize that although this is my second, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m prepared. I just realized last week that we have no changing table for her or a place to put her clothes (even though her clothing is practically non-existent). Anyway, it’s just interesting how there is still much to do. I’m feeling less apprehension for labor and for her arrival, but I’m busying myself with getting ready and dreaming of life with our little girl.