Tuesday, May 31, 2011

32 Weeks

Ryan snapped this picture of me with his cell phone as he was getting ready to leave for work earlier.  I'm huge! I've started doing the waddle walk anytime I've been on my feet for a while. I'm uncomfortable while standing and uncomfortable while sitting.  I toss and turn during the night trying to get comfortable.  And during the entire process, Lance continues to kick up a storm.  

I'm getting really excited about him being born. I feel like I can already tell that this little guy has a totally different personality than Nate.  It will be interesting to see how similar and different they are from each other.  

With Nate, I wasn't really too anxious about him being born until the last two weeks or so.  I think that the fears and unknowns of labor, recovery, and actually having a baby kept me from getting too anxious.  This time, I don't really have any of those fears, so I find myself wishing that time would speed up.  

But I keep reminding myself that he will come at the right time and no amount of impatience will do me any good.  

Good things come to those who wait, right? 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Park Adventuring

I don't think "adventuring" is an actual word, but Nate and I went to the park last weekend. He was cracking me up! Usually he just likes to play in the wood chips and swing, but this time he was all over the place.  He wanted to crawl through all of the play equipment and then just took off and walked around the entire park like he was such a big boy.

Occasionally, he'd stop and check out the dogs playing in the field, but just as quick as he stopped, he'd take off again.  By the end of the night, my pregnant self was tired! He wore his Mama out.  But the weather was beautiful and we both had a great time. I'm looking forward to returning to this park with Ryan.  I know Nate will go crazy showing off for his Dad. The only bad side is the myriad of bruises on Nate's legs from climbing up those metal steps into the playground equipment.  Those steps are brutal! 
Before I know it, I'm going to have to keep up with Nate while toting around a newborn. 

For those of you with kids close together in age, what worked best for you? Keeping the newborn in a stroller or carrying him in a sling/backpack carrier?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Brody's Birth Story

I'm back! I've been on a bit of a blogging break. My mind has been so many other places lately...I mean I'm 31.5 weeks pregnant! That's crazy.  

Anyway, today I am so excited to share the birth story of a little guy I get to see 3 or 4 days a week.  Make sure to read all of this story because it definitely is intense! Thanks for sharing, Stacey! 

Broden is a miracle baby in so many ways (and if you know me, you will hear about all of ‘em!) but originally it was because he had the temerity to be one of the 0.1% statistics in the birth control failure! My husband and I decided to take a much-needed mini vacation to Las Vegas in August of 2008. I remember playing a penny slot machine, when all of a sudden it started making a lot of noise…a number appeared on the screen that kept increasing, and I grabbed my husband’s arm and said “Um, what is that? What does that number mean??” LOL. $1100 later, I was walking around Las Vegas feeling a little bit smug that Lady Luck was smiling down on me…it turned out she was giggling all right! What happens in Vegas most certainly does not STAY in Vegas!

One really great thing about the age we live in is the abundant source of virtual information that we can have 24 hour access to- the internet. I began reading and researching everything there was to know about pregnancy…to be candid I think I overdid it. Though quite knowledgeable, the over-exposure to all the possible complications caused me to become a little bit OCD. Additionally, I discovered an interesting phenomenon: complete strangers would go out of their way to tell me all the people they knew who had miscarriages, abnormalities, and premature labor. As a result, I had a constant nagging worry that I wanted to see the baby for myself to see that he was ok.

At 3 months, our nuchal screening tests came back with possible abnormalities, so we elected to have a  cvs test done. Thankfully, the results of this test came back normal, and we discovered we were having a boy way before the usual 20 weeks.

At about 5 months, it was determined that I had Gestational diabetes- apparently it was pretty severe. I had to go to a dietician and completely change my diet. I remember that I carried that little piece of paper with how to figure out the amount of carbs everywhere that I went…in addition to my blood test kit…and my insulin….and the needle I had to use to inject it into my stomach, annnnnnnnnd the constant endocrinologist appointments…

One side-effect of gestational diabetes is that the fetus often grows large and too fast. Extra glucose crosses the placenta which causes the little one to produce extra insulin, and thus the bigger baby. Though really- Broden starting measuring large from the very first ultrasound. Since the gestational diabetes was so advanced, the pregnancy was considered high-risk. As a result, I think we had more than 7 ultrasounds total- we in fact were becoming quite blasé about seeing our baby on screen!

Around 30 weeks, my doctor wanted me to go into the hospital twice a week for “Stress tests.”  They hooked up monitors to my stomach to measure contractions, baby heart rate, and activity level.

A couple weeks later,  my husband and I traveled from Seattle to Manzanita, OR for Easter. We stopped every two hours so that I could get out and stretch my pregnant legs. The trip overall took about 6 hours. Upon arriving in Manzanita, I definitely had a set of kankles going on! A coupe days later we drove back to Seattle. By the time we got home, the swelling had taken over my lower extremities and I was very uncomfortable.  Within a few days, I had gained over 20 pounds in water weight. At this point my legs were so swollen that I could barely bend my knees. My skin was actually tearing a little due to the amount of edema present! I stopped in to see my doctor, where she advised me to stay on bed rest with my legs resting straight up, propped up by a wall. A few days later I went into my Dr for my normal weekly checkup. She noted that my stomach was still measuring quite large, but assured me she would not allow the baby to get larger than 10 pounds before she induced me. I remember choking on my piece of gum-10 pounds!! As my Dr was standing up to go, she asked if there were any other concerns on my mind. I hesitated and she pressed me to say anything on my mind. I told her that I was still leaking a lot of fluid every day, more than I had been before. I was really uncomfortable telling her this, you see, as a few weeks before I had come in to the Dr office concerned that I was leaking fluid. My Dr wasn’t there, and unfortunately I was treated rather poorly by a nurse who told me I was over reacting! My Dr asked if I would like to have the fluid checked for amniotic fluid, and at first I said no. I think she read the misgivings on my face and decided to check it anyways. I finished dressing, and waited impatiently by the door, mentally going over my work day and all the stuff I needed to do. My Dr opened the door, and had a funny expression her face. “So…um that actually did show to be amniotic fluid. “ She said “Oh. Ok,"  I replied absently, still lost in thought about meetings and deadlines, scanning my Blackberry emails. She tried again. “So, go ahead and head over to the hospital and I will see you later this afternoon.”  As her head started to withdraw and the door began to close, I held up a hand. “Wait!” I said. Her head reappeared. “Go to the hospital??” I squeaked out.

 “Yes,” she smiled.

“To the hospital?” I repeated dumbly. “As in, to have the baby?? As in, do not pass go, do not collect $200? I am not leaving there until I have my son??”

My dr smiled tolerantly at me and simply said “Yes, Stacey. I will see you in a few hours.”

I left the office in shock, and sat in my car for a few moments. I called my husband Steve, who was on his way into work.  He assumed I was rushing to the hospital to get checked right in, but since we only lived about 10 minutes away, I persuaded him to meet me at our house so that we could pack the bag together and only have one car at the hospital. I remember time slowing down for me, and feeling very calm and purpose-filled as we joked about what items should go into which bag, and what could be left behind. On the drive into the hospital, I sent an email to our work (my husband and I work for the same company), explaining that I was going into labor and I would be delayed from work for a bit, but that I was bringing my laptop with me to the hospital. LOL. I was about 34 weeks at this point.

We arrived at the hospital and were checked in, and set up in a room. Since my Dr estimated that my amniotic sac had been torn for at least 3 days, I was immediately put on a regimen of antibiotics. Additionally, I was also hooked up to glucose due to the gestational diabetes. Lastly,  they began pumping me full of Pitocin to stimulate contractions. There went my birth plan, right out the window! I had planned on no drugs (though open to an epidural),  and I wanted to be as upright and physically active for as long as possible. Instead, I was to be in bed and hooked up to IVs for the next 40 hours. Like most everyone else, I was hooked up to the contraction belt so that the nurses could monitor my contractions and baby activity level. Since I had an amniotic fluid leak, they very seldom checked my cervix due to increased risk of infection to the baby. My contractions did not show up much on the monitor, and I soon discovered that was because I was having back labor. I remember being self-conscious about the pain though, and feeling like I was being a wimp because it was starting to get too intense to breathe through it.  Finally, my dr checked my cervix to discover I had progressed all the way to 8 cm dilated without drugs!  I felt an intense sense of relief that I wasn’t such a weany after all, and readily agreed to have an epidural.

The epidural was actually the scariest part of the entire experience for me. A pretty, younger Asian lady came in and explained to all of us in the room that she was an anesthesiologist. She had me sit up in bed, with my giant, swollen legs hanging over the bed while she poked and prodded at my spine. I started to cry silently, partially due to this position lodged a kicking fetal foot underneath an old broken rib injury, and the overwhelming fear that a stranger was trying to insert a giant needle into my spinal cord. I remember that I was increasingly disturbed that this “kid” with a needle was chatting amiably and quite loudly about mundane issues as she attempted to re-do the first failed attempt. I spoke up, voice trembling, and said “With all due respect, if you would please just concentrate on the needle in my spine I would really appreciate it.” LOL. Shortly thereafter the epidural was successfully inserted and life became exponentially better! I could still feel a deep-seated pressure feeling, but no more pain. I was dilated to 9. After a couple more hours of pushing, I was starting to fade pretty fast and not feel very good.  The dr once again checked my cervix again to discover I was back to only 8 cm, and I had a fever of 103. I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of relief when the Dr finally said she was going to get us ready for a C-section. I felt like I had been in labor for a month, and was sooo thirsty from my fever.

The C-section itself seemed fairly quick and uneventful. When they transferred me from my hospital bed to the operating table, I started to giggle because I couldn’t move from the waist down to help them. Steve was allowed to sit right at my right ear, as long as he didn’t get up and move around. The lights seemed very bright, and I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. The anesthesiologist continually adjusted my oxygen mask, after nonchalantly explaining that I had stopped breathing on my own a few times. 

Shortly after 1am on April 24th, 2009, the doctors produced Broden Gardella, 8lbs 8 oz over the C-section curtain for my brief inspection. I remember thinking that he seemed so big! The nurses took him away to clear his air passages, etc and I turned to my husband and said “Is he ok? Does he have all the right parts? Can you go count his fingers and toes for me?” I turned my attention back to the tugging I felt from my abdomen region, as 2 doctors were sewing me closed. To their amusement,  I told them it looked like they were tossing a giant salad, since all I could see were their arms moving up and down.
Broden and I both had to stay in the hospital for a few days. Since he was premature, he had to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit for testing and monitoring, and to of course get the obligatory jaundice taken care of. Overall, he was healthy and normal.

The definitive moment where I realized that all the worry and stress of hoping my baby was ok was indeed NOT over once the birth happens.  Now all the work really was to begin- keeping him alive and healthy! We are so blessed to have this little guy in our life. I had no concept of what maternal love could ever be, it is something you have to experience for yourself…it feels very primal, like a mama bear protecting her cub. It is amazing that a 0.9% chance turned into

My. Whole. World. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Writing on the Wall

We could have had a major disaster on our hands. I've heard of children getting ahold of their parents' sharpies, crayons, eyeliner, and many other very permanent materials and making a horrible mess on the walls.  

I know there is a very good chance that will happen to us someday. 

Luckily for us, his "drawing on the wall" was only done with a Magna Doodle Pen.  Whew! For now, we'll keep our sharpies, eyeliners, pens, and any other drawing devices safely out of Nate's reach.
Next time, we might not be so lucky.

Friday, May 13, 2011

{This Moment}

In Soule Mama’s words:

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

"Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy late Mother's Day to all of the mommas out there. I hope you had a relaxing weekend.  Ryan surprised me with an impromptu trip to the Western coast of Washington.  We went to Forks and La Push (yes, the Twilight place-more on that later) and then into the Olympic National Forest where we explored the Hoh Rain Forest, which is pretty much awesome. So much green mossiness!  Of course I was so busy enjoying taking pictures that I forgot to give Ryan the camera and get a picture of me on Mother's Day.  Oh well. :)

While it's nice to be spoiled on Mom's Day, it's also nice just to reflect on and appreciate the people that made me a mom.  Ryan and Nate have given me the greatest gift by turning me into a mother.  It's the most rewarding job, but also at times the most challenging. I know that it is slowly turning me into a better person.  For that, I am grateful. 

"A mother holds their child's hand for a short while and their hearts forever." 

Friday, May 6, 2011

{This Moment}

In Soule Mama’s words:

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How To Create A Nice Blurry Background

My newest obsession hobby is photography.  I've been learning a lot about various techniques that improve the overall quality of a picture.  The best part is that these techniques require very little editing in Photoshop. 

So...would you like a little lesson from a complete beginner? Alright, here goes.  If you have any questions after I'm done, go ahead and leave them in the comments. 

You know how so many of those pictures that we seem drawn to have that awesome blurry background? It makes the subject pop while eliminating all distractions in the background.  That blurriness is called Bokeh.  Bokeh is achieved by having a shallow depth of field

How do you achieve a creamy bokeh? It's not too hard if you understand a few basics.  First of all, it's going to be really helpful if you upgrade from a point and shoot camera to a digital SLR.  This is going to allow you to control the shutter speed, aperture opening, and ISO (many point and shoots already let you have control of ISO).

When you get that SLR, it's going to be really tempting to shoot on Auto.  Don't do it! Make yourself learn how to shoot in manual.  If you shoot on Auto with a SLR, you basically just have a heavy and expensive point and shoot. 

Ok, now that we've got that covered, let's talk details.

Most SLRs come with a kit lens.  The lens that comes with Canons are 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6.  What do all those numbers means? You are probably familiar with the first set of numbers.  18-55mm refers to the focal length.  The smaller the number, the wider the shot will be.  Basically, at a focal length of 18mm, you will be able to be closer to the subject and get the entire subject in the frame.  A longer focal length means that you can focus on something farther away.  If you shoot a subject at 18mm and then at 55mm, while standing in the exact same position, 18mm will allow you to get more of the subject in the frame, while 55mm will crop some of the subject if you are too close.  The quick solution for this is to just back up a bit. But the beauty of the longer focal lengths, such as 200-400mm is that you focus on objects further away.

Ok. Back to bokeh. The aperture opening is the main determining factor.  The second set of numbers on that kit lens, f/3.5-5.6 is the maximum amount that the aperture will open.  This may sound counterintuitive at first, but the smaller the number is, the wider the aperture opens.  If the aperture is open all the way, less of the picture will be in focus, resulting in that bokeh that so many photographers use to make their pictures stand out.  

The kit lens only opens to a maximum setting of 3.5.  The more expensive lenses that are available open all the way up to 1.2.  The lens I use is probably one of the more affordable ones. I use a 50mm f/1.8, which is a prime lens (we can talk more about prime lenses later).  

What this means is that I can set my camera's aperture to open up all the way to f/1.8, which gives me that shallow depth of field, resulting in that bokeh that I like.  

Keeping the camera set anywhere between 1.2 and 2.8 should do the trick.  But, it's easy to mess up because the focus has to be perfect.  I delete a lot of pictures because Nate moves at the last minute and the focus gets screwed up in the process. I end up with an in-focus background and a blurry Nate.  If we are in an interesting place, it can be a neat picture.  Most of the time, however, the picture ends up being junk.

While looking through the viewfinder, pick a focal point (the little red dots on the screen) and place it on the area that needs to be in focus.  When shooting a face or a person, you want to place the focal point on the eye closest to the camera.  If you want to be more artistic and have that messy hand or those cute toes as the focal point, then put the red dot there.  This is easy to do when shooting objects or people that will stay still long enough to get all the settings correct.  It isn't so easy when taking pictures of a toddler who wants to run every chance he gets.  

If you made it through all of that, you're awesome!

Here's the overall lesson.  Use a smaller aperture number to create bokeh-that nice blurry background. It's really difficult to do that with a kit lens, so you might need to think about investing in a new lens.  The 50mm f/1.8 is a great starter lens for creating bokeh, shooting in low-light conditions, and is a versatile focal length.

Does that make sense? Any questions? Any concerns? Fire away.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Matthew Porter Art

From his site:

I'm a childrens book illustrator and writer. My shop features original paintings, prints, books, kiddies clothing and lots of other goodies featuring my art! 

If you are interested in purchasing an archival giclee print feel free to email me and I can send you details about various sizes available. What is the difference? 
A digital print is similar to what would be created using an ink jet printer. A giclee print uses special light-fast inks, which will remain true for up to 25 years. 

Check out more at:

I was so excited when Matthew generously offered to send us one of his brand new posters.  I feel horrible that I am just now writing about it because he sent it a month ago but I didn't want to hang it up in Nate's room until we had moved him into his new room.  

I love this poster.  It is an "ABC" poster with animals that correspond with each letter.  

Picture Credit: MatthewPorterArt

The poster size is 24x36, which means that it fits standard poster frames.  

But if you aren't in the market for a poster, he also offers some awesome kids' clothing. 

Photo Credit: MatthewPorterArt

Are you interested in checking out more of Matthew's work? 

Here's where you can find him: 

Thanks again, Matthew! Your work is wonderful!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Nate's Birth Story

My "Monday Birth Story Series" has been on a bit of a hiatus these past few weeks due to moving and being pretty busy.  But we're going to get back on track.  If you have a birth story you'd like to share, email me and let's talk!


My pregnancy was pretty easy.  I didn't have any morning sickness.  I was able to sleep through the night most nights.  And I didn't feel handicapped by my pregnancy.  I hiked through some caves at 28 weeks pregnant while visiting my sister-in-law in Montana.  My husband and I bought beach cruisers and rode them around town.  We went on lots of walks. Basically, my life didn't change a whole lot because I was pregnant.  I even substitute taught while I was 4cm dilated.  

In short, my pregnancy was easy as far as pregnancies go.  

When I was 35 weeks, my doctor sent us to have a final ultrasound to check on the size of the baby.  Even though my stomach was measuring right on, my mom had larger than normal babies (my brother was 10.5lbs!) so she wanted to check the size just to be on the safe side.  At the ultrasound, we were told that Nate was already weighing 9+lbs.  At 35 weeks that is huge.  Some of his other measurements, like his head size, were also on the large end.  I was pretty concerned.  Actually, terrified might be a better word.  If he was big at 35 weeks, how big was he going to be at 40+ weeks?  

I met with my doctor later during the day and she checked my cervix.  Not only did I have a baby who was supposedly measuring large, but I was also already 4cm dilated and 70% effaced, which is pretty unusual for a first-time mom.  She told me just to be prepared to have the baby at any time.  I wasn't in labor yet, which meant that we didn't need to take any drastic measures.  

I went home thinking that this baby just might be delivered within the next week or so.  Despite the news, I still substitute taught during the week.

A week went by and it was time for another doctor's appointment.  My husband and I made the 70 mile drive to the doctor with our bags packed.  Maybe this time I would be dilated far enough to be sent to the hospital.  The doctor checked and I was 5cm dilated and 75% effaced.  That wasn't enough progress to justify inducing me and taking the chance that Nate's lungs would be underdeveloped. 

It seems silly now, but at the time I was pretty disappointed.  I was at the point where I was ready to have him. I was just so anxious to meet our little boy. I might have gotten a little emotional as we drove away from the doctor's office.  

The next week seemed to drag by.  My discomfort level was at an all-time high.  I was having braxton-hicks contractions all week.  There wasn't much pain but my stomach would get so tight.  Even though it was a bit early, I was praying that at my next appointment, it would be time.  

Whoa! Look at that 37 week belly!

The day of my 37 week appointment came.  Once again, Ryan and I loaded our overnight bags in the car and headed back to the doctor.  During the drive, I began having more painful contractions.  To be honest though, I wasn't sure if they were real contractions.  They just felt like gassy pains.  But they would come and go.  Ryan seemed pretty convinced they were contractions, but I didn't want to get my hopes up.

A different doctor (my doctor's father) checked my cervix this time.  Now I was 6cm dilated and 100% effaced.  I told the doctor how uncomfortable I had been this last week and he suggested that we go ahead and break my water and get things going. 

Was he serious? Was this finally going to be the day? 

We headed to the hospital, texted our family, "It's go time!"and stopped at Quizno's so Ryan could get a quick bite to eat.  

Once we got to the hospital, things went pretty quickly. 

The doctor broke my water and my contractions were instantly much more intense.  That's when I knew what I had been feeling earlier really were contractions.  These felt the same only much, much stronger.  Ryan had already informed the nurse that I most definitely wanted an epidural.  And when the contractions intensified, he kept asking when the anesthesiologist was going to show up (I think I even begged at one point).  And you know what? The epidural wasn't bad at all.  Ryan stood right in front of me and held my hand and before I knew what had happened, it was over.  It took effect immediately and the pain was gone. 

A few hours went by.  Our families began showing up and we spent the time just hanging out and waiting.  

About 4 hours after my water had broken, I found out that I was at 10cm.  Yay! Push time.  We were just about to meet our baby! Surely it would be like TV right? A few pushes and he'd be out, right?

Um no.  

I pushed for 2.5 hours.  I kept pushing and pushing and pushing.  Ryan would put wet towels on my forehead.  He counted during every contraction.  He even held one of my legs that was too numb for me to move.  He was the best partner I could have asked for.  At one point, I remember him telling me "Good job! You're getting there, babe! You're doing great!"  In my frustration, I snapped, "No I'm not.  Don't tell me I'm making progress if I'm not. I've been doing this for 2 hours! I'm not getting anywhere." Not my shining moment.

At some point, the nurse left.  Ryan and I were by ourselves and we kept going.  He kept counting during contractions and I kept pushing.  It was during that time alone that I actually made progress.  When the nurse came back, she was surprised to see that Nate was just about to come out.  She got the doctor who came in and grabbed a pair of scissors. 

"Are you going to cut me?" I asked in between contractions.  

"Yep" she said.  

"Ok...that's fine.  Just numb me first." 

Apparently, she already had the anesthetic in a syringe.  She showed me the needle as an affirmation.  

Once the cut was made, Nate was born pretty quickly.  

I was so incredibly relieved that it was over.  Nate laid on my chest and calmed down quickly.  I looked at his head and was surprised at the massive cone head he had.  Because it took me so long to push him out, he had developed a lot of swelling.  I remember apologizing to him for taking so long.  He was fine though and the swelling went down during the next few days.

But remember how they told me that he already weighed 9+ pounds at 35 weeks? Well, those numbers were off.  The first thing Ryan said after seeing Nate was, "That's no 9 pound baby!" and he was right.  He only weighed 7lbs, 12oz at birth.  He had a large head measurement on the ultrasound, which threw the rest of the numbers off a bit.  

But he was perfect and Ryan and I were immediately in love with this little gift from God.

And now, almost 2 years later, he just continues to bless our lives and keeps growing into a smart, funny, and handsome little boy. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Favorite Place in Seattle

Am I really capable of posting a blog without a picture of Nate? After today's visit to Green Lake, I think I just might be able to do it.  

Green Lake is my favorite place in Seattle.  I don't care if it's crowded.  I don't care if I almost get ran over by little kids on bikes.  And I don't care if we have to maneuver Nate's stroller around people who walk at the pace of snails.

What makes Green Lake better than it already is? A perfect Spring day. It was actually warm outside, which means that all the Seattlites come out to soak up some Vitamin D.  White legs and all.  The 3-mile trail around the lake is filled with rollerbladers, bikers, skateboarders, walkers, runners, painfully-awkward-looking-wannabe-runners, dog-walkers, and mamas pushing strollers. 

Then there are others who lounge around the lake, or fish, or tightrope walk, or play games that I have never seen before.  

Doesn't that look like the perfect place to rest?

I love tulips. And do you see that turtle through the bushes?

Some families choose to sit by the lake.  Others choose to walk the trail.  But obviously I am not the only one who loves this lake because every time I go, it's packed.  

I loved our day at the lake.  I'm looking forward to many more once this crazy weather warms up.  

Do you have a place like this? A place you like to go to for just an hour or two? A place that makes your day or week better? 

**Just a sidenote. Courtney at Click It Up A Notch is hosting a photo contest and my picture is chosen for the Top 10.  I'd love it if you visited her blog and gave us a vote.  :)