About Sara

Sara works in higher education, but she's most proud of her role as a Mama to two precocious boys, Lionel Conner, age 4, and Quincy August, age 2. In honor of turning 30 in 2016, she pierced her nose to "keep her young." She loves watching guilty-pleasure television, writing about motherhood, decorating her first home, sipping red wine with her husband Jordan, and chasing after her sons.

Author Archive | Sara

Mamahood and Me: How I’m Preparing for Baby

It’s a crazy thing to be on the cusp of, motherhood. When I was engaged and planning my wedding, Jord and I read a book on questions to ask and answer as a couple on the cusp of marriage. We also took part in a premarital counseling session with our pastor, my Uncle Rick. Both were so helpful to Jord and I, both individually and as a couple, that I knew that I wanted to take the time to think intelligently and critically throughout my pregnancy about what kind of mother I wanted to be.

One of the activities that Jord and I have done since we were married is on every New Year’s Eve, we recap the previous year, and we plan and dream for the year ahead. It’s one of my most favorite things to do every holiday season, and I think that both Jord and I are surprised at how far we’ve come each year in achieving our personal and shared goals. This year was no different – we were so excited and blessed to be expecting a child, and we were on the cusp of one of the most important roles of our lives: parents. During our year-end discussion around New Year’s 2011, Jord and I discussed not only what we want to achieve personally in 2012, but also what we want our family to look like, and how we see ourselves developing as parents.

When thinking about what kind of parents we want to be, we discussed how we want to be wholly supportive of our children’s aspirations, which, to us, means that we want to encourage them to dream and to take part in activities that interest them. We discussed how important it is for our family that I am able to be at home with our child (and with any future children, should we be blessed with such an opportunity) as long as it is financially feasible to do so. We discussed our educational priorities for our children, especially in terms of the Montessori philosophy that we want to introduce to our child from birth on. We also want to do our best to educate our children on what is often considered to be the “dangerous” parts of life (i.e. drugs, alcohol) by having frank and honest discussions with them regarding the importance of their choices and the lasting impact of the decisions that they make as young adults.

I have a BabyCenter pregnancy app on my phone, and what I love about this app is that it not only lets me know what is going on with my baby boy in my belly, but it also asks me critical questions to help me think about what it will mean to be a Mama after our little man arrives. All I know now about motherhood (apart from a few basic care-taking practices) is that I want my little boy to know that I am in love with him already (that I’ve been in love with him before we even conceived him), and the way in which I’ve been able to show that and channel that feeling throughout my entire pregnancy (and even before we conceived our child!) is by writing letters to my son. It’s a secret project that I’ve been working on (I’ve only shared my letters with Jord and with my Mom), and I’m so excited to continue writing to our little man throughout the rest of my pregnancy and throughout his life. I can’t wait to give these letters to my son someday.

While it can be impossible to predict what motherhood will be like for me, I know that it’s been worth my time to think intelligently about what kind of mother I want to be. I know that I have a Type-A personality, and while my personality type helps to explain my hyper-active planning tendencies regarding our efforts to get ready for the baby in terms of clothing and baby gear, I hope that with motherhood, I am able to follow the lead of my baby boy and model my role as a mother around his needs.

20.5 Weeks + Gender Reveal Video!

Hello all! I’m so excited to share my 20-week pregnancy photos with all of you – I can’t believe how big my belly is growing!

20-Weeks

These photos are from this past Friday night; Jord and I celebrated five years of “dating” on Friday by dining at one of our favorite restaurants in Sioux Falls (Olive Garden) and by using a gift certificate we had received for Christmas to stay at a fancy hotel in Sioux Falls for the night. We had such a good time, and it was fun to treat ourselves to a night out to celebrate the best five years of our lives!

Today we also had our 21-week ultrasound (I’ll be 21 weeks on Thursday), and we were FINALLY able to learn the gender of our little one – we’re having a BOY!

Click here to watch the video that we made, in which we announced the gender of the child we’re so blessed to have join our family!

I’ve been feeling remarkably well these past few weeks, and I’m so excited to say that my appetite is making its grand return after five straight weeks of morning sickness earlier in the pregnancy. I’m finally able to eat dairy more often, so the baby is able to get the calcium that it needs, and I can usually eat more of my meal, instead of picking at my food, which has also been wonderful. I’m hoping that my appetite only continues to improve as I move farther along in my pregnancy, since nutrition is so important for me and for the baby!

At our next prenatal appointment, my doctor told me that I need to drink some sort of liquid to be tested for gestational diabetes – for a liquid-medicine-fearing girl like me, that’s going to suck, but hopefully all turns out well! I’m also excited for mid-February to come along, because my parents and I will be traveling to Minneapolis to do some outlet mall shopping for the baby! I can’t wait to FINALLY shop for the baby, now that we know what we’re having!

Lots of love to all of you – I’m sure that these next 20 weeks will go by so quickly!

17.5 Weeks!

Can’t believe I’m almost halfway through my pregnancy – how exciting (and nerve-wracking at the same time – holy cow, the baby will be here soon!). I’m so anxious for the 21/22 week mark, as we will likely be able to learn whether we are carrying a baby girl or a baby boy during that time frame. We can’t wait to find out!

Before we conceived a child, Jord and I had discussed the idea of not planning to find out the gender of the baby. Jord was a big proponent of this plan especially, since he loves the idea of being surprised. But as we began trying for a baby, I couldn’t help but express my desire to find out the gender for practical/logistical/planning reasons – I’m just too much of a Type-A personality not to find out! Luckily, I have an understanding husband who was willing to go with whatever I decided, so we ultimately chose to find out the gender of our child.

A week or so ago, I had a lot of anxiety associated with finding out the gender of our baby – particularly if we learned that our baby is a boy – because we hadn’t yet finalized our chosen boy’s name. A baby girl’s name came relatively easy – we have had long-time favorites (since maybe March or April of 2011!) that we love and that we’ve kept secret, so choosing a first and middle name for a baby girl was comparatively easy. After many a discussion, Jord and I had finally selected a first name for a baby boy, but as of a week ago, we still had no middle name and no good ideas. However, the other day, I suggested a name that I’ve loved for awhile as a middle name possibility, and Jord really liked it, so that’s that – we have our first and middle baby names selected, for both girl and boy! Now I couldn’t be more excited to find out what we’re having, simply because I feel more prepared name-wise. :)

Wondering why we are keeping our baby names secret until the baby arrives? Truthfully, we never thought we would! A few of our friends decided to keep their chosen baby name secret when they were expecting their children, and we appreciated that A) the couple had a fun, exciting secret that they were able to share between the two of them for the entire pregnancy, and B) by keeping the name secret, the couple was able to sidestep hearing any opinions (at least ahead of time) on their chosen baby name. What Jord and I have found since deciding to keep our baby names secret is that it’s SO fun to keep the baby’s name a secret from our friends and family (literally, no one else knows except for us – well, and Wyatt the dog) because it makes the pregnancy seem so much more personal and private for us. We’ve also discovered that it’s empowering to select a name for our child that we love, that we believe in, and that we feel has significance, and because we’re keeping our chosen names secret, we will be able to present the name that we have chosen for our child in a way that emphasizes our reasoning for choosing the name! We love the idea of making a video to announce the baby’s name and the significance behind our choice (we will make the movie a month or so before the birth and we will wait until shortly after the birth to release the video). Lastly, we also love the fact that no one can offer opinions (positive or negative) on our chosen names; truthfully, we love our names so much that it would suck to hear negative opinions at all, but especially prior to the arrival of our baby. It seems like a good idea to avoid any second-guessing of our choices!

I’ll keep you posted on any new developments as my pregnancy continues – we have another prenatal appointment this week, and we’re excited to be nearing the halfway point!

On Marriage: Defining My Role as Wife

Our-Wedding-Reception

Before Jord and I were married in 2010, I had a major conflict of identity that came from a rather unexpected source: a rubber stamp.

For our wedding, Jord and I had a wishing tree, which was basically a few manzanita branches (from here) arranged in a flower pot. Jord and I asked guests to write down their wishes for our marriage on cardstock and then hang the wishes on the branches of the tree. It ended up being a creative way for our guests to wish us well. However, when I was conceptualizing how the wishing tree would come together, I never imagined that it would be the source of a name-change-related breakdown for me.

In order to decorate the cardstock, I commissioned a local stamp shop to make a custom rubber stamp for me, which said the following phrase: “Wishes for the Mr. and Mrs.” Cute, right? That’s what I thought, too; I saw the phrase somewhere in the blogosphere, and I promptly ordered the stamp. I then purchased the manzanita branches, the flower pot, the cardstock and the ink for the stamp, and I didn’t think anything of it until the stamp came in a week or two later.

It was around that time that I read this post (and then this post) on A Practical Wedding. And truthfully, these posts (together with a post that I can’t seem to track down on Project Subrosa on name-changing and the Ms. vs. Mrs. debate – this post is similar, though with decidedly less sass – which is a bummer, because I love me some sass)…well, they threw me big time. I had never thought about changing my name before…I had never thought about the fact that I had a choice of whether or not to take my husband’s last name. What’s more is that I had thought much less about which choice was right for me; I always thought that I would take my husband’s name, because that is what women do in my family, and in my state (South Dakota). And now, because I ordered a stupid six-dollar stamp that said “Mrs.” on it, I felt like my choice between Ms. and Mrs., and my birth name, was being made for me.

So I cried. A lot. I cried to my mother, to my guy (now my husband), and I cried even more when re-reading the posts and the comments on APW and Project Subrosa. I felt like I had failed my cultural position as a woman by rejecting the rights available to my beloved-yet-too-often-marginalized womanhood. [Big stuff.] So, I hemmed and hawed over whether or not to use the stamp, because gosh darnit, I paid for it, and I wasn’t about to throw money out the window, but then again, it was only six dollars, and was six dollars worth chucking my oh-my-gosh-I-guess-I-am-a-feminist-wow-this-is-strange-I-didn’t-notice-this-before-now self out the window? Was six dollars worth me compromising my identity as a woman, my identity as me, as Sara?

In the end, it was my mother who helped me the most. She said that my identity as a wife, my identity as a woman, didn’t have to be determined by a stamp. She rationalized that while the majority of our wedding guests would call me “Mrs.” on our wedding day, as a cutesy ode to my newly married status, that after the wedding, I was able to stipulate whatever name I wanted for myself, and that people would either abide by my wishes, or they wouldn’t. She cautioned that in our area of the United States, it isn’t common for women to keep their birth name [which is true], so I had to brace myself for many a mailing/solicitation/family Christmas letter/invitation error. I had to be okay with mistakes.

Fast-forward to a few weeks before our wedding day. The scene: The Clerk of Courts office in our home state of South Dakota. The action: Jord and I, standing, awkwardly, nervously, in front of a window, applying for our marriage license. As I shuffled my feet back and forth while waiting to fill out the necessary forms, I seriously considered what I wanted for myself when it came to being a woman, being a partner, being a wife. And I thought about the women who came before me in my family, who didn’t seem to know (or, rather, to care in the same way that I did) that even though they were married, they still had the right to keep their birth names.

I thought about my grandmother, my father’s mother, who is one of the best women I know, and one of my most favorite people. She’s a sassy, faithful, family-oriented, inspirational go-getter at 81 years old. But in the 44 years that she was married to my farmer-tractor-driving-grandfather (who sadly passed away before they reached 45 years of marriage), she loved nothing more than to cook and care for him and for their nine children. Yet even so, my grandmother, who took my grandfather’s name, which is my father’s name, and which is my birth name – she never lost herself. She never let go of her role as a woman to take on her role as a wife, and her name certainly had no impact on her wifehood, on her womanhood.

I thought about my grandmother, my mother’s mother, who died when I was in high school. I thought about how she would respond to my internal debate regarding whether to take on Mrs., or to keep my birth name. And then I smiled in knowing that she would support me no matter what choice I made, because that’s the woman she always was. She was a supporter to her core.

And I thought about my mother, who took my father’s name when they married, and who never seemed the slightest bit inhibited by her choice to take on a different moniker.

In thinking back to all of the women that have come before me in my family, I made my choice. I took my husband’s last name, but I remained a Ms. It was a compromise that I was willing, no, that I was overjoyed, to make. My choice was an acknowledgment of my identity as Sara, and my new identity as the partner of Jord. And for me, I also made another compromise, a symbolic one, to honor myself as I’ve always been, and the new self that I was about to become, as a partner, a wife: I hyphenated my name professionally. To me, my career was (and still is) my own, and by symbolically hyphenating my name professionally, I was able to ensure that I entered into marriage with my feminist womanhood in tact.

In looking back on our first year of marriage, I have no regrets regarding my decision to take my husband’s name. I’m especially proud of my decision to remain a Ms., and I’m reminded of that every single day, when my students call me Ms. XXXX-XXXX. But as I reflect on the choices I’ve made, I think back to that silly little stamp, and I feel blessed to have had compelling blogs to read in that moment and in many more, precisely because blogging continually forces me to make choices with intention. And I know that I did just that.

Marriage: A Look Back at Premarital Counseling

Our-Wedding-Getaway-Car

I thought it might be fun to take a look back at the premarital counseling that Jord and I did, given that we’ve been married for one year already – where did the time go?!

After being engaged for three and a half months, Jord was offered and accepted a job that required him to move approximately one hour away from where we had been living. Jord moved to a small efficiency apartment, and I moved back in with my parents. We had been living together for a year prior to Jord’s new job. With our wedding only seven short months away, we knew that this job was temporary for him, so we committed to making it work for such a short time.

However, the fact that we were apart Monday through Friday and were only together on the weekends complicated one thing that we both wanted to accomplish prior to our wedding: going through premarital counseling. But, it all worked out well, so I wanted to share our strategy in hopes of helping other couples who may be facing a similar situation.

What worked for Jord and I was to read a book together that still acted as premarital counseling for us, but allowed us to read the book, chapter by chapter, separately. We then got together to discuss each chapter. The book we used is 10 Great Dates Before You Say ‘I Do’ by David and Claudia Arp and Curt and Natelle Brown.

We really enjoyed working through the book together, as it answered all of the important questions that we thought should be answered before committing to someone for a lifetime. Everything from communication to finances to children was covered in this book, and best of all, each “issue” or “question” had a bit of “homework” (mostly list-making or freewriting) that each of us would do prior to our “date,” or the time that was set aside for discussion of the chapter.

After finishing the book (actually, I think that we cheated and only got through nine of the ten dates before our wedding day!), we also met with my uncle, who married us, for a premarital counseling session. My uncle had us fill out (before meeting with him) personality inventories that were full of more critical questions about our expectations of marriage and what we desired to achieve in our lives as married people. We then met with my uncle to discuss the results of these inventories. This was such a fun part of our wedding preparations, especially because Jord and I were exactly where we should be prior to getting married, according to my uncle!

This approach worked for us, because it allowed us to maximize our geographical differences while still maximizing our marriage preparation. We would recommend the book to anyone, and we’ve even passed the book along to another couple who is considering marriage in the future!

Did you do premarital counseling? Do you plan to when you get married? What method did you/will you use?

NOTE: I wasn’t paid or perk’d to feature the book by the Arps and the Browns – we just had a great experience with it!