May’s Book and Bike Break Down

Catch up on what Mandi’s reading and how may miles she’s riding!

Booking and biking my way through 2020.


It was a great month for biking… but the smallest amount of books I’ve read in a month in the past two years. Balance I guess.


Books

18. The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda (Mystery, Thriller)
Started the month off with the pick of the book club I’m in. I was not excited about this choice going into it, but I voted for it because the Kindle book was cheap and I’m Dutch like that. Either I was pleasantly surprised by this book or I just really needed to get away from reading books for work. At times, it felt a little repetitive, and by the end I’d figured it out, but as a whole, I really liked it and it kept me wanting to pull it back open. 4 STARS

19. Beartown by Fredrik Backman (Contemporary)
Followed up May’s book club pick with finishing out April’s book club pick. Oops. I tried twice to get into the audio book version of this one so I could finish it in time for book club last month, but I just couldn’t. The first third was way too much hockey talk and I couldn’t really see it going anywhere. There were lots of characters and plot lines to keep up with, but the main plot line was gold once I got through all the hockey talk in the beginning. I loved Maya’s and Benji’s characters especially. This book is the first in a series, and I won’t lie, the end made me 100% intrigued about where the series was going to go next, but… I don’t like committing to a series (especially since I’m still half way into HP). 3.5 STARS

20. Silver Sparrow by Taryari Jones (Contemporary)
Silver Sparrow is written by the same author as An American Marriage, another book I loved. While the themes in each were somewhat similar, the books were very different. This story dove into the life of a bigamist in Atlanta in the 1980s. With one public family and one private family, this story was so heart-wrenching. I loved getting an inside look into this situation; it was fascinating. And while I loved the two viewpoints, my only critique on the book is that switching from Dana (private family) to Chaurisse (public family) halfway through instead of alternating back and forth felt slightly disruptive. Regardless, it was wonderfully done and my heart hurt for these characters. 4.5 STARS


Biking

And now, onward with the goal to ride 2020 miles in 2020 on a bike.

Again, 2020 miles in a year means approximately 5.5 miles/day. I’ve gone pretty aggressively at it these first 5 months, and I’m on track to reach my goal with ease if I continue at this pace. What’s the current total?

1052.

I won’t lie, hitting 1010 felt good… like REALLY good. After 5 months of riding almost daily, I think I realized at 1010 (which I happened to hit on Memorial Day) just how proud I might be of myself if I achieve this goal.

This past week was filled with some great rides, too. I went two miles with my daughter riding next to me on her balance bike. I got a ride in on country roads, making a big loop instead of weaving through neighborhoods. I ran an errand on my bike. I biked a quick 8 by myself outside the morning I hit the halfway point. This might be my favorite week for biking so far…

As for the 1010 miles, we’re now up to 168 of those miles having been outside (89 of them pulling a kid).

Hope you had a great May! Stay healthy everyone!

“Redemption”

I didn’t want to be told how strong I was during my first pregnancy when I was cracked to the very core on the inside yet smiling on the outside. And I didn’t want to be told how redeemed I must feel during this second, presumably much safer pregnancy, when I was terrified.

5.30.19

“Everyone says what a ‘redemptive’ pregnancy this must be since it’s going so well, but pregnancy is not about me. I’m facing significant risks to my body to bring this baby into the world. If it were about me, and it was redemptive, I wouldn’t be so terrified. I’m not scared of what happened last time. I’m scared of what could happen this time…”

Is there anything we crave more than redemption? The happy ending, the eradication of past hurts, the relief, the good vibes, the resolution – we want it so badly, and we want it everywhere. Alleviate poverty. Fight hunger. Free the captives. Find the missing. Cure the cancer.

Our hearts long for redemption.

Yet I struggled to see pregnancy as a place for redemption.

Don’t take my past pains from me. Don’t take my scars, my hurts, my experiences, the things I’ve learned. They make me who I am and they’ve shaped everything I know and believe about my ability to safely bring a baby into the world. 

I didn’t want to be told how strong I was during my first pregnancy when I was cracked to the very core on the inside yet smiling on the outside. And I didn’t want to be told how redeemed I must feel during this second, presumably much safer pregnancy, when I was terrified. I knew too much and too little at the same time. I knew what could happen, but I’d gotten through that before. What I didn’t know was what would happen if a body – one that’d been vulnerably cut before, one that couldn’t even risk carrying a baby to full term – went into pre-term labor again.

When my doctor suggested Makena injections, I didn’t have to think twice before saying, yes, please, let’s do it. They are precautionary, and potentially unnecessarily so. They are expensive. They are a pain to get your hands on – a process that includes probably close to 100 phones calls between your doctor, your insurance company and a specialty pharmacy. They are a pain when physically administered – an experience that must be observed religiously on the same day each week and is meant to happen at your doctor’s office, creating weekly appointments. They are such a nuisance.

But hopefully you’ll get to the end and wonder if they were the difference or not.

My doctor was gracious enough to send me home each quad (the injections came in packages of four – a month’s supply – requiring you to call to start the process of obtaining the medicine over again five times to get your full 20 shots from weeks 16 to 36) and let my nurse of a neighbor administer them. Praise be to God for my neighbor who saved me from approximately 16 trips downtown by agreeing to stop by each Thursday night and poke me. Some women get approved to have the equipment and medicine shipped right to their house so they can administer the injections themselves. Not approved for that, I had to slip in under the radar and take a mysterious looking goody bag home each month from my doctor.

I was so terrified of going into pre-term labor, that I think I would have done anything my doctor suggested. Makena injections felt so simple, so I chased them with very little physical exertion and definitely no questionable “can-you-do-this-if-you’re-pregnant?” moments. I was about one step away from putting myself on bedrest.

So did I feel redeemed? No. I felt terrified. 

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 20 weeks, 3 days
Doctor’s Appointments: 5
Ultrasounds: 2
Makena Injections: 4

Blue Moon

Pregnancy ultrasounds have never been an exciting thing for us. Our first experience was with a wheely-cart-toting-not-an-ultrasound-tech doctor we fled to when things turned south in pregnancy number one. Our first true experience was in an emergency room just shortly after that when we’d incorrectly assumed we’d lost that baby due to circumstances. Every ultrasound following those two – for our first pregnancy and this one – was set in an environment of held breaths, somber looks, and silent pleas to the Lord.

5.9.19

“The littlest nugget is a boy! The ultrasound went very well. There is no previa, which gives us hope that might also avoid abruption. That means we just have to get by without pre-term labor (or, of course, any other complications). We’re remaining optimistic, but we’re not oblivious to the risks here. We need this kiddo to stay in until the 36 week c-section. Anything sooner would be considered an emergency and most likely result in a NICU stay… again…”

Pregnancy ultrasounds have never been an exciting thing for us. Our first experience was with a wheely-cart-toting-not-an-ultrasound-tech doctor we fled to when things turned south in pregnancy number one. Our first true experience was in an emergency room just shortly after that when we’d incorrectly assumed we’d lost that baby due to circumstances. Every ultrasound following those two – for our first pregnancy and this one – was set in an environment of held breaths, somber looks, and silent pleas to the Lord.

“Please, don’t let things be worse in there.”

With no reason to believe anything might be amiss, we still went into this ultrasound with a palpable level of anxiety. On this day, we would learn what our baby’s environment was like in there… and we’d learn our baby’s gender.

Having switched to a private practice for this pregnancy, our doctor understood and felt our anxiety. She brought us in three weeks early for our anatomy scan to either calm some nerves or get an earlier warning of what was to come depending on how things looked on the inside. Switching to a private practice was one of the best decisions we could have made. Our ultrasound tech on this day, not sworn to secrecy by a hospital system, quickly shared that she didn’t see any signs of previa or abruption. With relief, we watched our nugget wiggle and squirm as she took measurements and pointed out the hands we would hold, the heart we would hug, the toes we would tickle.

And then she sent us on our way with a sealed envelope that held an indication of baby’s gender. The envelope all but on fire in my hands, we went down the hall so I could receive my first Makena injection, waited at the checkout, walked silently to the elevator, and immediately began gushing our guesses when the doors closed and we were alone for the 20 second ride. The doors opened and we walked to the parking lot where we then decided there was no point in waiting any longer.

As we sat in our van, I slipped my finger into the envelope and pulled out the anatomically explicit photo that answered our prayers – a boy. While Kevin and I had both said we’d be fine with either gender, our hearts were honestly yearning for a boy. A boy could complete our family. A boy would give Kevin the son most men long for. A boy would give us the world from a new perspective. We drove home and took our suppressed giddiness back to work before celebrating that night with Oaklee over Blue Moon ice cream and blue balloons. 

A boy. 

Our baby was a boy.

And my body was being good to him unlike it was for his sister.

We were over the moon. 

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 17 weeks, 3 days
Doctor’s Appointments: 4
Ultrasounds: 2
Makena Injections: 1

The End of an Era

It was the end of a short era. On May 3, Oaklee was 22 months and 4 days old and I breastfed her for our very last time. She would go on to deplete what was once an overwhelming freezer stash via bottle/cup, but May 3 was the last time the two of us would sit down together and snuggle up for a feed.

5.3.19

“I can’t quite explain how grateful I am for the experience (of breastfeeding Oaklee) or how proud I am of our success. Doctors said we’d never do it. They said she wouldn’t thrive if breastfed. Well they can eat their words. She’s 22 months old and thriving.

It was the end of a short era. On May 3, Oaklee was 22 months and 4 days old and I breastfed her for our very last time. She would go on to deplete what was once an overwhelming freezer stash via bottle/cup, but May 3 was the last time the two of us would sit down together and snuggle up for a feed.

While I wanted some time to have my body to myself between kids, being pregnant but not breastfeeding was going to have to suffice. Had I not been pregnant, I honestly don’t know that I would have weaned quite yet. I was open to continuing for a couple more months, but now a couple more months would have put us that much closer to starting the process all over again.

As for the last 22 months? I can’t say for sure that I clung to breastfeeding because I was bitter over being told it would never happen. It’s possible I kept going because I truly am just that passionate about breastfeeding babies. Or maybe we made it to 22 months simply because it’s what worked for us. It’s how the cards played out. But that 22 month journey was anything but easy. From exclusively pumping, to over-producing, to sitting in the rocking chair and crying together when we just couldn’t get it to work, to seeing improvement, to making a commitment, to figuring it out, to becoming comfortable, to becoming pros… Those 22 months were quite something – a time I will forever cherish. 

But in just four months, that process would start over. And I didn’t know what it would look like that next time, but I was grateful for the break until then. I was grateful to be tether-free – to be able to leave the house without a baby or pump. Until September…

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 16 weeks, 4 days
Doctor’s Appointments: 3
Ultrasounds: 1

April’s Book and Bike Break Down

Catch up on what Mandi’s reading and how may miles she’s riding!

Booking and biking my way through 2020.


As I mentioned last month, I was worried about COVID-19 causing a drastic change in the amount of time I would have to read and ride my bike since my husband and I are without childcare but still working just as many hours. However, I found a compromise for the month of April – not an exciting one, but a compromise. In the month of April, I tackled three books I’d been needing to read for work – the books were read while riding my stationery bike; turning pages, racking up miles and getting in those hours for work. The “Books” part of this Break Down is not so exciting (except for number 11). But I made it through April, and that’s pretty exciting.


Books

13. Redemptive Compassion – The Defining Difference by Lois Tupyi (Christian Nonfiction)
Ok, so this is one I read for work. A lot of our work at Love INC is based on the concepts of Redemptive Compassion®, and while I love the work we do, I was super conflicted on these concepts. Yes, everyone has value, relationships are key, everyone has potential, we can all play a part in this world, we have to use discernment and be wise and we have the opportunity to transform. But who am I to deem what the “other” must do in order to receive my “help”? I understand not just donating to get it over with and feel good about yourself, but I think there are times in life when giving a handout is very necessary. Perhaps even such a time as now (amidst COVID-19), when you could not have possibly prepared for our predicted what was going to come. It’s not a time for trying to discern how people can contribute in order to receive what you have to give. It’s a time for survival. I will give what I have and trust that you will give what you have. I don’t need to refrain from giving because of the chance that you will refrain. May what I have to offer inspire you to give what you have to offer. And if it doesn’t, I hope you remember that I offered…  3 STARS

14. When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert (Christian, Social Justice)
Another work read: first, I’ve never read a book that talks about itself so much (In this chapter… As you read in chapters 2, 3, and 4… You’ll read later about…). Second, this felt like a very right-winged approach to poverty alleviation. While I agreed with some of the thoughts and felt heart-broken by many of the example situations, I don’t know that I could jump on board 100% with these concepts. It almost seemed as though their answer to poverty alleviation is, 9 times out of 10, that you’re not to do anything about it. And then if you do something, the person receiving the something (be it money, skills, relationship, etc.) must prove their worthiness of receiving and their ability to change because of what they receive. Who am I to judge who is worthy to receive what I have to give? Who am I to set stipulations on the outcome of my giving? No, I can’t afford to give handouts left and right, but I do hope that the times I do give handouts, even something as simple as my generosity in the moment might spur good things if not immediately, maybe somewhere down the line…  . 2 STARS

15. We Will Rise: A True Story of Tragedy and Resurrection in the American Heartland by Steve Beaven (nonfiction, sports)
If you have a Kindle and Amazon Prime, you are missing out if you’re not taking advantage of first reads. This is not the first time my first reads selection was pure gold. Occasionally I got confused about who was who, but wow, this book was captivating! Full disclosure, I think you have to be a bit of a sports enthusiast to love it, but it was so great. I basically love any story that dives deep into a sports team or band or town – there’s something about different personalities coming together for a purpose and seeing the way they deal with each other and what they’re doing together pan out. I cried way too many times. 4.5 STARS

16. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message so Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller (business)
Yup, another work read. While this type of book is not my preferred reading, I did find it inspiring and it did give me lots of great ideas and conversation starters for where we go next within our organization. It’s not a thrilling read, but it’s worth it if you’re running stuck or have just been generally doing the same thing for too long with your marketing. 3 STARS

17. I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations by Sarah Stewart Holland & Beth A. Silvers (politics)
My husband and I have been working our way through this book for months with our small group. While the book itself was not earth-shattering, the conversations that came from it were really refreshing. Politically, much of our small group aligns, but we could all think of people we do not align with and discussing how to approach conversations with those people was really helpful. Even just discussing politics and how to become more passionate (rather than passive) about them was helpful. My husband and I have not notoriously been people quick to deeply form and/or discuss our political opinions, but being reminded of the importance of doing both of these was great. 3 STARS


Biking

And now, onward with the goal to ride 2020 miles in 2020 on a bike.

2020 miles in a year means approximately 5.5 miles/day. I’ve been trying to do at least 8 each time I sit down, with the goal of 202 (10%) per month in these lead-off months. So far it’s happening! My total?

840.

We’re up to 61 of those miles having been outside (34 of them pulling a kid).

I went hard in April once I realized this was my chance to work/bike/get books read. And yes, the knee pain is back. But also, we got a trampoline, so the jury is out on why that pain is truly back. We will see how May goes…

Hope you had a great April! Stay healthy everyone!