Thursday, August 25, 2016

Why I (Honestly) Chose a Natural Birth

DMB Natural BirthI've always held this belief that I was somehow born in the wrong generation. I've long thought that had I been a baby-boomer, I would have advocated for peace and love, I would have danced freely at Woodstock, and I would have had my babies naturally- the way God and nature intended. In a past life, I'm fairly certain I was a hippie.

So it made sense that when my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first son, I would pursue a drug and intervention-free birth. I read all of the natural birthing books and watched documentaries on the state of the U.S.' maternal health system. It seemed like fate that Ohio's only accredited natural birth center located within the Miami Valley Hospital, was just a short drive away...

Read the rest on Dayton Moms Blog!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Mini-Maternity Photoshoot for Baby 2.0

Remember that fun, color-filled photoshoot I posted about a couple months ago? Well, my amazing, talented sister-in-law did it again!

Shortly after she dusted me from head to belly in rainbow powder, I asked her if she would mind taking a few pictures of the preggo belly. I never got maternity pictures with Charlie, and while I don't necessarily regret it, knowing that this will likely be my second and final pregnancy, it almost felt wrong to let it slip by without some kind of documentation.

Ashlee and I spent no more than a half hour or so traipsing around the little arboretum on the college campus in our town while I played the part of the pregnant, flower child princess. These are some of my favorites that came out of our afternoon:

Thank you so much, Ashlee! Although I am anxious to trade in this belly for a bouncing baby boy, I'm so glad you captured this beautifully blessed season of our life.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Letter to my Second Baby

Dear Baby C (Squared),

A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter to your big brother. I relived sweet memories of late night cuddle sessions, and expressed my gratitude for the wonderful boy that he is. You will have a beautiful example to look up to in your older brother, but there is not a single doubt in my mind that you will be able to carry the torch of amazing Stuckert babies all on your own.

Yesterday morning, I went in for my 37-week prenatal appointment. It was pretty uneventful- you are healthy as can be and have started nestling down into my pelvis, awaiting the perfect time to begin making your entrance into the world. As my doctor brought the Doppler to my belly to listen to your heartbeat, you took one giant swing, and pushed the Doppler away. Dr. N was both startled and amused, and I just laid back and giggled. You sure did make your presence known! It made me smile to think that maybe you were looking out for your Mama in your own little way. Admittedly, I may be reading more into your involuntary punch, but just that tiny little thrust set my mind whirling into thinking about who you are going to be.

I'm really excited to be your Mommy and can't wait to see who you look like. While Charlie has your Daddy's eyes, and my mouth, I wonder if you'll get my eyes, or maybe you'll get Daddy's ears. While Charlie is independent, curious, and adventurous, I wonder if you'll be more introverted and calm.

I hope that whoever you are and whatever you look like, you know how loved you are and how perfectly you fit into the puzzle of our family. Without you, we're just...incomplete.

It's scary, exciting and nerve-wracking to think that I could be meeting you in a matter of weeks, or even days. I'm praying for your safe journey and can't wait for the moment I get to hold you in my arms, stare into your puffy, newborn eyes, and fall head over heels in love. I'll see you soon, Baby C.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

JULY | Summer Book Challenge Check-In

July was the first month in some time in which I had some overlap in my book challenges. I managed to finish out Megan's Semi-Charmed Summer Book Challenge (in just over a month!) in the first week, and then I promptly began checking off my list for Erin's Book Challenge that runs from July-October.

And if you're wondering how I've managed to chip away so many books (because I'm sure the curiosity is killing you), rest assured that I am not some super speed-reader. At any given time, I am reading three books in three separate formats: print book, e-book (on my iPhone Kindle app), and audiobook. Since I drive a ton for work, I manage to go through a lot of audiobooks, and then I switch back and forth between print books and my phone, depending on my mood. I've always been a bigger fan of real books and visit my local library at least on a weekly basis, but can't deny that there's something nice about being able to lay in bed and just crack open an e-book on my phone without having to get up. I'm lazy, what can I say?

Anyway, here's what I read in July:

15 points: Read a book set in Appalachia | A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (276 pages, ★★★★)
15 points: Don’t judge a book by its cover! Read a book with a cover you personally find unappealing. | Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin (482 pages, ★★)
I swore by Ina May's Guide to Childbirth during my first pregnancy so to say this book was a disappointment would be a vast understatement. The first third was birth stories from the Farm that discussed the spiritual nature of childbirth. Despite some silly, hippie-dippie colloquial language, I enjoyed it. The rest of the book was written for midwives as almost a how-to. I got bored with all the scientific language and reading about diseases, birth defects, etc that were not relevant to me.  
My biggest complaint, however, was the organization of the book, it didn't feel like one cohesive text, but a few different childbirth-related books that had been chopped up and forced together against their will. Ina May then ended the book on a super negative note sharing two particularly horrible hospital birth stories illustrating the uncompassionate nature of doctors. It was altogether bizarre.


Once I had completed Megan's challenge, I immediately started crossing books off my list for Erin's Book Challenge (you can see my Preliminary List here): 

15 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) blue cover. | The Vegas Diaries by Holly Madison (288 pages, ★★★★)
Such a good, guilty pleasure read- I devoured it in one sitting. I felt that Holly's first book was very "woe is me," so this was the redemption I was hoping to find for one of my favorite reality TV personalities.
25 points: Read a book set in a country you have always wanted to visit. (Germany) | Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (479 pages, ★★★★)
For those interested in the Holocaust or WWII history, I felt like this was a fresh perspective written from the alternating perspectives of a German woman who lived through the horrors of Nazi Germany in the 1940's and her daughter in the 1990's. Although it wasn't my favorite book set during this time, I did think the author did a good job portraying the shades of grey present when humans are placed in dire situations and the lengths people will go to to survive and protect the ones they love.

10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter "R." | The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan (454 pages, ★★★★)
Although I will echo the sentiments of others that this book was looong, it gets a pass because it was light, fun, and a total guilty pleasure read. Loved it!
5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages. | Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist (240 pages, ★★)
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 
Here's the thing: I love Shauna Niequist. I love her heart, her faith, and the way she centers her life around family, friendship, and food. But sometimes her writing style drives me a little bit bonkers. I wish that it was more organized, and easier to follow. Instead, it reads like a stream-of-consciousness or like one long blog post. I love where her head is at, but I feel like sometimes I miss her point because I'm just trying to follow her train of thought. 
I will continue to read her books, so long as she continues to write them, but this only gets three stars from me simply because of the above.

30 points: Read a music related book. | How to Kill a Rock Star by Tiffanie DeBartolo (438 pages, ★★)

I thought the premise of the book was interesting, and to be fair I really loved how music-centric it was. That being said, I spent the first half of the book being completely annoyed by the lack of character development and the second half annoyed by the melodrama, self-righteousness and just plain shitty-ness of the main characters. 
I also found the author's use of "gay" and "retard" by the main characters completely unnecessary. I could understand if they were being used to give more insight into the personalities of the characters, but I felt like it was more indulgent and insensitive than anything else. 
I would recommend this book probably only to indie music-loving emo kids. For anyone else, pass.

 I got a little burnt out on reading books strictly to meet my book challenge categories this month, so I did sneak in a few "extra credit" reads that were just for me:

I liked the idea behind this anthology and admittedly I did enjoy some of the original stories written by authors who were inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love. That being said, my reason for loving Elizabeth Gilbert was notably missing: HER voice.
 Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (272 pages, ★★★)
I knew I would love this book because I love virtually every word that comes out of Glennon's mind. But I was completely unprepared for how this book would wreck me, convict me, and cast light on the dark, scary, vulnerable parts of myself and my marriage. Glennon's struggle with intimacy particularly resonated with me and as she wrote about how she and her husband learned how to drop their shame-filled ideas of what sex is supposed to be and re-learn how to love each other, tears streamed down my face. 
I devoured this book and if I could give it six stars, I would. This book needs to be read by every woman, every married couple, every person who has ever felt like no one understands their pain. I can't begin to overstate the beauty, vulnerability, courage, and honesty that is wrapped up in this book. 
(I received this book through a GoodReads giveaway).
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What books did you love this month?

p/c: Goodreads

Monday, August 1, 2016

An Exciting Announcement!!!

I've been keeping a secret...

And no, I did not have a baby and not tell anyone.

What I did do, is become a Contributing Writer for...

Eek! I have been waiting until my first post went live to share the happy news, and today is that day!

World Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7, and to kick things off right, I'm sharing my Three Tips for Pumping at Work:

When I was pregnant with my first son, I was a fiend for breastfeeding stories. I sought out firsthand accounts through Mommy blogs, scrolled through chat rooms, and peppered the Mamas in my life with questions. I made sure to invest in some nipple cream and prepared myself for the very worst- sore nipples, a baby who couldn't latch, over/undersupply, etc. To be honest, I was kind of dreading it.

So imagine my surprise when breastfeeding was a breeze for me! My son latched on right away, and as one of my L&D nurses comically phrased it, I had "the right equipment" for it. I had readied myself to be in pain, to possibly bleed, and potentially not have it in me to stick with it and switching to formula. What I never anticipated was how much I loved breastfeeding. I never expected that I would treasure being my son's sole source of nutrition, or that it was I that could comfort him when on one else could, or how simply magical it felt to stare into his sweet, baby blues as he suckled away and my heart nearly exploded with love....

To read more, check out my first post on Dayton Moms Blog!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Letter to my First Baby

Dear Charlie (or should I say 'Baby Pep'?),

Last weekend we spent two days staying with family we hadn't seen in entirely too long. It was two days filled with lots of food, lots of laughs, and lots of love. On Saturday night, long after you had been put down in your Pack N' Play, your Daddy and I went to sleep in the guest bed. When Daddy's snoring was just too much for my pregnancy insomnia, I thought I would sneak into one of the twin beds in the second bedroom where you lay. Being the light sleeper that you are, you of course, woke up and I pulled you into bed with me in the hopes that you might go back to sleep in my arms. That also didn't work. But what wound up happening is that you and I laid there together for a couple hours, completely keeping each other awake, but neither of us wanting to put a stop to the amazing cuddle session we had found ourselves in. You snuggled into the crook of my arm, only getting up occasionally to wrap your tiny arms around my neck and give me hugs, before settling back in again. I laid my head against yours feeling the warmth radiate from your little ginger head, and soaked up your sweet, baby smell. 

The next morning when you woke me up at 6:30am, I was running on about 1-2 hours of sleep and was in complete zombie mode. But I wouldn't have traded that night together for anything and I hope I remember it forever.

As your baby brother's due date draws nearer and nearer, I know in my head that his entrance into the world as the baby of the family, does not mean that you will ever stop being my baby. But I'm having a difficult time convincing my heart. Charlie Davis, you are the sweetest, most charming, laidback, and happy-go-lucky little guy and I am so blessed to be your Mama. I don't know how the introduction of a new member of our family will go, but I'm sure there will be challenging moments at some point. I just want you to know how deeply you are loved. I never want to compare you and your brother, but if he turns out to be even half as good-natured, smiley, lovable, and joyful as you are, I will be the luckiest Mama around.

You will always be my first baby. The boy who made me Mama Bear.

I love you,

Friday, July 15, 2016

What's in a Name?

When I was pregnant with Charlie, I really didn't like to idea of settling on his name before he was born. Mostly, because I couldn't picture assigning a name to a person whom I didn't even know yet. I just had this gut instinct that when my baby boy was born, I would know what his name was. And sure enough, while there were other names that I genuinely liked, Charlie was the only name that just seemed to fit. Charlie was the only name I could actually picture calling my little boy.

The experience of sharing my name preferences with family and friends stayed with me, however. Everyone had an opinion on what our baby's name should (or shouldn't) be. He should have a good, strong, heirloom name. Or he shouldn't be named this, because such-and-such person associated it with this horrible person they once knew. It was maddening. Why did anyone feel like they should have had a say in naming our child? As long as we weren't naming him Lucifer, shouldn't our opinions be the only ones that mattered?

When I got pregnant with Baby 2.0, I was even more adamantly opposed to sharing our baby's name before he was born. This way, people wouldn't have the opportunity to shed light on a name, that admittedly, is a little unconventional, but not exactly cringe-worthy. From the moment we found out 2.0's gender at his 20-week ultrasound, we knew what his name was going to be and we were so excited about it. I didn't want family and friends' raised eyebrows to dampen our enthusiasm for the name, so I encouraged Chuck that we should keep it to ourselves until he was born and no one could have a say.

We lasted several weeks, which is pretty good for us, before our various family members began chipping away, one by one, at our resolve. It started with one person on my side, then someone on his, and in a small amount of time, eventually everyone in our families knew. We put up a good fight, but let me tell you- the Bests and Stuckerts are some master manipulators!

Which brings us to present day. Although our family does know, we're still holding out in sharing the name with our larger social circle until 2.0 is officially earthside. 

However, that doesn't mean I can't have a little fun until that time comes. So, I thought I'd give a few clues and see if anyone can guess Baby 2.0's name! The winner gets bragging rights, and a big cyber hug from yours truly. Doesn't get much better than that, right?
That totally narrows it down, right? Haha Honestly, I will be super impressed if someone manages to guess it correctly- I might even dole out two cyber hugs. Things could get wild...

Monday, July 11, 2016

Why Blogging is Safe (and Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It)

Nearly a year ago, I saw on social media that in honor of the upcoming 10th anniversary of my favorite author's book, Eat Pray Love, an anthology would be published entitled "Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It." As the title suggested, the anthology would be a collection of essays written by readers who were inspired by Liz Gilbert's personal journey to Italy, India, and Indonesia to make changes in their own life and embark on their own journeys.

For someone who not-so-secretly longs to be published one day, this opportunity was made for me. I didn't have to make up a story of how the book impacted me- because I already had one! Eat Pray Love had long been one of my favorite books, because it guided me through an insanely adventurous, tumultuous and world-shattering time in my life. With little time left before the submission deadline, I got right to work word-vomiting my story onto the page. I honestly didn't spend much time on it- the story was already there, I just needed to get it on the page, so to speak. I struggled to fit my journey into the small word count I was given, but upon it's completion I sent a desperate email to one of my in-laws who works for a book publisher, asking her if she would do me a solid and read through it and send me some constructive criticism.

She did, sent it back with some amazingly helpful suggestions on how I could improve and better translate my tale, and then I immediately chickened out. I never submitted my story. As I read through her comments, I was sick to my stomach. If sending such an emotional and vulnerable story from my past to someone whom I loved and trusted entirely left me with this much anxiety, I didn't think I could bear the rejection I would inevitably face when some anonymous stranger decided that my writing just wasn't good enough. 

I continued to follow Elizabeth Gilbert on social media, read her latest book, Big Magic, about the creative process, and never forgot about the anthology and what could have been. 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I requested the audio-book version of Eat Pray Love Made me Do It from my local library and began listening to it during my daily work commute. Some stories I enjoyed more than others, but I honestly didn't feel that any of them were better, or worse, than my own. They were just different. Gilbert's tale manifested itself differently in each person's life and what one person gained in coping with anxiety, was different from what another person gained from deciding to leave an abusive relationship. 

I felt regret and shame that I had been so cowardly as to not even bother sharing my own written piece and it was then that the proverbial light-bulb turned on above my head and I made the realization- this is why I always come back to blogging. There is something comfortable and safe about blogging. I come, I write, I get my catharsis, and I don't risk being vulnerable and sharing honest and heartfelt emotion that is hard for me to put out into the world. There is little emotional risk in sharing my child's milestones, and my reading challenge progress. I'm not saying this is a good, or bad thing. It is what it is, but I think it's worth it for me to step back and evaluate how I ever expect to be published if I can't even allow myself to write something real, and of value, for fear that I'll be rejected. Rejection comes with the territory of being a writer (not that I would know, but so I've heard). I need to get over this fear, do the brave thing, and send in the story that I think is good, even if someone else doesn't.

I'm not there yet, but in the spirit of baby steps toward courageous writing, I wanted to share what I wrote nearly a year ago today and be confident in my story, even if someone else doesn't appreciate it the same way.

Here goes nothing:

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I am a full-fledged bookworm. Every night my husband asks me if I care to join him as he goes to visit family or hit up local live music, and every Friday night, I decline. There is nothing in the world that soothes me quite like the comfort of my fluffy couch pillows, a lint-covered fleece blanket and the well-worn pages of a previously loved book. Because reading is a pretty frequent occurrence in my life, if you asked me the last time I read To Kill a Mockingbird, I could give you a ballpark guess on the year. If you asked me the last time I escaped into the magical world of Harry Potter, chances are I’d have better odds recalling what I ate for breakfast 37 days ago. If you asked me when I first read Eat Pray Love, however, I could tell you with absolute certainty when I journeyed with Liz to Italy, India and Indonesia in the book that would stay with me for years.

My junior year of college was a year filled with emotional turbulence. I began, and then ended, a long-distance relationship with my first real boyfriend (I was a late bloomer). It was the first time I held a “grown up” position as an intern with an HIV/AIDS resource center. It was the first time I lived abroad.

For four months, I was an exchange student at Uganda Christian University. It was the most challenging, tumultuous and significant four months of my life. I lived in a town surrounded by the most abject poverty my naive, college mind had ever taken in. Children rifled through the garbage in our dining hall scrounging for handfuls of uneaten rice. When I walked into town, the locals looked me up and down, with eyes filled with curiosity, judgment and sometimes, even, resentment. What I saw left me stunned, sick, and emotionally raw. Every day I went to bed feeling drained and overwhelmed by my reality, and yet I had the distinct conviction that I was doing something of utter importance. I needed to bare witness to the heart-wrenching global wealth disparity. I needed to make known the government corruption that was plaguing people’s lives. I needed to escape the comfort of my cushy, affluent life and immerse myself in the plight of my Ugandan brothers and sisters. Living in Uganda for four months was the little travel bug that bit me. Wanderlust flooded my brain and I realized that I was destined to be a globetrotter.

At the conclusion of my study abroad program, my group had the opportunity to spend a week in Kigali, Rwanda learning about the genocide that had occurred only 15 years prior. If my four months in Uganda didn’t serve to leave me a shattered mess of a person, my week in Rwanda surely did. It was a 14-hour trip on red, pothole-filled roads, followed by a lot of downtime in between visits to museums and meetings with genocide survivors. Many of my fellow students used this time to work through what they had witnessed together; some retreated into solitude to pray and meditate on the tough questions they had for God. I, quite selfishly, wanted nothing to do with either. I wanted to escape and not think about one of humanity’s darkest hours. A friend lent me her copy of Eat Pray Love, I buried myself into the flattened pillow of my bottom bunk and I began to read.

I delighted in imagining four months filled with nothing but carbs. My mouth watered imagining the flavor of asparagus drizzled in olive oil, prosciutto with a side of red wine, and pizza. Oh, the pizza. For a modest, Christian girl who had sustained herself on nothing but rice and beans for four months, Italy was a close to porn as I would ever get.

I then followed Liz to India. While Italy was a feast for the senses, it was in India that Liz confronted her ambiguous faith and her relationship baggage. As she wrestled with the darkness within her, it was only as she grew closer to God that she was able to let her issues go. I, too, was in a place of crisis in regard to my faith. How could I not be surrounded by the ugliness of human nature? How could I truly believe in a just God when for four months, I inhabited a country who only decades earlier had suffered under one of the worst dictators in human history? As Liz slowly and painfully made her way toward spiritual enlightenment, I also reached a place of peace. On my twenty-first birthday, a day usually categorized by belligerence and mischief, I stood in front of a congregation of Rwandan genocide survivors and recited Isaiah 40:31. I confessed to the women and children sitting in the pews (as few men had survived the massacre 15 years prior) that my heart broke for their families. I confessed that I had trouble reconciling how this had happened to them, how the world had stood by and did nothing as lives were destroyed. Then I told them of how I had opened up my Bible to this verse and God had reminded me that though Rwanda’s history was tragic and haunting, it would not be what defined them as a people. For days I heard testimonies from children whose parents had been murdered in front of their eyes, but I also gained something else: a better understanding of the resiliency of the human spirit. And so, on April 26, 2009 at the ripe age of 21, I recited for the Church, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Hope. Hope and perseverance was what defined Rwanda, and I left “The Land of a Thousand Hills” enlightened.

By the time Liz had made her way to Bali, I had embraced my fate as an independent, world-saving, humanitarian citizen of the world. I would live in mudhuts feeding malnourished African orphans. I would save girls trafficked into prostitution. I would need no man, no children. My sacrificial, saintly life would be all I would need to be happy. Imagine my shock when I read on as Liz abandoned her journey of self discovery to hook up with a Brazilian heartthrob. (Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what happened, but that was how I perceived it at the time). I felt betrayed. Here I was about to embark upon a lifetime of service and world-saving, and my soul sister was leaving me high and dry for a man! At its conclusion, I closed the book and sat feeling disappointed and discouraged.

Eventually, I made my way back stateside, finished my final year of college and graduated on a perfect sunshiney, May afternoon. With diploma in hand, I headed to the economically devastated town of Wilmington, Ohio to begin a year of service with the AmeriCorps program. It didn’t matter that I had never stepped foot in this town or knew anyone there. The fact that I would be giving a year of my life to teaching families in need how to grow their own food was more than enough to fulfill me. Except that it wasn’t. Months into my term of service, I sat in my second-story, walk-up apartment and felt completely and utterly alone. The lone wolf facade that I had proudly adorned in Uganda was not nearly as well-fitting as I had hoped. I wanted a friend, a confidante, and when I was truly honest with myself, what I wanted more than anything, was love. I did the thing I never thought I would do, I prayed that God would introduce love in my life. For the first time in my life, my heart was open and I was ready to introduce myself to love. Two weeks later, that prayer was answered and I met the man who would become my husband.

It was during this time of loneliness and boredom that I decided to give Eat Pray Love a second chance. I revisited Italy like I was greeting an old friend. I felt peace in India as Liz meditated in her ashram. And once again, Liz traveled to Indonesia and fell in love. I sat up in my bed, tears streaming down my face as it finally sunk in- the enormity of what it meant for Liz to fall in love. Her journey was not meant to be a quest of the independent woman. Her journey was figuring out how to fall in love with herself. It was only when she was head over heels in love with herself that she was able to try her hand at a truly loving, functional relationship and there was no braver, more courageous thing she could have done.

Did Eat Pray Love make me fall in love? Well, not exactly. However, it was only after I had made myself the most vulnerable, abandoned the tough exterior and allowed myself to love that I understood what made Eat Pray Love so special in the first place. I am so thankful to Liz for sharing her journey, for sharing her life and for having the courage to fall in love again.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Day in my Short-Lived Modeling Career

Having a sister-in-law who is a budding photographer certainly has its advantages. A few days ago Ashlee texted me and asked if I (along with her sister) would play her models for the day. She had seen a picture on Pinterest that inspired her, and next thing I knew I was standing in front of a sheet in her garage having colored powder thrown on me and repeatedly exclaiming, "I don't know what to do with my face!"

Despite the fact that I probably shouldn't quit my day job for a life on the runway, it was a ton of fun and I got some super cute pictures out of the deal!

And of course, we had to get one last one of the belly!

 If you want to see more from our color-fun photoshoot, be sure to check out her sister, Ellie's blog- Daily Ellie Style

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

18 Months as Mommy

Well, it appears that this will be my last "Months as Mommy" post as we'll be starting the monthly updates all over again from scratch with Baby 2.0! It's such a bittersweet feeling to know that my baby boy isn't really a baby anymore and welcoming his little brother into the world in two-ish months is going to officially put an end to that chapter of our lives. I loved becoming a Mommy to Charlie and I couldn't have asked for a sweeter, and more perfect little boy to usher in this era of my life. However, I also feel ready to be a Mommy times two. I know I've mentioned it before, but I was never someone who wanted to have an only child and always knew that I would want at least two children to complete our family. So this soon-to-be baby of ours kind of feels like a missing puzzle piece, which is also why even though we weren't trying for a second baby, we also weren't trying very hard not to have one. But I'm getting off topic.

Today is all about you, Charlie Davis, and the wonderful 18 months we've shared together! Happy 1.5 years, baby boy!

Charlie was a late bloomer in terms of teething, but has more than made up for it in the last few months. This little monster has sooo many teeth!

His vocabulary has also completely taken off and he's developed quite the repertoire. Some of the funniest are "bee" which is any flying insect that he happens to spot within a mile radius. Seriously, this kid is observant, "nack nack" which is snacks, "boobie" which is what it is, but he doesn't discriminate between men and women when identifying their boobies! Haha He's mastered a lot of his family's names, too, though he still has trouble with "Grandma," "Grandpa," and his aunts.

The last couple months have been quite the transition for us! Charlie's Aunt Ashlee went back to work full-time so we were unexpectedly without secure childcare. Thankfully, the timing worked out pretty perfectly because my sister had just graduated from grad school and was temporarily homeless while she job searched. Aunt Kelly has been living with us for the last month or so and watches him at our house during the day. Charlie seemed a little lost without his cousin Lucie to play with for the first week, but quickly adapted to being at home with his "Auntie K."

Auntie K finally did land herself a job, so this week, Charlie starts with a new sitter until I go on maternity leave. Fingers crossed it all works out because figuring out childcare is sooo stressful!!!

Charlie's 18-month appointment was yesterday and the nurse measured his height at 31 inches (up two from his last appointment!) and his weight at 19 lbs even. He's still hanging out below the growth curve for weight (no surprise there), but he's actually moved up to the 10th percentile for height. I knew there had to be a reason I've had to buy all new 18-month rompers lately! He's still wearing size 3 diapers, is now in size 4 shoes and he's in pretty much all 18-month clothes, with the exception of a few 12-month sized shorts

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My Mama heart is going a little nuts at the thought of Charlie being a full-blown toddler, but I actually feel pretty confident that he's going to transition well into big brother mode. Charlie is such a sweet, lovable kid who charms the pants off everyone he meets. He loves other kids and I think is going to love having a new baby in the house. He's still pretty young so I don't know that he necessarily understands what's about to happen, but we've been trying to get him used to the idea that there's a baby in Mommy's belly. I was talking to him about it the other day and without any prompting whatsoever, he planted a huge kiss on my tummy. I just about melted right then and there!

Charlie Davis, you will always be the sweet, ginger-headed baby who made me a Mommy and I am so thankful for that. I am so excited for this next phase of our life together. Keep being your gentle-hearted, good-natured self and you are going to do beautiful things in this life!