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!


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

JUNE | Summer Book Challenge Check-In

This past month, I participated in Megan's Semi-Charmed Book Challenge, and for the first time ever, I can confidently say- I. Am. Killing. It. I finished 10/12 of my challenge books and am well on my way to finishing the last two within the next few days! For a girl who has never even come close to finishing a blogging book challenge, the fact that I wracked up 170 points in a month has me on a serious bookworm high!

So in summary, here's what I read for the challenge (plus a few bonus reads at the end):

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages longThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (312 pages, )
This book was recommended to me as a good audiobook to listen to. I loved it- the perfect combination of spooky, clever, and fun. My only criticism is that the ending felt a little drawn out, but the rest of the book was so wonderful and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the perfectly fitting music that aided in transitioning between chapters was actually Bela Fleck.
Super fun audiobook read and I'm so glad I gave it a shot!

10 points: Read a collection of short stories or essaysWhen You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (323 pages, )
Didn't love it, didn't hate it. Probably my least favorite of Sedaris'.

10 points: Read an adult fiction book written by an author who normally writes books for children | In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume (397 pages, )
I couldn't bring myself to give this less than three stars, because up until now I've always thought Judy Blume was infallible. The book was well-researched, and no one can say Judy Blume doesn't know how to write, but I just plain ol' didn't enjoy this story at all. There didn't seem to be any kind of climax, but the book read like one long plateau. Not to mention Blume used alternating POVs, which in and of itself is not problematic, except that she alternated between about 20 different characters and by the end of the book I still couldn't keep everyone straight!
If you're a Blume fan, like me, you may want to skip this one. 

15 points: Read a book set in Appalachia | A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (Currently reading)

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 (Currently reading)

20 points: Read a book that you have previously only seen the film (movie) of | Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (322 pages, )
Moderately better than the movie (which I watched first), but I still came away with the same feeling that with the exception of Ethan, none of the main characters were remotely likable.

25 points: Read a book with a punny title. The title can be a play on another book title, movie title or a common expression. Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle (160 pages, )
I borrowed this in e-book format, but would absolutely go out and buy the hardcover version in an instant. This cocktail manifesto is delightfully punny with each recipe paying tribute to a literary classic. The Lord of the Mai-Tais sounded particularly scrumptious and I would highly recommend for bookworms and booze hounds alike.

30 points: Read a microhistory | Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (320 pages, )
This was a 3.5 star read for me. It was well-researched and I appreciated that the author injected some humor to "liven" up a morbid subject. I'm not someone particularly squeamish, nor am I all that strong-stomached, but there were a couple instances that made me a little queasy, particularly in regard to the chapter on human decay. I liked that this made me think about my own wishes for my bodily remains, but this wasn't a book I would normally pick up and I definitely wouldn't read it again.

30 points: Read one book with a good word in the title, and one with a bad word | First Comes Love by Emily Giffin (400 pages, ★) 
I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 
This was more of a 4.5 star read, but I was just so happy for the redemption that Giffin achieved after the horror that was The One and Only. This book reminded me of why I love her writing in the first place- as someone else wrote, it is "chick lit with substance." I love that she writes about messy, flawed, imperfect relationships, yet always still manages to delight her readers with the happy ending three so desire. This book following the lives of two sisters after a family tragedy was no exception.

and A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages by Kristin Chenoweth (232 pages, ★)
I wasn't very familiar with Chenoweth's work aside from a guest starring role on Glee, but a friend recommended this as a great audiobook and I'm so glad I took the recommendation. She is the girl you love to love- sweet, sunshiney and completely deserving of all the success she's achieved. I would recommend this audiobook (narrated by the author) to her fans, and soon-to-be fans alike!

40 points: Read two books that contain the same word in the title, but once in the singular and once in the plural | The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant  (360 pages, 
I loved reading about Addy's life growing up in Boston in the 1910-1920's and listening to the audiobook felt like sitting down with my own Grandma as she shared stories of her life.
and The Girls by Emma Cline (368 pages, )
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 
I didn't know what I was reading when I picked this book, just that it was supposed to be the book to read this summer. Had I known, I wouldn't have read it because it was much too dark for my taste. The story revolves around a young girl who is swept up into a Charles Manson-esque cult in the late 1960's. It was gruesome, depressing, and not at all my cup of tea, but I cannot deny that the writing was excellent. 
For people with darker taste than my own, it's a good read, just not my style. 


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I also read a couple "extra credit" books:

I was just glad to be done with The Chronicles of Narnia series quite honestly and couldn't bring myself to love the books as much as everyone else seems to.

Life of Pi, on the other hand, was a a great pick. It was at times, hard to listen to. But even as I tried to guess the ending it still blew me away. It was a unique and inventive story, though not for the faint of heart.

Want to join in on the fun? Check out Megan's book challenge here!

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In July, I'll be working to finish off the last two books for Megan's challenge and start checking off my list for Erin's Book Challenge! I can't wait to have my first book challenge success under my belt!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Blogger Love v.13

It's been a really long time since I've shared some blogger love, but there has been such serious goodness in my corner of the interwebs, that I just have to share some of the posts I've been loving on lately:


Of Friendship, Rock n' Roll, and Writing Things I Never Thought I Would Write by Seems Legit | JD is a former co-worker of Chuck's from when he worked at the World Vision warehouse in Pittsburgh. He is so much of what I wish Christians were, and you guys, he's STARTING A CHURCH. I am so excited to see how his BelovedTribe takes shape.

A Realized Obligation by the florkens | Kate's post was a much-needed dose of perspective for me on what it means to be a Mama in this country. So much goodness is wrapped up in her words.


On Mirages and Mama-Hood by mr. thomas and me | I have such a blogger crush on Amber, it's unreal. Her words are so poetic, and beautiful and this post is filled with such vulnerability and honesty, it just blew me away. 

Dear Mama Whose Heart is Twisted about Having Your Second Baby by Whimsical September | Seriously, Erica might as well have been writing directly to me during this season of my life. Her words were such a support an encouragement to me that I actually got a little teary reading this.

A Day in the Working Mama Life by Carolina Charm | I shouldn't find "Day in the Life" posts as interesting as I do, but alas, I'm nosy. I've been torn up about sending my kiddos to daycare once I return from maternity leave in November, so Christina's post was so encouraging to me.

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What bloggers have you been loving on lately?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Baby 2.0's SURPRISE Baby Shower!

As I mentioned previously, because Baby 2.0 is a boy, I wasn't expecting much in the way of presents, least of all a shower. Second babies apparently just aren't as exciting, and especially if they're the same gender as their elder sibling! Not that we needed much, or that I even necessarily wanted a shower (hello, social anxiety), but the thought that this baby wasn't going to be as loved, appreciated, or showered as Charlie was did make me a little sad.

Fortunately, my party planning extraordinaire of a Mama had my back! My sister who has been living with us for the last few weeks to help with watching Charlie was leaving to travel up to Upstate New York for a job interview which left us sitter-less. My Mom offered to come down and watch him for a few days so we didn't have to scramble to find childcare and in that week, she somehow planned an entire shower to surprise us with for the weekend she was going to be here.

While I was at work, thinking that Charlie and his Grandma were going shopping and playing around the house, unbeknownst to me, my Mom was busy preparing and cooking enough food for an army. When Saturday rolled around, I conveniently had to work in the morning and returned home around 1pm. Charlie was still napping when I got back so I laid down hoping that I could catch a quick cat nap before he awoke. We both got up around 2:00pm and I asked my Mom if she would be willing to watch Charlie for a few hours that afternoon because Chuck and I were long overdue for a date. She agreed and Chuck and I were going to catch a late lunch. As he got ready, I grew more and more irritable because I hadn't eaten since 8:00am and I swore he was taking his sweet time putting clothes on.

We finally got in the car and he said he was going to surprise me with the destination (I honestly didn't care where we went as long as I got something to eat!). As he took back roads and meandered his way to our surprise destination, I was growing more and more annoyed, and more and more suspicious. We finally began approaching our friend Jon's farm (the same farm where we got married) and I saw a ton of cars parked behind the house. I knew immediately what was going on and was so ticked at my Mom and Chuck for not suggesting that I change out of my grungy cami and workout capris! Seriously, you guys couldn't have recommended that I wear something nicer than exercise clothes to a lunch date?! Haha

Charlie loves himself some good fruit salad!
Although I did have a little bit of anxiety at the onset (I am terrible at being the center of attention), the fact that so many of my loved ones were present and accounted for on such short notice left me teary-eyed. I was so concerned that no one was as excited about baby 2.0's arrival and they all completely proved me wrong.

I caught up with friends and family, munched on my Mama's delicious cooking (she makes the best potato salad around!) and opened presents with my Hubby. It was such a wonderful, love-filled day and I was so thankful for the friends and family that threw together such a blessed event to celebrate Baby 2.0's arrival.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

30 WEEKS | Obligatory Baby #2 Check-In

In the 15ish total months that I have been pregnant in my life and maintained a blog, not once have I filled out one of those bumpdate/"this week baby is the size of a..." questionnaires. It feels like I'm missing out on some kind of Mommy Blogger rite of passage, so without further ado, here is my first and last Baby 2.0 bumpdate:

BABY IS THE SIZE OF: A platypus, a cucumber, or large tub of ice cream (depending on which of my apps you consult)

GENDER: Bouncing baby boy!

THOUGHTS/FEELINGS: A little bit sad that my sweet Charlie won't get as much attention and trying to mentally prepare myself for another natural birth (if all goes according to plan). 

FOOD AVERSIONS: This was much worse during my first trimester, but has petered off. I'm still a little turned off by poultry for some reason, though.

FOOD CRAVINGS: My food preferences are so out of whack with what I usually eat. I am not exactly a meat-and-potatoes kind of girl, but my ideal meal this entire pregnancy has been a big juicy, steak with mashed potatoes and veggies. I guess this baby wants some protein!

HEALTH/FITNESS: I would love to tell you that I've kept up with some sort of consistent workout routine, but I'd be lying. I like to think that chasing after a sprinting 18-month old is workout enough.

MIDWIFE APPOINTMENTS: My last appointment was at 28 weeks and it was pretty uneventful (which is always a good thing when you're growing a human!) From this point forward, I start going every two weeks. Aah!

WEIGHT GAIN: Based on my weight at my 28-week appointment I'm up about 13 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight and my OB/GYN said I'm measuring right on track.

SYMPTOMS: My heartburn has gotten worse, but other than that, I'm feeling pretty okay for the most part. I think nesting is starting to set in because all of a sudden I've had this intense motivation to decorate ALL THE THINGS in our house.

SLEEP: Up until last week, I was sleeping through the night. But pregnancy insomnia strikes again! I wake up any time between 12-1:30 am and usually don't go back to sleep until close to 4:00 am. Thankfully, I have the Kindle app on my phone to distract me so I'm not just laying in bed restless.

MATERNITY CLOTHES: Being pregnant in the summertime is seriously a whole other monster. When I was pregnant with Charlie I lived in leggings. This time around, give me all of the sports bras and Soffe shorts! I bought myself some Old Navy maternity tanks a few months ago that have been invaluable and I'm trying to stretch my existing wardrobe so as not to buy a bunch of maternity things that I'll never wear again.

BABY ITEMS PURCHASED: Honestly, there is very little that we need for Baby Boy #2. I suppose I should probably start stocking up on diapers and eventually we will need to buy a carseat and figure out how to transition both boys into one room, but for now, we have all we need. Of course, that didn't stop me from buying Baby #2 NB onesies to match an outfit I got for Charlie the other day at Carter's. I will totally be that Mom who dresses her kids in matching clothes. No shame in my game!

DADDY SAYS: He's excited for our two boys, and also excited to never have to go through his wife being pregnant again. Haha!

LOOKING FORWARD TO: Our baby boy! I know that so many women have more difficult pregnancies than I've had, and so many women would give anything to get pregnant as easily as I have and I really do try to be mindful of that. But I am just not someone who enjoys being pregnant. I'm uncomfortable all of the time and really see pregnancy as a means to an end- the end being our beautiful little family of four. So yeah, I guess you could say I'm ready for this baby to be fully cooked and join his family!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Book Challenge by Erin 5.0

Apparently this summer is all about getting in touch with my 9-year old, bookworm self who would spend every summer day spent in the refreshing air conditioned sanctuary that was my Grandma's local library, and my summer evenings staying up wayy past my bedtime with the box fan humming in the background as I raced through another Dear America, or Magic Attic Club book. 

I have been reading up a storm the last month or so and am actually on track to finish my book challenges, so what could it hurt to commit myself to one more?! If I haven't mentioned it before, I looove Erin's book challenges. She hosts them through Facebook so they're very interactive, discussion-based and just a heck of a lot of fun. You don't need to be a blogger to participate, so this challenge, I actually invited my sister-in-law to play along and it's pretty much all we can talk about. July 1st can't come soon enough!

This is my preliminary list for Book Challenge by Erin 5.0:

> > >

I did cheat a little bit and picked a few books that overlapped with the Semi-Charmed Book Challenge categories, but either way, I've got a pile of library books sitting on my bookshelf (and Kindle because I can now borrow library books through Ohio's Digital Library- say whaaat?!) waiting to be read.

This may be the first time I finish a book challenge- wish me luck!