Friday, May 15, 2015

Comfy Clothes

Admit it. You all had that shirt. The one that you said, “I'll NEVER wear that. I wouldn't be caught dead wearing that.” before you stuck it on a hanger and stashed it in the back of your closet. The first few months of your pregnancy, you do fine, stretching your pre-maternity clothes tightly over your growing little bump – looking as cute and fine as can be. You even start wearing a few adorable little maternity outfits and buy empire waist dresses you plan to flounce around in all summer.

And then it hits. BAM. You're sitting in your low-rise maternity-band shorts and neatly buttoned 2nd-trimester maternity shirt while lounging on the couch, when your baby starts punching your lower abdomen with all his might. He might as well be working out in there with all the ruckus he's making. At first, you're delighted that you can feel his moving and it even feels like you can tell a foot from a hand. But then you realize, man, I'm feeling him stronger than normal. And right where that – Gasp! That supposedly elastic stretch-all-around-your-belly waist band is folded over and making marks in your belly! Poor baby! You're overwhelmed with the need to liberate your baby from the confines you've subjected him too, so you run upstairs (ha. Okay, say waddle?), stripping all layers off of you (I never realized that undershirt was so tight!), all the while just feeling your belly expand in the open air. Was he feeling squashed all day??! What have I done?? You swear to never wear anything tight again (just wait till tomorrow morning when you're bloat-free and reaching for those jeans with the low-rise elastic band.), as you pull on your loosest sleep shorts and comb your shirts for something comfy that will not only fit over your gargantuan basketball belly, but also allow your baby to swim freely in his newly expanded tank (don't laugh. It really feels like that some days.).

That's when you see it. The shirt. You remember it. That one you said you wouldn't wear because your mom used to wear shirts just like that when she was pregnant with you. That one that you laughed at, thinking confidently that you'd NEVER be big enough to make that shirt not look frumpy. That's the one. You slowly pull it out of it's hiding place. Hm. It doesn't look as big as I thought it did before. In fact... it feels pretty good! You waddle your big ol' self over to the mirror and do the check. You know the check – Side. Side. Hand under belly. Both hands on belly. Straight on. It doesn't look so bad – Heck, I could wear this to work tomorrow! It's pretty cute!

See what you just put yourself through? Anything is cute when it's comfy. And alas, you have reached the point of no return. You used to roll your eyes when she said fashion doesn't matter – just wear what's comfortable. Aaaand here you are. Mom status.

Yep. That shirt. I wore two of them today.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Baby Brain

Baby is definitely on my brain, but that's not what I'm talking about. Baby Brain is a condition that sets all pregnant women apart from the norm. Before I actually became pregnant myself, I always thought that Baby Brain was just an excuse pregnant women use to get away with being spacey. Now, even pre-baby I tended to be somewhat spacey on occasion already – it doesn't take much for me to have a “spacey day.” I thought, well, I've done that before – how much worse can it really be? Ah, let me tell you... much, much worse.

At work, I normally start the day super focused. I'll get my coffee (under 200 mg or decaf, OF COURSE), enjoy the crisp spring sunshine, and head off to work ready to conquer the task list that lies ahead. But something happens around 10:00. I've answered emails, met with my coworkers, and then one thing, ONE TINY THING can set me off for the rest of the day. Today, I was working on our employees' work schedule for three weeks out, and I flipped the calendar page and Freaked. Out. Seriously, ask my coworker! I'm pretty sure she would tell you that my eyes got huge, I grabbed the table, and looked like I just saw a centipede on my nose. I saw... JUNE. It's almost June!! The thought of that floored me (and to be honest, I'm still floored and trying to recover) for the rest of the day. You know what that means? June will be over in the blink of an eye and then summer will be almost over, and then our son will be born at any minute!!!! I wanted to scream, “I'M NOT READY!!!”

Okay, I know that sounds extreme, but this is just 10 seconds in the brain of a pregnant lady. For the rest of the day, Baby Brain led me through a journey of heavy-heartness where I felt like I was going to cry with no emotional stimulation whatsoever to super-spaciness where I would be counting to four – FOUR!! - and I would lose count. (Wait, Was that orange or yellow? Was I counting East or West? Did I count East yet? Okay, 4 people upstairs – no 3. No 4. I still have to count East. I'm hungry.)

 Somewhere in the midst of this mess, I got myself good and overwhelmed enough to warrant the warning signs of a panic attack, which I haven't felt in months. Thanks to an understanding workplace, I was able to walk outside and lay in the grass under a bright green tree, watching soul-cleansing wind blow the leaves of weaping willow trees in the distance across a country field. I needed that. Once I got home, I printed out my two registries, plopped my pregnant self on the couch with a giant mason jar of water (summer survival tactic, really), and proceeded to make notes next to each item as I confirmed to myself that yes, we will have everything we need before Gavin arrives. And we don't need that much right away anyway. All will be well.

And what was the reason for my panic? Remember back at 10:00 when I flipped the calendar from May to June? Yep. That's it right there. I'm due in September.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Baby Bucket List

I want to share what's on my mind. Can I do that? I've had several people recently question why Ozzie and I have decided to hold off on having a baby right now. When I explain that we want to wait until we're more financially stable, I've heard more than once, "Well, you'll never be financially stable. So why put it off?"

At this point, I just take a breath and smile. I really do love that you are excited for us to have kids and am assured that one day we'll have a very supportive network of family and friends to help us when the time comes. But, as much as we will love our babies when they come, that time is not quite here yet. We are so happy living in this period of being just us as a couple. This is the only time in our lives (well, until we're empty-nesters) that we can just focus on each other - building and strengthening our relationship, working on personal projects all evening just because we want to, walking around Walmart for fun in the middle of the night, going out to a diner for breakfast at 3am and deciding to leave right then and there for Indiana... These are moments and memories that I'm treasuring. We are storing up experiences and love now for the future.

To be honest with you, I would love a baby. It gets to me when I least expect it. I could be having a fine day, and then I look out the window and see a couple moms walking past with babies snuggled to their bodies, in adorable pink and green strollers, or tiny tots trailing behind them. To say that seeing mommies and babies together tugs at my heart is an understatement. But I know in my heart that the best way I can love our future children is to prepare for them now to provide the best life possible for them. Ozzie and I have talked many times about what we would like to do before we have children. So I've put together a "Baby Bucket List" that includes some practical, real life things we want to accomplish and some wish list items that would be fun to experience as a couple before we have kids. Overall, it is important to note that this list is not extensive or restraining in any way. It helps us focus and makes the preparation season fun. We do understand that God's plans are ultimate, and that no checklist really fully prepares you to be a parent.

So have fun with us and enjoy our list! I'll add to it and update what we've completed as we go. Look for the most updated version under the Snuggles and Giggles page!

The Baby Bucket List

Seriously, We Need To Do This

1. Become more focused on The Lord and dedicated to daily habits of Scripture-reading and quiet time.
2. Continue learning and discuss how we would like to raise our children. (We are excited for this life-long process!)
3. Ozzie graduate from college
4. Ozzie get a good full time job he is happy in
5. Buy a second car
6. Get to and maintain my goal weight and fitness level. (It is very important to me to be fit and strong during pregnancy and as a mom. I want to be energized and able to enjoy the adventures God throws our way.)
7. Eat clean, healthy and home-cooked regularly. (We already do this for the most part, but I still want to get on a better schedule of clean eating for lunches and during snacking.)
8. Cut down on coffee, so I don't need it every day. (Taking one week/month to be entirely off coffee would help. I know, they say you can have some coffee now while pregnant, but why not go above and beyond to make sure everything goes as right as possible?)
8. Be comfortable cooking daily meals. (I've improved on this since we've been married, but I want to get to a point where I have ideas, energy, and skills to cook a good, healthy meal every night.)
9. Get into a consistent cleaning schedule.
10. Pay down most of our debt.
11. Have a sturdy amount of savings set aside.
12. Work on managing stress and emotions - Find and get in the habit of utilizing a sure-fire stress relief method.

We Would Prefer To Do

1. Buy our first home
2. Stay at an adventure resort (summer or winter)
3. Cultivate my friendships with my girl friends (I want to have a strong circle of friends when I am a mom. More on friends later.)
4. Develop my online homemade business into a solid income source that is enjoyable and fulfilling.
5. Sew our baby's supplies in a style that will be cute for either boy or girl: Reusable diapers with diaper covers, diaper bag, changing pads, crib set, and other nursery items.
6. Have family and friend's children/babies overnight and all day a few times.
7. Be able to hold a conversation in Spanish and understand Spanish children's books/music. (Ozzie's got this covered, but I have more to work on. We want to be able to teach our children Spanish in the home as they're learning to talk.)
8. Enjoy full nights of sleep now!

It Would Be Nice To Do

1. Have a couple's photo shoot (before the maternity shoot!)
2. Get snowed in at a cabin around Christmas time
3. Go on a cruise or fancy romantic tropical vacation
4. Continue building up my stash of adorable various-sized baby clothes, for boy or girl. (It's important to me to really love everything my baby wears, since they're only wearing those sweet tiny things for a very short time. Between yard sales and what I make, I have time to really pick out the best. That way, too, it won't cost an arm and a leg to buy baby clothes when the time comes.)
5. Take photos of our life pre-baby (Favorite places to go, location of first date, where we met, where he proposed, etc.)

So let me know what you think! Leave a comment and share what items you have/had on your to-do list before having a baby. If you already have kids, is there anything you wish you would've done before having children?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sleepless Nights & Early Mornings

It's 4am and I can't sleep. What is wrong with me? I love sleep! But I'm left wide awake, senses blaring, and all I can think of is how I want Wheat Thins. I tried to calm myself by scrolling through Instagram, and even watched a few Youtube videos. Still, I knew that the only thing that would calm me down is to crawl down to the couch, eat those darn crackers, and let the TV drone me to sleep.

Well, apple pie was the first thing to hit my sights when I clunked down the stairs. Who ever said binge eating was bad for you at night? Were they not human? Yeah, like I want to binge at 11am. When else are you supposed to eat this stuff? (I know better, okay? I'm just tired and cranky.) So I'm sitting here with a glass of milk and pastey apple pie, trying desperately to connect to some form of internet for entertainment, and only three lights are blinking on that wireless box. Not four. Ugh... this is so not my thing. I do the best I could with the engineer of the family asleep – I unplugged it and plugged it back in. Eating pie while watching the lights slowly, one-by-one turn back on... only three. I give up.

Whenever I'm sitting up awake in the middle of the night, I always feel like I SHOULD be doing something productive. Like when else am I going to have four hours of silence and energy to get things done? But really... these are the moments when you want to defy all responsibility, hide under a blanket, and pretend that you really are sleeping. Because you know that in too few hours it will be Monday morning, and a horrifyingly exhausted Monday morning at that. I've been trying to cut down on coffee, but tomorrow just may have to be a cheat day!

So I did decide to be somewhat productive after all. I mean, I'm sitting here writing a post, right? That's one step in the right direction, albeit off-line.

I've been thinking about getting a dog recently. This is totally earth-shattering for us, because neither of us have had big pet families, and when we have, they've normally been cats or fish. The thought of having a little dog around the house has popped into my head a few times recently, and I seriously started considering it today. I have so much love to give our little family, and it would be so fun to have a little cuddle bug to care for, while we're waiting to have a baby (more on this later). I brought up the idea to Ozzie, and he said go for it, as long as it meets the following criteria:

  1. Up to date on vaccinations/shots
  2. Neutered/spayed
  3. Free

Short and simple. I, of course, have expounded on that list throughout the day. So here are a few things I've added to our wish list:

  1. House potty trained (or close to it)
  2. Cuddly and friendly
  3. Small sized
  4. Doesn't bark often
  5. Likes walks and playing at the park 
  6. Low to no shedding
  7. It'd be great if he or she came with some of the supplies she is used to at her former home (toy, bed, cage, etc.), to make the transition easier for her!

After seeing it written out, I'm afraid I might sound like I want a stuffed animal, but really, I do want to care for a dog. It would be so fun to take a puppy places and play with her. I especially like the idea of cuddling on the couch with a cute furry friend. So if you know of a friendly dog that is close to this wish list and is looking for a loving home, please comment below and let me know!

Well, the fourth light came on. I guess I'll curl under the blanket now and finish off that pie. Oh, morning, please take your time.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Traditions & Activities - Apple Baking Day

When we went to the pumpkin patch last week, we also bought quite a few pounds of apples for an apple baking day with my mom. So yesterday, my mom and two little brothers spent Saturday at our house baking. Mmm... the house smelled so good! We made apple pies, apple dumplings, and yummy applesauce. Thankfully, we had enough apples to freeze a few pies, dumplings, and containers of apple sauce to eat throughout the fall and winter. But of course, we just had to bake a few right away, because who wants to peel, cut, and season apples all day without tasting some warm, gooey deliciousness?

My little brothers were such a huge help. I don't know how my mom and I would have done it all without just collapsing on the couch half way through (which we did at the end anyway). They were so excited to help that they even volunteered to peel the apples while mom and I walked down to Market to buy a few more apples for the applesauce. Now when I say a few, I mean a whole box! The shop owners at Market were very generous, though, and gave us a a great price. It was fun showing mom Market, as she had never been there before. There are rows and rows of stands with fresh produce, mostly local or organic, baked goods, ethnic foods, flowers, and all kinds of handcrafted items. I love going to Market for the energy, community atmosphere, and refreshing anticipation of life that seems to pervade the place. It was such a beautiful, crisp fall day to walk through the city, too. It brings such peace into my being to step outside and breathe in the cool air, feeling the sun on my skin. I'm such a sucker for scarves, a flannel shirt and puffer vest, too. Just a perfect combination for a memory-full day with my mom and brothers.

With flour and sugar all over ourselves and the floor, gashes in our fingers, the freezer stocked, and the house smelling like apples and cinnamon, we popped The Grinch (the new one!) in the Playstation and cuddled up on the couch while the pies were baking for a warm-fuzzy inducing Christmas movie. I am so thankful for days when we can gather with family to enjoy a cozy day of baking, activities or whatever brings us together. We need each other. That's why we were given family, and I don't want to forget that. It can be so easy for us to go about our daily schedules, staying inward, doing what needs done and what we want to do on our own. It's easy to forget about those who love us and who we love because we're so wrapped up in our struggles or whatever we're trying to figure out. Days like yesterday remind me that without our loved ones being around us, our lives are really in vain. I'm so thankful that God gave us two wonderful families that are now our whole family. 

After working all day, my husband was so excited to come home to an apple dumpling baking in the oven, just for him. I love when I have the opportunity to do special things like that for him. He works so hard and is so loving to me; it warms my heart when I can express my love for him by showing him that I was thinking about him and went out of my way to have something ready in the oven for him just when he came home. The anticipation of this small gesture was on my mind all day as we were baking. He loves apple pie and I just smiled as I was putting the pies together, knowing he would be bouncing around the kitchen, all excited if he were there.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Traditions & Activities - Pumpkin Picking

Nearing the end of our second year of marriage, we are beginning to formulate the traditions that we want to have as our own family. As it started to get colder this fall, I've gotten so excited for the holidays. A few days ago, I actually snuggled up and wrote down pages upon pages of seasonal traditions and activities I would like for us to do. They don't have to be done every year, mind you, but I love the idea of having something fun and seasonal ready to go for the occasional afternoon that we're looking for something to do (ha! Does that ever happen?). 

This particular list came after a refocusing discussion between my husband and I about the cost of activities. I am all about "moments." You'll often hear me say, "But it's about the experience!" or "Just think of the memories we are creating." My husband appreciates that, prefers that our experiences and memories are created while not squeezing the life out of our bank account. Concept understood. So I took it upon myself to create five activities lists (Fall, Christmas, Winter, Spring, Summer) with three sub-lists under each one (Free, Low-Med Cost, Splurge). Then, I went nuts on Pinterest and searched all kinds of seasonal activities. There are so many fun activities that I wrote down for once we have kids - just think of the wonder that will be in their eyes and faces! But I made sure to write down plenty of activities and traditions for Ozzie and I to do as a couple now. I'll be sharing some of these different ideas with you as we try them out, but this weekend, we decided to go on one of my favorite fall traditions.

Ozzie and I went to Cherry Hill Orchards for the day for our pumpkin and apple picking tradition. We love Cherry Hill, because they have everything all in one place for a really reasonable price, which makes it so fun to enjoy without worrying about how much every activity is costing. After getting advice on which apples are best to use for baking apple dumplings, pies, and apple sauce (baking day with mom next Saturday!), we walked through the tasting arena of apples in their shop. They had every kind of apples you could think of! We ended up with about 20 tart, baking apples and 14 large, dumpling apples, which I'm sure we'll end up mixing. After looking around the shop, we got our ticket for the hayride and climbed aboard.

I just love watching the children on the hayride. They each have a different way of taking it all in - whether they're fascinated by the hay, the tractor, the bumpy ride, or all the pumpkins and apples we were passing, seeing it through their eyes is just so precious. I think that's part of what I enjoy about pumpkin picking, and many of our other traditions as well! I love the idea that someday we will get to teach our children these traditions and they'll know that mommy and daddy have been doing these things forever. They'll get to look at the pictures of when it was just us going to the pumpkin patch, wearing funny clothes and smiling like cheeseballs. 

We of course picked out our pumpkins, stomping through muddy ground, while Ozzie insisted that we go to the very end of the pumpkin patch so we don't miss anything. We found the cutest pile of little pumpkins at the end, and I wanted so badly to bring them back to the middle of the patch so the kids could find cute pumpkins amidst all the rotted and squashed ones (there really weren't many left). We ended up finding two cute pumpkins sitting next to each other - Ozzie liked a light orange, small pumpkin and I had my eye on a beautiful dark orange and taller one. We laughed and said they were like each other! 

Last year's pumpkin picking - Our first time!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Living The Dream Wife

Here I am... living the dream. Not the American dream or howling on a stage in front of multitudes. I'm living my dream - doing my best to be my husband's dream wife, loving and nurturing our family, by working diligently to get where  God tells us to go. 

I write this as my first post because I want it to be written on this page forever - as a reminder of what my focus is. My family is everything to me. I prayed for my future husband, read multiple purity and "secrets you should know about guys" books, went to seminars - all while I was still a young girl, desiring to do everything I possibly could to make sure I was ready and able to recognize the man God would one day put in my path to become my future husband (more on this later). After almost two years of marriage, I look at my husband every day with awe of how incredible he is and how amazed I am that God actually answered and exceeded my deepest desires.

Now, before you click to a different page because this is far too mushy and rose-colored-glasses for you, please know that we are real. We have a story, we have our everyday kind of days. But trials, frustrating moments, and victories are what make a story, and I want to share this beautiful love story with you. I want to document the past and the future of our love story after (and I'll share a little about before) the wedding dress, because this love story is, and is going to be, far more adventurous and stunning than any twelve-month period before the dress (yes, twelve!).