Calm & Quiet Mornings

Mornings. All is calm, all is quiet. There is nothing quite like a peaceful start to my day!

Today I want to talk about how waking up early (translation: before LJ wakes up) has made a really positive impact on how my days have gone lately. I have always been a morning person, but I’m also someone who does not function well on little sleep. Motherhood and the subsequent sleep deprivation threw a bit of a wrench in my early-bird lifestyle but I feel like right now I’m back in a season where I can get up early again and it’s made a big difference!

A disclaimer: when LJ was a newborn or going through a sleep regression, waking up early was the very last thing on my mind. In those days I was sleeping in as long as possible and would not get out of bed until he woke up. If he woke up at 4:15 I woke up at 4:15. If he slept in until 8:00, I slept in until 8:00. If you’re a mom to a newborn or baby who isn’t sleeping through the night yet, do not put the pressure on yourself to wake up early. Girl, you need sleep! Take care of yourself and listen to what your body needs.

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For the past 3 months or so, LJ has been consistently sleeping in until 8:00 am, give or take 15 minutes. I was still waking up when he woke up but my mornings began to feel more groggy and disheveled, like I was actually over sleeping. I was going to bed at 9:30 and getting up at 8, which was exactly what I needed when I was being woken up multiple times each night to breastfeed, but not what I needed now that my baby slept through the night. It also started to feel like I was waiting for my morning to wake me up and the days didn’t start on my terms. Since I knew that 99% of the time, LJ would wake up sometime between 7:45-8:15, I started setting my alarm to get up a little earlier. My mindset changed from letting my day wake me up to purposefully waking up and greeting my day. My mornings have significantly improved since I’ve done this!

I typically try to get up somewhere around 6:30. I put on some clothes, splash cold water on my face (I stopped using face cleanser in the morning about 6 months ago after reading multiple dermatologists recommend not over-cleansing your face), apply moisturizer, swipe on deoderant, and put in my contacts. I head downstairs to let the dogs out, fill their bowls with food and water, and pour myself a bowl of cereal. I then jump straight in to my devotions. During the school year, I participate in a Bible Study Fellowship so I’ve been completing each day’s lesson while I eat my breakfast.

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If nothing else, my goal is to get through that entire routine and brush my teeth before LJ wakes up. Some days that’s all I can do but even then it still feels like I’ve started the morning out on the right foot and I feel ready for the day. As long as I get up by 7:00, 99% of days I can get through all that before LJ wakes up.

On the mornings where I get up by 6:30 and LJ sleeps in, I am able to get much more accomplished. Typical things I’ll try to do in this time might be empty the dishwasher (when it’s full, we run it at night so the dishes are dry and clean by morning), start some laundry, wash any dishes left in the sink from the day before, straighten up a room that was left in disarray, or take care of my one cleaning task for the day. I might spend time finishing up a blog post (like I did today!) or get a little work done for my job. Sometimes I will even just light a candle and curl up with whatever book I’m reading and get a few chapters in before LJ wakes up. It feels SO GOOD to be able to start the day off with a sense of calm and accomplishment. Even if nothing else “productive” gets done for the rest of the day, I still feel like I at least have it a little bit together because I had a smooth and relaxing morning.

Of course there are still days where I sleep in. Just the other night, Justin and I stayed up late so I slept in until LJ woke up. When I was in my first trimester with baby #2, I respected and listened to my changing body. If I felt extra fatigued, I just turned that alarm off and kept on sleeping. Sometimes I’m only up for 10 minutes before LJ wakes up. Other days, I get a great night of sleep and wake up on my own at 6:00, ready to start my day. I don’t stress too much about having an exact time or plan but really try to listen to what my body needs while also knowing my days do start so much smoother and happier if I get a little time to myself to start the morning off in the calm and quiet. Just like I said in my self care post last week, I’m a better mom, wife and person when I take care of myself, and waking up early to start the day my way is a form of that.

If you’re feeling like your day wakes you up instead of you waking up to greet the day, try setting your alarm a little earlier and see how you feel. Even just 15 minutes to drink a cup of coffee in silence may make a big difference for you!

 

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Refreshed and Recharged: A Self-Care Soapbox

As I write this blog post, I am sitting at a table in Starbucks on a Wednesday afternoon. I have a cold pressed juice in front of me, a delicious blueberry scone in my belly, and LJ is 6 miles away playing at a friend’s house. And I’m not going to lie, it is downright glorious.Self Care 7.jpg

I love my role as a work from home mom. I am so thankful I get to spend my days with LJ and also make a small income (read more about how I strive to balance these here). When I got pregnant with LJ, Justin and I decided that the best situation for our family would be for me to take a break from teaching to stay home and now almost two years after that initial decision, we are both extremely happy with how this has worked for us.

That being said, I can’t be “on” as mom 24/7 and never take a break to recharge.  I can’t give 100% of myself 100% of the time and not refill my own tank or I’m just running on empty and that helps no one.

Self-care is an overused buzzword these days, but I do truly believe that it is critical for a healthy, balanced life. While I love my days at home, I know I need to have a little “me” time in order to be the best mom, wife, woman I can be. It’s been on my heart lately to write a post about the importance of taking care of yourself, so that’s where we’re headed today. And just for the record, self-care isn’t important for just moms. If you are single and work full time, you need to take care of yourself. If you are in grad school and working part time, you need to take care of yourself. If you are married, dating, divorced, no kids, seven kids, mid-20s, mid-60s, etc. you need to take care of yourself. This is important for everyone! I’m going to be specifically speaking to why it’s important for me as a wife and mom, but you just insert your own labels to make this fit you. It is important for you, regardless of where you are in life, to take care of yourself.

Better self = Better wife, mom, and human

Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. In fact, taking a little time to recharge and refresh is actually selfless, because it allows you to be your best self when it comes to pouring into others. Before every plane ride, you are given the safety instruction that if the oxygen masks are activated, you need to take care of yourself first before helping someone else. You must make sure that you are functioning well enough to be able to adequately help someone else.

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Photo Credit: The Commoneer

If I spend my day in sweats and I don’t take a few minutes to wash my face or brush my teeth because I’m so busy taking care of my son, I feel pretty crummy about myself. If I spend every single nanosecond of LJ’s awake time personally engaging him in play, preparing him food, feeding him, and diapering him, and every nanosecond of naptime cleaning my house, preparing food for dinner, completing work for my job, doing laundry, etc, I feel completely depleted and exhausted by lunch.  If I don’t get a little mental escape occasionally, my brain feels fried.  If I don’t move my body and get a workout in at least 2-3x a week, I feel sluggish and low energy. And when I feel crummy, depleted, sluggish, and exhausted, my temper shortens, my frustration heightens, and my patience wanes. Sounds like a happy, fulfilling life, right?

But. If I take a few minutes to quick wash my face, brush my teeth, and change into clean clothes (even if they’re just clean sweats), I feel refreshed. If I take just a few more minutes to swipe on some make-up, I feel put-together and prepared. If I allow LJ to play with his blocks independently while I finish my morning devotional nearby, I feel centered. If I carve 20 minutes out of naptime to read a book or paint my nails (or take a nap!) I feel recharged. If I take advantage of the YMCA childcare or complete one of my E&E workouts at home while LJ watches, I feel energized. And if I take a friend up on her offer to watch LJ for a couple hours one Wednesday afternoon so I can have some time to myself at a Starbucks, I feel rejuvenated. When I feel these things, I am kinder, more patient, flexible, and happier.

Now. Crummy, depleted, sluggish, exhausted, short-tempered, frustrated, and impatient OR refreshed, put-together, prepared, centered, recharged, energized, rejuvenated, patient, kind, flexible, happy. Which version of Sarah do you think is at her best mom/wife/woman self? It’s not a very tough call is it?

Sounds great. But I’m still a busy mom. HOW can I take care of myself?

Find “mini” boosts. I wrote a whole blog post about small ways that I can get a little mental boost and recharge my batteries on days where I need a little lift but don’t have a ton of time. It doesn’t have to take an hour or cost tons of money. Most of my mini boosts take just a few minutes or can be done with LJ. These things are extra beneficial on days where Justin works a super long shift (sometimes up to 24 hours) and I have to fill both our roles at home.

Communicate with your partner. If there is a week where Justin has several long shifts or we’ve had a lot going on and I need a little break, I communicate my needs with Justin. This might be “hey, I’ve had a crazy day today – can you take care of figuring out dinner or should we order pizza?” or it might be “this week is about to do me in – is there an afternoon or evening where you’ll be home with LJ so I can go to a coffee shop for an hour?” I thrive on a time to myself in a coffee shop to read a book, prepare a blog post, catch up on work for my job, etc. This does WONDERS for me. I always return happy, refreshed, and ready to jump back in to life and be the best mom and wife to my guys. It’s gotten to the point now where if we have a slow day at home, usually on a Sunday afternoon, Justin will ask me if I want to go have “me” time for a while without me even mentioning it. (Once it even involved me going to Panera and actually eating dinner uninterrupted by myself. Nirvana.) He has seen that this time makes a difference for me and I appreciate that he’s supportive. On the flip side, I support when he needs time away too. Just this past weekend, he got asked to join some friends for laser tag and I wholeheartedly supported this. He enjoys golf in the summer and we find days in our schedule where he can work it in so he can recharge and be his best self for us. It’s a give and take! But it doesn’t happen if you don’t communicate what you need. It’s not helpful if I am frustrated and snappy and just expect him to know what I need.

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Say BUH-BYE to any guilt.  Mom guilt, man. What a crock. I have had to come to terms with the fact that self-care isn’t selfish. It doesn’t mean I’m not a good mom. It doesn’t mean I’m loving my child any less. I cannot, I repeat, can NOT give 100% of myself to my husband and child every moment of every day. It leaves nothing left. How can I function on nothing? Not one person would try to tell you it’s a good idea to keep driving another 150 miles once your gas light comes on, yet it seems that our culture often makes moms feel bad for taking time to take care of themselves. That is crazy! I know that when I take care of myself I am able to actually do a better job. I am a happier, more patient mom. I can be my best self, which is what I want to be. I want to give Justin and LJ my best and I’m at my best and brightest when I’m running on a full tank. And my tank is fullest when I’m making myself a priority too.

What do you enjoy doing to take care of yourself?

 

 

 

A Simplified Nursery

Good morning!

Now that I’m 16 weeks along with baby #2, I’ve begun to start thinking about how our living arrangement will soon change. We live in a 3 bedroom house and use the third bedroom as a guest room since we frequently host out of town guests. Right now I’m taking a “wait and see what works best for baby #2” approach. Perhaps he or she will need to stay in our bedroom longer (LJ transitioned to his crib at six weeks) or maybe we’ll figure out a way to have a combo guest room/nursery situation and just move baby back with us when we actually have guests. Or maybe we’ll transition LJ into the current guest room and move baby into his nursery. We’ll see what works best when the time comes!

Since I’m not planning out a nursery this go-round, I thought it would be fun today to share a peek into LJ’s nursery and how we planned and prepared for his arrival (before we knew his gender). Our goal was to create a sweet and simple (and inexpensive) little bedroom for him. I don’t have an exact number, but when I calculated up approximately what our nursery cost us, it was around $400 (some things we already had and others, like our crib mattress, diaper pail, changing pad, etc, were gifted to us at our baby shower and not counted towards that total).

Before I begin I want to clearly state: if you are all about trendy, matching furniture and decide to spend $2000 on a brand new crib/dresser/nightstand set from Pottery Barn, or you splurge on the gorgeous $1600 Tufted Wingback Upholstered Swivel Glider (and the matching $700 ottoman) from Restoration Hardware, OR you don’t have space or money for a nursery and keep your baby in a pack and play in your room (because when it really comes down to it, all babies need in a bedroom is a safe place to sleep), that’s your choice and you will get 0% judgement from meTruly. You do you, mama. You know your preferences, you know your finances. The decision is for you and your partner to make. Justin and I agreed that babies cost a lot after they are born (clothes, diapers, wipes, food) and we didn’t want to spend tons of money on stuff before the baby was even here but we did want to create a space for our baby in his or her own room. For us personally, we chose to find ways to keep the nursery simple and inexpensive. That’s what worked best for us, and so I’m sharing how we made that happen. If you choose to do things differently, you do you.

Creating our Simplified Nursery

We re-used or re-purposed a lot of what we already had.

When we registered for LJ, Justin and I both really loved a glider that we tested at Target. It was our style and the color went perfectly with our color scheme, but it was $400. We knew that there was a very small probability that it would be bought for us and we had other items in the pricier range that we needed to prioritize (like a stroller and car seat). So we said no to the glider and instead bought a $70 slipcover to go over an old, but still very comfy and functional, tan recliner that we inherited for free from Justin’s grandparents several years ago. It’s maybe not *exactly* the look we would have chosen, but for a $330 savings, we could absolutely live with it. 😉 I do want to say that while I’m so glad we could find an inexpensive alternative, I am thankful we had a comfortable chair in the nursery. We have spent a LOT of hours in this chair breastfeeding, rocking, reading books, comforting in the middle of the night, even sleeping on the nights LJ would.not.sleep. without being held – I strongly recommend a comfy place to sit in your baby’s room!

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We reused an old crate that Justin’s mom gave us several years ago. When we were first married, we needed a TV stand so she gave us this crate she had in storage. At the time all we did was sand the rough edges and stain it. We decided to use it as a combo bench/bookshelf/toy storage/nightstand in the nursery and I actually love how it looks there!

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My favorite re-vamped piece was this mid-century dresser we got off Craigslist a couple years ago for $30. We painted everything except the legs (I believe we used Slate Tile from Sherwin Williams and we just needed a quart of their Color to Go sample) and I spray painted the existing knobs gold and then roughed them up a little with sandpaper to look antiqued a bit. I absolutely love the way it turned out and the paint+spray paint supplies cost less than $15 total.

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We got crafty (or enlisted crafty people)

Justin made this shelf for me a few years ago based on a picture I found on Pinterest. He used reclaimed wood and it was the perfect fit for above the changing table dresser!

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My sister is super creative and talented so she made most of our nursery artwork (the Peter Rabbit print was a farmer’s market find but the rest are my sister’s handiwork).

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I was able to snag a few pillows and fabric from a JoAnn’s that was going out of business so I made some simple pillowcases to spruce up the little bench area for a very low cost.

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We prioritized where to spend money

There is SO. MUCH. INFORMATION. out there about baby gear. It’s overwhelming! Before registering, we read the latest version of Baby Bargains and this was one of our best decisions. This organization does use affiliate links but does not take money from the brands it reviews or participate in partnerships or sponsors or anything like that. I felt like we got good information from the book and it really helped Justin and I decide what items we wanted to splurge on (car seat, stroller) and what we could feel comfortable with a less expensive option (like a crib). We went with a simple Ikea crib for $100 (I couldn’t find our exact one but this one is similar) and love that we didn’t have to spend a ton of energy (or money) on the decision.

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We kept a super simple “theme”

Again, if you are all about a coordinated nursery and dream of a woodland/nautical/Parisian/etc room for your baby, that is totally your choice.! Since we re-purposed many items and wanted a gender-neutral space, it was easier for us to select individual items that fit a general vibe instead of buy themed items. We chose a gender-neutral color palette (white, gray, and shades of blue that didn’t feel like too “boy”) and selected fabrics, paint colors, and decorative items that worked within that palette. I found I preferred simple, whimsical items so I picked up little things here and there that fit that vibe. I mixed in plants for a splash of color and included some items from Justin and my childhood for a touch of nostalgia (on the triangle shelf sits his Winnie the Pooh and my bible from my dedication at church). I think think the result was a simple, sweet space that we were really pleased with.

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I’m really happy with how this space turned out and have really enjoyed spending time here over the past 15 months. Talking about all this nursery prep is sure getting me excited for another baby to snuggle in a few more months! What are your nursery must-haves?

And in case you’re interested, here’s a general source list of where I picked things up. I included links if I could find the exact or similar item (I make $0 off this, just sharing what has worked for me!)

Crib: Ikea (similar here and here)

Crib mattress: Amazon

Art above crib: Hobby Lobby

Basket with blankets: TJ Maxx (similar here)

Lazyboy Slipcover: Target

Salt lamp: Amazon

Sound machine: Target

Light-blocking curtains: Target

Small iron basket: Hobby Lobby (similar here)

Fabric basket: Ikea

Hanging Shelf w/brackets: World Market

Letterboard: Walmart

Cement planter: Magnolia (similar here)

Basket holding plant: Ikea

Fake succulent: TJ Maxx (similar here)

Diaper Pail: Playtex

Diaper basket: Target

Monitor: VTech

Changing pad: Munchkin

Changing pad cover: Aden + Anais

Mobile: Baby Jives & Co

Wall paint color: Magnetic Gray

Trim Color: Alabaster

 

February 2019 Book Review

Today it’s time for one of my favorite posts each month: book review day!

I’m reviewing three books this month even though only two are pictured because the third book I read while on vacation in Florida. Overall, I enjoyed all three books so I’m excited to dive on in to the reviews!

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The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

You know the game “if you could have dinner with any five people, dead or alive, who would you choose?” Well this book is a story of that actually happening. Sabrina thinks she is going to her birthday dinner with her longtime friend but when she shows up, it turns out the rest of her “list” of people are there too even though some of them are dead (oh hi, Audrey Hepburn). The plot jumps between the actual dinner and various times in Sabrina’s past that explain her connections to each person and why they are on her list. I was pretty intrigued by the premise and since this is the book I took on vacation to Florida, I flew through it in the hotel during LJ’s naps. There were sweet parts, surprising parts, sad parts, and downright shocking parts. While I did enjoy this book, to be honest, I got frustrated a few times due to some of the dynamics between the main characters. The more I thought about it though, I think that’s pretty indicative of life, right? Sometimes people are amazing, sometimes they are jerks. We all have our moments of triumph and weakness. This book gave me a lot to think about – it’s one that I can’t discuss too much more here for fear of spoilers, but I would love to discuss in person with someone who has read it because I have a lot of thoughts I’d like to work through!

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Since I finished The Dinner List so quickly and still had a lot of vacation downtime left, I borrowed this book from my friend Kaitlin’s bookshelf to read poolside while in Florida. Christopher is a bright 15-year-old boy and though the book never explicitly states this, it’s pretty obvious that he has autism. One night he is walking through his neighborhood and discovers that his neighbor’s dog Wellington has been killed in her yard. He decides to become a detective and figure out who killed Wellington and his search leads him to a trail of discoveries and adventures. I loved that the whole story was told through Christopher’s point of view, which I felt the author did very well, particularly with his experiences of sensory overload. I enjoyed getting to know Christopher and all his quirks and preferences. I also enjoyed the little touches the author gave, like numbering the chapters in prime numbers, because this was very much something Christopher would have done. That being said, I did find the book to be fairly predictable. There are a couple “twists” in the story but I saw them coming, though this is because I can read between the lines where Christopher takes things literally. (Perhaps the author meant for it to be this way, showing the difference between the way the mind of the reader works and the way Christopher’s logical train of thought works? Hmm…)  I also got a little tired of all the unimportant/irrelevant details that Christopher gives and started to skim a lot in the second half of the book. Overall, I thought this was a good choice for an interesting, quirky, pretty easy read on vacation.

 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Oh my gosh. This book! I had been on the library wait list for months and finally got my hands on a copy and it was worth the wait! Kya, known by locals as “The Marsh Girl,” has lived most of her life in solitude in the North Carolina marsh. She is remarkably in tune with nature and rarely interacts with the locals in the nearby town. One day, a murder occurs and suspicion is thrown to Kya. I don’t want to give away more of the plot so I’ll just say that while it took me a chapter or two to really get into the story, once I did I was absolutely swept away. This book is just beautiful and incredibly well written, a captivating tale of love, heartbreak, prejudice, and survival. The descriptions of the marsh life are vivid and enchanting. And the characters are expertly crafted and human, with flaws, mistakes, regrets. And Kya’s strength and resiliency despite the rejections of her life is remarkable and makes her endearing to the reader. As the book works its way towards solving the murder, my heart was pounding and I was just flying through chapters. I highly recommend this one!

 

I’ve got a lot of other books that just came off the library wait list so I’m extra excited for what’s coming up in March. What have you been loving reading lately?

Let’s Look: The People in My Family

Once again I’m joining Erika and Shay‘s monthly link-up Let’s Look and this month’s topic is The People in My Family.

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This guy right here is the rock of our family. He is the calm to my crazy, the laid-back to my Type-A, the fun to my focused. He is energetic and easy-going. He makes me laugh daily and challenges me to be a better version of myself. He is far from perfect but I am so very thankful every. single. day. to have him in my life.

Justin and I met my senior year of college and we started dating in August 2011. I knew pretty early on in our relationship that he was the guy for me. We got engaged in July 2012 and he moved two hours away for school in August. We made the long-distance engagement work and got married in June 2013.

Since then we’ve moved states, he’s graduated school, we’ve brought two fur babies and 1.3 human babies into our family. We’ve laughed, cried, shared our best and worst moments with each other, and are truly a stronger couple each day. It’s cliche for sure, but I honestly love him more today than I did on our wedding day. We’ve worked together through some really tough moments and we’ve also shared some amazing adventures together. I can’t imagine my life with anyone else! Okay I’m done gushing now. 😉

This boy has only been in my life for 15 months but he has captured my heart forever.

LJ’s little personality is just the right mix of sweet and spunky. We love his sly smirks when he knows he’s doing something sneaky that he shouldn’t, we adore his sweet hugs when he sees us after any length of time apart. His little coos, his sweet claps, his over-the-top affection for his fur siblings. . . this kid just makes me smile!

Parenting is not easy and there have been days where I can. not. wait. for bedtime to roll around but I picture life without him anymore. He is just such a light in my life and I love him so!

And of course, soon there will be one more person joining our family!

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I am also lucky enough to have grown up in a really supportive, loving family. I have two amazing parents who have been married 31 years and have been such influential role models in my life. I’m the oldest of three siblings (one brother, two sisters) and I’m thankful that we all get along and enjoy spending time with one another. Not a week goes by without a phone call from my mom or one of my sisters (sometimes all three) and I love that we want to be part of one another’s lives.

My in-laws all live in Virginia but I was lucky enough to get to spend lots of time getting to know them in the early days of Justin and my relationship when I lived out there. We visit several times each year and vacation annually together (always a great time!) Most of us have also been in a Fantasy Football league together which was a fun way to stay connected despite physical distance. I’m so thankful to have a second family who has welcomed me in with open arms!

And of course, these two goobers are an important part of my family. I love my sweet pups!

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Oh baby!

We’ve been keeping a little secret over here and I’m absolutely thrilled to finally share it!

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I am currently 14 weeks pregnant with a sweet little one who will join our crew in August!

Justin and I found out that we were expecting another baby on Christmas morning. I took a pregnancy test before our family Christmas and it was such a sweet moment for Justin and I to just celebrate and be giddy together before all the holiday festivities.

I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little apprehensive in the days following that positive test. As I have shared before, my first pregnancy was ectopic and resulted not only in the loss of my baby, but also my right Fallopian tube. I have an elevated risk for a repeat ectopic so my OB now has me come in right away for blood work and an early ultrasound to confirm pregnancy is in the uterus. Seeing that little bean growing in the correct place was such a relief!

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While I don’t want to turn this blog into a pregnancy-focused space, I do want to spend time documenting this time in my life and I’ll periodically post updates with how things are going. Today I’m just going to recap the first trimester and all its glory. 😉

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Symptoms/How I’ve Been Feeling

I’m not going to lie, this has not been the easiest three months for me. I was hit with nausea (I don’t bother calling it morning sickness – it comes whenever the heck it wants, whether I’m out grocery shopping on a Wednesday afternoon, laying on the couch at 9:00 pm, sitting in church on Sunday morning, etc) around 5 weeks and it really didn’t ease up until this week. I had a hard time feeling hungry/working up an appetite and often settled on something bland like a plain bagel or crackers. I would say it was harder to deal with than my first pregnancy because this time I had LJ with me all day. Throwing up is no fun ever, but it’s really no fun when you had to grab a toddler and bring him into the bathroom with you. Ugh. I also experienced a lot of fatigue, which was consistent with how I felt while pregnant with LJ. Again, the difference is when I was pregnant with him, I could come home from work and nap for 3 hours if I needed to. Now I had a toddler with me all day and while I could sometimes nap when he napped, I often felt super tired.

Sonogram 2

Energy/Workouts

As I just said, I was hit with quite a bit of fatigue so my energy was pretty low for the first 8-10 weeks or so. I took advantage of laying on the couch whenever I could and LJ would bring me books to read to him or we would curl up and watch one of his little shows on TV (#noshameinmymamagame!) most days. I would sleep in until he woke up (usually around 8) and if possible I would nap when he napped. Luckily, the past two weeks I have felt a return of energy and I’ve been able to sleep less and actually get up before LJ does to get some things accomplished before he wakes. Even though my nausea stuck around longer, I’m glad my fatigue at lessened! I’m excited to finally feel more energized!

I did keep up with my workouts for the most part thanks to the Expecting and Empowered Accountability Challenge, although there was one day where my sickness was just so severe I could not get the workout finished. I also had an unfortunate incident one evening where I misstepped coming down the stairs and twisted my knee pretty seriously. I have a history of knee injuries and surgeries and I think the relaxin hormone that increases in the first trimester of pregnancy loosened up my ligaments to the point where my knee was far less stable than normal and this misstep had drastic consequences. I am still not back to 100% but I have been resting my knee and taking it easy and I am seeing improvement, though it’s meant I have had to ease up with exercise.

Food Cravings & Aversions

I wouldn’t say I have had aversions yet, although I have had some smells hit me and just immediately make me feel sick (everything from Justin’s dinner ribs to peanut butter to Cheez-It crackers; it’s very strange!). I have been craving sweet and salty things though and it’s been a struggle to focus on eating vegetables and not just crackers and chocolate.

Sleep

I am a stomach sleeper, so it’s hard to transition to other positions. When I was pregnant with LJ I transitioned to using a Snoogle sleeping pillow around 9 weeks pregnant and this time around I think I started right at 8 weeks. I love that I can wrap my body around it and *feel* like I’m sleeping on my stomach when really I’m mostly on my left side but just tilted onto the pillow. It makes a big difference for me! For the most part my sleep hasn’t really been disrupted by the pregnancy yet which is awesome.

What I’m Looking Forward To

No more nausea!!! 🙂

I feel like my bump is starting to show (more than just a food baby) and I’m excited to watch it continue to grow. While I don’t love every aspect of pregnancy, I sure do love rubbing that growing belly! I’m also excited to transition to maternity clothes. My jeans are getting pretty snug around the waist and the hairband trick just isn’t cutting it anymore. Bring on the comfy stretchy pants!

Boy/Girl Predictions

I have NO guesses. When I was pregnant with LJ I had two very realistic dreams that we were having a boy so I was pretty sure all along he’d be a boy but so far this pregnancy I haven’t had any baby dreams. I don’t have any gut feelings at this point. Justin and I didn’t find out the gender our first pregnancy and it right now we’re leaning towards not finding out again so we’ll see!

LJ’s Awareness

Little man has no idea what is going on. We took him to the ultrasound but he honestly wasn’t even looking at the image and was way more fascinated by all the machine’s buttons. He likes playing with the sonograms though!

Lj with ultrasound

Misc Stories

My original due date was calculated for September 4 (we joked we might literally celebrate Labor Day this year). We’ve had two ultrasounds now and baby was measuring ahead both times, so the OB actually changed my due date to August 28. It was pretty fun to bump up a week and anticipate meeting our little one even sooner!

When I was part of a local breastfeeding support group, there was another little boy with the exact same birthday as LJ. His mom and I were both September 1988 babies and we both got married in 2013. We joked that we were basically leading twin lives. Once I announced my pregnancy on social media, she told me she was also pregnant and her due date is three days after mine! I mean, how crazy, right?! Twin lives – ha!

And that’s a wrap on the first trimester! So so thankful for this baby and the fact that we are ⅓ of the way to meeting him or her!

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While we are so excited for this new little life, I know that for many, announcements like this are bittersweet at best and agonizing at worst. A huge part of my heart goes out to all who are enduring the pain and struggles of pregnancy loss or infertility. I have felt the feelings of injustice to be denied what I most wanted, the ache of empty arms who long for a baby to hold, and the sting of another person’s happy announcement reminding me of what I had lost. It is a pain that no one should have to endure and my heart breaks for all who experience it. If you are struggling with infertility or loss of a baby, I know there’s nothing I can really do or say to take away the grief and ache of longing, but I want you to know I acknowledge you and am sending you love and holding you tight in my prayers. I hope that our journey gives you hope that your story isn’t finished.

Simplified Grocery Shopping

Good morning!

I’ll be honest, I did not expect to be writing a blog post about grocery shopping today, but it seems like lately I have been sharing about this topic a lot in my real life so I was inspired this morning to share what I do to simplify grocery shopping.

Call me crazy, but I actually like grocery shopping. I’ve never used anything like ClickList or grocery pick up, although I can definitely see the advantages to using these services, particularly when I have more kiddos in tow in the future. I will say that it always feels like an extra treat when Justin is home and I can go to the store by myself, but it still feels pretty manageable with LJ along. Grocery shopping with a toddler can definitely feel chaotic sometimes so today I thought I’d share just a couple tips that I have to keep it as streamlined and simple as possible.

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Side note: Anyone else take their kid to the grocery store in a sleeper? Ha! #noshameinmymomgame

#1: Bring “things” for LJ

We’re still pacifier people around here. It’s 100% fine if you’re not a fan of them or if you think we should have ditched it long ago; you do what works for your family! This is what works for ours. I’m not trying to push pacifiers by any means but since LJ does take one and it is a huge soother for him, I always make sure to have one clipped to him on a pacifier clip. Obviously this isn’t a forever solution but for now it just keeps him happier in the cart. I also try to take a snack along because as he sees me put food into the cart, he always wants some too (I literally have to distract him from looking at the cart anytime I buy bananas until I can hide them under something because he loves them so much and will cry if he sees them and can’t eat one).

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When he was a little younger I always took my animal links and hooked them around the cart handle so he had something to play with but now that he’s bigger he’s not interested in that anymore and prefers to people watch or play with something I am going to purchase that is hard to destroy (like a bag of shredded cheese).

#2: OUR GROCERIES APP

You guys. This app was an absolute game changer for my family. Does that sound dramatic? I don’t care. It really has made such a huge difference for us. I am getting zero compensation for this endorsement; I just really really love this app! We used to write stuff down on a physical list. The problem was that sometimes I would be near the grocery store and have time to pop in, but I wouldn’t have my list. Or I would be upstairs and think “we’re running low on toothpaste, I need to remember to put that on the list” and I would completely forget about it by the time I got downstairs. Or Justin would stop by the grocery store without the list and I was working and couldn’t respond to his texts so he wouldn’t know what all we needed. It was so frustrating! Now Justin and I each downloaded this app and and our grocery list game has never been the same. Some of the best features are:

Synced lists. Justin and I both downloaded the app and synced our phones to the same list and this is an AWESOME feature. Justin can add something to the list and I immediately see it on mine. This is so helpful if I’m at the grocery store and he realizes we need something else; he can just add it to the list and I see it! It’s also helpful because we always know what the family needs at any given time. Say I popped into Target to look at swimsuits. Before checking out, I can look at the list and see if we need anything. Oh look, Justin put contact solution on the list! Let me just grab some of that before I leave. It’s so so simple and he didn’t have to remember to tell me that we’re low on contact solution. Or if he is going to have time to stop in the grocery store on the way home, he already has the list and doesn’t have to call me to see if I need anything. We can include specific brands or amounts (such as 2 lbs, 16 oz, etc) if it matters to us so the other person knows exactly what to get. Easy peasy!

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A bonus tip with this is sometimes if Justin is stopping at the grocery store and I just want him to pick up ingredients for dinner, I’ll put an * in front of the item. This way, he doesn’t spend time getting everything on the list but just gets what I’ve marked for that evening.

Multiple Lists. I can keep a running list of things I like to buy at other stores. For example, there are some things I love from Trader Joe’s, but we don’t have one in our city. Anytime we’re in a city with a Trader Joe’s, I like to pop in and stock up on a few favorite things (I’m looking at you, cookie butter). I just keep that list separate so whenever I’m in a TJ I don’t have to try to remember all my favorite things; they are already on the list! I do this with Costco too because even though we have one nearby, I probably only stop in maybe once every 6-8 weeks and stock up, so it helps to have my basic list always prepared. You can make a list for anything! Maybe you want to keep a running list of clothing you need to buy for your kids or items you need to purchase for a vacation; you can just add a different shopping list and then you can keep things like new tennis shoes separate from your grocery list. I love this feature!

My list is always nearby. I don’t know if I can blame mom brain on this one because I was like this before LJ, but I find it so dang difficult to remember something I need to put on the grocery list if I don’t write it down immediately. I’ll know we need toothpaste when I’m in our master bath upstairs and the second I start walking downstairs it just floats out of my brain. Whether this is a good thing or bad thing, my smartphone is almost always nearby so now if I see we need toothpaste, I can put it on the list when I first notice it in our bathroom and then I don’t have to remember for later. Or if I’m out and about and think “I need to remember to get LJ a new swimsuit for our vacation,” I can put it on the list right away. It takes away the pressure of having to hold all these items in my brain which is so nice!

Record of crossed off items. A difference with using this app vs. just notes on your phone is that the app keeps track of your crossed out items. When I buy something, I just tap the word and it moves from my list to the “crossed off” section beneath my list. Then if I need that item again, I can just click it in the crossed off section and it jumps back into my list. This keeps me from having to type/delete each item every time and even though that’s a pretty small, simple thing, it is super easy and convenient!

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We only have the free basic app and haven’t paid for any of the upgrades but I know there are ways to make this list even easier (you can synch with Alexa so she can add to your list, you can add pictures, use barcode scanner, etc). Even just the basic app has made such a big difference for us!

#3: Stick to the same stores

I pretty much rotate between two grocery stores for 99% of my shopping. I love Aldi for all my basic grocery needs and go there the most frequently, but I also love going to a store called Fresh Thyme (which reminds me of a Trader Joe’s) for produce and inexpensive natural, healthy options. I know where everything is in both these stores and so I don’t waste time backtracking or searching or debating brands. It just makes the process quicker and smoother! Plus Fresh Thyme has a little stand where kids can get one piece of fruit for free while shopping so LJ is extra happy there with his free banana. 🙂

I will say that I do end up at Wal-Mart sometimes too because Aldi and Fresh Thyme are smaller stores and don’t always have super specific items and it always takes me longer at Wal-Mart because I’m not as familiar with where everything is.

#4 Keep my car ready

Since Aldi requires a quarter to rent a carts, I always have a quarter ready to go in a little holder in my car. I also keep all my reusable grocery bags behind the passenger seat. It just is so easy to grab a few bags and my quarter without having to rummage around in my car.

And that’s it! None of these tips are particularly earth-shattering but they all have helped keep grocery shopping a simple, enjoyable experience rather than a chaotic and stressful mess.

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What helps you with keeping grocery shopping simple?