Vi’s Birth Story

This blog post contains some watermarked, professionally taken photos. Special thanks to Natalie Joy Photography for beautiful pictures that we will cherish forever!

Hello friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged but suffice to say it’s been a bit busy around here as we adjust to being a family of FOUR. Today I finally had some time to sit down and catch up a bit so I thought I’d write a recap of August 23, 2019 – the day we met our daughter.

Meet my sweet Vi.

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The morning of the 23rd was pretty surreal. Because we had a planned c-section scheduled, we woke up knowing it was going to be our child’s birthday. We heard LJ wake up and Justin went to get him from his crib and brought him back to our bed. We snuggled together as a little family of three and I tried to soak up every minute, knowing soon our little family was going to change forever. It was a little bittersweet but oh so special and I’m so glad we started the day out just the three of us. ❤

We spent the rest of the morning nice and slow. Justin’s parents and sister had come into town the night before so they could be with LJ while we were in the hospital so we all hung out together. Justin and I danced around and played goofy songs with the word “baby” in them.  I was able to get one last Expecting and Empowered workout completed, which was the perfect way to feel capable and strong going into surgery!

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Finally, it was go time. We said goodbye to LJ and took a final picture as a family of three and then Justin and I headed in to the hospital.
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This time was so different than LJ’s birth. With him, I labored 25 hours before having a c-section. Because this time it was planned, we arrived at the hospital, checked in, and were escorted to our pre-op room. It was so much calmer!

The nurse got my vitals and walked me down to a nearby bathroom so I could change into the hospital gown. On the way, we passed by a mom and dad taking a walk around the labor and delivery floor with their brand new baby in the bassinet. I saw the baby’s pink hat and my eyes welled up. The nurse noticed this and asked if I was having a girl and I told her that we didn’t know, but seeing that little pink hat made me realize I might soon have a little girl and something about that made me so emotional!

Another thing that struck me during that hallway walk was just how much I was about to go through, all for the sake of safely delivering my baby. I knew a VBAC could have been a potential option but Justin and I had discussed with my OBGYN the specific risks for me personally based on how LJ’s labor went. Together, we made the decision that a second c-section was the best option for me and baby. That being said, I was still admittedly very nervous. I was about to have a pretty major abdominal surgery. Half of my body would be numbed. My muscles, nerves, uterus would all be cut open. And because I had already experienced it once, I knew what to expect in terms of soreness and recovery. It was more than a little daunting! As I was walking, I very clearly had this thought: “I am BRAVE.” Even though I was nervous, I knew how much I already loved my baby and how badly I wanted him or her to arrive in my arms safely. Yes, I was a little scared of another surgery but even knowing that, I was going to DO. IT. ANYWAY. It’s hard to describe how a feeling of empowerment overwhelmed me in that moment. This was the strength of my love as a mother. This was the courage brought by how fiercely I loved my baby. This was the resiliency of my mind and body for all I was willing to do to meet him or her. I knew I could do it.

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Right at 1:00, it was time for surgery. I was taken into the room to get my epidural and once I was positioned, they let Justin into the room.

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Again, I was struck by how different this surgery was from LJ’s – after 25 hours and 2 sleepless nights, Justin and I were both emotionally and physically exhausted during LJ’s c-section. This time, we were alert and prepared. We chatted with the nurses. Everyone in the room took a final guess on gender. I heard the nurse who walked me down the hallway say “I hope it’s a girl because of how you teared up seeing that other baby!” The c-section began and Justin and I held hands and eagerly anticipated baby’s arrival.

I didn’t have any desire to have them drop the sheet, so Justin kept me updated with what was happening. Soon, baby’s head was out. Justin stood up to get a better view, the doctor lifted up the baby, and Justin exclaimed “It’s a girl!”

And this was my reaction.

Awestruck. Overcome. SHE was here!

She quickly got cleaned off and then Justin brought her over to me for skin to skin contact while the doctor worked on closing me up. There were a lot of cords in the way, but those first sweet baby snuggles were just the best!

After the surgery was finished, I was taken to the recovery room and got to breastfeed for the first time. Everything went much smoother than I had anticipated. Even when the nurse had to press on my stomach to make sure my uterus was shrinking back down, it wasn’t as painful as I remembered from my first surgery. The whole thing was a really positive experience!

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And just when I thought things couldn’t get any sweeter, we were taken to my room and LJ came to meet her. Oh my heart.

Welcome to our family my sweet baby girl. We’re so very thankful that you are here. ❤

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BABY WEEK is here!

It’s finally BABY WEEK! Whoop whoop!

Tomorrow I will be 39 weeks and my repeat c-section is scheduled for Friday, so we are very very very close to meeting this little one! I’ve been cleaning the house, stockpiling groceries, making freezer meals, and just finishing up a few little things. It’s crazy to think in just a few short days we’ll be a family of four!

Special thanks to Natalie Joy Photography for some absolutely dreamy maternity pictures!

I wanted to do one last pregnancy update before baby comes (and this will be the only blog post this week because I’ll be busy with other preparations). If you’re interested in reading back through the previous updates, I did one for first trimester, 20 weeks, and third trimester.

Symptoms/How I’ve Been Feeling

All things considered, I’ve been feeling really good. I had a little bit of a cold a few weeks ago and stuffiness + sneezing while pregnant definitely isn’t fun but if that’s the worst I have to deal with, I’ll take it. I’ve been loving my BaoBei support band (pictured below) this pregnancy – it’s like a sports bra for your belly and really helps alleviate many of the aches and pains surrounding a growing belly.

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I have been having some weird shooting pain that comes and goes in my upper legs/groin area and I think it’s due to how I’ve been carrying LJ and walking, plus the way my pelvis is shifting. Stretching a lot has helped with this but it’s been a literal pain to deal with and I’ll be glad when it’s not an issue anymore! Other than that, I really can’t complain. I’ve been feeling good and I just love this stage of a big ol’ pregnant belly poppin’ out. 🙂

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Energy/Workouts

I have continued to keep up with the Expecting and Empowered at-home workouts consistently. I’ve mentioned before that the co-founders do frequent 10-week accountability challenges and we’re currently in week 8/10 of a challenge. This has really helped me stay on track and make sure to get the strength training AND cardio in each week.

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Justin and I did make the decision to drop our YMCA membership because we just weren’t using it enough so I’m no longer attending cycling classes there but I have been keeping up with long stroller walks with a friend and we do have a treadmill at home so I’ve stayed active. I only track my weight gain at OB appointments, and I’m staying about 7-8 lbs lower than I was with LJ’s pregnancy, which I credit to all this activity!

Food Cravings & Aversions

Still no food aversions but lately I’ve been craving ALL THE SWEETS. Seriously, my sweet tooth is out of control! My latest discovery is a new ice cream: Blue Bell Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough. Oh sweet goodness, that stuff is dangerously delicious.

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I’m still needing to eat something small every 2-3 hours and I particularly love keeping things like string cheese or protein bites on hand for little snacks throughout the day.

Sleep

Ahh sleep. How I miss you. This baby is very nocturnal and loves to party hard starting at like 9 pm and go all night. Needless to say, it makes getting a restful night of sleep difficult, especially now that baby is so big. I’m tossing and turning, waking up multiple times a night to get comfortable, and just not really getting much restful sleep. Up until about 36/37 weeks, I wasn’t needing to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, but in the last week or two I’ve needed to at least once a night, which also interrupts my sleep.

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Because nights aren’t restful and baby is less active during the day, I’ve really been trying to nap or at least rest when I can. LJ is thankfully back on track with taking a 2-3 hour nap each day so I’m able to get a few things done and then rest a bit which is a nice way to recharge a bit during the day.

What I’m Looking Forward To

Sweet baby snuggles. Little baby coos. That indescribable newborn smell. Seeing LJ as a big brother. Finding out if baby is a boy or girl and calling him or her by name. Even just writing all these things makes my heart feel like bursting – I am just so looking forward to meeting this person whom I’ll love for the rest of my life!

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Boy/Girl Predictions

I had a dream where essentially at one point, baby was a girl and at another point, baby was a boy. All within the same dream! So I’m still very much in the dark with no gut feeling or intuition. Most people have guessed girl based on how I’m carrying or whatever wive’s tales they subscribe to, so we’ll see!

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LJ’s Awareness

Little man is blissfully unaware of how his life is about to change. He still points to my belly when we ask where the baby is, gives my belly kisses, and likes to lift my shirt and support band and actually rest on my belly skin when we talk about the baby. It’s so sweet! We recently set up the pack and play downstairs and talk about how it’s “for the baby” so he’s getting used to that. I also ordered him a boy and girl baby doll and we’ll give him whatever gender his sibling is on Friday so he’ll have a baby of his own. I’m a little nervous about how the transition will go for him but luckily we’ll have lots of family around to help the first few weeks so he’ll still get lots of individual love and attention.

Misc Stories

I had a case of major pregnancy brain and totally skipped an OB appointment two weeks ago. I never miss appointments and this was especially bad because I am at the point in pregnancy where I’m going every single week on the same day at the same time. AND I had just been texting a friend earlier that morning about how she had a mom brain moment and totally forgot her son’s pediatrician appointment. Despite all these helpful things, I still totally forgot about my own appointment. I was so embarrassed!

I had a recent burst of nesting energy and convinced Justin it was the right time to paint both the nursery and LJ’s bedroom. You can see our sweet little nursery update here. I know that baby won’t actually be using the nursery for a few months, but just having it done made me feel so much more prepared and ready for baby!

I love that I’m close enough to birth that when people ask when I’m due, they get freaked out. Last night I was in Costco to get a new cell phone and the worker asked when I’m due – when I replied “Friday” he got a slightly panicked look on his face like I was going to go into labor on the spot and said “OH! Wow!” Ha!

Pretty much every random stranger who comments on my belly thinks it’s a girl. We’ll know if they’re right in FOUR. DAYS.

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Thanks for following along with me on this pregnancy journey! Crazy to think that my next blog post will be introducing you to my baby! All thoughts and prayers appreciated for a smooth delivery on Friday. ❤

 

 

Final Baby Prep

10 days.

I can officially count down the days until baby comes on my fingers. Ahh!!

The nice thing about having to schedule a repeat c-section is that even if baby does decide to come early, there is a definite eviction date. Baby will no longer be in my belly after August 23 – I am just so excited to meet this little one!

I’ve shared before that it took quite a while for my nesting urges to kick in this time, but once they did, they really did. In the last two weeks, Justin and I have worked to transform an old dresser, paint the walls, set up a crib, and get some semblance of a nursery together. Whew! Now that we have the hospital bags ready and a little nursery, I feel as prepared as I can be for baby to arrive!

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I kept the nursery preparations very simple for baby #2 for three big reasons. First, we kept LJ in a bassinet in our room for the first 8 weeks and plan to do the same with this baby. Because of this, the nursery really isn’t going to get used for the first two months of baby’s life. Second, since we did not find out the gender, I didn’t want to do too much decorating in advance. Once baby comes, I’ll be able to customize it a little better and actually hang things on the wall. And third, all baby NEEDS right away is a source of food and a place to sleep. Once we had that covered, I decided not to stress too much about anything else.

Today I thought I’d just share a little glimpse into what we did for the simplified nursery.

Enjoy!

Baby #2’s Simplified Nursery

So up until about two weeks ago, the nursery still looked like this:

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Brown walls, random furniture, and an air mattress because we had been using it as an extra guest bedroom. It doesn’t exactly scream “welcome, baby!” does it? I had at least started to sort some of our newborn clothes though 😉

My #1 goal was to lighten up the room. I wanted something bright and airy, so after we primed the walls, for the first time in my life chose to paint walls white. Normally I’m not a fan of white walls, but since we didn’t know the gender, I decided to go this route this time. Eventually, I plan to make the wall behind the crib an accent wall of some kind. For now, simple, crisp, clean white will do.

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Next, I wanted to create a cute little dresser for the wall on the opposite side of the room to give a little color to the room. I found this fairly ugly dresser for $10 on Craigslist and knew I could transform it to just what I wanted. I enlisted Justin’s help (I was more of the visionary, he was more of the laborer ha!) and I’m so happy with how it turned out! We sanded it down, primed, two coats of paint (Sherwin Williams Green Tartan), and added some new hardware. Then Justin used dowel rods to create legs and give it a bit more height. I also had him add a stained board to the front because the piece of plywood that was there was very flimsy and cheap. Plus, I thought it gave a little more character. I love it now!

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Dresser: $10

New hardware: $18 total (including tax and shipping)

Paint: $13

Wood + dowel: $7

We had the primer, stain, and brushes already. So the total cost of this dresser was right under $50 total. Win!

A friend had an extra crib but it did not have the ability to adjust mattress height for a baby, so we put that crib in LJ’s room and moved his crib to the baby’s room. Another friend is done having babies and was ready to part with her glider. I added a simple piece of artwork that was previously in LJ’s nursery, hung blackout curtains in a shade of minty green that will complement pink or blue, and brought in our trusty sound machine and salt lamp for once baby is ready to sleep in the nursery. And done!

It’s definitely very simple, but I’m so happy we decided to freshen up the room and I cannot wait to see our little one in it so soon!

Things I Love: TV Shows!

Good morning!

Once again, I’m joining Erika and Shay for their monthly “Let’s Look” link-up (except because of my 37 week, super preggo brain, I cannot for the life of me keep my dates/days of the week straight and I accidentally planned this post a week in advance – the actual link up is NEXT week but since this post was ready to go, I went ahead and published early). Today’s topic is a great one: favorite binge shows! This reminds me of the blog post I did a while back on my favorite podcasts – just a fun little post about what I’m loving.

Justin and I don’t watch a lot of regular TV, but we do enjoy hanging out on the couch and re-watching our favorite shows on Netflix. Over the years, there are some shows we just keep coming back to. You’ll notice all my favorites are comedies; I think if I’m going to binge-watch a show, it needs to be something light, happy, and fun. It’s hard for me to binge-watch things that are more intense, although I will say some of my favorite shows that I’m not binge-watching but currently love are dramas (looking at you This is Us and A Million Little Things). 

Alright, let’s look at my favorite binge shows!

My Favorite Binge-Worthy Shows

Psych

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Not just my favorite binge-worthy show, but my favorite show. Period. I started watching Psych when it first aired on USA way back in high school and immediately loved it. It is hilarious, witty, and super clever. There are tons of fun pop culture (particularly 80’s) references, hidden pineapples that pop up at funny times, running jokes, sarcastic banter – it is just top notch. This is the only show collection that I own on DVD and I will periodically just decide it’s time to re-watch the episodes. I love, love, LOVE Psych!

Friends

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I couldn’t even begin to guess how many times I’ve watched Friends. One of my college roommates owned the entire collection on DVD and during my senior year I made it through the entire series in order. I’m pretty sure that’s the only time I’ve watched it all start to finish, but I have seen every episode multiple times over the years, either from being aired on TV or re-watching on Netflix. There are some episodes that make me laugh every single time (gosh – the one with the trivia game is just GOLD) and this is a show I can always rely on if I just need a little something on in the background. When Justin was working a lot of night shifts and I was home alone at night, this is the show I would watch; it’s just fun and happy!

The Office

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This is a favorite of both Justin and mine. We LOVE binge-watching The Office! We just think this brand of humor is hilarious and even though we’ve seen every episode before, we still crack up over Michael’s lines or Jim and Dwight’s antics. I will say, we don’t care for the later seasons as much (I mean, once there’s no Steve Carell, the dynamic totally changed!) but I could re-watch the first several seasons absolutely anytime I need a good laugh.

New Girl

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Justin and I are currently binge-watching New Girl again (yep, we’ve already seen the whole series) and this is another favorite. Oh gosh . . . this show just cracks me up. I particularly love the characters of Schmidt and Winston. They have some amazing lines and the dynamics on the show are just hilarious. It’s been a great way to unwind in the evenings lately before going to bed.

Parks & Recreation

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Parks & Rec is another show I’ve binged watched through a couple times and it’s just SO funny. If you haven’t seen it before, I will say that it takes a little while to really love. The first season is okay but they start absolutely killing it from the second season on. Just look online for some hilarious memes about this show and you will crack up! The characters are all portrayed so perfectly and it’s just a highly entertaining show that I quote all the time.

Honorable Mentions

Gilmore Girls

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Fast-talking, sarcastic, witty – this show is another great one! I’m not really sure how to explain why it’s in the honorable mentions category other than to say, it’s a show that I’d watch again if it was already playing, but I don’t really seek it out or choose to watch it again. I enjoy it and think it’s funny, but I just prefer others more. Does that make sense?

How I Met Your Mother

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This show is filled with so many hilarious lines! It’s only on my honorable mentions list and not the main list because I’ve truthfully only binged-watched it one time; however, if it was on Netflix again, I’m sure I would re-watch episodes. I think this show is not only funny but actually really clever and has some awesome story arcs that cross over multiple seasons. You don’t even realize some things are significant until multiple seasons later and I love that!

Poldark

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Hooray – a drama finally made my list! Poldark is a bit of a dark horse for binge-watching, but Justin and I did binge-watch the first couple seasons at one point. Here’s the thing though: this show can be intense. I get super invested in the characters and they don’t always live or have happy situations. It’s difficult for me to watch multiple episodes at a time when some of the story lines are unpleasant (I don’t want to spoil anything, but one in particular in Season 3 was just hard to watch episode after episode) but this show is one that we do enjoy picking up every now and then.

Whew – this made me want to grab a yummy snack and plop on the couch to re-watch some great episodes of my favorite shows! What is on your list of favorite shows to binge?

 

 

 

Baby #2 Hospital Bag

Friends, tomorrow we will hit a big milestone.

37 weeks. In the world of pregnancy, this is a big deal because it means baby is considered full-term.

FULL. TERM. We’ve made it! Honestly, I am both super excited and a little bemused – like how are we here already? But also…I feel like I’ve been pregnant a loooooong time. Ha!

Even though I do have a repeat c-section scheduled, I went into labor early with LJ so I’m mentally preparing just in case this baby decides to surprise us early too. Yesterday, my new diaper bag arrived in the mail and it was just the kick start I needed to start to physically prepare for delivery by organizing and packing up things for mine and baby’s hospital bags. Today I thought I’d share what I packed this go-around (with LJ I packed WAY too much – typical first time mom, right?) This is just a list of what works well for us and our needs; it might not be exactly right for you, especially depending on what your hospital provides, but I hope it’s still helpful for anyone else who may need to be prepping for labor soon!

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Baby’s Hospital Bag

I have blogged many times about my diaper bag and while I loved it, I knew that I needed to get a new one for life with two kids. For one thing, my old one has been used so much over the past 21 months that the front zipper pocket is completely broken which renders the pocket pretty much useless. For another, with two kids to pack stuff for, I wanted something with just a few more interior pockets. After what felt like endless research, I settled on this backpack style bag and so far, I’m loving it!

For baby’s hospital stay, I am packing the following items:

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-Halo Sleep Sack (we loved this for sleep with LJ and used it exclusively until he could roll over)

-Swaddle Me velcro swaddle (another option for baby’s sleep, a little less fabric than the sleep sack for a cozy sleep)

-Two burp cloths

-One long sleeved onesie (the same one LJ wore in the hospital – I can’t wait to see this baby in it!)

-One plain short-sleeved onesie

-Two pairs of leggings

-Two sleepers

-Two pairs of socks

-Aden + Anais muslin blanket

-Flannel blanket

-Beautycounter balm (the hospital does provide ointment if needed for diaper rash, circumcision healing, etc. but I prefer to take this stuff along)

-A blue striped hat + a few headbands (can’t wait to find out which ones we get to use!)

And that’s it! Honestly, I still feel like this is probably too many clothing options, but since I will probably be in the hospital 3-4 days, I wanted a few choices. Everything is gender-neutral because we didn’t find out gender with LJ and we don’t know with this baby, which actually makes it pretty easy to pack because it’s the same stuff as before! Our hospital provides diapers, wipes, stuff for bathing, etc. so we didn’t bother to pack any of that this time around.

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And it all fits perfectly in the new diaper bag!

Mommy’s Hospital Bag

Clothing

For my bag, I packed the following items this time around:

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-Black flip flops (I like these for the shower/bathroom)

-Postpartum Support Leggings (an old pair I got off Amazon and wore with LJ and a new pair from Bao Bei that I am very excited to use!)

-Postpartum bloomers (the hospital provides pads + mesh panties, which I will also use, but I’m excited to have something along that also gives extra support)

-My cozy robe

-Fuzzy socks! I hate having cold feet.

-“Slipper” socks. Someone gifted me this dark gray pair of fuzzy slipper socks when I was pregnant with LJ and it was my favorite thing at the hospital. They are easy to put on and off and they have grips on the bottom so I didn’t slip around at all. I kept them by my bed and wore them walking around my room and hallway, they kept my feet warm and felt like a treat, and they got popped in the laundry as soon as I got home. Loved these!

-A cozy gray cardigan

-Loose fitting black pants (alternative to compression leggings when I need a looser fit)

-Four nursing tank tops (mostly from H&M)

-Two nursing sports bras (I love these from Motherhood Maternity)

Toiletries

The hospital does provide basic toiletries, but I feel much more like myself if I bring along my own things so this is what I prefer to do. Basically, I pack like I would to go on any trip (my shampoo + conditioner, Wet brush, extra hair ties, my morning and evening skincare products, toothbrush, contact stuff, deodorant, dry shampoo, and my basic daily makeup) but I do have a few specific additions. I make sure to take along a small handheld mirror so I can do my makeup from bed, nipple balm (because those first few days of nursing – ouch!), and washable nursing pads.

Mommy's Hospital Toiletries

I have a large travel toiletry bag that all this fits in and for the next 17 days all my stuff will be in it on my bathroom counter. This way, I can still have access to use it every day but it’ll be ready to grab and throw in the suitcase quick if baby decides to come early.

A few extras

I will also take along my trusty Boppy breastfeeding pillow (this was SO helpful to have in the hospital with LJ!) and my cell phone + charger. Justin and I share a suitcase for stuff and my half is now packed. He is on his own to make sure his stuff gets packed in time. 😉

What are your hospital bag musts? Even though I’ve done this before, it’s been 21 months, so if I’m forgetting anything crucial, please share below!

July 2019 Book Reviews

Book review day is here!

Even though we have one more day left in July, I’m already through all my books for the month so I’m sharing my book review a little early. I read some really good ones this month and I’m excited to share them with you!

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The Latte Factor by David Bach

I listened to a lot of podcasts on our babymoon and one I really enjoyed was an episode of the Rise podcast where Rachel Hollis interviewed David Bach about how anyone can be financially free by following a few simple principles and changes in daily habits. I really enjoyed the podcast, and one of my 19 for 19 goals is to learn more about finances, so I was eager to read this book. To be honest, I didn’t gain much new wisdom from it. It is set up like a little mini novel where protagonist Zoe, whose finances are a mess, learns some very simple lessons about investing, saving, and living the life she wants by making small changes in her spending habits from a man named Henry whom she meets with in a coffee shop. Having listened to the podcast, I felt like I had already heard the high points of Bach’s message and most of the book was Zoe’s “story” and not so much financial information. I think this book could be a great resource if you are coming into it with the desire to change your financial situation but don’t have a lot of knowledge in saving/investing/budgeting/etc. Personally I felt like it was a little oversimplified and didn’t give me much new information; however, the concept of “the latte factor” is one that Justin and I have discussed multiple times since I first told him about it after listening to the podcast and I think it’s a great concept to keep in mind when you think about daily spending habits!

The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger

Annabel is living in Switzerland where her husband, Matthew, works for Swiss United, a lucrative, offshore bank. After Matthew’s plane crashes in the Alps, Annabel is left with many questions and few answers and decides to investigate the crash herself. Meanwhile, journalist Marina gets a hot tip on a story from her mentor and just as she begins to dig . . . her mentor ends up dead. She begins to look into Swiss United and soon uncovers some dangerous information that powerful people are willing to do anything to protect. As the women’s stories progress two things become clear: their stories are intertwined and they are both in danger unless the truth comes out. This thriller was unique for me in that I’ve never read anything involving lucrative wealth and offshore financing, and it kept me on my toes throughout. I always love novels that alternate narrative perspectives and this one was fast-paced and exciting. I never knew which characters were trustworthy and that added to the suspense for sure. It was definitely a page-turner for me and I really enjoyed it!

The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White

In June, I read The Forgotten Room by this trio of authors and really enjoyed it so I was excited to learn that they also co-authored another book together and quickly checked it out from the library. The Glass Ocean centers around the tragedy of the sinking of the Lusitania and is written from three different female perspectives: Caroline, a wealthy passenger traveling on the Lusitania with her husband, Tess, a con man’s daughter who is hoping to pull one more job aboard the ship and then start fresh in England once the ship docks, and Sarah, a historian and author in 2013 who has opened a trunk filled with everything that her great-grandfather, a steward on the ship, had on his possession when his body was recovered from the ship’s wreckage, including some items that may have a huge impact on history. If you’ve been reading my book reviews for any amount of time, you know by now that I am a big fan of historical fiction and this book did not disappoint! I enjoyed reading all three women’s stories and the possibilities of wartime espionage and deception kept things interesting as the plot twisted and turned until the end. There were plenty of surprises and revelations to keep me hooked. Once again, I was impressed by the writing of these three writers and highly recommend this one!

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I really enjoy Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books and had heard nothing but great things about this one so I was very excited to finally come off the waiting list at the library and dive into this one. This one might be my favorite of hers yet! Daisy Jones and the Six was one of the most prominent rock bands of the 1970s until they broke up inexplicably after a concert and never got together again. The book is set up as an interview-style oral history where members of the band and others who were associated with them are interviewed about their beginning, rise to fame, and eventual demise. At several points during the book I had to remind myself that this book is fiction and these weren’t real people – it is written in a way that just makes the whole thing seem so real! I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the interview-style writing but I actually loved it and flew through the book. There were some surprising moments that I didn’t see coming and I found myself really invested in the band members. I will put in the disclaimer that it is about a 70’s rock band so sex, drug use, etc. is a big part of the band’s life. If that’s not your thing, well, be warned. Overall, I really enjoyed this read and highly recommend it!

My TBR list is currently very short, so if you have any recommendations for what I should read in August, send them my way! I’m going to try to get at least a couple read before baby comes and then . . . we’ll see. Ha!

Nontoxic Cleaners that Simplify My Life

Yesterday, I was spraying down my kitchen counters with an all-purpose cleaner and LJ wanted to help. He grabbed the spray bottle to spray and then wanted to help me wipe down the surfaces. I did not hesitate to allow him to help, because I was using this cleaner which is plant-based, natural, and safe. Obviously, I’m not going to let him just straight up drink the cleaner or use it unsupervised or anything, but it gives me SUCH peace of mind that if something should happen and he does ingest a little or get it on his skin, it’ll be okay.

This got me thinking about all the nontoxic products I use for cleaning around my house and how much they simplify my life by not only working to keep my house clean, but giving me peace of mind in knowing LJ isn’t surrounded by harmful chemicals on every surface. So today I thought I’d just share a few of my favorite cleaning products that I use! I make exactly $0 with posts like this. No affiliate links, nothing sponsored. Just things I use and genuinely love. If you’re looking for ways to reduce chemical use in your home, I hope you find something here that’s helpful!

Puracy Laundry Stain Remover

As much as I love nontoxic cleaning products, I have been very hesitant over the years to try natural stain removers. When a piece of clothing gets stained, I want that stain to really be gone and I worried that by trying natural removers, I’d be wasting lots of money on products that just didn’t work as well as conventional products at removing stains. Enter Puracy. I heard about this brand through Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers (been following her blog for years!) and when she raved about how it cleaned a huge blueberry mess off her baby’s bib, I figured it could handle all the toddler stains I have too. You guys, I LOVE this stuff! It’s a free & clear formula composed of plant-based cleaners and it actually WORKS. Check this out:

I mean, all that ketchup was GONE. Hooray! I will say, the one thing that you have to keep in mind here is the longer this remover sits on a stain, the better it works. So when the ketchup fiasco happened, I stripped LJ down and immediately took the outfit to the laundry, sprayed Puracy on, and rubbed it in. I let it set until the next time I did laundry (which I think was the next morning) and the stain was gone. I don’t think it works quite as well if you just spray Puracy on a several-days-old stain and dump it straight in the wash. It needs time to set. Just an FYI!

Norwex Laundry Detergent

I have tried many a free and clear laundry detergent over the years and this one is my favorite for a few reasons. There are no dyes, fragrances, or other yucky stuff, one bag lasts a long time (like, over 8 months for me!) and most importantly, it works! My clothes come out nice and clean and I love that it is safe for the whole family. I use it even on the clothes that my brand-new, fresh-out-of-the-womb babies wear and don’t buy a special “baby” detergent.

I also love this product because I really try to reduce our plastic use as much as possible, and liquid laundry detergent comes in big, thick plastic containers that are difficult to recycle (and sometimes things like the tops aren’t recyclable at all). So I love that this is a powder that comes in a small bag that lasts so long – it just feels like it helps reduce wasted plastic. Love this stuff!

Woolzies Wool Dryer Balls

These balls work as a natural fabric softener and about 2 years ago I started using them in place of dryer sheets. Two years in and they are still effective! I just keep them in the dryer at all times so they’re ready to go and it’s a step I don’t have to worry about. Every once in a great while, I might add a drop or two of essential oil to the ball to add the faintest hint of a scent, but I typically just throw in my clothes and hit start! Easy, effective, and eco-friendly.

Norwex Window Cloth

I love using this window cloth for all my mirrors and windows. You just spray water on the surface and wipe it with the cloth – it is quick and effective and doesn’t leave streaks. I used this for a while, and then I used Windex on a mirror at my last house and was shocked by how streaky it looked using the “traditional” cleaner. Now I stick solely to this cloth!

Better Life Brand

I saw this brand on Shark Tank several years ago and was sold when the founder used the cleaner to wipe up raw chicken (and tested the surface to prove the product actually did clean it up!) and then proceeded to showcase its safety by SPRAYING IT IN HIS MOUTH. Yes. That happened. A cleaner that works that effectively and is safe for humans to ingest? Sign. Me. Up.

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Pictured with my trusty Norwex window cloth – these are my everyday cleaning staples!

 

This brand is my absolute go-to for daily cleaning. I use their dish soap, all-purpose cleaner, kitchen + bath scrubber, floor cleaner, all-purpose wipes, stainless steel polish…I love them all! You can read more about how I use them in the post I did on my cleaning routine (fine that here). I love, love, LOVE this brand and highly recommend it!

All these products have made my life simpler because I don’t have to think twice about their safety and efficacy. They reduce decision fatigue and keep my house nice and clean. Win win!

What nontoxic products do you swear by in your home? I’d love to hear your favorites!