30 Week Pregnancy Update

With only two months to go, we’re officially in the final stretch of my pregnancy! I am honestly pretty surprised by how quickly this pregnancy has gone by this time around and I’m doing my best to soak up every minute since we do plan for this to be our last one.

This baby has been super active in the womb – I’ve felt kicks since 17/18 weeks and now that he’s bigger I feel him move all the time. It seems like we’re going to have another high energy boy join our crew! We reached the 30 week mark this week and it felt like the right time for an update on all things baby, so let’s dive right in!

Symptoms/How I’ve Been Feeling

I’m so grateful to report that overall, I’ve been feeling good this pregnancy. While I had quite a bit of morning sickness and fatigue in the first trimester, that has not been an issue in the second and (so far) third trimesters.

I went in for my glucose test and lab work recently and am happy to report that I’m 3 for 3 with passing my glucose tests each pregnancy. It also felt good to say goodbye to that syrupy sweet glucose drink! My lab work did come back with a low iron reading so I’ve been adding an iron supplement and iron-rich foods into my diet to try to get that number back up. But other than that, I’m feeling good!

Energy/Workouts

To be honest, I’ve not been great about consistently working out this pregnancy, or at least not in an official way. I’m certainly getting unofficial exercise in with all the lifting, carrying, and playing around with my other two children! I’m also hopping on our stationary bike when I can for some quick cardio and that always leaves me feeling refreshed and strong.

The one big issue that I have had is recurring lower back pain – every so often, I get some sacral pain on my left lower back and it has not been fun to deal with. It often flares up after I push myself – either by working extra hard around the house or playing extra hard with the kids. I have to remind myself I’m pregnant and need to go slow, stretch, and not try to do too much at once.

Food Cravings & Aversions

Something about my boy pregnancies makes me struggle with dairy products. I didn’t have this issue with Vi, but with both LJ and this pregnancy, I have to be careful with my intake of dairy. Small amounts are okay but any more than that and I start to feel sick. I love dairy, so that’s been a struggle for me, but it went back to normal as soon as LJ was born and I’m hoping that’s the case with this baby too.

Every pregnancy I have craved more red meat than normal and this one is no different – give me all the cheeseburgers! Other than that, I haven’t had too many strange cravings other than grape popsicles and Pizza Hut breadsticks, and outside of the first trimester I’ve been able to eat most things without issue.

Sleep

Ah the ever elusive sleep. I’m by no means getting amazing sleep, but it hasn’t been too bad this time around – I’ve got my Snoogle body pillow, I try to avoid screens before bed, and I’ve got an alarm clock instead of my phone to use when I wake up in the night. It’s also super nice that my kids are sleeping in a little longer, or getting up on their own, so I’m able to lounge and rest just a bit more in the mornings.

What I’m Looking Forward To

August 10 – baby’s birthday! Unless he decides to surprise us early, that’s the date of my c-section and knowing that makes things feel extra real. I’m so looking forward to meeting this sweet boy! Since this is the first time we’ve known the sex of the baby in advance, it’s fun to think more specifically about what he’ll be like. I am specifically excited for sitting on our porch swing, rocking gently with a snuggly baby nestled up on me with a cool breeze blowing over us. I can’t wait!

I’m also looking forward to seeing my baby with his cousin, since my sister is due with her first baby literally any day now. It has been so much fun to go through pregnancy with her and I can’t wait to see these little ones grow up together!

LJ and Vi’s Awareness

This has been a huge difference between this pregnancy and Vi’s pregnancy. LJ and Vi are only 21 months apart, so he was still very little when I was pregnant with her. Though we talked about the baby and he knew I had a baby in my belly, I don’t think he really grasped what was going on. This time around, with a 4.5 and 2.5 year old, they are very aware of what’s going on and they love to talk about the baby. They’ll randomly rub my belly and say “hi baby!” or give it hugs and kisses. They tell people there’s a baby brother in mommy’s belly and they like to talk about him and snuggle up with my belly. It’s the sweetest thing!

We are officially 2 months away from meeting the littlest member of our family and it’s safe to say we’re all super excited. Come on August 10!

 

A Day in the Life {6.2.22}

As I type up this blog post, my family and I are enjoying our beach vacation with Justin’s family this week. We’ve been lucky to get to do this every other year for the past several years and it’s a trip we always look forward to and cherish the memories from. That being said, our lives aren’t made up of the mountaintop, super fun vacations and trips and exciting experiences that only happen once in a while. Ordinary days are truly the building blocks of our lives – the simple moments that show how we actually spend the majority of our lives.

Every so often I like to document a day in our life; I always choose a random day with no particular plan in mind. I snap pictures throughout and I don’t put thought into staging them or changing them from anything other than what they really are. I love looking back at these photos – the grainy, blurry, less-than-perfect snapshots of real life candid moments. This is our real life – my real moments with my children and family – and these are the posts I most love to look back on in the future.

So with all that being said, here’s how we spent Thursday, June 2, 2022!

We are currently enjoying fairly smooth mornings where our kids either sleep in a little later (and by later, I mean at least 7 am haha) or, if they get up before that, they go to the bathroom and head downstairs and play quietly or turn on a little show. They no longer come into our room right away (unless they need us for something) and that is a glorious feeling to get just a bit more sleep! I know this stretch won’t last forever and we’ll soon have a newborn throwing us back into a wonky sleep schedule so for now I am savoring these mornings.

This morning, the kids got up before me. When I headed downstairs, I fixed them breakfast – I forgot to take a picture until they were done but I try to give them 3-4 breakfast options and let them decide what sounds good. Today, LJ chose dry granola, Vi chose a bowl of cottage cheese, and they both had strawberries too.

As the kids ate breakfast, I tackled the mountain of dishes in our sink leftover from the night before – I didn’t take a picture until most were already done but trust me, it was a LOT.

When LJ finished breakfast, he came to play with his cars on the open dishwasher door as I loaded things into it.

A couple weeks ago, Vi went to her first eye doctor appointment and we were told to start patching her left eye for 2-3 hours each day. We got her some fun, colorfully-patterned eye patches and every morning she enjoys picking out one for the day. On this particular day, she and LJ dumped them all out to make the selection.

I have a part-time, work-from-home job as an administrative assistant and needed to tackle my emails, so I set the kids up with a show and headed into my office to get my morning tasks done.

It took just under an hour to get through everything, and then I closed down my laptop, got the kids dressed, and we headed to Target to grab a few last-minute things for our upcoming family beach trip the following day.

Two little kids in Target is no small feat (especially since I needed a new swimsuit for my pregnant body so our trip included a fitting room stop) so we treated ourselves to lunch in the Target café afterwards. The kids also got to pick out one special item from the dollar spot to take to the beach – LJ was so excited about the green football he picked to play with his older cousin!

We loaded up the car with our purchases and headed to the playground, where we enjoyed the beautiful weather and burned off a ton of energy.

The kids were both wiped out after the playground, so I quickly packed them up and headed home. It’s so tricky keeping Vi awake in situations like this and not let her fall asleep in the car, because then she won’t nap at home, but this time I made it and she crashed as soon as we got home without even asking for a story or snuggles or anything. Success!

While Vi napped, I wanted to take a few pictures of the kitchen for my “One Year Later” blog post and the small touch-ups I just did throughout. While I did that, LJ read a book in the living room behind me with the dogs nearby.

He also wanted to get in on the pictures – ha! Love this sweet and silly boy!

One unusual thing about today was that I had a scheduled training for work. This does not happen very often, but we are super close to switching websites and needed some training on the new system. I was able to attend some of the meeting while Vi slept and LJ was content in the playroom, but then Vi woke up. I always explain to them when Mommy is in a meeting, but honestly, it’s about a 50/50 chance of whether or not they’ll behave, get along, and not need intervention from me. Unfortunately, today was a day they needed intervention. Arguing, picking on one another, crying – it was a rough go and I’m not going to sugar coat it, it was hard. Working from home has definite pros, but there are cons too. Normally my job is super flexible with timing, but because of the training I wasn’t able to adjust as much. I had to excuse myself a couple times to address the kids, but we got through it.

After my meeting, I closed down my laptop for the day and got a quick dinner started for the kids before their swimming lessons. Justin takes them to swim lessons after work and today was an extra special day because my parents came into town too! All five of them loaded up the van and headed off to swim (nobody worry, I know LJ’s chest strap isn’t high enough – he likes to buckle himself in and I adjusted it properly after the picture!)

While the crew was at swim lessons, I picked up around the house and started a load of laundry. The reason my parents came into town was so they could watch the kids the following day to allow me to focus on packing everything up for our beach trip and getting the house cleaned and ready for our dog/house sitter. It was nice to get a jump on things while they were at swim!

After they came home, the kids got ready for bed and of course, wanted grandma and grandpa to be the ones to read their bedtime stories and tuck them in. I had to snap this sweet pic before pulling down the blinds – my heart just gets all squishy and full seeing these sweet bonds.

Once the kids were in bed, we chatted for a while with my parents and then all played a game. I’ve been checking out different games from the library lately and our latest pick was a game called The Sherlock Files – a murder mystery card game. It was really fun to play with my parents even though we didn’t solve the murder (we missed a key clue that would have changed everything, darn it!)

Sorry to Justin, who left the table before I thought to snap a selfie. Love these two and I’m so thankful for their constant love and desire to spend time with the kids and help out when they can.

That’s a wrap on this random Thursday!

To see previous Day in the Life posts, you can check out the links below:

November 16, 2018

July 9, 2019

January 14, 2020

March 26, 2020

February 13, 2021

September 13, 2021

May 2022 Book Reviews

This week, I’m enjoying a fun week with our family at the beach – but as all parents of small kids know, it’s not so much a vacation as it is a trip. Ha! In other words, I’m not kicking back with a beach read in the sand, but I’m splashing in the pool and digging for sand crabs and enjoying making memories with kids. There might not be a lot of reading happening for me right now, but thankfully I was able to do quite a bit of reading last month!

May ended up being a unique month in that all the books I’ve read were from authors whom I’ve read before. It was fun to compare these books to their previous works and I’m excited to chat about them all today!

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez

Alexis is a 37-year-old doctor from a wealthy, high-profile family of physicians at a prestigious hospital system. Daniel is a humble 28-year-old carpenter and B&B manager from a small, tight-knit rural town two hours away. The two seemingly have nothing in common, but when car trouble lands Alexis in Daniel’s tiny town, the two meet and just click. And while they seem to work really well together, both have family legacies in their respective communities and both feel deeply duty-bound to continue the legacies on. Could there actually be potential for a real, lasting, relationship here?

I’m a big Abby Jimenez fan so I went in to this book with pretty high expectations and it did not disappoint – it was just what I expected in another installment of the little world she’s created. There was referenced character overlap and other callbacks to previous books (she also wrote The Friend Zone, The Happy Ever After Playlist, and Life’s Too Short, all of which have some character crossover) which was really fun to pick up on. Daniel and Alexis are both likeable and I thought the character development, specifically on Alexis’ end, was believable and real. As it is with all of Jimenez’s books, there is fun, flirty romance woven into harder, deeper topics – this book specifically dealt with verbal, emotional, and even some physical abuse and toxic relationships (both familial and romantic). I would rate it as PG-13 for steaminess – again, it’s very similar style to the author’s other books. I loved the characters, I loved the cute little community, I loved Alexis’ best friend (and it sounds like her book is coming next year!) – this was a fun read and I really enjoyed it!

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

After a failed bank robbery, the would-be thief flees from the bank to a neighboring building and inadvertently interrupts an apartment open house. All the sudden, the bank robbery becomes a hostage situation that includes a young married couple about to welcome their first child, an elderly woman waiting for her husband to come join the viewing, a retired couple looking to turn a profit on the fixer-upper, and a bank director who has her own reasons for choosing this specific apartment to view. As the police try to navigate how to deal with diffusing the hostage situation, the people in the apartment start to learn more about one another and prove to be the worst group of hostages, being held up by the worst bank robber, and none of them could have predicted how entering this particular apartment on this particular day would alter their lives forever.

While I did enjoy My Grandmother Asked me to Tell You She’s Sorry and Beartown, this might be my favorite Backman book yet! The character development is incredible, the writing is masterful and clever, and I found the whole story to just be an enjoyable treat from start to finish. It was sweet, it was funny, it was deep, and it was entertaining. I think Backman managed to attain a great balance of humor and wit with more complex themes of the things that go into being human: doubt, loneliness, regret, anxiety, and love. I didn’t want it to end! It’s definitely a slower burn read, but I think it just really works as one to savor.

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

A young man is found brutally murdered on a houseboat, and suspicions and questions arise about three women who knew him. There’s the young and troubled laundromat employee who recently went on a date with him that didn’t end well, the nosy neighbor who knows more than she’s saying and has reasons for keeping secrets, and the aunt who has already has had more than her fair share of grief over loss in their family. As the police try to determine who murdered him, they find each woman had means and opportunity for murder – but which of them was pushed to the point of also having motive?

Years ago, I read Girl on the Train and loved it, and I expected another fast-paced thriller from Hawkins. I found this book to be appropriately named though, as it was a slower burn of a thriller. It’s one of those where you can’t really decide who you think the killer is – no one is particularly likeable, but all have their good and bad qualities and it’s hard to nail down what you think actually happened to the dead man in the hours before he was killed. In my mind, it’s no match for Girl on the Train, but it was intriguing and kept my interest and I read it pretty quickly trying to figure out who did it. As motivations were unearthed, I found myself more and more interested in how the plot would turn out. Overall, while it was not a heart-pumping thriller, it was a solid murder mystery and I enjoyed it.

The No Show by Beth O-Leary

Siobhan, Miranda, and Jane are three women with very little in common except one thing: they were all stood up on Valentine’s Day. Even more, they were all stood up by the exact same man. But Joseph Carter is apologetic and charming and none of them can hold on to their anger for too long – as they all work to forgive him and move forward in their relationship, each woman is in danger of falling in love with him. But of course, they do not know that the other two women exist, nor do they know where he actually was on Valentine’s Day. With so many secrets, is it possible that any of these women can find happiness or are they all destined for a broken heart?

I loved The Flatshare by this author so I was excited to see she wrote another book. I went in pretty blind and now after reading it, going in blind is the way to go so I’m not going to detail much more here. I will say, there were a few different times I got frustrated and wanted to quit – I had no idea how this could possibly have a satisfying ending – but I kept going and ultimately was so glad I finished it. After it’s all said and done, I would say The Flatshare still tops my list but I did actually enjoy this book and do recommend it. It was definitely worth the frustration I felt at times!

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

Anna is a talented violinist with a few big problems. For one, she’s finding herself burnt out and unable to get through a single piece of music without having the compulsive need to stop and start over. For another, her long-term boyfriend says he believes he wants to marry her . . . but just to be sure, wants to have an open relationship first to make sure there’s no one else out there. Anna is blindsided – and angry. She decides that she’ll do the same as her jerk of a boyfriend and have a string of meaningless one-night stands, and the first guy she tries seems perfect: Quan is a motorcycle-riding, tattoo-covered man with his own reasons for wanting a meaningless connection. But when their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, and then their second and third as well, their connection becomes anything but meaningless. In fact, it might have more meaning than either one of them ever bargained for.

This book felt similar to the other book of Hoang’s that I’ve read, The Kiss Quotient, in that the main female character is on the autism spectrum. The author’s note at the end says Hoang herself is, and it’s evident that she writes a lot of herself into her characters. There is also some character overlap, as the people from The Kiss Quotient make appearances in this story as well. All that being said, the struggles that Anna and Quan face are unique and in many ways, relatable. I enjoyed seeing their dynamic develop and follow Anna’s journey of self-discovery, love, and acceptance. The book is also similarly very steamy and definitely gets a rated-R warning from me. In addition to the theme of acceptance of an autism diagnosis, there were deeper plot points of heavy family expectations, end of life care and the toll it takes on a family, and dealing with the after-effects of a cancer battle. I wanted to root for Anna and Quan as they each had personal struggles to overcome, and overall enjoyed this read.

What have you been reading and loving lately?

2022 Goals: Summer Check In

Even though it’s still spring, for the past several weeks, the sun has been shining, the weather has warmed up, and it officially feels like summer -I love it so much!

Usually I wait until July to do a mid-year check in for my yearly goals, but this year I decided to do a check in at the beginning of summer. I thought this would help motivate me to keep working on things throughout the summer and sort of refocus some energy as we head into the season. Today I’m re-sharing my 2022 goals and the progress I’ve made so far – let’s dive in!

Goals for our Home

Update the flooring

The entire house needs new flooring and it will happen bit by bit, but I’m excited to report that we are just about to finish the first step of this goal: new carpet for both the kids’ room and the nursery is scheduled to be installed in less than two weeks! We have also gotten a quote for replacing the basement carpet and are budgeting to hopefully get that done by the end of the year.

Main Floor Powder Room. 

I thought this was going to be the year to finally update this little room, but the more I think about it, the more I think I might just wait until the flooring is updated. Or maybe I’ll just do some very minor tweaks in the meantime. TBD with whether I actually tackle this in 2022 or not, but either way, I’m definitely dreaming about what I want the space to be.

Finish the Guest Room Stencil. 

This goal isn’t finished, but progress has been made this year. I still need to finish the bottom edge along the baseboard, as well as decide if I’m going to continue the wallpaper look all around the room or just leave it on the two walls.

Update the Kids’ Bedrooms. This goal is well on its way to being checked off the list! So far LJ and Vi’s shared bedroom has gotten matching twin beds, new curtains, sconces, and updated things like bedding and artwork. The last thing on my list for this room is wallpaper for the wall behind the dresser, which is currently on hold thanks to a little mishap with our previous order. I’m super happy with the progress so far!

I’m also in the process of working on baby #3’s nursery! It’s still a work in progress but will definitely be finished by August.

Have the foyer painted. 

I haven’t touched this goal yet, but there’s plenty of time left in the year.

Living Room. 

I haven’t done any updates to our living room yet, but I have been dreaming about it and slowly putting together a mood board to hone in a vision.

Patio Updates. 

We have already been spending a ton of time outside, but most of it has been just relaxing and enjoying beautiful weather with our kids. While that’s been wonderful, I’m itching to transform our patio into a nicer space for entertaining. We have a lot of plans to host gatherings this summer so this is one of my top priorities to get finished asap!

Personal Goals

Exercise at least 3 times per week. 

I’ve definitely been doing better with this, but I’m still not up to 3x a week consistently.

Buy thoughtfully and intentionally. 

I’m still focusing on purchasing clothes for my kids secondhand, which is not only softer on the environment but is better for my wallet! I also have enjoyed searching thrift stores first when I need something, like when Justin asked for martini glasses and I found a pair of cute stemless ones for $1!

When I do buy new, I try to support companies that are local or use recycled packaging or sustainable materials for their product. I’m certainly not anywhere close to perfect, but I do enjoy when I find a product I can feel extra good about purchasing!

Prioritize Sleep 

One of the best things I’ve done in this regard is invested in an alarm clock! I charge my phone on the floor underneath my nightstand and this change alone has greatly helped my quality of sleep. I don’t reach for my phone to check the time if I wake up in the middle of the night, and it’s not immediately the first thing I reach for each morning. I also have been working to have less screen time right before bed and I took a little quiz to determine what time I should go to sleep based on when I want to wake up (based on REM sleep cycles). I’m amazed at what a difference these small changes have made in helping me wake up feeling more refreshed and ready for the day!

Update the Blog Menu. 

I am happy to report that I finished this up and am really pleased with the updated menu! It is now more organized and streamlined and hopefully easier to navigate.

Family Goals

Take our first family vacation! In February, we took our first family vacation and it was SO much fun! We went to Disney World and made so many memories with our little crew.

Dates with Our Kids. 

We’ve done this and it’s been so fun! Just this past week, we each took a child for a special day out. I took Vi to the zoo and Justin took LJ golfing (I can’t even handle the matching outfits!)

We each agreed that we had a blast with our kids and they both really enjoyed having one-on-one time with us. Next time, we’re going to switch and take the opposite child and LJ has already been talking about things he’d like to do on his mommy day.

Be intentional with making life feel special. 

We’ve had several pond days with just our family enjoying the water. I’ve been taking the kids to the library so they can check out their own books and games (our library rents out games – it’s so fun to try new things!)

We’ve spent lazy weekend mornings all four of us snuggling in bed. We took the kids to the grocery store to pick out a treat and new toy for Macie’s birthday (they were SO excited to celebrate her!) We took out kids putt-putt golfing and to an arcade, where Vi easily made the most tickets thanks to a jackpot run on a tickle monster game haha!

One day I set up a little station with baking soda and food colored water so they could experiment with colors. Sometimes we spend a bit of money, other times we do something free, but no matter what, it’s been really fun making some special memories on ordinary days with our kids and we’ll definitely be continuing this!

That’s a wrap on my progress so far – I’m excited to see what the rest of this year has in store!

One Year Later: How has the kitchen held up?

It’s been just over one year since I finished up our kitchen renovation so today I wanted to chat a little bit about how everything has held up, where I need some touch-ups, and what small detail I still need to address.

The kitchen is truly the heart of our home, but when we first moved in, it didn’t really reflect our family well. I still dream of a full kitchen remodel, complete with a different layout, but a relatively inexpensive Phase One renovation (coming in right around $1000, not counting the new fridge we had to buy when our old one died) has made a HUGE difference in the meantime.

I still absolutely love so many things about this kitchen. I love the barstools – the wood brings in warmth to the space, they’re comfortable, and easy for the kids to climb up and down. I love the light fixture above the island – it’s about 100x better than the fluorescent light that was there previously! I recently took all the globes off and cleaned the whole fixture since it does collect some dust and it’s looking particularly shiny and new again.

I still love the color of the cabinets and how the blue-green-gray chameleon color plays off the warm tones in the black quartz countertops (which I didn’t originally like but now I think they work well with the other changes in the space!) I love the repurposed bead board backsplash, the warm white walls, the updated can lighting – this room still makes me smile everyday! Even though I know a different layout will work better for our family and we will change things up in the future, this kitchen fits us right now and I know I’ll even be a bit sad to eventually see it go.

So now that it’s been over a year, how has this renovation held up? Let’s chat!

Cabinets

You might notice that every photo makes the cabinet color look slightly different – that’s not an editing trick! This is a true chameleon color and it changes depending on lighting, time of day, and angle of your view. I still love the color (SW Link Gray) and it has mostly held up well on the cabinets. I think choosing a higher-quality paint really made a big difference in this space that gets a ton of traffic and use.

That being said, there are a few cabinets that need touching up around the knobs. These are the most-frequently used cabinets (trash can, silverware, plates and bowls) and over time, the constant friction of fingers and/or nails around the knobs has worn away the paint. Our trash can and silverware drawers (pictured below) are particularly bad because our kids also use these two cabinets and they’re not especially gentle users, ha!

Luckily, this is a super easy fix. Today, I’m going to go through and quick touch up these spots with a roller and they’ll look good as new! The rest of the cabinets have held up well and still look great.

Backsplash

One of my favorite updates to this space was removing the old tile backsplash and replacing it with the bead board paneling that we ripped out of our office. We painted it SW Agreeable Gray and it looks so great in its new home. Bonus that it was free! 😉

There are just a few little spots that need touching up, and again, it’s in the most frequently used space: behind the sink and drying rack. Since this spot is a major player in our daily kitchen use, it obviously gets a ton of use and over time, small nicks in the paint have occurred. Again, it’s an easy fix and today I’ll be going over those spots with a roller and get it back to looking fresh.

Also with the backsplash, I’m going to run another bead of clear acrylic latex caulk along the seam between the bead board and the counter to reinforce the waterproofing behind the sink. We have had no issues over the past year, but I want to keep it that way so I plan to just re-caulk once a year or so in this spot to keep things waterproof.

The Vent

This kitchen may look finished, but it’s actually part of the 95% club. In other words, I got 95% of the way done, hit a point of exhaustion, and didn’t finish the last thing I needed to do to actually make it finished. And that thing is…the vent.

Above the kids’ craft area is a vent that had been painted the same brown color as the walls. I meant to paint this the same color as the white walls (SW Alabaster) but it just . . . never happened. And now it’s been over a year and I am sick and tired of staring at it and thinking “I really need to get that painted” so today is the day! I am going to check this off the list and get this kitchen DONE!

A few other small things I’m going to do in the kitchen today:

  1. Paint a second coat underneath the cabinet in the kids’ craft area. I was running low on paint when I first did the cabinets, and this was the very last one I painted. I went sparingly on the underside to conserve paint but I have a small sample jar now and I’m going to give it a good second coat so it looks nicer.
  2. Do some thrifting for a different utensil crock. The orange has been fun, but it’s time for something that works better in the space. I might not find one today, but if not it’s going to be on my list of top things to look for in future thrifting trips.
  3. Remove the bits of black paint that got on the window while painting. Another small detail that I didn’t take time to address the first time – when I painted the window sashes black, a small bit got on the sides of the window. Since it’s latex paint, it’s easy to take a baby wipe and just scrape it off but I haven’t taken the time to do it. Today is the day to get it done!
  4. Tighten up the screws on the barstools. These counter stools were a great find and overall I’ve been pleased with them. They clean easily, still look great, and were a really great price point. That being said, over time, the screws do loosen a bit and the chairs can get wobbly. Probably once every 2-3 months I go through and just re-tighten any loose screws and they’re sturdy once again. It’s not ideal, but it only takes 10-15 minutes and it was honestly worth it to have no other complaints about the chairs and be happy with the price point.

Sources

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster

Trim + Backsplash Color: Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray

Window Color: Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black

Cabinet Color: Sherwin Williams Link Gray

Light Fixture

Counter Stools 

LED Recessed Lights 

Kitchen Rug (similar here)

Home Tour 2022

It’s officially been three years since we’ve moved into our house, and every year I like to share a little tour of the home with a look at each space. Each year, we complete projects and make the home feel more and more like us and it’s so fun to see how things change over time. Some spaces are now updated, some are in progress, some are still looking more or less the same that they did when we moved in. To see our previous home tours, you can click the links here for the 2020 tour and 2021 tour.

I say this every year, but it’s worth mentioning again: during these tours, I certainly clean my house so it’s looking its best, but I also try to keep it true to the way we really live. I don’t move furniture in or out of a room (although I am always tempted to move our exercise bike ha!) I don’t style shelves differently or take things off my fridge. This is what our home really looks like in the way we live here!

Basement

Guest Bedroom

While our big renovation of this space happened in late 2019/early 2020, this room got a few more upgrades this past year with a new bed, fresh bedding, a faux wallpapered look (which isn’t quite finished yet!), and swapped out nightstands. Justin and I are hoping to replace the carpet later this year as well and then I think I’ll probably stop tinkering in here for a while.

Guest Bathroom

No major changes here, but I did remove a decorative tray that used to hold the soap dispenser, a candle, and faux succulent to free up some counter space for guests and added two gold canisters on the ledge for cotton balls and q-tips.

Entertaining Space

No major changes here either since last year but we do have plans to update the carpet (it’s in really bad shape throughout the entire basement) and I still need to update the window trim.

Basement Kitchen

Mudroom/Storage Room

While most rooms in our home have (in my opinion) only improved over the years, this is one that has steadily gotten worse and worse. Yikes! It really needs a major overhaul and in fact, we’ve talked about totally changing its function and making it into a home gym space. I’d love to see this space look completely revamped in our 2023 home tour – fingers crossed!

Main Floor

Laundry

This was a space I tackled in fall 2021 and I am thrilled with how it turned out! It’s such a cheery little spot now and it really does make laundry feel a little bit less like a chore.

Full Bathroom

Powder Room

Still unchanged from the day we moved in! At this point, I’ve decided to wait on major changes to this room until we re-do the flooring throughout the entire main floor, which I would love to see happen in the next year or two.

Home Office

Easily my favorite room in the entire house! This was well worth all the effort that we put in way back in fall 2020.

Dining Room

Kitchen

Revamping our kitchen for about $1000 last spring took me from itching to do a big, expensive gut remodel to being perfectly content with this space as is for several years while we plan and save for that big remodel. It just feels fresh and reflects our family so much better now! I do a lot of Phase One updates around here but I think this one has been my favorite so far.

Playroom

With each passing year, the playroom changes – not because the room itself has many differences, but because the toys change with my kids’ evolving interests. Right now, the hot-ticket items that get played with the most are the dress-up clothes (Vi), the train table that is now constantly covered with Lego creations (LJ) and the play kitchen (both).

Living Room

Sigh. One of these years, I’ll finally address this room (there’s so much potential!) For now, this works well for life with toddlers.

Secret Nook

Foyer

Over a year has gone by with this two-tone double entry look. It does bother me, but apparently not enough to have hired a painter to get the second level finished, ha! Maybe this will get completed before next year’s home tour? At this point, it’s a toss up.

At least the stairway to the basement is finished!

Top Floor

Primary Bedroom

One of the biggest transformations that happened over the past year was with Justin and my bedroom. It went from a boring blank slate to a colorful and moody retreat! I am so happy with it!

Primary Bathroom

Kids’ Shared Room

Earlier this year we moved Vi and LJ into the same room and it’s been so fun creating a sweet little shared space for them. Even Scout is a fan!

Kids’ Bathroom

Nursery

This room is my current project and is very much a work-in-progress, but I’m excited for the changes so far and can’t wait until we have a snuggly baby enjoying this space too!

And that’s a wrap on our home! Three years in, and we’re feeling super grateful to get to call this place ours. I love making it into a comfortable, beautiful space for our family, but most of all, I just love living life with my people here. This house has been good to us and we’re enjoying it every step of the way.

April 2022 Book Reviews

The time of year has come where temperatures are rising, green leaves are starting to appear, and we’re all inundated with this meme:

Ha! May is here and I’m so excited for spring. We are planning to spend as much time as possible outside and soak up the warm weather and sunshine – and of course, I’ll be reading lots of books on my porch swing or out on my deck. I can’t wait! But before I get to any of that, let’s re-cap the three books I read in April.

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead by Elle Cosimano

Back in March, I read Finlay Donovan is Killing It and enjoyed it once I accepted that it was going to be a bit over the top and I needed to just go with it. This book picks up shortly after the first one leaves off. Finlay is trying to write her next novel and disentangle herself from her inadvertent involvement with the Russian mob, which is proving harder than not when she realizes there is a hit out there for her ex-husband. In her efforts to protect her ex-husband and children and figure out who is trying to kill him, she gets tangled up deeper and deeper in a web of deception and secrets, all while trying to balance motherhood and the two men who keep trying to fit into her love life.

Thanks to the first book being fresh in my mind, I knew going into this that I would have to be ready for some unrealistic and even downright zany antics and plotlines. That beings said, I wasn’t as into it this time around. It did continue to be far-fetched, but one extra frustration I had was that it felt like it kind of went nowhere and left me with more questions than answers. Once I finished the book, I realized there is absolutely going to be a third installment (and looking online, it looks like there may even be a fourth planned!?) which makes sense with the plot of this second book now but was kind of frustrating while reading. I still wanted to root for Finlay and I still loved her dynamic with Vero, but overall this book didn’t hit quite as high for me. The first book read independently while this one very much felt like a middle book in a set. I’m not sure if I’ll read the third book or not – looks like it is scheduled to come out in 2023 so stay tuned.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

With a globe-trotting mother and a never-revealed father, Nina Hill has led a quiet life. She enjoys her job at a bookstore and being part of a top-notch trivia quiz team, but other than that she is perfectly content to spend her days at home curled up with a book and her cat. She doesn’t feel the need for more people in her life and certainly not an entire family, but that’s just what she gets when a lawyer shows up one day and tells her her father died and left her something in his will . . . and also more siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews than she knows what to do with. On top of that, her trivia rival seems to want to get to know her (maybe even date her?) and how on earth can she manage all these people in her life now?

This book reminded me a lot of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and if you really liked that book, I would definitely recommend this one. Nina Hill is reserved and a bit quirky, but mostly endearing and you want to root for her. I loved the dynamics with the new family and enjoyed all the sections that had any of her new family members present. I also enjoyed watching her and Tom slowly get to know one another and liked that there was a bit of Tom’s perspective and thoughts thrown in. The narration is a little unique where it is mostly giving Nina’s perspective, but every now and then another character’s thoughts get included briefly. My main stumbling point with the book is how slowly it moves and how many mundane, everyday details are given. If you like a slow, character-driven, lots of extra details included style of writing, you will probably enjoy this book. For me, I just wanted it to move a little quicker and I wanted more details of relationship development and less of Nina’s everyday life that didn’t really relate to the plot. Overall, I would say that while it didn’t knock my socks off, I did enjoy it and think it’s a nice little read, particularly for Eleanor Oliphant fans.

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey of Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile

I have talked many many times about my love for Gretchen Rubin and her personality framework The Four Tendencies, which is all about habit formation and responding to inner and outer expectations. This framework has really impacted my life and how I understand myself and others, but I’ve never really gotten into other frameworks such as Myers-Briggs or the “Big Five” or anything. But after several people have talked to me over the years about the Enneagram and how they think I would enjoy learning about it, I decided to finally check it out.

First of all – wow! I took a test to determine my number and give me a starting point before I read the book (not sure if that’s recommended or not, but I’m personally glad I did it that way) and I will say reading the book has given me 100% affirmation for my number (I am a 1w2). I think this book is incredibly insightful and gives a ton of food for thought about knowing and understanding yourself better – your strengths and weaknesses and how to work with your type instead of against your type. It talks about fears, desires, motivations, what you are most inclined to do in times of security and in times of stress and I just found it to be fascinating and eerily accurate for my life. Justin and I have had multiple conversations about it and how our individual numbers come into play in our marriage in different ways (he is a 9). Overall, I am fascinated and I would highly recommend this book as a great starting point to anyone wanting to find out more about the Enneagram or who is interested in personality frameworks and knowing yourself better.

Here’s to another great month of reading – and lots of warm days to take my books outside!

A Look Back on Our April Activities

April was a good month around here! Today I just wanted to look back a little on our family’s activities this past month outside of the projects we completed. These posts serve as little mini time capsules for me and I love looking back on life in our family at different stages!

I love this picture because Vi is just as likely to be carrying a doll while dressed up in a princess dress and heels as she is to be up to her knees in water, digging in sand, or touching caterpillars. She has such a fun little personality!

Here’s a little peek at the rest of our April:

Vi’s First Braid

I had been looking forward to this event for a long, long time. Vi’s hair is finally long enough to braid, and thanks to her current obsession with Frozen, she will sit still long enough for me to do it so she can look like Anna and Elsa. Her hair is pretty fine so it’s a little tricky, but I care less about the end result and more about the sweetness of the mother-daughter hair braiding time. I love our little moments together!

My Sister’s Baby Shower

My mom, sister, and sister-in-law all co-hosted a baby shower for my sister Jenni and it was so much fun to celebrate her! It has been so fun to see my sister experience the beginning stages of motherhood and I know she is going to be a fantastic mother to her little one. I also love that we get to enjoy this process together as she enjoys her first and I enjoy my (likely) last. We are due two months apart, and our cousin is actually due right in between us with her first baby as well, so this summer is going to be full of babies and I cannot wait!

Games, games, games

I snapped this picture the other morning – LJ and Vi just got out CandyLand and started playing together first thing in the morning before they even had breakfast. Melt my mama heart! LJ has recently gotten VERY into playing games. He loves to make up his own games and he also loves to play any game he can – board games, card games, iPad games, etc. Justin and I both are big game lovers so it’s been really fun to get to teach him the basics of gameplay and also how to be a good winner and loser (we’re still working on that one ha!) I might have to write up a post of all the games we’re loving right now because there are actually a surprising amount of games that are great for toddlers and young kids (LJ is 4.5, Vi is 2.5). It’s so fun to do as a family!

And speaking of games, I recently discovered that our library has a big collection of puzzles and board games to check out. Jackpot! Justin and I love to play games or do puzzles as an at-home date night after the kids go to bed. Board games can be expensive so it’s fun that we get to trial a lot of different games without having to buy them for ourselves or add more stuff to our house (although we’re already going to buy the first game we tried out because we enjoyed it so much!) We also did a large puzzle together, which was great because puzzles aren’t always fun to do over and over so a new one to do and send back was perfect. It’s been a great way to add some variety to our date nights at home and we can’t wait to try more out.

Soccer Season!

The kids are both in soccer this year and while our first practices were very cold, they both had so much fun! It’s LJ’s second year of soccer and Vi’s first and they’re both really loving it so far. I love this stage of life where they get to try so many new things and see what they learn and enjoy. I also loved that LJ cheered for Vi the ENTIRE time her team was practicing haha. He was so sweet and just cheering her on and encouraging her from the sidelines – it made me so proud.

Busy Toddler Activity

We’ve been outside as much as we can, but April can still be really cold. We’re all over winter and being inside, so I’ve been trying to come up with new activities to do while we’re still indoors. I got the idea for this activity from @busytoddler on Instagram and it was a HUGE hit. It’s just little containers of baking soda in a tub, and I filled little medicine dispenser cups with water + food coloring. The kids used medicine droppers to color the baking soda and had an absolute blast! They played uninterrupted for like 30-45 minutes and only needed my help with water refills so I could clean the kitchen and do dishes while they played. Major win all around.

Happy Birthday Justin

April is also Justin’s birthday month, and while I don’t have any pictures of our celebration for him, it is always such a treat to celebrate my favorite guy. Speaking of treats, he picked his own cake out this year – can you tell? Haha!

I hope you had a great month too!

ORC Week Four: Curtains, Artwork, and a $0 DIY frame!

Another week of the Spring 2022 One Room Challenge is complete and I made some more progress in the nursery!

First, I updated the window by ripping off the old window trim, painting the window itself Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black, and installing a chunkier window trim like we’re slowly doing to all the windows in the house. I painted the window trim Sherwin Williams Evergreen Fog to match the walls for a monochromatic look. and installed a new curtain rod and room darkening curtains.

I love the curtains so much! They’re not marketed as blackout but they work as blackout so I decided to nix blinds for this room. It’s a double win because the room only has one window and doesn’t get direct sunlight so this helps maximize the natural light!

I also started adding in some artwork. I downloaded this gorgeous print as a digital download from Juniper Print Shop – the colors are absolutely perfect for the nursery and I thought it would being a nice organic feel to balance the grid print of the curtains. I like that it doesn’t feel like a traditional nursery print – it elevates the room from feeling too baby-ish and then in the future it will translate well to another part of the house when it’s no longer needed in the nursery. I had it printed through Mpix; the quality is awesome and you have to look really closely to tell it’s a print!

I wanted a substantial size and chose to have it printed in 18″ x 24″. Getting a large size in a quality paper and finish meant the print itself was a splurge so I wanted to save on the frame. Large frames can be pricey so I challenged myself to create a really simple DIY frame by only using materials I already had on hand.

Materials

digital download print

-large piece of cardboard (flat, no creases)

spray adhesive

gorilla glue

gold spray paint

Drydex nail hole filler

-scrap pieces of window trim

-tools used: scissors, miter saw; clamps

I cut the cardboard down so there was about 2″ overhang on all four sides of the print (my cardboard piece wasn’t quite wide enough to accommodate the full width of trim all the way around, so there was a little trim overhang, which you can’t see in the finished product). I used the spray adhesive to spray all over the back of the print and pressed it down onto the cardboard, making sure the print was pressed flat and smooth and there were no air bubbles.

As we update all the window trim in our house, we save the old trim and remove the nails so we can use the trim as scrap wood. I took four pieces of old window trim and used the miter saw to cut them down to size for each side of the frame (what length you cut to depends on how much you want the frame to cover the edge of the print). I cut each end to a 45 degree angle and did a dry fit of the pieces to make sure it looked good. I used nail hole filler to fill in any nail holes showing.

Then I sprayed a few light coats of my favorite gold spray paint on each piece of trim.

Once the pieces had dried, I used the spray adhesive again to attach the trim to each side of the cardboard around the print.

There were two trim pieces that had a slight warp, so I added a few daps of gorilla glue on the back for an extra strong hold and that worked well!

There was one small corner that didn’t quite come together flush, so I used the nail hole filler to close the gap, taped off the print with another piece of cardboard, and spray painted over the dried nail hole filler.

I used picture hanging strips to attach the back of the frame to the wall and voila – a beautiful frame that cost me $0!

We’re halfway through the ORC and I have several things left to do: update the nursery dresser/changing table, install book shelves, install thicker baseboards, and possibly add planking to the ceiling. We also are going to be installing new carpet, although I don’t anticipate that will happen before the challenge is over since it’s about a 6-8 week timeframe right now. The room is coming together slowly but surely!

Be sure to check out all the other ORC projects happening here!

Podcasts I’m Listening To These Days

It’s no secret that I love to read, but you might be surprised to learn that I almost never listen to audiobooks. With the exception of a really long car ride by myself, I will choose the physical book over an audiobook every time. There’s just something about curling up with a book and a blanket! That being said, I’m also a busy mom of two and a lot of my days are filled with things that make reading a physical book difficult – running errands, doing dishes, cleaning, tackling the laundry, plus all the DIY projects I like to work on when I have some time. I won’t lie, sometimes I’m ready for a break from auditory stimulation (two kids and two dogs make a lot of noise!) and I’ll complete my tasks in silence, but often I do enjoy listening to something. It feels like adult interaction even though I’m the only adult at home and is truly a form of self care for me! Instead of listening to audiobooks while doing these tasks, I love listening to podcasts.

I think I prefer podcasts because they’re more easily customizable to my mood and the time I have. I can choose a 20 minute episode or a 50 minute episode. I can choose to learn something new or choose to laugh at funny stories. I can choose to binge three in a row or just listen to one episode from a podcast I haven’t caught up on in a few months. With an audiobook, it’s hard for me to just start and stop in short bursts and then maybe not listen again for a few days. With podcasts, it’s easy for me!

Way back in December 2018, I shared the podcasts that I enjoyed listening to. Over the past 3.5 years, I’ve tried out many podcasts and have different ones that I now enjoy, so I thought I’d share a list of my current favorites. These are the ones I turn to again and again, whether I’m folding laundry, painting a wall, driving to the grocery store, or any of the many other things that fill up my days.

Happier

This was the top of my list way back in 2018 and it still ranks highly as a favorite these days. It is hosted by Gretchen Rubin (whom I adore!) and her sister Elizabeth Craft and discusses happiness, good habits, and human nature. They share happiness hacks, strategies for knowing yourself better, and tips and tricks for meeting goals and improving your overall quality and enjoyment of life. There are things that the podcast suggested that I’ve implemented that have honestly been game-changers in my life! I’ve read every book Gretchen has written (some of which made it to my all-time list of book recommendations) and think her insights into human nature, particularly with habit formation and her personality framework of The Four Tendencies, is fascinating. I also thoroughly enjoy the dynamic that Gretchen and Elizabeth have. They have two smaller, sort of spin-off podcasts called “A Little Happier” and “More Happier” that you can choose to add in as well. It’s just a really fun and enjoyable listen that can help you maximize different areas of your life for the better.

Sharon Says So

I have been following Sharon and her Instagram account @sharonsaysso for over a year now and appreciate it so much. Sharon shares factual news and information in a non-biased, non-partisan way and has taught me (and her 850,000+ other followers!) so much. One of her frequent sayings is that “facts don’t require your approval” – in other words, you are absolutely allowed to have your own opinions and your own feelings about things, but facts are facts regardless of how you feel. It’s so refreshing! Her Instagram focuses more on current events (which I also highly, highly recommend following) and her podcast focuses more on interesting stories about people and places. Sharon just seems like someone you want to be friends with and her enthusiasm for brain tingles and new information is contagious. She interviews experts in various fields, shares little-known stories about historical figures and locations around the United States, and even has interviewed political candidates, congressman, and others working in government on all sides of the aisle. It’s a fascinating variety of topics and I always learn something!

The Bad Broadcast

This podcast is hosted by a 20-something woman named Madi Muphy and it’s been a fun, bingeable listen for me. Madi…enjoys complaining. Haha! But not in a negative way if that makes sense? She likes to discuss pop culture (deep dives on things like TV shows and Lindsey Lohan), random things like Trader Joes finds and beige foods, and has fun segments like “Dumb Dumb Club” (where listeners submit things they should’ve known a long time ago but just found out) and “Love/Hates.” But my favorite thing about her podcast are the listener submission episodes. She’ll ask her listeners to submit their own stories and experiences on a variety of topics and it is HILARIOUS. She’s done things like bad dates, petty things you’ve done, embarrassing moments, bad jobs/bosses, white lies you’ve told your kids, gynecological stories (lol), legal things that give you a thrill, breakups, in-law stories, wedding frustrations, and more. I am constantly cracking up at both the submitted stories and Madi’s responses to them. I also love the episodes where people submit situations that she judges – things like am I the a-hole and petty fights between friends and family. It’s just entertaining and fun and perfect for when I want to zone out and laugh.

HERself

This podcast is hosted by two friends, Abby and Amy, and discusses a variety of topics that women encounter. They discuss things like setting boundaries, combating overstimulation, prioritizing self-care, apologizing, saying no, motherhood, marriage, finances, sex, confidence, etc. Some episodes are just the two of them discussing things and they also bring in experts to talk about topics like financial investing, mental health, setting boundaries, adult friendships, and more. I especially enjoy the episodes where they bring on their husbands to talk about the triumphs and struggles in marriage, parenthood, and life. I used to listen to every single episode but now I tend to pick and choose the topics that most interest me or apply to my life and am more of an occasional listener, but I still find there’s some good food for thought in whatever episode I listen to!

Young House Love Has a Podcast + The Chris Loves Julia Podcast

These are two different podcasts but I share them together because they’re both not currently active but the archives are still available. Both podcasts were started by DIY couples with blogs (Young House Love and Chris Loves Julia) and both cover a wide variety of topics related to DIY, home, renovating, etc. I follow each of their accounts/blogs and it’s fun to get another perspective of their DIY journey through podcasts. It’s definitely worth checking out their archives if you’re interested in any of those things!

Do you listen to podcasts? Which ones do you enjoy?