Monday, October 16, 2017

Pregnancy: Week 28 update


Month/Trimester: As of Saturday, October 14, I am 28 weeks and starting my third trimester! According to the Bump app, baby boy is the size of an eggplant: about 2.2 lbs and 14 inches long! 

Baby name: we have it all picked out, but don't want to share till he's here! 

Belly: Growing! I remember several weeks back I had a week where I felt a huge belly growth spurt and it took everything out of me. I haven't had that since then, so I guess it's just a steady growth now or maybe I am in for a big surprise. I have some stretch marks despite daily polishing of the bowling ball with Burt's Bees Mama Belly Butter and putting Collagen Peptides in my smoothies most of the pregnancy (gives more elasticity to your skin!) - I am a little bummed about this. 

Movement: He moves like crazy! Some days more than others but I have definitely noticed a routine. It's so weird when you can feel an actual limb brush up against your insides! I am now trying to do my "kick counts". I think he was hiccuping this morning as the movement was very rhythmic! Such a funny thing! I love when he kicks so hard that my arm or hand bounces off my belly. 

Symptoms: Ankle and foot swelling! this definitely seems to be "my symptom", although I think now that the heat is turning into more fall weather, it hasn't been as bad over the past few days. This is also causing my legs to be very achy and sometimes my lower back. I wear compression socks religiously, drink a lot of water, almost have no salt in my diet, elevate my legs nightly, and try to sleep on my left side as much as possible, but after sitting most of the day at work, I inevitably have cankles. My fatigue is also returning- I notice that by the time I get home from work, I am pooped. I am really glad I worked hard during my second trimester to check everything off my pre-baby to-do list, because there's no way I would be doing it now. 
I think skin things are another weird symptom: skin tags (yuck!), some breakouts on randomly my shoulders- fun fun. 

Cravings: I craved brownies last week. I think I should probably move on from that craving though haha 

Aversions: no aversions! I am glad to be back to meal prepping on Sunday nights with lunches that have actual veggies in them:) 

Sleep: I have finally reached the point of LOVING my Snoogle. First trimester, I didn't like it. Second trimester, it was growing on me. But now...I think it is my sleep buddy for life. I have not had any issues sleeping recently- I had some of this first trimester, but have been very careful about maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, drinking chamomile tea before bed most nights, reducing screen time before bed, using guided meditation when needed, not napping during the day (which I don't usually do anyways, but yesterday- Sunday- I did and I suffered last night as a result), and taking my daily Magnesium supplement. I only wake up once per night around 3-5am to use the bathroom, but this is only if I drink too much water before bed, which I am trying to limit. 

Maternity clothes: Still loving them. It was so hot here in Philly for a while- mid 70s to 80s daily with 80-90% humidity. I bought a bunch of cooler-weather maternity clothing thinking it would be fall weather sooner but so far, it's still borderline. Thank goodness for my birkenstocks though, because if it was cold, I literally am not sure what would be fitting on my feet, which is reassuring as we enter November and December...not. My poor beautiful clogs I got last year will have to be dusted off for the spring :(

Baby prep: I got my breast pump in the mail a few weeks ago! It was free with my insurance, but I opted to pay a bit extra for an upgrade at the recommendation of some coworkers. I just started the FMLA maternity leave process- shooting to take the full 12 weeks. I am really glad Les' company provides 3 weeks as well for paternity leave! The nursery is still mostly finished- Les and his dad will be setting up the crib this weekend when his parent's visit town. I had my glucose test this morning and I am crossing my fingers that I pass- I think this made me the most nervous out of everything so far. The drink was actually not bad at all though! 
We have a breastfeeding class this week and a Baby Care Basics class in a few weeks, which I am really excited about! Les got his TDAP vaccine last week (a highly recommended vaccine for those who will be around baby a lot) and I will have mine next week...and we both got our flu shots! 

Essentials right now: water, pillows for foot elevation, my Snoogle, an early bedtime, taking it VERY easy. 

My to-do list for the next few weeks: begin to prep some meals to put in the freezer for when baby comes, continue to stock up on some household/personal care essentials so we don't have to worry about running out of toilet paper with baby here, look forward to my baby shower coming up very soon, definitely making lactation cookie dough to freeze (don't even know what that is, don't even care- but the word cookie is in there, so I am down). 

And a little further down the line: set up baby things, wash baby clothes (that detergent though- so much money!), put car seat in the car, pack a hospital bag! Things are getting real:)

Birth Plan: I am not a birth plan kind of girl. My plan? Get the baby out in the fastest, safest, and most painless way possible. That's all. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Part 1: Our Trip to Monterey, California

In mid-August 2017, we took a week-long trip to California to visit the Monterey and Los Angeles areas. It was a trip that we had planned to do prior to finding out we were pregnant, but then ended up being a 'babymoon' of sorts (it landed on my 20th week). We were hesitant to go at first, as we knew spending that amount of money before expecting a baby could be rough on the budget, but we knew if we didn't go now, who knows when our next chance would be. Ever since I met Les 8+ years ago, he has talked about California and his time living in Monterey and how he has always wanted to take me back. In his early days in the U.S. Air Force about 10 years ago, he lived and attended school at the Presidio of Monterey Language Training Institute for about 6 months studying Spanish. His stories always revolved around young man shenanigans, as he turned 21 during his time there, but it was obvious that Monterey has quite a bit more to offer than local delis and the 'best liquor store in town'. I am very glad we went on this trip, despite dealing with a growing belly and post-flight swollen ankles! I wanted to share a few highlights of our time there, beginning with our time north. My next post will focus on the second half of our trip in LA.

                We had a family photo session with Molly Hansen Photography at Point Lobos Park. 

We flew into San Jose airport on Saturday, August 19th and had a one-hour drive to our bed & breakfast in Pacific Grove, a small town next to Monterey. The drive was truly beautiful- my favorite part being the contrast in the landscape from mountains in the background to more desert-like foliage along the road and then the Cypress trees. We passed many fields and beautiful ranches. Our first stop, after dropping our bags at the B&B was the Monterey Aquarium. We met our friends from Philadelphia there, whose trip to CA happened to overlap with ours, and spent a few hours enjoying the aquatic life. The rest of Monterey seemed to be very touristy, with Cannary Row and the Fisherman's Wharf, which we did not end up doing. I was glad we were staying in the more quiet and eclectic Pacific Grove at a beautiful Victorian bed and breakfast called the Green Gables Inn. I highly recommend this inn to anyone visiting the area. It is not trendy or hip by any means, but offers the most peaceful, relaxing, and romantic stay with daily homemade breakfast, afternoon cheese and wine, and homemade cookies! The best part was that it was across the street from the water, so when we looked out the window from our balcony room, we could see the ocean with otters floating on their backs and the sea lions laying on rocks.



Here are some of the bullet point highlights of the rest of our time, so I don't bore you with the paragraphs...

-Watching the sunset at Spanish Bay: this was beautiful! The weather was very crazy when we were in Monterey- in the morning it was very cool (60s) and hazy, but by the afternoon it became hot (70-80s) and bright sunny- we didn't stand a chance of seeing the solar eclipse. Most of the evenings turned more hazy again so we didn't have a great sunset view, but the glow of the sun off the water along the coast was worth it all.



-17-Mile Drive: if you don't have much time in Monterey, I would say you could skip this. It cost $10 to get into the area of the drive (I think it is managed by the National Park Service) and you follow a self-guided driving tour. The only stop that I found worth the time was Bird Island- a HUGE rock about 200 feet out off the coast that was COVERED with over a hundred sea lions. The site was funny to watch...and hear them barking.

-Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur: at the time of our visit, Big Sur was still closed due to the landslide that happened some time before, but the long drive toward it is breathtaking. Les absolutely loved this drive, where you could stop at multiple points to take photos or climb down rocky cliffs onto beaches, etc. This was worth every moment and I only wished I had known to wear hiking gear that day...and maybe not have been 20 weeks pregnant...otherwise, we could have spent all day hiking up and down to catch the views. We also passed the iconic Bixby Bridge (a site you would know if you watched HBO's Big Little Lies).


-Touching the Pacific Ocean: this was my first time in CA since I was a baby, so it was pretty exciting to check this off my bucketlist.

-Carmel-by-the-Sea: a more upscale small town near Monterey full of art galleries and the "higher-end" crowd. We spent a morning walking around here looking in the stores. A lot of the homes in the area have a very dutch-style to them, but very gorgeous.

-Campagnos Deli- I couldn't leave this out because it was probably the main reason Les wanted to return to Monterey. This was a deli he frequented while there and is owned by a guy who has a strong passion for the military and all the men and women stationed in the area who serve. We had sandwiches here and I have to say, it was well worth it. The HUGE slice of peanut butter chocolate cake we had on the house after was even better.

-Carmel: different than Carmel-by-the-Sea. A very small town in a valley between mountains, full of wineries and beautiful ranches. Our photographer told us about this on our last night there after our photo shoot and we wished we could have found it sooner. We went to dinner at an Italian place with delicious rustic pizzas. The scenery and beauty of the town was perfect. If we ever go back, I wish we could stay in one of the ranches! '

-Point Lobos Park: this is where our photo shoot took place and it is another thing that I wish we had discovered earlier. We would have loved to spend half a day hiking through- the scenery is nothing you can capture in photos- it is simply breathtaking.

I am very glad we started our trip in this area. The first day of traveling was so exhausting that the ability to have a laid back first few days in a quiet little town was much appreciated. We were able to take the days slow, spending mornings sitting drinking coffee in robes and taking in as much of the "quiet" as we could. I think compared to LA, northern CA ended up being much more our speed and taste.



A few more photos from our shoot with the very-talented Molly Hansen. Thank you, Molly! These are special memories we will treasure for a long time!











Monday, September 11, 2017

Pregnancy: Week 23 and counting...





Welcome to week 23 of my first pregnancy! I wanted to stop in again and post a bit about my progress so far, how I am feeling, etc for all those interested viewers out there. We just had our 20-week anatomy ultrasound two weeks ago and it was so amazing to be able to finally see a baby-looking version of our little boy! I am already so in love with this little child and feel like I am beginning to count the moments until we get to meet him! Here are a few updates...

Month/Trimester: Week 23/month 6- second trimester

Belly: definitely "popped out"! I think this happened on day 1 of week 20 exactly! My pants definitely were not fitting well prior to that, but now there's no denying that I am pregnant! I enjoy being out of the "she ate too much for lunch" stage and on to the "she might actually have something going on in there" stage. Actually now people are giving up their seats on the bus to me, which is pretty sweet.

Movement: I have been feeling those baby flutters for about 4 weeks now! He was the most active during the finale of Game of Thrones- odd. It is such a weird feeling and at first you're not really sure if it's gas or a muscle spasm tbh but now that I know it's the baby moving, I love it. I am starting to notice his patterns now.

Symptoms: The back pain I was experiencing around week 18-19 has improved a lot after seeing a chiropractor. Definitely make sure to have a good bra if you are pregnant! Some stretch marks are happening (embracing it). Energy is relatively normal at this point, but I can feel a huge difference when the baby is having (what I assume is) a growth spurt. The swelling in my ankles when I got off a 5-hour flight 2 weeks ago was out of control. I wore compression stockings, got up and walked a bunch, drank a lot of water but that did not stop me from having 85 yo congestive heart failure ankles. I had a crease. Around my ankle. ok? Definitely don't sit for long periods of time without propping your feet and drinking a lot of fluid.

Cravings: Nothing crazy, but I still have my sweet tooth intact! I think the pregnancy/pickle myth is true though- I have thought about pickles an unnatural amount of times the past few months. For a few weeks I was craving all the fruit so it's a good thing it's summer now. I am trying to behave really well now that the first trimester carb cravings have died down and as I look forward to hungry hippo third trimester.

Aversions: my aversion to veggies has gone away after the first trimester so I am back to eating more greens...thank goodness! Nothing else is bothering me at this point.

Sleep: I bought a Snoogle and at first it was too bulky, but I have been adjusting to it. It's also good for foot elevation when you aren't sleeping. I wouldn't say I "swear by it" yet, but I can see why people do. I think at this point a pillow behind my back to act as a back-sleeping-preventer is also fine. Last week I had to sleep on the couch a few times because it has more "give' than my mattress and I think my belly/baby was having a growth spurt so I needed all the comfort I could get in order to actually sleep through the night. Also- guided meditation for sleep and chamomile tea.

Maternity clothes: yep, have them and actually love them. My go-to place is Gap as they always have a sale going- their shirts are real soft. I like the full belly band pants, but they stretch out fast on my jeans so I definitely will have to wash/dry them between each wear to prevent them falling down all the time. The Motherhood Maternity leggings are nice (although see-through) and I love the Gap maternity workout leggings I just got. And getting maternity scrubs, which I wear to work daily, was the best thing I have done. Comfort is key.

Exercise: Let's say it hasn't been a "fit pregnancy" but I am incorporating as much walking, and occasional swimming, as I can. Ugh I was just so tiredddd for the longest time.

What I am missing: RUNNY EGGS and more COFFEE! I really just want a littleee bit of coffee in the afternoon but usually my morning cup caps out my caffeine limit for the day. Counting down the days till I can drink a Venti...I mean, till I have a baby. Oh and Lox- on a bagel- with cream cheese and a juicy Jersey tomato. Gosh come onnnn. Someone better bring me this post-delivery.

Baby prep: We have a crib and plenty of baby books and clothes so far! We also have wallpaper for the nursery and some other smaller decor items (of course decor is coming first!) This week is the kick-off of the first big projects for the room- wallpapering, new flush mount light fixture, painting the non-wallpaper walls, and patching up any holes, etc. Still working on finding a rug and dresser. My husband will put up the crib in the next month and we have a chair ordered.

Baby name: we have it all picked out, but don't want to share till he's here! It's sooo cute though.

Currently working on: gathering all the must-haves for my registry and trying to think about prepping and freezing ready-to-go meals to have available when baby arrives and wondering if I will actually get around to doing that (has anyone else done that?) Last night I made a week-by-week list of things I would like to accomplish so I can pace myself but have it all done! I am excited to be able to look ahead in that way.

Essentials right now: my water bottle, my prenatal vitamins, coconut oil to hopefully reduce stretch marks, compression socks daily, Magnesium and chamomile tea for nights I have trouble getting to sleep, prune juice (oh yes).

Highlight moments: this past weekend I spent a long day at a conference sitting down and by 9pm, my ankles were quite rounded out, so my husband, mom, and sister all worked together to put compression socks on my feet and I was in hysterics watching the whole thing and them breaking a sweat doing it. True love.

That's a wrap for now! Thanks for reading through. Have a great day!



Saturday, July 8, 2017

My First Trimester: a Recap and Essentials





We are expecting a baby boy in January 2018! I am excited to say I have made it through the first trimester and am starting out week number 14! All said, it was not the worst experience I have had, despite those dreaded pregnancy rumors. I just wanted to record a quick recap of what I have experienced and the essentials that got me through the first 3 months...
but let me start from the top!

My husband, Les, and I have been married for over 4 years and have known each other for a total of 8. For quite a while, the idea of pregnancy scared me. I never thought when I was younger that it would, but for some reason the thought of going through this whole process seemed so intimidating and almost ....dare I say... gross to me. Then it was almost overnight that my feelings completely changed and I knew I was ready- funny how God works. On May 1 (a Monday), I took the first pregnancy test which obviously had that bold plus sign on it. The first "sign" for me was that I was "late". When Les came home from work, he barely got in the door before I could say "guess what!!"...and at first he didn't believe me, but this quickly turned into pure excitement. We were planning on seeing my parents and sister that Friday night and keeping the secret from them for even that long was so hard. May 5th, that Friday, was the one year anniversary of my aunt's sudden passing so the mood around the house was very somber. It was also my dad's birthday weekend so to honor him, we told them right away on Friday and they were all so happy- not a dry eye in the house!

On May 31, I had my first doctor appointment (right up the street from our house- the best part was taking the bus with my husband) and we saw the heartbeat for the first time! Wow- what an experience! To be honest, my anxiety was high prior to that. It's so scary to know that there is apparently something in your belly but you have no confirmation of it until that first appointment- it takes a lot of humbling and faith to trust that God is in control of that little life. I was having a lot of cramping the first few weeks, which apparently was nothing to worry about, but as someone going through this for the first time, it was very scary. Ultimately, I was just really excited to begin the journey of pregnancy and so far it has been awesome.

We started to announce to close friends and other family within the weeks following telling my parents- I have a really hard time keeping secrets, especially one like this! By week 12, we "announced" even more publicly on social media and week 13 we found out the gender (we chose to have the genetic testing which can predict the gender with 99% accuracy).

As I said earlier, I truly have had a very "easy" first 14 weeks. I have not experienced any nausea or morning sickness. The fatigue and very low energy was my most prominent symptom. I am a person who is used to "go, go, going" all the time- I come home from work and pump out chores every night and on the weekends we are always doing something, but those first 12 ish weeks, I was literally down for the count. My workouts took a back seat and I literally came home every night from work and didn't get off the couch until I had to relocate to bed. It was unreal and even my husband said who are you?! Additionally, I had a lot of back aches (still do!) and as I said, some cramping that ended around week 8. My appetite and diet hit rock bottom- I got to know the local bagel shop well and didn't hold back on eating whatever was in front of me. My veggie sandwiches from before pregnancy made me nauseous at the thought- definitely a food aversion. And other than those things, my chest felt the most pain, but I won't get into that in too much detail...

Now that it is week 14, my energy has returned and I have been getting back to the gym, although not nearly as much as I should yet. Walking and swimming have been my go-to exercises. My diet has also improved a lot and I am able to return to eating cleaner again, although don't get me wrong- the ice cream is still top on the food pyramid here. I definitely feel my clothes fitting tighter (um shoot maybe thats the bagels and ice cream) and just bought a "Be-Band" last week at Target.

Here are a few things that got me through the first trimester:



Mama Mio Tummy Butter and "Boob Tube" are both creams that I have been using daily to hopefully cut down on or prevent stretch marks. My belly hasnt grown much yet, so I cant tell if the tummy butter is working yet, but the other one has definitely helped with other things growing ;) (sorry guys who are reading this!). They are both a little pricey, but definitely worth it and all natural ingredients! 

These ever-so-sexy compression socks!! These were something I wore regularly prior to becoming pregnant as I have a bad history of varicose veins already and I am a nurse, but I definitely make sure I have them on daily now. I just purchased a 6-pack on Amazon for under $25, which is a great deal.


Water! Yes, you will be in the bathroom all the time, but it is so important to keep hydrated even more than ever. I bought this 24 ouncer at Target- the biggest one I could find- so that I always had a lot of water on hand.


A heating pad! I bought this so early on due to back pain and have used it very frequently since. For $15 on Amazon, it was worth every penny. And the"What to Expect" book- an essential. My mom gave this to me for Mother's Day:) I also really love "The Bump" app as it provides a ton of good information and answers to common questions and lets you know what size the baby is every week!



And finally my natural beauty products. I am so glad I made the switch to a lot of these prior to becoming pregnant but it is even more important now to take care of your body and not fill it with chemicals and carcinogens. Schmidt's deodorant is my favorite- you can buy it at Target. I also love Pacifica for face wash (another Target-found brand). But please be careful of what products you are using. Most essential oils are contraindicated during pregnancy, and especially the first trimester, mostly because they are not well researched but also because they can do harm to your baby. For one- stear clear of lavender! 


Ok I think I have rambled on quite enough. I leave you with a few photos from our mini gender reveal with my family. So excited for our little boy!!










Monday, March 6, 2017

Kitchen Reveal


Today I am excited to bring you a glimpse into our newly renovated kitchen. It was a three- week, very highly anticipated project that occurred partly out of pure desire to rid our lives of orange granite counters but also partly because there had been some water damage to our walls (#oldhomesarethegiftsthatkeepongiving).  As you might know, we live in a rowhome in South Philadelphia that we purchased almost three years ago. We absolutely love living in the city and to this day are still so glad we made the decision to buy where we did. It's not our "forever home" though (at least I don't think I want to be in the land of cheesesteaks and mummers forever) and in doing the kitchen renovation, I had to keep that in mind. We needed to make sure the look was classic and would hold up for a few more years for our use, while also making it something that would appeal to the clientele of South Philadelphia when we sell it down the road. I really look forward to the day when we have more room and a place of our own forever, but for now, this was a lot of fun. 

I stuck with a white palette because you can't go wrong with it. For the counters, we chose Silestone Quartz in Lagoon. It's a great marble-looking alternative and known for its durability. All the other floors in our house are original heart pine hardwoods and to find more of that and run it into the kitchen would have been a lot of legwork, so we opted to use Daltile Slate in Brazil Gray for the floors. I like how it's just a clean, classic, and neutral look that will work for years. The best advice my Dad gave me was to seal it right away with a matte slate sealer, which I did. This came in handy on night one post-reno when my husband was back in the kitchen cooking and the olive oil was flying and all I had to do was wipe it off and it didn't penetrate the slate. 


For the backsplash, we went with good ole' subway tile- the Rittenhouse 3"x 6" white from Daltile-and Alabaster grout. This was a hard decision for me- I was worried it would look too modern or too transitional (ps nothing wrong with either, just thinking about my preference here) but I think it's all in what grout color you choose. Dark grout= modern. White grout= transitional (think traditional and modern mix. ie pottery barn). Alabaster grout= juuuust right.  


And finally...the fixtures. The fixtures are what pull the whole place together. The faucet is satin nickel, purchased from Wayfair (Kingston Brass). I love how it looks with the 24" Barclay farmhouse apron sink I found on Amazon. The pendant light above the island is from Wayfair and the range hood is also from Amazon. We opted for open shelving on one side to open up the room- and it seriously worked! The brackets are Rubbermaid from Amazon and the wood is hard maple from a local lumber yard. After about 2 weeks of living with open shelving, I absolutely love it! No dusty dishes when you display things that are used on an everyday basis. 


For this renovation, we decided to keep our existing cabinets. When I painted my cabinets two years ago (click that link to see more), I did it thinking someday we would replace them, but turns out cabinets are muy muy expensive, and since my paint job held up nicely, we kept them! We also did not replace the appliances yet. This isn't HGTV- this is real life. Things cost money:)



Overall, this project went really well and I am thankful we were able to do it! One of the best decisions we made to open up the small room, aside from the open shelving, was to rotate the island so that the short ends were parallel to the side counters of the room. This made it feel like less of a rowhome layout and more open into the bottom floor of the house. We also "customized" the island by adding trim to it and decreasing its "builder-grade-ness". 


aaaaand for the melty cupcakes...


Thanks for stopping by and checking out my post! 


AND NOW THE BEFOREs.....

These are the real estate listing photos....


And some other before photos.... 








adding pinterest script 3. Changing the Position of the Pin it! button The cool thing about this code is that you have some freedom over where the Pinterest button for Blogger will go over the image. Take a look at the code that you just copied and pasted into the HTML for the word 'center'.