Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Crying, Peeing and Lots of Lists

This week, my daughter decided to take up Kick Boxing. I didn't know there was a 24-hour gym inside of my womb, but you learn something new every day. Oh man, she is movin' and groovin' lately. It used to be two very distinct times of the day but now it's much more constant. I think she is preparing me for 3 months from now because every time I lay down to nap or go to sleep for the night, she takes the opportunity to strike up a dance party. Must take after her momma.

This week I have been focusing on lists. I'm a list maker to the core. It helps me feel a little more in control when I physically write down and organize everything that needs to be accomplished in a certain amount of time. Before my wedding you should have seen my Google Drive page. LIST OVERLOAD broken down by week, month and responsible party. With only 3 months to go (oy vey...my heart just stopped), it's time to figure out everything that needs to get done before this wee one turns our lives upside down.

This little girl is already being spoiled by her Mae Mae and Papa. Her clothing haul from Christmas was insane. I may have had my first hormone-induced sobbing session while opening a box of teeny tiny onesies and itty bitty socks and bows on Christmas morning. Oh my, they were just so little and cute that the next thing I know, I was crying and squealing all over the place. I think I freaked out my brother with that one. My husband was just shaking his head, ha!

With the help of Pinterest, I've compiled my list of things to pack in my hospital bag as well as her own. I've also made a list of the various tasks to complete over the next couple of months such as furniture to order, paperwork to compile, classes to schedule and miscellaneous items to be purchased (giant underwear and pads, anyone?).

I'm still feeling good with few symptoms, although bending over is becoming increasingly difficult. Also, stretch marks have reared their ugly head, but so far I haven't gotten any on my stomach...just the girls. Awesome. I continue to oil up twice a day, but genetics are genetics, friends. My belly button is creeping closer and closer to the surface, but we still maintain an "inny" for the time being. I've been having some sporadic pain in my right knee cap. I think it may have to do with the extra weight I'm carrying and how I didn't do much fitness prep before getting pregnant, despite my husband warning me to. Other than that, it's just a little pain in my hips or lower back when sleeping and every-so-often when I sneeze I get a cramp low in my stomach. Oh and I pee. That happens a lot now too when I sneeze...haha!! This one makes my husband laugh. It makes me feel old. I now understand why my mom always had panty liners in her bathroom.

Till next time, folks!Pin It

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What We Learned About Our Daughter

In the world of first pregnancies, yesterday was exciting in more ways than one.  It started with a late 20-week ultrasound/anatomy scan of our daughter (I say late because I'm actually 22 1/2 weeks along at this point) and this was the first time we have had the opportunity to "see" her since she was just a wee 8-week-old blob.

As the ultrasound technician moved goo around my belly and a baby suddenly appeared on the screen next to me, I was internally oo'ing and aww'ing at her cute little nose while my husband was silently using his previous anatomy T.A. knowledge to pretend he is a doctor and completed his own examination of her heart and brain (he makes me giggle).

While we were both happy to hear all her teeny organs are developed and seem to be functioning normally, we also learned two things about our first-born:

1. She is a petite little thing. Though her weight is average for this stage of baby-dom, her frame is only in the 29th percentile, making it obvious she is my child (as if her physically growing from nothing inside of my body wasn't clue enough). My family, particularly my Dad's side, are all small people. At a mere 5'4", I tower over my grandma and most, if not all, of my aunts. We're a compact little group. Fun size. She still has time for a growth spurt and we'll be checking her again around 30-32 weeks.

2. She is already quite the stubborn child...just like both her momma and daddy...and her Papa and Uncle, if we're talking family traits. In an effort to get a typical profile shot of her, the tech and I tried everything. I was shaking my hips around to get her to move and the tech was rubbing/poking the heck out of her.  The moment she would turn her head, the tech would try to snap the picture but failed every time because little girl immediately turned  her head back to where she had it. She was saying "excuse me...I'm quite comfortable in this position, so your pictures will have to wait, Mom."

So we got what we could and I've been staring at her pictures just about every hour on the hour, plus every time I open my phone as she is now the star of my lock screen.

The other reason yesterday was so exciting was because I felt my first legitimate punch in my stomach. I've been feeling flutters up near my belly button for a couple of weeks now, but this was different.  First, it was down by where her head and arm were at earlier that day during the ultrasound.  It wasn't a flutter, but felt more like a big muscle spasm. At first I thought it was just that, but then when it kept happening, I put my hand on my belly and actually FELT it from the outside. It was NUTS! The weirdest, coolest, weirdest feeling ever. The more it happened, the more weirded-out I got...probably because it couldn't control it at all and never knew when it was coming. I screamed a lot and called a lot of people. :)

4 months from today is her due date and I know it will fly by!Pin It

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide 2015 - Your Leading Men

Let's take a momentary break from the pregnancy talk to focus on one of my favorite topics in the entire world...CHRISTMAS! More specifically, Christmas presents! I know, I know, gifts are not the "reason for the season," but as someone who acknowledges that "gift-giving" is my love language by an overwhelming margin, I can't help but become giddy during this time of the year when I can express my love for the people in my life by putting a lot of thought into the gifts I get them.

Each year, I spend January - October compiling a running list in my phone of gift ideas for various family members and friends.  Come November, I have many options and decide what I want to actually purchase.  I've also been known to start picking up gifts in Spring and Summer if a good sale presents itself (Mother's Day is a great time to find things for the women in your life).

Now, my downfall is that I almost always go over my budget because I keep finding things for these loved-ones (I'm looking at you, Mom) and just can't help myself.  I think about how excited they will be to receive this or that and how they would never buy these things for themselves and I inevitably end up at the register. 

So...today I am going to write out a quick Holiday Gift Guide, starting with the fellas, while I sit here on a Saturday morning, listening to the Christmas Pop station on Spotify and sip my vanilla iced coffee while I burn my "Tis the Season" candle from White Barn. Mmmmmm! Let's begin:

The Men In Your Life (Husbands, Boyfriends, Brothers, Dads)

This is the toughest category for me.  My husband is not one to "want' for much.  He is a very simple person who doesn't need much in life to be happy.  His list is one I make sure to keep up-to-date throughout the year.  My Dad has everything he could want and has always been tough to buy for (how many ties does a man need?) and my brother just has expensive taste as he is a tech junkie. 

1. Garment Bag:  My husband rarely wears a suit, so he keeps all of his fancy clothes in a cheap hanging cover he received when he bought the suit.  From traveling to various weddings and other events, it has torn up.  This would be a wonderful piece of luggage that you can find in all price ranges the he probably wouldn't think to buy for himself. 
TravelPro® Maxlite® 3 Garment Bag in Black
2. The Art of Shaving: Do any of your men have facial hair?  Treat them to some luxury products to keep everything in tip-top shape! The Art of Shaving is a brand my fellas particularly enjoy.  There are various scents to choose from and you can get anything from a travel kit to some of the most splurge-worthy blade handles I've seen. 
Sandalwood Starter Kit

3. THE SPLURGE ITEM --- Yeti Cooler: Do you really want to spoil your favorite guy? If you've got the budget to spend it, what guy wouldn't love a Yeti cooler?  They're all the rage, especially in the South, but it's not something many people could warrant spending $250-$500 for. They keep the cold in so well and are very sturdy.
4.  Drinking with the Saints: A Sinner's Guide to a Holy Happy Hour: As someone who was raised Catholic and spent most of my childhood in the Catholic school system, this one I couldn't help but giggle at. There are drink recommendations for each day of the year, coinciding with the liturgical cycle and feast days for the Saints.  


5. Liquid Luxuries Cologne Sampler Set : If the man you are buying for enjoys cologne but you're not sure exactly which one to get him, this is a wonderful gift that allows him to sample 15 different designer scents and then redeem an included Sephora voucher for a FULL-SIZED cologne of one of the featured scents at no extra cost. The samples and voucher come in a nice black bag that can double as a toiletry  bag once he is finished sniff-testing. 

6. Uncle John's Bathroom Readers: This would be a fun stocking stuffer or gift for someone on a budget. Men are notorious for spending a curious amount of time in the bathroom. I've given a few of these books (there are SO many of them covering all kinds of topics) as a fun present to keep them entertained whilst sitting around "in the John," as my Papa would say. 

7. TRX Home Training Kit: This is something my husband, who is an exercise physiologist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, actually bought for the both of us a couple years ago. It's been great for days when we want to get a quick workout in but don't feel like leaving the house.  TRX is an amazing workout that can be used for full body and it takes up no room at all! You just hang it from a door and anyone at any level can use it, because it's all about suspension and using your own body weight to train.  You just adjust your body's position to make the moves easier or harder. 
8. The Gentlemen's Box: This is a great twist on the classic neck-tie gift, especially for those men who enjoy fashion.  For $25/month, they receive a subscription box that will include 4-6 items from grooming products to socks, pocket squares,ties, etc... and each month's box also comes with the latest issue of GQ Magazine.  I really love this idea, and they have a link on their website to purchase a certain a mount of months as a gift. 

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Monday, October 12, 2015

15 weeks and bored...

As of right now, I'm 15 1/2 weeks pregnant. We're having a LITTLE GIRL! We've decided to keep her name (which is undecided as of now) secret until she is born...mostly to avoid unwanted opinions, which we've already been getting.

Although I've still got a long way to go, I must say that this pregnancy so far has been extremely uneventful...and kind of boring. Now I'm definitely not complaining, rather observing.

I can't say I've had any real "pregnancy cravings," and I already mentioned in a previous post that I was never sick during my first trimester, nor was I excessively exhausted.

All I can say is really happening is I'm gaining weight like a champ. I ordered 4 maternity items from Zulily today because I'm finding it increasingly difficult to figure out what to wear to work.  I don't really want to purchase maternity work pants and I only have a few dresses that would work.  In a few weeks, I hope it will be cool enough to rock leggings and sweaters for the rest of my time.

I bought this for a football game we have at the beginning of Dec. Throw on some leggings and boots and I'm READY!

I won't be able to close my peacoat later this winter, so I wanted to grab this one while it was on sale. I like to imagine Olivia Pope would wear this if she was preggo.

This can be used for work easily, plus I think I'll be able to wear it after I give birth before I fit into my normal clothes again

I mean, I just want to cuddle up with this forever. Do they make a non-maternity version??

Anyways, there is my update for now. Till next time...
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Monday, September 28, 2015

13 Week Pregnancy Update

Hi there! I figured it was high time I started documenting my pregnancy journey. I would have liked to do videos, but since our desktop with the camera attached was fried during a recent power outage, I've resulted to good old-fashioned blogging. 

Today I am 13 weeks and 3 days pregnant with my first baby! I am out of my first trimester and we are happily out of that scary phase where miscarriage potential is high.  PHEW! It is so fun now that I get to talk about it openly with people. I was never very good at keeping  my own secrets :)

Let's recap my first trimester:

  • I count my lucky stars that I was fortunate enough to not have an ounce of morning sickness. I only vomited one time and that was because I gagged myself while brushing my teeth
    • For a couple of weeks, my gag reflex was really heightened which made things like the aforementioned brushing of teeth and taking my GIGANTIC prenatal vitamins challenging (and for the record, if your wife has this symptom, it is considered extra rude to gas her out in bed or in the car with the windows rolled up. Taylor.)
  • Though I was never sick, there were about 2 weeks where no matter what I ate, my stomach would feel bad afterwards. It was a tough feeling to explain: not gas, not nausea, not "gotta go to the bathroom," just bad. It was as if a giant ball was just sitting in my stomach on top of all my organs and nothing was digesting. It wasn't a fun feeling and I was happy when it subsided.
  • My only food aversion was about 2 weeks of "I don't want to see, smell, hear about or cook grilled chicken." Fried chicken I could do all day, but grilled? NO! There was a day where I refused to cook the ground turkey I defrosted for dinner and we ended up going out to eat that night. 
  • I can't really say I had any specific cravings, though I tended to learn towards cold, crisp fruit (it had to be cold) and sour candies but that's really it and it was never a life or death type of craving...just a preference. 
  • I got a big belly very early on. This wasn't exactly something I loved. I stopped being able to button my pants around 8 weeks and invested in a Bella Band after two weeks of the hair-tie trick and baggy shirts. It was really tough for me to accept the fact that I was going to gain weight. I just didn't like being in that "I don't look pregnant, I just look fat" stage.
  • Although my stomach grew quickly (or it could have been my hips also), my scale claimed I only gained 3 pounds up until week 12.
Quick Tip: If you're around a pregnant woman, especially one who has stated that she feels fat and you can't tell she's actually pregnant yet...don't comment on how much she is eating. And especially don't yell it out across a crowded table of family members (eh hem, DAD!!! Still love you!) 

So now we're to the beginning of the second trimester and with the exception of pain in the left side of my lower back, I feel great! At this point I don't feel pregnant at all except that I'm actually wearing maternity pants now and my belly is starting to show. 

In an attempt to help with my back pain, I bought a pregnancy pillow. I bought the full-Monty...the Leachco Back and Belly Contour pillow and it was the most exciting day of the week for me...until I woke up the entire night in even more pain because it props my head up way too far and causes my spine to have poor alignment. I'll be returning it very very sadly. Tonight I have a 15 minute chair massage at my gym to hopefully give a little temporary relief and I will start taking some yoga classes throughout the week as well. 

Today I had my late 12-week check up. It was a very fast check up where they just took my weight, blood pressure and listened to the heartbeat. My doctor said my weight looked "beautiful" which was a GREAT relief because I had been worried I had gained a couple more than I should have. She also said the heartbeat sounded great and it was pretty cool to get to hear it for the first time, although it was only for a second.

The last thing that happened during my appointment was a quick blood draw for the Harmony Prenatal Test. This will detect abnormalities such as down syndrome as well as test for the gender of the baby! I'm trying not to worry myself with the possibility of having a child with down syndrome because it's not something I have any control over or can change, so why freak out about it before I even get results back. So instead I'm anxiously awaiting the results (which will take 10-14 damn days!!!!) to find out if baby is a boy or a girl!! This mama is ready to SHOP!!!

That's about it for now! Tonight I will enjoy my quick massage and finally start cooking again. My next appointment is at the end of October. 

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Live with Purpose, Live with Love.

My Nana and Papa were married for 65 years before my Nana passed away.  When people asked them what their secret to such a long marriage was, they responded with an answer I think we have all heard many times...never go to bed without giving the other a kiss and saying “I love you.”

I had always chalked this response up as cliche and almost said in jest because there isn’t really one attribute that can pinpoint a successful marriage.  However, recently I’m taking this lesson much more seriously.

This week, hearts all over the Eagle Nation, Georgia Southern University...my alma mater,  are heavy as we lost five beautiful nursing students who were on their way to their last clinical rotation of the semester in a horrific multi-vehicle car accident. As social media and traditional media outlets alike have been flooded with prayers, thoughts, condolences and support from all over the country, I can’t help but feel somber despite never having had the pleasure of meeting these women.

The older I get, the more often I’m experiencing death around me. Concurrently, my view on human existence, the relationships we develop and the responsibility we have while on this Earth is changing.

Earlier this year I attended the funeral of my very good friend’s father.  He passed away from a sudden heart attack, shocking not only his family but an entire community in which he and the entire family are very beloved.  Just like that. One minute he is driving with his son and the next, he is dead on a gas station floor.  

This was the fourth funeral I’ve attended in the last seven years for a good friend’s father, three of these being extremely sudden and unexpected.  I can’t help but wonder, what was the last interaction between him and his various loved ones.  My friend for instance; what was the last thing they said to each other? Was it something important like “I Love You,” or perhaps it a silly remark like “yeah okay, whatever, just don’t forget the milk.”

I’ve heard so many times that you should never take those around you for granted and always say what you feel, because we are not guaranteed tomorrow.  I’ve heard it, and I understand it, but it’s so difficult to put it into practice when you’re in the moment.  Although I know it isn’t true, I often succumb to this sideways mentality that nothing bad like that will happen to me. I think we probably all think like that until it happens.  I’m sure my friend never thought she would lose her father less than a week after she got engaged, but it happened and her life will never be the same. I’m sure it failed to cross the minds of those 5 nursing students that they might never get to celebrate the end of their clinicals, but it happened and the lives of their friends and families will never be the same.

It truly makes me afraid. It makes me afraid that someone I love will be taken away from me before what we would consider to be “their time.”  It makes me afraid that I will be taken away from those who love me, leaving them hurting and upset, which, if we’re being honest, is a thought that makes me cry if I focus on it too long.  This fear isn’t always in the forethought of my mind, but it makes me try hard to say “I love you” to my husband, my close friends and my family when I say goodbye to them on the phone, in person or via text.  It may make me seem sappy at times, but I never want to live with the regret that my last words weren’t important enough.

Though we try to be in control, God truly has his own plan for each of us and the timing and reasoning behind these tragic events will never be explained to us in this life, so we must live each day with love and purpose. We must do our best to exude love in our most treasured relationships.
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Friday, March 27, 2015

Because Taylor Swift and Social Media Said So

I’m really nothing special. Average, some may say. I mean, in 2 weeks, my married last name will be Jones, for Christ’s sake.  I’m a suburban-grown, nearly newly-wed, white female with a bachelor’s degree and a sorority pin sitting somewhere in storage.

I’m like so many other girls out there who have started the descent into the 2nd quarter of life; still unsure of exactly what I want to be when I grow up, but feeling like I’m supposed to have it all figured out by now. I’ll be honest with you, the only things I’ve figured out at this point are that I want a baby and can’t afford one, I’m convinced tequila and pickles were created by El Diablo, himself, and makeup is probably my favorite thing on Earth with bacon cheese fries and college football not far behind.

I blame social media. And Taylor Swift. No, really. While she and her perfectly lined, cherry red lips are stylishly Instagramming her way around the world, adorably awkward-dancing onto every list from Most Charitable Celebrity to Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating People, I’m sitting here in my most comfortable granny panties that I probably should have thrown away a year ago, watching Netflix marathons of various Shonda Rhimes shows while my fiance is passed out on the couch next to me... again...snoring just loud enough to be obnoxious. I can’t make things like this up, people.

Now, I’m not ashamed to admit I’m just as obsessed with T-Swizz as everyone else, but as I scroll through said-Instagram feed during yet another break-room sex scene on Grey’s, I am reminded that she and I are the same age. If she has done all of these remarkable things by now, shouldn't I at least own a home with a pair of scuff-free, nude Louboutins sitting in my closet? If you look at social media, the answer is yes.

I saw an article not long ago on Facebook, ironically, about how social media can be a major factor in our happiness or lack there of. When you really stop to think about it, the concept makes perfect sense. In this day-in-age, so they say, people are so invested in social media to the point that I’m surprised our hands haven’t evolved yet into actual smartphones. We are constantly checking our social media profiles, mindlessly scrolling through updates of others’ lives, many of whom we don’t even know on a personal level. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is simultaneously pee and check Instagram to see how many “likes” I’ve gotten on the picture I posted at midnight last night of me watching TV in my new onesie pajamas.

Only 3 likes? Damn, I thought it was a cute picture. Oh look, Suzie Whats-Her-Name who I twerked with at Ho-loween 6 years ago in college is on another cruise. That girl is on a new vacation every month. How the hell does she afford that? I can barely afford the nice toilet paper! I have no idea what her job is, but we’re the same age so it can’t be that great, right? Must be nice to travel that much. I don’t want to go to work. The traffic is going to suck today. It always sucks. I wish I lived in the country and could just cook and read on my big wrap-around porch all day. Shit, how long have I been sitting here? When did I stop peeing? I think it’s been at least 5 minutes. Now my schedule is off. Guess I’ll have to do my mascara when I get to work. Ugh, I don’t want to go to work. I wish I was on a cruise with Suzie Whats-Her-Name. She seriously has it all. That bitch.  

This type of thought process isn’t just reserved for the morning pee, either. For many of us, it’s a constant habit throughout the day that we sometimes don’t even realize we’re doing. I have caught myself on multiple occasions opening a social media app, closing it, and then immediately opening it again as if something major had updated in the 4 seconds it took my crappy, outdated iPhone to register what I was telling it to do.

There is a fine line between connecting with true friends and family via the internet and judging  your own life based on the perceived happiness others have crafted on their own profiles. A lot of them are just like Taylor Swift and Suzie from college, posting only the happiest, most impressive photos or status updates to the internet, causing others to believe she is leading this wonderful life of pure bliss that everyone else should be hard-pressed to top.  She tells you about the dream job she just landed, shares the photo of the flowers her hunky boyfriend just surprised her with, posts shot after shot of her sweating gloriously at the gym because she needs to get “bikini ready” for her upcoming Hawaiian family vacation where her hunky boyfriend will most likely end up popping the question with a ring straight off of your Pinterest board.

Perfection, right? After being inundated with profile after profile of Suzies and Taylors, we find ourselves suddenly unhappy with our own lives, convinced that we aren't #winning the way everyone else is.

But here’s what we may not know. That dream job Suzie has? It’s a temp job that pays like crap so she still has to live with her parents, and her cube-mate brings mysterious leftover middle eastern food for lunch practically every day, which has a pungent scent that lingers on her clothing until she can do laundry again.

The flowers her boyfriend surprised her with? It was his way of trying to suck up to her after his frat brother thought it would be a good idea to text her a picture of him getting a lap dance from a stripper at The Cheetah last Saturday while he was supposed to be having a movie night with his parents.

And the gym pics? Even though we can all clearly see her size 4 ass has no dimples and she doesn’t even have stomach rolls when she sits down - again, that bitch - what she fails to mention is that she has struggled with anorexia in the past and now battles serious body confidence issues on a daily basis.

But why would she post the entire truth online? No one wants to hear about the problems, the struggles. Sharing the difficulties and conflicts in life makes you a complainer, and SNL has taught us no one likes a Debbie-Downer. So she tells half-truths because half-truths make people like us envy her.

We craft the life we want our peers to think we are living, because Taylor Swift and social media said so.

I have a handful of young nieces, two of whom are in the throes of middle school. Ah, middle school. The centerplex of judgment where all one desperately wants to do is fit in. The difference between my experience and theirs is that the overwhelming omnipresence of social media puts even more ungodly pressure on these kids to be accepted and adored.

Now, I’m not going to go on about “kids these days” because, I simply don’t have kids yet and therefore don’t have much perspective on the situation.  There are, however, a few key points I’ve learned from them.

True story: my nieces follow my Instagram page (never shy to call me out every time my caption contains a cuss word), and during a recent conversation with the eldest, she bragged that while my latest photo had garnered 15 likes, she averages around 30 per selfie. Part of me wants to shake her and yell “WHO CARES? YOU DON’T NEED THEIR APPROVAL!” but I don’t because that would make me a hypocrite.  While I may not calculate the average “like” rating of my posts and I think the fact that they literally ask people for them in their comments is ridiculous, I can’t help but puff up my average-sized chest a little bit when I see one of my photos has gained more public praise than usual.

Seriously, though, why do we care? Because we've been told it’s important by the media. Katy Perry is put on a pedestal for having 67 million followers on Twitter, while Kim Kardashian is praised for “breaking the internet,” whatever the hell that means, with racy pictures of her “I promise, it’s not injections” ass.  This is what is projected into every home as measures of success, of achievement.

We must strive to constantly remind ourselves that success and self-worth should not be measured in “likes” or “follows.” We are not our social media profiles, nor are the people we follow. We are complex, multi-dimensional, deeply emotional creatures who will never be able to portray our vast intricacies to the world with 100% accuracy via these arguably shallow outlets.

Embrace your life. Embrace where you are on your journey and do not judge the words in your book based on the brightly-colored cover of someone else’s.
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