Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dearest Vincenza (letter #2)

Blazer: Lauren Conrad
Tank: Liz Lange maternity via Target 
Necklace: Old Navy
Jeans: Gap Maternity
Flats: Audrey Brooke via DSW

Our Dearest Vincenza,

We have hit 23 weeks today, and people now exclaim that I "have a belly!" What they really mean is that "oh, there IS a baby in there!" (That baby is you, by the way.) Since you enjoy dancing on my bladder and high fiving the inside of my belly, I can assure everyone that you have been our tiny little dancer even before my belly grew large enough for strangers to realize you are hanging out on the inside and enjoying all of the watermelon I eat.

Since your daddy and I have stayed the same size since high school, we do not own a scale in our home. (Always remember that the number on the scale is never as important as how you feel, and you will have every reason to feel wonderful about yourself.) To make sure you are growing, I weigh us at the acupuncturist every week and then the midwives (Tammy is our favorite--we hope she helps bring you into the world!) weigh us every four weeks. On Saturday morning, the scale showed me that I gained 7 pounds total since you started your dance party in my belly. Lucky number 7, little lady. Your daddy weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces and measured at 22 inches long when he was born! I weighed one ounce more than your daddy, and I was one inch shorter. We wonder if you will be around 7 pounds like we were.

When I was in college, a car accident left me with a bad back, and it is trying to rain on the parade we are having about meeting you in August.  Your daddy is a kind man, so he is buying me another sleep pillow and a support band today. I think the jungle gym that is our bed (SO MANY CONTRAPTIONS) will prepare us for all of the contraptions that will come with you. Daddy and I picked out a lot of them this past weekend, and we hope you enjoy them. Your grandpa (my daddy) will help install the new windows for your room soon so that your daddy can fix the wiring in your room, and I can paint it!

We love you so much already, and I hope you are enjoying your stay in my belly. Make sure to get nice and healthy. Your momma can handle any discomfort that comes as a result of your good health, just remember that.

Your Momma

P.S. Daddy wants to write you a letter or two, so that will be coming soon :) He is e-mailing me right now and wants you to know that he can't wait to drive home one day just to look at you. You and I sure are lucky, little lady. 

Other letters: #1

Friday, April 24, 2015

Do not be deceived.

I wore this outfit on a much more spring-like day. Today, despite the sunshine, requires a sweatshirt and a jacket. The poor thermostats must all be suffering right now. I understand now why mercurial means what it means.

I have little with which to amuse you today; however, several things amused me today.

1. A student tried to fix the printer on our mobile computer lab cart. When the "fix" he tried based on a Google search did not work (twice), he grumbled, "This really grinds my gears." Ah, man, I am still chuckling.

2. One of my students wrote a vocabulary story about how she prohibited farting in her car once she got her license yesterday. Her younger brother said he was "going to blow," so she made him stick his butt out the window. I made them write these stories as comic strips, so the accompanying pictures made the tears that streamed down my face from laughter all the more inevitable.

3. When my sixth period was completely silent, my intern decided to pop a mini rice cake into his mouth. What he did not realize was that another rice cake had accidentally adhered itself to it, so he literally bit off more than he could chew...quietly. The look on his face as he realized that the crunching would be deafening in such a quiet room sent me into a fit of laughter, which I had to contain as quietly as possible, a nearly impossible feat for someone with a laugh as boisterous as mine.
Dress: Express (found it in clearance section for $20)
Vest: Lauren Conrad via Kohl's
Necklace: Old Navy
Sandals: Franco Sarto via TJ Maxx (honestly, Franco Sarto makes THE best sandals.)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Edgy and Classy?

Who needs an iron when you have a hair straightener? The hair straightener did the trick to smooth out wrinkles at the bottom of this top today, and I did not need to lug the ironing board out of the laundry room. Hooray.

Custodians came in after school to replace a bulb that blew above our desks. I remarked that it smells AWFUL when those things burn out. The cologne of the one custodian lingered in the room after he left, and I swore he smelled like my brother who's worn the same cologne for over 20 years. Naturally, I followed him into the next room and asked him if he wore Eternity. He said no, but it does smell like Eternity. As my intern and I walked out of the building, I complained that the trashcan reeked of fish. I'm both impressed by and disappointed in my nose these days.

This outfit, of course, impresses me.  Most impressive of all? I managed to pick it out this morning instead of last night.

The Look:
Jacket: via thredUP
Pants: Motherhood Maternity
Flats: Sole Society
Necklace: J.Crew Factory
Headband: Target

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Talking in Your Sleep

When I thought of a title for this post, I started singing this song. Oh, hair bands, your music was as great as your frizzy, voluminous, Marge Simpson hair. Guys, I like this week. I would give it a fist bump if it had hands. 

The other day, Jeff and I had a conversation that went like this:
Jeff: Did you wake up while I was watching Mrs. Doubtfire?
Me: No, you were watching Mrs. Doubtfire!?
Jeff:  Yes, when your favorite part came on and he says "it was a run by fruiting!" you laughed and said, "it never gets old."
One, I did not know I talk in my sleep. Two, my love of Mrs. Doubtfire extends beyond my waking hours. Three, I was telling the truth; that line NEVER gets old. It makes me laugh every time, even in my sleep.

Vincenza has been a somersaulting maniac the past week, and I cannot stop laughing at her antics. She definitely grew over the past week because the kicks are much more forceful and not simply flutters. In fact, she gives an entirely new meaning to "the wave." At this point, people waffle between utter confusion that I am five and a half months along and that I finally "popped." As long as she rocks and rolls on the inside, keeps growing as she should, and comes out happy, I do not care how big or small I look to anyone. Just keep growing and wiggling, little lady. We will have a dance party when you make it to the outside.

The windows for her room finally arrived, so Jeff and my dad can install them when it's nice outside. Maybe this weekend for Jeff's birthday? He will also finish the dogs' den this week, so we can get rid of their crates, move the guest bed to the dogs' current room, and really start working on Vincenza's room.

Yes, I am 22 weeks today, but no bumpdate, just an "I love life and everything about it" post. Also, my dogs are hysterical. See picture one for evidence.

This picture is really about what Roxy is wearing.

The Look:
Dress: Old Navy (not maternity)
Cardigan: Old Navy
Necklace: Lauren Conrad via Kohl's
Boots: Ralph Lauren via DSW

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dresses and More Dresses

I would like to thank spring for swooping in to save the day. No need to fight with tights anymore when I want to wear dresses and skirts, and do we not all think that makes spring so glorious that we can overlook allergies? I think so.  I would also like to thank Old Navy for bringing its consistent A game this year with the cute dresses and skirts at affordable prices.

This chambray received little play time in the past, but it has officially become a frontrunner in my maternity wardrobe. Hey, guess where I bought it? Oh, that's right: OLD NAVY. They should pay me for these unsolicited advertisements.

The Look:
Dress: Old Navy (exact in solid colors)
Chambray: Old Navy
Boots: Franco Sarto
Necklace: Lauren Conrad via Kohl's (couldn't find it online, but it's in stores)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Blame it on the Brain.

These pants came in the mail, and I finally wore them. In other words, I finally blogged them. I felt that taking a picture of them while I was in the dressing room of the same store at which I bought them online was fitting. (See what I did there? Dressing room = fitting? AHA.) Anyway, the belly band on these pants officially ranks as the most comfortable and the softest belly band of any of the million and one maternity pants I have tried. I ordered my pre-pregnancy size (a 0, which is a weird number because it makes me feel as if I do not exist), and they fit well, minus a bit of give in the front, a presumably intentional design decision since I will need to fit in them at several different weights. After all, I don't want to end up large, in charge, and pantsless.

Of course, pregnancy appears to serve as an excuse for just about everything. Oh, you spilled water all over the front of yourself? It's the hormones. Oh, you cannot find your way back to the receptionist's station after having been in the office ten times before? It's the hormones. Oh, you snarled at someone unknowingly? It's the hormones. Oh, every time you get on the road, the drive turns into a round from Need for Speed? It's the hormones. Oh, you fell asleep in a pile of gluten-free Cheeto goodness? It's the hormones. I still find myself perplexed by this social phenomenon, but I will not complain because my brain has quite honestly turned into a large (or perhaps small) slice of Swiss cheese.

I reread something that I typed and find about three errors in it, which probably frustrates me more than any other brain blip. An English teacher who has lost her command of the English language? UGH.  I recently e-mailed a parent and continually referred to the son by his older brother's name. (In my defense, I taught all three of the sons.) I felt rather sheepish when the father e-mailed asking me which son I really meant. At least the e-mail was a really positive one? GET IT TOGETHER, BRAIN. Prevail over the hormones, dangit.

I can, however, still put together a coordinated outfit, so I take comfort in that materialistic whim.

The Look:
Cardigan: Forever 21 for $8.90 (check out their insane color selection here.)
Top: Old Navy maternity (floral not online, but it's this style.)
Pants: LOFT maternity (exact, 40% off sale this weekend!)
Shoes: J.Crew Factory 
Necklace and earrings: Lauren Conrad via Kohl's  (couldn't find it online)

TIP: LOFT online says that you must return all maternity items via mail, which forces you to pay $8 return shipping. Some stores, however, DO take maternity returns, so ask your local LOFT before you pay that money or decide against buying stuff online.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dear Daughter (Food Edition)

Dear Vincenza,

Your momma is 21 weeks along right now. According to Parents magazine, you are the length of a carrot, which is interesting because your daddy loves carrots. Sometimes, I call him Bugs Bunny, a character we will teach you all about when you come out to meet us. He likes to nibble off part of the carrot and feed it to our crazy dogs, Roxy and Squirt. I like carrots only when I get to dip them in hummus or ranch dressing. They also taste quite delicious when they are steamed with some butter. You better like vegetables because your daddy and I love vegetables. I just sent him out for some kohlrabi because your grandpa said Wegman's has really delicious kohlrabi right now.

If you are anything like your momma, mom mom, and big cousin, Jules, then you will devour watermelon, and you will probably want it with some salt on it because that is how the women on the Wojcik side like their watermelon. You might also be a big tea drinker like momma and mom mom. Please remember that the only good tea is sweet tea, and your mom mom makes the best batches of it. Daddy and both of your grandpas love coffee, but your mom mom and I think it smells terrible, so terrible. Your great mom mom, however, drank hot coffee even when the thermometer read 100 degrees outside. When your daddy first met your great grandparents, he was sweet enough to drink some coffee with your great mom mom during the sweltering summer heat. He sweat the entire time, but he made me love him so much more because I realized, once again, what a wonderful man your daddy is.

We hope you like to eat meat because momma loooooves Chipotle barbacoa bowls, and one of your daddy's favorite meals is steak and potatoes. Your daddy likes to fish and cook what he catches, but I think the freshwater fish taste a little funny. I try to eat salmon or shrimp once a week so that I can get those omega-3's and grow that big brain of yours! Sorry I cannot eat gluten for your right now, but your Italian daddy will show you the wonders of bread when you are old enough to eat it. Hopefully, you do not inherit any of my food allergies because I want you to enjoy eating every food. Let's pray that you take after daddy in that department.


Dear, Readers,
Please enjoy the periodic installments of "Dear, Vincenza" that will include snippets from my life and my wishes for this little lady of mine. Also, if you came around these parts yesterday, you might have cast your vote for which Stitch Fix item I should keep. I ultimately decided on the top versus the necklace because the print makes me SO happy. Based on the plethora of compliments it elicited today, I think I made a good choice. I have zero regrets. It gives me an opportunity to wear one of my cutest pairs of flats, these little red numbers. What a perfect little pairing that turned out to be. I imagine it will look lovely with some white jeans/shorts as well. I could not wait to wear it, and this hurried outfit combination this morning came together way better than I anticipated. 

The Look:
Cardigan: Old Navy
Top: Stitch Fix
Pants: Indigo Blue via Motherhood Maternity
Flats: Sole Society
Belt: Francesca's

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Stitch Fix #1: Maternity Edition

Okay, I finally tried out Stitch Fix after creating an account an absurdly long time ago. I decided that finding maternity clothes sort of sucks after years of learning how to shop for your shape. It's confusing, and once you think "AHA! I figured it out!" it changes again. I wanted someone else to pick out my clothes for me. My mom has done such a swell job for so many years that I figure someone else deserves a shot at it, too. If you have not yet signed up for Stitch Fix, something that surely places you in the minority, then feel free to do so here. If you do, I receive a $25 referral credit if you feel so inclined to help a pregnant lady out.

Anyway, I took some gorgeous mirror selfies upon which you may feast your hungry eyes.

Items 1 & 2: Trisha Clover Charm Layering Necklace by Bancroft ($32.00)
and Tait Dress by Skies are Blue ($48.00)
Necklace Thoughts: I love this necklace and have actually been looking for one like it because I used to have a similar one and it died on me. I know it will go with a lot of items in my closet. I am not sold on the $32.00 price tag, however.
Necklace Verdict: Possibly keep (I'd love to hear your thoughts.)

Dress Thoughts: When I first pulled out the dress, I fell in love with the colors and the stripes. Plus, the bottom half of the dress is so soft. Have you ever tried putting on a shirt or a top that ultimately fits you, yet it feels a little tight as you are trying to pass your shoulders with the shirt/dress? Well, I encountered that situation with this dress. Since it's not a jersey fabric, it didn't really give as I tried to put it on. I like my fabrics to give a little if no buttons or zippers are involved. I have already gotten stuck in my jacket this school year, which took two teachers and a pair of pliers to remove from me, so I do not need to find myself pregnant and stuck in a $48.00 dress. Also, the sides of the dress are just low enough that my bra shows. No, thank you.
Dress Verdict: Return

 Item #3: Corinna Striped Dolman Top by Market & Spruce ($48.00)

 Top Thoughts: When I saw the pattern, I immediately disliked it despite the stripes. I disliked the marbled gray meets aqua-ish stripes. If the stripes were white or black, I'd like the top much more. The length is great, but WHAT is with the sleeves? I have spindly arms, and the cuff of the shirt strangles my radius and ulna, which is not humerus.
Top Verdict: Return

Item #4: Ernie Pleated Maternity Blouse ($48.00)

Top Thoughts: When I pulled this top out of the box, the pattern and the color scheme wooed me immediately. When I first tried it on, I loved the details (cool back, snap buttons in the front, and it did not choke me as I tried to pull it over my head). My bra does not show. I think it looks better from the side when it's belted, and I asked my husband if it "looks like a tent." He assured me that anything I wear "will look like a tent soon enough." Thank you, sweetheart. One concern strikes me: will it turn into a crop top when my belly grows? Also, do I want to keep this or the necklace? I plan to keep one of them but not both.
Top Verdict: Possibly keep (I could really use feedback on this one.)

 Item #5: Fallon Mixed Print Sleeveless Blouse by Brixon Ivy ($44.00)

Top Thoughts: I love the print, the colors, and the length is about right. However, it fought my shoulders/expanding ribcage when I tried to put it on, so that problem is a bit difficult to overlook. Plus, if I had to choose between it and the previous top, I would pick the previous top.
Top Verdict: Return

I could use your help deciding between item #1 (the necklace) and item #4 (the red and white blouse). Since I don't want to lose the $20 styling fee, I want to pick one of them. It helps that I really do like both of them and will wear both of them. However, at their original prices, I cannot justify both. For the record, I was aware that their prices are a bit more than I tend to spend, but I was willing to take a little risk for the experience.

Feel free to help me out!

Monday, April 13, 2015

What's in a name?

Jeff encountered his first "I don't know about your kid's name" experience. Jeff, my ever-animated husband, jubilantly almost-runs into the OBGYN's office for every one of my appointments. He pops his face in front of the secretary's (always the same one), and amuses her with his antics. This time around, he told the secretary that we're expecting a little girl.

As is common, she asked about the name. We will call her Vincenza Leigh. Vincenza (pronounced Vin-chen-zuh) is Jeff's beloved Nonna's name; she passed away when Jeff was younger, and we decided to pay her homage by naming our sweet little lady after such a prominent woman in Jeff's life. We would have named her after my Mom Mom, but Mom Mom would come out from the grave and pull me down with her if I EVER considered naming one of my children Geraldine, which sort of sounds like the name of a female gopher. Sorry, Mom Mom.

As for Leigh, it's my brother's middle name. It just so happens to be unisex, and I just so happen to love my brother a lot. He also prayed to baby Jesus for a little sister, and here I am. He also prayed for me to have a little girl so that his little girl has a best friend, and here we are having a girl. Additionally, my mom named me Danielle because Dad's name is Danny. Giving our girls names after the important men in their lives sounds like a pretty good tradition to continue.

Obviously, we love the name because it is profoundly personal and sentimental to us. The secretary argued that our little girl will hate us when she tries to spell her name, and her teachers will hate us when they try to pronounce it. Jeff, a little flustered, sputtered out some responses. Very calmly, I responded, "Her momma's an English teacher; she's got this in the bag." The name is extremely easy to pronounce once you learn that the c sounds like a ch. Any adult who cannot master that pronunciation probably should not be instructing the youth of our nation. At least we didn't put an r you have to roll in there. (If we had, I would not be able to pronounce my own child's name.)

Finally, she suggested we call her "Vina," and Jeff argued that the name sounds "like the name of a lotion." HAHA. He does not want to call her anything other than Vincenza because "why give her a pretty name if you don't call her by it." People are natural nickname givers, so I am sure she'll go by Vinnie or Enza or something other than Vina. 

He better get used to hearing people's unsolicited opinions because everyone else wants to tell you how to carry your child in the womb (gain more weight! gain less weight! eat more fish! eat NO fish!), how to name your child (too long! too hard to spell! too common! too unique!), and how to raise your child. Want to know the theme that exists in all of those phrases? YOUR CHILD. Listen to sage advice, forget all the rest, and simply do your best. (I have learned this same strategy as a teacher, and it has served me well.)

Here is one of my favorite, most recent outfits. The last picture shows the truest color of my pants, which are olive. I found olive-colored maternity pants on the sale rack. I call that superb luck, my friends.

The Look:
Cardigan: Gift from Target
Necklace: Francesca's
Striped Shirt (my top ten item): Gap Maternity
Pants: Motherhood Maternity
Flats: Audrey Brooke via DSW
 Headband: Target (I want more of them, so I might have to make them since I cannot find anymore as soft and stretchy. Headbands always choke my cranium and fly off the back of it, but this one has proven to be quite perfect for my noggin.)
(Forgive the mess here, but I wanted a clearer shot of the pant color.)

Friday, April 10, 2015

And everything was good again.

Two days ago, Jeff was working on my computer and unsuccessfully saved multiple articles I had minimized on my screen for my final grad paper. He could not recover them, and I cannot remember any of them. All of those hours of work lost. I sobbed. Then the baby started dancing on the inside, and everything was good again despite the lost files.

A few days ago, the end of the quarter grading period caused me more stress than usual. The baby danced around a lot that day, and everything was good again despite the headache.

Yesterday, I started to feel crummy thanks to my autoimmune nonsense acting up (had to take today off as a result). The baby danced around when I felt my crummiest, and everything was good again despite the health problems.

I think the kid keeps dancing around to remind me that everything is still good because SHE is here. Yes, there's a mini me dancing on the inside, and grateful does not begin to cover how I feel.  She must know I am typing about her because she is just bee bopping around right now. Jeff really wanted a little boy, and a big brother would be cool.  However, I feel so much more relieved knowing our little one is a girl because I know she will be a fighter like me. I feel like she will be okay because she will inherit my "everything will be good again" attitude. (Note: Let's hope she inherits her father's beautiful eyelashes, consistently clear complexion, and rock-solid immune system.)

The Look:
Cardigan: Gap Maternity
Shirt: LOFT outlet
Maxi skirt: Gap 
Necklace: Francesca's
Sandals (you can't see): Franco Sarto (my top ten remix item)

I told Jeff to make the gender announcement and to "go with a Game of Thrones" theme. What he came up with had me laughing hard.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Top 10 Remix Challenge: The Items

If I broke the law, I'd want Sarah to be my lawyer just based on her witty sense of humor alone. It comes as no surprise that she has a style challenge (Top 10 Remix Challenge) going that I wanted to join. It took me an embarrassingly long time to choose my 10 items for this challenge, which you can read more about by clicking the link. Essentially, you pick items from your closet that are quintessentially you and work one of those 10 items into an outfit for every day of April. Like Andi, I am not entirely sure how this challenge will work with pregnancy, but I am willing to try. I decided to choose things that should work regardless of what crazy things might happen to my body.

My Picks:

1. Floral blouse (exact--on sale for $25): I immediately wanted this top when I saw it in Kohl's. It has cornflower blue, blush, and white--all colors I can't get enough of these days. It feels so crisp and feminine.
2. Striped tee: I decided to buy this maternity tee because my other tees are too short, and I miss my striped shirts. Stripes are always my thing.
3. Striped dress (exact--on sale for $15): If this thing doesn't fit me for the duration of April, then color me shocked. It is so comfortable, and I'm already thinking of wearing it with #6 and #8.
4. Skinny jeans (similar): Why would skinny jeans scream me? Well, I'm a jeans kind of gal, so I think they belong on this list of things that is supposed to feel very "me."
5. Necklace: It's a pendant necklace and filled with lots of bright colors. It instantly drew me in at Old Navy and begged to be bought.
6. Jean vest: I wore the crap out of this thing last summer when I bought it, and it'll fit even when my belly grows. I'm a child of the 80s and 90s; it's definitely me.
7. Scarf: It has elephants on it, and someone bought it for me in THREE colors just because of the elephants. If someone else thought of me when they saw it, then it's me.
8. Sandals (exact--$49.95): Everything Franco Sarto. I love it. This is my third pair of sandals by him. I bought them in white, too. I am also eyeing a pair of pewter ones when my DSW rewards process. He is by far my favorite sandal maker.
9. Orange flats: They are a fun color and they're comfortable. Nothing is more me than that.
10. Kimono: It's blush and gray and I bought it without hesitation or regrets.

Essentially, I picked items I bought without hesitation or regret (or a gift that I would have bought for myself). If I love it so much that I don't hem and haw over buying it, then I know it's a very "me" item. That happened with every single one of these items. You are the chosen 10. Feel lucky. On a random note: my new headboard makes an awesome background for taking pictures of my clothes (by themselves, of course. I don't stand on my bed for pictures.)!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Managing (some of) the Symptoms of Pregnancy

My go-to line these days during pregnancy is, "I finally have a wonderful reason to feel awful." Honestly, I am no stranger to feeling like a turd on a stick, a sophisticated medical term if I ever did hear one. Anyway, many of my friends who are struggling with medical problems--everything from sinus problems to GI problems--consult me when they feel helpless because they know the medical community and I go way back. Keep in mind that I am not a medical professional, and these are the strategies that work best for me. (I picked up many of the strategies from one of my medical professionals, however.) I feel compelled to admit that, as long as this kid remains healthy, every single uncomfortable symptom is 100% worth it. Truly.

* Nausea lasted about 12 weeks--I ate whatever sounded good first so that I could stomach the stuff I needed to eat. Luckily, I never vomited, but I did feel sick Some days, I wasn't sure I could peel myself out of bed. I just kept rubbing my stomach and saying, "just stay healthy, kid. Just stay healthy. I can power through this as long as you stay healthy."
What didn't work? Seabands and ginger (actually made me gag)
What did work? Going to bed earlier (sounds weird but it made a big difference going to bed at 8 instead of 10) and vitamin B6 (I used Preggie Drops, but Vitamin water also works. I bought Preggie Drops on Amazon, a bundle of 3 for like $20).

*Snot. A lot of it. (the symptom that never ends)--I am not describing this symptom because it's disgusting. I will tell you how I combat it.
What makes it worse? Dairy (WAHHH!), not drinking enough water, not following the "system" that helps
What helps? My "system": Neti pot in the morning, lots of water during the day, and humidifier at night. If I miss any parts of the system, I am wrecked the next day or more. Also, had I not undergone sinus surgery last April, I would feel unbearably miserable right now.

*Hip pain (round ligament/sciatica). This pain started much earlier for me than most women. One, since I am a tiny human, the doctors tell me the shifting of body parts affects me more than it might others. Two, I had previous back problems because of a car accident. Three, felt so sick in the first trimester that I stopped doing yoga, which I need for my back/hip pain.
What makes it worse? Not putting my feet up at some point, wearing crappy shoes (I actually am getting rid of all "bad" shoes and replacing them with better-for-my-feet versions), and sitting too long
What helps? I recently started using the elliptical and stretching again, so I presume that will help. I also started seeing a massage therapist who specializes in pregnancy massages, and I'm going back to yoga when the weather warms up and flu season is gone.

In terms of doctors/medical professionals, I see certified nurse midwives from my OBGYN practice. When my due date gets closer, I'll ask to meet with a few of the doctors. For now, I rotate to the different midwives because who knows if the one I really like will be available the day I go to the hospital? Gotta be prepared for any scenario.

I see a massage therapist through my OBGYN clinic. She specializes in pregnancy massages of all kinds (even ones to induce labor...WHOA). 

I see an acupuncturist whose specialty is actually fertility. He has worked wonders on my headaches and hip pain. I believe in mixing Eastern and Western medicine. Someone in the bunch is bound to get it right. They are all certified doctors, including the acupuncturist, so it never hurts to work with a group of talented medical professionals, especially if insurance covers it. Honestly, much of what they suggest overlaps, so they aren't as different as one might assume.

I am thinking about a doula for our first kid. It should come as no surprise that I love to learn as much as I possibly can. After speaking with one at a Baby Expo, Jeff and I are considering adding this option to our buffet. (No, I will not try for a home birth. Yes, I will ask for an epidural. I appreciate hospitals and what they can offer me. However, if another human can rub my back during the process and coach Jeff and me, then I am open to their presence.) More research required on this front.

And that's all we have time for today, folks. Now, here's the outfit I wore to my nephew's birthday dinner last night (at their house, just family). No, pink is not a subliminal message about the gender of this child, which we find out on Monday.

The Look:
Cardigan: Old Navy
Scarf: Gap via thredUP
Tank: Target 
Jeans: Gap Maternity 
Shoes: Converse via DSW
Sunglasses (gift): LOFT

I am aware that 19-week bump is a tiny thing. However, my mom did not know she was pregnant with me until my brother told her that he "prayed to baby Jesus for a little sister." Lo and behold, my brother was prophetic or something. Here I am. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Our First House: Take a Tour

Now that we are making improvements on our second home and we recently conversed with the new owners of our first home (love them!), we should take a look back at Jeff's and my first home where we lived for a little over three years. Granted, all of the progress we made on that house in three years exhausted us, so we slowed our roll a bit for this house, especially since it's bigger and we plan to live here longer. The only thing we hired out was a landscaper for the backyard, and all of his work washed away. Jeff ended up having to fix several of his mistakes (like the broken deck steps and eroded soil). Waste of money. That's why we DIY almost everything because no one cares about your home like you do. We poured a lot of love into our first home, and we both miss the home and the neighbors SO much. However, our commutes were just too long to justify staying there.

Please note that this post was inspired by Compass--a New-York-based, real-estate company that offers agents, listings, and an app for the home selling, buying, or renting process--who began a "Starter Stories" series in which multiple bloggers participate. I loved the idea so much that I decided to participate.  It's like HGTV via social media, a peek into the homes of real people. Who doesn't love anything HGTV? By the way, a pregnant woman taking a trip down memory lane results in so many emotions. Whew. 

First, I'll take you on a tour of the house. Then, I'll tell you what we learned through the process that we are now applying to our second home in which we will live for at least three times as long as the first home!

Part 1: Main Level (living room, 1/2 bath, dining area, and kitchen)

Living Room: Before we moved in
We Changed: window coverings, wall color, and ceiling fan (obviously added furniture)
Would Have Changed Later: Flooring

Living Room: During (when we wanted people to think we were college chic)

We did end up buying a new couch, but it was not deep enough for my 6'3" husband. Plus, it was way too dark. So were the walls. So much darkness. Bats in a cave. 

Living Room: We lightened (read: I lightened) up the walls and the couch. The couch is from Lovesac. Make sure you spell that correctly if you type it into Google....

 I like to play musical furniture, so the bookshelf replaced the end table. 
Bookshelf: Home Depot
Couch: Lovesac
Curtains: Bed Bath & Beyond (they still sell them)
Lamps: refashioned hand-me-downs

Living Room: Here's what it looked like before we moved. Jeff doesn't like rugs on carpet, but I do. Judge me all you wish.

Living Room (other side): Before we moved in

Living Room: During (when it was dark...and rust-colored)

Living Room (other side): Once we lightened things up, I moved one portion of our couch to this side. Yes, Lovesac couches are like Legos. You can take them apart and reconfigure them.

Wall going upstairs: Before

Wall going upstairs: After
Table: Home Goods 
Mirror: Target
Box & Wicker Ottoman: Home Goods, I believe
(Creepy dog not included)

Half Bath (which Jeff refers to as a "make it or break it" bathroom): Before we moved in

Half Bath: After 
We Changed: Wall color, light fixture, switch plates, flooring, mirror, faucet
Would Have Changed Later: Cabinet color (needed sanding and restaining or painting), would have upgraded to tile or wood flooring later

 Frames: Ikea
Faucet: Home Depot
Mirror: Target
Flooring: Home Depot (peel-and-stick, would have later upgraded to tile)
Wall vases: Crate and Barrel (wedding gifts)

Kitchen: Before we moved in
We Changed: countertops, removed peninsula and added island, flooring, all appliances, faucet, window coverings, light fixtures (above sink and middle of floor), wall color, added backsplash, added a potrack, new knobs for cabinets
Would Have Changed Later: Added pot lights to replace our updated light fixture (I LOVED what we did in here, so there was very little left that I would have changed. I really fell in love with the kitchen once we updated it.)

 Kitchen: Before new flooring

Kitchen: After we redid the flooring (a.k.a. labor o' love)

Curtains: DIY
Barstools: Home Goods or Marshall's
Tray on island and Pot Rack: Crate & Barrel
Island & Countertops: Ikea
Sink & Faucet: Home Depot (I think...or Lowes)
Backsplash & Light Fixtures: Beadboard from Home Depot

Dining Area: In the beginning of our living there
Added: New light fixture, flooring, dining table, curtain rods, and had to fix condensation in the sliding glass door

Dining Area: After (right before we moved)

"Weird" Area: Before we moved in

Buffet/Drink Station: After we moved in
(I took a lot of time trying to figure out how to make use of this odd area on the main level. I don't think Jeff cared about it as much as I did, haha.)

Part 2: Upstairs (three bedrooms and one bath)

Master Bedroom: Before we moved in
We Changed/Added: added a window seat (which I still miss, but we will end up adding seating in our den for this home--go, handy husband!), changed wall color, added blinds, added shelves in closet (not pictured)
Would Have Changed Added: Would have added a second closet and added a master bath on the left (where the bumpout is), the ceiling fan, new curtains (added blinds but never curtains), a headboard (got an awesome one in this house!), flooring (wood flooring with radiant heating), 

 Master Bedroom: After we added our touches (only color I didn't repaint because I loved it--as long as it wasn't offensive, Jeff didn't care about the color, especially if he didn't have to paint it.)
Looks lonely without a headboard, but the pictures suffice?

Frames: Bed Bath & Beyond
Lamps: Pier 1
Nightstands: hand-me-downs painted white
Down-free Comforter: Overstock
Wall Color: Mysteria by Behr
Mirrors by window: Target (came in three pack)
Cushion on windowseat: Made by my mom
Windowseat: Made by my husband
Desk serving as vanity: Ikea, repainted white and tray covered with contact paper
Mirror and lamp on vanity: Target

Bathroom: Before we moved in 
We Changed: flooring, curtain rod, wall color, medicine cabinet, mirror, light fixture, faucet
Wow, I forgot how unappealing this looked. HAHA.

Bathroom: During (realized later that it was too dark! yes, we did have a mirror, just not before this picture was taken)

Bathroom: After
Flooring, Faucet, Knobs, and Light Fixture: Home Depot
Rug: Target
Mirror: Marshall's

Spare Bedroom: Before
 We Changed: wall color (can't imagine why), added new curtains
Would Have Changed: Fan, flooring

Spare Bedroom: After

Other Bedroom: Before
(I don't understand these shades. They look like butts.)

Other Bedroom (turned office): During
too green, tons of furniture, but very teacher-y
We Added: Shelving

Changed it up...again...with new desk and shelves (a little less busy)

 Other Bedroom (turned office): After

 Curtains: DIY
Chair: Ikea
Nightstand: old, repainted
Shelves: Ikea  
New Desk: Pier 1

Part 3: Basement

Laundry Area: After (can't find the before picture)
We Changed: Painted the floor (did it to the porch, too!)
Would Have Changed: about real walls!? 

Basement Bedroom: After (no before...sorry)
 We Changed: Jeff had to fix duct work and the ceiling in the basement and we painted the walls

Basement Bathroom: Before
 We Changed: paint color
Would Have Changed: light fixture, cabinets, faucet, flooring, pretty much everything
I spy a husband arm!

Basement Bathroom: After

Part 4: Outside

(I couldn't find all pictures, so I am just showing you the porch.)

Porch: Before (kind of)
We Changed: painted banisters, mulching, brick work, added storm door, changed locks, and painted concrete like in laundry room
(Out back, we painted the deck, which was the worst experience of my life. Jeff fixed the deck steps destroyed by landscaping idiot. Jeff and Dad also built the "Great Wall of Webber" that looks awesome from the street below. He also had the county remove the trees.)
Porch: After
You can find concrete paint at Home Depot or Lowes. We used a primer (Zinsser) first and then painted the concrete.

Part  5: What We Learned

How to:
* Tile a floor
* Install countertops
* Use powertools (Jeff was already quite adept at this. I need more practice.) 
* DIY curtains and about a million other things
* Make ModPodge your friend
* Hang pictures
* Choose a better color for a room
* Paint concrete
* Paint walls without painter's tape (well, I did)
* Install a ceiling fan
* The list really keeps going. Let's just say that we know how to read instructions and tutorials really well at this point. We also are great at just figuring it out ourselves.

The Importance of:
* RESEARCH -- I'm the planner. I research the heck out of everything so that I can find the best option for the best price. He looks at all of my research, says yes to things, no to things, "what about this?" to things, and we come to an agreement together :)

* Teamwork -- I paint, research (SO MUCH), and make everything cohesive. I get down and dirty with tiling or whatever needs to be done when I'm not doing school work. Jeff helps finalize plans and then executes a lot of the plans. Jeff is ridiculously handy. He can fix cars, computers, and clogged pipes. He also loves to research how to do things, so we come together on a lot of things. We make an awesome team, and home improvement projects have proven that fact.

* Working in phases -- You can't accomplish it all at once. Make a list and prioritize it. We wanted to get it all done right away, and that's exhausting. For this new house, we are much better at being patient (probably because we know we'll be here for longer). In our current house, we keep the list posted to the fridge. Jeff gets really excited when he can cross something off of the list.

* The right paint color/color scheme -- When we first painted, the rooms were so DARK, which made them look tiny and made me unhappy. When we lightened things up, we realized how much we love natural light, dark metals, rustic wood, and calming colors. We have begun applying our knowledge of color to this new home, and it already feels so much more cohesive despite needing a lot of work.

Final Thoughts:
Our first home will forever hold a large part of our hearts, but it taught us so much about how to care for our current home in which we will live for a lot longer. It taught us how to work together (with a baby on the way, that's pretty important). It taught us patience (man, do things break). It taught us that no one cares for your home the way that you do, so you must supervise work and educate yourself on everything about your home so that someone fixing termite damage in your new home doesn't mess up something or the guy at Home Depot doesn't steer you toward the wrong product. Ultimately, it taught us that we are capable of much more than we ever imagined before owning a home. (Hey, we are on our second home by the age of 30 and 31.)