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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014; the year that was supposed to be the icing on my cake.

Last year I welcomed 2013 with a list of things I no longer wanted to waste my time doing.

I'm pretty proud to say that I did a good job with the exception of a few times I tried on clothing knowing it was too small or ordered french fries instead of a side salad.

With the arrival of CT coming quite a bit earlier than planned, I quickly found my priorities transitioning.  On the day that I would typically be out shopping the after-Christmas sales and making returns, I was making salt dough ornaments of my baby's feet and handprints.  Rather than run to the tree to open gifts Christmas morning, we lounged in bed for a few hours just snuggling and embracing the amazing gift that we've received.

With this new perspective on life, I'm not really sure what to say about 2014, but I will make a promise to myself, my son, my husband, and my family to embrace what really matters.

In 2014, I intend to...

cuddle and snuggle as often and as much as possible.
enjoy the small things - baths, hugs, smiles, all of the small things.
capture more moments on camera than ever before.
embrace every messy diaper, late night wake up call, cluster feeding, and wardrobe malfunction.
show and tell my husband how much I love him and the amazing father I already see him becoming.
live life to the fullest and embrace every new experience in this amazing life God has blessed me with.

What does your 2014 look like?

Monday, December 30, 2013

My Favorite Year

I had thought that 2013 would be a good year, but if I'm being honest, I was ready for it to end so that 2014 could hurry up and get here.  I knew I would start 2014 with a bang and that it would quickly become the best year of my life.  2013 surprised me though - a good surprise - the best surprise.

Looking back, I have a feeling this year will forever be my all-time favorite.  

All the best things happened this year:

I'm sure many things happened in January and February that were memorable, but they just don't hold a candle to the rest of the year so I don't have much to share except a few of my favorite blog posts from those 2 months on evolving,  being a Proverbs 31 wife (and Sara Horn commented on my post!), one of my favorite outfits, and a letter to future teachers.

The rest of the year is what made it my favorite:
We visited Charleston for a week over spring break.

I completed Whole 30 and a green smoothie challenge.

We celebrated what we thought was just any other Mother's Day by taking the dogs to a new-to-us park; little did we know I was pregnant in this picture.

June 21, 2013 was the first day I got to hear my little man's heartbeat, see his sweet face, and fell in absolutely love with the best part of both, my husband and me.

We spent a week at the beach with my parents and then I went home with them for another 2 weeks.
While there, my belly continued to grow and we got more and more excited.

My husband was overjoyed when we found out we were having a boy.

I was given the awesome opportunity to team up with ForTwoFitness

I was blessed to finish my Master's degree in time so that I wouldn't take any classes after CT arrived and in plenty of time to receive master's pay.

We went apple picking and hubby made a huge effort to plan special dates before we became 3.

We went home for Thanksgiving and my mom and best friend threw us a shower.  It was awesome to see my family and friends.  They always make me feel so loved.

I was supposed to graduate December 13.  Instead, I woke up the morning of December 12 to find that my water was broken almost 5 weeks early.

December 12, 2013 at 9:22 p.m. we welcomed CT into the world and that, my friends, made 2013 the best year ever!

Thank you so much for being a part of my year; for sharing in my triumphs and stumbles and showing me your grace and love.  I have a feeling 2014 is going to be so much fun as we watch CT grow and mold us into parents.


These photos are unedited (as if you couldn't tell).  I'm still adjusting to mommy-hood and sometimes, life is messy. It's not an easy transition even when you do get to stay home 24/7.  

You can also see that these pictures were taken pre-baby.  I'm almost 9 months pregnant here.
Remember when I told you how my wardrobe was getting extremely limited, my shoe selection in particular?  Well, this is what I typically wore to school the last week (or three) of pregnancy.

It was comfortable and it fit my fat, swollen feet.

Sweater: Motherhood Maternity, Vest: GAP (old, similar), Pants: thrifted, Shoes: Dansko

I got these pants early on in my pregnancy and joked to my mom that I may never get to wear them because they were so big for me when I bought them.  Ha.
I found them in Goodwill with the tags still on them for $3.75.

I started to think twice about this post and whether or not it was okay to share unedited photos and the fact that I haven't posted consistently in two weeks because, as of yesterday, that's how old CT is.

Then I thought, you know...
we need to see the unedited version of life once in a while.
So much of what is on Pinterest and what I see on blogs and Instagram is edited.
And it can make you feel a little intimidated or flare up the green-eyed monster if you aren't careful.

What we typically share on here is the good stuff - not the bad.  We don't like rehashing the bad so why would we document it?  So, I've made a decision just now that I'm going to be brave enough to share all of it...the edited and unedited versions.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Now introducing...

Little Carson Thomas surprised us about 5 weeks early and arrived on December 12, 2013.
He has been the most amazing surprise/gift we could have ever received.

The amount of love and overwhelming feeling of joy in our hearts is indescribable.
I can't wait to share more about our birth story, his first Christmas, and some details of pregnancy/preparation for baby's arrival that I had scheduled to share with you prior to his arrival.  

I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

35 Weeks | Graduation

I had written this post two weeks ago and it was supposed to go live Friday, December 13th.
Instead, life threw me an unexpected, but amazing twist.

Rather than walking to get my diploma, I graduated to mommyhood.
So, this was the last bumpdate I did and I wanted to document it even if a tad late.
Stop by tomorrow to meet the little guy or follow me on Instagram to see him in all his precious glory.

Guys!  I'm graduating today!  Like, while you are reading this, I'm in my cap and gown and waiting to have my name called to walk across stage to receive my diploma for my Masters in Reading Education.  I am officially a Reading Specialist!  I will definitely write a full post on this next week, but just had to share with you my best moment of the week!

How Far Along: Last Saturday marked 35 weeks

Size of Baby: 5.5 - 6 lbs

Weight Gain: 38 lbs; a LOT of fluid retention

Stretch Marks: Still none!  Hoping to make it these last 4 weeks...

Maternity Clothes:  Next week is the last week before Christmas break at school and I'm really excited to wear comfy clothes for a while.  I have a few more outfit ideas to share with you before my bump becomes a babe!

Gender:  Sweet baby boy!

Movement:  I'm starting to get little jabs from knees and elbows.  I L.O.V.E. it.    

Sleep: I sleep good when my husband isn't asking me to roll over because of my snoring.  Guys, I snore like a chainsaw now that I'm pregnant!  I totally know how he feels and how frustrating it is because normally I'm the one that wakes him up asking him to roll over.  The roll of Snore-a-saurus has changed.

Missing:  My shoes. I had breastfeeding class earlier this week and I looked around at all the other women wearing their cute little flats and got so jealous.  I miss my shoes.

Loving:  All of you.  You are so sweet and kind and keep me smiling on days when I feel like my eyelids have gained as much weight as my belly.  Thank you.

Craving:   Casseroles and one dish meals.  Last week I made beef stew and this week I made homemade chicken pot pie and I'm really wanting lasagna.  I think I may have to make that this weekend.

Feeling: Excited.  I'm so close to having a full-term baby inside me.  Wow-za!

Looking Forward: Next week we have 4.5 days until Christmas break.  After Christmas break, I literally have 5 days of work until my due date.  Although, if CT decides to come late, I will work until he's here.  Still, time is flying by!

Best Moment(s):   We got our mobile in the mail from E.D. Mobiles.  I love, love, love it - look for a review and giveaway in the near future!  Monday I met with the county office to discuss my maternity leave - I didn't hear exactly what I wanted to hear, but I still get to take 12 weeks off with CT so that's better than most people get and I'm choosing to be grateful for it.  Tuesday I attended my first breast feeding class and I cannot believe the information I learned that I was clueless on.  We aren't taking birthing classes, but I think a breast feeding class was essential.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Extra Special Secret Santa Gifts

Last week I shared some ideas for things you could purchase for your coworkers when participating in Secret Santa.  However, we all know there are certain coworkers that we are closer to than others.  If we draw one of their names, we want to go a little above and beyond while still staying within the proper price range.

Here are 5 ideas that are a little more special, but stick to the $2-$3 price range and don't go over $10-$15 for the final giving day.

1. Purchase an inexpensive frame (less than $3) and put one of his/her Facebook pictures in it.  You can bet that one of her profile pictures would be a fantastic choice since they are probably the most special like this one you would find on my page.

2. Find out their favorite food and put together a little kit so they can cook it up with their loved ones.  If they love breakfast, buy pancake batter, syrup, and chocolate chips.  If they love Italian, put pasta, sauce, and some grated cheese in a bag for them.  If you really like the person, make a little menu for them to share with the kids.

3.  Make something!  With Pinterest these days, you don't need to have the idea, you just need to follow instructions.  And a lot of them are super easy!  In fact, that's how I started sewing and got the nerve to buy my first sewing machine two years ago. With projects like these you can't go wrong...

4.  Have their favorite hot breakfast waiting for them on their desk one morning.  A croissant and peppermint mocha from Starbucks or sausage gravy and OJ from McDonalds.

5.  If they have children, get them something they can do with their child.  It could be a little craft kit or a ginger bread house kit.  It will give them something fun to do one weekend and new holiday memories with their loved ones.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

If I'm being honest...

If I'm being honest...

these aren't the best pictures.  It's been raining for 4 days straight so my hallway is my only option right now.

most days, I get your sweet comments about my outfit or my post or my looks and they truly, truly make my day.  Thank you.  You don't quite know what you do for a swollen, fat, pregnant woman's confidence.

a lot of days I don't look like this - if you worked with me you would see me wearing black dress pants, a top of varying colors, and my Danskos.  Honestly, those shoes are just more comfortable than everything else right now.

these boots, my Danskos, and my sneakers are the only footwear I even consider squeezing my feet into for the day.

every pair of boots I buy from here on out will have a zipper like these.

Cardigan: Target, Dress: Target (non-maternity), Boot Socks: KMart, Boots: Steve Madden, Bracelets: Alex and Ani

I'm retaining just as much water (if not more) as I'm consuming these days.

as soon as I get home, the sweats, pj pants, husband's tee-shirt, and a cozy oversized cardigan go on.

concealer is a pregnant woman's (and probably a mom's) best friend.

decaf coffee only fools you half the time.

I honestly have enjoyed pregnancy, but I am starting to feel ready.  I'm ready to be able to sleep on my belly and without waking up ten times for potty breaks.  I'm ready to have my wardrobe back.  I'm ready to go for a run and get in a good workout at the gym.  I'm ready to hold my baby boy.

If I'm being really honest, I want to win my own giveaway.  If you haven't scoped it out yet, check it out here.

pleated poppy

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Natures Beauty Box | Review && Giveaway

If you've been around for a while you know that I am a huge advocate of shopping small and local.

I try very hard to get the majority of my gifts handmade or made in the USA.  After all, I have my own small business and truly appreciate all of the support it receives each year from you as well as local friends and family.  (If you want to check out my new inventory for Christmas gifts, click here).

Now that I'm pregnant, I'm really trying to go green with my cleaning supplies, body products, etc.  I want baby boy to have as natural environment as possible.  If he is anything like me his skin will be super sensitive!

So, when my girlfriend blessed me with amazing gifts at my baby shower a few weeks ago, I knew I had to share them with you, but also share a little more about her company, Nature's Beauty Box Boutique!

Vittoria makes 100% natural beauty and body products for the whole family.  She blessed me with a beautiful gift basket with many of the items new moms and babes need: diaper rash cream, body butter, nipple cream, headache ointment, lip balm, and so much more.  I have already used several of the products and I can tell you they work wonders and smell fantastic.

Not only did she bless me with amazing gifts, but she has offered to give away a fantastic gift package to one of my readers by entering the Rafflecopter below!  And, if you are interested in buying gifts for family or friends, she is even offering all readers a 10% discount with the code: LULUSMIMI 

The gift package includes:
1 pink cotton candy chapstick, 1 pain and headache roll on relief, and
1 coconut body butter sample

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Pregnant Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I've been a really good girl this year, man.  Particularly these last 9 months...  I mean, I haven't even had a drink so there really isn't much room for me to misbehave.  I feel like I should probably admit to eating all of my husband's oatmeal cream pies and finishing the ice cream without offering him any though.  It's not that I lied about it or anything, but I definitely didn't offer to share.  I won't let it happen again...or maybe I will, but if I do I will definitely buy more.

Aside from all that, I've been really unselfish.  Practically all of my shopping has been for baby and not for me.  I sleep for him.  Eat for him.  I even go to the bathroom double triple quadruple time for him.

I've been sharing my body - it's not even remotely mine right now.  I have let him set up home and I've worked hard to keep him comfortable.  If he elbows me, I try to adjust.  He definitely dictates and I listen to his orders.  See...more selflessness here.  I even stopped eating my favorite cheeses and deli meat for him.  Did I mention I haven't had a single glass of Naughty and Nice this season?

I'm thinking as far as gifts this year, you could maybe work something out where they get delivered after the baby comes?  Or perhaps in lieu of tangible gifts, we could do something along the lines of a prenatal massage and a foot rub?  Perhaps even paint the little piggies?  I wouldn't mind a full night sleep...maybe a quiet bladder?

I'm quite excited about your arrival, but don't be surprised if there aren't as many any cookies waiting for you by the tree.  Maybe I should apologize ahead of time, but I have a strong feeling that most of will be eaten...for the baby of course!  I'll leave a few extra carrots just in case.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 6, 2013

34 Weeks

How Far Along: Last Saturday marked 34 weeks

Size of Baby: 5-5.5 lbs

Weight Gain: 35 lbs; a LOT of fluid retention.  My poor toes and fingers look like the Michelin man.

Stretch Marks: Still none!

Maternity Clothes:  Getting sick of them.  Looking forward to going shopping after baby.

Gender:  Sweet baby boy!

Movement:  All the time.  He moves a lot between the hours of 11am-1pm and in the middle of the night.  

Sleep: Not great.  Last night I was up from 2-5.  I think God is just prepping me for reality of life with a baby.  And I'm surviving. :o)

Missing:  My shoes.  My feet are so swollen that I'm limited to a few pairs of sneakers, boots, and my Danskos.  I can't wait to be able to wear flats.

Loving:  Little Debbie Christmas Tree cakes - to a point that I'm disgusted with myself.

Craving:   Salads with ranch dressing and croutons.  I guess that makes up for the Christmas tree cakes.

Feeling: Swollen and sore.  After swelling all day, my feet are super sore in the mornings.  Aside from the swelling and general achiness, I'm feeling really good.  I'm getting excited about CT's arrival and completion of the nursery.  I really can't complain - a little bit of swelling and achiness is nothing.

Looking Forward: I get to see my brother again this weekend which makes 2 weekends in a row and I'm going to complete our registries at Target and Babies R Us since we have had all of our showers.    

Best Moment(s):   Seeing my family was awesome.  Also this week, I completed my master's coursework and we got our carseat/stroller (gotta love Cyber Monday).  I had a craft fair this week and added more inventory to my Lulu's Mimi website.  Things are wonderful!
We had our last "easy" dr. appt. Monday and we are both measuring exactly where we should be.

Just one of the new items available at Lulu's Mimi.
Stop by and like my page, then leave a comment if you're interested in placing a Christmas order!

Getting our carseat/stroller in the mail makes me feel like we are officially ready.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Seasonal Weather

Are you one of those people that breaks out winter sweaters as soon as the temps drop below 60?

Or one who wears shorts and sandals throughout the month of October?

I, for one, am loving this cooler weather in NC.  I'm not a huge fan of cold weather in general, but since incubating a baby makes you a living heater I'm living it up right now.

And, along with the cooler weather comes the motivation to really get ready for this new life journey we are about to embark on...

Hat: gift from a CARA box, Sweater: PacSun no longer available (similar), Tee: Liz Lange,
Jeans: Old Navy, Boots: Steve Madden (similar)
Since returning home from our Thanksgiving holiday in New York, I've been busy organizing baby things, exchanging/returning duplicate gifts, making final touches to the nursery, and cleaning everything in sight.  I guess you could say nesting is in full motion.

We've finally ordered our stroller combo and all other necessities so if CT were to make an early appearance we would be prepared for him.  There are a few things that we need to make life more convenient, but they aren't necessary at this exact moment.  

It's so encouraging (and a little scary) to see the days x'ed out on the calendar, the to-dos crossed off the list, and the boxes set alongside the curb.  

How is your week going?

pleated poppy

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Secret Santa Gift Ideas

I don't know about you, but I luuurrrrve Secret Santa.  You know, drawing someone's name, buying them cutesy little things for each day of the week at work and then one big reveal gift the last day.  I honestly feel like it totally gets everyone in the holiday spirit.

How can you not?!  Every day of the week begins with a little, wrapped surprise in your mailbox!

Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to buy for your Secret Santa because you generally stay within a certain budget.  At my school, we purchase $2-$3 each day for 4 days and then do a $10-$15 gift the last day.  It keeps it budget friendly, but you aren't stuck with a bunch of Dollar Store stuff.

Here are some Secret Santa Gift Guides in case you're participating this year...

For the male coworker:

guys secret santa ideas

For the female coworker:

coworker secret santa

Check back Wednesday for some really creative ideas for those coworkers you are close to. You know...some gifts that say, "I like you more than a coworker."  That type of thing.

Happy shopping!

Monday, December 2, 2013

33 Weeks

How Far Along: Last Saturday marked 33 weeks

Size of Baby: 4.5-4.75 lbs

Weight Gain: 33 lbs

Stretch Marks: Still none!

Maternity Clothes:  Loving them, but really looking forward to maternity yoga pants once Christmas break rolls around.

Gender:  Sweet baby boy!

Movement:  He is a restless little thing!  Since he is getting bigger I'm feeling him move the entire day.  I love it.  Every once in a while he moves really quickly or hits something just right and it gives you that dip in the tummy like when you're on a roller coaster.  I'm not gonna lie...I kinda like it.

Sleep: Not great.  I feel like this is God's way of preparing me for what's to come.

Missing:  Wine.  Still.  I have a feeling this will last the next 8 weeks.

Loving:  The cold air.  I love having a need to drink cocoa, wear slippers, and turn on the gas logs.

Craving:   Just some quiet time.  Time to reflect on the last few months, prepare my heart and mind for what comes next.  I really just want to soak this all in before its over.

Feeling: Blessed.  A healthy baby boy.  It's literally the best feeling in the entire world.  There were things that happened this week that could have really brought me down and, perhaps if I were in a different place in life they would have, but there is just way too much to be grateful for.  I'm seriously so blessed.

Looking Forward: We have another shower this weekend with friends.  I'm especially excited that some of my friends I've made from blogging are coming!  Seriously, the friendships I've formed are awesome.

Best Moment(s):   Hubby and I went on an awesome date last Saturday.  We went to the Grand Luxe Theater and watched Catching Fire.  The food was great and so was the movie!  We traveled north to be with family and friends and I just couldn't be happier to be here.  It was the best to just be home and be around the people that love me and already love our baby boy so much.  I've missed them. 

My mom made this for us and I just fell in love with it!  How cute is the ECU sock monkey and the diaper motorcycle?!  Love.

Just a small portion of the family I got to see and came out to show CT some love.