A Birthday Shoutout & Gift Ideas You Haven't Thought of Yet.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Today is Daniels 25th birthday. 

A monumental birthday, as it marks a quarter-century for my sweet husband. The first weekend we ever spent any time together was on the weekend of his 20th birthday. Since then his birthday has always unluckily fallen during a time when one or both of us was gone, usually due to some kind of military training or the fact that we were long distance for awhile, so this year I wanted to wish him all the birthday love and do my best to make today as special as possible. 

Daniel is one of those guys that is hard to shop for. There are plenty of things I could get for him, but I was having trouble coming up with anything that seemed special enough, especially on a year that I think he deserves a little extra birthday love before the baby arrives. He also never really asks for anything which makes it even more tough, but when I do hear him mention something he sort of wants I always try and keep it in the back of my mind. 

This year I decided to try and think outside the box a little bit. Rather than getting him something to have, I decided to try and find something for him that he could do. He's an active guy and he likes trying new things so in the past I've done things like sign us up to go skydiving (and immediately regretted it upon our arrival). I've also gone the less terrifying easier route and gotten him some of his favorite accessories like the Jord Wood Watch I got for him last year. 

For his gift this year I did a couple of different things. I got us tickets to go see Cedric the Entertainer at a new comedy club that opened up near our house for tomorrow night. I'm only slightly concerned that I'll laugh so hard that I go into labor, but that would be a story for another blog post. 

He also found a local indoor rock climbing gym that he and a friend have been going to a couple times a week, so as another gift we purchased him a climbing package that he can use as little or as often as he'd like. 

In my search for gift ideas I came across things like a local brewery tour on Groupon that would have made a great gift (if I were able to go drink with him) and a bunch of other local things like festivals in the area that I think he would have loved to check out. If your man is more of a wine drinker, there's usually great deals on winery tours on Groupon as well if you have any in your area. Or you could try something like this Weekly Tasting which isn't a monthly subscription but would make a really fun celebration with friends if you're planning on making the birthday more of a party. 

In the past I've also purchased subscription boxes like this Sprezza Box which is a fun gift, and one that Daniel decided to continue past the one month that I bought for him. Each month it came with things like mens ties, socks, wallets, etc. and each box was themed depending on the month or time of year. 

As stressful as gift shopping can be for the guy in your life there are so many unique things that are out now that you can really find something for anyone. 

Happiest 25th birthday to my best friend. 

Do you have any out of the ordinary gift ideas you would suggest? 

Body Image During Pregnancy

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

When your weight is a subject of conversation for any period of time its only natural that it can take its toll on the way you think and feel.

Add in aches and pains, lack of sleep, maybe some nausea and all the other fun symptoms that come along with pregnancy and suddenly the fact that everyone has an opinion on your size, whether they think you're gaining too much or too little, can be hard to hear.

Before I got pregnant, I only weighed 90 pounds. Contrary to popular belief, this was not by choice. I felt like I ate, and ate and for some reason I couldn't put on or keep on weight for any significant amount of time. I know for many of you this seems like a problem that you're probably over there rolling your eyes at, but believe me, being on either side of the weight spectrum comes with it's own judgment and having to explain to people (as if it's any of their business) that no, I promise I don't have an eating disorder, gets old after awhile.

Flash forward to me at nine months pregnant, and I've put on an entire half of myself pre-pregnancy. That's right, I've gained around 45 pounds over the course of this whole thing and not so shockingly the need for everyone to make comments about my weight has not stopped. If anything, it's probably gotten worse.

Now here's the thing, I've worked hard to gain this weight for this baby. I'm proud of every single pound that I've put on because I know that it's all been for her. Throughout this pregnancy I have felt my absolute most beautiful even though I was continually having to go up a size in pants and now I'm not sure if 95 percent of the clothes that I wore before the baby will still fit me after she arrives.

But I'm growing a human for crying out loud. And damn it, these pounds are important and special.

Despite the fact that I can't seem to have a conversation with anyone anymore that doesn't either revolve around when the baby is due, how much my life will change once she gets here, or how big I've gotten since the last time that they've seen me, I still feel good.

I feel good because I know that my body is doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing for myself and this beautiful, extraordinary child that Daniel and I have created from seemingly nothing.

I'm here to tell you that whether you're pregnant now, or ever have been, your body is so special and every single pound is beautiful. 

I'm also here to tell you that if you've every struggled with your weight for any other number of reasons, your body is so special and every single pound is beautiful. 

As long as you're taking care of yourself and you feel good in your own skin that is all that matters. People will always feel like they have some right to tell you how you should or shouldn't look or how much weight you should or shouldn't put on, etc.

But what matters is that you remember that especially during a time like pregnancy, your body is doing one of the most amazing things it will ever do and when you look back on it later you can do so knowing that your tiny human is better and healthier for every little bit that you gave them of yourself.

Your body is special, every single pound you have is beautiful and you are so important. 

Remind yourself of that today and remind someone else who might need to hear it.

Happy mid-week, my beautiful friends. 

What I Read in April

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews

Plot: Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends -- and the mix between the regulars and "the weekenders"can sometime make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found.

So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it turns out that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery deepens...in a murderous way. Cocktail parties aside, Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything - Via Goodreads

What I Thought: This was an easy, quick read perfect for a couple of days by the pool. The characters were mostly likable and the setting helped me pretend I was on vacation on an island for a bit. The story had just enough suspense and a little romance and overall it was a pretty good book.

Should You Read It?: I don't think by any means that this book will become your new favorite of all time, but its a good story and worth the read.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Plot: In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare's hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room...

Some things can't stay secret forever - Via Goodreads.

What I Thought: Twisty, twisty, twisted! I wanted to read this last year around Halloween time but I never got the chance. I wish I had made the time then because this story had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire thing. I read it in a day and a half, and now I can't wait to read another book by Ruth Ware.

Should You Read It?: Yes!

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Plot: Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that 'The Devil in the White City' is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. 

Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair's incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. 

The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims - Via Goodreads

What I Thought: I had mixed feelings about this book. I wanted to read it for awhile (and before they make it into a movie with Leonardo Dicaprio) but I kept putting it off. It reads almost like a history book and although the imagery was really well written, I found myself getting bored by too many details in some sections of the story. The chapters about H.H. Holmes are really well written and incredibly creepy, which kept me wanting to get through the chapters about the fair so I could read more of the others. Overall, it was a well written and incredibly informative book, but not the best for entertainment value.

Should You Read It?: If you're looking for an easy, entertaining read then this is definitely not the book for you. But if you're looking for something interesting where you might learn something along the way, than I say yes give it a try.

You're Gonna Miss This.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

More recently in the last week or so the third trimester pregnancy symptoms have hit hard. Between the insomnia, swelling, and my recently acquired penguin waddle, I've found myself (at times) feeling happier than ever that we're so close to Kensington's due date. 

At the same time, I'm looking back on the last nine months in complete awe of how much has happened in seemingly the blink of an eye. 

Although at times I'd love to speed things up, I'd also be more than happy to freeze time right where it is. I'd be content to continue spending hours on the floor of the baby nursery with Daniel next to me folding tiny baby clothes, and day dreaming about the adventures we're going to have as a family of three. 

These times are irreplaceable. As much as I wish I could bottle up all of the love and gratitude and overwhelming feelings that have come along with this stage in my life, I know that these moments are fleeting. I don't want to look back on any of it and feel that I wasn't present for everything, the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly (swollen ankles are just not cute, you guys). 

I keep reminding myself that I'm going to miss this. Later down the road I hope to look back and be able to recall the tiny details and the simplest moments. 

Those days when Daniel comes home after a 12 hour shift with Krispy Kreme donuts in hand, just because he knows I'm going to want them. The times when my parents sweet, old cat sits on top of my belly and lets the baby kick her while she cuddles up as close as she can. These are the things I don't want to forget, and I know that I'll miss later down the road. 

Regardless of whether or not you're going through anything big and life changing at the moment, be present in everything that you do. 

You may look back on a time that you were hoping to rush through and realize that a certain part of it helped shaped you into the person you're becoming. You may want to remember the little details and the smallest of things, and you just might miss it if you let it all pass before you without taking in as much of it as you can in the moment. 

Whatever stage you're in, even if you're having a particularly tough day, or bad week, you could find yourself missing some of the greater moments in your life. So take a look at everything around you, and throw yourself whole-heartedly into each seemingly little thing. 

This life we've got is pretty great, and I for one don't want to miss a minute of it. 

A Few of My Favorite Spring Things

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Farmers Markets. I love going to the Farmers Market on Spring days (and Fall Days, and (California) winter days) but especially in the Spring. Something about the start of all the Spring and Summer fruits and vegetables becoming available just makes me want to buy all the healthy things.

Spring Cleaning Products. Like this one or this one. Seriously you're going to want to clean just so your house smells like these products. But don't take my word for it, try them for yourself.

April Showers. In April we don't get a lot of rain in LA, but there's something I just love about Spring rain. It's a little warmer and a lot more inviting, and around here we usually get a pretty great rainbow or two to go along with the sunshine after the rain.

Fresh Starts. I know people make resolutions in the winter, but there's something so refreshing to me about Spring. It's that in between time where the winter's headed out and the hot hot weather hasn't quite started yet, and I think that it's a pretty good time to choose to start over if you're feeling the need.

Flowers. Just give me all the Spring bouquets.

Pool Days & BBQ's. And all the things that go along with that like cute Target bikini's and Flamingo Pool Floats.

Overall, I really just love Spring. What are a few of your favorite Spring things? 

Make Your Life a Happy One.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Last week Daniel and I went to a local farmer's market and bought the prettiest flowers. It was such a small thing at the time but now every morning since, I've gotten up and walked to the living room to be greeted by the brightest orange, pink and purple flowers that I can't help but smile about.

Buying flowers is just one thing on a long list of things that make me happy, and recently I'm choosing to surround myself with as many of those things as I can.

I don't believe that happiness, or a happy life, is handed to you. I think that having a happy life is about making a choice.

A choice that says today, I'm the only person who gets to live my life and I'm going to make it a good one.

Today, I'm going to drink the extra cup of coffee.

Today, I'm going to spend all day curled up reading a book that I've read a hundred times because I love it.

Today, I'm going to do something for myself. Whether that means starting the search for a new job, or cooking my favorite meal, or taking a bubble bath. Because these are all the little things that come together to allow me to make my life the happy place I strive for it to be.

You're the one who gets to live it, so choose today to make your life a happy one.

Thing's I've (Already) Learned in 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Time is hands down the most confusing thing ever (and it truly waits for no one). Seriously, you guys. How are we already this far into April? I feel like I was just on vacation back in August finding out about our littlest surprise and now we're just four short weeks away from meeting her in person. I know every year we have the same conversations about how fast time flies by, but this year is just getting out of hand.

Do what you can, but don't panic if you can't do it all. This is something I've learned (although I'm still coming to terms with). I have always been a hands-on type of person but this pregnancy has slowed me down, especially in the last two weeks or so. I want to do everything on my own. I want to go to work, and write, and clean my apartment and cook dinner and do all the things. But my ankles have started swelling, and I get winded after cleaning just one room of our apartment, and I'm tired for a significant portion of the day (because I'm not sleeping as well) and as much as I can still do, there are a few things more recently that I just have to step back from. And that's okay.

It's more than acceptable to ask for help. This goes a little bit back to not being able to do it all. This year I've learned how many people are there to help me in those situations as long as I'm willing to ask for it.

In general, people mean well. I don't know that this is something I've learned, so much as something I'm choosing to believe in this year. I've been flooded with advice over the past 8 months and although I haven't always taken it to heart, I truly believe that for the most part it's coming from a place of people genuinely caring about me and wanting me to be as prepared as possible.

If you see something from a negative perspective, you're probably going to have a negative outcome. This past weekend we had my baby shower and I got so stressed out in the preparation of everything that I found myself crying over the placement of a table. Looking back on it, that sounds like the most ridiculous thing ever (because it was) and I know that to a certain extent my emotions are being pulled by little tiny baby hands from within, but things weren't going the way I wanted them to and it spiraled into me feeling negative towards the entire party. Luckily I realized what I was doing before the party started and was able to change my perspective, but man oh man did I learn how quickly a little negativity can spiral out of control.

You must celebrate the little things. Like Tuesday's, and surprise days off of work (on Thursday our power went out and we got stranded in our apartment because we couldn't get our garage door open to get out cars out and it ended up being a wonderful day), and the Target dollar section, and brunch. The little things make up the big things and you don't have to wait for the big things for a reason to celebrate. Make 2017 a celebration, just because.

What have you learned already in 2017? 

What's In My Hospital Bag

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Today marks my 36th week of pregnancy and that is both amazing to me, and a little nerve wracking. 

For the past few weeks I've known that at 36 weeks I would have to start going to the hospital twice a week so they could perform some non-stress tests on the baby to make sure she's getting everything she needs. 

This isn't a huge deal because the reasoning behind it is relatively minor. One side of my body just simply isn't supplying as much blood flow to the baby as it should be, so they just want to monitor everything to make sure it's all going smoothly. 

Between that and my weekly check-up I'll be at doctors appointments three times a week until her arrival, which is a lot. 

My biggest concern for these non-stress tests was what was going to happen if I show up for one and they don't get the results they're hoping for? 

I asked my doctor if that means that technically this week I need to be ready to go to have this baby, and she smiled at me and told me to have my bags packed in the car...just in case

So now I've spent the past two weeks picking things up here and there for my hospital bag because I am not one to be comfortable caught in a just in case situation unprepared. 

Here are some of the things I've picked up so far: 

Knit sleep pants in black - Target 

Nursing cotton cami in white - Target 

Bobby pins - Amazon 

Robe (no longer available but similar here) - Target 

Ouchless hair ties - Target 

Sleep mask - Amazon 

Dry shampoo - Target 

Slippers - Nordstrom (I bought these in a kids size because they're cheaper and still go up high enough for most women to fit into them). 

Tubby Todd mama bundle - Tubby Todd (I got this for Christmas and I couldn't wait to pack it all up in my hospital bag. This stuff smells amazing and feels so good on my skin). 

Travel size hygiene products, toothbrushes, etc. - Target

I'll also have a small bag packed with things like phone chargers, a kindle packed with books, my camera, glasses, important documents and snacks to grab quickly on the day of. I love these ensure chocolate drinks. They just kind of taste like chocolate milk but they're packed with protein so I can still have something that makes me feel full without trying to eat food in between contractions on the day of. 

I'm holding out hope that she'll be content to stay in my belly until her due date. We can't wait to meet her, but I also want her to get as much time in there to grow as possible. 

What were some of your must have items for your hospital bag? Anything I should add to my list? 

(Extra) Days You Should be Celebrating This Year

Monday, April 10, 2017

I've mentioned my love for The Happy Planner here before and this weekend I noticed a feature in mine that made me love it even more.

As I was flipping through a few of the monthly view pages I noticed the typical holiday's listed but I also noticed a few national days that I wasn't familiar with.

For example, did you know that this coming Wednesday the 12th just also happens to be National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day? Well, neither did I and I have to say that I would have been pretty disappointed if I found this information out after the fact (although I probably still would have celebrated).

So now my dinner, lunch, and dare I say breakfast plans are all set up for Wednesday but seeing as how I almost missed this monumental day I decided to go through the rest of my months and see what else was on there so I could be completely prepared.

And just in case your planner isn't quite as awesome as mine, I figured I would share all of these fun days with you so you have every reason to celebrate as well!

10 - National Sibling Day 
12 - National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day
20 - National High Five Day 

19 - National Pizza Party Day
28 - National Burger Day 

2 - National Doughnut Day 
8 - National Best Friends Day 
21 - (Inter) National Yoga Day

10 - National Pina Colada Day 
16 - National Ice Cream Day 
29 - National Dance Day

3 - National Watermelon Day 
6 - National Sister's Day / National Friendship Day
10 - National Lazy Day 
24 - National Waffle Day
25 - National Banana Split Day 

5 - (Inter) National Charity Day 
10 - Swap Ideas Day
16 - (Inter) National Eat An Apple Day 
29 - National Coffee Day

4 - National Taco Day
14 - National Dessert Day 
28 - National Chocolate Day
30 - National Candy Corn Day 

3 - National Sandwich Day
4 - National Candy Day 
28 - National French Toast Day 

4 - National Cookie Day 
7 - National Cotton Candy Day
12 - National Ginger Bread House Day
15 - National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

Now if those aren't great reasons to celebrate, then I don't know what is. Happy Monday / National Siblings Day, all. 

Debt Tracker: First Check-In

Friday, April 07, 2017

To say we're on a learning curve in this whole debt elimination thing would be an understatement. We haven't been the best at budgeting in the past and so as we head into each month we're learning where our money goes and what we've really been spending it all on.

If you saw this post, then you know that we're trying to attack our debt in the most aggressive way possible. But as to be expected, things come up.

For example, I just had my baby shower and there were some things that I chose (before we made any serious budgeting decisions) to purchase specifically for the party. There were also a few things that we had to purchase after the shower to adjust what we did and didn't receive from off of our registry.

We also had a few slip-ups that we really have no excuse for, like spending some money here and there on eating out (although far less then we've spent in the past), the occasional stop for coffee at Starbucks (no self control), and a couple of date nights we splurged on like seeing Beauty and the Beast in theaters.

In general, we did make a huge amount of progress as far as keeping ourselves from going overboard, but there's absolutely room for improvement.

Every little bit helps, after all.

Overall in the month of March we managed to pay off $984.18 of our debt.

I see this as a relatively slow start compared to what we want to eventually want to have paid off, but it was still a good one. This amount is completely separate from all of our normal bills (rent, utilities, etc.) so it was a good jumping off point for us.

This month we're hoping to pay off another $1000 at least, although with some planning and careful spending we should have no problem surpassing that.

Our goal is to have our smallest credit card completely paid off by the end of the month, and we're headed in the right direction towards being able to do that.

It's been incredibly eye opening to see where a lot of our money goes, I'm looking at you Target, and as we continue to get more familiar with our spending habits it will hopefully be easier for us to make conscious decisions to save, instead of spend.

This is a big month for us in regards to getting some things paid off because next month I'll be off work for a little while once the baby comes. I'll check back in soon with another update!

Do you have any tips for getting some debt paid off more quickly? 

Dear Me, Before You.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Dear Me, 

Things are looking pretty good for you right now. You just recently graduated college, Daniel is off to another round of military training (a much shorter one than you've dealt with before), and you're counting down the days until you'll be resting it up on the white sandy beaches of Cancun. 

There's just one little thing standing in your way, although you definitely don't know about it yet. 

Oh yeah, you're pregnant! Congrats, girl! 

Take a second. Take it all in, and then understand that everything is going to be okay. When you do find out in that little bathroom in a resort in Mexico (not the most ideal of situations, I'll agree), and you feel the need to panic just remember that everything is happening exactly how it's supposed to be. 

At the latter end of eight months into this thing, I can promise you that you have not infected your baby with Zika virus (although, I do understand your genuine concern about this considering where you're headed for vacation), and you've been doing such a great job taking care of yourself and this new addition to your family. 

I know what you're thinking, how are you going to handle this? What about all the plans you had and the trips you were going to take in the upcoming year? And I'm here to remind you once again that everything is going to be okay. 

You're bringing this baby into a world where she is loved beyond imagining. You will have help, you will have support and you will never question whether or not all of those things can still happen now that you've got a little girl on the way, because you'll absolutely know that they can. 

Oh yeah, and you get to be a girl mom. How fun is that? 

At times it will be hard. Although for the most part you're going to be relatively lucky when it comes to this pregnancy. You'll be more tired than you've ever been in your life, but you'll be happy. 

When Daniel finally comes home from training with little pink baby outfits in his suitcase you'll definitely cry, and it's safe to say that it won't be the first or last time over the course of your pregnancy that you'll feel like your emotions are out of your own control. 

But everything is going to be okay. 

When you're feeling overwhelmed, which you will because oh yeah, you've never had a baby before and absolutely don't know what you're doing, call your mom. She always knows exactly what to say to make you feel better (hasn't she always?) 

Enjoy what time you spend on your vacation. Savor that last glass of wine (you will miss it so, so much) and remember that you've got a lot to learn. 

Take people's advice for what it is, and understand that for the most part it's coming from a good place. But also trust in your own instincts. You're smart, you're strong and even though at times it may seem like you're on the worlds fastest learning curve, you'll figure it out. 

You also have the worlds greatest partner and between the two of you, you're bound to do something right. 

Enjoy every bit of your pregnancy. Time is going to fly by, and when you're where I am right now you'll understand that this is exactly where you were supposed to be all along. 

If you didn't see it before, now you'll have no doubt that a sweet baby girl is exactly what's been missing in your life, and you and Daniel will be happier than you've ever been. 

You can totally do this, and you'll love (almost) every minute of it. 

The Most Perfect Baby-Animal Themed Shower

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

This past weekend after what felt like months of planning, we finally had my baby shower and it was just about the most perfect thing I could have ever dreamed up. We decided to go with a baby animal theme after I found the most perfect animal prints for our nursery, and the whole thing took off from there. It was so special to have everyone I love there to celebrate our newest addition. 

We found these invitations on tiny prints in the exact color that we needed and I just about died over how perfect they were. 

My mom and Kensington's Nana, loving on the baby belly. 

We hung toole and mint colored bows and umbrellas from the ceiling to add the sweetest feminine touch to our more neutral color scheme. 

Fun Fact: One of these umbrellas is now hanging up in our nursery because I just couldn't part with it. 

The beautiful host of the party, Daniels grandmother, Mary. It couldn't have come together without her special attention to detail and love for this little baby.

37 days until her arrival, we are counting down! 

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