Friday, January 31, 2014

Coffee Date Friday: Snowpocalypse Edition

Hello friends from near and far! I'm so happy you stopped by to share a little coffee and chatter with me this morning, via link up with Rags to Stitches. If we were meeting this morning, I'd pour you a hot cup of coffee with my new Girl Scout creamer mixed in, as we sidled up by the fire and talked about the latest and greatest in our lives. 

I would ask about YOU first: About whether you were showered with snow earlier this week or were left high and dry. About whether you are looking forward to the Spring and whether you have summer beach plans scheduled just yet. About what's on your calendar for this weekend. About whether there is anything heavy on your heart you want to share. And then, I would share the following about me:

...That my hub has been in Dallas allllll week for a work meeting and finally gets home tomorrow evening, just in time for us to go to dinner with five of our favorite couple friends here in the Mill. I'm sure I'll be ready for a night on the town by the time he walks in the door! Ha! Taking on full parenting responsibilities for multiple days in a row is tough as is, and I think it's safe to say it's a little trickier and more tiresome when you're 27 weeks pregnant. Whew! But. Thank goodness for FaceTime. :) 

...That this ended up being an especially trying week, as my Raleigh woke up on Wednesday morning, which just so happened to be the morning that the streets were covered in snow and ice, and was unable to bear any weight on her right leg without sobbing and wailing in pain. Cue panic and momma-mind-jetting-off-to-dark-places. Luckily, the pediatrician ended up opening for late morning office hours that day and I was able to have her seen before lunchtime, driving approximately 20 mph and in 4-wheel drive the whole way there. After an exam and some blood work, she was diagnosed with toxic synovitis, basically an infection affecting the joint in her right hip. Unfortunately, as I was walking the kids back out to the car in the snow and ice, I slipped and fell. :( Luckily, I was able to block most of the weight of my fall by grabbing onto the stroller at the last second, and the baby reassured me by repeatedly kicking me throughout the day, the rest of the day. But. Let's just say that Wednesday was not my favorite day ever. And hopefully, my Raleigh will be good as new by the end of the weekend.  

...That, on the same note, I am so very, very thankful for the invaluable family and friends I have in my life. I cannot describe how much it meant to have so many people checking in and offering to come help me with the kiddos after our traumatic day on Wednesday, especially since my hub was out of town. Knowing there are so many who were willing to help at a moment's notice was the most reassuring, secure, and loving feeling, and I am blessed beyond words to have such amazing kinship and friendship in my life. 

...That, I know it goes without saying, but the weather was truly bipolar this week: We went from a coat-less picnic and lots of playtime outside on Monday to bundled up and throwing snow powederballs on Wednesday. Although Raleigh was couch-bound by that point thanks to her leg pain, Banks and I were able to sneak in a little snow playtime in the backyard. 

...That I am SO EXCITED for a special surprise Momma date I have planned for my little buddy tomorrow! Thanks to an invitation by a sweet friend and her precious daughter, Banks and I will be joining them for an afternoon at the Ringling Brothers circus, and I can't wait to see all the excitement on his face when I tell him the news! Although my hub and I took him two years ago, and my parents took him last year, I'm thinking it will be even more magical this time, now that he's the ripe ol' age of 4. Meanwhile, my Raleigh will be hanging at home with a sitter (assuming she's showing good progress with her leg pain by that point). But. I'm thinking by next year, she'll be ready for her own circus viewing debut!

...That I am just about ready to get started on the nursery, and I can't wait! I've been pinning ideas left and right to a secret Pinterest board (so as not to give away the sex of the baby), and I hope the reality turns out as well as my vision. I am definitely ready to dive in and get started!

And with that, I would offer a warm hug and bid you adieu as we kick off the weekend and try to soak in all it has to offer. Enjoy your caffeine buzz, and I'll see you next time!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wee One Wednesday: 26 Weeks (Hello 3rd Tri!)

Oh. My. Goodness. Can someone please tell me where second trimester went? Because I swear, I just jumped straight from first tri to third. That's right. I am in my final trimester with sweet Baby Lu. Now, I know there are different ways to calculate the trimester break-down. But. I am a numbers girl. And to me, given that pregnancy is 40 weeks, each trimester is roughly 13 weeks, 2 days. Considering I am exactly 26 weeks, 5 days today...HELLO third tri! 

Size of the Baby: Baby Lu is now estimated to be around 14 inches long, with a weight of around 1 2/3 pounds, about the size of a scallion (or green onion, for the non-cooks, like me, out there). :) 

Maternity Clothes:  I'm just going to throw in the towel on regular tops. From here on out, maternity clothes it is!

Symptoms: Listen. I promise you. I am growing by the minute. I know I said it last week but it's worth repeating: I am getting really big, really fast. And trust me. I have been dedicated with my daily walking--making it a point to walk 2 to 3 miles at least 5 to 6 days a week. I am making healthy food choices...well, for the most part. A girl needs some Oreos dunked in milk every now and again. But the belly is growing ever so rapidly! I swear, the comparison  photos from my first two pregnancies with this one are crazy different, in that I am just so much bigger this time, at this stage in the game. I guess having Baby #3 = A bigger belly, earlier on. I am going to be a HOUSE by the end of this thing. But. I said it before and I'll say it again, I love me some big babies. So, I am definitely hoping for an 8- or 9-pounder. :) 

Movement: My new favorite game is watching my belly dance and move. I think it's so amazing, and so alien-esque, to be able to see that movement from the outside. 

Sleep: Same as last week: I'm up 'til 10:00 pm most nights and wake up well before 6:00 am every day. A couple days this week I woke up before 5:00 am. This is NOT okay. I mean, come on, Nature, you don't really think I need that much practice before May, right?? Let a momma sleep while she can! 

What I Miss: Not stressing over the swimsuits I'll wear this summer. Okay, well, that's pretty much a bold-faced lie. I mean, I think it's safe to say that I stress every year when it comes to swimsuit season (doesn't every woman?! If not, give me a pep talk!). So, it's not that there's a summer I don't stress about it. BUT. If I'm being totally honest, it is stressing me out more than usual that I will be squeezing into a swimsuit after having a baby just a few weeks beforehand. So. If anyone out there has recommendations for swimsuits that are flattering for an immediately post-partum bod, with a side of Idon'tgiveadamn self-confidence, please share. :) 

Cravings: After having a HUGE appetite over Week 25, my hunger has really decreased this week. I'm not sure if Baby Lu was going through a fetal growth spurt or what, but it's definitely different this week. And I've been craving healthy snacks, which is a good thing, I think. Well, except for the Valentine cupcakes I made. But they are strawberry flavored; so, that's healthy, right?! :)

The Belly: 

And check out the comparison belly shot from 13 weeks (aka the beginning of second trimester). I have grown a LOT over the last 13 weeks, no?? that I'm in my final trimester, I would LOVE to hear what you think: Boy or Girl? What do YOU think Baby Lu will be??? 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Inside a Woman's Mind

Any woman who's a, well, uh, woman, likely has 18,563 thoughts coursing through her mind at any given time. It's like having 18,563 computer browsers open at the same time, every time, all the time. To be honest? It can be exhausting.

For example. Here are just a few of the very random thoughts that may be running through my head at this very moment:
  • If someone posts a photo on Instagram and Facebook, am I supposed to "like" it in both places? Is it a slap in the face if I don't? I mean, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Why do people do that anyway? Am I supposed to do that? What to do, what to do. #firstworldproblems (NOTE: I never said these thoughts were rational ones.)
  • Speaking of Instagram, it'll be fun to share photos of Raleigh's big girl room when it's done. I wonder when the dresser for her room will come in. Then, we can move her current dresser to the nursery. I'll need to re-organize her clothes, which may be a good time to purge what no longer fits from the winter. 
  • Speaking of clothes, I need to pull out the newborn clothes from the garage and start washing them. Oooohh...I'm going to buy some Dreft for the first few loads. I know it's expensive, but I just love how it smells. I need to add that to the grocery list...
  • Speaking of groceries, Am I really in the mood for leftovers tonight? I feel like a slacker not making something fresh. But. It is a good way to save money. Yep, leftovers it is. I guess I should put the chicken that is de-thawing (right, Julie?!) back in the 'fridge. We can have it tomorrow night. Grilled chicken salad with pecans, feta, tomatoes, and strawberries. Quick, easy, and something I can actually make without screwing it up too badly. Win-win. I wonder why I didn't inherit a love of cooking. I wonder if my children will love to cook one day. 
  • Speaking of children, I wonder if Baby Lu will be born early? I mean, it is my third baby but neither of my first two showed any signs of early arrival and both were induced. Of course, I am more physically active during the day with chasing my duo around since I am a stay-at-home momma this time around so that may change things. Or maybe not? 
  • Speaking of mommas, I need to re-schedule our visit to see Granny ASAP since plans changed the first time around. What do we have on the calendar in February? Hmmm...I also need to get that trip to Georgia in our schedule... 
    • Speaking of getting things on the calendar, I really need to finalize some of these home decor decisions I have been contemplating over the last 9 months. I really want to order a rug for the dining room. Shoot--we still need a rug in our Master. Oh, and I wish I could find that rug I adore for Raleigh's room. But. I can't find it online anywhere. I wonder if has any new rugs in stock? Maybe I'll take a look online after the kids go to bed tonight. 
    • Speaking of online shopping, I need to order more mascara. Everyone raves about that Dior Iconic mascara, but I'm just not a fan after trying it out. Back to Lancome Definicils I go. I wonder if Nordstrom has free shipping so I won't have to physically go to a mall. It's getting harder to go to malls with the kids at this point in my pregnancy. And in the winter? Bleh--the lugging of coats, hats, and gloves. The stroller. The diaper bag. The sippies. The snacks. Just not worth it. Oh, and I need to remember to purchase through to get my cash back. Oh---sweet---I have a big check coming from them next month. Maybe I can use that to save some money and offset the cost of a rug for the Master.
    • Speaking of saving money, I wonder when the outlet stores will start putting out their Spring lines. Hopefully, in March? I need to schedule a full day to go stock up the kids' wardrobes, but if it's later than March, I may be too uncomfortable to haul my large, pregnant hiney all over the outlets. I wonder if they'll have cute swimsuits for me, in my immediate post-pregnant, flabby state? That may not be a pretty sight this summer. It's all for a good cause, Linds. All for a good cause.
    • Speaking of pregnancy, I love that my new OB/GYN lets me drink the glucose drink at home for my 28-week appointment. I need to make sure I leave in plenty of time to get to the appointment that day so I don't go past the one-hour testing limit. What if it rains that day? Or there's a wreck on I-77? I need to plan ahead and should probably leave earlier than I was thinking...
    • Speaking of planning ahead, I wonder how long salsa stays good after it's been open. How long have we had that salsa in the 'fridge? Salsa and chips sounds good right now. With cheese. Ooooh...a plate of nachos would be delish. Even better with a large margarita. Maybe we'll go out for Mexican this weekend? I wonder if the virgin margaritas taste as good as the "real" version. Probably not. They never do. 
    • Speaking of food, we need to get out our juicer again and start making fresh juice each morning since we fell off the wagon when the hub was traveling so much last year. I'll need to add more fruits/veggies to the grocery list. Maybe we should try actual drink recipes instead of just throwing a bunch of kale and spinach and carrots and strawberries and pineapple into the juicer. Hmm...I wonder who would be able to recommend a good website or cookbook for that. Maybe Target has a good one? 
    • Speaking of Target, I haven't been there in awhile. Go me! But also? I miss Target. I am overdue for a visit. I'm going to Target soon. I wonder if I'll be able to get out of there with just the things on my shopping list. Nope. And a loud and resounding nope at that. Maybe I'll go by myself when I have some solo Momma, down time. 
    • Speaking of down time, I really hope this isn't the last season of Parenthood. And when does Grey's come back on? I wonder if Homeland will film again next summer? Maybe they are pushing back filming? I'd love to be an extra again but will need a sitter to watch THREE kids for a day at that point. Shoot. It may be a bit harder to find a sitter I trust with three kids for an entire day. And I would have to pump on set. That wouldn't work. I may have to refrain from submitting for Season 4. Aww man. Hopefully, it'll come back for Season 5.

    See what I mean? And that is a small sampling of what goes through my mind at any given moment, on any given day. Yep, being a woman is tiring. 

    Friday, January 24, 2014

    Coffee Date Friday: So Long January!

    Y'all. This weekend marks the last weekend in January. What the...??? Seriously? How in the world did that happen? So. If we were meeting for coffee (via link-up with Rags to Stitches), I would make it a point to really soak in our conversation and my time with you because time is moving so quickly these days! 

    I would first ask about YOU, about the big events going on in your life right now, and the small ones as well. I would ask about your new year's resolutions and tell you that I am working hard toward maintaining mine. Then, I would also share the following about me, after we had both been properly caffeinated and I had been filled in on all things you...

    ...That I have one very special hubby, who insisted I rest up and relax pretty much all of MLK day after he returned from being gone over the weekend, not letting me lift a finger with the kids, the laundry, the cooking, the clean-up, the errand running, the nap time, the bathing, the playtime, etc. Yep, he's a keeper alright. <3 

    ...That my baby sister is having a baby!!!! Hooray!!!! Yep. There's the big news I hinted at last week. And, even though I consider myself an excellent secret keeper, it has been so hard to keep my lips sealed the last couple of months because I am just so stinkin' excited for her and my brother-in-law. She is due exactly three months to the day after me, and I am pumped that there will be cousins of all ages running around together for years to come. And hopefully, there will be more and more babies added to the family for years and years to come. :) Yippee!!!!

    ...That getting to be the "snack person" at school for Banks is sort of like getting to be the king of the coolest castle on the planet, from his perspective. Not only does he get so excited about getting to bring in a snack of his choice for his friends, but he gets to hold the flag during the "Pledge of Allegiance," be the line leader for the day, and assist the teachers with any classroom needs. It's the little things. Don't you remember how awesome it was to be the line leader as a child? Such a thrill!

    ...That next week may be a loooooong one for this Momma...for reasons I'll share during our next coffee date.

    ...That my sweet Raleigh has done a phenomenal job with her big girl bed, totally exceeding my expectations! Every morning, as well as after her nap, when she wakes up, she will just lie quietly, patiently waiting for me to come get her out of bed, with the thought of getting out of bed herself never seeming to cross her mind. Then, she joyfully and excitedly tells me, "I slept in my big girl bed!!!"every single time. It is just the cutest thing, and we are so proud of her. 

    ...That we have fun plans this weekend, with my brother- and sister-in-law and three sweet nieces/nephew coming to visit! Have I mentioned before how much I love family time?! Even though it looks to be a chilly weekend, I'm thinking that five kids 4 and under will keep us sweating, laughing, and busy!

    ...That on Sunday, my hub will head to Chapel Hill to watch our Clemson Tigers take on the Tar Heels on the bball court. He's meeting up with the hubbies of two of my best friends to (hopefully) cheer the Tigers on to victory. Have I mentioned how much I love that the hubbies of my best friends are also close friends? It's sort of a pre-requisite before marrying into our group of college girls. :)  

    ...That my little buddy is all signed up for his second season of teeball, and I cannot WAIT to see our precious athlete all decked out in his uniform, fielding ever so hard-hit teeballs, and knockin' those balls clear across the in-field during his at-bats. :) 

    And then, I would share that I need to end our coffee date to take my little lady to her 2-year well-check this morning. We'll have to really bundle up since the temperatures will not be rising above the freezing mark at all today. I would ask for a quick prayer that the appointment goes well, that she is deemed perfectly healthy, and that the shots don't take too much of a toll on her sweet self. Amen. And also? Happy weekend to you!

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    Wee One Wednesday: 25 Weeks

    My pregnancy is now around 65% complete, assuming Sweet Baby Lu decides to wait until the scheduled c-section date to make his/her debut. Wow. Just wow. I think pregnancy is similar to parenting in that the days can feel long but the weeks and months, so short. This little one will be here before I know it!

    Size of the Baby: Our baby is now approximately 13.5 inches long, about the size of a rutabaga (again, seriously, I have NO IDEA what that is. Someone teach this Momma to cook!). 

    Maternity Clothes:  I am almost to the point of being maternity top-exclusive. Almost. It's actually pretty funny when I try on some of my regular tops these days. I see all these cute outfit pins on Pinterest and think, one day I'll squeeze into something like that again. But. Not today. :) 

    Symptoms: I feel HUGE. Just huge. Even though I walk a couple miles 5 to 6 days a week. Huge. Even though I try to eat mostly healthy foods. Huge. Meh. I know it's for a good cause. But. Pregnant or not, I don't know one girl who likes to feel huge. Not one. But. I also love the idea of having another BIG, healthy baby, whether it be a boy or a girl. Big babies are my jam. So. Grow, baby, grow! If that means I have to feel huge, so be it. 

    Movement: Definitely. And still so low. Somedays he/she moves more than others. But. It's definitely there, every day. And I definitely love it, every day.  

    Sleep: Pretty good! I've been able to stay up 'til 10:00 pm most nights now (Woo! Party animal!) but still wake up between 5:00 and 6:00 am most days. 

    What I Miss: Good, sweat-producing workouts. And red wine in front of a winter fire. My sweet hub bought me a nice bottle of non-alcoholic wine the other day, which is now known as...a pricey bottle of grape juice. Seriously. Have you tried it before? Gross. We thought going with a nicer bottle would ensure more of a wine-like taste. Nope. 

    Cravings: Pineapple with Cool Whip. Banana with Nutella. Ohmygoodness. Both of these combos taste so ridiculously delicious right now! And a big, tasty margarita. Mmmm...I'll be ready for one come summer!

    The Belly: 

    For the record, I think I look bigger in person than I do in these photos. But, like I said, grow, baby, grow! 

    Sunday, January 19, 2014

    On Forgiveness and Gratitude

    I've had my feelings hurt quite a bit over the last six months.

    Sometimes by family members. Sometimes by friends. Some of these people know they've hurt my feelings. Others still have no idea. Each time, it hurts. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes a little. But still, it hurts when it happens. 

    And you know what? I'm sure there have been times I've hurt other people's feelings, too. 

    Here's what I know today as a result of these experiences:
    • I am not, nor will I ever be, perfect, no matter how loudly the perfectionistic voice in my head demands that I "should" be. 
    • The people in my life whom I love so dearly are not perfect. I should not hold them to this standard. 
    • I make mistakes. All the time. Some big. Some small. But. Lots of mistakes.
    • My family and friends make mistakes, too. Some big. Some small. And that's okay.
    • If I hope to be forgiven when I've made a mistake, shouldn't I freely give my forgiveness to others when they've hurt me? Even if they aren't asking for it? 
    Jesus would say yes. 

    And who am I to argue with Jesus? Nobody. That's who.

    So. Enter stage right, the changes and progress I hope to make this year: 
    • I hope to learn to accept that my feelings will be hurt at times. To try to understand why it hurts from my end, to look at things from others' perspectives, and readily offer forgiveness, even when it goes unnoticed.
    • I hope to recognize when I have hurt someone else's feelings, to readily offer an apology, and to try my hardest to do better next time. 
    You see, I know that I am a very blessed, very lucky girl to be surrounded by such beautiful kinship and friendship. And just as my feelings get hurt sometimes, it hurts my heart to think that I may have hurt others' feelings, too. So. I will work on this this year. Readily seeking and offering forgiveness in order to strengthen and nourish the relationships I hold so close to my heart.

    On the same note, it pains me to think that those around me may not know just how very appreciative I am for them and for their unique place and presence in my life story.


    My primary goal, my progressive hope, my resolution for this year is to ensure the people in my life know just how very important they are to me. 

    I've said it many times before, but it holds so true for me: My family and friends make my world go 'round. And I want to make sure that sentiment is known, crystal clearly, by those I love. So, I'm making an effort to reach out to my loved ones, both family and friends alike, every single week. I'm making an effort to check in, to ask, 'How are you? How are your sweet babies? How is [insert major life event] going?', to let them know that I am here and that I care and that I am grateful they are in my life. And that what's important to them is important to me. Because it is. 

    And also? Here's the thing. I am busy. You are busy. We ALL are busy. None more busy than the other. Busy in different ways, sure, but busy nonetheless. Working momma or stay-at-home momma. Newly married or newly divorced. Mama-to-be or mama of three. We ALL are busy. And what I have learned, in my 33+ years of life so far, is that my relationships are what matter most to me in this world. So. They should always, always be my priority. Which means I should always, always make sure that those I love know that I love them. Whether it's a quick text, a short email, a hand-writtten note, a coffee date, a hug, a postcard, a blog comment, a picture, a Facebook message, a Momma's Night Out, or a phone call, I have vowed to make sure those around me feel loved, heard, and appreciated. 

    So. Here's to 2014: For me, a year of seeking forgiveness for my transgressions and readily extending my gratitude, appreciation, and support to those I love. 

    With that being said, I am so grateful and thankful for YOU. Thank you for visiting my space here. I hope that today is a good one for you and that tomorrow is even better. Just by visiting my blog, you are supporting me, and I appreciate you taking the time to read. I know you are busy. And I appreciate you. So. Thank you. 

    Happy New Year! Happy New Me! And three cheers for change!

    Friday, January 17, 2014

    Coffee Date Friday: Babies Everywhere!

    Helloooooo my friends! I don't know about you, but I'm in need of a little coffee on this lovely Friday morning (via Rags to Stitches). And I treated myself to Starbucks' new winter latte, Caramel Flan, earlier this week. So. If we were meeting for coffee, and it were up to me, we'd meet at our  local 'Bucks and spoil ourselves with one of those mugs o' happiness. And then, I would share the following about little ol' me: 

    ...That if this chapter of my life had a title it would definitely be called, "Babies, Babies, Everywhere!" Obviously, anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I am 25 weeks pregnant (today!) with Little Lu #3. I mentioned last week that 6 of the 8 women in our Bible Study couples group are/were pregnant. My brother and sister-in-law are pregnant with their first, who is expected to arrive any time over the next two weeks. One of my very best friends welcomed her second baby on New Year's Day. One of my closest Fort Mill friends is due with her third child three months after me. My next door neighbor gave birth to her third baby a week ago. There will (hopefully) be more big time baby news coming very, very soon for several people I love dearly. And I swear, every time I check Facebook or Instagram, there is a new pregnancy announcement. So, so awesome!!! Pass the bottles, bibs, and Boppys!

    ...That, speaking of babies, my hub is off to my brother's "Man Shower" in Charleston for the weekend, a family tradition where the father-to-be is treated to a weekend of golf, gifts, and going out on the town by his closest family and friends. Meanwhile, my Momma and I will be holding things down here in Fort Mill for the weekend. I sure am glad she's coming! It is slowly getting harder and harder to keep up with my duo as my belly expands. Plus, it's always nice to have my Momma's company (and her yummy casseroles). :)

    ...That I had one of those afternoons earlier this week. You know the ones. I decided to do a picnic lunch outside for my littles. Only, the second I opened the door, our dog took it as the perfect opportunity to escape. And then he disappeared. I put the kids in the backyard so I could look for him in the front yard. Not 30 seconds later, I heard crying, only to find Raleigh covered in mud with a mouth full of blood after stumbling on the swing set. I cleaned her up and loaded the kids in the car to go searching for our dog. Only to see him come happily traipsing down the road and back into our yard the second I get them buckled in. Back  out of the car and into the backyard we go for our picnic. Only, my son chooses that exact moment to need to go poop. So. Inside we all trek for the bathroom break. Followed immediately by heading back outside to finally have our picnic and playtime. At which point, Raleigh suddenly tripped over her own feet and became upset when she got even more mud on her pants than before. Yep. One of those afternoons. At least these sweet faces helped me push through after all the chaos and craziness:

    ...That we resumed our weekly playdate group with our Fort Mill/Charlotte friends this week, and it was so good to see familiar faces (of both the momma and child variety), catch up, get out of the house, and play, play, play. We're already looking forward to next week! Although our playdate ended abruptly when another child at the facility suddenly threw up in the middle of the room (ewww!!), it was fun while it lasted. :)

    ...That I made some great progress with several DIY projects for Raleigh's big girl room last weekend, and I'm really happy with how things are turning out so far. And.....her big girl bed arrived yesterday! Every since I found out I was pregnant with a little girl, I knew I wanted her big girl bed to be the Jenny Lind bed from Land of Nod. I love the Southern, antique feel of it and love it even more in person! I figure that this is a bed that can grow with her and the room transformations that will certainly come as she grows and contributes her own tastes and preferences to her room. Actually, I have seen so many pins on Pinterest with the Jenny Lind bed painted all different fun, bright colors, and I envision that one day we'll be doing that to Raleigh's bed when she hits the teenage years--maybe a bright red with yellow accents in the room or a lavender hue with grey walls? It'll be up to her! For now, though, we went with the basic white bed, and I love it! Last night was her first night in her bed and...success! Now, we'll see how nap time goes today...

    ...That we were (finally!) able to spend several afternoons outside this week after the sun showed her beautiful face and warmed the air around us. We kicked soccer balls, threw footballs, swung on swings, drew with sidewalk chalk, rode bikes, flew down the slide, and stared in awe as the school bus dropped off the older kids from school. Is it bad I'm already ready for Spring? I have a feeling we still have several cooooold months ahead of us, and possibly a late winter snow shower (?!), before permanent warm temps arrive. 

    ...That I will have some big news coming to next week's coffee date...or later today if you follow me on stay tuned!! 

    And with that, I would fill my cup o' conversation with all things YOU. I would ask about your week, whether you've had one of those afternoons lately, and what you are planning to delve into this weekend. I would then offer a fist pound with a resounding, "TGIF!!!" before we parted ways to get this weekend party started. Woot! See you next time!

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    Wee One Wednesday: 24 Weeks

    Welp, I have officially passed V day, also known as the viability milestone. This means that, should Baby Lu opt to be born anytime starting now, as a preemie, all life-saving measures would be taken to preserve his/her life. Now, the pediatric neuropsychologist in me knows that under absolutely no circumstances do I want this baby to be born anytime soon--I've evaluated too many little ones who were faced with life-long complications as a result of extremely low birth weight secondary to such extreme prematurity. So. Hopefully, Sweet Baby Lu will remain comfy and cozy in the confines of my ever-growing belly for many more months! But. It is nice to know that we have reached such an important milestone. Way to go, Baby Lu!

    Size of the Baby: Our baby is now almost a foot long, about the size of an ear of corn. I had my 24-week appointment late last week and, while I forgot to ask what the heart rate was, it sounded great on the doppler. Actually, the baby kept kicking at the doppler every time my doctor tried to take a listen. Ha! This one's gonna be feisty! Also, my belly was measuring right on track at 24 weeks, which was great to hear! At my next appointment, we'll schedule my c-section, aka Baby Lu's official birthday. Woohoo! 

    Maternity Clothes: Yep! Same as last week--yes to all maternity bottoms and a mix of regular and maternity tops. 

    Symptoms: Some back pain by the end of the day. I've also had some acid reflux for the last couple weeks. Don't worry, though. Apparently, I birth nearly-bald babies. So. I'm pretty sure the old wives tale will prove false about heart burn/reflux meaning hair growth. I guess we'll know in a few months!

    Movement: Yes! And my hub finally felt Baby Lu move, too! :) 

    Sleep: Pretty good. Clocking in about 7 hours a night, although sometimes that sleep is divided between initial sleep, a little insomnia, and then a little more sleep.

    What I Miss: Honestly, I am not one of those women who feels like I am glowing and beautiful during pregnancy. I really wish I was. I know I am growing an incredible miracle here, and I do not take that for granted one bit. But. If I'm really putting it out there, I feel pretty unattractive most days. I know those thoughts will melt away when I stare into that precious face. But. I just want to be honest. This is how I feel almost every day. Totally unattractive. Bleh. 

    Cravings: Salted caramel cupcakes! I had the most amaaaaazing cupcakes at the 6-way baby shower I attended last week, and I can't stop thinking about them. They were seriously the best cupcakes I've ever had. And I've had a lot of cupcakes in my lifetime. 

    The Belly: 

    There you have it! Another week in the books. Whew!

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    Coloring Their World

    I decided to kick off the New Year with some colorful fun with my littles. Because the weather was SO cold last week, we rarely left the house: as in, for pre-school drop-off/pick-up only. I thought the forced indoor time provided the perfect opportunity to focus on lots of fun with colors. Banks, being 4, is certainly well-versed in his colors, and Raleigh has actually made great strides in this area, too! Nonetheless, these activities were the perfect excuse to reiterate color identification for Raleigh while allowing us to be creative, get active, have educational fun, and blow off some steam. 

    Some of this isn't rocket science. Some of these are age-old ideas with an emphasis on color awareness, while others are original ideas. Regardless. All of it was really fun to do with my little ones. And I bet yours would love it, too, in case you're in search of any colorful inspiration. :) 


    Color-Coded Bean Bag Toss. Given that we've been cooped up inside, it was important to me that we get out some of that never-ending energy. I brainstormed two fun color games. The first involved picking up the bean bags corresponding to the color I called out and launching them into the crate. The kids absolutely loved this! 

    Color Cone Connection. The second game required the kids to stand at the starting line (aka the wall) and then quickly follow the color instructions immediately after hearing "Go." For example, for Banks, I worked on multi-step directions and sequencing by saying things like, "Kick the blue cone, then touch the red cone." The directions became increasingly complex the more we played. And, of course, my ever-competitive little buddy loved that I was timing him so he could try to beat his own record. For Raleigh, I started with very simple instructions (e.g., "Touch the orange cone.") but was also able to increase my directions to two steps by the time we were done. This activity went on and on and on because the kids loved it so much!

    Color Twister. Banks received a fun, new version of Twister for Christmas from his cousin Cameron and it proved to be a great tool for, again, identifying colors and following instructions while getting to sing, clap, wiggle, and dance. So fun!


    Is there a child out there who doesn't enjoy art? For me, this is a great forum for reiterating all kinds of educational topics. Check out this AWESOME color collage kit we gave to Raleigh as part of her birthday gift. I highly recommend it for all you mommas out there looking for an easy and fun art activity for your littles!

    Color Collage. Basically, Raleigh and Banks were each given a pre-crafted color frame (that came with the kit) as well as lots of different scraps, stickers, and random items (that also came with the kit) that were used to create collages of specific colors. It was really fun to watch them create their monochromatic masterpieces!

    Colorful Creations. We also did some additional fun art projects, including finger-painting, paintbrush painting, and coloring. We made them color-focused by talking about the specific colors each of us was using every time we were painting, drawing, coloring, etc. 

    Our new playroom artwork

    And side note, if you don't know about Crayola Color Wonder products, they are a MUST for your kiddos. I am very strict about closely supervising my little ones every time they are coloring, fingerpainting, painting, etc., as in, I will sit next to them the whole time they are creating. This insures that I am not only having fun watching them create their works of art but also that my walls aren't covered in crayon, marker, or paint marks. Enter Crayola Color Wonder. These are specially crafted products in which the markers and paints will ONLY mark on the specific coloring and painting pages that come with each kit. These means there will be no markings on my walls and also ensures that I can run downstairs to throw in a load of laundry while my kids are happily coloring away. I VERY HIGHLY recommend them!!


    Colorful Books. Raleigh was given this ADORABLE book by her Aunt Whit and Uncle Ronald as part of her birthday present; so, we've made it a point to read it several times over the last couple of weeks since it really hits home with color identification. It is so cute!

    Colorful Puzzles.  We are big fans of Melissa & Doug products in our home, and this puzzle is no exception. Raleigh received this colorful latch puzzle as a Christmas gift from her Nana and Pop and it is perfect for not only fine motor enhancement but also color identification. She loves it!

    Colorful Videos. Have you heard of the preschool prep DVD series? They are these amazing sets of DVDs (that are frequently featured on at discounted prices!) that focus on early academic skills for kids as young as 12 months! 

    Although we are not a household that keeps the tv on during the day nor do we typically play DVDs in the car unless we are going on long car trips, I do sometimes make an exception and let my kids watch this DVD series in the car during errand running and school drop off because I think it is such an awesome learning tool. So. Why am I mentioning it in this post? Because one of the DVDs features color learning, and I truly believe it has helped my Rals get a firm grasp of color identification. This particular 4-part series also comes with Letters, Numbers, and Shapes, and I am definitely seeing a significant increase in her ability to identify components of each of those concepts. Again, a product I highly recommend! 

    Colorful Experiments. One of my favorite Christmas gifts Banks received this year (Thanks, Aunt Whit and Uncle Ronald!) is this Primary Science Lab Set. 

    It is an adorable kit filled with all kinds of experiments for young scientists to complete. Two of the experiments have to do with colors. So. We decided to put on our scientist hats goggles and get down to business! The first involved the concept of mixing two primary colors to make a third color. The second involved watching a celery stalk change color when introduced to colored water. The kids thought these activities were awesome, and we'll be breaking out our science kit again, soon, for more experimenting fun!

    So. There you have it! Lots of colorful fun 'round these parts over the last week!

    I hope this post helped provide some creative inspiration for fun things to do to enhance color identification, which will hopefully prove especially helpful during these cold, rainy winter months. Have a lovely, colorful week!

    Sunday, January 12, 2014

    Raleigh, Two Point Oh

    Well, the day came and went and my Rals is now 2 years old. This absolutely It's so crazy to look back to where she was just six months ago and to see how much she's changed in half a year! Here's a look into what my little Raleigh Jane is up to these days:

    • Although I won't know her current weight and height until we head to the pediatrician for her 2-year well check next week, I can say that she continues to be quite long and lean. Just look at those lanky limbs! She comes up to just above Banks shoulder when standing next to him, which seems SO tall to me, since he looks like a first grader at the ripe ol' age of 4. Raleigh wears Size 2T right now, but I have a feeling she'll be wearing 3T by the time I buy her spring/summer wardrobe. She wears a Size 8 shoe and is in Size 4 diapers. I can't wait to hear her updated stats at her appointment next week!
    • Raleigh continues to be a good eater. She's not nearly as picky as her big brother is when it comes to eating and often eats more than he does. She definitely has a sweet tooth, like her Momma, but is also good about eating her veggies and meats, too. She can down some serious milk and we just switched her over from whole to 2% milk this week. No wonder she's such a fast-growing girl!
    • Raleigh still takes one good, long nap each afternoon, usually ranging from 1.5 to 2 hours. Most days, she wakes up happy and ready for what the day holds. She, unlike her big brother, is also content to just lay quietly in her crib after she wakes up, sucking her index finger and holding the corner of her blanket. That's right. I said sucking her finger. This is absolutely crazy to me: Raleigh decided to start sucking her finger a few months before turning 2. She never had any interest in it before then, but now, she does it all the time: during nap and bedtime and often just after waking up and when tired. This seems a little backwards to me, that she is just now starting this behavior, but I will let it ride for now and plan to tackle it sometime after the new baby comes, especially since she just turned 2. If it ain't broke...
    • We think Raleigh is quite the coordinated and flexible little thing for her age. Examples? She can do a hands-free forward roll. She can jump off of any surface, of any height, that she can climb, and land on her feet. Every. Time. (and promptly give her momma a heart attack every. time.). She can dribble a soccer ball like nobody's business. She can do a full split. She can do a handstand by using the wall to help hold up her legs. Oh, and she's a strong and muscular little bit, too! The other day, my hub was holding her upside down by the feet and she used her abs to pull her body completely upright, where her nose was touching her toes. Crazy! 
    • My most favorite thing about my Raleigh? Actually, there are two that I just can't narrow down. First, her language skills. Rals has always been a really good talker. She talks all the time. She has been talking in full, long, elaborate sentences for some time now. She is inquisitive and asks lots of questions. It is so fun to watch her when she observes something new. She will take in what she's seeing, and you can see the wheels turning as she tries to make sense of the new scene she's encountered. She still loves to sing and is very well-mannered, saying "please," "thank you," "bless you," and "excuse me" totally unprompted. I just love those precious manners and that sweet little voice. Our smart little cookie also loves to count any and everything. She can count up to 15 and does so often! She loves to sing the blessing at dinner (proudly finishing up with "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.) and is beginning to recognize some numbers and letters by sight. She also knows several of her shapes. I can't wait to see where this next year progresses with our girl's academic and language skills!
    • My second favorite thing about Raleigh right now is her natural, mothering instinct. The inherent differences between boys and girls is so interesting and plays out in our home daily. Raleigh has just taken to baby dolls all on her own, without any prompting from us, and loves to be "momma" to her babies. She can often be found singing to them, snuggling them, and putting them down for naps, and it just melts my heart. She talks to them quietly and tells them, "It's okay. The big, bad wolf won't hurt you." (Apparently, there is always a risk that the big, bad wolf could show up at any minute?). She loves her babies and I love watching her love her babies. She is going to be one amazing big sister!
    • RJ loves all things artistic! She will just sit quietly and paint or color, each time identifying which color she is using. This is another inherent difference between boys and girls that has so clearly and naturally played out in our home: In his 4+ years, I can count on one hand the number of times my little boy has sat and played quietly and independently for an extended period of time. He just likes to be on the move and interacting with others all the time. Yet, at just over 2 years, my little girl is more prone to sit quietly and play on her own for quite some time before seeking interaction. The inherent, biological differences in my little buddy and little lady are just fascinating to me!
    • Raleigh has been taking on a teenager 'tude lately. Exhibit A. The other night, she oh-so-kindly said, "Mom, leave me alone, please." No joke. Sometimes it's actually really cute. Sometimes, though, I worry big time about what the 2's will bring us. While our Raleigh Jane can seriously be sweeter-than-sugar, she has a big problem with her "listening ears" these days, and she will deliberately ignore us or wait until the last.possible.second. to do what we ask of her. I cannot tell you how many times I count to three during the day to get her to comply with what I say. And some days, she'll just flat out refuse. For example, "Raleigh, go to time out," to which she'll respond, "No. I will not!" know that conversation is not going to end well. Yep--this one may be a bit of a challenge in the attitude department.
    • In fact, Raleigh has to spend quite a bit of time in the corner these days. I am a staunch believer in parenting firmly but lovingly. Teach them young the behaviors you want them to exhibit as they grow older. So. Time Outs are not uncommon in our house. But Raleigh? She doesn't care one single bit if she has to go to time out. She is usually smiling and trying to push my buttons (e.g., repeatedly turning around, looking me in the eye, and laughing; inching her body away from the wall; laying down when told to stand) the whole time she's in the corner. And she doesn't quite get the negative impact of having privileges/toys removed yet at the ripe young age of 2. So, discipline is not really effective with our Rals at this point. 
    • Raleigh can also be quite sneaky! The other day, she wanted some chips right before dinner. I told her no and that we'd be eating in a few minutes. The next thing I know, I hear the crunch, crunch, crunch of chip-chomping from behind the closed pantry door. I opened the door to find her in the pitch dark, an open bag of chips in her hand, and a mouth full of the contraband. What am I going to do with this girl?! ;) She definitely keeps me on my toes (and taking lots of deep breaths throughout the day). 

    But. I must say. Raleigh is just the sweetest, kindest, smartest, most loving, nurturing, and affectionate little lady, and I could not feel more blessed or lucky to have her as my best pal and precious daughter. She and my little buddy make every day better than the last, and I cannot wait to see where this year takes us!

    Friday, January 10, 2014

    Coffee Date Friday: Winter Blast Edition

    Brrrrr!!! I know everyone is probably tired of talking and hearing about the weather, but yikes! We Southerners are just not used to these temps in the teens. So, should we meet for Friday this chilly winter morning (via link up with Rags to Stitches), I would have a big cup of hot Dunkin Donuts coffee waiting for you as we warmed ourselves under a snuggly blanket in front of a blazing fire. 

    I would then share the following about the latest happenings with me:

    ...That six of the eight women in my awesome couples Life Group are pregnant (well, five of us are now, as one of us gave birth to her first baby last month). We have/had babies due in December, January, February, March, May, and June! So, if you don't want to be pregnant, you may want to avoid the Fort Mill water! Anywho, we had a super fun joint shower for all six of us last night, that was so sweetly hosted by the two non-pregnant ladies in the group. It was so fun! We opted for a "Secret Stork" gift exchange, where we were each assigned a different momma-to-be to buy for. It was a really fun night filled with talk of all things girly and all things momma. Two of my favorite things!

    ...That we were supposed to go visit my paternal grandmother tomorrow but those plans were re-scheduled at the last minute. :( So, now, we have no plans for the weekend with the exception of volunteering in the church nursery on Sunday and then cheering on the Panthers. I'm also hoping to knock out a few DIY projects for Raleigh's big girl room. So. Hopefully, it'll be a relaxing but productive weekend. 

    ...That I bought the coolest piece of furniture for Raleigh's big girl room. It is this big, antique dry sink that was painted this beautiful shade of aqua and distressed. I bought it from this awesome store called Southern Marketplace. Although it was a 30-minute drive from my home, it was well worth the trip, and I will definitely be returning to pick up a few more decorative items for Raleigh's room and the nursery. I highly recommend it if you live in the area!

    ...That, you guys, I will be registering Banks for his last year of preschool (aka pre-k) and Raleigh for her first year of preschool over the next couple weeks. Say wha?!? Ohmygoodness. I tear up when I think about where they are already in their childhood. Sloooooooow dooooooooown Father Time. I'm not ready! 

    ...That I still have every intention of publishing my children's book. I have already narrowed down which photos I will use and just need to compile it before I submit it for publication. Although I would prefer to have a professional publishing company take the reigns in publication and distribution, it just doesn't seem it'll go that way. So, a self-publishing I will go! Stay tuned for updates as the project progresses.

    And, having shared about my current comings and goings, I would make sure the rest of the conversation was spent listening to YOU and all you had to say before hugs were shared and weekends were started. See you again, soon!