5.20.2016

Things With Which Writers Struggle...

First, this title. It's far more cute and blog-esque to call it, "Things Writers Struggle With." However, ending a sentence with a preposition is evil. So I have to reword it to be able to sleep at night, yet I'm sacrificing traffic because no one is going to actually Google "Things with which writers struggle," as they will likely search the bastardized version of said inquiry.

For the Love.

Y'all, I am in writing mode, and have been over the last few days. Day Job is in a bit of a holding pattern still, so I'm trying to take advantage of some less stressful days, and writing is the best way to do that (while simultaneously helping me avoid spending money). 

Speaking of which! PSA: Home Goods carries Aden + Anais baby crap. You're welcome.

While I've obviously picked up the pace on blogging a bit since I became pregnant (which I'm loving, by the way, whether you do or not), I am trying to also give due attention to my book. Yup, I'm writing a book. I started it a while ago and have been slowly chipping away in concentrated bursts of inspiration. (This should make for a suuuuper cohesive story and tone.) I don't really even know how to explain it without making it sound lame (oh, the irony of a writer who can't formulate the words to pitch her book), but it's essentially a collection of short stories about family, love, loss, etc.

And here's where I encounter my biggest struggle: I don't think anyone will want to read it. It's so hard to keep going and push through when you've already decided that no one in their right mind would want to hear about your family, that it's not nearly marketable enough to ever actually end up on the shelves, and that a diary would probably be a better ultimate resting place for these stories. And the dang thing isn't even finished yet. Shoot, it doesn't even have a title! The subtitle and chapter titles, I got. But main title? I got nothin'. (Again, with the promising outlook for a writer who can't find the words to name her book.)

I love reading stories about real people, real life, and I have the sincere hope that others do too. Otherwise, I'm writing a book for no one. And the most healthy thing would probably be for me to not care about the outcome, to write for the sake of writing, but I just can't. I care about these characters because they're my people. And I want everyone to know and love them because they're amazing and hilarious and brave. 

So, all that to say, writing is an actual discipline and a craft, and like all good things, it takes work. So I'm working on it. Line by line. And someday, maybe, it'll find a home.

And a title.

5.19.2016

Twenty Weeks

It's a little hard to believe that as of today, I am officially half-way through this pregnancy. We knew about Little Nugget at 4 weeks, so we've been able to savor this early season of his development from the beginning. (Especially since I never had Morning Sickness, Praise the Lord.) But part of me knows that this journey is about to hit an incline, and while part of me is petrified, part of me is so excited I could piddle.

We had so much fun getting another peek at Baby Boy earlier this week. He has been so active, even since the first sono (at 8weeks). I was shocked to see him shake his little tush during that first glimpse (made all the more comical that he didn't even look human at this point, more like a sassy shrimp creature), and he's been a busy bee every time since. This week, he was having a blast playing with his feet, but it wasn't more than about thirty-seconds before he'd tucker out and need a nap. He already makes us laugh, and I can't wait to see those little feet, which I can already feel kicking and playing about.

Those are some precious thumpers

I can't wait to see his face, to hear his first laugh, and to look into his eyes as he looks into mine. I know he'll be obsessed with his daddy, and I would love nothing more than to get a little M, big brown eyes, dimples and all. 

I'm still feeling really good, so I've been trying to take advantage of this quiet time at work to enjoy the opportunities I have here at home. I haven't cooked in ages, and we were both feeling it. It was nice to go to the store with a few meal ideas in hand (because otherwise, we're liable to stock our fridge and pantry with epic snacks and zero actual meals...#adultingishard), and I've enjoyed being back in the kitchen more lately. I was reminded that eating at home doesn't have to mean cooking every single day, and it has sure been nice to have yummy dishes whipped up so they're ready to go when I'm ready to eat. (It seriously goes from zero to toddler-status very quickly these days, so a wait longer than ten minutes to feed the face is danger zone.)

Here are some of the recipes I've made lately and enjoyed:

5.17.2016

My Maternity Stitch Fix

For those of you who don't already know, I'm a huge fan of Stitch Fix. I have received five regular "Fixes" in the past, and I usually end of keeping every piece. I learned early that strong communication (via your Style Profile, and notes to the Stylist when scheduling your Fix) and having an updated Pinterest style board goes a long way to getting pieces that you actually want and like. And don't forget to mention those little preferences too, such as "no Dry Clean Only pieces," "I need something for X occasion," or "I hate showing my pasty pale legs." They're usually great about considering all those details, and it saves having to hit up boutique after boutique to find fun, unique pieces. (I should probably explain for those of y'all who don't know, but I hate to clothes shop. Like, hates it. So a box of curated clothes and accessories delivered to my front door--free shipping both ways, Halleluyer--is a dream come true.)

My baby bump is getting to the size where my normal clothes are just not as comfortable, and bigger, non-maternity pieces make me feel like a potato. (I think everyone hits this wall at different points in their pregnancy, but apparently my magic number is 19.5 weeks. Potato.) While there are plenty of local stores that carry maternity clothes (Target, Gap, etc.), remember: I hate shopping. Shopping while potato? So bad, I can't even. Enter: Stitch Fix.

Note: You will not see me model this Fix. Perhaps next time, when I'm wearing makeup and feel less 'tater-like.

So here's the haul...
Prettiest package of my week...and I get a lot of packages via mail these days. (Online shopping, FTW!)

#1 - Loveappella Hartley Maternity Dress ($68) 
I really wanted to like this dress (because I asked for a maternity dress that I could dress up or down for upcoming Summer events), but I had a feeling it would be a tough fit. I did a bit of online stalking to see some other maternity Fits, and it seems this dress is a popular one for stylists to send. But no one ever seems to keep it, so I didn't have high hopes. I totally get why my stylist sent it, though, because I have a ton of striped dresses pinned to my style board. But the stripes and light fabric just weren't flattering, so it's going back.

{Verdict: RETURN}




#2 - Nine West Orlagh D'Orsay Flats ($89)
These are just fabulous, and I love me some good flats. But I have no need for shoes at the moment (especially when my feet are likely to swell in the coming months), save for some good sneakers to better support my back. I will say, however, that I'm super excited that SF carries shoes. This is relatively recent, so I have no doubt I will request some sassy kicks in the future.
{Verdict: RETURN}

#3 - Loveappella Lauretta Maternity Skirt ($54)
This skirt was really cute in theory, and I loved the print. But the fit wasn't working (perhaps the size was just off, but I am easily confused by maternity sizing, so hard to know for sure), and I'm much more apt to wear maxi skirts (remember: pale legs), so I'd rather save the budget for a piece I'm likely to wear on a regular basis.
{Verdict: RETURN}

#4 - Full Moon Isha Tie Neck Maternity Top ($54)
This top is exactly why I Stitch Fix. LOVES IT. I would probably never think to pick this up in a store, yet I've wanted a top like this for ages. It's a beautiful grayish olive color, and even though it has longer sleeves, the fabric is so light that I will likely be rocking this all throughout the year. (Friends IRL, I'm sorry in advance for wearing this top on the regular. One day, I will wear other things. One day.) It's a flowy A-line shape without making me look like a potato in a tent (you know what I'm talking about), and looks adorbs with my favorite capri jeans (which I just so happened to have scored from a past Fix)...although, my BeBand is working really hard these days, so it may be time for some panel pants. (Hawt.)
{Verdict: KEEP!}

#5 - Market & Spruce Sollas Maternity Top ($38)
This item totally fit the bill of a great everyday piece. The material is so soft (like all of the Market & Spruce tops that I've kept, which is at least 3 at this point), and I really like the color. It's a little big on me, but I like that I can still wear it now and grow into it. 
{Verdict: KEEP}

To recap, I kept 2 out of the 5 pieces, and all but one item in the shipment were great selections given my asks. (And I seriously don't fault them for sending those fabulous flats. Just not the right time.) Something I've learned with my Fixes, though, is that you have to do the math. I wasn't sure I would keep the Market & Spruce top, as much as I liked it, because I knew that I could find similar for a lower price point. However, once I calculated in a referral credit on my account, as well as the Styling Fee Credit (which is the $20 fee for each Fix, all of which gets applied to anything you keep, so you only "lose it" if you send everything back), which I technically received as a promo on this order thanks to a postcard in the mail (waiting a bit between orders apparently pays off), I got to keep the teal shirt for free! So don't forget to run the numbers. And because you get 25% off if you keep all 5 items, it's not uncommon that the discount amounts to a free item (or two) within the Fix. 

All in all, I'm pleased with my first Maternity Fix, and I can't wait to do another down the road in this pregnancy. I left detailed feedback when I checked out (you can chime in on every item, in detail), so I know the next one will be even better. And thanks to Stitch Fix, this potato didn't have to step foot in a dressing room!

If you're ready to sign up for a Fix, head on over the create your Style Profile! This is not a sponsored post, but I do receive a referral credit when you sign up and order a Fix using the link provided in this post. Ain't no shame in my game.

5.16.2016

Nesting, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" style...

I have been hardcore nesting over the last few weeks. Most projects start out innocently enough, before morphing into a call for help and asking M to "real quick" move a piece of furniture or McGuyver something that I likely haven't fully thought through before tackling. (And he does it, amazingly, every time. Bless him, Lord.)

But lately, the projects seem to feed off of one another, to the point where entire weekends sail by with much productivity and many To Do list items crossed off...but not nearly enough rest and relaxation. (Mommy fail.) 

If Natty clears out the guest room to reorganize for baby, then she's going to need to Swiffer the hardwoods-sans-furniture two or three times.

And if she Swiffers the hardwoods, she'll notice the baseboards are dirty and need to touch those up with fresh paint.

If she paints the baseboards, she'll notice the walls also need touching up (including those in every other room of the house in the same paint color...because, why not).

If she touches up the paint, she'll notice that the ceiling fan needs cleaning.

And if she dusts the ceiling fan, she'll notice that the fan blades are disgusting and need to be removed and soaked in bleach. (Seriously, who does this?)

And so on for hours upon hours...

Truth. I also want a cookie after making a mess.

Note: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is a classic at this point, so I don't feel I need to explain this reference, but in case you are lost at this point, just order it. It's great times.

The good news? We've made great progress on transforming our home to welcome Baby Boy, while still having plenty of time to shop for deals and make better decisions (because we've thought ahead beyond just the next six months, which can be easy to solely focus in on). The crib is assembled and ready for bedding (and, you know, baby), the ginormous rug has been Scotchguarded to an inch of its life, my office has been relocated (to be closer to baby and give M an actual space in the house...four years later), and the daybed has been ordered for mommy naps, the occasional (brave) guests, and eventual slumber parties! Really exciting to see it all start to come together, and almost surreal to walk by and see a crib in our house.

I will now be taking bets on how long it takes before we find Scrappy in the crib...

5.06.2016

A Note of Encouragement to All the Mommies in the House

One of the hands-down sweetest compliments I've received as of announcing the we're expecting our Little Nugget is "You're going to be a great mom!" 

Now, part of me immediately rejects this precious assertion because the idea of raising a living, breathing human seems other-worldly. And honestly, I've already had many moments of feeling like I'm letting Little Dude down. (Too many donuts, too little spinach, too much loafing, too little cardio, etc.) 

But I suppose it's like any role we own in life, in that we always feel like we can do more, do better. As a daughter, I know I could've made my mama cry less and laugh more. As a wife, I know I could've uplifted more and nagged less. As an employee, I know I could've focused more and Pinterest'd less.  As a kitty mama, I know I could've smooshed less and played more.

But here's the thing: I like to think that the fact that we even worry about how we're doing, means we're doing OK. If we were totally crapping out, we probably wouldn't care to consider, "How can I better honor this role?" It wouldn't even occur to us to do so.

So mamas, I'm talking to all of you, I know that y'all worry like champs. It's part of the gig. You struggle with guilt, with stress, sometimes with downright depression, and you feel like you're failing at a dozen things at any given time. (Whether you actually are or not, doesn't matter in the slightest. Y'all don't celebrate nailing it when you do. And you do. More than you even know.) But you worry because you want to be awesome, you want your kiddos to be healthy, well-adjusted humans, and you want to lift your family up on a silver platter to enjoy everything to the max (even if you're hanging out down below, covered in mud and wearing sweatpants).

And you know what? You're nailing it. (Unless your child is currently chained to a tree in the backyard. Or your dog is. In either case, please seek help. Like, now. Intervention time, Hun.) Just for a second, please take a deep breath and believe that at any given moment, many women, men, and children see you, see what you're up to, and celebrate you as part of the Mommy Tribe. Because I don't care who you are, or what you've been through, we know that the role of mom is something special (because even if you haven't had that, you know how important she is, probably more than many). They're precious, they're warriors, and they give hugs like no other. Shiz hitting the fan? I want my mom. Always. 

So cheers to you, Mama Bird. You're loved. You're amazing. And you're nailing it.