Upgrading Melissa

Upgrading Melissa

This is the story of how I'm bettering myself every day, in every way…

Fitness Upgrade: 6 Habit Hacks for a Healthier You

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“How to lose baby weight” 

It’s a search that’s most new mommies have typed into Google the minute they tried on their pre-pregnancy clothes, only to discover they just don’t fit the way they used to. 

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Before I had Miles, I tried to be realistic. I vowed not to be too hard on myself; to take my time and remember that I had just grown a HUMAN.  My body wouldn’t just snap back to what it once was!

But what I didn’t consider was that summer was just around the corner.   Summer, with its jean shorts and clingy cotton dresses and dun dun dun SWIMSUITS. <insert scream here> 

Shudder.

No matter how much weight you gain during your pregnancy, or how quickly that weight comes off, your body is still different after you have a baby.  Your hips are wider.  Your stomach is softer.  Your boobs are bigger. 

You tell yourself, “It took me 9 months to grow this baby…it will take me at least that long to get my body back.”  But that thought doesn’t have much merit when you slip on a your favorite dress from the summer before and feel like a stuffed sausage. 

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I speak from experience, my friends.  And because I’m right there with you, I’ve decided that I’m going to write a series dedicated to this very topic.  I will share with you my meal plan, workout plan, my struggles and my triumphs as I try to firm up my post-baby body. 

Now the truth is, I’m not trying to lose a ton of weight.  But I am trying to get into a fitness routine and begin a healthy lifestyle, not just for myself, but to get my family on a healthy path and set a good example for Miles as he grows up.  I’ve written a similar posts about this in the past, but now I want to start this first post off with some simple habits you can incorporate into your day-to-day routine to live a healthier lifestyle. 

So here you are:  6 Habit Hacks for a Healthier You (try saying that 10 times fast):

1.)   Plan ahead.

There are 2 ways I plan:  1.) My meals and 2.) My workouts

At the beginning of each week, I sit down and plan my meals for the week. I then write a grocery list and go shopping for those items.  For me, it all has to happen at once…I have to plan and shop for the whole week or I’ll put it off, things will get busy, and before I know it, I’m ordering a pizza or eating ice cream for dinner (or both..cough cough). 

I don’t plan my workouts a week in advance…my life isn’t nearly that predictable.  But each night before bed or in the morning when I first wake up, I take a look at my to-do list for each day and schedule out a time for my workout.  These days, my mommy brain has me running in a million different directions at once, so I use a list as a reference to keep me on track.  And because I love crossing things off of my to-do list, I’m even more motivated to complete my workout!

2.)   Do SOMETHING each day.

It is easy to fall into the “Not Good Enough” trap, meaning you think that unless you burn a bazillion calories, your workout isn’t good enough. Honestly, something is better than nothing, and while that sounds like an obvious statement, when you’re trying to lose weight it is a very challenging concept to grasp. 

When I first started working out post-baby, I tried to jump right into Sean T’s T-25.  And while I liked the workout, it challenged poor old out-of-shape me so much that I put it off each day until I stopped all together.  I realized I needed to start small, establish a fitness routine, and then work up to the program.  Now, I try to walk every day, either on the treadmill or outside, even if it’s just a short distance when I’m busy.  And whenever I think that 250 calories isn’t a lot, I remind myself that it’s a hell of a lot more than what I burn sitting on the couch watching Awkward (My guilty pleasure…don’t judge), and that makes me feel better.

3.)   Don’t let one misstep discourage you.

…which leads me to my next point.  Just because you mess up, that doesn’t mean you have to give up.  So you binge ate at Taco Bell on Saturday night…that doesn’t mean you have to eat like crap all day Sunday too, vowing to “start Monday.”  The same goes for working out:  Just because you missed a day (or a whole weekend of working out) doesn’t mean your efforts are a wash.  Jump on the bike or head to the gym and start going.  This is one of my biggest downfalls when I’m trying to be healthy!

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4.)   Less Carbs, More Veggies.

I plan to write a whole separate post dedicated to “Low-Carbing,” but for now I’ll tell you a simple trick to eating “health-ifying” your meals.  Try to lower the amount of simple carbs in your diet, and I guarantee you’ll see a difference.  That doesn’t mean you need to try to cut carbs out completely…that’s impossible, as there are carbs in EVERYTHING.  But instead of eating a side of white rice for dinner, try a veggie instead.  Instead of snacking on potato chips, try some carrots!  And the simplest trick of all…try that burger without a bun! 

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5.)   Use your baby/day-to-day surroundings.

I gave birth to a 10 lb, 1 oz beautiful baby boy.  And that baby boy has gained about 8 lbs since he’s been born.  Do you know what that means?  I have an 18 lb weight at my disposal at all times.  I bounce him up and down the hallways and do lunges.  I do a few curls while holding his car seat.  I tighten my abs when I rock him.  My point?  Use your baby and/or your surroundings to help you.  Do push ups off the washer when you’re doing laundry.  Do a few squats while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew.  Run up the stairs instead of walking.  It sounds crazy, but every little bit helps!

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6.)   Re-evaluate your appetite.

Honestly, the power of habit is a force to be reckoned with.  I find that so often, habit is to blame for my struggle in the “Healthy Lifestyle” game.  I associate certain foods with one another (spaghetti with garlic bread vs. spaghetti and a salad), certain foods for meals (sandwiches for lunch vs. a chicken breast and veggies), and certain portion sizes (3 pieces of pizza vs. 2 pieces with a salad).  If I just sit back and truly assess what my body needs vs. what my mind thinks I need, my diet would be so much healthier. 

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I’d love to hear from you.  What is your biggest challenge in living a healthy lifestyle…one of the above?  Or something different? 

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Miles’ 3 Month Update!

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Yesterday, my baby boy turned 3 months old. 3 MONTHS!  I don’t know if 3 months has ever passed more quickly in my life.  Miles is a delight…never have I felt more joy from one little face; one little smile. I know…I know, I sound like a complete sap!  But it’s all true…Brad and I agree:  Being a parent is the best thing we’ve ever done (and we’ve both done plenty of amazing things)!  We didn’t even realize how much more complete our life could be until Miles joined it.

Here’s Miles’ 3 month update!

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Age:  3 months!

Size:  Big! 18 lbs, 7 oz!  He’s filling in with baby chub…rolls around his wrists, his thighs, and his cheeks, of course!  Even his little belly is getting rounder. And he’s so long, I think he might be taller than me soon!  ;)

New developments:  Miles grabs and swats at things now. He picks up his pacifier. He grabs onto his bib and blanket. He’s getting a lot of neck control and can hold his head up for the most part. He blows bubbles and smiles and interacts with us. And he sleeps in his crib now!

Sleep:  Miles is right on the verge of sleeping through the night. Several times this month, he slept until 7 AM without waking up…if he does wake up, he wakes at 5:30 to eat, then goes back to sleep for 3 hours. It’s wonderful!

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Moment to remember:  We went to my family reunion last weekend and Miles met so many of my very special family members. It was a very sweet and meaningful experience for me, and one I will not forget!

Movement:  Lots of kicking and wiggling. This morning, he’d wiggled down so far that I could no longer see his eyes on our video monitor…just his forehead. ;)

Smiles/Laughter:  He smiles all of the time! My favorite is his morning smiles when I appear over his crib. I’ve also heard him chuckle a few times, like when Grandma Philly found a ticklish spot under his chin! 

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Miles likes:  His play mat, staring at the ceiling fan, and tummy time! And daycare! Miles started daycare this week and seems to really like it (or am I just telling myself that?)  :)

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Miles dislikes:  Being kept waiting when he’s ready to eat. Being kept awake when he’s ready to sleep. Being in his carseat if he’s not on-the-move.

Favorite things to do with mommy: Sitting in bed with mommy in the morning, smiling and talking. I call it “Coffee with Mommy.”  :) Reading books. Playing in the mirror.

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Favorite things to do with daddy: Playing with Sophie, Tummy Time, snuggles on the couch together….and looking like him (as you can see in the photo below).  ;)

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Teeth?  Not yet!

Favorite place to sleep:  In his crib, in his Boppy, or in Mommy’s arms :)

Favorite toy:  His playmat and Sophie the Giraffe

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Words/Noises:  "Gah!" And blowing bubbles/raspberries

Mommy’s favorites moments:  When he drifts off to sleep in my arms, morning smiles (every time he smiles, really), watching him and Brad snuggle, and the way his cute little face looks during tummy time. :)

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What I’ve learned:  To trust my instinct when it comes to my baby. I don’t always have the answers, but most times, my mommy instinct knows what’s best.

Read Miles’ 1 and 2 Month Survey here!

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Meet Miles + 2 month update!

Hello!  My name is Miles David!

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Miles was born on Easter Sunday, 2 days before his actual due date.  He weighed in at 10 lbs, 1 oz and was 22.5 inches long.  Yes, TEN POUNDS!  As my doctor said, he was “10 pounds, as advertised!” He entered this world fast and furiously.  I pushed for 45 minutes…every contraction coming so fast and hard that I didn’t even have time to breathe in between.  My epidural didn’t work, so I felt EVERYTHING.  It was the most intensely difficult, exhausting, emotional thing I’ve ever done.  And it was also the most rewarding.  :)

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I will never forget the way I felt when I heard my sweet boy cry for the first time, or how he stopped crying the moment he heard my voice. I will never forget the love I felt for him the first time I saw him, or how my heart melted when we locked eyes for the first time.  Those are the moments that you can’t even begin to understand until you experience them…now I get what all of the fuss is about.  :)

He has his daddy’s eyes, my nose and chin, the most kissable cheeks you can imagine, and the sweetest little smile. Somehow, he can raise one eyebrow in the most hilarious way, even though neither Brad or I can.  And sometimes, he knits his eyebrows and narrows his eyes at me and it’s an exact replica of the way his daddy has looked at me countless times before.  :)

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It’s been 2 months since Miles entered our lives, and it has been a complete whirlwind. We’ve fallen asleep sitting up. We’ve sang silly songs and bounced our baby around the house.  We’ve been peed on, pooped on, and puked on more times than I can even count. And we’ve laughed hysterically together as all of the above happened during one diaper changing session.  I’ve discovered that bath time is one of my favorite parts of the day, and I’ve found more joy in a sweet little toothless smile than I thought possible.

And I’m not the only one who’s smitten; the way Brad loves Miles takes my breath away.  Sometimes I hear him whispering to Miles, or catch him snuggling with him on the couch, and I know that those are the moments I will always remember.  Those are the moments that make me love him even more…something that I didn’t think was possible.

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He’s such a good baby.  He sleeps like a dream, sometimes sleeping 8 hour stretches at night!  He rarely cries, and if he does, it’s only to alert us that he’s hungry or tired.  Most of the time, he’s perfectly happy just laying and looking around.  He’s a very sweet natured baby; he even gives me a small smile when I do things he doesn’t like (like washing his face). :)

Time is passing too quickly though…these past two months have flown by and though I’m trying desperately to remember every little thing, I know that things will slip through my tired “mommy-brain.”  And so, I want to use my blog as a way of capturing and remembering all of the little moments in a monthly recap, much like I did in my pregnancy surveys. 

So, without further ado, here’s what’s been happening in the last two months.

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Age:  2 months, on the nose!

Size:  As of our last doctor’s appointment, my big boy was 15 lbs 5 oz, and 25 inches long!

New developments: So much has happened in 2 months times…I can’t believe how much Miles has changed in such a short time!  He’s gone from barely being able to focus his eyes, to staring at me intently. He smiles when he sees me or Brad, his gaze following us as we move around the room. He smiles constantly, his biggest smiles happening when I or Brad laugh with him.  He coos and gurgles, and makes the cutest little noises.  Every day is a new adventure…he’s always doing new things that amaze me!

Moment to remember:  One of my favorite moments to date happened just this week when we discovered that Miles is a Neil Young fan. :) Here’s the story:When I was pregnant, Brad would play songs for our “McBaby” at night, specifically Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.”  We’d of course read that babies could hear music in the womb, and Brad felt it was important to introduce him to Neil early on. :) On the night that Miles was born, Brad  insisted I get some much needed rest, and I woke up to the sounds of “Harvest Moon” playing softly in the dim lit room as both of my boys dozed. Fast forward to this week, when Brad, Miles, and I were all sitting together in bed. Miles was a bit fussy, and Brad decided to play Harvest Moon for him…the first time since that night in the hospital.  And I kid you not…the moment the music started to play, Miles immediately stopped fussing and actually looked at Brad, started smiling, and continued to smile for the majority of the song.  It was the sweetest moment, and one I will never forget.

Movement:  Constantly! He’s not going anywhere yet, but it won’t be long! 

Smiles/Laughter:  Constantly!  Sometimes he smiles so big that he lowers his chin and pulls his shoulders up and grins from ear to ear. IT’S THE CUTEST.

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Miles likes:  Riding in his car seat, going on walks, morning chats with mommy in bed, eating, bath time, and apparently, Neil Young. ;)

Miles dislikes:  Having his onesie pulled over his head, wearing his sunglasses (but my gosh, they’re cute), being woken up (much like his daddy), and being kept waiting when he wants to eat (much like his mommy)! 

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Favorite Mommy activities:  Lazy mornings in bed with mommy, drinking coffee and watching the today show.  And sometimes, if Miles wakes up especially early, coming to join Mommy in bed for an early morning nap. ;)

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Favorite Daddy activities:  Taking naps and snuggling with Daddy, listening to Neil Young, giving “hugs.” :)

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Teeth?  Not yet!

Favorite place to sleep:  This baby has all kinds of fun gadgets:  Swings, the Mama Roo, a bouncy chair…yet he LOVES sleeping on his changing pad. He sleeps flat on his back with his arms thrown over his head.  :)

Favorite toy:  Miles especially likes his yellow giraffe with a little mirror on it, and his brightly colored Jacques the Peacock!

Words/Noises:  He makes the sweetest coos and gurgles, especially when he’s happy.  He also likes to express his displeasure with little squeals and squawks. He rarely cries, but that’s how he lets me know when he’s unhappy.  ;)

Mommy’s Favorites:  When he balls up on my shoulder to nap, the way he pulls his fist up to his chin when he sleeps in the “Thinking Man” pose, his big smiles, his funny faces, the way he holds my hand when he’s tired, his little laugh coos, and the way he smiles when he first sees me in the morning. 

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What I’ve learned:  There’s no control when you have a baby this young. Everything takes longer than I expect, I’m on his schedule, and some days, my biggest accomplishment may be simply managing to shower. I’ve learned that sometimes, it’s ok to choose laughing and cooing with my baby over running the vacuum, and to stop being in such a hurry.  And honestly, I’m still working on that last part. ;)

Click here for other posts about Miles, a.k.a. McBaby!

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McBaby’s Nursery Tour + Tips For Planning Your Nursery!

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Well guys, I’m still pregnant. As my doctor said yesterday, I have “baby toes up to my nose.”  At 38 weeks, I’m pretty miserable; but the good news is, I only have 2 weeks to go until I get to meet my baby, and that’s motivation enough for me!  

In the meantime, I thought I’d share my nursery pictures with you, as well as some things I learned along the way.  I never thought I’d care so much about the nursery, but as the months passed, I became downright obsessive.  I blame it on some natural-hormonal-nesting instinct…and Pinterest.  :)  But it turned out exactly how I pictured it.  It’s calm and serene, just “baby” enough, and functional.  I’m in love! 

So without further ado…Welcome to McBaby’s Nursery!

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Tip #1:  Set a budget before you begin.

Brad’s quote:  ”I never, ever thought we’d put so much time or money into this nursery.  When I thought about baby expenses, I didn’t even consider this!”  It’s true…everything “baby” is expensive.  Manufacturers capitalize on that aforementioned “natural-hormonal-nesting instinct” and price everything higher.  My advice:  Set a budget, at least on the bigger items (like furniture), and then don’t even look at more expensive brands. Also, look for coupons!  We were trying to decide whether to buy our crib, and that same night, I received a 25% off coupon from Wayfair.com that made our choice for us!  It was fate!

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Crib:  Wayfair.com
Bedding: Target (quilt, sheet, crib skirt) (Thanks, Grandma P!)
Mobile: Pottery Barn Kids (Thanks, Great Grandma K!)

Tip #2: Think beyond YEAR 1.

It’s easy to picture bringing your baby home to your beautiful nursery, but it’s important to remember that will be his bedroom for many years to come.  I know that within just a few short years, that crib will be replaced with a bed shaped like a pirate ship or a race car, and then, someday, that room will be home to a teenager, who will be hanging band/movie posters on the wall that I (a.ka. Brad) so lovingly painted. ;)

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We struggled a lot with the “future” of this room. Did we buy a small baby dresser/changing table combo that will work now, and invest in furniture later?  Or did we buy something now that he could use for years to come?  We went with the latter, buying a crib we liked online and mixing in a dresser that we bought months later that we think will work well for him as he gets older. 

Tip #3: Don’t dwell on choosing a “theme.”

Instead of focusing on a theme, find something you like and go from there. I chose a color scheme, and let the rest of it just happen.  

But even then, don’t be married to a color scheme. We have bits of blue and green and teal and turquoise throughout the room, and I like having those little bits of color.  

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We chose gray and yellow, because I figured that would be an easy transition for all Pittsburgh themed memorabilia that came into the room. Believe me, Brad couldn’t have been more supportive when I said, “What do you think about gray and yellow, with maybe some black accents…classy Pittsburgh?”  His response?  ”Yes! Yes, I want that.” ;)  

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Disclaimer:  I know what you’re thinking….you don’t see a lot of Pittsburgh themed stuff in his room. I assure you, those elements are in progress and sure to come.  Brad is on the hunt for the perfect Pirates pennant, probably as we speak!  ;)

Tip #4: Remember, it’s a baby’s room!

From the get go, I started saying I wanted a sophisticated baby nursery.  I blame Pinterest, with all of its neutral colored rooms, artwork on the wall, custom shelving, furniture that cost more than my own bedroom furniture, and $500 bedding. ;) One day, Brad said, “Someday, McBaby is going to say, ‘Mommy, why does my nursery look like a hotel room?’” And I realized he was right. I needed to dial it back a bit and bring some BABY BOY into our baby boy’s room!  That’s when we decided we liked Koala bears (which, in my opinion, don’t get nearly enough credit these days), and that’s when choosing bedding and other accents became much easier.  And I think Brad breathed a sigh of relief that I was gaining back (some of) my sanity.  ;)

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Tip #5: Take your time!

You have 9 months of pregnancy to put together your nursery….use it!  Creating McBaby’s room was one of my favorite aspects of pregnancy.  I picked up things here and there as I found them, which not only helped the room kind of develop on its own, but it was also was easier on the budget. The first things I bought were two canvas prints at Hobby Lobby, along with some adorable chevron light switch covers, and it was those items that cemented the “gray and yellow” color scheme in my mind. I also picked things up with the thought that I could always return it if we didn’t use it, which I did plenty of…believe me! 

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Tip #6: Remember, you’ll get A LOT at the shower.

I was completely amazed at the generosity of our family and friends at our baby shower.  And so much fit the room perfectly; for instance, these two amazing totes that matched our room so well that I ended up returning a toy box I’d already purchased because I liked them better!

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I also requested that everyone bring books in lieu of cards at the shower, and I’d say the kid is set for life in the book department.  I was most amazed by the fact that we only got 2 duplicate books!  My favorite part was that everyone wrote sweet notes to him in the books, so we will have them always and forever. :) 

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This guy, also a shower gift, makes me smile. :)

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Tip #7: And finally, do whatever makes you happy.  :)

I tried so hard to budget, to be reasonable and not spend a lot of money on trivial things, and I did well…for the most part!  But when I found this koala bear wall decal (below) on Etsy, I had to have it. My baby needed that koala bear decal.  :)  Was it the most practical? No. Did I spend too much money on something that will probably only be in his room a few years?  Probably.  But here’s how I see it:  You’ll never create your “first nursery” again.  I will always remember my sweet husband standing and placing every individual leaf of that decal with loving attention. I will always remember how happy it made me when I saw it complete for the first time.  And those are the things that matter.  :)

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Maybe the nursery isn’t as important to some people, and I get it…everyone has their thing!  But it really was important to me; it was a fun thing for Brad and I to do together as we planned for our baby; it was thereapeutic for me as I faced some job-related disappointments during my pregnancy, and strangely enough, it helped things feel more real for me…I love picturing bringing McBaby home and showing him his room for the first time….even though he’ll most likely sleep through the experience.  :)  I guess what I’m saying is…just enjoy it. Do what makes you happy!

Thanks for coming on my nursery tour with me!  Hopefully on my next blog post, I’ll be sharing pictures of my baby, instead of my bump!  Seriously, how ridiculous is my stomach to bum ratio right now?!  No wonder I can hardly walk at this point!  ;)

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Until next time…MUAH!

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McSurvey (36 Weeks)!

Dear McBaby,

In 4 weeks (maybe less!) I will finally get to meet you.  Honestly, I’m getting impatient! :) I’m dying to know what you look like…whether you have my nose or your daddy’s, what color your eyes are, and how much hair you have (you’re bound to have some - both of your parents have a strong head of hair)! 40 weeks is a long time to wait…I think we’re both ready for our first meeting (especially since you seem to be trying to kick your way out)! ;)

Hurry, little one. I’m anxious to get my hands on you…and also, I’m getting a little tired of waddling. ;)

Love,

McMommy

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Yes, it’s true! I’m 36 weeks!  With only 4 weeks to go, reality is setting in FAST.  Our living room is filled with baby gear, the nursery is complete, and I’ve quickly crossed the line from being “functional pregnant” to “the size of my giant belly dictates my life.”

My baby shower came and went, and I will eventually post pictures of the yummy food, gorgeous decorations, and delicious treats.  McBaby wasn’t just showered…he was poured on.  The generosity of our friends and family had me choked up every time I tried to talk about it.  By the end of it all, my baby boy was set.  He has everything he needs, as long as his mommy and daddy can figure out how to use it all!  :)  

I was a woman possessed trying to finish the nursery before our shower (we hosted the shower at our house).  Poor Brad spent one Friday evening hanging shelves and applying wall decals until 12 AM. And other than a few comments about how his Friday nights had drastically changed since his college days, he didn’t actually seem to mind that much!  ;)  I’m totally in love with McBaby’s room…it turned out exactly as I envisioned and I couldn’t be happier!  I will post pictures soon…I should probably capture it on film now, since I know this is the most organized it will ever be! 

It’s been a big, busy 4 weeks since I last blogged, so without further ado, here’s what we’ve been up to…

Baby Stats:  On Monday, we went for an ultrasound to find out McBaby’s current weight/measurements and get a guess on his birth weight!  Turns out, I’m growing a chunky babe!  My baby boy is a whopping 7 lbs, 14 oz at 36 weeks…ALMOST 8 LBS ALREADY!  The doctor told us he’s above the 90th percentile all over, even in length, which makes sense why I feel him so low, yet under my ribs at the same time. Poor little guy doesn’t have much room!  

I was shocked, even though I knew the chances were high that I’d have a big baby because:

1.) Brad was nearly 10 lbs when he was born.

2.) I was over 8 lbs lbs when I was born.

3.) He’s been measuring big all along!

However, I think I was in denial and it became VERY REAL then.  I feel like as soon as I heard “projected birth weight of 9 to 10 lbs,” I journeyed into my own little haze-filled world and didn’t hear a thing the doctor said from that point on.  Brad and I left the doctor’s office both excited and nervous; especially knowing there’s a chance he could come early and we may be parents before we know it. Brad looked at me and said, “We really need to decide on a name!”  And he couldn’t be more right. It’s crunch time!

Maternity clothes?  Here’s a story for you:  I was so proud when I put on my non-maternity turquoise skinny jeans the other day with a belly band and they fit perfectly.  However, I soon found myself in “Tight Pants Hell.”  Those damn pants pushed up on my giant belly when I was sitting, and they literally HURT (McBaby was none-too-pleased with my fashion choice, as I’m sure he really has no room to spare in there).  A few hours in, I was so miserable that I seriously considered taking my pants off in public.  So from here on out, it’s stretch pants and maxi-skirts/dresses for me. Screw real pants…I always knew they were over-rated.

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Stretch marks? I can’t even tell anymore. My stomach is so stretched out, I can’t imagine getting out of this without some battle scars. ;)

Sleep:  Between bathroom trips, hip pain, and charlie horses, the ZZZZ’s are hard to come by. I have taken over our bed, thanks to my giant body pillow and a memory foam mattress pad that I literally stole from my mother-in-law’s guest bed after I discovered that it helped my hip pain. Brad’s doing everything in his power to keep me comfortable and worries about me constantly…poor guy.  ;)

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Top moment(s) of the week: Seeing McBaby’s face yesterday in the ultrasound!  I could see his plump little cheek, perfect little nose, and sweet mouth. He was even smacking his lips and sticking out his tongue. :)

This may be tough to see, but this is his face straight on. That’s his forehead to the right, mouth and nose, and plump little cheek facing up. It’s so weird to me that there’s a full-grown baby in there…I mean, there’s his FACE!  Can you see it?  It’s like one of those “Magic Eye” photos…once you see it, it’s very clear. But your eyes kind of cross until your brain can process what you’re looking at. :)

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Worst moment of the week:  LastSaturday morning, when an aching back and charlie horses/shin splints had me pretty miserable. Luckily, conditions improved as the day progressed, and seem to be getting better every day this week.

What I’m missing? Being able to breathe again! I get winded just from standing!  I was on the phone while walking up the stairs to my office the other day, and had to stop talking to catch my breath. 

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Movement: Baby’s movements have gone from little pokes and kicks, to BIG nudges and waves. I can see my whole stomach moving…it’s crazy!

Food cravings: I’m back to craving fruit, which is a good thing. My cousin, as if reading my mind, sent me a surprise gift of these delectable chocolate covered apples. I literally SCREAMED when I opened the box. Here’s a hint: If you ever want to make a preggo’s day, give her fruit dipped in chocolate and toffee! ;)

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Anything making you queasy or sick: Just my too-tight pants!  :)

Bump Photos:  Here I am, in all of my big bellied glory! ;)

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Belly button in or out:  It’s pretty much flush at this point. We’ll call it “barely” in. 

Who knew… that I could feel so much love for a nameless, faceless little person (although, hopefully not nameless for long)!  

…or that I could fall even more in love with my husband (whom I was already so crazy about to begin with).  He is so sweet and so involved; he tells me how cute I look.  He asks how “his baby is doing?”  He spends hours putting together baby gear.  He does laundry.  He grocery shops.  He’s made me dinner 3 of 4 nights this week.  He does everything he can to make me more comfortable…it’s amazing. IT. MELTS. MY. HEART.

…or finally, that I would turn into such a SAP during pregnancy. I would have rolled my eyes at this blog post a few years ago…and now look at me!  ;)

Looking forward to:  Meeting my baby boy. I seriously CAN’T wait!

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McSurvey (32 Weeks)!

My little McBaby is 32 weeks old this week!  With only 8 weeks to go, I’m overwhelmed by how soon I’ll be a mommy.  It seems I waver between two extremes:  1.) UNBELIEVABLE EXCITEMENT, daydreaming about holding my little one for the first time, and 2.) SHEER AND UTTER TERROR.  Wait, I’m going to be a MOTHER?!  What am I going to do with a baby?!?!?!  Something like that.  :)

But the truth is, I’m elated. Brad and I talk regularly about how we can’t wait for him to just be here.  And I know very quickly 8 weeks will turn to 4, then 2, and suddenly, I’ll be holding our little sweet boy.  EEEEeeeeeeeee!  I can’t wait!

This 3rd Trimester has not been without it’s challenges, but it’s also held many exciting moments.  And that, my friends, brings me to my 32 week survey…

About Baby:  I won’t know the actual stats of our McBaby until our 36-week ultrasound. But here are some stats to give you an idea:  Baby is 3.5 to 4 lbs and 17-19 inches long. What I find most interesting is that according to BabyCenter.com, he will gain 1/2 lb per week for the next 8 weeks!  Crazy!

Maternity clothes? I alternate between maternity clothes and loose fitting regular clothes/leggings and jeans with belly bands.  I also bought a few of these maternity tanks from Old Navy, and they’ve been lifesavers. If you have a rapidly growing bump, I urge you to check them out! (I bought them in 4 colors, and the black and white polka dot one is my favorite)!  :)

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Stretch marks?  So far, so good! Funny story:  I asked Brad to inspect me the other day, and he said, “Do you think there’s a chance in hell I’d actually tell you right now if I found a stretch mark?  Nothing good would come from that!” HA! He’s probably right… ;)

Sleep:  The last few weeks have brought some struggles in Sleepville. I’m having lower back/sciatic nerve/hip pain that is making finding a position very difficult.  I use an army of pillows and weird positioning to find relief, but I think the next 8 weeks will be challenging.

Top moment(s) of the week: Washing all of McBaby’s little clothes, socks, and blankets. :) Surprisingly, I loved sorting and putting away all of his tiny little clothes. P.S. I did all of this laundry on Friday night. My weekends used to be so much cooler! ;)

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Also, receiving early shower gifts from friends and family has been a weekly highlight. Every time the door bell rings, I squeal. It’s like Christmas!!!

Meet Jacque the Peacock!  I hope he makes McBaby smile as much as he makes me smile!

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Worst moment of the week: Between back pain and some shortness of breath (I think baby may be smushing my lungs), Sunday was a really rough, uncomfortable day/night. But we’re all better now.  :)

What I’m missing? Being comfortable. There are so many discomforts in my body right now, I miss the days where I could just sit comfortably on the couch or fall asleep at night without issue.

Movement: More than ever!  :) I’m starting to learn where he likes to hang out and his movement patterns. I can often feel his little butt (I think) to the left of my belly button, and I think that’s adorable. :)

Food cravings: Honey Nut Cheerios are my kryptonite. I eat them every day, which is funny because I never ate cereal before. I’m also obsessed with vanilla pudding and any (all) ice cream. It’s safe to say I’m craving dairy!

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Anything making you queasy or sick:  I smelled seafood in the grocery store the other day and wanted to die.  

Bump Photos:  This is me at 31 weeks!

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And 32 weeks!

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Belly button in or out:  In, but barely!  

Who knew…that “nesting” could be such a powerful force?! I don’t know if I’m actually nesting, or if I have a spring cleaning bug, or if it’s a combo of the two, but I’m on an organization streak like no other. I’ve re-organized my pantry, spice cabinet (I alphabetized the spices!), junk drawers, multiple kitchen cabinets, and our linen closet…and I’m still 2 months out from my due date. I wish I had this motivation all of the time!

Looking forward to: Finishing McBaby’s nursery!  We are super close to having everything done and I’m completely in love with the room so far. I can’t wait to post pictures of the finished product!  Also can’t wait for my shower in just a few short weeks, and my 36 week ultrasound in 1 month!

Here’s a sneak peak of his bedding from grandma Phyllis, and new little mobile from his great grandma, both of which I just LOVE. (I still need to wash the bedding, so don’t judge me for how sloppy it all looks).  :)

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That’s it for week 32!  As always, thanks for reading, and have a great weekend! 

Click here to see my other posts about McBaby!

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Mmmust Try Recipes: Cookie Edition!

Today, I’m going to change your life….

WITH COOKIES!!!!!  :)  

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I love to bake, but I rarely do it because the temptation of having fresh baked goods on hand is simply too dangerous in this house. For that reason, I always wait until a special event to bake; that way I can lick the bowl, sample the goods, and then GET IT OUT OF HERE!

Brad and I hosted a Super Bowl party a few weeks ago, so it was the perfect time to fulfill my need to bake and satisfy my constant craving for baked goods! I searched Pinterest until I found the perfect cookie recipe, and then I struck gold.  Behold….

Cookies and Cream Cookies

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These cookies are made with Cookies & Cream pudding mix, white chocolate chips, and crushed up Oreos. Yes, Oreo cookies within the cookies.  How can you go wrong?! (You can’t…you really can’t!)

Click here for the recipe!

The Results:

I’ve never made cookies that have been gobbled up that fast. One minute, there was a full plate….the next, they were gone!  Someone told me they were the best cookies she’d ever had!  I plan to make more…perhaps as a Valentine’s Day treat (for myself)! :)  These will definitely go into my cookie rotation from now on!

My Notes:  

These cookies were relatively quick to make and the ingredient list wasn’t overly complicated, which is always a plus in my book! I wasn’t able to find the Cookies & Cream pudding that the recipe called for (who knew that existed? Holy yum!), so I just used vanilla pudding and clearly, they were still great.  I used a tablespoon to scoop the dough and then rolled it into a ball, which made about 40 cookies in total. I say “about 40 cookies” because I lost count after shoving a few in my mouth straight out of the oven (#PregnantGirlProblems).  Oh and my advice:  Shove a few in your mouth straight out of the oven. These cookies served warm are TO DIE FOR!

Strawberry Cake Mix Cookies

Always a sucker for an easy dessert option, these cookies are one of my favorites to bring to an event (because honestly, I never leave enough time on the day of the party to bake and get myself ready…it’s a tragic flaw of mine). These cookies are made from cake mix with a few added ingredients, and can really be made with any cake mix! I’ve used strawberry and lemon, and both were delightful!  

The best part…they’re pink…making them a perfect treat to bake for your Valentine!!!!  ;)

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The Results

These tasted like chewy strawberry muffins. I am OBSESSED with these cookies. They are chewy and soft and amazingly delicious. Every time I make them, they are a huge hit!

My Notes

I used white chocolate chips instead of milk or semisweet chocolate, but that is purely preference. They are delicious no matter what you use! Also, I would suggest scooping them into Tablespoon size portions, just like I did with the Cookies and Cream Cookies. Last time, I used more dough for each cookie and wound up with like 15 GIANT cookies, which wasn’t ideal. The dough will be very thick, but will spread out as they bake…don’t worry, that’s normal!  :)

Click here for the recipe!

Hope everyone enjoys the cookies!  Have a great rest of your week, and happy Valentine’s Day to all my Valentine’s out there!  :)

See my other Mmmust Try Recipes here!

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McSurvey - 28 Weeks!

Happy Wednesday from Antarctica! Oh just kidding, I’m in Ohio, where it is currently 1 degree outside, but is supposed to be 40 and raining in 2 days. Sigh. However, I really can’t complain…last week, Brad and I spent the week in Mexico, celebrating our friends’ wedding (congrats to Seth and Valerie!) and it was wonderful!  It was so nice getting away for one final trip before we become parents (a very surreal thought). The next time we’re at the beach, we’ll be hauling beach umbrellas, applying sunscreen to soft baby skin, and building sand castles…I can’t wait! :)

I am 28 weeks pregnant this week and all is going well. Baby Boy (and therefore my belly) is growing FAST, and I’m feeling more and more pregnant with every day that passes. But to be honest, I love every minute of it. :)

How far along? 28 weeks…helloooo 3rd trimester!

Total weight gain/loss: About 12 lbs…I suspect that all 4 of those pounds gained are a direct result of the number of desserts I ate in Mexico last week. ;)

This made me laugh:

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Maternity clothes? Yep, I’m there. I was shocked when I tried on what I thought were my “baggy” summer clothes to take with me on our trip, and discovered that very few fit my bump. :)

Stretch marks? So far, so good!

Sleep:  Sleep is getting harder, thanks to the bathroom trips and discomfort from not being able to sleep on my back or stomach. But when I do sleep, I pass out!

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Top moment(s) of the week:  Our spontaneous maternity photo session in Mexico. To be honest, I wasn’t completely sold on professional maternity photos; I didn’t want anything too cheesy, plus I’m not big on posed professional pictures (they’re too much pressure and I wind up looking uncomfortable).

But we decided to do a short session in Mexico with a photographer at the resort, because it’s not every day that you have the beautiful Mexico beaches as a backdrop (plus, if we hated them, we didn’t have to buy them)! We were really happy with how they turned out, and I’m glad we have a few pictures to document this special chapter of our lives.  See below for a few of the pictures we took!

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Worst moment of the week: I have a kink in my back that is really making my life difficult. Bending forward is incredibly painful…I’d say that’s responsible for the only bad moments of the week. (And remember my constant aroma of cocoa butter? That has now been replaced with the distinct scent of Icy Hot! Sexy!)

What I’m missing? I once took for granted being able to hop out of bed or jump off the couch with ease. Now when I try to get out of bed, I’m like one of those beetles that has flipped on his back and can’t get up. My arms and legs flail, and I rock back and forth until I can get enough leverage to make it to my feet. So what do I miss? I miss being able to BEND AT THE WAIST! :)

Movement: Getting harder and stronger every day. He kicked his daddy’s hand really hard the other day. It was cute the way Brad jumped! :)

Food cravings: I’m obsessed with Quaker Oats Fruit & Cream oatmeal. I eat a bowl every morning and I’ve already plowed through one box. And  baked goods…I can’t get enough. This sweet tooth is killing me!

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Anything making you queasy or sick:  Nothing really. I still avoid seafood when I can.

Showing yet:  Oh yeah…as you can clearly see in my pictures above!

Belly button in or out:  In, but it’s getting very shallow these days.

Who knew that babies dream in the womb?! I read that in my Week 28 update from What to Expect and it made me smile. What do you think he’s dreaming about in there? Cookies? Oh wait…that’s just mommy. ;)

Looking forward to: Finishing the nursery, my shower next month…so many things….and warmer temperatures! ;)

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Mmmust Try Recipes: Low Carb Edition

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I love to cook. But to be honest, I AM L-A-Z-Y in the kitchen. So I focus on finding recipes that are both delicious and easy, and don’t require me to buy a bunch of weird ingredients at the grocery store. Today, I thought I’d share some of my favorites from my “Recipes I’ve Tried" board on Pinterest, because it’s getting to be that time of winter when motivation is as low as the Ohio temperatures, and we’re all feeling a little weak and depressed from lack of Vitamin D. 

I plan to make this a regular feature of my blog, because if I do the research, why shouldn’t you all benefit from it? I will categorize my recipes because…well frankly, I think I’m nesting, and organization makes me feel all warm and fuzzy these days. ;)

This week’s recipes will be of the low-carb variety. And just to clarify: when I say “low carb,” I mean recipes that avoid simple carbs. We try to avoid breads, pastas, rice and potatoes, and sub in lots of veggies when we can.It’s not a year around kind of thing, but it’s something we like to do, especially after the holidays to clean up our diets after we I eat an entire box of glazed donuts in a 3 day period. ;)

So, without further ado…here are some of my favorite “lower-carb” (or “healthy choice”) recipes…

Melt in Your Mouth Chicken Breast

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Made right, chicken can be oh-so-good. Made wrong and it can be bland, dry, and oh-so-wrong. This chicken is amazing. Brad gave it RAVE reviews! And the best part is…it’s EASY and doesn’t require dipping in eggs/flour/breadcrumbs, etc. 

My notes:  Only use 1/2 the mayo…you don’t need a full cup! You can also use light mayo and it’s just as delicious!

Full recipe here…

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

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These peppers are a staple in our household! They meet all of my criteria: Simple and delicious!  I love that the main ingredients are deli roast beef and provolone cheese, which are easy to find and prepare. And they give you a taste of your favorite sandwich…but they’re low carb!

My notes:  I usually only use 1 to 1.5 pieces of cheese. 

Full recipe here…

P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps

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P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps are what dreams are made of. So when I found this copy cat recipe from Iowa Girl Eats, I couldn’t resist. These are amazing. The ingredient list may seem a little long, but most of the things I already have in my pantry. If you do need to go out and buy some of the items (soy sauce, sesame oil, etc.), I can promise you that you’ll certainly put them to use in future recipes, so it may not be a bad investment.

My notes: I use 1/8 tsp of powdered ginger in place of the fresh ginger.

Full recipe here…

Apple Cider Sage Pork Chops

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I’m terrible at pork chops. I don’t know what I do wrong, but they always turn out too dry or chewy. But I took a chance on these little gems, and they were worth it! I had leftover cider and a supply of honey crisp apples on hand, so I thought I’d give them a try. The sweet cooked apples and buttery sauce totally made the dish. Brad loved them as well, so they also get the “Husband Approved” stamp!

My notes:  Make your own version of the Land O’ Lakes Garlic Butter if you don’t want to buy it. I didn’t even use the sage, so you can cross that of the list as well. Finally, you may want to use a smaller pan or keep the heat low. My sauce got a little *too* brown.

Full recipe here…

Thanks for reading, friends! :) Happy (and healthy) cooking!

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McSurvey (24 Weeks)!

Happy New Year (2 days late)! Can you believe it’s 2014? I can’t! The last decade has passed so quickly!  On NYE, it dawned on me that 2014 is the year that I will become a MOM…Holy crap!

I got a little behind with my surveys over the crazy month of December, so without further ado, here’s what’s been happening with me and McBaby over the last few weeks:

How far along? 24 weeks!!

Total weight gain/loss: About 8 lbs, according to my doctor visit last week. In my book, that’s a Christmas miracle, considering the amount of crap I ate over the holidays! 

Maternity clothes? Yes! I have discovered the belly band, and it’s WONDERFUL. Why don’t people wear belly bands all of the time? If you don’t know what a belly band is, it’s a band of stretchy fabric (that kind of looks like a tube top) that you wear around the top of your pants. The belly band essentially holds your pants up so that you can wear them unbuttoned without them falling down. Did you guys hear me? It allows you to walk around with your pants unbuttoned! So allow me to pose my question again:  Why don’t people wear belly bands ALL OF THE TIME?!  :)

Stretch marks? None so far…yay Palmer’s cocoa butter! This is another product I think I may continue to use post pregnancy. I love how hydrating it is! My usually super dry winter skin is as smooth as a baby’s bottom right now. :)

Sleep:  My favorite bro-in-law got me a Snoogle (pregnancy pillow) for Christmas and it has changed my life. I now sleep with it every night, and it spoons me all night long. It’s the perfect sleeping partner. Sorry, husband! :)

Top moment of the week:  Celebrating McBaby’s 1st (kinda) Christmas with our family. He got so many wonderful presents…he’s so loved already. :) 

Below is just a few examples of all of his new gifts. This doesn’t even include all of the clothes my mom and other friends and family have bought him over the past 5 months.  Thanks to his two grandmothers, the kid already has a full wardrobe! ;) Thank you all so much for being so sweet to our baby boy!

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What I’m missing? I miss my stamina. I get tired so much faster; my back aches, my legs and feet hurt…it’s something else. Although the plus side of this is that Brad has been doing laundry, cooking dinner, and taking good care of me, and I admit, it’s nice to be spoiled. :)

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Movement: Yes, little man moves constantly. Sometimes I feel like he kicks at the perfect times (like when we’re talking about him), just to remind us he’s listening. ;)

Food cravings: Nothing too specific lately…just sugar. I think I ate nearly an entire box of Krispy Kreme glazed donuts over Christmas. Ugh.

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Anything making you queasy or sick:  Nothing really…some types of seafood (shrimp, crab)…mostly the smell.

Showing yet:  Yes! I have quite the bump! A grocery store employee actually referenced my pregnancy yesterday, and it was the 1st time I’ve had a stranger actually comment on it. I have arrived, I guess.  ;)

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P.S. The only thing more fun than being pregnant is being pregnant with your BFF. :) Meet Alex, who is due 4 weeks before me and is also having a baby boy! We have already decided that they will be besties, of course. :)

Happy or Moody most of the time:  Happy! :)

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Who knew While I was well aware that a lot of things stretch and grow when growing a human, I never considered how much stretching stomach muscles actually hurt. Some days, my stomach muscles feel like I’ve been doing thousands of sit-ups (a feeling that I am NOT familiar with, believe me)! :)

Looking forward to: Going to Mexico in a few weeks for Seth & Valerie’s wedding! We are ready to fiesta (and siesta) in the warm sun for a week! Plus, I bought 2 really cute maternity dresses that I’m excited to wear! ;)

This will be me… :)

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