To the bride…

Yesterday was my best friend’s wedding day! It was absolutely beautiful and perfect and I was beyond honored to stand beside her as her matron of honor, just as she did for me on my own wedding day. I spent so much time thinking of what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it in my speech (in front of 200 people… yikes!). These things are so hard, but so important, to write. I wanted to include some pictures of us over the years, so I told her they would be up on the blog for her to look at when she returned from her honeymoon. So here it is! I removed last names for privacy, but otherwise it is unchanged.

Tay 9Hello everyone! My name is Stephanie and I am so honored and lucky to be able to be standing next to the new Mrs. N. today as her matron of honor. I want to start by thanking Taylor and Will’s families for having us all here tonight to celebrate an amazing day.

Tay 6For those who don’t know, Taylor and I have been friends since we were about 12. We first met in 6th grade math class when she showed me how to measure the circumference of an orange. Math is still not my strong suit, but I know I can always rely on Taylor to help me measure my fruits if ever the need should arise again. Thank you for that, Taylor.

Tay 2Taylor has continued to teach me a lot of things over the years. She has taught me how to be a true friend, most importantly. She has also taught me the meaning of sisterhood, and how true it is when they say that friends are the family you choose for yourself. I’m honestly not sure words could ever truly convey what Taylor means to me and how special of a person she is.

Tay 1Anyone who is lucky enough to know Taylor already knows that she is truly one of the kindest, most thoughtful, caring, and compassionate people in the world. She is one of a kind, and I am blessed to be able to call her my best friend, my sister, my family, and Godmother to my first born, Caleb. Our families are each other’s families, and I am so happy to say that Taylor truly is my soul sister. We were meant to be friends and then we became family.

Tay 7So since you all already know how amazing and kind of a person Taylor is, I’d also like to tell you a little bit about what it was like growing up with her and tell you some of the more interesting things about her. What some of you may not know is that we were pretty weird growing up.

Tay 5We were never into the whole party and drinking scene and we didn’t really go out. Instead, we spent the majority of our time together meticulously planning, executing, and editing various music videos and home movies. This was in the days before computer editing, so we would spend all day and all night editing videos on VHS, which back then meant multiple takes, rewinding, taping over the bad parts and so on. We put together elaborate costumes, created sets, and even wrote our own song lyrics when we had a band that we called Blink 182 ½ with Katie. Clever, I know. Sometimes I wonder if we ever missed out by not doing the typical “teen” things… and then I watch one of our videos again and I’m reminded that the only people who missed out were the ones who weren’t starring in our films. One of our feature films actually starred Mr. G. and was titled “When a Davey Calls.” Yeah, that one was obviously not a rip-off of “When a Stranger Calls.” Whatever. Ours was better. Davey… you were great. Honestly, our childhoods and teenage years were the best and I wouldn’t do a thing differently.

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Dress up with my cousins!

Not only did we have fun making videos, we had a lot of fun tormenting Mary and David, affectionately known as Mama G. and Mr. G. We’re sorry, you guys… but only a little. Some of my fondest memories include dropping water balloons onto Mama. G.’s head from a balcony in Michigan, taping down the handle on the sink nozzle so when she turned the faucet on she’d get drenched, and running around the coffee table shouting and chanting while Mr. G. watched TV. Frankly, I’m surprised we’re still alive. Thank you for not killing us. Love you guys!

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Going on vacation with Tay’s family and our friend Chris!

So now let’s fast forward a few years. When Taylor first met Will while attending college, I was anxious to meet him. I often wondered if anyone would really “get” us and I distinctly remember having a conversation with our friend Chris after our first meeting. I remember us agreeing that we really, really liked him and that he DID seem to get us and that he really seemed to fit in. He laughed at our videos instead of just thinking they were completely bizarre, which let’s face it… they are. But still. He laughed with us, instead of at us. Right, Will? So Will, I want you to know that Chris and I did indeed discuss you behind your back six years ago, but you totally got our seal of approval and all of us love you, most especially because you love Taylor. Thank you for that. I love that you love my best friend so much.

Tay 4Taylor, I know I’ve told you so many times over the years how much you mean to me, through various yearbook notes and letters after huge milestones in our lives. All of those words and messages still hold true today, but now they mean more than ever. Our friendship has endured the test of time at this point. You’ve been my sister for more than half my life now and we’ve been through it all together. You’ve gone diaper shopping with me on a Friday night not because you’re particularly interested in diapers, but because you love me and your godson. You’ve encouraged and supported me through all of our crazy endeavors. I don’t know how in the world I ever got so lucky to have such an amazing person as my best friend, but I did and I am always counting my lucky stars for you. You are classy. You are selfless. You are thoughtful, kind, and have the biggest heart of anyone I know. I wouldn’t be me without you.

With Katie!

With Katie, our other BFF! <3

When we were younger, we always said that one day we would be little old ladies together playing bingo in the nursing home. You’ll probably still be the only one who ever wins, but maybe you’ll share? Maybe? Anyway, husbands weren’t in the picture at the time, but I’m now glad to say that Will and Jerry will be there too, and they’ll be laughing at our aggressive Bingo game and our competitive spirit that only really ever comes out when it’s game time. We take our games seriously as some of you may know.

Tay 14In closing, I want to say this: Taylor, you are beautiful inside and out, and I am so happy that you and Will found each other. He is one heck of a guy! Today will forever be one of the happiest and best days of your lives. On days that are hard, always look back on this day and this moment, and remember the love you feel for each other right now. Remember all the love that is surrounding you today with your family and friends. Today is the first page in a brand new book for you, and as C.S. Lewis wrote “Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story no one on Earth has ever read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

With Chris!

With Chris!

I hope that each chapter of your new lives together just keeps getting better and better. Will, as an unofficial member of Taylor’s family, I’d like to say welcome to the family. I love you guys! Let’s toast to the bride and groom!

Taylor giving her speech on my wedding day.

Taylor giving her speech on my wedding day.

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Caleb and the girls.

Caleb's baptism.

Caleb’s baptism.

Tay Tay's wedding yesterday. My friend, my sister. <3

Tay Tay’s wedding yesterday. My friend, my sister. <3

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Five on Friday (12)

Hello and happy Friday! I’ve been a bit absent this week because…

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ONE. My best friend is getting married tomorrow! It’s been an awesome and crazy week so far, and I’m SO looking forward to standing next to Taylor tomorrow as her matron of honor. The rehearsal dinner was last night (picture above of myself, Katie, and Taylor at the rehearsal… my best friends!), and tonight us girls are all staying together in a hotel. I’m so thrilled for Taylor and Will. I love them so much! Also, please send good thoughts my way tomorrow night as I give my speech and SEND TISSUES!

TWO. Since my last weight update, I’ve lost another pound. The last two weeks have been a bit rough, but honestly? A loss is a loss, and I’m happy to be making progress no matter how slow. There are days when I’m eating ice cream and being “bad,” and the thoughts running through my head are: “I’m living life! This is what life’s all about! Life is too short not to enjoy it!” And then on the good days, I’m thinking: “this is fine! I can do this! The sacrifices are worth it! I want to be healthy and happy!” My brain? It’s crazy. I’m all over the place. As long as the scale is moving down though, I’m happy.

THREE. Jerry and I booked an overnight stay at an all-inclusive couples only resort in the Poconos for our second wedding anniversary in October! We haven’t gotten away since our honeymoon, so even though it’s only a night, I’m really, really excited. Our suite has its own heart-shaped jacuzzi, small pool, and dry sauna… all IN our room! AHHHH!  It’s about a four hour drive and will be our first ever roadtrip together. Caleb will be staying the night with his grandma and I’m sure will gets lots of love and kisses from the grandparents and probably won’t even miss us.

My baby and Taylor!

My baby and Taylor!

FOUR. Let’s talk books for a second. I am about 30 pages away from the end of Me Before You finally. It’s taking me about a month or so to finish a book right now. I know… it’s very sad. But as I watch Caleb jump up in his bouncy seat right this very second, I realize that I will get back to reading more when the time is right. For now, I’m trying to read the best books possible since I’m not getting through as many as I used to right now. If you have any epic book suggestions, please feel free to leave them below. I also haven’t bought books in awhile because diapers and formula! BUT! I joined an awesome blogger book swap where each person gets matched up with another blogger and we send and receive bookish packages. I’m excited to put my package together and also to receive one! I believe we will be doing a few rounds a year, so this is a fun way to get my book fix!

FIVE. Jerry and I have been working on remodeling our bathroom for ohhhh… about a year? We took a big step in the remodeling process by finally replacing our ugly vanity, brown sink, and light fixture. Thank you to my very handy Florida grandpa for the assistance! We love it.

New vanity and faucet. Next up will be repainting the vanity hardware black to match the faucet.

New vanity and faucet. Next up will be repainting the vanity hardware black to match the faucet.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! You’ll probs catch me dancing my butt off tomorrow night on the dance floor and trying not to cry during the big speech. It’ll be a night of many emotions!

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Caleb: Six Months

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Today is my little guy’s half birthday… six months old! That’s crazy to me.

I’m not quite sure on his exact size since his six month appointment isn’t until August, but I’m guessing he weighs somewhere around 21-23 pounds. He’s in size four diapers and wearing 12 month clothing.

He’s growing his hair back, so that’s exciting! He had a ton of hair at birth, but lost a good amount of it after a bout of cradle cap. I’m glad to say, he’s getting a nice, full head of hair again.

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He is an eating champion! He currently gets baby food once a day and has tried all of the Gerber stage one foods so far. He’s liked everything except for peas, which the doctor warned us about ahead of time about, saying that babies don’t like peas for some reason, and he was right! He has enjoyed all the other fruits and veggies though (but hated the Beech Nut Chicken. We gave it to the dog). His favorite is probably squash. He also loves bananas, but we have to combat it with prunes the next day. He’s been getting baby rice or oatmeal too with his food. He leans forward toward the spoon with his mouth open when he’s being fed and gets excited when the high chair comes out.

This past month, he finally met his Florida great-grandparents and celebrated his first Fourth of July! These were both really exciting for us. I also spent my first night away from him for my best friend’s bachelorette party. I had a fun time, Jerry did fine on his own, and all was well. I missed him, of course, but everything went smoothly.

4 generations

Four generations.

We’ve been working on sitting up independently. Usually when I let go, he topples over after a few seconds. He did, however, sit up for a minute or two in the grass at my mom’s house yesterday! It sucks that I was at work and missed it, but I’m hoping it means our practice is paying off. I’m going to see if he sits up again today. We’ve also been putting him in his walker (he manages to move across the room very slowly) and his Baby Einstein seat. His toes touch the floor so we have a pillow under there for now, until his feet touch all the way. He enjoys it for a little while (15 minutes or so) and looks at the toys on the side, then he gets sick of it and cries. He also has a teether with two pieces of cloth at the end. When I rub them on his cheek, he closes his eyes, wiggles his face, and smiles so big. It’s the funniest (and cutest) thing in the world. I think he’s going to be ticklish like his mama.

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Hangin’ in the Baby Einstein.

There are still no teeth yet, despite all the warning signs like excessive drooling and everything going into the mouth. I keep checking his mouth though! He’s also still not really rolling. He goes from his back to side, but that’s about it. He hates when I put him on his tummy. I’m starting to think he may be one of those kids who skip crawling and go straight to walking.

He continues to love his binky, walks outside, when I sing to him, and dogs… he thinks they are hilarious, especially Dakota.

I can hardly believe it’s been half a YEAR since he was born. I am continually amazed by my baby and how fast it’s all going. Here’s to the next half a year!

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Five on Friday (11)

Two posts in one week? Say what?! I’m very excited that I got my act together enough this week to post twice. Woo! I’ve been beyond exhausted lately (comes with the motherhood territory) which means less energy for blogging and reading. That said, I am so glad the weekend is almost here! I have a half day today too, so my Friday should be a very happy one. Hopefully I’ll be able to see my grandparents who are in town from Florida. We love having them here! Happy Friday to everyone!

ONE. My best friend Taylor, who is also Caleb’s Godmother, is getting married in two weeks and her bachelorette party is this weekend… woohoo! Us girls are going to Painting With a Twist, followed by dinner, then spending the night in a hotel. It’s going to be a ton of fun and I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be my first night away from Caleb though, so it’s bittersweet. I think it will be good to have a night out, but I will definitely miss my boy.

Taylor giving the Maid of Honor speech at my wedding. It was epic. Can't believe we'll be switching roles in just two weeks!

Taylor giving the Maid of Honor speech at my wedding. It was epic. Can’t believe we’ll be switching roles in just two weeks!

TWO. I’ve never watched Big Brother before but decided to start this year and am quickly becoming addicted. I thought all the games and competitions were really silly and just downright stupid at first, but now I’m inexplicably hooked. I think Jason is pretty funny and I also really like John even though all he does is YELL INSTEAD OF TALK. He’s a quirky but likeable guy! Anyone else watching?

THREE. My first time at Painting With a Twist will be this weekend for the bachelorette party, but I’ll also be going back soon because… I won a contest! I hardly ever win anything so I’m pretty excited! They had a “post Independence Day” picture contest where you could post a photo from your celebration on their page and whoever got the most “likes” would win a gift certificate. I posted a photo of Caleb and his baby cousin Lucas in their “My First Fourth” onesies, and my sister-in-law and I racked up a ton of votes. The certificate is enough to cover admission for two people, so we’ll be going together. Can’t wait! Has anyone else ever done Painting With a Twist before? I am NOT artistic, but everyone’s paintings always come out so good!

Winning!

Winning!

FOUR. Some exciting news for me that I’ve been dying to share is that I’m writing for Desitin this year! I was so thrilled when they reached out to me after reading some of my posts on motherhood. It’s been really fun working with them. My first piece went up earlier this week so let me know what you think! I’ll have two more posts up later this year so keep an eye out for those. Signing this writing contract and seeing my name on their site has been really, really amazing!

FIVE. Caleb is going to be six months old next week. Half a YEAR! How?! I’m just going to go and stare at my baby now, watch him while he sleeps… you know, be a creep… try not to cry.

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Happy weekend, everyone!

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Back to “Onederland”

scale resized199.2 pounds might not seem like a weight to be excited about. In fact, I’m sure many women would probably hate to weigh 199.2 pounds.

I get it. I almost hate it myself, considering I got down to 152 pounds before my pregnancy, after a 118 pound weight loss.

Except, I can’t really hate it considering where I’m coming from.

At the start of my journey in January 2012, I found myself at my heaviest weight ever: 270 pounds. And at the end of my pregnancy, I found myself back in the 200s and dangerously close again to where I started: 232 pounds.

So consider that I used to weigh 270 pounds. Also consider that I used to weigh 232 pounds at the end of my pregnancy. Both of these considered? Maybe 199.2 isn’t so bad… for now at least, since I don’t intend to stay here either.

L: 9 weeks pregnant (approximately 162 pounds). R: 40 weeks pregnancy (232 pounds).

L: 9 weeks pregnant (approximately 162 pounds). R: 40 weeks pregnant (232 pounds).

Those of us in the formerly-obese weight loss community have a big destination in mind. It’s called “Onederland,” and as the name implies, it means getting your weight into the hundreds. When I weighed 152 pounds, I never thought I would be back in the 200s again, but one too many pregnancy cravings and a lack of activity found me back there and I wasn’t happy about it. I’ve been eagerly anticipating arriving back in Onederland, and I finally landed back there again today with my weekly weigh-in. It’s the first time I’ve been back since probably the mid-point of my pregnancy or so, and man does it feel good to be back!

Today at 199.2 pounds, almost 6 months post-partum.

Today at 199.2 pounds, almost 6 months post-partum.

Honestly, if I thought weight loss was hard the first time around, it’s got NOTHING compared to weight loss post-pregnancy. Before, weight loss was my top priority and I worked out 5-6 days a week for an hour or more. I lost anywhere from 1-4 pounds a WEEK! Now, I have almost no time or energy to work out, and exercise has taken a back seat to caring for my son. But I also know that taking care of myself is one of the greatest things I can do for him. I want to lead an active and healthy lifestyle so I can be a good role model for him and so I can comfortably play and chase him around. I want to be healthy and fit so I can live a long life and watch him grow. I need to make my health and wellness a priority not only for me, but for my son too, so my excuses seriously need to go out the door.

Yes, weight loss is extremely difficult now, and I typically only lose around 2 pounds a month these days. And yes, it’s hard to get those work outs in, but I’ve re-committed to doing this so I can be the best version of me again. Yes, it IS about looking good and feeling good, but it’s also about being the best and healthiest version of me, and the best and healthiest mom I can be too. For those reasons, I am pushing myself to rediscover my passion for running and fitness. While I once was in half-marathon training mode and running several days a week, miles and miles at a time, I am now aiming for two brief run/walks a week. I’ve got to retrain my legs and lungs responsibly so I don’t injure myself by pushing too hard to start.

In time, I WILL be back at that half-marathon fitness level. I WILL be back in the 150s again, too. I have no doubt in my mind about it. Right now though, I’d say I’m in the in-between. I’m DEFINITELY not 270 pounds again, but I’m also not 152. My old clothes don’t fit so I’ve had to purchase a small temporary wardrobe. I also have a few shirts that ALMOST fit, marked “Destination: 190,” which I’ll try on again when I reach 190. Instead of always looking at the bigger picture of 150, I like to look at the small pictures and work towards those little goals one at time. The goal until today was getting out of the 200s again. The next goal is 190.

So… that’s where I’m at right now. I’m back in Onederland, a much coveted destination. I’ve had to fight extremely hard for every single pound and ounce lost this time around. Things are slow but things are also good. I have a hell of a long way to go still to get back to where I was with both my weight and fitness levels… but I AM going, and I don’t intend on stopping. And for as far as I have to go still, I’ve come a long way too. I’ll choose to look at what I’ve lost instead of what I have left to lose.

From where I’m standing, it’s looking okay. It’s looking hopeful, even.

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The things that matter

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As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to learn more and more about what matters most in life. There are those huge moments and memories that I will forever look back on and smile about, but there are also the quieter, seemingly insignificant moments too that are just as important and special. Those big moments – wedding, honeymoon, finishing a half-marathon – are moments I knew with certainty, while they were happening, that I would always cherish and remember. But it’s those little moments, the ones you don’t realize are important until they’ve passed, that are just as significant. These moments also make up a life.

This past weekend, the three day holiday weekend, was one big “moment” for me. I’ve always been an anxious introvert, maybe even a recluse at times, but I’ve been making an effort lately, partly for Caleb’s sake, to spend more time with extended family.

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My grandmother has lived in Florida for much of my life. It was during the wedding and honeymoon planning process that our relationship really started to grow more than ever and we became very close, despite the thousands of miles between us. I mean, when has distance ever stopped me, right? We talk on Facebook nearly every day, and she has always been one of my biggest supporters and one of Caleb’s biggest fans. So, for the past five months since he was born, I’ve been eagerly anticipating their meeting, which I knew was coming this summer. It might not have gone quite as planned since Caleb was a bit crabby over the weekend, but “according to plan” and “perfect” aren’t always one and the same. Ultimately, Caleb will grow up getting to know his great-grandparents, a fact that makes him very lucky and fortunate, and for which I am very grateful.

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The whole weekend was spent with family – a regular occurrence whenever my grandparents are in town – and I couldn’t be more grateful that I get to call them all mine… my family, our family, Caleb’s family.

There were so many special little moments that occurred: Caleb snoozing away on his great-grandma, smiling at his great-grandpa, posing with his cousin in their matching holiday shirts, riding his first carousel at his cousin’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.

I took a lot of pictures so I’d always remember… but something tells me I’d never forget.

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Mom guilt

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Below is a list of the things I feel guilty about as a mom:

1. EVERYTHING!

Seriously, who knew?! There were a lot of things I was expecting and anticipating about becoming a mom, and the huge amount of guilt, worry, and doubt were not chief amongst them.

Now I know better.

I’ve been racked with guilt since the day he was born about a variety of things. The one that’s gotten me most as of late is being a working mom.

I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: I know that working motherhood is what’s best for me, Caleb, and my family. I know I need to do it so that I can provide for my family. For the most part, I even LIKE doing it. I don’t think I’m one of those moms who is meant to stay at home – I think I’d get a little stir crazy, honestly.

All that said, I still feel guilty about it sometimes.

On my average work day, I get to spend about four hours with Caleb: an hour in the morning before work, and three hours in the evening after work between when I get home and when he goes to bed. On these days, he spends just as much – if not more – time with Jerry and my mom than he does with me. He’s with Jerry in the mornings, then my mom in the afternoons. I’m really glad that he’s with people who love him and that I know he’s always in good hands.

But that doesn’t alleviate the mama guilt.

The guilt of whether I see him enough, of whether our short time together is quality time, of whether he’ll know that I’m his mom when I only see him four hours a day some days.

I feel guilty that maybe I’ll miss his first steps, his first time clapping, his first time dancing. I feel guilty when I get frustrated over his cries, as if I should be 100% my best all the time when I’m with him. I feel guilty that he won’t know how much I love him, and that he’ll think work is more important to me than he is.

When I am with him, I feel guilty when I’m doing something else like cleaning, blogging, watching TV. I know that I need to still be me and maintain my own identity, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilty about it sometimes.

I guess as a mother, you tend to feel guilty because no matter what you do, you feel like it’s never going to be good enough for your child. You want the absolute best for them, and you feel not good enough. You wonder how YOU could possibly be the best when you can hardly keep your house clean on a good day. I want everything in the world for this boy, and I guess that’s where the guilt comes in: I wonder how I could possibly do enough, be enough, give enough to this child who I love more than anything. No matter how good you are, it could never feel sufficient enough when it comes to your child who deserves the world and then some.

I know that ultimately, I’m doing exactly what I need to do for my child. Some days, it’s just harder than others to accept.

At the end of every single day though, I kiss his little cheek and tell him I love him. At the end of the day, that’s all we have and all that really matters.

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Caleb: Five Months!

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Caleb is five months old today!

He is around 19-20 pounds and a bit taller than 26 inches. His bottles are now six ounces and he goes anywhere from 2 hours to 3.5 hours in between bottles. He still fits into size 3 diapers, but I JUST put him into a size 4 about an hour ago. They’re a bit big still, but we used the last of his size 3 diapers today and I didn’t want to buy another package since he’ll likely be outgrowing them any day now. He still wears 9 month clothing, but has also been wearing 12 months comfortably. The 9 month stuff is getting to be snug, so he’ll mostly likely be wearing all 12 month clothing very soon.

He also started eating baby food this month! So far, he has eaten green beans and carrots. For the most part, he seems to like it, and he gets it once a day. Next up will be squash, then we’ll be moving onto fruits. His doctor advised we only introduce a new food every 3-4 days, and that we start with vegetables. He also sat in his high chair for the first time a week or so ago and it was hilarious.

caleb green beans resizedOn May 24th, we saw him roll for the first time on his video monitor while he was in his crib. He went from back to side, then got stuck on his arms. This is what he continues to do and hasn’t rolled from stomach to front yet. His doctor wasn’t concerned about that though because he said it’s actually harder to roll from the back which he’s doing, plus he already has good neck and head control.

He is very interested in his hands and feet! He’ll hold toys and inspect them very closely if I hand them to him, but he quickly drops them and becomes uninterested. We put him into his Baby Einstein exersaucer and his baby walker almost every day, but he’ll only tolerate them for a few minutes at a time. He still much prefers being held. Hopefully, he’ll become more interested in playing in the coming weeks.

He continues to do pretty well in his crib and is going to bed between 7:30 and 8:30 most nights. He’s still getting up once a night though, a habit which he started shortly after transitioning to his crib. Prior to the crib, he would sleep 12 hours STRAIGHT, and man do I miss it. It’s for the best though, since he really needs to be in his crib. He wakes up any time between 3:30 and 6:30. I usually give him his binky and he goes back to sleep, and if he doesn’t, I bring him into his Rock and Play in my room where he’ll go back to sleep.

Recently, he’s started to pay attention when I read to him, which I’m loving. I try to read him a board book every day or two. He also loves looking at the TV, and will turn his head while I’m feeding him to watch it. Hopefully this isn’t a bad thing. I think he just likes the light and colors.

He still loves going outside and riding in his stroller, and he laughs and smiles a lot which I am crazy about. He loves when I sing to him, especially his current favorite song, “Budapest.”

I love Caleb at five months. I seriously think he keeps getting cuter and cuter and that his personality is really starting to shine through!

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Five on Friday (10)

baking

ONE. I’m really not all that skilled in the kitchen… yet. Combine that fact with my wicked sweet tooth and you have me, declaring to Jerry, that I’m going to learn to bake AND that I’m going to bake one new thing every weekend. Yikes! I started last weekend with these delicious from-scratch brownie cupcakes (my first EVER that weren’t from a box). They remind me a bit of Texas sheet cake and came out SO good and now I’m a little bit over-confident. Yeah, just ask Jerry… I’ve been gloating about it all week. Let’s hope that the cinnamon dessert Jerry picked out for me to bake on Sunday for Father’s Day comes out just as good! If you have any good “beginner’s” recipes, please send them my way! I even went and bought some cooling racks and cupcake pans the other day. I need supplies, am I right?!

TWO. My book club is meeting next week and our book for the month is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. It was actually my pick, but I have to confess… my book club is BAD about reading our books. We made attempts the first few months, but now a lot of us don’t finish the books or even bother to start. We just chat, gossip, and eat usually. I have zero problems with this, but I really, really want to read this one, and I keep promising I’m going to be better about book club! Who has read this one? Word on the street is… buy tissues!

THREE. Sunday is Jerry’s first Father’s Day so I’m hoping to make it special! I’ll be baking, as mentioned above, and he decided on pizza for dinner. I also picked him out some nice gifts that I’m excited to give him. Do you have any plans for Father’s Day?

FOUR. Caleb is going to be five months old on Monday (!!!), and is now eating solids and sitting in a high chair! So far, he’s tried green beans and carrots (the Gerber baby food jars) and is doing well. I’m trying him on something new every 3-4 days, and starting with veggies, both per his doctor’s recommendation. Where is the time going?

FIVE. Within the first couple months of Caleb’s life, I had printed probably over a thousand photos of Caleb and most of them are still sitting around unsorted in their Shutterfly packages. Eventually, I’ll get them sorted and into albums, but I didn’t want to keep adding to the chaos. I’ve decided that from now on, I’ll be making and ordering the hardcover photo books from Shutterfly every few months instead of ordering thousands of individual prints. My first one arrived and I love it! It took me a couple of weeks to make and contains all of my Caleb photos from May. I made it scrapbook style and included quotes, songs, and milestones about Caleb’s developments. They’re kind of costly and time-consuming (but fun!), so I’ll probably make a new one every few months or so. I’m thinking the next one will be June-August.

photo book

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Mini reviews: parenting books

I’ve been reading parenting books since I was only about six weeks pregnant and continue to do so now. Some of the books have been informative while others have just been good for a laugh and to help me feel less alone. I know that parents have very limited time, so here are some mini-reviews of the ones I’ve read so far in order of when I read them. Also, I know I don’t really review a lot of books on here anymore, but I do post short reviews of everything I’m reading on Goodreads, so friend me if you want!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff – This one is often thought of as the classic “pregnancy bible” and I can certainly see why. I was gifted a copy of this book when I was about a month and a half pregnant and  expect resizedstarted reading it immediately. I read it through my whole pregnancy from start to finish, following along with each week. I always looked forward to hitting a new week and reading up about it in the book throughout my pregnancy. I really enjoyed it and felt that it covered pretty much everything you could ever want to know about pregnancy. Not only did I read it from cover to cover (which probably isn’t recommended… information overload!), I often found myself using the index in the back to also look up and read up on certain topics or questions I had at any given time as well. I liked the layout of the book, with each week of pregnancy being covered, and the extensive information included. I often found it comforting and found myself referencing it in some of my scarier moments early on in my pregnancy. While it isn’t perfect, and some of the information can be a bit overwhelming, in your face, scary, or seemingly judgmental, all in all I thought it was a very handy and thorough guide and one that I would recommend highly. 4.5/5

parenting resizeParenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures by Amber Dusick – this is a pretty hilarious illustrated book about Dusick’s adventures in parenting two boys. She shares a lot of really funny stories on a variety of parenting topics, all accompanied by even funnier ilustrations. She’s blunt and straight forward, and never sugarcoats parenting. All in all, I appreciated her honesty in what parenting really entails and found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion. You can see my full review here. 4/5

Full of Life: Mom-to-Mom Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Pregnant by Nancy O’Dell – This book, though nothing spectacular, was at least worth the quick read that it was. It’s a short, concise book full of tips and information about pregnancy and early motherhood. The tips were seemingly random and in no particular order that I could ascertain, though the book is broken down into sections full resizeby trimester. I didn’t find all of the information to be relevant to your typical first time mom-to-be such as myself; the author is a Hollywood woman who hired a nurse to come to her house and help her with her baby, which I could never afford to do nor would I really choose to. However, a lot of the information was in fact something I could relate to. There were a few tips that I hadn’t considered and found to be useful, though a good deal of it was stuff I already knew. All in all though, I’d say this book was worth the little bit of time that it took to read it because it did have some interesting tips and some cute “mom” moments and would be a good choice for someone early on in their pregnancy. 3/5

Confessions of a Scary Mommy by Jill Smokler – This was a really enjoyable, fun, and quick read. It contains essays on a variety of topics pertaining to parenthood by Jill Smokler, a mother of three young confessions resizechildren. It was a very humorous and honest look at motherhood, although some of it did scare me a bit since I was reading it as a mom-to-be. But I digress. Motherhood isn’t always perfect, and I appreciate Smokler’s approach of looking at motherhood through a humorous lens and taking the good with the bad. This is not a warm and fuzzy book by any means, nor is it inspiring – it is meant for entertainment purposes only, and I did find it highly entertaining. I also really enjoyed all the “mom confessions” at the beginning of each chapter. These were anonymous confessions submitted to Smokler’s website from moms all over. Some were funny, some were sad, but all were very, very honest. I’d highly recommend this one for moms and moms-to-be who are NOT looking for parenting advice, but rather are looking to find the humor in motherhood! 4.5/5naturally resize

Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies) by Jill Smokler – This was a very funny read that was easy to relate to. I think I may have liked the first one, Confessions of a Scary Mommy, just a tad bit better, but I really enjoyed both of them because of their humor and honesty. Highly recommended! I’m hoping for another book from Jill Smokler!  4/5

Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy – I liked this one a lot and found McCarthy’s take on belly resizepregnancy to be humorous, honest, and even crude, but in a very good way! Unlike some celebrity memoirs, I found this one to be incredibly easy to relate to. In fact, I took pictures of several different passages while reading and sent them to my husband because I could relate to them SO much, and he found them to be funny and relatable as well. This is definitely one of my favorite pregnancy books I’ve read and I would highly recommend it if you’re looking for some laughs – and total honesty – in your own pregnancy. I am definitely planning on reading more of her books because I enjoyed the tone and fast pace of this one. 5/5baby resize

Baby Laughs by Jenny McCarthy – This book about the first year of motherhood was a lot of fun, just like her first one, Belly Laughs (which was about pregnancy). It was funny, honest, and down to earth. I think I liked Belly Laughs just a smidge better, but they were both excellent, humorous, and worth the read. I’d definitely like to read Jenny’s other books now, and recommend both of these ones to pregnant women and mothers. 4.5/5

The Sh!t No One Tells You by Dawn Dais – Coming from a brand new mom, this is, HANDS DOWN, the best parenting book I’ve read so far. It is so completely honest, relatable, and no one tells resizefunny. I seriously felt like I could have written much of this book myself because I was nodding my head and thinking “me too!” throughout most of it. My favorite thing about this book is the author’s total honesty and fearless nature in that she touches on subjects that are often left out of parenting books such as baby blues / postpartum depression and a host of other difficulties new parents experience. A lot of things she discusses are things that I was afraid to admit as a new mom, so I really felt better after realizing I wasn’t the only one experiencing these things. This book seriously made me feel so much less alone and so much more normal. If I could recommend only one book to new mothers or expectant mothers, this would be it. For new moms, you will definitely relate and feel less alone, and for expectant moms, you’ll get an honest idea of what things will really be like after your baby arrives! 5/5

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