Things to remember when my son grows up…

Though he isn’t yet here, I already know there are a million and one things I’ll want to remember about my son when he starts to grow older. I need to remember to take it all in and record it all to memory: his silky tufts of newborn hair. His tiny nose, his perfect toes. His little cries in the middle of the night.

Right now though, as I continue into my ninth month of carrying him with me, I want to always remember this: his movements inside of my big, baby-filled belly; feeling him growing, and being struck by tiny punches, kicks, twists and turns. For over nine months, where I have gone, he has gone, and anything I’ve done, he has done with me. And I feel him in there, this perfect person that I have created with my husband and have grown in my body, who likes to make sure I know that he’s in there. With ninja-like moves and baby dance parties for one, he is always reminding me (as if I could ever forget) that he’s with me.

I want to remember laughing manically with his dad as he rests his hand on my belly and waits for the movements to start. I want to remember looking on in awe as the waves and rolls in my belly become visible… our son!

I want to remember these feelings of my child when he grows into a teenager and no longer thinks his parents are the coolest thing in the world. I want to remember, when he is married and loves another more than me, that even as a 30 year old man, he will always be my baby. I want to always be in awe of him, the way that I am now. I want to marvel at the things he does, like we marvel when he moves.

I understand now why it is so hard for parents to let their children go and grow up. I understand because I feel him growing in me every day. He is so much a part of me, physically inside and attached, walking around with me every day, giving me kicks to remind me he is there.

Goodbye 2014 and hello 2015!

2014 has been A YEAR! The past few years have been full of nothing but huge changes for myself and Jerry, and this was probably the craziest year yet… but in a good way. I want to recap some of the biggest moments of 2014, as I do every year.

A baby on the way…

In April, we became pregnant and were delighted to find out the amazing news in May. I took several early pregnancy tests which came back negative, but I decided to keep taking tests because I just had a feeling. When we finally received a positive on May 13, 2014, just a few days after the negatives, we were ecstatic. I took a test while Jerry was at work, and when he got home at 2 in the morning, he brought home another one. There were happy tears while we sat in our little bathroom in the middle of the night. It was one of the best and most exciting moments of our lives. Also thrilling was finally finding out and announcing the baby’s gender and name back in September! We cannot wait to meet our baby in just a couple of weeks! The whole story of our pregnancy is now told on my new blog page “Baby Caleb,” so please check it out.

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^^Learning the good news in May 2014, Mom and Dad to be on Christmas 2014 at 36.5 weeks pregnant.

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^^Caleb, 20 weeks

A home of our own…

Another momentous and life altering occasion happened in 2014, when Jerry and I closed on our first home on March 28th! It was a long, stressful, and difficult journey with tons of back and forth with the bank, and the day we finally closed was one of incredible excitement and happiness. It’s been a crazy nine months as homeowners, including lots of ups and downs, repairs, and renovations, but ultimately, we wouldn’t trade being homeowners for the world! We are proud of this huge accomplishment and can’t wait to continue work on our house as our budget and time allow. For more of our fun homeowning adventures and renovations, click here. You’ll see all my posts about being a homeowner.

our house

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An exciting first year…

Amidst all of the excitement and huge changes for our little family in 2014, Jerry and I celebrated our very first wedding anniversary on October 5th, 2014! I still can’t believe it’s been over a year since our wedding. We had a very low-key but fun anniversary weekend. Clearly, it has been a very huge and eventful first year of marriage, and even when things aren’t perfect, I’m always glad Jerry is the one by my side. Our whole love story has its own blog page now, located here.

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Blogging changes…

My little old blog here has seen quite a lot of changes in 2014 as well. It’s basically transitioned from a book blog to a personal/lifestyle blog after a huge blogger identity crisis. While books will always be my passion in life, after blogging for over five years exclusively about books, (my five year blogiversary was in September) I suffered some burn out. I most certainly am still reading, and even still reviewing on occasion, but I’m liking the way my blog has transitioned and I have really, really enjoyed becoming a personal blogger. I talked at great length about my decision to no longer be exclusively a book blogger here, if you’d like to know more! To go along with my new blog theme, I am also getting a new blog design and tagline very shortly which I am super excited for!

I haven’t tracked my blog stats much in the past, so I don’t have a means to compare, but below are my main stats for 2014 for my own future reference. I have no idea if these are good, bad, or in between, but I am very happy with my blog and that’s what matters!

Total page views: 39,618

Total visits: 27,787

Most viewed post in 2014 with 3,603 views (posted in 2013 though!): How to Lose Weight Without Dieting

More memorable moments and posts of 2014…

While I covered most of the big things of 2014, there were some other memories, moments, and blog posts worth remembering from the year:

  • The year started off on a rough note during my short lived dog fostering adventure. See, I was a dog foster for a little bit of time, until I had an awful experience with a very sick dog. This tribute was for Oliver, who touched my heart and broke it, too.
  • I have survived more than a year as a night-shift wife! It’s tough, but we do what we have to do to support ourselves and our growing family.
  • The same weekend we bought our house, I bought my Jeep! WOOHOO! I have always wanted one and I finally have one.
  • I learned to accept my introverted nature a bit more this year, and talked about what it means to me to be an introvert.
  • I had a goal to run five races this year… but then I got pregnant. I did get to run one race though, and it was a lot of fun!
  • I celebrated my three year “adoptiversary” with Dakota! He’s kind of a nuisance, and I’m always saying ridiculous things to him in the form of scolding, but I love him dearly.
  • Even though my weight loss is on hold for the moment until after the baby is born, I detailed my fat story, discussed my problem with food, wrote a letter to the old, fat me and as embarrassing as these things are, at least I’m not an asshat who judges fat people like this lady I had a dealing with.
  • I worked on trying to not compare my life to others and realized that it’s okay to not be perfect!
  • I also really learned how to be financially responsible and a lot more thankful for what we have. We may not have all that we want but we have all that we need and I am thankful for everything we do have… it IS enough.

Bring on 2015…

Usually, I set myself a ton of goals each year but I’m going to try and be realistic here and refrain a bit.

2015 is the year my life will change the most. I am going to become a MOM! I know that nothing will be the same after our son is born and this is a GOOD THING because along with all the changes that come with being a parent will come an indescribable love! We are ecstatic and anxious, and simply cannot wait to meet our baby. So for 2015, all I really want is to learn to be an amazing parent and family of three. That is what 2015 is all about for me. Everything else pales in comparison.

That said, I will state a couple of other intentions I have for the year. I’d like to read 50 books. I’d like to run another half-marathon, or at least a couple of other races. I’d like to get fit again after he is born, and lose most, if not all, of the pregnancy weight by the end of 2015. I will continue to work on our finances, saving when we can and keeping our finances in order. I’d like to continue with house renovations, but I’m not sure what projects we’ll tackle next… and I think I’ll leave it at that. I’m not going too in depth with my goals because I really have no idea what having a baby will bring, except that life will change drastically in only the best possible way. I definitely plan on continuing to blog as much as I can, and chronicling our life as a growing family into the new year!

Happy New Years to all of my wonderful blogging friends, both old and new. I have made a few new blogging friends this year thanks to my transition into personal blogging, and I have enjoyed following along in all of your lives. I hope to continue these friendships into 2015 and beyond!

Bumpdate: 37 Weeks

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Today I am 37 weeks which means FULL TERM! Yes, we have a full term baby on our hands now and the countdown is on! I have a long update today.

Just got back from my 37 week appointment where we had a bit of a scare. His heartrate was around 180 at first… the doctor tried two different dopplers and listened for a few minutes and it wasn’t lowering, so they hooked me up to one of those monitors that track his heart. I was hooked up for about 30 minutes. His heartrate went back to normal but it was a big scare! They think it was just from him being active. They also told me I had a contraction during that time, but I didn’t feel it. I asked the nurse if that meant he was coming early but she said not to get excited since it was only one. I had my strep test done too. They still didn’t check for dilation. They said that would start next week. I measured at 36.5 which they said was good, and I finally didn’t gain any weight… what a relief! I’ve also read that weight loss stops towards the end of pregnancy, so this is a very good thing.

So what else is new… well, my wedding rings are officially off and I am sad about that. :( I usually take them off every night to sleep, but last week decided to just keep them on because they were feeling snug. My sister-in-law warned me that I should just take them off instead so they don’t have to be cut off down the road. My fingers are short and stumpy anyway, and now they are bloated. I can get them on and off but it’s a tight fit, so they will have to wait until the bloating goes down a bit.

Last Wednesday, Christmas Eve morning, we had a “mini birthing class” with a nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office. My doctor suggested this since we couldn’t go to the hospital classes due to our work schedules. It was reassuring to learn more about labor and delivery, but also pretty scary. I do feel a bit more prepared though, so that’s good. She taught me breathing techniques and a ton of other things that I sincerely hope I remember when I’m in labor, but I’m not totally counting on it. I have always been completely terrified of giving birth, even well before I was pregnant. I do not handle pain well so I really don’t know how this will go. I would rather have a c-section, but I know they are more dangerous and not really optional so I am trying to calm myself down about delivering a baby!

The family also took birth date bets on Christmas Eve at our family party since we have six family birthdays in January, and his due date (January 20th) falls smack dab in the middle of mine and Jerry’s birthdays (the 17th and 24th), which are a week apart. Everyone is hoping he lands on their birthday, except for me, I think! I don’t think he would want to share his special day with his mom, but I could be wrong. Jerry is rooting for him to come on his birthday, the 24th, so we’ll see! One of my uncles placed his bet for January 31st and I’m thinking he’s pretty crazy. This baby better not be 11 days late! I will be asking for an induction well before then – haha! In other news, I had a family member make a really nasty and thoughtless comment on Christmas Eve… the very first thing he said when he saw me was “you lost all that weight and now you’ve gained it!” Umm… yeah. You don’t say things like that to a pregnant woman because 1. she is already self-conscious about the weight gain, no matter who she is, and 2. she is very hormonal. You ESPECIALLY do not say something like this to someone who has lost over 100 pounds. The weight gain has been a hugely upsetting factor for me because I did work very hard to lose over 100 pounds. It took everything I had in me for over two years so I am obviously not happy to be gaining weight and idiotic comments are only adding insult to injury about something I am already aware of. It is very important to be tactful around pregnant women and this was the exact opposite. I have gained more than I should have and I am well aware. I am also well aware that my stubborn personality has served me incredibly well in losing weight once and I am confident I will do it again in the new year after Caleb is born. You can all take my word on this and watch me do it! SOOO… moving on!

We had a little bit of a false labor scare on Friday. Jerry and I were talking around Aldi’s when I got some short Braxton Hicks contractions and I started to get paranoid that my water had broken. I called the doctor over the weekend who assured me everything was fine and not to worry… phew.

I have made a lot of progress with my hospital bag since I received a lot of the things I needed for Christmas including some sweatpants, a robe, and new slippers. I’d say it’s about halfway packed now and I have a list of the final things I will need to throw in there last minute, so I’m feeling pretty good about that! I’m getting my car washed soon and then we will be getting the carseat installed. Jerry and I also spent some time last week doing some organizing in his nursery and it should be complete very soon!

Caleb now has a new pediatrician too. I called our top choice (my nephew’s pediatrician) in September and was told he wasn’t taking any new patients, so we went elsewhere and got him signed up. However, at my nephew’s last appointment, the doctor told my brother that he WAS taking new patients so I called again and now he’s good to go there. We have a prenatal appointment there next Friday to meet him. The other place we signed him up for was nice, but this one is closer to home and right next door to my OB-gyn. My brother also really likes him.

I am still working and not quite sure yet when I’m going to start my maternity leave. I have always planned to go as long as possible, but this last month is rough, I’m telling you! I worked a full day yesterday, and will be working half days today and Friday with Wednesday and Thursday off for the holiday. For next week, I asked for one full day and the rest half days and then told them we would go from there. My leave is unpaid so I am being extra cautious and trying not to go out too early. I will have a few weeks of vacation and sick time that I can use, then the second half of my leave I won’t be getting anything. Boo. When did you all go out on maternity leave?

2014: Reading stats and favorites

I feel like at the end of every year, I’m always saying “this was not one of my better reading years.” This was yet another year of setting my goal to 100 books and not even coming close to reaching it, but that’s okay! Goals are good, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. When I was younger, I would sit and read for hours on end. I would wake up in the morning and just start reading and not stop. I can’t do that anymore since I have actual adult responsibilities now (bummer!) but I still try and read as much as I can.

2014 Reading Statistics

Total books read: 42book quote

AGE LEVEL

Adult books: 31

Young adult books:  7

Middle grade books: 3

FICTION/NONFICTION

Fiction: 30

Nonfiction: 11

MOST COMMONLY READ GENRES OF 2014

Chick-lit/women’s fiction: 12

Parenting: 6

Mystery: 5

 2014 Favorite Reads

These are my favorite reads of 2014, in the order that I read them. I read a lot of great books this year but these are the ones that I enjoyed the absolute best:

The Fat Bridesmaid by Brooke Zaras – this debut novel featuring an overweight woman who wants to lose weight really resonated with me for many obvious reasons. I loved the story, its characters, and how easy it was for the average woman to relate. It also happened to be both sweet and fun at the same time!

Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick – this chick-lit novel about a break-up themed town was adorable, funny, and witty. I loved the setting and the characters were fantastic.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Fangirl is another amazing YA offering from the uber talented Rainbow Rowell about a pair of twins who go off to college and start living distinct, separate lives. One twin struggles with this while the other one thrives. Again, I could relate SO MUCH to Cath who had to learn to live life on her own terms and struggled horribly with being away. Rowell is just a damn good writer, and I found so many similarities between Cath and myself.

Beyond Hollywood Strip by Shamron Moore – this is the sequel to Hollywood Strip (which landed on my 2013 favorite list) and is a total guilty pleasure. These are really shallow books about a young Hollywood actress that are completely vulgar, scandalous, and thrilling…. but I absolutely love them and how fun they are! Sometimes, you just need a little brain candy!

A Pinch of Ooh La La by Renee Swindle – this is a fantastic women’s fiction story about a woman from a very large family who, after a terrible heartbreak, is looking for love again. She meets a wonderful man, but there are so many obstacles in the way. The large, vibrant cast of characters really stood out for me and I loved all the family dynamics.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – this story of a missing wife and her shady husband was probably my number one favorite read of the year. It lived up to all the hype for me, and I’m only sad that I didn’t read it sooner!

The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans – RPE is one of my favorite authors and I can never get enough of his sweet, touching Christmas stories. This one, about a pair pretending to be a couple for the holidays, was as good as all his others!

So, that was my reading year! Next year will be very different since I’ll be a new mommy and all, but I do plan on making as much time as possible for reading as having a newborn will allow. I’m thinking of my goals for next year, but haven’t quite decided on them yet! Check back later for some goals.

Final Thoughts

All things considered, I’d say my reading year was not too bad. Obviously, I always wish I had read more but this year was another one of big changes. I’d say that one of the biggest factors that impacted my ability to read as much as I wanted to was buying our house and all the time that is involved in being a homeowner, doing renovations, taking care of housework, etc. The other even bigger factor this year was/is my pregnancy. I’ve been pregnant for most of the year (since April) and with that comes complete exhaustion, sickness, and fatigue that finds me regularly slumped on the couch in front of the TV after work a lot more than I typically like to be. So while my numbers were low this year, it was for good reasons and I have no regrets!

My book club is still going strong (since September 2013) and has been A LOT of fun. We started as a Forever YA chapter, but weren’t always thrilled with the reading choices, so we still use their choices some months, but have mostly been choosing our own books, both adult and YA. I have to admit, most of us have been slacking and when we get to our monthly meetings, we are all in different stages of having read or not read the book, or having read some of it, etc. Either way, it’s always a fun excuse to get together with friends! We read Gone Girl one month and then went to dinner and to see the movie which was AWESOME! Otherwise, we rotate between houses. We eat tons of good food, have lots of fun chats (usually about everything BUT the book… oops), and also did a Christmas party / Secret Santa. All in all, I’m loving it!

I read a lot more nonfiction than usual, but I’m not surprised since I read quite a few parenting books this year. I started reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting after receiving it as a gift from my friend / fellow book clubber in May and read it in pieces all year long, following along with my pregnancy. All in all, I found it to be a very helpful guide to pregnancy. I really enjoyed most of the pregnancy books I read, many of which were humorous. I’ll be doing some mini reviews of those shortly!

Not surprised that my most commonly read genre was chick-lit / women’s fiction… it’s my absolute favorite genre.

How was your reading this year, and what were some of your favorite books?

Christmas 2014!

Well another Christmas has come and gone! How is that even possible?! It’s crazy how fast a year goes by with us hardly even noticing. This was mine and Jerry’s third Christmas together, and next Christmas we will be celebrating with our baby boy! We can’t wait. I’ve always loved Christmas but I feel like some of the magic will definitely re-appear when we’re celebrating with our children. Here are some of my Christmas thoughts and memories from this year, “Five on Friday” style:

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^^Dad, Mom, and Caleb, the baby bump!

ONE. Last Sunday, some of us girls in the family had our annual Christmas “bakeathon.” My mom and I always get together with a few of my cousins and make some treats for Christmas Eve. Every year we make Oreo truffles, chocolate cracker toffee (ours is just like this recipe minus the nuts), plus a couple of new things each year to try out. Our extras this year were rice crispy Christmas trees and ugly sweater cut out cookies. My favorites are ALWAYS the Oreo truffles and the cracker toffee… mmm! Good thing we only have them once a year.

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^^Me and the bakeathon cousins! Here are some of our treats.

TWO. Christmas Eve started bright and early for Jerry and I as we headed to my doctor’s office for an 8:30 AM mini birthing class… more on this in my next bumpdate! After, we decided to go to breakfast, followed by wrapping gifts at home. I NEVER wait until the last minute like that, but for obvious reasons, I was not feeling it. Something about trying to bend over with this huge belly? Then, we had our annual family party at my mom’s house. Lots of fun and tasty treats, though I was glad my pregnant sister-in-law was with me since there were a few things I couldn’t eat and neither could she. We both had a few bites of buffalo chicken wing dip before we realized there was blue cheese in it and promptly handed our plates off. My cousin, Jenny, had me for our Secret Santa and got me a beautiful Alex and Ani bracelet with a January birthstone since Caleb SHOULD be a January baby. It’s also mine and Jerry’s birthstone too. :)

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^^Jerry at breakfast, Jerry and Dakota at the Christmas Eve party. Dakota had a sweater on!

THREE. Christmas day was busy as always. We had our annual brunch at my parent’s house then opened gifts. I’m going to list my gifts simply because I want to remember what I got: Jerry is currently saving up money for my blog re-design. He did a lot of overtime this month, and we should have enough saved up for it by the end of January. In the meantime, he got me a new scented wax warmer which was very pretty. I got a Target gift card from my brother and sister-in-law, which is always fun! They also got us some bibs, burp cloths, and sleep gowns for Caleb. From my parents, I got two primitive looking frames I picked out, a decorative wooden primitive box / wall hanging, a primitive candle nightlight, and two primitive dolls. I LOVE decor for my house and the family definitely knows my style! I also received from my parents a “mother” bracelet, a fuzzy robe (I requested this for the hospital), three pairs of comfy, baggy sweatpants (again, for the hospital and after birth), new glass pans, and a hot dog and bun griller (haha! I love hot dogs… clearly). My aunt was also kind enough to get me a pair of sock monkey slippers and some cute socks for the baby… love them. Grandma sent us a check which Jerry and I decided to spend on fun things, rather than bills for once! I got some really great things this year from everyone and am very thankful. I ended up getting Jerry “Beats” headphones that he wanted, and a “Best Dad Ever” mug.20141226_140752

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^^ My braclets, some of my new decor!

FOUR. I always love watching Christmas movies and reading Christmas books during the holiday season, though I didn’t get to do as much of either as I wanted to this year! I watched two Hallmark movies: The Christmas Ornament which was cute but not my favorite, and The Nine Lives of Christmas which I actually really enjoyed. I read the book by Sheila Roberts that it was based off of a few years ago and enjoyed that as well. I also re-watched Elf with a couple of girlfriends. That’s a classic, of course. I read Saranormal: Spirits of the Season by Phoebe Rivers. It was a cute addition to a middle grade series I’ve been reading. I also read Richard Paul Evans’ latest Christmas offering, The Mistletoe Promise, and loved it. My book club Secret Santa gifted me with a copy of this, which I happily added to my small collection of RPE books (I’d like to get them all, eventually). Speaking of Secret Santa gift exchanges… I love them. I always participate in as many online bookish ones as possible. I already talked all about my “Broke and the Bookish” gift exchange, and I also participated in a horror book swap that I’ve been doing for a few years as well. This one is from a horror group I’m a member of on Goodreads. I recieved two books from my horror wishlist: The Troop by Nick Cutter and Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge. I’m very, very thrilled!

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^^ A new primitive doll and wax warmer, my stocking from Jerry who clearly knows that chocolate is the way to my heart! ;)

FIVE. Jerry is very lucky to have nine days off  in a row for the holidays! I was not quite as lucky and am going back to work on Saturday, but I am really glad that my hubby will be home. As you know, he works the night shift so we hardly get to see each other during the work week since I work days. It will be nice to come home and have my husband be there for once. We’ll be able to enjoy the little things like watching movies and having dinner together. I know a lot of people get to do this all the time and perhaps take it for granted, but it’s a treat for Jerry and I. I made a little meal plan for the week since we’ll be able to cook and eat together for once and I’m looking forward to it! Tomorrow we will take down the Christmas decorations and clean up the post-Christmas mess which includes putting our awesome new gifts away. I am in full-on nesting mode and looking forward to getting my house back to normal and baby-ready!

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^^ Dakota with “Santa” a few weeks ago. He wouldn’t cooperate, hence me being behind him holding him down.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Bumpdate: 36 Weeks

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I am 36 weeks today! Caleb should weigh in at about 6 pounds now. One more week and he will be considered full term (37 weeks)… wow! He is due 4 weeks from today and the big birthday countdown is on. My family has 6 birthdays in January and everyone is wondering if he will share someone’s birthday. Mine is January 17th and Jerry’s is January 24th. Baby is due January 20th and Jerry is hoping they will be birthday buddies… we shall see! I don’t think Caleb will like having to share his big day with anyone, but who knows!

I’m so glad I should only have to rock this official bumpdate t-shirt for a few more pictures at the most. It’s not maternity so obviously the belly does not fit too well in it anymore, but we’ve been using it for my pictures since I first got pregnant and wanted to keep it up so we could really see the belly progress. I’ve gotten a couple of comments in the last week that it looks like I’ve dropped but I have no idea. Does it look like I did?

So what’s new in babyland… last Tuesday night, Caleb had the hiccups for 25 minutes straight! It was the first time I had ever felt him having hiccups and it was pretty cool! It was odd, but definitely awesome. I could see my belly moving the entire time.

Saturday night, Jerry wanted to feel him move but he appeared to be sleeping so I suggested he try poking him. After a few vigorous pokes, he started moving like crazy! This went on for a few minutes where Jerry would poke him and Caleb would respond with some big movements. We thought it was hilarious, then we decided to let him go back to sleep and left him alone. :) I can just picture him thinking, “what?! Leave me alone and stop poking me. Can’t a baby get a little rest now and then?! I’ve had a busy day!”

I also went to Target and got some of the last things from our registry using my 15% off completion coupon. These were just smaller things like bottles and other nursing supplies. I also got an Ergo wrap carrier on clearance and a little grooming kit for him. We used gift cards and didn’t have to pay for anything… yay!

I found him a bookshelf on Craigslist for $15. It was from Target, like his other furniture, and was even the same color (espresso), so it matches perfectly. I’ve already got his books and some other things on there, and the nursery can finally be finished up! It still looks like a baby tornado went through it though, so while we have some time off for the holidays, we’ve really got to finish it up. I will definitely post a nursery tour, probably in a couple of weeks or so.

I also started packing my hospital bag. So far it’s got my pump, two outfits for him, a blanket, and his paperwork. A lot of my own stuff can’t be packed yet because I’m still using it, like the sweatsuit I’m going to wear home, slippers, toiletries, chargers, etc. Hopefully I don’t forget anything in the mad rush to the hospital!

I had my 36 week appointment yesterday, and now my appointments are weekly. Not much news yesterday, just that he is head down which is a good thing. My strep test was pushed to next week’s appointment on Tuesday since they want you to be at least 36 weeks and I was technically 35 weeks and 6 days yesterday… odd, but whatever!  Tomorrow at 8:30 AM we are headed back to the doctor’s office for a mini birthing class with a nurse practitioner because we couldn’t go to the hospital classes. They are offered in the evening (when Jerry works) or Saturdays (I work), so my doctor wanted us to do this mini class to learn about labor signs, delivery, etc. I will feel a lot of relief after that, even though it’s bright and early on Christmas Eve!

Well that’s all I’ve got for now! I have some other posts coming up in the next couple of weeks with end of the year wrap-ups and all that good stuff. Only one more bumpdate for 2014! Happy holidays to everyone!

Review: The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans

Title: The Mistletoe Promiseimage
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Genre/Audience: Christmas fiction
Publication: 2014
Source: Library

Richard Paul Evans’ novels are generally formulaic and cheesy… but I absolutely love them and can’t get enough! This is my 6th RPE book and it was just as good as all his others. As usual, the characters endure some kind of hardship to find hope.

In this story, we meet Elise Dutton, a broken woman with a secret past that eats at her and causes her pain and guilt. She is approached in the cafeteria by a stranger who works in her building, Nicholas, who essentially asks her if she would like to pretend to be his girlfriend for the holidays so neither of them have to be lonely. She agrees to this “mistletoe promise” contract and finds herself falling for him for real, a man with a secret of his own.

This book was sweet, hopeful, and perfect for Christmas, as are all of his novels. I look forward to reading his books every Christmas. Unlike most of his other holiday books, this one did not seem to be based off a biblical story (though I could be mistaken). I liked the contemporary feel of this one, as well as the touching love story and messages of redemption. Another winner from RPE! I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next year. (less)

My Rating: 4.5/5

Befores and afters of my life.

I often view my life in terms of “befores and afters.” There have been a lot of big changes – and a lot of big moments – that have defined me and changed everything I knew.

Before I lost the weight, and after.

Before, I was unhappy. There was a lot of self-loathing. I always thought that my “real life” would finally begin after I lost the weight. I would be confident. I would find love. People would finally see me for who I was, not just what I looked like.

After, a lot of what I thought would happen did come true. However, I also came to realize that I was already living my real life, it just wasn’t what I wanted. I was always me, I was always living, but I did become happier, even if life didn’t magically change the way I thought that it would.

Before we bought our home, and after.

Before, Jerry and I felt like OUR “real life” would start as soon as we moved out of my parent’s home and into a place of our own. Yes, again with this “real life” stuff. I guess when you want something badly, you always imagine things will be so different when it finally happens.

After, we realized we were actual adults with actual responsibilities. We sometimes miss the “before,” when life was carefree and we were newly engaged kids with no major worries. But the after? It’s been so, so worth it. I’ve changed a lot as a person (read: grown up) and have become very interested in my finances, savings, debt payments, and all that jazz. Yeah, we feel broke now that we own a house, but we’ve grown up a lot and feel like real adults… sometimes (even if it often feels like we’re faking it).

Really though, when I look at the biggest before and after… if I had to pinpoint the ultimate life-changer, the two biggest before and after parts of my life, it would undoubtedly be before Jerry, and after.

Though we’ve known each other for less than three years, I look at my life before him as kind of a blur. Certainly, I was living. I was in grad school when we met. I had started on my weight loss journey a couple of months prior to our meeting (of course, since that’s how we met). But ultimately, before I met Jerry, I considered myself a girl in progress. No, really. My Twitter bio even said that back in the day. So yes, a girl in progress, unsettled, unsure, but trying, at least, to figure life out, even if I didn’t quite know where I was going after all was said and done.

Then I met Jerry, and everything changed in that after. If I hadn’t met him, I’m not sure where I would be. No, this is not me saying you need a relationship to be happy or fulfilled, just that I finally had a more concrete direction and a life ahead of me after we met that I often wondered if I’d ever get: marriage, a house, settling down, a family of my own. Before, I knew only that I would finish my degree, try to get a good job, try to move out, but really, I have no idea the direction my life would have gone in, regardless of where I wanted it to go.

So the family, the house, the baby on the way… maybe these things would have happened for me regardless of Jerry, or maybe they wouldn’t have. I’m glad I don’t have to wonder anymore. I’m glad I found my soulmate 3,000 miles away and that he came here to be with me and become my biggest before and after. Because while I LIKED my before, confusing as it was, the after has been so, so much better.

And now, together, the two of us will experience an even bigger before and after. Parenthood will become the biggest, greatest, scariest, most exciting before and after we will ever experience. As much as my life has changed, shifted, and been turned upside down by all the other afters in my life, Caleb will come into this world and change it all again. Just like all the other things, I’m scared about stepping into the “after” of a great, big life changer, but we’ll do this together and I think one day we will look back and say “remember before? Before we were parents? Things were simpler, but it’s all been worth it.” That’s how I feel when I look back at all my befores: it’s been worth it, each and every time. The after has always been much greater, much happier, and much more fulfilling. It has always been worth it.

My happily ever AFTER

My happily ever AFTER

Do you have any big before and after moments in your life? Things that you feel changed your whole life? I’d love to hear what yours are!

Bumpdate: 35 Weeks

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I am 35 weeks today! That means that Caleb should be here approximately five weeks from today… wow! He should be about 20 inches long this week, and won’t really grow much taller at this point. He should be about 5.5 pounds, and will continue to gain about a half a pound a week.

Not a whole lot of news, just a whole lot of waiting and panicking about what still needs to get done! Last week, I picked up my pump which was covered by insurance… yay! I also had my 34 week appointment and everything looked good. The doctor said he is measuring right on track. My next appointment is my 36 week appointment on Monday, then we switch to appointments every single week from here on out. I am getting the strep test on Monday so I hope it isn’t too bad. I am not excited about that!

While I was at work on Saturday, Jerry put together all of Caleb’s various seats that we received as gifts, so that’s one big thing checked off the old to-do list! I was so excited to see it all when I got home. He’s got a rock and play sleeper, a bouncy seat, a sit me up seat, and a walker. It will be pretty hilarious to see him walking around in that thing next year when he’s a little bit older. We had a really good, productive weekend with other things too! We rearranged our whole downstairs living room (we live in a split level) and it’s starting to look nice. Our regular living room upstairs has a lot of decor and is more formal, with wood floors. Since the downstairs one has carpeting, we’ll probably start spending time down there when the baby starts crawling. Jerry also made delicious homemade empanadas, and I made Oreo “lumps of coal.” Yum!

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I felt super huge movements last Wednesday night and when I looked at my belly, I could see really big, wavy movements. It was so cool. I wish Jerry had been here to see it!

We’ve got a few more things left to get. We received our Target registry completion coupon last week for 15% off the rest of the items on our registry. We need to get an extra carseat base, a baby monitor, a bookshelf, and then some smaller items. I’m hoping to get the rest of his stuff soon, just waiting until after Christmas when we may have a little extra money again! We need to do a little more work on his nursery, and some organizing, then we will finally be completely ready… or as ready as you can be when you have a tiny human to take care of! We really can’t wait to see him and keep trying to think of what he’ll look like. I seriously think he is going to have lots of dark hair but we may just be surprised! Speaking of Christmas… it’s been getting harder to think of things I want for myself these days, and my birthday is coming up too in January. Most of the things I want are generally things for the baby. I did manage to come up with a few things, though. ;) I already feel like a mom even though he isn’t here yet… this is definitely a good thing, though!

Well, that’s about all I’ve got for this week. I also had to drop this little video on here. It’s a Boba commercial, but oh my lawd, it makes me cry. There’s a dad version too. They are the cutest.

A bookish Secret Santa!

I’ve been participating in bookish Secret Santa gift exchanges for a few years now, probably since 2009 when I started blogging! This year, I participated in the Broke and the Bookish Secret Santa, one which I’ve done before and always enjoy. I love doing these swaps because I pretty much don’t get books as gifts! I get the occasional B&N gift card (which always thrills me!) but people generally don’t get me books because they don’t know what I have already or they think I have too many. No such thing, right?! Plus, it’s so much fun to buy books for other people and see what everyone got!

I received an amazing package this week from Kaylee! I haven’t been able to track down her blog URL or email address, so I really hope she sees this! Kaylee, thank you SO MUCH! This package made my week and I absolutely LOVE everything you picked out for me. My Secret Santa really took it to to heart when I mentioned how much I love chocolate and animals and I so appreciate it! I received:

  • Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran – a cozy mystery from my wishlist.
  • Unleashed by Rachel Lacey – a romance from my wishlist. It features a lot of animals, so I was all over this one!
  • Some adorable animal page clip bookmarks!
  • Peppermint hot chocolate… mmm! What a perfect time for it!
  • A vanilla chai dark chocolate Endangered Species candy bar… I can’t wait to dig in!

Kaylee, thank you again for this amazing package! I can’t wait to read the books, use my bookmarks, and try my delicious treats! :D

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