Bumpdate: 19 Weeks

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I am 19 weeks today! The baby is about 6 inches long (half a foot, OMG), 8.5 ounces, and the size of a large tomato or mango.

We had our 18 week appointment last Wednesday and it went well. The baby’s heart sounded great and the doctor said it was moving around a lot. Very cool! We also had the second trimester screening (blood work) to check for spinal issues and that came back fine. Phew. Then we got to schedule our big anatomical scan which is now a week from today! I have been counting down the days because we will finally know the gender! So close I can feel it! Ahh!

I’ve had some bad back pain the past two days. My back has been aching for awhile now, but I woke up yesterday with severe pain and then again today so I called the nurse and they had me come in this morning. They said it could be a bladder infection or structural issue over the phone, but I had an exam and the nurse practitioner didn’t seem concerned. We heard the heartbeat again to check that the baby was okay so that was a relief. She said it’s normal because of weight gain. She suggested comfortable shoes, stretches, hot compress, and Tylenol. She also encouraged me to pick up my exercise pace again because my current exercise consists of 20 minute walks on occasion. She said I can gradually increase the intensity and time, and even encouraged me to work back up to running, but I’m going to hold off on the running until after the birth. I’m also hating this shortness of breath and become a bit more uncomfortable by the week. Yesterday at work, I had to get up and walk around for a couple of minutes because I felt stooped over at my desk and really short of breath.

My love for sausage biscuit breakfast sandwiches and red Gatorade is still going strong. Mmm. :) I also had a dream the other night that I was drinking grape pop so then I HAD to go get some the next day.

I THINK I have felt a few baby movements. I have been nagging my little nugget a lot by lying on my back, poking my belly, and even drinking orange juice. I think I got a few small kicks after the OJ the other day. The first time I thought I felt it was after dinner out one night last week when I felt a quick flutter in my stomach. Yesterday though, just minding my own business at my desk and not nagging the little one, I’m pretty sure I got a handful of kicks and twists! Apparently baby only wants to move on his/her own terms, not on mommy’s. ;)

I came home to a lovely surprise in the mail yesterday: these knitted booties made by my grandma. One more week and we will know which ones we’ll be using in a few months and which ones we’ll be putting away for future use! We really can’t wait… it’s been a long few months waiting to find out the big news!

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Next time I post, I will know the gender! We’ll be finding out next Tuesday, but due to mine and Jerry’s opposite work schedules, the next available night for us to do the big gender reveal will be next Saturday, so you all will have to wait a little bit longer! :) Any last minute guesses on which pair of boots we’ll be bringing baby home in in January?

Review & Giveaway: Beyond Hollywood Strip by Shamron Moore

Title: Beyond Hollywood Stripbeyond
Author: Shamron Moore
Genre/Audience: Chick lit, adult
Publication: Vigliano Books, 2014
Source: For review, TLC Book Tours

I’ve got to say, Hollywood Strip was one of my favorite reads of 2013, and a total guilty pleasure at that. I had no idea that a sequel was being written, and when I found out, I was super excited to hop back into the Hollywood life. I have to say, I was not disappointed at all, and the sequel definitely lived up to my expectations.

So what’s the story? Well, Callie Lambert is a new big actress in Hollywood, after having moved there from a humble life as a dental assistant in Michigan. In the first book, we see her as she finally makes a name for herself as an actress, and in this one, the sequel, we pick up where we left off in Callie’s world, now a successful and famous starlet. We follow along on her struggles with landing new roles, finding love, and battling with fellow actresses. Everything is going as usual for Callie until she receives an email that rocks her whole world: she has a long lost sister she knew nothing about.

I love these books so much even though they are total brain candy. See, sometimes I want to read books about average, everyday women because I can relate. Then other times, I want to read about women who are totally different than me and who lead these lives that I know nothing about and can hardly even imagine. The Hollywood Strip series completely falls into the second category and  I love it! I love reading about this world and thinking, “OMG, people really live like this?! I’m so jealous! The fame! The money! The thrills! Wait, no, I’m not jealous! The drama! The scandal! The heartbreak!” I’m always on a bit of a roller coaster when I’m wrapped up in Callie’s life and it is so much fun to be on.

This book had all of the same attributes in it that made me love the first: fun, scandalous, thrilling, and incredibly fast paced and exciting. After being in a bit of a reading slump lately due to my pregnancy brain and tiredness, this book got me turning the pages at that lightning speed pace again, just like my pre-pregnancy days. It was exactly what I needed – a total escape. On the other hand, I also liked that this sequel had a little bit of a serious side to it, what with the long lost sister and long held family secrets. You get to see and learn about another side of Callie which you will love. Even though she can be a bit of a b*tch at times, ultimately you end up liking her and finding yourself rooting for her in the long run. At least that’s how it went for me.

I have one minor complaint, and that is having read the first book over a year ago and not having the best memory in the world, I forgot a few of the details and characters. While in the sequel, Moore touches a bit on these past storylines and characters whenever they come up again, I would have liked a little bit more backstory again to remember more fully. I would have / should have read the first one again before this! Either way, I was still able to fully immerse myself in the story, and really enjoyed it.

If you are looking for scandal, drama, and tons of fun in a fast paced book, I highly recommend you pick up this series. I really can’t say enough good things about these books. I am crossing all my fingers that this series will continue. In the meantime, I think I ought to find more novels about Hollywood because I am hooked! Have any suggestions for me?

My Rating: 4.5/5

Giveaway: One lucky reader will win their very own copy of this book! If you’re interested, please just let me know in a comment below. Please be 13 years or older and have a U.S. mailing address. Please leave your email. You can earn one extra entry by leaving a book suggestion of something similar in your comment, because, ya know… I NEED MOAR! Hollywood drama.. MOAR, MOAR!

Winner will be drawn via random.org on August 27, 2014. Thanks and good luck!

Bumpdate: 18 Weeks

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I’m 18 weeks today… almost to that halfway point (only two more weeks)! Baby is about 5.5 inches long, 7 ounces, and the size of a bell pepper.

I am still anxiously awaiting feeling the baby’s movements, though I know it could still be a few more weeks. It doesn’t help that I still had some fat on my stomach leftover from my weight loss adventure, so that’s probably preventing me from feeling it early too. :P Oh well… in due time!

We have our 18 week appointment tomorrow which I’m looking forward to. It’s always reassuring to go to these appointments and hear the baby’s heartbeat. My last one was at 14 weeks and it seems so long ago, so I will definitely feel much better after tomorrow.

I’ve been feeling pretty good the last few days! Everyone kept saying that the second trimester was  the best and easiest, and I am finally starting to feel that! What a relief. I did start having some pelvic pain/aches so I was panicking about that this weekend. I ended up calling the on-call doctor who said it just sounds like normal round ligament pain from the baby’s growth which is stretching everything. I’ve also been getting short on breath very easily. Pregnancy is weird, but I do feel pretty good at the moment except for these minor complaints.

Yesterday, one of my coworkers said I finally look pregnant – haha! See, I usually wear the maternity pants with panels which really helps smooth and flatten the belly area and yesterday I didn’t. I never wear the paneled pants in these pictures because I want to see the full belly growth, but usually my belly looks smaller than my bumpdate photos.

Jerry and I threw a TON of boy names back and forth last night, trying to find a compromise. I didn’t want the name he really wanted (Aiden), and he didn’t want the name I really wanted (Declan), so we have been trying so hard to find one that we both really like. We were finally able to come up with a list of about 5-6 boy names last night that we both could agree on. As I said before, our girl name is already set, but if it’s a boy, we’ll still have to decide. At least we have a small list to work with now though. He tends to like really common, popular names while I lean towards the more unique and less common. I want my child to have a real, non made-up name of course, but one that isn’t super popular. He just thinks my choices are weird.

Two more weeks until the big gender reveal! I am counting down the days, minutes, and seconds. I can’t believe the day is ALMOST finally here until we find out what our little one is. We are also looking forward to having a small gender reveal party for our family and friends. We think we’re going to do the colored balloons in a box.

My questions this week for you mamas and mamas-to-be… did you find out the gender, and if so, did you do anything special for the gender reveal? How easy/difficult was it for you to come up with baby names?

Things I shouldn’t have to say to my dog (but do)

I often find myself saying things to my dog , Dakota, that at the time sound completely normal, but immediately after the words are out of my mouth, sound pretty ridiculous. I’ve started tracking these occurrences on Twitter and decided to share my Dakota-isms with blogland too! He is one of the greatest joys of my life, but let’s face it, he can be a little mischievous. You might notice that all of these sayings involve eating, and this is only about a month worth of Dakota scoldings… here we go!

1. “Don’t! eat! leaves!” (7/19/14)

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2. “Dakota. Don’t try and lick my pizza!” (7/31/14)

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3. “Hey! Don’t lick the stove!” (8/10/14)

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4. “Dakota! Don’t lick bacon grease.” (8/14/14)

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5. “Don’t eat that ant!” (8/17/14)

Dakota 5So, let’s hear it: what ridiculous things have you found yourself saying to your pets? Tell me I’m not the only one!

Review: In the Mirror by Kaira Rouda

Title: In the Mirrormirror
Author: Kaira Rouda
Genre/Audience: Women’s fiction, adult
Publication: Real You Publishing, 2014
Source: For review

In the Mirror is the story of Jennifer, a young mother and wife who seemed to have it all, until she was diagnosed with cancer. Now she’s staying at a special medical facility where she tries experimental treatments, fights for her life, and tries to make peace with her past love and relationships, sometimes wondering about the choices she made, particularly when her first love walks back into her life.

I really enjoyed this quiet, thoughtful, and reflective story. While it takes place in a cancer facility and the main character has cancer, it’s not what you might expect from a “cancer book.” To me, it was about choices made in the past, and Jennifer’s illness just caused her to think a bit longer and harder about her own choices. While there were moments of sadness, they weren’t as common as expected; Jennifer just has a way about her… she’s strong, accepting, and doesn’t seem to need sympathy, only reflection. This book basically takes place in Jennifer’s head, and while it isn’t filled with excitement or suspense, you will enjoy following along with Jennifer’s story. I recommend this one for fans of darker or thoughtful women’s fiction.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Bumpdate: 17 Weeks

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I’m 17 weeks today! Every single week, I can’t believe I’m already _____ weeks, and now we’re 17! This week, baby is about 5 inches and 4 ounces or so and approximately the size of an onion.

I’ve felt pretty good the last couple of days. My main symptoms at this point are back aches on and off, as well as migraines, but I’ve had a good week so far.

I haven’t had any intense or weird pregnancy cravings, but lately I’ve been very fond of Gatorade, chocolate milk (Ovaltine), and sausage breakfast sandwiches. While I often see a picture of something and have a strong desire to eat that item right then and there, I haven’t had any unusual cravings like a lot of women have.

I’m pretty much wearing all maternity pants now (when working) or sweatpants (when home). I can still wear regular shirts but I feel fat in them, so I am wearing a lot of maternity shirts too. When my grandparents were in town last week, I went thrift shopping with my grandma and picked up a few more pairs of maternity pants for about $2.00 a pop – can’t complain about that! We had a lot of fun with my grandparents and even hosted dinner at our house for the family. Jerry made his famous Mexican food – yum. I also sent my grandma home with some knitting patterns for some things I want her to make for the baby.

I’m still waiting to feel the baby move, but I’ve been reading that with first time moms, it can take awhile longer to start feeling them move, anywhere from 18-22 weeks for the first movement. I’m really excited for that though when it finally happens! Other mamas, when did you start to feel the baby move with your first pregnancy?20140807_193219

Still anxiously awaiting to find out the gender (only three weeks to go!). Mom got the baby another gender neutral outfit (white pajamas with animals), and I found a cute gender neutral Halloween outfit when I was out thrifting with my grandma for a buck! I LOVE fall and Halloween. I can’t wait for fall to get here soon. Heck, we even got married in the fall because we love it so much.

Something else I’ve been thinking about a lot is being a working mom. Jerry and I have always known we would both have to continue working when we started a family. We can’t live off of one income. I am okay with this. I have my master’s degree and I certainly don’t want to waste it, but I do feel a little sad and stressed about it, as I think all working moms do. We’re happy that we own our home, but with owning a home comes a mortgage and a lot more expenses which means we need two incomes. However, that is something we chose to provide for our child and something that is very important to us – home ownership. I still feel guilt over not being able to be a stay at home mom though. I feel like every mother I see lately is able to stay at home and I can’t help but feel a bit jealous and wonder how they heck they can afford it! Any other working mamas out there? If so, how do you handle the guilt of not being able to stay home with your baby all the time?

Next week is our next appointment which is exciting, but we mostly can’t wait until the gender/anatomical scan at 20 weeks!

That’s it for today. I’d love to hear your insight, especially about working motherhood and baby movements!

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirlfangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre/Audience: Young adult
Publication: St. Martin’s Press, 2013
Source: Library

Fangirl is another gem of a novel from the amazing Rainbow Rowell.

In Fangirl, we meet two twin sisters who are huge fans of Simon Snow (AKA Harry Potter). They are such devoted fans that they spend the majority of their time writing fanfiction and have gained a huge following for their stories online. Now, the twins are starting their college career and Cath is feeling abandoned by her much more outgoing twin, Wren, who does not want to room with her and is no longer interested in the Simon Snow fandom. Cath feels alone and scared without her sister by her side, but continues her Simon Snow fanfic writing. Her first semester at college is a bumpy one with a less than agreeable roommate, said roommate’s constantly present but uber charming boyfriend who is always around, continued struggles with a mentally unstable father, and the mother who left them as children trying to make a comeback in their life. Cath must learn to live her own life – on her own terms – without Wren constantly by her side.

I loved this story right from the get go. I related SO much to Cath, it was eerie. Descriptions of her refusing to eat in the dining hall, and instead staying in her own room, mirrored my own college experience to a T (hence why I moved back home and commuted to a local school after one semester). Rarely in college-aged novels do we see someone who is struggling with the change – it’s usually all about the parties and fun, and I just could never relate.

Then there was Wren who had the total opposite college experience – she partied, went out, and even landed herself into some serious trouble with all of her drinking. While Cath could frustrate me a lot with her wet-blanket type attitude (though I could truly see myself in her), Wren was even more frustrating. She basically abandoned her old life and own twin when she got to college. Ugh. They became quite opposite from one another, when really you just kind of wished they could both rub off on each other a bit – couldn’t Cath just have a little more fun? Couldn’t Wren reel it in just a bit?

In addition to the fascinating dynamics of the twins, the other relationships were intriguing as well, particularly Cath’s eventual love interest, the incredible Levi. Most girls probably swooned. Also very notable were Cath’s roommate, Reagan, their father, Art, and their mother who abandoned them as children. All of these characters and relationships were developed really well and were very complex.

I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that I love so much about Rainbow Rowell’s novels. Her writing has a casual feeling, yet it’s so polished. Her characters are flawed, yet they’re perfect. All I know is that I’m a lifelong Rainbow Rowell fangirl and I will happily read anything she writes!

My Rating: 5/5

Bumpdate: 16 Weeks

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I am 16 weeks today! The baby is about the size of an avocado, and weighs about 2.75 ounces and is approximately 4.5 inches long!

I don’t have a whole lot to report this week since it’s still too early to really feel the baby and I don’t have another appointment for two more weeks. The belly seems to be growing more and more now though which is exciting!

I have to admit, I caved in last week and scheduled an appointment for a “gender reveal” elective ultrasound at this place that does ultrasounds exclusively. It was scheduled for tomorrow, but then we ended up canceling. We’re just dying to know the gender, but with our past complications, I decided NOT to do anything baby related that does not involve my doctor, and this place does not have doctors. We will just have to wait another four weeks. :) We’re planning on having a gender reveal party too and can’t wait.

I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned names yet, but we do have a girl name already picked out, so if the baby is a girl, we are all set. It’s a name that I read in a book and fell in love with about eight years ago that has always stuck with me. As for boy names though, we’re having a tough time compromising! I love one name, Jerry loves another… this is not good. :P

I’ve had a horrendous migraine on and off since last Monday so that’s my main “symptom” at the moment. It’s preventing me from being as productive as I’d like, though our bathroom makeover is just about complete, thanks to a lot of help from my parents. Our bathroom no longer looks like it’s stuck in the 70s! I’ll do a full post on this soon once we finish a few other minor details in there.

My grandparents are also here from Florida this week so we’ve been able to spend some much needed time with them. I also showed my grandma some baby items I’d like her to knit so I’m excited to see what she comes up with!

That’s all I’ve got this week! Any guesses on baby’s gender?! I’ve had a gut feeling on the gender since I’ve been about five weeks pregnant! Anyone else ever have a gut feeling, and was it wrong or was it right?

Review: Hungry Mother Creek by Heather W. Cobham

Title: Hungry Mother Creekhungry
Author: Heather W. Cobham
Genre/Audience: Women’s fiction, adult
Publication: 2014
Source: For review, CLP Tours

Hungry Mother Creek is the story of Maya, a young widow who lost her husband, home, and everything else in Hurricane Katrina. Two years later, she has started a new life on the creek in small town Oriental, North Carolina with her loyal lab, Doodle Bug. It is there that she begins to learn how to heal from a painful past, unhappy marriage, and guilt. With the help of several women friends and a possible new love interest, Maya begins to rebuild her life.

This story started out with a very sad and dark feeling to it as we learn about Maya’s jerk of a husband and unhappy marriage, and then his eventual demise in the hurricane. Maya just has this dark cloud hanging over her as she deals with the outfall and wonders why she stayed with him in the first place. She wants to start fresh so she can move past all of her feelings of regret, sadness, guilt, and even continued panic and nightmares about the hurricane that changed everything. She wants a simple life in the small town by the water from the moment she first takes a trip there with a sister. When she finds a small boathouse to rent from an elderly woman Hazel, who lives on the property in a large, old home, her life begins to change for the better.

A variety of people from all different walks of life enter Maya’s life, and she soon forms friendships with many unexpected people. Each of these people help play a role in Maya learning to really live again and heal from her past. I enjoyed seeing these friendships grow and Maya evolve. I also have to say, I loved Doodle Bug… I am a sucker for dogs! I also particularly enjoyed that Maya is a runner since I am as well but haven’t been able to do much with it lately because of some pregnancy issues we had. Yay for living vicariously through other people’s running. :)

All in all, this was a quiet but enjoyable read, albeit a bit sad. There were some spiritual parts which kind of threw me for a loop as I wasn’t expecting them and really couldn’t relate to them either, but I know some people will enjoy that aspect, even though it wasn’t for me. I would happily read future works from Heather.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Bumpdate: 15 Weeks

1406646250893I’m 15 weeks today and it looks like we finally have an actual baby bump! The baby is the size of an apple or orange, is about 4 inches, and weighs around 2 ounces.

I don’t have a whole lot to report this week. I’m feeling okay but some days are much better than others. I’m mostly tired. Yesterday while at work, I seemed to be coming down with a cold (lots of sneezing and a runny nose) which also gave me a migraine. I went to bed early but STILL woke up today with the migraine. The cold symptoms are gone though, so that’s good! I am feeling REALLY thirsty lately too and I have terrible “pregnancy brain.” I always forget whether or not I’ve taken my prenatal vitamin!

Baby got his/her first outfits ever. My mom bought these two yellow (AKA gender neutral) pajamas last week at Once Upon a Child while shopping for clothes for my nephew. The one has ducks on the feet, and the other is a sleep sack thing. They’ve been washed and are now hanging on itty bitty baby hangers in the nursery!

20140725_194614Not a whole lot of other news right now. Our next appointment is our 18 week one which won’t be for another 3 weeks. Then, we’ll finally find out the gender at our 20 week scan which we are extremely anxious for.

The baby’s bedroom should be getting carpeted this weekend, then we can start setting up in there a bit. I know it’s early, but we have giant boxes taking over my downstairs living room (crib, mattress, dresser/changing table), so it will be nice to get them set up and in the proper room!

Jerry and I had to switch our sides of the bed the other day too. His side (now MY side) is closer to the door and therefore easier to get to the bathroom so HAHA. On that note, my sleep is okay but really not great because of the frequent urination.

My grandparents are coming in from Florida this week so we’re really looking forward to that. Too bad we don’t have an ultrasound scheduled while they’re here because it would have been fun for them to see the baby.

Lastly, I finally received this frame that I ordered last week and I love it!

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