Friday Five

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#1.  First things first…  I bought my first candy corn of the season!!  It felt like a pretty big deal, because I love it so much!  :)  That’s happiness (and fall) in a bag, my friends!


 

#2.  Want to know what else made me happy?  This meal from Panera!  I had the You-Pick-2 option and chose the BBQ chicken salad (obviously) and the butternut squash soup.  Sooooo good!

I’m pretty sure that I could eat Panera every single day and not get sick of it…

The company was pretty amazing too, I must say!  :)  Love my sistah!


 

#3.  Apparently, it’s possible to bargain shop for nail polish!!  I was at Sephora the other day to pick up a high-quality topcoat, and the cashier suggested I take a peak at their clearance section.  There was a bunch of nailpolish on sale for $2 or $3 a bottle!!

I ended up buying a topcoat by Formula X for $3, a black Formula X polish, and two Sephora brand nail-polishes for $2 each!!  Score!  I’ve never used Formula X before but have always wanted to…

Because I tried it for the first time today, I can’t comment on how long it lasts.  But I will say that it went on really nicely, so I’m a fan so far!


 

#4.  Because I love trying new makeup products (but I rarely want to dish out money on a product that I’m not entirely sure I’ll like), I might sign up for Ipsy.  For $10  month, recipients receive a small pouch of about 5 sample (sometimes full) sized products to try.  (Birchbox sounds pretty great too, but those are more body products – like lotions and such.  And since I already like the lotions and body-care products that I use now, I don’t think that is quite what I’m looking for).

I think it’d be fun to try new products, especially since it would only add up to a little more than $2 a week.  Have any of you ever tried Ipsy?  And if so, what are your thoughts??

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#5.  I’ve gone to the dark side…  No, really, I bought yet another pair of dark flats.  ;)  As I’ve mentioned before, I have officially given up on heels for the duration of this pregnancy (although I still manage to wear my cowboy boots on occasion).  I bought a pair of comfy, brown flats on sale for $20 to add to the black pair and red pair that I already own.

Even if I miss wearing heels on occasion, I do have to admit that flats are pretty adorable too!  :)

And THAT is my Friday Five!

What are you up to this weekend??  :)

Preggo Journal – Week 29 Recap

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For those of you who aren’t all that into pregnancy posts, I promise there are some blog posts coming up that don’t revolve around all things baby!  ;)  At this point in the game, it’s just getting harder and harder to write about anything else, as baby Brady has officially influenced every part of my life — from food, to clothing, to workouts, to daily activities.  I have officially (and happily) turned into a full-time baby-making machine!!  Ha, ha.

And for those of you who are enjoying my preggo updates, here’s the recap for week 29!!  :)


 

How far along:     This post recaps week 29, but I officially started week 30 yesterday.  Awwww, 10 weeks left until my due date!!!  Can you believe it???

How big is baby:  Brady is the size of an acorn squash!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total weight gain:   30 pounds.  I’m at the stage where I’ll probably be putting on about one pound a week, as Baby is going to be doing a ton of growing over the next two months.

Maternity clothesYes!  And I have to say that it feels SO good to be wearing clothes that fit well once again.  :)  I’m currently in LOVE with preggo yoga pants and stretchy maternity tops.  They are so unbelievably comfy!

Labor signs:     Nope

Happy or moody most of the time:    Happy, happy!

 Sleep:   I’ve been sleeping like a baby this week, but then once 5:30 or 6:00am hits, I usually wake up and can’t fall back asleep.  So my mornings have been early.  :)

Best moment of this week:   My baby shower, for SURE!  Also, Brady got his first hiccups, and Nate was nearby to put his hand on my belly.  So he was able to feel them too.  Who knew that hiccups could be so special and cute?!?

Awkward moment this week:  I had two awkward moments and they were whoppers…  Soooo expect a blog post about that very soon.  Ha, ha.

Exercise and Activities:  My two-mile walking route takes about 20-30 minutes longer to complete than it used to, but I was good about getting out there and walking 4 times this past week.  I definitely miss running still; but I’m trying to enjoy the slow-paced walks, using it as time to just think and take in the beautiful, country scenery around me.

I also finished cleaning out the nursery (although I’m still not done decorating).  :)  And Nate and I did a bit of shopping at Babys’R’Us, with a detour into the toy section, of course.  This is where I discovered that they sell child-sized, remote-controlled MiniCoopers!  Maybe I can’t afford my favorite car, but I just might have to buy Brady one of these when he’s old enough.  ;)  (AND, if I’m lucky, maybe he’ll let me test drive it.  Ha, ha).

I’m definitely finding myself slowing down a little bit, due to not having as much energy.  On Monday, after going for my afternoon walk, I totally watched some TV during the middle of the day, which is something that I just don’t do.  But the preggo version of myself needed the extra rest, so… No guilt!!

Miss anythingHeels!  ;)  I’ve given them up for now and am solely wearing flats and sneakers.

MovementBrady’s movements still aren’t regular and consistent, but they’re sure getting stronger!

 Food cravings:   I had MAJOR sweet cravings this past week.  Like major!

Anything making you queasy or sick Nope.  (I kind of wish that sweets made me feel queasy though.  Ha, ha).

Looking forward to:  Babymoon this weekend!!!  :)  It’s kind of a new fad that couples expecting their first child often go away for a few nights on a babymoon, as a way to spend time together before the baby comes.  Nate and I thought that we wouldn’t be able to go, due to all of the car expenses as of late.  But then, we received a free night’s stay at a Best Western!  So we’re able to go away for one night on Friday, and I’ve put away enough money to pay for a nice meal or two as well.  It will be simple, but special.

Sooooo EXCITED!

And that’s that for now!  :)

 

A Baby Shower for Me and Brady

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I’ve gone to so many baby showers for cousins and friends that it felt rather surreal to walk into a baby shower that was for… me!  Surreal, but on the other hand, quite exciting.  :)  I had been looking forward to it for weeks, dreaming of the cute outfits and practical baby things that my baby Brady would receive.  So much so that on the morning of the shower, I woke up at a ridiculously early hour, because I was just too giddy to sleep.

My mom and sister outdid themselves with the planning process, booking one of my favorite restaurants for the event.  It’s a rustic restaurant that was once a working mill and that still is surrounded by a little pond, waterfalls, and lots of funny ducks.  (In fact, when I was a little girl, my mom would sometimes bring me and my siblings there to feed the ducks and geese).  It’s the epitome of quaint, New England charm.  And since they know me so well, a breakfast brunch was served (complete with corn fritters and syrup, pecan rolls, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, home fries, and fresh fruit).

Also, cupcakes were set up for each guest to take home.  (You all know how much I adore cupcakes, and these – purchased from a local bakery – were especially delicious)!

The centerpieces were mason jars filled with blue stones and a rubber ducky, then topped off with burlap and a pretty blue bow.  Guests also were able to take home little fall-scented hand sanitizers for their purses.  Cuteness, right?!?

Additional décor wasn’t even needed, as the wooden-beamed room (complete with brick fireplace and old-fashioned wall-paper) had so much character.  But my mom and sister added a few additional touches, including blue tissue-paper flowers to hang from the ceilings.  Everything was just so beautiful and perfect!

After the delicious breakfast, it was time for me to open presents!  I received so many cute outfits (and some things that I really needed, including a stroller, infant sleeper, bathtub, baby blankets, play mats, the Baby Bullet to make homemade baby food, and diapers).  It definitely put a good-sized dent in the things that Nate and I will have to buy!

So many adorable things!

It was SUCH a special day, and I truly – from the bottom of my heart – appreciate each woman and girl who came out to celebrate with me!  I’m also so thankful to my mom and sister for all of their hard work in putting such a beautiful shower together!!  It wasn’t only helpful… it also was a beautiful memory that I will treasure forever!

(And a HUGE thank-you to my mom and dad for their generosity in providing us with a few big-ticket items.  I love you both SO much)!!!

AND Mr. Nate, I love you oh-so-much, and I’m SO crazy excited to be experiencing this adventure with you!!!  :)


Outfit: Mothermood Maternity dress (on sale for $20) with cropped sweater (The Limited)

Shoes:  American Eagle flats

 

 

Some Pamperin’… and Some Scrapin’

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I’ve actually never had a pedicure before.  Mainly that’s due to my being too cheap to pay for one.  I can always find things that I’d rather spend money on, like clothes, books… and food.  ;)  But when my brother and his girlfriend bought me a gift certificate to a nearby spa, and I found out that there were mommy-to-be pedicures and foot messages, I was all like, “Yippee, where do I sign up??”

It was perfect timing, honestly, since my baby shower was this past weekend; and I’m at that stage in my pregnancy where touching my toes is like trying to do crunches while balancing a basketball in my lap.  It’s not pretty.  And, yes, painting my toenails is quite the feat.  (Don’t get me started on shaving my legs, by the way.  These days, it may as well be an Olympic sport, so I’m grateful for the cooler weather that allows for long pants).

Sorry, Nate, – but these days – shaving is way overrated.

Anyway, a soothing foot massage followed by a pedicure sounded like just what the doctor had ordered.  Or should have ordered anyway.  (No, seriously, why don’t doctors prescribe foot massages for pregnant women)?

The plush, leather chair I sat at – once I arrived at the spa – had a jetted tub for my feet, where the warm water bubbled around my tired toes.  I think I heard my feet sighing with complete happiness.

I may have even sighed out loud as well, because one of the spa attendants came over to me and asked if I would like a hot tea or a glass of water.

“No, thank you,” I said with a smile.  “But I’ll take one of these seats to go, please!”

Ha!  Don’t I wish!  ;)

After my luxurious soak, however, things got a bit rougher.  Apparently, my spa attendant’s nickname was Olga the Terrible.  (Not really…  But that’s what I’m nicknaming her).  ;)  She scraped, and filed, and ended up leaving some pretty good cuts on my feet and legs.  But on a positive note, my feet are as smooth as a baby’s bottom now, and my toes are painted a pretty candy-apple red!  :)  So if people comment on the scrapes around my ankles (where the file missed my foot and jabbed at my leg), I’ll just tell them that I got into a fight with an otter.

Totally believable!

After the hour-long foot soak, massage, and pedicure, I was starving; so I decided to continue with the pampering theme of the day by treating myself.  I stopped by Panera for their BBQ chicken salad, which – I am excited to announce – is back on the menu!  :)

I was really disappointed when they got rid of it, so I was ecstatic to be able to order it again.  Sooooo delicious!

I finished off the pamper-me day by painting my fingernails… and then going for a haircut.

I had been debating for days as to whether I should just get a trim or whether I should get my hair chopped.  In the end, I made a last-minute decision to get my hair chopped up to my shoulders.  :)  And even though it’s a different look, I love it!  My hair feels so healthy, and it’s so quick to take care of!  (There will be better haircut pics ahead, by the way.  My hair was frizzy and frazzled by the time I had the chance to actually snap a pic of my new ‘do).

After all that pampering, I was definitely ready for my baby shower!!  :)


Pampering Day Outfit

Short-sleeve Blouse – Motherhood Maternity

Skinny, Stretch Pants – Motherhood Maternity

Red infinity scarf – JCPenney

Crochet-topped flip flops – Payless

Mustard purse – JCPenney

Preggo Journal – Week 28 Recap

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How far along:     Only 12 weeks to go!!  (Actually, as I write this, I’ve just started week 29, so technically I have 11 weeks to go).  ;)

How big is baby:  Baby Brady is now the size of an acorn squash.  Sometimes though, it feels more like I have a dancing watermelon in my tummy.  He definitely enjoys bouncing on my bladder, which makes walking for any extended period of time quite fun.  Ha, ha.

Total weight gain:   28 pounds and counting.  Originally, I wanted to be one of ‘those’ pregnant ladies who only gained 30 pounds throughout the pregnancy, but it quickly became apparent that I’m probably going to be closer to 40.  That’s right around the healthy range however (as doctors recommend gaining 25-30 pounds if you’re starting at a healthy weight), so I really haven’t stressed about it.  I had to eat more that first trimester – thanks to the nauseousness – and I most certainly was not going to diet by the time I started to feel better.  It’s all about being healthy!!

 Maternity clothesYES!  :)  Finally the cooler weather hit this week, so I was able to pull out my preggo yoga pants, skinny pants, quarter-length T’s, and bump-flattering blouses.  I’ll try to get some good pics of my favorite outfits going forward.

Labor signs:     Still too early, although my stomach is sure feeling tight these days.

Happy or moody most of the time:    At the beginning of the week, I hit a rough patch, thanks to the hot weather and the anemia.  But once the cooler weather arrived, I really started to feel like myself again.  I’ve been feeling very happy these last few days!  :)  (I’m especially excited about my upcoming baby shower)!

 Sleep:   I didn’t sleep well this past week, partly due to waking up about four times a night to pee… and partly due to the sudden onset of pregnancy insomnia.  I’d wake up around 2am and lie there – unable to sleep – until about 5am.  On the bright side, I pinned a LOT of cute baby ideas and recipes on Pinterest, while I was lying there awake.  :)

Best moment of this week:   I think that I really embraced my baby bump this week.  And even though my belly is growing by the day, I’m feeling absolutely confident, which is a nice place to be!!

Awkward moment this week:  While leading worship at church, I had to introduce a new song to the congregation.  Just as I began to play the first chords, I realized that I could not – for the life of me – remember how the melody went.  Hello, pregnancy moment!!  (And I only had a chord sheet, so I couldn’t read the notes to help figure out the melody line).  So I did the first thing that popped into my head, and I just made up a song that matched the words and chords.  Nate was watching from the back, and his jaw kind of dropped open in confusion.  And the guitarist’s eyes got really wide, but he just kept playing.  So, yes, I taught everyone my own version of the song… and good luck to Nate when he tries to sing it the right way next week.  ;)

Miss anythingBeing able to bend down easily.  Ha, ha.  And honestly, the toughest thing for me has been the need to slow down.  I do miss my ability to walk quickly and to get things done efficiently.  I’m much slower these days, and sometimes I do get frustrated with myself.  But I’m learning that it’s okay to slow down sometimes!

MovementBrady was moving so much the other day that I could actually see my stomach bouncing around a bit!  :)  He isn’t very consistent yet though, so it’s hard for Nate to catch it at the right time.  He has felt Brady move once or twice, but that’s about it.

 Food cravings:   Pizza… Always pizza.  Also, the fresh, fall apples are in season, and I am loving them!!  I’m not usually a huge apple fan, but I’ve been eating two a day of these McIntosh apples!

Anything making you queasy or sick:  I’m done with the morning sickness for now!  :)  Woo hoo!!!

Symptoms:  Anemia symptoms are still hanging around.  And like most preggo ladies, I have pretty intense leg cramps at night, occasional cramping, and fatigue.  But I can’t complain, because – in the grand scheme of things – I’m actually feeling pretty good!  I went for a brisk walk the other day, and I thought to myself, “Wow, I’m in my third trimester yet I still easily just walked two miles.”  When I first became pregnant, I had thought that I’d be sitting on the couch watching TV all day by this point.  Ha, ha.  And really, even though I’m not always entirely comfortable or pain-free, I actually am doing pretty great!

Final thought:  A part of me realizes that there is still SO much to do before baby arrives.  But then another part of me can’t wait for baby to get here!!!  :)

Oh my goodness, my peeps, I’m going to have a baby in less than three months!!!!

Living Life Spontaneous

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It’s not a typical day for me, when I find myself at the grocery store before breakfast.  Then again, I’ve always said that I should be a little bit more spontaneous.  And when I woke up with an intense desire to bake, and realized that my morning and afternoon were free, I decided to just go with it.  Sometimes, that’s just the thing to do.

After all, if the cool weather that comes with fall isn’t enough reason to bake, I don’t know what is.

Also, I seem to have skipped the whole ‘pregnancy nesting phase’ and jumped head-first instead into a ‘baking phase’.  I can’t get enough of it.  I’ve been baking faster than my husband can restock our fridge with butter; and then I scurry around the neighborhood, dropping off baked goods so that my husband and I don’t eat it all ourselves.

Nate isn’t buying it completely, saying that my sudden urge to bake is probably less due to pregnancy urges and more due to the fact that I’m looking for any reason to avoid cleaning.  ;)

I’m pleading the fifth on that one…

And, in my defense, before I came to the conclusion that I was going to spend my morning baking, I had cravings for bagels and cream cheese.  That, at least, was most-definitely a pregnancy craving, because I’m usually a cereal girl.  And normally, if I’m in the mood for food, I just shrug it off and wish that I had it.  In this case, since my husband had already left for the day, I found myself rolling out of bed, sliding a hat over my crazy hair, and rushing to the car for a quick trip to Dunkin Donuts.

It was one of those ‘if I don’t have a bagel with cream cheese soon, I’m going to die’ type of moments.

On my drive there, however, I decided that I should pick up a whole container of cream cheese and a bag of bagels.  You know, in case this craving should hit tomorrow as well.  And while I was at the store, I should also pick up a few supplies to make some cookies, since I really didn’t want to clean had that intense desire to bake again.

I suppose that, to most normal people, this type of morning may sound a little bit stressful and scatterbrained.  But it was actually quite nice to pick up breakfast things that I was craving and then to settle down at home to enjoy them.  A toasted pumpkin bagel, cream cheese, and a mug of apple cider.  I was pretty much in foodie heaven.

The cookies, unfortunately, didn’t have such a successful ending.  I’ve been wanting to try these Spiced Apple Drops for some time now, and I finally decided to just bake them already.  They tasted absolutely delicious, but they looked more like moon craters than the plump cookies they were supposed to resemble.  So while I decided not to bring them to Bible study, as originally planned, Nate and I did enjoy eating the few that hadn’t thinned out too much.  (I’m not sure what happened, as I followed the recipe to a T.  My only guess is that the apples were extra juicy and that the moisture caused the cookies to thin out too much.  That’s disappointing, because the apple pieces really did give the cookies a nice flavor.  Back to the drawing board, I suppose).  ;)

I spent the rest of the day cleaning (see, I DO still clean) and getting ready for my two, upcoming days of teaching piano.  Around dinner, Nate took a bike-ride to a nearby lake for some exercise, called me once he got there, and suggested that I swing by with a pizza so that we could have a picnic.  Again, not a normal day for me.  But I’m not sure that I’d ever say ‘no’ to a picnic… or a pizza.

So we both sat at a picnic table by the lake and split a small pizza from our favorite Italian restaurant.  (I also stole a few sips of Nate’s rootbeer, because it’s a guilty pleasure of mine, not going to lie).

Shopping at the store for that morning’s breakfast…  Baking up cookies that taste delicious, even if they’re not so pretty to look at… And pizza-picnics by the lake…

Hmmm, maybe I should be spontaneous more often??  :)

Are you spontaneous, or do you like to plan out your entire day?

Sooo happy that Fall is coming!

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I felt something jab me in the ribs, pulling me out of a deep sleep.  I groggily opened my eyes, pulled my chin off of my chest, and wiped a bit of spit from the corner of my mouth.

“Are you sleeping?” Nate whispered into my ear, sounding slightly horrified.

“I’m tired,” I said, pushing his hand away so he couldn’t jab me again.  “I just nodded off for a little bit.”

He shook his head, very much looking like a schoolteacher about to scold a rebellious student.  Then he turned in his seat and faced the enormously-tall movie screen in front of him that was flashing lights and colors across the dark movie theater.  I jumped a bit as another loud explosion jumped out of the surround-sound speakers, blaring the sounds of Guardians of the Galaxy, but then wondered how in the world I was going to stay awake for the rest of the movie.

Yeahhh, anemia is no joke.

My doctor officially diagnosed me with low iron last week, but I had my suspicions even before the blood work was done.  Falling asleep in a loud movie theater aside, my energy levels have been unbelievably low.  My heart races, even when I’m standing still.  My legs and arms feel weak.  And I’m so tired ALL the time.

The blood work just confirmed it.  I had already known something was up.  It’s not normal for me to have to sit down while cooking, because my legs can’t hold me up any longer.  It’s not normal for me to have to take breaks while doing my makeup, because my arms are too tired to lift up a makeup brush.  It’s not normal for me to put my pajamas on each night by 8pm.

Okay.  So maybe that last one is normal for me.  ;)  But still, I haven’t been feeling all that great lately.

It also didn’t help that these past two weeks have been hotter than most days this summer.  Normally I don’t mind.  I’m all for warm sunshine and tank top weather.  But the preggo version of me doesn’t like the heat and humidity.  Preggo-me gets a little bit nauseous, grumpy, and swollen.  It’s not all that pretty… or comfortable.

BUT the weathermen are calling for 70 degree temps over the next week, which means the fallish weather is finally arriving.

 

Which – with the addition of iron pills to help with the anemia – means I’ll be feeling a lot more human, while I’m growing a little human.  :)  Which makes me oh-so-happy!!

Want to know what else makes me oh-so-happy?  My baby shower is just DAYS away.  Yikes, I can hardly believe it!!!

100 Happy Days (Days 54 – 65)

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For those of you who are new to my blog, I’m participating in the 100 Happy Days Challenge, during which I’ll  – for 100 days – take a picture of something that made me happy.  :)  Here are pics from days 54 through 65.


Day 54 – LOVING this maternity dress that my friend gave me. Feeling so blessed!!

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Day 55 – It’s amazing how such a seemingly simple text from my hubby can melt my heart. I love YOU, Nate!!!

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Day 56 – Just a girl, her Pepere, and lots of blueberries! Had such a lovely morning of blueberry picking with Pepere, Mom, and Sarah.

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Day 57 – Spent the afternoon with our amazing friends Ashley and Ryan. AND Ashley gave me this gorgeous quilt that she had made for Brady’s crib. It’s absolutely perfect!!! (And I’m not going to lie, it has become the inspiration for the rest of the nursery)! I’m so blessed to have this girl for my best friend. Love her!!!

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Day 58 – I LOVE summer. ‘Nough said!

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Day 59 – We’re preggo and we know it! Pizza, yogurt parfaits, a good movie, AND lots of girl-talk made for a really fun night!!

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Day 60 – My Aunt Debbie and Uncle Jon bought Brady his very own Brady jersey / onesy. HOW CUTE IS THAT!?! Nate and I were beyond excited about it, and I can’t wait until little Brady is here to wear it.

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Day 61 – Had a wonderful dinner with amazing friends and their precious little girl! (Krista and I were trying to figure out how long we’ve been friends… The only thing we know for sure is that we can’t remember a time when we weren’t friends. Ha, ha). Thank you, Krista and Tyson, for the delicious meal and the campfire. We had SUCH a fun evening!!!

I didn’t include this photo, as I hadn’t asked permission from Krista to share a pic of her beautiful baby girl on my blog.  :) –

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Day 62 – Today I’m happy that my glucose test is over! (Here’s to hoping that I pass with flying colors). The drink is something else, but at least I was able to keep it down, despite feeling nauseous. One more thing to check off the preggo check-list!

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Day 63 – It was SO wonderful catching up tonight with four people that are not only very special friends, but who have also been important mentors and role models in our lives.

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Day 64 – I heart sunflowers!

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Day 65 – A fun, delicious treat from a friend!!

Waving ‘Goodbye’ to One More Trimester

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Today is the last day of my 2nd trimester….

I write that with a healthy mix of excitement and fear, as I honestly can’t believe that I’m facing the last trimester of my pregnancy.  I’m so excited to meet the baby boy who dances around in my belly and who seems to grow on a daily basis now.  Then, on the other hand, I feel as though time is speeding past at an alarming rate, and I realize that I still have so much to do and learn before he arrives.

Up to this point, I’ve only read What to Expect When You’re Expecting.  It’s a great book, but I’m pretty sure that reading a minimum of three books is a mother-to-be-requirement.  What if Brady is born before I’m finished with that third book?  What if I miss that one piece of information that would have made all the difference in the world?

Yes, I know, I know!!  My husband says the same thing.  We’ll survive.  And Brady will still probably be one of the happiest little boys in the world, because kids need love… not parents who have all the answers.

Still, I’m fairly certain that having most of the answers doesn’t hurt.  ;)

That being said, I’ve decided to face this last trimester with the same attitude that I have all along:  I’m going to take it one day at a time.  AND I’m going to make these upcoming months count by focusing on the things that will keep me and baby healthy.  August was a busy month.  Maybe too busy.  So my goal for these last several months is to slow down a LOT and to make sure I have time to get the rest, exercise, and prepping done that I need to.  (I plan to recite that previous sentence verbatim to my doctor tomorrow at my checkup, as I’m slightly concerned that maybe I put on a bit more weight this past month than I needed to.  I definitely didn’t make time to exercise enough over the past few weeks, and there were a few too many splurges).  *sheepish grin*

I decided to start the month of September off strong by going for a small hike with my family yesterday afternoon.  Although I get out of breath faster than I normally would, I felt great!  The fresh air, forest scent, and light conversation left me feeling energized.

Although I do have to say that the conversation also left me hungry.  My family apparently talks about food… a LOT!  Within the course of three hours, my dad, mom, or sister managed to mentioned pizza, clams, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, BBQ’d ribs, cheeseburgers, shrimp, and ice cream.  Pretty much all of my cravings thus far, except this was the first time that I craved all of them in one night.

Fifteen minutes after returning home from the hike, my parents called and asked if we were up for fried seafood.  Of COURSE we were!!!  So my parents, sister, husband, and I once again piled into my dad’s car, except this time we drove to our favorite fried seafood restaurant.  In my defense, my iron seems to be low, and clams are an excellent source of iron.  So, you know, I was just fighting anemia one fried clam at a time.  ;)

(I split that plate of seafood with my hubby, by the way).  Ha, ha.

It will all come together.   I realize that.  :)  And if I don’t get absolutely everything done that I planned to, that’s okay.  This last trimester is important to me, and I plan to make sure I do make time for rest, exercise, AND reading those two extra books.  ;)  But just as summer is slowly melting into the colorful season of autumn, my third – and final – trimester will lead me to the beginning stages of motherhood.  And I’ll learn, and grow, and figure it out.

I still just can’t believe that it will be here so quickly!  :)

 

Cupcake Dreams

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I haven’t officially announced on my blog yet that my bestie Liz (the beautiful, red-head that is so often my workout partner and bargain shopping-trip partner) is pregnant too and expecting her baby just eight weeks after me!  I’ve been waiting for our belly-bump photo shoot, but we haven’t had the chance to do that quite yet.  So here’s the official announcement…  ;)  My bestie Liz (the beautiful, red-head that is so often my workout partner and bargain shopping-trip partner) is pregnant and expecting her baby just eight weeks after me!!!  :)

(Since we haven’t done a bump photo-shoot yet, here’s a pic we took during one of our shopping trips last year).

I was  thrilled from the onset to be pregnant with my first child.  But expecting a baby at the same time as such a close friend has made being pregnant so much more exciting, precious, and hilarious.  We talk almost every day on the phone, comparing food cravings, baby kicks, or nursery plans.  We encourage each other after a long night of little sleep and laugh when pregnancy brain kicks in and leaves us quite embarrassed… but with a good story to tell.

The simple truth is that being pregnant together has made pregnancy extra fun!

So when Liz’s family threw her a gender-reveal party, and I was asked to bake the gender-reveal cupcakes, I instantly said “yes”!  Baking is my passion; and I’m pretty sure that (other than getting paid to write) being paid to bake would be my favorite job ever.  AND it was such an honor to be a part of Liz’s special day!!

Granted, as much as I adore cupcakes, I didn’t have a ton of experience baking or decorating them, so a trip to Michael’s craft store for inspiration was a must.

(Which reminds me, I need to add “Take a cake decorating class” to my ‘bucket list’, if it’s not already on there)!

I picked up a few cake decorating tips (the large-mouthed ones that would make for easy piping of frosting), fun cupcake tins, chocolate for melting, a few chocolate molds, and mini Oreo’s.

Then, this past Saturday morning, my kitchen was transformed into a bakery, complete with flour-coated floor and deliciously-sweet smells.  After mixing, blending, beating, and baking, I soon had 70 cupcakes cooling on my kitchen table, just waiting for a gender reveal party (and a church outdoor picnic).  Seventy, gently-mounded, little cakes just waiting to be nibbled on and devoured.  Thirty pieces of molded chocolate, now shaped like hearts and swirls, waiting to add a special touch to a frosted cupcake.  :)

Oh such sweet, sweet fun!

Liz had given me the top-secret, doctor’s note that revealed whether she was having a boy or a girl, and the plan was to fill the cupcakes with blue frosting (for boy) or pink frosting (for girl).  Using a sharp knife, I carefully whittled out a small piece from the top and center of each cupcake and then filled it with the colored frosting.  Then, to make sure the surprise wasn’t discovered until the  first bite, I replaced the cake ‘cap’ and covered the top of the cupcakes with buttercream frosting.

The note from the doctor said “Girl”, so the frosting was pink!  :)  YAY!!!

I made three types of frosting (from scratch) and three types of cupcakes (one from scratch, while two were box mixes that I doctored up a bit).

And I’m really happy with how they turned out!  :)  (Click here if you want the recipes for the lemon buttercream frosting, the Oreo cupcakes, or the chocolate cupcakes).

Soooooo, it may be awhile before Nikki’s Cupcakes is taking orders, but you can be sure that I already have a list of must-try cupcakes for the near future!  ;)

I think it’d be fun to make a new cupcake every couple of months, at least!!!  :)

Oh, how I love cupcakes!

And, oh, how I love my friend Liz!  I’m soooooo excited for you, Girl!!!!