Baby AL Update {22 Weeks}

The number 22 is one of my favorite numbers so I'm excited that Baby AL is 22 weeks old today. We've moved on from calling her Baby Ball to Baby Al since those are the initials of her name now that we know she is a girl. 

Speaking of girl, eeeek! I'm so elated that we finally get to use our beloved girl name that we have been wanting to use since the very beginning =)

Here we are at 22 weeks:

How I'm feeling: I've finally hit the blissful part of the second trimester where I'm feeling really good for the most part. My energy levels are better, although I'm still pretty tired. Not so much from carrying and growing a baby, but because I wake up a lot at night from having really vivid dreams or from being uncomfortable, so my sleep has been fragmented. 

Cravings/Food Aversions: I have been enjoying food much more lately since the aversions have been pretty minimal. Veggies are still my biggest challenge but I'm definitely working on it! It helps to have zucchinis and eggplants currently growing like crazy in our garden. I'm back to being addicted to coffee and I love it =) 

Baby's Development: I think Al has been having a growth spurt this past week because every evening it feels like the skin on my abdomen can't stretch anymore and I have trouble catching my breath from my uterus pushing on my lungs. Its funny because I've been feeling so big in the midsection lately and I can't even believe I'm just barely halfway through! She has been moving a ton and I love feeling her in there. It is by far one of the coolest feelings ever. She is the size (not weight) of a Spaghetti Squash now!

Exercise: Still going strong with Boot camp and Body pump classes, the stair climbing machine, and long(ish) walks with Kolbe. I'm very thankful and blessed to have the ability to keep working out and hopefully I can keep trucking along as long as possible up to Al's due date. 

Kolbe has been acknowledging Baby Al (by her real name) a lot more now that he can see the physical evidence that she exists and its so sweet when he gives her a blessing every night. He also tells me that he's going to help her come out in November....umm not so much haha

For comparison here is what pregnant at 22 weeks with Kolbe looked like:

And now:

I've discovered how great the maternity clothes from ASOS are, thanks to my sister's style savvy. That is where the above dress is from =) I love all the florals that are a trend right now!

We are slowly but surely cruising along. That's all I have for now! Maybe for the next baby update, we will have made some progress in Al's room and I can tell you about it. Don't hold your breath though, the room still looks like a toy + random clutter disaster. Nesting is a real thing and I'm determined to make it happen sooner rather than later! 

 

JMJ+

A Garden Party Gender Reveal

Lately, I have seen cute gender reveal ideas pop up everywhere. I think its so fun to do something special to tell the people you love what the sex of the baby is. So when my sister offered to host one, I was definitely excited. I wanted it to be small so as to not burden her with a huge party but also so that we could all share in the excitement together more closely.

Yesterday afternoon, Matt and I's immediate families and some close friends gathered under the "Tree of Life" at Audubon Park to celebrate Baby Ball.

My sister, being an actual event designer and coordinator did an amazing job setting everything up. She never fails to capture the essence of what is being celebrated with all of the little details that she includes. 

As I walked up to the Tree of Life, I saw the makings of a Southern Garden Party complete with a beautifully decorated cake, chairs to lounge on, sweet tea, roast beef sandwiches, mini cheesecakes, and of course the sealed box waiting to reveal the big news. 

I even got to wear a crown of flowers the whole time, which is pretty much every little girls dream (and lets face it, the grown girls like it too haha).

We all mingled, and enjoyed the hors d'ouvres and each others company while the kids played kick croquet and climbed the roots and branches of the tree...that was their favorite part!

After a while, everyone, except Matt and I who already knew the gender of the baby, was instructed to write their name on a pink or blue token and cast their vote. Right before opening the box, Matt and I read the tokens aloud to everyone and not surprisingly, the pink tokens far outnumbered the blue! 

Everyone waited anxiously while we opened the box and....

Surprise! Its a GIRL! 

Even though Matt and I found out during our ultrasound, it was so fun to reveal it to our families and friends in that way. I loved seeing the look of surprise and delight on everyone's face.

We are so excited to have a girl! Its going to be a whole new roller coaster since all I've ever known is boy up to now but I can't wait to embark on the adventure. Thanks to my sister for throwing such a beautiful and thoughtful party for us and our families!

 

Baby Ball Update {19 Weeks}

Hey there friends,

Its been three weeks since my last Baby update! Time is flying and the weekends when I usually spend time writing these posts seem to be getting away from me. But I did not want to let another week go by without a little update on the little one. 

The baby is the size of a Mango this week! It is also the size of an heirloom tomato...both foods that sound so good right now actually haha. 

These past few weeks I have been feeling the baby move more and more and I love when he or she moves around. It still feels like a little flutter inside and I'm so excited to feel those kicks and rollovers soon!

Its brain is continuing to develop and Ball's senses are developing at a quick rate. I'm sure he or she can already hear all of Kolbe's crazy shenanigans from in there!

One thing that I have had to deal with since the beginning (and with Kolbe's pregnancy) is round ligament pain towards the bottom part of my uterus. The doctor says its normal and its just part of the growth process but I always have to crouch my knees toward my chest or bend over when I sneeze so that it doesn't hurt. In case you ever see me doing that, then that's why. I promise I'm not just being some weird pregnant woman =)

Exercise is going pretty well at this point. Now that I've been feeling good and normal for a little while (Thank God!), I've been able to be a bit more active and make up for all of that time I spent on the sofa. I've been averaging about 3-4 days of work outs and hope to make that 4-5 in the near future! One thing that is really hindering things is this crazy summer heat -- and its only getting hotter! Sometimes I cringe just at the thought of going to the store with Kolbe because getting him in and out of the car + carrying him into the store leaves me sort of drenched in sweat. These are the days when I wish I owned a pool =) We are definitely planning on spending more time at the gym pool that's for sure!

Here is Baby Ball at 19 weeks:

Eating has been MUCH better too since morning sickness went away. I don't have any food aversions (It still baffles me how that happens), and I've just been trying to stay balanced and have been listening to my body's hunger and satiety cues. This happened to me with Kolbe's pregnancy, but for some reason, its quiet easy for me to stop eating when I'm satisfied (its not so easy when I'm not pregnant). It seems that my brain is more aware of those hunger and satiety cues during pregnancy so I seldom overeat or let myself get to the crazy hungry state. I just wish I could carry that over to my non pregnant state =)

My challenge for this coming week: Replace my crazy carb/bread cravings with more fruits and Vegetables! I'll let you know how that goes...

For comparison's sake, here is me pregnant with Kolbe at 18 1/2 weeks:

And this time around at 19 weeks:

Whoa baby....definitely showing a whole lot more this time around! And yeah, same dress as the previous picture but obviously different days, I love the maxis! don't judge =)

Be back next weekend with some BIG news!!! This coming Thursday we find out if we are having a little man or little lady and we are so very excited!

Any guesses? =)

How to grow a Summer Garden {and what NOT to do!}

The spring after we moved to Covington, Matt and I decided to be adventurous and plant a garden. Even though it is relatively easy to grow things without doing much of anything, there have been many things that we've learned along the way. And now that we are in our third year of growing fruits and vegetables, I feel like we have finally hit a groove where it sort of feels like we know what we are doing (sort of). 

SPRING 2012

Matt used his macho man skills and built us a raised garden bed, we bought dirt from a local dirt seller person <-- technical term right there, and went to town at a local store picking out what looked good to us. Little did we know that we were in for an interesting journey. 

Rule #1 of what NOT to do with your garden:

1) Don't buy dirt from a random dirt seller person. Although the dirt they sell is great for other things, its not so great for growing a healthy garden. It took us two seasons to figure out that our plants weren't really thriving because we had started out with dirt that was stripped of valuable nutrients that our plants were craving. This may seem super obvious to some of you but it honestly never crossed our mind. Just goes to show how amateur we were!

We had spent the late winter scoping out the spot in our garden where we wanted to place our garden bed. Matt got to building the raised bed, laying down a tarp, moving all the dirt, securing it with gravel, and I did all the planting. Except a few weeks later, when all of the Spring foliage started to emerge, we realized the spot we picked was great for winter when there were NO leaves on trees and terrible for spring when there were tons of leaves. 

Rule #2: Don't pick a spot in the dead of winter. Scope out your potential garden spot during the SAME time of year that it will be growing, otherwise a VERY disheartened husband will spend countless, pointless and tiring hours moving all of his hard work to another location in the yard and you will be the most indebted wife there ever was. 

We were very ambitious and planted all sorts of unsuccessful things including watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, and spinach. Some of our crops grew ok that year and we were surprised by one giant zucchini and a few tomatoes but that was about it. Thank God for cheap starter plants! Not to mention that Kolbe was born that April and the garden definitely took a back seat. But we moved onward and upwards and were determined to be better the following year.

SPRING 2013

We went in with more of a plan. We drew our garden on a piece of paper to scale and measured out where we would put everything so that the plants would have the space they needed. In hindsight, we also went a little overboard and planted way too many things but that's how you learn right? Our crops included tomatoes, bell peppers, black beans, zucchini, salad greens, cilantro, basil, mint, and cucumber. Our zucchini was always plagued by plant killing caterpillars, the mint got eaten alive, and the salad greens never grew past little sprouts, but once again the tomatoes did great and so did the bell peppers and black beans and we were satisfied with our little garden. I could still tell that the plants weren't as healthy as they could be and this is when I started to realize that maybe it was the dirt void of minerals that we had bought the previous year.

Rule #3: Don't ignore the bugs in your garden. Even though some bugs are beneficial, others will wreak havoc and eat everything. We wanted to keep our plants pesticide free to so we bought organic bug spray from our local feed store. We also placed yellow plastic cups on stakes throughout the garden and rubbed Tree Tanglefoot on the cups. Bugs are attracted to the color yellow so it worked like a charm to lure them in and then they were stuck to that cup forever. (Just don't get that stuff on your hands, trust me!)

SPRING 2014

Matt thought it would be a better idea to break up the garden bed, reduce the amount of things we planted, and make it look nicer with some gravel in between so once again, he was hard at work making all of that happen while I marveled at how good he is to me =)

We (and by we, I mean Matt) also repurposed the old dirt to other projects and bought Miracle Grow planting soil, which has made all the difference! Nutrients? Pssh who needs those right?

I'm so happy to report that our little garden is thriving! This year, our crops include: Tomatoes (cherry and goliath), two kinds of bell peppers, eggplant, and zucchini and they are growing better than they have ever grown. Actually, the plants are so big that they are kind of taking over everything so I guess that's a good sign! We have been swimming in tomatoes so I bought a canning kit and will hopefully be canning my first batch of tomato sauce soon! We have some really awesome protective bugs right now in the garden so bugs overall haven't been much of an issue except for one gigantic caterpillar that was munching on our tomatoes last night. Matt brought it to its sad fate by cutting it in half with the scissors he was using to harvest other things =(

Its always nice to have a little helper in the garden to! I love to show Kolbe where food comes from and hopefully instill the value of eating local as he gets older. His favorite is picking the red cherry tomatoes and "cutting the grass" with his bubble lawnmower of course.

So there you go, three years of gardening and I finally feel like third time's a charm! I know we still have some learning to do, and hopefully once we move to a bigger space, our garden can grow. 

Our next endeavor coming Fall 2014: Chickens! We are so excited =)


Baby Ball Update {16 weeks}

Wow 16 weeks (plus a few days) already! 

Baby Ball is developing nicely and is about 4 1/2 inches long and weighs a hefty 3 1/2 ounces.

I'm finally, finally!! getting to a sweet spot in the pregnancy where I feel good most of the time and feelings of nausea are rare and few and far in between. Thank you Jesus! If it happens, its usually at night right before going to bed and in that case, I just go to bed. I had forgotten what it was like to feel like a normal person and I'm so glad to be feeling good again.

My food aversions are fading away and its so nice to not be so grossed out by food anymore. I'm still not 100% back to eating like I was before becoming pregnant but its definitely getting better and better each day and I'm finally eating vegetables and cooking healthier meals again. I think Matt and our wallets appreciate it =)

Since I'm not feeling so sick as often, I've been able to get to the gym a lot more, which I love. I forgot how energizing it is to get a good work out! I went back to my beloved Boot Camp class Monday and wow, pregnancy sure does slow a girl down! At least I have a good excuse to take it a little easier during the class, but it still kicked my butt in the best way possible. I'm trying my hardest to make it to the gym or at least do an at home work out at four times a week now that I am feeling well so hopefully I can get back on that bandwagon. Ever since I got pregnant though, I'll eat right before exercising, but I still can't make it through an hour long work out without becoming ravenously hungry again...its crazy. So I'll usually just bring a banana with me and eat it right when I'm done or suck it up and pay an arm and a leg for a banana at the gym if I'm really desperate. 

Here's Baby Ball at 16 weeks!

I've also been getting headaches more often thanks to an increasing blood supply but I'll take those any day over morning sickness! Thankfully they aren't debilitating so I can usually just go about my day, or take some Tylenol if its really bad. 

A few weeks ago I thought I felt Ball move, but in hindsight, I think it was my intestines moving haha. I'm looking forward to feeling some movements soon!

One unexpected good thing about this pregnancy is that it seems like I'm carrying the baby a little higher (for now), so most of my pants and shorts still fit pretty comfortably, either by buttoning them or by using the tried and true hair tie method to connect the button to the button hole, like so...

I have a few awesome friends who recently had their babies and kindly lent me their summer maternity clothes, especially shirts, which has been such a huge lifesaver! 

In other news, the Boppy body pillow has officially made its appearance. Matt has now been downgraded to 1/8th of the bed since myself and the pillow take up approximately the others 7/8th's...true sacrifice right there =) That thing is such a lifesaver thought as I can no longer safely or comfortably sleep on my stomach or back so I spend all night flipping from one side to the other. 

The pillow even makes you look that good while you sleep too its great ;)


See you at week 18!! 

Summer Reading List

Hey friends!

I just love summer time. It makes me want to spend my evenings outside relaxing in the backyard reading a book while Kolbe plays and the sun sets.

He is contemplating why the sky is blue...

 

Except not, because usually what happens is I get eaten alive by mosquitos and suffocate from the heat that never ends!

But! I do still plan to relax and read a lot this summer before baby #2 arrives and I don't have time to read anymore. I wanted to share my summer reading list with you.

Remember in grammar school and high school when the last thing we wanted to do was read books from our summer reading list?? I love how times change =) At least these are all books that I picked.

 

A Severe Mercy

Beloved, profoundly moving account of the author's marriage, the couple's search for faith and friendship with C. S. Lewis, and a spiritual strength that sustained Vanauken after his wife's untimely death. (Source)

I am more than halfway through this book and cannot put it down. After talking with my friend Beth about how we love conversion stories, she lent it to me and I'm so so glad! Its a beautifully written display of truth and beauty in its most raw state. I definitely recommend it!

 

Mere Christianity

In the classic Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, the most important writer of the 20th century, explores the common ground upon which all of those of Christian faith stand together. Bringing together Lewis’ legendary broadcast talks during World War Two from his three previous books The Case for ChristianityChristian Behavior, and Beyond Personality,Mere Christianity provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear this powerful apologetic for the Christian faith. (Source)

The characters in A Severe Mercy talk about this book as a stepping stone in their conversion journey and it intrigues me so its definitely on my list. I love C.S. Lewis so I know it will be good!

 

Brideshead Revisited 

Through the story of Charles Ryder's entanglement with the Flytes, a great Catholic family, Evelyn Waugh charts the passing of the privileged world he knew in his own youth and vividly recalls the sensuous pleasures denied him by wartime austerities. At once romantic, sensuous, comic, and somber, Brideshead Revisited transcends Waugh's early satiric explorations and reveals him to be an elegiac, lyrical novelist of the utmost feeling and lucidity. (Source)

I'm not going to lie when I say that I've attempted to start this book at least twice and I have yet to get into it. Several trusted friends who love literature have said this is their favorite book and I trust their opinions so I know I just need to power through and get to the good stuff! 

The Giver

Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back. (Source)

After reading both The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies, I'm super into dystopian novels, but they have to be really good to make the cut...I definitely could've done without all of the teen drama in Divergent. I'm hoping this book is as good as it sounds!


The Secret Keeper

During a picnic at her family’s farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses a shocking crime, a crime that challenges everything she knows about her adored mother, Dorothy. Now, fifty years later, Laurel and her sisters are meeting at the farm to celebrate Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday...Laurel searches for answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past. Clue by clue, she traces a secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds thrown together in war-torn London. A gripping story of deception and passion, TheSecret Keeper will keep you enthralled to the last page. (Source)


Four Witnesses

Four ancient Christian writers--four witnesses to early Christianity --left us an extensive body of documentation on this vital subject, and this book brings their fascinating testimony to life for modern believers. With all the power and drama of a gripping novel, this book is a journey of discovery of ancient and beautiful truths through the lives of four great saints of the early Church--Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus of Lyons. (Source)

If you couldn't tell, I'm on a spiritual reading kick here and lately I've been more inspired to learn more about the early church and how it all went down. I've read a few things from early church fathers and its beautiful that the Church of then is still the Church of today so I'm ready to explore some more.

 

After typing everything out I realized that theres no way I'm going to finish all of these books by the end of summer. Maybe by the end of 2014 if I'm lucky?

 

Happy reading!