Monday, February 23, 2015

Affordable Baby Shower


This weekend I hosted my first baby shower and I'm thrilled to say it was a success! The guest of honor is a close friend from college who moved away to Texas, so the all of the guests who attended were close, special friends of hers who she doesn't get to see often enough.

I wanted the shower to be budget-friendly but still very cute and sweetly themed, so I decided on a forest theme. I already had a lot of rustic accents and a plethora of kraft paper goodies to choose from.

With a little digging on Pinterest, I learned that hosting showers in an "off" time (i.e. not around a meal time) makes the shower more affordable because you don't need to offer a full spread of food. Who knew!? Seems like common sense but I'd have never thought of it on my own.

The shower was at 2PM and I offered a yogurt bar along with a few light snacks. Here is the food spread:
I had tags on hand from Pick Your Plum so I labeled each element of the yogurt bar by tying tags on each spoon and fastening with a little coordinating washi.

Guests were invited to fill a stemless wine glass with a choice of: plain yogurt, vanilla greek yogurt (which is now an addiction. YUM), blueberries, granola, strawberries, coconut, chocolate chips and honey.

Yogurt bar 
These are some of my FAVORITE little sammies. They are mini rye bread, a smear of cream cheese, some paper thin cucumber slices (thanks, mandolin!), fresh dill and a little pink himalayan finishing salt. So light, fresh and delicious! The perfect little shower snack. I probably ate 8 of them throughout the shower. They are so delicious!!
Cucumber dill tea sammies
Every shower needs games, so I used my Cricut to make tiny onesies and we played "Don't Say Baby!" which was a hoot.

The rules:

  1.  Clip a onesie to your outfit (I hot glued cardstock onesies to hair clips from Hobby Lobby [$3.49 for 25 clips - 30% off])
  2. If you hear the word "BABY" - take their onesie!
  3. Person with the most clips wins! 
We also played "In the Diaper Bag" which is a game I learned about online also. All of the guests got in a circle and the mama-to-be-started. She said, "In the diaper bag is...a cloth diaper" each person following her had to add an item in addition to repeating every item mentioned before them. If you forget an item, you're out. The person with the most creative item who also didn't forget an item "in the diaper bag" won! 

The final opportunity to "win" at this shower was offered to anyone who gave a cloth diaper gift to the mama-to-be. I randomly drew a name and that person won a prize! 

I wanted the prizes to be thoughtful and sweet, but of course...affordable! So I chose three precious mugs from Hobby Lobby (40% off for Easter collection items!) and bought three boxes of my favorite Celestial Seasonings tea. Each winner went home with a sweet mug and a box of herbal tea! Sorry, I forgot to photograph :-X (BAD BLOGGER)

A friend made banners to help decorate the shower. Sadly, I didn't get any photos of the other decorations but you can see the gorgeous banners this friend made with her Silhouette!

Since the guest of honor flew in from Texas for the shower, I didn't want to burden her with shipping a pile of gifts home. With the help of some other girls, I organized a group gift to send the mama-to-be a gift from her registry I knew she desperately wanted.

However, it wouldn't be as fun to just give her a photo of the gift everyone pitched in for, so I made her go on a scavenger hunt :) You can read along with the clues below and see if you catch on to what the gift is before the hunt is over!

There's one more gift and we all chipped in
But we won't tell say what, you have to win. 
So explore the home and find your clues. 
We think it's something you'll really use.
Start in the place you'd wash all those nappies. 
Finding this clue will make you so happy. 

Clue one: laundry room
Little Blue Truck Book
In this book is the first clue. 
Read this page out loud is what to do.
"Little blue truck rolled into the city. Beep! Beep! Beep! Isn't it pretty?"

Next clue location - taped to back of book: 
The special location for your next riddle
Is not where you would play a fiddle
It's the next room over where you'd cook and clean so go there now, we won't be mean.

The herbs you seek you can't make into a dish. 
Turmeric is a snail. And Basil, a fish. 

Clue 2- on the fish tank 
This word is one that doesn't mean tall. 
In fact it means "very small" 
Say it out loud is what you do 
Sound it out and you'll get the next clue. 

The next place you'll find the final clue 
It's where you can put your feet up before you're due 

Next clue location - in the TV cabinet
Sit down and listen to the song we play 
But that's not the answer to the riddle today 
The song you know, but the math is wrong. 
So a little algebra will help you along. 

Last clue: Play "Like A G6"
Take out the number and add a letter. 
This riddle just gets better and better.
The answer here also happens to be a drink. Served hot or cold - what letter is it, you think? 

Give her final clue: 
Little blue truck rolled into the CITY and beep beep beep wasn't it pretty?! 

That fish and snail didn't help at all. 
Their clue was just so very small. 

You may not have finished the game just yet 
But we think the last clue was a pretty sure bet. 

You did a fine job following clues
But when you get home, put on your walking shoes. 

Your STROLLER is the answer to this game we played. A CITY MINI GT is on its way!! 

Here is a video of most of the 'hunt' :) 

I still cry just thinking about how fun that was. I woke up at 5am one morning last week with the inspiration to write the scavenger hunt. Wondering what I was going to do was on my mind for weeks and when I woke up with the idea I had to just sit up in bed and write it all on my phone. Thank goodness I did because I'm so proud of how it turned out! 

Naturally, the room full of guests (including the guest of honor) was crying. It was so special and so sweet. The mama-to-be just let it sink in for a moment and bowed her head to cry when it hit her. "I really wanted that stroller!" she sobbed. It is definitely a moment I'll never forget. 

Now finally, I had to send the guests off with a tasty treat. I made trail mix with ingredients I mostly had on hand, so I only needed to buy a few things. I made popcorn with my air popper, added butter and seasoned salt, stick pretzels and M&Ms/Reese's Pieces (because I couldn't pick so I had Hubs buy both when he went shopping). 

I'd bought some favor bags again from PYP and washi tied the whole thing together with some tags I had on hand. I think they turned out pretty cute! 

I think the mama-to-be and all the guests really enjoyed the shower and I'm proud of what I was able to present. Our other house still hasn't sold, so this new house isn't completely furnished...which meant a lot of guests were standing room only because we don't have enough chairs or sofas. But I think we made due and I'm still proud I was able to host such a lovely shower in our new home :) 

SHOUT OUT to Hubs for all of the hard work you tirelessly put into this shower to help me pull it off and also SHOUT OUT to everyone who helped make the stroller possible - especially YiaYia :) 

**PYP links are affiliate links**

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pregnancy: 24 Week Update


How far along? 24 Weeks

Size of Baby:  Ear of corn!?! That seems so much bigger than a mango. Grow baby, grow! 

Weight Gain: 9lb so far. I'll take it. 

Nursery: Hubs hung the blinds in the nursery yesterday! I'm looking forward to selling our other house so we can move the twin to the new house and put LW in it. Setting the crib up in Mo's room will make the room seem much more real. 

And a dear friend gave me the diaper cart I've been aching for from IKEA (RASKOG)
I can't wait to set it up and fill it with my newborn stash for Mo!!!

Movement: The last twenty four hours he's doing some kind of polka in there - completely bouncing off the walls. It's fun to feel his little punches and kicks! 

Symptoms: Sciatic pain kicked in with a vengeance this week when I sat reclined on the couch. I am sticking to sitting in the good green chair because it has solid back support. 

Cravings: Honey Nut Cheerios. Ohhhh I could eat those like you wouldn't believe. Hubs joked this week that he's never known anyone who craved Cheerios like I do and my thought was, "What pregnancy craving ever seems rational!?" Just thinking about them, I need to eat them. I try to shut them out of my mind as long as I can each day, but right around now every night Mo says, "MOM! THE CHEERIOS!" and I must obey. I'm sorry, waistline. At least it's not Samoas this time around... 

Looking forward to: Having him in my arms and putting his tiny diapers on and watching him grow and experience the world the same way I watch LW every day. I just saw an old photo of LW on Facebook and it makes me curious as to how much Mo will look like him, act like him, mimic him... I am so excited to see them interact as brothers. 
LW - 5 month old
Things I can't stop thinking about: What the future holds. Waking up in the middle of the night again to nurse. Packing a diaper bag for two. Road trips as a family of four. Where will we go? What will we do? How active will we be this summer as we adjust to life as FOUR instead of three? Will I feel like I am under a dark cloud when Mo arrives the way I did with LW or will I be excited to get out and experience the world again? Will I bounce right back? Will I embrace life as mom of two boys? Will LWs clothes fit Mo? Will he grow faster? Slower? Will he nurse better? Will he cry louder? I am full of so much wonder. So many thoughts. So much excitement...and only 16 more weeks to wonder before I experience it all. I have to admit that the wonder is exhilarating. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pregnancy: 23 Week Update


How far along? 23 Weeks
Size of Baby:  Mango?! I feel like we're going backwards here...

Weight Gain: Don't know. Don't care :) 

Nursery: We did find a dresser! I scored it for $30 on a Facebook garage sale and Hubs picked it up. It will be refinished navy :) 

Movement: He's busy in there lately - I have started thinking he is actually a weeble wobble. His head is down but his legs will kick over on my right side, then all of a sudden he's over on the left side kicking. He sways from one side to the other with his little booty. 

Symptoms: Tired. Oh am I tired. And I cry almost all of the time. 

Cravings: Nothing really notable this week. The turkey burger craving was fleeting last week. I didn't get another one and survived. 

Carbs taste pretty great though :) 
Looking forward to: putting tiny little cloth diapers on Simon's tiny little bottom. For Valentine's Day, Hubs got me exactly what I wanted, some of the new Ocean prints in the brand new Thirsties NB AIOs. Oh my word are they tiny and adorable.
Things I can't stop thinking about: A few big things are on my mind.... When the time is right, I will share. For now, prayers for patience would be appreciated! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

One Hour


Yesterday my amazing sitter was here for the morning and spent her time spoiling LW and her son. They colored, crafted, snacked, I'm sure had the usual dance party, read books, played trains...the whole nine yards. So naturally when I had to ask her to stay an extra hour because I forgot to check my conference call schedule prior to having her arrive, I felt really guilty.

She agreed to stay and never bat an eye at my request. That extra hour happened to roll over lunch time, so she also fed her son and mine. I forgot to offer her food for her own lunch.

That one hour changed my attitude for the day. For once, I was able to spend my lunch hour snuggling my child. I could read him a book, watch part of a show and we could cook a soup for dinner together.

I didn't have to make him lunch, or clean up after him or fight to count how many bites he'd taken while I watched the clock to make sure I didn't go over my allotted hour break.

LW spent the entire morning playing, so when it was time for his nap, he just fell asleep without fighting me. I didn't have to take him on a drive in the car or listen to him stomp around his room creating mass destruction for an hour. He just laid down, and went to sleep.

Since I'd already cooked dinner, after work I took our dog to the vet without feeling rushed. I came home and we ate at our leisure...because dinner was ready when we were. Then, I cleaned up and did the dishes from the whole day (a feat that is NEVER done at night, always begrudgingly in the morning before 8am).

Because I had one hour so unselfishly given to me during the work day, I was able to mop my floors that night. Something that (sorry Mom) I hadn't done yet this year. I also folded a mountain of laundry, which may even get put away this week. I did this while LW watched Frozen for the 8,000th time but I didn't feel guilty because I knew he had spent his day playing or peacefully napping.

One hour gave me the relaxation after bedtime to sit and have a conversation with my husband and our company for the evening, a friend who was in from out of town, without eyeing the dishes that hadn't been washed or the laundry that hadn't been folded. Because I'd already done both!!

Hiring someone to come and help me during the day has done wonders for my mentality.

Because of the unselfishness of the person I chose to help me, I am able to be more productive and relax more often.

Whoever your care giver, hug them. Buy them a Starbucks. Remember to offer them lunch. I had no idea the peace of mind an hour would give me.

To our caregiver: As I have said before, we are blessed to have you...and I cannot say thank you enough. Also, I'm really sorry I forgot to offer you lunch. Next time, just eat my food!!! All of it! Any of it!! 

This also goes for Grandmas and Grandpas who spend their days off chasing our wild little beast, changing diapers, battling tantrums, combating naps and wiping snotty noses. You already did your time by raising your own children and still you volunteer your time for your grandchild without a moment of hesitation. Thank you. We appreciate you more than you know.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pregnancy: 22 Week Update


Well, now that you know where I was during week 21 and why I missed the update, I'll fill you in on week 22.

How far along? 22 Weeks

Size of Baby:  Spaghetti Squash! I've never eaten one, but it's on my list of things to try eventually. 

Weight Gain: Don't know. Don't care :) 

Nursery: No progress. As you know, we've been a little preoccupied this week. 

Movement: He kicked like CRAZY (more than ever before) the day of the accident. Probably all that adrenaline had him going. Since then it's just been the normal movements, usually at night or if my feet are up. When I'm relaxed I feel him thumping away in there. 

Symptoms: I have had a bit of RLP lately and some growing pains through my low pelvis. It feels like he's getting heavier. Thankfully, I still feel pretty great. I was just telling Hubs the other night that at this point with LW I remember feeling like a complete whale and this time I'm so much smaller. It is so much more pleasant! 

Cravings: Weeks 20-beginning of 22 were ALL about the JJ #6 and BBQ chips. As in I probably ate that combo 6-10 times in those two weeks. And LOVED every minute of it. Last night we went to Red Robin for dinner to celebrate Pete joining our family and I had their turkey burger. I only ate half and saved half for lunch...and I probably will order it to go at least 5 more times in the near future because it tastes unbelievable right now.  

Looking forward to: Nothing. And I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean after the accident, I'm focusing on NOW. Today. I'm trying not to look "forward" to anything and miss today. I want to absorb and drink in every minute of today that I can. Because before you know it, you could be rolling down a ditch in a car crash. 

Things I can't stop thinking about: The accident. I'm trying my best not to dwell on it or replay it in my head anymore. Whether I am laughing about what happened because it's so absurd that I can't believe it was real, praying thanks to God that I am okay, daydreaming about my new car or thinking about the "what-ifs" of what could have happened...I haven't been able to get away from it yet. I know it was only a few days ago, but I'm struggling to just let it be. I've started hitting my stride back to "normal" with housework and errands again, and driving doesn't bother me at all (it helps that now I'm driving my dream car) but when I sit and have a minute to just think, it tends to cloud my mind. 

And turkey burgers. I can't stop thinking about turkey burgers. 

The Crash


Well, I clearly skipped a week.... so let me explain.

I took a trip to a sweet little vacation town about 2.5 hours away with my Jamberry sales team. I had the most magnificent weekend building relationships, falling more in love with Jamberry and dreaming about my potential as an entrepreneur.

While I was there an EPIC snowstorm took over Chicagoland. Half of the team opted to drive home before the storm and half of us decided to weather the storm in our enormous, beautiful and very safe rental home. I'm glad I stayed because it gave me all that extra time to bond and build with my team. And in that time I DID take a 21 week bumpie:

Now, the next solo photo taken of me was this:
I was smiling, because I kept feeling Simon kicking regardless of what had just happened.

Driving home from a weekend I will never forget and thinking of the sisters I gained over the last few days, I wasn't paying close enough attention to the road. Thankfully, it was only Simon and I in my car and no one was around to even see what happened.

I play the accident over and over again in my head and it still doesn't add up.

I hit a clip of snow. My car lost control. Before I knew it, I was rolling in my car down a gully in the center of the highway.

Throughout the accident I wasn't scared at all. I just kept thinking, "Really, Frank?! Get it together." (Frank was the name of my Honda Fit). I couldn't believe it was happening and while it happened, I didn't feel a thing. I never lost consciousness but I also never felt tugged or pulled or jarred. It was like someone held me in their hands while my poor car rolled, bounced and jerked down an enormous median ditch and then just rested me back down when the collision was over.

Immediately, I started to find my glasses, my phone and called 9-1-1. I was fairly calm until I realized, "I'm upside down. I'm trapped. I'm pregnant." Then, the panic set in.

An off-duty fireman saw my car in the ditch and came to rescue me. He held the door open vertically (as in, over his head) for probably 20 minutes while my car was laying completely on its side so I could stand and breathe fresh air. Fireman: I don't even know your name. But thank you.

Another driver noticed snow puffs from the median and thought that seemed odd, so she stopped as well. My car was far enough down that you could not see it from the road as you drove by. She just had a hunch and got out of her car to look. What a blessing. She held my hand while I cried and called Hubs and one of my Jam sisters and until the ambulance came.

I kept telling the off-duty fireman and this woman that I could climb out of my car, and they kept telling me no. I realize now that had I tried, my car would have continued to roll and I would have crushed all three of us. I'm glad they were there and I'm glad I listened to them.

The ambulance, police and fire department all arrived and they had to cut the roof off of Frank to get me out. He was laying on his passenger side and there was no other way to safely remove me.

The rest of my story is happy. I had no injuries. Simon never missed a beat and I was released to go home by 5pm (accident happened around 11am).

Sadly, Frank didn't make it. He gave his life for mine and I am eternally grateful. RIP, Frank.

I remember the firemen kept covering me in blankets and towels and saying "turn away" and "loud pops" "breaking glass" but none of it really made sense at the time. They had to blow out all of those windows (that weren't already broken) to cut the roof off and safely remove me from the vehicle. I am still finding slivers of glass in random places. Yesterday one fell out of my phone case. RIP Frank.

I took another day off work to relax and spend the day researching new cars. Knowing they had to cut me out, we were sure insurance would rule Frank a total loss.

I ended up buying another Honda. After how Frank saved my life, I couldn't imagine buying anything else. So, welcome Pete. My new Mom-mobile. I have never felt safer.

No one can explain how I didn't get injured in an accident like this - I can't even explain it. I had somewhat of a stiff neck the day after it happened, but never had a scrape, a bump or a bruise on me. It is truly a miracle and I think there is only one answer: God is good.

When I was going through my belongings from Frank today, I found a cross that I kept in the glovebox. God and my guardian angel were watching over me on Monday throughout the accident. I am truly blessed to not only be alive, but unharmed as well as have a healthy baby still growing inside of me. God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good. And yes, that cross is now in Pete's glovebox :) 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pregnancy: 20 Week Update


I feel like I JUST did this for 19 weeks...and here we are again already! Since my transition day changed from Friday to Thursday I am all thrown off. 

How far along? 20 Weeks

Size of Baby:  Banana! Crap. I eat at least one of those a day and so does LW. That will make the rest of this week awkward now that I know...

Weight Gain: Don't know. Don't care :) 

Nursery:  Since I found the perfect curtains last week, the nursery isn't on my mind at the moment. I have my eyes peeled for the perfect dresser to refinish but haven't had any luck yet. The right one will find us. And if it doesn't, he has a pretty big closet until we find a dresser :) 

This weekend my mom and I did get to shop for the flannel that will be Mo's quilt though, which is exciting and adorable. 

Movement: He is getting more active! Still only notice him when I am sitting still or laying down and really relaxed, but his movement is getting more pronounced. I think we are close to Hubs being able to feel him from the outside, which is very exciting. 

Symptoms: Little bit of pressure/cramping down low. I feel like I'm carrying a fanny pack with a stone in it. He's not a small child. Or, he doesn't feel like one. 

I had another "Saturday morning slip". I got up at 7 and had a croissant for breakfast, forgot to take my prenatal. Took it on my way to my mom's with a banana at 9:30. Got busy chatting and didn't eat. Flew to the doughnut shop (because hello, Saturday) at 11:00 but it was too late. By the time they had our dozen packed up, I was in the bathroom heaving my guts out. And everyone in the little shop heard me. Those poor doughnut eaters thought they were going to have a peaceful morning sugary treat and instead got to hear me vomit in the rattly little bathroom with paper walls. 

When I walked out of the bathroom (not knowing everyone in the store could hear me heaving) I shyly smiled at the teenaged girl washing the drive-thru window who was staring at me, jaw-dropped. Two old men then looked at me and smiled like, "Poor kid.". I sat down on my stool to eat my doughnut and my mom said, "Feel better?" I said, "Well, yeah now that I puked I feel great!" and she goes, "Those poor guys know better now then to sit next to the bathroom." and it dawned on me that they heard me. And the girl heard me....and probably everyone else there heard me. So, we high-tailed it out of there and I opted to let my stomach settle for another few hours before downing as many doughnuts as I could. And I will just say, I owned a good portion of that dozen all day.  

Cravings: Well, clearly doughnuts. And Jimmy John's. I've had the veggie and BBQ chips three times in seven days and I don't regret a single bite of it. IT. TASTES. MAGNIFICENT. 

Looking forward to: Lots of friends are due soon and I cannot wait to hear about all of their labors, deliveries and meet their little nuggets!! (via Facebook photos) It just makes me more excited for Mo. 

Things I can't stop thinking about: Double strollers. OH man it's the obsession this week. I had one picked out (City Mini GT Double) but it's really rare to find one under $300 on Craigslist. I had one in my grasps for $250 a few weeks ago and let it go (STUPID!) so now I'm hitting the search hard. 

I've opened my search up to the Baby Jogger X3 Summit Double as well. I see a lot of Mountain Buggy Duos on Craigslist for reasonable prices, some even with car seat adapters or carrycots included but I've also heard they don't wear well. 

I know the GT folds down quickly, easily and SUPER compact – enough to have room to spare in the back of my little Honda Fit. I don't know any of that about the X3, but based on research it looks similar. The X3 has three wheels like my Graco which I love, and suspension with shocks, plus is supposed to be better for bigger kids/last longer. I LOVE how the GT handles and the fourth wheel isn't cumbersome because they're all jogger tires. 

So many pros and cons are you understanding that the struggle is real right now for me?!!? 

Retail price on the X3 is about $100 less (on Amazon Prime right now) than the GT. I think I will just watch Craigslist and see what comes up, since they are pretty neck-and-neck. If LW's birthday in May arrives and I still haven't found a good deal on Craigslist (I have alerts set up to email me every time a Baby Jogger stroller is posted in my area. Obsessed) then we will go test drive again and make a decision with what we can get with discounts, coupons, gift cards, etc at the retailer we choose. Time will tell! And I have little patience. 

UPDATE: I received feedback late last night about a double stroller I should look into...and I was up late researching it. Then I was up early this morning not-sleeping with pregnancy insomnia and couldn't stop thinking about it. Meet the two new kids on the block, who are currently in the running for potential LW/Mo Ride 2015: Valco Baby Snap Duo2 and Valco Baby ZeeTWO 
The Snap Duo2 (above) has me hooked because it has this amazing quick-fold technology, auto-locks itself closed and has a standing fold so if you have your hands full with two children running around, you can leave it be and it will support itself, standing neatly without taking up an entire parking space. See a video demo here. Oh, and it's 21lb. Which has me completely sold, plus the price point is lower than the City Mini GT and the ZeeTWO....BUT those wheels. I'm not sure I'm on board with those plastic wheels.... So bring in the ZeeTWO: 
ZeeTWO has a higher price point than the Snap Duo2 (same as the GT retail), but has the slick wheels I am looking for. It's the same weight as the GT, has many of the same features but is getting more attention because of it's large, single basket underneath and Valco's attention-grabbing quick-fold technology. 

There is a store very close to me who carries Valco (one of three in the state) so I have reached out to them to see if they carry both of these models. I may be saving my Jamberry pennies and selling my heart out to buy one of these strollers retail since they are so "new" to the US market.