Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stocking Stuffers {Link Up}

Happy Thanksgiving week! I have been busy, busy, busy getting the last of my groceries together for the items that I will be bringing to our Thanksgiving dinner, making Christmas lists, decorating the house for the holidays, filling up the calendar with fun activities for the month of December, and enjoying time with my sweet hubby, who has the week off. His first vacation since starting his job - woohoo!

To top off all of this wonderful'ness, I am back today with another installment of the fun link-up being hosted by the sweet bloggers listed below.

Today's topic is "Stocking Stuffers." I can't wait to share my picks with you. I think the things I've found would make any woman in your life happy - mom, friends, sisters, daughters...You name it. They will love something on this list! And I'm so excited to get some fun ideas from the other ladies who participate. So, let's get started.

Honestly, I'd love one of each and every item on this list to appear in my stocking this year. But I'm particularly excited about the moccasin slippers (which are a total knock-off of this pricier version) and uber comfy. I'm also hoping the lip scrub shows up in my stocking - I've heard good things, and can't get over the cute packaging. And that teardrop bracelet and those sparkly studs? I die. 

I've been a good girl this year. I think I deserve a few pretty things:)

I have some great ideas for gifts for the littles in our lives, but decided to hold off on sharing those until next week's link up. If you missed last week and this week, it's not too late to participate in the last installment of the link up next Tuesday. The topic is listed below:

Be back tomorrow to share a few things that I am thankful for this year. Although 2014 has had its share of ups and downs, it's going out on a very sweet note, and I am more thankful than ever for the many blessings I've been given. And for which I am so undeserving. 

Until tomorrow!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Palm Tree Boutique {And a Discount!}

Happy Friday, girls!

Today, I am doing something a bit different. Instead of participating in the Friday link ups that I normally do, I'm so excited to share with you a company that I was recently introduced to: 

The Palm Tree Boutique

Recently, my sweet friend April recommended my blog to the people over at the Palm Tree Boutique, and not long after, I was offered a chance to review one of their products. After taking a peek at their site, I couldn't say yes fast enough. Y'all. Their stuff is darling. I had a hard time narrowing my choices to just one. I'd honestly like one of everything, please and thank you:)

Since I am currently sporting a bump however, I decided to be practical, and chose something that I knew would accommodate my growing midsection. The All Too Well sweater in cream was my selection. And I am in love. 

The creamy, winter-white shade is perfect for fall and winter. The material has just a hint of sheerness to it; enough to keep the sweater sweet and feminine and prevent it from feeling bulky. The slouchy fit is perfect. It is loose enough that I know I can wear it for months to come, even with a growing belly. But fitted in all the right places. Fitted enough that I know I will wear it for many fall and winter seasons to come, long after this pregnancy has come and gone and another little one has joined our family.

Another thing I love, love, love about this sweater? The length! It is long enough to wear with skinny jeans, but also long enough to pair with leggings. Which is so rare! I can't tell you how many sweaters I've ordered in hopes that they would be long enough to cover my derriere in leggings and then been disappointed. This one is perfect. It's a bit shorter in the front than in the back, so even my shorter friends won't feel drowned. For size reference, I chose a small.

If you're in the market for a perfect fall and winter sweater, the hunt ends here. I could see this sweater dressed up with some sparkly cuff bracelets or earrings for a holiday dinner. Or paired with jeans and boots for a casual look like I've shown above. And the price? At just $35.00, I'd call it a steal. 

In fact, The Palm Tree Boutique offers some of the best boutique prices I've seen. I have my eye on several other adorable items from them. You can save 20% off your first purchase by signing up to receive their emails. And, right now, if you pop over to their site and see anything that catches your eye (be forewarned - you definitely will), you can save 15% off your purchase with the code THENEWLY15%. This code is good through the end of November. So be sure to visit their site for some of your Christmas shopping needs. Or to add a few items to a wish list of your own.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Baby K #2 {16 Weeks}

As I've said before, I don't plan on doing a bump update every week this time around. Mostly because I just don't foresee having the time with a busy-bee 18 month old running around. And also because my husband, aka my photographer, won't be around to take bump pictures every week for me, and I deign to subject you all to bathroom selfies on a weekly basis. Because after all, what's a bump update without a picture of the bump? 

However, this week, I am 16 weeks along. Which seemed like a nice, round milestone of a number. So I thought today would be a good time to go ahead and start the updates. Here we go. 

How Far Along: 16 weeks, 4 days

Weight Gain: Per my doctor's appointment yesterday, I am up about 9 lbs. I gained right around this amount with Caleb (and only gained 27 pounds total with him), so I'm hoping I'll run the same course as last time. It seems like I put on weight in spurts here and there, and then go weeks with no gain, so there's really no telling. We shall see.
Symptoms: Still have random bouts of nausea. Exhaustion here and there - which I am happy to report, is getting better! Random twinges and lower abdominal cramps (from what I can only guess would be the stretching going on in there).

Cravings/Aversions: No REAL cravings - just liking salty stuff like it's my job. Aversions? Oh, yeah. Seafood. Mexican food. Meat in general (unless it's in a cheeseburger). Most desserts. 

What I am Missing:  For now, just sleep. However, I know from experience that this is something I won't be getting much of in the near future, so I should be pretty used to that by now. You'd think. Oh, and Coca Cola. I really, really miss my Coca Cola.

Size Of Baby: Week 16, baby was about the size of an avocado (4 1/2 inches long, 3 1/2 ounces)

Sleep: Not great. I don't have to do many bathroom trips, but I can't get comfortable most nights.
Workouts: Zero. Zilch. Nada. Which hasn't helped the scale. Hoping to get back to walking with Caleb daily when our little cold snap passes. Because listen, Mama ain't going out walking when it's in the teens. Nope.
Clothing:  All pre-preggo clothing for now. Using belly bands and the rubber band trick for the pants that won't zip up comfortably, but still have a few that will. Will likely be switching over to maternity bottoms in the next 3-4 weeks, but hoping to hold off on maternity tops for as long as possible (i.e. forever).
Gender: Mums the word for now;)
Nursery: I've got lots and lots of ideas, but won't be sharing until we know (and have shared) the gender of this little one. So excited.

Best Moment This Week: Hearing the little one's heartbeat via Doppler at yesterday's OB appointment. Baby was kicking and flipping, and clocked in at 150 bpm. Love.

Looking Forward To:  Getting my blood results back tomorrow (weird, I know). I had to get tested to check my immunity to Fifth's Disease - which Caleb came down with last week. Just hoping to rest a bit easier when the test results come back, and are hopefully good news. Also really looking forward to Thanksgiving next week! Yummy food and family? Nothing better.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Letter to My Son {18 Months}

On Sunday, November 16, Caleb Monroe hit a big milestone: 18 months. A year and a half. Part of me feels like he's been here and part of our lives for forever. And the other part of me can't believe that his sweet little smile is already 18 months old. Where, oh where, does the time go? This milestone is particularly bittersweet for me because his next one - at the two year mark - will see him in a different role than he's ever known. That of "big brother." While we are beyond thrilled to be adding to our little family, there are days in which I find myself wondering how on Earth it could be possible for me to love someone even half as much as I love my sweet son. I've heard mothers say that your heart just expands. That there's room for all. I hope that's true - and know down deep that it must be.

But for now, a certain little blonde boy has my heart. Totally and utterly.

And today, I thought I'd share his 18 month letter.


Dear Caleb,

Happy 18 months, my precious boy!

You are a year and a half now. And like I say in every letter - what a big boy you are. Each time I mean it even more than the last. You are truly a BIG boy now! At your eighteen month appointment this week, the nurse referred to you as a "juicy baby" after weighing and measuring you. You clocked in at 28.8 pounds and 33.5 inches. You are long and stout, my sweet baby. You've outgrown several of your friends, including your old bestie, Levi, and classmate, Uriah, who are both 5 months older than you are. In fact, Daddy has already guessed that you may end up being taller than he is one day. Both of your grandfathers are over 6 feet tall, so there's a good chance you could beat your Daddy's 6 foot measurement by an inch or even two. Grow, Caleb, grow! Wouldn't you just love to beat him on the basketball court one day? I know you would!

Aside from your weight and height stats, here are a few more facts about you at 18 months old, sweet boy. You wear a size 5 diaper now. The size 4's still fit, but you are so long-waisted, you were leaking out of the top of them quite frequently, so up a size we went. You are wearing 18-24 month and 24 month clothing. The 24 month shirts actually fit you best most of the time (again because of your long waist), but 24 month pants tend to be a bit big, so you are kind of mixing and matching sizes right now. You have five teeth now. Your two bottom middle teeth, your two incisors, and your top left front tooth. A few more are getting ready to break through, but for right now, you look like a little baby vampire. Or shark! You eat like a champ, and love breakfast foods. Fruits are another favorite, along with sweets like vanilla wafer cookies. Veggies are hit and miss. You'll eat corn all day long, and sometimes a green bean here or there, but otherwise are not that interested in them.

Since the last letter I wrote to you, you've changed a lot and experienced many new things! You started a Mother's Morning Out program at a church near our house in August, and have done so well with it. The first few weeks were tough - you never wanted me to leave, and it broke my heart every day to leave you crying. Fortunately, the crying only lasted for a couple of weeks, and soon after that, you were bravely entering your little classroom, surrendering your paci, and making friends like a champ. You are particularly close to one of your sweet teachers - Ms. Sandra - and love her like a grandmother. I think you might be her secret favorite too, as every time I pick you up, I find you cuddled up on her lap for a story, or playing with her on the floor with blocks or trucks. I'm so glad you've made the transition well, and although you've picked up a few germs here and there (like Fifths Disease), you're also learning to socialize, and Daddy and I can see the difference here at home.

You are one smart little boy. You love books, and can often be found in your room, sitting in your glider with a book or two on your lap. You can follow instructions to perfection, and are a very good listener. You may not always like to be told, "No," but you usually heed us when we tell you that. You are very intent and purposeful in your activities, and it is possible to see the little wheels turning in your mind when you are thinking about something. Your gross and fine motor skills are superb. You use utensils when you eat, and spill very little while at it. You can color and hold crayons well. You are also a master manipulator of tiny objects, and prefer toys with tiny bits and pieces. You are not super verbal yet - at least not in the English language. You have a few select words that you use occasionally, but otherwise communicate through gestures and noises of your own making. Your doctor does not seem concerned about it, as you are exceeding expectations in every other area. Most likely, you've just learned to get what you want without having to "work" for it - so this is something we are practicing. We are hoping that you will start using your words very soon.

Caleb, you are one of the funniest little people I have ever met. Your smile of delight when you're happy fills me with a joy I never thought possible. You smile and clap at the end of prayer time before meals - pretty sure Jesus never saw a baby so joyful about prayer time. You love to splash Mommy and Daddy during bathtime, and just squeal with pleasure when you soak us good. Your "uh oh" face has us rolling with laughter. We've tried to capture it on camera, but don't know whether we've ever been successful. You are all boy, little man. You love everything having to do with cars and trucks, loud noises and bright colors. You have stinky little feet, which just cracks us up. 

You definitely have a stubborn side, little boy. You like to climb and engage in behavior that could sometimes be deemed perilous, and don't always like to be redirected from your "goal." The tantrums have popped their little heads up here and there, but you are quickly learning that a tantrum earns you nothing - including attention. Mommy has left you crying on the kitchen floor more than once after trying to explain that you cannot eat fruit snacks 4 times a day. One day, you'll understand. Although you can be stubborn and demanding at times (like any toddler), you have a sweet side that is oh, so sweet. Melt butter sweet. Sometimes, if you're sitting with Daddy in the evenings while watching tv or a movie before bedtime, you'll look over and wave at me with the most precious smile. Sometimes with just your fingers and hand. And sometimes you wave your whole arm so enthusiastically, your little body shakes. It's so cute. But what really takes the cake? Your newest trick. One day, during a diaper change, I leaned in to give you a kiss, and you flapped your little arm out at me and almost slapped me across the cheek. I gently grabbed your arm and said, "No, don't hit Mommy. Be gently with Mommy." And showed you how to stroke my cheek with your hand. Suddenly, of your own accord, you took my face in both your little hands, pulled it down, and kissed my mouth so sweetly. You've done this multiple times now, and even once to Daddy. We both die every time.

I could go on and on, precious baby. I really could. You light up our lives and make every day worth living. But I'll stop here before this post becomes a book. Just know that you have truly made our little family so special. Daddy and I love being at home with you each night, and look forward to waking up to you each day. These next few months will bring some changes, that's for sure. But we have no doubt that you will be a wonderful big brother, and we can't wait to see you take on that role. No matter what, you will always be our first baby. The one who made me a mother. My first little man. And I will always cherish the time we had together before anyone else came along:)

Thank you for reminding us of how precious life is each and every day. We love you, Caleb Monroe. 

Happy 18 months.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Christmas Wish List {Link Up}

Today, I am so excited to be linking up with the darling bloggers below for their second annual "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things" link up.

Today's topic is "Christmas Wish Lists," so I'm sharing mine. And hoping that the hubby takes note. Hi, honey!

As a side note, lest anyone think I am completely crazy: I do not - nor would not - ever ask for all of these items. Ever. This is a wish list, so I am just putting anything and everything on here that's caught my eye as of late.

Christmas Wish List 2014

I'm particularly excited about the Barefoot Dreams Cardigan - aka, the "blardigan" for those of you who follow Pinterest Told Me To. Sheaffer's been talking about this sweater for years, so I am finally biting the bullet and asking for one. I've got to see what all the hype is about. I'm living in super comfy, oversized clothing as of late, so this definitely fits the bill, and I know I could wear it all the way through the pregnancy, even when I'm sporting a big old bump. As does the precious Geometric Cardigan from Old Navy. Could there be anything cozier to cuddle up in? I think not. 

I've also been seeing this Crystal Cluster necklace floating around blogland lately. And at 60% off, I couldn't resist popping it onto my list this year. After all, it's always fun to open up a bit of sparkle. Speaking of sparkle, the Kate Spade Gold Glitter studs sure would add pizazz to even a plain white tee, would they not? They just scream festive, so of course, they scream "Jess" to me.

As many fellow mamas know, a day in which I get to shower and style my hair is a good day indeed. Anything that can make that process a bit easier is a win in my book. And I've heard nothing but rave reviews about this Hot Tools Rainbow Gold curling iron. So it made the list this year as well. Call me practical. Call me Mom. At least my hair will be fabulous.

You'll notice that I don't have any homegoods or decor on my list this year. This is for two reasons. One, because our little cottage already can't accommodate the decor we already have (halving your square footage will severely cut down on decorating instincts, in case you were wondering). And two, my brain is already thinking, "nursery" and "big boy room" - so the rest of the house is on a permanent hiatus until those milestones have been completed. Which leaves....Just personal, fun gifts for little ol' moi!

So, that's what's on my list for this year! Can't wait to see what all of the ladies who link up today have on their lists. Who knows, I may add a few more items to my own:) 


Monday, November 17, 2014

What You've Been Missing {The Story of Baby #2}

After a long weekend spent mostly at home alone with a cranky baby, who went right from having Fifths Disease (a virus like roseola) last week, to another virus this week, which he was diagnosed with Saturday night during an urgent care visit, I have actually been looking forward to Monday! B worked all weekend, but is off for a few days this week, so we are hoping to get our Christmas decor up, and just enjoy some time together.

* In other news: This post is a long one, but I didn't want to split it into 2. Thanks for sticking with me through it!

For those of you who don't know, my husband and I suffered our second miscarriage in July. I was just six weeks along, and the pregnancy had been a bit of a surprise. But losing another baby (we'd had a miscarriage during our first pregnancy, prior to getting pregnant with Caleb) was a shock we'd never anticipated. Like a horrible nightmare come to life.

Two weeks after losing our second pregnancy, and after multiple visits to the lab for bloodwork to ensure that my hormone levels were regulating, things finally seemed like they were back to normal. My hcg was back to zero. It was all over. While thankful that I'd had no further complications, I found myself facing some very dark days in those few weeks after the loss. B had started residency and was gone all the time, leaving me home alone with Caleb and my sad thoughts. Those were not easy weeks.

The third weekend in August, I was home alone on Friday night with Caleb. B was at work late yet again, and it had been a very long day. I opened the fridge and reached for an adult beverage, looking forward to partaking in it. However, something made me stop before I popped the lid open. A teeny little niggling at the back of my mind that said, "Take a test first. Just in case." It seemed absolutely ridiculous, seeing as how I'd just miscarried a little over 2 weeks prior. What in the world would be the point of a test? But, I couldn't shake the feeling. I'd noticed that I'd ovulated the week or so before (though one can never be quite sure after an event like a miscarriage). So, I took a test. And it came back negative. Just like I'd suspected it would.

Until...Suddenly, it wasn't. 

Because suddenly, a hint of a line seemed to appear out of nowhere. Just a hint. Enough to make me think I was absolutely crazy. But enough to make me toss the fruity cocktail back in the fridge and go on about my night. And I did. Having a toddler around really can take your mind off of almost anything. Even crazy thoughts  like, "I could be pregnant."  I thought about testing the next day, but held off. On Sunday I made a Walmart run, where I picked up two boxes of First Response Early Result tests. And on Monday morning, I took another test. This time, a darker line appeared. What was happening? I immediately called the doctor. They ordered blood tests, thinking it was possible that leftover tissue from the miscarriage could be causing the tests to read positive (despite the fact that they'd followed my blood levels to zero a week or so before). At this point, I knew that something was happening. And I knew it wasn't just leftover tissue. So, after I'd visited the lab for the blood test, I wasn't surprised when the nurse called me and said, "Well, your hcg is at 175 and your progesterone is at 52.4. There's definitely a little something going on in there. You're pregnant. And in fact, your progesterone is high enough to possibly indicate multiples." (Spoiler: I'm not having twins, lol!) 

Less, than a month after our second loss, I found myself pregnant again.

Over the next couple of weeks, we followed my hcg up with yet more blood tests. It continued to rise, and in fact doubled even faster than expected. Waiting on those results every few days was absolutely excruciating. Finally, on Wednesday, September 3 - when my numbers came back at over 2,000 - B and I traveled down to Macon to my old OB's office for an ultrasound. At that point, we were able to see what looked like a "diamond ring" - an amniotic sac and a yolk sac dating a bit earlier than what we'd thought. Almost one week exactly, actually. There was no fetal pole yet, but the doctor seemed unconcerned, seeing as how I was dating just 5 weeks and a couple of days at that point. He advised me to come back in 2 weeks, and said that at that point, we should definitely be able to see something. 

We waited the 2 excruciating weeks and on Wednesday, September 17, went in for an initial appointment with our new OB in Atlanta (whom we are currently seeing). And saw a perfect little jelly bean, with a tiny, fluttering heart beat, dating 7 weeks and 3 days - exactly what they'd calculated the date at in the first OB appointment. Official due date: May 2.

Isn't it amazing the difference in just two weeks? From just a yolk sac to a precious little jelly bean in just 14 days!

Since our initial appointment, we've gotten to hear the heartbeat a couple of times. The first time, baby clocked in at 168 (which was exactly what Caleb's heartbeat registered at the first time we heard his). The second time it was 159. And each time has been such a blessing. I will admit, I struggled with - and still do, to some extent - letting myself become attached to this little one. Seeing so many sweet friends announcing pregnancies without fear and realizing that the Duchess and I are once again pregnant together made me want to blurt out my news on numerous occasions. But fear has held me back a bit. I didn't take a bump picture until 12 weeks. I just couldn't do it. Bathroom trips became opportunities to examine the toilet paper for any spec of a spot. Anticipating the worst seemed to be the only way to approach this new adventure. And  I think it's very normal for someone who has been through what I've been through. 

But, from this point on - despite all the things I find to worry about every day - I am trying to be thankful for each second that I have. Not just as mama-to-be with this sweet baby, but in life in general. I am working on giving my stresses to Jesus, and confident in the knowledge that as long as I continue to do that, I can find peace and joy in every situation. 

I'll be back tomorrow with a fun Christmas wish list and later this week with a pregnancy update for week 16. Because I am 16 weeks now! Praise!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Current Favorites {Friday Link Ups}

If you missed my post from yesterday, you missed the debut of the bump. In all of its 15 week glory. I've mentioned that I won't be doing weekly updates this time around, but I do think I'll do one next week - since 16 is a nice, round number. And my OCD side likes nice round numbers.

As a side note: Ummm, 16 weeks. As in, 4 months pregnant? Wow.

In other, non-baby related news, it's Friday. And you all know what that means! The Friday link ups. Be sure to scroll down to the end of my post to check out who I am linking up with today. This week, we're talking faves - as in, my five favorite things this week. We're in the holiday spirit over here in our house so my faves this week are all very, very merry!

1. Holiday Dinnerware
How adorable is this set of plates from Pottery Barn? I'd like to eat off of these every day from now until Christmas. I think they'd make even a grilled cheese feel more festive, am I right? 

Winter Village Plates, Set of 4, benefiting Give a Little Hope campaign

2. Festive Attire
One of my favorite things about the holidays are the multitude of excuses to wear things that sparkle. A little sparkle just makes everything more fun! Here's a few options I am loving right now. 

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Ecru Embellished Knit Hat
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Knit Lace Front Peplum Pullover
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Convertible Drop Earrings

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Embellished Sweater in Grey
3. Fa La La La Tunes
Caleb and I have been rocking the Michael Buble Christmas cd in our car since the beginning of the week. It's too hard for me to pick a favorite when it comes to Christmas music, but if I had to, Michael Buble's cd would be among the top few. There is just something oh, so merry about his rich, melodic voice belting out holiday classics. Love.

4. Shimmer, Shimmer, Shine, Shine
Along with decking myself in holiday-bedazzled clothing for special events throughout the season, I like to add a little shine to my makeup routine here and there. The best way to do this without looking too garish is through eye shadow and lip gloss. Oh, and an illuminating highlighter. Here are my absolute favorite options for adding some shimmer to my makeup routine:

Benefit Cosmetics
Benefit High Beam (aka Best. Product. Ever)
Glitter Eye Topcoat
5. Delicious Foods (And Company!)
My willpower is already low during the holidays. I can't turn down all of the yummy treats that start popping up everywhere - like the white chocolate Oreos my husband brought home last night. Being pregnant makes my already limited willpower that much more nonexistent than normal. The hubby and I make an annual trip to IHOP during the holiday season every year. And yesterday, while Caleb was in preschool, we decided to take advantage of our time together for a breakfast date involving some yummy, buttery pancakes. Mama was happy. Baby was happy. Win-win.

Next week, I'll be sharing my Christmas wish list for this year as part of a fun annual link up with some other sweet bloggers. I'll also be back with a bump update and a little bit more about baby #2. Hope to see you next week!

If you'd like to join in on the weekly link-up fun today, be sure to visit the darling hosts of the blogs below.

Oh Hey Friday with September Farm and The Farmer's Wife!

5 on Friday with April of A. Liz Adventrues, Christina of Carolina Charm, Natasha of Hello! Happiness, and Darcy of The Good Life.

And for the first time: Friday Favorites with A Little Bit of EverythingMomfessionals, and Grace and Love