Saturday, June 29, 2013

San Antonio Times

I spent most of my time this week in San Antonio, TX. It was hot, but it was such a fun city to visit, even if it was for work. I attended the 2013 ISTE conference at the convention center on the River Walk. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the city, and even more surprised at how capable I was of walking around in that heat five months pregnant without being super wiped out. 

My pregnancy story from the trip is that I had my first stranger ask me if I was expecting. Granted, he had quite the smell of beer on his person for lunch time; so I am sure his inhibitions were down to ask any woman such a question; but being as how my answer was yes, I was beaming when I replied. 

My pregnancy revelation was this: although people will try to push the expectations of their pregnancy experience onto you and your pregnancy, every pregnancy is different, and you shouldn't feel guilty about your pregnancy not fitting into their mold. Some people will say, "I was smaller when I was at your time," or, "I didn't tire out as easily," or any other number of things they did or did not experience the same way you are. While I appreciate advice, stories, and sentiments, I hope that women realize every pregnancy is as unique as the moms and babies that are involved in them. I just try to smile and carry on and pray to God to give me wisdom and patience. 

The River Walk in San Antonio was great! It is a great city for couples or families with older kids. Considering the river has no railing or divider of any kind between the river and the sidewalk, I don't think I would choose to bring small children with me there. Fantastic city to walk and sights to see. We saw the Alamo, the Tower of the Americas, and the Mexican marketplace. We also took a guided boat tour of the river which was very informative and a great little adventure. 

The food scene was pretty great, too! From breakfast tacos to wonderful steaks to German delis, there were terrific places to eat every day and within any budget. Shopping was plentiful, too. We went to the mall, and the Mexican market had tons of handmade garments, pottery, and jewelry to peruse. There is also a small artisan village near the convention center with lots of shops owned by local artists who sell their handmade jewelry, home decor, and many other creations. 

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip. 

The Alamo in all of its historical glory.

Our steak dinner at Rhene on the River. 

The Tower of the Americas. 

Our hotel from the boat tour.

I will be adding a list of the restaurants we visited with reviews soon in a separate post in case you will be making a trip there soon and want some food suggestions. Until then, I will be preparing for our annual 16 hour trek to Chicago to visit my parents. Until then, my Blogosphere friends...

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Nursery Inspiration Has Arrived...

I received a very exciting, awesome, amazing package in the mail yesterday! My fabric swatches came in from the nursery design site I have been using, and can I just say, I am quite in love with the inspiration for my nursery. When I found out I was pregnant, I was both thrilled with the news and slightly overwhelmed by the long list of to-dos a coming baby brings. When we decided not to find out the sex, I knew that I would be adding an extra layer of challenge to my list, but it is a challenge I happily accepted. Trying to keep a nursery gender neutral without dosing everything in tan or yellow can be hard; but I was determined to be creative and try to keep my style and taste in the design; and I think I am onto something really great!

The site I have decided to use for my nursery bedding needs is Carousel Designs
This site has some beautiful fabrics, amazing packages of bedding for cribs and toddler beds, and, my favorite feature, a custom nursery designer that allows you to build your own design using their vast collection of fabrics. You can also order the fabrics by the yard if you want to use it to sew your own creations or take them to the seamstress of your choice to have your bedding made. The site is very easy to use, and the choices are great in all collections: boy, girl, and (hallelujah!) surprise.

I played with the nursery designer for hours, creating one crib design after another. When I stumbled upon my final choice, it was as if a light bulb went off, and I couldn't wait to share it! Here is what my crib bedding design and matching drapes look like:

Isn't it soothing? Isn't it lovely? Isn't it...sigh? This is where I am starting my nursery design process. We are tearing up our carpet and putting down "wood floor" porcelain tile in its place. We were planning on doing this anyway as my allergies are not happy with dust or dust mites, which carpet tends to be a breeding ground for, but it will work great with our new need for design. We won't actually be purchasing the crib comforter. I mean, come on, I live in New Orleans, Louisiana. How cold is it really going to get? I will, however, be ordering a yard of the printed fabric and a matching neutral chenille to make a lighter baby blanket for the little one. The walls will be painted a light gray. It will be based on the same gray that makes up the piping on the bumper and the border on the skirt, but it will be mixed at maybe 50-60% to be a little lighter. The drapes will match the alternating panels from the inside of the bumper and have blackout liners built in them.

I am so excited about the design. I feel like the colors and print are calming and chic, and the fabrics will work for a boy or a girl. I registered for sheets in a gray to match the piping, an ivory, and a blue to match the flowers. Oh, did I not mention that you can build a registry on the site and include your custom designs on the registry, too? It is an awesome feature, and I linked this registry to my registry. Once you choose your custom designs, you can have swatches of the fabric sent to you for free (one free set per account), and that was the package I so excitedly received yesterday.

So, here it is: my first post about creating a nursery for baby dumpling. I cannot wait to share the rest of this process with you! Check out the bedding site for your own needs and decorating ideas. You won't be disappointed!

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

So...what are you having?

I find it to be true that with every major milestone in life, you get a bombardment of cliche questions. When you start dating someone seriously at a certain age, it's, "When are you getting engaged?" Once you and your beloved are engaged, the question becomes, "When are you getting married?" Once wed, the question evolves into, "When are you having kids?" Once you are a prego-egg-o, the question turns into, "Do you know what you are having?" I realize that these are the pressing questions that arise with any of these events, and you hear them so often because you cannot possibly answer any of these questions for everyone with a mind curious to it all at once. It doesn't change the fact, however, that it can become tiresome to have to repeat yourself over and over again and, in some circumstances, feel pressure to make a decision about something according to someone else's standards or wishes. Fortunately, when you find joy in these events, it helps ease some of the frustrations that could arise and makes the answering more bearable.

Prince Charming and I have decided, to some people's excitement and some people's chagrin (shout out little sis), that we will wait to be surprised by the baby's sex upon our bundle of joy's arrival. I will be the first to say, as I think is wise to disclaim, that this could change at a moment's notice depending on the progression of events between now and November. However, for the time being, we are very content with our decision. I love the idea of Jarrod being able to walk out of the delivery room to our friends and family and say, "It's a ____!!!"

This answer in and of itself leads to more questions. "What will you do about decorating the nursery? Make everything yellow?" "How will I know what clothes to buy for your shower?" "Well, you better be ready to have names picked out for boys and girls." (I realize the last one isn't a question, but it is a generic response to our decision nonetheless.) We have some ideas of answers to these things.

We are indeed comprising a list of both boys and girls names. It is sort of fun to try to delve into options for both. We are making a list of names we love from both of our family lines, Biblical names, music and literary figures we like, and pulling from baby name books. We, at this point, have no shortage of names to choose from, and we will hopefully be able to narrow it down by due date.

As for clothes, I simply reply that the baby will be even more ready for clothes the day after birth as he or she will be months before, so anyone who wishes can feel free to buy the baby an outfit after arrival time. On a side note, I recall a friend finding out she was having a girl, and the mom received very little from her registry of baby necessities because it is so hard to resist the itty-bitty, teeny-weeny cuteness that is baby clothes. Not that this is why we aren't finding out, but it adds another perk to being surprised. Additionally, another new mom I know of prepped everything for her little girl on the dream room, closet full of washed and ready girlie clothes...and upon delivery, she had a son!

Finally, as for nursery decor and all things neutral yellow, I feel that the idea of what is neutral has come a loooong way from the idea that boys should be blue, girls should be pink, and all unknowns should be yellow. I plan on utilizing shades of gray with white and some sort of accent of either navy blue, shades of green or blue, or maybe even...gasp...yellow!! As long as what comes together is cute, functional, and comfy, I will be happy with it! As for the baby's preference, when was the last time you heard one complain about his or her nursery when they were born? ;)

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pregnancy Ponderings, Week 18...

Good morning, Blogosphere!

It is Saturday, and the week is done, and oh, what a week it has been! In addition to helping present for three days straight for my job, our washing machine broke down (dread!). This, of course, turned into a shopping trip to a local appliance store to locate a new one, get it into the house, get familiar with it, and do lots of backed up laundry. Additionally, and moving on to pregnancy notes, I went through my closet and packed away all of my cold weather clothes that I will definitely be too big to wear when cold weather comes around again. Considering the heat index yesterday was 112 degrees F, I am sure cold weather won't occur again until my 8th or 9th month of pregnancy. This clean out allowed me to make room in my closet for new clothes (yay!), so I am sure I have a first trip to a maternity store in my very near future.

My wardrobe is not the only thing that has been experiencing changes. This week, I found myself experiencing a few new symptoms of pregnancy that until now were only known to me by the folklore shared by moms-past. (Sorry, didn't mean to get all Charles Dickens there...) Anyway, some of the things that have happened are things other people told me about, and some of them were things that people didn't say anything about until I asked about them and suddenly people were saying, "Oh yeah, that is totally normal." I hope I will and am trying to be very open with other women about my pregnancy. I know a few girls who are hoping to have babies within the year, and I want them to know what they might expect. Of course, every pregnancy is different, but nonetheless, I hope my sharing will help them out when their time to be God's vessel for His creation of a new little person comes. Here are some of my experiences in week 18:

First of all, I pee all of the time. I have always heard women say that they have to use the bathroom constantly, but I always assumed it was during the later months of pregnancy when the baby is bigger and using mom's bladder like a punching bag or trampoline. But, oh no, it is not only then. Yesterday, I literally went to the bathroom three times within an hour, and two of those times were seriously five minutes apart. When I am running errands, I try to make time to stop at places whose bathrooms I know won't totally gross me out because I am bound to need to use them. If you get pregnant, stock up on toilet paper!

Second, growing pains. I was having some strange feeling pains in my utero-abdomen area. (I have potentially made up that word.) It wasn't a sharp pain that made me worry anything was wrong, but more like a dull soreness that would tighten every now and then to be a little more intense. This would happen for various amounts of time. Come to find out, these are the totally normal aches that come from your belly stretching to accomodate the growing human inside of you. I don't ever remember anyone saying anything about this part hurting, but I suppose it does make sense. My body is growing in ways it never has before, and just like any muscles being stretched or worked out, there is bound to be some soreness. It isn't anything unbearable, so don't be afraid. And if you ever experience any pains that do cause you to worry, call your doctor right away! They are happy to help walk you through the amazing process your body is going through, and you aren't being a bother by asking questions. :) What is cool about these aches is that I can tell when the baby is experiencing a growth spurt because I can feel my belly experiencing one, too. I don't necessarily have these every day yet, but I am sure that is coming soon.

Third, I am sooooo itchy!! Particularly in the boob area, I find myself itching quite a lot. As your skin stretches, it gets itchy. While my belly is growing, it is still stretching at a fairly slow rate, so it has only itched off and on periodically. My future baby-feeders, however, have itched every day and for large chunks of the day. I recently started rubbing Palmer's Cocoa Butter Skin Therapy Oil on them at night, and it has helped immensely with the itching. For good measure, I am already rubbing it on my belly, too. I know I am only weeks away from it starting to grow at a rapid rate, so I may as well start to prepare, right?

Fourth, the heartburn and indigestion have begun. While it isn't the constant one that I will have in later pregnancy, which happens more because all of the muscles in your body, including your esophogus, relax late in pregnancy in preparation for child birth, it has been triggered by certain foods recently that haven't ever caused this to happen before. Yesterday, I ate a bowl of grits and drank some fruit juice for breakfast, and I almost instantly felt horrible heartburn. Being the good Southern girl that I am, I have had many a bowl of grits for breakfast without any problem, so this was new. I ended up eating maybe four or five TUMS to stop the pressure, and I didn't really have it the rest of the day, but this has been happening several times a week now.

Fifth, and probably the last big one, is poor sleeping at night. This is another one of those symptoms that I thought wouldn't happen until later in pregnancy, but it is already hitting me. I wake up at least two or three times per night whether it is needing to pee or just feeling uncomfortable in the position I am laying in. I have already started trying to sleep on my sides, and my body is just not used to that. When I lay on my back, I can see my belly pulse to the beat of my heart. My doctor says this is because Baby Dumpling is now big enough to lay on the main artery that runs behind my uterus, but not big enough yet to cut the flow. So, baby's coccoon just bumps along to my heartbeat. In a week or two, I won't be able to lay on my back at all because the baby will stop the flow of blood in this artery, so I am trying to go ahead and condition myself to sleep in other positions. One body pillow and several pillow configurations later, and I still cannot ease myself into a long, restful sleep. I happen to think this is maybe God's way of preparing me for the many times I will have to wake up in the night when the little one arrives, so I am not too upset by it. I do try to nap when I can if I feel tired, so that helps. (Thank God for summer breaks!)

So, that about sums up my physical experiences with week 18. Mentally, I am still thrilled with and loving being pregnant. It makes me smile at random times and pray almost continuously a prayer of thanksgiving. I know I have a long way to go and many things to experience, but I feel so blessed to be chosen to house God's weaving and spinning of a new life.

Left on our to do list: finishing the registry and everything to do with the nursery. :) I have decided to register through to make sure my registry has everything we want or need on it. It will give our friends and family the option of shopping online or printing and taking the list to their local store to shop. I have done lots of blog hopping to try to make sense of what moms say are registry essentials, and I will make a post on that later with links to some of my favorite blog resources for that endeavor. Yesterday, walking through Target, I was so grateful that we aren't finding out what the sex of the baby is because I am pretty sure I would have dropped some serious dough on the adorable clothes and accessories they have out right now! ;)

Whew! I think that is plenty of blog for now. Sorry for the stream of consciousness, but pregnancy sure does give a girl a lot to think about and experience. I hope to blog with you again soon, and feel free to leave comments and suggestions. :)

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pound Cake...Oh My!

Greetings blogosphere! I have had a very busy week and weekend, but I managed to have time this week to do a little baking. 

I made one of my favorite recipes for a blueberry cream cheese pound cake. 

It is simple to make and oh so satisfying! I created a Snapguide to show how to do it. You can find it here: 

I hope you guys try out the recipe and love it as much as I do! Talk to you soon, blog friends!

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Little ELF Obsession...

So, anyone who knows me would tell you that I have one serious addiction, and it is to makeup. If you put me in Sephora, I can spend literally HOURS browsing through all of their wonderful, colorful, shimmery, glossy, fantastic goodies! Unfortunately, I have discovered that my adult budget doesn't quite allow for all of the makeup splurges that my high school and college budgets (somehow) did. This has caused me to seriously cut down on the amount of makeup I purchase as well as look for very affordable options for what I do buy.

I am one of the lucky(?) people who has oily skin, and I absolutely MUST have oil-free foundation or my face becomes breakout city. I have tried so many different foundations, but I recently stumbled across one that made my heart so happy because it solved for me a budget problem as well as gave me great results.

So, before this product realization, I had been using the amazing Laura Mercier Oil Free Supreme Foundation after it was recommended to me by a consultant at Sephora.

Don't get me wrong; this foundation is fantastic! It has an amazing, lightweight feel and keeps oil under control while not making my face feel dried out or look cakey. It is terrific; but on my budget, it is a splurge at (minimum) $43 per bottle. While I liked using it for special occassions and evenings out, I couldn't justify this being my everyday foundation. So, the search continued.

I tried a few drugstore brands, which I mostly peruse at Target. I always noticed a section of very inexpensive makeup by the brand name of ELF, but being so inexpensive, I never thought that its foundations would work well for my picky skin. One day recently, in a pregnant, hormonal fog of feeling "I am looking awful and feeling tired and unattractive," I took the plunge and bought a bottle of ELF's Flawless Finish Foundation in Porcelain, which is oil and paraben free and cost only $6. Added bonus: it has a built in SPF 15. I was blown away! Not only did it feel just as good on my skin as the Laura Mercier foundation that I love, but it had serious staying power. And, one night when I fell asleep with it on, I woke up with my skin breakout free and still looking really nice. I was SUPER impressed, and I will recommend this foundation to EVERYONE!!

That same day, I went home with several other ELF products. I told you already: My name is Brittney, and I am a makeup-aholic. But at these prices, I can now afford to be one! ;) In addition to the foundation, I came home with an ELF Studio Blush in Tickled Pink ($3), a Studio Bronzer Palette ($3), and a Tone Correcting Palette ($3) to help cover up some mild rosacea I have on my cheeks. Each of these worked beautifully! The bronzer palette has four different colors in it, and you can combine them in any way you want to make your perfect glow! Use the darker combos for summer, the lighter combos for winter, or swirl it all around for a perfect year-round glow. I also purchased a couple of ELF brushes: the Powder Brush ($3) and the Complexion Brush ($3). Although inexpensive, these brushes feel soft and luxurious and give great coverage and control with applications of blushes, bronzers, and powders.

With all of this talk about how great these products are, I may have to make a pitstop at Target on the way home to try a few more products. I am definitely going to double up on the complexion brush as I like to use it for my loose powder and my bronzer application. If you are a makeup afficianado like I am, definitely look into trying some of the products from this brand! They have my seal of approval! :)

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Pregnancy Ponderings: Week 17

Wow...really? I am already at 17 weeks. My, how the time flies. I cannot believe I am so close to being half-way through my pregnancy. I still get giddy at the thought that I have a little human growing inside of my belly. It blows my mind every single time the doctor puts my baby's heartbeat on the little speaker in the office. It makes me pray that I am doing a good job of taking care of the baby, and that God will continue to take care of us both.

I had a checkup appointment this past Monday, and I found out that I have something going on that could potentially cause me to have premature membrane rupture. The doctor was very calm and comforting in saying that it was nothing to worry about as the condition is something treatable and the rupture, therefore, preventable, and we are treating it now. They did a swab test and will let me know in a week or so if they find anything else to be concerned about. Everything else I asked him about, sharp pains on the sides of my lower abdomen and joint pain, are totally normal pregnancy symptoms.

My tummy now bounces to my heartbeat when I lay on my back from the uterus laying on the main artery below it, and I find that very amusing at night. I think I have felt the baby move a few times, but I still haven't had that undeniable moment of, "That's the baby!"

With the school year at its conclusion, I have had to work extra long hours at work. I think this has made me far more tired than I have been since the first trimester over the past several days. On top of that, the crazy schedule I have had to follow has thrown off all plans I try to make to workout. In addition, the humid, hot NOLA summer heat that has been rolling in is making it very difficult to work out in the afternoons. Although I worked out, both cardio and weight training, prior to my pregnancy, I have been very worried about doing so now that I am. The doctor says it would be fine, of course, but I am concerned about the overheating that he and many articles I have read say you have to watch out for when being a pregnant worker-outer. I have always tried to push myself when working out, and I tend to get hot very easily when doing so. I know there are ways to avoid that and easier excercises to do, so I am trying to find the balance. I think I may order an at home pregnancy workout DVD to do over the next several months.

All of my clothes are getting tighter, and it is becoming harder and harder to find shirts in my existing wardrobe that I can wear while pregnant. Whether they are too tight in the top from my growing bosom or too tight in the waist area from my growing belly, I am really having to get creative! I don't want to spend a lot of money on maternity clothes, so I am trying to spread out the purchase of those items to accomodate my growing belly. Here's hoping to some cute summer dresses this season!

I haven't really been having any cravings lately. On the contrary, I am finding my appetite to be rather small. I eat when it is time to have a meal, and I try to drink plenty of water, but for the most part, I am eating relatively normally. It has been much harder to have homecooked meals the past two weeks with Prince Charming experiencing his first week of running our church's summer camp and my crazy end of the year schedule. A three-day weekend is around the corner, though, and I cannot wait! :) I am definitely going to try to hit up a pool on Friday. I think that will be a great, relaxing workout for both me and baby.

I have a goal of trying to get much of our "at home" baby planning under our belt before the new school year starts, which is July 26 for me. This means setting up the nursery, finalizing a registry, having a short-list of names, etc. I feel like once school starts and showers start and the baby is getting so big, I won't have the amount of time to focus on those things that I will in my off time this summer. Who knows if this will be feasible, but a girl can dream, right?

So, that is about where my head is for now. I am sure that more will come to me as I continue to grow, and I will be anxiously awaiting my "aha!" moment of baby movement. :) Hope you have a wonderful week!

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Sew Many Dresses...

Hey, Blogosphere! I hope you are having a great day today. Today marks my 28th birthday, and I am sure it would have been even more super happy and fun if I had gotten to be at home or by a pool instead of working all day. life!

Anywho, I decided to spend a little bit of time looking for a simple sewing project to attempt this weekend. I have some terrific cotton fabrics I ordered from (one of my favorite places to shop thanks to a friend who is sew-saavy), and I really want to attempt to move from the realm of sewing all things rectangular (baby blankets, burp cloths, diaper changing pads, etc.) and start trying my hand at some clothes.

My friend Kalee, another Mississippi to NOLA transplant, has a beautiful little girl whom I would love to make a dress for, so I think I will choose her as my muse and work from there. A quick trip to Google to find a few patterns, and here is one of my favorite options I came across. :)

Sew Jereli: Baby Dress - I feel so lucky to have stumbled upon this talented sewer's site! The dress she has posted here is too cute, and the pattern seems simple enough to attempt for a novice like myself. The only concern I have here is that my friend's little girl is already in a size 2T. This pattern is for baby girls ages 6-12 months. I am not sure I have the skill set yet to attempt to customize measurements to bigger sizes, but I figure if I will try at all, this would be a good pattern to use.

Free Baby Dress Sewing Pattern  Free Baby Dress Sewing Pattern
Pictured Above: Sew Jereli's Dress. Adorbs! (credit to her site)

I think Sew Jereli's dress pattern with an open bottom might pair really well with this See Kate Sew tutorial: Gingham Style // Serged Ruffle Bum Diaper Cover Tutorial. I love the idea of having a dress that features a little ruffle bum sticking out from an opening in a coordinating fabric. Too cute! :)

So, that is what I am thinking about on this beautiful, birthday afternoon. I will be taking in a three year old t-ball game this evening with some good friends and their sweet babies. Be still my heart! :)

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