My Breastfeeding Journey.

I never truly understood the beauty of breastfeeding. Liam never latched and let’s face it—as a first time mom I had no idea what I was doing. We are told breastfeeding is the most natural thing you can do, but in reality it takes a lot of work. A lot of guidance. A lot of patience. And often times, a lot of tears. The second time around I was feeling more confident in myself as a mom and was determined to make it work. To finally understand the magic that everyone made breastfeeding out to be.

When Scarlett was born I tried feeding her within minutes of having her in my arms (the photo above is of this exact moment and will always be one of my most favorite captures). I remember feeling so self conscious about it, thinking there was no way I was doing it right. But the nurses nodded their heads in approval, and Scarlett stopped crying, so I kept on.

During the next 48 hours, Scarlett spent probably 40 of them latched on to me. I laid in the hospital bed that first night exhausted from labor and a day full of visitors, wanting nothing more than to go to sleep. But Scarlett was not happy if she was not latched, and so there I sat as tired as could be all night long.

The next day wasn’t any easier. I had tears running down my face. I was in so much pain from the endless feedings. But the lactation specialist said these first days were crucial to good supply + a successful nursing journey. And so there we sat, tears and all.

We got home and the pain and discomfort did not end. My nipples were bleeding. Everything was raw. Everything hurt. I winced every time she cried for food, knowing the pain that was about to follow. I would clench my fists, squeeze the pillows, anything to make the feedings bearable. But Scarlett was content, she was gaining weight, she was nursing well…and so there I sat.

And then one day, two tubes of Lanolin and four greasy lanolin destroyed nursing bras later (why didn’t anyone warn me!?), the clouds cleared and everything was better. There was no more pain. No more tears. She was nursing happily. I was nursing happily. And so there we sat, snuggled up in each other. And finally, I understood the beauty of breastfeeding.

The months went on and our bond continued to grow with every feeding. She would rub her little hands on me as she fed, thanking me in her own baby way for supplying her with the fuel she needed to grow. I was filled with pride for what my body could do. I made it a goal to nurse her for 6 months. And then 6 months turned into 12, and 12 turned into 18. People would ask “are you done breastfeeding yet? Don’t you think you’ve fed her long enough?”. But I knew that she and I were the only two who would know when the time was right… and so there we sat, letting our breastfeeding journey continue for as long as WE chose.

As the weeks went by and my baby wasn’t so much of a baby anymore, my body stopped producing as much milk. Nursing became about comfort and routine rather than food. I’d been conflicted about stopping for months. Part of me wanted my own body back. I’d been experiencing hormonal imbalances and wanted to focus on resolving that. On taking care of myself first, for the first time since Scarlett had been born.. However the other part of me wanted to stay connected to my baby in a way that only her and I could ever be connected.

I think if I’m being completely honest with myself, my biggest fear has been that we will never again be as close as we were in those 18 months. I know it’s ridiculous and I know the bond we created during that time will not just go away, but in the back of my mind I’m scared. Scared that she will no longer need me now that my body isn’t supplying her with liquid gold.

In the last few weeks she began nursing for shorter and shorter periods of time, and my body continued to produce less and less. Naturally we moved our way to the end of our nursing journey until one night, there we sat…and I just knew in my heart that it was the last feed. I held her a little closer and a little longer, knowing that when I put her to bed that night there would be no more “boobie night nights”. It would just be regular night nights from here on out.

The next day I put her down for nap without offering “boobie”. She went down just fine, and never even asked for it. The same happened at bedtime that night. It has now been 48 hours. 2 days without nursing. And only once very briefly did she try tugging at my shirt to feed. Her total ease with this transition has given me comfort, knowing that it truly was time. For both of us. Even if it feels difficult and emotional right now, it was going to be difficult and emotional no matter when this journey ended.

And so here I sit. Crying as I write this. A ball of sad and happy all in one. My body fed my baby for 18 months. It kept her healthy, it kept her happy.  For that I am forever grateful. 

This was my breastfeeding journey, and a beautiful journey it was.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

Life Update.

Hello strangers!

It’s been so long that I temporarily forgot how to even create a blog post. Kidding… kind of.

The last we left off, Scarlett was just a little wiggly larva baby, Liam had yet to unleash his teenager-like attitude,  Andre had yet to become obsessed with marathon running, and I had yet to start my photography journey.

Clearly a lot has changed around these parts.

Scarlett is now 18 months old and has blossomed into her own. She is THE most strong willed baby and the word “No” means absolutely nothing to her. She is slowly but surely growing hair and is putting her no hair don’t care days behind her. She loves dogs (pronounced ‘dagas’) and she also loves daddy (pronouned ‘dagas’). Most of all, she loves eating. Cheese, Bananas, and apple sauce all come in close ties for her favorite foods, surpassed only by “boobies”. Because yes, I am still breastfeeding. I always said I would be happy to make it to six months of nursing. Then I said a year. Then I said 18 months. And now here we are, nursing twice a day still and no matter how many people squinch up their faces at me and look at me like I just told them I’m growing my armpit hair out (don’t worry, I’m not), I just can’t bring myself to take away her most favorite thing in the world.  I don’t know when it will come to an end… Probably soon-ish. But I plan on soaking up every sweet moment of it until then.

Liam is my little five-nager these days. I’m “the worst mom ever” at least 7 times a week and I’ve decided that must mean I’m doing something right. He is obsessed with Minecraft and is always ready to tell anyone willing to listen a crazy story about what goes on in the virtual world of Minecraft. Regardless of the major ‘tude he’s been dishing out these days (mostly when we tell him he’s hit his Minecraft time limit), he still enjoys play dough, wearing his batman cape out to the store, and cuddling up with me in bed… so I know my little boy is still in there for at least a little while longer. We’ve been homeschooling him for Kindergarten and if you’re wondering how that’s been going, the answer is that he will be going to a charter school for first grade. It’s been an interesting experience that I was so happy to be able to try out, but I can’t help but to feel like maybe homeschooling just isn’t for us. Not only do I feel like I don’t always have the time in my day to dedicate to teaching him properly, but I also feel like he would learn better from someone who isn’t his parent. I’m sure I’ll regret that decision temporarily as I wipe my tears on the first day of school this fall, but in the long run I think this is the best decision for our family.

Andre has developed a major love for marathon running + obstacle races and while I will never understand why someone would choose to run 26 miles for “fun”, it makes him happy and that’s what matters. Based on the personal records that he beats every single time, it’s lookin like he’s pretty dang good at it too. Running has become his thing he does for himself and it brings him peace (it also brings him like 3-5 days of pain and discomfort post every marathon but hey, to each their own). He continues to work hard for our family constantly and is always looking for ways that he can improve. I still can’t seem to get a good back rub out of him however he is exceptionally awesome at pouring me a glass of wine and doing the dishes without me ever asking so I’ll take what I can get. He’s the best person I know and I’m pretty proud to call him mine. We have our first date night in forever scheduled for next week and excited doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings about it.

While all of that has been happening, I have been busy over here putting together a photography + social media marketing business. I have been doing social media marketing for 6 ish years now but finally decided to turn it into more than just a small side job. After brainstorming business names with some friends during mom’s night out, Cactus and Vine was born and has become my third baby. It is primarily focused on photography however I do offer social media marketing consulting on the side. Creating this business allowed me to combine a skill that I’ve been developing for years (social media marketing) with my love for photography. While its been chaotic and often really overwhelming trying to get a business up and running while still tending to mom + wife duties, it has been a major source of pride for me.

I think that about wraps our whole life right now up into a few grammatically incorrect paragraphs. It’s taken me five days just to write this much, the entire family has barged in on me as I try to finish this last paragraph, and I’ll probably skip editing it because ain’t nobody got time for that.

Thanks for following along with our crazy fam… It’s good to be back.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

Scarlett Genevieve.

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

It only took 3 (ok, almost 4) months to wrap up… but at last, Scarlett’s birth story:

By the time that I hit 39 weeks pregnant, I was DONE. I no longer felt like a cute little preggo lady, I felt like a beached whale. I was waking up at least 4 times a night to pee and had the hardest time getting comfortable enough to fall back asleep. I’d spent day in and day out bouncing on my yoga ball trying to get things moving along. I had two membrane sweeps. I went for long walks every evening. I was dilated to a 3… for 3 whole weeks. The doctor told me “any day now”… for 3 whole weeks. And still no baby. I realize I was yet to be at my due date, but with how insanely low baby was and the fact that I had an incompetent cervix with my previous pregnancy, I had never been expecting to make it to my due date. At my 39 week appointment the doctor asked if I’d like to schedule an induction and even though the idea of an induction was so nerve wracking to me, I couldn’t help but to blurt out ‘yes’ the second the offer was proposed. He let me know that they’d be calling to schedule an induction and that was that. Leaving the doctor that day I felt a huge sense of relief. The purgatory stage of pregnancy was finally over, I would soon know the exact date of when I would get to meet my girl.

Later that day I was called and provided with my induction date: September 11. Initially I thought nothing of it, however it soon dawned on me that we would be bringing our daughter into the world on one of American history’s saddest days…not ideal. I spent the next couple of days toying with the idea of calling to reschedule the induction. Between the not so desirable date and my overall  fear of an induction, I started to think that pushing it back might be my best option. The night of September 7, I stayed up late (11 pm— impressive, I know ) and ate nachos with my husband while fantasizing together about the tiny little newborn that would soon be joining our family. Little did we know just how soon.

Andre and I went to bed at 11 that night and by 11:30, as I laid in bed deciding to call and cancel my induction, I felt a contraction that was like no contraction I’d felt before. Three minutes later I felt another. I quickly downloaded a contraction timing app and got to counting. They were coming in alarmingly fast and strong. Still, I thought maybe it was another bout of false labor, which had been plaguing me for days. I decided to get a glass of water and tried walking around. The contractions continued to come. I got back in bed to try and get comfy but quickly realized that I was putting all of my energy into breathing through my contractions. I nudged my husband awake and said “I think it’s time”. He popped up, said “it’s time!?”… And then fell backwards in bed and passed right back out. This time I shook him, leaned over the bed as a contraction began and growled “we gotta gooooo”.

Me being me, I refused to leave without applying a quick splash of makeup. I leaned over the counter, breathed through a couple more contractions, and decided it was so not worth the risk of wiggling a baby out onto the bathroom floor.

My husband grabbed Liam out of bed and carried him to the car. I texted my grandma to let her know we were on our way, grabbed a towel to put under me just in case, and waddled myself out the door. Without the hospital bag that I’d spent a month perfecting. Of course.

My grandma lives 3 minutes away from our house and the hospital is 5 minutes away from her house. But as we headed to her house i began to think that there was no way we were going to make it. I texted her to open her door, Andre ran Liam in, and we were off. I thought a baby was going to fly out with every speed bump we rolled over and as we pulled up to the hospital we just left the car in front and ran in to the ER. I was brought a wheel chair right away and just like that, a nurse was wheeling me to labor and delivery. I was ugly breathing, people were staring at me, and I was a total wreck. At this point it was 12:30 and when the nurse  asked when my due date was, I realized it WAS my due date.

The nurse sent me into the bathroom to change before she did a pelvic check. As I was in the bathroom I bent over to get my leggings off (worst thing ever to try to get off while having level 10 contractions) and felt my water break. I came back into the room for my pelvic check and the nurse only had to check for a quick second before turning to me and saying “I have good news and bad news. Good news is, you’re not going home-you’re definitely in labor. Bad news is, you are dilated to a 9 and probably won’t have time for an epidural”. I was in shock. It had been just an hour since I felt my first contractions and I was dilated to a 9….???

I was rushed to a delivery room and my amazing team of nurses got to work. They were determined to help me get that epi and explained that the more I freaked out during a contraction, the faster labor would progress. They were shoving paperwork in my contraction having face as fast as possible and I signed each one with the ugliest ‘I’m at a level 10 pain’ scribble you ever did see. Within 20 minutes (that felt like 20 hours) the anesthesiologist walked into the room and I felt immediate relief upon simply seeing the guy. 10 minutes after that I felt like a new woman, my energy was reignited, and I was ready to meet my girl. Andre and I sat there excitedly texting family members and waiting for push time.

Just after 3am, the nurse came into the room and had me try pushing to determine if it was time to call the doctor in. After three pushes she decided it was go time and ran off to find the doctor. My doctor arrived, I pushed maybe 4 more times, and just like that, my perfect 6lb 3oz Scarlett Genevieve was placed on my chest. Andre was in such awe that he forgot that his job was to take photos and the nurse ended up grabbing his phone and taking photos for him.

I began nursing Scarlett and despite all of my fears, she latched perfectly. And so there we sat, soaking in our newest little babe while we waited to be transferred to our room.

About 7 hours after Scarlett made her grande debut into this world, she met her big brother for the first time. He came in typical Liam fashion-loudly and with a box full of donuts. He was excited but hesitant, and while he would hover next to us watching as we held her, he was too scared to touch her himself.

We decided that it would be best for Liam if Andre stayed with him that night, so Scarlett and I had our first ever ‘girls night’ in the hospital. And let me tell you, it was such a wild sleepover that we didn’t get any actual sleep. That’s right, after delivering at 3am, I stayed up all day the following day with visitors, and then proceeded to stay up with my little comfort nursing girl all night long. Thank goodness for sweet nurses and HGTV.

The following day I was told we would go home as soon as doctors came by to give the stamp of approval. The pediatrician came by bright and early, did one last echo on her heart to make sure her VSD had closed up, said Scarlett was good to go, and signed her off. My doctor however was MIA and despite the easiest delivery ever, the nurses couldn’t release me until I was seen. The entire day went by, and by 4pm this exhausted mama was not having it. I sent Andre out to the nurses station to figure out a plan to break me out of there and at last, they called the doctor and were able to get me released via phone call. I have never packed up my stuff so quickly.

We packed Scarlett into her car seat, rolled on down to the car, and at last, we were all together and headed to our happy place… home.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 preset

Maternity Photos.

You guys, I cannot even begin to express how in love I am with our maternity shoot. It was something I had envisioned for months and when it finally happened it surpassed any hopes that I’d had for it. This was the second shoot that we’ve done with The Light and The Love Photography and we were once again blown away by the talent that is Britany.

For years now I have wanted to do a family shoot up in Mount Charleston, but due to it always being pouring rain every time we tried to shoot there, it’s never worked out. At last, I got my mountain photo session and ohmygoodness between the scenery, the lighting, and Britany’s serious photography skills, these photos perfectly captured the beauty of this pregnancy.

I’ve had a lot of questions about my dresses. Unfortunately the lacy bell sleeved one is no longer available, but it was from Forever21. The other dress is from Show Me Your Mumu and is linked here.

Liam’s outfit is all from Zara (which i cannot believe I haven’t discovered sooner) and Andre’s outfit is from Express.

I was a little nervous about this session because the last few family sessions that we’ve done with Liam he’s become distracted/bored super quickly and getting any images with him were always a tricky task that involved a ton of bribery. This time around he was SO unbelievably well behaved and cooperative and cuddly and had all the smooches to give. We brought my sister along to assist as needed, which I think helped a lot. We also brought some treats for him to look forward to between locations because let’s be real, some Star Wars fruit snacks and lollipops will always be the easiest way to keep a four year old in a good mood.

This session was by far my favorite family session we’ve done yet–which is obvious the moment you walk into my house because I’ve already framed half of it. It was the last session of just the three of us and I’m so glad that I will forever have it to look back on. The next time our family is photographed we will finally be joined by our littlest babe, who is apparently very comfortable inside my belly with no intention of coming out on time. Stay tuned, she’s gotta make her debut eventually.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

Baby Shower.

On Saturday with the help of family and friends, we celebrated our sweet baby girl (who will be joining us in just 10 ish weeks!). Since before I even got pregnant with baby #2, I had envisioned a beautiful girly boho styled baby shower and it was so surreal to finally see all of my dreamy pinterest boards come to life.

Breaking away from tradition, we decided to have a co-ed baby shower. Since this is our second baby, we viewed it as less of a “shower” and more of a celebration… so the more the merrier. Decorations mostly consisted of half the flower asile at Trader Joes and succulents and basically any DIY ideas I could think of to make use of all the extra pallets we had at my job. We decided on having the most delicious tacos catered because I don’t know of a single pregnant lady ever who has wanted to worry about standing around the kitchen helping to put together food for a crowd. Games were kept super simple. I have never been a fan of cheesy baby shower games and wasn’t about to torture all of my friends with them, so we chose just two games:

1. Baby Drawing contest: Everybody gets a paper plate and a marker, then they place the plate on their head and have to draw a picture of a baby. The mom/dad-to-be choose the best drawing as the winner.

2. Beer Drinking contest: all participants get a baby bottle full of beer. Fastest one to finish their bottle wins.

The games seemed to be a hit and were so easy to throw together… which was great because we honestly forgot about games completely until the night before the shower. For a photo backdrop, we took two pallets, nailed them together, stained them, and added some fake flowers. By we I definitely mean my husband. There was of course a mimosa bar in which I was able to enjoy nice virgin mimosas… aka orange juice. We set up a boho style low to the ground pallet table surrounded in blankets and pillows in the backyard. It was 110 degrees and got absolutely zero use but hey, it sure did look cute.

It was truly a beautiful baby shower that once again reminded me of how lucky I am to be surrounded by such a great group of people. My sister photographed the entire thing beautifully. We got lots of adorable little gifts for baby girl. I had like 4 rounds of tacos. Feeling blessed as always and so happy to know how loved this baby already is.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetIMG_7028IMG_7029Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetIMG_7040Processed with VSCO with a4 presetIMG_7044IMG_7042IMG_7043Processed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 preset

28 weeks.

B115606E-BEBD-4415-9BE7-B3657264BCA1.jpg

28 weeks of growing this little girl inside of me.

We have officially entered the third trimester and while it feels as though I have been pregnant all year (probably because I literally have), it also feels like the time has absolutely flown by. In just 10-12ish weeks our family will grow by one. This littlest babe will make her debut, and we will finally get to meet the girl behind the kicks.

I definitely feel like I am entering the third trimester. As baby girl gains weight, moving becomes more of a challenge.  My bed time has been 9pm and mid-day naps are almost a necessity. While shaving my legs the other day I came to the realization that I am probably just a few weeks away from needing some assistance. My meals have had to become smaller as eating makes me feel more uncomfortable, but I’m hungry every thirty minutes. The pregnancy leg cramps have been SO real. Sitting upright in a chair for too long is a killer on my back. Working out is now less of a desired activity and more of a forced one. I have become increasingly irritable and my constantly changing roller coaster of emotions can get overwhelming. Basically, I am typical third trimester pregnant lady.

As the days of being “just the three of us” come to and end, I have been feeling all kinds of sentimental. The last four years of our lives, it’s been the Daddy, Mommy, and Liam show. Practically children ourselves when we had him, Liam has grown us up in so many ways and made us the people we are today.  Together, the three of us moved from our first condo to our first house. We have traveled and made memories all over the southwest. We have spent each night cuddling in our too-small-for-the-three-of-us queen sized bed. We got our first family puppy. We have gone through big changes and sleepless nights and laughter filled bacon cooking mornings. Together…just the three of us. As Liam says about ten times a day, we are “besssst friends”.  And now in the blink of an eye, it will be the four of us. The four best friends. This newest addition is already so very loved and I couldn’t be more excited to create new family memories with her, but I will always cherish the last four years of bonding that I’ve had with the sweet little boy who first made me a mama.

I thought that the second time around I would be less nervous. However as the countdown to due date begins, I have realized that I am not less nervous, my nerves simply lie in new places.  While last time my nerves were mostly about the labor/delivery process and the early days of motherhood, this time my nerves are more focused on Liam’s feelings/emotions and what balancing being mama to two will be like. I want to give both of my babies all the attention that they each deserve. I want to make sure that my husband and I get the time that we need together. I want to make sure that in all of that, I don’t forget to also take care of my own well being. My nerves mostly just come down to how I will balance all of that. I love my people… this little squad my husband and I have created. And at the end of the day, I just want to make sure everyone is happy and very well aware of how loved they are.

Despite the inevitable nervous thoughts that come with the unknown, I am filled with a sense of calm. This entire pregnancy I have just had this gut feeling that everything would be ok. And it has been. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my first pregnancy wasn’t the easiest. After almost losing our son at 23 weeks due to an incompetent cervix and being put on very strict bed rest, I went into this pregnancy being automatically classified as “high risk”. While we went into it prepared for the worst, the worst never came. My high risk specialist and I made the decision early on not to operate on my cervix. We decided to wait it out, closely monitor it, and only operate if necessary. With each appointment it became more and more obvious that we made the right decision. As my specialist likes to say, it’s like I went out and bought a new cervix. It has baffled all of us in the best way possible and with each passing day of healthy pregnancy I am reminded of what a blessing it has been.

As I head into the “nesting/I don’t want to do anything other than sit at home and bake a baby” phase of pregnancy, I am filling the next few weeks with as many activities as I can. With my baby shower next week, followed by a week long trip to Phoenix, followed by Liam’s fourth birthday and then our maternity photos… this growing mama will gladly welcome the end of pregnancy slow down once it comes.

28 weeks down, 12 to go. See you soon baby girl.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

 

Processed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Baby #2 is a…

At 12.5 weeks pregnant, we went in to see my high risk specialist for a cervix check. I knew it was super early to ask about the gender, but I was so anxious to know that I couldn’t help but beg him to take a guess. Right away, the doctor said “looks like a girl”.  The words my husband and I had been hoping like crazy to hear. He let us know that he was 80% sure and would check again at the next appointment. Scared of getting too excited, we shared our news with only a couple people and I did my best not to get my hopes up (and by “did my best” I mean I only added like 50 girly items to my online shopping carts instead of actually purchasing said items).

At the following appointment at 14.5 weeks, the doctor changed his certainty to 90% girl. That was all I needed to hear… from that moment on, baby became a she. I went home that day and started buying flowery little swaddle blankets and pink onesies. I sat in bed awake at night dreaming up the perfect girly nursery and smiling at the idea of watching my husband raise a little “daddy’s girl”. In the back of my mind however, I was still so nervous that we would walk into our next appointment only to find out that she was suddenly a he. I of course would still love that baby with everything I had either way, but I knew it would be a bit of a temporary shock if the gender changed on us (not to mention I sure would have an embarrassing amount of returns to make).

Finally this week, at 17.5 weeks… we got the confirmation that we have been waiting for. Baby number two is 100% a girl. The moment the ultrasound tech scanned over the little girl parts she exclaimed “oh yeah that’s without a doubt a girl” and all I could do was smile the biggest smile.  Just like that, I get to be the mama of a daughter. I want to cry just saying it–thanks pregnancy hormones.

I remember as a little girl, I always said that I hoped to first have a boy so that he could be the protector, followed by a girl who would look up to her big brother. As we began our journey into pregnancy number two, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would actually get to experience mothering a girl or if I was destined to be a boy mom. Now I am filled with so much joy to be able to say that I have got my sweet crazy boy + a girl on the way.

Trimester two has been much easier on me than the earlier weeks of pregnancy. My nausea has finally passed and most days my energy levels seem to be normal again. Best of all, my incompetent cervix has not yet come back to bother me. The high risk specialist has told us at every appointment that he is shocked by the total turnaround and that it’s like he’s looking at an entirely different patient’s cervix. I remain under careful watch and he’s ready to operate on me the second he feels he needs to, however so far there has been zero sign of the return of my cervical problems.

I have to say, it’s a bit of a shock. A good shock, but a shock nonetheless. Ever since the complications of my last pregnancy, we have been warned to expect the same thing this time around. We were prepared (or at least as prepared as one can be) for me to be on bed rest for the majority of my pregnancy. The moment I found out I was pregnant I held off making any plans out of fear that I would be bed ridden for the following 8 months. But here I am, 18 weeks along and still movin and groovin. Things could change suddenly, but for the time being we are simply hoping for the best and trusting the talented doctor who is closely monitoring me.

I have recently begun feeling tiny baby kicks all throughout my day and from time to time I have even been lucky enough to feel quick little movements on the outside of my belly, excited for the kicks to grow stronger so that my husband and son can share in the experience. I’m growing bigger by the moment and at least half of my wardrobe is now very much off limits. My cravings include bean and cheese burritos with sour cream (if there is no sour cream I will throw a pregnant lady fit and refuse to eat it), Frosted Flakes/about half of the rest of the cereal aisle, corn on the cob, and chocolate chip cookies accompanied by an almost frozen glass of whole milk. The nursery/baby item check list is quickly coming along and I find myself staring at the already acquired items in excitement at least a couple times a day. Surprisingly, I have managed to make it to the gym for a 30 minute workout 4-5 nights a week and am feeling pretty darn great about that.

Just about halfway through this pregnancy and so far it has been everything I’d hoped for and more. I plan on soaking in every sweet moment as this little one continues to grow,  awaiting the big day that we get to welcome our girl into the world.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

 

Processed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 preset

Oh Baby, Baby.

On the morning that I found out I was pregnant it was a beautiful rainy day. I woke up and rolled over to Facetime my husband who was away on business. As we talked, he stopped me and said “babe you are glowing! Are you sure you’re not pregnant? Look at you!”. I blushed and didn’t think too much of it… he was always one to lay on the sweet/sometimes cheesy compliments and I was resting  directly under the light of the window. Once I got out of bed, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to take a pregnancy test. When I was finished, I put it down and walked away, not expecting anything exciting to take place. I had become accustomed to the month after month disappointment of seeing just one sad little “not pregnant” line on the test and no longer allowed myself to hype up the situation.

When I went back a couple minutes later to check on it, I burst into tears. I don’t cry often… and I especially do not happy cry.  At my absolute most happiest I have never been able to muster up tears and have never understood how other people did. Yet there I was, sitting on the bathroom floor balling my eyes out (although I’m sure the pregnancy hormones played a role). After 11 months of trying and wishing and hoping and praying, we finally got the news we’d been wanting for so long.

I hadn’t planned on telling our son right off the bat, but when he heard me crying he knew something was up and all I could do in that moment was just blurt out “mommy’s having a baby!”. His eyes got big and he pointed to my belly and asked “you got baby!?”. We hugged and I cried some more and called my husband. We had a five minute conversation before he went into a meeting and chuckled to ourselves as we recalled finding out we were pregnant with Liam. Filled with so much excitement, I continued about my day unable to sit still, happy dancing all around the house. I wanted to shout my news from the rooftop and tell the mailman and the gardeners and the neighbors.

And now here we are, about 6 weeks since we found out, and I can finally share the news with you all. The journey to this point hasn’t been an easy one but it certainly has been a happy one. I’ve been nauseas more often than not, my hormones have been all out of whack creating all kinds of mood swings and skin trouble, I have food aversions to just about everything (which has led to weeks of living off of Saltines and cereal) and my energy has been so depleted that naps have become a necessity/my bed time is usually 6pm. I’m finally justttt beginning to feel like myself again and am so ready to be heading into my second trimester.

My last pregnancy was high risk due to an incompetent cervix, which means that this pregnancy is automatically considered high risk. We will find out in the coming weeks what that will mean for us. Cervical surgery, long term bed rest, or restricted activity are all very likely possibilities that we will have to face when the time comes… but for now we are just enjoying my current state of physical freedom, hoping for the best, and taking it all as it comes.

Liam has quickly and very happily accepted the fact that there will be another little human joining us soon. Some days he wants a brother, other days he wants a sister. He has added “baby” to his nightly list of “I love yous” , he gives my already growing belly little kisses, and has expressed the sweetest concern for “how baby is going to get out of there”. He has had moments of stress about the baby playing with his toys and his feelings took a pretty big hit when he saw a package of the teeniest little baby booties arrive that weren’t for him… but in the grand scheme of things, I’d say he is pretty darn excited.

We have just recently begun to talk about how we will rearrange the house to accommodate for a whole new person. I have started purchasing some irresistible gender neutral baby items as my impatience to know the gender grows stronger and stronger. Many of my thoughts are consumed by day dreams of our growing family and what life as four will be like. I am filled with endless excitement and can think of no other word to describe my current state other than blessed. Absolutely.. undeniably.. blessed beyond belief.

So with that, this ‘whine connoisseur’ is taking a little break from the wine… I’ve got some baby growing to do.

Baby number two, joining us September 2017.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

 

img_3144img_3148img_3150img_3147img_3145img_3149img_3146

Hello 2017.

2016 was a lot of things for us. It was change. It was adventure. It was new beginnings. 

While I dropped the ball on my healthy lifestyle the last half of the year and I still have not managed to figure out how to get all the things done and simultaneously finish my coffee while it’s still hot, this year did bring its share of accomplishments and positive changes. I still am not supermom (my son has confirmed this by repeatedly telling me that he cannot see my muscles when I flex for him) and I still have not made a single trip to Target in which I left with only the items on my list… however I have added “working mom” to my list of accomplishments and I’ve finally mastered the art of making the perfect flank steak +garlic mashed potatoes.

This year brought a lot of unexpected events. Within the course of 12 months, my husband decided to change companies (and had to spend 3 months away from us training across the country), we traveled to more destinations than we ever have before, I took on a part time job, my husband managed to break 3 iphones, I had like 4 different hair styles/colors, and our son developed a serious love for telling fart jokes to as many strangers as he can. There were highs and lows as there are every year, but overall I am ending this year feeling like one of those most blessed ladies on the planet.

If I was to narrow my lessons for the year down to one all encompassing lesson, it’s probably that things don’t always go to plan… and that’s ok. I have always been a planner. I try not to let anyone see the “notes” app on my phone because there are so many lists and plans going on in there that it’s honestly surprising that I haven’t started a line graph documenting how often my son makes comments about pooping/farting or how many times a day I say “honestly”. Planning and being prepared is my comfort zone and that’s how I like it, however almost nothing that went down this year was “in the plans”. And yet what do you know… Everything turned out ok. More than ok. Life has a way of working itself out and whether I care to admit it or not… Life does not care if I made a plan for this or a plan for that. Everything happens when it happens for a reason, and while I still have no plan to stop planning, I have learned to be more accepting of when things do not happen according to my schedule.

Going into the new year, I feel optimistic… I feel excited… I feel blessed. I have a sweet/successful/super handsome/loving husband who is currently in an ongoing battle with my grandpa as to whether or not he should grow out his beard. I have a son who is absolutely taking his sweet time at potty training but says the funniest things I’ve ever heard in my life and always tells me that I’m pretty. I have a job that challenges me and keeps my mind moving and allows me to still spend most of my time at home with my family. I have a home that makes my heart happy. I have a sweet puppy that won’t stop jumping on my house guests but has the most amazing tolerance for loud three year olds that want to use her as a jungle gym. I have a small but great group of friends who thoroughly enjoy getting down with wine/cocktails whenever I need one (or five). I have family near and far that constantly remind me that I am loved (even if it’s a string of texts at 5 in the morning or comes in the form of 6 back to back snapchats). I could not imagine needing anything else as I take on this new year.

I wish you all nothing but happiness. If this year was good to you…take time to count your blessings and cary that love into the new year. If this year was bad to you…take time to count your blessings and clear your head, and shake it all off. It’s time for resolutions and positivity and optimism and all of the cheesy “new year, new me” phrases that someone is bound to make fun of you for. It’s time to take on 2017… Happy New Year my friends.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

Phoenix 2016.

Boy oh boy this post has been a long time coming. We took our first trip to Phoenix last month and due to all kinds of phone/computer issues I’ve had THE most complicated time getting all of my photos into one spot. So here we are, better late than never!

This was probably the most organized and well planned trip we’ve been on yet. The possibility/option of moving to Phoenix (to be closer to the majority of my husbands business) made this trip different than most because rather than going with just the intent of having a good time, there was also the intent of feeling it out to see if it could potentially be a good fit for our family in the future (don’t worry family and friends, this would be way further down the road, if at all). While we are going to have many many more visits before we make up our minds, I wanted to make sure that our first experience with this city was as positive as it could be since we will be spending a lot of time there regardless.

To give you a little insight on my trip planning, I have a pretty simple 3 step process. Here’s a brief glimpse at the workings of my planning/organizing obsessed brain:

1. Yelp
-I am a major lover of yelp. There is no place I go to that I haven’t thoroughly explored on yelp before I go. It allows you to not only read reviews,  but you can also see photos of the atmosphere and menu, which are super helpful when trying to find places that will make the whole family happy. It’s great for hotels too because rather than getting the fluffed up professional photographs that the hotel websites offer, you get to see real life images of what the room will actually look like when you get there (great for if you’re on the fence about a hotel). I spend several days combing through all the possible hotels and restaurants to choose from, and narrow down the best by bookmarking them.

2. Maps
-once I’ve narrowed down our hotel(s) and top restaurant picks , I run them all through maps to see how far they all are from each other. This helps when it comes to making the itinerary because it’s far easier to stick to exploring one area each day, rather than dodging all around in a new city (especially a big city like Phoenix). If you are really unfamiliar with the area and don’t even know where to start, Yelp can be really helpful for this part as well. Often times I will just enter the address of my hotel into yelp, filter my results based on distance, and sift through the places that I had bookmarked. Combining this method with maps will get you a really accurate idea of where everything is at and will make the adventure a bit less complicated.

3. Itinerary
-after I have my spots picked and have them all grouped based on proximity, I start my itinerary. I break it down by day, followed by a list of several potential activities and a restaurant choice for each meal of that day. I know there are plenty of people out there that prefer the spontaneity of a less organized trip but when you’re planning around your husbands meetings + your toddlers mood swings, an organized itinerary makes everything so much smoother and less stressful. We have run into situations far too often where we have no idea where to eat lunch, barely ate breakfast because my husband had a meeting, and now come 1pm we are all cranky and irritable because we are starving and have no idea what restaurant options are even in the area. Itineraries completely solve that problem and allow you to actually enjoy your time. We don’t always stick exactly to the plan, but having that plan as a backup to go off of is a total life saver.

Our first two days in Phoenix we stayed at the Arizona Grand resort. The rooms and service weren’t exactly my favorite but the grounds were really sprawling and beautiful. There’s a Mexican restaurant on the property with amazing enchiladas (and sangria). Sadly the hotel’s water park was closed during weekdays because we went after the high summer season but there were several pools that were still accessible and still plenty of fun for the little dude.

The second half of our trip we stayed at the AC hotel in Tempe, and I absolutely loved it. The property has only been open for a few months so everything is nice and new. There is a rooftop pool with beautiful views and the location is prime. There is a long walking path along the water and tons of restaurants within a 5-10 minute drive.

…Which leads me to one of my favorite parts of traveling: the food! Phoenix has a ton of amazing spots to choose from.  My favorites included:

1. Snooze AM (fun/hip/eco friendly college student breakfast spot with an awesome staff)
2. Culinary dropout (unique/trendy decor and delicious small plates/appetizers)
3. Olive and Ivy (great ambiance, even better food and cocktails)
4. The Hash Kitchen (quirky breakfast spot with an interesting twist on classic dishes)
5. Zu Izakaya (traditional Japanese. Lots of sushi, Saki, and grilled teriyaki to choose from)

As for activities, we checked out Scottsdale quarter (which has a really cool/unique splash pad area and tons of shopping), explored the downtown Phoenix area, and checked out a couple of pretty parks. We did a ton of driving to just get familiar with the area and had a lot of fun looking at the versatile range of adobe-esque houses in the area. If you’re as into home design as we are, I highly recommend just driving through the neighborhoods of Scottsdale for a while, even if you have no intent of ever moving there…if anything you’ll spot some really pretty houses and some of the biggest cacti you’ve ever seen.

We left the trip with a good feeling about Phoenix and all of the possibilities + adventures that it holds. It is such a cool desert city with so much to do and so much that we have yet to explore. While this is just the beginning of our Arizona travels, our first taste was certainly a sweet one.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur