12.05.2014

Confessional Friday + 38 Week Bumpdate




Hey, friends! Welcome to Friday. Aren't we glad to see her?

So, my post today isn't a confession at all, but I did want to get this bumpdate up, just in case someone decides to grace us with her presence before next week! (And I'd be A-Okay with that at this point!)

You can leave links to your Confessional Posts per usual, of course!

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Weeks: 38 as of yesterday

Gender: GIRL! Stephen doesn't stand a chance against all of this estrogen : )

Name: Ainsley Catherine

Cravings: More space in my stomach so that I can eat food again without heartburn. Amen.

And nachos.

(No amount of heartburn can keep me away from nachos.)

Most looking forward to: Being not pregnant. I'm going to level with you here: the fun of this has run its course and I'm ready to feel like my body is mine again. After two years of being "with child", I honestly cannot remember what it feels like to not be pregnant. (I don't know how Michelle Duggar does it. And I do not wish to find out.)

I'm so very, very grateful that we've been given the gift of these two precious girls, and I have enjoyed both pregnancy journeys so much, each for their own reasons. Ainsley completes our family and I'm ready to have her on the outside!

Most nervous about: The C-section. Caroline's birth was a little bit scary with my epidural failing and all, so I'm praying that this time it takes. Because I can tell you first hand, a C-section without a complete epidural does not a fun experience make.

I've prayed about it a lot and now, I'm just giving it up to God.

Cheers to great drugs and a freaking fantastic anesthesiologist (!!)

I can't wait to: Start nursing a baby again. I was shocked out how much I enjoyed breastfeeding Caroline. It was such a cool bonding experience and I'm excited to share that with Ainsley, too.

Updates: We really and truly thought we were having her on my birthday. I joked with Stephen on Tuesday night that all I wanted for my birthday was to get this baby OUT. He kept saying, "Maybe Santa will give you a baby for your b-day!"

The next morning, after a night of contracting and contracting and contracting, I was eating my words. I was in pain and they were so much more intense than any of the contractions I had felt so far. These contractions started in my back and radiated all the way around to my tummy, then down into my thighs. They were the real-freaking-deal and they. sucked. big. time.

I had an appointment for a final ultrasound with our high-risk OB at 8:30 a.m. sharp, so I called ahead, told them how I was feeling and they met me there at 7:50 and got me right back before anyone else. (Thank you, Dr. C and staff!!)

They immediately began the ultrasound and I started contracting...hard. So intensely that our high-risk doc was convinced I was in labor and told me we should probably go home and get ready for the C-section! (Ainsley's head was so low that they couldn't get a measurement on it with the ultrasound...and trust me, I could/can feel it!) Even though they were intense, the contractions were all happening at really irregular intervals, (regularity = true labor), so we decided to go on home until my later appointment at 1:00 p.m.

I was feeling evvvvvvvery contraction, so I went home, packed a bag, put Ainsley's things in a bag and got my game face on.

(For concerned parties about Stephen and who packed his bag: our house is a literal two-minute drive from the hospital we're using, so Stephen will go back and forth when he needs things. And, should he require a bag, he is quite capable and willing to pack it himself ; ) I had SO many people ask me last year before Caroline's birth if I had "packed Stephen's bag yet" and we would both look at each other and laugh. {Y'all, I am serious. Granted, most of them were older/elderly women, but these folks honest-to-goodness wanted to know if and when I planned on packing his things for him.} He's a 30-year-old man who travels across the country for work on a weekly basis. I asked him if he felt cheated in some way if I let him pack his own bag for our hospital stay and he said, verbatim, "I haven't had a lady pack my bag since I went to camp when I was eight." So, there you have it.)

But back to my story...

I remember thinking, as we loaded our things into the car and headed to the appointment, that this could be it. The day the family of three became the family of four. And then The Little Drummer Boy came on the radio. And I thought about Christmas and Hallmark commercials. And puppies. And, of course, I started to get teary-eyed and happy and sappy. And then I was bawling, Bing Crosby blaring in the background and all.

Oh, hormones...

Anywhoodle, by the time we got to our 1:00 appointment with our regular O.B., the contractions were still happening, but the intensity had died down a lot. (This was a welcomed feeling because...OUCH.) After a while on the NST machine, a (super-duper fun) exam and a lot of discussion, we decided that we'd reconvene later this morning (as in today) at 8:00 a.m. and go from there.

So, who knows if we'll have a baby this afternoon, tonight, this weekend or next week...it'll be a surprise for all of us - Stephen and me, included!

   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   






12.03.2014

This is 30.

This morning at 8:30 a.m. on the dot, I'll be 30! (Fun fact: Caroline was also born at exactly 8:30 a.m. We are soul mates like that.)

At 8:30 a.m. today, I'll also be in the process of getting our very last ultrasound for baby Ainsley at our high-risk O.B. (We'll have one more at our regular O.B. later this week or early next.)

At 8:30 a.m. during said ultrasound, because a woman's mind never stops running, I'll also be going through a list in my head of things I need to accomplish today. I'll be mentally jotting down a to-do list that will need to take place before our second doctor's appointment at 1:00 this afternoon.

Mop the kitchen.

Pick up Dreft and orange juice.

Vacuum the guest rooms.

Check on the status of the wall monogram for the nursery. 


Not exciting things, by any stretch, but things that need doing. And I'll do them happily because I've waited so long to be in a place in life to do them.

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I'm not sure what I thought 30 would look like, but I like my life so much more than I ever did when I was a scared, naive 21 year old, (though that 21 year old thought she was big and bad and brave...little did she know...)

As I woke up this morning on the couch -- yup, it's that stage of late-pregnancy where sleep-sitting on the couch is more comfortable than trying to roll out of bed every 20 minutes to pee...

Where was I? Oh, yes.

As I woke up this morning, I heard my husband making coffee. I heard Caroline singing in her crib. I heard Ari, our German Shepherd, "greeting" his dog neighbors through the fence. I heard the low hum of our dishwasher, scrubbing away the sauce from last night's spaghetti dinner.

The spaghetti dinner where Stephen and I laughed so hard at Caroline that we had tears in our eyes. Because it's a hilarious thing to watch a toddler eat spaghetti.

I heard the dings of text messages coming through from my family and friends - the people that sweeten my life so much.

I hear the sounds that fill my every day and make me realize that the best days are being lived right. now.

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This year's birthday celebration certainly won't be the wildest or most extravagant. It won't consist of drinking champagne or wearing a sexy little dress. (Though I fully intend to do both those things after this kiddo gets here because FUN.)

But it will consist of sharing some kisses with my husband. It will consist of putting up the last of the Christmas ornaments with Caroline taking them off the tree no sooner than they're hung. It will consist of getting to see the last 4D ultrasound images of our sweet second daughter's face before I meet her in the flesh. It'll consist of me thanking God for all the birthdays leading up to this one - all the experiences and not-so-easy years that make me appreciate this stage of life so much more.

Today's birthday will be the best yet.

If this is 30, give me more.



12.02.2014

Dressing a Maternity Body (feat. Riffraff)



Remember years ago when pregnant women were forced to spend the duration of their pregnancies wearing glorified potato sack dresses and horrendous maternity stirrup pants?

I was only nine when I remember my mom having to sport those oh-so-flattering clothes when she was pregnant with my brother. And even then, despite it being the early 90s, I remember thinking, "There has GOT to be someone out there who can make better clothes for pregnant ladies."

Thankfully, designers finally got their heads on straight and heard the cries of mamas everywhere. And do you know what? They found it to be an incredibly lucrative market (!!) (Well, gee golly! Who would've thought that women wanted to wear attractive clothing while they were pregnant?)

Vest c/o Riffraff (mine is out of stock, but similar here) // Charleston Glitz necklace c/o Riffraff // top is old from Loft (non-maternity), very similar here and here //  Fade to Blue Secret Fit Belly Skinny Leg Maternity Jean in dark wash (only $39.99!) // Toms Desert Wedge Bootie in Cheetah
Today, it's easier than ever...EVER...to look chic, put together and on-trend during those precious months of carrying a bambina. You just have to know what to wear, what to avoid and which brands/boutiques to shop.

You'll be delighted to know that you won't have to wear even one mumu.

Tips for dressing a maternity body:

1. You don't have to go up five sizes just because you're sporting a bump. I got a question from a darling pregnant girl on instagram the other night asking if she had to go up a size, just because she was pregnant. My personal philosophy? Nope. Here's the deal: most styles of tops today are very accomodating to a baby bump, (i.e. oversize sweaters, tunics, peplum tops, etc.)

I don't know if the fashion world is designing clothing like this on purpose, but it works. I honestly probably bought two or three maternity tops total that I've worn with both my babies.

Instead, look for styles like longer tunics and bottom-covering sweaters (you'll need the extra length) in your usual size or one size up (if your, um, assets have grown.) DO NOT run out and buy a bunch of clothing that's five sizes bigger than your usual; in ten months, you'll have that baby and be left with a bunch of clothes that don't fit and don't look good.



2. Invest in GOOD maternity pants/jeans. Cheap maternity pants are just...bad. They don't hold up and trust me, when that third trimester rolls around, you're going to want good britches. I'm not saying you have to invest oodles of money into pregnancy pants, but this is the area where you'll definitely WANT to buy maternity. Tops and dresses? Meh. Maternity pants= very necessary.

Also, here's a bit of friendly advice from a gal who has done it before: you'll be wearing those maternity pants home from the hospital and probably for a few weeks after the birth of your babe. Things don't just snap back immediately the day you check out of Labor & Delivery, especially if you've had a C-section and are retaining 20 extra pounds of fluid, (but they do snap back - promise!) You'll appreciate the extra fabric and tummy panel while things heal and return to their somewhat previous shape.

I really like these brands of maternity jeans:

All-time favorite: Fade to Blue Secret Fit Belly Skinny Leg Maternity Jean in dark wash (only $39.99!)
7 for All Mankind Secret Fit Belly Straight Leg Maternity Jean
Mavi Secret Fit Belly 5 Pocket Maternity Jean


3. Buy a BeBand. These have been my best friend during both pregnancies, especially during the second trimester. Essentially, it's a piece of tube top-looking, elasticized fabric that pulls up over your (unbuttoned) pants to allow you to still wear your favorite bottoms while you're pregnant. The Target brand BeBand is great for that transition time between non-maternity pants and the full blown "I'm about to pop" mama pants. It will also help save you money if you're on a limited budget or just don't want to invest in pricier maternity clothes.

I also really like Target's maternity tanks. Buy one in every color!

4. Do not throw in the towel. Trust me, at one million weeks pregnant myself right now, I-FRIGGIN-GET-IT. And yes, there are many days where I don't leave these maternity leggings and sweatshirts, which I may be wearing right at this very moment. But please don't give up for the next ten months. It's so easy, especially at the end, to just say "screw it" and throw on your fiftieth pair of jogging pants, but you'll feel soooooo much better about yourself if you get dressed. Even if it's just jeans and a cute top, I implore you to dress for yourself. It'll make those days when you feel like a manatee a whole lot more bearable. You are worth it. You are worth it.

You are worth it.



12.01.2014

Gold, Pearls and Pink




Nothing makes me swoon more than a gorgeous piece of statement jewelry, especially if it falls into the vintage category. So, you can imagine my reaction when I saw this late 1970s Sarah Coventry lariat tassel necklace from Southern Vintage, a Northwest Arkansas jewelry and accessory boutique.

Be still my bauble-loving heart. 


Sarah Coventry tassel lariat necklace c/o Southern Vintage // felt floppy hat in brown, (also love this one and this one)  // Fuzzy Knit Pocket Sweater  // Fade to Blue 5 Pocket Skinny maternity skinny jeans // Vince Camuto 'Kain' heels // Prada Saffiano Tote in Caramel, very similar here and here // pearl ring (also love this one and this one) // bangle set 

The chain...the pearl accents...it's downright dreamy, I tell you.




You can stop in Southern Vintage every Saturday at 123 S Main St. in Bentonville from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. or by private appointment! You can also keep up with them on their Instagram account (username is southernvintagebentonville) and Facebook page, too. 

Right now, Karey is offering complimentary gift wrapping with every purchase, so it's a great way to knock everything out in one stop. You can also pop in and make your own holiday wish list so that you can be sure you get what YOU want this Christmas ; )


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Cyber Monday - The Rundown

Riffraff - 50% off site-wide (Use code BLONDE for an additional 10% your order!)
Savoir-Faire - 50% off site-wide
Maude - 30% off with code MONDAY30 (Plus, free shipping for orders over $75!)
Forever 21- 20% off when you spend $60, 30% off when you spend $100
Loft - 50% off everything with code MONDAY
Ann Taylor - 50% off everything with code CYBER50
Nordstrom - Up to 40% off on women's shoes, handbags and clothing
Old Navy - 40% off everything with code CYBER
Gap - 40% off everything use code CYBER
Banana Republic - 40% off everything with code CYBER


11.25.2014

Shop Small, Y'all


So, you've probably heard that some stores may be having some sales or something on Friday. Dunno what that's about... ; ) But seriously, if you plan to do shopping of any sort this holiday season, whether this weekend or later on, I highly encourage you to scope out the stores of some of my friends below.



So why give your business to these small shops this year? If I may, a few reasons:

1) They are ALL women-owned businesses. (Can we say #GirlBoss?)

2) They all have a web or social media presence, allowing you to shop whether you live in Northwest Arkansas (like me), or Timbuktu (like Timbuktuians).

3) They are genuinely nice people you'll be supporting. (A bit of insight: I'm picky about who I work with and promote on this blog. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather buy from people who do right by their customers any day of the week.)

These women and their boutiques are the real deal. So go forth and shop your pants off.





If you haven't shopped from my gals at Riffraff before, the holidays would be an excellent time to do so! Kirsten and her girl gang are breaking records (numbers, not the vinyl kind) and taking the retail world by storm. And the coolest part? The flagship store is still located right smack dab in the middle of Fayetteville.

Riffraff has stocked some darn cute items (per usual) to keep us all in style and on budget this Christmas. Best of all, you can create your own wish list on their site and make sure you get everything YOU want this year.

Find them on Instagram at shopriffraff




I have been collaborating with Maude Boutique on this blog for FIVE years now. Five. That's longer than a presidency.

I can tell you that every year, I'm blown away with their merchandise. (Seriously, Becca and team never disappoint.) The items in stock at Maude currently are no exception. Last year, Maude expanded their offerings to other gift items outside the realm of just apparel and accessories. Don't know what the heck to buy for someone? Call them, hit 'em up on Instagram or stop in and they'll help you select something fabulous for your recipient!

Find them on Instagram at shopmaude and keep an eye out for a 'Very Merry Maude Gift Guide' coming exclusively to this blog soon!





Two words that comes to mind when I think of SF? High style. Tess and the ladies keep their customers looking amazingly chic, but with price points that still allow you to pay your electric bill. If it's big city style - you know, the stuff you see in Lucky every month - Savoir-Faire is your ticket.
I'm loving all of the super fun pieces they just added to their Party Shop! (Takes all the guess work out of planning your holiday looks, doesn't it?) And, their sweaters...my personal favorite section. So many, many options that would tickle anyone on your gift list to pieces.

Find them on Instagram at shopsavoirfaire




If it's a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry you crave, please get yourself over to Southern Vintage. Stop in on Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. or make a private appointment to stop by on another day of the week! Karey has so many gorgeous pieces that will satisfy any jewelry lover - and for unbelievable prices.
Southern Vintage is located in downtown Bentonville at 123 S Main St., Suite 3. You can also follow them on Instagram and Facebook for daily pics and inspiration. Stop in and make your wish list or get a jump on your Christmas shopping!

Find them on Instagram at southernvintagebentonville



If you live in Fort Smith or the River Valley, you're probably already familiar with this little gem of a boutique. And if you haven't met HH yet? Well, it's high time. Meagan carries only a few of each piece, so you know that wherever you go, you won't have that awkward "she's wearing my outfit" moment ; )

Meagan and her team at Hazel's Haven can help you choose something special for your friends and family in store OR through their Instagram account. Yep - even if you live in another city or state, you can shop their Instagram account and Facebook page to have a little piece of Haven (see what I did there?) sent to your door!

Find them on Instagram at hazelshaven

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Baby/Blogging/I'm So Emo Update: 
I've reached a point in this pregnancy that I've been dreading: the miserable point. I never felt like this during my pregnancy with Caroline, but I also didn't have a toddler underfoot then either. Physically, this is the hardest thing I have ever done. I wake up exhausted, ache in places I never thought possible, can no longer wear real shoes -- we're meeting with my O.B. about this crazy swelling tomorrow first thing -- and frankly, I just find myself overwhelmed at the amount of stuff I still have left to do before this baby gets here. 

This morning, Caroline was standing at my feet crying and when I went to pick her up, my back just sort of gave out. I couldn't physically do it. Try explaining to a toddler why momma can't scoop her up and hold her like always. After I got her situated with her toys in the living room, I just sat at my breakfast table and bawled the ugly cry.

We are also hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year and the thought of cleaning house and doing food prep brought on an eruption of tears. (This isn't meant to garner sympathy or scare anyone away from having a baby one day (ha!), but I try to keep it real.)

I know that this will all be worth it when she gets here, but man - I'm tired. Real tired.

With that said, I'm going to take the remainder of the week and weekend off from blogging and focus on our family, our home and my ever-growing to-do list. Unless craziness ensues, I fully intend to be back next week.



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Anyway, y'all have a good night and a very happy Thanksgiving! I'm so thankful for your readership and your support on this little platform every day.

See y'all next week!