Third trimester update

31 May 2021

Buckle up, friends, this third trimester update just got a LOT more interesting in the past week…

22 weeks!

First trimester highlights (and lowlights): The biggest difference between this first trimester and past ones is that I just felt a lot more tired – sometimes taking multiple naps a day (!). It seems easy to blame that on wrangling two kids as opposed to one or zero, but since they’re at preschool during the day, I’m not sure that’s the reason.

Otherwise, a very strange side effect I experienced was my mouth tasting bad ALL the time. It was the worst, and I was basically in a constant loop of snacking to keep nausea at bay, followed by brushing my teeth to keep my mouth feeling okay. Needless to say, I had VERY clean teeth in the first trimester :) I thought this was just a weird quirk that I might have been imagining, but apparently it’s a real pregnancy thing! (Lisa experienced it, too!)

Sadly, John was not able to attend the 8-week ultrasound because of COVID policy, but because of this I was able to take a little video clip on my phone, which I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. It’s sweet to have that signature whoosh-whoosh-whoosh captured for posterity!

Second trimester highlights (and lowlights): A highlight: announcing this pregnancy to y’all! I also loved discussing our decision to have a third child.

As with Shep’s pregnancy, I felt increasing anxiousness leading up to each appointment in this trimester. I worried before the 14-week appointment because there were no external signs pregnancy was progressing, and I worried before the 19-week anatomy scan about what would be revealed. I was alone for this scan, too (my practice changed their policy on partners two weeks later, argh!), but praise the Lord, everything looked good, and everyone began feeling kicks shortly thereafter – the sweetest!

Around 22 weeks my weight gain seemed to pick up speed, and sure enough, I am pacing a bit ahead of my last two pregnancies.

Third trimester highlights (and lowlights): So far, at 33 weeks, I’ve dealt with some heartburn, some hip discomfort in the early mornings, and plenty of Braxton-Hicks contractions. Things like bending over to switch the laundry or bathe the kids are also increasingly uncomfortable. Otherwise, no complaints!

One thing that’s been fun – putting together a little registry on Babylist. I used the Amazon universal registry for the other two kiddos, but I have to say I prefer Babylist’s format! I don’t really expect to receive many gifts from it (and there’s not much we need!), but it’s been handy to keep our ideas for purchases in one spot.

Finally, a HUGE highlight of this trimester was taking and then receiving our maternity family photos from Ally & Bobby!!! What a gift! Little sneak peek below – more to come soon! :)

Maternity clothing favorites: Since my usual source of pregnancy clothes is actively using them (the nerve!) I’ve had to get creative this time around. Thankfully, a friend who worked at Kindred Bravely swooped in and saved the day, gifting me a pair of over-the-bump leggings, over-the-bump bike shorts, and two bathing suits early on. I didn’t have a pair of over-the-bump leggings with either of my other pregnancies and I’m honestly not sure how I managed that?! I probably wore those leggings 5/7 days a week… or more… until the weather got too hot. They made it so much more possible to stretch non-maternity tops further into pregnancy (working from home helped, too!).

As the weather has gotten warmer, I’ve transitioned to rotating the bike shorts, my favorite jean shorts, and swing dresses like this. I have also reached for plenty of John’s softest tees in the evenings or when going on walks.

Given these questionable wardrobe choices, my very, very favorite purchase has been a pair of maternity Lake Pajamas I snagged on Black Friday last year. At the time, it felt overly-indulgent to buy something so expensive that I would wear for such a brief season, but it has been SUCH a joy to slip into something comfy and well-fitting after days of outfits that are just barely holding it together. Highly recommended.

Gender: Girl!

Current preoccupying thoughts: A week and two days ago, John ruptured his Achilles’ tendon playing tennis. He had surgery to repair it on Friday, which thankfully went well, but has four more completely non-weight-bearing weeks ahead, then at least a month more of assisted weight-bearing (a.k.a. crutches or a scooter) and boot-wearing in front of him.

As you can imagine, this has thrown a wrench into many of our plans and expectations for our last few weeks as a family of four. We had to cancel our annual camping trip, our visit to Connecticut, and our one-night babymoon. My parents have already been here with us a week, and after a brief trip home, they’ll be back here for the four weeks leading up to the delivery.

To say I am exceedingly grateful for their help doesn’t even come close – daily tasks are already more tiring, and will only become increasingly so as delivery ticks closer – but at the same time, it’s okay to say that it’s never what I would have chosen for this unique season of our lives. I am mourning privacy, and space, and control, and the opportunity to be cared for in late pregnancy in the way only my very best friend can – except that he cannot, right now.

YET AGAIN, at the same time, I have had the slightly-morbid but very true thought over and over that even as I learn to do tasks, sometimes for the first time, that normally fall under John’s domain – taking out the trash, operating our overly-complicated sprinkler, taking the kids up to bed at night – I am so grateful that I am only taking over these tasks temporarily, not because he has been permanently disabled or worse. God willing, though there is a long road of physical therapy and recovery ahead to return to full strength, he will be back on his feet and walking unassisted a month or so after baby sister arrives. Prayers for swift healing are very much appreciated!

One thing that has NOT preoccupied my thoughts this pregnancy? The mode of delivery. My OB practice requires a third baby after two c-sections to be another c-section, so unlike last time, when I felt like what kind of delivery to choose was a constant weight on my mind, I’ve given it little thought this time around.

Exercise: Fairly non-existent in the first trimester. In the second trimester, I got back on the Peloton to move my legs (my outputs are about half of what they used to be!) and was pretty consistent with arm workouts, stretching, and evening or midday walks with John. I am not feeling optimistic about the third trimester – John is now out as a walking partner, and he is also usually the one that rallies us to fit in an arms workout or encourages me to get on the bike.

Looking forward to: Plans for the garden party are still moving forward, and though it feels like a LOT to organize on top of everything else, I am excited for a chance to see friends and just enjoy a special evening. Fingers crossed for no rain!

Nursery status: Curtains are being sewn as we speak! I still need to clean out the closet, and am looking forward to printing and framing a few maternity family photos for the top of the dresser. We also need to set up the “satellite nursery,” a.k.a. our bedroom, where she’ll sleep for the first few months: setting up a changing station, clothing storage, and a place to sleep.

Left to do: Plenty! Other than things mentioned elsewhere, we need to purchase gifts for June and Shep from “baby sister,” shop with June for a stuffie for baby sister, gather a recipient list for our Meal Train, plan for our newborn photos, stock up on swaddles, order a baby book, wash and organize newborn clothes, buy diapers and wipes, pack a hospital bag, and install the infant car seat.

On my mind: I covered the effects of John’s injury on these last few weeks of pregnancy above, but what I haven’t yet wrapped my mind around fully is what it means for our time in the hospital and the first few weeks of post-partum, when I will be recovering from my own surgery and largely immobile – weeks when in the past, John has done almost everything for me and everyone else. I’m choosing to see how recovery progresses over the next few weeks instead of worrying about everything all at once.

How June and Shep are doing: Great! Having an older, more aware child has been one of the sweetest changes with this pregnancy – at 5, June definitely has more of an idea of what’s going on and loves to stay up-to-date on the weekly baby app info, sing and talk to her sister and feel her wiggle, and ask questions. She is VERY excited to be having a sister (as opposed to a brother, ha!) and when my Mom asked her the other day if she should get them some matching outfits, she said, “Of COURSE! I can’t WAIT to match!” As opposed to last time, when she was mostly indifferent to Shep’s arrival, I imagine she will want to be a big helper right from the start.

Shep, on the other hand, is a similar age as June was when he was born (2.5), and though he will supply “baby sister!” when asked what’s in Mama’s tummy, I think he largely has NO idea what’s coming. We haven’t had a chance to visit any friends with new babies recently, so I think a newborn will be a very foreign concept for him. One of my favorite Shep moments from this pregnancy: when he turned to me one day, apropos nothing, and asked, pointing to my stomach, “What’s this big belly doing?” HA! He is SO curious and constantly asking questions, so I know he will have a bunch once she arrives!

Name: Her first name is chosen, inspired by a family member, with a nickname that I’ve loved almost as long as the name June. We are as-yet undecided on a middle name, but will likely go BOLD. I can’t wait to share more after her birth, and also finally discuss other names on the short list, since I expect this will be our last naming opportunity!

Whew! Thanks for hanging in there for this massive post, friends! Glad to get to share these updates so that you’ll have a little more context for my June goals post. That’s coming tomorrow!

P.S. Third trimester update with Shep and with June

John’s Instagram wardrobe

25 May 2021

My husband and I are both guilty of wearing clothing we owned in high school. I don’t say that as some sort of backwards humble brag (I think most people would agree that is not something to brag about, ha!) but just a simple acknowledgement that we aren’t what you would call “clotheshorses.” For a very long time, the line items for clothing were near the bottom of our budget priorities, and so we just… wore clothes for a very long time. John especially – I could count on one hand the number of clothing items he purchased each year.

In the last year or two, he has increased his budget bit-by-bit, and his sartorial horizons have expanded alongside – mostly into the corners of the internet. After just a few purchases, Instagram gleefully tagged him as a ringer, but he’s not mad about it: in fact, he’s delighted that his new favorite outfits were hand-delivered to him through IG’s algorithm and ad software. (Thus the title of this post – I call it his “Instagram wardrobe” not only because of where it was found, but because most of the companies originated on the internet, have little brick and mortar infrastructure, and are the darling of influencers.)

Since Father’s Day is coming up, I thought it was high time to share a few of his favorites with you. While more expensive than your standard Old Navy or Target fare, we have found the quality to be excellent across the board with these picks, and have gifted them to many friends and family members. They’re the type of stuff we’ll be happy to still have in our closet after a decade :)

P.S. You’ll see the words “lightweight,” “stretchy,” and “comfortable” pop up many times in this post. Apparently John has discovered that girls have almost exclusively worn “fake” clothes for the last pandemic year, and wants in on the clothes-with-give game.

Allbirds sneakers | The gateway drug, if you will – one of his first niche purchases. John has a pair of Tree Dashers, which get worn almost daily, and specifically for running. Previously, he had a pair of gray Wool Runners, which he also loved and wore as everyday sneakers. (I have the navy Tree Skippers and am likewise obsessed – so comfortable!) Something else to love: Allbirds is very big on sustainability, from the materials they use to their initiatives as a company.

Olukai sneakers | These “Hawaiian-inspired sneakers” are the newest addition to his wardrobe. He’s only had them for a few days, but anticipates wearing the Mio Li as an everyday sneaker. (In a fun twist, the back folds down to become a slip-on style, though he hasn’t tried wearing them that way yet.) He got them in the limited edition Pavement colorway.

Fair Harbor shorts | This was his original “fancy clothing” purchase! He has several pairs of the One Short and they have become his work-from-home Zoom uniform of choice (paired with a more standard dress shirt, of course) as well as for cycling. Since I posted about them last year, we’ve heard from many of you that have gifted these shorts on our recommendation and received glowing reviews, which makes us so happy!

Why you might love them: they’re lightweight, flexible, and have a soft built-in liner (no need to wear underwear!). You can use them as a swimsuit, though he doesn’t think that’s their highest and best use. John has the Amber, the Blue, and the Navy (which reads as charcoal gray in real life).

Faherty Brand shorts, pants, and tops | Faherty markets itself as the “highest quality clothing with a laidback sensibility,” and I’d say that’s accurate. John owns a polo, two pairs of pants (the Original Comfort Twill in khaki and the Del Mar 5-Pocket in deep navy), the Legends Sweater Shirt, and the khaki All Day Shorts from Faherty, and they have quickly become some of the most-worn items in his closet. The shorts are “stretchy and very, very comfortable,” but look just like dressier shorts with a very clean style.

His favorite of the bunch might be the Legends Sweater Shirt, which he’s become a bit evangelistic about (and even bought as a gift for his Dad!) Says John: “It’s like a fleece sweater, but it looks like a flannel shirt.” (Then picture him dropping a mic.) It’s soft, warm, but lightweight at the same time. “Perfect for a cool evening,” he says.

Vuori shorts | Same general idea as Fair Harbor, but a little sportier in design. They also boast a “buttery soft” liner, so no need to wear underwear! He has the Kore shorts in indigo and mostly wears them for athletic pursuits.

Marine Layer | Our brother-in-law gifted John a tee from Marine Layer from Christmas, and he was immediately hooked (and proceeded to buy several more during after-Christmas sales). He describes their tees as “comfortable and simple, with fun accents of color.” I’d say they have a West Coast sunshine-and-beaches vibe. A few current favorites: this one, this one, and this one. True to their marketing copy, the fabric is absurdly soft.

Western Rise pants | John has the Diversion pant, which he wears for being active (hiking, yard work, etc.). He likes that they fit well, have a little bit of stretch (but not as much as some of the others listed), and are water repellent. They also have a lifetime guarantee!

Bombas underwear and socks | Everyone knows Bombas for socks, but their underwear has been a happy surprise! John describes them as (you guessed it) “very, very comfortable, almost silky.” And yes, the socks are great – he says the no-show are the best he’s ever worn by far, and the ankle socks “shape onto your foot to provide really nice support.” And of course, we love that they donate a pair for each pair purchased.

Shady Rays sunglasses | Last but certainly not least, he ordered the Timber sunglasses when Shep dropped and cracked his Ray Bans (ouch). “Just as stylish for half the price!” was the verdict. There are LOTS of frame and color options, and all are lifetime guaranteed (with free shipping). They also sucked him into adding the “mystery pair” to his cart, and for $18, he’s pleased to find he wears them as much as the ones he selected himself!

Whew – that’s a lot! Though I wouldn’t expect anyone to run out and duplicate all of these purchases in one fell swoop, if you’re looking for a great Father’s Day gift for a husband, brother, or dad, we can happily vouch for any of these items! Happy shopping, friends!

P.S. I’d love to hear if you have a favorite “Instagram brand” that has lived up to its reputation!

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Life lately

17 May 2021

It’s been awhile since I wrote a Life Lately post, but we’ve had a number of smaller adventures recently that deserve their time in the sun! April and May have been sweet months to soak up our last few weeks as a family of four, knowing that things will get more complicated (but even sweeter!) soon enough.

The weather has been perfect – mild (mid-70s) and sunny for the most part. We’ve had several trips to the strawberry patch as well as lots of picnics around the Triangle, like at Bond Park for kite flying, the Raleigh Rose Garden to see the flowers, and all sorts of playgrounds.

We planted our garden – kale, basil, jalapeno, and lots of tomatoes (Patio, Sun Gold, Super Sweet 100, Celebrity, Husky Cherry Red). Below are the three pots that we planted for the first time last year. They were a huge part of getting us to our 1000 tomato count in 2020, so I’m expecting big things from these three!

We took our family photos with Ally! It’s… a lot to get everyone ready for photos, but we were SO lucky to have the most picture-perfect (literally) weather, and I cannot WAIT to see what she returns! Feeling very grateful to have this season of life professionally captured the last time around. And gosh, Ally is just about the sweetest person on earth. John was like, “do you think all photographers make you feel this good?” Ha!

On Mother’s Day weekend we drove north to Charlottesville to meet up with John’s sister and our brother-in-law, a reunion 1.5 years in the making thanks to COVID. Funny story: we headed up the mountain for a hike on Saturday morning. It was about 65 at our Airbnb, but by the time we got to the Humpback Rocks parking lot, off the Blue Ridge Parkway, it had plummeted to 49 (!). June was in the worst shape with shorts and a short-sleeve shirt, so after rummaging in the diaper bag I tossed her Shep’s emergency pair of (2T) sweatpants to see if she could squeeze into them. She could, though they looked a bit like European joggers, ha! Shep rocked his nap blanket like a cape for warmth.

We survived to enjoy some other Charlottesville highlights, too: MarieBette Bakery (incredible – we went twice!), walking around the UVA grounds (Joe is a double alum), dinner at Selvedge Brewery at the Wool Factory (SUCH a cool space with massive glass walls!), playing at Riverview Park and scooting along the Rivanna Trail, Crozet Pizza, and takeout from the Dairy Market (Take It Away sandwiches and Chimm Street pho).

Durham Bulls games are one of our very favorite spring and summer activities in the Triangle, and we were grateful to squeeze in a trip (to only their second home game of the season!) before the weather got too hot. Some benefits thanks to COVID: there was no one sitting anywhere near us, and concessions could all be ordered from an app (and they’d text you when it was ready!).

Last but certainly not least, I took the day off work on Friday to redeem one of June’s Christmas presents: pedicures and afternoon tea at Fearrington Village!

We had the most beautiful weather and enjoyed our pedicures, our tea, visiting the shops, goats, and gardens, and many hours of conversation. She is just the best little friend to spend time with and I love her so.

Clearly, the day took it out of her, ha!

I hope y’all have been enjoying this spring weather, too! Planning to use part of our Memorial Day weekend to make a summer bucket list and keep the fun rolling :)

Baking with June

13 May 2021

For Christmas, June received the America’s Test Kitchen Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs from one set of grandparents. Inspired by the gift, she and I decided to bake something each week in the new year. For her, I hoped it would be a fun way to spend time together – and maybe gain some skills in the kitchen :) For me, I hoped it would be a way to set joy before us (per my 2021 goal) by slowing down; intentionally spending time in a hands-on, delightful way; and just enjoying each other. While we haven’t quite hit every week, we have hit most, and the practice has certainly brought joy to our family’s life.

To start, let me say that this cookbook is an ABSOLUTE SLAM DUNK. 95% of what we’ve made so far has not only been delicious, but literally the best version of whatever it is we made. (As in, the recipe for Chocolate Crinkle Cookies turned out the best chocolate crinkle cookies I’ve ever tasted!) I suppose this shouldn’t be a surprise, since America’s Test Kitchen has built a brand on perfecting recipes, but it’s still delightful to know that a kids’ baking book can be fun and engaging without scrimping on quality!

June is 5 and just starting to read, so baking from this book is very much a joint activity right now. Even still, I try to step back as much as possible in every way I can and let her lead. Things she has learned to do: identify measuring cups and spoons, scoop and level dry ingredients, pour and measure liquid ingredients, crack eggs, set the oven to the correct temperature, open the oven door and slide in baking trays, stir ingredients by hand, work the stand mixer, scoop muffins and drop cookies, knead dough, and shape pretzels, among other things.

Of course, she does all of these things imperfectly (except measure baking soda – she’s quite an expert at that!). Everything takes longer. EVERYTHING is messy. Egg shells get in the batter. Flour gets on the counter and on the floor. Ingredients get spilled and wasted. Friends, the physical mess is HARD for me. Like, exposing-my-weaknesses-as-a-parent-ouch hard. In that way, it’s been a humbling but worthwhile exercise in growing in patience – because she is watching to see how I react when she spills something. Do I show frustration? Do I speak sharply?

Depending on my mood and how the day is going, those often feel like my natural reactions. But I try VERY hard (and usually succeed!) to instead say, “That’s okay! Let’s try again” or “That’s okay! Let’s clean it up together.” This does not necessarily come naturally to me, but it is absolutely worth the effort. (Cheesy but true: the times she’s looked up from stirring to say, “I love baking with you, Mama” make any wiped-up spill worth it.)

I’m also not the only one gaining skills. June sees I trust her and believe in her (even with something as simple as measuring an ingredient!) and that I view her as a capable partner, and that has built her confidence inside the kitchen and out.

All in all, baking has been such a joy for us this year! My mama heart hopes our time together is making memories that she’ll remember with happiness, and that we’ll add to for years to come.

To finish, a few of the favorite recipes we’ve made from the cookbook:
— Simple Cream Scones (the very first recipe we made – SO good!)
— Cinnamon Rolls (I normally don’t love a decadent cinnamon roll, but these were yummy!)
— Soft Pretzels (very fun to shape and they turned out delicious!)
— Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (SO GOOD – John’s favorite thing we’ve made this year!)
— Chewy Brownies (I’d never made brownies from scratch – delicious! Though honestly, Betty Crocker’s are delicious, too :))
— Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting (gah SO GOOD)
— Cake Pops (one of June’s favorite projects!)

We’ve also made Half-Baked Harvest’s Chocolate Banana Bread several times, and have plans to make Elisabeth & Butter’s Strawberry Cake this weekend with our most recent haul of berries!

Friends, I’d love to hear: if you have children, what’s an activity you love to do together? Or, what’s an activity you remember doing with your mom or dad growing up? If you have any questions about baking with a five-year-old, I’ll answer those, too :)

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