Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Are you going back?"

One of the questions I have been asked the most since announcing I was pregnant, is about my future as a teacher. Everyone seems to want to know if I'm going back to school.

Seeing as students started back to school yesterday in Charlotte, and I've yet to mention school or my classroom, you can probably figure out that....

I am not going back to school this year.

And you know what? I have no idea when I will go back. So many people ask if I want to go back next fall (2013), and honestly, no, I don't! I've always wanted to be able to stay home with my babies, and luckily, my husband and I have worked hard to make that possible over the first four years of our marriage. I realize that this is not an option that every family has, so I do feel quite blessed that I have the option to stay home with our baby girl (and any future kids we have).

Will I miss teaching? Yes!! There are definitely parts I will miss! I will miss the kids, especially those moments when you see light bulbs go off. But I hope to tutor some over the next few years, so hopefully I'll still get some of those moments. I will miss the people I work with. I will miss the fun of setting up a classroom. I will miss the feeling of when you work hard to plan a lesson and it goes off flawlessly. However, I will not miss the stress that comes with state and district testing. I won't miss hours of grading and planning outside of school. I won't miss the emails from parents treating me like I am not a human being. I've blogged for 4+ years now, and there's so much about my job I haven't shared on my blog. I have had SO many very excellent interactions with parents and families, but I have also had some VERY low lows. And I will not for a second miss the way that some parents have treated me over the years. And the thought of dealing with those sort of stress factors PLUS my own baby at home, it's just not worth it to me.

A lot of people have made comments to me about staying home; they assume it's because I don't make a lot of money and most of my paycheck will go to childcare. While that is true (I make next to nothing, even with my master's degree), it's not the reason I'm staying home. I'm staying home because I want to be with my baby during the day, and I'm lucky enough to have that as an option. We will be making sacrifices to make this possible, but to me, it's so worth it. And teaching will always be there if I want to go back in the future.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Menu Monday!

I promised I'd be back this week! 
I have lots of meals to share. I hope you'll link up your own menu below!

We had less pesto than I thought in our fridge, so I ended up adding in some butter and extra seasoning. Worked just fine and was still tasty! I also used shells this time instead of orecchiette.

Burgers with Gorgonzola and Cucumber Salad

Soaking up these last few weeks of summer and using the grill as much as possible!

Grilled Chicken Sausage, Tomato Soup Mac and Cheese, and Buttered Beans

A very solid meal, if I do say so myself! For the beans, I just browned them in some butter and olive oil, and threw in about tablespoon of flower to add some texture...almost to make it a butter gravy? We had had some beans served this way at a restaurant a few months ago, so I wanted to try it at home. Ended up being quite tasty!

Twice Baked Potatoes

Here's what went in mine this week (this was for 2 potatoes): 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt, 3 strips of bacon (crumbled), chopped green onions, 2 tablespoons of butter, about 1/4 cup of milk, 1 cup of cheddar, s & p, and my secret ingredient....about 1 tablespoon of horseradish! These were excellent and full of flavor!

We love this meal and have Kate to thank for it! I love how easy it is, plus it's tasty and not too bad for you! I also use Kate's recommendation of nixing the gorgonzola that the original recipe calls for and just do some shredded parmesan instead. It's not missing anything without the gorgonzola!

And just for fun...
Our date night dinner on Saturday 

I had heard good things about this restaurant, so we made some reservations on Open Table and enjoyed dinner in the charming town of Davidson this past Saturday at Flatiron. We were very happy with our food choices! I especially loved the s'mores in a jar dessert that we ended with!

 Alrighty, that's all I've got for this week. Hope you will link up below!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

31 Weeks

I made J take this before our dinner date last night. 
I promise that most of the time I'm wearing drawstring shorts & Old Navy tank tops.
It's rare that I "dress up" these days!

How Far Along: 31Weeks

Size of Baby:  A pineapple! That seems huge!

Total Weight Gain: I got weighed at the doctor last week, I'm up 23 pounds.

Gender: Baby girl!

Movement: 31 weeks is the week where the movements started to hurt! I have had some crazy kicks this week that have made me yelp.

Sleep: Honestly, it's been one of my better weeks. Not great, but I managed to sleep in a few days last week.

Maternity Clothes: Pretty much everything. I love wearing my bathrobe around the house in the morning.

Symptoms: Rib and back pain....but I will say, it's been constant this week, but bothering me less. I think I'm sort of just getting used to constant pain. I also have had my first set of Braxton Hicks contractions.

Cravings: I am obsessed with freeze pops!!!

What I miss: Long walks with the dogs that don't leave me huffing and puffing! I am trying to stay active and still walk, but the hills on our walks just about do me in.

Best Moment from the Past Week: THE NURSERY IS PAINTED!! The room is coming together and I cannot wait to share when it's all done! Major props to J for taking on the painting. We also had our final childbirth class last Monday.

What I Am Looking Forward To: More nursery progress!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Virginia Trip & Baby Shower

Last week I headed up to Virginia (for the last time before baby!) to see some friends of mine in Virginia Beach, and then to see my family and friends at my shower in Richmond.

It was wonderful, as always seeing my old colleagues at the beach. I've said it before, but that won't stop me from saying it again. The women I used to work with at the beach are the number one thing I miss about living there. I love North Carolina and our new home here, but these friends are irreplaceable! I got to see a bunch of the staff who were up at the school, and then my old team and I went to lunch where they spoiled me with gifts for the baby. I hope it's not too long before I get to see them again!

After leaving the beach, I headed to Richmond and got to spend some time with my family. My shower was this past Sunday, and it was hosted by two of my good friends and a friend of my mom's. They did SUCH a nice job putting everything together for me and my guests. It was perfect! They used my nursery colors for the theme.

The hostesses with me...

So many guests and so many gifts for the baby girl!

I love this homemade bow board that a friend made for her room!

And my little sister, who is quite the fashionista working for Marc Jacobs in NYC, got the baby her first pair of designer shoes. She already has more designer shoes than her mom!

My college friends!

My Nana with me, my mom, and sister

And then back at my parents' house, we had to get some family shots since it was rare to have me and both my siblings home at once!

The siblings and me with our grandparents

And now I'm back in Charlotte and doing my best to sort through all of the baby items I brought home with me! Our living room is full of baby clothes, bottles, bubble bath, and more! J is painting her nursery tonight, so once that is all finished, I can start putting everything into place in there. I can't wait to have her space ready. This little lady is already so lucky to have so many people who love her and can't wait to meet her. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday Rambling

I have so much to share on here! Lots of pictures from my trip to Virginia, and all about my Richmond shower. I'll get around to it eventually!

So sorry to those of you who were ready to link up on Monday for Menu Monday. I just couldn't get my act together and get my post up. It will definitely be back next week.

In the meantime...here's a bit of a brain dump for this Wednesday morning, I'll try not to ramble too much!

1. We have finished our child birth classes! Do I feel ready to give birth? No way! It's still a very overwhelming thing to think about, but I definitely feel more prepared. I'm glad we did the class and think J and I both got some beneficial information from the class.

2. I've been doing a lot of research about bringing the baby home to a house with 2 big (spoiled) dogs. I definitely plan to have J or a family member bring home a blanket first so the dogs can smell it, and I also plan to enter the house without the baby in my arms when I leave the hospital. Does anyone else have some good suggestions that worked for your family? I am not too worried about Rosie, she was in a home with young kids before we adopted her, but this will be all new to Layla. I want it to be as easy as we can make it on her. I just feel like her whole life if about to get turned upside down.

3. I recently read Gone Girl and Where We Belong while we were on vacation. I highly recommend both! Any suggestions on what I should read next?

4. I am so ready for fall TV! All of these summer reality shows that come on in the evening just aren't doing it for me. I am ready for our favorites to return, along with some of the new shows that are coming out (Nashville especially!)

5. Today marks 10 years since I moved into my freshmen dorm at JMU. I am so confused as to how in the world ten years have passed. It's crazy how much has changed in ten years. Ten years ago I was leaving home for the first time, and now I'm getting ready to bring my own baby girl into the world. 

6. Pumpkin beer is everywhere! And I must admit, it's killing me that I can't have any. Time to start stocking up so I have some to drink once our baby is here. Go out and drink one for me if you're not pregnant. Fall is my favorite beer season!

Okay....enough rambling for one morning!
Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

30 Weeks

This was at my first shower today....many more photos to come!

How Far Along: 30 Weeks

Size of Baby:  Baby Center says a head of cabbage

Total Weight Gain: Not sure....about 20 is my guess

Gender: Baby girl!

Movement: It is constant these days...and I love it!

Sleep: I've been out of town since Wednesday and I've had a big bed to myself the past 4 nights. I've thoroughly enjoyed that!

Maternity Clothes: I should get rid of this question. You can look at me and tell I'm in mostly maternity these days!

Symptoms: This rib and back pain is just awful. I have loved being in the pool this week.

Cravings: Sweets and sweets and more sweets!

What I miss: No pain.

Best Moment from the Past Week: So many! My shower today, my mini luncheon shower with my former coworkers at the beach, and then my very favorite moment....The big man who works at my Panera who asked me "When you gonna drop?" when I stopped in to to get my bagel this past week. As if my baby was a new album coming out. It killed me.

What I Am Looking Forward To: Our final childbirth class is tomorrow! Also setting up so many of the gifts we got at our shower!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Quick Reminder

Just another reminder about my Thirty-One party going on this month!!

If you need any organization totes or a new lunch box for back to school, now is the time to order!

And don't forget about the great special on the spirit collection going on this month! For every $31 you spend, you get 50% off a spirit collection item. This is a great deal!

CLICK HERE to shop my party! 
Only a few days left!
Leave a comment if you have any questions!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

29 Weeks

This is a little late this week....almost 30 weeks, but I still want to document week 29!

(thank you Rosie for attempting to photo bomb my weekly photo shoot again)

How Far Along: 29 Weeks

Size of Baby:  Acorn Squash, about 3 pounds, however I did have a dream Sunday night that I went in for an ultrasound and was told she was weighing in at 5 pounds and would be 15 pounds at birth. Let's hope that isn't the case!

Total Weight Gain: I was up 19 pounds when they weighed me at the doctor last week.

Gender: Baby girl!

Movement: Lots, I can also feel her under my belly all the time now. I love that. And hiccups seem to be an almost daily thing now.

Sleep: Horrible. No other way to put it!

Maternity Clothes: One of the biggest perks to a summer pregnancy is getting to wear cotton sundresses. Makes it much easier to stretch out your wardrobe!

Symptoms: My rib and back pain is just awful. I'm just so uncomfortable 75% of the time. Heating pads, laying down, and being in the pool/water seem to help relieve some of the pain, but it doesn't go away. 

Cravings: Still craving sweets

What I miss: Being able to sit for more than half an hour without feeling lots of discomfort.

Best Moment from the Past Week: Starting our childbirth class! 

What I Am Looking Forward To: My first shower is coming up this week! Excited to celebrate the baby girl AND see so many people I love.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Menu Monday

After returning from vacation last weekend, we really didn't make any "real meals" last week, especially because we headed out of town again on Thursday evening. So no new meals here. This busy summer routine is lots of fun, but I miss regular meal planning.

Hopefully you all did some cooking and you'll still link up!
I love seeing what everyone else made.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Week at the Lake

Last week we enjoyed a glorious five days on Lake Champlain in upstate New York in the little town of Westport. J's family has a home there on a piece of property that goes waaaaaaay back in his family, and it's really one of the most beautiful places on earth. It's just so peaceful and serene, and I won't lie, a break from the South's humidity was quite nice. It was a long drive from Charlotte to upstate NY (about 17 hours total), and doing that while pregnant made it even more interesting, but I'm so glad we got to enjoy one more vacation before our baby girl gets here.

I'm pretty sure there is no better place to sit for hours and read than on the rocks by the lake. 

One thing we have to do while visiting Westport is visit the marina, mainly because they have these mozzarella sticks they serve with a raspberry sauce. I love 'em!

Midweek we took the ferry across the lake to Vermont and visited the charming town of Burlington. Burlington is neat little city with a lot of personality.

We found a sandwich shop to visit for lunch, thanks to Yelp, and it lived up the reviews. Yelp said the ambience of this place was "hipster" and I'd have to agree. Excellent food, very unique decor and atmosphere. Very fitting for Burlington!

Here we are on Church Street where we did a little walking, browsing, and shopping...

Before heading back across the lake, we stopped by the Magic Hat brewery. J tasted a few beers, and the bar tender was kind enough to let me sample their "Seasonal H20 Ale." Lucky me. Also, this was my third brewery tour while pregnant. Wife of the year, right here.

Before heading back on the ferry, we could see a nasty storm coming. 

Our vacation, as always went by too fast. 
Five full days were wonderful, but I would have loved another week to just sit back and relax there. At least we're heading back to the mountains of Virginia this weekend with some friends. That will help us stretch out our summer laziness and work on our tans (and by tans I mean burns) for a little while longer!

In the meantime, we'll be enjoying our memories of this year's lake trip and keep talking about all the things were excited to show our baby up there next summer!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Nursery: Inspiration & Ideas

I've been compiling ideas for months for my nursery for this little girl, but I really haven't shared much on here. I need to state that I am NO good at home decorating. Putting together patterns and colors is just not my strong suit. Thank goodness for pinterest and the ideas we can get from there. Also, we have done pretty much NOTHING to the nursery at this point. At our childbirth class this past Monday, one of the things that all the couples had to share was how much of their nursery was done. We were definitely the furthest behind. Most couples said they were anywhere from 50-100% done. We happily said we have a crib...in a box. And that's about it!

Back to my nursery ideas...from the time the ultrasound tech told us we are having a girl, I knew I wanted my nursery to be feminine, but not girly. I don't want princesses and tiaras, but I still wanted it to look like a little girl's room. After establishing that and getting J on board, I decided to go with grey walls and then lots of pink, white, and orange accents. I want the colors to be bright and citrusy, but I like that the grey walls will give it a calming feeling.

Here's my idea board right now...

Hopefully I'll be able to pull off something that comes close to the nursery I'm picturing in my head! 
I promise to update you all as we get to work on the room!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

our fourth anniversary

We celebrated our 4th anniversary two weeks ago, but then we left for vacation and I never got to do a recap post. So here it is a few weeks late...

I know I post these photos each year, but I love the walk down memory lane. Here we are on our anniversary for the past 4 years...

First Anniversary

Second Anniversary

Third Anniversary

And this year...Fourth Anniversary

For our fourth anniversary, we had dinner at Toscana. Charlotte Restaurant Week just so happened to be going on the week of our anniversary, so it was fun trying out a three course meal at a new place.

J and I both enjoy gifting each other on our anniversary with gifts that fit either the traditional or modern gift connected to that anniversary. Sometimes we have to branch out a bit, but it's fun to see how we each interrupt it! I got J a new linen shirt for the traditional gift of linen, along with a few smaller things, and he branched out a bit with the British traditional fourth year gift of flowers and bought me a new hydrangea bush for our backyard AND he planted it in the hot, muggy weather! He also got me a blue mason jar to put my cut hydrangeas in once the bush produces some flowers. I'm just hoping I can keep it alive! He also got the baby some flower headbands (awww!). 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thirty-One Party

I am so excited to announce that I am working with my friend Michelle to host a Thirty-One party this month! Michelle and I met while I was living in Norfolk, and she just recently started selling Thirty-One. When she asked if I would be interested in hosting a party for her, I jumped at the opportunity! If you've never heard of Thirty-One before, you are missing out. They sell the cutest bags and totes, and all sorts of materials to help you get organized. I also love that most of it can easily be personalized. With a baby on the way, I figured now was a great time to stock up on some organization stuff from Thirty-One. I also have a few back to school gifts I'd like to purchase for some friends, and Thirty-One has such a great selection!

The special for August is on the Spirit Collection. 
Perfect for tailgates and football season!
Also great if you want to send a care package to a student in your life.
I personally want to get one in purple and gold for JMU!

I already have two of the organizing utility totes. I use one for school/tutoring and I love all the compartments! Perfect for everything I need I when I'm carrying my materials to and from my classroom, to planning, to a student's house. I use the other for all of my toiletries when traveling. I put all of my hair stuff (dryer, curling iron, straightener) inside the bag, and then use the pockets to hold things like bottles of hairspray, shampoo, vitamins, etc. It's perfect for a weekend trip.

If you're interested in shopping my party, GO HERE

The party is open until August 18. Stock up on everything you need for back to school, organizing your own home, and football season! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Menu Monday

Happy Monday!

I didn't take pictures of what we ate on vacation, but here's a few meals we ate before heading out of town last week...

Burgers, Grilled Corn, and Grilled Avocados with Cheese

J's burger, topped with pimento cheese

My Burger, topped with homegrown tomatoes....yum!

For anyone who is curious how I grill the corn, I usually drizzle it with a little bit of EVOO, top with salt, and the grill for about 10-15 minutes. I rotate it so all the sides get a little brown.

We served the pepper steak over rice noodles. We had planned to just do white rice, but when it was time to serve up, we realized we were out. The rice noodles made a great base for the meal!

Please link up your own recipes below!