Monday, June 29, 2015

M's Art Work Gallery Wall

Last summer I shared about our playroom/office space on the first level of our home. I shared that I eventually wanted to put up something on the wall to display M's artwork and crafty projects. After a full year, I finally got that little project knocked out! 

A few weeks ago, we headed to Lowe's and got two pieces of wood, some photo wire, and a few eye hooks. J cut them to  size, I stained them with some stain we had, and then he helped screw them on the wall and added the wire with the eye hooks. So simple!

I just use tiny clothes pins and colorful binder clips that I had leftover from teaching days to attach the art work to the wire. This was seriously an easy and CHEAP project! Voila!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Baby Brother - 24 Weeks

Like I mentioned before, I don't think I'm going to do weekly updates with this pregnancy, but I do want to update from time to time for posterity's sake!

Picture was taken Monday when I was 23w4d

How Far Along: 24 weeks today

Size of Baby:  Around 11 inches!

Total Weight Gain: Way more than I'm happy to admit. I'm up about 15lbs. C'est La Vie.

Gender: BOY!

Movement: I have an anterior placenta this time around, so I was expecting way less movement, but I honestly haven't found that's the case. I really do feel him a lot, and J and M have each felt him a couple of times. The movement started very low, but it has begun to work it's way up and it's started to spread out all over my belly. And Tuesday was the first time I could see the movement from the outside. This is definitely the highlight of being pregnant to me! I love feeling the baby!

Sleep: It is definitely better this pregnancy. I occasionally get up at night to pee, but for the most part, I am sleeping solid 7-8 hours a night. I do wake up achey  from sleeping on my sides, but I'll take that over insomnia.

Maternity Clothes: Is there any question? I've been in almost all maternity clothes for quite some time now.

Symptoms: Round Ligament pain, a pinched nerve in my lower back that hurts on and off, and some really mild heartburn has started in the evenings. Also sweating. I sweat so so much more when I'm pregnant and this heat wave that has been here for 10+ days needs to GO.

Cravings: Everything. I am constantly hungry. Hence the 15 pound weight gain.

What I miss: Sleeping on my stomach.

Comparisons to First Pregnancy: Overall, still quite different. Still no major debilitating rib and upper back pain like last time. I'm definitely bigger (in size and weight) than I was the first go round, and I'm feeling that difference, but for the most part, I'm doing pretty good. Some similarities to last time....terrible skin and acne, very strong and fast growing finger nails

Weekly Highlight: Definitely seeing my belly move from the outside! Also scheduling M's big sister tour at our hospital...she talks about the hospital stay  and visiting mommy and the baby in the hospital all the time now, so I think it'll be good for her to get to go and tour it beforehand so she can visually imagine where she'll be meeting him in October.

What I'm looking forward to: Maybe some cooler temperatures in our 7 day forecast!? I hope they don't change! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Four Years in the Queen City

We're coming up on the four year anniversary of our move to Charlotte. By the end of this month, I can now say I've spent more of my post college life in Charlotte than I did in Hampton Roads. On the one hand I feel like we just made our big move, but on the other it feels like we just got here.

Whenever we go back to visit Virginia, I get asked all the time from people "How do you like Charlotte?" and my response is always the same....we LOVE it. When we moved here, J worked for a big company and had an office job, but now he works for himself and works from home, which essentially means we could move if we wanted. Several times people have asked us why we're still here, and it all comes back to the fact that this city is our home now. I don't really see us raising our family somewhere else. Charlotte just fits us so darn well. It's a growing city with lots of young people and young families, but at the same time I'm still learning neat tidbits of history about this city that we now call home.

After one year here, I wrote a post describing ten things I loved about our new home. Today, I want to share ten places I love in this city. If you're visiting Charlotte or you're a resident here, here are my top ten favorite local establishments to visit....

1. Paper Skyscraper - The coolest little card and gift shop on East Boulevard. I go here when I need just the right gift for someone or when I want a great card (because nothing excites me more than perusing cards and stationery).

2. NoDa Brewery - There are some (okay....lots of) GOOD breweries here in Charlotte, but NoDa is by far, my favorite. They opened in the fall of 2011 right after we moved here, and I was lucky enough to meet their owners the summer before their opening. They make awesome beer, their brewery has a nice taproom, and the owners are pretty awesome people. If you're curious, Sycamore is my second favorite followed closely by Birdsong! And just in case anyone was wondering, we really love Triple C too!

3. On the topic of beer....Good Bottle Co. I freaking love this little beer shop in Southend. Charlotte has a LOT of craft beer shops, and they're all wonderful. But this one is most definitely my favorite. The owner is super nice, he does an awesome job marketing his shop on instagram (I have totally gone in before just based on something he shared on instagram!), and most importantly, they always have a crazy amount of great variety in beer, especially NC beers. If you like beer, go visit. You won't be disappointed.

4. And fine, while we're chatting alcohol, I may as well bring up my favorite wine shop. The Wine Shop at Foxcroft is my favorite place to go after dinner on a date night and have a glass or two of wine. I love that it's little and has a nice relaxed atmosphere. It's always busy, but we also always manage to snag a table. On top of great wines, they also have a great selection of craft beer and some tasty eats on their menu. I love their cheese and charcuterie boards!

5. US Whitewater Center - This counts as a local establishment, right? The WWC is a family friendly place to spend the day. We personally like to visit on Thursday and Saturday evenings in the summer for their River Jam concerts.

6. Imaginon - M and I visit Imaginon in Uptown Charlotte a few times a month for their daily story time and play. It's a library run by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library System, but it also houses a children's theater. I've never seen a show here with M, but I did attend one on a field trip when I was still teaching. Now that her attention span has grown, there's a few we're hoping to attend next year (especially Piggy and Gerald!). I know it sounds silly, but after visiting several storytimes through out the city, I can safely say the librarians here (they call them "story tellers") are the BEST! We love to visit and play here. AND?! It's a FREE morning activity!

7. Going along with places for young kids, I also LOVE the Charlotte Nature Museum. We got a membership here for Christmas from my parents along with a few other museums in town, but this one is definitely M's favorite. The CNM is small and a lot is geared toward young kids. We probably go here once every two weeks to see the animals and play. If you have a child under 6 or 7, this is a great place to visit with them!

8. JJ's Redhots - If you follow me on instagram, you had to know I'd include our favorite hotdog shop. We love this place. It's super kid friendly, their hotdogs are LEGIT, and they have an awesome rooftop to sit on. It's nothing fancy, but it is GOOD. What more do you need?

9. Sticking with the restaurant theme, I could really go on and on here with our favorite places to eat, but I'll stick with just two. Casual (JJ's), and for a little bit of a nicer meal out without the kiddo, we love Block and Grinder. I love a good steak, and this is probably my favorite spot in Charlotte to get one. I love the atmosphere here, it's nice, without being over the top, and the food is fabulous. We've also purchased steaks from here at their butcher counter and brought them home to grill ourselves. Neat little place.

10. Amelie's! How could you make a list of Charlotte beloved spots and not include Amelie's?! I love visiting here, not just for the sweets, but for the adorable decor, the espresso, the hot's an all around winner. You could easily find yourself sitting here chatting with a friend or a loved one for hours upon end! And best of all, they just opened a new location down the street from us. I'm pretty thrilled about this!

Charlotte, thank you for letting us call you home for the past four years. You have embraced us with open arms, and we have loved every step of the journey. We hope to keep exploring you as we continue to grow our roots here. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A few favorites...

A few new favorites...

Grace & Frankie

Anyone else watch this on Netflix yet? My friend Tyler told me to watch it, and it has been a fun watch in the afternoon while M naps and I tidy up our living room and do laundry (I can't fold laundry without a TV show). 

Hillsong United's Touch the Sky

We sang this one in church last Sunday and I came home and downloaded almost immediately. It's been on repeat for the last week.

Tender Love & Cloth 

My friend and fellow mom, Anni, who lives here in Charlotte just opened up a new monogramming and sewing shop. Her work is fabulous! Follow her FB page or her instagram!

Old Navy Maternity Roll Over Linen-Blend Shorts

Pregnant friends - GO GET THESE! These are my favorite maternity shorts that I've found. They're so light and comfy, and for $20, you can afford to get them in every color (like I did). I wear these almost every day of the week!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Showers, Greek Food, and Goats

Last weekend, we went to Richmond from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening for our very good friends' baby shower. We also got to spend time with my parents and J's parents while we there. 

On Saturday morning, we ventured out to Maymont and then to the Richmond Greek Festival. It was HOT, but still a lot of fun! I feel like my last pregnancy, even though it was also in the summer, I didn't get this hot. Maybe it is because I'm outside chasing a toddler more this time? Also, this is a fun comparison post...this was M at Maymont with me last June (she was 19 months in those pictures, and 2.5 now)!

My parents with their very spoiled granddaughter. She has them wrapped around her little fingers.

She had the best time feeding the "doats!"

Greek Fest....and let's be toddler didn't care for much of the food. She ate a little big of chicken, but mostly enjoyed the strawberry greek yogurt popsicles!

Saturday night we had a little cookout with my parents and J's mom and dad. Afterwards my dad built a fire in his fire pit and we made s'mores. This was M's first s'mores experience, but she was a fan for life!

Sunday morning, we were pretty lazy, but M begged to put on her swimsuit and play in the little pool on the deck. We gave her a big bowl of soapy suds and she cleaned all the dinosaurs for us!

And finally...the baby shower! We can't wait for our sweet friends to welcome their baby boy in August! They are some of our best friends, and it's really exciting to know we'll have two little boys right around the same age! We cannot wait for their little guy to get here!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Dominican Republic Vacation

In early April, we made a sort of last minute decision to take a big trip as a family before baby #2 arrives and makes us a family of four. We knew we wanted somewhere we could relax, where M could have a lot of fun, and somewhere new for all of us. M is getting to an age where she can get off of her routine some and we manage, and traveling in general has become so much easier in the last 6 months, mainly I think due to her language and being able to really talk with her. We knew with a baby on the way, it'd be awhile before we could do something like this again. So after a lot of research, we ended up picking a resort in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic (direct flights from Charlotte were a must for me!). We got a lot of crazy looks from some people when we told them we were taking our 2.5 year old on an international trip to the Caribbean, but it was really really fun, and I'm so glad we did it!

Our resort that we chose, was VERY family friendly, close to the airport, and and all inclusive. We wanted easy, and they made it just that. They really did a wonderful job catering to families with young kids. Every restaurant we ate at had items for kids on the menu, or they'd make something specific for us that we knew she'd eat. We were there from a Sunday to a Thursday, and I think four nights was the perfect amount of time for a trip like this with a toddler (or at least our toddler!). By Thursday, we were all ready to get back home to our own beds and routines, but we had enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, as we packed up our belongings that morning, M threw a giant fit because "I don't want to leave the beeeeeeaaaaaaach!" She definitely had a ball!

I could break down the trip day by day, but we honestly did the same thing each day! We woke and had breakfast, changed into our swimsuits and played at the beach and pool until about 1-2pm each day when M would go back to the room for a nap with J, and I headed to the pool for some quiet time with a book. After naps, we'd swim or play for a little bit before our dinner reservations, and then we'd walk around the resort some before calling it a day. It was pretty laid back, and I think that was what we all needed.

Drinking out of a coconut on the beach was a highlight for me!

Her hair was the curliest I have ever seen it while we were there!

One of the best perks for M was when she realized there was dessert to be found at every meal. This girl doesn't ever pass up a little ice cream or cake!

A typical toddler shot...

A year later and still loving our puddle jumper!

And coming home! Poor girl just couldn't hang through customs and immigration at the Charlotte airport. She was awake our whole flight home and then passed out at some point in a line and slept through the rest of the airport and the shuttle back to our car. It's tough being 2.5!

And just like that, M earned her first passport stamps!