A Paint Night Out

Happy Friday! It’s been an unusually long week, somehow four day weeks are the longest. It’s been a weird week. We had a great weekend though! We spent Saturday morning walking around one of the parks in the city and took Mara with us to lunch. Now that she’s gotten a bit older, as long as we give her something to eat when we first get to restaurants she’s a happy camper. It makes life way more fun and much easier for Jesse and I. On Sunday we went to church and came home to nap. Then Jesse and I went out for a date night. We don’t get to go out super often, so it’s always a nice treat.

A new paint bar, Muse, recently opened on the other side of town and we were lucky enough to get an invite to check it out. We’ve done paint nights before, but this was extra nice because the place is specifically dedicated to painting classes. In restaurants it can be difficult to get a good seat to see the instructor, here there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. Muse_paintbar

I really loved all of the exposed brick and the walls were covered in other examples of paint classes. Definitely inspiring and motivating. In addition to the main painting space there is also a private room for parties and work outings. I’d love to host one for my friends one of these days. Muse_paintbar_date

It was so nice to have some appetizers and a few drinks while spending time with Jesse. When he wasn’t super focused on creating his masterpiece… paint_night_date_nightIn true fashion for Jesse and I, we kind of turned the night into a competition of who’s painting was better. The teacher kept reminding the class that it wasn’t a competition, to which we just laughed. If there is anyway to compete, we’ll figure it out. It keeps things interesting. In my opinion, Jesse totally won. He went way more “off script” and it definitely paid off. I think I will stick to painting furniture and walls. 😉 Richmond_Muse_paintbarYou can check on their website to see if there’s a Muse Paintbar near you! Plus, they offer daily paint classes so it is much easier to find time to book a class. You can see photos of people enjoying their nights out at Muse on their Instagram @muse_paintbar.

After our date we had a late dinner with friends to round out the evening. It really is so refreshing to get out for a bit, baby-free. Even though Mara got extra snuggles when we got home.

Can I Pour You a Drink?

I don’t think there can ever be such a thing as too much storage space. I mean I have a half full kitchen cabinet or two, but I still wanted more. Ever since we moved into the house I wanted a bar or buffet for the corner of the dining room. The trick was finding just the right piece. I finally gave up and asked Jesse to build me something for my birthday in January. And boy did he deliver! This hand-built bar is beautiful. I love it almost as much as I love my baby. Almost.handbuilt-barHe gathered all of the supplies and found some plans on Ana White, then we got a bit of a snowstorm. He was literally snowed in with the project! He finished construction back in January, but the weather was too cold for staining and sealing. Then we had a baby. But Jesse finally finished everything a few weeks ago. I absolutely love it! DIY-liquor-cabinetI had such a hard time finding a bar because I wanted a piece with drawers, glass cabinets and a shelf. You’ve got to have storage, but it doesn’t hurt to have it in a way that can be pretty. handbuilt-serving-storage-barAlso, I have a disclaimer. When I asked for this bar we didn’t actually have enough alcohol to fill both cabinets. Our friends have a tradition of throwing a Stock the Bar party for dads-to-be. It’s a super fun tradition and it resulted in us getting a lot of scotch and whiskey. Which is something we both enjoy after a long day of parenting. liquor-cabinetI got Jesse the whiskey decanter and stones a few years ago for his birthday. With all the liquor we have it looks like he could be in an episode of Mad Men. whiskey-bar-decanterwhiskey-decanter-bar-setBack to the bar itself, I wanted knobs that were simple but still kind of fun. I found these glass knobs at Hobby Lobby for $2.50 a piece. I really love the way they pair with the dark finish. bar-glass-knobsIf I had building plans I would totally share them with you, but other than the Ana White plans I have no idea how Jesse built this thing. I was almost 8 months pregnant laid up on the couch eating pizza and watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix. The blog was really the last thing on my mind. handbuilt-dining-room-barI’m really excited about the extra storage space in the drawers. They are currently housing my table linens and candles, which used to be in a box in the back corner of a cabinet. Maybe I will actually use them now that they are easily accessible. I also love that we will have more space for serving food and drinks for parties. I’m sure those parties will be WAY less adult now that we have Mara rolling around, but hey who says you can’t also serve pizza and KoolAid on a bar!wine-serving-bardining-room-serving-barI really feel like the piece anchors the room and it compliments my plate display very nicely. It’s exactly what this room was missing.DIY-dining-room-furnitureThe dark wood has also pushed me towards painting this room. I LOVE the green color, but it doesn’t really “flow” with the rest of the house. Since the chair rail continues throughout the downstairs, “flow” is pretty important. Sometime (hopefully before Christmas) the lower walls will be a nice soft blue. handbuilt-dining-room-furnitureI had so much fun setting up this blog post! It really has my creative juices flowing again and is inspiring me to work on a few other projects. I don’t know how long they will take, but I consider wanting to do them at all a huge accomplishment. Baby steps.

*Linking up with Virginia Bloggers*

4 Months

Hey there! I know I still have to show you the other half of the house, which is what has changed the most, but things have been a little busy. Doctor appointments for me and Mara (all is good!) and I had one of my college best friends staying with me for a few days. While she was here we had some grand adventures Pokemon hunting and good old fashioned girl talk. I love my husband, but nothing can replace girl talk!IMG_3331

While my friend was here she offered to take a few photos of my little family. We missed doing newborn pictures because Mara was so sick in the beginning so I take any chance to get a few good photos. Family of 3

Yesterday, Mara had her 4 month check up at the doctor and she is a whopping 15.6 lbs and is 26 inches long! This puts her in 90th percentile, aka at the top of the charts. She’s our big girl! Which is part of why I’m writing this post…

When I came home from the doctor and put Mara down for a nap I sat on the couch an cried. If you had told me 3.5 months ago when I was sitting in the pediatric wing of the hospital watching my baby vomit and getting stuck with IVs that in just a few short weeks she would be bigger than average and thriving I would not have believed you. I remember just sitting there wishing she would live, even if it meant years of challenges and her being small. Now I have a beautiful, happy, healthy and big girl. She surprises me everyday and brings me so much joy. Mom love

Anyway, I just had to drop in and get that out because I don’t want to forget this feeling. It’s a good reminder to never take growth, of any kind lightly. Plus if Mara is anything like me, she will eat us out of house and home in a few years and I want to remember how badly she needed to eat way back when. 😉

Back to house stuff soon!

2016 Master Plan Update

Hey there! I hope everyone had a great weekend. We took Baby Girl out for some shopping, walking through the park and Pokemon catching. I did get a few little projects done around the house though, which was nice. Speaking of getting projects done, it’s been a really long time since I shared a full updated house tour. Actually the last time I wrote a post about it was 2013! You can find that post here.

Well, a lot has happened since then, so I figured it was time to share all the progress in one place. Two places actually. This will be one of those two part posts, one for downstairs and the other for upstairs. Otherwise you’d be here reading all day and nobody got time for that.

Let’s start with the heart of the home the living room! Here’s what it looked like in 2013: living room 11.2013living room2 11.2013We were still rocking hand-me-down furniture and no window treatments. Plus nothing was the right scale for this room. Bleh.

And here’s where we are today: Living room cornerLiving room sectionalTV Area - Living RoomSpring FireplaceWe upgraded our furniture by purchasing the Amalfi sectional from Haverty’s in March 2014, added some real curtains to the room, hung art on the walls, and brightened the space up with a white tv stand and mantle. I’d still like another arm chair in the corner, to upgrade the chandelier and get a rug or new carpet. The carpet part is unlikely with a baby, but a girl can dream right?! Also, these pictures weren’t taken super recently because now baby gear is part of the decor, but nothing has changed.

On to the dining room! My favorite room in the house!

In 2013 I had painted the walls green, started a plate wall, hung curtains and Jesse had built our farmhouse tabledining room 11.2013Today not much has changed other than the plate wall grew, and we added upholstered chairs to the ends of the table: Upholstered dining room chairsColorful dining roomIn January Jesse built a bar for the left corner of this room. I finally started staining it last weekend, but it’s been so humid that the stain is still tacky. Once it’s stained, sealed and styled there will be pictures! Also, I still really want to replace that light fixture and the floors still need to be finished.

Moving on to the kitchen, which is basically the same as it was in 2013: kitchen2The things that have changed is that we got a new stainless steel refrigerator and dishwasher. Also when I was pregnant Jesse took down the roman shades and replaced them with a valance.  IMG_3275The to-do list is still pretty long for in here:

  • Paint all of the cabinetry, I’ve always wanted a white kitchen!
  • Add a colorful green and blue glass tile backsplash.
  • Replace the florescent light over the sink with pendants.
  • Way down the line we’d also like to take out the cabinets above and to the right of the stove to open it up to the dining room even more. We’d get a new, more industrial hood for over the stove to add an updated look to the room.
  • Even further down the line is getting new countertops (I’m in love with Corian) and replacing the stove.
  • Install new tile floors, which would extend down the hall into the laundry room and bathroom.
  • Also painting below the chair rail. I have no idea what color though…

Down the hall is the half bath: halfbath-beforeI gave this room a face lift last January, but still would like to replace the cabinet and sink with something more sleek and with less of a footprint. And replace those floors. And the mirror. Powder room facelift

Also downstairs is the laundry room, which also hasn’t been touched:039I really want to upgrade the washer and dryer one day, but these work fine so I’m stuck with them for now. Also around the corner is a drying rack, I’d like to swap it out for something suspended from the ceiling to give me floor space for a cabinet with a countertop for folding clothes. It’d be so much faster, and less messy, to take the clothes out of the dryer and fold them in here real quick and then move on.

Well, there you have it. An update of what we’ve done so far downstairs. We’ve come a long way in the living room and dining room, but the real kicker will be the kitchen. Fingers crossed we get to it before another 3 years go by!

Body After Baby

Being pregnant is rough. In my opinion, it’s worse than the actual labor and delivery part. First, you start off not being able to eat and living with your head in the toilet. Then you’re too tired to function. Then your belly grows to the size of beach ball, but it weighs more like a bowling ball. You have elephant ankles, toes the size of sausages and you look like you were attacked by a tiny velociraptor. All of that really takes a toll on your body, but I didn’t realize how much until Mara came out and I could really assess the damage changes. Postpartum body

Before I got pregnant I had a really good fitness run. I was going to the gym on a regular basis, running and working with a trainer (one of the gym perks). It showed me that I was capable of a lot more than I ever really thought that I could be. I even ran a 10k, which was something I NEVER thought I’d pull off or enjoy. Then I pulled a muscle in my back and was laid up for a few weeks and then I lost a pregnancy. The first thing to go was my exercise and healthy habits. I started eating pizza everyday and sitting on the couch every night with the ice cream carton in my lap. These new, poor habits meant that when I did get pregnant I was not as fit as I could have been and had even less motivation to exercise. So I didn’t. In fact, I think the only reason I didn’t gain a ridiculous amount of weight while pregnant is because I spent 20+ weeks vomiting. I was only making up for lost calories and fat!

I didn’t realize that even though my weight gain was basically “all baby” that my body would not simply go back to what it was. I didn’t realize that none of my pre-pregnancy clothes would fit me. And I especially was not expecting to feel like the Saggy, Baggy Elephant when I looked in the mirror. I’ve been comforting myself with the fact that I did just have a baby, but if I want to get back to feeling like my old self, I also need to get back to exercising and eating better. body after baby

Believe me, I know that I’m so lucky that I don’t have to deal with a lot of weight loss. I just want to feel in shape and healthy again. I also don’t want to go spend $$$ on a bunch of new clothes when the clothes I have are perfectly fine. I’m getting tired of yoga pants and maternity leggings! I’m ready for shorts and sundresses again! 

So, with all of that being said, it’s time for me to get back to forming healthy habits again. I wont have access to the gym like I did before, but I can still do everything that I was doing before from home. I’m going to start running again using a program to ease myself back into it. I’m also going to start a weight routine slowly building myself back up to 10-15 lb. weights. And I’m going to change my eating habits. For me, the best way to do that is following rules similar to the Whole Life Challenge. I will spend 80 days on a fairly strict eating plan and then slowly reintegrate other foods in. This gets my body prepped for eating healthy, keeps my junk cravings down, and basically acts as a cleanse (but WAY less extreme). I will post bi-weekly (or monthly) updates, some of my workouts and recipe ideas.

I hope this post doesn’t come across as rude, self-degrading or negative in any way. I’m just thinking that other women out there have experienced what I’m going through, or are about to go through it themselves. I’m not a fitness model mom, I’m just an average lady. I want to show others that you can get fit and not look like a fitness model. That you can get fit without spending a ton of money on a pyramid scheme or gym membership. That you dont have to dedicate hours to working out every day. And that you can eat healthy but still have delicious food without that much more effort. And most importantly, that wine and chocolate should always still have a place in your life.

**I’m not a professional anything. Please talk to your doctor before starting any kind of fitness routine or diet.**

Pink and Gold Nursery

So I guess now that my baby is 3 months old it’s about time I show off her nursery! If you don’t like the color pink, I would recommend skipping this post.

I’ve been trying for years to convince Jesse to let me paint something in our house pink, but he always says no. Well, when I found out we were having a baby girl I put my foot down and told him that our little girl was going to have the pinkest, girliest room possible. Lucky for me Jesse is a smart man and he knew better than to argue with the crazy pregnant lady. Thus, the mission to make the girliest little nursery began!

We decided that the nursery would be in the room that was Jesse’s man cave. There were several reasons for this, the first being the room is closer to our bedroom. That seems like a given for the nursery of your first born child. I’m sure by kid number 3 it won’t matter as much to me. Also, the room is the smallest bedroom in the house. This allowed us to move Jesse’s desk, computer and guitars from that room into the guest bedroom (which is bigger) without overcrowding it. Combining his office with the guest room also means we still have a place for guests to sleep. It also means that on nights where Mara is fussy or snoring (she does that sometimes) Jesse can go sleep in that room. He’s a super light sleeper and he can’t nap at work, so it’s been a lifesaver having the extra bed! This also meant that I got to give the guest room a facelift too. Don’t you like how I snuck that in there? 😉 But more on that later, back to the nursery!

I knew from the beginning that I wanted pink walls and white furniture. I know the white furniture is kind of cliche, but with all the dark wood trim and doors in our house I could not handle more stained pieces in our tiny space. I also knew all along that gold would be a great accent color for pink. Plus throw in a little glitter and you are set. IMG_2902

Her crib is the Bennington Belle 4-in-1 convertible crib. I think the style is very classic, which will make it easy to grow with Mara, or to be used for future siblings. I used wooden letters from the craft store to spell out her name above the crib. I used some gold acrylic paint on the edges of the letters to make them standout from the wall a bit.Pink and gold nursery

The blanket was actually mine that a dear family friend made for me when I was born. Each of my siblings have one too.sentimental-nursery

The bear was Jesse’s when he was a boy, so we both got to bring some sentiment into her room.sentimental-family-baby-items

In the corner we have the awesome girly R2-D2 diaper cake that my cousin made for one of my showers.pink-Paris-nursery

That shower is also where I got all of the little Star Wars plush toys. star-wars-nursery-decor

I ordered the print on the wall from Shutterfly and customized it with a quote and Bible verse. The print is of Paris because she LOVES to stare at the pictures of Paris that are downstairs in the living room and the words just reflect my heart. We tried so hard to get pregnant and suffered so much loss on the journey to have her, she really is an answer to prayer and a dream come true.Paris-nursery

I love the curtains in this room because they remind me of Belle’s dress in Beauty and the Beast, except in white instead of yellow. I opted not to hem them because I like the way they pool on the ground. But if they become a problem I can always bustle hem them later.princess-nursery

The glider was an awesome steal from Babies R Us. It was on clearance because the model was being discontinued and all that was left in our area was the floor model. They gave us an extra discount for buying the floor model, and then another discount because the sales manager thought she had broken the chair while bringing it to the front of the store (there was only a loose screw, which we fixed at home). Then she sold us the footstool for only $20. After everything was said and done our total was $150, and we had gift cards that covered it all. Like I said, it was a steal!pink-gold-nursery

The sweet purple blanket was a gift from my college roommate, who is now known as Auntie Linds. I hope Mara treasures it the same way I treasure the pink blanket that was made for me.owl-nursery-decor

The owl pillow was a purchase from Target and the stuffed owl was a Christmas present. In addition to being super girly, Mara’s nursery has a subtle owl theme.owl-nursery

This is because my Grandpa, who passed away a few years ago collected owls. I’ve talked on the blog before about “spirit animals” that I have for family members that have passed. When I got pregnant I decided that I really wanted each of my kids to have the same spirit animal as one of these special family members. Because there are so many cute and feminine owls out there making Mara’s animal the owl was kind of a no-brainer.pink-owl-girl-nursery

I made the wreath on the door for one of my showers. The shower was at my house, so I couldn’t resist crafting a bit for it. It hung on the front door from the time of the shower until after we brought Mara home.its-a-girl-wreath

The dresser in here is a standard, white Graco dresser. It’s not the highest quality, so we will probably buy her a different dresser that can withstand the abuse of a small child as she gets older. Then we can just continue to reuse this one in nurseries and then pass it on, sell it or donate it in a few years.Pink-gold-girl-nursery

The pictures above the dresser were HomeGoods finds that I just couldn’t resist because princesses and glitter. I wanted some Disney princess things in her room but I didn’t want to overdo it. These little canvases are the perfect touch and after I got home I realized that Aurora, Belle and Cinderella make the acronym ABC. Yay for the alphabet being snuck in there! I may add more princesses to the collection over time because I have seen Snow White and Elsa before. If I ever see Merida or Mulan I won’t waste anytime scooping them up! A girl needs some badass warrior princess role models!pink-gold-princess-nursery

I know people have mixed feelings about the diaper genie, but I LOVE it. I empty it once a week and her room never smells like dirty diapers. It’s seriously the best! diaper-genie

All of these headbands were lovingly made at a shower that my friends threw for me. Instead of playing games everyone made Mara little headbands. I love that they are all cute and original, but also made with love by my friends. baby-girl-hairbands

The icing on the cake for this room are definitely the polka dots on the ceiling. They are 4” vinyl decals that Jesse just stuck on the ceiling at random. I supervised by pointing out where I wanted dots to go. They are so fun and aren’t strictly “baby” so they can stay up there for quite awhile. Plus, now that Mara’s eyes are developing more she loves to stare at them. Win. Win. Win.gold-polka-dot-nursery

Her room is such a little girlie oasis. I love rocking Mara in here every night and watching her smile at things on the walls in the mornings. Now my fingers are just crossed she doesn’t decide she hates the color pink anytime soon!

Jesse’s 10 Year Project

I’m going WAY out of my normal posting today to share a little bit about Jesse. You’ve seen him and heard about him A LOT over the years. He’s contributed to the blog quite a bit by helping me with projects, building furniture, and cooking delicious food. He also wrote a series on managing personal finances a few years ago. Jesse is a jack of all trades, plus he’s fun, hilarious, handsome and a truly supportive partner. All of that being said, I want to support Jesse’s projects the way that he has supported mine and this blog. I’ve alluded to Jesse working a lot lately, but I didn’t say what on. Well, he was finishing recording an album. Jesse - 10 Year Project

He’s been writing, recording, and producing an album over the past 10 years. This project started before Jesse and I were even dating. He’s always been writing songs, but has thrown out a ton, like 50 plus, of them over the years. When we started trying to get pregnant he got really serious about finishing though. He started writing more often and really found his “sound.” In the months leading up to Mara’s birth he recorded all of the songs in his man cave, which he turned into a home studio. After everything was recorded he started the production piece. He sent some of the songs off to an actual producer for the sake of time, but he also did some himself.

I’m so incredibly proud of the finished product and I’m even more proud of my introverted husband for sharing this piece of himself with the world. He is so private about his music, but he put this album online, shared it on social media and even submitted it to a few music blogs. 

The sound of the album is a little folksy and it is very simple. Just Jesse and a guitar. I definitely have a few favorite songs that I’ve caught myself humming or singing at random. That may also be from hearing them over and over again for over two years. Just kidding, I really do like them. Especially the second song, “Waiting for You” because it’s about me. It makes me feel special. My absolute favorite song is “Going Home” though. It’s seriously so good!

I hope you’ll give it a listen! If you like it, download it! Share it on social media! Like his musician page on Facebook!

Thanks for supporting our family’s creative outlets by reading this blog and listening to Jesse’s music! You guys are awesome!


These past few months I haven’t been up to a whole lot of things that are productive, but I have watched a lot of tv and movies. I’ve always been a binge watcher, so having quality shows was a must! Also, since we weren’t going out as much Jesse and I needed something to do together that required zero effort on my part. I feel like people are always asking for show recommendations, so I thought I’d share my two cents on what’s kept me occupied for the past year.

First, there’s my old reliables, Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl. I have seen each of these shows at least 3 times through. They are my favorites! I started rewatching Grey’s when we got home from the hospital with Mara because I had seen it so many times (currently on round 4). My logic was that I still found the show entertaining, but because I already knew what was going to happen I could feed her, change her diaper or have her cry and not really miss anything. Obviously, this is one of my favorite shows and if you’ve never seen it, or if you’ve only watched it once, it’s well worth a repeat! Grey's Anatomy

I feel the same way about Gossip Girl. I’ve seen that show 5 times and it just doesn’t get old to me. I love all of the characters, except Jenny and Vanessa, and we are like best friends. It’s also great as a postpartum/background show for me because I’m so familiar with it. Seriously. My biggest postpartum advice is rewatch a favorite show or movie series. It doesn’t require extra focus and having something familiar on makes you feel less alone during a 3am feeding session. Gossip Girl

Now for shows when you are enormously pregnant and a permanent part of the couch. During my pregnancy I watched family shows, Parenthood and Fuller House in particular. The family theme just seemed to grab onto my pregnant hormones and emotions and suck me in. I’d also lump Friday Night Lights into this category (though I watched that one awhile ago). It’s SO good, it’s definitely on my rewatch list! Parenthood and Friday Night Lights are also shows that a spouse may be interested in watching with you. Jesse would watch a few episodes, but he would get bored with the family drama. Friday Night Lights

While I was pregnant I also started the show Jane the Virgin. It is current show, so I only binged the first season. But the character is pregnant so it’s almost like having a pregnant best friend. Only with way more drama and problems then you’d ever want to deal with in real life. I watched the entire first season over two days while we were snowed in. Jane the Virgin

Other shows that I recommend would be: Scandal, The Vampire Diaries, How to Get Away with Murder, Once Upon a Time, and Pretty Little Liars. These are all current shows that are very entertaining if you like drama, suspense and a little supernatural. I also loved musical shows like Glee, Nashville and Smash, though they are no longer on.

As far as tv shows to watch as a couple, my recommendations are pretty nerdy because Jesse and I are pretty nerdy. Sorry. Our all time favorite show that we watched together is Chuck. It’s got it all! Comedy. Drama. Action. All of it. We binged this show together a few years back and loved it. I seriously could not recommend it enough!Chuck

We also loved The Office. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you haven’t seen it have you been living under a rock?! you should give it a try. The Office

We were very sad when ABC’s Galavant was cancelled. It is a musical comedy and we both loved it. Which is saying a lot considering Jesse usually isn’t a fan of musicals. Galavant

There are also a lot of great fun, lighthearted shows on tv currently, so you could binge for the summer and then pick up again in the fall. We are HUGE fans of Modern Family, Brooklyn Nine Nine, and Last Man on Earth. Jesse has said multiple times that he wishes he could erase his brain and go back and binge Last Man. It definitely has a ton of man humor. Last Man on Earth

On a more serious note, we have also watched Lost, Heroes and Sherlock (the Benedict Cumberbatch one). Lost and Heroes are kind of old (we did watch the Heroes reboot too though) but they are really the first shows we ever showed mutual interest in. Sherlock caught us off guard. We never thought that we would like it but one night when we were bored we gave it a shot and were hooked! It’s so intriguing and so British. Sherlock

Currently, we are watching The 100. It’s like a post-apocalyptic, dystopian show and it has started to get pretty good! It is technically a “teen” show, but we both still really like it. It’s like the Hunger Games or something of that nature. After Mara goes to bed and we finish our chores we will watch an episode together. As the season has progressed we’ve started watching two or three some nights. That’s usually a regret when the baby/alarm starts screaming in the morning.The 100

Now sometimes it can be hard to find a new show. Nothing looks good, or you just don’t want to commit to 8 seasons of a show. That’s when movie binging comes in! Jesse and I have watched all of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbits, Harry Potter, Star Wars, X-Men, Underworld, and Fast and Furious movies in the last two years. We will watch 30 minutes to an hour each night during the week and then a whole movie on a weekend night. I love series because it gives you a chance to really get invested in a story and in the characters.

Watching TV together is a great way to unwind from the day, but also spend time together. It gives us another thing in common and more inside jokes, plus plenty of time to cuddle on the couch. I really hope you enjoy my suggestions! And of course if I missed something that you are really into watching, let me know! I’m always looking for new shows!

Mara’s Birth Story and Beyond

Hello? Hello? Mic check… One. Two. Three. Is anyone still out there?

If you are still out there, I’m sure you thought I’d given up and quit this whole blogging scene a while ago. But I haven’t. I’ve just been having a baby and trying to keep said baby alive. Jesse and I have been doing a pretty good job though. I mean, look at this sweet little face. Totally alive. And totally adorable. IMG_3212

Aside from being horribly sick in the beginning of the pregnancy and replacing my toes with sausages and being exhausted at the end, I had a pretty easy pregnancy. If you had asked 37 week pregnant Ashley that, she would have disagreed. It’s crazy how that pregnancy amnesia kicks in once it’s all over! Anywho, on to the story of how this little sweetness came into the world!

I left work at 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon for my 38 week appointment. I had been having a few spaced out contractions throughout the day and was about 2 cm dilated, but wasn’t expecting anything to happen any time soon. I had meetings scheduled for the next day and wasn’t supposed to go on leave until the following Monday. In my head I’d have a week off to finish getting prepared and to relax a bit. Haha, what’s that about best laid plans? Baby Girl had not been moving quite as much the past few days, but I didn’t think too much of it. I figured she was just out of room and getting ready for her grand entrance, but when I told my OB about it she was concerned. She put my on the fetal monitor and kept an eye on me in the office for about an hour and nothing seemed abnormal. However, my reporting a change in movement concerned her and she said she wanted to go ahead and induce me, just to be safe. I agreed and so she said “I hope you’ve got your bag in the car, because you’re about to have a baby.” Luckily, I was packed and ready to go. IMG_2897

She sent me right across the street to the hospital, it was now about 4:30 pm. I was alone and freaking out. I had called Jesse, who had just gotten off work, and he said he was going to take a shower, eat dinner, and then meet me there. I believe I said a few choice words to him and then he said he’d be right there. He wasn’t. He did do all the things he said he was going to and he still made it there before I finished all the paperwork. I hate it when he’s right. My mom also came over to the hospital, she actually beat Jesse there even though she stayed at work to finish stuff up before coming. At this point I was mad at everyone, except my best friend in Florida who stayed on the phone with me until I could get myself together.

Once I was all situated my OB came in and broke my water, around 6:30pm. I dilated to about 4 cm after 3 hours, so they started Pitocin. After an hour of Pitocen I was really starting to feel the contractions, and I was tired after being at work all day. I had been working overtime almost everyday for two weeks beforehand to get everything ready for my leave, so I was pretty burnt out. I opted for an epidural so I could get some sleep, and I am so so so glad I did. My labor progressed through the night until about 7am, then it was time to push!

I only pushed for about an hour. It would have been less than that except Baby Girl was moving around in the birth canal! Every time I pushed she would move her head, so she was blocking herself from being able to go under the pubic bone. My OB (who was on-call that night so she was there for my whole labor and delivery) finally had to use the vacuum to move her head down so I could push her the rest of the way. In retrospect, this is hilarious and a total reflection of my stubborn little girl, but at the time I was not amused. I was surprised, and happy, that Jesse was a trooper and he did not pass or leave the room at all! He was there holding my hand and encouraging me the whole time. It’s one of the things I remember most vividly.

Our baby girl, Mara, was finally born at 8:30am Wednesday morning, a whole two weeks early. She was 7 lbs. 13 oz. and 19 ¾ inches long and absolutely perfect. She was laid on my chest right after she popped out and she picked up her head and looked me right in the eyes when I said “Hi Baby.” Then they took her away to clean her up and check her vitals and so they could stitch me up. My epidural had worn off at this point so I felt every stitch, which was the most painful part of the whole experience. IMG_3064

After she was out and there, all I wanted to do was sleep. In fact, the exhaustion I felt for the first few days was the hardest part. That and the fact that breastfeeding just wasn’t working out for us. I would say I had a pretty bad case of the “Baby Blues” and was teetering on the edge of possible Postpartum Depression, but I didn’t have time for that to happen.

Ten days after bringing Mara home she became very ill. She couldn’t eat and what she did eat she projectile vomited right after. At first we thought maybe it was just reflux, but the vomiting became more forceful and the amount increased and we knew something was wrong. We stayed up holding her in shifts that night wearing towel ponchos as she continued to be sick. We took her to the pediatrician first thing the next morning and he sent us to the hospital to have an ultrasound of her stomach. He believed she had a condition called Pyloric Stenosis, which is when the Pyloris (the sphincter at the bottom of the stomach) essentially grows closed and does not allow food to pass through into the intestines. The food has nowhere to go, so it is forced back up. This condition can only be corrected through surgery to cut open the Pyloris. All of this of course scared the shit out of this new mom!

The ultrasound showed that she had an enlarged Pyloris, but not enough for the surgery so we were sent home to basically wait it out. At this point Mara was 13 days old. She continued to be sick the whole day and by that evening she had gone 8 hours without a wet diaper. I called our pediatrician and he told us to take her to ER. Once we were admitted to the ER they put Mara on an IV and were told that they could not admit her for Pyloric Stenosis because her Pyloris was not enlarged enough. She continued to vomit while on the IV, so we were finally admitted because she was only getting worse.

The next day we had two more ultrasounds, during the third she threw up on the radiologist, before they finally confirmed she had Pyloric Stenosis. Apparently, baby girls do not usually have this condition, it is more common in male babies at a later age, which is why they were hesitant to diagnose her. They had taken out her original IV for the ultrasounds and then could no longer get a good vein on her arms or legs so they had to put an IV in her head. We had the sweetest nurse, Brian, who kept saying that she was a princess and the IV was just her tiara. That evening she started vomiting blood because there was nothing else for her to vomit (we were not allowed to feed her due to all of the ultrasounds). Talk about scary! Brian fetched the pediatrician on-call and they spoke with the surgical team immediately. After this they scheduled her surgery for the next morning, but we still were not allowed to feed her. They gave her medicine to help with the pain and she finally slept some. IMG_2967

She had her surgery the next day, which went perfectly. It was about an hour long surgery, but with prep and post-op procedures we didn’t see her for two hours. The absolute longest two hours of my life. Afterwards, we were able to slowly able to reintroduce food. It took several feeds before she was able to start keeping things down and I felt like such a bully because she just kept wanting more food. We were finally released when she could eat 3 oz. every three hours, which was 5 days after we were admitted (2 days after the surgery). IMG_2937

We were told that once all was said and done she would be a completely different baby, and boy was that true! She started sleeping at night, only waking every 3 hours to eat. She became more alert during the day and she finally started gaining weight. She still struggles with pretty bad reflux, but despite it she is a happy little girl. She is all smiles and chatty in the mornings and she sleeps 8-10 hours through the night. She loves to be moving, whether it’s having a dance party or riding in the car and she loves to eat. She has a little scar on her belly from surgery, but that is starting to fade with time. 3 month collage

Now that she is healthy and starting to sleep for longer stretches, I’m hoping to return to the blog world! This week I am working my final week at my job and then I will be home full-time with Mara. She will have most of my attention, but I’m going to need something to do during naps. I can’t make a lot of promises but I do promise that this won’t be solely a mommy blog. I will talk about my kid because she is perfect and wonderful, so how could I not? But I plan on focusing mostly on projects, crafty things and lifestyle, like I did before.

I look forward to catching up with whoever is out there still! And thanks for sticking around!

Hello 2016!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone’s holidays were full of joy and fun!

Jesse and I both had off from Christmas Eve through January 1st and we were very productive with our time. I started “nesting” aka, I went through closets and put together a very large Goodwill donation. You gotta squeeze that last deduction in before the new year! 😉 Jesse had some work to do in his office too, which he did get most of it done. Jesse’s office/man cave is becoming the nursery, but we had to wait to move stuff until his work was done. Now we are ready for painting, moving furniture and probably more purging over the next few months before Baby Girl gets here. With our time off we also had a spa day, went out to eat a lot and had a few relaxing vacation days. I’m definitely not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. Bleh.

We spent New Years Eve at home, where we struggled to stay up until midnight and had popcorn instead of champagne. That time on the couch definitely gave me a lot more time to reflect on the past year than most other New Years. 2015 was definitely not my favorite year. It was pretty dark for me as we tried to conceive and I struggled with being stuck in a job I didn’t really care about. I faced some criticism on the blog toward the end of 2014 which affected me more than I wanted it to and on top of already being pretty down it zapped me of my creative mojo. Not having that hobby definitely didn’t help my mood, but it’s hard to care when you’re just not in the mood.

On top of all of those feelings in April we lost one of my uncles unexpectedly, suffered a miscarriage in early July, and then lost another of my uncles to cancer in October. I’ve never experienced so much loss in such a short amount of time and it was rough. But in the midst of all that, we got pregnant with our precious baby girl at the end of July. She truly is a beacon of hope to what otherwise would have been a very dark year. She also serves as a reminder that in the midst of all the difficulties of this past year, there were also some happy times. And when I say reminder, I mean she has a tendency to kick me extra hard when I get too bummed out. It’s like she’s saying “Cheer up mom! It wasn’t all bad!”

In light of that I wanted to do a recap of all the happy things that happened in 2015, now that I’ve gotten all the sads out.


I turned 26 and celebrated my birthday with great friends. We also got to meet several of our friends brand new babies.

January Memory


We celebrated Jesse’s birthday and Valentine’s Day. We also got a fairly large amount of snow and went sledding and built a snowman.

February snowman


I accomplished two goals off my bucket list, so this was a really good month. Jesse and I met Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional at a small show with his new band Twin Forks. I also ran my first 10k with an average mile of 10 1/2 minute miles. This is actually something that I would love to do again after I recover from birthing Baby Girl.

10k complete


Jesse and I celebrated our 4th year of marriage. For my anniversary gift Jesse surprised me with tickets to see Bryan Adams in Raleigh, NC. This was another item off my bucket list and it was a phenomenal show.

Bryan Adams


I went to a bachelorette party, which is always a good time. We also had help getting all of the tile in our guest bathroom laid. It looks so good! I got Jesse tickets to see Garrison Keeler do a recording of Prairie Home Companion, one of his bucket list items.

Garrison Keeler


Jesse and I took a week long vacation to go to a wedding in the Outer Banks. All of our friends were there and it was a grand time. We also went VIP to a Dashboard Confessional and Third Eye Blind show, where we met Chris Carrabba again. We also went with friends to Smith Mountain Lake and spent a weekend swimming, jet skiing and wishing we had a lake house. Another of our friends also gave birth to a precious baby in the middle of the month.

June Memory


We hosted our 3rd annual 4th of July party, which had an action hero theme. I was Lara Croft and Jesse was John McClane from Die Hard. We visited with family on the Eastern Shore one weekend. We also did Paint Nite, which was a ton of fun. On the last day of the month, we found out we were expecting Baby Girl!

lara croft costume


My work hosted a day at Busch Gardens for all of the employees. Since I couldn’t ride anything we gorged on food and saw all of the shows.

August Memory


We had our first and second ultrasounds to see Baby Girl. One of our friends scored us tickets to watch the World Cycling Championship from a VIP tent, which was a truly awesome experience. We also announced our pregnancy and entered the second trimester. Jesse also got a new job, with a promotion.

UCI World Cycling Championship


One of my best friends from college got married in mid-October and our old college group was reunited for the first time in two years.

October wedding


We found out that we were having a girl, not a boy like we had originally thought. I saw the Newsies with girlfriends. I felt Baby Girl kick for the first time on Thanksgiving. And Jesse’s sister had a baby.

21 Weeks


STAR WARS! Plus Jesse felt Baby Girl kick for the first time during the Star Wars premiere and all of my siblings got to feel her during the week of Christmas. We also finally paid off Jesse’s student loans (now we just have mine to go).


Looking back at that list, it’s impossible for me to doubt that we are blessed and that there is always sunshine after the storm and sometimes right in the middle of the storm. Jesse and I had a year full of adventures, accomplished so many goals and spent so much time with people that we love. 2016 is going to be even more full of adventure and love. We are so excited to meet this feisty little girl and love on her.

How was your 2015? What are you looking forward to in 2016?

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