Friday, September 23, 2016

Currently!

I've been wanting to write a little update on how things are going recently, but writing a wall of text aka a blog post has felt a little overwhelming..... However I liked this post & its format so much and it inspired me to do the same. So here goes.
throwback to baby lewis and baby paige BEFORE we were even dating
Currently loving: Lewis - feeling all the feels these days. A lot of nostalgia for what-is-soon-to-be "Our Old Life" as just two people who could/did spontaneously go out for dinner, sleep in on Saturdays, and/or travel unencumbered by stuff (see above...I imagine going to Peru would be harder with a baby...). Remembering how fun it's been just the two of us and definitely sad that this chapter is coming to a close...Also feeling super grateful for Lewis and how well he takes care of our little family and knowing how much I'll need him in the next few months, realizing how much I rely on him already... Insert all the heart-eye emojis!!! [also loving a new IKEA bookshelf we bought last weekend - our first bookshelf! splurge! it currently houses diapers, baby blankets, and books]

Currently eating: smaller meals! It felt like for weeks I was eating soooo much of literally everything. As in, three peeled carrots instead of one or four Milanos instead of one. You get the picture. But recently (!!) my diet has decreased slightly? No longer eating all day every day. AND excellent news for me - I didn't gain any weight between my last two doctor's appointments! Although a part of me just thinks the first appt, she was a little overagressive with the slidey scale and the following appt, a little conservative - because I feel like this little dude has definitely gotten heavier AKA I should have gained some weight. At least, I have more stretch marks to show for it :/ Anyways. Craving nothing new/in particular, even though I still get asked all the time. If anything, sugar (but that was the case pre-pregnancy too). Also wine. Dying for wine. SO CLOSE. I made myself a "Postpartum Recovery Kit" and am very seriously tempted to put a bottle of super dry white wine in there...yum...

Currently reading: Blah. Nothing quite yet. Recently finished Truly Madly Guilty which was very distracting and pretty good. A friend had recommended another of her books and I burned through it on our honeymoon last year. Same level of brain capacity required and it was fun! I liked it. 3/5. I tried to start The Happiest Baby on the Block but it was giving me anxiety attacks about all the problems our baby might have, the lack of sleep we'll have, and all the techniques I don't know ETC - so I stopped. Back to the library it goes. I think I'm just done with parenting/baby books for now. There was a period where that's all I read and that was fun! But now I need distractions from this impending colossal change. My kindle is holding a whole bunch of stuff I downloaded but haven't looked at yet (it was dead) and last night, I thought about starting The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks which I have been dying to read for years and borrowed from my in-laws a few weeks ago. But then I went to sleep. SO that's probably next on the rotation.

Currently annoyed by: the weather. It looks like it should be 55 degrees outside when in reality, it's still like 85 every day. Yuck. It's too hot and gross and I'm done with the heat. On the plus side, virtually nothing fits of me, so I'm still getting away with wearing minimal clothing in public.

Currently listening to: podcasts while I nap !! This is big for me. I am a serial NON-NAPPER. It's impossible! I think it's a weird version of FOMO.... that if I fall asleep during the day for 30 mins, I'll miss out on something or not be productive or accomplish x. But this week, I put on a podcast (aka something "productive") and laid in bed with the lights off and the fan on and passed out. It was totally awesome.

Currently wearing: like one pair of black lululemon pants from 8th grade (I kid you not - they still fit, are still amazing, literally best clothing purchase of my life) and three different maternity t-shirts. That's basically it. I can't wait to wear real clothes again. I should probably buying some black maternity leggings to get me through winter (since I'm not anticipating too many pairs of pants fitting for a while...). Recommendations welcome.

Currently watching: Friday Night Lights for the first time ever. I never watched it while it was airing, but am now super into it. It's not compelling enough (usually) to just sit and watch, but it's on while I do emails, laundry, blah blah blah and I love it. LOVE Coach and Tammy, duh. HATE Matt's grandma (I know, so heartless) and sometimes, Julie. Actually love Buddy. There you go.

Currently looking forward to: an eviction around October 10 if not sooner and hopefully not later.
Currently wanting: a live-in maid, my old body back (I look at photos from this time last year ish and am SHOCKED by how good I looked - in comparison! ha! - and remember how I didn't think so then. Oh how the turned tables have turned), a water bottle that holds more than 32 oz. of water because I go through a normal Nalgene so fast, a massage.
Currently doing: eating leftover chocolate chip pancakes in bed, just finished my tea, time to replenish the tea and get a yogurt! So exciting. Meeting friends for lunch in a bit and going to Oktoberfest at our church tonight... $1 hotdogs + $3 beers = happy Lewis and happy me :)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A day in the life of a sick pregnant woman

This is bound to be a boring post, as I have zero plans to leave the house and have virtually nothing to do. But I am bored, so join me in the boredom of today.

Background: 36 weeks and 2 days pregnant. Sore throat started on Sunday. Monday added a little achy-ness and that underwater feeling. Yesterday transformed into a full-blown head cold with sore throat, raspy cough, chills, and runny nose. Today so far = runny nose, sore throat, little less headache.

7:50am: Open eyeballs. Notice is Lewis rolled away from me but I can see the glow of his phone, so he's awake.

7:52am: I'm hot. Pull down comforter (we've recently switched to the European style of JUST a duvet + cover, no top sheet. Mostly loving it). Pillow between my legs is approximately 100 degrees. Throw it on the floor.

7:53am: Baby starts moving around. Gets the hiccups. Hears Lewis say something and kicks a bunch.

7:55am: Check phone to see if plans have changed for today. They have. (I was supposed to be meeting a friend + two babies for coffee - my first PSL of the season!! - but I texted her last night about my sickness and offered that we could reschedule in case she didn't want me infecting those tiny immune systems. I just know that I would appreciate the heads up from a sick friend when Baby C arrives! She agrees we should reschedule.)

8:17am: Roll into Lewis's back and see if he's making moves to get out of bed yet. Barely. My head hurts.

8:20am: Lewis departs the bed. I scroll through Facebook on my phone. I've missed nothing in the last 10 hours.

8:34am: Discuss Lewis's outfit from bed. Suggest he could compromise seasons and wear shorts + a long-sleeved flannel? He puts it on but decides he'd just rather wear jeans. Changes into jeans. My arms and hips are starting to hurt from rolling around. Wish for the millionth time that I could lay on my back for an extended period of time. Baby still kicking.

8:36am: Hear Lewis making a bagel and decide to get up to make his tea. Roll my giant self out of bed and into sweatpants. Shuffle into kitchen, drink a huge glass of water, make Lewis's tea (aka pour hot water with a tea bag into a to-go mug).

8:40am: Hug and kiss Lewis goodbye. Realize I am starving.

9ish: Make a giant bowl of oatmeal (2 persons worth). Cut up a banana in a bowl, add a scoop of peanut butter, cinnamon and a tiny bit of sugar - ate way too much sugar yesterday, need to cut back today. (Sidenote: I gained a whopping FIVE pounds between my last two doctor's appointments....which were only 2 weeks apart. Oops. I'm sure the baby didn't gain 5lbs in two weeks, so get it together Paige.)

9:15am: Eat giant bowl of oatmeal, orange juice, tea. Decide to write this post. Document this moment for eternity.
9:27am: (The time is now! Will update once more "exciting activities" have happened.)

------- all right. what has happened in this dramatic day -----

9:27am - 10:30ish: Browse the internet at the kitchen table. In the past, whenever I ate home alone, I'd usually eat on the couch or in a chair, watching tv or reading or whatever. But thanks to the enormous protrusion that is my child, eating at a table while seated is the preferred eating set-up. Weird how tables are good at that right? (Ugh. That was the most pointless/boring paragraph ever. Anyways).

Curious about what internet sites I check? Of course you are. My daily reads are Yahoo, Cup of Jo, Emily Henderson, and a whole other smorgasbord of stuff. And (really, full disclosure...) my newest obsession - this is so embarrassing - is reddit. I actually love it, especially this subreddit. (For example, a gem from this little collective and in light of eating a million cupcakes last week, this made me laugh.) I'm also loving the subreddits on legal advice and personal finance (when I told Lewis this, he asked if I was worried about some future disaster - for the record, I am not.)

Also, text Lewis a picture of this cute baby that almost made me tear up. Pray our child is cute.

10:31am: Clean up kitchen and load dishwasher. Decide to clean the sink. Rinse, sprinkle probably way too much Comet all over it. Let it sit. Decide to do laundry.

10:40am: Cut little tags off new clothes to be washed. Last night, we went to Target (my only outdoors expedition of the day which ended up totally exhausting me).

A friend sent me a Target gift card (yayyyy!!!) and so I decided to spend it on ME and not the baby. So selfish. Don't care. All the hospital packing lists say to bring a robe.... I own a nice, warm, fuzzy robe with WHITE stripes that didn't seem like it'd be the best choice for a hospital. SO off to Target to buy another one (also, because I love robes and am certain I'd use two. I anticipate this happening: wear one, get peed/puked/spit-up on, throw in wash, put on clean robe! Win!). Found a purple robe on sale! So that's in the wash. How exciting! *eye roll*

10:43am: Start laundry. Spray a shirt of Lewis's that had a stain the back of it (wtf?? how??).

10:45am: Scrub sink.

10:47am: Make tea. Reuse tea leaves. Hope it turns amber enough to not just be hot water.

10:50am: Rinse sink.

10:55am: Get back in bed with laptop, clipboard, pen, birthday card to be written, phone, and tea. Current position:

11:00am: Poke baby a bunch and wake him up. Oops. There's a butt in my ribs. It feels like this is living in my abdomen. Text Lewis.

11:02am: Keep writing blog. Document exciting moments. This is literally me right now.
11:23am: Decide to do these things while in bed and maybe before Lewis comes from for lunch:

  • finish birth plan
  • finish our wills and advanced directives and powers of attorney
    • ** We don't have any of these and my little lawyer brain is all "But what if you both die in a freak accident????? Or if you die in childbirth and Lewis/my parents disagree on something??? Or [insert a million worse case scenarios, all of which involve death.]" Thank god I'm a lawyer and can cheaply (lol - fo free!) make up some simple stuff for us until we bite the bullet and hire someone or I do a proper job of it later. But at 36 weeks preggo, simple will have to suffice.
  • write birthday card
  • I'm sure there will be some facebooking in here.
  • find the delicate balance of drinking all the tea and not having to pee every 5 minutes
----------- it's now 2:25pm! -----------

11:30ish - 12:30ish: Facebook, tea, playing with the baby (push on a limb, watch him squirm! it's so weird/awesome). Finally got around to finishing up our birth plan. The quick summary of this is: Mom and Baby are both alive and well. Some small preferences for stuff like "in the event of eminent death, please call a priest." Nbd.

12:35pm: Lewis comes home for lunch.

12:36pm: Chat about a whole bunch of emails. I switch the laundry to the dryer. He puts lunch together. Talk talk talk, Paige cough cough coughs.

1:05pm: Lewis leaves. I heat up soup for lunch and slather a biscuit with butter. Baby is asleep. Nice break from the constant rocking.

1:15pm: My mom calls to talk about The Plan when the baby is born. Should she come when he's born? After? Soonish? Fly? Drive? So many questions! We discuss options, I say I'll talk to Lewis and will get back to her. Also talk about Christmas gifts for this year and my doctor's appointment on Monday. I eat soup during this phone call, shocking both her and myself (I generally do not like soup).

1:30-2:00pm: Finish eating, leave dishes in the sink, mess around on the internet. Boil more water for tea.

2:01pm: Eat three mini frozenYork Peppermint Patties. Make tea.

2:06pm: Get back in bed with tea.

2:07pm: Browse the internet..... avoid finishing legal documents. Think about life plans, baby coming, having to move (our lease is up at the end of November) and where we'll move...

2:10pm-2:20pm: Text Lewis. Get distracted by Instagram. Contemplate getting more peppermint patties and tea. Baby wakes up when I start pushing on him. Also maybe because of sugar.

2:25pm: Update looooooong post that is interesting to probs no one haha.

-----------------

2:30pm-4:00pm: Sit around, try to rest, feel like crap, browse Zillow for reasonable, two-bedroom rentals and get stressed by $$ and very few viable places.

4:01pm: Eat two more peppermint patties. Put on real clothes and shoes.

4:11pm: Leave the apartment.

4:12pm-4:40pm: Walk around the block in the semi-rain. Talk to my dad on the phone.
4:42pm: Start making dinner (baked salmon with dill sauce, couscous, spinach salad with walnuts and feta).

5:10pm: Lewis comes home, wait around for salmon to finish cooking. Talk about our boring days.

5:25pm: We finally sit down to eat and exchange a grand total of 20 words while scarfing down food because we have to leave at 5:35 for our second birthing class.

5:40pm: Actually leave the house with our birthing book, a blanket and pillow, all of which we have been instructed to bring for this class.

6:00pm sharp: Park in the hospital parking lot and quick waddle our (my) way into the hospital, up the stairs, down the hall and into our classroom at 6:05pm - we aren't the last people there! Win!

6:06pm-9:00pm: Learn alllllll about epidurals, c-sections, vaccum/forceps, nitrous oxide, etc. etc. Get excited to try all the things. Get freaked out by the helpful animation of what happens in a c-section (they separate your abdominal muscles by hand ...!!!)

9:30pm: Finally home. Exhausted. Eat a bagel with cream cheese, chai tea with milk, and two more peppermint patties. Watch an episode of "Undercover Boss" with Lewis.

11:20ish: In bed! Lights off! But as per pregnancy, I am not tired but am instead restless, itchy, and wide awake. So, I roll over and whisper to Lewis, "I'm going to take a bath!" He mumbles back that he loves me and rolls over.

11:30pm: I take a bath. Almost fall asleep. Drag myself out of the tub and straight into bed. SLEEP.

The end.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Labor Day (or, not yet, thank god)

Good morning! We are back from Steamboat where we spent Labor Day weekend and it was both glorious and exhausting. I am struuuugling on the couch today (as in, have eaten two poptarts and watched four episodes of Friday Night Lights). Before Lewis left for work this morning, he asked what my plan was for the day to which I replied, "Uhhhh..." So yeah. I'm writing this in my bathrobe.

Officially 35 weeks + 1 day preggo and still feeling gargantuan, but not any more than the last two weeks or so. My waddle is slightly more pronounced and I discovered my first real stretch marks under my belly so cue all the crying emojis :((((( It is entirely possible they've been there for weeks and I just haven't noticed since I can't actually see the underside of my belly without contortions OR alternatively Baby C is packing on the pounds these days and is preparing for his grand entrance at a whopping 8-9lbs. OR, I guess both of those could be true. Le sigh.

Other exciting news around here includes a 2pm daily nap and passing out no later than 10:30 every night AKA "In which Paige attempts to stock up on sleep before she has a newborn but really only succeeds for sleeping for an hour at a time." Sleeping is NOT GOOD these days. Actually, it straight up sucks. Why I did not buy a body pillow from day 1 is beyond me. NEVER AGAIN. Last night, while bemoaning this decidedly mostly minor problem, I reassured myself/Lewis that there will again be a night in which I sleep 10 hours straight! (But alas, I know this realistically is like 20 years away because kids).

Thankfully, we had an awesome time in the Boat over the weekend, spending time with some of Lewis's family and ordering room service from the hotel (be still my heart). The weather was PERFECT and it just smelled good and felt good and was good. Driving back into the city was so very depressing in comparison to the clean mountain air and sunshine we basked in for days.

But the good news is that we are now here (in Denver/at home) until the baby arrives!! The countdown is real. It's very weird to me that he could arrive in anywhere from 2 to 7 weeks... So, just in case it's sooner rather than later, this week/weekend is going to include putting the car seat in the car, packing hospital bags, maybe buying some shelving (we are seriously lacking space and need to utilize some wall space I think), and semi-reconfiguring the bedroom to accommodate a bassinet + more baby stuff. Perhaps I'll share our "nursery" soon :) and you can see for yourself how ready we are! To be honest, our hearts are completely ready and I can't wait!! But my brain feels 1000000% unprepared, overwhelmed, and a little freaked out by what is coming (both the actual birth itself AND you know, the next forever years with this person in our lives). So please send some good thoughts and prayers our way as Paige nests nests nests and flags pages in multiple baby books for Lewis to read!


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The In-Between

(Not to be confused with the Upside Down!!!) 

single, pre-Lewis, pre-babies
post-Lewis, post-no-going-back-to-my-old-body...

Even though I have this little jelly bean dancing around most of the time, I'm not quite the mama of any earthly children yet. At the same time, I'm definitely not living free and easy, totally unattached, doing whatever pleases me most (ie. sleeping on my stomach/back and drinking lots of wine).

I've been thinking about this in-between state a lot lately.

Denver is finally finally starting to feel a little more familiar, a little less alien-planet like and this is 99% due to having found some friends. People who I know I could call for a coffee, to go to IKEA with me, recommend a nail place - whatever.  It's AMAZING. We have this fridge magnet that says something like "Where you are, it is your friends who make your home" aka it's not where you are, it's who you're with! Duh, Paige. College Life Lesson 101. But really, I did need to re-learn this SLASH learn to be patient with how friendships, life, relationships in general all always progress.

So here I am, making friends, and noticing something cool and strange - I'm in the in-between of quite a few things. It's a weird place to be. On the one hand, I'm loving getting to know just other young women (mostly single, some married, sans children). We can do coffee or happy hours (lolol), talk about work, life, the election, dating, the weather, things we read on Facebook, etc. etc. and it's awesome. One on one, just getting to know each other, going on friend dates.

On the other hand, I'm equally loving getting to know other young women who are married, with children, doing the mama thing. Those friend dates include parks/zoos/outings/whatever doesn't totally interfere with naps and we talk about marriage, birthing, sex, NFP, husbands, what we used to do with our time (them = pre children, me = pre pregnancy), etc etc.

Obviously totally different conversations and I truly love them both and am so glad that I'm still able to connect with all of these great women on some level.

But it has struck me that once I "cross over" (lol) to 100% Mamahood, maybe the conversations with single friends might not come so easily? Maybe we won't really get each other anymore? I've read a bazillion articles about this and have heard single friends lament the loss of friends-turned-full-time-moms... Is there a solution to this? Because I can't imagine that just saying "bye!" to all these friends once you have a baby is a good thing. Really, I think women should try our hardest to stick together, support each other through all the life changes, and show a lot of empathy, compassion, and understanding to each other regardless of where we are in life. SO, how do we do this when there's a cosmic shift in things? (aka baby vs. no baby)

AS THE SINGLE PERSON:

1. Don't remember... Maybe for new mamas to make a minimal effort to reciprocate, even if it's "I'm exhausted but haven't forgotten you and let's reconnect when we can."

AS THE NEW MAMA:

1. No clue. TBD.....but maybe for single friends to keep reaching out, offering to help even if it's just meals and prayers?

BOTH:
1. Lots and lots of grace.

Perhaps this isn't on the same level, but I remember that after marrying Lewis, there were shifts in some friendships. The biggest noticeable difference was TIME. The lamest of all lame excuses ("Too busy!!!") and I hate when people glorify being busy. But, legitimately, I did notice how much less time I had to spend with friends, because hello I was spending it with Lewis. AND this was obviously a conscious choice, not like, some weird obligation to spend all of my time with him and ignore everything/one else.

I remember sometimes feeling bad about this - saying no to friends because I wanted to be with Lewis instead. BUT ALSO this transition started way, way before marriage. (Anyone who's ever had a friend start dating someone and this disappear knows what I'm talking about.) So, we all slowly adjusted to how often we'd see each other, talk, whatever.

The other big shift was simply perspective. I no longer wanted to share intimate details of our life with anyone else. Nor was I leaning on my friends in the same way for emotional support or comfort. Lewis was/is that support (well not exclusively but almost) AND whatever we had going on between us, I most often wanted to just stay between us. OR, I remember wanting to only talk to other married people because they got it and also had married-people-problems. Weirdly to me, my mom ended up being right about 90% of things.... strange how that happens.

lol, also true

This is getting rambly... what was the point?

OH. The In-Between stage of pre-baby but there's no going back now. I suppose that I'm just grateful to have friends in all walks of life and I hope I don't lose them. Single friends, I REALLY want to stay friends. And mama friends, thanks for already welcoming me into the fold.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Birth planning, nesting, getting huge

Happy feast of the Assumption! I went to Mass and then Starbucks to celebrate :) (Or if you're not Catholic, happy Monday!) Ready to hear about what's been happening around these parts recently?

Firstly, we are OBSESSED with the Olympics! Are you? Aren't they the best thing ever? I'm not even a huge sports fan in general (me usually: "Go team! Beat the other team! Kick/throw/beat/hit/etc. the ball/puck/whatever"). For example, I get suuuuper annoyed when people wear Broncos athletic wear to Mass slash not during the actual game. I digress. The Olympics are literally on all the time - right now, it's women's field hockey! so random! i love it! - and I am a happy camper :) Lewis usually ends up re-watching the highlights at night. Thankfully for him, swimming is almost over so we can move on to other, more obscure sports. The exception to our Olympic marathons (pun intended! haha!) is that we started Stranger Things last weekend. Have you watched it?? If not, DO IT. Pause the Olympics and do yourself a favor. It is awesome! I'm dying to Google all of the actors and backstory and whether there's going to be more seasons, but I'm waiting until we're done because I just KNOW I'll inadvertently see some spoiler and be ultra annoyed. TV is big in this house these days.

Which may or may not have something to do with the fact that I feel HUGE. Whale-ish. I have to roll myself out of bed. I'm starting to waddle. What the what. Pregnancy is so weird! In the second trimester, pregnancy was somewhat how I imagined it (aka, cool to feel this person moving in a little cute bump and hungry all of the time). We are now firmly entrenched in the third trimester. I'm 32 weeks today. What does this mean? How much longer do I have? See helpful chart below...


I should have made business card-sized cards of these to pass out to confused people who ask how far along I am. But BASICALLY, no doctor lets you go past 42 weeks, and most babies arrive sometime between 37-41ish weeks. So I'm not "about to pop" as the not-so-helpful saleslady at Jos A. Bank commented, but am 100% unavoidably pregnant (guy at the car repair shop: "So, you have a little one on the way?" me: "Well, I didn't just have a big lunch." << true conversation). Of course, baby could arrive whenever he pleases but let's hope someone keeps cooking for a few more weeks 

BECAUSE we are totally not ready yet and I am nesting hard-core. Well, I'm sure we could be ready if all of the sudden I were to go in labor or something (mostly because I know my momma would be on the first plane down here and would organize/prepare her little heart out! Thank goodness for supportive parents). Thanks to the generosity of many wonderful friends and family, we do in fact have most of the basics, like a car seat, crib + sheets, bassinet (with sheets on the way thanks to a crafty grandmother!), clothes in a wide variety of sizes to accommodate a child anywhere in the 6-20lb. range LOL, blankets, toys, nursing stuff, and the best most amazing piece of furniture - a glider. 

But we have zero diapers or wipes or any soaps/lotions/creams or basically anything helpful in capturing and disposing of this baby's waste (changing pad, waterproof covers, etc). Pretty sure my subconscious is well aware of this because last night I had a dream about diapering. I had only seen him once (?!?!) that day and was wondering what he was up to (chilling with my parents) so went to go find him to discover he needed a huge diaper change. Long story short, poop was everywhere and I was trying to change him in the middle of the night without waking Lewis up. I woke up thinking two things: 1. Should I buy a small lamp for the dresser so I can see what I'm doing for a middle-of-the-night diaper change? How do people change diapers in the dark? Am I the only one wondering about this? Mamas with babies, lend me your wisdom! 2. We need to buy diapers/wipes/aquaphor STAT. 

I should also probably start gathering things for a hospital bag. The internet is both extremely helpful and unhelpful. Examples of helpful advice: bring bright colored warm socks and a change of clothes that fit at 6 months pregnant to wear home. Unhelpful advice: "you're going to be a leaking sack of blood so have a plan for not dribbling all over the place. Also, good luck with your first poo" (So, do I need adult diapers? Will buy stool softener I guess? Apparently post-labor = 85 years old.) Isn't this the type of interesting pregnancy information you came here to read about??? ;) You're welcome.

But seriously, if you have given birth in a hospital, was there something you were SO glad you brought or realized after that you totally didn't need?? I'm planning on bringing stuff to breastfeed (including clothes) and my kindle and cellphone. Since the birth plan is a hospital birth, I'm assuming I could show up with not very much stuff and they'll help me out? 

Speaking of the birth plan, that's an entire OTHER kettle of fish. Again, and as with virtually everything, the internet has been both helpful and unhelpful. In case you don't carefully follow "birth" "parenthood" or "opinions about your parenting choice" on the interwebs, here's the gist of things: Everything you do is wrong, not X enough, way too X, and someone somewhere strongly disagrees with your choices. SO, instead of googling "natural birth v. drugs," I'm somewhat soliciting actual personal stories from people I know and like about how she gave birth, what worked, etc. 

My research is boiling down to a few things: 
1. If you have had a natural birth, you are VERY proud of yourself as you totally should be and deserve to. I'm not saying this sarcastically. I am actually IMPRESSED with these women and they deserve every pat on the back. Just describing "dilation" to Lewis makes his face do funny things, so needless to say, we are both in awe of a drug-free birth, whether it's in a hospital or elsewhere.

2. Some people who have had drug-free/natural births can be holier-than-thou. This is annoying. 

3. Natural birthing sounds insane and awesome. I think I would like to have this? I don't know. I definitely do not feel like I must have a natural birth. If it happens that I have a natural birth, I'm sure it will be the hardest and most satisfying thing I've ever done (passing the bar being a close second lolol jk). But I'm also hesitant to make things harder for myself than it has to be. At my core, I am a 100% pragmatist. So, do I need all of that pain to be proud of myself for bringing a human into the world? I don't know. I guess I should figure this out before we come barreling into labor & delivery. 

4. An epidural, when it works, sounds Ah-Mazing. Or, it sounds totally worth it and the best and less traumatic. Additionally, it sounds like it has the potential to take away a lot of the emotional investment in birth since you aren't ramping yourself up mentally for the agony and instead, can be more, "Yay, we're having a baby today!" On the other hand, there are stories of people who come away more traumatized from wanting an epidural and then having it not work at all/mess up/stop working or some other version of this. ALSO that giant needle is apparently a little intimidating, although I don't have any issues with needles/blood/bodily fluids/medical interventions in general. So I'm less worried about that part. 

5. Probably my birth plan is something like this: Labor as long as I can without drugs. Get drugs if I want them. Have a baby. Both of us live to tell the tale. 

Other things on the to-do list before our lives change forever (as if we can go back now! ha!)... 

pick a name (we still haven't decided) 
pick godparents (we think we've decided) 
buy a lot more stuff (thank goodness for gift cards!!) 
get a pedicure

To round it all off, here are totally unrelated summer highlights! :)











Friday, July 15, 2016

The end of the second trimester

Hello, internet world! Reporting from 27 weeks and 4 days pregnant. Coincidentally, the last time I posted anything was the last time I wrote in my pregnancy journal (a spiral notebook from the dollar bins at Target). So, to catch us all up, here's what I wrote this morning in it, aka a "the last 6 weeks" update to the baby:

27 weeks, 4 days......July 15 

It's been so long since I've recorded anything! Some updates: 

- have been feeling you kick ALL the time, several times per day 
- your favorite times to kick & be very awake are early in the morning (like, 5am) or late at night (10-11pm). It makes me think you're probably awake while I'm sleeping...your kicking doesn't wake me up (yet) but every time I wake up in the middle of the night, you wake up too and start squirming around and kicking (so then I have a hard time falling back to sleep). 

Intermission true story time: I woke up at 5:20am today for this exact reason. What the what.

- I noticed a few weeks ago that I could feel your little body and push on you! You hate this (haha) and either stop kicking/moving entirely or kick back really hard! 
- at around 23-24 weeks, your kicking and moving was strong enough to be seen from the outside! That's been really cool - that I can just look down and see you moving. 
- it's been super hot in Denver so I've had a lot of swelling in my hands (especially) and my feet. I can't wear any of my rings :( It's pretty uncomfortable. 

- My appetite really ramped up around 22 weeks - I could eat huge meals and still feel hungry and need to eat all the time! Like this: 

*sometimes I'd wake up around 6 am hungry...
9 am - breakfast 
10:30am - snack
12:30pm - lunch 
2:00pm - snack 
4:00pm - snack
6:00pm - dinner 
8 pm - snack 
10 pm - snack 

But it's recently (this week) decreased a little bit. Who knows. 

- Energy levels between 21-26 weeks were awesome and I felt super good every day! Sleep was easy, everything tasted good, I felt really good. This week has been a little more uncomfortable (feet, hips, and especially my lower back...) and I'm a little more tired than usual. The peak of pregnancy may have passed :( but I hope not! It could also just be the heat. 

Other practical things: 

- signed up for birthing classes in September! We'll be cutting it close to the due date so here's hoping you don't come too early! 
- going to meet pediatricians next week 
- pre-registered at the hospital this week 
- am starting to think about what to pack in our hospital bags (oh! We had a baby shower! And got tons of stuff! :)) 
- I bought you two potential "going home" outfits this week! :) The first thing I've bought and picked out for you! Also bought a baby book and started to fill it out. 
- FINALLY, over July 4th weekend, Daddy and I talked about your name! Our top contenders are: 
_____________ & ______________ (if you were a girl, we liked Charlotte, Clare, and Fiona).

I don't think we'll decide on a name until you're born :) 

[And in case you, dearest reader, think we are going to reveal those names, think again! Haha!

We're - I'm - reaching the point in pregnancy where I get a looooootttt of opinions on everything under the sun and so I'm filtering out 99% of it... it's getting tougher to be gracious about why we should/shouldn't do X or whether you like a name we've chosen. SO, the name(s) is under wraps until he's born, at which point we'll say "Welcome to the world Blah-Blah-Blah" and everyone will go "Oh we love it/him/the name/everything!!!!!" which is the perfect response.]

No cravings (fruit and vegetables maybe?) Beef is still gross but not vomit-inducing. 

Every day that passes only increases my excitement to meet you!! We love you so so much already and talk about you all the time! 

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Half-Way Bumpdate

You saw it from the inside in this post, but want to see it from the outside?? :)

9 weeks!

13 weeks. A super attractive selfie while cleaning :) 

15 weeks!

16 - 17 weeks, I think? :)

19 weeks! I really "popped" around 18 weeks :)

20 weeks!

21 weeks - last weekend at the park :)


Friday, June 3, 2016

Good things happening

Happy Fri-yay! Have you had a good week? This week FLEW by for us, probably because the week before was soooo incredibly long and tedious (slash, this week was only 4 days also). We did approximately a million chores last week so these last few days have been a little more relaxed, as if Paige deserved more down time with her zero obligations that keep her "busy" during the days.

Some quick updates in everyone's favorite reading format: lists.

1. Baby Moo is kicking SO much these days and I absolutely love it. It's so reassuring that baby's kicking it (lol) happily in there and growing and not squished all the time. [At our last ultrasound, it was discovered that my uterine walls are nice and tight aka the poor thing was curled in teeny ball! Sorry, bebe. I assure you this did not mean I had wonderful abs pre-pregnancy - ha!]
2. We went to Vail last weekend to celebrate our 1 year anniversary (3 years together!) and it was great! Not long enough (is it ever?) and we totally needed 2 more nights. We walked around, ate lots of decent food, and spent lots of time at the pool and FOUR hot tubs. Lewis "Hot Tub King" Cutter was in heaven. I do have a confession though: I was sort of underwhelmed by Vail. People had just been telling me, "Vail is so beautiful! Ritzy! Fancy! Gorgeous! etc etc etc." and I actually found it to be sort of "Meh." Sorry, Coloradans!! It was fine but the restaurants didn't blow me away and the views and mountains weren't THAT impressive. I know I'm spoiled - the Canadian Rockies are just stunning and nothing will ever compare. I mean, this (which is an option for like every credit card ever) is within a days drive in Banff from home:
So Vail is okay but I mean, c'mon. The best part was just being with Lewis and staying in a nice hotel! Thank you, Groupon.

3. Relatedly, I'm going home next week for a whopping two weeks and I CAN'T WAIT! Family time, games, seeing friends, a baby shower, and just generally chilling is all on the agenda. I can't wait to see these faces!!
Before I leave, this weekend we are going to:
>> a beautiful, new-to-me park that people have seriously talked down (Wash Park, where have you been all my life??)
>> walk thru Whole Foods and probably buy nothing because we can afford virtually nothing there (I went for the first time yesterday and HELLO this is fanciest grocery store I have ever been in and I want to show Lewis)
>> Mass! 
>> hopefully see some new friends :))
>> spend 95% of our time outside since Denver has decided to grace us with amazing weather. 

Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 27, 2016

After the longest hiatus ever...

Hello internet world! I finally feel compelled to update you on our/my life! I realize this has been the longest blogging break ever, which definitely makes me a terrible blogger, but there had/have been some changes around the Cutter household that took priority. Thankfully, I'm back, at least temporarily :) So brace yourself for the update of all updates!

The last time we were all here together, it was the end of February and I was annoyed by the election. Everything I said then, I still totally stand behind and am annoyed by - Ross Perot 2016! Anyways. While writing that post, I was barely holding it together for one small reason (the reason was 0.32 cm long at the time, btw) which also happens to be the same reason I haven't blogged in months....

Baby Cutter had made an appearance! Due 10.10.16, my brother's birthday, he/she is now 14 cm long and kicking my belly button. We are SO excited.

Let me back up for two seconds and answer some of your burning questions:

1. Do we know if it's a boy or a girl?

Not yet. BUT, we had our half-way-point ultrasound yesterday and Baby looks great! Want to see how far we've come?

update: baby at 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and 20 weeks

During the ultrasound, the tech asked us, "Would you like to find out the gender?" and we said, "YES," even though we had debated the whole pregnancy whether to find out or not. Long story short, in the last few weeks, I had really been anxious to know and it was making me more frustrated thinking about not knowing. Also, I had been/have been feeling anxious and a little insecure this whole pregnancy, so knowing would be one less thing to have be up in the air.

We asked her to write the sex on a little piece of paper and seal it up so that we can open it this weekend when we celebrate our anniversary. We're dying to know. I'm trying not to think about it until Sunday.

Any last minute predictions from the internet world?? I'm thinking GIRL and that she'll be more than 8lbs., and will be late. Strangely, a lot of other people (our parents and grandparents, best friends) think it's a boy and is "gently suggesting" we name him Michael (my grandfather), Patrick (my grandmother - Patricia), or David (my father). Watch us have a boy and name him Lazarus (jk, Lewis).

2. Was he/she a surprise?

First, I think this is such a bizarre question, since it's a fairly intimate question about our sex life, but I've definitely already fielded it a few times. Do other people find this to be a weird question? Answering "no" means this person was an "accident" (or, a surprise if you're trying to spin it nicely). Answering "yes" means we were anxious to jump on the baby bandwagon and trying to breed like rabbits.

The real answer is.... I'm not telling you :) But, we practice NFP (Natural Family Planning), which actually is less of an intimate detail of our sex life than how this child was conceived and which we love promoting haha. We adhere to the Catholic Church's teaching that birth control distorts the natural consequences and beautiful purposes of sex and marriage and so no birth control of any kind for us. [In case you're curious, we believe the two purposes of sex are (1) to be unified to each other (aka bring us closer and have intimacy, share our our love for each other through our physical bodies, strengthen our marital bond, etc.) and (2) to procreate. And, very importantly, these two purposes can never be separated from each other.]

And so as NFP-er's, we were open to God's plan for our family and to His timing. This doesn't mean we had NO CLUE it was possible and were totally flabergasted when two blue lines appeared - NFP doesn't work like that. It's more of a "Okay, we know it's possible to conceive right now. So, do we want to have sex along with the myriad of consequences of that decision entails? If not, let's choose to not have sex right now." Of course, women can conceive when they don't think they're in that window AND it's totally possible to not get pregnant even when you think you are fertile myrtle.

Conclusion: we were and are very excited and nervous and overwhelmed and so in love with Baby Moo (our inside nickname for this bebe) and he/she couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time.

3. How has pregnancy been?

Oh man. Well, contemplating that I haven't blogged in literal months should give you an indication of how my energy levels were in the beginning and how balanced my hormones were (hahahahaha).

Months 0 - 3.5: So, so nauseous. "Morning" sickness = all day sickness. No energy. Lots of time spent lying on the bathroom floor. Absolutely could not be near beef, quinoa, or fresh vegetables. The smell of it = bowing to the porcelain god. Isn't pregnancy glamourous??? I wanted to punch anyone who said, "My pregnancies were so easy!" And then checked myself because I know not everyone who wants to get pregnant can, and that sickness is usually a sign of a healthy pregnancy. So I tried to be thankful and was and am. Also, my waist disappeared sometime around week 13.

Months 3.5 - now (5 months): Goodbye sickness, hello starvation! Not only am I no longer sick, but I am RAVENOUS and cravings kicked in! Specifically, I could literally have the following all day long and be happy: all citrus fruits, 7-11 Slurpees (be still my heart), any dark sodas, Vietnamese food, and all vegetables. Beef & quinoa (and tomatoes sometimes) still off the table.

Most excitingly, I have a bump! It appeared around 18 weeks and it slowly growing. Thankfully, it's now obvious that I'm pregnant and not just a little chubster who eats bowls of goldfish while watching The Office reruns (although I've been there too in the past few months).

4. So are you still looking for a job?

No. Months of searching turned up nada - not a single call back or interview or even rejection letter. And (for) now that ship has sailed. I'm over half way to meeting Baby Moo (or Baby Moo-ina) and since the parental leave in this country is just amazing (insert all the eye rolls), there's no point in finding a job to work for 3 months and then quit.

Instead, I'm embracing this period of my life as one that has "Not Gone According to My Plan," am changing my expectations for Denver and my career, and am fully planning to stay home for a little while. I have every intention of working in the future, but for so many reasons not in my control, it isn't happening now. And I've made my peace with that. I think, for me, being a Momma will be the most important job I ever have anyways and while that exclusivity (of being "just" a mom) isn't what I would have necessarily chosen for myself right now, it's happening.

The other day, a friend on Facebook (guys, a DENVER friend! I'm making friends!) posted this article which just 100000% hits the nail on the head for me about why I've been so unhappy and frustrated since our move. In case you don't feel like reading it, the gist of it is this: a lot of our unhappiness and frustration comes from unmet expectations and the difference between what we want or expect to happen versus what our true reality is. My expectation was: job, career, money! And my reality was: no job, no friends, no money AND an increased reliance on Lewis & our marriage, some deep introspection and growth, and having a baby. Not a bad trade :)

Looking forward looks really good for us. Lewis's job is still great. We just celebrated our 1 year anniversary (where did that year go???) and are going to Vail this weekend to celebrate! We have numerous fun trips planned for the summer (home, the Lake, a wedding, lots of Steamboat and other Colorado places) and are preparing our home and hearts for the next member of this family.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Single issue voting in the upcoming election

Unless you've been living under a rock/ignored every media outlet, the ELECTION 2016 is apparently the most exciting thing going on right now. Personally, I find it terribly boring and exhausting at this point. I mean, we still have months to go. So, I'm really not paying too much attention until September-ish. (And of now, none of the candidates look ultra-promising, don't you agree?) But all the hoopla has made me think about how I might vote....or, *gasp* whether to vote or spoil my ballot. 

Growing up, voting didn't seem like a super big deal in our family, mostly because for the last, oh, 15 years or so, my parents have voted via absentee ballot which is neither exciting nor of great note to small children (or teenagers). I just never really noticed if they voted, or didn't vote, or who they voted for. Part of this is because we lived in Canada - they still do - and voting is slightly different.

For example, all you have to do to vote is take this little card they mail to your house to a voting station and hand it over. Voila! You get to vote. My father finds this absurd and hilarious. My parents are renovating their house right now, and while it's under construction, they're living elsewhere. AKA they have two addresses. And so last voting season, he was mailed two voting cards, both with his name on them. He seriously considered trying to vote twice at two different voting stations and see if anyone would catch him (he did not actually try this). Compare this to the US with our somewhat more complicated and legislated voting procedures. Can states require an ID? If so, what kind? What if someone can't afford an ID? If you don't require one, how do you make sure people don't vote twice? What about voting locations? Or voting by mail? (It goes on. We spent weeks on this in one of my law school classes.) 

Another substantial difference is that in Canada, you vote for the party, not the person. I guess you sort of vote for the party here too, but some candidates are not actually a true Republican or Democrat (and I think the best ones are mostly moderate if anything). Anyways. In Canada, you actually vote "Conservative" or "Liberal" or "Green Party" or whatever and hope your MP (Member of Parliament) isn't a total wingnut. 

Once I was able to partake in the joys of voting (in both countries!), I did see how important voting was and that it has been important to my parents. I mean, have you ever jumped through all the hoops to vote absentee in a presidential election aka when your vote is teeny-tiny? They do - they obviously care. And thankfully, some of that enthusiasm for fulfilling your civic duty has trickled down to me! 

I really do love voting. Mostly, because I think it's so important AND I am grateful that I have the chance to vote when so many people in the world do not have this opportunity. I don't care if my vote isn't the deciding factor in anything. Voting is super powerful! But why I mostly care about voting is a blend of both my American and Canadian upbringing. And that is: the issues & the laws.

My interest in political candidates and their personal lives is almost non-existent. Same with political parties themselves; don't care, not registered as anything. But I DO care, a great deal, about what Politician A or Political Party B thinks about important issues. Specifically, one issue..... Alas! I am a single-issue voter. Or, perhaps a better description would be that if Politician A has a difference stance than me on my issue, I absolutely will not vote for them. However, if multiple politicians/parties have the same same stance as me, then I'll consider them more carefully. My issue is the great gatekeeper for me. 

Part of me, the JD-holding, rational part, thinks this is crap. That I am too narrowly-focused on one thing and many other issues are also very important. But another part thinks that I am absolutely right and entitled to vote as I please and if this issue is really this important to me (it is), then I should stay true to myself and not waver. 

So here's the tricky part for me now.... At this point in Election 2016, it seems like the two most likely candidates disagree with me about my issue. And if those people are my choices, I'm torn as to what to do. Do I just say "Oh well" and affirmatively vote for someone I whole-heartedly disagree with on a moral level? OR do I spoil my ballot? Not vote? All of these can be political actions and I intend to do something. What would you do? Are you a single-issue voter? (And if you feel like sharing, what's your issue?)

Update: at lunch, Lewis suggested I write in my dad. Or himself. Not a bad option ;)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The myth of control

completely unrelated photo! taken sunday on our valentine's hike :)

Hello...can you hear me?? I sure haven't heard me in a while. Apologies for the extended blogging hiatus. The only explanation: life! And I don't mean "life" as in, "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry I haven't gotten back to you yet, it's been so crazy recently and I just completely forgot blah blah blah." Nor do I mean, "Shit has hit the fan and I've been avoiding everything." Instead, it was more like, "X happened to be immediately followed by Y which required Z and then D, E, and F." Hence no time for blogging.

But I'm bummed that I haven't written anything in so long, mostly because I really do enjoy blasting my thoughts into the interwebs. And because I was actually looking forward to updating this little record on a regular basis and then being able to longingly look back on the fun and glorious times we're having, the adventures and restaurants and new friends! Sad to say that very few of those things have happened recently and instead, ALL of the things that have happened have just been draining, exhausting, requiring enormous energy and patience and love. (Welcome to Lent! God is laughing at me for expecting anything different.)

Actually, what God is truly laughing at are my plans. Oh, my plans!! In my elusive last post, I hinted at a potential job (!!!) and I decided there's no reason not to share what that thing is. Want to guess?

Is it:
a) Not in any way related to being a lawyer
b) Low-paying
c) Part-time and/or temporary
d) Something I've always wanted to do

If you selected the fictitious (e) all of the above, then you're correct!! I have applied to be a substitute teacher :)

Now, being a sub (or as the Denver Public School System puts it, "Guest Teacher") is not the dream, BUT teaching is (perhaps more on this in a later post). I have an interview on Thursday and am VERY much hoping it goes well!! My 250 character blurb about "Why I want to guest teach" was something like, "Thinking of making a career change [in my head: hahahahaha! what career] and have always been attracted to teaching. Would love to get some classroom experience." Also, money. AND maybe even of more worth to me, something to do every day besides chores. Please send all the good thoughts my way that it goes well!!

However, even these barely-laid plans were foiled by life two weeks ago... I had planned to finish my application and be on my merry way by now. I had also planned to have had several networking handshake meetings, a haircut, a date with Lewis, and a whole week of meals planned (for once!!) Lots of stuff. I mean, stuff that I really wanted to do on my schedule.

But then a friend got sick and asked me to come help them out for a little bit. I love this person so dearly. They are practically family to me. I couldn't bear to think of them trying to get better on their own when they had asked for help, and I wanted to do everything I could to help them heal. Or at the very least, take their life burdens off of their shoulders for a little while. Practically speaking, I have unlimited vacation time right now, a husband who can cook for himself, and air miles. The flight was practically free! There were a million reasons to go and very, very few not to go. So I went.

We spent 6 days together and I know it did a world of good for us both. While I was there, we ended up talking a few times about the myth of control. How we aren't actually, really in control of anything but like to pretend that we are. How despite our best plans, sometimes things don't work out that way and it's okay. How sometimes it can take just a Small Event (or sometimes a Big Event) to show us how very little control we have over our lives, our health, our families and children, our career.

Sure, we can (and should!) do all we can to live good lives, to be healthy, to plan for our futures. Lewis and I are not going to stop budgeting for example. But having that small interruption into my plans was an excellent reminder to me to be flexible, to allow room for grace and the Holy Spirit to ask things of me and for me to abandon my plans to instead say "YES" to something more important. My Lenten Fiat.

In fact, our entire time here in Denver so far has really revealed how little trust I have in God's plan for me, or my fear of what His plan looks like, or perhaps my impatience with the timeline. I expected to have a job by now: no job. I expected to be a lawyer: maybe not going to be a lawyer right now. I expected us to have a circle of friends and community by now: not yet. I expected, at the very least, to be able to structure my days and weeks as I liked. And two weeks ago, God said, "No." It was clear to me that He said, "Go help this friend who you love. Abandon your plans and myth of control, even just for two weeks."

And like I said, it did us both a world of good. I am so, so very happy that I went and was able to help. Not because the trip was easy or fun or even fulfilling for either of us. On the contrary, it was hard and demanding. It required true love and a lot of sacrifice. But I am so grateful that I was the one who was asked to help, that my friend trusted me and our friendship enough to ask. I kept telling my friend what an honor it was to help and to be there - and it was.

Slowly, slowly I am learning that my plans are always tentative. And that changing those plans (or throwing them out and starting over!) is what the rest of my life will probably look like. I'm very curious to see how substitute teaching goes and how that fits into things right now. Or whether I'll actually ever practice law. Or whether Denver will be the place we eventually settle in. It's sort of exciting to see what God has planned! :)



brilliance above by Demetri Martin, "This Is a Book"

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Around here lately...

Last night, I woke up at 3:30am and could not, for the life of me, fall back asleep. The blankets were all wrong and too loose (I like them tight across my whole body and the heavier the better), I was hot, it's suddenly like a desert here in Denver and I could practically feel my cuticles shrinking. And of course, once I was awake, I couldn't stop thinking about the millions of things I want to do or need to do, including writing a little update! I was obsessing over the total lack of pictures we took this weekend and how decidedly boring this update will be because I'll be breaking the cardinal rule of blogging (no pictures!!).

OH WELL. Although perhaps to compensate I'll include whatever most recent photos I have. You're welcome. Here's a very exciting picture I sent to Corey during one of our marathon texting sessions. We're in our usual evening poses - Lewis playing a video game, me doing something on my computer with a cup of decaf Constant Comment. BOTH on the couch, in pajamas.
On Friday night, Lewis came home exhausted from the week. Apparently, it was a series of: things break, Lewis fixes it, someone needs Lewis's help, something else breaks, etc. While he really does love his job, he's an introvert and was just wiped out from talking so much. I, on the other hand, am incredibly jealous that he gets to talk all day. I think we'd both happily switch with each other. (He's sitting next to me and heartily affirms the sentiment.)

So on Friday, he walked in the door and surprise! I hadn't meal planned anything. Several reasons: sheer and utter laziness and boredom meal planning (it saves so much money and actual time during the week but I hate doing it...) AND it would have required another trip to the grocery store. Given that it was the end of the month, we were really trying to spend as little as possible to put as much as possible into savings. SO we did what all thrifty, responsible, hardworking adults would do and promptly decided to go out to dinner.
It was AMAZING. Then we went home at fell asleep at 9:30pm. Also amazing.

Even if I had taken pictures on Saturday, they would have been so boring. But let me regale you anyways with an update! Lazed around in the morning. Facetime'd with my parents. Went for a run in the sunshine (ALWAYS sunny in Denver! But in classic Colorado fashion, a blizzard appeared a mere 6 hours later). Went to Mass and then made hamburgers and baked potato wedges for dinner. I can't remember what we did Saturday night. I think nothing.

And to wrap up the exciting weekend (it was actually purposely not exciting - we/Lewis needed some downtime), we went to the zoo!! The Denver Zoo has "free days" throughout the year and this Sunday was one of them. It was freezing (again - blizzard) but lots of animals were still out and about and we had the best time.
I stared into these eyeballs. So cute! So deadly.
 Gerald the giraffe.
A wild pack of family dogs.

All in all, a wonderful weekend. We had some great news (more on that later) and got lots of rest and delicious food in. No updates on the friends situation - perhaps a small update on the job situation though! Still wading through layers of bureaucracy, so if it all works out, I'll definitely do an update. We'll see. Happy Tuesday! (Can you believe Lent starts next week??? What are you giving up/adding? We need ideas.)

Monday, February 1, 2016

How We Budget - Tip 1

In the exciting follow-up to "important money talks before marriage," I thought I'd get more specific and explain how we actually discuss, compromise, and budget. Of course, everyone's situation is different and so what works for us might not work for you! But here's what we've found to be sound for us...

How We Budget Tip 1: Have a Budget 


So deceptively simple and so, so impossibly hard. Unless you're making enough money to pay all your bills and save a ton, you need a budget. I learned this the hard way, aka failing constantly. I overspent every semester and called The Bank of Dad to bail me out. (I'm surprised I didn't get this in  return.) Part of this was because I was living off loans (and if you've done this, you've basically got to be eating oatmeal 3x a day to survive). But probably the bigger part, and it hurts my pride to admit this, is that I was irresponsible. I just had no concept of a budget and I certainly didn't want to stick to one.

But cue one income for two people and we needed a budget. The basic premise we follow is this: we allocate every cent into some category (line item) and do our level best to stay within that allocation. It probably goes without saying, but we budget out all of our bills first and then allocate to other categories once the essentials are satisfied. When (not if) you overspend in a category, record it properly. Then, next month, when you're making your budget again, notice your actual spending habits in comparison with your budget and adjust accordingly.

For example, we used to budget $100 a month for a date night (bonus tip: Lewis started budgeting for this before we were married and it's been excellent for relationship happiness!). However, we noticed we were actually spending more like $125-$150 depending on the restaurant (and how many drinks we ordered). So, we've up-ed that category to $125 to more accurately reflect our spending. Conversely, we were budgeting $150 for gas every month. But, we rarely spent that much on gas, especially with gas so cheap right now, so now we only budget $100 for gas. It follows then that if we know we'll be spending a lot more in a certain category that month (ex. "gifts" in December or "travel" in July), we try our best and budget accordingly.

Hence, an annoying and important thing we've learned has been that you have to make a new budget every month. Around the last or second to last day of the month, Lewis and I:

1. Eat dinner - SO important. Doing this on an empty stomach almost guarantees an argument.
2. Arm ourselves with drinks and more snacks if necessary.
3. Grab our calendar to see what's coming up next month.
4. Sit side-by-side at one computer. You're on the same team! We want to do it together.
5. Go through every line item and discuss each one. Some are easy, like rent, which never changes (and our fixed bills are carried over so we just check it over to make sure nothing's changed.) Others require longer discussions and compromises and checking our priorities.

But the whole thing takes us no more than an hour. We don't agonize over making it perfect. If in doubt, we over-budget and cut a non-essential.

We use https://www.everydollar.com/. It's free and super easy. AND there's an app for the iPhone (alas, not for Android, so Lewis doesn't have it) that syncs everything so you can budget on the go. How fun! Ha! [insert crying emoji] But actually, staying on top of the budget is so important....which is why it's what I'll be talking about next time!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Talks about money you should have before marriage

Let's talk about one of the three things you're never supposed to talk about: money.

Before we got married, we talked to both sets of parents about money and how they handle things. Thankfully, they have all made smart financial decisions in their lifetimes and so had some great advice for us. My parents, in addition to being financially savvy, have also long been involved in the marriage prep offered through their church. So they've counseled a lot of couples before marriage. And invariably, they said, the single biggest issue in a relationship is money.

We knew that money would be a tricky thing for us... I have never had a budget (!! I know. So bad.) and Lewis has almost always had a budget. I have a lot of student debt from both my undergraduate and graduate studies. Lewis has no debt (such a help). I like to spend money on getting my nails done, going out for drinks with friends, and shopping. Lewis likes to spend money on video games, going out for drinks with friends, and playing in the outdoors (ski passes, new gear, etc.) I had investments, but no IRA. He had fewer investments, but an IRA and 401k that he was contributing to. I spend a lot more on little things like Target and gifts. He spends more on big things like new skis and trips.

Needless to say, there was a lot to reconcile. We had to consider some long-term, big picture questions like:

How much money do we need to live? 
How much to sustain a quality of life we're happy with? 
How aggressively should we try and pay off our debts? 
How important is it to us to invest and/or contribute to IRA's? 
Should we max out our 401K? 
Do we want to own a house? 
Is it important to us that our kids have higher education? If so, do we want to help them? 
Should we have separate or joint bank accounts?
How many credit cards should we have? Which credit cards? 
Should we tithe monetarily? If so, how much and where?

But there were also more practical, day-to-day questions about our spending like:

How would we like to allocate our income?
How are we going to budget? Some software? Excel? A paper ledger?
Will one person be responsible for all of our financial reconciling and paying bills? 
If not, how do we allocate responsibilities? 
How much money can each of us spend without consulting the other? 
Should we use cash, debit, or credit cards? 
Is automatic bill-pay best? 

These were ALL important questions to us and we talked about every one of them. In fact, we still do. Every single month! I'm confident that even if we were to answer separately, Lewis and I would have almost identical answers. However, it has not been easy and it is definitely not fun.

To this day, despite being on the same page about our finances, money is still the #1 thing we fight about (and we don't fight often). But having those conversations before we got married ensured that we were generally on the same page with money, even if we didn't have an exact answer to all of the questions above. Just hearing about Lewis's expectations and habits (and vice versa) was, I think, crucial to some of our marital happiness! (And in the next little bit, I'll share exactly what we do and how we budget.)



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Our Wedding: Three Things I Loved


As of Saturday, we have been married a whopping 8 months! Woohoo! It's really been the best. Being married to Lewis, not just being married, has been the best. It's infinitely better than dating and 10000x better than being engaged! I highly recommend marriage.

Now that we're a little ways out, I feel like I have enough distance from the wedding to be able to comment on the things I loved about it, things I would have changed, things I was super annoyed by, and things I've already forgotten about & therefore could've done without.

So, here are three things that I loved about our wedding....

1. Having a short engagement

As I mentioned, trying to choose a wedding day was so stressful. In between graduation and studying for the bar exam and deciding to move across the country -- we felt so stuck! Thankfully, it worked out beautifully and the church & reception site were both available on May 23... my parent's anniversary! It was a wonderful coincidence.

However, May was only 6 months away from our December engagement! Could we do it? The wedding world would have you believe that getting married in anything short of a year is insane. But they are wrong and I LOVED having a short engagement! There were absolutely no downsides for us. To give our guests enough notice, we skipped save-the-dates and sent our invitations at the end of January. Instead of searching for months on the perfect [whatever], I just had to choose from whatever was available - fewer options = less stress. This included my dress (online!) and choosing vendors (I chose our florist literally a month before the wedding. It was fine.)  As well, even though this may come as a surprise, I think we spent less money than we could have spent had we had a longer engagement. With less time to plan, we had to choose fewer or simpler "add-ons" like favors, a photo booth, videographer, planned activities for guests, etc.

But the biggest reasons I loved our short engagement were spiritual and emotional ones. I didn't want to be engaged for longer than we had to be because I really just wanted to be married to Lewis (not engaged to Lewis!). Engagement is a transition time and a period of preparation. And, since we cared way more about preparing for marriage rather than planning a wedding, we tried to ramp our prayer life and sacramental life during that time. It was an intense few months of prayer, discernment, and preparation - is this really the person I want to spend my life with? (Resounding yes.) A shorter engagement helped to keep the end in sight.

(Also, we waited to have sex until we were married and were straight up tired of waiting. Ha! Less time to wait meant less temptation.)

2. The way we spent our budget

Before we started wedding planning at all, Lewis and I sat down and chose the "top 3 most important aspects of our wedding." For us, those three things were: food, drinks, photos. We prioritized those three things more than anything else, so when it came time to choose a caterer and photographer, we weren't shocked or nervous by the cost. We just hired who we really wanted! It took so much pressure off of us to know that even if we spent a lot of the budget on those things, it would be okay.

Conversely, some things were way less important to us, like my dress & his suit, getting my hair and makeup done, and decor. Although we didn't necessary go "cheap," we really wanted to keep these other costs to a minimum. My dress was from BHLDN (it's this one) and was less than $1000. With alterations, it ended up being around $1200. We bought Lewis's suit from J.Crew for just over $400, knowing he'd wear it again (and he has!). I did my own make-up, and Corey did my hair. Decor was so, so minimal - a few tablecloths and candles from this site - though it helped that our church and reception venue was already beautiful.

Of course, you can't control some costs. Our flowers (which were not a priority even though I LOVE flowers) were about $1000 :( They were so expensive! Every florist ended up quoting me about the same cost though - so I just chose the one I liked the best. I really considered making the bridesmaids' bouquets myself, but my mom convinced me not to. "Paige, you will be so stressed and done with planning the day before your wedding. You're paying for convenience as much as you are for the arrangements themselves," she told me, and she was totally right. It was such a smart move! When I arrived at the church, all the bouquets were there waiting for me. It was so, so nice to have someone else do them, and they were so much more beautiful than I ever could have done.

Overall, choosing our Top Three Things was so good for us and I was really happy about the things we splurged on (and the things we didn't!).
3. That we never left each other's side

Before our wedding, I heard so many stories of spouses who spent their wedding day or reception mostly apart - and that just made me sad! I wanted to spend the day most of all with Lewis! This motivated our wanting an early afternoon wedding - so we could spend almost the whole day together. And before the reception, we both made a promise to always be within arms' reach of each other. Even if we were talking to different friends, I could reach back and feel his sleeve and know he was close.

Because of our little agreement, we could really experience the whole day together - it was beautiful. Finally, it was important to us that we both got some face time with each guest (and this was much easier when we were already together!).

If you're married, I'd love to hear things you are so glad you did. And if you're not, do you already have some priorities for your wedding day? :)