Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Aug/Sept HHJ update

Since I only started my journey at the beginning of this month- I don't have much to report about the state of my hair. Well maybe a few things. I've found that a lot of hair bloggers do a monthly goal and update check, so I think I've decided to incorporate that into my blogging to help me stay on track and remain accountable. Plus, your feedback keeps me motivated.


Since I had no true August hair goals to begin with, I'm going to report some positive things I've noticed/accomplished this month.
I find my hair to be way more manageable now. Normally after 5 weeks, I have had enough and am begging for a relaxer so my hair is silky straight again. I think the daily moisturization has done the trick.

I've continued to learn about healthy hair. I haven't been able to devote as much time as I'd like to research due to my baby's impending arrival but I did find a few new blogs that I think will help.

I can't believe I did it but I've stuck to my weekly washes. I truly didn't think I would do it. Actually I almost skipped last week but downtime I had during hurricane Irene 's shut-in gave me no excuses.

I distinctly remember two people telling me my hair looks very nice, healthy, and shiny *blushes*. I think a lot of people are attributing it to PNV and pregnancy but quite honestly, I've been taking the same PNV for over a year before I got pregnant. Now I'm sure pregnancy hormones are contributing to my hair health but remember I am trying to keep this up through post-partum shedding and beyond- so we will see.


Continue my weekly regime (the little regime that I have). It's been working so far but we will see how this continues with a newborn.

Add a few more products to my regime plus some basics. As far as basics, I need to pick up some more plastic shower caps (my pre poos are ruining them even after I wash out the product) and a silk bonnet (to protect styles that a scarf doesn't do a good job at). I also want to try some Bee Mine products at the recommendation of my hair shepard Ebony. I haven't decided which ones to try yet (I'm sure she will tell me which ones *hint, hint*) but I am looking for some good ones to enhance my regime. Plus I found a coupon code to help manage my budget (yes!).  Lastly, I need a good moisturizing deep conditioner to keep up my routine.

I really, really, really want to add half wigs into my regime. I think this is an essential for get up and go styles. I suck at styling my hair and really need the assistance (and versatility) that the wigs will give me. I currently have one half wig that I've pretty much retired because I feel like it's starting to look like a wig. I have a full wig that I'm thinking of retiring because it definitely looks like a wig. I'd like to try something that blends well with the front of my hair and looks at close to natural as a wig can get. I've been wig shopping several times and I can't find a single darn thing that works for me. The hair is usually too short, too thin, too shiny, etc. If I buy one wig before September is out- I'd be proud.

Last relaxer: 7/28/11            Last trim: 8/19/11
Next relaxer: 9/15/11
Current stretch: 5 weeks

Friday, August 26, 2011

My HHJ: part 2

Ok so back to my HHJ…
So, a big part of being on a HHJ is having a regime. It's like in the hair bible- to build a regime that's just right for your hair. My regime isn't very specific yet- Wash and deep condition once per week, moisturize everyday. Some girls have very elaborate routines but I can't go there yet as it will just set me up for failure. I know my biggest problem is moisture and right now that's my main focus. Plus I don't have the "right" products to really have a detailed regime. I'm sure ECP would have a fit if she knew that I wasn't currently using a sulfate free shampoo on wash day at home and I have no idea what type of shampoo they use at the salon. I know this is NOT good but I have to take this one step at a time. I've been trying to learn about ingredients and reading products reviews so that next month I'll get an appropriate shampoo. Building a regime is not going to be easy- but with a baby on the way I want to minimize the amount of money I spend on products that isn't compatible with my hair. I get that you can't always tell until you actually try something but I still have to try.

So far, I have been sticking to my regime of washing and deep conditioning once a week and daily moisturization. Here is a picture update from 3 weeks post with {somewhat} straight hair.

Now I know no one does lengths checks this often but I did this to show that my hair is still relatively straight at the roots (although you can't see my roots) and still has a bit of moisture. In the past I feel like my roots would be awful around 3 to 4 weeks after a touch-up but my new found knowledge just lets me know that my hair was lacking moisture but we will see if I'm still singing the same tune in 2 weeks. I also feel like my hair is more manageable. That is definitely a result of increased moisture as I have been drinking more water (but for baby's sake - not mine) and eating more fruits (also due to cravings from baby). Diet really makes a difference. I currently use S-Curl moisturizer as a daily moisturizer. I like it cause it's a spray and I can do it quickly and easily. I normally thought of this as a product for those who had Jheri-curls by clearly I was misguided. I really believe I've seen a huge change in manageability since I began using it.

Okay so far I've covered :
- a bit of my hair background
- hair knowledge resources and
- my journey

So all that's left is my hair future:

Here is my plan. Continue with daily moisturizing making it second nature, continue with weekly shampoos and deep conditioning. Research and expand styling repertoire (I really want to start utilizing half wigs to help with this but I have yet to find a single one that "looks right") Keep building my hair care knowledge. I'll likely dedicate one or two posts a month to my HHJ. One thing that I found that a lot of hair bloggers do is begin each month with a hair goals posts and end the month with goals update. I still have a long way to go but I think what I want to get out of this whole process is

1. Healthier hair- no one wants unhealthy damaged hair, plus I've heard postpartum hair isn't glamorous.
2. Diversity in styling- I'm getting pretty tired of ponytails- I think this is going to be the hardest part. Hair makes a good outfit great!
3. I want the thickness of my hair back- while my hair isn't thin, I feel like it's thinner than it was when I was in college.
4. Longer hair- I think. I'm not sure if I can handle long hair because I feel like I'll just end up putting it in a ponytail.

Now that I've actually posted about this I feel like I've made an even greater commitment to this journey. I know this is going to be very hard being a new mom and working off my babies schedule and not my own- but I'm willing to give it my best shot.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

38 weeks!

I can't believe I'm still pregnant. Actually I can- it's everyone else's opinions that had gotten to me. So phooey to all of you who said I was going to deliver early (actually it ain't over yet)! And besides I believe the rate of babies born on their due date is 5% and of the remaining 30% are born before and 70% are born after their due date so- it's likely I'm having a September baby *sticks tongue out*!

Your baby has really plumped up. S/he weighs about 6.8 pounds and s/he's over 19 1/2 inches long (like a leek). S/he has a firm grasp, which you'll soon be able to test when you hold his or her hand for the first time! Baby's organs have matured and are ready for life outside the womb. Wondering what color your baby's eyes will be? If s/he's born with brown eyes, they'll likely stay brown. If she's born with steel gray or dark blue eyes, they may stay gray or blue or turn green, hazel, or brown by the time s/he's 9 months old.

Pregnancy: 38 weeks!

Gender: Team Green

Name: Not yet.

Weight Gain: At last week's appointment I lost a pound. So that bring me to 22 pounds total gain. Not bad but I'm hoping it's all baby and baby by-product and not me. I have a maximum of 3 weeks to go (my doctor won't let me go past 41 weeks) so unless I go on some type of eating binge I think I'm good.

Sleep: Not the best but not the worse. Once I get comfy and fall asleep I'm pretty much okay. I also love my afternoon naps after work. It takes a while before I can fall asleep but on Tuesday I woke up in a puddle of drool so clearly that was a good nap!

Feeling: Heavy, sore, tired and I am easily aggravated. I try to keep to myself at work to prevent rubbing people the wrong way and being annoyed to no end. I only have a week left that I want to complete at work (if baby doesn't come) so I'm just hanging on. I think after September 1- I'm going into hibernation because when I say I am easily aggravated- you have no idea and I know people only care about me us the baby and their intentions are well meaning but I can't believe how many people feel the need to ask me when I'm due and interject their opinion about my pregnancy.

Health: Good. Last week's appointment went pretty well. I am super nervous because I am 1 cm dilated and every twinge sends me into a 'is this it' frenzy. I know I can be 1 cm dilated for weeks but it makes me nervous that my pregnancy is about to end and motherhood is about to begin. 

Movement: There is lots more definitive movement. Sometimes I try to note the time to see if it matches wake patterns once baby is born.

Belly: See below. Another 'view from the top'.

Next Appointment: Tomorrow! I'm still excited about my weekly appointments. Unfortunately I'm going at this one alone. Hubby has to work as it is opening weekend and he really can't miss for a doctor's appointment- he would be able to miss for a delivery though.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Healthy Hair Journey

This post is long over due. I actually have been a little afraid to write it because once you make something public- you make a public commitment. But maybe that's what I need.

August 1, 2011 started my Healthy Hair Journey. Actually, it started on July 28th but August 1 is easier to remember. What exactly is a Healthy Hair Journey? well first, let me start by telling you how I got here. It is a long standing myth that African American women cannot grow long hair. I've been told this many times by different people and I actually believed it to be true- until recently. Last year I happen to be in Tennessee at a work conference where I completely forgot a very good friend of mine is in med school. Luckily, the hotel van broke down on the side of the road on the way back from the mall and I was in such awe of the driver backing down a highway (because the gas petal was not working) that I posted it on facebook. She saw it and called me!

We spent all of the following evening 'catching up'. Literally... from like 7 pm to 3 am. Amidst all of our girl talk, we discussed hair. We've always had some sort of a hair relationship that I felt on she could understand. Being the same age and having similar hair backgrounds and turmoils I found her story intriguing and inspiring all at the same time. But in true 'The Mrs.' fashion I just could not commit to a hair routine. It is so much easier for me to pull my hair back in a ponytail and let it be. This stems from years of felt like hair torture... hours of hair drying, hot pressing, and greasing only for it to be all undone when I go outside to play and "sweat my hair out". I distinctly remember the night before my cousin's 13th birthday party my aunt spent all day washing, drying and pressing me and my 2 cousins hair. She put my hair in about 7 ponytails and I was ready for the party. The next day when the music came on- it was on! I was about 9 years old and getting down in their living with with all of my cousins teen aged friends... until my aunt saw me and snatched me up 'cause of all the work she done, lol! I have way many more stories of how my hair played 'traumatizing' roles in my upbringing but I don't really want to relive that.

*And this my folks it why I am deathly afraid of having a girl*

So anyway amongst one of our catch up sessions earlier this year- I found out that my friend, Ebony, has dedicated years of research and practice to having healthy hair and wrapped it all up in a bow just for me!:) First I started following her vlog. It's actually her YouTube channel filled will lots of helpful info, tips, products reviews, how-to's and more! I was amazed as to how far she's come and where she's headed on her journey. As a healthy hair newbie, I still had a lot to learn and was still very confused about some of the info- I needed her to start a blog. Something that I could reference at anytime and follow step-by-step, plus video watching isn't very conducive to a work environment (I'm just saying!). I'm sure she had been planning a blog before I mentioned it but luckily, she in March she answered my call. If you are at all curious- and you should be- you MUST visit her at I also have it booked marked all the way to the right under 'Good Reads'.

I will admit- it will take a while to catch up on some of the lingo and processes- in fact I still don't know exactly how to co-wash but research is key. I didn't started until I felt comfortable knowing and understanding why I would be doing what I was doing and how beneficial it was to my hair. Ebony's blog alone wasn't going cut it so she gave me (her readers) some of the resources she used for her journey. She actually gave me this info way back after our all nighter in Tennessee but once again in true 'The Mrs.' fashion I delayed out of fear of commitment. Her top recommendations from hair forums are KISS (Keep It Simple Sista) and Hairlista. There are countless other forums and blogs that you will come across who can also give you insight. The two listed above are actually social networking sites so you will need to sign up for actual info on what you should/can be doing (which was another part of my reservation- I like to "lurk" before committing). Or you can just read her blog until you feel comfortable enough to move on. Now for the good stuff (and what Eb has been waiting for):

Oh wait! I forgot to tell you that Eb's blog also has fashion and beauty tips (that I really love) and will use for inspiration once I can get back into building my wardrobe. Some of my faves are how she beautifully she does her own nails and the amazing outfits she puts together. I remember her doing my nails back in college and when we were roomies- I totally tried to where her clothes but unfortunately our differences in clothing sizes made this extremely hard. I do have pics of us where matching outfits tho'! She even dressed me for my very first Alicia Keys concert! Ok for real now... the good stuff.

This is my hair 2 days post relaxer- August 1st 2011. I went and had a touch up July 2. My hair was roller set under the dryer and instead of wrapping it after it dries like I normally get done, I had her re pin the curls from the roller set. That night I slept with a satin bonnet on my head and the next morning I took out the pins and just let my hair hang where it layed. This created beautiful shoulder length spiral curls. Of course I don't have any pics (I'm still new to documenting my hair journey and I forget to take pictures) although pics where taken at my baby shower the next day so I may have a useable one once the girl who took the pics share them with me. That night I re-pinned the curls the best I could and by day three my curls were pretty much non existent (as I didn't use any setting lotion).  This picture is the result of day three non existent curls. This is where some of my issues come in- I absolutely suck at styling my hair. I've been wearing my hair pulled into a ponytails for 99.99% of my life (since I was old enough to do my own hair). So I HAD to join these hair networks. I needed easy to maintain healthy styles to do at home.

One style I came across was to pull your hair back into a bum and pin curl the ends. The next morning take it down and let the ponytail out and you will have soft flowing curls for the next day- I rocked that for about another week and a half alternating with days of keeping my hair in a high ponytails with the pin curls. This is called protective styling [:)] and it's done to protect the ends of your hair from the weathering elements.

You can see from this photo (maybe) that I have some breakage in the back towards the nape of my neck. I am sure this comes from years of wearing low ponytails. That is a stress point from the ponytail holders. Also, my shirts/sweaters, blouses do not help as the collars rub against the hair causing it to dry out and break off.

This is my curls after leaving my hair in the high bun with pin curls over night. I added a headband and voila! I love this style. It is very manageable for me because it doesn't take much in the morning after you pull out the pins and I can pin it the  night before while watching TV. This dress allows my hair to hang without rubbing against a shirt- although there is the down side of the halter part rubbing against my nape ( I have to do something about that!)

I feel like this post is getting a bit long and I'm not trying to bore you to death- but rather share so I'll pick this up later. I actually promise to do so because I'm writing the post and scheduling it to post automatically because my memory is bad. To be continued...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up

This weekend was amazing!

On Friday, my hubby treated me to my hair appointment for this month. I normally hate getting my hair done. In fact I always have. It stems from getting my hair pressed when I was little- but that's another post for another day. Sitting under a dryer for an hour + is not all that fun at 9 months pregnant. All of that however was overshadowed by my mani/pedi Saturday morning.

Yep! My wonderful hubby treated me to a mani/pedi too! I love being pampered. I was a little disappointed that I never made it to my pre-natal massage treatment at my favorite spa ever during this pregnancy (I had to cancel twice) but I hope to make up for that at some point maybe in December? Then after my mani/pedi my hubby dressed me (yea, he does that sometimes) and whisked me away to my BABY SHOWER!!!!!

Okay, here's a little secret. I knew that it was this weekend but it was still an amazing surprise for me. You see- my family likes to give surprise parties. I think we like for the guest of honor not too be too involved so we don't clue them in on any details... not a single one. I had to do a lot of bargaining to get my family to tell me the date. You see my college graduation party was a surprise, my bridal shower was a surprise, and in between those we gave my parent's a surprise 25th wedding anniversary party, my mom a surprise 50th birthday party, and my brother a semi-surprise graduation party... I was kind of out of surprises. So, our deal was I would know the date so I could get plenty of rest the night before, try to look the best I can, and basically enjoy myself.

However I had no idea what was in store for me. I had no idea that almost 100 of my friends and family would be there! I know this sounds silly but - who knew so many people cared! When I walked in the room and everyone yelled surprise! I was in shock. My guests had come from far and wide to celebrate the birth of our first child. Remember our friends we visited in Chicago?? Well she came out too! I had a few more guests who came from out of state and that mean a lot to me. I am truly overwhelmed (still) and feel blessed to have such amazing people supporting us in this journey. But more on this tomorrow.

Some of the baby's clothes... we're going to need a bigger closet!
The stack of diapers... so far

I didn't sleep much that night so I was up pretty early for church on Sunday. I'm not sure if that will happen again for a long time. Anyway, I'm glad I was there to hear the message. My pastor is on a much needed vacation this week so one of my fellow Elders gave the message entitled "Wait for God ... but pay attention". This message was something I needed to hear. She opened with a story (which you may have read via email forward) about a man who was waiting for God to send him blessings but he missed them (all 3) because he wasn't paying attention to his actual blessings being sent. I'm going to try to Google the story because it truly speaks volumes. The most resonating point was being thankful for all the blessing you have been given despite your current trials - for the unemployed who may not have a paycheck now, be thankful for the paychecks you received and the paychecks that may be waiting for you in the future. For the sick whose bodies are currently afflicted- be thankful for the days you had when you were well and able bodied. The list goes on. I don't really care right now to share some of what I believe to be my current trials but when I look back on my past trials and laugh at myself for thinking those were actual burdens to me (at the time) and seeing how far I've come, I'm looking forward to my future self and laughing now because I know I will be laughing then too.

And now Monday morning, we meet again.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Craving: Oatmeal Raisin cookies

I think the Dessert Diva is back. But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. About a week or so ago, I had a craving for oatmeal cookies. I never did get any but I did get around to making some this past Thursday. I've always loved to bake and I believe I've only baked once or twice since I found out I was pregnant. It's been a combination of just not feeling like it and one of my incidents. I hope to get around to doing more baking especially as the weather gets cooler out and I am not baking myself along with my delectable treats.

My first bake- alone baking experience that I can remember was a box cake. I thought it cam out really well and my family ate it so it must have been worth something. That was sometime prior to August of 2005 because I remember cutting my grandma a slice to taste because she is a cake goddess. Since then I've taken an interest not only in baking but sort of cultivating that so I can enjoy dessert anytime I'd like. I think dessert is the finishing touch to everyday and couldn't imagine life without it!

So after I woke up from my afternoon nap I got out my cookbook and got to work. I used a recipe from The Joy of Cooking. I bought that for my hubby one day because he is the head chef in our house and requested it after tasting a few recipes that a friend of his made from there. I think I may have used it more than he has as a baking reference. Part of cultivating my talent is learning how to bake from scratch. Don't get me wrong, Sometimes you need a quick and easy bake job and I am not opposed to used boxed mixes for anything- but even then I always doctor up box cake mix recipes to make them more appealing.

So here's the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350oF

Whisk together:
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg

Beat in a large bowl until well blended:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 ½ teaspoons vanilla
Stir in the flour mixture. Stir in:
1 cup raisins, chopped
3 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats

Shape the dough into generous 1 ½-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Flatten the balls into ½-inch-thick rounds. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are lightly browned all over, 12 to 14 minutes. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.

Here were my slight variations. I didn't do many as this was first time making them so I had to see how they came out before I could know what to tweak- if anything needs tweaking at all.

- I used salted butter rather than unsalted. I think it may have cut some of the sweetness of so much sugar and definitely altered the nutrition content in some way.
- I over measured on the salt. I didn't realize I put in ¾ teaspoon instead of ½ teaspoon until after I dumped it in the bowl. So clearly these cookies will have way more salt than necessary but I don't think this affected the taste in a negative way- my official taste tester hubby said so. My mom always said to be careful when cooking (and this applies to baking as well) you can always add but you can't take away- so true!
- I held back on some of the raisins. The first batch I put on the cookie sheet didn't have raisins at all. I didn't add them until that batch was in the oven. First, I'm not a fan of raisins and second my craving was oatmeal cookies- I only considered raisins because a) it's the traditional cookie and b) it's my dad's second favorite cookie.
- I used old-fashioned oats rather than rolled oats. I'm not sure if there is a difference I don't think it altered the taste but it was my first try so who knows!
- I baked the cookies for only 10 minutes. I'm not a fan of hard cookies so they HAD to be soft so I reduced the cooking time.

I think they came out pretty well. Especially for my first attempt at cookies from scratch. We'll see how the masses likes them

Thursday, August 18, 2011

37 Weeks!

I am now considered full term in my pregnancy!!!

According to The Today brings two beautiful words:full-term. Now, whenever baby's born, s/he's likely to thrive. Also thriving? Your nesting instincts, which is behind those sudden urges to bake, clean, or embroider a onsie. (feminists, take your issue up with nature, not with us.) Your full-term (yay!) baby is gaining about 1/2 ounce a day and getting his first sticky poop (called meconium) ready. He's also brushing up on skills for the outside world: blinking, sucking, inhaling, exhaling, and gripping (it's getting strong!).

According to Baby Center: Your baby is now considered "full term," even though your due date is three weeks away. If you go into labor now, his or her lungs will likely be mature enough to fully adjust to life outside the womb. (Some babies need a bit more time, though. So if you're planning to have a repeat c-section, for example, your practitioner will schedule it for no earlier than 39 weeks unless there's a medical reason to intervene earlier.) Your baby weighs 6 1/3 pounds and measures a bit over 19 inches, head to heel (like a stalk of Swiss chard). Many babies have a full head of hair at birth, with locks from 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches long. But don't be surprised if your baby's hair isn't the same color as yours. Dark-haired couples are sometimes thrown for a loop when their children come out as blonds or redheads, and fair-haired couples have been surprised by Elvis look-alikes. And then, of course, some babies sport only peach fuzz.

Pregnancy: 37 weeks!

Gender: Team Green

Name: Still not interested in finalizing a name.

Weight Gain: I get another weigh in tomorrow. I'm thinking it's still going to a big weight gain. I feel very heavy 

Sleep: I'm back to getting numb whenever I stay in one position too long. And it take the force of God for me to shift my weight or change positions in the middle of the night... I'm big.

Feeling: Still sore, still tired. I'm dealing with it though. Sometimes it's manageable. My half day work days are really helpful because I go home and go to sleep.

Health: Good. Last week's appointment went pretty well. I'm not yet dilated so I felt a whole lot better knowing that baby wanted to be in the a little while longer.

Movement: Sometimes it looks like baby is busting outta there! My belly contorts in ways I'd never thing it could. I try to catch it on camera but everytime I push record baby stops.

Belly: I can't believe how big.

Next Appointment: Tomorrow! I'd never thought I'd be so excited to go to the doctor. I love checking on this little one.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A post for my parents

Actually this post is dedicated to all my real life family and friends. All of you guys come up to me and "comment" on my blog posts. While I appreciate all of your lovely comments, support, and stories of support- you can feel free to comment right on my post! I asked my parents why do they wait to see me to tell me these things- especially when they say, "Oh! I forgot to tell you that post you did about not being able to see your whoo haa was funny!"- they admitted they don't know how. So parents, cousins, friends, church fam... this is for you.

Blog header: This is also my blog address. I know some of you can't get to my blog without looking at email from me, lol! It's

Pages: These are pages of info that I randomly decided to share.

Post labels 2: These are the labels I've used to label my posts. I only have selected labels here so some random things like Y3W's aren't here. I don't like keeping all the labels here cause I think it make more blog clutter.

Blog Roll: These are blogs I follow. Well not all of them... Just my brother's and my friend's. Blogger templates do not allow you to edit the number of blogs shown at once- so I think. Either way I don't think my blog is popular enough to have a good blog roll anyway.

Archives: These are the post archives. So if you wanted to find the post I did on St. Patrick's Day You would click on March, then 15 weeks. As I post more posts and the blog gets older this lists gets longer and longer... years will eventually be added and so and and so forth.

Follow Me (1&2): When you "follow" someones blog it means you get 'notified' once that blog has a new post. You can follow using one of two options- you can follow by email or if you have a gmail account you can follow with Google Friend Connect (GFC). I've never followed someone by email so I have no idea if you get email notifications for new posts by if you follow using GFC new posts will show up in your google reader (provided you use your gmail account). Following blogs are important to the author to let them know they have interested readers plus the more followers you have you can qualify for different product reviews for companies... so FOLLOW ME! "Following" by typing the blog address in your browser counts towards your blogs stats (which is important as well) but authors like to see that they are getting popular.

My Signature: It's me! It's going to be at the bottom of every post that I post. I've been trying to get my hubby to guest post- but you see how that's going.

Comment: This keeps tracks of the comments people post on my blog. If it says zero- click it and leave a comment- I love feedback... good, bad, indifferent, agreements, disagreements, just a hello... whatever. If it already has a number (shout out to Ebs for being the most frequent commenter!) Then check out what others had to say, it may spark a discussion! Authors loves comments too... so LEAVE A COMMENT!

Post label: These are words that I tag my posts by. It makes for easy archiving and sort of categorize each post. For instance- If you like something you see in a this week's obsession post and you want to buy it for the baby you can search my blog for the words 'This week's obsession' and it will bring up all the posts with that label. I try to have as much consistency with labeling posts as possible.

Okay, so now that you've had your blog(ger) lesson- there will be a quiz at the end of the week.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up

So, Friday was my last day half-day at work according to the summer schedule posted by my job- so I thought. I went to the doctor that afternoon because- I needed to know what was going on with my body and the baby. While everything checked out okay- she put me on a reduced work schedule for now. So now every day is a half day! This is really good because I feel like I'll be more focused to do more tasks both at home and at work.

Saturday was a day I had been waiting for and just last week I anxiously awaited Saturday even more! First we had a scheduled 3D/4D ultrasound. O boy! I could not contain my excitement from the day I made the appointment. I remember running around my friends house in Illinois (which I realized that I didn't go into great detail about) making sure everyone was going to be available to come- yep it was that type of party. We spent so much time bothering this little one we were able to see that baby has dimples! Although now I think we spent so much time trying to wake baby up- s/he will get us back when baby is outside the belly.
After which we had a few things to do including looking at a house that will be for sale soon. My husband's good friend knows the family that is selling it and they wanted us to get the first look to see if we would be interested before the 'general public'. I didn't feel comfortable taking pictures to show you all because a) they were in the process of setting it up for an estate sale they are having next week or so b) you really wouldn't have been able to get the gist of the home and c) I'm sure it would have looked really weird.

Then came the really fun stuff... dinner with the family! My dad's birthday celebration continued with a limo ride into 'The City'

My mom took this- not that it's bad mom it's just that the door is open :/

We ate a family favorite seafood restaurant and it was I was still slacking on my picture taking duties and my mom basically took charge of the camera for the night (thank god- even though I tease her incessantly about it).

I love food *sigh*

Crab legs, lobster, shrimp, ribs, onion rings, rice... heavenly.

We stayed at my parents house until 2 am laughing, joking, eating, and just having fun. On Sunday, I stayed home. The weather was crappy, the baby was heavy, and I just couldn't get myself together. When i finally did come around I was able to get a little bit of housework done. Hubby continued to work on the baby's nursery in the process discover more problems :/

We are getting so close to baby's due date and I never thought I could be excited and nervous at the same time! I can't wait to see what next weekend brings :D

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ending summer early?

I know this is going to be a little weird but- I am ready for the holidays! Despite my love and longing for summer- I feel like it's already over now that the family reunion has passed, we don't have any more vacations (even thought I tried desperately to throw in a babymoon), the kids are going back to school soon- in particular the freshman be moving into housing next week where I work, and all that's left is labor day :(

Every year I always say I am going to make the most of my summer by doing every.single.thing I can- the sad part is: I haven't been to a beach all summer long :( It's partly because of my self-consciousness of my growing belly and partly because there were other things going on. At times I just wanted to drive down the parkway but my husband always had different plans. Now I'm just kind of nesting and waiting the birth of my baby :)

This fall I want to get a few things accomplished. First I would like to hold a coat drive at my church. I've been wanting to do this for a few years now. Although this has to be the absolute easiest community outreach program ever- I feel like I can never plan properly enough. Once I collect the coats then what? Where am I going to send them? I know there must  be a ton of places that will accept them but finding the right place has been a challenge. Secondly, I would like to throw a Holyween party. As the former youth director at my church (and I say former because the youth group has kind of disbanded) I feel a responsibility to continue to have programs that the youth will love and want to participate in and have it in a safe environment that parents will feel comfortable with. This too is something I've been wanting to do for years. This event requires a lot more preparation than I can handle alone. My family is extremely supportive in all of my endeavors so I don't foresee that being too much of a problem but financing this is a whole 'nother story. You see we have the perfect location- right at the church! Our church is well over 150 years old and is structurally equivalent to back int he day churches, back when churches were the community hang out and multi purpose centers of the city. The big budget items I would need assistance with really is music, food, and decor. Many of our congregants would probably donate things like snacks, candy, juices, water, etc. But in my mind we need to have graveyard cakes and
I understand you don't NEED those things to have a successful party- but it would be a party that the kids would love and look forward to year after year. While Christians would not celebrate such a secular holiday- it's origins can sometimes be traced to more religious roots of All Hallows Eve which is the day before All Saint's Day. As with all other Christian holidays I believed Halloween was taken over by the secular world and commercialism for profit and it's original meaning was lost in the process. Look at how many non-Christians celebrate Christmas! I think having a Holyween party would be a great activity for the youth.

A few years ago my mother-in-law would score us some tickets to a not so local pumpkin patch exhibit. I enjoyed it a lot and want to take little one. Yes, I know baby will have absolutely no idea what the heck is going on but I don't care. Pictures say a thousand words and my baby will have pictures to re-tell the story for him or her years down the line.

Then of course we would need to start preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday. The Christmas and Thanksgiving holiday has always been busy for me and my hubby since we seriously started dating. We have two families to spend time with and my husband likes to squeeze in a few friends during our extended breaks from work. Once you add a 3/4 month old in the mix- things are going to get even crazier. At times I wish we had the space to entertain both families at our house for at least one of these events- I mean come on it's my baby's first holiday- but in practicality that's not going to happen, our apartment just cannot hold that many people. Plus my sister-in-law is coming real close to the purchase of her first home and I am sure she is going to want to christen the crib with one of her fabulous hosting jobs. You should see the spreads she makes... what I am saying you will see it... right here! I'm nervous about packing up baby, not forgetting anything, traveling to two households (gotta visit with my family too!) and breastfeed comfortably (although I'm sure I'll be a pro at it by then). Either way- we're not hosting but I would like to decorate a little for baby- even though he or she won't have a clue as to what's going on.

Then there's the issue of baby's first Christmas. In the past we've celebrated Christmas Eve with my in-laws and even spent the night a time or two and Christmas day with my family. This works out perfectly, right? We'll see how Christmas plans go this year with a brand new baby...

No matter how we divide our time- I am so ready for the holidays!

My Christmas 2007 outfit- I told you I love the holidays! Now I am on a quest to find the one Melissa Gorga from ROHNJ wore on the Christmas (Season 3 episode 11).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Okay, so this particular birthday wish comes a day late to my blog.

My dad's birthday was actually yesterday- but we were so busy celebrating that I didn't get to post about it and tell the world!

Dad's birthday celebration began last week when we surprised him by stopping at the Professional Football Hall of Fame on the way to our family Reunion.

We kept the party going by giving him his now most beloved man toy (I think I want one now!)

Last night my mom, dad, brother, and I reconvened at my parent's house for some of my moms good home cooking :) and baking :) My husband is insanely jealous because I left his piece of cake at my parent's by accident (I claim pregnancy brain on that one).

This weekend we get to keep celebrating because my parents, aunts, cousins, husband, and sibling are going to dinner! I am so excited. I love hanging out with these guys- it's always full of laughs.

Dear Dad,

(because I know you are reading this) I love you more than words can say. I'm sure you enjoyed your birthday celebration over the past week and I told you that you had no idea :) I hope you have many many more birthdays to share with your new grandchild (and the rest of the family too). Love you much!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

36 weeks!

9 months! I can't believe I begin my 9th and final month today!

Your baby is still packing on the pounds — at the rate of about an ounce a day. S/he now weighs almost 6 pounds and is more than 18 1/2 inches long. S/he's shedding most of the downy covering of hair that covered his/her body as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that covered and protected her skin during his/her nine-month amniotic bath. Your baby swallows both of these substances, along with other secretions, resulting in a blackish mixture, called meconium, will form the contents of her/his first bowel movement.
At the end of this week, your baby will be considered full-term. (Full-term is 37 to 42 weeks; babies born before 37 weeks are pre-term and those born after 42 are post-term.) Most likely s/he's in a head-down position. But if s/he isn't, your practitioner may suggest scheduling an "external cephalic version," which is a fancy way of saying s/he'll try to coax your baby into a head-down position by manipulating his/her from the outside of your belly.

Pregnancy: 36 weeks!

Gender: Team Green

Name: Still not interested in finalizing a name.

Weight Gain: I cannot believe how well I have been doing with staying on track. I was watching Tia & Tamera last night and Tia said at that particular point in her pregnancy she had gained 50 pounds. I think she is still super pretty but I would definitely be on freakout if I had reached a 50 pound weight gain.

Sleep: *rolls eyes*

Feeling: I am so sore. At times I feel like I have been working out for hours straight. My body MUST be preparing for childbirth because my pelvis hurts! I am also sleepy at the most random times throughout the day. One minute I'm okay and then the next I feel like I am just going to fall asleep right where I am- even in line at the store!

Health: Good I guess. Every few hours once in a while I have a freak out moment about the baby coming early- so I scheduled another appointment with my doctor.

Movement: I feel this little one moving and rolling and twisting and turning. I hope baby is comfy in there!

Belly: Woah!

Next Appointment: Tomorrow! I couldn't wait another week to see how things are going. I also think I want to start my disability leave sooner rather than later- depending on what she says tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

PSA: August is...

Breastfeeding Awareness Month

I couldn't find any logos for the campaign :( But I did find this which I think is absolutely hilarious.

Breastfeeding is a truly personal decision that has to be made by a family based on what's best for all parties involved. While there are many benefits to breastfeeding your baby- I can see why some women still choose not to whether it's for work related reasons or otherwise. I personally plan to breast feed. My initial thoughts on this were "I'll do it if it works" then the more I researched, the more I found out that it will always work- you just can't give up. I remember a friend telling me that "her baby just didn't want it". well come to find out there are babies who are very fussy about it and often turn away from the breast- especially if they are uncomfortable. It's up to mom to find a way that will work for her and baby (perhaps changing a position will help). Attending the breastfeeding class was one of the better decisions I've made throughout this pregnancy. I think my husband has become more aware of what's involved with breastfeeding and this is important because I think often times men, because of the absence of boobs, just don't get certain things. Since he has learned all that goes into breastfeeding- I think he will be even more supportive. Don't get me wrong he supported my decision to breastfeed from the beginning but I think that if I we have a difficult start he will understand some of the issues that could arise and may be able to assist with trouble shooting.

My other decisions to breastfeed include cost savings, bonding with baby, and release of hormones that cause uterus to contract. My baby will benefits by receiving food that's easier to digest, good for baby antibodies, and larger IQ!*

I am arming myself with as much info as possible to make this a success. I get that it may not be easy at first but I am willing to make it successful. I still have a few qualms left to tackle regarding breastfeeding like when to switch baby to breast milk from the bottle so dad (and baby sitters) can get involved, being comfortable when pumping when I go back to work and determining when the time is right to start weaning.

Ahh the joys of motherhood.

*Benefits of breastfeeding info was compiled from a number of sources including, Women's Health, the La Leche League, and Kelly Mom

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up: Part 2

Okay, so now to what actually happened.

This was an extended weekend of sorts. We had a lot we wanted to accomplish so we had to get an early start. This year the reunion was in Illinois. My parents have very close friends there so we used this as an opportunity to spend some time with them. On Tuesday afternoon we loaded up the rental car and headed out. Funny thing is our neighbors thought we purchased a new family vehicle:

While the mini-van was a pretty comfy vehicle for our trip- I'm still not convinced that I will ever be a mini-van driving mom.

So we started our seemingly 12 hour journey, however we had something up our sleeves. My mom, husband, brother, and I had preplanned to stop at the Pro Football Hall of Fame and surprise my dad as an early birthday gift. After driving about 7 hours we told my dad that we were going to get a hotel room overnight because if we kept going we would get to our friends house in the middle of the night and we didn't want to disturb them at that hour. We also used the excuse that we thought it would take a lot longer because I expected to make way more bathroom stops. So we got a hotel (that just so happened to be a mile from the gas station we stopped at), checked in and had dinner at a nearby Outback Steakhouse. The TV's at dinner was showing info for that weekend's upcoming HOF induction. It was perfect! My dad said he would like to go there one day but he never thought to plan a trip there because he felt there was nothing to do besides go to the HOF then go home. In actuality there are a ton of things to do in and around Ohio including the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame and the Canton Classic Car museum. So, the next morning we had breakfast (included in the hotel room rate), checked out, and hit the road. When we pulled into the HOF parking lot and my dad realized where we were going- it was priceless. My parents aren't excitable people but his reaction said it all... he was excited!

I know he really enjoyed the museum tour. It is self guided and no time limit. I really wish I could show you the pictures we took but I am sure that would bore you. My husband enjoyed it as well. Although he's been before it's been about 7 years so he got to see a few more classes added to the hall. And now they have plans to expand the museum and the expected completion is 2013. I think there is going to be people who expect to go back in about two years.
After the HOF we hit the road again and we still had one more surprise (for my dad) up our sleeves. We also gave my dad and Ipad 2 which he has been talking about for months now. At one point I thought he might kill over and die if he didn't go out and get one. The only thing stopping him from purchasing himself one is that the company he works for and their union was in contract negotiations and he didn't want to spend unnecessary money in case they went on strike. His new man toy kept him occupied for the rest of our journey.

My brother and I are huge Micheal Jackson fans. Have been since we were little and always will be. So my husband (who was the brains behind all of our surprises) suggested we stopped at MJ's birthplace since we had to drive through Indiana anyway. It turns out that his childhood home is only about 3 miles from the highway road so it wouldn't be too much of a deviation. My brother figured out where we were going when we took the exit that said 'Gary, Indiana... that way' but he was excited too nonetheless. I tried desperately to distract him so wouldn't see the exit sign but it didn't work... at all.

It's no secret that Gary, IN isn't the richest town in the world but I definitely expected more. When we pulled up even my brother said "So where is it?"

Yep, that's it. This tiny 300 square foot corner property home housed some of the greatest musical legends of all time. I thought for sure someone would use this as an opportunity to capitalize off of MJ's fame. There was guy sitting across the street playing MJ music and selling paraphernalia but he was the only person. There were some neighbors casually sitting on their porches enjoying the weather, cars driving by and then us. We didn't know if we should get out and take pictures or just keep it moving. Luckily another vehicle pulled up behind us and they all started to get out, no longer making us look crazy.

I expected there to be a tour guide, a parking lot where you had to pay $10 for 30 minutes and slew of other things. There wasn't. In fact I'm not sure if you can actually go into the home. The lawn is very well maintained and there was lots of mementos and things- it was all very sort of ... peaceful.

My brother and I signed one of the boards that must have had a million signatures with messages to MJ and then we were off again. We arrived at our friend's house that evening and had dinner with them. We stayed until Friday afternoon which was the official start of the family reunion weekend.

This year's theme was Denim & Diamonds. Friday evening welcome reception was so much fun. This year the hosts planned activities where you earn 'diamond dollars'. So after each event you completed you earned a certain amount of dollars for that event. At the end of the weekend all the dollars earned were pooled together and names were randomly chosen to win a first, second, and third place prize. The first event for Friday was a puzzle. The hosts had cut up various boxes of food products and we had to put it back together. This was a really inexpensive way (provided you eat those foods) to get everyone working together as a team.

They also had a line dance instructor come out and teach some line dances. Not country line dances but the more urban popular ones. I must admit this was fun- especially when I went up there to participate with a 8 month belly and no one thought I could do it. This pic is pretty blurry (sorry) but the instructor gave the girls the belly dancing skirts (I don't know why) and mine barely fit around the baby. When I tried to put it around my actual hips (what's left of them) it kept falling off. But I did it. The DJ made fun of me, everyone swore I was going to go into labor, and when we were done I was exhausted but I did it.

The funniest part of the whole thing is that I don't remember any of the dances even though we did it several more times that weekend! So for Friday night I earned a total of about 7 diamond dollars. My mom, brother, husband, and dad earned about 2 for that puzzle.

Saturday is the family outing day. We had lunch at the Golden Corral and way too much fun at Brunswick Zone. I've never actually eaten at Golden Corral before and I had a pretty positive first experience. I think the staff was a little overwhelmed (but wouldn't you be if you have 100 hungry people staring at you). It was at the Golden Corral that I learned some of the real relationships that I had with my cousins. I was trying to explain how I was related to someone to my husband and in the process completed confused myself. This prompted a google search and the returns prompted a lot of useful information that I think we are going to use at our next family reunion. Essentially, I learned the meaning (and how to properly use it)of first cousin once removed and the true meaning of 2nd cousins (it's definitely not what I thought it was). The Brunswick Zone location we went to was a bowling alley that also had an attached bar/lounge (for the of age evening crowd), laser tag, bumper cars, pool tables, and arcade games. About 20 of my cousins played guys versus girls laser tag. I wanted to play so bad but my brother refused for fear that somebody might bump me (I can't blame him- it's dark in there) or I might get accidentally run over. We were able to watch but you can't really get that good of a view from where they let you watch. So I left them be and went and played trivia games with my dad. The guys whooped the girls by almost 20,000 points (glad I sat that one out) and my dad murdered me in trivia and skeeball (but who's counting).

The only way you could earn diamond dollars at Brunswick Zone was to bowl- but I didn't do that (I am REALLY bad at bowling) so no dollars for me that day. We had so much fun though. The bumper cars were out of control. I thought I was going to pee myself at one point from laughing too hard. Of course I didn't get on but laughing at them from the sidelines might have been funnier than getting whip lash.

I can't believe I didn't get a picture of our t-shirt. When I unpack I am going to have to take a picture of it and post it. My shirt was an XL and it fit! When we first send in our registration I was barely showing and I had no idea how much weight I would gain so I was a little nervous about the size. I had a back up outfit in case it didn't fit but I would have been extremely disappointed if it didn't.

Every evening everyone hangs out until the wee hours of the morning. I just could not this year- I was way too exhausted. One night (actually every night) they decided to go to one of the clubs in downtown Chicago. It was there that they "partied" with Nas ( a famous rapper who is nearly irrelevant right now- for those of you who have no idea who I am talking about). My brother got really good pics of him and I decided to share that bit of info.

On Sunday we went back to my parents friends house this time to take to my Aunt who didn't travel with us on the first leg of the trip. We had lunch there and then headed back to the hotel for the banquet. Now as I told you before- I missed one year of dressing up in our theme and I will never do it again. From the moment we got the family reunion package I scoured the stores trying to find a denim maternity dress. I found one for $60 bucks and waited til the absolute last minute to buy it because you all know how I feel about spending a boat load of money on maternity clothes. In this case procrastination paid of because I found a dress in the motherhood maternity outlet for $30 bucks. It wasn't my ideal price range (I would rather spend $20) but it saved me 50%. I had a ton of rhinestone jewelry from my proms, sweet 16's, and high school days so the diamonds part was not a problem. I took a picture of my final outfit on my brother's camera so I can't post it right now- but I think I looked pretty good.

For the diamond dollars drawing my cousin, her husband, and her dad wone first, second, and third place- which everyone couldn't believe. The third and second place prizes were cash and first first place prize was a free night's stay at the hotel which was used to comp his stay (he didn't have to come back to redeem it) so he paid for 2 night's instead of 3...sweet!

Monday's farewell is never easy. We have so much fun during the weekend that no one wants to leave. I think the best part of the reunion this year was

- showing up pregnant and everyone's surprise when they saw me
- spending time with family we only get to see once a year
- learning how to do the wobble and then forgetting it hours later. BTW that's not my family in the link but it was the best video I could find.
- seeing my dad and brother's reaction when we pulled up to their suprises.
- being away on vacation
-and the million other memories that was made this year.

I could go on forever about the weekend's festivities as this post doesn't even scratch the surface. Hopefully in the coming days while it is fresh on my mind, I am going to make a picture book with all the pictures we took that recounts the week/weekend so baby will know what his or her first family reunion was like.

If you are still reading this- bless you...
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