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Friday Five

1. I walked into baby D’s nursery this morning and found him sitting up in his crib. Looks like someone finally figured out how to sit up on his own!

2. Going up a size in diapers did not fix our nighttime leak issue. At least, not the first night. I’ll keep trying. In the meantime, I think we need to buy more pajamas. Or just do more laundry.

3. I went to Time For Dinner again last night, but this time met up with a group of girls for Girls’ Night Out. We had wine and appetizers and I walked out of there with about 16 freezer meals and a cherry crisp for dessert. I’m thinking we’ll need to make this a monthly occurrence.

4. One of my friends is having a baby shower on Saturday. I still need to go to Babies R Us to get her gift and I hope I can walk out of there with JUST her gift and nothing else.

5. This is the best one: One of my besties is having a gender reveal party on Saturday (after our other friend’s shower). She had her ultrasound on Wednesday and had the nurse write down the gender on a piece of paper. Then she dropped it off at MY house without looking at it. So now I know the gender but no one else does! (Well, except her OB and my husband.) I’ll be picking up blue or pink balloons tomorrow so we can do something like this (click photos for source links):

babybox

I’ll also be making pink or blue filled cupcakes tonight.

babycupcakes

I am just so stinking excited (and honored) to be part of this huge moment! And I can’t wait to have another baby around to snuggle.

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As much as I hate winter and the post-holiday lull, I tend to get a little excited about starting a new year. A fresh start. It’s a cleansing feeling, even though I’m still holed up in my house, hiding under a blanket until some time in April. For the last couple of years, I’ve been a little bah-humbug about New Years. Probably because I usually fail at whatever resolutions I set for myself.

But this year will be different!! ::fist in the air::

My main resolution? Lose weight.

How’s that for different?

Ok, so it’s not different at all. But you know what? Everyone else is coming up with unique resolutions or non-resolutions in an effort to be different, so maybe losing weight is actually the most different resolution right now. It’s so popular that it’s not popular anymore and therefore, I win. Or something like that.

Anyway, I don’t really care. I NEED to lose weight. For one, I don’t want to buy any more new clothes. I have lots of perfectly good clothes that I haven’t worn in almost 2 years. At this rate, my main reason for needing to replace my clothes will be because they’re out-of-style. Not that I’ve really ever been “in style” to begin with. Secondly, I want to be healthy. Now that I’m 30, it’s only a matter of time before I start feeling the creaks and cracks of experienced adulthood. I’m already one geriatric step away from wearing orthopedic shoes. No doubt this extra weight I’m hauling around isn’t doing any favors for my impending arthritis.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that nothing takes away your feeling of invincibility like becoming a parent. My baby is a daily reminder that I need to take care of myself so that I’m around long enough to take care of him. And with any luck, meet my grandkids.

So I rejoined Weight Watchers and so far, so good. Granted, it’s only been a couple of days, but I’m not going to be too hard on myself. No crazy restrictions like no caffeine or carbs. No “I’m going to work out 5 days a week” mandates or anything like that. Just sensible food tracking with a goal to lose weight. I also picked up a Yoga DVD so that I can try to incorporate some fitness too. If I do it 5 days a week? Fantastic! Only 2? That’s good too. Something is better than nothing and nothing is what I’ve been doing since I found out I was pregnant back in 2011.

So weight loss is my #1 goal for 2012. If I can lose weight the healthy way on Weight Watchers, then I should be able to hit my goal (losing 2 lbs a week) by baby D’s first birthday.

Now I do have a few other goals in mind, but they’re more just for fun. For example, I’d like to do more Pinterest-inspired projects. I haven’t spent a ton of time on there in recent months, but I have a nice collection of boards and pins, just sitting there looking pretty. I’d like to actually do something with them – try new recipes, make a crafty project, try some of the tips & tricks. If I could do one Pinterest-inspired thing a month, that would be great.

I’d also like to take more photos. I take tons of weekly and monthly photos of baby D – most of which I don’t end up posting here. But I’d like to do some sort of 365 photo-a-day challenge that I could later turn into a collage or book. Babies change so much during these early months/years, that even though I find myself taking tons of photos and a few videos here and there, it still doesn’t seem like I’m capturing it all. Still, I need to make sure I don’t go overboard to where I have to force myself to put down the phone/camera.

Next, I’d like to take an awesome vacation with my little family. A lot of folks would choose to leave their baby behind with a grandparent or aunt/uncle, but we don’t really want to do that. We’re a tad obsessed with him and would rather have him with us wherever we go. Now where to go? We’d love to do a beach destination, but the logistics of getting there are enough to make me give up on that dream. Hopefully we figure something out.

Suggestions for baby-friendly destinations or tips for traveling with a baby? We’ve done 9+ hour car rides, but have yet to attempt a plane ride.

Lastly, I’d like to plan a kick-ass first birthday party for baby D. His birthday isn’t for another almost 5 months, but my inlaws have already asked us about it. They really want us to have it at their house, which, as you all know, is a VERY long drive for us. But, we’ve already done it 3 times now since he’s been born so we sort of know what we’re doing. And part of me feels like that may be the best option. If we host it in STL, my inlaws might come – if my MIL is doing alright – but I doubt any of hubby’s siblings or nieces/nephews would make the trip. It’s just hard to make an argument for 14 people to come to St. Louis, when the three of us could get in the car and go there instead. And it’s about the same distance for my parents either way, so it doesn’t matter much to them. Decisions, decisions. In the meantime, I’ll peruse all the super awesome birthday party themes over on Pinterest. My personal faves so far:

baseball

Baseball themed? It will be during baseball season…

beach

Beach themed? We are beach fanatics, after all…

littleman

Or little man themed? But with different colors.

(Photo sources on my Pinterest page.)

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Make it a Better Place

Friday, I did nothing but stay glued to my TV and social media. I picked fights with people who thought it was appropriate to declare “Guns don’t kill people! People kill people! Guns aren’t the problem!” Because, really? Of all the opinions to express today, you’re going to choose to share THAT one? Suddenly, every redneck I know was spouting off about their right to own guns. As if this country will EVER place a ban on all firearms. Ludicrous.

(For the record, I’m not against all guns. I’m against semi-automatic guns. I’m against irresponsible gun ownership. Gun control does not mean no guns for anyone. That’s why it’s called “gun control” and not a “ban on guns.” )

My husband, who is not as into social media as I am, said I was too worked up over it. And at first, I was. I was using these little fights as a way to distract myself from the thoughts that were really trying to settle into my mind – like the faces of the children, their grieving parents, the heroic teachers, and the young survivors that will never get those images out of their little heads. Fighting about gun control was the only distraction a lot of us could come up with that day. Calling for better gun control makes us feel like we’re doing something, when all of us just feel so damn helpless.

Saturday morning I woke up, briefly checked the news, and then unplugged the rest of the day. Same for Sunday. My heart is too heavy. I had family Christmas activities planned for both days, and I’m glad because it gave me something else to focus on. Something happy.

But I keep coming back to Connecticut, trying to find some way to help.

Fortunately, there are lots. And so far, my favorite idea is this:

Commit to doing 26 Acts of Kindness. One for each child and teacher.

I’ve started a list, and will be crossing things off as I go. I lost a lot of faith in humanity on Friday, but maybe if all of us do our best to help one another, the good in this world will outweigh the bad once again.

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

1. Donated to the community of Newtown. There are so many funds being set up in the names of the victims, so your choices here are endless. I donated to the Newtown Parent Connection, which is committing to bring in extra counselors to the community to help them process what’s happened.

2. Made a donation to the  My Sandy Hook Family Fund.

3. Dropped off cookies for the people that man the lobby at work, making sure everyone that doesn’t work here signs in and has a legit reason to be in the building. I feel secure knowing they’re there.

4. Brought in bagels for my colleagues.

5. Purchased hats and gloves for our “mitten tree” at work. All items will be donated to charity.

6. Contributed to my office’s Adopt -A-Family giving program. Our family this year was a family that lost their home in hurricane Sandy.

7. Bought groceries and Christmas presents for a mom in need.

8. Delivered a pumpkin cake to my neighbor, who is currently on short-term leave after she suffered mysterious seizures on Thanksgiving and was in the hospital for a few days. Doctors still don’t know what caused it.

9. Say “yes” every time a retailer or restaurant asks me if I’d like to “donate a dollar to X charity” when I’m paying my bill.

10. Tipped the garbage man.

Here are the other items on my list that I plan to do over the next week. I’ll cross them off as I go.

11. Make a donation to St. Jude.

12. Make a donation to the DAV.

13. Send an unexpected note or letter of encouragement to a friend.

14. Drop off cookies or some other baked good to my other neighbor whose mother is on hospice, currently dying of cancer.

15 – 19. Donate 5 toys to Toys for Tots

20. Donate old towels, dog beds and dog toys to the Humane Society.

21. Donate my old shoes.

22. Buy coffee for the person behind me at Starbucks.

23. Buy some pet treats and donate them to the Humane Society.

24. Make a donation to the Red Cross

25. Tip the recycling man.

26. Tip the postman.

(Update: since I wrote this, apparently Ann Curry started this? I’d like to give credit where credit is due for whoever thought of it, but I’ve seen it so many places now, I’m not sure. Anyway, here’s an article that came out today showing 26 Random Acts of Kindness, if you’d like to get on board and need ideas.)

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Looking Forward

Post written Dec. 14 – which means….HOORAY! We’re all caught up on posts! Now I can start blogging in real-time.

Call me crazy, but I’m really looking forward to January. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to rush the holidays by AT ALL, but just yesterday I was emailing with a friend about plans to get organized and all of these goals, that I just got…excited!

Last year was simply dreadful. I didn’t make any new year’s resolutions. I was suffering from SAD. I was bored and apathetic. I was just…a loser. But these last several months have been wonderful and I’m ready to take on all the joys that 2012 has to offer. Just some of the things I’m looking forward to…

1. Finding out the gender of our baby

2. Getting the holiday decorations NICELY put away and organized. Unlike last year where everything was just sort of thrown in the basement

3. Organizing our office, our files, and decluttering

4. Decorating the nursery

5. A baby shower!

6. Um, a baby. Of course.

7. Wedding planning with one of my bestest friends

8. Throwing an engagement and bachelorette party (and since the bachelorette party will most likely be post-baby, actually attending it and enjoying it with the rest of the ladies.)

9. Being able to enjoy a beer or couple of glasses a wine this summer and fall

10. New job opportunities for friends and family.

11. Hopefully some new baby news or even births in there too (other than mine)

12.  Tax returns. Always a joy.

13. My 30th birthday and my mom’s 50th

14. LOTS of shopping for baby

15. An entire summer of PAID maternity leave coupled with a full month of (unpaid) paternity leave for the hubs.

16. New workout routines

17. Dusting off that old Weight Watchers membership (post-baby)

18. Baby’s first Christmas

19. Celebrating 7 years at the workplace and hopefully continuing to work on cool projects

20. Maybe a couple of weekend getaways, if we’re lucky. Babymoon anyone?

21. A new car. Hopefully just one though and not two.

See what I mean? 2012 is going to rock my socks off. I can’t wait!

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There’s a link party going on over at Centsational Girl and it sounded so fun, I decided to participate!

Here’s the deal: bloggers are encouraged to post their favorite things about the town they live in. I didn’t see St. Louis mentioned in the list of bloggers participating so I figured it was my duty to represent “the Lou”.

1. Location, Location, Location. While we’re not a coastal town, there’s something to be said for living in the heart of the Midwest. We’re a pretty big metropolis on our own, but we’re also close to other fun places to visit such as Chicago, Kansas City, Memphis, and Louisville. I don’t think I’d visit so many other towns if I wasn’t within driving distance of them.

2. Food. It’s no secret that I love to eat. And while other, much larger cities are known for their wide variety of restaurants, St. Louis is just one big eclectic buffet of restaurants and bars. Whatever you want, we’ve got it. We have a very large Italian population here so if you’re in the mood for cheese and carbs, visit one of our many Italian restaurants on “The Hill.” If you want to get all glammed up for a night on the town, visit downtown’s Washington Avenue (Or Wash Ave, as we call it). The Central West End features a variety of unique restaurants and bars. (Sub Zero is a really cool Vodka bar located there.) The Soulard area is just South of downtown and has a ton of pubs and restaurants too, but it’s more laid back than some of the other uppity parts of town. (I’ve been dying to go to the International Tap House, just haven’t made it there yet.) The Loop is a long strip of restaurants, bars, and shopping about 15 minutes from downtown. It’s more casual too and is a great place to catch performances of local bands. One of my favorite places is Blueberry Hill. It’s a good restaurant and bar on its own, but they have a room downstairs called The Duck Room that hosts some pretty good performers. Chuck Berry still plays there from time to time. Once you hit the county though, it’s chain restaurant paradise.  Us suburbanites apparently prefer to overpay for pre-packaged meals that are cooked for us and served on pretty plates. Guilty as charged!

3. The Zoo, Forest Park, and the Botanical Gardens. I don’t go there often enough, but after recently visiting the San Diego Zoo, I’ve learned to appreciate our own pride and joy just a little bit more. If only because what we offer is a Zoo that is completely FREE whereas the San Diego Zoo cost $40 PER PERSON. Yikes!  In addition, we have one of the world’s best Botanical Gardens that offers weekly FREE summer outdoor music concerts and plenty of other cool events year-round (I’m on the young friends council so this is probably a bit more top-of-mind than usual).  Forest Park is our city’s main park and it’s larger than NYC’s Central Park. It’s a gorgeous place that I don’t get to visit often enough, and is where the Zoo and our (also free) Art Museum are located.

While there are a ton of things I DON’T like about St. Louis, I think the positives outweigh the negatives.

I know I have a few STL native readers, so what’s you’re favorite thing about our city?

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Summer List

Even though I claim fall as my favorite season, summer is a close second. I just realized today that there are only 6 weeks until Labor Day, which means 6 more weeks of hot and humid days ahead. And I love every minute of it.

Since we typically take our big, week-long vacations in spring or fall, summer is all about having fun on the weekends in our hometown. Or taking short, weekend road-trips somewhere close. And because I don’t want a repeat of last year when we realized we hadn’t set foot in a pool all summer, or made it to one baseball game in town, I’ve made a list. A “Summer Fun” list, if you will. To make sure we jam-pack as much activity as possible before the weather turns colder and we’re forced to stay indoors, huddled under three layers of clothes and four blankets. (Have I mentioned how much I HATE winter? Oh, it appears I haveMultiple times.)

Late last month, I created a calendar that hangs on our fridge. It’s an easy way of keeping track of appointments and activities, since I’m usually pretty bad at reminding the hubs of upcoming obligations. It’s also a good way for us to plan things in advance, so we’re not sitting around on Saturday asking each other what we’re going to do tonight.

So far, we’ve made some progress on our Summer Fun list. Want to see?

  • Go to a baseball game (Twice!)
  • Go to the pool
  • U2 concert
  • Road-trip to visit the ‘Rents
  • Make iced tea  (Seems silly, but I love home-brewed iced tea in the summer)
  • Build a garden
  • Go to Ted Drewes for delicious frozen custard
  • Go to Six Flags (Still need to go two more times to make the Season Pass worth it.)
  • Go camping
  • Go to the horse track
  • Go golfing (hubs, not me)
  • Have a girls’ night (me, not hubs)
  • See HP72
  • Read a few books

Not too shabby, right? I still have several un-fun things I want to do too, like hang new blinds in our living room and kitchen, paint a dresser for the guest bedroom, re-stain the deck, landscape, etc. I keep track of all of those things in a task list in my Gmail. I love the satisfaction I get when I cross something off.

What do you have planned for the summer? Any fun activities I should add?

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