Apr 30, 2015

april showers for baby girl

I feel so fortunate to have two sets of sisters and mothers that went to so much effort to throw two very special, beautiful and delicious baby showers! My sister and sister in law each hosted one in their own home, and I know that my mother and mother in law both worked tirelessly behind the scenes in preparation as well. I am so incredibly grateful to all of them and feel blessed that this little girl is already so loved and celebrated.

Whenever they host anything at all, Eva and Chelsa put so much thought into their menus and presentation,  so I just had to share some pictures of all of their hard work!

I am so grateful to everyone that came to celebrate this baby, and especially to everyone who traveled from out of town! And to Eva and Chelsa, many, many thanks for all of the hard work and love that went into planning these showers. You are both going to make wonderful aunts!

Apr 27, 2015

spring maternity photos

It just so happens that when I married Riley, I also married into a wonderful family, and gained a sister in law that is not only a dear friend but an amazing photographer as well. I was so excited to have her take some maternity photos for us because I knew that she would do a fantastic job, and also that it would also be a good excuse to spend some time with her. I will always treasure these photos for the special moment in our lives that they capture and for the fun memories we made while taking them. It was so hard to narrow it down, but these are just a few of my favorites from the day.

After taking several photos in downtown Roanoke, where this part of our story began, we headed back to our house to change and get some more around the property. On our way home, Riley, the ever thoughtful and patient man that he is (even while having his picture taken!) passed a local ice cream place and asked if we wanted to stop. The most delicious homemade ice cream with a scenic backdrop nearby? Yes and yes!

When we had taken some photos around the house, with a few including our very first (furry) addition to the family, of course, we hopped back in the car to find one more location. How often do you have a husband and a photographer willing to drive around and stop on a whim to take some photos? I'm a very fortunate girl, I tell you. Luckily, this field of yellow flowers was just minutes away and only required jumping (or something like it, in my case) one gate to get to.

Many, many thanks to Chelsa Yoder Photography for the photos and the fun time shooting them! I am thankful every single day for Riley and the family that I gained by marrying him. We can't wait to welcome this new addition into the family!

Apr 23, 2015

the renovation: exterior plans

We've been in our house for about a month now and we are so in love with it. There is still a lot to be done, of course, and progress has slowed down a little because of other obligations and the simple fact that we don't have to hurry to move in. But still, something gets done every week and each thing that gets checked off the to do list makes it look and feel even more like home.

Now that the main floor is livable and the weather has started to warm up, we're starting to focus our attention on the outside. The exterior of the house needs quite a bit of work and we also have a nice size parcel of land. Our first priority is replacing the roof because of leaks, and that should be happening in the next few weeks. This will obviously be a practical solution to a problem, but it will also be the first step in beautifying the long neglected exterior of the house!

One of our (Riley's) other focuses right now is on the creek in our side yard. Riley's been working hard at digging it out and cleaning it up. Firstly, because he likes it, but mainly because of some flooding issues that we've been having. A creek wasn't on my list of requirements when we were house shopping, but it sure is a nice perk and I'm looking forward to seeing it all cleaned up.

On the other side of the house we're thinking about making a nice outdoor seating area and fire pit. This will be a big project so it will have to happen in stages. We'll probably first focus on building a retaining wall and purchase a fire pit, and then plan on building a patio area and gas fire pit in the long run. 

We're both so glad to have our own yard space again and we just want to make the most of it! It was a lot easier to ignore the exterior when it was wintertime, which was a good thing since we needed to focus our attention on the interior in order to move in. But now we can't wait to start making the exterior look as fresh and new as the interior!

Do you have any outdoor projects planned for spring and summer?

Apr 9, 2015

favorite cleaning tools and tips

Every spring and every fall I get the urge to deep clean everything. This year, because of moving and nesting, my Spring Cleaning Fever is at it's highest ever.  

Now that we've moved into a new house and we're expecting a baby, I've started to rethink some of my cleaning routines and strategies. I would typically devote one day to clean our entire house (which has never been very big before now) and use the standard armful of cleaners, each one full of chemicals and devoted to a single task. When I started thinking about cleaning the new house, with all of it's untouched surfaces, and thinking about a new baby having access to them, I knew that the priorities for my new cleaning routine would be to maximize efficiency and minimize toxicity.

I'd like to share some of the new tips and tools that I've learned about recently, and then I'd really like to hear about some of your favorites as well!

A friend recently introduced me to Clean Mama. After taking one look at her blog, I quickly followed her on Pinterest and Instagram. She seems to have a great cleaning system in place so that she doesn't ever spend an entire day cleaning her house from top to bottom. I'm loving following her on Instagram because she posts daily reminders of her cleaning task for the day. For example, Tuesday is dusting day and Wednesday is vacuuming day. She's also currently in the middle of a spring cleaning challenge, and posts daily reminders of the day's extra task as well. There's something kind of nice about having a community of people working alongside you on their cleaning chores! So far I'm loving this approach to cleaning and would highly recommend following along with her on Instagram!

I also recently had a family member introduce me to Norwex products. I don't fall easily for these types of things, but I was hooked quickly, and can honestly say that their products have made me much more excited about cleaning and also more excited about the end results. I started out with the Norwex microfiber cloths and polishing cloth, and they work wonders on my windows, countertops and stainless steel appliances. I will never use windex and paper towels or stainless steel cleaner again. I've already cut back on time and effort by not lugging around a variety of different cleaning products for each room of the house. The basic idea behind their microfiber is that it contains silver fibers, which have self-purification properties. This means that bacteria is being eliminated with just the cloth and a little water. I'm no salesperson, but I am currently hosting an online party for friends and family, and if you'd like more information or if you'd like to try it out for yourself, I'd be happy to give you more information or you can follow this link: Allison's Norwex Party.

That's just the beginning of my new cleaning routine, but I'm honestly pretty excited about it, and I can't think of any other time in my life when I could say that! I'd love to hear what some of your favorite cleaning tools and tips are as I try to put these new routines in place. 

What is your cleaning schedule like? Do you clean a little every day or devote a single day to cleaning?

Do you have any favorite "green" cleaning products or any favorite recipes of cleaners that you make yourself? 

What is your biggest struggle when it comes to cleaning?

Apr 6, 2015

30 weeks

How far along: 30 weeks

Size of baby: a butternut squash

Maternity clothes: almost exclusively. Even my regular shirts that would technically still "fit" aren't long enough anymore to cover all this bump and that stretchy panel in maternity pants.

Gender: a girl!

Movement: quite a bit now. She's more of a squirmer than a kicker and she's had the hiccups a few times.

Sleep: still not happening.

What I miss: eating anything without worrying about acid reflux.

Food cravings: mango sorbet all time.

Food aversions: Anything that's likely to trigger acid reflux, which seems to be unpredictable for the most part.

Symptoms: Fatigue is starting to set in, as well as the nesting phase. But I'm not sure how much of that is attributed to moving and how much is attributed to pregnancy!

What I'm looking forward to: Our very first childbirth class is this evening and my first baby shower is this weekend!

Apr 1, 2015

currently… april (baby)showers

These four articles of clothing (yes, one is a bathing suit. I couldn't help myself) and a smattering of fragile and/or not kid friendly nursery decor are all we currently have for baby girl. First Time Parent alert?

wearing: maternity clothes. Fortunately, when I finally did get around to buying maternity clothes I bought them in anticipation of warmer weather, so I should be all set for spring!  Of course, with all the house work still going on, you're more likely to find me in my regular old leggings and t-shirts that still fit.

sipping: water, just plain old water.  I thought I was doing pretty well not missing any pre-pregnancy foods or drinks too badly, but every once in awhile I could really use some coffee or a nice glass of red wine. Although, just thinking about either practically triggers my acid reflux these days, so it doesn't make it too hard to resist.

wish listing: all the baby stuff! Between two showers of my own and the shower of my best friend from college (who is due with her first just two weeks before me!), almost every weekend in April is booked for baby showers. I just want to look at baby stuff all the time and I can't wait to start the celebrations!

writing: lists, calendars, and more lists. The month of March was all about renovations, and now the month of April is all about baby! I have lists of things to do, lists of things to buy, lists of things to research, lists of things to pack in a hospital bag, lists of things to decide… it goes on and on. Besides all of the lists, we also have a calendar full of times and dates for our birth classes, a newborn care class, and a breastfeeding class this month (I like classes, they make me feel better). Many people say that a first baby comes late, but just knowing that I myself was born 5 weeks early has me thinking that I can't leave anything important for May or June, just in case. 

exploring: options. Nursery decor options, birth plan options, pediatrician options… you name it, I'm thinking about it.

April is going to be so busy with all things baby, but I have been anxiously awaiting this month just so that I can finally start checking some of these things off. What a whirlwind of surreal and exciting things this month is going to be!

linking up with Jenna and Anne today.

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