The Second Trimester

Dear Readers,

Two down, one to go – home stretch!

How Far Along: 33 weeks

Due Date: Mid-November

What I’m Wearing: Well, my options are dwindling as of late. A lot of cardigans over tunics over leggings. And flats. (I know, I know! I gave in.) A few recent favorites that make me feel more like myself: this Gap vest, these A Pea in the Pod Maternity black skinnies, and these Rebecca Minkoff slides.

How I’m Feeling: Exhausted, yet happy and thankful. The baby is healthy and right on track, and we’re officially moved into our new home! The past month has been crazy, between work and preparing for the move, so I’m committed to full-on nesting from now until November.

Physically, I started to experience all the joys of the third trimester much earlier this time around. Insomnia, shortness of breath, pelvic/leg/back pain, a bladder that needs emptied every 5 minutes – it’s going to be a long 7 weeks, you guys.

Mentally and emotionally, I’m in a good place. I’m so happy to be in our house, and Caroline is doing great in her new toddler room at school – she “graduated” to the next class on the day we moved! And now that things are settling down, I’m just so excited about meeting this little one in a few weeks. We don’t know what we’re having, but lately I’ve been wondering if it’s a boy. (That seems to be the general consensus, anyway.) We finally have names picked out, too. We decided to go Irish this time around; the names aren’t as common over here, but I think Mac’s family will love them. We ran both by Caroline, and she seemed to approve.

What’s On My Mind Lately: Home decor everything! Mac and I are having so much fun (ok, I’m having so much fun) decorating the new place and furnishing the remainder of the house. I can’t wait to share pics soon! We’re trying not to go too crazy right now, but it’s great to get the essentials in there and hang a few things on the walls. Four weeks in, and it already feels like home.

What I’m Craving: All cravings have subsided for the most part, although I need something sweet after every meal. I’ve been loving the vegan peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies at my local coffee place and all the watermelon possible. This baby has taken over my body, so I fill up quickly, no matter how hungry I am.

What I’m Looking Forward To: Finishing up some house projects before Baby #2 arrives, fall festivities (pumpkin patching, apple picking, trick or treating), and becoming a family of four just in time for the holidays.

Coolest Moment So Far: Caroline has been talking about the baby non-stop and wants to spend all her time in the nursery. The other day, Mac went over a bump in the road, and she yelled, “Enough, Dada – I have a baby in my belly!” So she’s really leaning in to this whole sibling thing, I think.

To all you moms out there, I’d love to hear how you prepared your first for the arrival of your second – any advice welcome here! I’m a little anxious about how that first encounter will go at the hospital…

Home Sweet Home

Dear Readers,

We. Bought. A. HOUSE!

(Apologies in advance for the less-than-stellar IPhone pics ahead. We took these on the day we closed, tired from paperwork and so, so happy.)

After a few months of searching, we found a place to call home. It’s in a beautiful neighborhood right by the lake, where we can ride bikes to the beach and grab ice cream at our favorite spot. I always wished for a Christmas house in a trick-or-treating neighborhood, and now we have it. To say that I’m excited about future holidays and backyard BBQs is an understatement.

The house-hunting process was interesting for us, in that although we’re first-time homeowners, we also had a pretty clear idea of what we wanted. At times, this made narrowing down the pool a lot easier; at others, it limited our options considerably. I thought I’d share a few lessons we learned along the way and hopefully reassure others in the process that your house is out there!

Find a realtor who you really trust and connect with. I can’t say enough about our realtor – she’s the best. (For local readers, we can’t recommend Linda LaFleur of Howard Hanna in Westlake enough!) From the start, Linda had our best interests at heart, and that meant a lot to us. We could talk to her about anything and truly valued her opinion. I also appreciated that she would have us draw our own conclusions about a house first, and then offer her own point of view at the end. Linda gave us great things to think about and kept us grounded and focused throughout the process. And her attention to detail is fantastic; she knew what to look for that could be cause for concern, but also had spot-on suggestions for how to update or fix things. During a house search, you spend a lot of time with your realtor, and you want to make sure it’s a good fit.

It’s ok to change your mind. At first we had our mind set on one particular area, then another…yet the more we talked about it, neither felt quite right. We started exploring another neighborhood and before we knew it, we were spending most weekends here, getting ice cream, going to the beach, hitting up the playground. It kind of chose us, in a way, and even though we knew it would be hard to get a house here, we were willing to hold out for one.

Be honest with yourself. We initially put an offer on a house that wasn’t right for us. It was at the top of our budget and the more we looked at the numbers, we knew it would stretch us too much financially. We needed to take a step back and see what we were most comfortable spending; it was important to us that we continued to put a certain amount into savings every month and have funds set aside for my upcoming maternity leave and unforeseen emergencies. This meant readjusting our budget and changing up our search criteria.

Ask for advice and share details sparingly. This was kind of a painful lesson to learn throughout this process. For the most part, any advice we received was learned the hard way by someone else, and it gave us things to think about as we looked for a house. We appreciated that. But I also think that choosing a house is a very personal decision – what works for you and your family may not work for someone else. There’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to do it, and what matters most to you may not even be on someone else’s radar. Everyone has different budgets, different priorities, different circumstances. So, I’m giving you unsolicited advice here, but I would say to be careful about what you share with others and take whatever you hear with a grain of salt. People get funny about these things and ultimately, no one should take away from the excitement and pride you feel in the home you choose.

Be realistic and be flexible. The perfect house isn’t out there, but the perfect house for you and your family is. What I mean by this is that unless you build from the ground up, you won’t likely find a home that checks every box. Aesthetic updates are almost a certainty and these can be done over time – after all, you want a house that you can grow into! We prioritized our “must-haves” and “non-negotiables” so that we could narrow down our search, while also being flexible along the way. (For example, I was dead set against carpet, yet it’s pretty difficult to find a house without it. Mac and I agreed we could live with it temporarily…and start saving for wood flooring down the road.)

That said, don’t settle. I admit, we got to a point in the house-hunting process where I felt really discouraged. I’d half-heartedly look at houses and suggest going to see them, even though I had no interest whatsoever. At one point, we saw a house in a neighborhood I didn’t even want to be in, and I was willing to consider it because it was brand new and beautifully decorated. A reality check from our realtor set me straight, and I decided that it was better to hold out for a house in the neighborhood we wanted, rather than entertain other ideas out of convenience or desperation. (And thank God we did – our house went up for sale the following Friday!)

First one to open the door with our keys!

As we start to decorate and furnish our new place, I’ll be sharing more design inspiration here! We’re so, so excited for this next adventure and can’t wait to share it with you.

Thoughts On Having Two

Dear Readers,

So…I’m having another baby in three months and I’m scared shitless.

(All photos by Bumblebee Boots Photography)

There, I said it. Let’s talk it out.

Caroline is our world. She gets all of our love, all of our attention, all of our money. We’ve been smitten with her since day one, which has worked out really well to her advantage. But now that we’re adding another member to our family, I have no idea what this will feel like. Even though I know I’ll love Baby #2 just as much, right now, I can’t imagine sharing my heart beyond Caroline. She has it all. I’ve spent more time worrying about how this baby will make her feel, instead of worrying about whether or not I remember how to swaddle (I don’t) or what the baby will sleep in when he/she arrives ($200 for a bassinet that lasts us three months?). I spent days dreading the idea of being at home with both kids on maternity leave…and then weeks feeling guilty when we finally decided to keep Caroline in school so that I can have some time alone with the baby. Between work and an upcoming move, I have #momfail written all over me.

Am I already a terrible mom of two? These are the things that keep me up at night.

A good friend told me that when her second child was born, her heart doubled in size. It was so instant, so intense, so complete – there was never any question as to how she would love two at once. It was immediate and forever. I trust in that. And I hope that despite being scattered and nervous and exhausted, I’ll rally for Baby #2 and he/she will never feel any less loved or cared for than Big Sister Caroline. And Caroline will feel happy and secure next to her sibling. And Mac will still feel like my husband and not some roommate that also doubles as a babysitter. We got this, right? (Insert positive reinforcement from your end here.)

For those of you who have more than one kid, I’d love to hear how you navigated the first few months! Tips and tricks and Miller Lites (post-delivery) will be greatly appreciated.

Caroline Turns Two

Dear Readers,

And just like that, our little girl turns two.

(All photos by Bumblebee Boots Photography)

From the moment I met Caroline, I felt like I had always known her. Like we were waiting for each other all this time. And as the years have gone by, she’s become this extension of me. I’m so aware of her presence, her laugh, the stomp of her little feet. She’s just this incredible light in our lives and watching her grow into the person she’s becoming has been the best part of my day, every day.

We’ve figured out a lot together over the past two years. Overcoming food allergies and bottle aversion. Adjusting to being apart when I returned to work full-time. Learning how to communicate, first with cries and now with language. As a mom, I’ve been far from perfect, but I love her beyond measure. When I see how happy Caroline is, I feel like we’re doing something right.

It’s bittersweet, these last few months as a family of three. But I know the adventure ahead is full of more love than we can even imagine. Two years ago, we snuggled up in a Chicago hospital, wondering what the future held for this tiny little peanut. As Caroline gets ready to be a big sister in Cleveland, I know she’ll embrace it with the same love, enthusiasm, and thoughtfulness as she does everything else. We love you, sweet Caroline, and we’re so proud to be yours.

A very special thanks to Amanda Celis of Bumblebee Boots Photography. Not only is Amanda one of the most talented people I’ve ever met, but no one captures the love and spirit of a family better than her. I’m lucky to call her a friend and if you’re local, I can’t recommend her enough. Thank you so much, Amanda!

*For a trip down memory lane, read Caroline’s birth story here.