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.

The First Trimester

Dear Readers,

First trimester, check.

(Thanks to Amanda Celis of Bumblebee Boots Photography for the cute bump shot! J.Crew Dress)

How Far Along: 16 weeks

Due Date: Mid-November

What I’m Wearing: Dresses, dresses, and more dresses. They require little effort and accommodate an expanding waistline. Which, by the way, happened much faster this time around. I’m pretty sure I started showing the day after I took a pregnancy test. I’m in this awkward stage where my normal clothes are too snug, but I’m not quite ready for maternity wear. Luckily, there are plenty of loose silhouettes to choose from this season that feel on trend and cover a growing belly.  Currently, I’m loving boxy off-the-shoulder dresses from J.Crew and pretty much everything from the Victoria Beckham x Target collection (currently on sale!). I also bought a pair of Loft’s maternity crop kick jeans for summer – SO cute!

How I’m Feeling: Much, much better, now that I’m through the first trimester. Similar to my pregnancy with Caroline, it felt like constant motion sickness all day long. But it was the exhaustion that really got to me. Throw in a big move, a new job, and one extremely active toddler, and let’s just say that I’m amazed I remembered to put on pants the entire month of March.

I’ve also struggled with bad anxiety this pregnancy. I had a scare very early on and mentally, it was hard to recover from. I didn’t know if things would be ok and even with confirmation that it was, I was constantly worried that something could go wrong at any minute. I had two ultrasounds – one at 8 weeks and one at 12 – and it wasn’t until after the second one that I could really allow myself to be happy and excited about this pregnancy. Thankfully, though, Baby Mac #2 is healthy and right on track, and I’m starting to relax (a little).

What’s On My Mind Lately: We have a lot on our plates these days, between Caroline, house hunting, working full-time, and the normal everyday life stuff that seems to consume weekends before you know it. So while I had Baby on the brain 24/7 during my first pregnancy, this kiddo is sharing mental space with about 1000 other things right now. But, not knowing if this will be my last pregnancy or not, I do want to take the time to enjoy it. I know how fast time goes, and I don’t want to rush through this experience or take it for granted.

What I’m Craving: This is probably the biggest difference between my first and current pregnancy. I’ve definitely been able to eat a lot healthier this time around and actually want salads and veggies. I could eat olives and pickles all day long, although this was also true pre-pregnancy. I don’t really crave anything sweet, but I’m loving watermelon and cantaloupe.

Favorite indulgences include pizza, tacos, and kettle chips. (Not all together, but that would be awesome.) And while I went crazy for anything spicy with Caroline, I can’t do it with this pregnancy. The heartburn is real, you guys.

What I’m Looking Forward To: Buying our first home! I can’t wait to decorate the nursery and create a “big girl room” for Caroline. And of course, meeting this new little one in November. We’re not finding out the sex before delivery, so we’re in for a big surprise on the day.

Coolest Moment So Far: We told Caroline she’s going to be a big sister, but we didn’t really think it sunk in. Like, we’d say, “You’re going to be a big sister!” and she’d smile and nod as if we had just told her she’s a good girl. But then a couple weeks ago, she walked up to me and said, “See baby!” and lifted up my shirt to plant a kiss on my stomach. That was pretty great.

Thank you so much for all your amazing thoughts, wishes, and prayers! We’re so grateful to experience this again and can’t wait to welcome the newest member of our family in a few short months.