Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Baby #3

Nope, I'm not pregnant. But I hope to be sometime later this year.  It has occurred to me that I rarely come across a blog or hear of any one in real life talk about wanting or trying for another baby. I don't know if that's fear of cursing your efforts by saying the words aloud, or worry that you'll be discriminated against if your job finds out that you're planning to expand your family. (While there's this little law on the books about that, we all know that while you may not be discriminated against per se, some employers will change what assignments they give you or slow your advancement once you become pregnant.)  Or maybe it's just in bad taste to talk about wanting a child, which means you'll be engaging in that taboo subject called sex!.  (I never can remember what Miss Manners thinks on any given topic.)

But the fact of the matter is, we've decided we want another baby. Except for those random moments of fear when I don't.  Let me explain.

In my heart I know our family is not complete. I want a big family. I'm not sure where this came from since I never grew up dreaming about children and quite frankly couldn't stand other people's kids until my nephew came along. I never felt very maternal. But then I become a mom and my life changed.  Those two little boys are my heart. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for them and the joy that they've brought to my life is immeasurable.  They bring a laughter to our home that warms my heart and I just want more of that.

I also want to be pregnant again. I want to watch as my belly expands over those 40 weeks. I want to feel that baby roll around and kick inside me. I want to connect with him or her for 9 months before the rest of the world gets to meet him. It is such a sacred time and a huge part of me would be sad to not experience that miracle again.

I look forward to the ride to the hospital with my husband, with the anticipation being almost too much to bear. I want to feel the pain and know that it will be over eventually and the reward will be this baby being placed on my chest.  I want to lock eyes with him or her and cry over God's grace and magnificence in entrusting another soul to my care.

But then the reality of children comes whining down around me and I wonder why I think I'm equipped to raise another little one. Many days I'm barely holding on by a thread. I already feel spread thin. I question the majority of my parenting decisions and I typically have no clue if I'm doing anything right by Lukas and Julian. Is the answer really adding another baby to the bunch?  Rationally, the answer is no.

But I've decided that there's very little rationale that comes into play in this decision, at least for me. It is an answer wholly from the heart.  And it is confirmed every day when I arrive home from work and Julian's face lights up when he sees me and runs around yelling "MAMA, MAMA" over and over again.  And in the middle of the night when I wake up to little eyes staring at me and Lukas whispering, "Mama, I just need you."  And at bedtime when my singing makes Julian cry and I ask him, "Can mommy sing to you?" and he smiles and laughs but says "No" and then buries his head into my body.  And when I'm cooking in the kitchen to the soundtrack of two boys giggling in the other room as they cause mischief together.

While these two boys are more than enough and I realize many women, especially those struggling with infertility, would love to have just these two boys, I'd love to give them another sibling if possible.  Who knows what is actually in store, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope a positive sign was on the agenda for 2015. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Welcome to Beautycounter

Make-up free thanks to Beautycounter
For years I have considered myself a health conscious person. I read food labels and keep the amount of processed foods I consume to a minimum. I buy organic fruits and vegetables more often than not and I even have a nutritionist helping me attain my optimum health. I was giving a lot of thought and energy into the things that I was putting IN my body but not giving a second thought to what I was putting ON my body.  Then one day it clicked for me: healthily living is more than just what you eat, it truly is a lifestyle!  

So I put my lawyering skills to use and started doing some research into the products I was using on myself and my two young boys. I was surprised to learn that the United States hasn't passed federal legislation regarding the safety of cosmetics since 1938!  So while the Europe Union has banned over 1,300 ingredients that are known toxins (meaning the ingredients have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues and hormone disruptions), these same toxins (except for a mere 11) are not prohibited in the United States and are currently in many of the products you might have in your makeup bag today. Thankfully, Beautycounter is on a mission to effect change!

Beautycounter is setting the definitive higher standard for performance and safety in beauty and personal care products. We aim to become the leader in creating the safest, highest performing, and most beautiful products. It is our goal to make the consumer care as much about product safety and integrity as much as they care about performance and to compel broad-based change in the way products are made. 

I started using Beautycounter products this past year and I, in my perhaps not-so-humble opinion, have never looked better.  I love that the products are safe for me and my babies, but I also love that they work and are true high-end beauty products. So I am so excited to announce the launch of my Beautycounter business! I am here to help you take steps towards a healthier lifestyle by getting safe beauty and personal care products into your hands.  I hope you'll join me in putting the truth back in beauty! 


Friday, February 20, 2015

Design Progress

The husband and I had date night last night.  (Side note, we seriously have the best nanny in the world.  My boys adore her and she is incredible.  I came home from date night to all the boys laundry washed and folded, without even asking her to do it!  Now if that isn't the cherry on top of date night, I'm not sure what is!). Hubs and I checked out a sushi restaurant in town, Yabu, which was awesome! Then we went across the street to Taste and See for coffee, dessert and some kitchen designing!

So my basic "requirements" for this kitchen renovation are rather simple: I want a place where the boys or friends can sit and chat (or help, or drink red wine - well, friends, not the boys) while I'm cooking. Preferably, I'd love this to be in the form of a big ole island.  I want a white with gray spec countertop, white cabinets (maybe gray or aqua-ish on the bottoms), updated appliances and a bigger window over the sink.  Otherwise, I figure anything will look and function better than our current setup!  

So as a reminder, let's see where we started with a picture of the kitchen when we bought the house.  It's lovely, right?  We have since taken down the wallpaper and painted the walls light gray.  (P.S. Notice the bright red walls peeking through from the dining room? They are gone now too, thankyouverymuch.)

So thanks to hubby's computer skillz, we came up with three great options.  One involves renovating our downstairs bath to create more room in the, money, money!!!  I need to win the lotto. (Although I did quickly let go of my idea to also ADD a new full bath downstairs in the guest room.  I am somewhat realistic about our budget.  Then again, we did dodge that $6,000 bullet, so maybe we should bring that idea back to the table!)   A second plan is basically our current configuration, just better and a tad more open.  And the third is based off my inspiration photo from yesterday.

As a reminder here's the dream kitchen:

Here's the "current configuration just better" plan (imagine there are bar stools along the L, with white/gray counter tops):

The three different designs plans (or should I say "drawings"???):

A close up of my favorite (which includes the bath remodel...):

3D of my fave with drawing and reconfigured bathroom:

And then laying in bed last night I came up with a totally new idea, thanks to Pinterest!  This plan would open up the kitchen into the dining room, which is something we hadn't really considered (I know, duh, right?)  Here's my new fave inspiration!!

What do you think??

Oh, and did I mention we decided to tear up the pantry floor to see what was underneath???  Yeah, we did...we just couldn't help ourselves!  We discovered parquet underneath a layer of level-er and the lovely tile!  But at least it's progress, right?!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Disaster with the Designer

I fell in love with our house the day I saw it online. I instinctively knew it would be ours despite my whole "the house must be move-in-ready" comment to our realtor. We'd already been in and out of lots of houses and they all had something wrong. Except that one we put an offer in and lost to another couple. So we decided to buy the big Tudor despite it's flaws. Most of the issues were cosmetic and could be fixed before we even moved in. Dark wood paneling just needed a coat of paint. The laundry room peeling floor was an easy fix (although my husband may not agree since he installed the new floor - a tip for the single ladies, marry a do-er). The brown tile in the bathrooms wasn't that bad and could eventually be replaced. Details, details.

But the kitchen. She was another story. She was ugly.  On day 1 we opened her up by knocking down a hanging cabinet in the middle of the room. But the demo left a lovely rectangular mark on the ceiling which was quickly joined alongside by a water stain from an unfortunate bathtub drainage incident. The floor is vinyl tiles and the cabinets are original to the 1970s. They've extended past their useful life. The oven isn't calibrated, the electric stove-top always looks dirty no matter the amount of cleaner applied and yet another prong falls off the dishwasher every day. We also don't have a microwave and the refrigerator is of the large, white eyesore variety.

I consider myself a cook, so this less than desirable kitchen has got to go. We knew we'd do a complete renovation when we bought the house and have set aside the money to do so. But a complete gut job and renovation is overwhelming. We've never done something like this and didn't know where to begin. Should we go it alone or through a big box store or a general contractor or a designer?  Or some combination of the above.

After talking about the renovation and throwing ideas around (and lots of pinning on pinterest), we decided we needed to do something. I figured we needed a plan of attack so I researched interior designers in the area. A few Google searches and Better Business Bureau reviews later and I had a name of a local designer who seemed like a good fit based on her online persona.

We spoke on the phone where she explained the initial consultation would cost $350. (The other designer I'd found cost a minimum of $500 for this initial design but would reimburse you if you hired them to manage your renovation. Always one to save a buck, I figured the $350 option was better.) So we chatted more and she explained that she'd come take measurements and come up with a design plan which she'd present at a second meeting that was included in the price of the initial fee.  And she asked our budget, which I gave to her and she said OK and kept on talking for a bit.

Her assistant emailed me before the appointment to confirm and included this statement: "The cost is $350 and includes a complimentary follow up appointment where [designer] will present her  recommended custom design plan for you." Ok, great. So we'll get the design plan on the 2nd visit.  Fabulous.

Fast forward to the appointment. The designer arrives and is polite and friendly. She picks apart the kitchen which was fine - we knew it was bad. But at some point she starts talking about how small our kitchen is and then keeps referring to these ginormous kitchen's she's remodeled.  Okay, not helpful, but whatever, we get it, you're a big deal.  Then comes the awkward part.  She proceeds to explain that she charges $6000 for the design.

I'm sorry, what? And she charged another 10% of all costs if we wanted her to manage the whole installation process.  

Once I picked my mouth up off the floor, I somehow got the words out that this obviously was not going to work.  I pressed her to admit that there was no way it would work to pay her $6000 and still complete the project on our budget, which she eventually admitted. And then I just sort of lost it. I was so utterly embarrassed that I had to admit to this woman that we couldn't afford her.  And all my excitement about finally getting the project started just came crashing down around me. I literally had to excuse myself from the room to compose myself (remember, I'm a crier....) and the husband let the ladies out.  I was taken aback by my rush of emotions but think I was really just so embarrassed.  It is not easy to admit to someone that you just don't have the money.  I wonder how many people this designer has met with who've just agreed to her price because it is awkward not to.  Embarrassing or not, we were not about to spend $6000 just for the design.

However, she was kind enough to not charge us the $350 for the visit.  Well, thank you. {insert sarcasm here}

And then to make matters worse, she called me the next day under the guise of apologizing to actually find out where the mis-communication occurred.  Turns out "design plan" in her mind does not mean the actual drawings - it meant her plan for designing your renovation. (Just sit with that for a minute.)  I think she realized how I didn't get that from her assistant's email or her own words. Design plans doesn't actually mean plans.  Who knew?!  (And as we learned in English class way back when, always remember your audience! Things mean different things to different people.)  I also added that I felt like she wasted my time since I'd given her my budget over the phone and she knew the whole time it would never work.  I assume she figured she'd get us to up our budget (since she knew we were two lawyers and flash, a two lawyer couple isn't necessarily rolling in dough especially if they have over $1000 a month in student loans to pay back!)

So we're back to square one.  Well, we were back to square one.  My do-er husband decided to spend $70 to buy some design software (since the designer was kind enough not to charge us the $350 initial-consultation-does-not-include-design-plan fee) and he's been working away every night. We have some ideas and we're excited again.  We still may meet with some other designers or general contractors, but we'll be sure to ask lots of questions.  And just to be safe, I think we'll err on the side of finding a designer who offers free initial consultations.

Our favorite current plan/layout! (photo cred:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Is this a Heart Attack?

I was hot and sweating. It was August in Atlanta so this wasn't shocking. But we were in an air conditioned restaurant, yet I couldn't stop sweating. And my heart started racing. My girlfriends were chatting away and I couldn't focus on the conversation. We were seated next to the door leading to the outdoor patio. With each open of the door a gust of hot air hit me. And my heart would race a little more. A full glass of red wine sat untouched in front of me. A very unusually occurrence for me.

I excused myself to take a break in the ladies room. I felt like breathing was getting difficult. So I sat in the bathroom stall, put my head between my knees and tried to breathe deeply. My heart continued to pound. In. Out. In. Out. 

The internal dialogue started.  Calm down. Nothing is wrong. You are fine.  This is just anxiety, nothing is actually wrong with you. Chill out. Keep breathing.  Seriously, calm the fuck down. It didn't work.  My heart continued to beat out of my chest. I tried running cold water on my hands and finally convinced myself to go back to dinner.  But the rising anxiety wouldn't go away.

I didn't touch my food, it just wouldn't go down. I somehow willed myself to sit through dinner and tried to drink cold water and calm down. I made a few more escapes to the bathroom. The check eventually came and I couldn't get out of there fast enough. 

I never knew dinner with four great friends who I've known for over 10 years could be so miserable. But it didn't stop once we were outside. Or in the car ride home. Or once we we're back at my friend's house.  I could calm down for a few minutes, but the fear, racing heart and shaking continued coming back.  It just kept rolling in and out like a wave. I couldn't make it stop.

I tried to sleep, to no avail. Laying in a dark, quiet room just made me freak out even more.  My hands are tremoring now, 5 months later, just remembering the feeling of that night. 

The tears started because I was now convinced that there was something wrong. Surely a panic attack doesn't last for hours? Apparently, they can. 4 hours later, I was still spiraling out of control.  My heart continued fluttering too fast. I felt scared but of nothing in particular. I just wanted it to stop.

In an effort to do something, I eventually got in the car at 1am and drove 40 minutes home. To my husband and our bed. To my boys sleeping in a room next door. With a tear streaked face I climbed into bed and the comfort of my husband's arms and the warmth of our bed lulled me to sleep. Finally, the panic attack was over.

Only it would come back a handful of times over the next few months. Once in Chicago the weekend of my brother in law's wedding, ruining a day with my husband's best friend from childhood and an evening with my husband's fraternity brothers and their wives. Then in my own home the evening of my son's 4th birthday party while spending time with some of my best girlfriends. And very inconveniently, at dinner on our first double date with new friends in Macon. Plus a few times here and there.

The attacks have lasted varying times and have not all been the same degrees as the first one. A few times I've felt it coming on and have been able to breathe it away. But in social settings it feels like it's always lurking under the surface, ready to rear its head at any moment.

I met with one therapist here about the anxiety but she didn't help in the least. I've been given another name and may reach out to her at some point.  I'm a believer that therapy is good for everyone, but you have to find someone you mesh with.  I'm also trying some natural supplements to keep the anxiety in check and since I've started taken them I've noticed that I can reduce the duration and intensity greatly, so for now they seem to be working.

But it is scary not knowing if a panic attack will suddenly strike. I find myself wanting to cancel plans and worrying before going to social events. I realize that's not the best way to live, but I'm doing the best I can to handle this. It's just difficult when it is your own head creating the anxiety. It's one thing knowing that nothing is physically wrong, but it's another to convince yourself of this truth when the cloud descends upon you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why Mommy, Why? - Infant Travel

So my husband, 10 week old baby boy and I are going to do a long weekend in Texas at the end of the month before I head back to work (the baby and I will be flying out and back solo as my husband is already there for work!!!!). Curious of travel tips? Especially for navigating the airport/flight. I plan on taking our stroller/carseat, but we're going see if the car rental place has a car seat base we can use. If not, I think we can actually rent one through a company at our destination. How do I deal with security? Checking the stroller/car seat?? Do I need any documents for the baby?  Your services and advice are appreciated!!!  Traveling Mama

Dear Traveling Mama,

You go girl!  So happy to see that a flight alone with your baby wasn't standing in the way of a travel weekend before you go back to work (because that is SO fun, said no new mom ever).

I've previously written a few posts on traveling, although they are more geared towards toddler traveling - but they definitely have tips to help with an infant too! The first link had two other links in it - check those out too!  

And some additional thoughts that I don't think I've ever written down, so here goes!

 As far as the car seat goes, BRING YOUR OWN!  Don't ever rent one from a car rental company.  You don't know if they've been in an accident, you don't know how old they are and you don't know if they've been broken - basically, you never know what you'll get or how safe it actually is. You can find some bad stories online....safer to just bring your own! You could look into a baby stuff rental company but I've never used one and I think they're pricey (and potentially have the same pitfalls as a rental through a car rental agency).  Do you have a snap and go stroller (that the car seat snaps in to)?  Just stroll the baby through the airport and gate check his stroller and car seat.  Buy the big red gate check bag for the car seat (I think I talk about that in one of my linked posts, but it's just this huge bag that keeps your car seat from getting filthy in the luggage hold of the plane).  Don't bring the car seat's really easy to just use the seat belt to strap it in.  The only reason I hate bringing a stroller through the airport is because you have to use the airport elevators, and my claustrophobia kicks in.  BUT, you get to bypass the big security line at the airport and by using the stroller line!  Also if your flight is delayed, it's nice to have the stroller.  The baby carriers are great but they can get heavy after a while.  I would bring your carrier though and perhaps use it on the flight!  And if you decide to skip the stroller altogether, just bring a light blanket in your carry-on-bag so you can put the baby on the blanket instead of the airport floor if you need to put him down.

Bring a copy of the baby's birth certificate (unless you wait until he is 18 months like us before you actually get around to ordering a copy!).  I think I've been asked for it once for one of the boys but usually never have it. It's never been a problem.  (Julian has flown to Cali, Michigan and Chicago without any documentation, but I was always a little worried about what would happen if I was asked and couldn't prove who he was.)

If there is anything to rent/get from the hotel, I'd say a crib or pack n' play is helpful.  Just pack your own crib sheet.  Talk to the hotel ahead of time to see what they have. I'm sure some people disagree with me here and think these cribs aren't safe or are germ-filled, but I'm not a big germaphob and we've never had an issue with a hotel crib.

On the plane, give the baby a bottle, boob or paci during take off and landing to help with the change in air pressure.  Keep a diaper and wipes and change of clothes handy (big ziplock bag to put in seat back pocket works)!  Pack an extra set of clothes for YOU in your carry on!

Traveling with an infant can be really easy!  He'll likely sleep the whole flight.  And strangers are really helpful!!!!  If all else fails, find a nice looking grandma to help you in a pinch!  

My last flight alone with the boys, I sat next to a guy in his mid-20s who I was sure was so pissed to be seated next to us for a flight from California to Chicago.  Turns out he had little brothers and loved kids and was a HUGE help!  The trip before that when Julian and I were traveling alone to Chicago we sat next to an older gentleman who had ten kids and had no issue with a breastfeeding woman next to him.  I think he even held Julian so I could run to the bathroom.

You'll do great!  Babies really can be great travel companions!  Good luck and let me know how the trip goes!!!

Why Mommy

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Memory Lane

This is the first picture of us after we "officially" started dating.  Over 9 years ago.

I was 24.  He was 23. We look like babies.

Oh I love this man with all his oddities and quirks.  And he loves me despite all mine.

We both lucked out in finding each other.

Just wanted to share this gem.  

And the fact that I fell in love with him a little bit more last night as we did a 40 minute Zumba workout in our living room together.

It was surely a sight.

Also, I'm still not sure why he's wearing maroon to a UGA football game.  I'll make a Dawg out of him yet!