#fulldisclosurefriday

6 Feb

fdfI’m so sick of #mancrushmonday. Girls post pictures of unrealistically muscular and unshaven, shirtless men with their heart-eyed emojis and THUMBS UP stamps of approval. OR WORSE, they post pictures of their husbands looking their best or acting like Father of the Year, making every other mom or wife exhale a giant sigh… “Her husband is so kind to her… he always sends her flowers… Look at how he plays with the kids so nicely… they have the best marriage ever.”

I’m equally sick of #transformationtuesday. Where people find the most dated and/or unattractive photo of themselves and then pic stitch it to a glamourous selfie (which was probably attempted 15 different ways with different lighting, angles and filters) to say (in not so many words) “Look at how beautiful I am… Look at what I have blossomed into.” It is no more a reflection of your beauty than it is a reflection of your mastery of cell phone camera usage.

#womancrushwednesday is just flat out detrimental to the self image of women everywhere. The fact that men use the hashtag to idolize their mind’s version of perfection for the rest of their followers to see and compare is beyond unhealthy… it’s destructive. If you were to look up that hashtag (which I do not suggest) you would be accosted with over 4 million (4,132,316 to be exact) photos of sexual selfies, chiseled triceps, inappropriate amounts of cleavage, celebrities (who are so posed and photoshopped you may as well have posted a picture of a painting because it is created by an artist, not by nature), and scores and scores of photos that idolize something that most of us are, well, not. And if we’re just being honest, the subjects of those photos are likely not what they portray either.

None of these hashtags are promoting positive self image, healthy relationships, or honesty. They are promoting a war that is being waged on anyone with a smart phone or social media account. And that war has no winners, only broken hearts and carnage of self esteem that once was; bitterness where friendships once lived; competition among people who are all on the same team.

So enough. Enough of the bullsh**. I’m guilty of posting pictures of my family’s happiest moments just like the rest of them. And guess what? That means I’m guilty of creating a perception that my kids are always dressed in adorable little outfits, or that I spend tons of time snuggling on the couch with them laying across my lap or the biggest joke of all, that I’m doing “So much” as a work-at-home mom, managing not only my business but my family with ease. I CALL BS. On mySELF! Go look at the unfolded laundry in my dryer that’s been there for 3 days. Or the fact that my kids have been in their pajamas for 2 days straight. Or the fact that I HIRE PEOPLE TO HELP ME because I CAN’T do it myself. You guys, of course I only post the happy moments. Because in the frustrating moments, I’m too busy feeling stressed out to grab my phone and document it. Also, who wants to document the fact that the dog just ate a friggin diaper? Or that my two year old just used his $1.50 organic food pouch as hair product? Or that the baby is dealing with pretty bad eczema and I can’t seem to get his skin cleared up because of this darn winter weather? Or that I definitely still rock a mean muffin top in 90% of my jeans? THAT IS NOT THE STUFF THAT INSTAGRAM POSTS ARE MADE OF! But guess what? Our social media has become our looking glass into our lives; for friends, family and whoever else you’ve invited in. So let’s stop portraying the fairy tale and let’s just get real.

I’m proposing a new hashtag. For moms who are sick of the mommy wars. For girls who are sick of #fitspo and the fact that instead of the hashtag inspiring, it usually discourages. For men who see too much of other women’s skin on a daily basis.

Tomorrow, join me in #fulldisclosurefriday. Where we pull down the “filters” that we use to make our kids look sweeter, our tummies look flatter and our eyes look greener. Where we take a moment that might make us want to cry but we use it to say, “Guys, I’m struggling here… full disclosure… this is what’s real and what’s happening and it ain’t pretty but this is real.” Let’s use it as an opportunity to encourage one another instead of idolizing one another. Let’s use it as an opportunity to pray for that person whose toddler won’t nap. Let’s use it as an opportunity to encourage that girl who just got a terrible grade on her exam. Let’s use it as a chance to pray for the hearts of men who are fighting their own war; of female/sexual idolatry, of greed, of dishonesty, of self-promotion.

Even if you choose not to participate in #fulldisclosurefriday, let’s give all the other daily hashtags a rest. You’re fighting on the enemy’s team if you promote the epidemic of comparison, competition, self-deprecation and the polarization between groups that it creates.

Lastly, no I don’t intend to stop posting cute pictures of my kids. I think my kids are cute! I’m obsessed with them! And I want to capture that cuteness so that when they are tyrants, I can look at that cute picture and remember that somewhere inside of them lives a sweet child that I do occasionally like. And I don’t intend to stop posting pictures of my business. It’s my career, and my username reflects that, so if you don’t want to see those pictures, I encourage you to unfollow me! No hurt feelings. I understand that my work is not for everyone and I don’t wish to cram it down anyone’s throat who is disinterested.

I don’t expect for my Instagram feed to become a barrage of bummer photos because we are all in “Full Disclosure Mode” – I just want everyone to realize that what you see when you scroll through your Instagram or Facebook news feed is not usually reality. It’s usually a 45 second glimpse into a staged and appropriately-timed scene we created for the benefit of telling people “look at us… pretty amazing, right? DOUBLE CLICK TO LIKE!”

In reality, though, sometimes stuff ain’t pretty… but full disclosure… we’re all in this together. And I think you’ll be surprised by how many more people can relate to your honesty than to your vanity.

The rules:

1) Keep it real. No staging.

2) Keep it G-rated. Duh.

3) Open yourself up to vulnerability.

4) Don’t be fake. If you aren’t genuine, people will be able to smell it from a mile away. Save it for #throwbackthursday.

5) Example of a bad #fulldisclosurefriday: Photo of a stack of bills in your hand. BUT YOUR DIAMOND RING LOOKS STRATEGICALLY SUPER-SHINY! No ulterior motives here… you want to post about a stack of bills, post about a stack of bills. Don’t slip in some “look and be jealous” implication.

6) Example of a good #fulldisclosurefriday: You’ll figure it out. I don’t want to give you any ideas because I think you will know when the moment presents itself. And at the end of the day, if you post a content photo that says “Today was actually unexpectedly relaxing and peaceful” then THAT TOTALLY ROCKS! #fulldisclosurefriday isn’t a downer-fest, I merely want people to get real. Sometimes real is great, and that’s a victory. You post that happy photo.

So, even if you only ever do one #fulldisclosurefriday post, it might be fun to just exhale for once instead of watching for the next attack from the enemy that lives inside your head.

Feel free to share this post to get others involved in tomorrow’s hashtag fest too! The more the merrier. We are waging a war on hashtags – if tons of people participate, can you imagine what the power of prayer can do in one day? Can you imagine the personal emails or phone calls that could result from one person empathizing with another? Can you imagine the potential for real relationship? Let’s give it a go.

You can follow me on instagram @courtneybockdesigns if you want to join and/or see my post tomorrow.

2 Years a Mom

4 Dec

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I’m sorry I called you a little devil this morning on Facebook. It’s just that it was early and I’d been up half the night “sleeping” with you because, from what I could tell by your unintelligible whining, you were thirsty. Oh, the woes of a two year old. Also, when I wrote that post this morning, I hadn’t had any coffee yet and I was feeling vulnerable and stripped down. The truth is, being your mom these days requires copious amounts of caffeine and until said caffeine is clocked in (and occasionally working overtime) I cannot be held responsible for the names I call you. Let’s just say “little devil” isn’t the worst that you’ve been called in my un-caffeinated state. But I digress. What I meant to say was HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

I can’t believe you’re TWO (as you love to remind me, both with your ceaseless chattering and that whole “terrible” thing that accompanies the infamous twos). Despite those terrible moments, which are pretty much constant few and far between, you are a ticklish, giggly, race-car driving, puppy-wrangling kid who loves his daddy, candy, Lightning McQueen and roaring at strangers. How one little person can bring me so much frustration and even more abundant joy, I just can’t comprehend. I can put you in time out and twelve seconds later be lunging at you to assault you with kisses and raspberries. It’s positively bipolar, this motherhood thing. And being your mom is ALWAYS my ultimate joy.

I can’t believe how much you’ve changed in the last year. I didn’t really notice until I looked at this year in review while I made you a birthday video last night. And even after spending some 8 hours on this silly video (because I’m not even as smart as the average golden retriever, which means everything takes me much too long), I still sat back and sobbed while watching it. You are my sweet pea – the apple of my eye. And baby, you’re my best little friend. I wish I could ask you to stop growing up, but it’s just too daggum fun growing up with you to stop it.

Speaking of which, you’re not the only one growing up. I look back at the mom I was two years ago and I think “Who let me have a baby!?” She was immature, clueless, lacking in confidence, uptight and spent far too much time calculating what was best for you according to the books instead of just getting to know the real you and going with the flow. Spoiler alert: since then, I haven’t gotten that much better as a mom, but I HAVE evolved because of having you in my life. There aren’t just parts of me that are defined by being your mom, because since you came into my life, my whole being has been transformed. I am 100% you and Knox’s mommy, and everything I do, I do it as your mommy – even when we aren’t together, you never leave me. That’s a pretty powerful hold you have on me, little man. Of course, I feel comfortable writing that down, because you won’t actually read it for many, many years. Until then, you will never hear me say that you have such a strong hold on me because WE SHANT FORGET WHO IS THE BOSS AROUND HERE! But I WILL tell you I love you until your ears catch fire. Because until those ears catch fire from hearing how much your mama loves you, I haven’t said it enough times.

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Happy birthday you little snot rocket*. Mama loves you.

 

*Guess it’s time for more coffee… the name-calling has returned.

Two Hands

24 Nov

I wish I was more faithful about my morning quiet time. It’s in these quiet moments that I hear God speak to me, new truths that are nothing more than gentle whispers in the dimness of the morning when it’s just me and (occasionally) a hungry baby.

You only have two hands.

That’s all I heard. It just so happens I was trying to feed my baby with my chin when I heard it, so I could catch up on the newsfeed from the previous night, and look into my friends’ lives through the lens of their Instagram history. My precious baby. Just 8 weeks old. The one whom I grieved over when I was told I could no longer breast feed him; an intimate connection I mourned when it was taken from me. And I was feeding him with my chin because there were other things I wanted to do with my hands at the same time.

So I hear this quiet nudging this morning, and I put down my phone, and the strangest thing happened. I noticed my baby for the first time all morning. He’s so beautiful. I noticed that his face is filling out and he no longer has that “newborn” look to him. He stared me straight in my eyes and I wondered, how long have you been looking at me and waiting for me to look back? Then when I readjusted my two hands to hold him more peacefully and tenderly instead of more conveniently, he did the most marvelous thing: he reached that little, immature and uncontrolled hand up and he held my hand that was feeding him. So even though my revelation wasn’t monumental this morning, it was the most relevant and poignant command I’ve heard in a long time.

I only gave you two hands. Because they are enough.

Your elbow does not exist for you to carry more than you can handle. Slow down – I have not asked you to carry more than you can handle, if you would only listen to me.

Your bluetooth device does not exist for you to carry on a conversation while you are distracted with other things. Be present. Honor the person on the phone by giving them your undivided attention instead of minimizing their worth by multitasking.

And your chin should not be feeding your baby. “If you pour yourself out to the hungry, then your light will rise in the darkness” Isaiah 58:10.

Be present. Be involved. Be focused. Be controlled. Do what you can with what God gave you, but don’t abuse your power. You can do many great things with God’s provision or you can do more things to a lower standard. You choose.

“Lazy hands make a poor man, but diligent hands bring wealth” Proverbs 10:4

 

 

Being Safe vs. Being Loved

6 Nov

The idea of being “safe” has been one that I’ve contemplated at great length these last few weeks. Since October 15th, when my health took a bizarre and scary turn, I have worried and worried about whether or not I am safe from any matter of side effects or symptoms of a stroke, an aneurism or worse.  If I’m tired at night and find myself talking slower, I worry that my speech is being affected from a stroke. When I took pain medication that made my hands tingle and affected my depth perception, I was afraid those symptoms were due to a lack of blood flow to my brain. When I couldn’t get out of bed last week because of the fatigue caused by my meds, I was afraid of depression. When I lifted Navy out of his high chair during a tantrum the other day, I was afraid the shot of pain in my neck was a worsening artery dissection. And I have realized after a few weeks now of walking on egg shells and hiding under the covers that the truth is, I’m NOT safe. No one is safe. These things happen, and “these things” are better referred to as life. Life happens. And no one is safe from that.

As I ponder this thought, I’ve had a this quiet revelation: “Courtney, even though you are not safe, you are loved. And how much greater it is to be loved than to be safe.”

Let’s unpack that thought.

Imagine you are completely unloved. No family loves you, no friends love you, no coworkers or mentors love you, and no god loves you. You live in a home that is as good as you can afford on your own skills (which you have had to learn the hard way because no one loved you enough to teach you anything) and at the end of the day, you return to that lonely home without any person (or god, as previously mentioned) who loves you. BUT you are promised one thing in life: safety. You are safe from disease. You are safe from harm. You are safe from fear. You are safe. But you have no love.

Now consider that even though you aren’t promised safety, you do have love. You have family who loves you and lifts you up. You (perhaps) have a husband or a wife that loves you and is committed to you. You (perhaps) have children who love you, even on days that it seems they are against you. But most important, you have a one true God that loves you and promises you that he has “plans for you; plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Which would you rather have? A life of solitude and safety, or a life rich in love where you don’t need to fear because you know that you are promised eternal life with The One who loves you more than you can ever imagine? A life where it doesn’t matter what happens with health or wealth because your home is in Heaven and you are promised an eternal life far greater than this Earthly life, full of its failures and disappointments. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

I know that the truth is that I am SO GLAD I have a faith in a God who is bigger than the universe and far bigger than my fears. But the reality is, I’m still a human, and every day I have two choices: I can continue this day living in faith or I can continue this day living in fear. And you have that same exact choice today. Worrying about my fears will not make them go away, and it certainly won’t make me a better mother, a better wife, a better sister or friend or daughter, and it most DEFINITELY won’t make me a better (more trusting) daughter of Christ. “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?… Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all of these things will be given to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Matthew 6:25-34).

I hope you choose to walk in faith, and I hope you find peace in a life of love rather than wasting away seeking safety and security as your first priorities. I’m praying today for the eyes that will read this and that someone may be blessed and quenched by the living water and by the truth that whether you have chosen to walk on the path of righteousness yet or not, there is a God who is ready and waiting for you to accept His love; who is eagerly anticipating the moment that you say, “I love you too”.

“But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

The Whole Story

24 Oct

For three months, I’ve been treated for gestational hypertension. Same rodeo as the last time, it seemed. High blood pressure, early induction… I knew this drill.

On September 26th, my induction began. Two and a half weeks early. Just right in my book.

I had a tense labor with moments of fear and uneasiness that seemed looming and everlasting while in the moment. When they told me that I wasn’t dilating, my mind darted to the fear that an emergency c-section would become imminent. When they told me that the baby was under stress because of a lack of amniotic fluid, the same thoughts flooded my brain. When the baby’s heart rate decelerated when it should have accelerated, my own heart raced. Fear. Helplessness. Paranoia.

In the end, God delivered a beautiful baby boy to us. Our Knox Jeffrey.

Knox (55 of 90)

 

 

The pain in my neck started one week after Knox was born. It was an aching, throbbing pain that wouldn’t subside with any amount of medicine, heat, massage or change of position. It was debilitating at times. I would have to turn my entire body 90 degrees just to see anything to my left or right. My doctor prescribed muscle relaxers… certainly this was pain I was experiencing was a result of  breast feeding, posture, postpartum weight distribution, carrying a toddler, etc.  But the muscle relaxers failed to work. The pain meds failed to work.

After two weeks of nonstop pain accompanied by the still-high blood pressure, the first emergency happened. It was Tuesday morning, October 15th, and Navy woke up at 6am crying. His early morning distress woke me up, and as I sat up to go get him, I realized I was suddenly dizzy and nauseous. Barely making my way to the bathroom, I began to get sick. The room was spinning. Every time I tried to sit up, I would vomit. Still spinning. Our bathroom shares a wall with Navy’s bedroom and as I cried and screamed for Stockton, all I could hear in response was my sweet Navy on the other side of the wall. “Mommy? MOMMY!”

Realizing my condition was far beyond anything that either of us could or should attempt to control ourselves, Stockton called 911. Within a few short minutes, the ambulance was there. Still spinning. Still vomitting. Still crying. Still scared.

The emergency room was prepared for me and I was immediately given a high dose of blood pressure medicine, after noting that my blood pressure was well above safe and normal levels. The pressure dropped and my dizziness subsided. A CT scan revealed nothing to be concerned about so by 4pm I was sent home with a new blood pressure prescription and some pain medication for the hangover-like headache I was experiencing.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday were as “back to normal” as they could be. New fears had presented themselves, and I could feel depression creeping up on me. Then Sunday came.

While getting ready for church, the neck pain was suddenly explosive. It flared up like a firecracker and then it found its way down my left arm. The tingling came next. Then nothing. Numbness. I began to cry again, terrified of what all this meant. Stockton joined me on the edge of the bed, immediately taking my blood pressure and asking about any other symptoms. My main symptom…. fear. These are the symptoms that women experience when having a heart attack… right?? Or was it a stroke? Or was it nothing and I’m just paranoid… No, I think it’s something. I just can’t ignore it. No, I don’t think I need an ambulance. Let’s just go.

We dropped Navy off at Kaley’s and reluctantly texted my parents about our second visit to the ER in 4 days time. My mom and Maddie were due to depart for Florida for Maddie’s fall break in just a few hours. I hated to tell them I was hospital bound. What if I’m just crying wolf? Maybe my arm doesn’t feel that numb. I’m probably imagining it. My neck is just sore from breast feeding. Although, it does hurt to the touch now…

We sat in the hospital – Stockton, Knox, Dad, Mom and me – and waited for answers. Even hypotheses. Anything.

An MRI revealed the reason for my neck pain. A vertebral artery dissection (damage to one of the arteries leading to my brain, causing blockages and clotting). The MRI also showed something else… “some spots that we just can’t explain away since you’re just 25” said my doctor. Some spots that he and the attending neurologist would later tell me was a stroke.

A stroke. A stroke. At 25? But…

A good doctor knows how to treat patients well. A great doctor knows when to defer to someone with even better qualifications, expertise, equipment and resources. My doctor at Memorial hospital did exactly that and within a few hours I was in the back of yet another ambulance, this time on my way to Loyola University. But this time I couldn’t bring my newborn baby. Little did I know that the last time I would ever be able to cradle and nurse my sweet Knox was in the emergency room of Memorial Hospital, connected to IV’s and EKG wires with only a dingy curtain separating us from the rest of the ER. There was nothing ceremonial or touching about our last moments bonding through breast feeding.  And for that, I will always carry a bit of sadness.

I arrived at the Loyola University Medical Center sometime in the middle of the night and was taken straight to the neuro ICU. Surrounded by critical head injuries. Brain tumors. Critical strokes. Comas. This was the company I was keeping. How did I end up here, in the same unit as these people who can’t speak? Who can’t move their arms? Who have not opened their eyes in a month? 

The testing began the following day. MRA of my head and neck, confirming that I indeed had the vertebral artery dissection, but instead of just one artery having the damage, BOTH of mine were damaged. Bilateral Vertebral Artery Dissection was my new diagnosis. But why? As it turns out, most patients who have BOTH arteries dissected means there is an underlying condition… that these dissections were no coincidence. A common disorder in this case would be FMD (fibromuscular dysplasia), a disorder of the blood vessels throughout the body indicated by irregularity of most vessels. An MRA of my chest and abdomen, however, revealed no such diagnosis. No FMD. No explanation for these dissected vertebral arteries.  I know I should be thankful that I don’t have a condition or disorder that I will deal with for the rest of my life, but God, I’ve been praying for clarity! I’ve asked countless others to pray for clarity! I didn’t pray for a miracle or for all of this to just disappear. I just want the peace that comes with a diagnosis so that I can have answers! Something that will help me going forward. CLARITY, GOD, I ASKED FOR CLARITY AND I DON’T HAVE IT.

The doctors from Loyola are awaiting imaging from Memorial Hospital to try to see what the Memorial doctors saw… the aforementioned, inexplicable stroke. Because that’s another thing they didn’t catch on the MRA from Loyola…. they saw no indication of the “stroke” that the neurologist sent me to Loyola for in the first place. Again, I know I should be grateful for the absence of a stroke – and don’t get me wrong, I AM – but where is the consistency?? One doctor says stroke, another says no stroke? How can I be sure? What was it that they saw at Memorial, if not a stroke?

I was discharged from Loyola on Wednesday on many medications, among which are drugs that prohibit me from breast feeding my son. My heart was broken, and I continue to feel the very physical and emotional side effects of no longer nursing my baby. My newborn baby. I nursed Navy 7 months.  I wanted to nurse Knox for a year! I have been stripped of this gift… this beautiful, precious, miraculous ability to feed my son and keep him connected to me even though he is no longer in my womb. YOU STOLE SOMETHING FROM ME. This should be MY decision to make, but you’ve left me no choice.

I’m home now. Being treated for the blood clots which have formed in my neck and the dissections which are causing my pain. Waiting for time to heal what has been broken inside me. I’ll return to Loyola in 3 months for a follow up. But I’m still left without answers. Why did this happen? No one knows. Will it happen again? You can’t say “always” or “never” in medicine, but I am expected to be at low risk for a recurrence. But if that’s the case, why did it happen in the first place? What is my prognosis for the future? To be determined. 

I am thankful for my health. I’m thankful that they deemed me stable enough to come home. I’m thankful for my husband who stood beside me through all of this and witnessed his bride in the most emergent and scary situations either of us have ever endured. I’m thankful for my sons. I’m thankful that in this modern world, Knox can survive and thrive on formula. I’m thankful for my parents and my sisters, who gave up their vacation to Florida without giving it a second thought and took such amazing care of my kids, dog and home while we were gone. Many people made sacrifices for me… this week wasn’t only hard on me, it was hard on all of us. I’m thankful for a God that became human and understands physical pain and hardship. I’m thankful for all of the people who have prayed for me and continue to pray for me. I have much to be thankful for. I’m also thankful that my God understands my sadness and that it may take me a while to come to terms with all that has happened in the last several weeks.

Today I turned 26. Wasn’t quite the birthday anyone dreams of, but it was a birthday nonetheless, and a day to celebrate life. And I got to celebrate by being home with my loved ones. A birthday wish come true.

Mi casa e su casa

13 Aug

There’s about to be a new blog category on this here old blog!! That’s right, folks, Stockton and I are smack dab in the middle of the home-buying process and will close on our new abode in just about 2 weeks.

::yayyyyyyyyy::

While I obviously can’t say too much at this point without jinxing myself and totally crumbling the deal, I can say one thing I am certainly looking forward to in the new place, and that is having an office that isn’t in the basement. Lame-ish? Yes. But when you spend as many hours as I do in the lower level of your home, under the earth, where your only company all day is a chipmunk in the window well, you get what I mean. My business is moving more and more from heavy production & at-the-machine-all-day caliber sewing to heavy web maintenance and at-the-computer-all-day customer relations. It’s been great moving toward more retail and monogramming and less construction of goods, and with the change I think I actually get to be promoted to an above-ground office space! Whee!!!! My machines will still get plenty of use in our new basement, but the new place has a basement made for entertaining and I want to use it for that. Embroidery machines and millions of desks and production stations get in the way of cocktail hour, if you know what I’m sayin. So we’ll dedicate a smaller portion of the basement to production and leave the clerical and office work to the upstairs office which I’ll even “share” with my beau. I use the term share loosely here, but it will indeed be his space as well for when he’s home from his ACTUAL office. Really more than anything, that means he’ll pay the bills at our shared desk once a month and leave his briefcase somewhere in the room overnight. I don’t think we’ll get in each other’s hair too much, which is a vital clause to our marital health and was even written as a vow in our wedding: I, Courtney, promise to leave you, Stockton, alone whenever we are working or getting remotely close to annoying one another. Vice versa, ditto, amen. So the shared office will be a test of that, but I’m sure it’ll be great.

Additionally, my parents are moving at the exact same time as us, which means we get to inherit this amazing Pottery Barn desk which I’m absolutely cray-cray for and will be the perfect shared workspace for us.

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The only thing that will be different about our office will be the furniture configuration and the stools, because since I’ll be sitting at that desk for a large portion of every day, I’ll need something with a tad more support. I’m lusting over these bad boys, so if anyone wants to spend $541 a piece on desk stools for me, they can be found at Ballard.com and I would be ever so grateful. I might even monogram something for you.

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They are lovely and perfect, but ain’t nobody got time for over $1000 worth of stools, so I’ll be continuing my search elsewhere (like the county dump).

We have the ladder shelves as shown in the desk photo above also, so that will help us with all the odds and ends that two people require in an office space.

So there you have it – the first room inspiration and furniture find for our new home. You may not hear much more about the new house until we close on it (y’know, for anti-jinxing purposes) but at least you can consider yourself warned for when the onslaught of home-related posts begin!

Flourish Boutique OVERSTOCK sale!!!

24 Jul

Tonight I got to preview and shop the Flourish Boutique Overstock Sale and holy moly – I was expecting a rack in the corner full of some picked over sale items, and Y’ALL!! This was the whole first floor of the boutique and TONS of current season picks in all sizes, plus jewelry and accessories, and my favorite part: DENIM! So in my very rotund, pregnant state, I was expecting to mostly peruse and find only necklaces and scarves, but I actually was able to find a couple really adorable pieces of clothing for now AND post-baby. And I don’t typically shop for post-baby clothing while pregnant, but the deals were literally too good to pass up. Everything on the first floor of the store is marked down 60-90% off, and like I said, this isn’t the dregs of the store – this is great merchandise that is totally in style and in season! If it weren’t for my mega-bump, I would’ve done way more damage.

Here are a couple items I picked up:

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Lacy top in tan which looked killer with these Seven for all Mankind second skin skinny black pants (unbuttoned, because, OBVI!), but I intend to wear the heck out of this with some big ol’ stretchy black leggings as I continue to grow. Boots and a jean jacket would look super cute in the Fall too!

 

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Sheer black short sleeve zip-up top by YA with neon pink accents. Not normally my style, but I thought it would hide a multitude of sins post-baby and was super fun and out of my ordinary circuit.

 

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And my reckless purchase of the evening… these skinny Seven for all Mankind grey wash Second Skin jeans. Because I love them and a glutton for punishment. I mean, who buys skinny jeans when they’re 7 months pregnant?! WHO, I SAY!?!?!?

 

And this skirt I just thought was adorable and flirty and SOMEONE should definitely go buy it so that I can live vicariously through you.

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Also: if you love the chevron trend, it is alive and well at Flourish and this was one of my favorite chevron styles available.

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So there you have it – my brief synopsis of my fun little shopping excursion tonight. Go forth and shop til you drop… the sale goes from July 26-28 so don’t miss it!!!

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MOOTD + Zulily Invitation + Sale Announcement OH MY!

23 Jul

This post is going to be short, sweet and simple because there’s not much to tell about this outfit other than it was one of the only appropriate things I had to wear to dinner recently given the SWELTERING heat that has taken over Northern Indiana. Drip drip. The’s the sound of my under-boob sweat pouring off me. Cute, no?

So this dress was on sale during the winter through Zulily. What’s that? You’ve never heard of Zulily? (OK maybe you have, but this is for the people who haven’t so speed read through this section if you’re already a member). The brand is Scrapbook, and I’ve always liked Scrapbook clothing. It’s, well, kinda scrapbooky (der?). Different patterns and textures that you wouldn’t normally put together make this a fun, quirky line that I’ve always been fond of. Even though I knew the dress was out of season at the time I bought it, I also knew I’d be big and fat and pregnant when I COULD wear it, and it seemed like the empire waist would be very forgiving of that big ol’ bump come Summer. And I was right. I love when that happens. SO, for all of you who are new to the world of Zulily, which offers daily sales of items for children, home, maternity and women’s apparel & accessories, I have an invitation for you to join right here! Click that there link and you can sign up to receive major discounts on all kinds of cute stuff like this dress and you’ll live happily ever after.

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To accessorize my dress, I belted it with an Ann Taylor Loft belt (purchased a few seasons ago) because I thought it could use a little more definition. I threw on some Steve Madden wedges (also a few seasons old) and called it a day. It was simply too hot and sticky out to put any more thought and effort into the outfit than that, which is why dresses are gifts from God, because they basically do all the work for you.

In OTHER exciting fashion-related news, I will be pre-shopping the Flourish Boutique Overstock Sale tomorrow night and posting all about my findings so you can participate in the event from July 26-28. Stay tuned for details regarding all of the adorable things I find and their fabulously low prices. Wheeeee!!!

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An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

12 Jul

I called my old OBGYN office this week to request the medical transcripts from my pregnancy with Navy and y’all? It. Was. Staggering. It’s really no wonder I was hospitalized at week 36 with high blood pressure! I mean, sure there are other much more unhealthy and overweight pregnant women out there who don’t deal with those kind of issues and the blood pressure/weight gain stuff could have been completely unrelated but looking back on how much I gained and how FAST I gained it was enough to stop me dead in my tracks. I remember after Navy was born, how I expected (stupidly) to walk home from the hospital at LEAST 20 pounds lighter and feeling more slim and fit right away. Shitsaplenty, I was WRAWNG!!!!!!!! I didn’t even lose 5 pounds at the hospital (which makes NO HUMAN SENSE because Navy weighed over 6, so MATH THAT!!!). Here is a treacherous photo of me a few days after delivering Navy, weighing in at a whopping 185 pounds.

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BAZOOMBA! Let me be ultra clear that there are MANY women of different shapes and sizes, heights and bone structures, that can pull off 185 (OR MORE!) pounds and look gorgeous. I am not built for that weight though, so it took over every part of my body. My boobs, my arms, my face, my thighs, my FINGERS for the love of Pete. It was a plague that hung around when I thought it would drip off of me like melting wax. Can we all just take a moment to collectively say that I was in DENIAL!? You don’t get this big without noticing it. Except I did. I would look in the mirror and think, “This is NORMAL!” or worse, “I’m doing SO MUCH BETTER than so many pregnant women” which just made me complacent with the numbers rising on the scale.

So as I looked through the transcripts this week (and the doctors’ notations that said things like “Discussed weight gain” after a 15 pound gain within 4 weeks), I got some serious resolve about me. I’m almost 27 weeks pregnant this time and while I know I’m doing better with the gain than I did last time, I’ve reached the point where it could become a slippery slope in a matter of a few missteps. See, in my head I look in the mirror and go “I can’t be THIN right now so screw it, bring me a blizzard” but THAT my friends is exactly the mindset that got me to where I was after Navy was born. Now look, I’m not super woman. I’m not a super athlete. I’m not athletic at all, in fact. I don’t really enjoy working out, I’d rather eat a McDonalds #2 meal than a salad, and I have never believed in deprivation because that’s what leads to binge eating. But after reviewing my transcripts and remembering how awful it felt to just be fat and uncomfortable post-baby, I’m determined to stay on a good path with this one. I haven’t done great so far, but I’m telling myself that it’s not too late to develop healthier habits that will accompany me through the rest of this pregnancy. Starting with my new gym membership and continuing with less snacking and  late-night sweets. This, my dear readers, is called common sense. Sometimes I’m slow. But I truly believe that it’s going to be easier for me to SLOW DOWN the weight gain than it will be to lose a ton of weight after the baby is here. So, as the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to Zumba (which should be really funny to watch, so feel free to join me at the 10am class at ICE if you’re in the mood for a little pregnant “Hips Don’t Lie” shimmy-shaka time).

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MOOTD – Basic Black

4 Jul

Every pregnant woman needs a fitted, black maxi dress. For that matter, ever pregnant woman needs a million maxi dresses of all different colors, patterns and purposes. They are the best staple for your pregnancy, but in particular, a black dress is a key item because you can change the look so much with your accessories. This dress is a total chameleon and that’s what you need when you don’t want to break the bank on tons of maternity clothes. I was even lucky enough to score this dress at Old Navy with tons of reward points at the beginning of the summer, so along with a few other pregnancy items, I got this dress for next to nothing. Hashtag winning.

OK, onto how I styled it. I kept it super simple, and dare I say, it’s not really worth a full blog post. Meh. I’ve blogged about far more insignificant topics before, so I figure I can whip up at least 600 words about a black shift dress. I obviously kept it very simple, merely adding a cute bag and matching earrings (and leopard print sandals which aren’t shown), but I intend to show you this dress time and time again with different accessorizing to show how to change it up. Also not shown, I carried a leopard scarf with me during the evening and threw it on as needed. Emerald + leopard = almost everything you need to know about 2013 trends. Run with that.

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Dress: Old Navy Maternity

Earrings: Francesca’s Boutique (similar here)

Purse: Courtney Bock Designs Monogram Envelope Clutch

Shoes: Carlos Santana Tabatha Flip Flop (purchased at TJ Maxx)

Necklace: Courtney Bock Designs (Navy’s name)

The ONLY thing wrong with this dress is that the size small (which fits everywhere else the way I want it to) is slightly shorter than I want my maxi dresses to be. I might go out and buy the medium just so this lasts me throughout the rest of the pregnancy because this dress could be worn up until the day I deliver based on its versatility. With a jean jacket, with a cardigan, with a knotted chambray shirt…. you name it. This dress is the gift that keeps on giving.

And now a random tidbit of advice about dress shopping while pregnant: don’t always flock toward tops and dresses with empire waists just because they fit a bump!!! True, the empire waist is “practical” for draping over your growing belly, but it also adds a LOT of unnecessary volume to wear things that are overly flowy. Everyone is quick to accentuate the top of the bump, but the bottom of the bump is always getting the shaft, rarely accentuated. The truth is, if you can find something that is fitted without being unattractively tight (this is a fine line, so watch it), you will find that fit to be far sexier. And even though we rarely feel sexy while pregnant, you certainly aren’t going to look sexy in a tent, so find something that shows off that bump from top to bottom and see if it doesn’t make you feel more tailored and sleek. Being pregnant isn’t a death sentence, or a Look-Ugly-for-9-Months sentence.

Go forth and rock the under-bump. You have my permission.