Monday, June 29, 2015

Mom's staycay and baby's first plane ride

This weekend, Tim and Ella were in Alaska for my sister-in-law's wedding.  We couldn't financially swing the three of us going, but we thought it would be fun if Ella made the trip since she had yet to meet her Alaskan family.  From what I hear, the three days were full of all things wedding prep and celebrating.  I'm so happy she got to meet her aunts, uncles, cousins, and see her grandparents again!

With Tim and Ella gone, that meant mom staycay!  I binged-watched and binge-read.  I baked brownies and finally saw Sleeepless in Seattle.  I laid out in the sun, did my nails, and ate breakfast in bed.  I had no where to be, no nap time (except my own) to account for.  It was relaxing and refreshing, but by Sunday night I was ready for my little family to come home.

And they are!  Tired travelers, but they're home.  Arrived at 5:30 this morning, so needless to say they are catching up on some much-needed rest.  But later?  We're off to Portland to celebrate our anniversary! 

 Meeting cousins Odin and Arik!

All dressed up and ready to party.

Ella doing her I'm shy pose.

Laying out in the sun.  Total peace.

Some Blood Orange San Pellegrino while watching Orange is the New Black.

Brownies for breakfast.

Breakfast and a book.

So long, staycay.  You were wonderful.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Our wedding day

I've been pretty mushy with my most recent posts, so instead of going with my original post for today laying out what it feels like to have been married for 2 years, I decided to dig up some pictures and take a fun look back on our wedding day.

We were married in St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Eagle River, Alaska on June 29th, 2013. Deciding where to have the wedding had been a decision we went back and forth on for quite some time.  Alaska is a trek from Michigan, and I knew if we decided on Alaska, most of my loved ones wouldn't be able to make it.  But if we landed on Michigan, some of Tim's immediate family couldn't make the trip.  After a lot of talk and a few tears, we decided on Alaska, and I'm so happy we did.  I fell in love with the place the first time I visited, so I felt incredibly blessed to be able to spend my big day in what felt like the scene of a fairy-tale.

Aside from it being our wedding day and the joy that comes from simply living out that day, our favorite part was our wedding party.  Since it was practically a destination wedding, we deeply appreciated our bridesmaids and groomsmen traveling from all over the country to celebrate with us.  And they made it so easy.  Everyone came together and just fit.  It made all the events and parties fun and easy and carefree.  We got so lucky.  I especially appreciated them because they were the only ones from my side (except for my parents) who could be there - a little piece of home.

Planning, then living, then looking back on a wedding is a funny thing.  You go through the everything matters, nothing matters, would-have-done-that-differently routine.  Maybe we spent too much money on centerpieces or I could have found a cheaper dress, but all of what it turned into was our day -- our one day where everyone came and prayed and danced in celebration of the love we had for each other, the commitment we were making, and the future we were starting.

I look back on parts of that day two years ago and inevitably choke up, my maid of honor's speech, the mother/son dance, my dad wishing us "a hundred good years" in Polish, and I'm reminded that the centerpieces were perfect, my dress was the one, and no matter what my 25-year-old self would tell my 23-year-old self, the day was perfect.

Here are some pictures from that day.  One of my bridesmaids, a talented photographer, gifted us with a collection of photos from our wedding weekend - some of the photos below are from that collection.  The others are from the photographer we hired.

The bridesmaids and I the morning of!

St. Andrew's Catholic Church 

The mosquitoes in this park were insane.  So insane we had to cut our time there short.

My dad's love for baseball runs deep.  He practically lives for the sport.  So I thought it would be fun to take some pictures on a diamond and gift them to him.  (Thanks to my sister-in-law Elizabeth for making that happen!)

The groomsmen!  They made sure to keep me laughing.

My ladies!

My maid of honor and life-long best friend.  

Bridesmaid, Kriztia.  One of my dearest friends from college and now God-mama to my baby girl.

Mother and son dance.

See ya!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Europe

On Monday, Tim and I will celebrate our two year wedding anniversary, and in the spirit of TBT, I thought I'd share the first time I thought of Tim being the one.

They say it's good for couples to travel together before getting married.  I can see why.  Traveling brings out the best and worst in people.  It strips people of their comfort zone leaving them vulnerable and revealing their true character.

Sophomore year in college, Tim and I went on a class trip to Ireland, Paris, and Rome.  Two and a half weeks of site-seeing, plane rides, and foreign food would complete one of our college courses. Tim and I were newly dating.  I was recovering from a pattern of sickness that ultimately proved to be food allergies.  In more ways than one, I was reluctant and ill-prepared to embark upon this near three week journey across foreign land.  But I went, and so it began.

Picture a Michael Cera and Jonah Hill film.  Everything goes wrong in the most absurd way possible. Some events turning sour due to something they did wrong, others simply because fate had it out for them.  This fake film was our trip.  From missed planes, to lost bus connections, to running out of money, to last minute and unexpected stays in hotels, to the filthiest, nastiest bathroom we've ever (or will ever) peed in, to using Skype in the Apple store in France to call our parents to please send something to get us by, to getting lost on the streets of Paris, to not being able to get into our hostel, etc., etc., etc. This trip was everything but a vacation and everything I'd fully expect to pay 10 bucks for and laugh at for 2 hours on screen.

I could have handled it better.  But I didn't.  I was miserable, my anxiety dominating nearly every situation I found myself in.  And due to a recent phone call from my doctor, it was a constant struggle to find food in a country that lives on bread and cheese.  I wanted to curl up on the Champs-Elysées and cry.

There was Tim the whole time next to me, offering to go find some food with me, looking at the street maps in efforts to find our way back to our hostel, talking with the Delta ticket agent trying to get us on the next flight for the cheapest cost.

I wish that trip could have been the movie where the couple goes on a three week over-seas adventure, where they kiss under the Eiffel Tower, and share spaghetti Lady and the Tramp style in Italy, where all those cliché , fairy-tale versions of love are brought to life.  But I discovered something better: the love that comes to life in patience and sacrifice, understanding and selflessness. The kind that lasts a lifetime.  Though at the time, I'm sure I didn't show it, I was in awe of the man next to me, running through airports.  I knew this was the guy I wanted to run with through anything.

Now, years later, we joke about that trip.  Me, older and wiser, admitting I was a total mess, Tim always revealing a gentle smile.  We dream about recreating a European vacation, this time in leisure and with a little more currency.  But am I ever-grateful for that chaotic, humbling trip.  It was a small scene in a love story that we're celebrating on Monday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On pleasing everyone

Via Pinterest.

Learning that we can't please everyone is a lesson we continue to learn as we get older.  It seems the older we get, the more comfortable we become in our own skin and therefore care a little bit less about pleasing every single person around us.

It's a lesson that's been on my mind lately.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's because I'm looking to improve this blog, so I'm questioning my writing.  Is my writing too real, too TMI?  Should I write about all things happy all the time?  Maybe it's because the topic of pleasing everyone came up in reference to wedding planning the other day in a conversation with my in-laws.  Maybe it's because in a short period of time I will have two little ones, and the biggest thing I've learned as a mom is you can't please everyone.

Regardless of the reason as to why it's been on my mind, I've been trying to become more comfortable in knowing that I can't please everyone who will read my writing, who will observe my parenting style, or who will simply come in contact with me.  Generally, I like to try to please everyone.  I like to give my opinion, but I don't like to get people all riled up.  It stresses me out.  I like to keep the peace, and I have a hard time dealing with insults even though I brush it off and say I'm trying my best and that's what matters.  Strengthening this part of me is a priority of mine as my kids get older, but continually doing so is hard work, and I'm not always sure of how to move forward.

What I do know is when we take the time to please everyone else, it robs us of the time to be our true selves.  It slowly chips away at our authenticity and instead of giving 100% in all that we do, we give 90% in fear of others' opinions and criticisms.

I should note there are some opinions that do matter.  Our family's, our close friends.  These people have our best interests at heart, so (constructive) criticisms should be valued and reflected upon.  It's those that don't know you, couldn't care less about your well-being, and are trying to boost their self-confidence by bringing you down.  These are the people I am referring to.

Someone will always have an opinion, someone will always talk, someone will always think you're lesser or greater or could be better.  So give everything you do all you've got.  I've learned it's when you hold back a part of yourself that you most often regret it.

Be you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

18 week update

I'm continually fascinated by how different this pregnancy is from my last -- how it's harder in some ways, and easier in others.  I'm impressed by how fast time is flying by.  I seem to blink and my Bump App is once again alerting me that my baby grew a vegetable size.  I'm continually thankful that morning sickness has been kept at a minimum and being around family and staying busy has left me more active than when I was pregnant with Ella.

At my first doctor appointment, my doctor advised me to maintain a healthy weight gain (for my size) of 20-30 pounds, that my body isn't as kind with your second pregnancy.  I gained 35 with Ella, so I wasn't terribly worried, but I quickly learned my doctor was right.  When I was pregnant with Ella, the weight gain was gradual (and looked it), I didn't get stretch marks, and overall I seemed to hurt less.  With this pregnancy, I felt like I ballooned-up without even having the chance to eat too much ice cream, and I already have some stretch marks on my hips.  I've been having problems with my lower back and neck ever since I had Ella, which has made this pregnancy physically harder than my last.

We definitely have another little mover on our hands.  I've started to feel more movement this week, Weirdly, I haven't had many cravings, and the only smell that currently sends me running is that of scrambled eggs.

What am I most excited for?  The 20 week ultrasound.  We find out the gender, and we get to see how the little one is doing!

Monday, June 22, 2015

From the weekend

Oregon and Washington are beautiful places.  The more we go out and explore and settle into our new home, the more thankful I am we have the opportunity to live here for a time.  After game night, more Harry Potter movie watching, and cleaning, we took Sunday to go out and see some sites.  We headed into Oregon to Multnomah Falls.  The drive alone was beautiful.

On the way to Multnomah , we saw Horse Trail Falls.

And we made it!  From the bottom, it was beautiful, but we made our way to the first bridge outlook to take in the scenery.  The plan was to make our way to the top outlook, but preggers here didn't last long.  Ella and I chilled at the bottom while Tim made the hike to the top.


My hunky husband.

Tim took a post-four-mile-hike rest, we bought some fudge, and then headed back home over the border to Washington.  

The Bridge of the Gods
It sure was a happy Father's Day.  We can't wait to keep exploring this place.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

I remember when I found out I was pregnant with Ella, I was a little freaked out.  We hadn't been married long, we were still figuring out our way as newlyweds, and roommates, and new hires, but I remember thinking not long after I saw those two pink lines that we were going to be okay.

That with Tim by my side, I was going to be okay.

Here we are, nearly two years into marriage, celebrating Tim's second Father's Day.  In these two years, through times of financial uncertainty, accomplishments, and struggles, I've never doubted our team.  And I have Tim to thank for that.

Everything he has done, down to forming independent studies in college, has equipped him to be the rock for our family.  All too often, his efforts go under-appreciated.  I get lost in the weekly grind of dishes, laundry, writing, bills, repeat that I sometimes forget to pause and give thanks for a man who willingly gets up in the middle of the night, makes bottles, changes onesies, and gives baths, who has a fierce dedication to his career but always makes time for the ones he loves most.

So I'm thankful for Sunday where everything will be set aside to celebrate Tim.  We're taking a break from the usual weekend routine to go out and explore some Washington scenery, to have some good BBQ, and to eat our weight in indulgent desserts.  And I'll pause and have Sunday act as a reminder to give thanks more often for a man who I couldn't be more thankful for Ella (and Lochner Baby 2.0) to call Dad.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads, granddads, step dads, father figures, and Godfathers!  What a blessing you all are.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

WILW: What article club taught me

The group at our last meeting.  Missing the lovely Jamie.
At our last article club, us ladies got together one last time over drinks and chocolate and cookies and discussed what motherhood means, what we think it will mean, and what we thought it meant.  Per usual, the discussion veered off from the topic into a hundred different directions before we found ourselves questioning how it got to be 8 in evening.

After everyone left, I sat down and talked with my husband about how I was especially sad to leave these ladies but eternally grateful for what they as well as article club as a whole had taught me. Admittedly, I wasn't expecting to take as much away from my monthly meeting experiences.  I simply thought it would be a nice way for some friends to get together.  It ended up being a lot more than that.  Here's what I learned:

Be intentional.  In life, in relationships.  To simply go out and try to make new friends. To pick good ones, the right ones.  To be present in conversations, to have deep conversations.  To actively seek out instead of curling up and letting opportunity pass you by.

Be willing.  To say "yes" to new opportunities especially the ones that scare you.  To go out of your way to be a friend to someone.  To call out your friend even though it may be uncomfortable.  To listen when someone is hurting.

Be open.  To new friendships, to constructive criticism, to others' opinions.  To have an open heart and to come from a place of empathy.

Moving to a new place with all my friends now out-of-state, I've carried these lessons with me. When a new opportunity presents itself and I'm hesitant, I think of these inspiring ladies and try to take the plunge in saying "yes".

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

1 year update

The development that occurs around the one-year-mark is crazy.  There's so much.  Walking, the different foods, the increase in eating, talking, the personality that starts showing.  Ella has grown so much just in the past two months that I had to document it.  So here we go.

Walking.  She started walking at just over a year old and hasn't stopped.  When she discovered how to use her legs, she completely ditched crawling (and seems to be well on her way to running).  She's pretty good at holding our hands, but babies will be babies, she will often go in the direction she wants to go.  We have certainly entered the "always running" phase of parenthood.

Eating.  Eating has been a breeze lately, and I couldn't be happier or more thankful.  Currently, she eats what we eat.  Lasagna rolls, veggie stir fry, sausage, tacos.  She tries new foods and often likes them.  Her current favorite food?  Bananas.  I swear she'd eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if she could.  I want to incorporate and teach moderation from a young age, so I've started to give her a little dessert after a well-eaten meal.  A couple recent faves have been strawberries with angel food cake and an Oreo. My philosophy on food is pretty much eat healthy throughout the day, and never skip dessert. Those baby pouches are still in her diet, but if I'm being perfectly honest, they're purely for convenience.  If we're going out, we will grab one in case she gets hungry.  Ella likes them, and it's a serving of veggies, right? Though she has Happy Belly snacks still, she also has more grown-up snacks like fruit and raisins.

Play.  My two best friends really know how to buy Ella gifts.  For her birthday, she got a kiddie slide and bouncy ball and they are her favorite things.  On most mornings, we'll get her dressed and she'll waddle on over to her slide.  She can make it up the first couple steps, but her tiny-human legs won't yet allow her to tackle all three steps on her own.  She's gotten brave enough where she goes down the slide without holding our hands (and promptly claps after each time she rides).

My current favorite thing she does is she will often walk up to me and stick up her arm signally for me to hold her hand.  Sometimes, if we're at home, we just make a lap or two together.  It's the sweetest. She loves to dance, run around with dish towels on her head, and watch the laundry in the washer.  I can't believe she'll be 14 months on the 21st!  Time has flown by in the best sort of way.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Family time and Harry Potter date nights

The title of this post pretty much sums up our weekend entirely.  Aside from the usual errand-running and cleaning, we stayed in enjoying good movies and even better company.

On Friday, it was game night.  We played a few serious rounds of Scattergories and indulged in mini-Reese's.  What's not to love?  Saturday, it was down to business.  Grocery shopping and cleaning the place were our priorities, but we also took some time to visit a maternity and baby consignment shop. Hello?  Score.  I got some as-good-as-new maternity clothes and jotted down a few things I'd like to go back for before the baby comes.

Sunday's for brunch, right?  Well, we brunched hard.  Our family came over and made a nice brunch. I ate my weight in gluten-free pancakes and then...lounged....while the kiddos played outside with chalk.   And, of course, we closed out the weekend with Mass, some fancy tacos, and the Bethesda Gaming Conference (#gamedevswife).

Every night this weekend, we watched a Harry Potter movie.  (My brother and sister-in-law recently loaned us their massive movie collection, so I'm slowly becoming more cultured.)  Growing up, I loved this series.  Ron Weasley was my dream man.  My best friends and I read the books.  (Well, they read all 7.  I stopped at 4.)  I saw the first few movies when they came out, but for whatever reason, I totally lost touch with the series after The Goblet of Fire.  I don't know why!  I saw movies 6 and 7 (parts 1 and two) this weekend, and I was reminded why I fell in love with the series in the first place.  Great story, excellent themes, and Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall can never disappoint.

Today, well, today's all about Monday-like things.  Getting organized for the week, writing, etc., etc., etc.

Have a great Monday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Lessons learned: Moving

Tim and I have moved twice in the past two years.  Once locally and once out of state.  I'm sharing some lessons learned based on our last move.  I know everyone's situation is different, but I thought I'd share our experience in hopes to help someone who is thinking about moving.

It's always more expensive than you think it's going to be.  Some may argue you can have an accurate budget for every aspect of moving, and if you can accomplish that, share your tips!  Our experience has been, we can save and save, but we have to allow some "oh shit" money.  We saved for months for our recent move.  I researched and researched for the most cost effective route.  We had a budget. For the most part, we stuck to the budget, but we simply forgot about a couple expenses.  Paying the last billing period of our cable bill at our old place overlapping with the new internet bill from our new place, the cost of a new state driver's license, going out to eat 'cause the kitchen stuff has yet to arrive.  We of course budgeted for things like the moving truck, moving out/in fees, cost of food and gas on the road.  But all those little loose ends added up, and if I could do it again, I'd save a bit more in our "oh shit" fund.

What works for one space may not work for another.  Every apartment and townhome is different.  We upgraded in terms of square footage, but our living room is smaller than our last.  So the pictures we bought for around the TV, the rug we bought for the floor don't quite work.  Evaluate your situation and opt for the cheaper option when furnishing your place.  Those investment purchases may seem worth it, because "you'll have them forever", but they very well may not work in your next home.  It seems best to wait to get those expensive, investment purchases when you buy your fist home.

Consider timing and weigh out your options.  It's hardest to find a place to rent during the Summer. Since our lease ended in July, we knew we were going to face some timing issues.  We had been looking for a place to rent in Washington months prior to our lease ending.  The process was long. Contacting people via Craigslist, filling out applications, having family checking the place, and facing that reality that someone else got the place.  We called on the townhome we're currently in and we were informed that there would be one available in April.  Based on our experience, we knew we had to jump on it, but that meant paying a termination fee from the apartment complex we were in.  It was either paying an extra 1 month's rent to guarantee moving out by the time our lease was up, or facing the possibility of having to pay month-to-month while continuing to look for a place (which would be ultimately more expensive).

Acknowledge the current phase in your life and live accordingly.  Are you in your 20s?  It's likely the place you're currently in isn't going to be your last, so decorate and furnish your place a little more on the frugal side.  Consider DIY for decorating, frame a sentimental letter, paint a table found at the antique store, or make a jewelry rack. Opt for containers from the Dollar Store (or the $1 dollar section from Target).  Maybe once the student loans are paid off, then reward yourself with that lavish accent piece from Restoration Hardware.

We're going to be in our current place for the foreseeable future, but it most certainly won't be the last place we live.  Whether your a seasoned homeowner, or young and renting, I'd love to hear your tips and tricks for moving and living in a place!

Monday, June 8, 2015

From the weekend

This weekend felt like the weekend that kicked off Summer.  We spent a good portion outside, with family, at the pool, at the park.  One thing is for sure, Summer in Washington is perfect.  (And I eat too much ice cream when it's hot out.)

Ella went in a pool for the first time, and she took it in at her own pace. But she splashed, and played, and stayed cool in the 90 degree weather.  I was so happy to see her lovin' the water.  A whole lot of Summer swimming in our future?  I think so.

Some frisbee at the park.