Monday, April 14, 2014

Guess Who's Here!


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Clyde Daniel was born on April 11th at 6:33 PM, weighing 7 lbs, 10 oz, 20 inches long!  

Everything went smoothly, Derek was there for most of the labor and for the birth, and we all are doing great!  Mr. Clyde has been such a content baby so far - he is perfect, and we are so in love with him! 

Thank you for all of your prayers - it has meant a lot to me to know you all were praying.  We feel so blessed to have him here!

Birth story coming soon!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Watched Pot And All That


Hey everyone!  No baby yet.  If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I had a round of false labor on Monday.  I had contractions about 10 minutes apart for four hours!  It was exactly how my labor with Gwen felt at the beginning, so I thought for sure this was "it".

I called my mom and Derek and they drove home to be with me.  Around midnight they convinced me that I should try to get a little rest, so we went to bed.  The contractions did continue for another hour and half or so - I know because I'd wake up with a contraction occasionally.  But they didn't get any stronger, and by morning they were pretty much gone.

I have never had false labor contractions before.  I don't like it.  I hope it doesn't happen again.

I've been feeling pretty much normal since then, and instead of obsessing and planning about when I'm going to go into labor, I decided to treat the rest of this week like a normal week.  I'm coping much better now.

I even scheduled some posts for next week even though I had been hoping to start the week off with a baby announcement.  But the watched pot never boils, and if I act like I'm not going to have the baby this week, then I'll be more likely to have the baby this week, right?  At least it seems like that's how it works.

I will say that the false labor mentally prepared me even more to have this baby here.  I can actually picture it now, I can imagine the weight of his little body in my arms, I can almost feel his little head snuggled under my chin.  I am ready.  Now if my body will just cooperate, we can do this thing!

Anyway, now that I've updated you on the littlest little's antics, I posted a couple pictures of Wyatt and Gwen on the photo blog.  I can't believe how big they are getting!  Also, it is so hard to photograph toddlers.  Wyatt's "cheese" face definitely looks fake, even if he does sit still long enough for me to capture it.  And Gwen will still look at the camera and smile, but she is constantly moving.  I chased them around the house for a while to get these!  They definitely keep me active, those ones!  Anyway, hop on over there to see their beautiful smiles.  Also, Wyatt looks so grown up these days.  *sigh*





Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Maternity Wardrobe: Final Notes

One of the frustrations with maternity clothes is that since options are pretty limited, it is very likely that at least one other pregnant lady in your vicinity owns the same item of clothing as you. And none of us like that thought (even though it's probably true of most of our non-maternity items too).  Two bits of advice for making sure you don't end up wearing the same outfit as one of the other pregnant ladies in your MOPS group . . .

1. Take advantage of all your non-maternity pieces.  It might be likely that someone else is wearing the same maternity top as you, but it is not very likely that another pregnant lady will be wearing the same non-maternity item as you!  I feel like all my non-maternity-but-works-during-pregnancy clothes have kept my pregnancy wardrobe more interesting and unique in general.  I also never really worry about another pregnant lady wearing the same stretchy shirt that I bought at Forever 21 (or wherever).  So if you are going somewhere where pregnant women will be attending in force, something non-maternity is probably your safest bet.

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(I was trying to decide which picture to include here and realized that nothing in this outfit was actually maternity!  Safe to say no other pregnant ladies would be wearing the same outfit.)


2. Accessories, cardigans, and jackets are your friends.  Someone else might have the same shirt as you, but will they pair it with a cardigan and belt the same way you do?  Will they wear the same jacket and scarf as you?  Probably not.  If you are looking to keep your own style and not be caught wearing the same exact outfit as another pregnant woman, change it up with some different accessories and layering pieces!  Even if people notice that you and another person are wearing the same item, you most likely won't be "twins".

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(I think this top that I got from Pink Blush is a pretty popular seller, but it's unlikely the other pregnant women who bought it also have the same non-maternity red jacket that I paired it with here.)


Overall, when maternity shopping, I'd say just to look for pieces that you feel good in.  It's hard enough dressing a pregnant body without feeling like all your clothes make you look huge.  If you try something on and it makes you feel good about the way you look, get it!  Feel pretty wearing it.  All pregnant women are special and gorgeous - there is such a thing as a pregnant glow, but sometimes it's hard to feel the "glow" when you are the pregnant girl.  Finding maternity clothes that make you feel cute helps with that.

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And that concludes my advice on What To Wear When You Are Pregnant.  If you are wondering where I got any specific items that I've worn, just shoot me an email and I'll tell you!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Twirl Review


Twirl by Patsy Clairmont is basically a collection of thoughts on life from the author, specifically how to keep life meaningful and peaceful amidst the "twirl" of the everyday grind.

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To be honest, this book just wasn't my style.  Each chapter is it's own entity, kind of like individual blog posts - which I don't usually mind, but I felt like the subjects weren't really connected to each other at all, which is what confused me.  While I occasionally caught glimpses of the main theme of "twirling" and how that impacts different areas of our lives, I had a hard time picking out a solid point in this book, and even in most of the chapters.  The Type-A side of my personality likes a clear point, which I felt was lacking in this book.  I just need clearer purposes or points in my non-fiction.

However, I will say that I liked the general concept of the book, and I liked that each chapter was short and focused on a narrow theme - those kind of books are perfect for a brief re-focus as you read chapters throughout the day.  I think more poetically-minded, artsy people would probably get more out of this book than I did.

Also, she made a reference to "Christian mystics" which confused me though (she said it like it was a good thing?), so if anyone knows what that is, I'd love it if you'd enlighten me.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book, but I'm sure there are some people who would understand/appreciate it more than I did.

Note: I received this book for free from Booklook in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Full Term! (38 Weeks, Baby #3)

Crossing my fingers that this is my last pregnancy update!

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I'm writing this on Saturday and scheduling it for Monday, so technically he could even be here before this posts! Wishful thinking much?  I'm not sure if the news will hit the blog or Instagram first - but if you want to be safe and not miss any updates, you might just follow me there.  Because really, he could come any time, and you all wouldn't know because I have the next week of posts scheduled.

We are officially full term by any standard now (there seems to be some confusion about whether full term is 37 or 38 weeks).  Baby could come any time and there would be no problems with him being early!  

We had our growth ultrasound last week, and he was measuring right on track about 6 lbs, 14 oz.  Those ultrasounds usually aren't completely accurate, but that would put him right about the same size as Wyatt and Gwen!  So I'm hoping for a nice, average sized baby.  His heart rate was 132 bpm, and I have to say, he is a cutie!  I didn't get his ultrasound pictures all scanned yet, but I took a picture of one:

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I feel like he looks like Derek here.  I can't wait to see his sweet face!

I'm measuring about 2 cm dilated, 50% effaced or so.  Though if I had to guess, I'd say I've probably dilated a little more since my appointment.  It's been getting more and more uncomfortable, and other things have been happening.

I'm having a lot of lower back pain, still getting Braxton-Hicks every day, and they seem to be getting stronger.  I can no longer eat spicy food comfortably  - I get the most horrible heartburn and stomach aches when I eat spicy things, but I continue to do it anyway (1) because I have always liked my food spicy, and (2) because if there happens to be a bit of truth to spicy food bringing on labor, I'm all for it.  I also had one other sign that labor might be starting soon, but it's probably a bit TMI to share here (those of you who have had babies can probably guess).

We're still praying that Baby Boy will decide to come this week, before Derek has to be gone.  I really wish he could just work from home for the last week of my pregnancy so we wouldn't have to worry, but his bosses say no-can-do.  So it's Operation Get-Baby-To-Come!  I'm going to try all the tricks in the book and just hope it'll work so I won't have to go through 5+ hours of labor without him.

We've been walking a lot the past week - we went to the zoo twice, and walked around the mall one night too.  I usually feel like I've been hit by a truck by the time we are done.  My back just can't take it anymore, and he is sitting pretty low now.

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We did buy this cute little giraffe stuffed animal for him at the zoo - so now we have something for his comparison pictures!  It also goes nicely in his room.  Even though the spots aren't actually correct for a giraffe, but it's still cute.  I can almost picture him sitting on his chair next to it!

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I can't believe we're already here!   I keep getting weird feelings, like I could go into labor any time - I even took a random belly picture the other night, because I just thought that maybe he'd come before morning.  No such luck.

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I'm so looking forward to seeing his sweet face and smelling his sweet newborn smell.   If he follows his sister's example, this will be my last pregnancy update.  Not much longer now, so I'm just trying to be patient!

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dancing With Fireflies Review

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Dancing With Fireflies by Denise Hunter is a small-town, Christian romance book.  Jade arrives back in her hometown pregnant and alone, looking for a job so she can support her baby.  Daniel, who Jade has always viewed as a brother, helps her as she settles in.  but Daniel has had feelings for Jade for a long time, and tries to hide it from Jade to avoid scaring her away.  Through the course of the book Jade starts to have feeling for Daniel too, but has to overcome some previous traumas before she realizes she needs to trust God and allow herself to love someone again.

I've read a couple of Hunter's books before, and I like them because she knows how to keep the reader interested in the story throughout the book.  But not in an infuriating, you-want-to-shake-the-main-characters kind of way, more in a I-have-to-keep-reading-to-see-what-happens type of way.  This book was no exception, and I didn't want to put it down!  The characters were likable, and not too perfect, and the story was interesting.

The one thing I don't like as much about Hunter's romance books is that in certain scenes I feel like she focuses a little too much on the physical attraction/temptation aspect of the character's romance.  Nothing inappropriate ever happens - the books I've read from Hunter have been clean.  The descriptions just get a little heavy for me at times.  Also, in this book Jade finds herself pregnant as a result of date r.ape - I feel like Hunter handled this plot element with tact and didn't put an excessive focus on it, but I would recommend discretion before letting a younger girl read because of those elements.

Overall though, I really enjoyed this book!  Hunter's writing style is easy to read, and I don't know how she keeps a relatively simple story so interesting, but she does.  If you want a quick, romantic read, this is one to check out.

Note: I received these books for free from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Creating A Custom Watermark

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I was asked recently how I made the watermark I used on my photos, so I thought I'd write a little tutorial!

A watermark is just basically just the name of your blog or business, with or without a logo, that you can "stamp" onto your photos.  There are several reasons why I watermark my blog photos - to protect them from being stolen and used elsewhere on the web being chief among them.  If you are a blogger and you don't currently watermark your photos, it is something I strongly suggest that you consider.  Especially in this Pinterest age, it is very likely that your photos will end up somewhere else on the internet, and using a watermark ensures you protect your photos and it allows you to still get proper credit (because people don't always reference their sources properly - shocking, I know).

If you do not have your own photo editing program, you can still add the name of your blog to your photos using an online editor like PicMonkey - just type out your blog name or address into a text box, and you can adjust the colors and opacity to give it a watermark effect.

Personally, I use Photoshop Elements to watermark my photos - this really is the easiest way to watermark, because you can create a brush of your watermark.  Once you have the brush, it is literally just one click to add the watermark!  I first learned how to create a watermark brush in Photoshop by reading this tutorial, but I'll go ahead and tell you the steps here as well.

1. You want to create a blank file in PSE.  Just go to File>New>Blank File.


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2.  You can make your blank file up to 2500 pixels in width, but don't go over that.  You can't create brushes that are larger than 2500 pixels across.  Make sure the background is set as transparent.


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3.  Next, go ahead and create your watermark.  Get creative!  The one thing I didn't realize when I first made a watermark is that you aren't just limited to text - you can add shapes or whatever.  Just make your text and shapes black in color.  We're creating a brush, not an image, so the final color will just be whatever color you choose for your brush when you "stamp" your image.

Hint: If you add shapes, I recommend making sure the shapes are behind the text, and adjusting the opacity to make them more transparent than your font, like I did in the image below.

Note: If you are creating a watermark for your blog images and you ever plan on making money off your blog, make sure that you choose a font that is free for commercial use.  My first watermark was created with a font that was not free for commercial use, and when I started advertising I had to buy the font to still be legal - not fun.


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4.  Once you have your watermark the way you like it, you need to make it into a brush.  Go to Edit>Define Brush, and it will add it to whatever set of brushes you have open.


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5. Name your new brush.

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6.  Now you need to make sure that you save the brush into your set - otherwise it will be gone the next time you open PSE!  Click the drop down menu for your brushes, then click the little arrows that point right in that box.  You want to scroll down and click "Save Brushes".  Name your brush set and save.  If you can't find your brush later, you may need to load this specific brush set - follow the same steps here and click on "Load Brushes", and then select the set that you just saved, and your brush should be there!

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7.  Now you are all set to use your new brush!  Open an image to try it out.  Once you have your brush selected you can adjust the settings of you brush with the top settings bar:


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You can adjust size, type of brush, and opacity there.  I like the "Overlay" settings for watermarks because it has a more subtle effect, but feel free to experiment!  For example, here is the watermark used on the "Normal" setting, full opacity:


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And here it is used with the "Overlay" setting, full opacity:

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You can also make your brush different colors (I use white a lot too).

And that's it!  You now have a custom watermark that you can add to photos with one click.
Let me know if you have any questions!
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