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March 2, 2015

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Hello, friends! The stats have once again been reset over on Top Baby Blogs today. We will be back to competing this quarter. vote_for_us

If you love my blog, you can support us by giving us a daily vote. All you have to do is click this link (or one of the banners in this post). When the owls show up, click the owl on the left. Once you’re taken to the standings page, that’s it, you’re done. You can vote for us one time every twenty-four hours.

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Much love & gratitude!


Pregnancy Update // 36 Weeks

March 2, 2015

36 weeks // livelovesimple.com

How far along are you? 36 weeks.

Sleep: It’s a shame that this is one of the first questions, because the answer is always negative. I’d better get used to it since it will stay that way for awhile. Fact is, sleep is horrendous. Things are tight in there. Baby girl moves lower & lower as she prepares for her debut. She is on my bladder constantly & the pressure is insane. I can’t sleep for more than an hour straight and I’m up all night using the bathroom.

I go to bed tired and wake up tired. I forget what it feels like to be well-rested. More, if baby girl follows her brother’s sleeping habits, it will be another year before I ever feel well-rested again.

Movement: Her pattern of movement has changed over the past week. I still feel her moving with about the same frequency as before, but it’s clear that she has less space to move about now. Last week, at my thirty-five week scan, we determined that she was head-down, face-down, and weighed somewhere in the ballpark of five pounds, fifteen ounces.

I’ve noticed her having the hiccups a few times recently which is always interesting. Roman had the hiccups at least daily, but she has had them less frequently.

Favourite Moment: The highlight of my week was sneaking away from my chores and spending a morning getting a manicure & pedicure. It was heavenly and provided me a beautiful opportunity to clear my mind and focus on my self, my body, and my pregnancy. We are moving into the very last weeks now and I feel like my head & heart are finally in the right space to move through the closing stages of this journey. I am a bundle of nerves & excitement. I can not wait to meet her.

Cravings: Anything that fills my belly. ;) I haven’t had many specific cravings to speak of, it varies by day and time of day. I’ve been making giant kale & berry smoothies for the whole family and those have been really satisfying. I’ve also been eating a lot of cheese (mozzarella is my weakness!), salads, and cereal with almond milk. My craving for meat has vanished. I try to eat small meals throughout the day because of my relentless indigestion, but it’s a losing battle. It never lets up and I spend my days popping Tums (antacids) like candy.

Happy or Moody? My mood has been fairly consistent throughout this last trimester. And by consistent I mean, I feel fine most of the time and occasionally meltdown into a weeping mess. I am as physically broken down as I’ve ever been and my inability to do physical things without an enormous struggle — such as carry Roman up the stairs, shave my legs, find a comfortable position to lie down — often gets to me. I absolutely hate feeling incapable. I try to remind myself that this, too, is an important part of the process and, like everything, it is temporary.

Belly Status: Once a week or so, I leave my belly uncovered and parade it around for the boys to see. I feel like it is such a miracle that I just have to share it. One day this week, while it was on display, M. said, “It’s just unbelievable how much your skin is able to stretch.” And he is right, it really is amazing.

There is something so different about the final weeks of pregnancy as compared with the rest of it. The female body truly shows the sheer wonder that it is capable of. I am so grateful that I have had the gift of experiencing this incredible process twice.

Aches & Pains: Indigestion is constant and horrific. I know it sounds dramatic, but sometimes it feels like there is battery acid in my chest and I want to cry. There are, naturally, some foods that make it worse, but all food causes it to some extent. My sister and I say that from the second trimester on, we can drink water and it gives us heartburn. We joke about it, but sadly it’s true! Nothing is safe.

As I mentioned above, my body is reaching its limits. Walking up and down stairs is painful on my knees. I struggle to carry Roman, even short distances. (He is over thirty pounds, so that’s to be expected.) I get winded easily and breathe heavily even at rest. And finally, my energy levels are at all-time lows. It’s easy to get depressed over these things, but I am keeping them in perspective. So. worth. it.

Looking Forward To: I am going to stick with my response from my last update & go with Spring. March came in like a lion — with a massive snow & ice storm — and I’m praying that it goes out like a lamb. I am holding fast to my dreams of sunshine, warm days, and laying in the grass with my two little ones.

Changes to the Home: Operation: Declutter 2015 has slowly rolled to a close. I’m absolutely amazed at what we accomplished in two months. There is such a dramatic difference throughout the house.

Even though we have two items left to tackle (our closet and the bathroom cabinet/drawers), I am confident to say, Mission Accomplished. We’ll get to those other two things eventually, but the major projects are complete, and we are so much more at-peace in our home now. It has never felt so organized. It’s also been easier to keep things clean in general since I don’t get overwhelmed/crippled by clutter everywhere. It took a lot of work and heart but I’m grateful that we persevered. What is apparent now is just how much this needs to be an ongoing thing. Simplicity is not a project that you can tackle once, but rather, it’s a lifestyle that you must maintain.

This week we got the infant car seat down from the attic and I washed the fabric insert. I’ve got to re-insert it and clean the base. Then we’ve got to get it in the car. It’s going to be tricky. My backseat is tight as it is. We’ll have to put her car seat on one side and Roman’s on the other. It’s the only way they’ll fit.

Other than that, there are a few things I want to prepare around the house for my mother. She will be staying with Roman in the event that I have a middle of the night labor, like I did last time. She’ll drive up to stay with Roman until M. can get back home, so I want to have bedding and anything else that she’ll need prepared for her. I’ve also still got to pack our hospital bag, which I’m determined to do this week.


That’s another update down. Officially less than a month to go. It’s just incredible!

Have a beautiful week. xx

/// To see my other pregnancy updates, click here. ///


This Week // 02.27.15

February 27, 2015

this week // livelovesimple.com

this week // livelovesimple.com

Happy Friday, friends. How was your week? Ours was pretty good. My body and mind continue to slow as I push through these final weeks of pregnancy, but overall things have been going well & today I’m feeling incredibly blessed.

Blogging

On Monday, I participated in a little collaboration post with my friend, Jana, called Living Simply with Little Ones. It was a lot of fun to talk about two of my favourite things, motherhood + simplicity. Head on over to her blog to have a look. I also shared a post here titled, Things That You Really Need for a Newborn. I enjoyed writing that one, both as an informative piece for others and as a reminder to myself.

Other than that, it’s been a bit quiet on the blogging front. Roman has been going through a phase where he requires a lot of attention. I’ve been lacking in energy. I’ve got a few drafts started, but there just doesn’t seem to be the time + push to complete them these days. I imagine that will be the case for awhile now. Priorities. Still, I do find so much joy in this space & I’m so grateful when I make the time to be present here. Looking back on my writing + photographs is always extremely gratifying.

this week // livelovesimple.com

this week // livelovesimple.com

this week // livelovesimple.com

Breakfast Date

We’ve decided that if we’re going to leave the house on average days (as opposed to special occasions), we must get out in the morning and get home before Roman’s nap time. If he falls asleep in the car, even just for five minutes, he wakes up thinking that he’s had a nap and then boycotts sleep until bedtime. That means he gets a five-minute nap instead of a two – three hour nap and it also means no break for Mama & Papa. So, errands + outings now take place first thing in the morning.

Earlier this week, we had a family breakfast date at the diner, complete with blueberry pancakes, bacon, eggs, & home fries. It was just too good. After that we went to the toy store to pick up a toy for my nephew’s birthday party this weekend. Since Roman was such a good boy, he also got his very first Slinky. It was such a nice morning. Getting out of the house in this wicked, winter weather takes extra effort, but it’s so nice once we get out.

this week // livelovesimple.com

this week // livelovesimple.com

Pregnancy

I’m hoping to do a full pregnancy update next week, but there are a few things I don’t want to forget. I had my thirty-five week scan yesterday and baby girl looked great. She’s head down & face down. My doctor said that is perfect because that’s the ideal position for delivery and since it’s so cramped in there now, she’s not likely to change position. What a relief. I’ve had friends forced into c-sections due to babies in breech positioning and that’s always been a fear of mine. She is measuring right on target and my due date of April 1st holds firm.

It’s absolutely getting down to the wire now and I’ve been having some anxiety about pain. If you read Roman’s birth story, then you know that I had an unmedicated, vaginal delivery without intervention. It was a challenge, of course, but in a lot of ways “not knowing” what to expect made it easier. Now, knowing exactly what the pain entails, the whole prospect is a bit more terrifying.

It’s all just normal nerves & anxiety; but I have started to practice visualization & relaxation more often/intensely. Continuing these practices will be a major priority for me in the coming weeks.

“Me” Time

The last thing that I have to report is that I had a lovely bit of “me” time this morning when I snuck away after breakfast for a manicure & pedicure. It’s been ages since I’ve had that sort of pampering & it was truly divine. I made sure to lavish in every luxurious moment of peace, quiet, & pampering. I kept my phone put away and turned off my mind. I left the salon feeling like a new woman and I’m determined to get in one more visit before she arrives, since it will most definitely be a long time after that.

this week // livelovesimple.com

this week // livelovesimple.com

I hope that you have the most beautiful weekend, friends. We’re off to a birthday party tomorrow and I’m so excited that Roman will get to spend some time with his cousins. What are your plans? xx


Things That You Really Need for a Newborn

February 25, 2015

Things That You Really Need for a Newborn // livelovesimple.com

Creating my registry was one of my favourite parts of my first pregnancy. Let’s face it, they gave me that little scanner gun in the “baby stuff” store and I went crazy. It’s a mistake that most first-time moms make. If you read mommy blogs like I do, you likely come across lengthy & loaded “Must-Have Lists for Newborns” on the regular. And as a first-time mom, it’s easy to convince yourself that you really will need all of that stuff for your tiny babe.

The truth, however, is that you won’t — not even close. If you fall into the madness, you will end up with more than you could ever hope to need or use. Opening the gifts at your baby shower will be equivalent to running a 10K and your husband will faint as he tries to figure out where you’re going to put all that stuff. (In all seriousness, when M. saw my shower gifts, he turned white. I’ve never seen him look so puzzled before or after that day.)

The reality is that newborns are simple creatures. They eat, sleep, and fill diapers. That’s about the extent of it. There are around twenty things max. that you actually need to take care of a newborn during his or her first few months of life. And if you want to go super minimal you could get away with less than that.

This time around I am taking a far simpler approach to my newborn preparations. Experience has taught me that less is more when it comes to tiny babies. I’ll appreciate the increased simplicity both when my new baby arrives and in a year or so from now when I’m ready to declutter my house of baby things.

I put together the inspiration board above to share a few of the things that I consider truly helpful when bringing a newborn home. I’ve included a few other “necessities” in the text below.

A couple of notes– Both of my babies are spring babies and I planned it that way. This list would be longer and would have to include a whole host of additional warm clothing items if I had winter babes. Since we’ll be welcoming a girl very soon, I’ve included a lot of pink here and I’ll be using female pronouns in this post. I can’t help myself!


1. Onesies/singlets – Your little one will basically live in a onesie for the first year of her life. This 5-pack of Burt’s Bees Baby Baby Onesies is perfect. It’s the one that I put on my registry because the onesies are soft, durable, and organic. There’s no need to be picky, though, no matter what brand/style you choose, you’ll get lots of use out of them.

2. Nipple butter – This one is actually for Mama, but a happy Mama make for a happy baby. Whether you choose to/are able to breastfeed or not, that part of your body will likely go through some changes, and if you do nurse, it may be really painful for a really long time. This time around I am going to give Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter a shot. Last time I used Lansinoh cream and while it gave me some relief, I’m hoping that Earth Mama will be better.

3. Swaddle blankets – Good swaddle blankets are golden when it comes to newborns! You’ll use them to wrap your baby for sleep, to cover her when there is a breeze, and to put over her carrier when there are germs about (like at the pediatrician), as a changing pad in a pinch, etc. etc. They have endless uses.

I tried several different types of swaddle blankets the first-time around and I fell in love with the Aden + Anais Classic Muslin Swaddles. They are lightweight & beautiful. They’re also extremely durable and unlike most other swaddles, repeated washings don’t take away from their softness at all.

4. Stroller – A stroller may not be a necessity for every family, but it certainly was for ours. My first baby was a terrible sleeper and long walks with him in the stroller were my saving grace. Unfortunately, I didn’t put much thought into my first stroller and I lived to regret it. Later, my mother-in-law found us a used City Mini and we fell madly in love with it.

I knew that I wanted a double stroller since Roman still loves walks. After a lot of research, I decided on a City Select with a Second Seat (from the same maker) that will sit both Roman and the new baby. It can also convert to a one-seater if/when Roman outgrows a stroller altogether. The stroller was out of our budget & more than I would ask family to pay for, so we found a used one one in our local mom’s group and my mom gifted it to us.

5. Long-sleeved onesies – As I mentioned above, she’ll be living in onesises for awhile, so it will be important to have different types for different times. It will be good to have a variety of short and long-sleeves and to have some that have built-in mittens to keep her from scratching. Their little finger nails grow like wildfire and mittens will be the only thing that keep scratches from that sweet face in the beginning.

I love these Burt’s Bees Baby Organic Onesies and the little top knot hats are perfect. Hats should definitely be on your list, too. Keeping that little noggin warm in the early months is so important.

6. Calendula Cream – My first baby had a severe case of baby acne, pretty much from his second day of life. It drove me nuts. After tons of research, I decided to give California Baby Calendula Cream a shot and it literally worked like a miracle. I’ve recommended it to several friends who had the same problem and they’ve all had the same fantastic results with it. (By the way, I’m not being compensated to say this. It just works!) I use it to this day on Roman’s dry skin.

7. Shampoo & body wash – I am a huge Burt’s Bees fan and the first-time around I used all of their bath products. I have no complaints about them — they work well, and smell fantastic. However, Roman has chronically dry skin and I’m about to start using California Baby Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash for him since the cream worked so well for us in the past. Thus, I’ve included that in my registry and will be using it for baby girl, too.

8. Loose-fitting, comfortable clothing – The first-time around, my favourite outfits were by far the loose-fitting, comfortable ones. We received several one piece short-sets and Roman lived in them through the warm spring & summer months. I love the look & feel of these Burt’s Bees Baby-Girls Organic Dresses. I’ve got a feeling they will be our go-to pieces as soon as it is warm enough.

9. Warm, hooded sweatshirt – A few of these warm hoodies were equally as important for us. They are perfect for layering up and for breezy days & nights. I’ve added this Burt’s Bees Baby Baby Loose Terry Zip Hoodie to my list and think it will do perfectly.


As I mentioned above, there are several other things that you’ll need. Here is a list of the things that stick out to me. Most of them haven’t been added to my list because either we won’t need them because I am nursing rather than formula feeding and/or I haven’t yet decided on which ones we’re going to get and don’t have a recommendation as yet.

  • Bottles/formula – My first baby was exclusively breastfed and never took formula. We bypassed bottles altogether and went straight to a sippy cup when he was ready. I did, however, receive these Dr. Brown’s Glass Bottles at my first shower and have held onto them in case we need them for our baby girl. The packages are still unopened.
  • Pacifiers - I am a big believer in pacifiers. At first I was afraid that using one would mess up my ability to breastfeed but it didn’t at all. In fact, the pacifier is the only thing that saved my boobies during those first painful months of round-the-clock nursing. I won’t recommend a particular brand because in my experience every baby is different. We had to try about six different brands/styles before we found one that Roman loved.
  • Bath tub - We received a little plastic tub with an infant sling that proved to be very helpful for bath time. I’m not certain that a baby bath is a necessity, but it was really helpful to me when we moved from sponge baths to soaking baths.
  • Diapers - Duh! This is probably the most obvious “necessity” but there is a lot to think about as you decide whether you’ll use disposables or cloth diapers and which brands you’ll use. I tried cloth diapering and quickly realized that it wasn’t for us, but every family is different and as long as baby is clean & safe, that’s what matters.
  • Bassinet/crib - This is sort of a loaded one for us. Simply put, your baby will need a place to sleep. Roman slept in my arms all night, every night for three months. Not fun. This time around, I’ve purchased a second-hand bassinet which is stationed in my room. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
  • Socks/booties - In addition to the clothes I’ve mentioned above, you’ll need something to keep baby’s feet warm when she’s not in a onesie with built-in feet. I really struggled to find a pair of socks/booties that would actually stay on, and I’m hoping that I’ll have better luck this time around.
  • Breast pump - If you’re planning to breast feed, a pump may be necessary if you have an over supply or if you’re planning to return to work. Unfortunately, pumping never really worked for us so I don’t have a good recommendation on this one. We’ll see how it works out this time around.
  • Car seat - The final thing that you’ll want to make sure of is that you have a safe, new car seat. At the hospital where I delivered, the staff insisted on checking out our car seat before we could go home. It seemed a bit unusual to me, but I appreciated having the extra assurance that our car seat was safe & installed properly before we hit the road.

There you have it, the eighteen things that I consider to be newborn essentials. There are undoubtedly endless additional things that I could add to the list under the heading of “conveniences,” but that list could easily go on forever. There will be a learning curve and you will quickly realize what your family truly needs. Many times a baby will also present a unique challenge (i.e. eating, sleeping, allergies) and that will call for additional, unexpected necessities. I would, however, advise caution whilst you try to “fix” the issue. There are many unhelpful products on the baby market that claim to be miracle solutions.

We had major sleeping issues with Roman that led to him sleeping in my arms every night for his first three months. During those days & nights of desperation, I was willing to try anything that claimed it would help. We wound up purchasing every manner of co-sleeper, baby wrap, and sleep aid that had a positive review. In hindsight, many of those products weren’t worth it and didn’t help at all. It makes sense to seek solutions, but don’t go overboard. I will say that the rocking swing that we purchased was a lifesaver. I’d categorize it under “convenience” rather than “necessity,” but considering the fact that it was the only place that Roman would sleep (other than my arms), perhaps it was more of a necessity after all.

My final recommendation is an Amazon Mom (Amazon Prime) account. If you’re not familiar it’s an Amazon account that gives you free two-day shipping on thousands of items — including almost every newborn essential you could possibly dream up. It was the single-most useful and convenient resource for me during those first months of motherhood, when leaving the house was simply not an option. I can’t recommend it highly enough. (You can sign up here, if you’re interested.)


Okay, that’s all for my recommendations! I hope that this post is helpful to you first-time mamas-to-be, and perhaps even to moms who are expecting again and simply looking to simplify this time around.

I would love to hear from you, too. What things did you consider essential when you welcomed your newborn home? (I’m sure I’ve forgotten some really obvious ones!) I’d love for you to add to the list in the comments below.

This Week // 02.20.15

February 20, 2015

livelovesimple.com // weekly update

Happy Friday, friends. How was your week? Mine was exhausting as you may have guessed from the quiet over here on the blog. This homestretch is taking it out of me. I’ve been slowing down physically for awhile, and now my mind is slowing down, too. By late morning, I feel myself turning off. I’ve been trying to pack nutrition into my meals & snacks for extra bursts of energy. Gratefully a nap (or even a lie down) helps a bunch and gets me through until bedtime.

It does feel a bit like life is just a series of activities between sleeps at the moment. I don’t mind too much though. Today the temperature outside is -20 ºF (-28 ºC). What good is it really to be out & about? It’s not survivable outdoors for more than a few minutes. Winter is the best time for these last weeks of my pregnancy and this slowing down of mine is right on time. Soon it will be Spring and there will be new life in every regard.

livelovesimple.com // weekly update

livelovesimple.com // weekly update

We celebrated Valentine’s Day over the weekend and it was just the sweetest. Roman and I got up early to make Papa a beautiful card and a breakfast of heart-shaped bacon & warm cinnamon buns. I was spoiled with a lovely card, chocolates, and roses and felt as special as could be. That evening I baked a pizza with a giant pepperoni heart & the boys loved it.

livelovesimple.com // weekly update

My father had rotator cuff (shoulder) surgery last week, so we went to visit him. Roman loves his Pop-pop so very much. It’s always a big struggle to get him to leave my parent’s house. After our visit we went to a little grill place for some grilled cheese & hot dogs all-the-way. They have a pickle bar there and Roman just about ate his weight in pickles — a boy after his mother’s heart for sure.

livelovesimple.com // weekly update

This morning, we put the invitations for my sprinkle out in the mail. Another check off of the “baby prep” list. It’s going to be a simple, small lunch and the perfect little way to celebrate baby girl’s impending entrance into the world. Speaking of which, I had my first vivid dream of her being here last night! It was amazing. I was holding her in my arms and she was just the sweetest thing. She looked a lot like Roman except that she had very dark features — deep brown eyes and dark hair — the very opposite of her brother! A premonition? Only time will tell.

The most exciting thing that happened this week is that my sister & I booked our annual family camping trip. Last year we went over Memorial Day Weekend and it was just the best thing ever. This year we decided to go over Labor Day Weekend so that the baby will be a bit bigger. We’ve booked a beautiful, stone lodge right on the lake, as opposed to the rougher cabins that we stayed in last year. Camping is my favourite thing in the world, but I’ll appreciate having running water and an insect-free place to sleep with a newborn in tow. Sure, it’s a long way off but it’s so wonderful to have something to daydream about.

Have a beautiful weekend, friends. Any exciting plans on your agenda? xx


Pregnancy Update // 34 Weeks

February 17, 2015

livelovesimple.com

Listen to your body. You’re eight-and-a-half months pregnant. Listen to your body. Recently, I’ve been repeating this mantra to myself. There is no doubt that I am slowing down. My energy levels have certainly waxed and waned through this pregnancy and the past few days have found me absolutely lumbering like a big, old bear ready for winter hibernation. It’s difficult to be patient with my tired body when there is so much that I want to accomplish yet. But I tell myself that it will all get done when it gets done and try to be as kind to myself as possible. That is what I need now. That is what baby needs now. Patience, kindness, slowness. Listen to your body.


How far along are you? 34 weeks.

Sleep: I hit a new level of exhaustion recently. It’s been so extreme that sometimes I feel like I’m back in my first trimester. Gratefully, Roman naps for two or three hours each afternoon. Most days I nap while he does and it’s been my saving grace.

Nighttime sleep is still a challenge because I am up to use the bathroom every two to three hours. The good news, however, is that I’ve found a (sort-of) solution for my hip pain. More about that later.

Movement: She is still a little mover & shaker. She’s consistently been resting very low but one day last week, I woke up and it was like she’d traveled up to the very top of my bump. It felt strange to suddenly feel her so high up and it also changed the way my bump looked, making the whole thing sit much higher than it had been. It seems she has settled back down since then. I remember feeling Roman kick my ribs, but she never hits me that high. Most of her energy seems to be directed toward my pelvic region and my bladder. Lucky me.

livelovesimple.com

Favourite Moment: I really enjoyed finalizing the details for my “Sprinkle” and adding items to my registry. As I’ve mentioned, it’s such a different experience this time around, knowing how little is truly needed for a newborn. It’s been a joy to carefully select the sweet, little things that I know will be well-used and well-loved.

Cravings: My cravings have died down quite a bit. In fact, these past few weeks I’ve found myself quite nauseous on occasion and have had to force myself to eat to quell the nausea at times. Other times I am as hungry as a horse and will eat everything in my path. Still, my doctors are very pleased with my weight gain and state that I am right on track.

I’ve decided to cut out some of my “naughtier” snacking in favor of healthier options and I’m proud of that. I still give in here and there, but it’s all about moderation. I’m never going to beat myself up for being hungry or gaining weight. My number one goal is to have a healthy baby. Plus, recent research has totally confirmed what I knew all along — moms with fat bottoms make more intelligent children. ;)

Happy or Moody? It most definitely depends on the day and the hour (and the amount of sleep I’ve have and the amount of food I’ve eaten). Like I said last time, I am a giant, round toddler. My emotions are varied, but there’s no doubt that I feel everything more strongly at the moment — joy, anger, and sadness.

livelovesimple.com

Belly Status: The other morning I was coming back into the bedroom from the bathroom. M. was getting his first glimpse of me for the day. In his still-half-asleep state, he mumbled, “You’ve crossed the threshold and are now officially huge.” Oh, what a gem! He’s right though. My belly is epic and is nearing maximum capacity. My body has also responded with the appropriate “counterweights” all over the place.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — pregnancy is such a beautiful thing. I believe that every pregnant woman’s body is a complete miracle. We all vary so very much, but all of our bodies are working toward the same precious miracle. I resent absolutely nothing about the process. I am working hard to truly cherish it all, as this will likely be my last trip down this road.

Aches & Pains: As I mentioned, I’ve found a (sort-of) solution for my hip pain. For a long time, everyone had been telling me to sleep with a pillow between my knees to keep my hips, pelvis, and spine aligned. I had been sleeping with one there for awhile, but it wasn’t helping. One night I decided to try a thicker pillow and the difference was immediate. The pillow I had been using was too flat. I slept better that very first night and woke up with a dramatic decrease in the hip and back pain that had been plaguing me for months.

livelovesimple.com

I’ve also stopped taking the iron pills. At one of my recent checkups, the OB stated that my iron was never very low and as long as I wasn’t having anymore dizziness, I could stop the pills. This is one of the things that I don’t love about my practice. There are five doctors and two nurse practitioners and naturally there are differing opinions among them. I do my best to take their advice, do my own research, and follow my gut.

Looking Forward To: Spring! We’ve been absolutely pounded this month with subzero temperatures and snowstorm after snowstorm. We haven’t see our yard in a month, as it’s been consistently covered with three-to-four feet of solid ice & snow. I am so grateful that February is more than halfway over now. While we don’t get consistently warm weather until May, we do start getting some warm days come March.

Little girl is due on April 1st and Easter is on the 5th. I just can’t wait for warmer days, sunshine skies, and my little Easter bunny girl.

I’ve also got my final ultrasound coming up on the 26th and I am looking forward to that, as well. I’m excited to see how she is measuring and to hear if my due date is still on target.

livelovesimple.com

Changes to the Home: We’ve made a good deal of progress since my last bump update. The bassinet is complete, ready, and waiting. I’ve purged all of Roman’s old clothes & toys and put away what we’ve gotten so far for baby girl. I’ve got just a few more things to do in the nursery and then I’ll be ready to prepare the final details, like packing our hospital bag.


That’s all for this update. I am so very grateful that we’ve come this far and that everything is going well. I don’t take a single moment for granted and pray with my whole heart that things keep up for the best.

Hope you’re having a great week so far, friends. xx

/// To see my other pregnancy updates, click here. ///

This Week // 02.13.15

February 13, 2015

this week // livelovesimple.com

this week // livelovesimple.com

How was your week? Mine was all over the place. Things started out really productive which I am so grateful for. There’s nothing like checking some big items off your to-do list to start the week off on the right foot.

I went through all of Roman’s clothes (newborn to present) and got rid of everything that no longer fits him. What a task! It was a bit emotional at times — letting go of those sweet, little baby things — but I stayed focused and determined. I kept some of the more gender neutral things for baby girl, so that helped. We brought all of the lightly-worn, stain-free things to a consignment shop and donated the rest. We also sold his old toys while we were there. What a feeling to be rid of it all!

this week // livelovesimple.com

After that I reorganized his dresser, which will now becoming their dresser. I purchased a few little drawer organizers at the dollar store to neatly store their socks, bibs, and baby girl’s bows. We finished assembling the bassinet and putting the bedding in it. We’ve been pecking away at some of the other items on the list, but those were the big accomplishments for the past week.

On Tuesday night, I went to dinner with one of my oldest and dearest friends. It was wonderful to see her and felt great to have a little grownup time. It’s been so long since I’ve gone anywhere without either of my boys that I felt naked. Walking into the restaurant without a toddler on my hip and a diaper bag on my back felt strange, but I enjoyed myself and had a lovely evening.

this week // livelovesimple.com

I know I couldn’t possibly be more redundant when it comes to the weather — but it’s been more of the same. Far, far below freezing temperatures and snow/ice every few days. It’s quite miserable and all of our time has been spent indoors. I’ve gotten really creative with some new indoor activities because even Roman’s most favourite Christmas presents are starting to lose their charm at this point. Luckily, the sun comes out most days and streams in through the windows and doors. Despite the weather, I’m grateful that we are safe & warm inside — even if we’re more than ready to get out of here. I know that we are blessed.

this week // livelovesimple.com

Other than that, I’ve finally started to iron out the details of my “Baby Sprinkle” and I started a little registry. It’s amazing how much you realize that you don’t need the second time around, especially when your babies are in close succession.

I had my thirty-three week checkup yesterday, and I’ll be back next week with a baby bump update. I hope that you’ve had a beautiful week, friends! Any big plans for Valentine’s Day tomorrow?

thoughts on that day & an update //

February 10, 2015

family portrait // livelovesimple.com

It was October 14th. I was sixteen weeks pregnant. I was just coming out of the nightmares that were hyperemesis gravidarum and a subchorionic hemorrhage. He texted me from the hospital, said that he had broken his foot and needed me to come pick him up. Later he would tell me that he downplayed it because he didn’t want me to worry and that he texted instead of calling because he didn’t want to cry.

The hospital was in Tarrytown, New York — the Tarrytown from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It’s a little more than an hour drive from our house. I’d been wanting to visit that place all of my life. And there I was at the best time of year for it, a couple weeks out from Halloween, the trees along the banks of the Hudson River littered with autumn-coloured leaves.

I drove through Tarrytown and into Sleepy Hollow, passed the Old Dutch Church and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. It wasn’t what I’d planned for my first trip to that magical place whose legend haunted my childhood.

I had just put Roman down for his nap when I received Matthew’s text. I had to wake him up though he’d been asleep less than five minutes. I was hoping that he would sleep on the car ride there. He didn’t. When we got to the hospital, I put him in his stroller and we made our way to the emergency room where M. was.

I didn’t know what to expect. I quickly learned the truth, that a 5,000 pound steel beam had fallen on, and crushed, his left foot. He would need to have emergency surgery. A lot of the memory is blurry now, but I remember clearly the surgeon coming in. M. met him at the same time that I did. I was going to leave the room so that they could talk. The surgeon told me to stay and that I should hear it too. He talked about the injuries, about what happened, medically speaking. And then he said — this is the part that I will never forget — “There is a chance that you will lose part or all of your foot.”

There are things in life that you can’t prepare yourself for. Moments that I call “still points” when the world just stops and everything starts to spin around that moment. You can divide your life into segments — everything that came before that point and everything that came after it. That was one of those moments.

My knees felt weak and I got this feeling that I only get when terrible things happen, where my blood runs cold and it feels like my very guts are trembling. But I only let that feeling wash over me for a few moments and then I stood up straight, pushed out all of the fear, and vowed that I would be entirely strong for him — as strong as he needed me to be.

The surgeon performed some tests to determine the immediate extent of the damage. Immediate surgery was critical. Then he excused himself to make calls and get the surgery team together.

Then we were there alone. I pushed Roman back and forth in the stroller. After a few seconds I broke the silence, saying, “Just know that whatever happens it’s going to be okay. Whatever happens, we’re going to get through it, and it’s going to be okay.” There was a peace in my heart and a complete truth to my words. I knew that they were true as I said them. I knew that those words were exactly what he needed to hear.


That’s the last thing that I remember about that day with complete clarity. Fifteen days in the hospital, countless visits from me, four surgeries later, and three skin grafts — and then he was home again. Once home we had an entirely new war to wage. His recovery was (and is) long & arduous. In the beginning, he was entirely helpless. Now, four months later, he slowly gains back independence. There are, however, things that will never be the same. Parts of his skin and muscle had already died before he even got to the hospital. Those pieces are forever lost. Nerve damage resulted in permanent loss of sensation through entire parts of his foot. He has chronic pain syndrome that may last a lifetime.

There is no end to the explanation of what happened, no end to the wondering about what will happen going forward. We do the only things that we can do. We take it one day at a time. We thank God for the progress that he has made so far. And we pray that each day continues to be a little bit better than the one before it.

For personal reasons, this will be the last post that I make regarding Matthew’s injury, at least for a very long time. I cannot express enough gratitude toward everyone that has been here for our family through this time. Every prayer, every donation, every message, every thought meant more to us than I will ever be able to explain. Thank you.

For Bloggers: Branding & Identity

February 9, 2015

screenshot // livelovesimple.com

At the beginning of the year, I re-designed & re-branded Live, Love, Simple. It’s something that I had been wanting to do for ages. I’ve been designing my own websites & graphics for sixteen years, but I had never done a full Branding & Identity workup for my blog. I knew that it was time.

Branding & Identity are critical components of a successful blog. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, a good brand is an excellent marketing tool. Regular readers of your blog should recognize your work at a glance. One of the ways to achieve this is to consistently use fonts, design layouts, colour palettes, and so on. Having a beautiful and clean Branding & Identity makes your blog appear professional and attracts both new readers and potential partners.

Here is a glance at the Branding & Identity workup that I created for Live, Love, Simple‘s new look & feel. (You can click on the workup to view all of the elements in full size.)

BRANDING & IDENTITY // livelovesimple.com

The elements that are included in a Branding & Identity workup will vary from blog to blog and business to business. In my workup I included: a banner, colour palette, design elements, social media icons, textures & patterns, and typography. I had the vision for my new look & feel in my head for awhile and the workup served as a map to guide me through the process of the re-design.

While I absolutely love to be creative and enjoy graphic design, I am not an expert coder. Therefore, I typically use WordPress themes from third parties. This re-design uses a theme from Blogmilk. And while my coding knowledge is limited, I do have a fair knowledge of HTML and CSS which allows me to make many customizations to the original theme that I purchased. I am never completely happy with any theme and always feel compelled to give it my own spin.

The new design is a work-in-progress, but that is the way it is with all of my designs. I am forever making little changes as I feel inspired. However, it is important to stay true to my look & feel with every addition and change. Having a Branding & Identity that I love allows me to do so successfully.

If you are reading this in a feed reader, you can click through to my homepage to check out the full redesign.

Finally, if you are in the market for a new Branding & Identity of your own, I am now offering custom blog packages starting at $350–. Email me for details at denabotbyl [@] gmail [.] com. I would love to work with you!

I’d love to hear what you think of the new look, too. xx


If you enjoyed this post, check out the other posts in my For Bloggers series.

This Week // 02.06.15

February 6, 2015

this week // livelovesimple.com

this week // livelovesimple.com

How was your week? Mine was productive & exhausting. After sharing my epic to-do list on Monday, I dove headfirst into the very thing that was holding me up — my office. I spent several hours purging, organizing, and cleaning. There are still a few piles left to sort & purge and borrowed things to be returned, but I’m close, really close. Afterward my back hurt so much that I could barely stand, but it was completely worth it. Spending time in my office this week has been so much more peaceful.

On Superbowl Sunday, Roman and I spent the day at my parents house along with my sister and her boys. Roman had a blast playing with his cousins. It’s remarkable to watch him interact with other children. It’s definitely something that I wish he could do more of. If money weren’t an object, I might even consider putting him into some type of preschool program one day a week. Perhaps next year.

Other than that, and lunch out on Tuesday, we’ve been home bound. It’s been brutally cold again, far below freezing, and there is more snow on the horizon for this weekend. We’ve been keeping a warm fire in the stove and staying busy with our household projects. Roman has been coloring up a storm, consistently covered in chalk or marker. His love for books and being read to is at an all-time high and we are happy to oblige.

I’ve started to sort through baby girl’s things and find myself melting & swooning often. I hope to tackle the nursery, purge Roman’s old clothes, and start putting her stuff away in the coming days.

this week // livelovesimple.com

this week // livelovesimple.com

this week // livelovesimple.com

this week // livelovesimple.com

this week // livelovesimple.com

Hey, Roman! What does the cow say?

this week // livelovesimple.com

MmmmOOOOoooOOOoooo!!!

I hope that you’ve had a beautiful week, friends. Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you on the other side. xx

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