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July Favorites

Family and friends came to visit (this was actually in June...shhhh!). The nice thing about moving every few years in the military is that family/friends can plan their vacations around where you are stationed. The not nice thing is that you only get to see them a few times a year.
my mom, Ben's mom, Ben's sister

my sisters and brother

My coworkers. Love and miss them. We went to a baseball game and saw fireworks for the 4th. Only in the South can you see the Sand Gnats play the Crawdads. It may not be Cubs vs. White Sox, but I'll take what I can get.

Two family members had babies this month. The holidays are going to be very exhausting exciting!!

You may think this is a picture of my mantle...but if you look closely, you will see that yes-that is a mistletoe, and yes-that is Ben waiting impatiently under it. While packing up our Christmas decorations, he decided that we will keep out the mistletoe year round.  I guess he didn't want to miss any opportunities! 
I find him like this a lot, with that same expression on his face...How dare I not notice him waiting...

*My January faves.


6 things you might not know about me...

1.// What is one of your silly quirks?
I have an irrational fear of leaving the shower curtains closed in my house.

2.// What's your favorite beauty secret or product?
Favorite product is definitely coconut oil--it is by far the best make-up remover I have ever tried (my eyes get extremely swollen if I go to sleep with even the smallest bit of eye-liner or mascara left on...and this has never happened since switching to coconut oil). I also use it as a moisturizer, shaving cream, hair serum, cooking oil..the list goes on and on!

3.// What's your favorite or go-to outfit? 
As you can see from the side-view above, dresses are about the only thing covering up that bump.

4.// What's the coolest thing you've made?
I am the opposite of crafty--I try to be sometimes (only when able to follow a step-by-step tutorial of course), but it always takes me 10x the time/effort as it would take the average person. So I am very proud of this ladder that I spruced up. Ben spotted it at our favorite brunch spot and immediately wanted it...something about it encompassing the 'American Dream'...anyways, I decided that if we were going to have it in our home, I would figure out some way to make it cute. And I did!

5.// Share one of your favorite pics. Tell us why it's your favorite.
I love this picture of us because it was taken before 'Ben & Nicole'...after all, I was only at Ben's house to hang out with his sister. We thought this prom pose was very funny...and then later that year (2008) I made this my facebook profile picture to really make things official.

6.// What's your favorite part about marriage? 
There are so many favorites about marriage...but one that comes to mind right now is having someone that is always on your side supporting you. It's nice to know that when I am busting out moves to this song (that Ben has never heard before!!), there's at least one person who won't think I'm crazy. Right Ben?!

Thanks Ilene for the tag!
I tag Kayla , Nicole, Denise, Darci, Jessica, Beth, Becca, and whoever else wants to join in!  All you have to do is answer 6 of the following questions:

1.// What is one of your silly quirks? Or something silly that you get excited about.
2.// Favorite movie, song, or tv show?
3.// Any funny stories to share that has happened recently?
4.// Tell us something we don't know about you.
5.// What's your favorite beauty secret or product?
6.// What's your favorite or go-to outfit? (pics please)
7.// What's a personal trial you had to overcome?
8.// What's a current dream that you are hoping to achieve?
9.// What's the coolest thing you've made? (food, craft, anything)
10.// Who or what inspires you?
11.// Share one of your favorite pics. Tell us why it's your favorite
12.// What's your favorite part about marriage? Or what have you learned since becoming married?

Let me know if you do join in so I can read your post!


5 baby things

Today I decided to join the good life blog and talk about 5 things--any random 5 things that are on my mind! So let's talk baby--here are 5 different ways we have prepared our home for Jack's arrival!

[one] sleep

We have a pack 'n play with a built in bassinet set up in our room for the beginning stage, and then will transition him to his crib.

Isn't that baby blanket so sweet?? Check out my friend's etsy shop for the cutest children's clothes:

[two] diaper changing

Jack's changing table is organized and ready to go! We have pacifiers in the small bag hanging on the left of the table.  

In the crate on the left are cloth diapers. I am hoping to cloth diaper once Jack is out of the 'newborn' diaper stage. Believe me, these aren't the same cloth diapers that your mom or grandma may have used--check out how cute they are here! There are so many different kinds and styles that it has been a little overwhelming, but we have just decided to get a couple of a few different styles that have been popular among people we've talked to and then go from there.
The middle crate has 'peepee teepees'--a gift from Ben's mom that will hopefully keep us dry during diaper changes! :) There's also wipes, a spray bottle, and coconut oil to keep Jack's bum nice and soft. On the right are adorable burp clothes made by my friend--check out her shop:

Ok--so this is kind of gross and probably TMI for some of you...but if you've been reading my blog for a while--you know I keep it real on here. When you choose to cloth diaper, you have to figure out how you want to manage the 'mess'. There are two classes of people: the swishers and the sprayers. To give myself the best shot at being successful, we decided to join the 'sprayers' club...the good/kind-of-weird thing about breastfed babies is that the diapers don't need to be swooshed or sprayed until they start on solid foods. They can just go straight in the washer.

[three] the swing
This bad boy doubles as a swing and a bouncer.

[four] the chair
It rocks and reclines.

[fivedual stations

We have a 'diaper changing station' for downstairs--wipes, newborn diapers, changing pad, coconut oil.

We've also stashed some burp cloths (another sweet friend made these), receiving blankets, and bigger play blankets downstairs.

As you can see, we are ready for Jack's arrival whenever he is ready to join us! 
Want to know how I can tell that Ben is extra ready? He'll sometimes talk about Jack like he's already here....we'll be walking out the door and he'll say, "Don't forget to grab Jack out of the swing!" Or we'll be sitting on the couch and he'll show me his phone, which is the live video feed coming from our baby monitor...staring at an empty crib.
Cute? Creepy? Yea, I still haven't decided either...


100th post--something very special for my readers!!

For my 100th post, I would like to share something very special with all of you....these belly to belly pics! 
We have taken a few "baby boot camp" classes and the instructors had all the papa's-to-be try on sympathy bellies. These bellies had weights in each pocket and something that simulated pressure on the guys' bladder...and then the instructors had the guys clean up around the house, sit down, stand up, pretend to shave their legs, and try to get comfortable lying down. Once they finally got comfortable with pillows all around them and were exhausted from all of the tasks, she said "Ok, now your spouse wants to [go to funky town]" was pretty hilarious!!!

Doesn't it look like Ben is having a great time?!


Just wanted to share..

Just wanted to share some pictures taken by my friend, Starla, on a cold, windy, rainy day at the beach.


How to keep a pregnant woman out past 10 pm..

Humongous belly @ 38 weeks
Midnight. I stayed out until MIDNIGHT Friday night. Staying awake past 10pm has become a rarity around here...but if there is one thing (other than the really fun group of people we were with) that will motivate me to *restaurant hop* at such late hours of the night, it's definitely a very delicious warm molten chocolate cake...the kind with the chocolate sauce ooozing out of it... served with a side of vanilla ice-cream at one of our favorite local spots.
Ben loves it. I love it. Jack definitely loves it. No-brainer.


Friday Love List Link Up!

Today I am joining Britt's Friday Love List Link Up! I figured for my first link up we better keep it simple, and all I have to do with this one is post about what I'm currently loving and then give a shout-out to another blog I'm really enjoying! Here goes.....
The Magnolia Pair

  • Range week is over!! If there are any military wives reading this, you know what I mean! There have been way too many 3am mornings this week when I haven't been able to fall back asleep after Ben leaves for the range. It has been an exhausting week for both of us, but especially for Ben who has been in the HOT sun all day everyday.

  • Dinner plans. I know it is going to be much more difficult to have date nights with friends once Jack arrives, so I am excited to go out to dinner with an awesome duo tonight and head over to a friend's for dinner tomorrow night.

  • Being home. It has been so nice being home these last two weeks. When I decided to quit a month before my due date, I wasn't sure if I was going to wish I would have worked longer to avoid getting stir crazy. Let me tell you, it has been the exact opposite! I have really reaaaaaally enjoyed checking off boxes from my 'baby to-do' list and preparing for Jack's arrival. Even more, I've enjoyed having a slower, more relaxed set of pace. Starting my day with red raspberry leaf tea, the Bible, and my two favorite furry companions has been by far the best part.

  • Friday=appointment day! I love hearing updates on Jack and getting to hear his heartbeat. I also love hearing "You're going to push this baby out just fine! That long torso and those long legs--you are built like a birthing machine!" She says it every time. A girl can dream, right?!

  • Ben. I don't know if it's the pregnancy hormones or what (haha--not going down that road, I know what you were thinking....), but lately I have just been so grateful that Ben chose me to be his wife, and that God chose him to be my husband. His heart for God, for this family, and for being a Marine that truly stands apart from the crowd inspires me. 

And now for my blogging buddy shout-out: Jessica from Nerd and Healthnut. Definitely check out her blog for yummy recipes and as of July 4th--sweet updates on her adorable baby boy!

Happy Friday and hope everyone has a great weekend!


Cilantro Turkey Sloppy Joes with Watermelon Feta Salad

I was so excited when I took a huge bite of this sandwich because not only is it healthy, but it's also delicious!! The cilantro mixed with the cumin adds something so amazing and perfect for these sloppy joes. If you haven't caught on yet, I am pretty much obsessed with anything that has cilantro and/or cumin.
I have been looking for meals that I can prepare now and freeze to be eaten when Ben and I are changing diapers/feeding/never sleeping in a week or two (ahhh!!). Now that I know how yummmmy these sloppy joes are, I am definitely going to prepare a batch of this meat and put a bag of hamburger buns in the freezer so they're ready to go! The cool juicy watermelon feta salad is perfect for a hot sunny day--especially if you are 37 1/2 weeks pregnant!

What are some of your favorite meals to make ahead and freeze?
Cilantro Turkey Sloppy Joes with Watermelon Feta Salad
Recipe adapted from the Fresh20
  • 1 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrots, peeled and shredded (1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cilantro, chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoons honey or pure maple syrup
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns
  • 1/2 head green leaf lettuce, shredded
  • 1/2 3-4 pound watermelon cut into 2inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil, shredded
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey (can substitute beef)
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat an extra large sauté pan over medium-high heat; once hot, add in oil, onion, and carrots. Saute vegetables until translucent, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add in ground turkey, garlic, oregano, cumin, and salt & pepper. Saute over medium-high heat until meat is browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together tomato paste and water until combined.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, add tomato paste/water mixture to pan, stir to combine. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in cilantro and honey (or maple syrup) and toast buns in the toaster.
  6. Fill each sandwich bun with meat and a handful of shredded lettuce.
For watermelon feta salad:
  1. Toss watermelon cubes with feta and basil. Serve cold.
Makes 3-4 servings.


Pregnancy Update--3 weeks to go!

Taken at 35 weeks by Starla
How Far Along: 37 weeks yesterday! Jack can come anytime in the next 3-5 weeks!

Size of Baby: Jack is the size of a bunch of swiss chard--that's the best babycenter can give me! He is about 19 inches from head to toe and weighs about 6 pounds.

Maternity Clothes: Only a handful of my maternity clothes still fit--shorts/pants are getting very uncomfortable and the shirts don't cover the entire belly anymore! 

Stretch Marks: Still don't have any--have been using coconut oil and my handmade lotion bars (post coming soon on these) after every time I shower. I have heard that sometimes women get them in the last few days or even after having the baby--either way, I will be okay if they suddenly appear! Not too worried about them...
Sleep: I am still enjoying my sleep! Getting in/out of bed is becoming a little more difficult, and moving around in bed is pretty much out of the question. The only thing interrupting my sleep as of now are trips to the bathroom.

Best Moment of the Week/Past Month:  Getting to hear Jack's heartbeat (and see the look on Ben's face) is definitely the best part of the week! Still amazes me that there is a living human being growing inside of me!!

Movement:  Jack is so low that every movement feels like he is squeezing my bladder. I've seen limbs stick out of my belly at least an inch or so--but still haven't been able to make out a hand or a foot....patiently waiting for that! 

Cravings: ICE CREAM! Ben is really happy about this one--I used to never be a big ice-cream person, but it seems like I can't get enough at this point!!

Belly Button In or Out: Out!! So far out! I was wearing a band-aid every day to work to cover it, but I am now just displaying it proudly due to laziness/not caring anymore.

Wedding Ring on or Off: On--the only swelling I've experienced so far has been in my ankles/feet. 

Anything Making You Queasy or Sick: All of my food aversions have disappeared--although the 'getting sick' part has randomly appeared a time or two in this last trimester. 

What I Miss: Not feeling like I have to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes! 

What I am Looking Forward to: Meeting Jack!!! Seeing Ben as a dad. 

Labor Signs: If Braxton Hicks contractions count--then yes! Have been having them like crazy the past month or so--although I've noticed they do slow down when I am consciously drinking water non-stop all day.

Nursery: Organized and clothes cleaned! 

Emotions:  Feeling more and more 'ready' with each passing day! Still very nervous/anxious about labor--not knowing what to expect is the worst part. Getting the nursery ready and all of Jack's things organized has helped me feel ready to meet him.

Thank you Gratefully Inspired  for the post idea!


How to tell your boss you're pregnant after only working there for 1 month..

If you found this post by googling the above title, you may want to stick around for a while because you and I are definitely two peas in a pod.  
I found myself doing exactly that, on the morning of December 5th after receiving the call from my doctor, "Congratulations! You're going to be a mom!" To which I nonchalantly glanced at coworker #1 sitting to my left, and coworker #2 sitting to my right, and responded, "Oh, wow. Ok, thank you. Bye." and hung up. My first day on the job was November 5th...I had been there for exactly 1 month.
I had so many thoughts running through my mind, excitement/fear about the baby growing inside me, nervousness about the reality that I was going to be a mom, anxiousness about telling my coworkers that I would be leaving soon after I just settled I stepped outside to get some fresh air. The first thing I did was walk next door to the convenience store and out of the 10 cards they had, found one that said, "Congrats! Woo-hoo! You did it!" (Which by the way, is the same card my coworkers gave me on my first day of work) and I wrote something like "I'm pregnant! Love, wife". 
The second thing I did was return to my desk and google the above blog post title. All of the articles that I found online can be pretty much summed up by this: You have the right to wait to tell your boss until you want to. There were also a bunch of articles going through the nitty gritty of maternity leave. I'm not sure what I was looking for, maybe a script of exactly what to say, but I found that nothing I came across seemed helpful. And then to add to my nervousness, I had a realization that I work for the government and they are probably tracking my google searches and have probably already told my boss that I'm pregnant and planning on quitting! Great!!

Maybe you're confused as to why I even had anxiety over telling my boss, so let me explain:

  • I knew 100% for certain that I had no intentions of returning to work after having Jack
  • The company and coworker #1 had spent a lot of time training me, and I wouldn't even work for them for a full year
  • I know how awesome of an employee I am and how hard it would be to replace me ;)
  • With sequestration and budget cuts, it seemed highly unlikely that they would be granted the funds again to even hire for my position
So after the internet failed me and the government stalked me, I finished out my work day and headed home. When Ben walked in the door, I handed him the card and said, "Look at this weird Christmas card we got today"...he read it, looked at me, re-read it, looked at me again, and then with a really red face, he hugged and kissed me (Marines don't cry).

We decided that it would be best if I put off telling my work for another month so our families would be the first people we told while we were home for Christmas. We told my family on Christmas morning by having my mom open a bib that said "I love my grandma" while webcamming with my brother and sister-in-law. It was a bit confusing because she first thought the bib was from my brother (he has 2 little ones), but then when I said "It's from me and Ben!!", she still just responded, "Aw thanks guys, I'll bring it when I visit John & Beth" (brother and sister-in-law). I finally had to say, "I"M PREGNANT"--and then everyone was shocked/excited.
We told Ben's family over dinner at the favorite local pizza place. The night we came into town, Ben's sister announced that she was expecting, so over dinner, Ben said "Hey mom--Bek is not the only one!!" Everyone again was confused and didn't really believe him, but after we kept insisting that we were not kidding, hugs and congrats were passed all around.

After a great vacation home with both of our families--I returned to work the first week in January and decided it was time.
I asked some of my close friends and family for advice on my task at hand, and I think what sunk in the most came from my cousin. She said, "Nikki, I know you're awesome and that you are a great employee. But everyone is replaceable. Everyone. Even you." With that in mind, I asked coworker #1 (my counterpart) if she would step outside with me. We sat on the benches and I told her my news, to which of course she was super excited and said how happy she was for me. With renewed confidence, I then walked into my bosses office, asked if I could close the door, and shared my news of being pregnant and not planning to return to work. My boss was incredibly supportive and shared in my excitement.
And that was it!!  So if you are nervous about telling your boss that you are pregnant and not returning to work, my advice is to just get it done and over with as soon as possible so you can start using the "I'm pregnant" excuse to get out of almost anything! Seriously, it works great!! 
Last week was my last week at work, and while it was extremely bittersweet, I am so thankful for the time I had working there and wouldn't have changed a thing.