Your chariot, little one

Dear Baby,

The arrival of April has gifted us with the ability to now say that you’re due next month. Sure, your due date is technically towards the end of the month and yes, we’ve heard that first born babies tend to come late, but that hasn’t stopped your dad and I from telling everyone that you’re coming soon.

Preparations are underway for your arrival. When we first told your grandpa’s co-workers that we were expecting, the first thing someone said was that we’ll be back in the dealership to upgrade our car to a Forester. Well, they were right. We figured that you would want some space in the backseat and had been looking into upgrading over the last few weeks.

This morning, your grandpa called and said he did the math and that with a trade-in we would end up spending the same amount that we did now. I told him that we could come by this morning to take a look at Foresters while we were getting the oil changed in our current car. His response? “No, you’re not getting an oil change. You’re getting a new car.” 

Subaru. Best new car for baby
TOP: April 6, 2013. Buying our first new car together. BOTTOM: April 1, 2016. Buying our baby-friendly car.

And he was right. There was no sense in us changing the oil in a car that we weren’t going to be driving. We walked into the dealership where your Papa works, test drove a Forester, chose the color (your dad actually agreed to WHITE!), signed a few papers, and before we knew it, we were driving off the lot. It pays to have family in the car business.

I can’t believe that this is the car we’ll be bringing you home in. That in a few weeks we’ll have your car seat installed in the back. And before we know it, we’ll all be on your first road trip. It’s bananas.

We truly hope you enjoy your new ride, kiddo. We expect to have this one for a while.

Gratitude.

The other day I was frantically detailing to Chris a list of all of the baby things we need to purchase before our little guy arrives (travel system, changing pad, etc). As I kept rattling off the list I began to tally the cost of each item in my head. I nervously looked up at him as I revealed the grand total.

He feigned a sigh, shook his head and sarcastically exclaimed, “Well, I guess we should probably buy some of our son’s things.” It took a beat before I realized that he was right. Of all of the furniture, books, clothes, and toys in his nearly finished nursery, we have only purchased his crib mattress, three art prints, and a handful of outfits.

As I stood in the baby’s room and took inventory of everything that we did have, I was struck with an immense sense of gratitude. Our family and friends have rallied around us and blessed us with so much more than we could ever have imagined or deserved. Let’s just say that if Baby H decided to come tomorrow, we would have everything that we’d need… and then some.

They say that it takes a village to raise a child and I can say with certainty that our village is one of the best around. I want to send a heartfelt thank you to everyone that has reached out to us with advice, prayers, gifts, and well wishes. You have taken so much pressure and stress off of us during this transitional period of our lives and we are more grateful than we’ll ever be able to convey.

 

All the feels.

Dealing with pregnancy hormones

These pregnancy hormones are no joke. I’m all across the board these days. The mere mention of Old Yeller on Jeopardy literally had me in tears this evening. Why did he have to get rabies?!

Mommy brain is also on in full force. Just last night I put back a bag of spinach but instead of setting it in the refrigerator, I placed it in the cabinet with our pots and pans. Oops.

Chris and I used to joke that when I got pregnant I would be one giant emotional mess. I was pretty hormonal pre-pregnancy (ask my parents what my teens were like) and we just figured that I’d be all out cray-cray with a baby brewing. In fact, the opposite has happened. For the past 7 months I’ve been the most even keeled than I’ve ever been. It’s freaked both Chris and myself out. We can only guess that the true test will be once the baby is out. I can only imagine what that will be like.

As our due date approaches, I find myself bouncing between sheer excitement to all-out terror. There’s a part of me that can’t wait for baby H (we think we’ve decided on a name) to be here and then there’s another giant part that knows that once he’s here nothing will ever be the same again.

It’s been “Chris and Tawny” for over eight years. What will Chris and Tawny plus child look like? Will I miss the days when it was just the two of us? Are these thoughts even normal?

I’ve loved the past eight years of life with Chris and I can only hope that the addition of a mini-Chris will only enhance our lives. I’m apprehensive that our lives will shift and we’ll long for the simpler days of only having to worry about keeping ourselves alive. I’m anxious to see how Baby H changes our lives for the better. I miss being able to button my pants. I miss being able to sleep. I miss the ability to use a bathroom stall without hitting my belly on the way in and out (a rant about teeny tiny bathrooms is brewing for another time).

Overall, my emotions (much like this post) are all over the place. I can’t wait to see how our lives shift over the next few months and hope that I’ll be able to look back at this post and laugh about all of my inhibitions.

Dressing the bump

I honestly thought that when I got pregnant I would be one of those expecting moms who took weekly bump photos and had a cute DIY chalkboard that noted baby’s growth and development in utero.

Chris and I took our first official “bump photo” at eight weeks, right around the time that my morning sickness kicked in. Most days I could barely pull myself out of bed let alone get primped and dressed for a cute pregnancy photo. In the end, I think we’ve taken about 6 “weekly” bump photos in all. Nailed it.

Weekly pregnancy bump photos

Now that it looks like I’m shoplifting a basketball under my shirt, it’s hard to believe that I was ever as small as I was in the photo on the far left. It’s so impressive that women’s bodies are made to stretch and grow to accommodate the little life within us. Too bad most jeans can’t do the same thing.

I miss fitting into my clothes. I refuse to purchase maternity clothes as I find them to be (mostly) hideous and mind blowingly expensive. I did cave and buy a pair of maternity jeans off of craigslist but I tend to stick to oversized shirts, flowy tops and dresses, and jeggings. I used to detest jeggings. Even typing out the word sends a shiver down my spine but truth be told, jeggings are the only reason I look semi-presentable most days.

On the plus side, my newfound love for stretchy jeggings should take me through the remainder of this pregnancy and down the road to eventually (hopefully) getting back to my pre-baby weight. The AG leggings worn below are my absolute favorite (I basically live in them) and I scored them for $30 at Nordstrom Rack.

Dress the bump without buying maternity clothes

I wanted to wear something special for our maternity photos and scoured the internet for dress ideas. Our photos were taken on the beach and I was looking for something light and flowy. All of the dresses I really liked were from Free People and just a little too pricey to be frolicking on the beach with.

I ended up in Forever 21 the day before we flew to Hawaii and found the perfect dress for our shoot. It wasn’t a maternity dress but almost anything that’s empire waist is a pregnant woman’s best friend. I knew I was only going to wear the dress once or twice and didn’t mind spending the $30.

Dress the bump without having to buy maternity clothes
On our Flytographer shoot in Maui

Overall, I’m pretty proud of myself for being able to dress the bump the last seven months. It’s definitely getting harder now that the ever expanding belly is growing at a rapid rate. I figure that I’ll just go back to my Hawaiian roots and settle for muumuus in the last few weeks. Feel free to send any that you have lying around the house my way.

The sweetest baby shower

Last weekend my sweet friends threw me one of the most adorable baby showers I had ever seen. It was an adventure-themed shower complete with maps, clouds, and all the food that I have been craving throughout this pregnancy. Any time spent with these friends of mine is precious and I loved being surrounded by so much love and laughter.

Here’s a little peek at the shower. All the photos were taken by my very talented cousin, Olivia, who also baked and decorated the gorgeous cake. Looks like someone in the family got all the talent.

Hilarious baby shower games for everyone

DIY Baby shower fertilize game

Fun DIY baby shower games

A hilarious round of “pin the sperm on the egg” resulted in some friendly trash talk. I have to admit, I was surprised at how close everyone got to fertilization.

DIY travel and adventure themed baby shower

Adventure travel themed baby shower idea

Cake, doughnuts, and fruit parfait–oh my! Not pictured is the amazing cheese, sausage, and egg bake that the host baked (Kristen, I have dreams about it). I might have scraped the tray clean when no one was looking.

Cute baby shower ideas for travelers

And of course, the little mister and I were showered with gifts. I can’t wait until he’s here and can roll the adorable suitcase around the airport. Also, the book “What do you do with an idea?” might have brought tears to my eyes. I highly recommend it.

Cute DIY baby shower ideas

DIY travel themed baby shower ideas

A huge thank you to all of my sweet friends that came together to throw this amazing shower. Baby boy and I are so blessed to have each and every one of you in our lives. It was such a special day and one that I’ll always treasure.

Babymoon 2.0: Maui edition

We’ve continued to live it up this pregnancy and with a cousin’s wedding taking place on Oahu, we needed no other excuse to visit one of our favorite destinations.

Chris and I have strong ties to the islands. I was born on Oahu and both of my parents hail from the isle. Since dating Chris, we strive to make it back to Hawaii at least twice a year. So far, so good.

This trip, we opted to spend three nights on Maui at our beloved Grand Wailea Resort. We purposefully left our schedule wide open so that we could sleep in if we wanted and ensure ample time at the beach and waterpark.

Maui babymoon

We spent our mornings walking along the beach and heading to one of our favorite coffee shops. The island was positively buzzing and it was the busiest we had ever seen it. Due to the holiday weekend, Valentine’s day, and the imminent Eddie Aikau surfing competition, it seemed like everyone decided to visit Hawaii at the same time we did.

Renting a car was almost the biggest expense of our trip. Instead of renting near the airport, we found it significantly cheaper (we’re talking hundreds of dollars saved) to arrange our rental out of Kihei. Not only did we save a ton of money, we were also upgraded to a jeep, one of our favorite vehicles to take around the island.

Things to do on a Maui babymoon

Three days on Maui was the perfect amount of time to soak up some rays and frolic along the beach before headed to Oahu. One of the reasons why we love staying at the Grand Wailea is its amazing waterpark–we’re talking lazy rivers, multiple waterslides, grottos, and swim-up bars. I think we spent almost every afternoon at the park, Chris in the water and me attempting to catch some sun on the lounge chairs.

We did schedule one important activity on Maui and that was our amazing Flytographer photo shoot with the talented Naomi. We hit Baldwin Beach in Paia right before sunset to capture some of the most incredible photos. I seriously cannot recommend Flytographer enough. Priceless photos are the perfect souvenir for any trip.

Oahu can feel like a second home to us and as soon as we arrived we fell into our usual routine. We usually stay with my grandma when we visit. My uncle and aunt reside there as well with Kalena, their little shitzu fur baby. And because of the wedding, my mom had flown in to stay as well. A packed house meant nights full of belly laughter and delicious local food.

Babymoon on Oahu

Chris and I hit our favorite spots on the island. We headed to the North Shore and stopped for shave ice at Matsumoto’s, stuffed ourselves with guava chiffon pancakes at Cinnamon’s (the best pancakes on the planet), took in the beauty of Byodo-In Temple, and lounged on the white sand beaches of Lanikai.

It was so nice to be able to travel at our own pace and not feel pressured to film or photograph our adventures (although Chris really enjoyed playing around with our new 360 camera). I particularly enjoyed soaking up the extra Vitamin D and eating all the local foods that I had been craving.

For us, a Hawaiian babymoon made the most sense and I hope that our little guy ends up loving the islands just as much as we do.

The unknown

For the past few years I’ve been battling with an inner struggle. I don’t know what to actually call it. Anxiety, maybe? But ever since I met Chris and we started forming this life of ours, I’ve found that I’m so happy and content that I’m constantly in fear that something terrible is going to happen. I have this “it’s too good to be true” mentality and it’s been plaguing my thoughts for years.

It’s a darkness that will come over me and create a sense of fear. For example, it’s very rare that Chris and I are apart, but for those few days or moments that we are, I’ll run through as many terrible scenarios in my head as I can. It’s like if I think of it, then it really can’t happen. To constantly conjure up “the worse case scenario” is exhausting and tolling.

I often have to speak my fears to Chris so that I can put them out there and then dismiss them. I don’t know where this came from but I hate that it affects the way that I think and feel.

I knew that things would get worse if I became pregnant. I resigned to not getting attached to our future baby while in utero in case something terrible happened. If I didn’t let myself fall in love with this baby then I wouldn’t be as hurt or traumatized if anything bad were to happen. There are so many things that can go wrong during pregnancy and I found myself holding my breath before every midwife appointment, waiting to exhale until we heard his heartbeat on the doppler.

Not getting attached was relatively easy during the first trimester. Aside from extreme fatigue and morning sickness, there were no obvious signs of a baby in my belly. But something changed around week 20. It’s when we found out that we were having a sweet little boy and it’s around the same time that I really started feeling him move. It was then undeniable that we were having a baby. A son. He was ours. He was mine. And no matter what happened from then on out, we would love him unconditionally.

We had our final ultrasound a few days ago at 26 weeks. At the previous ultrasound, our little mister had been measuring small (in the 9th percentile!) and our tech had spotted a soft marker for down syndrome. This week’s ultrasound was the best one we’ve had yet. For the first time, our little guy wasn’t breech (although he still has plenty of room to move around) and he was measuring in the 35th percentile. His soft marker had completely disappeared (as everyone thought it would) AND-the best part in my opinion-we got a great look at his face. And let me tell you, our little guy has his daddy’s lips. Our tech couldn’t get over how big and cute his lips were. If I wasn’t already in love before, I was now head-over-heels obsessed.

I’m so in love and attached to my son. I would understandably be devastated if anything bad were to happen to him but I’m not going to let my fears deter me from falling in love with him more and more each day. I’m all in. Every time I feel him move I send a little “thank you” up to God. I feel so incredibly blessed to be this boy’s mama and that’s something I don’t want to ever take for granted.

Featured image taken by our talented Flytographer, Naomi, while on Maui. 

Embracing the process

Pregnancy can be rough. Leading up to finding out we were pregnant, I thought that carrying a child came with a cute baby bump and “the glow.” Instead, I find myself growing at an uncontrollable rate, my face riddled with acne, and the need to sleep every couple of hours.

The first trimester of this pregnancy was difficult for me. While I never actually vomited, I experienced extreme nausea 24/7 for weeks six through twelve. I felt like I was drunk and seasick all at the same time. I was rendered useless and my poor husband was left to care for our household and work duties.

I’ve been way too focused on the negative aspects of pregnancy. The fatigue, nausea, food aversions, etc. Every time we see our little guy on an ultrasound, he’s typically breeched and huddled near by bladder. Any movement (big or small) feels like an attack on my bladder and lady bits. It’s the strangest and most uncomfortable sensation.

My face is red, dry, and cracking. My body looks and feels foreign to me. I have to pee at least five times throughout the night and this belly is starting to get in the way of everything.

It can be easy to complain when you feel uncomfortable and unattractive, but it recently dawned on me that I have so much to be thankful for.

Embracing the baby bump in Maui
Embracing the baby bump in Maui

I have been blessed with the ability to carry this sweet child. It is an honor to be able to create, carry, and deliver another human being. This might be the only time that I experience what it’s like to be pregnant; to feel a baby’s kicks from within, to watch my ever expanding belly grow.

I’m aware that there are women who experience the heartache of infertility. Women who want nothing more to experience the pains and joys of pregnancy. It makes my slight discomfort seem so insignificant.

I’m so incredibly grateful for the little life within me. For the gift of being able to carry and shelter our child. I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to embrace and enjoy the miracle of pregnancy.

 

Featured image taken by the talented Naomi from our Flytographer shoot on Maui. 

Taking the baby bump on a National Park babymoon

I know that expecting parents seem to be on the fence about babymoons. What is a babymoon, you ask? It’s essentially a last-hurrah vacation that you and your significant other take before the baby arrives.

I don’t know why it’s called a babymoon as it’s actually nothing like a honeymoon. I would consider it to be more like a pre-baby bachelor party. In my opinion, a babymoon is a vacation that you take to enjoy two things before the arrival of baby: 1.) precious alone time with your significant other and 2.) sleeeeep. I didn’t need much convincing to plan a couple of babymoons as soon as I found out we were expecting.

Our job as freelance travel writers afford us many opportunities and one of the most recent of these would be our week-long road trip in Arizona. We were given six days to explore Sedona and the Grand Canyon. While we would normally attempt to cram in as much sightseeing as possible and choose the most budget-friendly sleeping option, we decided to turn this trip into a makeshift babymoon and splurge a little.

Spoiler alert: it was lovely.

Planning our National Parks road trip. Doughnuts were obviously in order.
Planning our National Parks road trip. Doughnuts were obviously in order.

At 24 weeks pregnant, we decided to take our time and enjoy Sedona before making our way to the Grand Canyon. Being at the end of my second trimester, I still had a fair amount of energy but knew that I needed to get a full night’s sleep. This meant allowing time for me to sleep in before exploring every morning.

I woke up feeling refreshed and ready for what the day ahead of us held. With fresh snow on the ground, we decided to forgo any long, strenuous hikes and opted for jaw-dropping vantage points.

A light hike to this gorgous viewpoint of Sedona.
A light hike to this gorgous viewpoint of Sedona.

We spent two nights in Sedona and made sure to explore as much as possible. Neither of us were prepared for the sheer beauty of the area. We also had no idea how high in elevation it was. I found myself huffing and puffing just to reach the peak of the smallest hikes.

Happily babymooning in Sedona
Happily babymooning in Sedona
Chapel of the Cross was one of our favorite stops in Sedona
Chapel of Holy Cross was one of our favorite stops in Sedona

After our two days in Sedona, we hit the road and headed north to the Grand Canyon. We stopped in Flagstaff for a healthy lunch and rolled into Grand Canyon National Park in the early afternoon. I had only been to the Grand Canyon once before and it was in August. I remembered the stifling heat and didn’t realize just how cold it got in the winter months. Luckily, a few of my warm jackets still fit around the baby bump.

Cradling the bump at the top of Bright Angel Trail
Cradling the bump at the top of Bright Angel Trail

Due to the recent snowfall, cramp ons were highly suggested for most of the nearby hikes. We resigned to walking long the canyon’s edge and reminiscing about our last visit where we hiked the 12-miles to Bright Angel lookout and back.

The Grand Canyon holds a special place in my heart. It’s one of my father’s favorite locations in the world. In fact, it’s where he ran off to shortly before he married my mother. Needing time to think and reflect, he left Hawaii (without telling anyone!) for the Grand Canyon where he spent a few days in solitude. Luckily, he found whatever peace he was looking for, returned to Hawaii, and has been happily married to my mother for 40 years.

The Grand Canyon is where my dad goes when he needs to get away from it all and spend some much needed time enjoying the sheer beauty of nature. He’s passed his love for the canyon on to me and I hope to do the same to our little one.

We caught this stunning Grand Canyon sunrise on one of our early morning drives.
We caught this stunning Grand Canyon sunrise on one of our early morning drives.

Seeing as there wasn’t a ton of hiking to be done at the Grand Canyon, we planned a day trip to visit one of the places we’ve had on our bucket list for years, Antelope Canyon.

I had first seen a photo from Antelope Canyon a few years ago. I remember the beams of light streaming through the earth red walls of the canyon. The photos were almost other worldly and I knew I had to visit as soon as the opportunity arose.

Exploring Antelope Canyon
Exploring Antelope Canyon
The gorgeous colors of lower Antelope Canyon
The gorgeous colors of lower Antelope Canyon

We booked a day tour of the canyon and the surrounding town of Page through Expedia and met up with our guide (and the rest of our group) an hours drive from the Grand Canyon.

Upon arrival to lower Antelope Canyon, we were set up with our Navajo guide who lead us down into the canyon. We spent an hour strolling through the endless waves of the canyon, taking photos along the way. Our guide was informative and full of advice on how to best capture the canyon in all its glory. It was by far one of my favorite stops on our trip.

Overall, our 6 days in Arizona were magical. It was the perfect amount of time to explore before becoming overwhelmed and fatigued. I can’t believe that the next time we return to the Grand Canyon we’ll probably have my dad and my son in tow.

Twinkle twinkle little star…

how we wonder what you are…

Cute gender reveal cake ideas

Well little one, we can stop calling you “it” now. We had a little “bow and arrow” party to reveal your sex. Your dad took a Nerf bow and arrow to a balloon that was filled with either pink or blue paint and we can’t believe that you are a…

Cute gender reveal party ideas

BOY!

Frankly, I’m not surprised. The Staudinger side of the family is full of boys and we had a strong suspicion that you were going to only grow the Staudinger name. Your dad and I couldn’t be more excited and have already been throwing around a few names. We’ll try a new one out each day. I’m curious to see which one sticks upon your arrival.

I’ve said it once but I’ll say it again: you are so, so loved. Our friends and family have already spoiled you rotten and I can’t wait for you to meet each and every one of them.

unique gender reveal party ideas