Christmas in Missouri

Tonight we are going to celebrate our second Christmas of the season, this one being in good ol' Wisconsin. So let's reminisce about our first time around in Missouri, shall we? Lots of pictures but not a lot of text, just how I like it:

My mom forced us into this shot. And somehow she also talked the boys--minus my brother who slept until 2 pm that day, probably on purpose to miss this shot---to do the same. Freaking hilarious, especially Henry's paws.

Mom got not one but TWO Snuggies. She also bought me a space heater. What can I say, the woman loves to stay warm (hence why she will never move to the Great Artic with her daughter):

My brother loves the idea of being an uncle to baby Carlos. So cute!

Speaking of adorable.....

Huge score on the baby product front: Mom got us our car seat! So of course we had to test it out despite protest:

The infamous 'loot' shot, which has never boasted such large baby products before. But I like it. In case you can't see it, my non-baby related loot included a pimped out Garmin for my car. Whoo hoo! No more getting lost in Milwaukee. And I got not one but two pair of 'faux' diamond earrings to replace my old studs I somehow lost. Yes, my friends, this was a very generous Christmas for our little family:

And did I have a mini baby shower from my mom or what? She went a little wild but again, who is to complain? Our car seat, diaper bag, travel swing, Moby wrap, and various clothes...

I did return the favor, though, and pumped out a few key items for my mom. I made her some photoshopped masterpieces, various Grandma books...

and this awesome necklace from Etsy:

And here is one of my photoshop masterpieces for you to enjoy. I've gotten really into the collage effects lately!

Henry got majorly spoiled. MAJORLY. I swear it will take us a week to return him to his properly trained self after all of this loving.

Mom has not one but two Christmas trees (plus the famous 'wedding tree' but never call that one a Christmas tree, okay?). My favorite one is her silver tree and this year she did a lime and blue theme. Makes for some fab pictures, no? And not to mention her wrapping was insane as always...



Then come the dog pictures. Lucie is my mom's baby and Henry is mine. They steal the camera time for now but we shall see what happens come March...







Our family did another puzzle this year, but only a 750 piece monster instead of the 1000 piece one from 2008. I wasn't that into it this year so I just took lots of pictures of my beloved family. So glad Memaw and Pepaw got to stay two nights with us!





I've said it before but I'll say it again: being home for the holidays will always be the ultimate comfort zone for me. Just lounging around with family, eating obscene amounts of yummy home-cooked food, and reminiscing about our crazy stories never gets old. I am so incredibly blessed to have an amazingly supportive and loving family. So before I get too overly mushy on you, I'll wish you a belated 'Happy Holidays' as we are off to celebrate again.

A few more posts in the wings...

Twenty-Nine Weeks

Only one more week left in my twenties and then I'm off to the big dog thirties. Where has the time gone? My little teeny blueberry has now morphed into a giant 3 pound squash, which I've decided is an odd choice for the last stretch. Therefore, I'm going to call it a 'medium sized pumpkin' instead. I don't know about you, but the fact that we only have TWO MORE fruits left on this journey is totally mind blowing. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here, and behold the squash/pumpkin in my belly:

And I do apologize for the delay in this whole post (did anyone even notice it was not on my usual Monday morning?) and the fact that my belly pics are not the same as my usual ones. In fact these were taken in a completely different state! With a different wall color! And different lighting! Yes, it bugs the heck out of me but for now it will do. Maybe it's the Missouri lighting but holy hell, I'm like REALLY pregnant all of a sudden, no?
29 weeks shirt
29 weeks

This week was extra special because we made our first trip back to mid-Missouri since July, when we announced our little blueberry's presence. I remember that trip, when I was only 6 weeks pregnant and fatigued beyond belief. This time around in my oh-so-mature state of pregnancy I didn't require multiple daily naps and didn't house constant 'oh-my-god-i-hope-i-stay-pregnant' thoughts at all hours of the day. Yes, first trimester versus third trimester symptoms are vastly different in many ways. But apparently, some girls complain of indigestion and praying to the porcelain gods in the first tri (I was incredibly lucky to just have fatigue and neurotic thoughts, I know). Well guess what? This week brought upon my first experience of true heart burn and indigestion and boy did it suck. After successfully stuffing my crowded stomach with enormous portions of yummy Christmas dinner, I plopped myself into a recliner and proceeded to take a nap. Immediately I felt a giant ball of discomfort lodged under my right ribs, as if a burning hot wad of turkey and potatoes had taken up residence in my lung. I tried sitting up, rolling over, and pushing on the pulsating mound of food but nothing eased my pain. Ah, so THIS is what dreaded heartburn feels like. Great!

Another fun experience? My first time barfing during this pregnancy...just a little late in the game to be typical morning sickness. The morning after my fun heartburn episode, I brewed a cup of decaff coffee and began to sip away in ignorant bliss. I took my prenatal vitamins and chatted up a storm with my family when all of a sudden I got really hot. "Hmmm, that's weird"--so I took off my hoodie and set down my coffee. "Could it way...I'm not going to puke, am I" were the thoughts running through my head as I jumped up from my chair and bolted to the nearest bathroom. Sure enough, it wasn't just in my head because I really did hurl for no good reason. I felt totally fine before and after, other than the realization that coffee on the way back up incredibly disgusting. I have no idea what caused this little dramatic scene other than coffee on an empty stomach combined with vitamins? I dunno. But I hope that was my first and last time upchucking for many years.

So yeah, the third trimester is pretty interesting thus far. My 28 week appointment was fine and the glucose screen wasn't bad at all. They said they'd call if anything showed up abnormal and I haven't heard from them all week so I think that's a good sign. And remember how my belly has grown with incredible speed in the past 4 weeks? Yeah. The scale reflected that growth spurt with another 7 el beezies tallied up on my total. That brings me up to 25 big ones, in case you've lost track, which means I'm going to be awfully close to that final 40 pound goal made my by OB. She just LOVES spending a majority of our appointments reassuring me that my weight gain is absolutely fine and I will lose it after baby comes, and to continue doing what I'm doing to keep my baby healthy. Although I certainly feel pudgy at times, I really don't get where these 25 pounds are other than my belly and boobs. And therefore, I'm not going to allow weight-related freak outs at this point. No really. I'm not. I swear. Okay, maybe a little bit. But I really am repeating this mantra at all times: "My baby needs me to gain weight, I was thin before and as God is my witness I will be thin again!" I'm inches away from signing up for a half marathon next fall just to give myself a fitness goal to ensure that I get back to my old self as quickly as possible.

Oh yeah, speaking of know how I'm all proud of myself for running 3 miles 3 days per week on a treadmill despite my bulbous 29 week baby belly? Yeah, my doc was all about it too until I told her about my 'tightening' uterus during some runs. She no likey. Basically that is not a Braxton Hicks contraction like I thought but it's a sign that my ute isn't getting enough oxygen = epic fail. Instead of going all Nazi on me and pulling the running plug all together my very cool OB said I just need to walk when that happens, but I can continue to run as my body allows. So that's both cool and creepy, I guess, and since then I've definitely been walking more often during my jogs but whatever. I'm still going to embrace the role of being a pregnant runner but just be a little more cautious in the process.

Baby boy is still growing up a storm while kicking my organs like a champ. I've started to see slow movements scrape across my belly like the entire thing is shifting from one side to the other. I can almost make out knees versus head versus butt at times, too but when I start poking around on him too much he gets rather annoyed with me and moves away (go figure!). Also, week 29 apparently brings on the peak of curiosity from friends and family about our chosen name. I am not kidding, people are quizzing us and asking for hints and letters and origins. So what did we do? We are now calling him Carlos to avoid any slip-ups on our parts and to keep our inquisitors at bay. Yes, baby Carlos is doing just fine and this place-holder name seems just perfect for now.

My last week in the twenties equates heartburn, indigestion, nausea, and insane amounts of weight gain all with a tightening uterus. I have a feeling this last stretch is going to be a doozie!

{Christmas posts, trip review and a billion pictures to follow later this week. I'm still trying to settle into our everyday life after this extended be patient:) }

Merry and Bright

As you read this, we are on the road to see my family in mid-Missouri. Although the 8 hour car ride usually stinks, especially after working a full day landing us at our destination at 1 am I cannot WAIT to be in the comfort of 'home' again. We haven't been back since July, when I was merely 5 weeks pregnant and we outed ourselves to my parents in person. Before that trip it was last Christmas, so needless to say these trips all the way back home are few and far between.

I thought I'd leave you with a little Christmas cheer....

My new red coffee mug just screams Christmas, no?

And I completed our yearly ornament, so let's review the three married Christmases we've shared thus far:



This little guy is ALL over getting some grandma loving down in Missouri:

Oh, and how could I forget to reveal the final decision about my Christmas cards this year? They've all been delivered by now so it's safe to show you I chose not one but three pictures...

And I've heard lots of people say they approve!

So whatever you are doing this week, enjoy yourself and travel safely. We'll be back with numerous pictures of baby Matilda, holiday decor and general family fun late on Monday.

Twenty-Eight Weeks

Seven months, and still trying to wear non-maternity shirts at times:

Nate informed me that my shirt looked weird as he took this picture. I informed him it is a 'normal' shirt and I am trying to save my maternity shirts for our trip back to Missouri this week, since we just did about 6 loads of laundry. So the poor blue shirt with a flare at the bottom, repelling itself from my pregnant tummy will just have to do for now. I just can't lift my arms above my head or else it becomes a midriff.

But there she belly, growing rapidly by the day despite the illusion of 'normal' shirts:

Baby Boy happenings:
Baby's weight has doubled in the past month and is up to 2.5 pounds. No wonder I've seen a major growth spurt in my belly! He may be up to 16 inches long (I'm guessing he's at the top of the height charts:) ) and has begun to blink. Is that not the cutest thing ever? He can cough, suck, hiccup, practice taking breaths and he's even getting some REM sleep in there.

My body, the baby-growing machine:
Right now my uterus should measure 11 inches up from my pubic bone and in another month it will be a full FOOT long. I am truly mesmerized by my ever growing ute and I can definitely tell it's all up under my ribs now. I have no idea how it will get even bigger in the next 11 weeks....frightening thought indeed.

My belly button has gotten rather tight, for the lack of better wording. I have an innie but it's gotten really shallow and taut this week so of course I'm trying to picture it as an outie, since I'm sure it will happen before long.

Still no stretch marks but my stomach skin can be so incredibly itchy sometimes, it totally freaks me out. Today I was running on the treadmill and the only discomfort I felt was my burning tummy skin....I just had to scratch it, which I'm sure was an attractive sight. Pregnant chick running on a hamster wheel itching her gut as she bounces along...

Speaking of running: I am still tallying up 3 mile runs, 3 days per week. I've noticed that if I run on a day I do not work, and therefore am not on my feet all day long pushing/pulling/lifting people to make a living, then I totally kick treadmill butt and can run the entire 3 miles without walking. But on those work nights? I have to mix in some brisk walking after about a mile or my uterus begins to hate me. I'm 99% sure I'm starting to feel some Braxton-Hicks contractions throughout the day but especially when I run. It's like my entire stomach just tightens up as if to say, 'Okay, we are holding down the fort here as you jostle us around'. I plan to ask my OB if this is a warning sign of some sorts, proof that I should take it easy while exercising, but for now I just slow down when that happens. Lord knows I don't want to drop the babe from my innards while on the treadmill....that could be a little problematic, no? Braxton-Hicks are totally normal at this stage in the game but it's definitely a weird feeling, so we shall see what the doc says tomorrow at my 28 week appointment.

I've also been sick all week with some kind of mutant cold that attacked my vocal cords and successfully turned me into a hoarse, man-like creature. It was pretty awful at work on Saturday when my voice either cracked or squeaked every time I talked to a patient. I got some pitiful looks and just tried to smile it off, but it totally sucked. Being sick when you're pregnant is like an extended, more intense version of sickness when not pregnant. It takes me 5 times as long to kick the bug and I get exponentially more irritable of course. Fun times!

Other biggies?:
I interviewed a pediatrician/family practice doctor last Tuesday and fell madly in love with the man. Seriously. He is our pick for sure. The guy is
1. A Wisconsin transplant from further south, as his wife is from MKE and so he came along for the ride,
2. An avid athlete and outdoorsy SOB who does triathalons. His wife runs marathons and even ran a half 6 weeks after she delivered their child. I think I love her already:) We discussed running strollers for a large part of my visit.
3. A really big fan of breastfeeding, and has lots of ideas and tips for moms who have to work full time while breastfeeding,
4. Has an interest in Sports Medicine, besides newborn-care, which makes Nate and I love him automatically for his support of Physical Therapy.
5. Has much experience in post-partum depression, as his own sister suffered from it along with many other patients. I know I've mentioned this before, but it does run in my family so of course I want to be extra careful with this one. He told me right away that a genetic link might raise my chances slightly but it's not a guarantee I'll get PPD, and if I do he feels confident we can work through it just fine.

Of course I grilled him on the basics, like what he thinks of vaccines (he's pretty conservative with this, and as of right now I am, too---my child will definitely be vaccinated, end of story), what the newborn schedule is for office visits (dang, they go in a lot!), and if he would have privileges at my hospital to visit me and the baby after the birth (he does!). I really like him and feel good about having this guy as my baby's doctor but also as Nate and my doctor, too. Big fat check mark on the books.

And finally, I've been a photoshopping machine this week. One of the last to-dos on my nursery list is to make the artwork for the multi-colored frames to hang above our shelves. I cannot show you all of my masterpieces because some of them have baby boy's name sprawled across them like a badge of honor. But some of the non-name ones deserve some time in the spotlight, no?


love you




4 gen for baby room

I got some of my inspiration from Etsy, some from baby blogs, and I used a ton of free digital scrapbooking supplies to seal the deal. I love finding new ways to use Photoshop and of course, I totally dig saving money by DIY for some highly personalized artwork. More to come of course...

So there you have it, 7 months pregnant, nesting and decorating up a storm while growing a big ol' boy in there. I cannot believe I'm 28 weeks close and yet so far away!


So I've officially decided to shut down J.Lorene Design. It kind of makes me sad to announce this because I remember how excited I was when I started this company, and how supportive you readers have always been. Heck, 99% of my clients stemmed from this little old blog and I appreciate every one of you dearies. But my heart is just not in it anymore and my clients deserve to have my best creative efforts, not something hurried or rushed just to get it done. For the sheer number of hours I spend on each album I truly don't make that much money in return, so it's always been a labor of love for me. It's just gotten to be a little more labor and a little less love.

I've gone back and forth over this decision for many months now. When I started my little side biz a year and a half ago I was still in wedding mode. I needed a creative outlet to fill my time while Nate studied. Well fast forward to present day....not so much in wedding mode anymore, but more like baby mode (what, you haven't noticed?). Creative outlets are abounding today with nursery projects, our own everyday/pregnancy/and future baby albums, my own photography projects, and of course, researching and preparing for baby takes up a lot of my once free time.

One reason I really hesitated to shut 'er down was because the extra money I make with each album design goes right into my personal Pal Pal account. It's like 'play' money for me, unlike real hard-earned PT money, because I am more likely to splurge on fun things with this account instead of our actual income. For instance, last year after I busted my butt to pump out multiple wedding albums for Christmas, I bought myself my little SLR plus an additional lens. Then I bought another lens. And a camera bag. Do you see a theme here? My J.Lorene money has fully supported my photography habit in addition to buying Nate his Christmas and birthday gifts without him seeing the moolah pull from our joint account:)

So herein lies my quandrum: after spending a nice chunk of J.Lorene money on our flat screen TV, then Christmas gifts, I still have about $350 left to spend. So many options in my head that I need some feedback from you dear readers.

My first thought was to keep it photography related and upgrade to a new baby-friendly lens. I plan on taking a ri-DONK-ulous amount of pictures of our baby if nothing else but for some fabulous photo albums and prints hanging around our house. I have no desire to be a 'pro' photog so it's not that my pictures have to be impeccable or anything. My little 50mm f/1.8 lens has always been my trusty lens for Henry pictures but I will admit, it totally stinks in lower light conditions. Sometimes it takes forever to focus especially when I'm inside and I'm thinking that during my maternity leave I'll be inside with baby boy quite a bit. I'm sure I can still get decent pictures of him if I work hard enough at finding a good light source, but maybe it's time to splurge and amp up my lens repertoire?

After lots of research I have two lenses in mind: #1 is the 50 mm f/1.4 lens. Basically this is the next step up from my current 'nifty fifty' and a lot of pros swear by it. I'm sure it would be better in lower light conditions and a little faster too. #2 is the 85mm f/1.8 lens. This one is known for taking fabulous portraits and after asking a few photog friends a lot of them lean towards this one because of my subject matter. Both lenses are about the same price at $370. Both would probably take better pictures than my cheapie 50mm f/1.8. But is it really worth $370 to get slightly better, easier pictures? The more I think about it, the more I hesitate.

So then I moved onto thinking about paying a professional photographer to use his/her expensive equipment for a maternity/newborn session with baby boy. There are a few in the area that would certainly do great work and we'd have gorge photos much better than I can take myself. But is it worth the cost? I dunno.

What I truly want (I *think*) is a birth photographer. I know the concept seems a little out there at first, a little creepy and invasive. But when I look at some of the slideshows of the big dogs out there I cannot help but think how amazing it would be to capture one of the best days in our lives. (I'd love to post actual pictures here but I'll just suggest you check out the links yourself, you know---copyright stuff is kind of a big deal out there). Heck, we paid big bucks for wedding photography because it was a huge event. Isn't the birth of our first baby just as important to commemorate? The logistics of the whole thing make me nervous though: I mean, the photog will be all up in my biznass, they will have to be ready to receive a phone call at 3 am saying to meet us at the hospital asap, and not to mention the cost. I've only found two photogs in this general vicinity that do birth photography and both are pretty freaking expensive, more than I'd like to pay for sure. I know Nate can take pictures while at the hospital but I want him to be present and absorbing the moment, not staring at our baby through a camera lens. Sigh. Any suggestions here?

{Of course, I already half-jokingly asked my budding photog friend Andrea to be our birth photographer. I think I'd feel less subconscious about the situation with a friend there but I'd probably feel worse about her having to drive out to the hospital at some ungodly hour only to sit and wait for many more hours. I wouldn't want her to feel pressured to get perfect shots under such intense circumstances and I wouldn't want to scare her off from her own impending labor and delivery process:) Andrea, are you reading this?? We'd obviously pay her accordingly but probably not the $500-700+ some of the pros require. Unless she had to get there at 5 am, sit around for 24 hours, and then witness me pooping on the table while screaming curse words across the hospital. THEN maybe she'd get an obscene amount of money for enduring the event:)}

Other ideas I've had:
-Buy some cloth diapering supplies I normally wouldn't want to purchase due to costs. (I'm totally committing to cloth, by the way. More posts on that later)

-Get those designer maternity jeans, even though I already have my pair from Gap.

-Save it for the baby. (BO-ring, but of course it's what my inner tight wad tells me to do)

So, dear readers, what would YOU do? Birth photography after winning the lottery? Maternity and newborn sessions? Cloth diapers? Maternity clothes? Or just bank it into our savings account? Nate really wants me to spend this money in a fun way for me since I'm always so into saving every dime. I kind of agree--I want my J.Lorene money to go out with a bang. But I'm just torn between these options. Help!

Reasons to tolerate winter

Do you hear that? I'll wait a second.... did you hear it?

That's the sound of me NOT complaining about the cold weather up here this winter. In case you haven't noticed, I really haven't griped about it at all so far this season and I'm pretty proud of myself. Sure, it's only been truly winter weather for about a month now but whatev. I'm turning over a new leaf this winter, promise.

I've decided that I will not complain unless 1. We get more than 10" of snow in one day, or 2. It is consistently below 20 degrees as a high for more than a week. So far we have not experienced these two situations (although it's been close with our 'blizzard' warnings and subzero temps). And really, I don't mind winter and snow and cold in just gets me ready for a traditional white Christmas. I will certainly try to follow my guidelines well into Jan, Feb, March and April when it will certainly still be colder than a witches you know what. I will try, dear readers.

But I've decided that I need to find reasons why I sort of like winter. So here we go:

1. Frost on our windows combined with colored Christmas lights looks dreamy.






2. Hot drinks to keep my tummy warm. Yes, this year I must forgo my beloved Cabernet to warm my soul, but I've found a new favorite: minty hot chocolate. With steamed milk. And marshmallows. Yummy! This is my version:

And here is Nate's. He told me I was a wussy for only using 4 marshmallows because he, in fact, used about 20:
3. Bundling up under warm blankets at night.

4. Taking scalding hot showers to warm up (do you see a theme here?)

5. Winter meals like chili, grilled cheese and tomato soup, lasagna...the list goes on.

I'm starting with five but that's it. I will try to look at the positive side every time I mumble curse words under my breath as I scrape my car from beneath inches of snow and ice. Third Wisconsin winter, bring it! I can handle you now...I'm practically a local:)

What about you? What do you like about wintertime? (And if you live in a climate that never dips below 60 degrees you can answer this question but please know how much I hate you. Kidding. Just a little.)
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