He’s Here!

18 Apr

Dairy Man and I are thrilled to introduce you to the newest member of our family! (And the reason for my radio silence over here in blogland. Who knew infants were so much work?)

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On Saturday, April 5 at 3:11 p.m., Anders Knox was born weighing in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces and 19 inches long. I might be biased, but he’s adorable. I can’t get enough of his adorably chubby cheeks and bright blue eyes. No odd-looking newborn Benjamin Button here. We’re in love.

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It’s been the most exhausting, amazing, frustrating, humbling, and exhilarating two weeks of my life. Labor and delivery was difficult, but we feel so blessed to have a healthy baby boy.

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I’m floored how much I love this tiny little human already.

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Thank you all for the love, prayers, kind words, well-wishes, and tolerance of a flood of baby pictures on my Facebook page. It’s been so much fun to share my pregnancy journey and I can’t wait to see how Anders changes our lives.

Jersey is settling comfortably into his role as big brother. He occasionally sniffs Anders to make sure things are still ok and seems happily ambivalent the rest of the time. I’m sure they will be best friends. And I’m half tempted to dress them alike like this awesome dog/baby duo.

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Thanks to my new sleep schedule (or lack thereof), I think things may slow down for a little bit here on the blog, but check out Facebook and Instagram for current updates.

And never fear, I will be back with dairy updates soon. As if our lives aren’t crazy enough right now, this is happening on the dairy.

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Yep. We’re beginning another barn expansion just like last year. Never a dull moment around here. More details to come.

For now, I leave you with one of the many faces of Mister Anders. He’s keeping us on our toes!

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10 Things I Learned in March.

31 Mar

Hello, March. I think you might have misunderstood your role in this 12-month saga known as a year. We’re supposed to be on the road to spring.

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This was the scene from my office window last week. Ugh. I’m trying so hard to stay positive, but the truth is that I’m tired. So very tired of winter. Normal Michigan winters are nothing to sneeze at, but this winter has been extreme. Extremely cold temperatures, extremely constant snow accumulation (with no melting), extremely hyper border collie suffering from cabin fever.

Thank heavens that today is predicted to be an unfathomable 60 degrees. I was ready to break out my shorts and flip flops when temps tipped over 40 yesterday, so I might just sunbathe today. Maybe spring is more than a figment of my deepest memory.

As we go out like a lamb, here are the things I learned this month.

10 Things I Learned in March

1. Dairy Man and I have different ideas about Baby F’s wardrobe.
#Carharttsversusbowties

Carhartt_v_bowtie

2. The World Wide Web is 25 years old.
Our little Webby is turned 25 in March. Though it’s hard to fathom a world without LOLCats, snarky tweets about Vogue covers, and the bottomless pit of information on Google, the Internet as we know it did not exist before 1989. Congratulations, WWW. Go rent a car.

3. It takes 4-5 adults to put together one IKEA dresser.
The nursery is finally coming along (and not a minute too soon for my mega-nesting impulses). A few weeks ago we invited my parents and sister over to help set up the nursery and organize baby crap. Yes, that is the technical term. Somehow we all got involved in the construction of one very complicated IKEA Hemnes dresser. Talk about family bonding.

IKEA_day

4. Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel pulled off an epic duet of “Confrontation” from Les Misérables.
Never before has there been a more perfect union of one of my favorite sitcoms and one of my favorite musicals.

5. I’m the best wife ever.
Even though I couldn’t participate in one of my favorite national holidays—Oberon Day—I made sure that Dairy Man was able to ring in spring with our favorite summer brew. Major points for the nine-month pregnant lady.

Oberon

6. Babies need pets.
These photos are proof. Baby F and Jersey simply must be best friends.

7. A lot can change in three short weeks.
Somehow I grew a torpedo between weeks 33 and 36. Now that I’m in week 38, I can’t even begin to fathom how this torpedo can get any bigger.

Torpedo

8. A medium shamrock shake from McDonalds has 660 calories.
SIX-HUNDRED AND SIXTY calories, people. Insanity. This did not stop me from partaking, mind you, but it did add a minty layer of guilt to my annual green treat. I wish I could unlearn this particular fact.

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9. Snow frisbee > regular frisbee
Just ask the one puppy in our family who is not ready for the snow to melt. He’s all about anything that allows him to dramatically hurl his body through the air like a furry David Beckham into a cold, white foam pit.

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10. This balancing dog is smarter and more awesome than I’ll ever be. 
Just take a look at these mad skills. Jersey, we have a new spring project.

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It’s Not About the Closet Doors: On Motherhood, Fears, and Faith

26 Mar

A friend told me recently that one of her biggest fears in regards to her baby boy isn’t that he won’t sleep through the night, eat his vegetables, or learn to spell.

She’s afraid that his future wife will hate her.

I can honestly say that such a thought had never even crossed my mind until then. Should I be worried about my unborn baby’s betrothed!? I’m barely grasping the idea that I’m going to have an infant.

The more I thought about what she said, the more I started to realize the gravity of my upcoming entrance into parenthood.

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Within the next 2-3 weeks I will give birth to a living, breathing, functioning little boy. This boy will skin his knees, go to kindergarten, get holes in his jeans, bust a move at school dances, and one day bring home a woman who will be his wife.

The trajectory starts with his first cry, his first gasp into life. And then, someday, he’ll bring home a girl who might hate me.

I recognize the insanity of this logical leap, particularly since I haven’t even met my son yet. But something about the late third trimester flips a switch in your brain between pregnancy and parenthood.

I’m so excited. I’m wonderfully, ecstatically, fearfully, joyfully waiting for life to change forever. I’m elated to meet the little being that has been growing and kickboxing in my womb for the past nine months. I can’t wait to hold him, to see if he has Dairy Man’s eyes, to watch him grow.

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But if I’m honest, I’m also terrified.

This terror has spawned a few moments of pure, unadulterated irrationality throughout this pregnancy. One such moment came when Dairy Man asked me what kind of closet doors I wanted in the nursery and I melted into an indecisive pile of emotional goo.

I know there’s nothing existentially significant about closet doors. But for some reason it felt like if I picked the wrong doors for a room that was going to house MY CHILD, everything else would fall apart.

The doors had to be perfect. I had to be perfect. Because, clearly my child’s whole future would hinge on closet doors. The wrong doors could keep him from sleeping through the night, getting good grades, making friends, eating his vegetables.

I’d like to blame it solely on pregnancy hormones, but I think it’s deeper than that.

Because it’s not about the closet doors. It’s about feeling overwhelmed. It’s about the unknown. It’s about life changing. It’s about a long-awaited blessing so beautiful it simultaneously makes me want to laugh and weep.

Pregnancy has been a growing experience (no pun intended – bahdoomCHHH) for this self-aware Type A. The baby-baking process has been the ultimate exercise in loss of control. And it’s liberating. Everything up to this point and everything that will come after requires complete trust in God.

My son might not like broccoli. He might get detention. He might draw on his perfect closet doors with a red Sharpie. He might marry a girl who is lactose intolerant (the horror).

I have to put it all, even that future woman who will steal …ahem… I mean marry my son away, in His hands.

This is all part of a plan—a plan outside of my control. The road was paved with frustration and heartbreak, but God finally blessed us with a viable pregnancy. My fear of parenthood pales in comparison to my intense, overwhelming gratitude. That’s what matters. I might not know how to swaddle a baby or discipline a misbehaving toddler, but I’ve been given the incredible chance to figure it out. This child is already in someone else’s hands.

I’m realizing that this is it. Right now. My life isn’t about tomorrow or growing up or my son’s future wife, it’s about the beautiful terror of each moment. The realization that I’m not in charge. The recognition that each mundane or shattering moment can take me straight to the feet of glory.

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I’m so thankful I get to live this life. I wouldn’t trade all of the pain, anger, fear, and uncertainty that comes along with it. It’s not about what already happened or what could be, it’s about where I am now. There is nothing more sacred or profound than this day.

So I’ll keep nesting, reading baby books, saving money, and practicing my breathing techniques. But ultimately I know that this new adventure is out of my hands. Everything will be new, but everything will be painfully beautiful. Life will change and we’ll change with it.

That’s the best kind of fear.

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——

All photos for this post were taken from our maternity shoot with the talented Ashley Folkema.

10 Things I Learned in February.

27 Feb

Not to sound like a broken record, but I can honestly say that I’m not sorry to see the backside of February. I’m sick of winter. DM is sick of winter. The cows are sick of winter. Jersey is…not, but he’s a furry anomaly who is blinded by his love of snow Frisbee.

Practically speaking, I need things to warm up because my winter coat will no longer button over my pregnant girth. The whole “I can stuff myself into it until spring” plan isn’t really working and a milder season is nowhere in sight.

Stuffed-sausage-coats notwithstanding, February cannot not squeak by without teaching me a few things. Thus, I give you:

10 Things I Learned In February

1. You can supply an entire home with water through a garden hose.
How, pray tell, do I know this fun fact? Well, thanks to the delightful little winter we’re having, the pipe running from the farm’s main water source to our house froze SOLID. So did the ground all around it. Short of digging up 70 feet of pipe in frozen ground, we’re stuck. The solution? Run several garden hoses from the water supply to our house. The hose connects directly to our system in the house (even running through the water heater), so I can’t complain too much, but we live in constant fear of the hose freezing too. Seriously. Is it spring yet?

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2. While Dairy Man is away, MFW will play.

Or binge watch the entire season 2 of House of Cards. DM spent a week in California this month to attend the World Ag Expo and tour around dairy country. He soaked up the sun, ogled at rotary parlors, and ate from taco trucks. I didn’t clean anything, ate cinnamon rolls for dinner, and watched an embarrassing number of HOC episodes. The show is so addicting. And to those who have seen the last episode, can I just say: WHAAAAAAT!?!?!? Season 3 is going to be a thrill ride.

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3. I have a secret to avoid speeding tickets.

Well, sort of. True confession: I force out a big yawn whenever I pass a police car because I think it makes me look nonchalant. Obviously no laws can be broken while yawning. I like to believe it’s impossible to perceive a yawner as a speeder.

4. I have not overcome my donut cravings.
I’ve never wanted sugar more than I have during this pregnancy. Proof? This is what my body required to get through my weekly grocery shopping trip this Monday. I couldn’t even talk myself out of it with the “you’ll spoil your dinner” argument because farmers don’t eat until 8 p.m. anyway! Curses.

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5. Just as DM suspected, whole milk may keep you lean.

I admit to you that I came into my marriage as a fervent lover of skim milk, margarine, and low-fat yogurt. Oh the horror. Dairy Man was so ashamed. But I gradually began to see that my perceptions about “healthy” dairy were far from the truth. Studies are starting to suggest that natural fats are actually better for us than the empty low-fat/no-fat options on the market. DM is quite smug.

6. Ice cover on the Great Lakes stood at 77% as of Tuesday.
This winter has been unlike any we’ve seen in the last 20-30 years. As a result, the Great Lakes were 77 percent frozen this week! And they were a mind-boggling 88 percent frozen on February 13. I’m not quite ready to ice skate to Wisconsin (especially since Lake Michigan is only about 50 percent frozen), but these stats boggle my mind.

7. It’s possible for Dairy Man to love Paul Rudd even more than he already does.
DM has two primary man-crushes in his life: James Franco (which I do not understand) and Paul Rudd (which I do). This unfettered man-love often dictates his movie choices and even trickles into his YouTube browsing. Paul’s recent lip sync battle with Jimmy Fallon propelled DM’s warm fuzzy feelings to new heights.

8. Somewhere in the world, tropical pigs are swimming.
This is the stuff that gets me through the day.

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9. There is one sure-fire way to ruin your husband’s day.
Just swap the melted Snickers bar he was saving for a “special occasion” with raisins. Oops.

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10. I have less than 50 days until my due date.

Y-to the-IKES. I can’t believe how quickly the third trimester is flying by. And how big I feel. I like to surprise people with the size of my belly by turning sideways quickly, bouncing on my toes, and shouting, “WA-BUM!” It’s dramatic. This baby boy/dairy spawn will be here soon. Now if we could just finish the nursery or agree on a name…

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Updates From the Polar Vortex.

24 Feb

Pssssssssht. Breaker, breaker. This is MFW coming to you live from a snowdrift.

I’m going to start with this photo. Because it soothes me.

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I want to go to there. This lovely shot is from our honeymoon in Mexico a million years ago. It’s good to remember that there are places in the world free of this year’s #polarvortex.

Sigh.

Unfortunately Michigan is still firmly planted in winter. Despite wildly odd weather last week—thunder snow, 40 degrees, and pouring rain—temps are back in the low teens this week.

My psyche just can’t take it. I’m tired of wearing three layers at all times, getting my car stuck in the driveway, whiteouts on the roads, and worrying about our roof collapsing under three months of snow accumulation. I just want to be warm again. I’m still waiting for those awesome pregnancy hot flashes people keep talking about.

I’m getting close to my winter breaking point.

Dairy Man might be even more sick of winter than I am. His life the past few months has involved frozen pipes, broken machinery, stuck milk trucks, countless pairs of long underwear, and so, so much plowing.

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Dairying gets a lot harder when we’re dealing with six-foot piles of snow, icy roads, and sub-arctic temperatures.

Thankfully the ladies take it all in stride. They get fluffy winter coats, group together in the sand beds, and eat, eat, eat.

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We do our best to help them stay warm and toasty during the cold months. Cow-sized sweaters are out of the question—I was never much of a knitter—and the girls don’t love hot cocoa, but we close the barn curtains, change our feed ration to include higher fat, and turn on the heaters in the water troughs.

We’re all getting by. The only family member wholly unfazed by winter is Jersey the snow dog.

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He loves snow—for playing, walking or eating. The last one is most annoying. There are few things more demoralizing than being an adult human being standing outside in negative temps and 40 mph winds yelling, “GO POTTY!!!!” to a stubborn and impervious border collie chowing down on snow.

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It’s been a long, hard winter. Perhaps one I’ll creakily tell my children about someday.

But I must remember that this season won’t last forever. The days are getting longer, spring is getting nearer, and there are occasional moments of pure beauty. It’s all about the sunshine.

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From the safety of a warm car or house, the winter wonderland really is spectacular.

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And I’m sure we’ll get the tractors unburied … someday.

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10 Things I Learned in January

30 Jan

I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I’m happy to put January 2014 in the rearview mirror. The past 30 days have been a mess of snow, ice, freezing temps, treacherous drives, and the tantalizing desire to hibernate. Dairy Man has been getting a lot of use out of his HappyLight. I’ve been fighting off the urge to eat baked goods. We’re ready to move forward.

That said, the polar vortex didn’t prevent me from learning a few things this month.

1. Jimmy Fallon reunited Danny, Uncle Jesse, and Uncle Joey for a skit about his Tonight Show fears. And the 90s child inside of me nearly exploded with delight.

2. My “be ready in five minutes” is identical to Dairy Man’s “be home in five minutes.”
In short, they’re both lies. DM and I are a match made in heaven. This is why we’re always late to church and often find ourselves eating dinner at 8:45 p.m. But I can say with certainty that my “five minutes” has never turned into “gone for the rest of the day.” Not even I could primp that long.

3. Naming a child is next to impossible.
DM and I are in big trouble. It doesn’t bode well that it took nearly a week for Jersey the dog to be christened. I’ve had a spreadsheet of possible names for years now (because I’m crazy …er… I mean organized like that) and I spend far too much time reading articles like this. We’ve crossed off a lot of names we DON’T like, but we can’t agree on names we DO like. DM is drawn to Nordic/Viking names like Leif and Thor. I’m drawn to names that won’t be tragically ironic if this kid is scrawny. Only 71 days left to get this nailed down. boy names

4. Jessica is a bona fide fad name.
Thanks a lot, Mom and Dad. There’s nothing unique about a Jessica. It was literally THE most popular girls’ name the year I was born. I always had about five of them in my class. On the upside, I was always able to find personalized pencils. #4 on this list explains “name fads” and this graph proves that Jessica will be an Old Lady Name (like Bessie or Gertrude) by the time I hit my 60s. I’m trying so desperately to avoid name fads for Baby F.

Jessica graph

5. I don’t play with Legos, but if I had this Downton Abbey set, I might have to.DowntonAbbeyLegos

6. When temps dip below freezing, everything on the dairy will break.
Michigan hasn’t escaped the polar vortex that’s plagued the country since around Thanksgiving. I can’t believe this winter. So much snow. So ridiculously cold. Things get tricky on the dairy when the temps drop like this. In addition to all of the normal winter tasks—lowering curtains, putting coats on the calves, plowing, plowing, and more plowing—DM seems to spend half his life fixing broken things. Water pumps, tractors, generators, drinking fountains, the list goes on. And we haven’t even started to talk about stuck milk trucks or frozen manure. Oof. We’re hoping for an early spring.Snowdrift

7. I still love Chicago.
Even after 3.5 of solid country living, I can still fully assimilate into the hustle and bustle of Chicago, my favorite urban metropolis. DM and I spent the weekend in the Windy City this month and it was just what my pre-baby soul needed. Despite the subarctic temperatures, it was a thrilling weekend of new restaurants, the Shedd, Phantom of the Opera, amazing views, and way too many cab rides (thanks to our desire not to die of frostbite). It’s not easy for DM to get off the dairy, but I love it when he does. Even farmers need some culture. And I always need some Chitown.Chitown

8. Painting isn’t easy with a big belly.
But nesting instinct trumps pregnancy awkwardness. We’ve spent the last few weekends painting the nursery and upstairs landing (with no-VOC paint, don’t worry) in preparation for the babe. Even though I’ve been forced to wear some super-stylish painting clothes (DM’s old stuff) and have gotten myself into some embarrassing predicaments as I try to bend, twist, and squat, it’s been worth it. We’re so close. Almost time for furniture and stuffed penguins.Painting day

9. Jelly Belly now makes a beer-flavored jelly bean.
In a word, ew. Not even this teetotaler prego is interested. But someone must be buying, because the beans are already sold out.

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10. As soon as the third trimester begins, slight panic kicks in.
I’m not sure what changed from week 27 to 28, but I started to hyperventilate as soon as I entered the “home stretch” of my pregnancy. There’s so much to do. Decorate the nursery, figure out a name, make a baby registry, prepare Jersey (we’re using this book), write a birth plan, learn infant CPR, buy more leggings. I’m so excited. And so terrified. Thank goodness DM is calm, laid back, and levelheaded. Between the two of us, I think we’ll be ok. I just hope the new little guy enjoys tractor rides.3rdTri

10 Things I Learned in December

30 Dec

The gifts are unwrapped, the cookies are stale, and it’s time to take down the Christmas decorations. There’s a certain melancholy that comes with the holiday seasons’s end, especially after such a frenzied rush to the finish line.

But I feel peace. Dairy Man and I spent some time last night looking through photos from 2013 and it’s been a good year. We’ve accomplished a lot in 12 short months,  from building a barn to teaching Jersey to high-five to making a baby. I’ve learned more about patience, persistence, kindness, and creating space for my soul to breathe.

Now, we look forward to 2014 with rightful fear and ecstatic joy. That said, I can’t usher in the new year without telling you what I learned this month.

10 things I learned in December 

1. Dairy Man doesn’t enjoy ballet.
DM and I journeyed into the city this holiday season to see The Nutcracker. I love everything about this classic ballet, but he was skeptical. And now we know. While my dear farmer enjoys plays and musicals (thankfully, because I’m a total theater nerd) he does not enjoy ballet. I think the skintight white pants may have thrown him off. Or perhaps the movements he called “prancing around.” It’s really a shame.

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2. Dogs have around 1,700 taste buds. Humans have 9,000.
This fact could explain why Jersey has such a propensity for manure consumption. Though maybe I would find it delicious too if I only had 1,700 taste buds.

3. I’m addicted to watching Jersey on the baby-cam.
DM got me a baby-cam this summer so that I could watch Jersey on my iPhone during the day. But we didn’t hook up the camera until this month to test it out for the impending Baby F. Even though all Jersey does in the kitchen is look out the window, eat, yawn, and nap, I can’t stop watching him. DM even makes a cameo appearance once and a while.

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4. My family is still awesome.
Case in point? Our annual Christmas card photo shoot was a smashing success.

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5. Though eerily similar in look and texture, mashed cauliflower is NOT a viable substitute for mashed potatoes.
Yuck. Just trust me on this one. No matter what the pretty pictures on Pinterest tell you, mashed cauliflower is re-pul-sive. Even though your brain says “Huh, it can’t be so bad. They look just like potatoes,” your mouth is screaming, “SWEETKNIGHTSOFCOLUMBUS what is this atrocity?!? SPITITOUT!!”

6. Everybody loves a pregnant reindeer.
Best entry ever into an ugly sweater contest? Maybe.

pregnant-reindeer

7. Baby Boy F is going to have a cousin in July.
We were thrilled to find out last week that DM’s sister is also expecting her first child! It will be so fun to have cousins only three months apart. I can almost see the motley crew comprised of of our current dog-children and future farm-kids creating mischief all over the dairy. Jersey and Maggie have assured us they are more than up to the task of educating their human protégés.

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8. In my favorite Christmas movie, Home Alone, the McAllisters’ house was a real house outside Chicago.
Who knew? I wonder if they do tours?

9. Hiring out is the best.
When DM and I found out we were pregnant, we decided the only logical place for a nursery was in the wild, untouched frontier known as our upstairs. This decision required some serious renovations, like taking out walls, adding insulation, and stripping off ancient lath and plaster. A project of this scale called for professional help. So, for the first time since we started renovating three years ago, we hired a contractor. And people, let me tell you, it is glorious. We went from damaged wood paneling and chipped plaster to bright shiny drywall in a matter of two weeks. It’s amazing how quickly things get done when you’re not trying to squeeze it in on a weekend. My nesting instincts are on steroids.

nursery

10. I do in fact have a pregnancy craving. And it rhymes with “go nuts.”
At first I thought I was squeaking through pregnancy without any weird cravings. Pickles and ice cream sounded repugnant and DM wasn’t making any 2 a.m. gas station runs for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. But then I started thinking about donuts and I couldn’t stop. So I’ve started buying them for other people. Because if I’m going into a sugar coma, I’m taking everybody down with me.

donuts

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