Friday, May 29, 2015

The Secret To MY Easy Pregnancy

This post is strictly about my experience, helpful knowledge that I have found, and advice I've been given. There is no denying the benefits of fitness and nutrition, but I realize that every pregnancy is different. Just want to make that clear ;)

I must admit, every time someone has said "Don't be intimidated by the pregnant chick running faster than you" or "You make me feel inadequate when you outrun me", it's a BIG ego boost. Not that I'm trying to outrun anyone these days and I'm certainly not running as fast as I used to, but it's an amazing feeling to be defying everything I've ever heard about pregnancy. I truly believe that between fitness and my healthy eating habits, I have found the formula to the perfect pregnancy {FOR ME} and I think all you non-preggers need to take note before you are faced with morning sickness and back problems. Yup...I've avoided all those pesky symptoms. 

The trick is starting these habits well before you get pregnant to have the most effect and to be SAFE.  You want to know the biggest secret? While Will was deployed everyone talked about how easy it is to get pregnant when the boys return, so I started working out with the mindset that if I accidentally got pregnant I would be fit and ready. Some may say that was my biological clock ticking, but all I knew was that I didn't want to end up like friends I've had that were lethargic, miserable, and in some cases bed ridden because their bodies were not 'primed' AS THEY PUT IT. That being said, here's why you should start now and keep going on strong:

1. Any fitness routine for any reason will boost confidence, improve body image, make clothes fit better, and up your immune system along with a long list of miscellaneous benefits. Yadda, yadda, yadda... I know this has been shoved down your throat for years.

2. When you have an established routine, your doctor will tell you to keep on keepin' on if you get pregnant. There are a few restrictions that must be considered, but my OB told me that my pregnancy and labor would be a LOT easier if I was able to maintain a routine. Even if you have to slow down, modify your routine, and take breaks, you are still burning major calories cooking a baby and working out. Matter of fact, they say a pregnant woman laying  on the couch burns more calories than a body builder. Hence why any activity has even more effect than normal. Good bye every ounce of fat and water weight on my body, and hello healthy pregnancy!

3. Just as a good massage helps balance hormones, exercise does too. They say that massage during pregnancy helps to regulate the hormones associated with stress, relaxation, and mood: norepinephrine, cortisol, seratonin, and it has been found that exercise has the same effect! My doctor asked Will if I had any mood swings up until five months and he really couldn't think of any. Sure I've gotten a tidge bit weepy lately, but 99% of the time I'm overly happy and 'love everything', i.e. the watermelon cake, how nice people are to pregnant women, how sweet my husband is, etc...I can even tell a difference between the hormones when I work out and the recovery days. Plus they say the regulation of these are said to help with complications throughout the pregnancy and leads to an easier delivery. Please be true...please be true!!

4. Remember I mentioned water weight? The fluids that you gain during pregnancy are actually what make women 'blow up' {well, other than ice cream and other terrible cravings}. Your body DOUBLES the levels of blood and other fluids to make a baby, so between that and natural water retention you can easily feel bloated and even develop pregnancy complications. But alas, there is hope! Even 'easy' pregnancy friendly exercises that have never exercised before can prevent water retention. I had feared this the most, because honestly, I've always retained water. Other than detoxes and clean eating, I've never even seen my abs or my real arm muscles, but now that I'm working out while pregnant I've dropped EVERY BIT of water weight I carried! If that's not a good enough reason to get going, then I don't know what is.

5. I don't know if this is concrete fact, but I read that nausea could be associated with sugar levels, and that makes sense to me because I've been managing my Hypoglycemia for seven years with fitness and nutrition and I never even got nauseous once. I also think that these practices have had some effect on controlling my cravings and allowing me to make healthier choices, which could be the magical combination for an 'easy pregnancy'. 

Now I know this sounds unappealing and daunting to those that aren't about that 'fit life', because I was you a few years ago, but I can promise you that if you get pregnant you will regret not getting started as you think of this post if you are part of the unlucky group that lives in the bathroom and simultaneously gains 60 pounds. More importantly, think of your baby. I could care less about these bonus benefits because I know that I'm being healthy for her. This is also why you need to speak with your OB about your personal fitness and know how to do it safely. As much as I LOVE running, I made the decision yesterday that I ran my last mile of this pregnancy. It's putting stress on my lower abdomen even with a maternity support belt, so I'm sticking to core workouts to keep her safe. My motivation is to be the best wife and mother that I can be physically and mentally, and I'm completely okay with that.

Until getting pregnant, I would look in the mirror and see things I still needed to work on. Now, I look in the mirror and think "Look how my hard work has created the perfect vessel for my baby." Because I sweat, she will be healthier, because I condition, she will be stronger, because I am dedicated, she will enter this world ahead of the game, and that's what keeps me going.

PS. I am very interested in hearing experiences of other pregnancies out there, good and bad! Especially personal experiences, and how it affected your labor and delivery.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Okay, So Maybe I Splurged A LITTLE...

Before I was pregnant, if I knew I had to wear a bikini all weekend, there is NO way I would be eating sodium, processed foods, anything not home cooked, or heaven forbid anything fried. Now, the only reason I don't eat those things is for Charlie, which means as long as I have it in moderation I can indulge without worry because it has NO effect on this bikini line.

Here's what I 'indulged on' this weekend:
Watermelon Cake, Blackened Fish Sandwich, Hush Puppies, BBQ Pork Nachos, Gelato, and then the in laws came in town and whipped us up a pancake breakfast to top it all off. Have you ever had watermelon flavored cake? Let me tell you, I wasn't all about it when I saw chocolate chips on top, but you can't judge a book by it's cover. Watermelon and chocolate now go HAND IN HAND in my mind, and I want more in my life asap. Luckily, my friend Karie is our resident baker, so I will be requesting it. I think Will is getting tired of hearing about it, but too bad, so sad. Watermelon, watermelon, WATERMELON CAKE!

We had actually cancelled plans this weekend trying to take it easy, but once again we reminded ourselves that we must seize the day, er...weekend. We all hopped in the truck and down to Destin we went. We ignored weather and Riptide warnings to soak up our last time at the beach before my doctor said I can't travel. I actually thought it was a terrible idea for Memorial Day Weekend what with traffic and whatnot, but boy was I wrong. It was pure perfection and just what we all needed. Bye bye beach...I'll miss you for awhile!

Hope you all had a great Memorial Day! Remember- all gave some, and some gave all.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Some Highs And Some LOWS

In ONE week, I will be handing over my FRCSC Continuity Books, thumb drives, flyers, keys crap. Don't get me wrong, it's bitter sweet...but it's time for me to take a break. It may only be a two week break until I start a short Fort Rucker contract job {same as I did before, which I hope I will be able to finish before she comes}, but it's a break nonetheless. I probably should have told them no, but it's such a fun job and keeps my clearance active. Not too mention, that will be money we can blow on Charlie, which I know we will want to do when we have our sweet little new toy to play with. Speaking of which...

I've actually sold $400 smackers worth of useless goods {sorry beloved wakeboard, you weren't useless} even though I planned on selling $200 or so and quitting. I just keep finding things that I know I can get something out of so why quit. I mean, I will have to wrap it up soon because I need to get this house cleaned out before she comes, but I've offset almost half of what we've spent on her so far and most of that was second hand/thrifted. I seriously feel like I've been honing my thrifting skills for years to get me ready for this. Why buy new when you can find BRAND NEW stuff with tags still on for a quarter of the price? Winning!

However, it's not all peachy keen this week. There are swarms of termites hitting Pensacola, so we realized we needed to set up termite protection ASAP. I had no clue how to do that, so I called my sweet daddy and he broke the news that it wouldn't just be a normal pest control call. As in, if you've never set up termite service, be prepared to shell out up to $1,000 bucks up front. It's kind of like insurance so you only have to pay a couple hundred bucks a year after that, but dang I wasn't expecting that. At this point our rental savings fund is going into the house instead of the bank, but that's home ownership for ya. Will just keeps reminding me that this is a long term investment and we are still coming out on top.

I know that picture has nothing to do with this post, but a) Photobucket is acting up and b) it reminds me that life is too short to sweat the small stuff. Seriously, everyday is an adventure or at the very least can be a learning experience. I look at managing this property as a huge learning experience, so realistically all these little problems are just opportunities for me to find solutions. Now get out there and go have fun this weekend!

**Update: Our microwave also bit the dust this morning while almost catching fire, so I'm waiting for one more thing to go wrong now with the rule of three's. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dear Sweet, Wonderful Hubby

I have to admit that my hormones definitely showed up this weekend. I mentioned that I wouldn't mind going to 'town' to run some errands on Sunday and Will was fine with it, but come Dothan. I had it in my head that we should go early with things closing early on a Sunday, but he had planned to organize the garage first {for me, I should add} and when the day got away from us and we ended up spending zero time together my hormones came out to play. Luckily, I just got weepy and mainly got in my own way while Will was being so sweet and accommodating, but there was no denying what was going on.

Cue to this morning and on a surprise Tuesday off, he asked me on a day date to go to Dothan for lunch and baby shopping! It was a gorgeous day, he participated in the decision making but didn't complain when I got lost in the clearance racks, and I ended up with the afternoon off, so it even turned into watching movies, napping, putting together baby furniture, and to close out the day I even got to watch him play softball with the gang. I had had a to-do list a mile long, but I'm glad I just let spontaneity take over while we still have the chance. 

Dear Will,
Some people wish they had someone to cook and clean for, take care of, do laundry for, someone to laugh at their jokes that aren't always funny{I'm referring to my jokes because yours are always funny}, and I hope to never take that for granted. Thank you for being on a healthy kick which is helping me make the right choices, for wanting to be healthy to live longer for her, not noticing the big belly in between us when you 'check me out', and simply the patience you have with me including spending hours baby shopping. You have helped more with the nursery than you know, and this creative side I've seen coming out in your ideas for her has been truly sexy inspiring. You keep holding me when I'm emotional, and I'll do my best to be mindful of anymore hormone swings so I don't take it out on you. We haven't had much of a learning curve, but I think we are doing good. About a month left, and WE'VE GOT THIS.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Baby Shower #2!

When you are pregnant it seems like everyone's knocked up. Seriously, Friends near and far, including my friend Amanda from the Spouse Club. Because we are both 'with child', some of the club ladies wanted to have a little dual shower for us, and it was Ahhh-mazing. Plus way less pressure with two four of us sharing the lime light.

{Thank goodness Amanda is having a boy because it made it so easy for them to nix the pink!}

They held it in one of our gorgeous Community Centers on Post, which was a treat since we don't get the privilege while living off post, On top of that, the best party planners of the group decorated and whipped up some food and desserts. I may have taken home two strawberry cakes, four chocolate cupcakes with homemade cream cheese frosting, and a rather large piece of Pistachio cake...but who's counting? I promise I haven't even finished two cupcakes yet, so I am rationing.

I still can't believe we have made such amazing friends here at Fort Rucker, and all of these folks genuinely care about our family and our baby girl. I realized this Saturday that if we were stationed somewhere else right now it would be a completely different scenario, and I can't imagine having her anywhere but here. We don't have the option to live in our hometown and have all the family, but we truly have found a new family here, and I couldn't ask for more!
Thanks again to all the ladies from both showers!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Brain Dump: I Might Break Up With My iPhone

GASP! Is it so?
I have been an iPhone user for about four years, and iPod user for 10+ years, and an Apple user since back in the day when we called them 'Macs', but I have been seriously disappointed with all the software glitches, updates, and poor picture quality of the 5S that was supposed to be 'soooo much better'. I don't know if I'll pull the trigger come upgrade time in June, but I need y'alls opinion on the the 6, 6+, and any other phone that you guys use, love, and/or hate. I'm down to the upgrade deadline, so HELP! Hashtagfirstworldproblems

+ Check out the Volunteer Coin I got. Sorry to keep bringing this whole volunteer thing up, but it's been a whirlwind of a year and I'm very thankful to end on this positive note with all these perks I never thought I'd get and I most certainly won't be getting next year. HashtagMerica

+  This week has been focused on the changing table and crib bumper. I kept changing my mind which fabric I wanted to use for the interior of the bumper, but I finally pulled the trigger with the more subdued pattern on the left. I would let you guess, but I wouldn't want you all to vote for the floral pattern on the right and then second guess myself. Hopefully I can call it done come tomorrow. Eek! I'm so close to being done with all the nursery 'projects'!
+ Cajun Chicken Pasta is one of my faves of all time, but I don't want to pay an arm and a leg for a bowl full of $0.30 pasta. The other day, I figured it was about time I tried to make some myself where it was cost efficient, I  control the seasonings, and most importantly, I could have a ton of chicken and veggies accompanied by pasta instead a pile of pasta two bites of chicken.
**I apologize to those of you that want a bloggerific recipe in the perfect format and font, but it's much easier for me to write it out how I cook it, and this is for me to remember as much as it is to share. Here's another recipe option for the ones that need more direction. ;)

Chicken Breast (2 or more)
Red and Green Bell Pepper
Red Onion
1 1/2-2 C. Cooked WHOLE GRAIN Pasta
2Tbsp Butter
1 C. Heavy Cream or Milk
1/2 C. Parmesan
1/2 C. Sour Cream
Blackened Seasoning to taste. I probably used a half C. in total...
Chopped Green Onion for garnish
Sub or add Chicken Stock for all or part of the cream to lighten it up. Just don't get rid of the cheese or sour cream, though, or you will regret it.

The great thing is that this recipe is customizable. With chicken/without, more veggies/veggies of your choice, season to your taste, and even cook it how it works for you. You can saute your chicken and veggies in EVOO and Blackened Seasoning, but I really recommend lighting up the good ol' grill. You will get a much smokier flavor, use less oil, and your husband will be proud. To grill, coat chicken and veggies {separate bowls} with Blackened Seasoning/EVOO. Cook chicken directly on grill and five minutes later you can throw the veggies on in a grill basket. You will want to flip the chicken halfway through (when the skin separates from the grill making it easy to flip) and try to stir the veggies periodically so they don't over char.

You should probably start the sauce before grilling if you are going that route, but if you are sauteing the chicken, feel free to make this a one pot dish and cook the sauce in the same pan using the heavy cream to deglaze the pan. In a large skillet, heat up some butta' and then pour in Heavy Cream, Parmesan, Sour Cream, and as much blackened seasoning as your little heart desires {just remember- you can always add more, but you can't subtract}. You can also add a tsp or two of sugar or sweetener of your choice if you want to add some depth as it cooks. It won't take long to meld the flavors, so toss in your pasta and veggies when done, mix to coat, and then serve with chicken and green onion garnish on top.

My last question for today: Has anyone tried ordering form Target this week? I've had nothing but trouble with their online site no matter which browser I try to use and it's frustrating the ish out of me. It may be because they are having a big baby sale, but either way I just want to order stuff and give them money. Why then, do they make it SOOOOO difficult.

Thanks for letting me brain dump! Anything on your mind?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

She's Got Leeegs...She Knows How To Use Them!

Countless times, I've met bloggers and they've been surprise at how short I am. I'm {almost} 5'4, but for some reason I have come off tall through blogging. I'm not going to question it, but maybe it's because I've always had long legs, as you can see in the following picture.

I show you that picture first to prove that I was a somewhat cute kid. However, I will be the first to tell you that I was NOT a cute baby. Sure, you ask my mom and I was the cutest, but I was a toeheaded chunkamonk until at least my 1st birthday. Proof:

Leave it to my first babysitter to have the most incriminating photos for me. She's been tagging me in tons of throwbacks lately, and I really am loving it. She said she will make copies and send them to me, so then I really have to share some doozies. Many memories and people that I couldn't comprehend, but now I cherish. This is why I love pictures, people.

Now let's just hope Charlie gets my legs and blonde hair, but the rest can come from Will. I'd give her my Hazel eyes, but Will's blues will do. No matter what, she will be pure perfection in my eyes, and as long as she's healthy...we are blessed.

Monday, May 11, 2015

This. Weekend. Was. Perfect.

Will got off early and we made it to PCB in time to check in, soak in the beautiful condo, and get ready for the maternity pics. I might have struggled with the new falsies I tried to put on and spent a little too much time on my hair, but all that matters is we still had to wait on the lighting to cooperate negating my lateness. Sadly, I don't have any pictures from the shoot because we really maximized our two hours of sunlight with tons of poses, three outfit changes (I seriously hope no one looked close as I straight up changed on the beach while Will tried to hold a towel), and the 500+ pictures we did manage to take.  The wind was TERRIBLE, so let's also hope she got some where you can see my face in spite of the wind whipping it around. Hence why my hair had no curl by the time we went to dinner:

But yeah...the real fun was Saturday when we hit the beach! 
Carrie drove down to enjoy the fun in the sun with us and it couldn't have turned out to be a better day. We laid out, I took them to a few of my favorite spots: Pompano Joe's for lunch, Hook'd Up for beverages, Kilwin's for ice cream, and even got some pool time in back at the condo before we finally called it a day.

I envisioned brunch, shopping, and another day of fun on Sunday, but let's be real...we couldn't hang that much in one weekend if we tried. Instead, I woke up to flowers, a delicious breakfast, and we spent the rest of the day watching Disney movies, napping, grilling wings, and calling all the maternal influences in our lives to send them our love.

It's weird to think that this could have been the last time we catch some zzz's on the couch as just a couple. I thought for sure we wouldn't fit or that I would be too uncomfortable in my state to sleep, but I think that was the most comfortable I have been in months; snuggled up and wrapped in his arms. Pretty soon it will be Charlie snuggling on the couch with him, and I guess that's okay too ;) She just better recognize he's mine first! Teehee

Friday, May 8, 2015

I'm Celebrating ME This Weekend

Oh boy that sounds selfish, but it's not my fault that Military Spouse Appreciation Day AND Mother's Day fall on the same weekend. Normally I get all awkward celebrating my birthday, but I don't mind when it comes to holidays that you share the celebration along with others. I do feel a little weird celebrating Mother's Day since Charlie hasn't made her official appearance, but everyone keeps wishing me "Happy First Mother's Day", so it must be okay. And let me tell you, I have a new appreciation for all you mom's out there. My brother just had his birthday, and I thought to myself...your birthday should be mom's day of celebration. All you did was come out of the womb. She's the one that did all the work!

How will we be celebrating, you ask? We are headed to Panama City Beach for Maternity photos, some beach time, and some romance... bowchickawowow. I'm also hoping for yummy food and perhaps a virgin Miami Vice, but I assume those won't be hard to find. We still haven't found a hotel yet, but it's just the two of us, so we can wing it. I just love getting to hang with my best friend scratch that, my two best friends ;)

Military Spouse Appreciation Day Link-Up

1. Tell us about yourself and your blog. Well...most of you know me already, but for any newbs- I'm a college grad, Hooters alumni, SAHW with a Security Clearance, who will soon be promoted to SAHM. Seriously, I do have a Security Clearance.

2. What branch of military are you affiliated with? U.S. Army

3. What is one thing you enjoy about the military lifestyle? Moving to new places and the incredible community that you find among military folk.

4. What advice would you give new spouses? GET INVOLVED. You will never grasp the capacity this life has unless you explore it from the inside out.

This month actually marks five years of our time with the Army, and the above picture was taken at his Basic Training graduation. He hates the picture because his uniform was the wrong size, he had the crappy issued boots, and he was probably mentally checked out, but it was our first picture with him in uniform and I will always cherish it. So much has changed since that picture was taken, and it's been better than any adventure I could imagine.

To all my MilSpouses, Happy Spouse Day, and to all my mother's, Happy Mothers Day. I'd also like to extend the greetings to the girlfriends and fiances that don't always get recognition, and if you are working to get pregnant, adopt, foster, or have angel babies...y'all deserve this weekend just as much as anyone. Let's all celebrate!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I Love Talking Finances

I think this is the first time in our marriage that Will and I have slept apart for more than one night while in the same house. Every now and then it's happened for one reason or another, but the last couple of nights he chose to sleep in the guest bedroom to keep Charlie and I safe from his cold. This is crazy to me because we've never let illness keep us apart or even stop us from kissing, and yet it's different now...As with everything else in our life, it's all about her and being healthy for her. I did try to take care of him when he would let me, and I even made Chicken Noodle Soup from scratch {homemade broth and all} to boost both of our immune systems. All I know is I'm going to snuggle him so hard tonight! 

Life According to Steph

Ooooh yeah, I'm two for two on the Choose Your Own Adventure Link Up! I guess it helps that I HAVE to be goal oriented during the biggest transition in our lives, so whatever works. Let's see how we did on April's Financial Goals, shall we...

Create a Baby Fund. CHECK. I haven't technically transferred the money into the Baby Fund, but the account has been set up and the money has been put away. Close enough.

Build a House Emergency Fund on top of our regular savings. Sort of CHECK. Again, the account has been setup, but I want to pay our savings back for some of the costs we incurred on top of Closing Costs. After a few months, we will be square and then the fund will begin. Until then, we have our regular savings and an extra mutual fund that's our 'emergency- emergency' fund worst case scenario.

Track every penny spent on CQB, and try to stick to the plan of buying the majority of the things we need after the second shower. CHECK. I could put sorta for this one too, because this next baby shower is more of a celebration for myself and another spouse {I'm stoked for a dual shower}, but will not be the type of shindig that warrants me worrying about buying stuff off the registry. However, I have been scoring when it comes to the Fort Rucker Classifieds sites, so we have gotten $100's and $100's of dollars worth of stuff for chump change. We even got a BOB stroller for $150. Whoop whoop!

Sell everything that's not nailed down in this house. CHECK. This has been going really well. My goal was to sell up to the amount that I thought we'd make at a garage sale and call it quits, but it's been so lucrative that I've kept going. I have been donating in the process, but I've pretty much offset all my baby spending with this income. The best part is that we haven't even gotten to the garage yet. Cha-ching.

May's Goal: READ
I particularly like this one because I need to finish reading all the baby books I've started, make it through the stack of parenting magazines piled up, and catch up on blog reading. I should add go to the library as a goal, though. I have two pre-tty overdue books that need to be rechecked out asap. I wish our library charged us late fees because then I have a reason to be on time.

How about you? Working on any goals these days?

Monday, May 4, 2015

What's In A Name? Drumroll Please...

April Showers Bring May Flowers...

I know some of you have been impatiently waiting to find out what CQB stands for, and the time is finally here! It's been fun to hear all the guesses and I particularly love that some of you {P!nky specifically} were coming up with military affiliations, but not too many came anywhere close. I guess that means we did well picking an 'out of the box' {but not weird} name and a general mission accomplished as far as secrets go. We only had one thing left to 'reveal' after this whirlwind of a pregnancy, and although it's been hard to hold back, it's been special to keep it near and dear. That is...until now.

Charleston Quinn Bogert

AKA CQB, aka Charlie for short, aka Chuck to her daddy, and already the love of our life. Today marks eight months, and I can't believe how much has changed in the three and a half months we've known her. Part of me wants to keep her inside forever, but the other part of me can't wait to show her off to the world. Really, I just can't wait to see her in Will's arms. Le sigh...

Check out the EIGHT Month Bumpdate, and have a grrreeeeaaat week everyone!

Friday, May 1, 2015

You Can Only Climb One Mountain At A Time

Will has been doing quite well during his Blackhawk training, and I couldn't be more proud. Yes, I always say that, but it's still always going to be true. This segment of Flight School is the last thing standing between us and getting back to a somewhat normal life, and although I'm not in a rush to move with a new baby, I am ready for our next adventure. I guess I've got the itch to move again, which is strange coming from a person that never ever ever planned on moving out of Florida. Remind me I said this when I complain about packing and pulling my hair out.

Anywhosit, today is his first Blackhawk Check Ride, and I want to wish him luck. By the way, a check ride is basically an oral test that you take while simultaneously flying an aircraft, which sounds terrible to me. I know he knows his stuff and all of his instructors are always pleased with his progression, so I just hope for good weather, a good aircraft, and good vibes. While most of the other guys are mentally checking out because all they have to do is pass right now, Will is pushing himself more than ever and that's why I'm so proud I married him.

While he's off flying helicopters, he says my 'job' these days is planning for the baby. Technically I should be cleaning the house and whatnot too, but eh...a little dust never hurt anyone. Plus, this baby planning is kind of intense. I know it will all work out, but the planner side of me is agonizing over every decision. Some may not see these as hard decisions, but they have been in the forefront of my mind for months. I've even asked you all for help on these decisions and now some have finally been made!

#1 Chose a Maternity/Newborn Photographer.
I've never actually paid a photographer to do pictures for us. Most of them we do ourselves with my tripod and remote, and back in Colorado there were a few photographers that offered to do it for free. I think photographers are wonderful and well worth the money, but I just couldn't see paying 'investing' for just the two of us when I could do it myself. {Sidenote: Most people should NOT do their own photos, and please book my lovely photographer friends so that they don't get mad at me for saying that...} However, when it comes to something as important as maternity and newborn photos we agreed we will shell out the big bucks for something we will treasure forever. Here's how I decided, and it's important to consider these things when you are considering ANY photographer for ANY event.

Style You could be the most beautiful person in the world, but if the photographer you pick has a different style than you are looking for, you will probably hate your pictures. It could even be as simple as they get a little overzealous with Photoshop, but if there's something that you don't like about their portfolio, then don't book them. I like more natural photographers, and I LOVE Backlit and Sunset photography, so I chose a photographer in that style.
Experience Unless a photographer shoots you for experience and free, they better have a portfolio. Also, you want them to have experience with the type of photos you need. You wouldn't book someone without wedding experience for a wedding, and this applies across the board. I wanted to work with one photographer for both maternity and newborn, so they needed experience with both, and more importantly, I wanted them to have a portfolio that featured both to ensure that they had the experience they touted. 
Location You may want indoor, outdoor, or a specific location, and if you book someone that can't or won't accommodate, you will be sorely disappointed. Since I'm from the beach and we are within driving distance, I immediately set my heart on beach maternity pics, but finding a photographer that would travel and have experience with the beach proved difficult. Just don't give up, because it is possible, and she's not even charging me a travel fee.
Bang for your buck Just because a photographer has high prices, doesn't mean they are worth your money, and vice versa...just because a photographer is 'reasonable' aka cheap, doesn't mean they are worth your money or time. Find someone that fits the above criteria and offers you a decent amount of time, outfits, edited photos, rights to your photos, etc. Besides the fact that I wanted the same photographer so that we were more comfortable, I also found that most photographers offer a package for more than one session. The ones around here were still charging a pretty penny considering they didn't offer many edited photos, some wouldn't travel, and most seemed restrictive on outfits and time, but then I went to a Baby Expo Saturday and found one that fit ALL my criteria including DOUBLE the edited photos that anyone else was offering, she was flexible, and dependable.

#2 Deciding on a Mattress for the crib.
Okay, so this one was waaaaaaay harder. My grandparents sent us one with the crib, and although it was great...I read so many articles about SIDS and mattresses, that I knew I had to make sure we had the right one. {If you are reading...sorry, Papa!} I asked everyone I knew, read every blog that had reviews, and read through guide after guide before I could even come close to making a decision. I know for a fact that most people don't stress over this as much as I did, but better safe than sorry in my mind. Sweet Kathryn gave me a great suggestion, but while I couldn't find her exact one, it led me to the Simmons Kids Beautyrest Beginnings Sleepy Whispers Ultra Deluxe 2 n 1 Crib and Toddler Mattress. It sounds expensive, but it was super reasonable at less than $140 compared to the $300 Naturepedic I thought about getting. We received it already, and I'm pretty darn pleased. One step closer to having a fully functioning nursery! Too bad she may not sleep in it before we move.

Next On My List: Bassinet Mattress, Diapers/Wipes/Skincare, Sun Dome/Pop up for the beach. Any suggestions you may have are always appreciated, and I love any and all advice. Only two months left, so it's crunch time, people.


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