Self Lovin’ Back to You: Musing

As a type “A” planner, I am currently sitting and looking at my calendar for the past four months thinking, “Where.Did.That.Time.Go.” My blogging agenda notebook is wide open on my desk, with each Tuesday and Thursday topic highlighted in perfectly coordinating washi tape. Here’s what:


At Least Someone was able to relax in the ocean this summer.

The blog posts range from book reviews, to baby product must haves, to a chocolate chip cookie recipe that took me three weeks to perfect. So many things I wanted to already have shared with you. But guess what? There have been so many nights in the past seven months that I lie awake at night thinking about when I would get back into the swing of things, and it just didn’t happen. “Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll take an hour when she naps and I will write.” But I didn’t. I took a shower instead. I read another book on how to get your baby to stop being awake every 45 minutes at night. I researched ways to boost my breast milk production. I googled “sleep disorders in six month old babies” no less than fifty times. I lesson planned. I folded laundry so my husband would have clean work shirts. I picked up her toys…again. I learned tricks to get baby poop out of a white bed sheet.

I have been learning how to be this new version of myself that I wasn’t really prepared to meet.

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My Summer 2017 Reading List

1571 Werninger St.,Houston, TX

One of the questions I get most often from my friends, family, and you online pals is, “What should I be reading?”

Well…nobody told me that when I had Virginia I’d never be able to sit and binge read through a summer thriller like the days of my youth.

Just kidding, everyone told me this and I foolishly decided they were nonsensical and w-r-o-n-g.

Oh my sweet momma friends, how right you were.

On the rare and sweet occasion that my littlest decides to bless her mother with a precious nap here is what I’m reaching for this summer–or what I snagged into my hands over maternity leave!

IntoTheWater.jpgInto the Water  by Paula Hawkins

If you were every book-loving human being in the last two years you likely read The Girl On The Train. While I can’t speak to the film adaptation, I can tell you that TGOTT is a book that will be in my husband’s beach read bag as we prepare to vacate for a week! I am always cautious to pick up any second novel by an author that I love so much, but after a lot of back and forth I finally picked up Into the Water and read it on my Kindle a few weeks ago. I.Loved.It. I think that while Hawkins’ first book left me wanting more, this one really stuck with me. You meet Nel, who is a single mom to a little girl and found dead. Her daughter goes to live with her sister–who becomes obsessed with figuring out the death of Nel and finds out there is way, way, way more (think more bodies–more) in the entire story than she originally believed.

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Virginia Claire’s Labor & Delivery: Pregnancy

Virginia's Journey.jpg

Here I sit, six weeks postpartum and feeling ashamed and humiliated to write this down for you to read. The girl who so adamantly fought tooth and nail to prepare for a natural childbirth but begged (literally) for an epidural. I was prepared to labor at home, in my beautiful jetted bathtub. I was prepared to breath through my contractions, and use what I had learned from Bradley classes to labor my daughter into this world. My husband was prepared, too. We were so ready to do the dirty work to bring Virginia into this world without the interventions that we had read, debated,  and decided against for our baby.  We had a birth plan, written and even illustrated in certain points. We were so, so, so, so, so, ready for everything that could come our way. Except we weren’t. I was so, so, not ready. I wasn’t ready for a 28 hour labor. I wasn’t ready for over 48 hours with no sleep during that labor, and I really wasn’t ready to even entertain pain medication options. Bad combo, guys…bad combo.

In order to really give you the nitty gritty details I’m sure I’d want to read if I were you, we have to bump ourselves back a week with my 39 week appointment at the OBGYN office.

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Hospital Bag(s) Hits, Misses, and Regrets: Pregnancy

Maternity Hospital Bag.jpg

When I hit my third trimester it seemed like all of my nervous first time mom energy was thrown into what needed to be packed into my hospital bag. I blame Pinterest. You can’t spend ten minutes searching for Chip and JoJo inspired home decor on Pinterest without seeing at least seven different “Hospital Bag Must Have’s”.  Believe me when I tell you that I combed all of them over at least twice. Some of them were so ridiculous that they included “straightener and round brush” while others seemed to lack the important addition of shower flip flops. Another massive “perk” of my crippling anxiety is the desire it gives me to make a list, achieve the list, and then triple check the list. So, in short order, we had a list for baby’s hospital bag, my husband’s hospital bag, my hospital bag, and of course–the ever so important snack bag. We kept putting off making the bags actually happen, and I also attribute this to the anxiety that once the bags were packed, she was shortly following.

I was positive that I would be the first time mother that showed up to Labor and Delivery with fourteen bags, and never got out of my hospital gown. I decided that I would walk on the edge of caution and pack lightly.

Here is the rundown of what we actually used, what never saw the artificial light of day, and what I wish we would have had at our disposal.

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10 Maternity Must Haves For Mom: Pregnancy

10 Maternity Must Haves.png

Pregnancy is by far the hardest thing that I’ve done in my short quarter of a century here on earth. When people ask how I’m feeling, I make sure to let them know that I feel like I could run a marathon…now. I felt like everyone told me that it would get better magically when week 12 hit. They (aka all of you doctors, midwives, and moms who are luckier than I) are either massive liars, or my body just never got that message. I was so miserably sick in the first sixteen weeks of pregnancy I swore our daughter would be an only child. In fact I frequently tell people that my husband may need a week 1-16 surrogate for future Leonard babes. But the second trimester, and what’s happening in the third so far (we are almost to week 38!!!)…this I can do and enjoy! Thank God that somewhere, some person decided to make things that can help make pregnant life a bit less rough for us all. Here’s the list of items that I think have made a drastic improvement in my pregnancy to this point!

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Thanks, But No Thanks: Pregnancy

Thanks, but no thanks.png

 I’ve heard so many  horror stories from a lot of moms that have had an encounter that was just so incredibly bizarre during their pregnancy– they almost don’t believe it happened. The stranger in line at the grocery store that just casually begins stroking your bump and telling you all about how you WILL kill your baby by co-sleeping and that bottles are Satan’s cups with a nipple. The total stranger who asks when the baby is due, and you’re seven weeks postpartum. I’ve been blissfully living my life for the last seven months with absolutely none of these weird instances happening to me directly. I thought that, surely, I had made it without any of this super weird conversations and would continue to month 10 with the same blessing.


I never realized that my RBF (Resting Bitch Face) was going to come in clutch during pregnancy. Sometimes I feel like people are SO close to asking me things I don’t want to answer, and then the RBF just does the job of letting them know just how unapproachable I am.  Something about having anxiety in public situations, having zero medication to help cope, and then having a stranger tell or ask things I’m not wanting to answer just seems unimaginable. Which leads us to today’s post.

Before I explain to you the most ridiculous encounter that happened to me on Monday, you have to understand one thing. The only other thing that I hate worse than going to the dentist, is going to the dentist without Xanax. For some reason that is my thing. Like, I would rather have a broken bone than get my teeth cleaned. BUT my mom worked in a dental office during my formative years, and oral hygiene is something I’ve known is a necessary evil for a LONG time. Sadly my worst nightmares of uninvited oversharing and dental torture married each other for my Monday afternoon.

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Twenty Four Questions We Asked Our Midwife at Twenty Four Weeks: Pregnancy


At the OBGYN practice where I’m getting my prenatal care, there is a major team dynamic. Several doctors intermingle and treat/deliver prenatal care alongside two nurse midwifes. When you become a prenatal patient you are rotated through a monthly scheduling device of meeting every doctor at least once, as well as each midwife. For someone with anxiety, I loved this plan–I would at least have a fifteen minute experience with each of these humans who may be on call when baby Virginia is born!

Being a first time pregnancy, I have been constantly writing down questions about natural childbirth or topics that I wanted to discuss with my medical caregivers. However, almost all of them seemed like questions I really wanted to wait to ask the midwife, who I assumed would give us a straight forward answer.

So armed with my two pages (literally) of questions and topics I was curious about, Matt and I went for our appointment with THE midwife that literally everyone who goes to the practice adores. Even my friends that were not interested in natural birth said they wanted her to deliver their babies. I felt like I’d waited the entire MD rotation for this moment.

I’m an anxious planner, and I figured having a lot of these questions that floated through my head early on answered would be ideal. That way, if I knew I really wanted a water birth but it wasn’t possible–I could adapt my way of thinking over the next few months instead of having major anxiety surrounding it the day of.

So the midwife came in, I told her I had a ton of questions, and she sat with us for almost an hour making sure that we had every single answer. She was amazing. I literally am thinking of naming our second baby after her, because she is THAT cool. She also told us everything terribly honestly, which is what we wanted. She didn’t tell us what we “wanted” to hear–she told us her truth.


Here’s the list:What does a “typical” natural labor and birth look like in this hospital?

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Why We Are Planning For A Natural Childbirth: Musing


Allow me to preface this by saying that I know many wonderful, damn near perfect mothers that had medicated births. Personally, my mother had two c-sections because she wasn’t a good VBAC candidate and we were both flipped all the wrong ways. Some of my best friends have the most perfect children ever–smart, kind, funny, and ahead on all of their milestones…and they had medicated childbirth. I know of people who schedule their c-section at week 20, and that’s what works for them. This is not meant to “mommy shame” anyone, or make anyone feel like less of a badass for how they brought their child(ren) into this world. Because really, just creating another life makes us all pretty extraordinary, doesn’t it?

“Natural childbirth? As in you aren’t going to get an epidural?”

“No, I’m not going to get any drugs if I have my way.”

“You say that because you haven’t had any kids yet. You’ll be begging for it by hour four.”

To say that people have had some interesting reactions when I tell them that we are training and prepping for a natural childbirth would be a massive understatement. After conversations quite similar in nature to the one listed above, I’m almost always met with the question of “But….Why?”

So here’s my “But…Why?”

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The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner: Review

The Serpent King

“We need to take care of each other from now on. We need to be each other’s family because ours are so messed up. We need to make better lives for ourselves. We gotta start doing stuff we’re afraid to do.” 

When my traveling book club selected The Serpent King I was immediately turned off. I don’t really get into fantasy novels anymore, and at first glance at the title I was positive that was what I was in for. For some reason I thought that the three silhouettes were on another planet, and certainly not of Earth. Then I started seeing everyone who is anyone on Instagram posting pictures of how they were buying their copies and flagging them so quickly as beloved words to share. I read a synopsis, and was even more cautious than before–I was positive this was going to be one of “those” books that focuses on the suppressed child of a wayward bible beating preacher that was several fries short of the drive thru special. To be equally as honest, when it was finally my turn to read The Serpent King it took me weeks to actually focus and read the story. I had to restart the novel twice–because my friends assured me that I HAD to read the book in one swoop. Well, they were absolutely right. Jeff Zentner’s novel was almost immediately trailing behind my new favorite YA love The First Time She Drowned on my reading list. I was positive that I would not love another novel this year as deeply as I loved Kerry Kletter’s debut novel.  The Serpent King certainly earned itself a space right beside The First Time She Drowned in my reader’s heart.

You will fall in love with every character, every story line, every feeling, and every single thing that comes out of Lydia’s mouth.

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The Ten Candid Wedding Pictures I Didn’t Know I Needed: Musing

When we got engaged, my Pinterest boards rapidly began to fill with articles titled any version of “The Wedding Pictures you Need” “100 Things to Ask Your Wedding Photographer” and “The Ten Most Expensive Mistakes I Made When Planning My DIY Wedding”. Finding a wedding photographer is something we never really had to check off of our list. We have an amazing extended family member (okay, kind of a surrogate family member!) who has done everything picture related for our family in the past decade. Kim not only does stunning family, newborn, and graduation portraits–she is an absolute knockout at wedding portraiture. Add the fact that she was so incredibly affordable, and we could get copies of whatever we wanted at our own discretion, and trusting Kim to photograph our wedding was an absolute no-brainer. Besides picking our venue, picking our wedding photographer was the easiest choice we had to make.

You can see Kim’s work on her Facebook page. Tell her I sent you, she’s the absolute best!

Looking at times for Kim to be present and how long to book her expert services for was something we debated. I wanted to have all of the formal portraits for my great-great-grandchildren to see, but I also knew I wanted some random shots of people having a really good time at our reception.

Kim took all of the pictures that I “wanted”, and I adore each one of them. The ones that I continue to smile or get glassy eyed looking at, however, are the candid photographs she so expertly shot of our reception and wedding festivities. Here are the ten candid shots that mean way more to me than I ever would have imagined, and why they made this list!

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