Ella is ONE!

Just like that, my baby is one year old.

This was the fastest, craziest, awe-inspiring year of my life. I'm so thankful for this adorable little being who made us a family, and brings so much light and laughter to our lives.

Watching you grow and learn over the last year has been so incredible. There's rarely a day that goes by where I don't stop and think about how blessed we are to have you in our lives.
I couldn't love you more, Ella bear, and I'm so looking forward to your shining personality coming out more and more over the next year.
Happy Birthday, lovebug!

Weekly Wins+Hashtags

Happy Friday, loves!
This week flew by and I think the weekend's going to be an equal blur. Thankfully this one had several wins!

~My favorite trees are blooming! I love seeing these fluffy flowers bloom--every time I pass one on my walks with Cooper, I just want to squeeze them! They seriously brighten my mood when these start to bloom! #cherryblooms

~Ella's first birthday party is this weekend--lots of fun with family and extended family/friends to be had! #omgshesone

~Knowing that a special friend is going to be getting a little delivery today and tomorrow to brighten up her day after a tough couple of weeks #itsthelittlethings #friendship

~A new InstantPot meal to throw into the rotation: Chicken Pad Thai! Anyone with an IP, looking for new recipes, try this one out--it's SUPER simple and delicious! Ella was a fan, too and couldn't get the noodles and the chicken in her mouth fast enough! #peanutsauce
*Note: if you chop/cut up everything the night before, this meal is SUPER fast!

~I managed to avoid eating a huge slice of crumb cake and a super big and gooey chocolate chip cookie this week. Not working out for a while (other than chasing a non-stop almost toddler, and the occasional long walk) has been catching up with me. Now that I'm not breastfeeding any longer, my metabolism has definitely slowed down, so all of the extra "little treats" definitely add up. #selfcontrolinfulleffect

~Watching Ella play tug of war with Cooper and his toy--it was too cute and this was just what I imagined when I pictured having a baby, with Cooper around. He's so gentle with her and I love seeing them interact and play together #agirlandherpup
~This is such an "adult" thing to be considering a win, but my friend referred her pest guy to us for mosquitoes in our backyard--our area is notorious for them! We haven't been able to fully enjoy our deck after a certain point of the season without dealing with bites. Well, he's cutting us a great deal on the season price because of the referral and because we got 4 of our other neighbors to join in with us! Our other neighbors were quoted 3 times as much as we're paying, so that's a HUGE win, plus my friend raves about the difference it made in her backyard #mosquitofree #stopbitingme

~It was 70 degrees, sunny and gorgeous out, and my coworker and I escaped during the lunch time to run an errand and ended up having the funniest time together #workfriends

Hoping your week was fast, and the sun is shining where you are!

1 in 8

1 in 8 couples struggles with infertility.
I am the 1 in 8.
You may be seeing that number, along with various personal experiences around blog world, social media, etc because it's National Infertility Awareness Week.

Infertility and fertility challenges can feel isolating. I struggled with sharing our journey when we were going through it because it was personal, and I didn't know if I wanted our struggle out there for ridicule or judgement, but what I realized about opening up, was that I was helping myself to work through the emotions I was experiencing. And as I opened up, I helped others. If someone was out there judging me, I didn't know about it, and it didn't matter, because I felt better, and the people I was connecting with made me aware that I was helping others by sharing.
{Via a post on Instagram}
So here I am, shining a light on the struggle, once again.
If you've been a reader here for a while, you've read it and been alongside me. And if you're new here, maybe this will help you.

My husband and I started trying to get pregnant pretty quickly after getting married since we'd been together for a while, and were both in our early 30's.  I knew several friends who had dealt with infertility and somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew it would be our journey too (although I was terrified of that being the case).

After over a year of trying, tracking ovulation, etc. we were still not pregnant and I decided to reach out to a fertility clinic nearby with a great reputation for a consultation.
We did testing and came up with no real reason for our fertility issues (unexplained infertility) which was a relief but also frustrating. Why wasn't this happening for us?

We started with several rounds of IUIs which didn't work. I think we did about 8 or 9 rounds of it before finally going the IVF route--looking back, I wish we had done IVF sooner, but at the time I was scared and just hoping we could get pregnant without IVF.
Luckily it worked for us on our first try, and we have our perfect daughter, Ella, and two other beautiful little embryos waiting in case we need them.
I wrote about our entire IVF journey here, so feel free to read through the details, because mine wasn't all needles and pain. It was a journey and a process, but one that I would do over again in a heartbeat to have my daughter.
If you're reading this and haven't struggled with infertility, you likely know someone who has. A lot of what people tell you is the things NOT to say (like any in the above photo), but without ways to support.
Check out this post for things NOT to say and things TO say/do.

If you're going through fertility struggles, you're not alone. If you need support, reach out to me and to the other girls in blog world who have shared their journeys. We're here to support one another, including you.

{WHW}: Currently in April

Can you believe it's the last Wednesday in April? I feel like it's still January (in part because it was the month that wouldn't end, and in part because the weather is still not sure about it being Spring).
Checking in on what's been happening currently....

I finally finished Truth or Beard this past weekend after getting stuck about 3/4 of the way through. It was a cute read and passed the time just fine (as Stephanie would say). I just got a little annoyed of the constant "I love him/her, but we can't be together" back and forth between the two main characters. 
I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads because it was cute and I liked it, but it wasn't my favorite.

I started On The Jellicoe Road which I'm super excited about, because it has awesome reviews and I'm hoping to dive into this one and rip through it a lot faster than the last read.
She's going to be one on Monday. ONE! A year ago I gave birth to this gorgeous little girl, who made me a mommy and forever changed me. 
We have her birthday party this weekend at my sister-in-laws and I'm looking forward to celebrating our little love with all of our family. Hopefully the weather cooperates! In the meantime, I'll just be over here looking through newborn photos of my baby and sitting in awe at how quickly a year went by!

Also on the baby front (and much less emotional), I was finally able to find shoes for Ella that fit her teeny tiny feet. She's still about 3-6 months in size, and most 3-6 month olds aren't walking so it's been hard to find anything that isn't a crib shoe. Walmart to the rescue with some great options that are cute, and super affordable ($5-10)!
These bow sneakers are my favorites and I wish they came in my size. Not only are they adorable, but they sparkle different colors when the sun hits them. Love!
She also got a cute pair of jelly sandals--anyone remember those from growing up? They're adorable and they smell just like I remember them--plastic-y haha
If your baby has tiny feet like mine, definitely look at Walmart for some good options! Garanimals has a ton!

We also got Ella a swimsuit from Old Navy on the cheap (I think it was $6) for her swim lessons coming up in a week and I took the opportunity to try it on her this weekend, over her clothes (because I wasn't wrangling her in and out of outfits 3 times for no good reason). Shes' basically a super model and a trend-setter:
Alllllllll the Bravo--Vanderpump, RHOBH, RHONY--like usual. We finished Poldark which was amazing (I still miss the characters now that we aren't binge-watching every night), and we're maybe going to re-try Outlander.
We watched the first episode of the 2nd season of West World this week and I'm feeling meh about it. I just can't stomach all of the violence, and the plot line is really hard to follow. Not sure I'll continue...

We had our friends MK, her husband and baby over this weekend (instead of a winery) and we grilled at our house, the girls got to play together, and it was SO funny to watch them together. We reveled at how much they've changed, and how thankful we've been to have one another to go through pregnancy and this first year of baby's life together. We both agreed we need to do #2 together as well :)
Friday night was girls' night to celebrate my friend Kelly and it was a lot of fun. Drinks with a view of the Potomac while the sun set was perfection!
After all of your awesome comments on my inspiration post last week, I thought I'd share other gems I've come across when I get the chance.
If you didn't see it on Stephanie's blog last week:
What's hap-"pinning" with you lately? Link up with Jessi and I and share!

{Weekly Wins}: Goose Egg

Happy Friday, friends!!! We made it through to another week and are hopefully no worse for the wear!

Like any week, this had some downs, but it also had some wins, too!

~As I mentioned yesterday, Ella has started walking more and more. She's letting go of things she was cruising on, and taking several steps which is a huge win!
But this win is that she survived her first goose egg from a fall. Darn that coordination! Luckily she was a trooper through it and doesn't seem phased by it at all!
the night of, following the incident that afternoon
the morning after
~My oldest niece, who was featured in their local paper this past weekend, also just scored her 100th goal in lacrosse this week! She is a rock star on the field, and she's an amazing kid off of it. So proud of her!
~Girls night tonight to celebrate my friend Kelly's birthday coming up!!

~A potential winery hang out with my friend MK, her husband and daughter on Saturday, weather permitting! The last time the 6 of us went to a winery, the girls were only 3 and 4 months old! So teeny!!!
~This nice message on Padlet from one of my coworkers, left for all staff to read. Warmed my heart to read this and be recognized:

~A baby shower Sunday for a friend who I swore her baby shower was last weekend, but realized I looked at the RSVP by date instead of the actual shower date (which made me miss my other friends' bridal shower because of my bozo move)!

~Birthday cake and smash cake ordered for Ella's first birthday. Decorations have arrived, the menu is planned, and I just need to print out her monthly photos to hang on the banner I got for them (and then remember to bring everything up with us to NJ!) Her pink tutu and "one" onesie are at home and ready to go too! I can't believe she's really turning 1!
No flower, and there will be gold instead of silver to go with the pink and gold theme for her party!
~Now that Ella is walking, I caught a whiff of baby fever this week, realizing that my baby isn't such a baby anymore. Eeeeek!

**I'm hopeful that another win this week will be that Ella avoids getting pink eye that another boy at daycare had as of yesterday morning. REALLY hoping that she avoids it even though I know this stuff is contagious as all get out. Pray for us!**

Sending out some special prayers to a special blog friend who is waiting on some news today! Thinking of you, sweet friend!

Happy Weekend!!!

Thursday Letters+Girl Chat

Dear Barbara Bush, Thank you for being a role model during your time as First Lady and since. I love the love that you and your husband had for one another--your story touched my heart. Your wisdom and passion will continue to live on, and you will surely be missed for a long time to come.
Dear Spring, would you hurry up and get here already? Stop pussy footing around...here one day, gone for the next 10. What gives????

Dear Sciatica, you've never given me problems in the past, but now all of a sudden you wanna be a butthead (pun intended haha)? I have a bruise on my butt from where the massage therapist tried to work you out and said you're "hard as a rock"...please go away!

Dear d*ckweed who decided to ride my bumper for 5 minutes and then 3 other cars after you passed me, ummm you're an a-hole. And guess what? You got to your destination about 10 seconds before I did. Well done.

Dear girl time, I'm so looking forward to time with my girls on Friday evening in celebration of my friend Kelly's bday! Drinks and apps with the girls is always welcome!

Dear Amazon (and Prime), Thank you for your 2 day delivery--you've saved my butt on last minute presents more times than I can count. And also, thanks for your sale on My Year with Eleanor, a book I've been wanting to read for a while. Just gotta get through my current read!

Dear Ella-bear, you're walking (if you didn't see the cute video on my Instagram, check it out)! Like, letting go of furniture and taking several steps before falling, walking! Everyone says this is a game changer (and likely it is), but I'm just reveling at how motivated you are, and your perseverance! This also reminds me that, although you'll always be my baby, you're not a full fledged baby anymore #insertwaterworkshere
Yes those are cheerios stuck to her butt bahahaha
Dear Girl Chat, you asked for some guilty pleasures and I'm guessing many of these are no surprise to anyone who reads here regularly:
~Reality tv, usually of the Bravo variety--duh
~Sour Patch Kids--been majorly obsessed since after giving birth. No idea why other than my limited sugar and carb intake during the last trimester maybe?
~Loft sales--they get me 80% of the time!
~Cheese. Basically any and all cheese
~Rom-Com's....The Holiday, Serendipity, About Time, I will always put these on when I see them on tv
~Opening up the sunroof on a nice Spring day (normal Spring, not winter-spring like we have now)
~Splitting a bottle of wine with MG. Bonus points if it's outside with nice weather.

I'm sure there are more, but those are some of my staple guilty pleasures :) 
Linking up with the girls from Girl Chat today!

{WHW}: Inspiration

I've been seeing inspiration everywhere lately. Either posts from friends on Instagram, Pinterest, or on tv, the Universe has definitely been showing me positive messages, reminders and reinforcement lately, and I've been loving it.
The other week, I saw this quote that Owen posted on her page and it totally resonated with me.
This has been so true for me. I'm not afraid to stand up for myself, or my time (in regards to work). Previously I had been willing to let myself get sucked into drama with others when goaded, and now, I avoid it. I've happily avoided one particular individual for several weeks after another attempt at starting drama, and you know what? I've realized over several years, and especially since becoming a mom, that I know who my true friends are. And as much as I'd love for everyone to like or love me, some people just won't. And that's ok. I've also come to the acceptance that nothing I say or do will change someone else's opinion of me, and it honestly doesn't matter. My friends and family know my truths, have been there for me through the ups AND the hardships, and love me through my flaws.

The other day Lynn posted this quote on her instagram page:
And this follows exactly those lessons from past loves, past friendships that have faltered, etc. Each person, whether it be for a season or a lifetime, has a lesson or a reason for being there. There's something to be learned from each of those encounters. I wrote a post about it back in 2014, that still rings true today.
With motherhood, that lesson has hit home even more with me. I have limited free time now, so the time I invest in people are in those who make the effort with me, and who I care about. It may look different than it had in the past (quantity, type etc), but that's the season of life I'm in now. I'm confident that those people who are meant to be in my life, will be there through this season of life and after. If I lose some along the way, it'll be sad, but those losses don't sting me to the core like they used to. Thankfully, they haven't been as often either, as I feel I have a really good foundation of friendships with people who love and understand me.

This one came up on my Pinterest home page when I logged in a couple of days ago and it made me laugh. But the truth is still in there.

In addition to all of that, over the course of my life, and especially the last year, I realized just how important it is to water your own grass instead of looking at others' seemingly picture perfect worlds, especially in the day and age of social media. 
That's why you saw, in my days of maternity leave for example, the "ugly" side of things. Life with a newborn isn't always sleepy adorable cuddles (but those are the best moments that make the others worthwhile). There are screams and cries and such. Our road to baby wasn't a smooth process either, which I was open about because that's real life. I think it's important to know those things, because they're human things. They're normal things. And no one's life is picture perfect. It's easy to compare and be envious of someone else for whatever reason. But if you aren't putting in the time and energy with your grass, it's going to die.
And then I saw this, and it's an example of just about every single day of my life.
My life is certainly not perfect, but I've been through enough to realize the blessings that are around me. I've made a conscious choice to look at negative things and try to see the positives, so I don't get mired down by the ick. Do I succeed at that every day? Nope, not at all, but I'm constantly trying.

All this to say, I'm never gonna pretend that I'm perfect. But when I tell you I'm happy, I mean it. Life has given all kinds of curve balls, and I've weathered several storms. I'm proud of the person I am today, and I'm proud of the person I'm working to become. And sometimes it's nice when inspiration hits you at the most random of moments, and makes you realize you're right where you need to be.

What's some inspiration that's hit you recently? Feel like sharing?
Link up with Jessi and I below and share what's hap-"pinning" with you lately!

Weekending: Hot and Cold

Happy Tuesday! Sorry I'm here a day late, once again the weekend just caught up with me and I didn't get a chance to recap until Monday. Such is #momlife...or my momlife anyway.

This weekend had some highlights and it also had some drawbacks--womp womp:

~Friday afternoon gorgeous weather! Picked up my kiddo and drove home with the sunroof open, changed into shorts and short sleeves at home!

~MG made it home from his work trip right after we had gotten home and we were all happy to see him!

~We went to dinner at Chuy's because yum, and had the cutest little dinner companion at the table:
~That night I went to turn on the AC to simply cool off Ella's room since it's on the top floor and gets the hottest, and we found out that our AC wasn't turning on....

~Saturday it still wasn't working despite many efforts by MG, and we called a repair person and they couldn't come until Tuesday. So we popped open windows until it rose above 80 outside and then just dealt with the heat.
Unfortunately I didn't feel like it was a good idea to leave a teenage babysitter in our hot house, and leave Ella to sleep in an 80 degree room under someone else's watch, so we cancelled our date night. WOMP WOMP!

~We went for an afternoon family walk and came home to an invite to go to my friend's house who watches Ella during the week. We packed ourselves up after Ella's nap and made our way over for wine, and smoked brisket for dinner! It was a nice escape, Ella loved being with the boys (and they with her), and we got in some fun adult time--plus there was a cute puppy there too!

~Came home to our hot house and slept in the 80 degree temps. Luckily Ella was a trooper and slept through the night with the heat, and her fan on full blast. Mama, on the other hand, woke up every hour checking to make sure she was ok.
~Sunday was overcast and cold (the one time I'm thankful for that), so we opened the windows and the house cooled down.

~Cooper got groomed and looks super cute (he wouldn't look at me when I was trying to take his pic)

~Early afternoon I headed to get a massage and it was heavenly! I've got a 1 1/2 hour one scheduled in 2 weeks!
After the massage magic!
~That afternoon our babysitter came over while Ella was napping and MG and I escaped to see Ready Player One. It was our first movie out together since before Ella, and it was nice to just enjoy that time away for a bit.
don't mind my post-massage, rainy day look
We both read the book and I'll say this: The movie was good. But it is COMPLETELY different than the book. And since I read it recently, I was distracted the whole time by the MAJOR plot differences.
It was still cool to see, but if you read the book, you'll likely be disappointed.
~We grabbed &pizza and headed home to play with the babe before bedtime.

The rest of the night was pretty low key, gearing up for the work week. We chatted with my SIL about Ella's birthday party (can't believe it's in less than 2 weeks) and made some final plans on food, etc. 
That night we had some CRAZY heavy storms that kept me awake for about an hour and carried into the next day with some scary skies 
It was actually way more ominous than how it looks in this photo
I have to take a second and brag on my oldest niece who was featured in her local paper--her lacrosse team is undefeated and she is a captain (and an all around beast of an athlete). So proud of her!
So, despite the fact that our date night got messed up again, we still made the best of it, even though it was disappointing.
Hoping your weekend had nice temps and no malfunctioning household appliances haha