Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What's Up Wednesday: March 2016



What we're eating this week...
We've been on such a taco salad kick.. I can't count how many times we've eaten it over the past few weeks. We just season ground turkey with taco seasoning and eat on a bed of lettuce with a little bit of cheese and some salsa as dressing. Eating lower carb and less sugar has really helped me feel good as this pregnancy progresses so I've been making this constantly because it doesn't taste like a healthy meal if that makes sense!

What I'm reminiscing about...


Last night we took our maternity photos and I wore the same shoes I wore for our photos in Paris almost two years ago. Something about wearing those shoes, and the long dress, made me remember so clearly how fun it was to walk around Paris all fancied up. Because of that, before and after the session was almost as fun as during. I remember that day so fondly! You can see our whole shoot, here.

What I'm loving... I feel like Spring fashion is SO cute this year. I think it possibly seems extra cute because I'm not getting anything, haha!


I've got my eye on these Lilly shorts.. but I feel like it might not be wisdom to try and buy shorts until I'm at least a little bit postpartum. :) I'm not buying clothes because I don't want to spend money on maternity things, or normal clothes in a bigger size. We'll just see where I'm at and what I need come May!

What we've been up to... It's been busy around here! I posted a little bit about that on Monday! :)




What I'm dreading... nothing that I can think of! I feel like I'm kind of intimidated knowing that there's probably a lot of end of pregnancy discomfort ahead of me, but I absolutely wouldn't say that I'm DREADING that. :) The more uncomfortable I get, the closer we are to meeting our son!

What I'm working on... I've been working on scheduling some fun blog posts in advance for the first few weeks of our sweet boy's life. Blogging is truly such a fun outlet for me and I imagine it will continue to be, but I think for the new season I should have some posts stored up. :) I'm also working on trip planning for our trip to England, Italy, and Switzerland at the end of summer. I feel most clueless about Switzerland. Does anyone have any recs? :)

What I'm excited about... Even though we only took our maternity photos a few days ago, I'm already excited to see them! :) Dyan Kethley is such a pro, and I cannot wait to see our film session! I snapped the pic below when Ben was taking advantage of the session to get a headshot for some work things haha


What I'm watching/reading... I can tell you what I'll be watching next week.. my guilty pleasure reality show, Southern Charm, comes back on! Perfect timing for a little bit of third trimester hanging out. :)

What I'm listening to... the sound of Ben cutting up pineapple. YAY! I love pineapple but hate cutting it so I'm super grateful that he's doing that job!

What I'm wearing... I've been dipping into my remaining supply of oversized sorority gear from college, and it's been so great for around the house, haha! I used to pair this XL sweatshirt with leggings for class, but now it's being worn... a lot! Haha! I can only imagine how I'll feel in a few weeks as we get towards the end of pregnancy.



What I'm doing this weekend... I'm heading out on a girls weekend (well really just Friday night and Saturday) as a last woo-hah. Ben is a little antsy about me being gone, and after this weekend we'll be staying put for the rest of this pregnancy.

What I'm looking forward to next month... our last month before baby boy! I can't imagine the anticipation I'll be feeling this time next month!

What else is new... I'm always at a loss by the time I get to this question! :)

My best spring cleaning tip... This isn't specific to spring cleaning, but I once heard that if it takes you less than two minutes, to go ahead and do it right then. Putting shoes away when you get home, cleaning a dish, etc. It really helps!


Monday, March 28, 2016

Life Lately

I almost feel like Spring for us is busier than the actual holiday season, full of celebration and fun! Especially as the days between us and parenthood grow smaller, this has proven to be especially true. :) 

A few weeks ago Ben had a week off school for Spring Break. Because of several other business ventures that he has going on right now, it didn't really feel like he had any time off, but it was sure nice to have him home a little extra. :) 


On the 13th of the month, a few of my besties hosted me a beautiful, nautical themed baby shower. I have a full recap of the shower already typed up and scheduled to post when I'm in the hospital with our sweet boy. There were lots of details with his name on them, and we decided we want to keep our son's name a surprise from social media until his birthday. :) The outfit I'm wearing in the image above is actually what I'm wearing for our maternity photos tonight. I love it so much that I planned to double dip. :)

The weather has been back and forth over the past few weeks, but one night over break Ben grilled chicken for us and we ate it with a side of watermelon. We ate outdoors and it felt so, so summery. I can't wait!



For perhaps one of our weirder afternoon dates, we stopped for a sonic drink (yay happy hour!) and then went to take care of some personal grooming, haha! Ben dropped me off to get a much needed manicure-pedicure and he got a haircut. When he picked me up we took a huge box of change to the coinstar machine at Wal Mart. Ben had been collecting change in the box since early high school, and when his stuff got kicked out of the nursery closet, we decided to go ahead and cash in the money. It was around $350!! We got Ben a snazzy new pair of sunglasses with part of the money. :)


The next day I worked out with my friend Kassidy, saw her new house, and her new kitten. SO tiny!


Part of Ben's business life lately has included lots of trips to tractor supply.. which I am fine with this time of year because I like seeing the baby chicks and ducks. :) 


Part of our Friday night that week was spent out to dinner with friends, and then celebrating the end of this season of the Bachelor. A few years ago we started doing brackets, and this time was my second win in a row. Hooray! We always celebrate with a cookie cake paid for by the two girls who didn't win. Coming up with fun things to put on the cake is half the fun! 



I had a major case of "pregnancy brain" when I realized that I couldn't find my favorite Jaclyn Hill highlighter.. for whatever reason I THREW IT IN THE GARBAGE which lead to having to go searching through our trash bins. Sigh.


The next day my dad hosted a brunch for us to celebrate #SweetBabyStrader. It was mostly family and a few friends and it was super sweet. My brother even got to come in from his last semester of grad school which was super fun because we hadn't seen him since Christmas. He was shocked at how big my belly had grown in a few months! I'll be sharing photos from that whole event soon. :)

The next week I went to Shay Shull's book signing & took a day trip to Magnolia Market, which I shared about in the links posted. :)

On Good Friday Ben had an inservice day so I met up with our friends Tyler and Polly to snap a few family photos for them to display at their daughter's upcoming birthday. In the afternoon I ran some real estate errands picking up and delivering checks and contracts, and then came home to crash. It's crazy how some days during the third trimester I have unending energy, and some days I feel like I've been shot with a tranquilizer dart. Haha!



The next day Ben and his brothers had a landscaping job all day, so I hit the gym, cleaned, and tried to finish up as many thank you notes as possible! I hate feeling like people aren't adequately thanked! :) I also caught up on a few tv shows which was nice to just relax. We ate dinner at home when Ben got home from his job around 6:30, and then decided to go get a dessert out somewhere and stop by Target for an errand and to get supplies to make my contribution to the next day's Easter celebration, Banana Pudding! :)

We woke up bright and early on Easter Sunday to make it to our church's 7am service. I was pretty skeptical about wanting to go so early, but it ended up being really nice. After church we lounged around, made banana pudding, and then went out to the family farmland so Ben could check on some cows.

After cows, we had lunch and egg hunting at Granny's house.


It was so fun to watch the kids hunt, but this year we were extra dialed in because our niece was old enough to really enjoy it. She was so sweet getting her eggs. It's crazy that next year I'll be the mom arranging my baby in the grass with some eggs in front of him to get a photo. :)


The rest of the afternoon we hung out with family and friends and called it an early night, we were exhausted from our busy, happy weekend!

Hope y'all had a sweet one! :)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday No. 32

No. 1


One of my Christmas presents arrived last week- hey yo backorder! These sweet little kids chairs will go somewhere in our house, either the nursery or even the living room with a sweet little table to become a spot where #SweetBabyStrader and his siblings (God willing!) will color and enjoy one day. I'm so so pleased with them!

No. 2




Yesterday I went to Waco with some family to visit Magnolia again. The first time I went it was a rainy day, so it was really nice that the sun was out and we could enjoy the actual grounds at the silos. The gardens were so nicely maintained, I wish Ben would keep our raised beds looking so symmetrical :) It was so much busier even than the last time I was there, working at the market would probably be super hectic but your days sure would move quickly! 

No. 3


When we got home last night I texted Nicole this photo with "home sweet home!" After trips I'm always ready to just be a couch potato, especially as I hit my 33rd week of pregnancy. For the most part I'm still feeling pretty good, but when I have a super active day I am always feeling it at the end.

No. 4

You may not notice but in the photo above our floor is looking extra clean ;) We bought a new vacuum cleaner last week and MY LIFE IS FOREVER CHANGED. I read a bunch of reviews because we just weren't pumped about the price tag on a Dyson, even one found at Costco or Sam's club or something.. We bought the Shark Navigator (it was on sale for $120 at Target) and Ben and I both exclaim with glee when we vacuum. The first time we used it, I filled up the entire vacuum with dust in just our living room, which basically told us that our old vacuum was just spreading dirt around and this new one is fantastic. I wish this company would sponsor me so I could be Oprah and give everyone the most amazing vacuum. Basically to summarize all the reviews for y'all.. people went with this if they wanted something light that would be incredibly quality but not a Dyson price tag. This vacuum above and beyond delivered. Okay. Sorry for being weird and proclaiming my love for a vacuum for a full paragraph but I genuinely feel like my quality of life is oodles better now. :)

No. 5

I can't believe Easter weekend is here! Our last big holiday before baby arrives! I can't even handle the thought that next year we'll have a little guy hunting eggs and wearing this:


We're planning on attending our church's 7am service to leave the later services clear for visitors, and then we'll have a big lunch and egg hunt with extended family + extended family's extended family ;) and really whoever is around and joins us. It's always fun and it's especially fun knowing that next year we'll have our precious boy toddling (maybe) around with the big kids. Oh my heart! I pray that y'all will all have a sweet Easter weekend. Easter is such a sweet time of reflection on how Jesus died for us.. a great time to reflect on how much He has given us when we deserve so little (nothing!)


All of my Friday posts can be found here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Shay Shull's (Mix and Match Mama) Book Signing

Since last summer, Mix and Match Family has been one of my favorite blogs. Reading Shay's posts has brought so much encouragement to me as a young mama. When she posted that she was doing a book signing about 20 minutes from us (and about 5 from where #SweetBabyStrader will be born!) I immediately texted my friend Polly that we had to go! 


Going to things like this can be nerve wracking, I think! Even though I know I'm not a shy person, meeting people that you already know a ton about can be weird. Haha! Senior year of college Ben and I went to a book signing for Young House Love and I remember being so grateful that Ben was with me because for him there was no pressure.. he just chatted with them about normal things. That being said, Polly and I were nervous nellies because we didn't know what to expect. We showed up about an hour before the signing so Polly's daughter Hallie could run around some of the park space and we could chat.

Turns out we had nothing to be shy about! :) Shay was wonderful and sweet and we loved chatting with her. I knew I wanted to thank her for some specific ways that she had encouraged me, so I penned a short little thank you note. I'd recommend that if there's something you really want to say to someone. It allowed me to just say hi and snap a pic and talk about recipes and Kendra Scott earrings. :)




When we were about to leave, Shay's brother (former Bachelor) Sean Lowe and his wife Catherine walked in. Polly reads Shay's blog but was much more excited about this Bachelor couple haha. We were awkward and didn't even really talk to them but took a photo with them, haha! While we were taking the photo the funnest thing happened- I had my first in person encounter with someone I don't know who reads my blog! :) We had snagged sweet Meredith to take our photo and as she was taking it and we were posing with Sean and Catherine she asked "wait do you have a blog?" I was like "WHO ME?!" because obviously we were taking a photo with actual celebrities at the book signing of a huge blogger. So that was super fun and we ended up having a friend of a friend connection and it was just encouraging all around. Hi, Meredith! :)


After the book signing I met up with Ben and we went to have dinner with family. It was a sweet night!


When I got home later that night I was wiped out from the busy day and put on my favorite jammies and had a Peep treat while waiting for Ben to finish up some work, haha! :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Planning our Maternity Photos

For our maternity session, we had the amazing opportunity to work with Dyan Kethley photography again! She shot our Christmas Home Tour for Southern Weddings back in November, and we couldn't wait to work with her again.

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I haven't always been incredibly crazy about the idea of a maternity session. I love photos, and that's no secret.. but I also wasn't sure of how confident I would feel with my very pregnant body. However, after the experiences of the past year, I realized that a maternity session would be an awesome way to mark the Lord's faithfulness in blessing us with a healthy pregnancy. As I write at 32 weeks pregnant, I'll say that my body confidence changes from day to day, but mostly I just can't get over how amazing it is that my belly has grown full with our precious boy.

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I gathered some inspiration images and one thing was clear.. mama had to find her a gown! A floor length dress was apparently a non negotiable for me to love the image. This may seem ridiculous, but it's what I loved! I also know that I want some sweet photos of Ben and I together, but that if we're looking at the camera, there must be smiles. We're not very photogenic in serious poses. If I wasn't so embarrassed by the proof I have of this, I'd show y'all! Haha!

The only other detail worth noting is that a goal I had for pregnancy was for my wedding ring to still fit when we go into delivery, with the mini goal of it fitting for our maternity photos. The ring is still holding strong as of now.. so fingers crossed! :)

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We'll be taking our photos at Dallas's White Rock Lake on Monday night, assuming the weather cooperates. I can't wait! If you've had maternity photos done, I'd love to hear any tips and tricks that you've gathered from the experience!



Monday, March 21, 2016

A March Nursery Update

Oops, took an unplanned little one week hiatus from blogging after I had planned to get back into a normal schedule. This past week Ben was home for Spring Break.. and it was so nice to spend a ton more time with him, even though he's busier than ever. I'll share more about this soon, but him and his brothers have started their own business and it's kept them pretty busy. I'm so proud of Ben for chasing his dream of being a small business owner! (For those local, Strader Brothers Landscaping is the way to go! :) )

So much has been happening in the nursery. It's amazing how each thing makes me feel like it's really coming together. Between showers full of incredibly generous people and us picking up some of the last things we really had on our wish list, the room has looked like this for a good part of the month:


I've had a TON of help in this room and bringing practical things in really brought my attention to the storage needs of the space.


I can't tell you how often I stroll on in here to just sit and enjoy the room and daydream about our sweet boy!

A Note: I've gotten some emails (some kinder than others) warning me of the hazards of bumpers. I'm going to take this opportunity to publicly say that I'm fully aware of the safety precautions that need to be taken when caring for an infant. By far the hardest part of this season of life for me has been people giving unsolicited advice. Ben and I are the parents that the Lord chose to take care of this baby, and we're going to do so to the best of our ability. If you think you have something helpful and original to share I'd love to hear it, but we're aware of all of the basic needs of our child and it just isn't encouraging to get short emails telling me what to do. :) 

One spot in the nursery that was in desperate need of some better organizing was the closet. It had been housing all of our winter coats, various random things that honestly needed to be in the garage, a bunch of stuff that needed to be thrown away, and some of Ben's miscellaneous things.


Through some good pinterest research, I found that a great option for us would be using the Ikea Kallax in the bottom portion of the closet, to organize all the things that would go in there. I picked up the shelving unit a few Sundays ago, and that Monday night we (Ben) assembled it. We were surprised at how easy it was to build the piece.


I had measured beforehand, but we were really encouraged to see that the piece was a perfect fit.


A few days later I picked up some storage bins from Target to fill the top shelf. I haven't decided if I'll keep the unit have bins half open or not yet. Every time I go in the nursery I feel like I find a better way to keep things functionally organized, so I can only imagine how this will play out when I'm actually using the space as a place to take care of our baby. Once we've lived in the room with #SweetBabyStrader for awhile, I'll share details of how we've organized everything long term.. but for now I'll share what's in the bins from left to right.

First Bin: Thin stroller blankets, Swaddle Blankets, Swaddle me blankets, and Halo Sleepsacks.
Second Bin: our Honest baby carrier
Third Bin: Newborn diapers and wipes that don't fit in the dresser currently
Fourth Bin: Jammies and onesies for sizes bigger than 3-6 months

While tackling some organizing was extremely satisfying, I was also wanting to get all the sweet stuff taken care of. Meaning art. Sometimes it's a blessing and a curse to know exactly what you have in mind. Let me elaborate...


I've had this image from RH Baby & Child saved on my phone since before we knew we were having a boy. I love the simplicity and beauty of the display. I set my heart on matted chunky frames. The material I thought would be best for the space is a slightly distressed, but not too distressed wood. I found very few options and the amount of frames I would need (1 8x10, 5 5x7, & 5 4x6) was going to add up really quickly. If I had purchased the frames I liked at RH, the total would have been over $400. Not happening! There are some things worth investing in, but gallery wall frames are just not one of them, in my humble opinion.

Last week one morning we were hit with CRAZY weather. I had to pull over on the side of the road for 30 minutes because the rain had left zero visibility. When the rain cleared up a bit, I made my way to the nearest Wal Mart to keep letting the storm pass, seek shelter in the giant building, and to get some grocery staples in case the bad weather continued. During my trip, I decided on a whim to cruise by the frames section.


Ta-da!! I found exactly what I wanted! I cleared out the shelves of the sizes I needed and ordered a few more online (they're now off the website which is crazy!!) I spent about $100 on all of the frames, and honestly they're better quality than some of the other options I looked at. Especially considering the bigger sizes included mats, I couldn't have possibly found a better deal!


We probably could have hung them an inch or two higher, but I didn't want them to be too close to the ceiling. Old house problems. :) When baby boy starts reaching for them I may have to take down the bottom row, and that's just fine. It took Ben kind of a long time to hang these, but I'm so grateful! I'm torn on how to fill them until I have newborn photos. Any suggestions?


On the left is Ben's baseball glove stand of all his gloves from growing up. In a mostly classic, put together nursery.. this glove tree really added a personal touch for us. It was my idea to put them in there, but Ben picks up a glove to look at every time he comes in the room. It's sweet to think of the gloves being used to play with our son in the future. We were gifted an elephant hamper from Home Decorators Collection and I'm crazy about it.. it adds such a playful touch and balances out the space. I can't wait until it's all 100% complete. My goal is the end of the month or soon after!

The most recent progress is that I've started washing clothes! This seems like such an end of pregnancy job to me. I keep forgetting I'm just about at 32 weeks. It's so crazy and it keeps flying by! this helped me get the drawers put together, at least a little bit.


$8 drawer dividers from Ikea are the MVP of this piece of furniture. It's so neat how in a very non Ikea style room, I could use their inexpensive things to make our space extra precious and prepared!

On the left is a divider of hats, an empty one, then a ton more newborn diapers that have been graciously given to us, gloves, socks, bibs, burb cloths, and miscellaneous baby hygiene things.


The rolled items are newborn onesies with newborn sleepers on top, then 0-6 month sleep gowns, some little pants, 0-3 month sleepers, 0-3 month rolled onesies. Having this taken care of makes me feel so much more ready!

By far my most valuable resource when it comes to organizing the nursery has been Two Twenty One.  She has organizing posts for throughout the home, but the baby ones have just made me feel so encouraged and aware of what needs to be done to make this space work for us.

What do y'all think? :)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday No. 31

No. 1

YAY! I'm so glad that the world can finally know... Tyler & Nicole are adopting! I'd highly recommend watching their whole video above (shoutout to myself at 5min 20 seconds) whether you think you're interested in adoption at all.. it's a really beautifully done video and anyone can appreciate the beautiful story of how God is building their family. I cannot wait to see the next year of their lives unfold.. Please join me in praying that the Lord would bring home Baby Cole sooner rather than later!


The Coles are in need of lots of prayer and encouragement.. but let me also say that they are trying to reach a big financial goal to make this adoption happen. One way to support them is to buy a t-shirt from their new shop, like the one I'm wearing above. The shirt I'm wearing is also available in gray, and there is a more gender neutral option as well. Honestly the shirt doesn't even matter, I'd wear anything to support this family.. but let me say that it's extremely comfy! I like t-shirts to be long and loose and this one is perfect. YOU NEED IT! :)

No. 2

It was been a stormy, horrible mess in Texas this week. On Tuesday morning I got stuck in zero visibility and by the grace of God made it to a gas station where I waited out the storm for 30 minutes. I realized that the rainy weather makes my mood dreary and sad too. I'm ready for sun, especially with Ben off work all next week, and our maternity photos on Thursday!

No. 3



I've suddenly had a huge fire under me to get the nursery finished and perfectly organized! I picked up the Ikea Kallax on Sunday and it fits the closet so perfectly. It uses the space so much more efficiently than before. Ben and I are still negotiating on moving 100% of his random hunting stuff out of the closet (there is literally a giant bow hiding underneath that boppy lounger!) and I'm hoping I will prevail. Let me just tell you that pinterest is a black hole of blog posts on how to organize your nursery closet and I've been enjoying them like candy. :) I'm trying to figure out a cute way to label these bins.. any ideas?

I'm planning on sharing several big nursery updates next week, yay!

No. 4



It's been a few weeks since our trip to Nashville and I'm still thinking about the beautiful Draper James store constantly. I was so incredibly inspired there! I'm wondering how I can incorporate the aesthetic of the store into our own home.

No. 5
Image via Lilly Pulitzer 
Maybe it's the yucky weather we've been having, but I've been dreaming of a beach vacation recently. Ben says I'm terribly ungrateful as we have tons of great travel opportunities.. but right now sunny Florida is all I can think of, haha! I love looking at photos of Palm Beach, and I've been dreaming of Disney World for years now. I'm thinking that our sweet boy will need to go visit Mickey sooner rather than later. :)

All of my Friday posts can be found here.