Five Favorites and an update.

I've been out and about a lot lately and have come across so many things that I just have to share, if only to keep my finds in one place. Here's what I'm loving these days:

1. True Blue Spa Shea Cashmere Body Cream is so completely delicious smelling that sometimes I'd rather eat it than wear it, but that's neither here nor there. (I'm pregnant, not stupid.) I've been slathering this on the belly ever since I got it, and it's simply devine. Definitely a good find for the massive expansion coming my way in the winter months.

Shea cashmere 

2. Anything by Lotta Jansdotter. Most specifically, Simple Sewing for Baby.
LOVE her prints, love the simple Scandinavian style, can't wait to make Elska little outfits and goodies inspired by Lotta's designs.

3. Philosophy: The Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash. I have been using this on and off for the past couple of years and no matter how many times I switch it up I ALWAYS go back. I went out today and purchased a giant bottle of it that, no joke, will probably last me for at least a year. It's gentle but nothing makes my skin feel smoother than this stuff. It's amazing. Don't think I'll ever use anything else.

4. Hot fudge sundaes from either McDonald's or Dairy Queen. This has been the latest in a series of random cravings, and it's safe to say I want one of these for dessert every single night. In fact, I want one right now…

5. And last but not least, Elska's hiccups. I always heard pregnant women talk about their little ones getting the hiccups, but I never could imagine what that felt like. It's like a constant, rhythmic tapping that lasts several minutes, and I love it! I just think it's the cutest thing ever that before they're born, babies do these people things, and it's not like this should surprise since they are people, after all, but it's just adorable to me.

I'm happy to report that the pregnancy is coming along quite nicely- no major bumps or even hiccups, if you will (because I will). The doctor said we most likely won't be having another ultrasound unless we either want to pay for it or have insurance that will cover it, which really bummed me out but hey, it means we have a healthy little girl growing up a storm in my belly and that's what really matters. I will say that the belly is starting to feel quite heavy, but I don't look huge (yet). Most people find it hard to believe that I'm nearly seven months along, but when I look in a mirror it's really not all that shocking. I asked the doctor if I look normal and she said that since I'm tall the baby has more room to grow- and isn't forced to grow out instead of up and down. Whew. I have to say that even if no one else thinks I have gained that much weight, I can certainly feel the extra weight not only in my belly, but in other places as well. I've been trying so hard to use my regular wardrobe for as long as possible, but it's safe to say I'm at a point where I can't do it much longer, if at all. I own a grand total of three maternity shirts, one sweater, and two pairs of pants and I'm not sure how much I'll be able to rotate those items out before I start looking like a hobo.

We have successfully cleaned out the nursery-to-be, and are planning on starting the painting process this weekend. I am SO EXCITED! I have so many ideas for her room I can barely contain myself. I'm not big on bright colors (en masse, that is), so we're opting for a softer palette for the little one's room- one that can transition nicely into her later childhood years. Hopefully she'll like it when she's old enough to determine what she likes. I'm scouring Etsy for ideas and inspiration.

We also got our registry started and I will be the first to say it was completely overwhelming. After three hours and not even half the store covered, we had to bail out of there before our heads exploded. Not only was the selection daunting, it's safe to say that we have absolutely no idea what this baby will need or require when she arrives. We spent more time laughing at the pictures of women on the phone, reading and otherwise multi-tasking on the packaging of a pair of breast pump attachments than we did trying to figure out what exactly we needed out of a breast pump. I know that's what 14-year-olds do but we didn't feel much older than that given how clueless we were.

So, here we go: two trimesters down, one to go. Let the adventures begin.

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Overwhelmed, but it’s OK- I have pickles!

Goodness, I've been terrible at keeping up with this thing. For some reason, last week was incredibly tough- I have been scheduled to come into work an hour earlier than usual because our busy season is starting, and while it means more money in the bank, it cuts into my productive time that I spend working on my business. Add to that the fact that I am finally starting to feel pregnant- lower back aches, pinched sciatic nerve, and a full-blown belly that gets in the way of everything- and I come home from a measly five hour shift feeling quite exhausted. It's a double-edged sword, and I don't mean to complain. I'm thankful to have a job working with good people, but I can't help but be nervous that the clock is ticking LIKE MAD and I can't give 100% to getting No Strings up and running as quickly as possible, and that's the one thing that I will be doing to earn income once Elska (that's her nickname!) arrives. Working outside the home is not part of our plan. And it's getting harder and harder to be on my feet all day the more pregnant I become, but we need my paycheck.

More than that, I need clients! Send 'em my way, people. I can't wait to help small businesses get ahead in this tough economy.

I'm happy to say that I have generated some interest, and I'm doing some work for a friend that will help me nail down certain processes complete with constructive criticism. I am so excited to actually start working with paying clients and building a name for myself, so for now I'm working on marketing and networking- a full-time job all on its own. I have a lot of support and great ideas from friends and family that I'm sure will help me along the way.

But enough about No Strings. This is a mom blog, after all!

I am five days away from the start of my third trimester, and I cannot tell you how shocked I am at how quickly time has flown. We have been in consistent adjustment, covering all the bases including fear, elation, joy, amazement, and just feeling plain overwhelmed by all we have ahead of us. At the very end of September, there was a morning when I had the epiphany that, HOLD ON A SECOND, let me do some math, (October 10 through November 10) + (November 10 through December 10) + (December 10 through January 10) = THREE MONTHS UNTIL OUR DAUGHTER IS BORN. I then woke up Cody (it was before 6:00 a.m.), shared my startling revelation, and launched into full-blown panic mode complete with the urgent desire to jump out of bed and immediately start organizing EVERYTHING in our house, starting with the nursery-to-be. I suddenly realized that I have done very little to prepare for this huge change, and who on earth expects that she will just "wing it" when handed a newborn who is completely dependent on her? Yikes. Definitely have my work cut out for me.

In a nutshell, it's been hard not to feel a bit overwhelmed these days. I suppose last week was particularly hard because I was consistently robbed of precious time I needed by all these things that were totally out of my control- time I must devote to not only preparing for baby, but starting a business too. I don't like feeling like I'm spinning in a tornado, grasping on to anything I could that I would be able to cross off my to-do list. I'm sure that this isn't necessarily going to get better once I have a newborn in the house. Therefore, I can't help but wonder if I'm being groomed for this next stage of life by the presence of the unexpected. How I handle it now will prepare me for the juggling act I have ahead of me. I'm not gonna let it get me down!

For now, here are a couple of updated pictures:

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Hugs for Elska! 27 weeks!

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Yes, I am eating out of a jar of pickles. Yes, I know how cliche that is. They were my Amma's famous bread and butter pickles, made from Cody's grandma's cucumbers from her garden. Simply heavenly! You'd eat 'em by the jar too.

Belly update: My belly makes funny shapes, like triangles and squares, when Elska stretches out and punches her dad in the hand when he antagonizes her. Haha. I actually love that she responds to him- he's just going to an amazing dad. She's really quite active- especially right before bed and right before I wake up. She isn't big enough now (about 2 pounds and 15 inches long) for her movements to keep me up or wake me out of my slumber, so for now I'm just enjoying the sensation of feeling her moving around in there. That will be the biggest thing I will miss about being pregnant- it's just amazing to me. I also figured out that this rhythmic "tapping" sensation I get every once in a while must be her hiccuping- it's SO cute! I've felt it many times before but never made the connection, because it's a different type of movement than her usual kicks and somersaults. But I love it. I love her. She's just the sweetest thing ever.

A little extra sleep…

…can go a LONG way. Cody and I have been experimenting with earlier bedtimes this week and let me just say it has been fantastic. We haven't turned on the TV once, we eat meals together, work on home or business projects, read, and head upstairs around 9:15, and the lights are always out by 10:00. When the alarm went off at 6:00 a.m., we practically jumped out of bed ready to tackle the day ahead of us. With bells on. And smiles on our faces. Not to mention, morning time is our favorite time of day, and we have missed out on it for far too long now, either because we slept in or we were just generally miserable due to lack of sleep. I. LOVE. LIFE. with enough rest and a night routine that allows me to have a productive, relaxing morning routine. And! Breakfast with my husband!

Now, I know these days will be short-lived. I'm not trying to be a pessimist in that sense; I just know it's going to change. Mornings will soon be filled with delirium, diaper changes, feedings, and general mass hysteria in our household. But somehow all of that will be OK because of this new little person we'll have in our lives. I wonder every day what kind of person she will be, what she will look like, what color her hair and her eyes will be. This whole process has been so marvelous and I am trying to savor it while I can.

We only have 100 days to go until we meet our daughter! Gah! It's amazing.

On another note, our second anniversary is a little more than a month away. We have been trying to figure out somewhere to go on-the-cheap up in northern AZ because we can't afford much right now, but doing something is incredibly important to us because it is our last anniversary before there will be a little tag-a-long who wears cute dresses and bows in her hair. We had a fantastic time last year when we stayed one night at Little America in Flagstaff and two nights at the Junipine in Oak Creek. It was beautiful and cozy and chilly and rainy and such a wonderful trip. We would give anything to do a repeat of it but unless I get bombarded with clients in the next week or so, we'll be looking for something comfortable but a little less pricey.

Any ideas?

Some pics from last year:

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(At Oak Creek)
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(This is what we woke up to every morning!)
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(Fireplace in the bedroom)
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(Our digs for the weekend)
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(This was taken on our anniversary. It was a GLORIOUS day!)
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(Love. Him. So. Much!)
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No Strings Virtual Solutions

Ta Da!

I would like to officially announce the launch of my business, No Strings Virtual Solutions. For the record, I would like to say that I considered No Strings BUSINESS Solutions for a name, but NoStringsBS wasn't quite as flattering a nickname as what I chose. But I digress. Time to talk business!

I was so intimidated by the idea of venturing out on my own- I mean,
me? A business owner? Hmm… not so much. But after researching what
was necessary to start a business and learning just how simple it
actually is, I decided to go for it. I am also incredibly fortunate to
have people in my life who are inspirational to me because they went
out on their own- like these two– and are enjoying tremendous success and self-worth in
the process.

For those of you who are wondering what the heck it is that I do as a Virtual Assistant (a.k.a. VA), don't feel bad. The term "Virtual Assistant" is relatively new, but it is a profession that is gaining recognition and momentum, most notably during this economic downturn. Because my ultimate goal is to work from home, whatever is within my capabilities that a client needs- that can also be done from my home office- is available to save businesses both time and money in comparison to hiring an in-house part-timer to work for them. With so many people being laid off, and no less volume of work to be done, being a VA and hiring one is a win-win scenario for all parties involved.

So where am I at now? Currently, I am working on spreading the word and generating interest in my services, among a myriad of other things. I am happy to report that I have a couple of potential clients in the mix, and I am very much looking forward to seeing where those lead. For now, dear reader, anything you can do to send business my way would be appreciated! There is no minimum time requirement, so no job is too small- or too big. Maybe you know someone who needs assistance just a couple of hours a week to handle e-mail correspondence, or perhaps you know someone else who has a project they need to complete and an extra set of hands to get the job done. Either way, I want to hear from them!

All the details about my business are located at my Web page, http://www.nostringsvs.com, including an extensive (but not necessarily exhaustive) list of my services, my ethical commitment to clients, a contact form, and an "about me" page that briefly outlines my professional experience, among other things.

Baby Girl (nickname to be revealed tomorrow) is pretty darn excited about this as well. I can tell- every time I'm at the computer working, she's doing somersaults in my belly! Between my wonderful hubby and our little girl, I have the best cheerleading squad a mom could ever ask for.

p.s. HAPPY OCTOBER! We were greeted this morning by 68-degree weather- an absolute dream in comparison to the 106 degrees we had at the beginning of the week! I opened every window in the house, lit a fall candle, put on a long sleeve shirt, drank hot hazelnut decaf coffee, and plugged away at the biz 'til I had to leave for work. It was GLORIOUS.