Baby #2 Pregnancy Update - Hospital Bed Rest

This post was going to be an update about how I'd been put on modified bed rest, what baby girl's room looks like right now and a few other things. Instead, I'm writing this post from a hospital bed, where I'm on total bed rest for anywhere from the next day or two to a couple of weeks. My doctor put me on modified bed rest at my appointment on Wednesday morning because I told her that I'd been contracting and feeling really uncomfortable. Then she checked me and discovered that I was dilated to a three and 90% effaced. I limited my walking and made arrangements for Bensen on my days off so that I wouldn't be chasing him around or picking him up a lot. Then after a lunch meeting yesterday at work, my water broke and I had to head to the hospital. It was a lot of chaos and not the type of adventure that I was looking for, but after checking in, Joe gave me a priesthood blessing and we heard Baby Girl's heartbeat and the doctors and nurses all worked together to formulate the best plan for my situation and I feel really calm about the whole thing.

We would love to keep her in until 34 weeks (2 more), but the ultimate goal is to make it to Saturday so that the steroids have their chance to help her lungs develop more. Unfortunately, my contractions have been getting consistently stronger, so we may not make it that far. Until then, Joe and I are hanging out, should be brainstorming baby names (since we don't even have a list pf names we're considering) and I will be working remotely because I'm nowhere near ready for this baby to come on the work front and want to make this as unchaotic as possible for my coworkers. Eventually I'll try to sleep, but that's difficult when you're contracting every five to ten minutes and you're on a clear fluid diet so your tummy is experiencing hunger pains.

My mom brought Bensen to visit me tonight, and it made my day because he was still asleep when I left for work this morning so I hadn't gotten to see him. He was unsure at first, but quickly became interested in all of the buttons and was rocking out to the sound of his baby sister's heartbeat on the monitor (he loves a good rhythm). After he realized that he couldn't get down and explore or play with anything in my room, he got bored and started telling us "buh-bye". Joe and I had to demonstrate the new cute thing that he does before he left. When Joe and I kiss goodbye in the morning, he's usually in one of our arms. He's recently taken up to giggling after we kiss and making kissing noises of his own. I feel like he may be mocking us, but that's ok!

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers and watch Instagram for updates. I'll probably have some more content next week because I need something to keep me occupied while I'm on bed rest and writing posts is a lot more fun than working!

Helping Our Dog Make a Healthy Transition with Baby #2

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NewBeneful #CollectiveBias

It's no secret that we love our dog, Howie, and that he has been a huge part of our family in the three years that we've had him. As we've made different transitions in our life, we've worked hard to make those transitions easy for him and keep him as happy as possible. When we moved into our house, when we had our first child and now as we prepare for the birth of our second child, we have always kept his needs in mind to help make the transition as routine as possible.

While we're preparing to help Bensen make the adjustment to being a big brother after this baby arrives, we've been doing our best now to help Howie make that adjustment as well. It breaks my heart seeing how anxious he gets the closer we get to my due date and knowing that he doesn't understand my explanation that there's a new baby coming makes that harder. We learned a lot about helping our four-legged best friend adjust to the arrival of a new baby when we added Bensen to our family last year. We've continued to learn and help Howie adjust to all of Bensen's developmental milestones, mobility and overwhelming love for his furry friend. And we hope to make each life transition into our new normal as seamless as possible for him.

How to help your four-legged friend adjust to the addition of a new baby.

Give your dog access to the new baby's space, prepared in advance

Bensen's nursery was far from put together when he was born, mostly because I wasn't planning on him arriving until after finals were over and I'd had a few days to get it organized. Even so, we kept the door to his room open so that Howie could see the changes and get used to the new furniture, toys, blankets, etc. that comes with the addition of a baby. 

We're in the same position with baby number two right now. Her room is cleared out and some of her things are in there, but the room isn't organized or put together yet. We don't leave the door open constantly, but we are often in there cleaning and putting stuff together and when we are, we let both Howie and Bensen join us and explore the space.

Bring home an item from the hospital that has the baby's scent on it

This was one of the biggest suggestions that I read when we were preparing to become parents for the first time. We packed a blanket to wrap Bensen in after he was born and Joe brought it home with him the night that he came home to sleep in his own bed. While the blanket was effective, what seemed to really pique Howie's curiosity was the shirt that Joe had been wearing for the first 24 hours of Bensen's life. Joe sat in the chair in Bensen's room so that Howie would associate the smell of the baby with that room, but rather than focusing on the blanket he'd brought with him, Howie sniffed every square inch of Joe's shirt. The next morning when Joe got out of the shower, he found Howie curled up asleep on the shirt, after having pulled it out of the laundry basket.

We will be taking a blanket to the hospital again with this baby, mostly because I don't know if Joe will be coming home for a night before I do and we need something to send home to Howie. We will send the blanket with one of our family members who is checking in on him and have them place it in the baby's room. As I've pulled old blankets and clothes of Bensen's out of storage to prep them for baby girl's arrival, Howie has already been interested in sniffing them and I hope that it triggers something in his memory to help him understand a little better what is going on.

Have mom greet the dog before bringing the new baby into the house

Just as they suggest that you have mom greet a toddler for the first time after giving birth, without the baby in her arms, you want to do the same with your dog. When we brought Bensen home, I came into the house while Joe got him out of the car. I made sure to greet Howie and give him a lot of love and attention. They say that dogs can smell the chemical and hormonal changes when a woman becomes pregnant, and letting Howie adjust to my new smells, as well as the smell of the baby on me, before introducing him to our new family member, was important.

We'll be doing the same thing with our next new little one, being sure that both Howie and Bensen get individual attention and feel loved, not replaced. I will also be sure to put the baby in her bassinet sometimes, rather than cuddling with her constantly, so that Howie and Bensen both get the chance to be close to me without feeling like she comes between us.

Keep the dog's routine as normal as possible

Your dog will remain more healthy and happy through every big transition in life if you can keep their routine as normal as possible. Howie has expectations for when we leave the house, when he goes on a walk, bedtime and so much more. Every morning, before we leave for work, we feed Howie, fill his water dish and give him his "buh-bye" treat. As Bensen has gotten older, we've started getting him involved in the morning routine as well. 

Bensen loves to help with Howie's food and loves to splash in his water bowl as well. We recently transitioned Howie to new reformulated Purina Beneful Incredibities with real meat as the first ingredient and no added sugar. The new reformulated recipes were created based on feedback from real pet owners, like ourselves, and are backed by two years of research. The new recipes offer the same great taste and texture that Howie has grown to know and love over the past few years and it's specially made for small dogs like him. We're focused on helping Howie live a happy and healthy life so that he will be a part of our family for years to come. Helping him adjust to the new situations that we face isn't always easy, but watching Howie and Bensen play together and thinking back on how protective and interested Howie was when Bensen was a newborn makes it all worth it.

Dogs can be sensitive to change, as has been apparent to us throughout the different changes in life that we've made with Howie. Whether or not you are currently feeding your dog Beneful, you will want to check out these helpful feeding tips and tricks for how to make the transition to a new food formula smooth. Sign up to receive a free sample of Beneful's new reformulated Originals and Incredibites dry dog food here. You can find reformulated Beneful dry dog food at mass and grocery retailers including Target, Walmart and Regional Grocers like Kroger and Albertsons. I picked mine up on a recent trip to Walmart!

Create a safe space for your dog to call his own

As Bensen has become more mobile, he and Howie have started to have a lot more fun together, but sometimes Howie needs a break and we'll find him hiding out under the crib, under our bed or under the couch. He used to be able to escape to safety outside, climb onto our bed or climb on top of couches, but Bensen is able to access more and more of those places, so his safe places are becoming limited. For this reason, I created a space where Howie can go to escape the chaos and excitement that having kids in the house brings. I purchased a larger sized kennel and a memory foam pillow to go inside. It's become his favorite place to store the toys that he isn't willing to share with his best toddler friend and a comfortable escape when he's looking for a little bit of calm.

Howie will always hold a special place in our hearts and remain an important part of our family structure. We work hard to show our love for him on a daily basis. There are many things that we do regularly to show him how important he is to our lives, no matter what the years bring. Making an effort to help him transition through our life stages and choosing the food that he eats carefully are just a couple of the things that we can do to show him that love.

Have you done anything special to help your four-legged friend make transitions in life?

Home Tour - Guest Bathroom

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MegaPrepped #CollectiveBias

It's been a while since I've done a home tour post! This last year has been a little bit crazy what with having a new baby, finishing the last year of my undergraduate degree and finding out that we were pregnant again. I haven't had the time, energy or inspiration to do much more decorating in our house until the last couple months. I've been nesting in full force, cleaning and organizing every corner of our house and making plans for how I want to finish decorating different spaces. Because the basement bathroom only needed a few finishing touches, I decided that would be the room that got finished first and I'm excited to share the completed space with you!

The Goal:

This bathroom's purpose is two-fold. It's next to our spare bedroom, so I knew it would be used by guests when we have them. It's also located just down the stairs from our family room, so it gets used when we are entertaining friends and family in our home. I wanted this space to be clean and clutter free, cheery and inviting, and also be relaxing and somewhere that I enjoyed being because I was claiming it as my sanctuary as well.

The Before Pictures:

The Plan and Process:

This room didn't take a lot of demolition. They had to chisel a hole in the floor to find the drain for the tub, we had them remove a few outlets (there were at least two on every wall) and then we moved the door opening from the wall that would be inside the bedroom to another wall that was directly at the bottom of the stairs. We wanted the bathroom to be easily accessible to everyone, and relocating the doorway made the most sense.

Because the space is small, we kept the entire room really simple. My biggest request was that we put a deep soaking tub in but also have a shower head for guests to use when they stay with us. A few years ago, I referred to this shower/tub combination as a "shub". I'm not sure why, the word just slipped out, but we've jokingly called them that in our house ever since.

My second priority was to keep the space clean and simple. Our storage choices have allowed for this. We have plenty of space to store our bath time pampering supplies, extra bathroom supplies, and the things that we keep on hand for our guests.

The After Pictures:

The Little Details:

The colors in this bathroom are my favorite, they feel so relaxing and fun to me! I wanted white  to be one of my main colors for decorating because the space is small and doesn't have a window. The white brightens everything up and makes the space feel more warm and inviting.

I picked a simple white shower curtain and a colored accent rug for in front of the sink. We have a simple grey rug that hangs over the tub and can be laid down while we're taking a bath or a shower. Because of the limited space, especially in front of the tub, having a rug laying there all the time looked a little silly.

The above the toilet cupboard space is a great location for storing extra towels, a stock of toilet paper and travel sized items that our guests may have forgotten at home. It's also a great location for all of the bath things that I use when the bathroom becomes my sanctuary. That frees up under the sink for storing cleaning supplies and a space heater (because it gets really cold, especially when I'm trying to relax in the bathtub). Such simple organization keeps our bathroom functional, and provides our guests with the comfort that they need to feel welcome and at home because we have anticipated any potential needs before they arrive.

Quilted Northern® Ultra Soft & Strong® with Cleanstretch (9 Mega Rolls) helps us keep our home and guest bathroom stocked and organized on a regular basis so that we are always prepared for last minute guests or gatherings at our home. Mega Rolls have four times more than regular Quilted Northern® rolls so we don't have to worry about refilling the roll as often! Our guests are never faced with that uncomfortable moment when they run out of toilet paper and can't find where it is kept. There are two rolls in the canister below the roll that is in use and five or six rolls in the above toilet storage cabinet.

The Future Plans:

I honestly don't have any future plans for this room, other than replacing the heating vent cover that has a lot of paint on it. I'm pretty happy with how this room turned out and all of the tiny details in it!

I found my Quilted Northern® Ultra Soft & Strong® at Walmart.

How does Quilted Northern® help you keep your guest bathroom stocked and ready for guests?

Take Me Out to the Ball Game - Date Night Bucket List

My company voted to have our summer party at the local minor league ballpark so we got to check one of our bucket list dates off the list at no cost to us! Because we already had a few babysitter dates lined up for the month, we decided to take Bensen with us. He loves being outside and around a lot of people so I figured he would have a lot of fun! We didn't get to stay for much of the game or stick around for fireworks, because when you have a tired, teething toddler, you get him home to bed before the meltdowns start, but we still had a lot of fun! As an added bonus, my parents sat next to us (I work for my dad's company), so Bensen got extra attention and fun with grandma and papa. 

Date Night Moments with the Perfect Grilled Summer Dessert

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DairyFree4All #CollectiveBias

Summer date nights are some of my favorite and we're always looking for creative ways to change up our favorite go-to date night activities. And as summer winds down, we're holding on tight to these long, mild summer nights. The time in between our toddler's bedtime and our bedtime provides the perfect opportunity for some mini date moments. We get to spend quiet time together and if we're intentional about it, we can connect just as much at home as we do when we escape for a date night out on the town.

One of our favorite things to do in the summer is to grill together. Since we discovered this hobby a few years ago, we've learned how to grill a lot of delicious things, but other than roasting marshmallows over the grill, we had yet to try desserts. A few weeks ago, I had the idea to make one of our favorite desserts at home on the grill and it definitely did not disappoint! These skillet cookies are something that we used to enjoy at a restaurant near us. That restaurant closed and although there are other locations, they aren't close, so we rarely get to indulge. Being able to make them at home is perfect and so much fun for date night! They will also be fun to make as our kids get older and can enjoy them with us.

Grilled Skillet Cookies, perfect for enjoying for a summertime date night.

To make your Grilled Cookie Skillets, you will need the following:

Cast-iron skillet: We like to use mini 3.5" diameter sized skillets to make personal cookies but a 5" or 6.5" skillet would be the perfect size if you want to share!

Cookie dough: You can use any type that you would like. We love a basic cookie dough and will switch out the add-ins. For this date night, we had chocolate chunk but I like English toffee and Joe likes white chocolate macadamia nut.

So Delicious Dairy Free® frozen treats: For this date night, we used Cashew Milk Salted Caramel Cluster, but you can get as creative as you want with your flavor combinations. A few other So Delicious Dairy Free® flavors you could try are Coconut Milk Simply Strawberry, Almond Milk Vanilla and Almond Milk Chocolate.

Hot Fudge Sauce: The recipe for our favorite homemade kind is below. You could use any combination of toppings. We've also used caramel topping in the past, which would pair REALLY well with the Cashew Milk Salted Caramel Cluster.

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

Crushed Candy (optional): Pick your favorites! Because we were using Cashew Milk Salted Caramel Cluster this time around, we opted out of any additional candy add ins or toppings. 

To assemble your Grilled Cookie Skillet, start with the cookie dough. Press a cookie sized ball of dough into the bottom of your skillet, making sure that it reaches all edges and that the thickness of the dough is even across the entire cookie. You could use the back of a spoon or clean fingers for this step. I found that the back of a clean spoon worked the best for me.

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Next, place your skillet(s) on a grill that has been heated to 350° F. I suggest putting your skillets on the top rack of the grill so that they aren't directly above the heat. Close the lid and allow your cookies to bake for 5 minutes. Check to see how done they are with a toothpick. You may choose to remove them from the grill at this point or let them cook a bit longer, depending on whether you prefer a more gooey or crunchy cookie. We're ALL about the warm and gooey cookies in our marriage. (If you don't have a grill, you can still make these in the oven. Just follow the same baking directions! You may need to bake the cookies for 10 minutes instead.)

Once the cookie has been baked the way you like, remove it from the grill, keeping in mind that the skillet will be extremely hot! Let it cool for just a few minutes before you start adding your toppings. You will still want to eat the dessert while it's fairly warm, but adding anything to the top of the cookie will create a big, melted mess if it's too hot. A melty mess could taste really delicious, but we're not a fan of the clean up that it requires and would rather spend our time together doing other things, so we avoid the mess as much as possible.

Top your cookie with a scoop of So Delicious Dairy Free® frozen treat, drizzle homemade hot fudge sauce over the top and finish it off with a sprinkle of your favorite crushed candy pieces if you choose. Now dig in and enjoy! I try to savor my cookie because it's so good that I really miss it when it's gone.

Savor your dessert and the time that you have to spend with each other! Talk about the things that you want to do together before summer is over, and maybe start planning some fun adventures for next summer. Some things require a year of saving and planning and it's fun to have something to work toward and look forward to together! We've got a few last summer activities plans before baby girl arrives and while the days are still long and the nights are still warm. We're also currently making plans for an anniversary getaway next year. It will probably be the next time that we are able to get away, just the two of us, for a night or two and we want to make it good!

Grilled Skillet Cookies

Joe and I like to eat our dessert while we sit on our little deck, chat and watch the sunset. You could eat your Skillet Cookie while watching your favorite movie, during a firework show, before stargazing, or while you participate in any of your other favorite, relaxing summer activities together! This date moment was the perfect break that we needed in our week. We've been so busy toddler proofing our house and preparing for the arrival of our new little one in a month or two, we needed time to relax together.

So Delicious Dairy Free® is the perfect dairy free frozen dessert to enjoy on a warm summer day or evening. The So Delicious Dairy Free® brand is certified vegan, dairy-free and egg-free, Non-GMO Project Verified, Plant-based and does not contain high-fructose corn syrup, artifical colors, flavors or preservatives. I love that we can enjoy a dessert together for date night without Joe telling me that he regrets it later because of his slight dairy sensitivity! Click here to find more inspiration for your So Delicious Dairy Free® summer date night dessert! You can find everything you need to create this perfect date night moment at your local Walmart.

What summer date night activity will you combine with your Grilled Cookie Skillet dessert?!