Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Baby 3.0: 21 Weeks + "Me Before You" House Party Giveaway!

If this pregnancy follows the same pattern as my last two, then we should have about 17.5 weeks to go until this baby arrives. I'm already counting down the days!

I was just looking through the weekly photos from my other pregnancies and realized this is the first pregnancy where we're not moving halfway through! Which is so amazing. But we couldn't just keep things TOO nice and easy, right? We're going to be adding a new vehicle to the family so that'll be enough excitement if you ask me.

21 weeks along in all three pregnancies: 10/15/2011 with Presley, 02/28/2014 with Molly, and 05/23/2016 with Crosby 
Seems like Crosby has done a lot of growing in the last week or so. And he's definitely kicking a lot more lately which is a really great feeling. I guess I've been letting Presley know when the baby is kicking a bunch lately because she asked me the other day if I liked being kicked. And when I said I did she asked if she could kick me. (Also, yes, she was dead serious. Silly goose.) That's really all there is to say about pregnancy at this point.

So, if you're not familiar with House Party, you should absolutely check it out! They offer the opportunity to host all kinds of parties from different companies that want you to try and hopefully recommend their product. You can apply for the parties that seem like they'd be a good fit for you and occasionally you get picked! When you're chosen for a party they give you all the tools you'll need to plan the party and to invite everybody. In the past I've gotten a TurboTax party which included filing my taxes for free and a ton of 50% off codes for friends and family to use for their taxes.

This time around I was super lucky to host a party to promote a book I love and the accompanying movie that I cannot wait to see. If you're not familiar with it, the book is called Me Before You and is written by Jojo Moyes and the movie stars Sam Claflin (Finnick from the Hunger Games) and Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones). The trailer could explain the premise better than I could...

Of course I'm sure the movie won't be able to touch the book - but it looks like they cast SO appropriately all around. When I applied for the party I had just read the book and was deeply moved by the story. So when I learned I was chosen I was through the roof excited! The party supplies included 11 paperback copies of Me Before You, 1 hardcover copy of the book's sequel, a pair of bumblebee tights (significant in the book), bookmarks, notebooks & pens, photo props, and even adorable cloth handkerchiefs for WHEN you inevitably sob.

So I got to invite people and share some of this awesomeness and thank goodness because I had such a great time! Kelsi, Kaela, Ashley and I got together at Starbucks and I had all these points of conversation to talk about that has to do with some of the themes of the book that didn't give anything away since none of them had read it yet. However, once we all started talking about life we literally didn't stop. We got there around 7pm and stayed until Starbucks kicked us out two hours later!

So since we didn't discuss the book at all and we all had a ton of fun we decided we'll get back together after the three of them read the book (and I'm sure I'll end up rereading it...) so we can talk about it and then go see the movie. It really is one of those books that you just have to talk about after you read it so I can't wait to see what they think.

I'm so glad you guys showed up and stuck around because it was exactly what I needed right now! Except maybe a little less ghost talk next time. And we should absolutely repeat this regularly.

And with that, I'd like to give one of my loyal readers (all five or six of you...) a Me Before You prize pack that will include a paperback copy of Me Before You along with a bookmark, handkerchief, pen, & notebook! There's only one way to enter and that's by using the Rafflecopter below and by answering the question there and leaving your answer in the comments on this blog entry!!
*Which means: If you enter through the Rafflecopter but don't leave a comment on the blog then you can't win the prize.*

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!! So good luck and let me know if you have any questions!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tony & Ali 5-ever

Five years ago today Tony and I were still reeling from one of the biggest days of our life.

When people talk about the happiest day of their lives they often mention the birth of their children... which I am always a little envious when they truly feel that way. That day is always so intertwined with pain and struggle and exhaustion for me. I always think about our wedding day when the topic of "best day ever" comes up. I felt so much joy and peace on that day, it was amazing. Things went wrong but all negative feelings just bounced right off of me. I had a hundred reasons to be anxious but I was excited and truly happy. My dad was missing from such a huge day of my life and I expected to feel especially empty but instead of that I felt loved and cherished by everyone present. I loved everything about marrying Tony and would do it again every year if I could. We had such a fun time with our friends and family that night! And then we headed off to Walt Disney World in all our wedded bliss.

And since then life has been amazing and absolutely crazy. We were surprised not even two months after our wedding to find out we were expecting and that began an entirely new chapter of our lives. Or really, it would just completely change life as we knew it.

It truly has not stopped or slowed down since. We came home from our honeymoon to our apartment in Silvis which we would end up moving from in the next coming months to the tiny Moline house. That's the house we brought baby Presley home to... the house we became a family in! We stayed there for around two years when we up and moved back to Memphis and lived with friends until we found our home. The Duggan family expanded just after buying our home and we brought Molly home here in 2014 not long after our third anniversary. Life here since then has been crazy and beautiful and full of laughs and tears.

Here we are, five years post-wedding, and we're staring the reality of becoming a family of five directly in the face. Never in a million years did I envision this exact life for us all those years ago. I hoped and dreamed and always thought of what could be, but the reality is so much better. Maybe not every moment of every day... because that crap is hard! (Especially parenting a strong willed child!) But the challenges certainly causes you to grow in the best ways.

One goal for this next year of marriage is to finally use our fondue pot. Yes... this is a serious goal. I'd like to get rid of so much of the unnecessary crap in our life - both the physical stuff as well as the baggage you can't touch.

Dear Lord,
Continue to help us protect our hearts, our love, our marriage, our family
Guide us down the path You have set for us and to put each other first along the way
Teach us how to react with kindness and patience and understanding to each other and those around us and how to grow from the experience when we get it wrong
Thank you for granting courage and grace and mercy in the face of personal adversity 
Help us to remember that as beautiful as looking back is, to live in the now and to always look forward to the future You hold for us
I look forward to the surprises of year six of our marriage and finding ways to make it even better than the last
Thank you for sending me a partner for the ride, please help me to love him the way You love us.

Remember we used to dance
And everyone wanted to be
you and me
I want to be too

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Baby 3.0: 20 Weeks + WE HAVE A NAME!

Pregnancy in the second trimester can be so dreamy when compared to the first and third trimester experiences. Typically for me, the first trimester is full of morning sickness and nausea while the third trimester is full of aches and a hard time sleeping at night. So I really don't have a whole lot to report at the moment as there isn't too much action here lately. I'm feeling good. I'm sleeping good.

I was walking around Aldi last night with a big jar of pickles on my hip and realized how much of a stereotypical pregnant lady I must've looked. The same thing happened to me when I was pregnant with Presley and ran into my friend Jaime while shopping. She was like, "Oh lord could you be more pregnant?" because I was headed to the checkout lane with a huge jar of pickles in one hand and a tub of ice cream in the other!

And yes.. I just bought this yesterday and it's mostly gone.

It still feels surreal we're having a boy and a little crazy we'll have to wait 4 months before we get to meet him. I have a whole long list of boy names I like but my top four favorites at this point are Luke (mosty because of Luke Skywalker!), Walter (for the one and only Walter Elias Disney), Crosby, and Jude. I like the names Andrew, James, and Charlie but my husband has vetoed those. (I love Charlie, James & Andy even as girl names, too!)

Presley was not a fan of a single name we were suggesting. When we originally told her our frontrunner name, she told me absolutely not. After a minute or two of thinking it over she said, "Okay mom. If you want to name him that, you can." I asked her what changed her mind and she said, "I don't know any other boy names." So cute and a little bit sad, too, for some reason. I told her I'd help tell her some more names so she could find one she liked... but she told me we already knew his name...

Crosby Thomas

And once Presley accepted the name she would hear NO other suggestions - that is his name! "His name is Crosby Thomas and just Crosby!" So we definitely have a name and we are absolutely excited about it. We thought about keeping his name to ourselves until we announced his birth, but our Presley girl is SO excited she can't help but tell people. Thomas is my husband's middle name and I absolutely LOVE it. It was also his grandfather's middle name. If you were as obsessed with the show Parenthood then you might recognize the name Crosby from the show (played by Dax Shepherd). All of our names end in the "y" sound - Tony, Ali, Presley, and Molly - so we definitely wanted to keep that going. (Yes, we've thought it through. No, we won't be changing our minds.)

Crosby has his Great Great Aunt Brenda to thank for his first name, too! A couple weeks before finding out the gender of our baby I posted on Facebook how I had no great ideas for boy names and felt like I had a million ideas for a girl and my friends really came through with some awesome boy name ideas and Aunt Brenda's was one of them. So thank you for suggesting it, Brenda!!! You helped name our baby!

Don't ask me why, but it just dawned on me today that I won't get to put this kid in any cute dresses. Actually, I think I was looking at one of the girls' dresses on the floor in the laundry room and it hit me all of a sudden. Holy moly... I'm not having another girl. It's these little tiny things that creep up on me every day and has taken a little while to really sink in.

Also, if you aren't a member of the Disney Movie Club yet, I suggest you give it a second look. I love it and everyone else we know in the club loves it too. Right now you can get 5 Disney movies for only $1 plus FREE shipping when you join! You get the choice from over 1,000+ titles and there are some really great ones out of the vault right now. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me and I'll try my best to answer them. If you sign up through our referral link, our kids will get to pick out two free movies! (And each time you refer someone to the club after joining you will get to do the same.)

These movies make for great gifts for grandkids, friends, family, adults, ANYBODY! I have a hard time thinking of someone who doesn't love Disney.

If you'd like to sign up through our referral or learn more - check it out here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Baby 3.0: It's A....

I'm pretty sure I'm still in shock that we'll be bringing a baby boy home later this year!

There were so many little differences in this pregnancy than my other two that deep, deep down I wondered if it was a boy. I caught myself calling this baby "he" all the time to Presley (probably subconsciously to balance out her insistence that this was a girl) and of course every appointment when the heart rate was considerably lower than the girls' were, I just kept feeling that this would be a boy. I didn't talk a whole lot about it because I am weird and didn't want to jinx anything! When our ultrasonographer told us it was a boy I had such an instant reaction... so excited and definitely the same tears streaming down my face as the other two times we've found out!

We haven't had a whole lot of time to really process the information yet so I am still in shock about it. But the overwhelming feeling in the house is one of excitement. And maybe once I gather my wits I'll be able to write something heartfelt but for now... it's just the news. The Duggans will be adding a baby boy to the family this Fall!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Baby 3.0: BOY or GIRL?

Tomorrow is the BIG appointment where we'll find out if this baby is a he or she. Gender isn't a huge factor to me, to be honest. I don't feel that either gender is more important than the other - both are beautiful and wonderful and deserve celebration. We don't have all pink things in this house because we currently have all girls. My girls love their Disney princesses full of magic, dresses, and singing but they're equally fascinated by all things Star Wars including light saber fights. They dig in the dirt and they aren't being raised to know the difference between "boy" and "girl" colors, clothes, or toys.

So in this regard, the outcome of tomorrow's ultrasound isn't hanging in the balance for us. I don't feel that our family would be incomplete if we are lucky enough to have a third girl. Will we miss out on certain experiences? Potentially, but not necessarily. I might not ever get a mother/son wedding dance. We might not experience what it's like to raise a son or have our family name carried on by another generation. But that wasn't our purpose for having a third kid.

It also doesn't mean we can't be excited at the prospect of having a boy. Because we absolutely are! But looking forward to the possibility of having a boy absolutely doesn't mean I'll be disappointed if I find out I'm carrying a girl. I am over-the-moon excited by each outcome!

There are so many wonderful things we look forward to no matter what the gender of this baby turns out to be! I'm so looking forward to holding my sweet baby and seeing his or her big sisters holding them as well. I love seeing Tony take care of a newborn. The love that grows from having a baby just strengthens the bond of our marriage and while it's not all sunshiny moments (spit up, poop outs, sleepless days and nights...) I know when Tony and I concur these mountains together in the early days it does something so wonderful for us. The thrill of going through it all again for the first time by experiencing what it's like to have a boy is both exciting and terrifying! While having our 3rd girl would bring back so many wonderful memories while still introducing this entirely new little life into our hearts and family.

So when people have asked me what I'm hoping to have this time around, I never quite know how to answer that. I don't want to sputter off the cliche of "as long as they're healthy" but geez, is that not so true? Most of the time I just say what I'm honestly feeling. Yes, I am hoping to have a boy on this particular day, but no it's not because I feel like my family only is of value as long as I produce a son for my husband. Tony says he'd love to see what a little boy of ours would look like - and of course so would I - but we both agree we'd be so anxious to see how the features of another girl of ours would manifest. I feel like it's totally normal to feel the joy and sadness in every experience. If we don't have a boy to carry on the Duggan name, will I be a little sad for that? Yes. Just like I was when that happened with my Myers generation (all girls from both my dad and my uncle). But feeling that amount of grief doesn't take away from the happiness that will inevitably come from having another baby girl. I love my family but do I yearn for weekends full of staying in bed with my husband all day? Absolutely. Denying the full extent of your feelings is the first step towards a bitter place that I don't want to be. So it's okay to be excited and scared and happy and sad all at the same time.

After bringing each kid home we vowed to ourselves and each other that we would stop putting one another through the hell of the newborn phase. Eventually though, we felt in our hearts that our family wasn't complete; that we had more love to give. We just weren't done yet. Sometimes I joke since we are hoping to purchase a van sooner than later that now we can keep having kids until the van is full! Other days I panic a little about Tony & me being outnumbered by children in a few months. And to make my mind an even more crazy place to be, it makes me a bit sad to think this is potentially our last baby.

Parenthood makes you even more irrational than you were before! But I would choose this life over and over again given the chance. And as long as the baby cooperates tomorrow, I can't WAIT to share with everyone what we are having!