May 23, 2016

What's in a name?

When I was younger, I was always snooping in my parent's bookshelves -- pulling books and photo albums off the shelves, flipping through the photos and pretending I was a librarian or a school teacher. My mom had a book titled Big Book of Baby Names (circa 1983) and it was always one of my favorite books to browse. Even though I could hardly read a word in it, I loved the silly photos of babies wearing costumes and sitting on strange props. Why? Who doesn't think a baby riding a seahorse is hilarious?

 When I was all grown up and D and I were moving into our first apartment as newlyweds, I asked my mom if she still had this book. We weren't planning to have kids right away (we were still just seniors in college at the time), but I always hoped this book would be passed down to me. Thankfully my mother is just as nostalgic as I am, so the book I'd loved for so many years finally took its place on my own bookshelf.

Since the day she gave it to me, the book remained on my bookshelf...its cover faded, tattered, and torn in some places. Somehow it's managed to survive all 6 moves we've put it through. With every new apartment or house we made a home, I'd unpack this book and flip through it, always knowing that when we did finally decide to expand our family, his or her name would come straight from this book.

Cut to January 2016 (almost 9 years later) -- me, 2.5 months pregnant with an iPhone notepad full of baby names I loved -- D, a proud daddy-to-be with a strong opinion about every name on that list (go figure). D and I spent countless nights those first few months hemming and hawing over this name and that name. We settled quite quickly on a boy's name, but a girl's...that was proving to be a thorn in our sides (more of a tell-tale sign she was sure to be a "she"). We had a shortlist of somewhat trendy, somewhat popular names, but none felt like "us". We'd always come up with some outlandish reason why the name was sure to cause our child years of intensive therapy...and back to square one we'd go. Since unpacking my box of books a few weeks after we moved into our new house here in Florida, I hadn't touched the Big Book of Baby Names (nor had I thought of it). All of a sudden, the book popped into my mind. I flew out of bed to my office to grab it, and thus began the late night combing through its monikers.

I'm typically a realist. Logic and concrete facts fare me better than making decisions based off pure emotions. That being said, if something punctures my tough exterior and makes me emotional, it often means I really care about it. The moment I spotted "Heidi" in the book and said the name out loud, tears burst from my eyes and I just knew. That was to be her name. If she turned out to be a she, a little girl named Heidi would become a part of our family forever. We quickly tried to decipher all the ways silly school boys would try to make fun of it, or if it would sound strong to a job interviewer, or what it would sound like screaming it across a grocery store...and then D smiled and said "that's it, Heidi Cote." 

We fell in love with the name Heidi for more reasons than one. Not only is it a name you don't often hear, but it gave a little nod to one of the most wonderful times in our lives as a couple--living abroad in Germany. With German origins and a meaning "of noble birth" we continued to fall more and more in love with it as each day passed. 

As for her middle name, well, that came soon after. "Lorelei" (meaning "alluring") had been a name on my iPhone short-list, but I didn't love it as a first name (mostly because I knew people would have trouble spelling it). When we finally settled on Heidi, it seemed almost serendipitous that Lorelei be her middle name. Lorelei Rock is a rock we'd passed by many times on our countless days spent sipping wine and exploring little German villages along the Rhine River. While the story of why the rock is named Lorelei isn't quite so pleasant, we though it flowed well with Heidi and still meant something special to us. Hopefully our little love will be beautiful, but leave all the tempting to her siren namesake. ;)

So, there you have it...the story of how Heidi Lorelei came to be! It was such a sweet feeling to finally be able to call her by her name the day we found out she was a she. More tears...and more confirmation that "Heidi" was perfect for our little lady. Since that day, I feel so much more connected to her. Funny how a name can really solidify things. We can't wait to meet our sweet Heidi in just 14 short weeks!

May 11, 2016

STAY: TownePlace Suites Orlando at Flamingo Crossings

[My stay and this post come to you c/o TownePlace Suites by Marriott. While there are sponsor links throughout, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the businesses that support this blog!]

A little over a month ago, I was approached to be a part of partnership opportunity with TownePlace Suites by Marriott for their 2016 "Military Spouse Squad" Blogger Ambassador Program. D and I have been Marriott Rewards Points travelers since living abroad with the military, so I felt the partnership to be quite the serendipitous one...especially with our pending cross-country move this summer!

Being a military family, we're no strangers to traveling, staying in numerous hotels for long periods of time, and trying to make the most of locations we aren't familiar with. Thankfully, extended-stay hotels like TownePlace Suites exist to help make our travels with the military (and for fun!) so much easier. For our Orlando adventure last weekend, we were visiting Walt Disney World for one last jaunt around the parks before we're no longer Florida residents. Sad!! 

While we love staying on Disney property, sometimes we like to opt for more space, amenities, and a lower price point without straying too far from the parks. When we heard TownePlace Suites had just opened a new hotel outside Disney's West Entrance this past February (making it a Disney Good Neighbor Hotel), it was a no-brainer! With amenities like free HOT breakfast, plush bedding, and speedy on-line check in, we felt right at home with Towneplace Suites Orlando at Flamingo Crossings for our 2-night stay. 

Upon arriving, we were highly pleased with the beautiful, modern design and the overall layout of the room. Plenty of space for our luggage and room to move around without feeling cramped. We always love having an in-room fridge to store snacks and bottled water, so having a FULL KITCHEN at our disposal was even more of a bonus! D was quite impressed with the amount of closet space our Studio King room had. He's big on hanging up his clothes to avoid wrinkles while we travel (that military boy). Happily there was also a iron and ironing board in our room.

As for me, a fluffy bed with lots of pillows is always my favorite part of a hotel stay. TownePlace Suites made this 6-month pregnant lady very happy by having extra pillows on hand for my finicky sleep habits. Needless to say, we were happy campers all around.

Perks of staying at TownePlace Suites:
  • FREE Wifi in rooms and throughout hotel
  • FREE Continental Hot Breakfast (ours had giant Mickey waffles!)
  • Customizable elfa closet system through their partnership with The Container Store.
  • Fully equipped kitchen (plates, cups, bowls, pots, cooking utensils, full-size fridge etc.)
  • Spacious Suites with more than enough room for luggage and a few family members.
  • Giant TowneMap of local area in lobby with neighborhood tips for dining. Local area brochure guides in room (in participating locations).
  • Pool and outdoor green space available.
  • Laundry facilities and fitness center on site.
  • Pet-Friendly!!

With a large portion of TownePlace Suites located near military bases (and attractions that appeal to military and civilian families alike), this extended-stay brand is dedicated to supporting the military community and making life away from home a little easier. Now that we've had a taste of the good life, D and I looking forward to a handful of TownePlace Suites stays in cities across the USA during our Florida to California road trip next month! Stay tuned!

Connect with TownePlace Suites via Facebook and Twitter!

Apr 12, 2016

Halfway to Baby: 20 Weeks

[Baby's first garage sale - 19wk6d]

Baby's the Size of: a banana! Roughly 10 1/2 ounces in weight, 10 inches in length from head to heel.

Gender: GIRL, GIRL, GIRL!! Can you tell I'm excited?

General Thoughts/Feelings: How in the world are we halfway through this pregnancy?!? It feels like just yesterday I was sick as a dog on my sofa, just trying to keep my lunch down, and now here we are, a bouncing baby girl half-cooked! There are days we still can't believe we're going to be parents, but neither of us has ever been happier. No amount of traveling the world can compare to the joy of growing a tiny human. I never thought those words would leave my mouth, but they have, on multiple occasions these last 5 months. She's not even here yet and I can't imagine loving her any more! It's a heart-bursting season of life around here. 

Food Aversions: None. There's literally nothing I won't eat. Back to being Casey again!

Food Cravings: Still obsessed with all sorts of fruit, salads, gummie bears/sour candy (my sweet tooth has been outta control lately), and Jersey Mike's Veggie Subs (Mike Style--gimme all the vinegar!).

Health/Fitness: I'd like to say I've kept up with some sort of consistent workout routine, but I'd be lying. Since we found out we're moving this summer, I've been so busy and more active than the last year combined (or at least it feels that way some days!). I get home or finish work totally beat every single day. I know I'm probably carrying around more stress than one should while pregnant, so I try to take it easy at night and decompress with stretching. Now that a few house things are out of the way, I should have some extra free time to do a normal workout (the non-cleaning out closets, organizing boxes, and feverishly cleaning house-type workouts).

Doc Appointments: We had our anatomy ultrasound done about a week ago (19wk2d) and Heidi was just a kickin' those legs and waving her tiny arms around like a champ! My mom was in town, so she got to come to the appointment with us and see her grandbaby for the first time (in utero). Watching her watch Heidi was so sweet to see. And baby girl is just perfect! Still a girl (we double checked, just in case), measuring right on track, and all arms, legs, toes, fingers and important body parts accounted for! Praise the Lord!

Weight Gain: 3 lbs. I hadn't gained a single ounce (in fact, I'd lost a couple lbs.) until Vegas happened. When one can't drink in Vegas, one eats in Vegas. And I enjoyed every morsel. ;)

Symptoms: Indigestion has started to rear its ugly head from time to time. Maybe baby girl is finally growing some hair! I've been sleeping slightly elevated at the start of the night and popping TUMS to combat this. I've also noticed my "pregnancy brain" getting worse. I can be laser focused on only one thing at one time. Interrupt me and I have trouble retaining whatever info you interrupted with. It feels weird to be out of control in that way. I hope my attention to detail returns at some point!

Sleep: Pregnancy insomnia wakes me occasionally from 3-5am and I have trouble coaxing myself back to sleep. But most nights I sleep a solid 8 hours from start to finish (with an occasional potty break in between). Naps are less frequent thanks to this second trimester energy surge, but still much appreciated when I have time for them.

Maternity Clothes: I finally gave in and bought some maternity shorts prior to our Vegas trip. I've only worn them once, but the day I did, I fell in love! So comfy, I'm afraid I might never take them off! I also bought a belly band to extend the life of some of my favorite shorts for a little while longer. I have a couple maternity dresses from PinkBlush Maternity, but they're still a little big. Other than that (and one new tankini bathing suit--not sure how I feel about bare-belly beaching it yet), still wearing my same 'ol duds, just starting to fill them out a little more.

Movement?: I've been feeling little flutters (what I liked to call "fish bubbles") since week 14ish, but since our anatomy scan, I've been feeling her kick, roll, and jab me from time to time. Those sweet movements are getting stronger by the day! She seems to be most active right after I eat (as if to say, "thanks for feeding me, mom!") and when I'm relaxing. Definitely my child!

Baby Items Purchased: I can't stop buying sweet little girl clothes! I'm trying to be conservative with my baby shopping, but it's so hard to do when you have house showings (our house in fresh on the market, by the way!) and have to entertain yourself for a hour or two each day. I've also bought a few fun books, but other than that, we're waiting until we get to California to really amp up the baby shopping. We have finished registering (which was exhausting! SO.MUCH.RESEARCH.), so at least that's one baby hurdle out of the way.

Weird Pregnancy Moment: Being told I look "too small" and that "I should get that checked out" by a random old lady at the check-out line in the grocery store. Long story, but I almost lost my s*** on that woman right there next to the Doublemint gum. I mean, really. I realize after age 70 you lose all ability to filter yourself, but telling a 17 week pregnant woman she should get anything "checked out" just based on a passing conversation (one I was having with the cashier, not her, mind you) is just asinine. I knew becoming pregnant would subject me to unsolicited comments and advice, but I had no clue someone would go that far. The whole encounter made me super self-conscious for a day or two there, but I know baby girl is growing just fine and that's all that matters! Side note: the cashier totally threw one of those "ooooo girl, you should KILL HER" looks and I was super grateful. At least someone in that line knew some common decency.

Best Moment Recently: Finding out we are having a little lady at 16w5d. The moment I heard the words "it's a girl," I bounced up to Cloud 9 and haven't come down since! I often say it's the single happiest day of my life thus far. Even better than marrying D (sorry, babe!). I had no idea how much my heart yearned for a little girl until that moment in the ultrasound room. It's a feeling I can only describe as being a little glimpse of heaven. I'm sure the day I lay eyes on her for the first time will trump this moment, but until then, I'm still reveling in the overwhelming joy of having a daughter on the way. ;) God is so good!

What Does Daddy Say?: D is still being a gold star hubby and dotes on me and baby girl every chance he gets. I feel like my love for him grows right along with my belly. He's just the best ever. The last few weeks, he's been talking to Heidi every night before bed...telling her stories about us and giving her what he calls "the low-down" on what life's like outside the womb. It's the sweetest part of my day and makes me well up with tears every time I think about it. Thankfully, he finally stopped talking in a Darth Vaderesque voice after some coaching from me (he wasn't sure how close he should speak or how loud, it was hilarious). He's over the moon about "his two girls" and I can't wait to see her in his arms! 

Looking Forward To: Putting together Heidi's nursery when we get to California, spending time with family (and attending our baby showers!) back in North Carolina in May, and going on our mini-babymoon in 2 weeks!

Thanks for bearing with the blog as I continue to have this aversion to post about anything other than this baby or current life happenings. I've always used this space as a digital diary of sorts, and since life is all baby, moving and California stuff, I feel weird writing about that weekend in Liechtenstein that happened almost 3 years ago. Blog world is so saturated with that sort of thing nowadays, you can find it anywhere. It's Heidi's time now. I'll get back to sharing past travels one of these days and look forward to sharing future travels with baby girl in tow...but for now, if you're sticking around, I love you. You're ride or die...I need more of that in my life. We'd be friends in the real world, bet yo bottom dollar on that.
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