Monday, December 30, 2013


I've seen other bloggers who participate in NaBloPoMo in the past. I like these blog "challenges" because there is a level of accountability. As I anxiously await the arrival of our daughter, I thought blogging throughout the month of January would be an excellent way to occupy my time (along with watching copious amounts of TV and catching up on leisure reading while I can).

NaBloPoMo January 2014

My pregnant brain also finds it appropriate that the theme for January's NaBloPoMo is pressure. I put a lot of pressure on myself in all areas of my life - and this pregnancy has not been immune to my self-imposed pressures. The irony of it is that I have been dealing with blood pressure issues since my second trimester. I never thought I would literally put pressure on myself, but don't worry, I'm following doctor's orders and baby and I are just fine.

I will most likely schedule posts in advance in case baby girl decides to arrive early (but we're aiming to cook her as close as possible to her due date in mid-February). I hope to pepper my posts in January with photos of the good stuff going on in life as well. As I type this, my husband is building baby girl's dresser which is the last piece of furniture needed for her room. I'm tickled to get her room decorated and everything put up now that all the big components are just about complete.

But I promise not to put too much pressure on myself to get it all done in one shot. 

Here's to January 2014!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Thrifty: Thirty-One and Vera Bradley

It’s been a while since I've highlighted some of my thrift store finds. I haven’t gone out much this fall or winter because time just hasn't permitted, and when I have trekked out, I don’t find anything worth purchasing. However, two items that I have found in the past six months have made me a very happy thrifter.

I love the Thirty-One line of bags and totes. Everything I have seen from this company is absolutely adorable, and their products seem to hold up very well. The prices for some of the items aren’t bad, but if I can hold out and get something for less, I’ll do it.

I found this tote (referred to as the “organizing utility tote” in the Thirty-One catalog) at a baby consignment store while I was visiting family for Thanksgiving. It has a couple of scuff marks inside the tote. The outside is in beautiful condition. The tote through the catalog is $30. I snagged it for $6.50.

I found this Thirty-One zipper pouch at Goodwill several months ago. It currently corrals my lip balms, cosmetics, and other miscellaneous beauty tools I carry in my purse. The catalog price? $15. What did I pay? $2.

And speaking of name brands, I’m also a Vera Bradley fan. However, I am not a fan of the prices. So when I saw this wallet (which has been my wallet now for at least a year) for a whopping $2.50 at Goodwill, I was tickled! It has seen quite a bit of wear since I’ve been using it, but I purchased it like-new.

Several months after I purchased the wallet, my mother-in-law found a purse in matching print at a yard sale. It was also like-new. She paid a whole $5. The print I have is retired, but similar pieces currently sell for $32 (wallet) and $38 (purse). No, thank you!

I don’t shun paying retail for items, but I challenge myself to be patient and wait to find high quality items at thrift stores, consignment shops, and garage sales. It really does pay off - and I like the thrill of the discovery!

(Disclaimer: I've linked to the companies mentioned, but the links are not affiliated.)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Book: Fangirl

I read next to nothing for fun during semesters. This past fall semester was a bit brutal, but I made it through with straight As and to the halfway point in my program. I knew after this semester that I would be taking a break for the spring and summer to welcome our first bundle of joy. From the time the semester ended, I knew I wanted to get some reading for pleasure done. Sadly, a lot of what I had picked up just didn't make me happy. 

And then I chose Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell... and I may have fallen in love with Ms. Rowell.

It has been a long time since I have fallen in love with a character. I immediately wanted to become BFFs with Cath once I started reading. I seriously could picture myself in the story with Cath, reliving my freshman year in college. Navigating classes, dorm life, boy stuff, friendship - the entire book had me reminiscing about my own college experiences while staying completely engrossed in Cath's world. There's humor, drama, romance, and characters you can't help but relate to. I'm so happy I picked up Fangirl because it really rejuvenated my desire to read for recreation (you get into reading ruts, right?).

At the recommendation of my husband, I'm reading One for the Money by Janet Evanovich at the moment. Crime novels aren't my thing, but there's plenty of humor to get me through the messy parts. I also have Rowell's Eleanor & Park sitting on my nightstand, along with a handful of other YA choices I'm hoping to get through in the next few weeks.

Is reading awesome or what?! (Says the girl who works in a library and is pursuing a Master's degree in library science - I'm not biased or anything.)

Disclaimer: Yes, I've linked to where you can learn more about these books and authors. No, I'm not making money off the links.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pregnancy Non-Essentials

I discussed my absolute must-haves for pregnancy, which got me thinking about the things I really didn’t like or was disappointed in. This is just one mama-to-be’s opinion, but I hope my opinion might save someone a little bit of money. Slap “maternity” or “pregnancy” on just about any product and you’re looking at a nice little price increase. As I like to err on the side of frugality, my non-essentials list revolves around how I've tried to save money during pregnancy.

1. Motherhood Maternity. I can’t completely knock this company because it’s been the only place that I have successfully found pants for work that fit me. I applaud them for providing plus-size maternity options (the few that they do have in stores). My complaint is that after a few wears and washings, the clothing begins to look and feel worn out. I didn’t want to make a big investment in maternity clothes because it’s a temporary wardrobe, so I purchased simple pieces (black dress pants, khaki pants, basic colored tops) with the hope that they’d last me throughout the pregnancy and some of the post-pregnancy time. Some items might, but I’m afraid some will get retired fast. The prices are reasonable but the clothing quality is awful (you get what you pay for). I had little luck finding options at thrift stores, so I wore pieces that were in larger sizes than my pre-pregnancy size to supplement my wardrobe.

2. Maternity underwear. I never purchased any because of the price – I can’t justify it. My sister-in-law gifted me with a package that she purchased (and never used), and I was so happy I didn’t spend the money after trying them out. My solution? I purchased undies two sizes larger than what I normally wear… and I got the granny-panty version. Comfortable AND affordable! For price comparisons, a 3-pack of maternity underwear costs about $15 at Motherhood Maternity. A 5-pack of the granny-panty version of larger underwear is around $12.

3. Preggie Pop Drops. Maybe they work for some women, but I was far better off with Jolly Ranchers and Life Savers to help with nausea. The Preggie Pop Drops are also really expensive for how little you purchase.

4. Pregnancy books. I’m not saying don’t read the pregnancy books, but I am encouraging you to get them from your public library rather than purchasing them. If you really want to purchase a few, check out your local thrift store first. I snagged a fairly recent edition of What to Expect When You’re Expecting for myself for $1.75 at Goodwill. The rest of my reading material came from my library.

Every pregnancy is different. There are things I have not experienced (thank God!), while there are other things that I have experienced (and lived to tell about). My overall advice is to not buy into all the stuff that’s marketed towards you - your emotions are everywhere, and if you’re a first-time mom like myself, it’s easy to get sucked in to all the stuff. And remember: What I find non-essential might be an absolute blessing to someone else. Please take my opinions with a few grains of salt.

If you’ve been pregnant, what items have/did you found to be non-essential during your pregnancy?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Liebster Award Nomination

One of my very best friends is Sarah over at One Random B. The gal is a riot, and the humor of her blog is the exact humor she has in real life. We met in college back in 2005, I think, and just hit it off. We're both obnoxious and love to laugh, and she's just a great woman to have in my life.

Sarah recently nominated me for a Liebster Award after her own nomination, and I'm touched. I think it means she likes me. Here are my responses to her questions.

1. Who was your first kiss (and, yes, grade school stories count!)?
A boy named Matthew in kindergarten. It was a peck on the cheek, but that's big news when you're five years old. We were boyfriend and girlfriend for probably all of two days.

2. Who do you think would win in a fight and why: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, hands down. I was a huge fan of TMNT as a child - Donatello was my favorite. I had a handmade Donatello doll and everything. TMNT would never let me down.

3. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had my heart set on being a meteorologist. I didn't want to be a TV meteorologist though. The weather absolutely fascinated me, and still does. However, when I hit my teen years and realized the amount of science and math involved in pursuing a career in meteorology, I knew it wasn't for me. I'm definitely more of a liberal arts kind of gal.

4. Tablets or old-fashioned books? Why?
Old-fashioned books! I have a Kindle Fire, and I love it. However, I think I've read maybe two books on it in the year and a half that I've owned it. I use my Fire to play games and use the Internet (primarily while in bed). I love holding a book. I love to turn the pages. I love using pretty bookmarks (don't dog-ear pages around me - I might hurt you). I love the satisfaction of reading the last page of book, closing it up, and reflecting on the story. I just don't get that with a tablet.

5. What advice would you give to your 16 year-old self?
Calm down about your future. Everything will work itself out as it should.

6. Name 2 things on your bucket list.
Travel to Scotland and earn my Master's degree.

7. What is the riskiest action you ever took?
Moving from Florida to Georgia. It doesn't sound terribly risky, but I was terrified. We've been in Georgia now for five years, and while I miss our friends and family in Florida, I'm glad we took the risk.

8. Which song do you feel best describes your life?
I've got nothing on this one. I like listening to music, but I don't recall a song that "gets me."

9. What is your favorite quote?
"As long as you know that God is for you, it doesn't matter who is against you." - Romans 8:31

10. What has been your favorite travel destination?
We don't travel much, but I love living in the South because there is so much to explore. I love visiting eastern Tennessee (hence our season passes to Dollywood) and seeing the Smoky Mountains. Heck, living where we do affords us the opportunity to see mountains everyday, and I'm so thankful to live in such a beautiful area.

11. What inspires you?
At this very moment, our daughter-to-be is my inspiration and motivation for everything. I want her to know that she can do anything she wants in this life. I want her to be inspired by the people around her and her surroundings. I want her to see the beauty in everyday life. I know that when she makes her debut in the world, our world will be that much more beautiful and I can't wait.

I wish I could nominate 11 bloggers, but I don't read many blogs. And the blogs I do read are pretty popular already. Instead, tell me about a blog I should read to help me discover new content to fill my RSS reader with! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

LEGO Club at the Library [Library Programming]

LEGO clubs have been sprouting up at libraries in recent years. They are great programs to attract children of all ages and they are easy to set up. Honestly, it doesn't get much better than that for library staff.

As LEGO clubs became more popular, I entertained the idea of getting one started at my library. After discussion with my manager about logistics and budget, I set to work on getting the word out that we were going to start a LEGO club. The first thing I did was create in-house advertising to solicit donations of LEGOs. Have you looked at the cost of LEGOs? Definitely not library-budget friendly! 

I started the donation campaign in May, right before Summer Reading. Donations slowly trickled in; we'd get a small box here and there, and a few patrons even donated money to purchase LEGOs. The best place I found to use the monetary donations was Ebay - especially for LEGO bases. As summer continued on, the donations steadily increased. I don't have much storage space in our library, and the few months of solicitation racked up enough donations to max out what space I had allocated for our LEGO collection. But I wasn't complaining. From monetary donations, I spent about $75 to enhance our collection through Ebay. Our collection right now includes thousands and thousands of LEGO pieces, the majority through donations from patrons.

TIP: If you're able to, get in contact with someone who sorts through donations at local thrift stores (especially those that run on volunteer efforts). A patron who volunteers at a thrift store near us got word about us looking for LEGO donations, and whenever someone donated LEGOs to the thrift store, she set them aside for the library. Come to find out, the thrift stores in our area won't put donated LEGOs out to sell because the LEGOs are considered a choking hazard. 

Once I gathered all our donations and assessed what we had to work with, I set a date to hold our first meeting of our LEGO club. Once the date rolled around, it was simple to get everything set up. Here was my set up:

Tables and LEGOs equal fun!

The big totes on the floor hold DUPLO-size blocks for little patrons to participate. I put up rules around the room for the children to follow (I borrowed the rules from the Canaan Town Library). I set out various LEGOs at each table in shoe boxes. And that's it! When the children came in, they grabbed at spot at a table and started working on their masterpieces. Many would roam from table to table to borrow pieces and see what the other kids were making. I let everyone build for 50 minutes before asking everyone to help clean up. Once their creations were finished, each participant filled out a slip with their name, age, and title of their creation. I took what each child made, paired it with the respective slip, and placed the creations on display in the main part of the library for all to see. This is an excellent way to get extra publicity for the program. 

We had 20 participants for our first meeting, which is awesome! There were several children I had never seen before at a library program and I love that! I feel like I get into a rut sometimes with programming and starting the LEGO club really inspired me to seek out new ideas. Another thing I love about the ease of hosting a LEGO program is that while I'm on maternity leave, any staff member can run this program. When you're a one-person show in the youth department, that's a big positive. 

Does your library have a LEGO club? Tell me about it!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pregnancy Must-Haves

I’m entering month 7 of my pregnancy, and I’m doing a lot of reflecting on everything. I’m not the type to sugarcoat things - I like to be honest and blunt (when appropriate, of course). I’ve been reflecting back on my pregnancy so far, and aside from a few bumps in the road, things have gone smoothly. As a first-time pregnant lady, there are SO many resources out there that you can get yourself lost in. Everyone gives me advice from their own experiences or the experiences of others. Opinions are thrown at me left and right… and it gets to be incredibly overwhelming.

I can tell you this: Pregnancy is not easy.

I have no roses-and-unicorns stories about pregnancy… except that I can’t wait to meet our daughter. Every ache, pain, stretch mark, mood swing, craving will be worth it once our girl makes her entrance into the world. The good Lord has blessed us with an almost-completely healthy pregnancy, and for this, I am incredibly thankful.

The other night, as I was waddling to bed, I was thinking about the things that have truly made some of the hardships of pregnancy that much easier. In case another first-time preggo stumbles on this blog, I wanted to share what I have found to be necessities to survive pregnancy.

1. An amazing support system. I couldn’t do this by myself (for obvious reasons, of course). My husband has been here to bring me crackers when I’m sick, run out to the store at 9 p.m. to get me Sprite that I just had to have, calmed my fears when I feel like I can’t do the whole motherhood thing, and tells me I’m beautiful even after I’ve had no sleep and want to strangle him. Our families and friends have been just as wonderful.

2. Water… and lots of it. I’m on doctor’s orders to drink at least 100 ounces of water a day, but even if you’re not on doctor’s orders, drink as much water as you can. Sure, you’ll be running to the restroom every 30 minutes, but it’s so important. Drink up, moms to be!

The Snoogle: Preggo and cat approved!

3. A Snoogle. I went back and forth on purchasing one of these, but I found a great deal on Amazon during my first trimester and took the plunge. OMG. Best. Investment. Ever. I don’t sleep all that great anymore (which is biology’s way of prepping one for parenthood, of course), but my Snoogle is my BFF. Our cats also approve of the Snoogle, as evident by the above photo.

4. Full-panel maternity pants. This is personal preference since I entered pregnancy as a plus-sized gal, but full-panel maternity pants are fabulous! I purchased a pair of demi-panel jeans in my first trimester, and they were OK. My issue? They were constantly sagging and falling down. The full-panel options stay put and they are so darn comfortable.

5. A sense of humor. You’re going to have to laugh at yourself and some of the things you will experience. I had a woman point out my swollen feet one day, and while that initially wasn’t pleasant, I can’t help but giggle about it! I have to crawl into bed on my husband’s side because of my fort of pillows that prevents me from getting into bed on MY side, and we both find this hilarious. You have to laugh because your mood swings will have you crying enough.

If you’re a mom or have ever been pregnant, what do you consider must-haves to get you through?