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Babymooon Part 1: Disney and Orlando

It’s been an entire month since Alex and I went on our little babymoon adventure down to Florida and then slowly back up to home. Truth be told, my absentmindedness is having a very difficult time hunting down my memory card. Most annoying side effect of pregnancy? Perhaps. I’m not used to being forgetful, but it’s something I’m working on accepting.

So we started on our journey one lovely Friday evening, only to find out our usual short cut through southern Maryland was closed and we were stuck on 95 south where it took us (locals, you will understand how incredibly awful this is) FOUR HOURS to get from the beltway to Quantico. For those of you who are not familiar with the DC area, that basically means we crept along at 2-5 mph for ever and ever and ever. I saw people relieving themselves on the side of the road, cars running out of gas, it was like the apocalypse. Terrible. And, I’ll have you know, this was all from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. Not exactly rush hours.

Anywho, once we got on our way with a friendly reminder of why we never, ever, ever would move to northern Virginia, we traveled our little way down south overnight. The end game was my sister’s place in Winter Park. And that’s where we stayed for the next few nights. Here’s a little snippet of our time with her wandering Park Avenue and enjoying Downtown Disney through the little lens of my iphone (oh, memory card, I need you so). Good times all around. I recommend a little visit to your family member in Orlando (because don’t we all have one?).

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(Can you see it? Can you see him? He was so tiny back then… This was when I popped, at 18 weeks, but you can barely seem him. So tiny!)

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photo photo214_zps376be148.jpg(strange photos to put next to each other, hm? Thought so, too).

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And one more with the mice for good luck.

photo photo311_zps17c6bbd5.jpgI’m beginning to think my memory card may be in that purse I’m wearing up there… time to go look.

Preparing for Motherhood: The Waddle

 photo photo39_zps77c1557d.jpgMother’s Day selfie for the sole purpose of sending my own mother an updated picture of her grandson. Shameless look at the current state of our living room. 21 weeks, 6 days pregnant.

You know, I could deny it til the cows come home, but I really can’t. Even my husband, who has followed the “watch what you say and do around your pregnant wife” tip to the very T it means told me, just about two weeks ago “you’re starting to get the pregnant lady waddle” and I didn’t cry or feel offended. Because it’s happened. I’m waddling.

I really figured this would happen later on, when I begin to carry a regulation-sized basketball instead of a baby. But, no, the gods aren’t that kind. The waddle begins before baby gets very large. It’s got to be scientific, is how I’ve chosen to write it off. My boobs are three sizes larger than they’ve been ever before in my life, my belly changes sizes each day, and the proportions just don’t really work well with my muscle memory. The shape my body is used to carrying around has morphed into something totally different and my center of balance is, well, I don’t even know what it is.

So while I practice the best posture I can, shoulders back, head up straight, marching on day by day, it ends up looking a bit more like a duck than a confident woman. I’m working on my sea legs, but the problem is by the time I get it down at the end of the day, I fall asleep and have to start all over again finding a brand new center of balance. It must be similar to a puppy to who is growing so fast that as soon as it learns how to go up and down stairs, it grows again and has to learn it all over.

I waddle about, so conscious of my waddle that I sometimes don’t hear the conversations around. Focusing on straight lines, stepping ahead in non-pregnancy movements is a big thing for me these days. Oh, how I don’t enjoy being the pregnant waddler.

In other news, however, I waddled about so proud on Mother’s Day this past Sunday that you could’ve believed, if just for a second, that this waddle was fabricated for the sake of being a pregnant waddler. Being greeted in Home Depot (hello home projects, such a happy mom I am) with a “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!!” was pretty freaking fantastic. That’s right. I may not have a little baby to show you, but I’ve got myself a solid, rock-hard bump in my belly and I’ve certainly got myself a waddle.

I am a mom. And motherhood is worth the waddle. Every single step of it.

Happy Friday, oh, & Win $250 in Paypal Cash…

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My wonderful blog friend, Beth, of Oak and Oats just turned 26. Happy birthday, Beth! Anyway, for her birthday, we’re giving away $250 cash and I know you are interested. Who couldn’t use that sort of cash right about now? So, I hope you have a fabulous weekend and then I’ll shut up because what you really want to be doing is entering this giveaway immediately. So, on that note, over and out.

This giveaway was made possible by….. Brynne of Thatch & Thistle, Maddie of Maddie Richardson, Alyssa of Impractical Composition, Megan of Rivers & Roads, Liz of Life as Liz, Britney of the Quiet Place, Rachel of Rachel Boulevard, Abby of Becoming Blog, Robin of Fly Free, Elizabeth of Omnnomnom, Jenna of Dearest Love, Tina of Like Ordinary Life, Robin of Living Colorfully, Katie of Lublyou, Angie of My So Called Chaos, Tyler of Arkansassy, Amanda of Little Tranquility, Jillian of Brave Sunday, Mary of Trusty Chucks, and Janene of Celebrating Life.

YOUR CHANCE TO WIN! All entries to this giveaway will be run via rafflecopter. In exactly one week the giveaway will close, one winner will be selected at random and announced! all entries will be verified, so please play by the rules! I will transfer the $250 from my paypal to your paypal and it is just that easy (if you do not have a paypal account, I highly suggest you sign up with one today!!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Becoming Me: New Limitations

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It’s felt like limbo in our house for what seems like an eternity. I mentioned months ago how we’d bought a new couch but couldn’t sell our old one. Well, that finally changed this weekend, but the rest of the house has taken over the limbo stage. We’re deep in the midst of updates on what will one day be our little dude’s nursery, and what that really means is that there’s junk we need to sort through, store, sell, and reorganize everywhere.

Carrying this little one is the most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced, but I’m having a terribly hard time succumbing to my “frail” status. I’m such a doer. I see something that needs to be done and I do it immediately. Otherwise I go stir crazy. Sadly, about 95% of the things that need to be done in our home during this limbo time period are things I can’t physically do right now. The heavy lifting, the moving, the painting…. I’m going insane.

I hate being on other people’s time tables. I’m trying to be patient, really, I am. But so much of what has to be done actually requires two people… two to lift, to move, to organize, to take out of the attic and put back into the attic… and so Alex does what he can and then we wait for helpers. Meanwhile, I’m busying myself with the few tasks I can do (straightening up, laundry, dishes…). It makes me feel slightly more useful.

And I’m bringing flowers home regularly. Just to make it feel more like home.

This past weekend, this past gorgeous weekend… well, let’s just say all I wanted to do was work on our yard. Sadly, thanks to about a dozen (yes, a dozen) outdoor cats who practically live in the flower beds of our street, I can’t even do yardwork. So I limited myself to raking leaves. It felt so very unsatisfying.

These new limitations may make other women happy. They just make me anxious. I keep hearing that I need to take advantage of it, remember I’m growing a baby, that I’m doing plenty. It doesn’t feel that way and I struggle with it every day.

There’s this old dresser that used to be in his soon-to-be nursery that had to get moved and where did it get moved? Plop. Dead in the center of our master bedroom. It’s too heavy for Alex to move himself and so there is remains. For a month now. I have to walk around it when I come and go from our bedroom. I see it when I wake up, I see it when I turn the lights off each night. It’s like the haunting metaphor for my limitations. I feel so lazy and helpless. Plus, I just want it gone. Have since the day is was dropped there in the middle of my bedroom floor.

The end is near, I know it is. We plan on having the nursery complete sooner rather than later and then the house can start piecing itself back to normal. But I’ll still be stuck unable to lift or move or paint or garden. And hopefully, by then, I’ve settled into my new limitations.

Figuring Out Facebook for Lifestyle Bloggers: The Algorithm

As a social media specialist, I spend a ridiculously absurd amount of time furling my eyebrow at the mystical Facebook algorithm. As soon as I figure out how to boost reach, Zuckerberg and his team are already making a tweak to the code. I still remember the days when Like Ordinary Life’s Facebook page was the number one social referral for this little blog. Alas, it is no longer.

I’ve spoken at length with blogger friends about the changes to Facebook, and I’m sure you remember seeing the mass of status updates from pages you liked last spring/summer filled with desperate “ONLY 10% OF YOU WILL EVER SEE THIS POST, PLEASE LIKE IT IF YOU CAN SEE IT!!!” updates. Yes, Facebook has wanted us to pay for promotion for quite a while now.

The fact of the matter is that Facebook is probably not the best social avenue of promotion for your blog content anymore. The future of Facebook is uncertain, as usage continues to decline. I hear “I hate Facebook, I never go on it anymore” much more often than I hear “Oh my gosh, I am so addicted” and that should tell you something. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t cut it out as a way to reach your readership. You just have to figure out what they want (and how to wiggle your way through the algorithm).

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Let Facebook generate the link preview for you. This tactic is only a few months old. It used to be that you were better off uploading your own photo and then linking to the post from there. This is no longer the case. In fact, the new Facebook link previews are just wonderful and big (like your uploaded photo USED TO BE) and it’s easier. So let them do that work for you.

Stop saying “link in comments” because it doesn’t matter anymore. There was a short period of time where rumor (and even some decent social media sources) had it that if you had a link in your status update, the reach would be smaller. This was true for a very short-lived time. Now, it doesn’t matter so why would you leave your link in the comments? That’s just obnoxious. Plus, you don’t even need to leave a link if you follow that link preview I mention about. You can go ahead and delete the long link from your text and the preview photo will remain. That’s what people are going to click on anyway, the preview.

Share your content. Be a shameless self-promoter. Go ahead, do it. Let’s get really honest for a minute. We all probably hate Facebook for a multitude of reasons. My top reason? The most active users are those who overshare, complain, brag, and think I care way more than I actually do. Or maybe they know I don’t care, but they want someone to listen. And I think they are bored or something and that bothers me. Either way, Facebook is all talk with nobody to listen to you. BUT… oh, there is a big but here…. Raise your hand if you have ever clicked on a Buzzfeed or Mashable article, quiz, photo, gif (or anything of the sort) that somebody shared on Facebook. You see? People like sharable content. And it does really expand your content’s reach. SHARE YOUR CONTENT.

If you are going to pay to promote, follow the rules. So many times I see blogs with Facebook cover photos that have too much text or a Facebook status that is pure words. The truth is, if you want to advertise on Facebook you have to play by the rules or they will shut you down within HOURS. Keep the text to less than 20%. That’s it. Sweet and simple.

Figure out why people should congratulate you. I’m serious. The best reach I ever got (besides this awful quote I shared about a year ago that went super viral and made me feel super uncomfortable) was the post I shared on our pregnancy announcement. And it wasn’t because it was the best content. Nope. The word “congratulations” has actually been added to the algorithm. Incredible, I know. (You should totally go to my Facebook page and say congratulations on one of my posts…. Jusssttt kidding).

So there you have it. Facebook’s algorithm will certainly change overnight before you have a chance to read this post, but at least I can say I’ve tried to help? How about you? Are you using Facebook to promote your blog? How do you use Facebook in your personal life?

And, lastly, I’d like to start writing more on social media for you all. What would you like to learn more about?

To My Son, A Letter

My sweet boy, my peanut, my love, my wild thing,

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We found out this week that you were a little boy. Sincere apologies for thinking you were a girl most days. But, of course, it all makes sense, you are our little man, our one-day big brother, our very first miracle. And I thought there were some things you should know from the very beginning. So here we go.

I know I won’t always understand you, and I certainly won’t always know what to do with you, but know that each and every step of the way, I’m trying and I’m learning and you better bet I’m doing it with intention. 

I’ll be your cheerleader, your number one fan. I’ll stand by your side as you learn, and as you practice and perfect everything you do. I’ll acknowledge every success, and I’ll be there when you fail. Failure’s tough, but we all need it to grow. I hope I can help you learn that, too. And I can guarantee that I’ll embarrass you a little too much when you accomplish something particularly awesome. You’ll hate it, but know that each ounce of embarrassment is because I care. And because I clearly won’t care that I look like a fool (you are welcome to tell me that, too).

As much as I am going to want to shelter you from disappointment and loss and pain and heartbreak, it will happen. Places, things, and even people that you love will leave your life and it will be painful in a way you won’t think was possible. I will grieve with you however you need me. But I will also teach you how to understand these emotions, how to express them, how to cope, and how to move on. And I will be there, I will be your rock and your support the entire time.

There are a few tasks I’m going to make you do that you are certainly going to despise. You’ll likely complain about them and try to put them off, but I will have my reasons. Things such as laundry and dish washing and ironing and bed making- there’s a right way to do them and a sloppy way to do them. We’ll do them together, the right way. Hospital corners and all. Because, one day, your spouse will appreciate you just the tiniest bit more for knowing the right way to go about these things.

On the other hand. there’s a whole bunch I won’t be able to teach you. For that, you have the most wonderful circle of strong, intelligent, honest, crazy men who already love you to pieces and will make sure you know those things. They’ll be sure to teach you how to pee your name in the snow, how to wrestle powerfully, how to throw a ball, and how to properly ruin a perfectly good set of clothes. This is good. I promise not to get in the way. I’ll even promise to help you clean up once the fun is over. If you end up with a broken bone in the midst of all of this man-learning, I’ll probably be mad at your dad or uncle or grandpa or whoever, but I’ll be glad it happened because we all need those stories. Plus, even I climbed a decent tree in my youth. Oh, and don’t worry, your father will teach you how to shave when that day comes, too.

We’ll go to the park and we’ll play catch and we’ll dig in the dirt. We’ll share games of tag and soccer and HORSE whenever you want. When it’s raining and we’re stuck inside, we’ll build forts together and finger paint. And then when the day is done, I’ll read you a story. Your choice (although there’s a few I’m going to insist we get to eventually).

We’ll explore the world together. And then, when the time comes, I’ll let you go. It’s going to be the most difficult thing I ever do, and you’ll probably see me cry. But everything we do together, everything I do for you, it’s all for that one moment. And your father and I will be so proud of you.

You’re going to think we are perfect and we aren’t. We aren’t anywhere near perfect and we’ll make some big mistakes that we’ll wish we could take back and you’ll realize them one day, too. We’re learning as we go and you will be the best adventure we ever embark upon. So while your dad and I aren’t perfect, I can tell you this: you are about to be welcomed into the best, most perfect network of family and friends a little boy could dream of. And we’ll spend every single moment of our lives hoping to live up to that for you.

With love, Mom

Win $165 to Lululemon

Awesome giveaway warning. For the record, I’m almost 20 weeks pregnant and I still wear my Lululemon Astro crops every chance I get.

Also, fair warning, stay tuned on the blog. We found out the sex of our little bundle of love yesterday morning and I’ll share it with you soon enough. We are absolutely thrilled and can’t wait to meet our baby. :)

Moving on…. and good luck….

With Summer just around the corner it’s time to start getting in shape for bikini season. What’s a better motivator to work out than super cute and comfortable workout clothes? Today we are giving away $165 to Lululemon! Pick out your new favorite sports bra, yoga pants or accessory. Enter with rafflecopter below!

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Bonnie :: Taylor :: Lisa :: Jamie :: Casey :: Amber :: Melany :: Tina :: Shay :: Kayla :: Helene

Documenting the Bump: Weeks 15-18

We’re well into the 19th week, me and my baby. And we’ve become the best of pals.

Weeks 15 through 18 were really easy and really difficult all at the same time. I felt amazing. Besides a nausea stint last week during our drive back from Florida (ew, it was so not fun), things have been incredibly smooth sailing. Sort of like when I wasn’t pregnant, even. In fact, sometimes I had to remind myself I was pregnant. Like, No, Tina, you can’t have raw oysters at the oyster bar. Or, No, Tina, lifting that 50lb suitcase is not a good idea.

At the same time, it’s been very hard. And still is. My body has changed in ways I never imagined it would. I’m well into the fat stage of this pregnancy where I just look like I’ve let myself go. I have a little heavier of a chin, my butt’s definitely bigger, my arms are thicker, my boobs are gigantic, and then there’s this little bump. If you know pre-pregnancy Tina, you know I’m pregnant. But to any passerby on the street, I just feel fat. And my bump isn’t big enough to carry around like women do. But now I know why they do. When you hold your belly, you are definitely pregnant. So I try and pretend.

I still just feel fat.

That being said, I’m so happy to be here. I’m so happy that I’m halfway to the end (or even closer, since the doctors think baby may come early). I’m so happy that this peanut is growing and that I’ve gained weight and that I have a pregnancy glow (the glow is real, people, it’s very real).

So here are the photos from weeks 15-18. It was between 17 and 18 weeks when I “popped” and it was clear that there was no turning back. This belly is growing. Things aren’t in the same position, if you know what I mean. I’m thicker in places to make room for my child. And it’s all really cool. I love seeing what my body is doing for this little miracle.

Oh, and if you want to compare these shots to weeks 11-14, they are documented here.

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Easter Baskets, Confetti, and Brown Paper Packages

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I just love stumbling across a good blogger holiday swap. I’ve met some of my favorite bloggers (and social media buddies) through these swaps and they are always simply the best. For this particular swap, the lovely Aimee of House of Fauci’s sent me the most incredible Easter package filled with sweets and treats.

Aimee lives in San Antonio and sent me a little slice of her city for the holiday! She doesn’t know it, but this was such a perfect gift. Alex and I spent a short overnight in San Antonio a few years ago and we fell in love with the Riverwalk. It’s a pretty magical place. Anyway, my basket from Aimee was filled with sweets…. lollipops and chocolate and fudge ….. if I end up with gestational diabetes, we’ll all know who to thank. ;)

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So she also sent a few other lovely gifts (really, I was spoiled rotten)…. and I think my favorite was the dozen confetti eggs. Have you guys heard of these? I had never! When Alex came home, I decked them all at him at once. It was solid fun until I had to clean up.

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And, lastly, the sweetest of all of my surprises, Aimee gave baby a gift, too! I just love the book she sent and I can’t wait to look through it with our baby when the time comes. It’s destined to be a favorite.

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If you haven’t stopped by Aimee’s blog, do so. I’ve just loved reading her posts and following her (and her sweet family) on Instagram.

Thanks, again, Aimee. This was the best package to receive for Easter. If you’d like to take a peek into the package I sent to Shannon from Smile and Write, visit her blog

Ten Instagram Accounts I Can’t Get Enough Of

I went through a phase on Instagram where I followed ev-er-y-one. Sadly, I found myself bored with my account after awhile because my feed was just littered with ugly pictures, boring pictures, things I didn’t care about… well, while we’re being brutally honest, I realized I was going to Instagram to find beauty, photography, inspiration, but some people I followed didn’t make me feel that way at all. So, therefor, I had a great purge.

Before we move on, I better say that I don’t find my Instagram account to be anything worthy of following, but, I do try most of the time. I promise, I do. It’s just that these people below, well, they’ve got some sort of talent I wish I had. So here’s a list of ten of my favorite accounts, big and small.

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@theeverygirl_ This is a clean account. Do you stay up to date with The Everygirl? They’ve got absolutely impeccable social media channels. I find them to be a great source of inspiration.

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@amy_stone Here’s a hint. If you are wondering why a brand has a great social media presence, take a look at the personal accounts of the people in charge. Amy does social media for Gap and I kind of think her personal account is the best thing in the world. She should turn it into a coffee table book. Seriously.

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@mallorieowens I’ve only been to Alaska for an extended weekend, but Mallorie’s photos are such a gorgeous reminder of how awesome that state is. She has such an eye. Plus, the landscape in Alaska is otherworldly compared to Annapolis. It’s so refreshing.

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@andonemorething I love love love Sarah’s Instagrams. Another girl with a great eye. I always find her photos making me think, “Well, yes, I guess that is worthy of snapping a photo.” If you are into everyday accounts, the kind where you get a snapshot into a real life, she’s your girl.

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@alainakaz If you love The Everygirl, thank Alaina. She’s co-founder of theeverygirl.com and she’s got a pretty awesome Instagram account herself. I absolutely love the shots she takes of her home. It looks like the most lovely place to live.

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@theghostonmyback This IS the ultimate food account. Look no further. She turns a bowl into art unlike anyone else. Another account that should be on my coffee table in book form immediately.

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@annapolisandco This is a fun account. A lot of times I find family/ kidcentric accounts boring. But not here. I love it all. One of those accounts you end up double clicking “like” every time a new picture comes scrolling in your feed.

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@puremichigan If you follow any brand account, follow Pure Michigan. I love that it content is generated from fans. I tag my photos #puremichigan every time I visit, but I have yet to see my photo make it on their account.

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@elizabethmessina This is it when it comes to gorgeous photography, friends. Look no further. Plus, you really should already be following her. So I hope this one is a no-brainer.

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@joyprouty I just love following this gorgeous family. Not only are the photos amazing, but they are so creative, loving, and perfect. I can only imagine how amazing it would be to be a child in this home.

So there it is…. ten Instagram accounts you should be following. Any accounts we should add to the list? I’d love to find new accounts you think are worth a look-see!

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