Let’s be honest – at this point, no one really cares about anyone else’s Christmas. But here I am, blogging it. Partly for me. Partly for my mom. And partly because what else am I supposed to do with my iPhone photos?!

See? It’s a real dilemma.

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I’m starting with the Monday before Christmas, when Taylor and I celebrated the season with a little Christmas date. We opted to forgo gifts for each other this year, not because we don’t loooooove STUFF, but because we really just don’t need anything.

So instead of gifts, we treated ourselves to a delicious, romantic dinner and a stroll downtown before coming home and crashing by 9pm. 

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We weren’t quite sure where to go, but ultimately decided on the Cheesecake Factory. 1) Because it’s delicious and 2) because Taylor had never been and I couldn’t resist the opportunity of watching him try to decide on a dessert.

After we were uncomfortably full, we managed to take a quick walk around downtown to soak up the Christmas lights, before eventually heading back home where we could unbutton our pants in peace, sans judgment.

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After working the next few days, Christmas Even was upon us! Which meant time for another Annual Best Friend’s Christmas Eve breakfast. Yeah. Say that five times fast. Or don’t. And just keep scrolling.

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I met Allison bright and early for french toast and gift exchange at our beloved Cracker Barrel.

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I got a beautiful watercolor and a hilarious book, but to be honest it was all but eclipsed by my little man’s present. Because LOOK AT THOSE TINY BOOTS!:) 

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetPINIMAGEAfter a quick shopping run and some lunch, Taylor and I headed out to Dallas for Christmas Eve with my family. The festivities are the same every year – tamales and presents and lots and lots of laughs with the clan.

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THE present of the year was our stroller, gifted to us by my stepdad. Everyone had a blast playing with it, plus it came in super handy for carting presents out to the car at the end of the night.

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Once our bellies and trunks were full of goodies, it was time to head home to Fort Worth. The next morning we slept in a bit and then headed out to spend the day with Taylor’s family. 

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And we brought this guy along, because what Christmas is complete without a basset hound wrapped up in a green and red blanket while you open presents? NONE – exactly.

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I’m not sure what the high wound up being on the 25th, but as someone who is 8 months pregnant, I can tell you it felt like it was about a THOUSAND degrees out. Reality may have been more like 75, but still, it was pretty miserable, and not at all Christmasy. Regardless, I still made my boys pose for Christmas photos.

It went super well.

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The final (and best result) of course wound up being the one where I look the most puffy and exhausted. But you know why that is? Because I am. I am puffy and exhausted.

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I love these two more than words! The entire day I just kept thinking about how next Christmas will be SO different – my baby will be here! Not only will he be here, he’ll be HUGE! And oh man – all.the.feels.

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And that’s it! Just like that, Christmas 2015 is a wrap! I can’t believe we are just days away from the new year, and I REALLY can’t believe I’m just weeks away from meeting our little boy. Life is a freakin’ rollercoaster. I’m trying my hardest to get a little blogging consistency back over the next few months, because I’ve got so much to capture, so stay tuned and more importantly – stay on my case.

Love you mean it. 

LOVE&HUGS,

Nat

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  • downtown Ft. Worth is pretty pretty this time of year (see what I did there? I didn’t mean to.)… but WHICH DESSERT DID TAYLOR CHOOSE? You left me hanging. MEEP. Baby soon!!ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Bahahahahahahaha he was BORING and chose strawberry cheesecake. I literally face palmed. Like what.ReplyCancel

  • Where did you get your Preggo/Preggers shirt?! I need one! Loved your Christmas recap!ReplyCancel

  • You’re going to love that stroller! It’s the one I have and I’m so happy with my choice.ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Yay yay yay!! SO glad to hear you say that!!!ReplyCancel

  • Ok I’ve looked at the city mini stroller as maybe my jogging stroller later this spring. Does your carseat go in it as well? I wasn’t sure if it could be a travel system! Let me know how you like it, once winter is over I’ll be in the market for a good jogger!

    And you look beautiful, friend! Baby boy is almost here!! It will be the most amazing and magical and sweetest day of your life. You think you’re tired now, just wait hahaha. You got this, mama!! Keep us posted!ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      So I actually got the City mini for my all around stroller (it is SO freaking compact it’s INSANE!), and we got the $20 car seat adapter so it’s pretty easy! I heard good things about it being awesome for indoor and outdoor use, but the tires weren’t really intended to handle the shock of being a jogging stroller, even though it handles all-terrain well. The jogging stroller I got is actually the J is for Jeep jogging stroller. It had really awesome reviews and was only $150 which I thought was SO cheap (at least in comparison to other joggers!) I’m excited to use them both, but I have a feeling I’ll obviously get the most use out of the city mini, at least at first! :)ReplyCancel

  • Just stumbled on your blog and love it!
    I’ve been trying to find more runners blogs, and I just read your marathon recaps! I’m in training, so they are pretty inspirational for me!!
    Anyway, new follower here!ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Oh I’m so glad you found me! So funny, because my running days feel like another LIFETIME ago (pregnancy brain!) but I can’t wait to hit the pavement again here in a few months! ;)ReplyCancel

  • […] we last left off, I was recappin’ the holidays and promising to be a little more consistent in 2016 (LAUGHABLE). To be fair, lots has […]ReplyCancel

Throughout my pregnancy, I wasn’t really sure how I’d feel about maternity photos. When your face is puffy and your belly has reached gravity-defying proportions, the very last thing you want is a camera in your face. But as the weeks tick by, I know that regardless of how whale-like I may be feeling on any given day, I’m going to miss this

I’m going to want to remember what it feels like to carry this little boy around inside of me. I’m going to want to remember this first year in our little home, just the two of us. I’m going to miss the feeling of anticipation that comes with every kick, poke, and jab. And if just for these few reasons, I’m going to wish I’d captured these moments.

So the day after my baby shower, with about ten minutes of daylight left in the day, we threw on our fancy clothes and our happy faces and took our first photos as a soon-to-be family of three at home. 

(All photo cred of course goes to Allison Harp Photography.)

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LOVE&HUGS,

Nat

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  • These photos are absolutely lovely! And I’m not going to lie: Taylor’s mustache is one for the books. I know a certain husband of mine who only dreams of growing a ‘stache like that. You must be one proud wife ;)ReplyCancel

  • these are so beautiful. i never got maternity photos taken, so besides my mirror selfies, the only formal photo i have of my pregnant is at my sister’s wedding, one week before my due date. and even though i’m gigantic, i love seeing it. i’m glad for you that you went for these!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley

    I understand times are busy right now. But if you’re able to find the time.. I’d love to hear the story behind the stache..ReplyCancel

  • You are one beautiful momma, and I can’t wait to love on sweet baby Walker in a few short weeks!!!!ReplyCancel

  • the light in your photos is so dreamy!! that color looks amazing on you, mama! you’re doing pregnancy SO WELL!!ReplyCancel

  • Beautiful photos. You look gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • OBSESSED. I’m probably a little late, but these are gorgeous my dear!!! Beautiful mama!! SO EXCITED FOR YOU GUYS!!!!!!ReplyCancel

As of today, we are 9 weeks from my estimated due date. NINE WEEKS. We’re talkin’ single digit week-age, people!

Holy cow.

Instead of thinking about all that’s left on the to-do list (#help), I’m throwing it back to the first weekend of December. In the presence of my sweetest and closest friends, we celebrated the first baby shower for our little boy, Walker

Little man, you have NO idea how loved you already are! 

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Since the very first positive pregnancy tests, this little man has been known as my Bae. So in keeping with the trend, this shower was “Bae Z” themed.:) 

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We celebrated little boy’s impending arrival at Brewed, one of my favorite Fort Worth spots. Home of mouth-watering meatballs and candy bar lattes. 

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It was such a sweet and perfect day, and never have I EVER felt so spoiled and loved!  I have to give shout out to this girl (my very best friend and photographer extraordinaire) for making it all happen, and of course, for documenting every last detail

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Check back this afternoon for a peek at our maternity photos! 

LOVE&HUGS,

Nat

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Happy happy first Friday of December! This weekend feels extra extra special and exciting because 1) December and 2) It’s my first baby shower! I know that loads and loads of fun will be packed into the next 48 hours, but for now it’s time for Friday Favorites!

Christmas EVERYWHERE

I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it! Since Thanksgiving, we’ve managed to turn our house into a teeny tiny version of a winter wonderland. The lights have been strung, the stockings have been hung, and every Christmas scented candle this side of the Mississippi has been lit. We may be a fire hazard, but there’s nothing better in the entire universe than decking ALL the halls. Am I right, am I right?!

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Eats from the Week

I used to talk about food a lot more around these parts, but truthfully, between Taylor’s work schedule and me being exponentially lazy, I’ve only been cooking every couple of nights. But here are a few favorites from this week’s menu:

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30 Minute Skillet Lasagna – Super easy, filling, and comforting!
Brownie in a Mug – So simple and delicious for when you have ZERO sweets in your house and a dessert craving hits you…HARD.
Cheesy Quinoa Veggie Cups – Yummy, healthy, and versatile! I only had broccoli and carrots on hand, but these would be even more delicious with peppers or jalapeño. They also made for great leftovers! 

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And in the snacking realm, these Popped Kind Bars are the bomb-diggity. I crave sweet and salty every minute of every day, and these crunchy little slices of heaven hit. the. spot

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Tiny Bits of Nursery Progress

My heart pitter patters every time I walk by baby boy’s room! Just last week it was a totally blank slate. The tile had been ripped up, and we were staring into a sad empty room with a concrete slab for a floor. But this week we had carpet installed, the crib arrived and put together, and so many teeny tiny pieces are FINALLY starting to come together. There is still so much work to be done, but I’m so much more motivated now! 

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These Lucy Darling closet dividers  have STOLEN MY HEART. I just can’t wait to get all of his teeny tiny clothes washed and hung up! 

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First Baby Shower

Tomorrow, tomorrow!! Tomorrow is the first baby shower for my little man, and it sorta kinda makes me teary eyed just thinking about it. Y’all – where has this pregnancy gone?!

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I can’t wait to be surrounded by all of my sweet friends and shower this little monkey with love. CANNOT WAIT. Oh oooops. Crying again.

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Best Friend’s Day

Since Allison is in town, and we are far overdue, we’ve planned for Sunday to be Annual Best Friend’s Day! I have ZERO idea what we will end up doing, but I known it will revolve around shopping and eating, (and more shopping and more eating) so it is destined to be fabulous.

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Annnnnnnd that’s a Friday wrap! I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

LOVE&HUGS,

Nat

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  • Love the bump comparison pics! Have fun at your first baby shower. :)ReplyCancel

  • Why are you so perfect at ALL OF THE THINGS?! Your holiday decor is perfect!! Those closet dividers are adorable… and so are you!ReplyCancel

  • Alexis K

    Even if you don’t realize it, you are goals. Just goals.

    Sincerely, a college freshman who wants your life.
    (down the road of course)ReplyCancel

  • YES to decking all of the halls!!! I love your tree, too. SO pretty! And eeeek the nursery is coming along! Loving the little crib corner, and those hangers are awesome. Hope your baby shower was the best!!!

    xoReplyCancel

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Oh pregnancy. Just saying the word aloud to a dozen people will illicit a dozen different responses. A little bit of excitement, a little bit of “Been there done that!” and probably even a couple of “Not you too! What is in the water?!” It’s to be expected I guess, but still, the reactions of those around you to the big news actually has the power to shape your outlook on pregnancy as a whole. And OH BOY, it goes well beyond just those initial reactions. So choose your company wisely, folks.

But that’s not really the point of this post at all, it’s just a preamble. It’s just me taking the time to point out just how much our family, friends, and society influence how we think and feel about ourselves. 

Particularly when it comes to body image.

I’ve been carrying this baby for 29 weeks. It’s been exciting and nauseating and beautiful and profound and quite literally – heavy

I knew it would be. Pregnancy = weight gain. Pregnancy = body changes. It’s not just biology, it’s logic. It’s a fact. Growing a human means actually doing a little bit of growing. Or perhaps even (GOD FORBID) a lot of growing.

I definitely don’t feel qualified to talk about body image or pregnancy with any authority, because I’m in it. And I haven’t figured it out. I have by no means come to a place of peace and acceptance. I don’t look in the mirror and think, “Oh the wonder of my glorious, growing body. I am strong. I am beautiful. I AM WOMAN.

But I want to.

The last couple weeks have felt, physically, the hardest. I went from feeling energized and capable and even a tiny bit pretty, to feeling achy and wobbly and insecure, seemingly overnight. 

To me, the toughest part of pregnancy body image hasn’t been the weight gain (I stopped hopping on the scale months ago), or the puffy fingers, or the dry skin. The hardest part is looking in the mirror and not recognizing the person looking back at you. It’s startling, unnerving, and at a certain point, it’s downright scary.

Because simply put, nothing is more terrifying that not feeling (or looking) like yourself.

I think that for me, a lot of it has to do with fitness. I had beautiful, unrealistic visions of myself running all the way through my pregnancy. I would remain totally energized and svelte for 40 full weeks! My diet would be perfection (because who would dare to crave Dr. Pepper and drive-thru tacos while growing a tiny perfect human?!) I would run a turkey trot on Thanksgiving morning! I would be at prenatal yoga every day! My life would remain entirely uninterrupted. I would be ME. 

Only glowing, with a teeny tiny baby bump. 

Of course, that is reality for plenty of women. But needless to say, it hasn’t been for me. I’m sure plenty of it is due to laziness and selfishness. It was a long hot summer, and when I wasn’t busy vomiting or napping, I sure as hell didn’t want to be running in 103 degree weather. And yoga memberships? They’re expensive. And sitting on my floor to follow along with free prenatal YouTube workout videos? Well, my floor is covered in dog hair, because I don’t have the energy to vacuum anymore. And drive-thru tacos? OH MY GOD I LOVE THEM. 

And sure enough, somewhere around the 3rd trimester, it’s started to take it’s toll. Sure my new double chin might be because of the baby, or it might be because of the Nutella filled croissants I had to have a 4pm on a Sunday afternoon. Or more likely, as I suspect, it might be a delightful combination of the two. But truthfully – does it really matter?

Society says yes. Yes, it really does matter. Not only does it matter – it is everything

I choose to believe that most people mean well. Mom’s health really is important. That is undisputed. Encouraging proper diet and exercise during pregnancy is absolutely vital. But now try telling that to the girl who is 9 weeks pregnant and unable to keep down anything but plain bagels and ginger ale. Harp on her health! While she’s holding back her hair for the 4th time this morning, be sure to emphasize that every time she eats a gluten laden fully refined carb she is doing IRREPARABLE DAMAGE TO HER BABY. 

Really. Try it. And tell me how that works out for you.

And then there’s the other end of the spectrum. The camp that says, do whatever the hell you want – YOU’RE PREGNANT! When the reality is that you’re no more of a special flower than any other woman walking around out there with a reproductive system. But this camp gives you a pass! Do what you want. You had sex that one time – so you’ve earned it.

Oh man, I’m fired up now.

I don’t like the idea of giving women “passes.” I don’t like the idea of giving any fully grown human being apassthat says, “It’s okay that you’re doing something I typically find abhorrent because you’re working hard and you deserve to be rewarded, you poor thing you.” This is America. You can do what you want out here, and you shouldn’t need society’s completely made up stamp of approval regarding the state of your body, whether pregnant or not. 

And regardless of which end of the spectrum you fall, the ugly truth remains – it’s all about your body, and no culture is as hard on women as ours.

This was true well before you conceived that little miracle, but it’s even truer now. Because you’re either too thin, and should you really be exercising so much?! Or you’ve taken that pregnancy pass too far, and you’re now in “danger” of giving birth to a 12 pound baby. 

Then, once the baby has arrived, the real work begins. It’s time to get that pre-baby body back you sore, exhausted, new mama! Don’t worry, society is especially generous here. You’ve got SIX WHOLE WEEKS of lazying around before you have to hop back into your pre-baby routine. In that 6 weeks, you’ve had plenty of time to master nursing, sleeping in 45 minute intervals, diaper changes, and feeling sexy again. Isn’t maternity leave luxurious?

Are you overwhelmed yet? I am. I am exhausted just thinking about it.

People mean really well here too. They say sweet things like, “Don’t worry, you’ll bounce right back!” and “That baby weight will just melt right off!” And even though I get where they are coming from and secretly hope that they are right, the bottom line is that if my body doesn’t bounce back the way that all the well meaning people swear it will – that needs to be okay too. 

If after carrying this baby and raising him, I’ll never be the same emotionally, why should I physically? If life moves forward, why should my desire be for the “old” version of myself? 

And where did this idea even come from? Society? Is it intrinsic? Is it in the way we were raised? Is it in the way we mirror ourselves after our mothers and sisters? Is it a combination of all of the above?

“On the one hand, culture secretly (though not so quietly sometimes) mandates that women work their hardest to look as though their bodies are as slight as a whisper, taking up little to no space, while simultaneously exuding sexiness and a little bit of sass.  The ever-changing prenatal body is creating, carrying, and nurturing new life and with that comes a robustness that potentially stirs unresolved issues, handed down from culture, family, and shaky self-esteem.” (Source)

What’s even more upsetting than all of the body image talk is how little we emphasize the importance of mental or emotional health during pregnancy. It’s all but entirely ignored. We’re so focused on how physical health affects the tiny inhabitant of our ever expanding uterus that we’ve completely neglected our mental health. We’ve neglected the role that emotional stress and anxiety play on a growing and developing baby before he even enters the world. But really, what does it matter when you look so damn good in a bikini?

I see a lot of blog posts and articles about how to talk to pregnant women RE: their physical appearance. Most of them are hilarious, and filled with examples of things that no human should say to anyone EVER, but I feel like they miss the mark. Instead of treating pregnant women with kindness (because they are fragile, hormonal, butterflies on the brink of a near emotional meltdown at any given moment so WATCH OUT WORLD), what if we treated everyone with kindness? What if instead of reducing the soul of a living, breathing human being to a number on a scale, we looked a little deeper?

It’s a revolutionary idea, y’all. 

I think a lot of times pregnant women hear, “You’re beautiful because you’re growing a baby!” And while it’s sweet, I hope to God it’s not true. Because if so, what about when I’m done growing that baby? What about when he’s outside of my body, and I’m saggy and exhausted and unrecognizable? Will I still be beautiful then once my mission is complete? 

Instead of telling pregnant women or new moms that they look great, what if we ask how they are feeling? What if we encourage them to ask themselves – How do I feel about myself today? And maybe more importantly – What have I done that I can be proud of today? Maybe I chose a banana instead of a snickers. Maybe I logged off Instagram and counted baby kicks like blessings. Maybe I tore up the “Before Baby To-Do List” and relaxed a little instead. Maybe I went on a date with my husband and we ate french fries and milkshakes and laughed harder than we have in weeks. Those all feel like little victories to me. 

The further along I get in this pregnancy, the more I realize that when the focus shifts from body to mind, something crazy happens. Perspective is gained. Not every time, but enough times to make a difference.

Because the bottom line is that while I’m terrified of gaining another pound, it’s hard to care when he kicks me. My back might be aching and I might have to pee every 15 minutes, but I CAN’T be upset when I feel him moving around inside of me. It’s impossible.

So I focus on that. I focus on him. The growing little boy that I’m doing this for. He won’t come out of the womb caring that my arms have tripled in size. He won’t enter the world cringing at my puffy fingers or my double chin. He won’t care about the dimples on my thighs, or my lack of ability to run a 5k. Precious newborn babies are infinitely more forgiving than our society.

And thank God for that. 

LOVE&HUGS,

Nat

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  • I want to hug you and high five you! You are dead on with your points and attitude! I wish I could make it easier for you, but society is mean. So to that I say punch society in the face and say hi to your sweet boy for me! Big hugs Natalie!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley

    Girl, you preach it!!! I just got married 2 weeks ago and first of all, the comments and questions have already started of “so, when are y’all going to have babies.” “You are 30 and aren’t getting any younger” and the best one yet “just remember that the older you get the harder it is for your body to bounce back so y’all should start now.”…..it frustrates me beyond all means and I’m not even pregnant yet. You be happy girl and love that baby!! Fight against society and be a beautiful example of what genuine happiness is..not “society happiness.”ReplyCancel

  • Yes. Yes X’s 1,000!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Great post and love the photo of you rockin’ the bump. I feel like I’m going to have all these same feelings if/when I get pregnant!ReplyCancel

  • Hi. You’re perfect. THIS IS PERFECT. And I love you for all of it. Even though I don’t have perspective. Or babies. You’re 100% right.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley

    Love this, so so much! Good for you for having the right outlook and mindset!ReplyCancel

  • You are fabulous- whether running marathons, eating tacos, pregnant or saggy and exhausted:) Rock it!ReplyCancel

  • Hello! I am a fellow preggo, and it’s like you literally just read my mind and wrote this post. Thank you for this. I’m so glad i’m not the only one who thinks this. You are wonderful and i love this so much.ReplyCancel

  • heather

    Ur just as beautiful now as u have ever been! You have 9 months to be pregnant and the rest of ur life to lose the weight after, if you choose. Keep rockin that baby bump!ReplyCancel

  • […] Bod: That second trimester IDGAF body confidence I once had has long disappeared. I’m just ready to look like myself again. Wearing tons of […]ReplyCancel