Comings and Goings

If we can relax into the flow of life, someone is always coming into or moving away from our daily lives.  In the midst of this summer heat, we have both of these happening and we are excited on both accounts.

My sister, Kait, and nephew, Oliver, will be moving down to Bloomington this Fall and I can’t wait!  Tim and I have both schemed ways to get family members closer to us since we love living here but we also love seeing our families on a regular basis.  We chose Bloomington because it feels West coasty and we feel at home here while we still get to be within a few hours of our family members at any given time.  With the baby coming, I think he and I are both getting a little wistful about people being even a few hours away, so we are so, so happy that Kait will be here and that the babe will have his first cousin in the same town.

The goings of our lives tend to be not so positive, and this one is not without its sadness in parts, but it is also a joyful parting of ways.  My college roommate and confidant, Angela Kelly, is moving to Naples, Italy TODAY!  In fact, in about six hours, she flies off to lands she has never seen but will soon love and cherish as if a part of her has always called it home.  Having studied in Rome during undergrad, she asked me for a few tips.  It looked a little something like this:

how to like italy:
it isn’t easy at first because everything is new and scary. force yourself to do these things:
1. find a grocery store where you can buy vino and blood oranges and good bread, cheese and prosciutto. that’s all you need for days. they taste like love and you won’t need anything else.
2. find the nearest espresso bar to your house and go everyday at the same time. it will be worth the .60eurocents a day for an espresso to establish a human connection and people who recognize your face and smile when they tell you buon giorno.
3. introduce yourself to your neighbors and hope one of them is A. hot, B. grandmotherly, or C. family-oriented. if they invite you over, GO. you will get home cooked italian food, kindness, a free italian lesson, and human connection that you will be missing.
4. go out at least one night a week for dinner or to a wine bar, especially if you don’t have anyone to go with. the italian restaurant life is an experience all its own and you will meet young people at bars and begin to make friends. they tend to frequent the same bars at the same times each week, so it will be easy to start recognizing people. also, in italy no one is ever drunk in public. tipsy, yes. drunk and disorderly, no. never. hopefully you will make one good friend at work and be able to have a lifeline that i didn’t have. i feel like that would have helped so much.
5. if a handsome man asks you out, you must say yes. it is an italian right of passage. it’s ok if he lives with his parents, they all do until they get married and have law degrees and that’s how they get wealthy and worth dating.  he will take you all over the coast and wine and dine you and buy you gucci presents. just. say. yes.

The best advice?  Probably not.  But I hope it helps nonetheless.  I am going to miss her very much, even though we hardly see each other when we live in the same geographical region of the States.  Thank goodness for Skype!  Tim and I are saving our pennies this year for an Ireland trip late next Spring and she is planning to meet us there to rendezvous.  We can’t wait!  Good luck, Ang’a!  We are proud of you and totally thrilled that you have chosen this not easy but wonderful experience for yourself.  What a gift to trust yourself enough to do something you always dreamed of doing.

In other news, holy cow is my belly growing.  Still zero weight gain.  My nanny toddler kindly mentioned yesterday that I had “a GIIIIIIANT BELLY!”  That’s great.  She then told me “he needs to grow and then he will come out and play!”  That’s mostly right and something I hear almost everyday now.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her he won’t be much fun for a while after he arrives.

Our house is slowly shaping up to look baby appropriate.  I have begun washing things like the baby swing cushion and car seat bundle bits that had found their way into a pile.  I have also begun buying a few things second hand from my nanny fam, like the pack and play, cloth wipes, and diaper sprayer.  The kitchen counter has a pile of random baby spoons, several types of pacifiers, homeopathic baby colic pellets, and baby food freezer containers that I sifted out of Olivers old toys.  We also dug out the breast pump (thanks, Kait!) and I tried it out on Tim.  His eyes got pretty big but you’ll be glad to know it works like a charm.  Medela products are great!  Also, we misplaced the Bjorn bouncer canvas cover, so Mom emailed them a few times about buying a replacement and they offered to replace the whole thing!  I love that bouncer because it is much more upright than nearly any other on the market and it was wonderful to have for Oliver as a bambino.  Totally happy with BabySwede customer service.  They didn’t ask me to say that, either.

I bought a few tiny warm outfits for mister GB and I am getting excited for him to get here already!  Too bad we have about 18 more weeks, give or take.  I will be 22 weeks on Sunday and I can’t believe it is going so quickly.  I always look forward to the holidays (that’s right, Maria Schultz, we are so related) but this year I will be anxious for them in a whole new way, and probably in ways I can’t even imagine at this point.

I have only had one person ask me when I am due so far.  I think I am huge, but obviously people are still wondering if I just ate my way through summer.  Maybe they just pity me because I am usually juggling two bags, a sippy, a toddler, likely a partially eaten snack, and whatever else happened to be in my car.  A random parenting mag said my belly button might pop out this week.  I think my eyes popped out instead as I was reading that.  Now, I frantically look at my belly button about seven times a day to see if it looks “poppy” as I call it.  It is getting kind of flat, which I assume is a precursor to poppy.  Crazy!  I also asked Tim a few times, but he gave me that look like “is this a trick question?” and then made some noise that could have been a yes or a no with a shrug thrown in for good measure.

Someday we are going to do some more home improvements and finishing projects like baseboard and trim and painting the bathroom.  For now, just trying to enjoy summer in the early mornings and take the heat one day at a time.  August and September are full of trips to both home towns, so we will be less productive on the house but it will be nice to visit before we settle in for a long winter’s nap baby arrival.



We are cruising right through summer over here.  Why is it that summer arrives and all of a sudden we turn into these busy, crazy people who forget how to sit still and breathe?  For the last few weeks, Tim and I have been attempting to reconnect with our quiet, calm selves who can get into a nice, relaxing flow of life and enjoy where we are.  We both love summer in Bloomington, but we tend to get so busy visiting people and families that we forget how to stay home and enjoy what we have here.

Time to slow down!  Tim has done this by eating a lot of fresh food and smoothies (including green ones–go Timmy!) and spending time in the garden, and I have done it by trying to sit still more, listen to classical music, and read a bit.  It really does feed the soul to be where you are.  It seems so hard to do that in the modern era.  The garden is literally feeding our souls!  We also had a huge zucchini, but it didn’t last long enough to be photographed.

I will admit that I am having an unusually hard time relaxing these days.  I will attribute that to pregnancy a little bit because I just don’t feel quite like myself, but I think a huge part of it is less the impending childbirth and more the lack of a good mattress and therefore a good night’s sleep.  We ordered our new mattress!  It was supposed to be in last Wednesday and instead it will be here today.  After seven nights on the spare bedroom mattress (full sized, firm, generally speaking not good all around) we are beyond ready to see our new, king-sized beauty arrive in the next two hours.  And we apologize to everyone who has spent a night on that godforsaken thing.  We are working on that.   God love the man at the furniture store.  I walked in hyped up on sleepless nights and pregnancy-induced indecision and said something like “I need a mattress.  Today.  I want something firm but not firm, but not too soft so maybe like firm with some cushion, but not pillow top.  And my budget is about four dollars.”  I don’t even know if I waited for him to say hello.  He was so nice and in hindsight, I probably should have taken a few deep breaths before I entered the store.  Again, the importance of slowing down.

In other news, we had our ultrasound and I mentioned it’s a boy.  Now that we have had that news for a week, I have been able to mentally shift my brain toward the future mister Ballard a bit and I am getting excited!  I think big brothers are nice to have whether you are a boy or a girl, so I am happy our family will have that element to it.  I am feeling pretty good these days and eating what sounds good.  Luckily, that list that is full of mostly fresh food and finally includes espresso and dark chocolate again.  Neither of these have sounded, smelled, or tasted good in months!  All of a sudden, I wanted a latte (decaf, of course, and soy because my body dislikes dairy) and some good dark chocolate.  I was sort of nostalgic and happy about seeing my old friends.  To celebrate, I got this guy:

It was on sale at Target for half off!  I paid way less for this one than the one we got in Italy which was half the size!  I felt like I had won some sort of Bialetti Brikka lottery.  Sadly, Target doesn’t carry decaf espresso, so the purchase was followed by a visit to the Target Starbucks where I had a pregnant meltdown until the little girl sold me some ground decaf espresso in a cup.  She ended up giving me about 20 shots worth for the price of a $2 Americano coffee.  I can’t decide if she was being nice or just really wanted me to get out of there.  Either way, I have been getting lots of protein from soy lattes and iced soy mochas, so it’s a win win.  Thank goodness for Amazon Prime because Tim’s Teecino and my decaf espresso get here today.

We have been working on the nursery but not much to report yet.  Still trying to decide on details for the room, but the basics are there, including an assembled crib and toys sorted by age appropriateness.  Can you tell I raise babies for a living?

One of these days I am going to hang some art on the walls and post a new house tour full of photos for you.  This weekend will not be that time since I have a shower for Logan’s fiance in Indy and Tim has a wedding celebration for some friends.  We also have the pleasure of my Aunt Leanne and cousin Kathryn’s presence this weekend!  Fun times ahead in the woods.

20 weeks! Halfway there.

My belly has totally popped.

I still haven’t gained any weight, so I guess it’s just relocating to my belly.  No arguments there.
Here’s to halfway!  Tim and I just had a Thai food date to celebrate.  This baby loves him some panang curry.

It’s a………….



(Google images)






We were completely surprised and 90% of our family members will be, too.  We have no shortage of boys in our extended family on my side, which means we are lucky enough to have loads of hand me downs.  Can’t complain about that!  Thank you, cousin Oliver! 

Tim is totally stoked about carrying on the Ballard name and I am totally stoked that I don’t have to go out and buy a girl wardrobe.  Mister is measuring exactly where he should in all regards and looks like a healthy fellow!  If his movement is any indicator, he is going to be a maniac.  Tim can feel it this week, which is very fun.  I have been feeling it for about four weeks, which gets less fun as time passes but never ceases to amaze me.  The human body is really something.  My belly is bigger everyday.   

We have a few names we like, but we haven’t committed to anything.  We want to meet him first and see who he looks like before we strap a lifelong name on the kid.  We are right on schedule for being due about December 3rd, so stay tuned!

What a week

Hello, darlings.  We have just had such a busy, productive, social week!  Let’s rewind to last Saturday.  I dropped Timmy at the airport to go to DC for a visit with former Belize roommate, John.  Tim had some time off in between jobs since his new one doesn’t start until Monday, so he used the time to finally make it happen and get out there.  He was so excited!

For those wondering, Tim’s old job was on the business side of a landscaping company down here and his new job will be working as a manager for a non-profit organization working with developmentally disabled adults who need support to live independently here in Bloomington.  He is looking very forward to being back in the field and the position is really everything we could ask for, including an awesome supervisor.  We are both excited about the transition!

After dropping Tim off, I met my Mom, sister and nephew at Costco for a whirlwind shopping spree for a handful of things I buy twice a year and then we had lunch at Buca di Beppo.  It was delicious and such a fun time.  Oliver is hilarious and such a good boy.  After lunch, we all headed to Alexandria for a visit.  Coincidentally, Oliver was at his Dad’s, Tim was in DC and Vanessa was having a girls weekend with her sisters, so it was sort of a Garner reunion of sorts with just Mom and Dad and the three of us.

Congratulations are in order for my brother, Logan, and his fiance, Vanessa!  These two lovebirds are going to tie the knot in Alaska this summer and come home to celebrate with everyone shortly thereafter.  We had a fun day talking about Logan’s upcoming elopement and the baby business, and early afternoon I spent some time with Aubrey at Dortees Drive-in for a chocolate coke just like old times.  In the evening, we went to see Kendra, Greg and Kenley!  They were in from Florida and I hadn’t seen them since Christmas, so it was a great catching up time.  I love them!

Sunday I had breakfast with Dan and Robyn and the kids at John’s Diner (our favorite family spot) and then headed home.  Tim’s parents came for a few days to help me around the house and keep me company while Tim was gone.  We got so much done!  Roger gutted the bathroom ceiling and got our new light fixture up, which was no small task.  Mary Kay and I tackled the first few coats of crib painting and also decided to start the built-in bookshelf painting process.

On Tuesday night, my parents picked Tim up on the way and came to stay for a few days to start the second round of projects.  We had one night with everyone here, which was fun!  It’s rare that both sets of parents are in one place.  The next morning, Rog and Mary Kay left and Jamie and Teri started right in on projects, as usual.

Mom and I worked on the crib some more and finishing coats on the bookshelf.

Dad and Tim gutted the fixtures from the bathroom, put up the new ceiling, hung new wall coverings, installed a new vanity, and put the toilet back in.  We originally thought the toilet was ivory, but once we (a.k.a. Roger) replaced the lighting for something better, we realized it just had an ivory lid.  Easy fix!  It is a Kohler high efficiency toilet, so I was happy to keep it once the lid was a quiet close white one. Get a load of that wallpaper, including the seagulls who used to gawk at us as we bathed.

Yes, that is actually a wooden border on TOP of the gorgeous seagulls.

Tim enjoyed ripping it down a little too much.  Keep in mind it was going to be covered and didn’t even need to be ripped down.

Dad and Tim did the ceiling and walls, Mom and I did the flooring, then the boys were back on for the plumbing business.

And finally, Mom put the final coat on the bookshelves and trimmed out the nursery while I worked on finishing the play closet that Tim started last week.

I can’t believe how much stuff got done since last weekend, and we are so grateful to have parents who are willing to not only drive all the way here, but then work their fingers to the bone to help us do as much of the renovations as we can without hiring it done.  They are champions and we love them.

In other news, the belly has exploded in the last week!  I can’t believe it.  I don’t know where it came from all of a sudden.  This thing is wiggling all day long now and has a small disdain for the blender.  We find out gender on Wednesday and we are pretty excited about that.  We considered not finding out but I can’t handle it.  I do love a good plan…

Tim and I are going to have our first laid back, no travel, no home repair weekend in about two months.  We got the weekend started right with a 7pm bedtime on a Friday night.  Nothing says party like accidentally falling asleep before 90% of the young children in town.  We felt great this morning, though!  Tim just made smoothies and oats while I blogged.  Next up:  Farmers’ Market, a few errands, and a surprise lunch date for Timmy.