My heart is so full after this weekend. I try to make myself pause from time to time to really take in all the good things in my life and appreciate how fortunate I am, and it’s weekends like this that make that almost too easy to do.
On Sunday, we had a little gender reveal party to find out if our bub is a boy or a girl. I wanted to keep the event small, and had originally planned to hold it in our new apartment, but ultimately had to move it to my in-laws’ backyard due to the water damage at our place. Here’s a little recap of how the party went down — plus the ultimate reveal!
And bear with me…this one has a lot of photos.
My dear friend Michelle and sister-in-law Kelly were HUGE helps to me in planning the party. Kelly helped by creating an adorable Polaroid-inspired photo booth:
Delicious red velvet cake pops for the dessert table:
And these amazing flower crowns:
Seriously, can we get a close-up of those?
These were all random ideas I had seen variations of online, and I sent them to her hoping she could create something similar. The results totally exceeded my expectations — thank you again, Kelly!
Michelle also had what you might call an important job: creating the reveal confetti poppers! I had seen a similar idea online, but purchasing the poppers pre-made would have cost me literal appendages. Knowing Michelle is pretty dang crafty, I entrusted her to putting the poppers together. And MAN OH MAN did they turn out amazing!
She also created these adorable bow and bow tie pins for everyone to wear to declare their baby guesses. She used pink and mint construction paper and outlined them with gold marker before gluing each to a clothespin.
For the rest of the refreshments, we served a chicken apple sausage pasta, burgers, and a big salad. The drinks were themed (of course); a Baby Blue Punch with Malibu and a Pink Arnold Palmer for those of us who can’t drink. (It was still pretty delish, if I do say so myself!)
But what am I boring you with party details for? Let’s get to the good stuff!
For the actual reveal, we gathered everyone around Joey and me, including my parents who FaceTime’d in on Joey’s laptop.
Then there wasn’t anything left to do but pop!
And it’s a GIRL! Even though I had suspected our confetti might be pink, it wasn’t until I actually saw it that everything became real. Joey and I can’t wait to meet our daughter in less than four months!
Thank you again to everyone who helped make this party a success — we are so happy we got to share the moment with you. And to our little girl: Honey bun, we can’t wait to meet you!
Really, I should have known that the new apartment was coming together too quickly.
We’ve only been in the new place for a couple months, and already I had the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom done. The hallway was going to be finished this weekend, and then all we would have left was the baby room.
It was just. Too. Simple.
Our upstairs neighbor must have known things were going a bit too swimmingly as well. So she decided to intervene.
Before I tell you this story, you need to know that our apartment is in the basement of a house. We have two floors, each of which are their own apartment, above us. We now return you to the story.
Last Friday, the woman on the third floor started filling up a pot of water in the sink. Then she left. For, apparently, hours. The pot quickly filled with water, and then the sink filled with water, and then the water overflowed and flooded her apartment. It then flooded the first floor apartment. It then started to leak into our apartment.
This is, apparently, the second time this woman has done this. *finger gun to the face motion*
Fortunately, Joey got home in time to realize what was happening (due to the three large, quickly expanding bubbles on our ceiling) and move our furniture out of the way and put put buckets under the bubbles. When everything was in place, he poked small holes in the bubbles to allow the water to drain into the buckets. The bubbles remained, but at least the water within them had been dealt with.
Or so we thought.
When our landlord sent over a contractor to assess the damage a week later (grumble), they found that water was not only in our hallway ceiling, it had also been leaking into one of our bedroom walls all week. The entire wall had rotted and needed to be ripped out. The ceiling needed to be opened, dried with heavy-duty fans for three days, and then either ripped out (if the wood had warped) or just have the sheetrock replaced (if it had not).
This all happened three days before we were supposed to have family over on Sunday for our gender reveal.
I was not, shall we say, pleased. There may have been tears. But I like to think I would have been able to handle it sans the weepies if I wasn’t pregnant.
The negatives of this situation are fairly obvious, so let’s look at the silver linings, okay?
1. This didn’t happen when the baby was here. I would much rather deal with construction without having to worry about it upsetting anyone’s nap time.
2. It could be worse? At least it’s only one wall and one section of ceiling as opposed to the more heavy-duty damage our upstairs neighbors are dealing with.
3. A friend offered her house for the party. Which is super nice, I just hate having to impose. Blerg.
Those are pretty much all of the positives. Really, there is very little good about water damage.
Sooooo that’s what’s going on. But on the actual bright side, today is my anatomy scan ultrasound, so hopefully we will know more about our little bean this weekend. Stay tuned!
When it comes to decor, I’m pretty sure it’s mostly a giant game of one step forward, two steps back. In most cases, new ideas just beget other new ideas, adding to your already never-ending to-do list. And in some cases, just when you think you’re getting close to finishing that to-do list, something comes along to throw a big, fat fly in the ointment.
Oh, am I being vague again? I’ll elaborate.
This weekend, the person who lives two floors above us flooded their apartment. The apartment above us was also flooded. We were spared the brunt of the water damage, but we do have three lovely nipple-shaped pockets of water on our ceiling right now. Two of them broke through and mostly drained out, but there is still visible damage. Fortunately, our landlord is taking care of it (supposedly today), but it still puts a (literally) damper on my plans to have finished the living room this weekend.
But we’re close, people. So close.
And while I have to throw in the actual towel to sop up the mess for now, there are little signs of progress throughout the apartment. Like this fun little craft I completed a couple weeks ago.
It’s no secret that I love gold details. And since our office area is usually the corner of our home I struggle to make look put together, I thought it would be a nice touch to add some gold details. And rather than spend any money on any new chotchkies or whatever, I broke out some spray primer and spray paint I already had on hand to dress up the drawer pull and my cheap plastic push-pins.
To paint the push-pins, I stuck each of them through a piece of scrap cardboard and primed. This step is key — most metallic spray paints I’ve used won’t stick to naked plastic. Let dry for a couple of hours in the sun.
Next, it was time to go for the gold. This painting portion actually took about four steps/coats because the pushpins are such a weird shape. I have to spray from each side as well as the top to make sure all the rainbow-bright colors were completely covered up. Then I let them dry for a full 25 hours outside to cure any stickiness.
Ta-da! I love the finished result — it makes the whole bulletin board look more pulled together.
I used the same technique to paint the drawer pull, and it also turned out nicely. (It’s just hard to take an inspiring photo of a drawer pull.)
So there you have it — the easiest little decor DIY ever.
What is everyone else working on?
On this day, April 30th, 2015, four years after marrying my husband, I have officially amended the last vestige of my maiden name: my PayPal account.
Did you guys have any idea how difficult it is to change your name on your PayPal? It’s pretty dang difficult. Even when you have a legitimate reason, like a marriage, you have to provide PayPal with a copy of your marriage license and a photo ID showing your new name.
My bank didn’t even require that much paperwork. (Actually, it might have. But it was FOUR YEARS AGO and I don’t remember.)
Suffice to say, I put it off. For almost half a decade. But after PayPal mistakenly sent one too many packages to Justine Blanchard, prompting the mail carrier to refuse to deliver and me to have to take an inconvenient trip to the post office, I finally decided to bite the bullet and just get it over with.
Plus, I had to provide my office with a scan of my marriage license for benefits anyway.
It took over a week to officially process (I’m assuming a real human being has to verify your “proof”?), but as of this morning, Justine Blanchard is no more on any of my accounts.
I feel like this should feel more momentous to me than it does. But, to be perfectly honest, I never felt that much of an emotional attachment to my last name. (Not to be confused with my family — I am quite emotionally attached to them. The name just didn’t represent anything that crucial to me.) I had always planned on changing it when I got married, and I like how Joey and I have become our own, united unit.
In fact, I often feel this weird sense of detachment when I see my maiden name in print. Like, “Oh, yeah…that used to be mine. That used to be me.” Weird, right?
It could be that I was never really one of those people who went by their last name. In college, a handful of friends took to calling me Blanch, and shortly after graduation, a few workmates dubbed me JLB because I used my full name for my byline. But in general, I’ve always been just Justine.
(Side note: Trying saying “Just Justine” ten times fast without spitting. It’s really hard. See also: “This is Justine.” Answering my work phone is a nightmare.)
But anyway. Instead of feeling sad, I actually feel more complete having this last bit of Blanchard officially transitioned over. I can’t believe it took me so long. I guess it has to do with how I feel like I’ve really come in to my own identity in the last couple of years.
It’s nice to know my Amazon orders will also know exactly who I am.
Did you change your name after marriage? How long did it take? Do you have any last traces of your old name hanging around?
I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with Craigslist, but I am. I’m apparently so taken with the online marketplace that I write about it on this very blog — quite frequently.
But while I’ve discussed how to be good at Craigslist, what I hate about Craigslist, and how to NOT rent an apartment on Craigslist, there’s one aspect of buying and selling that I have no yet addressed: the art of the Craigslist negotiation.
Fortunately for all of you (right?), I’ve garnered many a cautionary in my many years of buying and selling, and now I’m going to share them with you. Here are a few signs you might not be so good at Craigslist negotiating.
1. You seem to think this is Macy*s.
Listen, I get it. You paid hundreds of dollars for that [insert name of furniture/appliance/etc.]. It hurts your heart — and bank account — to even think about selling it for half what you paid for it. But you know what? You are not a department store. I did not drive to your establishment, park in your sprawling parking complex, and brave a stroll through your perfume department to get to this [furniture/appliance/etc.], whereupon I then bought it brand new out of a box. I found it on a semi-shady, over-grown garage sale website. After you had used it for a couple of years. So, alas, you cannot sell it to me for what you paid for it.
There’s nothing worse than a Craigslist seller who won’t budge on their listing price. This is why I always list at least $10 higher than what I ultimately want to get for the item — that way, I can negotiate without feeling too great of a loss. Any time I encounter a seller who won’t drop at least $10 from their price, I immediately move on. Stop acting offended and remember where we are right now.
2. You think you have Jedi mind control.
There are few things more annoying than a buyer trying to trick you into a low-ball offer. When you email me and just say, “What will you sell this to me for?”, my immediate mental response is to send you a “Let Me Google That For You”-type response where I just re-send you the original ad. Howsabout we start at that number, huh pal?
As I just said, I have no issues with haggling. I encourage it, in fact. But you have to at least make me a real offer. You’re not going to fool me into giving my best and final right off the bat. This ain’t my first rodeo, cowboy.
3. You take the low-ball offer to a subterranean level.
I feel like I should repeat the fact that I am not above bargaining. I expect you to reply to my ad with an offer. What really irks me? An offer that is 50 percent or less than what I listed for.
Come on, guys. Be respectful. If I really didn’t care how much I sold it for, I would just drop it in the free section to be done with it. I make a habit of offering at least 75 percent of whatever it was originally listed for, in expectation that the seller will come back closer to 80-85 percent. The only exception is if something is already priced super low — then I might just offer whatever it’s listed for (because I’m not a psychopath).
There’s nothing more annoying than listing something for $80 and getting an offer for $30. Like, what do you think this is? And stop acting wide-eyed and shocked when I say “no, thanks.”
I feel like I may have exhausted my Craigslist tips at this point, but I’m sure there are more great ideas out there. What are your best buying and selling secrets?
In less than two weeks, we find out whether our baby is a boy or a girl or a dinosaur.
(Just kidding about the last one…making sure you’re paying attention!)
I thought I would be more stressed out about finding out. Well, stressed isn’t the right word. Anxious? Emotionally charged? Whatever it is that I thought I would be, I’m actually pretty zen about the whole thing.
It probably helps that I’m not that concerned about it going either way. Sure, I little part of me hopes it’s a girl (I need to do SOMETHING with my master braiding skills), I would be equally as thrilled with a little boy. When either result results in happiness, it’s hard to be too stressed/anxious/emotionally charged/whatever.
I am excited to find out, though, if only so I can start planning a nursery and calling the baby by a pronoun other than “it.” Nothing makes you feel like a terrible mom like calling your child “it,” let me tell you. Probably because this image flashes through my mind every time I do:
BUT I CAN’T HELP IT. It’s either that or confuse everyone by just switching back and forth.
Before the official results come in, I thought it could be fun to play the What Am I Having Game: Old Wives’ Tale Edition!!! Hang on to your hats, folks — let’s see what completely unscientific guessing games have to say about my fetus.
How am I carrying (high or low)?
The baby moves a bit, but I feel like the most solid part of the bump is down low.
Survey says: BOY
How am I carrying (front or sides)?
Anyone who sees me will tell you that my bump is a little thing, but I can’t deny that I’ve generally thickened all around my middle. (My pencil skirts will confirm.)
Survey says: GIRL
Is baby “stealing my beauty”?
This is probably my least favorite wives’ tale because it seems undeniably sexist, but in theory, bad skin/hair/etc. indicates a girl. My skin has been breaking out a lot for me (usually clear skin is the one thing I can count on), but I’ve also had several people tell me I’m glowing. (Pregnant women love to hear this, by the way.)
Survey says: INCONCLUSIVE
Dry hands and cold feet?
This is one I actually had never heard of, but apparently dry hands and cold feet can indicate a boy. My hands have literally been flaking off the last couple of weeks, and my feet are always chilly. (But the feet thing was true even before I got preg.)
Survey says: BOY
Baby’s heart rate?
If the baby’s heart beats under 140 beats per minute, tradition says it’s a boy. Our little bean had a heart rate of 150 at my last sonogram.
Survey says: GIRL
What am I craving?
Apparently sweets mean girl, salt and sour means boy. I have definitely had a taste for sour, and I can’t get enough lemonade and pickles. (Though I’ve always liked these things.)
Survey says: BOY
How is Joey doing?
As the story goes, if your partner is packing on pounds while you do, it’s supposed to indicate a girl. I have NO IDEA why this is true, but as far as I can tell, Joey is as skinny as ever.
Survey says: BOY
How am I feeling?
The sicker you get, the more likely it is that you’re having a girl. I actually had very little to no morning sickness, and all my nausea went away at 12 weeks.
Survey says: BOY
What’s your parental history?
This is a fun one I had never heard of: If the mother is the her mother’s firstborn, she will have what her mother had second. If the mother is the middle child, she will have what her mother had for her third child. If the mother is the third child, she will have her kids in the same order her mother did.
Survey says: GIRL
How are my legs?
Finally, a tale that actually favors girls! This old tale says that if your legs swell up, you’re having a boy. Fortunately, mine have stayed pretty much the same so far.
Survey says: GIRL
Graceful or clumsy?
Apparently, if you’re a klutz while pregnant, you’re having a boy. I haven’t noticed a marked change in my grace, but I wouldn’t say I’m tripping all over the place.
Survey says: GIRL
The toddler test?
I laughed at this one: If a toddler boy takes interest in you while you’re pregnant, you’re having a girl. There’s actually a 5-year-old boy in my Kingdom Hall who recently asked me on a date, so what do you know?
Survey says: GIRL
Side you rest on?
If you prefer the left, it means you’re having a boy. I’ve always preferred the right, and that hasn’t changed since getting pregnant.
Survey says: GIRL
How’s my head?
An increase in headaches can indicate a boy. I never used to get headaches, but I usually get at least one a week now.
Survey says: BOY
So that’s six votes for boy and seven for girl — shockingly, not a conclusive answer! Guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the sonogram says
What do you think I’m having? Vote in the comments below — and I’ll reveal the answer on May 10th!