An Uncomplicated Life Blog: 2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

5th Month Bumpdate Twin Pregnancy

I'm wrapping up my fifth month being pregnant with twins. See how things have changed since my last update!

I feel like I just wrote my 4th month bumpdate but wouldn't you know, it's been a whole calendar month! At this time last month I was just heading in for my anatomy scan and about to learn the gender of the twins. This week, I'm headed in for the second part of the anatomy scan - there's one on the early side to make sure the body and brains are developing on track and then a month later there's one specifically to make sure the heart is developing correctly. Fingers crossed for healthy babies! If all is well at this scan, my regular OB can do all other ultrasounds for me (twin mamas have to go to a specialist for these two mega-important scans). Not only is it more convenient for my OB to do it (half the number of appointments!) but she also doesn't charge for parking like this specialist does... I don't mind paying for parking downtown, but they're not downtown. They also only charge about $2. So it's not the money, it's just annoying. I digress! Here's what the 5th month of being knocked up with twins is really like:

18 week post-fitness bump

Weeks gestation: 21 weeks on Thursday. Well over the halfway mark for twins (which is closer to 18 weeks)

Cravings: Y'all, I've turned into a cave woman. A Neanderthal. I'm eating meat at most meals! I normally only eat meat a few times a week. Gimme beef! All the beef! Dear planet, I am so sorry I'm participating in your destruction, but these babies are demanding the calories, protein and fat that comes from animals. I promise to return to a more responsible diet once they're out! But for now, I'm a borderline vampire with all this disgusting bloody meat... Twin moms are supposed to get 150g of protein and close to the daily maximum allowance of iron (45mg) a day. Beef enchiladas are sooooo good! I can put down a three egg omelet, no prob. Man, I can't wait to be a vegetarian again! I'm grossing myself out with this paragraph. Let's move on.

Aversions: Anything exceptionally salty. I gagged on a pretzel. When I switched to an all-organic diet several years ago, I noticed how salty conventional foods tasted. Now I can't even stomach conventional type foods! The sodium levels are disgusting. No wonder heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. Animal fat and sodium, your personal passport straight to heart disease!

19 week post-fitness bump. Left barre class early this day, the workout was too hard!

Weight gain: 10 pounds. I'm underweight, as I am in all my pregnancies. I don't get how twin moms are supposed to gain all this weight! My stomach is the size of a ping pong ball from all this baby (well, babies), yet I'm supposed to find room to pack in an extra 600 calories a day? Like, HOW? Where is this food going to fit? I'm eating high calorie foods like beef and nuts and dried fruit. I'm drinking juice for extra calories. What the heck else can I do?!

Workouts: Right after my last bumpdate published, I started doing most - if not all - the modifications for yoga, barre and Pilates workouts. Now I leave classes early when they transition to ab series (doing ab work is too uncomfortable even though I *can* do it because I'd been doing it). I was trying to make it to 30 weeks before I transitioned to prenatal yoga classes, but that's a joke. That will be happening a whole lot sooner than I planned. Maybe even next week. Despite all my modifications and outright sitting some of the workout out, I also dropped the number of workouts I do a week. I was doing 4 (which is my non-pregnant minimum) but now I'm doing 3. Sometimes it's just a physical challenge taking care of two toddlers and doing housework and getting through the day consumes any energy I've got.

20 week bump and a rare hair-worn-down-day

I started seeing a Chiropractor at 16 weeks and it has made such. a. huge. difference! Night and day actually. I was having extreme sacrum pain, part due to a surgery I had at 13, and my three adjustments a week not only keep it manageable, most days I can walk around and sit completely pain free! It's amazing. It's something that has been nagging me since I was about 5 weeks pregnant and now it's under control.

That's been one of the biggest differences between a twin pregnancy and a singleton. With one, you get your energy back sometime early in the second trimester, and you feel great! I got it back for about a month, and then by week 18 I was back to feeling tired. Really tired. Babies have a growth spurt sometime between 16-18 weeks and having TWO babies have a growth spurt in you completely drains you. Size wise, I'm the same size at 21 weeks that I was at 36 weeks with a singleton, and adjusting to how big you get so quickly is draining. I have round ligament pain constantly, which I only experienced maybe a few times at the very end with Otto and never at all with Henry.

(Nearly) 21 week bump. I guess I wear all the same clothes in all my photos because so few fit!

Even though I just spent that whole paragraph being a Negative Nancy about my twin pregnancy, I have to say, things are still going well! I'm still getting to workout. My blood pressure is on the low end of healthy. I'm not swollen despite the insane summer Texas heat. Currently I have zero health issues and zero concern for issues to arise - I'm not "on the verge" of anything or "pre" anything. So despite being more tired than in any other pregnancy and it getting harder to move faster than I've ever experienced before, all is well and things are going smoothly! Honest to Pete, everything so far has been a "best case scenario" for a twin pregnancy, and I hope with all my might it stays that way and I stay pregnant to 37 weeks (full term for twins). 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Do One Simple Thing To Feel Better In Two Weeks

Take the Activia Two Week Challenge to feel better and improve your digestive health in just two weeks!

This post is sponsored by Activia but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Admittedly, I'm a terrible breakfast eater. Most days of the week, I skip it. I even skip breakfast in my current state, five months pregnant with twins! Give me a cup of coffee (yes, I can have just one while pregnant) and I'm good to go until noon, sometimes as late as 2pm. However, I know this isn't healthy. Non-pregnant Paige can live off caffeine and adrenaline from an advanced yoga class, but pregnant Paige shouldn't. I needed to get better about taking a minute to care for myself and my in-utero babies. I had to keep it simple, because I'm already a busy mom of two kids under age 4 and run a tight ship of schedules to manage. Enter the Activia Two Week Challenge.

The principle was simple enough: Eat a cup of lowfat yogurt or drink an Activia Dailies yogurt drink once a day for two weeks and evaluate for yourself the impacts the probiotic-loaded yogurt has on your gut health. The packaging of the product makes it really easy to consume, even if you're constantly busy or constantly juggling little ones like me. Besides the probiotics, it was a great way for me to get 4g of protein in the morning to keep me and these twins I'm growing full and fueled. 

Activia is easy to find at your grocer. I happen to be loving anything peach flavored lately (blaming the babies on that one - besides fresh seasonal peaches, I've never been much of a peach fan before!) and was thrilled to see Walmart had the yogurt cups stocked in my favorite flavor. Bonus: They're currently offering an Ibotta offer to get cash back on your Activia purchase! Get your $1 offer here.

The rest of the challenge is pretty straight forward: Eat a serving of the yogurt a day. Take notice of how you feel. After two weeks, the brand is betting you'll feel better, more energized to tackle the day because you've taken a moment to prioritize yourself, and experience improved digestive health.

My two weeks are up today! So what changes am I noticing? First, the probiotics, carbs and protein are a great - and frankly necessary - mix for pregnant mamas. Sure, I *can* run on my cup of coffee and feel agitated and struggle to get through my morning yoga practice. But when I took a moment to eat the yogurt I felt SO much more energy and so much less irritated. The natural sugars gave me a boost of energy (and satisfied my peach craving!), the protein kept me full throughout the morning, and the probiotic helped balance my gut health and encouraged regularity.

Sometimes life is funny and gives you opportunities at just the right time in life. This was one of those times for me. Activia reached out to partner and I thought, "Actually, yeah... All of those things are things I should be doing for myself right now! Sign me up." Their two week challenge is great because everyone can commit to doing ONE thing for themselves for just two weeks. Everyone can take just a few moments and focus on themselves, having just a few minutes of "me time" a day, even if you're growing additional humans while you care for others. There's no risk to you - only reward! Take a moment, enjoy your day and get some protein and probiotics for your health while you're at it. You'll be glad you did. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Easy DIY Garden Markers

Keeping track of what is what in your garden can become challenging as the season progresses and your plants grow! Here's an easy DIY to keep all your plants straight

When my stepdad built me my raised vegetable garden last October, I had no idea what I was doing when I formed some rows and threw some seeds directly into the ground to see what would pop up. I wrote this post after with some of the lessons I learned and subsequent tips I have for newbie gardeners. Fast forward a few more months and I quickly realized that when plants grow to their full size, your garden can turn into a jungle quickly! Especially if you didn't know what you were doing to start and didn't space your plants according to the seed package directions. I did this easy DIY garden marker to help keep me organized. *Affiliate links used*

I should note, this isn't just a good idea for beginners. I've had a few play dates over at our house and even an exterminator come (did you happen to catch my InstaStory about the dead roach in my master bedroom? Yeah, he and all his friends got dealt with!) and ask or assume what everything in the garden was. Have you ever been to an arboretum or professional garden? They're always marked with what the plant is so visitors aren't left guessing, googling or assuming. Not only is this a great, easy DIY to keep your own mind straight, it's great for anyone looking at your flower or veggie garden too.

I got wooden sticky sticks (they're actually called that) at my local craft store that have adhesive on the top. Get them off Amazon for less than $6 here. Then I picked up some chalkboard painted mini signs (similar here for less than $10) and a silver Sharpie marker (two for less than $3 here) so that the writing would show. While chalk is a good idea because you can change it as you change out your garden, one water from the hose or one rainfall will wash it right away, so use permanent ink. You'll want fresh markets anyway because of the deterioration of the thin wooden "sticks" - some sort of metal garden marker is the only way to get a permanent one. Or a painted rock, which in my opinion, isn't all that useful because it gets covered in either dirt or the plant itself. The affordability of the wood and the ability to easily change out signs is what I like best about this particular DIY garden marker.

The DIY is ridiculously easy and straightforward. Use the Sharpie to write the name of the plant on the chalkboard sign, let it dry fully, then stick it to the adhesive part of the wooden stick. Place it firmly in dry soil near the plant you want marked. I like to put them all on the same side of the garden so that it's neat and organized and you don't need to hunt for the sign - all signs are in the same location for each plant.

Use this easy DIY to make your own garden markers to clearly identify and label your vegetable or flower garden
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That's it! This easy DIY garden marker is so so simple. It's affordable and changeable as your garden morphs over the season(s). You can get fancy with your penmanship to spruce it up or you can keep it simple so that it's easily legible. If you find that the adhesive doesn't work well in your climate (if you're in a rainy or humid climate, it likely won't stick long!) just use a tad of hot glue to ensure the sign stays on the stick. And voila! You'll be able to keep your garden straight and guests won't constantly ask you questions on what you're currently growing. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

How To Deal With Negative Blog And Social Media Comments

After blogging for over 4 years, I've developed thick skin and excellent strategies to dealing with the negative blog and social media comments keyboard warriors leave

I hadn't even been blogging for 6 months when I got my first extremely negative, judgmental comment. It was on my blog, and a commenter was critiquing my own personal feelings on my own son's medical diagnosis. That right there is enough to tell you that commenter is not a well-adjusted human, but I remember being SO shocked and SO hurt by what they said. I deleted the comment and texted my sister about it. "Congratulations!" She said. "When you get negative comments, it means you're getting big. People who don't support you are even reading your stuff, and that's great!" I thought about what she said for a second, and it's true. The good news is that when you get negative comments, it means more people are reading your blog than just your friends, family and supporters. It means you've gained social media followers who might not like you all the time, and are still willing to take time out of their day to let you know (and in the process, drive up your engagement numbers). But it can be really hard to stomach! Here are the best methods I've developed over the years for dealing with negative blog and social media comments.

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1) Do not delete the comment
That miserable commenter I mentioned in the intro? Yeah, s/he trolled my site. When s/he saw I deleted the comment, s/he came back with an even nastier comment, attacking my feelings about my own child AND my ability to run a website! Don't delete the comment. It will only escalate the situation, and odds are high the negative commenter is looking for an (online) fight. The best way to "fight back" is to leave their comment up so that all can see what a nasty person they are, and to NOT respond. Respond to everyone else but the negative commenter. It will drive them NUTS! This way you're not engaging them or giving them what they want (a fight or a debate) and there's really no way for the situation to escalate. Just let it be.

There's two caveats I have to this rule: 
First, if someone used language you can't have on your public social channels - racial slurs, four letter words, whatever your tolerance is for appropriate, if a commenter violated it, I'd delete the comment and ban the person from having access to your page (this is super easy to do on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) and depending on who hosts your blog and how they commented, somewhat easy to do on your blog. In my experience, these jerks always comment as "anonymous" which makes it nearly impossible to block. You can, however, not allow comments from anonymous/unknown commenters if you start to get a lot of nasty comments on a particular post. 
Second, I reply to negative comments when I can tell the commenter has merely misunderstood me. Be extremely nice and humble about it, and the miscommunication gets cleared up almost immediately, and nearly every time, the commenter apologizes for their harsh words when they simply didn't understand you or your intentions.

2) Know that the negative comment is NOT ABOUT YOU
Let's take a brief moment and examine what I do when I read something I don't like on the internet. I consider myself a fairly well adjusted, mentally healthy woman. I read plenty of stupid crap on the internet, plenty of offensive content and plenty of articles/blog posts that are outright WRONG. I roll my eyes. I snort laugh. I might even send a link or a screenshot to my friends and have a good laugh at someone's expense. But in the end, I SCROLL ON. I scroll on being leaving a negative comment accomplishes nothing, and I'm smart enough to know that. Their words don't effect or change my life in any way, so I just get to scrolling and move along.

When you get a negative comment, it's not about you or your words. Well adjusted people keep it moving. Instead, it's about the COMMENTER. Your words triggered something in them that made them lash out at you. It's about their inner demons, their unresolved issues, their insecurities. This is why you shouldn't reply to the negative commenter - you're going to get nowhere. You can't argue with someone about their past that you know nothing about. You can't argue their hurt feelings, or their trauma. This is why you leave those comments up and don't reply, and also don't take it personally. It's about them, not you.

Prime example:

This person called me out as a "whiner" when clearly THEY just wanted a space to whine. Under the guise of anonymous, of course.
3) Know when to pull the plug
Sometimes, it's best to just take the whole post down. This is extremely true for social media, less true for blog posts - although if you're getting really uncomfortable with people's responses, feel free to do it. I've only removed one blog post ever, because there were about 10 people trolling it with not just negative comments, HATEFUL comments. As in, not just name calling, but wishing death on me. Yeeeeeah. They completely took over the comment section of my post! They even started one off conversations with each other about me and the content of my blog. First I started with turning off the comments for that post, then learned via Google Analytics that they were sharing it to various social channels and ridiculing it/me. That's when I decided, you know what, it's just not worth it! I took it down and literally haven't heard from any of those jerks since.

A somewhat similar thing happened recently with a post on my Facebook page. Granted, it was a tad too snarky of a post. Everyone who is a personal friend of mine and commented understood my sense of humor. Others who only know me as an acquaintance or simply follow my page/blog and don't know me personally didn't get it AT ALL and thought I was trying to mom shame. I explained myself in the comments to a few commenters, who then all got it, but an acquaintance tagged my PERSONAL Facebook page in her comment (I'm really protective of my personal account and keep the two very separate - not sharing one's content to another, and locking down my privacy settings on my personal account). Some of the haters started to send me personal messages about how I'm a bad, hateful mom. That crossed a major boundary for me. Comment on my public page, message my public page, call me names publicly... Ok, fine. But nobody gets to creep on my personal account and call me names, judge my parenting there, etc. So that post came down, too, because I was not ok with what was happening over on my personal page due to that tag. On the upside, a whole bunch of people got banned from my public page, which is a bizarrely satisfying thing to do! Don't be afraid to ban/block people, on any of your channels.

Bloggin' aint easy! Of course it looks like a fun, glamorous job with tons of perks. We get free stuff! We get paid to write and take photos! We get commissions from people who buy via our links, and advertising money, and get paid to play on social media! Yes, all of that is true. But you've also got to have thick skin. The bigger you get, the more people you'll reach who are NOT your fan, who don't like what you have to say, and who will let you know all that via the safety of their screen and keyboard. It's hard to stomach negative comments, but if you use these tips to deal with them, you'll successfully navigate the negativity and come out the other side a stronger person - and better blogger. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Essential Oil Diffuser Blends For Summer

I've been experimenting with various, nontraditional essential oil diffuser blends. These are my favorite for the warm months of summer!

Summer weather has hit the whole country, despite it not officially being summer yet. Our glorious 6 week summer session at school has even started back up (whoohoo!) For me, summer calls for fresh, cooling and relaxing smells to get us through the Texas heat. I've been playing around with new "blends" lately, and have really gotten into peppermint. That's a standard, mulit-use, mulit-purpose oil but I haven't really used it until this year. I'm also experimenting with rosemary, which I got for free as part of my Essential Rewards. It makes a great addition to one of my most popular DIY posts (details below!) and is also a fabulous diffusing oil. These 5 oils create my favorite essential oil diffuser blends for summer. *Affiliate links used*

First, don't have a diffuser? Get one for less than $16 here  (pictured above) and get a fancier, programmable one for less than $30 here. I have both of these in my home and love them both! If you need to get started with a diffuser AND oils, this is a great intro combination. I regularly use Young Living oils and products, which are top of the line oils safe for ingestion. Art Naturals are my favorite "affordable oils" to get started with when you're on the fence about EO's and not ready for the financial commitment of YL or joining a wholesale program.

Rosemary and lemon
The best way to describe this blend is fresh and cleansing. If you've got some stale air to clean out in our home, this blend is for you! I use equal amounts of lemon and rosemary. It's fresh, clean, bright and slightly herbal. A "non-oily" friend was recently in my home when I had this diffusing in my living room and she said, "wow, what's in that!? It smells amazing!" It's quickly become one of my favorite blends.

This blend helped me discover my love for rosemary, like I mentioned in the intro, and have since added it to this DIY outdoor spray that works WONDERS for anything you don't want crawling on your or biting you. I've added 5 drops of rosemary and also 5 drops of geranium to this DIY spray and have not been "bugged" once by outdoor pests!

Peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary
This was on such regular rotation, I went through a whole 15ml bottle of peppermint in less than two months when it had previously taken me more than 2 years to go through the 5ml bottle you get with a YL starter kit. Thank goodness peppermint is an affordable oil and I can use the heck out of it without cringing about the price! It's the perfect oil for summer (and also in that DIY outdoor spray) and it smells amazing when diffused in your home. Eucalyptus has the same effect as peppermint, it's just a more earthy scent. The rosemary adds a fresh, clean element to this cooling blend. I use about 4-5 drops of peppermint, 2 drops of eucalyptus, and 2-3 drops of rosemary.

Bergamot and orange
Need a mood booster? This one is for you! It's so bright and citrusy, it's perfect for a rainy day. It's also one of my favorite blends to fill my diffusers with when we're having guests over. I always get asked, "Wow, your house smells good, what's in that thing with all the mist?" To which I explain it's essential oils and that it's currently diffusing two of the best smelling citrus oils. It always goes over well! It's also a great one if you're cooking out and grill smoke might enter the house. The citrus helps clean out that stale smoke smell before it even grabs hold of your home. I like to use equal amounts of both oils, or if guests are coming over I use 4-5 drops of orange and 2-3 drops of bergamot.

Lavender and pachouli
This is absolutely one of my favorite blends to bust out in the afternoon when my kids are squirmy and sick of being stuck in the house (they just started back in a summer camp session yesterday, but when they're out for good in July and we're dying of hot summer cabin fever, can someone please remind me of this post and this blend?!) I know what you're thinking... Pachouli? Um, gross hippie much? Just a few drops goes a long way, but it really does smell wonderful and calming when blended with the lavender. I use 4-5 drops of lavender and 1-2 drops of pachouli.

Lemon, lime and peppermint
I made a DIY room spray two springs ago that is still one of my favorite smells (and a great way to use oils if you don't have a diffuser yet - but when you can get them for less than $16 I'm not sure why you don't have one! This is the exact one I have on my desk) The lemon and lime is a great blend for spring to get funky, closed in winter smells out of your home and the addition of peppermint transitions the blend perfectly for summer by adding a cooling element. I use 4-5 drops of peppermint, 2 drops of lemon and 2 drops of lime. 

Check out these great spring diffuser blends!

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Diffusing essential oils is a great alternative to candles. Candles, even some of the highest end candles, burn toxic perfumes and chemicals in the candle used to preserve the scent. Not to mention you have an open flame burning, which is a problem if you have kids. Diffusers smell BETTER than candles, minus the toxins, and you can control what scents you have in each room throughout the day! These are my favorite essential oil diffuser blends for summer - just a few ideas to get you started if you're new to oils, and some new ideas to try if you're an old pro.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Finding Out The Twins' Gender

It should have been a simple process, but finding out our twins' gender took multiple weeks, a failed test and ultimately, two ultrasounds.

Did you read that subheader? So ridiculous right? I totally get there are two camps of people when it comes to pregnancy: those who find out the gender and those that wait until birth. I'm a type A planner: I want to plan the nursery, buy the right clothes and generally prepare myself for what to expect after birth. For me, part of the enjoyment of pregnancy is nesting and planning. So I fall into the first camp, and frankly, completely don't understand the second camp! It's 2018, why on earth would you wait?! It's a surprise either way, so to tell me you like surprises doesn't cut it. Anyway, I digress. I found out the gender of both of my boys at their anatomy scan, but after the shock of twins I was ready to up my game and find out earlier! If only that had worked... This is the ridiculous, stupid story of finding out my twins' gender. *Affiliate links used*

Bought these adorable outfits from Kyte Baby before I knew the gender, which is my new fave baby shop. Everything is made from bamboo and SO soft and breathable! Shop all their prints here 

At my 8 week appointment when we found out there were two, I immediately asked my OB if there was a blood test I could do to learn the gender(s) of the babies as early as 10-12 weeks - in the first trimester for sure. She nodded her head and said, "Yes, there's a test now that will do that, even if they're different genders and fraternal twins." Great, I thought! Sign me up for that. She told me I'd come back in for a blood draw at 11 weeks and we'd have the results in about a week. Perfect! I scheduled a time to come in for my blood draw and began waiting.

At my blood draw, I didn't actually see my OB, just a lab tech. I confirmed with her that I was having the Panorama test and that I'd be able to discover the gender of the twins. She laughed at me and said, "That's the most important part?!" And I said, "Actually, yeah. I have two healthy boys; I know this test isn't diagnostic, it just gives a risk factor level. Having two normal kids is about as great an indicator as I need to know I'm low risk for abnormalities. But I do have two boys, and these are my last babies, and I'm DYING to know what I'm having!" She looked at me and told me she totally got it. She herself was a mom of four boys.

Seven days went by. The rest results said they'd be in somewhere between 7-10 days after the blood draw. On day 8, I called my OB's office just to see if they were in. They were!! The nurse of course went over the medical part of the test first, and no surprise, I was low risk for everything. Then she asked me if I wanted to know the GENDER. To which I said, "don't you mean the genders - plural?! It's twins. I think it's a boy and a girl, but yes, TELL ME NOW!!" She then got very confused. "Ummm, let's see. Ummmm. Well. Ok. I'm seeing male DNA, so you're for sure having one boy... But I can't tell if the other reading is your DNA or a baby girl. I think it's a boy and a girl, but hold on. Let me check."

I was totally confused! I thought this test provided clear results on twin gender(s) regardless of what you were having. I held on, seriously focusing on my breath because my pulse skyrocketed to about 150 beats a minute. Nothing like getting a for sure confirmation on the baby of the gender you already have, and the one being up in the air is the one you don't have, and really, really want. 

She came back to the line and told me she was "pretty sure" it was a boy and a girl, but that my OB would have to read through the results and call me back. Ok, I thought, I can handle this. I waited two hours, by which point I had to leave to pick my kids up from preschool. I know how busy my OB's office can get, so I called again just to see if my OB had a chance to review my results and leave a note on my file so a nurse could explain it to me.

I got a different nurse this time. There was no note from my OB. The second nurse also wasn't sure how to read the test, and told me that my OB was on a conference call but that she'd give her the test as soon as she was off and would have her call me. HOW FREAKING HARD IS IT TO READ THIS THING? I wondered. Sh*t, I have a Master's, send it to me and I promise you, I'll figure that ish out and do your job for you. Crazy Paige was on the verge of making an appearance.

Got these two cute onesies in Richmond when we knew that Baby A was a boy and were unsure of Baby B. I'm definitely loving more gender neutral clothing. Get the pineapple print here and shop similar to the mermaid print here

Hours pass. I made supper for the boys. I looked at the clock, and it was 4:55. My OB's office closed in 5 minutes and nobody had called me clarifying my results. So I call them, annoyed as hell, and speak to the first nurse I spoke to earlier that day, who was equally annoyed with me. "It looks like your test was run as a singleton, not a twin test. Your OB put in orders with the company to have it re-run." Oh, ok! I thought - so that's why the results aren't clear? "But it won't change the results on gender. You're having twins, so there isn't a test that will tell us both genders. Usually we can only find out one, unless you're having identical twins, then we know both. But yours are fraternal and we can't tell."

I took a deep breath. Mustered all my energy to hold in all the cuss words about to spill from my foul mouth loving self. Then said, "I explicitly had this test done because I was told, MORE THAN ONCE, that it would tell me the gender of the twins! I was told I was getting the Panorama test, and that was basic info we'd learn for sure from the test. It's the only reason I had the test!" To which she told me my OB doesn't use that brand of test because their genetic information was consistently coming back inconclusive, so they switched to another brand. This other brand didn't guarantee twin gender results. She told me she'd have someone from the test call me to go over what information I could expect. "THAT IS NOT THE POINT! I requested a very specific test and was told I was getting THAT test. That was not delivered to me. I did not get what I wanted, and what I expect I'll have to pay for out of pocket!"

Then I hung up on her because the cuss words were bubbling out and I was going to four letter word vomit all over this poor nurse. So instead, I threw my iPhone as hard as I possibly could, and it smashed to pieces, even with a protective case on it. I threw it that hard! At 6pm, when I should have been getting the kids ready for bed and winding down for the night with my gender news, I was pissed, riled up and heading to ATT to spend a bajillion dollars on a new iPhone. We walked in the door and Otto immediately pooped in his pants. I didn't have a diaper bag with me to change him. The ATT woman kept trying to up-sale me with add ons I didn't want. Finally I looked at her with a death stare and said, "My kid just sh*t his pants in your store. We're almost past bedtime. My two kids and I are going to lose it in about three minutes, so you'd better stop trying to sell me stupid sh*t and stop talking and get this new phone working unless you want a disturbance so loud, this store will implode on itself. Just hook up my new phone."

She didn't talk to me or even look at me for the rest of the visit, so I'd call that a success. Ugh, sales people. 

The next day I was finally able to speak to my OB. We were both equally annoyed with each other. She with me because I was calling frequently and more concerned with gender than health and me with her because I wasn't getting straight answers and ultimately wasn't given the test we had agreed I'd get. And no, I would not get to know the gender of both twins, just that one was for sure a boy.

I had decided the twins would have an outdoorsy, critter themed nursery before any gender(s) were known, and picked these blankets up at the Dallas Prego Expo, which if it's coming to your city, you should absolutely go! It was a great event. 

At 13 weeks I had an ultrasound to ensure that the two babies each had their own placentas. I believe I was technically 13.5 weeks so I thought, heck - we might see something! Baby A was all about that crotch shot life, and we learned that was for sure our boy. Baby B, on the other hand, would not give us a good crotch shot. It kept looking and waving at the camera, and would cross it's legs and flip around whenever she tried to angle the ultrasound to it's crotch. Awesome. Still only one boy confirmed.

I was told twins have two sets of anatomy scans. One for all the major body parts that was done between 16-18 weeks, then another at 21-22 weeks specifically for the heart. My OB wouldn't do this; instead, I had to go see a specialist. I got my appointment booked for May 24 and began waiting. Again. 

That morning I showed up right on time and did my paperwork. Then I waited. For over an hour! Finally, I was called back, but it was to an office room, not an ultrasound room. The woman was professionally dressed. I asked her if she'd be doing my ultrasound and she said no - she was a genetic counselor. WHAT?! Then she informed me that all twin moms over 32 (considered advanced maternal age for twins! I mean, really? And I guess advanced maternal age for triplets is just 27!) have to speak to a genetic counselor. So I wasted 15 minutes of my life going over my normal/low risk book work with her and talking about my very normal/low risk family history. Can't wait to get the bill for that BS. 

When we were done, I FINALLY got to the ultrasound room, a full two hours after my appointment time. The doctor came in with a nurse who were both very friendly and likable. As they were setting up I told her all about my journey to finding out the gender of Baby B, and how all my hopes and dreams of having a girl are riding on this one baby. She did a quick scan of my whole uterus and said, "Ok, you wanna know?" YASSSSSS lady, spill the beans! "You're having two boys."

I wasn't shocked, or even surprised. I just told her, "I know Baby A is a boy, but you're going to need to get a really, really good crotch shot of Baby B for me to believe it's yet another boy." She proceeded to do the anatomy scan on Baby A; all was healthy. Then she moved over to B. This time that little baby was all about the crotch shot too and gave us a great view. Low and behold, another penis is being added to my life. The nurse, who was particularly likable and fun to chat with, said, "oh honey, you're not just having boys - your boys are well endowed. There is no question those are boys!" And it was true. There was absolutely no question on a "nub." Neither boys just had mere nubs. It was clearly, 100% certain, 100% twin boys.

Looks like I'll be able to reuse both Henry (short sleeved - shop here)  and Otto's (long sleeved thermal Henley shop here)  newborn onesies, depending on when they're actually born and what our weather is doing. 

I didn't cry until I got to the car - much like when I found out I was having twins (read that story here in case you missed it). I'm uncomfortable getting emotional in front of people and when emotional things happen in public, it's like this strange sense of calm washes over me and carries me until I'm able to be alone to let out whatever needs to come out. Both the doctor and the nurse knew I wasn't thrilled. I just laid there until they were done with the anatomy scan (Baby B is healthy too). Then I set up my appointment for the heart scan and calmly walked out, not really chatting with anyone after the gender news.

It's hard to be mad when you have zero fertility problems. I get pregnant when I want to get pregnant and have healthy children. I'm not certainly not mad about that and indeed know how lucky I am (my mom was an IVF nurse for 20 or so years; our dinner convos growing up were on how some women struggle to get pregnant.) But did I want four boys? No. Did I want twin boys? Nope, not that either. Did I truly believe God gave me twins because if we had just had one more instead of two, it would have been a boy, so clearly He gave me twins so that I could get my one girl? Yeah, that's what I thought. It sounded reasonable, it made sense and most importantly, it explained MY desires about my own life. 

But here's the thing: God does not give you what you want. He isn't Santa Claus. You can't will, or hope or even pray YOUR desires into existence. There is no magical list of promises He keeps for you about your life so that all of YOUR dreams will be fulfilled. He might never give you kids at all. He might only give you one when you wanted a house full of them. He might give you four boys when all you've wanted your whole life was a daughter. 

I'm not a religious person at all, but I am spiritual. I find the presence of God is more relatable out in nature or on my yoga mat, not on my knees in a church. And through hanging out with Him and talking to Him in my own way that has enabled me to find Him, I've come to understand this: God does NOT give you what you want. But He sure as heck always finds a way to give you what you need, and usually exactly when you need it. I'm not sure how or why I need four penises (six actually, with a male dog and a husband!), but I'm sure that story will unfold as the children grow up and all the ways I need them in my life unfold. 

Finding out the twins' gender was one crazy, drawn out ride! It didn't end like I thought it would, nor like I had hoped. But here's to two more boys adding chaos and love to my wild ride of a life.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Happy Memorial Day

No post today - taking a moment to spend time with family and remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that my family can be free and happy in our country.

I have a great post planned for Thursday, telling the dramatic tale (no, seriously) of finding out the gender(s) of the twins. It's a story full of bumps and miscommunication and frustration - but with a final result to share!

Enjoy your Memorial Day. See you back here on Thursday!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

4th Month Bumpdate Twin Pregnancy

Details on the 4th month of pregnancy with twins

I'm actually in my last week of the 4th month of pregnancy with these twins. Time is FLYING with this twin pregnancy! Honestly, in my opinion, your first pregnancy drags on and on and on, and then all subsequent pregnancies are over within a blink of an eye - and I'm a gal who doesn't necessarily enjoy being pregnant! Even when I'm not knocked up, I LOVE reading other people's bumpdates, provided they're real and honest. None of that "it's all rainbows and butterflies" BS, I'm talking what pregnancy is actually like for that mother. In that spirit, I'm going to share with you monthly updates on what it's really, truly like to be pregnant with twins. I'll likely have some commentary on how a pregnancy with multiples compares with a singleton too. I'm talking cravings, "backacne" and all the questions you "shouldn't ask a pregnant woman" will be answered here! So hold on tight and let's discuss what a real twin pregnancy is like (at the 4 month mark) shall we?

16 week bump

Weeks gestation: 17 weeks today!

Cravings: I'm not really a food craving type of person... I've mentioned this in other bumpdates from my pregnancy with Otto, but I'm not an emotional or hormonal eater. I will say that a friend had a margarita and I took a sip and it was about the BEST TASTING THING I've ever had, ever... Which is awesome because margs and pregnancy go so well together. Kidding, jokes people. Guess I'll have to see if a margarita tastes as good once the babies are here earth side with us.

Aversions: None. Literally none. I just love all food right now, even stuff I don't typically eat. Meat, veggies, fruit, pancakes, yogurt, all of it, I love all food. (FYI, non-pregnant Paige rarely eats fruit and can't even stand the smell of yogurt, unless it's tzatkiki, which is delicious and should be eaten with nearly every meal.)

Weight gain: 5 pounds. I lost several during the first trimester and then didn't gain anything until week 15. Typically, I gain most my weight in the third trimester (gained 24 pounds total with Henry and 19 with Otto) but I've been told to up my eating game because with twins, you basically have no room in your stomach in the third trimester. So I've been going out of my way to eat more as best I can, while I still can! Massive weight gain scares the crap out of me because I know how hard it is to lose, but I also know that if I don't gain at least 30 pounds (or more) with these twins they'll be underweight and more likely to need NICU time. More tacos for meeeeeeee!

17 week bump

Workouts: I'm maintaining 4x a week, and did all through my first trimester too, even when I was feeling like garbage. For me, working out is when I feel my best. It was some of the only moments when I didn't feel nauseous in the first trimester, and it's currently when I feel my most energetic now in my second. I know at some point I'm going to have to transition to prenatal yoga and more stretching-type workouts as my tummy will simply be too huge for regular workouts, but I'm currently enjoying hot yoga, barre and Pilates classes. All low impact and great for pregnant women.

I can't lie though; it's definitely getting harder to do non-pregnancy specific workout (i.e. vinyasa flow yoga vs. prenatal yoga) and I'm already doing most moves with prenatal modifications. For comparison, I didn't modify anything until my third trimester with my singleton pregnancies. That's a tad frightening!

Symptoms: I was on around the clock nausea meds for my first trimester! I was max'ing out the dose, every single day for those three months. Then in the second trimester I weaned to the lowest dose in a day... Now I just have them and take them as needed, which isn't terribly often. Maybe a few times a week. I was and still am horribly constipated. Yup. Sure am! I have to take two kinds of iron, so that's not helping that situation at all. If one more person tells me to just "eat more fiber and drink more water, that will help!" I'm going to knock their front teeth out. My body has slowed down digestion so that every last molecule of nutrition goes to these babies, THAT is why I'm not pooping. Let's move on.

15 week bump

My breasts are SUPER, EXTREMELY sore. Before I found out about this twin situation, I thought for sure I was having a girl because the boob situation was so different than my boy pregnancies! Joke's on me, I'm having twins and those are twin pregnancy boobs I was feeling. Take the tenderness you have with a singleton and times it by 10. I'm not kidding, that's what your boobs feel like when you're pregnant with twins! My energy still isn't back to full force yet, and I have to sit or lay down often in the afternoons (mornings are great - those are my powerhouse hours!). I'm laying on a couch for good by 7:30pm and in bed most nights by 9pm. But hell, that's me when I'm not pregnant too. 

Besides barfing, not pooping, vein-y sore breasts and feeling tired all afternoon/evening, I'm feeling good! Henry was BY FAR my hardest pregnancy. He was even harder than this twin pregnancy. Since my bar was set so low with my first pregnancy, this twin stuff isn't terrible (yet)! On to the fifth month I go.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe

I made this carrot cake recipe in cupcake form for Henry's birthday. The cake plus the cream cheese frosting is the perfect combination and my favorite carrot cake recipe to date!

Carrot cake is one of those funny things that a person either loooooooves or hates. Very few people are like, "meh" about it. I'm in the love category, as long as it's made correctly! People who load it up like a fruitcake with pineapple, large chunks of carrots and walnuts and raisins? Get out of here, that's nasty! That's just my opinion though, so if that's your jam, you can totally add it to this recipe. I won't judge you. I'm giving you the "base model" as it were, and you can add your fave additions or leave it as-is. This, my friends, is the BEST carrot cake recipe I've had in my 33 years on earth.

I made these for Henry's birthday, because he's crazy about cupcakes. Even if it's cake, he calls it a cupcake. If you watched my Instagram Stories from early April, you saw that I attempted a recipe using carrots from our garden and hand grated the dang carrots. Well that recipe didn't come out as moist (I know, that word is kinda gross) as I wanted, and also wasn't "spice cakey" enough, so this is the recipe I changed after a few attempts at it. The cream cheese frosting I NAILED right away, and kept it the same.

Oh, and I used everyone's advice, and pulled out my food processor to grate the carrots instead of doing it by hand. That was a lifesaver! Thanks guys.

Hands down, the coolest part about this recipe is that we used carrots we grew from our garden. The day before I made them, Henry and Otto helped me harvest all the carrots. They loved pulling them from the dirt and seeing what color the carrot would be, how big it was, and how funny it looked (if it was oddly shaped or covered in more roots than the last one, etc.) I even got them to eat some of the carrots cooked, albeit covered in butter and a tad of brown sugar. I think their connection to growing them and then harvesting them gave the boys enough interest in trying them, because I haven't been able to get them to eat carrots before!

Even if you don't have your own veggie garden, this recipe will be delicious with carrots you buy at the store. Don't use the pre-peeled, ready to eat carrots - they soak those in sugar to make them sweeter to eat, and it will make this recipe too sweet. Instead, buy regular carrots and peel them yourself, then pop them in the food processor. No food processor? You're crazy and should get one ASAP, but barring that, get the pre-shredded bag at the grocery store and run a knife over them to make them a tad smaller. The large chunks of preshredded carrot won't cook enough in the time it takes to bake the cupcakes, and you'll have raw carrots in your cake. Gross. 

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe
- 1.5 cups flour (not self rising flour!)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup raw sugar
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup finely shredded carrots
- 2/3 cup melted salted butter
- OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup each of raisins, walnuts, pecans or other additions you care for in your carrot cake

For the cream cheese frosting:
- 1 4oz package cream cheese
- 2 sticks salted butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the flour, spices, sugar and salt. Stir in the eggs, milk, vanilla, butter and carrots, mixing well. Add any optional ingredients. Grease cupcake pan (I'm not into wasteful liners - they're so unnecessary! Why put something on a cupcake that will only get immediately removed and thrown away?) and fill each cup slightly more than half full. 

Bake for about 17 minutes (depending on location, humidity level and elevation) or until golden brown on the edges. Place a cooling rack over the cupcake pan, and invert the cupcakes on the cooling rack to they can cool and you can use the pan for the remaining batter. Makes about 20-24 cupcakes.

For the frosting, let the cream cheese and butter come to room temperature completely. In a medium sized bowl, add the room temp cream cheese, butter, vanilla and half the sugar. Mix until incorporated, then add remaining sugar. Mix well again. The frosting should be semi-sweet, and slightly tart from the cream cheese to balance the sweetness of the cupcake.

Frost the completely cooled cupcakes simply with a butter knife, or use the trick I did: Place the frosting in a Ziploc freezer bag. Cut a small corner off the end of the bag and push the frosting down and out of that corner. This makes it easy to frost the cupcakes and make fancy swirls or other designs!
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Enjoy! The cake part is sweet and balanced by the semi sweet, slightly tart frosting. I watched my husband put away three of these in one day, they're that good! Yes, this truly is the BEST carrot cake recipe.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Henry Turns 4

Happy birthday to the boy who first made me a mommy, my sweet Henry! This post is an ode to him, talking about all he's accomplished and all that is in his four trips around the sun

Happy birthday Henry (May 16 to be exact)! You're four years old now and so proud of it. You're honest to goodness THE sweetest child I've ever known - yes, even more so than your brother and even more so than the angelic little neighbor girls I used to babysit for in high school. You are turning out great, kid! Here's what you've been up to and how you changed this last year.

You're now fully potty trained! WHOOHOO! I was a tad worried for a while there... We have so many friends your exact age (seriously, all my girlfriends in Dallas had kids at the same time! As in, within months of each other) and you were the last one to be "trained." Maybe it's because I don't believe in "training" humans and therefore never forced you to do anything, never read a stupid book on the subject and never implemented the "weekend training" but I also never had to ride around with a kids toilet in my trunk and you only had ONE accident, ever. You now don't even need my help to go to the bathroom, which I have to tell you is pretty awesome.

You can ride a bike without training wheels! In fact, you could do this well before you were even 3 and a half. Balance bikes is where it's at, other moms! No training wheels ever, your kids just learn how to balance and ride. Anyway, you love going fast and beating your brother in races. Enjoy it now because he eats so much more than you, it's only a matter of time before he's bigger than you are...

You eat meat sometimes! You spent the first three years of your life spitting out any and all meat I attempted to feed you. I literally could only get you to eat dairy, hummus and fish as sources of protein. Now you'll eat chicken! Still no beef and you're on the fence about bacon, but you're trying new things, more so than you ever did before. It makes me so happy that you're willing to try!

You are my easiest child; my helper; my listener; my caring one. If I tell you no, you don't do it again. If I ask for help with something, you jump right in and help me. If your brother is being a handful, you help me calm him and entertain him. Your teachers absolutely ADORE you, and tell me on the side and "hush hush like" that you're their favorite student. You're a May baby and the trend in Texas is to hold back boys to the next school year (which I think is not only a load of crap, I think it's disservice to the child, but that's another post for another time) but you're so advanced both in your education and social skills, you only have one more year of preschool left before you're off to kindergarten. I'm going to savor this last year with having you with me most days of the week!

Frankly, you were my most unpleasant, most challenging pregnancy. I got a 180 different birth with you than I had hoped for (planned for a natural birth with midwives at a birth center; got an emergency c section with a preterm baby). I was SO unprepared for you! I was plagued with postpartum depression when you were an infant too. Then sometime around 9-10 months, I emerged from the PPD darkness and we clicked. We had a rough start, but ever since then, you've been the BEST baby, the BEST toddler and soon to be, the BEST child!

A face full of food remnants and he's still a handsome boy!

Most moms complain about their toddlers at some point. I can honestly say I've never, not once, complained about you. You are an absolute joy to be around. I look forward to times when we get to have "mommy-Henry days" where it's just you and I running errands because I LOVE having you with me! You've never thrown a tantrum in public (and at home, I think you've thrown two in your whole life) and strangers actually stop me to comment on what a wonderful, well behaved and polite child you are - and of course mention your insanely handsome good looks. The ease of caring for you and the joy you bring me is what made me want to have more children.

Now if we could just get Otto to be less like me and more like you... Kidding! Kinda.

Happy 4th birthday, my sweet, handsome, kind, compassionate, rule-following son. The world needs more people like you in it! My world would not be complete without you in it. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

DIY Refrigerator Freshener

Spring and summer means more fresh fruits and veggies in our fridges... Which can be smelly! Use this do it yourself freshener to keep your fridge smelling clean

It's our last full week of school here in Dallas, and that means summer break is right around the corner! For most people that means a slower pace and lots of vacations, but for me in my current season of life it means a FASTER pace with kids home nonstop - toddler aged kids that need help with everything and regularly scheduled activities and who don't know the meaning of sleeping in, either... Anyway, what it usually means for all of us is an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies are readily available and in season! Which is awesome, but if you've ever left some fresh broccoli sit a tad too long in your veggie drawer, you know how rank that can make your refrigerator (and even your whole kitchen) smell. This is a super simple DIY you can use all spring and summer long to keep your fridge de-stinkified despite it being full of fragrant produce.

There's really two great ways to go about this DIY refrigerator freshener. First, you can get a small mason jar and poke holes in a cute pattern on the top lid to release the ingredients. Or, you can keep the mason jar ring and toss the flat lid part, and sub in a cute piece of fabric. Both work equally well; the fabric is easier if you have some laying around but the cut in design makes this more of a fun arts and crafts style project (perhaps you're looking for something to do with your kids at home, eh?!)

DIY Refrigerator Freshener
- small mason jar
- small piece of square or circle cut fabric OR long sewing needle/small sharp knife to cut design into mason jar lid
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 10 drop lemon essential oil

Place baking soda in  mason jar. Add the essential oil drops, and shake the jar to evenly distribute the oil amongst the baking soda. I used my hand to cover the top of the jar so that I could vigorously shake the oil into the baking soda. If you're using the fabric, place the center of the fabric over the middle of the mason jar and secure with the screw on ring. If you're using the lid like I did, cut enough holes the top for the baking soda and essential oil to circulate your refrigerator.

Place one or two in your fridge. I did one on the top shelf, and one on the bottom shelf, closest to the produce drawer. Once or twice a week, give the jar(s) a shake to expose new baking soda to the air. This will keep it working longer! Every six weeks or so, empty the baking soda into the trash and start over with fresh soda and fresh essential oil. This would also be great with orange, grapefruit, bergamot, or lime essential oil - or a combo of them! Citrus oils are great for freshening a room and for cleaning.

Check out this spring breeze room freshening spray and DIY garbage disposal cleaners you can make with citrus essential oils too!

Spring and summer is a great time for eating tons of fruits and veggies. Everything is in season and most produce comes down in price because so much of it is grown locally (and the bulk of it from being in season drives down prices, too.) But it can make your refrigerator smell a tad funky. Especially if you let it sit for too long! Use this DIY refrigerator freshener to keep your fridge and kitchen smelling great.

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Woodland Themed Baby Shower

This woodland themed baby shower is gender neutral and perfect for spring or summer baby showers

It feels like I've been all over the United States in the last two months! Have you checked my InstaStories? I've been posting all the eats (since, you know, I can no longer drink...) in all the cities I've been to recently. One of which was Boston. I flew out there a few weeks ago to host my sister's baby shower, which was such an honor and a privilege to do as she and her hubby welcome their first baby (a boy! So many boy grand babies for our mom!) It was a coed shower, so they didn't want it too traditional. We came up with a "camp theme" where the cuteness was in the details. A woodland themed baby shower is perfect for either gender and perfect for spring and summer babies! Read on for party planning inspiration.

Make your own trail mix bar with woodland creatures (mimicking a forest)
Of course, after I boarded the flight, I realized I had forgotten my DSLR camera. I'm such a bad blogger when it comes to taking photos! Included are some snaps from my iPhone X because I can't get a grip on real photography it seems. Struggles!

My sister and her husband aren't traditional people, as I mentioned. As we discussed party planning, she made it clear she didn't want things in blue. She didn't want traditional decorations or dumb games. Which is perfect, because I find those things tacky too. Their goal was a low key brunch party where friends could come and hang out, wish them well, eat some cake, and boom, baby shower complete. Of course I searched Pinterest for some cute, nontraditional, more gender neutral theme ideas and came across some cute outdoor/woodland/fairy/little critter photos that inspired my "woodland" theme.

I was able to find all the small figurines on sale at Michael's and loaded up! Then got some faux moss/grass for that I figured could be used to serve hot or cold food, potted grass, real moss and pine cones for decorations, and just because this was indeed a baby shower, some onesies with twine and old school wooden clothes pins for a simple onesie banner for their fire place.

Since it was a brunch shower, we kept the menu simple with quiche, carrot cake cupcakes, fruit trays, a make your own trail mix bar and coffee and a mimosa bar. The make your own trail mix bar also served as a "center piece" of the decorations as it highlighted some of the woodland/hiking/camping feel of the shower. Not only was this a cute way to theme some of the food, but it also worked for people with food allergies - everything was separated and labeled so guests could create their own blend to their tastes and preferences. Win-win!

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Baby showers don't have to be that awkward party that nobody is super excited to go to! Modernize the theme and make it fun - no need for diaper cakes and baby shower games if you don't want to. This woodland themed baby shower is perfect for either gender baby, and great for coed showers, too. You can keep the decorations simple like I did if you're working with a small space, or go over the top and add birch branches and hanging, gauzy fabric that mimics a tent. It's easy to customize this modern, fun baby shower theme.