20 in 2017

Friday, July 14, 2017

This year, I've given myself a goal to read 20 books in 2017. The title of this post is probably way more boring than you thought it was!

I have this theory, though. Men have hobbies people really see as hobbies: golf, boating, working on motorcycles, paintballing...my "hobbies" are not only significantly more indoorsy, they're also not as easily classified as "hobbies": watching most things on Bravo, live tweeting #TheBachelor, going to Nordstrom, sending snail mail to my friends, doing face masks, researching vacations, petting my cats, experimenting with new beauty products, and, well, reading.

I think reading was my first hobby. I don't remember anything before it. Collecting stickers and troll dolls came later.

I was listening to The Ultimate Health Podcast the other day and they were interviewing a guy who said that if we all read for 45 minutes a day, based on the length of the average book, we could be reading a book a week. 52 books a year. That means my goal is actually really low. I'm writing down the titles and authors of the books as I finish them to hold myself accountable. I've heard this is important for goal-setting and it makes me feel good to see the list get longer. Granted, I'm currently a little behind on my goal, but I think I'm catching up. And, as always, my hope is to exceed it.

Another reason I wanted to set myself a firm goal and hold myself to it is that I keep buying or picking up books and adding them to stacks I say I'll get to eventually. I just keep moving the piles around, which is EXACTLY WHAT MY GRANDPARENTS DO. Genetics are scary! With a little baby adding lots of stuff to our house, clearing out some piles will inevitably help my stress level. Clutter, be gone!

Here are the books I've read this year so far. Note: I've committed to finishing them once I start, even if I don't think I'll like them. I'm going to give you a one-line book report on each, with a would or would not recommend. I don't like book reports and I don't want to spoil your experience should you decide to pick any of these up for yourself, so one line feels appropriate.

Baby Owner's ManualFun, quick read full of surprisingly useful information about how to hang out with your little one. Would recommend to anyone spending lots of time with infants.

Skinny Bitch: Bun in The OvenPretty snotty and didactic manual basically telling you to go vegan while pregnant. Would not recommend based on tone and insistent content.

We Are Water: I'll read anything Wally Lamb writes and this doesn't disappoint--weaving, complex story of a family whose dynamic has shifted entirely, and continues to shift. Would recommend to anyone who likes heady, well-written contemporary novels.

House of Sand and Fog: Intense Oprah's Book Club pick from years back that follows two families whose lives become crazily connected in a way neither of them wants. Personally, would not recommend because it really only gets good at the end.

Daring Greatly: Well-researched book focused mostly on exploring shame--where it comes from and how to combat it. Would not recommend, mostly because I thought it would be something completely different than it was, although I did learn a few things from it.

Option B: Sheryl Sandberg's exploration of life after tragedy and the lessons she's learned (and implemented in work and life) from her husband's sudden death. Would absolutely recommend to anyone who has faced tragedy or wants to help someone going through it. Honestly, I would recommend it to every corporate CEO as well.

Modern Romance: Exploration of finding love in the modern age. Not wholly applicable to my life, but Aziz is funny, so I would recommend to people out there looking for love, but would not recommend to married people with babies.

I'm currently working my way through Hillbilly Elegy and Baby Wise, but I think I'll need something more...fun for my next read. Anything you've been into lately I should add to my list? I could use a juicy beach read.

A Nursery Fit for a PNW Baby

Friday, July 7, 2017

We knew we'd be spending a lot of time in Oliver's nursery, so we invested a ton of energy in making it what we wanted--cozy, calm, and filled with the perfect new and old furnishings.

We've worked with our friends, White Space Interiors, previously on a few home projects and we LOVE what they do. My mom was so impressed with what they did at our house, they have her on retainer for her home in California, which has become an ongoing project. Soon, we'll start on our eat-in kitchen nook with them, but for this, we wanted to do it on our own.

I'm pretty pleased with the result.

Anyone else's baby lose his mind every time he gets his diaper changed? We're moving past that, but MAN. 
I pride myself on being a pretty unstoppable researcher. I will find exactly what I'm looking for. I've found that it's always easier to start ideating on a room when you have a piece or two to begin with. For us, that was the mid-century rocker I found at CB2. It went perfectly with the vibe of our house, which was built in 1950. And, unlike West Elm (whose stuff we love, but whose customer service and large furniture turnaround time cannot be trusted), they were ON TOP of providing top notch customer service and delivery timeframes. When the guys arrived to drop the chair and a few other things, they had those booties you have to wear when you do the parade of homes and didn't step a foot inside our door until they had them on. On top of that, they brought all the things about a week or so after we ordered them, which, when it comes to large furniture items, is totally unheard of. I understand it wasn't huge and it wasn't a custom piece, BUT STILL.

Our little baby burrito in his rocker.
Raz built the bookshelves and stained them to match Oliver's crib and changing table. I'm not the best at decorating shelves aka making them not look totally cluttered, but I think I did okay here. Most of the books were mine from growing up or ones Grandma made me take from their house. Still have to go into storage and find one of my many copies of Make Way for Ducklings to add to it. Whenever Oliver and I walk by a Little Free Library that has kid books in it, I get as many as strike my fancy and read them to him. Then I decide if they're worthy of the shelf. It'll be a constant edit. We have Alexa turn on classical music and work on brain development with the book collection :).

About what we look like when we're reading. 
Raz found the super-cool rope lamp on Amazon and I think it ties everything together perfectly. Before he was born, Raz and I would spend weekend mornings with the cats in Oliver's room reading and imaging what it would be like once he was with us. It's so cool now to really be using the things we so carefully curated.

Just gazing into that face we created. 

We used to have my dad's small antler set above our bed and when Raz suggested we upgrade to a larger set when we were shopping one day in the cutest little town full of vintage shops, he knew he'd sell me by suggesting we move the smaller set of antlers to Oliver's room. It was important to me to have things that belonged to the family before him in Oliver's room, so there's a picture of my dad and uncle on the shelf, along with a gold antelope (are those antelopes?) statue I stole from Grandma and Papa's attic, and photos of us as babies on the other side that aren't pictured. We also have some of the cutest little stuffed animals Raz's grandma sent back with his parents when they visited Romania earlier this year. We'll introduce those once he's playing with toys more.

This pastel painting of the mountains was done by Papa. We had one just like it in my house growing up and I think it's somewhere in my mom's storage unit now. So, after I told Papa and Grandma I was pregnant, I asked if I could take this one from one of my uncles' childhood bedrooms. It's the perfect addition above the my changing table from when I was a baby.
I don't have a photo of the gallery wall above the crib, along with Oliver's mobile to show here, but I'll make sure to put it on my Insta stories. There are four white frames above his crib, each with a meaningful photo: fuzzy horse ears from our #Poptartmoon in Kauai, a photo of us from our pregnancy announcement, my dad's bow and arrow, and a hillside full of thatched huts from our honeymoon in Tahiti. My plan is to rotate them out as the urge hits me. As with all things great, I hope it continues to evolve as our life together does.

Big thanks to Meg Newton Photography for capturing these special memories

No Sleep 'Til...?

Friday, June 30, 2017

If you're in my approximate age bracket, your social feeds are probably flooded with babies. It's cute and it's annoying. I'm right there with you, and now I'm one of them. 

With the new ones, captions usually say something along the lines of "#oneweek! We are so in love!" and the like. Probably true. What these posts aren't saying is how extremely rough the first few weeks are. So, so rough. That's not to say it isn't worth it. It is. But after pushing out a baby, your body still isn't your own. It's even more at service to your little one. If you choose to breastfeed, as I did (which I felt very weird about but knew I would do, if I could, for the benefits it would provide Oliver and me), you're even more at the mercy of your infant. There are days that Raz wakes up and asks me how many times Oliver and I were up in the night. Sometimes I think must be nice. Usually, I don't get too miffed, though, because we need him to be able to really show up at work, whereas Oliver and I can nap during the day if we need to. It's not perfect, but it works, and it's really the only option right now. 

So, what am I saying? I'm saying that we've done this lack of sleep thing before, but it was on our terms: we were out partying, I was opening Nordstrom Rack stores around the country and giving interviews at 4 a.m. Having to wake up when I don't want to (or go to bed past my bedtime) isn't news. What is, though, is that it's my body that has to wake up and provide, too, and that adds a whole other layer to it all. It's exhausting, but it's also really, really special.  

He's passed out and I'm about to join him. 
I used to feel weird about women saying the breastfeeding bond is really special because I didn't want to think about boobs and babies on them and clogged ducts and biting and etc. etc. But now that I'm there, I get it. I love hanging out with this human I created and giving him everything he needs to survive and thrive. It's our time and it is as special as they say it is. 

If you're wondering if I'm going to go all Kourtney Kardashian on you and go crazy organic, yes, I'm on my way. I'm researching super natural skincare because I don't want my biggest organ absorbing chemicals and transferring them to my child. If you have great products to recommend, let me know. But I'm still eating Twizzlers and I can't say that will ever change. We all have our limits and I know I can't be all goat milk and twice daily meditation. Not yet at least. 

A couple things that have helped a little with the sleep are good nursing bras (I tried sleeping without one and it wasn't comfortable, unfortunately) and glow in the dark binkies. Those things are seriously a Godsend. I've linked my favorites below--note: I've tried A LOT of nursing bras and tanks and they're pretty outlandishly priced. Apparently Nordstrom can convert any bra to a nursing bra, which is AMAZE, but I've recently found some great ones at Target. And any excuse to go to Target, well, shoooot. 

And don't forget, we love our #oneweekold, but it's okay if we feel like damn, baby, this is the biggest challenge I ever signed up for. Because it is, and if we all started owning it, we could really start to help each other do better and be better for our babies.

Now I'm off to research organic lotions and prep for the kid's first road trip. Happy almost-4th!

Chinese Foot Massage Works: ODP's Birth Story

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I never thought I'd get to that place in life where I'm sitting on the couch eating KFC with a newborn hanging off my boob, but here we are. I have a four week old! Life has been weird! I figured I better write down how he got here before I forgot the details. As always, my goal is to open my life to you in small ways so you can feel less alone. If you have any questions, I'm always down to try to answer them. Just email me: whitneytbnd@gmail.com.

Without further ado...

The Days Before: If I were allowed to drink and could take a shot for every person who walked by my office and said some version of "YOU'RE STILL HERE?", I'd be drunk by 9 a.m. For me, that was the worst part. I hated talking to people about my still-there belly and answering well-intentioned coworkers' questions. It was clear I had a full term bump and anyone with a belly that big probably isn't particularly comfortable, so just leave them alone. Open the door for them. Bring them candy they like. Don't ask questions.

I wasn't sleeping particularly well, and I was feeling more tightness in my belly. I had the occasional Braxton Hicks contractions, but there was nothing telling. It was more of a feeling I had of things starting to feel different, but not in any way I could really explain or predict.

In order to try to find some zen, I took baths (with bath bombs and candles and mood music--very important to note those things) pretty much every night. Raz would sit with me and put his feet in and we'd chat about everything from our work days to what the kid in my belly was going to be like. At this point, I was focused on trying to stay somewhat comfortable and stress free.

Labor: Our neighbor directly across the street is four weeks behind me with her second baby. Weeks prior to meeting Oliver, her husband came over and casually mentioned to Raz that Chinese foot massage had helped her during her first pregnancy. So I texted her and we went. Acupressure and reflexology was on a list of natural remedies my midwives had given me to start trying at 36 weeks, so I was way down to give it a go. I love Eastern medicine (remember, acupuncture was part of my "let's make a baby" toolkit), so this was definitely my favorite thing on the list. Eating six dates a day was my least.

I was technically two days overdue when we went in for my third foot massage. At that point, I wasn't putting much stake in any one thing inducing labor, and I wanted to be a hippie about waiting on him unless it became medically necessary to do something else.

After the massage, I came home and watched The Challenge on MTV (as one does), and started to feel more than just tightness in my belly. One of my pregnancy apps had served me a notification a week or so earlier about offering a contraction timer, so I started timing what felt like pretty normal period cramps at that point.

Raz was working in our little home office so I timed things and waited to tell him until he came to check on me. An hour or so after the tightening started, I drew myself a bath and waited to see if what I thought might be contractions would get more intense and closer together. A lot of women have several hours of pre-labor, so I figured I might be able to go to bed and wake up to more intensity. WRONG.

By about 11 p.m. things felt like they were progressing pretty quickly, so I called Raz and his laptop in to help me time the contractions. As I suspected, they were moving along pretty quickly. That's when I decided I better shower so I at least looked presentable if this was actually happening.

Raz came with me to our master bath (only our guest bathroom has a tub) and timed my contractions while I was in the shower. Longer and closer together. Longer and closer together. And way more intense. Like I had to close my eyes and lean against the wall intense. They started in my back and radiated around to my pelvis. Same went for when I got out of the shower and started putting my face on. I didn't get to dry my hair before we called the doctor. They were pretty quick to tell us to come in. Our bags had been in the car for a few days, so I grabbed my purse and we headed out the door.

By then it was about 2 a.m. I had gone from casual tightening to crazy contractions in a matter of four hours. I'm no expert, but that felt fast. As it turns out, it was.

It was nice to get to the hospital in the middle of the night because the parking garage was totally empty and people weren't really staring at me. The guy at the security desk looked at me and pointed to the bank of elevators we needed to take to triage (Funny aside: I was wearing a Delta Gamma crewneck I designed for our chapter's 100th anniversary. When my mom arrived about a half hour later, that same security guy asked her if she was with the girl wearing the Delta Gamma sweatshirt. She got to say she was.).

At triage, I had to lean on the counter and breathe through a few contractions before I could even sign the paperwork they gave us. For all I know, I sold them our house but, hey, the Seattle squatters' rights protect me, so there's that.

One of our midwives showed up soon after they got me in the bed and she checked to see how dilated I was: Nine. Centimeters.

I'm pretty sure I looked at Raz like "Told you." I was pretty proud of myself for getting that far on my own, but I wanted my epidural and I wanted it an hour ago.

Delivery: Around 4 a.m., our midwife broke my water and said I shouldn't have to push long, especially based on how quickly my labor had progressed. One hour turned into two, into three, into four...at one point they added Petocin into my IV to try to get my contractions closer together. Our midwife also had to leave to catch a plane home for a family reunion and the whole nursing staff changed over. It was definitely not what we had expected in terms of how long I'd be pushing. There were a few times I cried silently between contractions, not because they hurt or because I was frustrated, but because of the sheer enormity of it all. I knew our lives were about to change forever and that felt really big.

Around 9 a.m. our second midwife recommended we bring in the doctor on call to use the vacuum. I'd been working hard pushing for so many hours and his head was stuck under my pelvic bone. Every push would get him to crown, but then he'd just get sucked back in. It wouldn't be long before he would get too stressed and I'd get too tired for anything positive to happen. That's when I lost it. I cried and cried because I felt like I'd done so much work and had nothing to show for it. Why couldn't I do this myself? The doctor was really nice to me in spite of my breakdown and assured me that if using the vacuum worked, it would still be mostly me doing all the work. That made me feel a little better.

Another thing that scared me about the vacuum was they told me I'd get five tries with it. If none of those tries were successful, they'd have to take him c-section. After such a quick labor and all that pushing, I was terrified of having to be cut open to get him out. I asked what the success rate was for the vacuum: "90%" the doctor told me.

"Okay, let's do it," I said. "Sounds like I don't have a better option anyway." I was feeling a little bratty at this point.

"You were sucked out with a vacuum," my mom offered. Raz and I looked at each other like of course I was. That also made me feel a little better. Our son wanted to be just like me ;).

After that, it seemed like the doctor snapped her fingers and a whole huge army assembled around us. As a precaution, they bring the NICU team in for vacuum procedures, so it felt like there were about 20 people in the room all of a sudden. She got set up, I felt a contraction coming on and asked if it was go time, she said sure thing, and the whole party started cheering for me. I'm not someone who usually wants the cheerleading crew, but at that point I was down for anything. A few "YOU CAN DO IT"s and pushes later, he was out, screaming and pooping to make his presence known. Everyone was crying and I just stared at him like whoa. That's who was in there this whole time? I think I was in a bit of shock.

They put him on my chest and the angle was hard to see all of him, but I did see Raz's nose and the cutest little face. Someone asked, "So who is this?" and through tears Raz said, "This is Oliver." We all started crying again.

Moving to Post Partum: I was supposed to move to post partum a few hours later, but the nurse forgot to turn off my epidural (I wasn't complaining, ha!), so we got to hang out in our huge suite until I was able to stand up. By then, everything was a blur. Nurses came in and out to get both of our vitals, but didn't bother us too much. They took us to a new floor and a smaller room that had views of the Sound. For the next 24 hours or so, we hung out as a family of three and mostly stared at the tiny human we created and ate like we'd never been fed before. I don't think I've ever been so hungry.

A few people came in to run tests on Oliver--hearing, blood, etc.--but for the most part, we were alone, which was really nice. We spent the night there and ordered a few free milkshakes and continued to stare at Oliver.

Going Home: It was mid-afternoon the next day when they let us go home. I put on the dress I packed and noticed my little gut poking out under it. I hadn't showered again yet. The nurse checked our car seat and we didn't even have to sign anything. They just let us walk out. It was all very bizarre.

When we got to the car, I turned to Raz and said to him: "It feels like we just got here." I couldn't believe we were already going home, and with a new ball and chain in tow.

Once we drove out of the hospital, we were smack in rush hour traffic. Oliver slept through most of it, but it was a good reminder that life goes on. I'm at the hospital having a baby and people are still sitting on the 5 honking at each other and merging without blinking. On that day, Oliver learned his first swear word from his daddy. Might as well start 'em young, amirite?

We pulled up to the house with an "IT'S A BOY" balloon twirling on one of our front sconces. Bouquets of flowers greeted us at the entryway, as did our fluffy children. Harrison sniffed the baby, hissed and ran away. Prima sniffed and stayed. Stared like we did. Followed us everywhere. She was ready to protect her new brother.

The Things (and People!) I Can't Live Without: I could go on and on about the things that have worked for us so far, but for now I've included a little roundup of products. Every baby is different, but a lot of my friends have had success with the same things included below. If you have questions about other things--like which breast pump I'm using, which bottles we like, binkies, etc., I'd be happy to send suggestions. We're learning and changing every day over here, so it's all ever-evolving.

Honestly, if it weren't for my friends who are all going through this thing at the same time (conveniently for us) and my mom helping a ton during the first few weeks, I'm not sure we'd have survived as well as we have so far. Raz has been a total pro with diaper changes and giving me breaks, but I'd be lying if I said it hasn't been rough. One month into this thing, though, I can say I've never loved another little being more, or felt so frustrated sometimes to be bound to it...but still loved it so much that it all feels worth it.

I'm going to try to write more about how it all feels and the little things we're learning as we go. If you have any requests, please let me know. Kudos to all the women who have done this well, and done it with more than one baby. Birth was nothing compared to hanging with the kid!

Photos courtesy of Meg Newton Photography

An Open Letter to My Dad on His 68th Birthday

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


We blew this photo up nice and big for the kid's gallery wall. You know what a gallery wall is, right? His room is white and cream and dark wood and soft neutrals peppered with dark green. I stole one of Papa's pastels of the mountains from Waterville, kind of like the one we had at our house all those years, and we hung it above the changing table, the changing table you and mom had for me. You'd like to hang out in the nursery, I think. We do. We try to read to him at least a few days a week. The cats come, too. We don't limit reading material to baby books, either. Last weekend he learned about regional styles of barbeque--important stuff. The rocking chair has nice back support. I know you'd like that.

You always told me I'd be surprised how much changes in a year, and at this time last year, I was recently unemployed, making mom hang out with me a lot, and feeling generally pretty bad for myself. It was cool to have the time to take a step back and think about what I wanted next, but it was scary, too. And you weren't there to tell me what to do and for me to tell you thanks but I'll do what I want anyway. I don't think I even knew what I wanted. A hug, for sure.

So I dove into what made me feel like I was making a difference. I invested in my relationships more. I took trips to see people. We drove your little Z3 (we named her Bev, btw) home from Southern California. I learned how to be a pretty good wife and I gave your grandcats a lot of supervised outdoor time. We also grew our first real garden. It was a pretty simple existence, but by the end I learned to like it. It's the kind of existence I know you'd have told me should make me feel more content than it did right then. Or maybe you wouldn't have. Five years later, I honestly don't know anymore what you'd tell me to do and be...just that you'd care that I'm happy, and you'd be proud of me for trying. And I'd know that that's enough, just like it always has been.

It's supposed to be a full moon tonight. Maybe that'll bring on this little dude and you'll get a birthday baby. I understand if you're not super eager to share, though, since you already share with Uncle Don. You KNOW I understand not wanting to share. Either way, I hope you work some magic up there and bring him safely here to meet us soon because I am SO DONE talking to people about my belly.

Mom's here waiting on your grandson to arrive. We're going to meet her for ice cream and a walk along the marina to look at boats. Raz and I recently rediscovered how good coffee ice cream is, so maybe I'll get a scoop of that for you. We'll see how I'm feeling. No matter what, we'll celebrate you and think of you and make memories with you, because if it weren't for you we wouldn't be us, and this kid who has no idea what he's in for wouldn't exist either.

Crazy how much can change in a year, huh? Happy birthday!

I love you,

For those who are interested, 2016's letter is here, 2015's letter is here, and 2014's letter is here.

Yes, Duh, I Took Maternity Photos

Friday, May 5, 2017

I had always planned to have maternity photos taken. It was one of those things that felt like it absolutely had to be captured on film, no matter the size of my cankles. Besides, it had taken us a while to get here and I wanted to be able to remember how I looked, how I felt, how much we loved each other in these moments of being just the two four of us before we'd become at least three five for the next 18 years. It was non-negotiable.

For months, I ordered and tried on dresses and Raz rolled his eyes. "More options?" he'd ask. Duh, bruh. Never enough options. I wasn't trying to be like Demi or Ciara with just some naked/undie pics, and I wanted to keep the vibe simple, but I still needed to feel pretty, and like myself, and--let's be real here--sexayyy. Well, as sexy as possible with a bowling ball attached to my torso.

And you know what? Even now, 39 weeks in, it still doesn't feel real. I say that all the time. People comment on my belly constantly. And yet I have no concept of what this thing is or how it's going to change us. Maybe I needed more proof. Perhaps the photos would show me this gut I grew was for a bigger purpose, that one day, I'd turn around at my kid's graduation and finally realize I GREW HIM IN MY BODY. Maybe that will never happen. Either way, we have photos.

I knew the only people for the job were our friends, The Sullivans, who took our absolutely epic mini bump photos and who I contacted immediately after my sorority sister's beautiful wedding in Coeur d'Alene last summer.

My original intention was to be mostly solo, but that went away as soon as we arrived. Not only is Raz a much better and more beautiful model than I am, he carries a sense of absolute self-assurance I've only ever seen from my dad. The boy can look right into the lens and own. It. 
I just love him.

One of the things I've most appreciated in getting dolled up with him to take pretty pictures is that I get to see from an outsider's view how we look at each other. I'm pretty proud of those looks we give. I made a commitment to myself a long time ago that I would prioritize my relationships over anything else and I always dreamed of having a partner who was not only my PIC, but who also looked at me the way he does. To see here how I look at him makes me really, really proud of what we're building. We're bringing this kid into a good thing. I'm truly thrilled for that.

Just strollin' with my boys.

I couldn't get away with not showing my belly, so when Laura suggested a couple boudie shots, I complied. I'm glad I did. Here it is up close and personal. You're in there, kid! And you're getting bigger than I want to think about. Also, my belly line is not symmetrical down my belly button and that kinda irritates me, but when I asked my midwives about it, they came back with "Well, are your organs symmetrical?" Touche?

We're growing a family, man, and that is a great and powerful thing. I don't know that I'll ever come to comprehend how great and powerful it is until I'm sitting at the head of the Thanksgiving table and all my grandchildren are fighting over the last scoop of mashed potatoes around me. And even then. Will it sink in? I asked Grandma and she said no.

Here's hoping this next chapter is as beautiful and as full of learning as all that have come before it. That's one thing I can wrap my head around coming absolutely true.

Pregnancy Update: 35 Weeks

Friday, April 7, 2017

Doing one of those pregnancy updates, mostly for myself, so I can remember how strange these last few weeks are. Both in good ways and uncomfortable ways. If none of this is of interest to you, but you still found yourself here, skip on to the products part because I will be using most of these things even after I'm done growing a human.

Due Date: May 12. Got a stubborn little Taurus baby on our hands. I'm legitimately excited. I love my Tauruses.

Maternity Clothing: Some. I'm lucky that one of my girlfriends dropped by one night with a bag full of her maternity things, so I haven't had to buy much. I rotate a few pair of jeans and pants and then mostly make dresses I already have work. My mom is also in this life place of sending me flowy things in bigger sizes, which used to offend me and now makes me grateful.

Sleep: Getting harder. My pregnancy pillow has become a lifesaver for having something to prop my belly on and hug at night, making sleep much more comfortable. Harrison loves it, too, because it's an even higher place for him to sit and watch us while we sleep and kinda doze himself. He likes to wedge himself between the top of the pillow and my belly. I also get really hot at night. I think it's the extra blood (I've read a few places your body produces 50% more when you're pregnant), so sometime in the early morning every day, I'm throwing the covers off and trying to cool down. This is coming from someone who sleeps in sweats in the summer. Sometimes that means I have to get up and pee. No matter what, it gets Harrison very excited because he thinks mom's getting up for the day and he might get fed. He's wrong.

Stretch Marks: Nope. I've been using my favorite L'Occitane oil RELIGIOUSLY (twice a day, sometimes three--more on that below), and I feel like he's sucked my fat up into my belly and boobs, which I don't totally hate. So, nothing new *that I can see,* but that could change. In the meantime, I'm slathering myself like a little piglet.

Symptoms: Fatigue. Food hangs out at the bottom of my throat. Sometimes I urp and it's gross. Constipation. Irritability.

Missing Anything: BOOZE, mostly wine. Salami. Smoked salmon. Oysters. Chicken liver mousse. Sashimi. SLEEPING ON MY STOMACH. Being able to do chores and errands without taking a break every ten minutes. Not sounding like I'm out of breath after doing nothing. My ankles.

Movement: Constant. He hangs out on my right side, mostly, and moves a ton. I know this is a good thing, but I think it wears out my body more. By 8 p.m. most nights, I'm down for the count. When I work late and have to commute an hour home, that means I have basically an hour before I'm asleep and have to get up to do it all over again.

Looking Forward To: Meeting him, obviously...but the thing is, even with the belly and all the things going along with it, it still doesn't feel real. The bathroom stall door in public places will hit my belly and I'm still like, "Oh, yeah, that." But aside from seeing what Raz and I look like combined and becoming parents and all that jazz, I'm really looking forward to feeling like a human again. Maybe I'll miss some of it after. Yet to be seen.

What's Made Me More Comfortable: Bubble baths! Soft pants! Prenatal yoga! Foot rubs! Enchiladas! Bravo!

Emotions: A little overwhelmed. A little scared. Pretty stoked. Really grateful. Ready to do the damn thing.

Helpful Products: After we told my mom I was pregnant, she got on Amazon and sent me a lifetime supply of Palmer's cocoa butter. I appreciated that, but I also don't loooove the smell of that stuff, so I decided to ration it. Come over and I'll let you use as much as you want.

Since I had plotted with my best friend to try to be pregnant at the same time, with the caveat that she had to go first 1. because she had been married longer, 2. because I needed her to teach me everything, and 3. because she was already good at changing diapers, I got myself some of my favorite body oil that she had used during her pregnancy to not get any stretch marks on her belly. I've included it below. By Christmas, my mom and MIL had set the expectation that I should spend as much as time possible lounging by buying me lots of PJs. My natural state is on the couch watching Bravo with ice cream and a cat in my lap, so this has worked well. And even though I was offended when my mom originally bought me longjohns in a size large, I'm now appreciating the extra room. My MIL got me a really cozy set that doubles for eventual nursing (even though I feel very weird about purposefully sticking my boob in someone's mouth, I know it's a good thing to give my child my immune system--which is way above average and I'm not even going to feel slightly bad for bragging about how good it is--so I will try it and probably keep wearing those PJs, especially during the first few weeks when leaving the house won't be something I'll be particularly keen to do.).

Another thing that my BFF mentioned early on that has helped me a TON is wireless bras. I was shocked when, in my first trimester, the lady at VS measured me two cups bigger than I'd ever been and when I started hunting down wireless bras to fit my new bosom, it got frustrating quickly. They're all so matronly OR racerback OR both. Wtf is that about? Business opportunity. Patent it. However, I found a few really good ones at none other than Nordstrom Rack, which are also in the carrousel below. They're really pretty and have decent support, so I'll probably stock up on them just to have in general, even when I eventually size back down.

SO ANYWAY, here are some of those things I got and they got for me that I bequeath to you, my people.

Brand Next Door: JORD Watches

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I named this place The Brand Next Door because that's what we all are, or are trying to be, now. Life's become all about our "personal brand" and thinking about how we present ourselves to the world. If we let it get to us, it becomes a curated, externally-focused life. Sometimes that can be overwhelming. Sometimes it can be awesome. Mostly it's about being aware of the way the world is working and deciding how you want to play in it.

The name is also a bit of a double entendre because while we're all out there singing our own praises and saying "Look at me! Look at me!" there's also a huge opportunity to highlight real people and real brands doing absolutely great work. If you were to ask me what I fundamentally want The Brand Next Door to be, that would be it: a little place on the internet that spotlights brands and their stories, especially the local ones doing big things.

That's where JORD comes in. The company reached out to me asking if Raz might want to try one of their beautiful wood watches. The timing was perfect: it was his birthday month. He picked this one: the Dover series Olive and Acacia with exposed gears. They even fitted it perfectly to his wrist--he just used their online sizing guide and they sent it already sized, along with the extra material if we wanted it. Amazing customer service!

We weren't expecting the watch to arrive in such gorgeous packaging, but we were super-impressed when it did.

The box even comes with a little micro-fiber rag and cleaning stick for the thing. Super primo stuff. Even the fancy watches I've gotten in the past haven't come with so many helpful goodies.

As you can see, the watch works perfectly with our Northwest flannel and jeans vibe. Raz is really picky about most things, including wrist-wear, and he's very excited to start rocking this timepiece on the reg.

Even Prima thinks he looks on point.

She loves being right in the thick of things, especially for photo shoots. Here she is taking a break from checking herself out.
Another thing I love is JORD is a US company, based in Missouri and paying painstaking attention to detail. The company's super cool watches are hand-crafted from raw material, which just speaks to my soul.


If you're looking for the perfect watch that's a little lot bit cooler than what we're seeing at the big department stores, be sure to check out JORD. They have watches for men and women, so anyone in your life who's looking to step up the accessory game will be happy.

Also, if you're reading this between April 5th and 7th, head over to my Instagram for a really exciting contest with JORD. It's easy to enter and gives everyone a prize just for playing! (Think $100 toward a watch for the winner and $25 just for entering. Shop early, though, because your code will expire on June 30.)

Watch Gift Ideas

This post is in partnership with JORD. However, all opinions (and photos!) are my own.

Shopping for The Kid—Poptart's Zen Little Baby Nursery

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It may come as no surprise that I've been having A LOT of fun shopping for the kid. We still have a few things to do in the nursery, and if I can take decent enough pictures (sometimes I post little IG stories if you follow me there), I'll do a photo tour closer to his due date (Mayish). In the meantime, though, I thought I'd share some of the things we've collected for the room, along with a few items on the "I'm watching you" list.

It's such a peaceful room full of sandy neutrals and dark woods and little pops of dark green. Very Seattle, very us...hopefully very him. I've included some treasures like a pastel painting I stole from Papa that he made, and my changing table from when I was a baby. Raz created the Washington version of a California closet for our dude's growing wardrobe, and he's going to make us wall-length living-edge bookshelves next. I have some photos to edit that will go in a gallery above the crib. All in all, it's already become one of our favorite places to chill.

Now if only we could figure out how to keep the cats from jumping into the crib...

The 5 Podcasts I Can't Live Without

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

I've been big into podcasts since Serial got me started, and I've gone through quite a few to find my favorites. I especially like to listen to them while I'm driving to and from work (this crazy "motivational speaker" guy we had to listen to at a work event called it "Traffic College," which was the one thing in his speech I could get behind) and while I'm taking long walks. A few times a week, I'll listen while I'm getting ready for work. It really depends on how heavy or heady the podcast and episode are.

In descending order of "most excited to tap," here are my tops:
  1. Bitch Sesh: A Real Housewives Breakdown: Hands down, the funniest podcast I've ever listened to. The caveat is you have to be at least mildly addicted to Bravo, but even if you aren't, the cohosts' personal stories are enough to keep you entertained. If this one isn't posted on time each week, I frantically scroll Twitter to find our why. That's how much I need it in my life. It should also be noted that Raz laughs at it, too, and for a dude who cares as much about all things ESPN as much as he does to laugh at a totally chick-centric podcast really says something.
  2. Dear Sugar Radio: I've loved Cheryl Strayed since I read Tiny, Beautiful Things years ago, which is a compilation of her best Dear Sugar columns. And, no, I do not love Wild. I resisted that one for a long time and then I read it and I felt about it just as I knew I would--well-written, but not my vibe. Of course I watched the movie, too. Same. Cheryl and her cohost, Steve Almond, read and respond to listener letters on interpersonal topics mostly related to family and romantic relationships. They don't always agree. They bring on excellent guests. They feed my soul.
  3. The Tim Ferriss Show: Honestly, I hadn't heard of Tim until we hosted a dinner with him at ChefSteps while I was working there and I was voluntold to bartend. He was so engaged with the guests at the dinner and deeply curious about each of them, which was amazing to see since they were all superfans of his. I was actually in charge of rounding him up to go out to drinks with our CEO and couldn't find breaks in his conversations to politely give him hints to move on. For someone of his caliber and public presence, I thought that was really great. Awkward for me in getting my job done, but fantastic for each of them--they all walked out of our kitchen with huge grins on their faces. He gave them all a big gift that night. Since then, I've listened pretty eagerly to his podcast. This guy goes deep, and it benefits us all. The episodes are long, but they're nothing close to boring. They cover everything from personal finance, to finding your gifts, to the best way to train your dog. My entire Amazon wish list is now made up of books recommended on his show.
  4. Death, Sex, & Money: The premise of this one is things we think about a lot and need to talk about more. The host, Anna Sail, gets in it, with all sorts of guests--regular folk to celebs alike. How they recovered (or didn't) from alcoholism, how they blew their millions (or didn't), and so on. I've abandoned some podcasts because the hosts are just excruciatingly annoying. Anna is calm and charming and interested--I love listening to her explore all that is taboo with her guests and getting them to go there.
  5. Anna Faris Is Unqualified: Anna Faris is a charmer. Her podcast is what got me through ten days alone in the UK walking to and from the Amazon offices. I know that sounds like a total white girl problem, and it is, but binge listening to her celeb interviews kept my spirits up when I was far from home and on assignment for a new job...while secretly eight weeks pregnant. She's self-deprecating and very, very funny. She is also from the Seattle area, so I always appreciate her little nods to home.
Honorable mentions go to The Moment with Brian Koppelman; 10% Happier with Dan Harris; Hey, Cool Job; Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin; and StoryCorps.

I'd love to hear about the podcasts that give you life. Please be lengthy and fearless with your reccos!

Throwback: Riding Around in Cars without Dads

Thursday, February 2, 2017

This post popped up in my Facebook memories the other day (ohhh, the many "memories" we wish we could forget, amirite?) and it still resonated with me, so I thought I'd repost it here. It's from my Tumblr blog I now use for inspo photos. Anywayyy, often years pass, and you still feel exactly the same, or remember exactly how you felt in that moment.

We don't have my CR-V anymore, and we do have a sexy Russian minx (okay, I think she's technically Japanese, but she looks like a vampy Russian spy) named Natasha my dad would love. My SUV life lives on. And so does he.

My dad got me my first CR-V to combat what we Idahoans called “The Highway of Death” which ran between Boise, ID, through McCall and up to Moscow, where I went to school at the University of Idaho. I had been driving my mom’s Chrysler Sebring. Convertible. In the winter. On black ice. On two lane highway. No guard rails.
The day after he bought me my first CR-V, I drove the HoD back to school, waving to him in the rearview mirror. He did not like that he had to buy a new car he couldn’t play with. So, each time he came to Moscow (my dad is from there and visited more often than the mandatory “Dad” or “Mom” weekends), I’d walk out of my sorority house to find him parked nearby, walking around the car, kicking its tires or cleaning the leaves from under the wipers. I once called him to reinforce how grateful I was for the car, said “I really love the rear windshield wiper.” He responded: “Are you keeping it clean? Leaves can get stuck in it and scratch the glass.”
I've said it before and I’ll say it again: my dad loved cars. It was one of our bonding things. He liked everything about them. I liked looking at, dreaming about and shopping for them. He liked all of the above + maintenance, washing, waxing and whatever else the male species can love about cars. They were a hobby and point of pride for him. Whenever he got bored, he would buy a new to him vehicle and spruce it up. He liked the human connection of a purchase - he’d buy only from people who had bought the car new, even if they'd purchased it 20 years prior. He did the same with our house in the Tri Cities, which was built in the 1950s and lived in by only one family before us.
So, after my first CR-V was crushed into the curb by a 19-year-old drug dealer after I had so excellently paralell parked it, I stood on the sidewalk in the spring rain at 11 p.m. and called him. “Dad, I have bad news,” I told him. “The car’s been totalled. I wasn’t in it, no one is hurt, but it’s been knocked off its frame and looks ugly. I’m really sorry.”
“I’ve had a lot of cars, bud, but I have only one Whitney,” he told me. “We’ll figure it out.” He was so amazingly calm in those situations. It was always about family instead of things for him. This would annoy me at the grocery store when he refused to buy me magazines from the check out line, but I appreciated it every time we spent weekends eating spaghetti and watching movies.
A week after my first CR-V was totalled, I flew to the Tri Cities, my dad picked me up at the airport and we bought a car. He’d already driven the lot and picked it out. It was one year newer than my previous CR-V. It had had one owner before us. It had butt warmers. It would keep me safe. It was perfect. I drove it home that weekend, waving to him in the rearview mirror.
He had already been diagnosed with cancer and was going through treatments at that point. Whenever he and my mom would come to Seattle for an appointment, he’d insist on driving the CR-V. Each time, he would pat the dash and say “Boy do I love this car.” I’d roll my eyes and offer to trade him, but he’d always refuse, saying, instead, he’d visit again soon and tinker with it.
So, when my second CR-V hit 60,000 miles last month and Raz mentioned we had to do or get some work done on it, I felt sad. That’s something my dad would have loved to do himself. Thankfully, Raz has every boy hobby that ever existed and also wanted to do it himself (they say you pick one who’s like your father…). We drove it to Portland so he and his dad could work on it in his dad’s garage. They changed the oil, rotated the tires, changed the brake fluids and a bunch of other boy/car things. They saved me $500. As we were preparing to drive back home to Seattle, I told Raz’s mom how grateful I was to him and his dad for wanting to take the 60,000 mile project on. I found myself getting weepy and nostalgic. It was such a gift.
We passed five months on Wednesday and when I realized it, I couldn’t believe it. Five months already? We’ve done a lot to cope, but it will always be weird without him. Some days it makes me very crabby. It’s been harder lately. The more successful I am at the office, the funnier Mittens is, the time I want to burn just catching up - it all piles up into this “Hey, Dad” depository in my brain. I wish I could call and dump it all, but every day that passes is just 24 more hours spent convincing myself that he’s not coming back. This is my outlet. This is how I know he will never die. He is my hero. He will be remembered.

New Kid on The Block

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

"Do you think we did it?" he asked, his eyes wide.

We were sitting in the Phoenix airport, sharing a basket of chicken strips and sweet potato fries.

"I don't know," I replied. And I didn't. Every cycle I knew it could go either way. I honestly didn't know if my body could even make babies. "Maybe?" It was another week and a half before three pregnancy tests answered his question. Strongly. +++.

Up until then, I'd been to the doctor. Many times. We were in a relationship, the doctors and me. It was basically a weekly coffee klatch only not nearly as fun and kind of invasive. And I'd been doing my research, wayyy more research than was probably healthy for any human, let alone a soon-to-be-30-year-old who was recently laid off and in a dark "Who am I and what is my purpose?" life place. In my most melodramatic moments, I'd call my mom and tell her I was unemployed and barren. She would Pollyanna me and I would tell her to let me feel how I wanted to feel. Then we'd move on to family gossip and she'd invite me to come visit her and I'd try to remember there's more to life than being employed and fertile. Right then, though, it felt like there wasn't.

I was starting to try things they recommended, the doctors, but I had learned from my dad's cancer that YOU are in control, not them. I wasn't going to jump to the drugs and extreme measures just yet. It'd only been a year. A long year. You may feel like they are omnipotent beings who know lots more things than you do, but they are not and do not. YOU know your body. YOU know what's best. Even when I had a little bit of imposter syndrome, I reminded myself of that. They are not in charge. I am. If I want to figure out how to make a baby, that's mostly on me. Besides, it's not like they spent much time with my chart anyway.

So, this is what I'll tell you, because I don't really want to give my whole "how we figured out how to make a kid despite how easy they say it is in high school health class" story to the internet. When it comes down to it, unless you're doing IVF, we pretty much know how this whole thing works:

  • I did not relax, and if anyone is telling you to, I hope you take a deep breath and forgive them for what they don't understand.
  • I started going to acupuncture, at first for seasonal allergies I couldn't shake, but also to see if there was any merit to it helping with fertility. It was holistic, and if anything, it was a 45 minute nap. I had nothing to lose. And, if you think acupuncture is expensive, you're ill-informed: there is a community acupuncture place right down the street from my house that has a sliding scale of $20-$40/session, dependent on what YOU feel comfortable paying that day.
  • I focused on fulfillment versus achievement. I was unemployed for much of the spring and summer, and it was the first time I really had a moment to take a step back and start thinking about how I defined myself and my worth. I've always been a financial contributor and a straight up anal-retentive perfectionist achiever. I had to let that go, and I had to really work hard to shift my mindset from cashing checks and looking cool online to what really mattered: taking care of my family, making life a little easier on my husbro while he carried the financial load, and investing time and energy into things that filled my soul.
  • I took my vitamins. Prenatals. Fish oil. Sunny walks.
  • I paid close attention to my body. My bff gave me those smiley face OPKs. I figured out how my cycles worked off of BC (it took a long time to adjust) and then I used them strategically. 
  • I tested different ways of answering "So when are you two going to have kids?" The worst question. The most ignorant, insensitive question, always with a smile and good intentions. "We're working on it," I'd tell them, with a wan smile right back. I found that answer to be the most effective. It usually got them to quit bugging me. "Ohhhhhhh," they'd say. No one wants to know those details. ;)

I wanted to keep it as simple as I could. Actually deciding to try to make a baby is such a strange experience, and it can get to you quickly if it's not working the way you want it to the first few months. But when the tests said I was normal--above average, even--I found it easier to work to have faith that it would happen when it was supposed to, which we all know is the most frustrating and annoying statement.

And yet.

It's always right, isn't it?

Let's also not forget all those melodramatic phone calls to my mom.

Some people don't have to try very hard. Others do. Looking back, I'm glad I got to really figure out my body, learn to trust it, and to truly appreciate this little dude we're bringing into the world.

We're stoked!

And this is just the beginning.

If you want to know more, or have specific questions for me, I'm happy to answer them. My goal is always to share as much as I'm comfortable with publicly and to open my experiences to you so you can be better and know more because of them. If you're interested in getting on the baby train and feel some type of way about anything at all, hit me up: whitneytbnd@gmail.com. All I can really offer is the way things worked for me, along with some good old fashioned "yep, it sucks, but it's probably not forever." And sometimes that's enough.
Big thanks to Sullivan & Sullivan Photography for capturing these special memories

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